Don't Be Fooled

There are many types of scams out there attempting to trick you.  Here are a few of the most common types and what you should do if you run across them.

Cashier’s Check Scam - You receive a check payment with a request to wire the difference back to the sender

Unsolicited checks in the mail are nearly always fake. If you ever question the legitimacy of a check, take it to your bank for verification & throw the fake check away.

Phishing - You receive an email asking for personal information or an urgent request.

Fear is often used to make you act before you think. Do not reply or click on any links. Forward the email to spam@uce.gov and delete the original.

Stranded Traveler - You receive a message from someone claiming to be your loved one saying they are in trouble and asking you to send cash

Never send money until you can verify (talk to!) the recipient. Chances are, your sister didn't go on a trip to Mexico you didn't know about, so she's not in a Mexican prison.

Lottery & Sweepstakes - You receive a message that you are the winner in a lottery or sweepstakes and need to send money to collect your winnings

True sweepstakes & lottery winnings do not require you to send money - or Itunes cards - to increase your chances of winning or collect your prizes. Delete the message.

Nigerian Prince - You receive an email from a Nigerian Prince, asking you to help recover a large sum of money and needing your account to cover fees

100% of the time, this is a scam. In fact, it is one of the oldest email scams out there. Never provide your financial information via email.

Online Dating - You get to know someone online and once you feel as though you've really made a connection, they ask you to send money

Never send money to someone you have not met in person. Your online paramour may be a lovely person, but they also may be someone sitting in a cubicle on the opposite side of the world from where you were led to believe.

Rent Below Market - You see a house online that is for rent well below the market rate. The pictures look good, but the owner isn't available to show it, and you'll have to put up first, last & security deposit to get the keys

A legitimate landlord will always arrange to have someone meet you to show you the inside of the unit. Chances are, the photos you viewed you from another listing by the actual owner who has no idea you're trying to rent their house.

Work-from-Home - You apply for a work-from-home job that looks a little too good to be true

Work-from-home is great when it is for a legitimate company. But before you provide any of your personal information - or your money - check the company out on the BBB for fraud alerts.

"Charity" Solicitations - You receive a donation request from the "Red Cross" after a disaster asking you to send money

Scammers will often pose as legitimate charities, especially in the wake of a disaster. Never wire money to a charity and always donate directly through their approved channels, which you can find on their website.

Computer Software Service - You receive a call from "Microsoft" that your computer has been infected

Microsoft doesn't call out and your computer has no way of direct dialing out for support with a virus  Your number is just being dialed by hackers. Hang up and block the number.

12 Tips for Protecting Your Mobile Devices

As consumer use of mobile devices continues to climb, cyber criminals are targeting those gadgets more frequently. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, 43 percent of smartphone users say they have used mobile banking in the past 12 months. Phenix-Girard is highlighting 12 ways consumers can take extra precaution to protect the data on their mobile device.

“We use gold-standard safeguards to protect customer information, but it’s also important for users to keep safety measures in place to prevent sensitive data from being compromised,” said Menza Dudley, President. “It’s easy to forget that your mobile device can be vulnerable, but any device used to connect to the internet is at risk.”

Phenix-Girard suggests following these 12 steps to protect your mobile device: 

·      Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.

·      Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.

·      Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.

·      Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”

·      Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.

·      Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.

·      Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.

·      Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.

·      Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

·      Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.

·      Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)

·      Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

 

 

8 Ways to Fight ID Fraud Online

Nearly three decades after the internet was introduced, the web continues to transform the lives of many users, revolutionizing the way consumers shop, pay bills, and transfer money online. As these advancements make common tasks hassle-free, consumers are urged to take extra precautions, allowing them to navigate the web safely and avoid online crime.

 

Banks are constantly innovating to make it easier for customers to manage their money online,” said Menza Dudley, President“At the same time, we’re always looking for ways to help customers combat cyber threats.”

 

Phenix-Girard is offering these tips to help users safeguard their personal information and navigate the web safely:

·      Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.  Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

·      Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

·      Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from unfamiliar sources.

o   Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.

·      Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc.  Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

·      Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)

·      Be careful in the cloud. While using the cloud makes it easier to store and share large amounts of files, understand that it also opens other avenues for attack. 

·      Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

·      Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.

·       Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

 

8 Tips to Help Prevent Crime at ATMs

There are more than 400,000 ATMs in the United States and that number is growing. Phenix-Girard has seven ATMs  in our community and is dedicated to keeping its customers safe at those locations.

“We believe that even one incident of ATM crime is too many,” said Menza Dudley, President. “Customer safety is our top priority when it comes to ATM use.”

The bank works closely with the local police department to prevent criminal activity around local ATMs. 

In addition, the bank has taken preventative measures to enhance consumer safety including installation of surveillance cameras, increased lighting and withdrawal limits


Phenix-Girard takes a number of precautions to ensure that its customers have a safe environment, but there is no substitute for good, cautious behavior on the part of the customer. 

Phenix-Girard recommends that customers follow these eight safety tips when using any ATM: 

·      Keep your PIN number a secret. Never write it down or share it with anyone – not even family members. 

·      Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. Make sure the ATM is free of sight obstructions. If you observe suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine. 

·      Bring someone with you when using an ATM at night. If you can’t, use an ATM that is located in a public area like a convenience or grocery store.

·      Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. 

·      Use your body to “shield” the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN. 

·      Always take your receipts or transaction records with you. 

·      Do not count or visually display any money you received from the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later. 

·      If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car. 

 

6 Tips for Your Financial Spring Cleaning

As Americans kick off the spring season by cleaning, sorting and tidying up around the house, Phenix-Girard is encouraging consumers to add financial organization to their spring cleaning to-do list. To help, Phenix-Girard has highlighted six tips for organizing your financial house.

“People are motivated to get things done when the weather warms up and the flowers bloom, which makes it an ideal time to look closely at your savings and spending habits,” said Menza Dudley, President . “Putting in the work now will help you live your best life in the months ahead.”

Phenix-Girard recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:

·      Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.

·      Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.

·      Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

·      Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.

·      Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.

·      Manage your money on the go. Utilize your bank's mobile app to check your balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, deposit a check and send money to friends from wherever you are.