A Letter from President and CEO Kate Corey Marcum
COVID-19 Brings an Increase in Cyber Attacks
Unfortunately in light of the Coronavirus situation, many attackers are using the current environment for benefit. Industries across the globe are witnessing an increase in malicious cyber activity. Attackers are using a variety of means to target organizations. While attackers are attempting to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis by preying on fear and individuals willingness to help, they are using the same tactics they always do. You should be especially vigilant now to take steps to protect yourself.
- Ransomware and malware continue to be one of the most severe threats facing financial institutions. There have been reports of attackers standing up informational maps on the virus outbreak which are infected with malware designed to steal credential information and sometimes infect the host with additional malware.
- Phishing e-mails are being used to target individuals by posing as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other legitimate organizations like Johns Hopkins University. Remain vigilant on these types of attacks.
- The large amount of employees working from home has attackers on the hunt for insecure environments such as home networks which often have less security defenses on their home networks than what exists in the office.
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. See Using Caution with Email Attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
- Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites – for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your accounts where possible.
- Remind employees not to use personal workstations for business purposes. Organizations may not know how these assets are protected in home environments.
- Consider ramping up security awareness training.
- Double-check the source of downloads on the Internet.
- Ensure your devices have the latest security updates and antivirus definitions.
You can find information and resources on defending and educating against a number of COVID-19 scams and attacks here.
Beware of Spoofed Websites Offering Phony CDs
"Spoofed" websites mimic the actual sites of legitimate financial institutions. Be extremely cautious when purchasing CDs from sites found only through internet searches. These sites may offer interest rates higher than what you can find at any other financial institution, only promote CDs and no other financial accounts, require high minimum deposits, direct funds to accounts located outside the U.S., claim the spoofed institution is a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIS) member, and identify "clearing partners" that they claim are registered with the SEC. Find out more at the link below.
Capital One Compromise
A recent breach of more than 100 million credit card applications and accounts was just released. Capital one confirmed that they are aware of the breach and over 99% of social security numbers were NOT compromised. We want to take a minute to remind you that stolen card information often leads to fraud. Ensure you are regularly checking your account online to see if there any suspicious transactions. Also, never give your card number to someone via text message, especially if you don't know who the phone number is from
Cash Secured Loans
Last month, we discussed how to rebuild your credit and get your personal and financial goals back on track. In addition to all of the great tips that were in that segment, another tool that can be utilized to help rebuild credit, but also build a nice savings or CD account is a cash secured loan.
You may ask yourself why you should get a cash secured loan rather than just using the cash to pay for obligations. Sure, you will avoid paying interest, but if you have bad credit or no credit, these are the type of loans that help strengthen your credit history and act as a stepping stone for future lending. Another purpose of a cash secured loan is to help save money. If you are a person that has difficulty setting aside money on a monthly basis, this would be the perfect product for you. For example, if you received a loan for $1,000, the bank will set aside the $1,000 in a savings account. Once the loan is paid off, the funds will be released to you and will walk away with $1,000 (plus interest) in your pocket.
What about if you have the funds and need to do some work on your home but you’re worried that you won’t have any cash for emergencies? Instead of going the traditional route of doing a home equity line of credit and having to pay closing costs and a higher rate of interest, you can opt for a cash secured loan with a certificate of deposit. You can deposit your existing funds into a bank held CD, make payments on the amount that you borrow and still have cash in your pocket at the end of the note, usually with interest accrued.
Cash secured loans are a great way to get your foot in the door if you have bad or little-to-no credit. Not only are you helping your credit, but you will have a small nest egg. With many products at our disposal, the knowledgeable staff at Millbury National Bank will help find you the product that best fits your financial goals!
How to Rebuild Your Credit
Is poor credit keeping you from achieving your goals of purchasing a house or that new car? There’s good news! Your credit doesn’t have to stand in your way forever. While certain credit mishaps will stay on your credit report for seven years, and bankruptcies can linger for ten years, there are several simple steps that you can take to start rebuilding your credit right away!
The first step that you should take is to begin paying your existing debt on time going forward. What happened in the past should stay there, but your credit score will thank you when you make payments on time. The goal should be to keep your balance, especially on credit cards, low. The definition of ‘Low’ usually means you are utilizing less than 30% of your available credit. For example, if your credit card has $1,000 limit, it is best to keep a balance of $300 or less on it.
A secondary option that Millbury National Bank would love to assist you with is opening a cash secured loan. When establishing a cash secured loan, you are creating the opportunity to have consistent and timely Installment Loan payments reported to the credit bureau. The best part about this type of loan is that you can obtain it even with poor credit history. With a cash secured loan, there is no need for you to sign over any of your own money as collateral, since the proceeds from the loan are used to secure the Note. Once you have repaid the loan in full, the proceeds that were being held as collateral will be released and put into your pocket so you can get back to focusing on step number one!
Lastly, but equally as important, is to practice good financial habits. Nothing that was previously talked about will work if you are unable to be honest with yourself about your spending limits. Take a hard look at your own personal finances and budget to see if you can eliminate unwanted or unused bills that you pay for monthly. Have a gym membership that you haven’t used in a year? Nix it! Cable bill too high? Call your provider and negotiate. They are usually willing to work with you. Your goal should be to pay down all your debts and ultimately pay them off to eliminate them altogether. By doing so, over time your credit score should see a substantial improvement and allow you to achieve your other financial goals!
How To Avoid Overdraft Fees
The dreaded overdraft fee. You forget that you wrote out a check, you don't remember your balance and then all of a sudden the forgotten item hits your account and you get assessed an overdraft fee. We understand that life gets busy and mistakes happen. To better help manage your accounts and avoid any potential fees, Millbury National Bank offers several helpful tools including internet banking (which can be accessed using your computer, smart phone or tablet), telephone banking, sweep transfers and a cash reserve for overdraft protection. To decide which products are the right fit for you, call Millbury National Bank and speak to any of our knowledgeable bankers. We are here to answer your questions and assist you with any of your account needs. Let us help you better manage your account!
Protect Your Personal Information with Kasasa Protect
With identity theft on the rise at an alarming rate, many of us have had some sort of personal information compromised at some point. In 2016, identity theft affected 15.4 million Americans, stealing more than $16 billion; a 16% increase from 2015. Some examples may include debit card fraud, falsified or multiple tax returns using your personal social security number, or even something as strange as someone stealing your Facebook profile picture to create additional accounts. With activities like this going on all around us, it can be easy to be scared of being the next victim of identity theft every time you step out into the public. However, there are ways to combat identity theft. One of the best ways to do that is with Kasasa Protect. Kasasa Protect acts like a bank vault for your personal information, keeping it safe and secure for your peace of mind.
Kasasa Protect employs around-the-clock monitoring for fraudulent activity and will alert you immediately if there is any suspicious activity. Additional features of this tremendous service include 24/7 credit monitoring, with access to annual credit reports with a monthly credit score and tracker. Kasasa Protect will monitor the dark web and scan millions of international sources in real time to help spot stolen data such as social security numbers. One of the best features is that in the event that fraud or identity theft occurs to you, certified specialists will go to work filing, disputing and helping resolve issue with your credit report and other authorities, if needed. In addition, while you can never be completely safe, Kasasa Protect is the next best thing to provide yourself with peace of mind, knowing that your personal information is being monitored and protected by specialists! Inquire with our knowledgeable staff on how to make the most out of this service!