October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) and the time of year for our special annual cyber safety issue of Towerline.
The NCSAM theme is “See Yourself in Cyber,” which demonstrates the fact that although cybersecurity may be a complex subject to tackle, ultimately it comes down to people. We all need to make smart decisions whether on the job, at home or at school to help protect ourselves and others online.
4 Things You Can Do Now
Tower is committed to the highest levels of fraud detection and prevention. Account security is a top priority for the Board and Senior Management year-round. We continue to invest in new banking technologies and upgrades, and training for staff to recognize and combat fraud.
However, it’s important that we all do our part. All of us must stay vigilant and be mindful of how, when, and with whom, we are sharing our personal and financial information. Here are four things you can do right now to help protect your accounts and sensitive information online:
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication for Your Logins
- Use Strong Passwords
- Recognize and Report Phishing (Phone/Emails) and Smishing (Texts)
- Update the Software on your Computer & Mobile Device
We also realize that Tower is part of a bigger credit union community and we feel a responsibility to share our cybersecurity knowledge and expertise with other credit unions. Members of our Senior Management team often participate in industry roundtable discussions, conferences and networking to help educate consumers and benefit the credit union community as a whole.
Scams Targeting the Elderly are on the Rise
Unfortunately, we have recently heard of an uptick in scams targeting the elderly, and even some of our own members have been negatively impacted. Financial abuse of the elderly is rampant and can be perpetrated by caretakers, family members, or strangers. It can take many forms: telemarketing fraud, home repair scams, and stocks and securities scams, among others.
These often start with the person being contacted by phone or email regarding computer issues, investment opportunities, grandchildren in jail, overpayments, threats of a job loss, or back tax payments. Here are some more common scams:
- Purchase of gift cards to send to someone
- Unexpected refund/overpayment of any type
- Computer services, asking for access to your computer
- Romance scammers – talking with people on chat sites and asking them to perform financial transactions
If you have an elderly parent, relative, neighbor or friend, it’s important to share this information with them so they don’t fall prey to scams. You can also share these tips on how they can stay safe:
- Don’t engage with people you don’t know.
- Don’t let anyone bully you into sending them money.
- Consult with a trusted family or friend before sending money.
- Don’t withdraw large amounts of cash.
- Call another family member to confirm the situation if it is a jail scam.
Tower Named Best-in-State…Again!
On a more positive note, I’m proud to announce that—for the second year in a row—Tower has once again been recognized as Maryland’s #1 Best-in-State Credit Union by Forbes Magazine! Only 3.4% of the nation’s 5,400 credit unions made the cut for this year’s list. This marks the third consecutive year that Tower was recognized by Forbes as a Best-in-State credit union.
To create the list Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to conduct in-depth interview of more than 26,000 consumers from all 50 states on their banking relationships. The survey asked detailed questions focused on six key areas: trust, terms and conditions (including reasonable and transparent fees), branch services, digital services, customer service, and financial advice.
This first-place honor is once again largely due to our outstanding team of employees and their commitment to providing superior member service, along with our full offering of low or no fee products and services, great rates, convenient digital banking, and focus on financial education, community involvement, and member give-back.
TowerCares Foundation Continues to Help Military Heroes and Children in Need
I’m also excited to share that to date the TowerCares Foundation has provided over $1.5 million in donations and grants to local charities and organizations, including $200,000 in college scholarships to 40 students! This all would not be possible without the ongoing generosity of our donors, and the Foundation is grateful for your continued support.
I’m also happy to report that this year’s Tower Classic Golf Tournament, hosted by TowerCares, raised over $60,000—the highest amount raised in the event’s history—for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital (JHCC), Baltimore’s local Children’s Miracle Hospital.
More than 90 golfers participated in the tournament, held in early June at Renditions Golf Course in Davidsonville, Md. Thank you to all who organized and supported this event, which raises funds annually to help critically ill children receiving care at the Children’s Center, and their families.
If you’re looking for a way to support TowerCares, the Foundation is a participating charity in this year’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), taking place now through January 15, 2023. The TowerCares Foundation CFC# is 23594; please see your workplace’s CFC representative for details. TowerCares is also a participating charity in the Maryland Charity Campaign for state employees (MCC# 47-4164006).
Share the Gift of Membership
In closing, I wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season. Thank you for the trust you have placed in us as your credit union, and we will remain steadfast together in the ongoing fight against fraud.
If you have family members, friends or co-workers who are not yet Tower members, share with them the gift of membership. Share your experience at Tower with them and invite them to join, so they too can be a part of our credit union family and experience the Tower advantage.
Arland A. White