October is our annual cybersecurity awareness issue but the headlines surrounding last month’s Equifax data breach remind us that cybersecurity is one problem we can never check off our to-do list. We must be vigilant year-round to stay ahead of cyber criminals and fight fraud before it happens.
This past year, Tower’s Board of Directors has made significant investments to ensure Tower has top-notch security measures in place to protect our members’ accounts. But even with these measures, you can significantly enhance our security efforts by taking a pro-active role to keep close track of your accounts. Many of you are asking about what you can do to protect yourself, so I’ll start there.
What you can do now to protect yourself
It’s very important to monitor all your accounts closely for any transactions or charges you don’t recognize. If you don’t already have one, come up with a system that works for you to do this at a minimum, monthly, and preferably more often than that. You most likely always have your phone with you, so one easy way to monitor your accounts with just a few taps anywhere, anytime is with our Mobile App.
I also suggest you set up account alerts in Home Banking and push notifications in our Mobile App. We will alert you if a large transaction posts to your account, for instance, or when there is a large withdrawal. Account alerts are another proactive way you can team up with Tower to help identify and fight fraud.
If you’re not already signed up, sign up for Tower eStatements. Mailbox tampering is still a leading method for identity theft, so the less sensitive paper mail you receive the better. (Plus, we are offering a $5 eStatement sign-up incentive this month, so when you go green, you’ll get some green!) Paying your bills online with Tower’s Bill Payment is another way to avoid bills and account information sitting in your mailbox.
As with most of life, education is key. Take some time to read up on the fraud prevention and cybersecurity articles on our Financial Know-How page at towerfcu.org and check the Federal Trade Commission’s website often for new scam alerts.
Last, and this is especially important in light of the Equifax breach, be sure to check your credit report. Be on the lookout for any new accounts that you did not authorize or anything that looks suspicious. You may want to take it one step further and place a credit freeze on your credit report. That way, no one can open new accounts in your name.
Tower’s got your back
This year Tower has put special emphasis on strengthening employee skills to help recognize and combat fraud. We also continue to invest in leading banking technologies and regularly upgrade our systems to stay ahead of fraudsters. Our Home Banking login uses multifactor authentication and our mobile app uses encrypted technology. If fraud does occur, it’s hard to get better than zero liability—and that’s what you have with Tower’s debit and credit cards. You are not responsible for fraudulent transactions on your account. Check your accounts often and immediately notify us if you notice any errors.
Fighting fraud can be fun
Here’s a fun way Tower is offering to help fight ID theft: We’re holding two free shred events this month. This is a great time to dispose of your sensitive documents securely. Plus, you and your family can enjoy food, games, prizes and raffles. The first event is October 14 at our Millersville Branch and the second is October 21 at our Columbia Branch. Clean out those files and drawers and you’ll be amazed at how much space you have for the holidays!
Our members are our top priority
While Tower invests in online technologies to keep accounts safe, we haven’t lost the personal touch. Our employees make the difference in consideration of you, our members, and it shows in independent surveys and awards. We were recently voted “Best Credit Union” by the Maryland Gazette, and our Pasadena Branch was voted runner up “Best Bank” for the second year in a row by the Pasadena Voice. As a whole, Tower consistently ranks in the 90th percentile for member service in Raddon Financial Group’s independent surveys. We recently renovated our Columbia Branch to make it more welcoming and pleasant for our members to stop in.
Get more involved with your credit union
On a final note, as a member-owner, I encourage you to get more involved with your credit union. One way to do this is to join Tower’s volunteer Board of Directors. To learn how to submit your name for consideration, please see the Call for Board Candidates in this month’s TowerLine. I especially encourage members with specialized skills to please consider offering your services to Tower’s volunteer committees, like Loan Review, Supervisory, or the Technical Advisory Board.