Borrowing money makes sense only when you can afford it. Getting a large sum of money is often necessary to purchase a car, fund a college education, purchase a home or expand a business. But your credit history, cash management skills and other factors are used to determine if you can afford to repay that loan. So be careful to build up a history of financial responsibility. Here are some tips to keep your credit history strong, and help prove that you can afford to borrow when the time comes:
- Pay your bills on time
- Inform yourself about credit (how it works, what it costs)
- Pay attention to your credit activity (credit reports, etc.)
Inform yourself about borrowing. The importance cannot be over-stated. Peoples Bank has extensive information about credit available to help you with this learning process. So does the US government. Read the “Borrow” page on MyMoney.gov. The resources at the bottom of the page are particularly good.
‘tis the season to take special precautions.
The FDIC, the same people who insure all your deposits, have a vested interest in helping you avoid financial loss through scams. They work hard to do their part and so does Peoples Bank. Below are the highlights taken from the FDIC’s Consumer News web page titled “10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money”. We think the tips make good sense, especially this time of the year.
- Offers that seem too good to be true are probably a fraud.
- Someone you don’t know who sends you a check for more than you are due may be a fraudster.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails or text messages that ask you to click on a link. (The offer doesn’t have to be about money for your personal information to be the object.)
- Don’t give out personal information such as tax ID, driver’s license number and other key identification unless you initiated the conversation and are certain you are talking with a legitimate representative of a valid organization.
- Choose good passwords, and use different ones for each site. A password manager can help with this, so can your 10th grade English teacher who made you memorize Shakespeare.
- Be careful when using social networking sites. Remember, when the site and service are free – YOU are the target, YOU represent the access to money. (Check out tips on avoiding social media fraud)
- Check your bank transactions regularly. This will help you see anomalies quickly.
- Review your personal credit reports at least once a year. Often you can get a free report. See www.AnnualCreditReport.com for more information.
- Protect your personal financial documents. Leaving them laying around the house is not a good security procedure.
- Guard your mail. Your mailbox may contain bank statements or other documents containing sensitive information from time to time. Protect the access to that mail and don’t let it linger in unprotected areas.
The FDIC’s web page contains more details and links to resources that can help you. You can even listen to the full article if reading it is inconvenient. There is also a way to find back issues of the Consumer News tips and suggestions. This website is a great resource.
During the surge of online shopping during the holidays, our Chief Technology Officer thought these reminders would be helpful. Here are 10 tips collected from security experts for shopping safely online:
- Make sure your computer and mobile device are fully up-to-date. Do you have the latest Windows or Mac patches installed? Is your tablet or phone running the most recent operating system update? Make sure they are!
- Are you free of malware? Designers of malicious software such as Trojans and key loggers grab your credit card information and site passwords, opening you up to fraudulent transactions. Run up-to-date antivirus software and configure it to fully scan your system from time to time (perhaps every day at 2 AM).
- Were you ever infected? If your machine ever did have nasty malware on it and was not completely wiped (or factory reset), think very hard before using it for any sensitive online activity. It’s virtually impossible to guarantee a once-compromised system is now safe.
- When it comes to shopping, go only to places you trust. If you are following links from fliers, marketing emails or websites, “hover” over the link to check the domain name before you click. If the last part of the domain name, (distinguished by punctuation and including the “dot com”) is not the same as what you know it to be, don’t go there!
Good link (find the “dot com” and what precedes it): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8034-ui76?link=bold?cat=elec.
Bad link: (see that there are 2 “dot coms”? The last one is where you will go when you click.) http://www.amazon.com.amazn.com/gp/product/8034-ui76?link=bold?cat=elec.
- Be particularly cautious of deals that are too good to be true. Online specials may be exciting, but the bad guys know what products get people clicking with wild abandon. Don’t follow retailers or marketing materials that you don’t recognize.
- Be particularly cautious of spam email through the holiday season. It always escalates in December, as does the successful fraud that drives it.
- If the website isn’t loading as “HTTPS”, close it down. Do not enter any information. The address should begin with https://.
- Offers requiring you to sign up or register may not be fraudulent, but be aware of precisely what information you are sharing and how the company will use your information. Malicious phishing emails are harder to spot if you also get a lot of legitimate marketing emails. Consider a throwaway email address for such offers; an email account you don’t use for online financial transactions.
- Never enter your bank card details into a pop-up window that appears before the payment stage. Never enter your PIN number anywhere online, period.
- Finally, be sure to keep receipts and some kind of record of the purchases you make online. Protect yourself in the event that you need to return something or dispute charges later.
We hope you have a fun, and safe holiday season. Our own experts are always ready to help you protect your financial assets. For more information, including a phone number if you need to talk to a live person are found on The Peoples Bank Online Security Tools resource page.
OUR CUSTOMERS ARE THE BEST!
There are plenty of places where you could do your banking. We’d like to say “Thanks” for choosing Peoples Bank. And this year (our 102nd!), we’re taking Friday, December 5th to show you how much we appreciate you!
We’ll have refreshments all day, in every office. Please come by and let us thank you in person!