Financial Health Is About Keeping Your Accounts and Devices Safe, Too.
TAPCO works every day to protect your personal information. With your help, we will continue to stop scammers, hackers, and identity thieves that are looking to steal your personal information—and your money. There are steps you can take to protect yourself, such as keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason. Below you will find links to additional information of several important areas that we all should be aware of.
Remember to frequently change your account password to ensure maximum security.
Secure Password Tips
TAPCO Credit Union will NEVER ask you to reveal your online banking password. You should not reveal this password to any one.
Create a unique password for all the different systems you use. If you don’t, then one breach leaves all your accounts vulnerable.
Never share your password over the phone, in texts, by email, or in person. If you are asked for your password, it’s probably a scam.
Use unpredictable passwords with a combination of lowercase letters, capital letters, numbers, and special characters.
The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Use a password with at least eight characters. Aim for a password that is both complex and long. A six-character, lowercase password takes five minutes to break; one with eight characters takes two months. A six-character password with numbers and symbols takes less than nine days to break; one with eight characters takes nearly 20,000 years. You get the idea!
Avoid using obvious passwords such as:
- your name
- your business name
- family member names
- your user name
- dictionary words
Obey these password commandments:
- Don't use your Social Security number, phone number, birth date, first and last names or your user ID when creating a strong password.
- Don't use the same password on multiple sites, reuse passwords, or use variations of the same password.
- Ideally, each of your passwords should be unique.
- Avoid storing your passwords in unencrypted electronic files, like the notes app on your phone. Instead, write them down and store them in a safe place.
Choose a password you can remember without writing it down. A strong password should be based on something you can remember but that would be difficult for a hacker to guess. Stay away from well-known phrases, quotes or song lyrics. Start with a sentence such as "I live for boating!" and transform it to "ILv4Btng!" Or string a series of random words together to create a strong password like this: "wizardboWLingchicKeN."
Following these tips can help you create stronger passwords that are tough for hackers to break—and help protect your identity.
Mobile Device Security
Many of us are connected to mobile devices, which we use to access a variety of accounts. Follow these tips to keep your device and accounts secure.
Mobile Security Tips
- Configure your device to require a passcode to gain access if this feature is supported in your device.
- Avoid storing sensitive information on your mobile device. Devices are easily stolen. If sensitive data is stored then encryption should be used.
- Keep your mobile device’s software up-to-date. Mobile devices are small computers running software that needs to be updated just as you would update your PC. Use the automatic update option if one is available.
- Disable features not actively in use such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and infrared. Set Bluetooth-enabled devices to “non-discoverable” when Bluetooth is enabled.
- Delete all information stored on a device before the device changes ownership. Use a “hard factory reset” to permanently erase all content and settings stored on the device.
- “Sign out” or “Log off” when finished with an app rather than just closing it.
Online security continues to be a challenge. Cyber criminals continue to change how they gather information. We need to be conscious of the links we click in emails as well as websites that can lead to insecure webpages. If we remain vigilant, we can prevent a lot of this. Learn more about online security best practices below.
Online Security Tips
- Never click on suspicious links in emails, tweets, posts, nor online advertising. Links can take you to a different website than their labels indicate. Typing an address in your browser instead of clicking a link in an email is a safer alternative.
- Only give sensitive information to websites using encryption so your information is protected as it travels across the Internet. Verify the web address begins with “https://” (the “s” is for secure) rather than just “http://”. Some browsers also display a closed padlock.
- Do not trust sites with certificate warnings or errors. These messages could be caused by your connection being intercepted or the web server misrepresenting its identity.
- Avoid using public computers or public wireless access points for online banking and other activities involving sensitive information when possible.
- Always “sign out” or “log off” of password protected websites when finished to prevent unauthorized access. Simply closing the browser window may not actually end your session,
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or texts directing you to a website or requesting information.
Viruses and Malware are becoming more common online. We have to protect our computers from those that could steal our passwords and sensitive information. There are simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves. Learn more about Malware and PC security below.
Scam artists try to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware and spyware to their computers, especially computers that don't use adequate security software. To reduce your risk of downloading unwanted malware and spyware:
- Keep your security software updated. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system (like Windows or Mac OS) to update automatically.
- Instead of clicking on a link in an email, type the URL of the site you want directly into your browser. Criminals send emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust. The links may look legitimate, but clicking on them could download malware or send you to a spoof site designed to steal your personal information.
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments—even in emails that seem to be from friends or family—can install malware on your computer.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with malware.
- Minimize "drive-by" downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For Internet Explorer, for example, use the "medium" setting at a minimum.
- Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups. If you do, you may install malware on your computer. Close pop-up windows by clicking on the "X" in the title bar.
- Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails. especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That's a tactic scammers use to spread malware.
- Talk about safe computing. Tell your kids that some online actions can put the computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading "free" games or programs, opening chain emails, or posting personal information.
- Back up your data regularly. Whether it's text files or photos that are important to you, back up any data that you'd want to keep in case your computer crashes.
Monitor your computer for unusual behavior. Your computer may be infected with malware if it:
- slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
- won't shut down or restart
- serves up a barrage of pop-ups
- displays web pages you didn't intend to visit, or sends emails you didn't write
Other warning signs of malware include:
- New and unexpected toolbars
- New and unexpected icons in your shortcuts or on your desktop
- A sudden or repeated change in your computer's internet homepage
- A laptop battery that drains more quickly than it should
Get Rid of Malware
If you suspect there is malware is on your computer, take these steps:
- Stop shopping, banking, and doing other online activities that involve user names, passwords, or other sensitive information.
- Update your security software, and then run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
- If your computer is covered by a warranty that offers free tech support, contact the manufacturer. Before you call, write down the model and serial number of your computer, the name of any software you've installed, and a short description of the problem.
- Many companies—including some affiliated with retail stores—offer tech support on the phone, online, at their store, and in your home. Decide which is most convenient for you. Telephone and online help generally are the least expensive, but you may have to do some of the work yourself. Taking your computer to a store usually is less expensive than hiring a repair person to come into your home.
- Once your computer is back up and running, think about how malware could have been downloaded to your machine, and what you could do differently to avoid it in the future.
If you think your computer has malware, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. File a complaint at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
PC Security Tips
Maintain active and up-to-date antivirus protection provided by a reputable vendor. Schedule regular scans of your computer in addition to real-time scanning.
Update your software frequently to ensure you have the latest security patches. This includes your computer’s operating system and other installed software (e.g. Web Browsers, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Java, Microsoft Office, etc.).
Automate software updates, when the software supports it, to ensure it’s not overlooked. If you suspect your computer is infected with malware, discontinue using it for banking, shopping, or other activities involving sensitive information. Use security software and/or professional help to find and remove malware.
Use firewalls on your computer or local network to add another layer of protection for all the devices that connect through the firewall (e.g. PCs, smart phones, and tablets).
Require a password to gain access. Log off or lock your computer when not in use.
Use a cable lock to physically secure laptops, when the device is stored in an untrusted location.
Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft is the use of someone else's identity, most often as a way to get access to your financial accounts or open credit cards or other loans in your name. As the victim of identity theft you could suffer the consequences of being held responsible for the activity. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Learn More About Identity Theft Prevention
These links are to different organizations so you can learn more about online and cyber security: