Monday, July 10, 2017

Avoiding Malware, Phishing, and Spyware

Avoiding Malware, Phishing, and Spyware

Malware, spyware, and phishing prey upon unsuspecting citizens by attempting to collect personal information, oftentimes without an individual’s knowledge or consent. Not only does this invasive activity cause annoyance, it can result in identity theft, negatively impact your credit record, and even steal money from your bank account. Online and mobile banking, internet financial transactions, and more have become modern conveniences many people enjoy, but the rise of online criminal activity makes it more important than ever to take precautions to protect yourself and your finances.

Phishing, spyware, and malware share the goal of stealing information, but understanding the differences between them helps us fight them more effectively.

  • Phishing is an attempt to collect information or money by pretending to be a trustworthy source. Examples include emails that purport to be from government agencies and financial institutions, but ask for personal information such as passwords or bank account numbers. Often, phishing emails contain links to fake websites that appear reputable, in hopes the recipient will enter personal information. Some links in phishing email take the unsuspecting recipient to a site that installs malware.
  • Malware refers to unwanted and unfriendly software installed on another computer in order to disrupt and gain access to its system, and oftentimes, to personal information.
  • Spyware, a form of malware, logs a user’s keystrokes, browsing habits, and more without his or her knowledge, and in this way, collects information such as passwords, account numbers, and more.   

To combat these intrusions and protect your privacy:

  • Invest in an anti-virus service that has a reputation for quality, making sure it includes a firewall, anti-malware, and anti-spyware technology.
  • Download the latest software and security updates for your operating system and anti-virus service. Set both to “automatic updates” so you never miss the latest patches and security upgrades.
  • Any email requesting personal information should be treated with extreme caution. Do not open attachments, reply, or click links in these messages. When in doubt about the email’s authenticity, call the business or institution to check.
  • Avoid visiting suspicious websites.
  • Set your browser security level to “medium” or above, and clean out your internet cache regularly.

McHenry Savings Bank cares about protecting our customers from identity theft, financial scams, and fraudulent banking activity. If you notice unauthorized activity on your accounts, or receive suspicious emails purporting to be from our institution, please call us right away.

McHenry Savings Bank has been serving the banking needs of the people of McHenry County, Illinois, for over 60 years. With branches in McHenry, Richmond, and Johnsburg, we are a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, and investment services. Please visit our website, or call us at (815) 385-3000 for more information.
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Online Banking: Being a Safe Internet Explorer

Cell phones have put so many things quite literally at our fingertips. A few quick taps on the screen can wish mom a happy birthday, make a car payment, order a pizza, or send a picture across the world. With a world of technology rapidly expanding, mobile users can open the virtual door for cyber criminals - no ski mask needed. Yes, online banking has become a portal for hackers to steal personal information, bank account numbers, and identities. Online banking is extremely convenient and can be very safe as well. Follow these tips to enjoy the benefits of online banking safely.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Public wifi networks can compromise the security of your mobile device. With the right skills, hackers can plant viruses that can snag personal information. Not all public wifi is evil. Networks with password protection tend to be safer. If a public network is used, make sure to “forget” the network so the mobile device won’t connect when in range without the user’s knowledge.

Identity theft

Stay Protected Online: Make sure any device that is used to access personal information has antivirus software. Always check URLS for the little lock icon that indicated an encrypted line of communication which makes hacking much more challenging.

Create a Secure Password: “Pet’s name123” won’t cut it here. The password used for online banking should be different from any other password for things like Facebook, Instagram, or E-mail. Consider using capital and lowercase letters, number, and symbols.

Never stay logged in when using a mobile phone or computer. If your device is ever lost contact your bank immediately to freeze your vulnerable accounts.
McHenry Savings Bank is a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, and investment services. Please visit our website, or call us at (815) 385-3000 for more information. “We are local people making local decisions.”
Looking for a safe and easy mobile banking app? Check out our free app here!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Avoiding Identity Theft

In the past 6 years, over 107 billion dollars has been stolen from Americans through identity theft. In 2016 alone, 16 billion dollars were reported stolen as a result of identity theft. In a cyber world, as technology gets smarter so do the criminals that infiltrate it. Armed with sneaky computer viruses, credit card skimmers, and scammy pop-ups, phone calls, and emails there is suspicion lurking around every corner. Here are 6 ways to help avoid becoming part of this 107 billion dollar statistic by preventing an identity theft. 
  1. Protect Personal Information- Never share your social security number online or over the phone. It is important to not share your pin number with anyone, even those you trust.
  2. Shred it- If you receive mail or statements with personal information, shred them before recycling them to ensure your information stays safe.
  3. Utilize Online Banking- Most banks have some sort of mobile application which allows you to check balances, make deposits, or transfer funds on the go. They also allow email or text message alerts that can notify the account holder if they incur a transaction more than X amount of dollars or if an account drops below a certain pre-designated amount.
  4. Monitor Credit Reports- Everyone can receive a free copy of their credit report from one of three credit reporting agencies. Space these out correctly, and you can receive a report once every four months to make sure there are no surprises.
  5. Protect Devices- Never access the internet without first acquiring virus protection software. Check the URL of a website before entering any information. Look for an “S” after “Http” to be sure that the site is secure. Cell phones should always have a passcode in case they are ever lost. If you choose to sell or trade your phone, make sure to completely wipe all of the information stored within the phone’s internal memory.
  6. Report suspicious activity to your bank immediately.
McHenry Savings Bank is a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, and investment services. Visit our website, or call us at (815) 385-3000 for more information. “We are local people making local decisions.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Financial Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung! As the snow melts, the sun returns, and the temperatures rise you see them… salt stains in the mud room, an intimidating colony of dust bunnies in the hallway, and something nearly unidentifiable just under the fridge. You put on your rubber gloves, blast some music, and grab your arsenal of cleaning products. It’s time to spring clean. Certain things need to be tidied up each spring but might not be so obvious. There’s no dust, dog hair, or debris gathered on your finances; but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a good clean-up. Here are 5 ways that the American Bankers Association (ABA)  encourages consumers to get organized with their finances.
Evaluate Your Debt
Reevaluate your payment plan and increase payment size if possible to reduce the amount of interest paid over time.
Review/ Update Your Budget
Did you get a new job this year? Did you have a child? These are all life changes that impact your family budget. Develop a spending/saving strategy and stick to it. Come next spring, you’ll be happy you did.
Check Your Credit Report
You are eligible for one free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus. Screen these reports for any mistakes that could jeopardize your credit score or ability to receive a loan.
Download Your Bank’s Mobile App
Most banks have some form of mobile application. By having your finances in the palm of your hand, you can quickly and easily transfer funds, deposit a check, or check your balance. You may also opt to go paperless by receiving an e-Statement each month as opposed to a paper copy. This will keep you informed while keeping more paper clutter from entering your home.
Pay Your Bills Automatically
There’s no sense in jeopardizing your credit score over a forgotten bill payment. Set up autopay for recurring expenses like car payments, insurance payments, and bills. The money will be automatically deducted from your checking or savings account on the same day each month.
Need help cleaning up your finances? McHenry Savings Bank is a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, and investment services. Visit our website, or call us at (815) 385-3000 for more information. “We are local people making local decisions.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

What You Need to Know About Preventing Tax Fraud

As we enter into the 2017 tax season, it is imperative to take extra precaution when filing your return to prevent exposure to tax fraud. People who commit tax fraud use clever tactics to obtain personal information from their unsuspecting victims and submit false tax claims. It’s is important to know what to do and what not to do during tax time in order to keep your personal information private and prevent tax fraud.

  1. File Early: Give criminals less time to use your information to falsify tax claims. Generally, false claims are filed earlier in the year and victims are unaware until they file their actual return and learn one has already been filed in their name.

  1. Find a Tax Preparer You Trust: When handing over personal information, be sure to use a reputable service. Do your homework ahead of time so you are not scrambling at the last minute.

  1. Use a Secure Mailbox: If you are doing your taxes by mail, do not mail your tax return from home. Criminals have been known to look for prepared tax forms in home mailboxes during tax season. Instead, use a mailbox at the post office.

  1. Use protected WiFi: Many people file electronically, and that’s great, as long as you’re  connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks whenever there is personal information involved, especially tax preparation.

  1. Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams: Know that the IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text, or social media. The IRS will contact you by mail first if they need any information.
  1. File or Shred: Keep any sensitive documents that you need in a secure location. Be sure to shred anything you don’t need containing personal information.

  1. Keep Track of Mail: If anything seems to be missing or tampered with, such as W-2’s, your tax refund, or other mail containing financial information, contact the IRS right away.

If you have been a victim of tax identity theft or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has already been filed in your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. You should also:  

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Contact your bank to see if any accounts were opened without your permission or tampered with.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit records through the three major credit bureaus:

Learn more about how to keep your money safe and secure by visiting McHenry Savings Bank website or calling (815) 385-3000 .

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Short Term Savings Tools in the Midst of Political Uncertainty

No matter what side of the political equation you were on during this election year, there is one thing we can be certain of – uncertainty. While the stock market has seen some very good numbers recently, it is safe to say that many Americans have guarded optimism when investing their hard-earned dollars. With that in mind, now might be an ideal time to examine short-term investment opportunities.

Certificate of Deposit
Because of historically low interest rates over the past several years, CD’s have been one of the most overlooked investment choices. With the recent rate hike, and predictions of more to come in 2017, short-term CD’s are gaining more popularity. At McHenry Savings Bank, our 7-month CD option is the perfect place to put your money for a short amount of time as the markets adjust to the new administration. Additionally, because they are FDIC insured, if the markets fluctuate, your money is safe. And, the short maturity term means that your money is not tied up for a long period of time.
money saving toolSavings Account
While it might seem a bit old-fashioned, a traditional savings account is an ideal saving tool if you are unsure of the current market conditions. It keeps your funds in a savings vehicle that is separate from your checking account yet it can be connected to your account in case extra funds are needed to be transferred. Additionally, many savings accounts have earning potential similar to a CD. And, like a CD, the money in your savings account will be FDIC insured.
McHenry Savings Bank has been serving residents of McHenry County, Illinois and surrounding areas since 1955. We offer our customers a wide range of financial tools to help them make the most of their money. We are not a big corporate entity, which means that you get personalized service from people who are also a part of the community. We offer a wide range of savings products including CD’s with terms from 91 days to 4 years.  Contact our team for information on our savings and investing tools.  

Although, not FDIC insured, our wholly owned subsidiary, McHenry County Investment Services Inc., provides our customers with personalized investment and insurance products including retirement planning, college planning, asset allocation and much more.*

*Not FDIC Insured. Not insured by any federal government agency. Not a deposit. Not guaranteed by the bank. Funds invested may go down in value.