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Guide To Identity Theft Protection
Did you know there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018? According to Javelin Strategy, each case cost the victim an average of $1,050 - and that's only the cost in dollars. When an individual's identity is stolen, the thief wreaks major havoc on the victim's financial health, which can take months, or even years, to recover from.
 
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim. Here is your complete guide to identity theft protection.
 
1. Monitor your credit.  One of the best preventative measures you can take against identity theft is monitoring your credit. You can check your credit score for free on sites like CreditKarma.com and order an annual report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditreport.com. Check your score for any sudden hits and look through your reports for suspicious activity. Be sure to review your monthly credit card bills for any charges you don't remember making.
 
2. Use strong unique passwords.  Never use identical passwords for multiple accounts. If you do so, you're making yourself an easier target for identity thieves. Instead, create strong, unique passwords for every account you use. The strongest passwords use a variety of letters, symbols and numbers, and are never mock-ups or replicas of popular phrases or words.  If you find it difficult to remember multiple passwords, consider using a free password service, like LastPass. You'll only need to remember one master password and the service will safely store the rest.
 
3. Only use Wi-Fi with a VPN.  Did you know you are putting your personal information at risk every time you use the free Wi-Fi at your neighborhood coffee shop (or any other public establishment)? When using public Wi-Fi, always choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead of your default Wi-Fi settings to keep the sensitive information on your device secure.
 
4. Block robocalls.  Lots of identity theft occurs via robocalls in which the scammer impersonates a government official or the representative of a well-known company. Lower the number of robocalls reaching your home by adding your home number to the Federal Trade Commission's No Call List at donotcall.gov. It's also a good practice to ignore all calls from unfamiliar numbers, because each engagement encourages the scammers to try again.  
 
5. Upgrade your devices.  Whenever possible, upgrade the operating system of your computer, tablet and phone to the latest versions. Upgraded systems will keep you safe from the most recent security breaches and offer you the best protection against viruses and hacks.
 
6. Shred old documents.  While most modern-day identity theft is implemented over the internet or through phone calls, lots of criminals still use old-fashioned means to get the information they need. Dumpster-divers will paw through trashed papers until they hit upon a missive that contains personal information. It's best to shred all documents containing sensitive information as soon as you don't need them.
 
7. Keep personal information personal.  Never share sensitive data, like your Social Security number and banking PINs, with anyone. It's also a good idea to use the strongest, most private security settings on your social media accounts to keep hackers out.
 
8. Invest in identity theft protection.  If you're still nervous about being the next victim of identity theft, you may want to sign up for an identity-theft protection service. They don't come cheap, but services like LifeLock and IdentityForce will monitor your personal information online and immediately alert you about any suspicious activity.  
 
Identity theft can be an expensive nightmare. Be proactive about protecting your identity to keep your information and your money safe.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Millionaire?
A million dollars is approximately four times the median net worth of retirement-aged people in the U.S. However, a net worth of a million dollars is well within the reach of most Americans, as long as they have enough time and a sound investment strategy.
 
How long does it take?
 
The amount of time it will take you to become a millionaire depends on the following factors:
 
1.   The amount of money you invest
2.   The rate of return on your investment

 
The table provided here gives you an idea of how much you'd need to save, and how many years it would take you to reach $1 million, at various rates of return.

Saving for a Million Table - for details call 614-836-0100


Is It Time to Upgrade Your Vehicle?

If it’s been a while since you’ve purchased your last vehicle, you may not be up-to-date on all of the latest features of new cars.  A recently published article from Consumer Reports helps educate car shoppers on new safety and convenience features to look for when upgrading your current vehicle.  Here are some that are featured in the article: 

Safety Features

Convenience Features

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Physical knobs for audio and climate systems
  • 360-degree surround-view camera
  • Auto-dimming mirrors
  • Fast USB charging
  • Keyless entry
  • Multizone climate systems
  • Power driver’s seat with height-adjustable lumbar
  • WiFi hotspot
  • Wireless charging pad

Source:  Consumer Reports, March 2019, www.consumerreports.org


Beware the Password Scam!

How it works
The victim gets an email from a "hacker" claiming to have cracked their passwords, broken into their computer and used their webcam to watch online activity. They'll threaten to reveal that the victim has been visiting disreputable sites or to loot their accounts-unless the victim pays a steep price.

To prove that they are "legitimate," the scammers will share a password that the victim had used many years ago. They'll often include the password in the subject line to grab the victim's attention.
 
If you receive an email like this, don't panic. There's no professional hacker behind the scam, and no one has watched your online activity. The simple explanation for how the scammer got your password lies in previous breaches.
 
Over the last decade or so, there have been massive database breaches of major corporations, sites, and retail stores like Yahoo, eBay, Target, and more. Thanks to these breaches, there are now huge amounts of personal data and passwords floating around the internet. This data can be easily nabbed by a partially skilled hacker or purchased illegally.
 
How to spot the scam
Many potential victims recognize this scam for what it is as soon as the hacker claims to have dirt on them. For others, the outdated password is their clue. However, for victims who have been using the same passwords for years, this old code might still be in use and the scam seems legit.
 
If you receive an email with your password in the subject line, ignore the message and delete it.
 
Protect yourself
There's not much you can do about the sensitive data loose on the internet. However, you can protect yourself from falling prey to this, or a similar scam. Here's how:
1. Update your and use strong, unique codes for each site.
2. Choose two-factor authentication when possible.
3. Never open emails from suspicious sources.
4. If you are targeted, alert the FTC at ftc.gov.

Important Update about your EMV Chip Debit Card

When you use an EMV chip-enabled debit card to make a payment, most merchants that are equipped with EMV chip card terminals give you the option of paying as either “Debit” or “Credit.” Either option may require you to enter your PIN.  Always inform the cashier "you want to choose credit.”  You might encounter the two options - US MasterCard or International MasterCard, always choose International MasterCard; and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction.  You may also see US MasterCard and MasterCard, choose MasterCard and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction.  Please note, you may still be required to enter a PIN, but as long as you select credit, International MasterCard or MasterCard, the transaction will be processed as a credit transaction and not Point of Sale (POS).  If you don't see these options, the merchant you are shopping with has decided for you; and they will only route it through US MasterCard as a POS transaction.

Many members who make purchases with their debit cards at certain retailers, no longer have the option of choosing “Credit” when making their payment. Unfortunately, some stores have made the business decision to require their customers using a debit card to use the “Debit” option and enter their PIN, thus making the “Credit” option unavailable. When your purchase, if over $50, goes through as a pin-based POS debit transaction, it will incur a nominal 50 cent fee.

If a retailer does not permit you to select “credit” at the sale terminal, you have the following options:

  • Complete the transaction and pay a 50 cent fee
  • Cancel out of transaction; and pay with a First Service VISA Credit Card instead
  • Cancel out of the transaction and pay with a check or cash

Let your voice be heard!  If a retailer tells you that you no longer have an option on how to pay for your transaction – we encourage you to call or write the store. Let them know that as a consumer, you want them to bring back your choice on how you pay for your purchases.


Additional online resources:

  • MyCreditUnion.gov - Financial tools and calculators, including college savings, student loans, mortgages and retirement savings. Users also have access to a personal budgeting worksheet.
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  • Pocket Cents - A financial literacy tool for all age groups which provides personal finance lessons and tips for groups including youth, tweens, teens, young adults, families, seniors, parents, educators and service members.

Click here for additional free Consumer Protection links to protect your identity and personal information.