Power Outage Continues to Affect a Mutual Branch & an ATM Location (4/16)

update Mouse Social

UPDATE AS OF TUESDAY, APRIL 16TH: Due to continued power outages in our area following the storms and tornadoes on Saturday (4/13), the 2086 South Frontage Road Branch of Mutual Credit Union in Vicksburg, MS remains closed TODAY (4/16). Our ATM located at The Pemberton Mall is also out of service until power is restored. Please visit any of our other four (4) branch locations to conduct business. Click Here for a list of branch and ATM locations.

Remember, you also have access 24/7 to your account(s) & bill pay through online banking at https://mutualcu.org. Should you need further assistance, please contact us at 877-457-3654 option 0 during normal business hours (Monday-Thursday 9a-5p; & Fridays 9a-6p) to reach someone in the Call Center or submit your question through our web-page.

Thank you for your patience as we all work together to get our Vicksburg community back online.

Financial Importance of Protecting Yourself Online

Online financial purchase

Why you should keep financial information private

There’s no denying that financial information is some of the most sensitive data we deal with every day. Because of the sensitive nature of financial information, it should be a priority for all individuals and businesses to do everything in their power to protect it. In order to protect all financial information, encourage your friends, families, coworkers, and employees to protect their Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This type of information includes names, personal ID numbers such as social security, driver’s license, taxpayer and credit account numbers, addresses, biometrics, vehicle IDs, phone numbers and technology asset information such as IP addresses. If these identifiers are kept private, hackers will have a more difficult time breaking into your larger systems and accessing financial information once inside.

 

Prevent identity theft

Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized individual gains access to personal information online and impersonate a said person with malicious intent. Those who gain access to personal accounts can retrieve all login information, personal data and commit cyber crimes such as tax fraud and theft. Identity theft can have repercussions that last for years following the attack and can negatively affect your finance, digital reputation, and privacy. In order to avoid identity theft, precautions can be taken that increase your security online and lock down confidential information on various levels.

 

How to protect financial information

The first step in ensuring your information is safe online is implementing a few new practices into daily digital activity. A few of these practices include:

  1. Using strong passwords – One of the most important things you can do to keep your systems safe is to lock down systems with strong passwords. The use of weak passwords makes all internal accounts easier for cybercriminals to hack and is something that can be easily avoided with a quick update. When you go to update passwords from weak to strong, be sure to include both lower and upper case letters, at least one special character, and avoid using personal information such as qualifiers, which include names, home addresses, and birthdates.
  2. Enabling 2-factor authentication – To further keep financial information secure, utilize a two-factor authentication security process for all internal systems. The addition of this second step provides an extra layer of security to limit who can access your information. With this form of authentication, simply knowing the password is not enough to gain access to private accounts. Rather, anyone trying to break in will go through multiple forms of security checkpoints, such as a fingerprint scan or facial recognition, before successfully logging in. Many of these second checkpoints require the use of multiple devices as well, making it even more challenging for hackers to penetrate the system.
  3. Never save payment information online – According to a study conducted by CreditCards.com, approximately 100 million American individuals currently store their credit card or debit card information within apps or on websites to make future shopping experiences more convenient. While it may seem helpful at the time, storing your financial data on these kinds of sites actually makes it easier for hackers to access your information. Not only could this site be hacked, but your personal device might be stolen. In either scenario your personal information would be at risk.
  4. Making purchases from only trustworthy sites – A pro tip to ensuring you are browsing on and entering financial information on a safe site is to look for the “S” after “HTTP” in a website’s address. This “S” signifies that the site you’re visiting is protected by Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. You can also double check for a trust icon (which looks like a padlock symbol) on the site with the words “Secure” or “Verified”. Click this icon to see if you are taken to a verification page and if you aren’t, you’ll know that it’s a fake, unsecure site. This can help you avoid filling purchase orders or fulfilling other financial activities on sites that could easily open your system up to hackers.

 

Protect your company’s reputation

Research shows that a single data breach can cost American businesses an average of $7 million, considering the firm’s direct monetary loss along with business disruption, fines, and credit monitoring and identity theft repair efforts. On top of these costs, failing to protect your customers’ and employees’ sensitive personal data can destroy their trust in your brand. To avoid these repercussions, consider implementing these practices for your whole enterprise:

  1. Using secure applications and tools – Some of the most important things to lock down within your systems are the tools your employee base use every day. From messaging systems and call center software to the email platform you send all important data through, ensuring these tools have adequate security measures is critical. One simple way to keep these tools in sync is to streamline them all through a cloud-based unified communications platform with built-in security measures. Not only does implementing the cloud ensure the safety of all tools your employees are using, but it also makes it simple to track that security by being hosted in one, unified system.
  2. Encrypting data – These days, most correspondence between professionals happens via email, which increases the need to protect data by utilizing email encryption. Not sure what encryption is? Email encryption is the process of using an authentication mechanism to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing private email messages and information. Most well-known email platforms come with a form of built-in encryption, but that often isn’t enough for sensitive financial data. Instead, consider upgrading to a more secure form of encryption and require all individuals within your network to do the same.

 

Even if you think you are invincible online or have nothing to hide, it’s important to protect privacy from both a personal and professional standpoint. You never know when something completely innocent-seeming could lead to a threat or breach. In order to prepare for these unknown attacks on your data, the best thing you can do is make that information less accessible, starting with these tips laid out before. To also stay up-to-date on the best security practices available, continue to research and update security measures as necessary.

 

Source: https://blog.kasasa.com/2019/02/protecting-yourself-online/

 

BEWARE! Tax Scams 2019

TAXES 2019

Each year, the IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 scams that are rampant during that year’s tax season. 

This year, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be extra vigilant because of a 60% increase in email phishing scams over the past year. This is particularly disheartening, since it comes on the heels of a steady decline in phishing scams over the previous three years. 

Typically, an email phishing scam will appear to be from the IRS. Once the victim has opened the email, the scammer will use one of several methods to get at the victim’s personal information, including their financial data, tax details, usernames and passwords. They will then use this information to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or file taxes in the victim’s name and then make off with their refund. 

Scammers have several means for fooling victims into handing over their sensitive information. The most popular tax-related phishing scams include the following: 

1.    Tax transcript scams. In these scams, victims are conned into opening emails appearing to be from the IRS with important information about their taxes. Unfortunately, these emails are bogus and contain malware. 

2.    Threatening emails. Also appearing to be from the IRS, these phony emails will have subject lines like “IRS Important Notice” and will demand immediate payment for unpaid back taxes. When the victim clicks on the embedded link, their device will be infected with malware. 

3.    Refund rebound. In this scam, a crook posing as an IRS agent will email a taxpayer and claim the taxpayer was erroneously awarded too large a tax refund. The scammer will demand the immediate return of some of the money via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Of course, there was no mistake with the victim’s tax refund and any money the victim forwards will be used to line the scammer’s pockets. 

4.    Phony phone call. In this highly prevalent scam, a caller spoofs the IRS’s toll-free number and calls a victim, claiming they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes. Those taxes, they are told, must be paid immediately under threat of arrest, deportation or driver’s-license suspension. Obviously, this too is a fraud and the victim is completely innocent. 

If you’re targeted 

When targeted by any scam, it’s crucial to not engage with the scammer. If your Caller ID announces that the IRS is on the phone, don’t pick up! Even answering the call to tell the scammer to get lost can be enough to mark you as an easy target for future scams. If you accidentally picked up the phone, hang up as quickly as possible. 

Similarly, suspicious-looking emails about tax information should not be opened. Mark any bogus tax-related emails that land in your inbox as spam to keep the scammers from trying again. 

If you’re targeted by a tax scam, report the incident to help the authorities crack down on these crooks. Forward suspicious tax-related emails to phishing@irs.gov. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. 

Protect yourself from tax scams 

Stay one step ahead of scammers this tax season by being proactive. Protect yourself with these steps: 

  • File early in the season so scammers have less time to steal your identity, file on your behalf and collect your refund.
  • Use the strongest security settings for your computer and update them whenever possible.
  • Use unique and strong passwords for your accounts and credit or debit cards.
  • Choose two-step authentication when conducting financial transactions online.

Remember, the IRS will never: 

  • Call about taxes owed without having first sent you a bill via snail mail.
  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested or deported for failing to pay your taxes.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes.
  • Ask you to share sensitive information, like a debit card number or checking account number, over the phone.

Be alert and be careful this tax season and those scammers won’t stand a chance! 

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a tax scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/taxes/beware-of-these-common-irs-scams/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/04/irs-warns-on-surge-of-new-email-phishing-scams/amp/

https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-phone-scam-what-to-do-if-you-get-scam-call-2018-2

5 SCAMS TO WATCH FOR AFTER THE HOLIDAYS

The mad holiday rush may be over, but scammers aren’t slowing down. The post-holiday weeks bring an increase in scams that, unfortunately, are quite believable during this time of year. HOLIDAY SCAM ALERT

Don’t be the victim of a post-holiday scam! Read on to learn about five common ways fraudsters seek to dupe consumers after the holidays: 

1.) Gift-picking 

With the holidays behind us, many people are enjoying new, and often expensive, gifts. These can be top-of-the-line electronic devices, luxury entertainment systems or phones with four-digit price tags. If you’re the lucky recipient of such an expensive gift, you may be targeted by old-fashioned thieves who are looking for a good picking. 

Protect yourself by keeping your gift under wraps. Dismantle all packaging that contained your gift. Discard them in a covered trash or recycling bin instead of leaving them at the curb where potential thieves can spot them and peg you as an easy target. For extra precaution, consider hauling your boxes off to a communal dumpster or the local recycling station. 

2.) Charity scams 

The last two days of December see more charity donations nationwide than the rest of the year. While this may speak well of our goodwill, it also offers scammers another opportunity to help themselves to other people’s money. 

Be wary when giving charity this time of year. Don’t donate to any organization without first checking it out on a charity vetting website, like CharityNavigator.com. If you have a favorite cause you like to give to, contact them yourself instead of clicking on an ad or calling a number that appears to represent them. 

3.) Underpriced gifts for sale 

You may think you just found a real steal of a deal on Craigslist from a seller who is eager to get rid of a gift because “My wife didn’t like it.” But, be suspicious of any prices that seem too good to be true; they are likely to be scams. 

If an item for sale appears authentic, proceed, but with caution. Don’t rely on email communication. Instead, get the seller’s phone number and street address. If possible, ask for references and pictures of the item. If everything appears to check out, arrange to meet the seller in a well-lit, populated area, preferably one with ample security-camera coverage. Finally, never wire money online to any seller—let the cash and item change hands at the same time. 

4.) Belated holiday e-cards 

Don’t assume every e-card that lands in your inbox with a heading like “Oops! I’m late!” is legitimate. Too often, e-cards are ridden with malware and will infect your device as soon as you click on an embedded link. The e-cards may even bear the name of your friend, but don’t be fooled; scammers can easily pick these names off the internet. Authentic e-cards will include a confirmation code for you to copy and paste at the issuing website, so only open e-cards that are accompanied by a code. 

5.) Post-holiday ‘sales’ 

The holiday shopping frenzy is over and retailers are eager to drum up more business. This makes the post-holiday sale scam seem especially believable. Your social media platforms may be exploding with ads that are offering exclusive deals and deeply discounted prices at your favorite stores. While some of these ads may be legit, lots of them are scams. 

Here’s how to spot the fake ads and differentiate them from the real ones: 

  • The URL is off by one letter. Carefully check each landing page as you make a purchase.
  • The site is not secure. Always look for the “s” after the “http.”
  • The words “deals” or “discounts” are part of the URL. Authentic retailers sell from their home site and will rarely create a new website just to sell sale items.
  • The store’s logo is missing from the website. Look for a genuine store logo on every landing page.

Post-holiday scams are everywhere, but by knowing how to spot a scam, you’re already one step ahead of the criminals. Stay alert and stay safe! 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a post-holiday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://blog.aarp.org/2017/12/30/protect-yourself-from-post-holiday-scams/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.fox5atlanta.com/news/i-team/beware-post-holiday-loan-scams

https://dayair.atomicdevbox.com/blog/post-holiday-scams-to-know-about/

5 SCAMS TO AVOID THIS BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday Scam Alert

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great fun – but they can also put you at great risk. Scams abound on the weekend that heralds the holiday shopping season, and you don’t want a phishing scheme or a bogus bargain to turn you into a Grinch. 

Here are 5 scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving.  

1. Crazy deals that are actually bogus 

The noisy crowds and flashy ads on Black Friday can lead you to make rash decisions and spend more than you planned. But be careful not to leave your senses at home. 

An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of genuine Ugg boots for just $9? These deals sound insane because that’s exactly what they are. And yet, thousands of people happily send their money to online stores that are advertising these laughable prices on Black Friday. And of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they won’t hesitate to use it for their own shopping spree – all on your dime. 

Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low. It’s only bait used by scammers to lure you into their trap. Black Friday deals tend to fall within the 20-30% off range or an offer of free shipping. 

2. Black Friday gift cards for cheap 

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might see an explosion of cheap gift cards being sold at online marketplaces. The gift cards are linked to big-name retailers and are offered for a fraction of their real value. 

These cards are usually stolen from their real owners. The victim of the theft will likely report the loss and the card will be disabled. And you’ll have forked over your hard-earned money for a card that’s not worth the plastic it’s made from. 

Be smarter: Don’t buy any gift cards that are retailing at a heavily marked-down price. 

3. Bait and switch 

Want to be the lucky winner of a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details and take this survey. You may just be the proud new owner of the super-expensive phone! 

If you know anything about online scams, you’ll already recognize this one. Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information. And, with holiday expenses growing each year, it’s the perfect time to lure an innocent victim into thinking they’ve just saved a ton of money. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from this scam just because you’re doing all your Black Friday shopping at the mall. “Bait and switch” scams can happen offline, too. 

The brick-and-mortar version of this scam is somewhat less nefarious. Retailers will advertise deals so amazing you’ll find yourself travelling across town and battling impossible traffic to grab these bargains. Once you finally reach the store, though, you’ll be told that those items are all sold out, but you can check out the items they do have in stock. You’ll be shown similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are just a waste of your time and often your money, too. 

Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with. 

4. Delivery problems 

With so much of your shopping happening online, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases. But if you get an email like this asking you to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date, you’re looking at a scam. You may also receive a message asking you to pay an extra fee for delivery after you’ve completed an order. Again, this email is bogus and you’re being scammed. Ignore these emails. And, if you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly. 

Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source. 

5. Online purchases that can only be paid for with a wire transfer 

If you’re planning on going on an all-out spending spree this Black Friday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected. 

A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and retailers you trust and frequent often. 

Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These are favorites among scammers since they are similar to paying with cash – once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back. 

Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card. 

Be an educated shopper this Black Friday and outsmart scammers! 

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a Black Friday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.finder.com/black-friday-scams

https://www.scam-detector.com/article/black-friday-scam

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-scams-watch-black-friday-cyber-monday/

Tropical Storm GORDON

GORDON nOTICE

A Message to All Members:
As you may be aware, Tropical Storm Gordon continues to make a path towards the Mississippi coast and is expected to reach hurricane status as it reaches land. Mutual Credit Union is monitoring the situation and preparing for possible weather related effects. Please monitor Mutual’s social media pages and website for alerts and updates related to any possible branch closures due to impact from the weather system.
This tropical storm system arrives just in time for September, National Preparedness Month. Some resources that you may find useful to prepare for weather outcomes.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) http://www.msema.org/
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) http://www.noaa.gov/
Federal Trade Commission with information on making a preparedness plan (FTC) https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/09/its-national-preparedness-month-make-plan?utm_source=govdelivery
Thanks!
Mutual Credit Union
For the most current updates be sure to “Follow” us on Facebook.

HOW TO CREATE AND KEEP STRONG PASSWORDS

 

Password image

Your passwords are like the keys to your life.

And when it seems like there’s another big security breach every week, you want to be absolutely sure your passwords are strong and safe.

After all, with just a few keystrokes, a scammer can have full access to your personal information, financial accounts, social media pages and so much more. 

But creating those perfect passwords – and remembering them – can be difficult. 

Below, we’ve outlined 6 steps for creating and keeping super-strong passwords that will keep scammers guessing. 

Step #1: Choose a password manager 

With so much of our lives accessible online, it’s more important than ever to keep passwords secure. The best way to do this is to use a password manager. These services will generate strong passwords for all of your financial accounts, favorite websites and social media platforms and then keep them safely encrypted. You will only need to create and memorize one master password, which you will use when logging into all of your accounts. 

There are lots of password managers on the market, but the ones that come most highly recommended are 1password, Lastpass and Keepass. 

1Password and LastPass are both cloud-based services, and can be vulnerable to remote attacks. However, both services heavily encrypt your data and don’t store your one master password in the cloud. As long as that password is strong, you’ll be safe even if these services get hacked.

Step #2: Create an unbreakable master password 

Once you’ve chosen your password manager, create a strong master password. This code can open up every password of yours to potential scammers, so be extra careful about choosing one that is super-secure and virtually unbreakable. 

Scammers are becoming increasingly more efficient at password-cracking. They use multiple dictionaries which include English words, names, foreign words, phonetic patterns and more. They look for dates, commonly used substitutions, like “$” for “s,” “@” for “a,” and they run their dictionaries with various capitalizations. 

Follow the rules below and you’ll have a strong password. 

  • Make it long. Many sites require a password that is a minimum of 8 characters long, but a 12-character password is even stronger.
  • Be creative. Avoid using names, places and recognizable words because these are easily cracked.
  • Mix it up. The best way to keep your password unbreakable is to mix up your capitalization and the kinds of characters you use, switching back and forth from letters to numbers to symbols.
  • Don’t use any of variation of these commonly used – and commonly hacked – passwords:
  • 123456123456789
  • Passwordadmin
  • 12345678qwerty
  • 1234567111111
  • 1231231234567890000000
  • Abc1231234
  • iloveyouaaaaaa

If you’re unsure about your password’s strength, you can run it through an online password checker, like the one on  OnlineDomainTools.com.

Bonus tip: Worried about creating and remembering a long, unbreakable password? Turn a sentence into a password by using mnemonics, misspelled words and symbols that only you will understand. Here are a few to get you started:

  • WOO!TAwonTWS = Woohoo! The Astros won the World Series!
  • D:’(OspldMlk.JdreenqOJ = Don’t cry over spilled milk. Just drink orange juice
  • 1tubuupshrtsin2Mpnts = I tuck button-up shirts into my pants.

Once you’ve created a super-strong master password, work on memorizing it. Don’t store the password anywhere online or on your phone; write it down on an unmarked piece of paper. Rip up the paper as soon as you’ve committed the password to memory. This should happen fairly quickly since you will be using it quite often. 

Step #3: Update all your passwords 

Next, you’re going to sync all the websites and accounts you use with your password manager. Follow the guidelines on your password manager for this step, as they differ with each service. 

When you’re through, you’ll only be able to log into these sites by using your master password. 

Some sites you use might employ outdated systems that won’t work with a password manager. For these sites, you will need to use different passwords. You can slightly amend your master password for these sites or create new ones using the guidelines above. Never double passwords; use a different one for every site you use. 

Step #4: Use two-factor authentication 

Add another layer of protection by choosing two-factor authentication whenever you have that option. 

Step #5: Be careful with security questions

Ironically, security questions are extremely insecure. Anyone can Google your dog’s name or your mother’s hometown. And, if all a scammer has to do to retrieve your password with the “I forgot my password” tab is answer a security question, the strongest passwords in the world won’t do you any good.

Protect yourself by treating security questions like passwords. Never answer them truthfully. Instead, make up mnemonics or nonsensical answers that are hard to crack but easy for you to remember.

Step #6: Don’t let your browser or phone “remember” your passwords 

Don’t be lazy; keep your passwords in your head and not on your devices. Otherwise, you’ll be in deep trouble if your computer or phone is swiped. 

Keep your passwords strong and safe. You don’t want to be an easy target for scammers! 

Your Turn: What’s your best tip for creating a super-strong password? Share it with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/how-to-create-a-strong-password-1797681069/am

https://lifehacker.com/four-methods-to-create-a-secure-password-youll-actually-1601854240

https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp

 

New Online Banking Security Feature

 Releasing Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beginning on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, the Mutual Credit Union Online Banking service will offer a new security feature. This added step in the login process helps safeguard your personal information by adding another layer of identity verification to online financial interactions. The protection of your personal information is of the utmost importance to us.

How does this new security feature work?
When logging into online banking on your computer, you will receive a message (text or voice) on your phone with a 4-digit code. You will be asked to enter this 4-digit code to complete the login process on your computer. NOTE: This feature requires a simple setup, but it takes the place of answering security questions when logging into online banking. This feature does NOT apply to our mobile app.

When will this new feature begin?
Starting Tuesday, February 27, 2018, when you log into online banking on a computer, you will be asked to set up your verification phone number.

How do I set up this feature?
After you enter your username and password, you will see the screen below:

  • You can choose a phone number that is currently listed on your account, or add another number of your choice.  It will save up to 5 phone numbers on your account.
  • Choose your Notification preference (Text or Call).
  • Click “Save”, and you will receive two text or voice messages: one notifying you that alerts are activated, and the other with a 4-digit code to verify the phone number.  Instructions for Opting Out of this service are also listed in the first text.  All verification codes will be 4-digit codes.
  • You are now set up for this security feature!

Important notes:

  • All verification messages will come from the same 5-digit phone number (28369).
  • The 4-digit verification code will be different each time you receive an alert.
  • Once you are signed up, you can update your phone number: Log into online banking, go to Settings > Security and Alerts > Identity Verification Phones.

The 4-digit verification code is only active for 5 minutes.  If it takes you longer than 5 minutes to enter the code and authenticate your account then please go back into your online banking and generate another verification code.

To make changes to your profile and phone settings from a mobile device login to the www.mutualcu.org website using “Safari,” “Chrome”, “Explorer”, or “Edge” internet browsers and then access Online Banking.

Please let us know should you have any further questions by calling 877-457-3654. We are pleased to be able to offer this level of security and account protection to our members. We appreciate your trust in Mutual Credit Union as your primary choice in financial institutions.

Falcon – Watching Your Information Security Like A Hawk

One of the benefits you’ve always enjoyed as a Mutual Credit Union member is the presence of industry-leading fraud detection and prevention seamlessly running behind the scenes to keep your information and accounts secure. Suspicious transactions are identified and shut down before they start. Knowing this, you receive the peace of mind that comes from having that round-the-clock monitoring without even lifting a finger.

This system can be a bit complicated from the ground up, but it works effortlessly. Mutual Credit Union contracts with an agency called Fraud Center. It is constantly analyzing data from attempted fraudulent transactions across the world to identify trends so it can formulate a series of rules, or algorithms, to identify potential cases of fraud. Those rules are applied to your account and, if a transaction meeting those rules occurs, Fraud Center detects and declines it. And you’re saved from a potential financial nightmare.

With new technology comes new ways of making this protection smarter, stronger and faster. We’re incorporating the Falcon alert system into our existing fraud prevention strategy. Falcon notifies you of these declined transactions as soon as they happen in two ways:

First, if you have a cell number on file, Falcon sends you a text message. It’ll look something like this:

FreeMsg from Fraud Center: (Merchant Name) txn is restricted; if you did not attempt txn reply 881NO. Otherwise, call your financial institution for assistance.

If you don’t recognize the transaction, texting the number sent with “NO” added to it (for example, “881NO”) in response will prompt a call from a Fraud Center fraud analyst. This expert will walk you through the next steps to resolving the fraudulent transaction. If you don’t respond, Fraud Center will do nothing, and your transaction will clear normally.

Falcon will also notify you via email and present you with the same range of options. You can call to start an investigation, or you can take no action and let the transaction proceed. Either way, you’ll know your financial wellbeing is protected.

Even if you don’t respond immediately, your liability is still limited. The expansion of the existing fraud detection and prevention system doesn’t change Mutual Credit Union’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of our members. It’s much easier to stop fraud before it starts, and catching fraudsters before they have a chance to rip off other people is easier if everyone acts quickly. Because of this, it’s important that you respond to these text messages and emails promptly, but if you don’t, you’re still covered.

Due to privacy regulations, Falcon can’t contact members who don’t have a cellphone or an email address on file. Fraud frequently happens in large batches, and Falcon would have to make dozens of calls in a short period of time. This would run afoul of the same laws that protect you from obnoxious automated calls. Despite the absence of a call, the fraud activity is still recorded. Fraud Center still keeps track of these incidents, and if a large number of them take place, a security specialist will still get in touch with you.

This system doesn’t change anything you have to do if your card is lost or stolen. You can still reach out to Mutual Credit Union, or call the after-hours help line, (888) 526-0404. You can also call if your card is declined for any reason or if you suspect you’ve been the victim of fraud.

Mutual Credit Union remains committed to the safety and security of our members. Falcon doesn’t change that. Adding the Falcon service is another way we’re bringing 21st century solutions to you. If you have any concerns or want to discuss more ways we’re keeping your account safe, call, click or stop by any of our branch locations. Our member service representatives are always happy to help!

Financial Self Defense: IRS Scams 2016

Scammers are using tax time to take advantage of the unwary, and much like the newest Ford at the auto show or yet another iteration of the Madden video game, all of the hype is kind of disappointing, because this year’s models look so much like last year’s. What happened to innovation?
So let’s take a look at the “new and improved’ 2016 lineup of IRS scams. Of course, it’s important to remember that innovation can happen at any time, so just because something isn’t listed below, it does not mean it’s not a scam. If you have any suspicion you’re dealing with a scam, hang up, call the IRS or send an email to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Caution is your best approach.
The telephone scam
Up first is one of the oldest scams in the IRS scam lineup. You get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and claiming you owe money. They insist that if you don’t pay right now, you’ll go to jail. You might recognize this one as a variation on a grandparent scam or Nigerian Prince Scam. But, if not, the process is simple: You don’t owe the money and the scammers are trying to get you to give them money they don’t deserve.
If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS, even if your caller ID says “IRS” or the like, hang up and call the IRS. If it’s legitimate, then you will be able to find out from the IRS. If not, you’ll find out right away. Remember, you have a right to an attorney; you can have your accountant present if you’re being audited, and you have the right to due process no matter the charge. Don’t ever assume you have to pay anyone right away just because they called you and demanded payment.
The email scam
One newer variation of the telephone scam is an email version carrying the same threat, but asking for much less money. This is a traditional phishing scam in which scammers ask for a modest sum that’s payable online. Their hope is that you’ll see a small amount, compare it to the terrible consequences they’re threatening, and pay to make it go away. After all, who wouldn’t spend $50 or $100 to make the IRS go away? Unfortunately, though, you won’t be entering your financial info on a secure site that’s provided by the IRS. You’ll be entering your info on a dummy site that’s set up by scammers to grab your credit card or checking account information. They’ll in turn use that info to rack up all sorts of fraudulent charges.
As a rule of thumb, never, ever, follow the link in an email to a site where you may be asked to enter financial information. If you have an email from the IRS, see if you can find your account by going directly to the IRS website. The same is true for eBay, Amazon, and other retailers that scammers love to impersonate. Yes, it’s easier to follow a link than it is to find the right page on your own, but scammers are counting on that. A few clicks could save you thousands of dollars.
The tax preparer scam
The final variation of this scam is the tax preparer phishing email scam. In this one, the goal is the same as the variation described above. Instead of impersonating the IRS, they’re impersonating a tax preparer. They’ll likely have some authentic-looking credentials, which are fake, and assure you everything’s alright, but you need to update your info on the IRS’ e-file page. The problem is, the link in the email doesn’t take you to the IRS’ page. It takes you to…you guessed it! A dummy page that looks like an IRS page but actually captures the financial information you enter.
Don’t be a victim. Always follow through with an extra phone call or email. Don’t follow links that are provided in emails and don’t assume that a webpage that looks OK must be OK. It’s tax time, the time of year where we get a national math test, and math tests are stressful for everyone. Scammers know that and they prey on it.
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft, let us know. The sooner we know, the more protection we can offer. Also, file a complaint with the FTC and alert one of the major credit bureaus.