ICBA and New Foundation Savings Bank Encourage Consumers to Protect their Data during Cyber Security Awareness Month

Washington, D.C. (Sept.11, 2015)—Americans live in a mobile society, relying on smartphones, tablets and computers to gather news, make purchases, interact with friends and family, and connect with financial institutions. Increasingly, cybercriminals compromise the networks that support these devices. This often results in identity theft, which can also yield financial losses and safety for consumers. In fact, a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that computer hackers have stolen the personal information of approximately 40 million U.S. residents.

 

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and New Foundation Savings Bank are offering tips to help consumers avoid having their online financial information disrupted or stolen. ICBA, along with more than 6,000 community banks across the country, urge consumers to remain vigilant and protect themselves from potential credit card and bank fraud.

 

ICBA and New Foundation Savings Bank offer the following tips to help consumers safeguard their online accounts:

 

  • When sending sensitive information via the Internet, make sure “https:” appears in the address bar. This  means the information you are transmitting is encrypted.
  • Ensure the wireless network you use is password-protected, and choose a strong password and update it frequently for your work and home wireless networks. Likewise, always use a passcode on your mobile phone or tablet to stop an unauthorized user from accessing your device.
  • Don’t enter sensitive information into your phone when others can see what you’re entering.
  • Set the privacy settings on frequented social network sites. Cybercriminals often learn about people and their families and friends via social media in an attempt to spoof or phish you and your network.
  • Remain cautious of someone who isn’t who they say they are or if the name and area don’t match what appears on caller ID. This is often how spoofing occurs.
  • Never respond to text messages, emails or phone calls from companies alleging to be your bank, government officials or business representatives that request your banking ID, account numbers, user name or password.
  • Similarly, don’t click on links sent to you from unknown sources via text message because they are likely malware.
  • Beware of “get rich quick” schemes; never voluntarily give out your bank account information or security credentials.

“Now more than ever consumers must remain alert to the possibility of their personal credit and financial security being compromised,” said Cynthia Scott, Managing Officer. “Community banks like New Foundation Savings Bank often serve as the first line of defense in ensuring their customers’ financial information is not being used improperly. These banks have established protocols to protect customers’ financial information from data breaches.” 

You can learn more about Cyber Security Awareness Month by visiting the Stay Safe Online website. Online resources for community banks regarding cyber and data security are available on ICBA’s Data Breach Toolkit.  

 

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 6,000 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit www.icba.org.

 

 

**Reprinted from the

FDIC Consumer News

 

https://www.fdic.gov/consumer

10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money

The news often includes reports about thieves gaining access to sensitive personal information that can be used to commit fraud or steal money, sometimes involving major security breaches at large companies such as retailers. "These reports may cause some consumers to be skeptical about engaging in even the simplest financial transactions, but that is unrealistic for most people, especially in today's online and electronic world," said Michael Benardo, Chief of the FDIC's Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. "That's why it's important to be vigilant about protecting your finances by taking some reasonable precautions."

While federal laws and industry practices generally limit losses for unauthorized transactions involving bank accounts, debit cards and credit cards, it pays to be proactive. Here are 10 things you can do to help protect yourself:

1. Know that offers that seem "too good to be true" are probably a fraud. Crooks often pose as businesses promising or guaranteeing high interest rates, high-paying jobs or other "opportunities," such as a big prize or lottery winnings for which you must pay taxes or other charges upfront. Be especially careful if someone pressures you to make a quick decision or if you are asked to send money or provide bank account information before receiving anything in return.

2. Guard against scams involving fraudulent checks and requests to wire money or send a prepaid card. A stranger or unfamiliar company might send you a check for more than you are due for an online sale and ask you to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Or, you might be asked to send a prepaid card to the crook. "If you send a wire transfer or a prepaid card, the money is immediately removed from your account, but the check you deposited may not have cleared. If that check is counterfeit, your financial institution would likely hold you responsible for the losses," said Benardo.

"Also," he added, "if you are selling something online, be wary of a request by a 'buyer' to wire you the money because that may be a ruse to get your bank account information."

3. Be suspicious about unsolicited e-mails or text messages asking you to click on a link or open an attachment. Crooks are known to distribute and install malicious software ("malware") that can capture passwords and PIN numbers. This information could be used to gain access to your online banking sites.

4. Don't give out personal information to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know the other party is reputable. "Crooks pretending to be from legitimate companies or government agencies often contact people asking them to 'confirm' or 'update' confidential information," explained Kathryn Weatherby, a fraud examination specialist for the FDIC. "But your bank, credit card issuer and government agencies would never contact you asking for personal details such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers and passwords. Presume that any such request by phone, text message, fax, e-mail or letter is fraudulent."

5. Carefully choose user IDs and passwords for your computers, mobile devices, and online accounts. For unlocking devices and logging into Web sites and apps, create "strong" IDs and passwords with combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols that are hard to guess, and then change them regularly.

6. Be careful when using social networking sites. Scammers use social networking sites to gather details about individuals, such as their place or date of birth, a pet's name, their mother's maiden name, and other information that can help them figure out passwords — or how to reset them. Even small tidbits of information can help them steal your identity, such as by answering security questions that control access to accounts. "Don't share your 'page' or access to your information with anyone you don't know and trust," said Benardo. "Criminals may pretend to be your 'friend' to convince you to send money or divulge personal information."

Fraudsters also have become sophisticated at creating fake social networking sites for financial institutions and other businesses.

For tips on avoiding fraud at social media sites, visit from the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/media/2009/091001.aspx. For additional information about safely using financial institutions' social media sites, see the Fall 2013 FDIC Consumer News (www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall13/socialmedia.html).

7. Regularly review your transaction history. Look at your bank statements, credit card bills or other transaction histories – preferably as soon as they arrive – and make sure you had authorized all of the transactions. Immediately report to your financial institution any suspicious activity, such as an unfamiliar charge. "Many financial services providers allow you to conveniently check your transaction history on their Web site or through an app on a mobile device," noted Weatherby.

8. Periodically review your credit reports to make sure someone hasn't obtained a credit card or a loan in your name. Ask for a free copy from each of the nation's three major credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) because their reports may differ, but spread out the requests during the year. For more information and to order a report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

If you find an unfamiliar account on your report, call the fraud department at the credit reporting agency that produced it. If the account turns out to be fraudulent, ask for a fraud alert to be placed in your file at all three of the major credit bureaus. The alert tells lenders and other users of credit reports that you have been a victim of fraud and to verify any new accounts or changes to accounts in your name.

9. Protect your personal financial documents. Keep bank and credit card statements, tax returns and blank checks in a secure place. And, shred any sensitive documents instead of just throwing them in the trash, because thieves look through trash to find this type of information to commit identity theft or other crimes.

10. Guard your incoming and outgoing mail. From time to time, your mailbox may contain credit card or bank statements, documents showing confidential information, or checks you are sending. For incoming mail, try to use a locked mailbox or a mailbox in a secure location. Put outgoing mail, especially if it contains a check or personal information, in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox or take it to the post office.

To learn more about avoiding fraud, see back issues of FDIC Consumer News(online at www.fdic.gov/consumernews) and the FDIC's multimedia presentation "Don't Be an Online Victim" (atwww.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/guard/index.html). Also find tips from the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force athttp://www.stopfraud.gov/protect.html. For information about tax-related scams, see Money and Banking Tips for the Tax Season.

 

Winter 2013/2014

Test Your Deposit Insurance IQ

FDIC Consumer News Winter 2013/2014 - Test Your Deposit Insurance IQ

Do you think you know how FDIC insurance works? Take our quiz and find out.

1. If your FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails, the $250,000 federal insurance coverage would include both the money you've deposited and the interest you've earned. True or False?

Check for Answer

2. Historically, insured funds are available to depositors shortly after the closing of an insured bank. True or False?

Check for Answer

3. FDIC insurance protects more than just deposits. If you purchase stocks, bonds, mutual funds or annuities at an FDIC-insured bank, the FDIC also will protect those investments against loss. True or False?

Check for Answer

4. The basic insurance limit is $250,000 per depositor per bank but it is possible to qualify for more coverage under the FDIC's rules. True or False?

Check for Answer

5. You're thinking about taking a $300,000 lump-sum, eligible rollover distribution from your employer's qualified pension plan and depositing it into two different IRAs at your bank. That's safe to do because each IRA would be separately insured to $250,000. True or False?

Check for Answer

6. You want to open a "payable-on-death" account naming your two children as the beneficiaries. Under the FDIC's insurance rules, this account qualifies for $500,000 of insurance — $250,000 for each eligible beneficiary — not $250,000 in total. True or False?

Check for Answer

7. You have three different joint accounts at the same bank — one for $250,000 with your spouse, another for $250,000 with your sister, and a third for $250,000 with your brother. Because you own each account with a different person, each account qualifies for $250,000 of insurance. True or False?

Check for Answer

Quiz Answers


1. True. If your insured institution fails, FDIC insurance will cover your deposit accounts, including principal and any accrued interest, up to the insurance limit.

2. True. The FDIC protects insured depositors by arranging an immediate sale to a healthy bank or paying depositors by check within a few days after a bank closing. And remember that since the start of the FDIC in 1933, no depositor has ever lost a penny of insured deposits. Note: Certificates of deposit (CDs) purchased or arranged through a broker may take longer to be paid because the FDIC may need to obtain the broker's records to determine insurance coverage.

3. False. The FDIC does not insure the money you invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, annuities or municipal securities, even if you purchased these products from an insured bank. The FDIC also does not insure U.S. Treasury bills, bonds or notes, although those investments are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

4. True. You may qualify for more than $250,000 in coverage at one insured institution if you own deposit accounts in different ownership categories as defined by the FDIC. The most common ownership categories are single, retirement, joint, and revocable trust accounts (accounts in which the owner retains full control over the money during his or her lifetime). Your deposits in each of those categories are separately insured to $250,000. If certain conditions are met, your revocable trust accounts are insured up to $250,000 for each beneficiary. For more details, consult the FDIC publication "Your Insured Deposits" (www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/insured).

5. False. All of your self-directed retirement accounts (you decide where the money is deposited) at the same insured bank are added together and the total is insured up to $250,000. Opening multiple IRAs or adding beneficiaries will not increase insurance coverage.

6. True. In general, the owner of payable-on-death (POD) accounts and other revocable trust accounts at a bank is insured up to $250,000 for each "eligible beneficiary." To be eligible, a beneficiary must be a living person, a charity or a nonprofit organization (the latter two must be valid under IRS rules). If the owner names five or fewer beneficiaries, he or she will qualify for $250,000 of coverage for each different beneficiary named. Different rules apply, though, if there are six or more beneficiaries. Using our example, and assuming this is the only POD account you have at this bank, if you establish a POD account naming your two children as beneficiaries it would be insured up to $500,000.

7. False. For each $250,000 joint account, your ownership interest would be $125,000 as the interests of the co-owners are presumed equal. This means your interest in all three joint accounts would be $375,000. But under the FDIC's rules, each person's interest in all joint accounts at the same institution is insured up to a combined total of $250,000. In this example, you'd be uninsured in the amount of $125,000.

How Did You Do?

If a little extra homework is needed — to be sure your deposits are entirely safe in the unlikely event of a bank failure — visit www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits for extensive information about FDIC insurance coverage. If you need additional assistance, call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342), send an e-mail by starting at www2.fdic.gov/starsmail, or write to the FDIC, Attn: Deposit Insurance Outreach Group, 550 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20429.

Winter 2013/2014

Money and Banking Tips for the Tax Season

How can you save money and avoid a variety of problems at tax time?

Guard against tax-related frauds. Examples include scam e-mails falsely claiming to come from the IRS. Many of these are intended to trick taxpayers into revealing Social Security numbers and other personal information that can be used by criminals to steal victims' identity and money, including tax refunds. Others involve phone callers saying the taxpayer owes money to the IRS that must be paid promptly by wire transfer (that actually goes to the crook) or by loading funds onto a prepaid debit card and then sharing the number. The scammer may try to intimidate a targeted victim who refuses to cooperate, such as by threatening arrest or suspension of a business or driver's license. For information from the IRS about tax frauds targeting consumers, visit www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.

Carefully choose how to prepare your taxes. At tax time, you gather and submit a substantial amount of sensitive information that, if misused, could cause you significant problems. If you are using a computer program to prepare your return, make sure that your computer has an up-to-date security package.

If you plan to hire a tax preparer, consider factors such as the preparer's professional background and the likelihood that the preparer will be around to help you answer questions the IRS may ask months after your return has been filed. For tips from the IRS on how to choose a tax preparer, including red flags to avoid, go towww.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc254.html.

After you choose a preparer, carefully review the completed tax return. Question any income and/or deductions on the return that you do not recognize. Unsupported income and deductions can be signs of an unscrupulous preparer who may deliberately make fraudulent errors, such as inflated claims for deductible expense. When the IRS detects these unsupported claims, the taxpayer is responsible for paying additional taxes, interest and perhaps costly penalties.

Be cautious with offers by tax preparers to handle your refund. These include suggestions that they can somehow get your money faster or that you should direct deposit your refund into any bank account other than your own. These services can be costly and perhaps even put you at additional risk for fraud. "Keep in mind that the IRS issues refunds to more than 90 percent of taxpayers in less than 21 days," noted Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC's Outreach and Program Development Section.

Find out if you may be eligible for free tax-preparation assistance through the IRS. One example is the IRS "Free File" program, which allows taxpayers who earn $58,000 or less (for returns to be filed during 2014) to use a software program available to them free through the IRS Web site to prepare and file their federal taxes. Taxpayers who exceed the income threshold and are comfortable calculating and preparing their own returns without a software program can manually complete their federal forms through the IRS Web site.

Also, low-income, disabled, elderly and non-English speaking taxpayers can receive free tax-preparation assistance by trained, certified volunteers through the IRS-coordinated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. For details, start at www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-Programs.

These various IRS-affiliated options enable you to electronically file your return, which is generally the easiest and fastest way to get your return to the IRS. Note: Certain tax returns are not eligible for e-filing.

Direct deposit your tax refund into your bank account. "Direct deposit is generally the fastest and safest way to get your refund," Reynolds said.

Put some of your refund into savings or toward paying down debt. If you're expecting a refund, consider deciding how much of it you can save toward a goal or for a "rainy day fund" for unplanned expenses. You can direct deposit your tax refund into up to three different accounts at three different U.S. financial institutions, including savings accounts. And, you can use part of your refund to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond for yourself or for someone else. Also consider using part of your refund to pay high-cost loans and other bills, starting with the ones that charge the highest interest rates.

If you owe money on your taxes, consider the best way to pay it. You can have your payment withdrawn electronically from your bank account on a date you specify, such as April 15, but make sure you have enough money in your account. If you don't have money to pay your tax balance, you have several choices, including an IRS monthly installment plan. Also remember that borrowing money on a credit card to pay your taxes can be costly.

Plan for next year's tax return. If you're expecting to receive a significant tax refund or owe money, consider filling out a new W-4 form with your employer to adjust your "personal allowances." This adjustment will reduce or increase the taxes withheld each pay period.

"Many people are excited about getting a big refund, but that really means they have overpaid on taxes and missed an opportunity to invest or otherwise use the money," said Elizabeth Khalil, a Senior Policy Analyst in the FDIC's Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection. "If this happens year after year, it may be time to reevaluate how much you are having withheld."

And, if you owed a lot of money on last year's taxes, you may want to increase your withholding (or your estimated tax payments if you are self-employed) to reduce the risk of a penalty for underpayment of your taxes during the year. Regardless, you may be able to reduce your taxes through contributions to tax-preferred retirement plans and higher education savings vehicles such as a 529 Plan for college savings.

For more information on taxes, start at www.irs.gov or consult a tax advisor. For tips on other useful financial topics, visit www.mymoney.gov.

 

Winter 2013/2014

Money and Banking Tips for the Tax Season

Audio (MP3 10 MB)

How can you save money and avoid a variety of problems at tax time?

Guard against tax-related frauds. Examples include scam e-mails falsely claiming to come from the IRS. Many of these are intended to trick taxpayers into revealing Social Security numbers and other personal information that can be used by criminals to steal victims' identity and money, including tax refunds. Others involve phone callers saying the taxpayer owes money to the IRS that must be paid promptly by wire transfer (that actually goes to the crook) or by loading funds onto a prepaid debit card and then sharing the number. The scammer may try to intimidate a targeted victim who refuses to cooperate, such as by threatening arrest or suspension of a business or driver's license. For information from the IRS about tax frauds targeting consumers, visit www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.

Carefully choose how to prepare your taxes. At tax time, you gather and submit a substantial amount of sensitive information that, if misused, could cause you significant problems. If you are using a computer program to prepare your return, make sure that your computer has an up-to-date security package.

If you plan to hire a tax preparer, consider factors such as the preparer's professional background and the likelihood that the preparer will be around to help you answer questions the IRS may ask months after your return has been filed. For tips from the IRS on how to choose a tax preparer, including red flags to avoid, go towww.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc254.html.

After you choose a preparer, carefully review the completed tax return. Question any income and/or deductions on the return that you do not recognize. Unsupported income and deductions can be signs of an unscrupulous preparer who may deliberately make fraudulent errors, such as inflated claims for deductible expense. When the IRS detects these unsupported claims, the taxpayer is responsible for paying additional taxes, interest and perhaps costly penalties.

Be cautious with offers by tax preparers to handle your refund. These include suggestions that they can somehow get your money faster or that you should direct deposit your refund into any bank account other than your own. These services can be costly and perhaps even put you at additional risk for fraud. "Keep in mind that the IRS issues refunds to more than 90 percent of taxpayers in less than 21 days," noted Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC's Outreach and Program Development Section.

Find out if you may be eligible for free tax-preparation assistance through the IRS. One example is the IRS "Free File" program, which allows taxpayers who earn $58,000 or less (for returns to be filed during 2014) to use a software program available to them free through the IRS Web site to prepare and file their federal taxes. Taxpayers who exceed the income threshold and are comfortable calculating and preparing their own returns without a software program can manually complete their federal forms through the IRS Web site.

Also, low-income, disabled, elderly and non-English speaking taxpayers can receive free tax-preparation assistance by trained, certified volunteers through the IRS-coordinated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. For details, start at www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-Programs.

These various IRS-affiliated options enable you to electronically file your return, which is generally the easiest and fastest way to get your return to the IRS. Note: Certain tax returns are not eligible for e-filing.

Direct deposit your tax refund into your bank account. "Direct deposit is generally the fastest and safest way to get your refund," Reynolds said.

Put some of your refund into savings or toward paying down debt. If you're expecting a refund, consider deciding how much of it you can save toward a goal or for a "rainy day fund" for unplanned expenses. You can direct deposit your tax refund into up to three different accounts at three different U.S. financial institutions, including savings accounts. And, you can use part of your refund to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond for yourself or for someone else. Also consider using part of your refund to pay high-cost loans and other bills, starting with the ones that charge the highest interest rates.

If you owe money on your taxes, consider the best way to pay it. You can have your payment withdrawn electronically from your bank account on a date you specify, such as April 15, but make sure you have enough money in your account. If you don't have money to pay your tax balance, you have several choices, including an IRS monthly installment plan. Also remember that borrowing money on a credit card to pay your taxes can be costly.

Plan for next year's tax return. If you're expecting to receive a significant tax refund or owe money, consider filling out a new W-4 form with your employer to adjust your "personal allowances." This adjustment will reduce or increase the taxes withheld each pay period.

"Many people are excited about getting a big refund, but that really means they have overpaid on taxes and missed an opportunity to invest or otherwise use the money," said Elizabeth Khalil, a Senior Policy Analyst in the FDIC's Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection. "If this happens year after year, it may be time to reevaluate how much you are having withheld."

And, if you owed a lot of money on last year's taxes, you may want to increase your withholding (or your estimated tax payments if you are self-employed) to reduce the risk of a penalty for underpayment of your taxes during the year. Regardless, you may be able to reduce your taxes through contributions to tax-preferred retirement plans and higher education savings vehicles such as a 529 Plan for college savings.

For more information on taxes, start at www.irs.gov or consult a tax advisor. For tips on other useful financial topics, visit www.mymoney.gov.