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Midstates Bank

Financial Education



Stay Safe Online       

 
Smart shopping tips to protect you this holiday season.
 

  

 


 

A man sits in his home and types on his laptop.

 

Donate Wisely      

 
How to donate wisely and avoid charity scams. 
 

  

 
 


 
 
 

Smart Shopping Tips to Stay Safe Online

Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to a Norton Cybercrime Report, 143 million U.S. consumers were victims of cybercrime in 2017. Midstates Bank, in partnership with the American Bankers Association, recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:
 
  • Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.  Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

  • Establish passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

  • Take action to protect your debit card. Text alerts give you a quick and easy way to monitor your debit card for fraudulent purchases. To set up alerts, sign on to Midstates Bank app and go to Text Banking under the Messaging menu and tap Add Alert. View step-by-step directions in our Account Alerts FAQ.     
 
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. 
 
  • Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices and/or/ route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com   
 
  • Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc.  Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
 
  • Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app)

  • Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

  • Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.
 
 

How to Donate Wisely and Avoid Scams

When you decide to support a cause you care about, you want your donation to count. Doing some research and planning your giving can help ensure your donations get where they’ll do good. Here are tips to help you plan your donation– and avoid scams.

  • Look up a charity’s reports and ratings:
    • Check out the charity’s ratings with groups like the Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star. Find out how at FTC.gov/Charity.
    • Verify the organization is registered with your state charity regulator. Most states require charities or their fundraisers to register.
 
  • Never pay by gift card or wire transfer. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay. To be safer, pay by credit card or check.
 
  • Beware of fake charity names. Watch out for names that only look like well-known charities. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving.
 
  • Search the charity name online. Look up the organization online and read what others are saying about it. Search the charity’s name with the terms “scam” or “complaint.”
 
  • Ask “How much goes to the program I want?” A legitimate charity will give you information about their mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible. Some charities allow you to specify exactly where your gift is headed, either to a specific orphanage, to purchase school supplies or to a geographic area in need of relief.  By designating or earmarking your gift, you control where your donation goes and whom it helps.
 
  • Stay safe with online donations. Before clicking on a link to donate online, make sure you know who is receiving your donation.
 

If you see any red flags, or if you’re not sure about how a charity will use your donation, consider giving to a different charity. There are many worthy organizations who will use your donation wisely.

Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint. Find your state charity regulator at nasconet.org and report to them, too. Share any information you have – like the name of the organization or fundraiser, phone number, and what the fundraiser said.

 

 

 

American Bankers Association (2018, December 6). Charitable Giving Tips. Retrieved from https://www.aba.com

Federal Trade Commission (2018, December 6). How to Donate Wisely and Avoid Charity Scams. Retrieved from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov

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