Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Say NO to Identity Theft!

Staying Safe Online

At Michigan Community Credit Union, we care about our members' security! We know it’s convenient and fun to take care of banking, shopping, and correspondence online. However, if you’re not careful, hackers could steal your identity, ruining your credit and good name. Here’s how to protect yourself online!

Avoid online scams

Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to dodging cyber scams. The most common techniques include:

·        PhishingAs with classic fishing, hackers drop a baited “hook,” hoping you’ll bite. The “cyber bait” is an email message or pop-up that appears to come from a familiar business. The victim is asked to verify passwords or other personal data by clicking on links that lead to to imposter websites or by calling fake phone numbers designed to steal identifying information. Phishing messages often refer to a supposed problem and seem urgent.
·        Smishing: Smishing is similar to phishing, but the messages directing victims to phony data-gathering websites arrive via text message.
·        Spyware: This destructive software invades your device and records keystrokes, allowing hackers to access your passwords and data.

Fight back by updating firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware to their latest versions. Don’t click on links from suspect emails or call phone numbers referenced in these messages. If you feel the message might be legitimate, contact the business directly through their main phone number or official website.

Strengthen password protection

To keep hackers guessing, change passwords frequently for all financial, retail, email and social media accounts. For best security, create strong, unique passwords for each account. Avoid choosing your name, birthday or other obvious information. Instead combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Remembering passwords can become overwhelming, so consider using a tool such as Dashlane or LastPass to manage this information.

More safety tips

  • Shop with credit cards rather than debit cards. Credit cards generally have fraud protection that limits liability to no more than $50, and it’s much easier to dispute a charge than try to get money refunded to your account.
  • Use separate browsers for shopping and banking.
  • Use only private Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions to reduce hacker risk.
  • Log out of accounts as soon as you’re finished doing business.
  •  Choose only secure websites identified by a Web address starting with “https” or “shttp,” a locked padlock icon in the address bar and seals of approval from McAfee, TRUSTe, VeriSign, or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Monitor statements and credit scores regularly to watch for fraud.

Financial institutions like us can help protect you with educational identity theft information, access to free credit scores/credit reports, and alerts if your credit is negatively affected. Be sure to report any suspicious activity to our call center immediately to avoid being held responsible, and deter future crimes by notifying the Federal Trade Commission as well.

Be safe out there!

Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet
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