Your Financial Well-Being: Topics and Tips
At SCB, we want you to be equipped with the latest information dealing with financial health. Look below for information on a variety of current and ongoing financial topics.
December is Identity Theft & Protection Awareness Month
It is of great importance to safeguard your identifying information at all times, especially during the holidays when scammers are working overtime. Take a moment to read over the information contained in several articles below that relate to Holiday Shopping Tips, Cyber Security Awareness and Identity Theft. SCB offers a great selection of Identity Theft and Fraud Protection services. Read more below or stop by any SCB branch to learn more about this service.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
While the internet can sometimes seem like a jungle of a million different threats, you can take steps to protect yourself. Here are five easy, free and quick ways to safeguard yourself.
- Enable Two-Step Authentication- Also known as multi- or two-factor authentication or login approval – two-step verification provides an extra layer of security beyond your username and password to protect against account hijacking. When using this security mechanism, you will log in using your password and then be prompted verify your identity again. This second verification is usually done via a biometric (fingerprint or face scan), security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Many websites and companies offer two-step verification, and they make it easy to set up this second layer – usually found in the settings section of your account. Using two-step authentication can help you feel more secure, especially for sites containing your financial information.
- Check a Site’s SSL Certificate- Whenever you’re shopping online and entering credit card or bank information, it’s important to make sure that website is secured to protect against hackers trying to steal your info. You can find out if a website is secure by checking its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification. While this process sounds complicated, it’s actually one of the simplest and quickest things to do for your online security. When on a website, check the URL. Does it start with “http://” or “https://”? If you notice an s at the end, that means your connection is encrypted and secure, so any data you enter is safely sent to the website. Not all sites have SSL certification. While they may be fine to browse, avoid sharing any financial or personal information on websites without this added layer of security.
- Don’t Save Financial Information on Shopping Sites- Even sites with SSL certification can be hacked. While there may not be a way yet to completely safeguard your data from hackers if you shop online, you can secure your financial information better by removing it altogether from shopping sites. Many shopping sites let you save your credit card information in your online account. This setup makes it easier to make purchases in the future, as your billing and shipping addresses and credit card information are stored. However, if you can access this information, so can hackers. Rather than store your credit cards and addresses in your accounts, spend the extra minute to enter your information each time you make a purchase.
- Be Careful Who You Trust- Catfishing has made headlines quite a few times in the last few years, and this online scam doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Catfishing happens when a person sets up a fake online profile – usually on social media or dating sites – and targets people with the goal of asking for money. Catfishers are in it for the long game and may try to strike up an online relationship for months before asking for money. The losses can be extreme, averaging more than $15,000 per victim. To avoid catfishing, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know and never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. If a situation ever feels fishy, trust your gut and cut off contact with that individual.
- Create Strong, Unique Passwords- Using the same password for every account it is not a safe. Often, people don’t realize their account has been hacked. Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
Start using a few of these tips today. As you get in the habit of following security best practices, you can feel more protected online and aware of common online scams.
Article courtesy of National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).
Another fall semester has just begun at colleges around the country.
Continuing education is a large expense that entails much more than just tuition. There are high costs associated with housing, food, fees, etc. These expenses can be overwhelming to some family financial situations.
It’s never too early to start thinking about education savings for your child- even years in advance.
SCB offers options for traditional college savings- like ROTH IRA, Coverdell Education Savings Account.
Other than the traditional route, we can also help you set up an appointment for a consultation with an advisor at SCB Investment and Wealth Management.
Click here to see the American Bankers Association Top 10 Tips for College Students.
During summer months, both families and individuals may notice an increase in expenses. Some of this could be due to money spent on recreation or possibly the addition of childcare for children that would normally be in school. SCB’s Hot Topic for the month of June is Mindful Spending.
Here are a few tips that you might find useful during these usually expensive summer months:
- Be organized. If you can’t find it- you can’t use it. For example- if you’re packing for vacation and cannot find your kid’s floaties or goggles from last summer, what is the quick solution? More than likely, you will make a purchase for new floaties and goggles. You may not think this is a big deal or expense, but think about how much additional expense you can incur if you have to replace multiple misplaced items…yikes!
- Utilize coupons and discounts. This tip is pretty straightforward. A lot of companies offer great deals or even free products or services. These special offers could be obtained via company websites, social media, or even a keytag. Just be sure that any source you may be using is reputable.
- Use cash. It is amazing how easy it is to pull out plastic to pay for a purchase, but when you use cash, it usually makes you stop to think for a moment. I know I ponder purchases for a bit longer when I pay with cash rather than credit. Here are a few thoughts to consider… do I really need this? Is this item worth this amount? How many hours do I have to work to pay for this?
- Review your spending on a regular basis. This is an excellent tip for year-round, not just summer. However, if you review your spending now, you may free up funds that aren’t being utilized to help pay for summer fun. One example of an item to review is subscriptions. This could be for a product or service. If you analyze your spending, take time to consider these and how they do (or do not) benefit your life currently. If it is no longer of value to you (and there is no great cancellation fee), cancel it.
New regulation requiring financial institutions to obtain certain info for business accounts
A beneficial owner is-
Each individual who owns 25% or more of the company.
One individual who has significant managerial responsibility for the company.
Physical Address (Personal or Business)
Date of Birth
Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number
Acceptable forms of identification-
Valid, current Driver's License
State-issued Identification Card
Alien Identification Card
The main key to financial success is know how money works. Here are a few tips...
- Learn about credit. Be sure you know how credit works before you sign for that loan or credit card. How you manage your credit will affect your ability to borrow now and in the future.
- Track your spending. If you’re always wondering where your money goes…start tracking it. It’s a great way to see how much you are spending on various expenses, such as eating out and entertainment.
- Create a budget…and stick with it. It’s not always easy, but it is critical in order to manage your money wisely. Visit BankSCB.com to utilize our home budget analyzer.
- If you’re curious about risk & reward when it comes to your money, ask questions. Come talk to us as your banker about traditional products like CDs and IRAs or speak with an advisor at SCB Investment & Wealth Management to learn about non-traditional ways to grow your assets.
It's tax time yet again. No one likes them, but unfortunately we all have to pay them.
- When possible choose the e-file option. Filing electronically can help avoid errors, which delay refunds. Combine with direct deposit to get your refund even faster.
- Guard your information. Beware of calls, texts, or emails asking for your identifying information. Thieves may be looking to file a false return in your name.
- Stay alert for IRS impersonators. Scammers often pose as IRS agents over the phone demanding immediate payment via gift card or wire transfer. The real IRS would never do this.
- Take steps now to see if you can decrease your tax burden next year. Meet with an expert. The advisors at SCB Investment & Wealth Management are available to discuss your situation and help maximize your refund.
For more helpful information, visit the IRS website.
Whether it’s for a particular purpose or an emergency fund, having money set aside is always a great idea.
Even if you don’t have a lot to spare, start now. Over time, even the smallest amounts can add up to big money.
Set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings when your payroll posts. Out of sight and out of mind can help avoid temptation to spend.
Being successful in saving money for any need, like college, retirement, or a vehicle works best if you have a plan. Schedule a free planning consultation either with your banker or with an SCB Wealth Management advisor.
Take advantage of workplace retirement program benefits, such as a 401k. Contribute what you can and take full advantage of any employer matching programs.
Check out a wide variety of financial calculators here on BankSCB.com by clicking on Financial Calculators near the top of any page (just to the left of Contact Us).
Data Privacy Day is recognized as a consumer awareness observance on January 28th, but keeping your data private should be of importance every day of the year. Your information should be treated like your money- manage it and protect it- because it is valuable.
Be thoughtful about how your personal information is collected through apps and websites.
Review your privacy and security settings.
Use security keys.
For more helpful tips, visit the Federal Trade Commission .
DELUXE PROVENT- IDENTITY THEFT & FRAUD PROTECTION SERVICE
SCB is proud to partner with Deluxe to to offer IDFP services. We all know that ID theft is a major problem. But, did you know that...
- It impacts 12.6 MILLION people every year
- Smartphone & tablet users are a constant target
- 105 million smartphone users and 42 million tablet users in the U.S. experience attacks through malware, software vulnerabilities and compromised W-Fi connections
- 42% of all U.S. cardholders have experienced fraud in the last 5 years
Enroll today to receive peace of mind with this service that you otherwise would not have in the unfortunate event that you become a victim. Get it now- before you need it!
SCB customers only need to sign up for this service on one checking account for all their accounts and credit cards to be covered under this service. (Note- this is registered by SSN, not account #, so please contact us for more details.) Once registered, you will be given the opportunity to add other options to your service, such as choosing a plan that will add coverage to family members.
We have 2 options available. Review the information below to see which option might best suit your needs.
Want more information or have questions about either service? Click here to be contacted by an SCB representative.
ID Restoration- valued at $6 per month- is available to SCB customers for only $1 per month!
(Free to SCB Key Interest Checking account holders.)
Provides subscriber with:
A certified Resolution Specialist to manage your fraud or identity theft case.
An online wallet to store personal information you would like to manage and protect with 24/7 secure access.
Preventive measures including up-to-date education, checklists and free or recommended resources for prevention of identity theft.
ID Protect Plus- valued at $25 per month- is available to SCB customers for only $6 per month! (Just $5 to SCB Key Interest Checking account holders.)
Provides subscriber with:
- ALL of the IDR services listed above, PLUS...
Internet Monitoring: ongoing monitoring of certain data and records available on the Internet to identify any known risks associated with up to 14 different consumer identity elements, as well as alerts if something is amiss.
Credit Monitoring: daily monitoring and alerts to notify you of certain activities associated with your credit file.
Go to https://deluxeprovent.ezshield.com/scb to access your new service and find the peace of mind you deserve.
DATA BREACH INFORMATION
SCB takes the security of our customer information very seriously, and we strive to provide you with information we know about any massive breach, as well as steps you can take to protect your personally identifiable information. Following any breach, we ask our customers to be extra vigilant and for any suspicious activity in your accounts.
To protect your identity and personal information, SCB strongly encourages our customers to take the actions noted below.
- Password protect your accounts. SCB is encouraging our customers to visit a branch in-person to set a unique password to be required for any requests made over the phone, such as for account inquiries or transactions.
- Review your bank account statements on a frequent, regular basis to spot any suspicious transactions. You can also monitor your account activity with SCB Online Banking, Mobile Banking, or Telephone Banking.
- If you spot any suspicious transactions on your SCB account, please contact us immediately.
- Consider placing an initial fraud alert on your credit report or a freeze on your credit file after any breach.
- Review your credit reports for accuracy. Visit www.annualcreditreport.gov to receive your free annual credit report.
- If you suspect fraud or identity theft, go to www.identitytheft.gov to report it. You may also wish to contact your local law enforcement office.
Identity thieves are smarter and more organized than ever before. While many companies offer one year of free credit monitoring as a conciliatory gesture (after their data breach has been publicized), many consumers have concluded this is not adequate protection. Since identity thieves often use the compromised information outside the free monitoring period, either before the breach is discovered or after the one year expiration of free monitoring service, many consumers have recognized the need for more consistent ID Theft & Fraud Protection.
SCB is proud of our continued partnership with Deluxe Provent, and we offer their EZShield ID monitoring and ID restoration services at deeply discounted rates to our customers (some services as inexpensive as $1.00 per month). For additional information about these services, read below, visit your closest SCB branch or call us to talk with one of our friendly bankers.
The Importance of Passwords
Every new app or device comes with a risk. The same technology that allows you to download new music to your phone could allow others to empty your bank account.
If you want to keep your account safe, the first line of defense is a good, strong password.
The basics still apply: no names, places, or birthdates — they're easy to guess, especially with the aid of unintended clues you may have posted on Facebook or other social media.
And we'll just assume you're not using "password" as your password, okay? Although if you are, you have plenty of company: that's still the second-most-common online password. Number one? 123456, which we'll get to in a minute.
Here are a few more guidelines for creating strong passwords:
Your passwords should be at least 8 to 10 characters - some advise even more-
You should include uppercase letters, numbers, punctuation and keyboard symbols, like an exclamation point or asterisk.
Consecutive keyboard characters are just too obvious. (Still, 123456 is the most popular password, as we just noted. And "qwerty" is number four! Number three, if you're wondering, is 12345678.)
Notice I've been saying "passwords," as in plural? Yeah, we both know you're not supposed to reuse a password. But we both know you do. So do I — but that doesn’t mean we should. In particular, passwords for your banking accounts should be unique from all other accounts.
The average person uses just five passwords to protect about two dozen accounts. Who can remember more, especially when you’re not supposed to write them down?
But here's an approach that can make it easier to create and recall effective passwords. Instead of passwords, think passphrases.
Remember how you're not supposed to use names, dates, or places — things you’re most likely to remember — as passwords? That rule stands, but you can build a short phrase that means something to you alone.
Here's how it works.
Like the Beatles? Let’s say you do. And because you’re such a big fan, you know that “Ticket to Ride” was released in 1965. So, how about 6Ticket2R1de5?
That's a good password: it uses both upper and lower-case letters and numbers to make a unique phrase that's memorable to its user. Using some lookalike numbers for letters further confuses would-be code crackers. We hope.
And if your playlist is more likely to include Beyoncé, this system will still help you design a memorable password.
All this doesn't eliminate the need for multiple, unique passwords, and you should still change them every month or so. But it could at least make them easier to remember.
As we said earlier, writing down passwords is risky, and kind of defeats the whole purpose.
But with passphrases, you can keep a note with clues that make sense to no one else. In the examples we've just seen, you might use "she don't care," for instance.
Just make these clues obscure enough that only you would know them. Don’t ever write down the passwords themselves.
Common words, names, dates and phone numbers don't make good passwords.
Make your passwords at least 8 to 10 characters long.
Use symbols and numbers, too.
Sequential numbers or letters are just too easy to guess, especially with detection software.
Never reuse passwords.
Memorize your passwords. Never write them down — although a tip sheet of obscure clues is okay.
Tax Scam News & Tips
The IRS website is an excellent tool for a variety of information. Since tax filing season is upon us, the most recent news is dealing with tax scams.
Click here to see info on IRS.gov that offers tips on what you need to be on the look out for.
Managing your money is not limited simply to balancing a checkbook and paying bills. Making sure that you keep an eye on your finances is crucial to maintaining stable financial health. SCB wants to help!
Financial Health Tips
Click here to view a pdf featuring helpful financial tips and useful, credible websites.
Holiday Shopping Tips
Just like food and decorations, deep discounts and bargain prices have become a huge part of the holidays. As shoppers go online to find good deals, they are also exposing themselves to cyber criminals seeking to exploit the festive season.
Scammers and spammers view the holidays as a golden opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. Hackers may use tactics like preying on popular keyword searches to lure shoppers to malicious websites, with the goal of collecting financial and personal information.
To help keep you and your bank account safe, it’s important to learn how to shop securely during the holidays. These simple tips from the STOP.THINK.CONNECT.TM Campaign can help protect your personal information and transactions throughout the holiday season:
- Watch out for deals that look too good to be true. Scammers often try to trick shoppers by offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Don’t open suspicious email attachments or follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection when using your debit card. Check with your card providers to see what protections they provide for each card you have.
- Avoid financial transactions on public Wi-Fi, which is often not very secure. Save your online shopping, banking, or sensitive transactions for your home network.
- Keep your computer, browser, anti-virus, and other critical software up to date.
- Beware of fake URLs. Malicious websites look like legitimate sites, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Also look in the address box for the "s" in https:// before any transaction. That “s” tells you that the site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.
- Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages in case there are unauthorized purchases on your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
Click here to read more tips from the Federal Trade Commission.