October is our annual cybersecurity issue of TowerLine, in partnership with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now in its 20th year. This initiative is a reminder that we must remain vigilant in the fight against fraud and do our part in keeping our personal and financial information from falling into the wrong hands.
I want to assure you that Tower remains committed to the highest levels of fraud detection and prevention, and 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.
Four simple steps you can take now
From CISA, the government agency that organizes Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are four things we can all do now to help stay safe online:
- Use strong passwords and a password manager. Choose a password that is long, random, unique, and includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Password managers are a powerful tool to help create strong passwords for your accounts; plus, they make storing passwords and user IDs easy.
- Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA). Enable multifactor authentication on all your online accounts that offer it, especially email, social media, and financial accounts. Use authentication apps or hardware tokens for added security.
- Recognize and report phishing attempts. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, texts, or calls asking for personal information, and don’t click on links or open attachments sent from unknown sources. Verify the authenticity of requests by contacting the individual or organization through a trusted channel.
Please note that Tower will never contact you asking for account information. Never give out your credentials, card number, or security code to anyone. It you are not sure a message or call is legitimate, do not reply, and contact us.
- Update software. Ensuring your software is up to date is the best way to make sure you have the latest security patches and updates on your devices. Regularly check manually for updates if automatic updates are not available.
It is also important that we educate ourselves about the latest scams, so we can avoid and help our families and loved ones elude them as well.
More new technologies coming soon!
We are equipping more Tower branches with the latest in video banking technology. Video banking provides more efficient, safer transactions. We are adding video banking in our Magothy Beach branch this month, and our Arundel Mills branch by end of the year. We apologize for any inconvenience as the new technology is installed, and appreciate your patience as we upgrade to better serve you.
Also look for our new fraud prevention page coming soon at towerfcu.org. The fraud prevention page will offer a wealth of practical resources, articles, and tips for helping to identify and prevent fraud, and how to avoid scams.
Tower continues to offer great member value
Tower remains laser focused on delivering our promise of providing the best member value around. Our commitment to putting our members first is unparalleled. In fact, did you know that Tower members earn and save $49 million* by banking with us?
Also, because we did not follow the industry trend to raise interest rates on our Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), our members with a HELOC have saved over $6 million this year alone! We also raised our Money Market savings account rates, and our Share Certificate rates are some of the highest in Tower’s history, so our members are earning even more on their deposits.
I am proud to say that we consistently rank high in our surveys, which is especially meaningful because they are voluntary surveys taken by you, our members. A recent member survey by the Raddon Group places Tower in the 99th percentile, which means Tower is outperforming 99% of participating credit unions. We take the results of these surveys very seriously, and we will continue to deliver outstanding member service and value for you.
TowerCares Foundation reaches $2 Million milestone
Last October, I was excited to share that the TowerCares Foundation had reached the $1 million mark—and I’m even more excited to tell you that TowerCares has now surpassed $2 million in grants and donations to local charities and organizations, including $360,000 in college scholarships to students studying STEM and foreign language linguistics majors! This amazing milestone would not be possible without the generosity of our donors, and the Foundation is grateful for your continued support.
If you’re looking for a way to support TowerCares year-round, 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).
Changes to TowerCares Board of Directors
There have been some significant changes recently to the TowerCares Foundation volunteer Board that I’d like to share with you.
First, I would like to thank George Cumberledge for his four decades of leadership and support of Tower. When George stepped away from Tower’s Board of Directors a few years ago, he remained TowerCares Board Chair and a guiding force behind the Foundation. In August of this year, George stepped down as the Chair of TowerCares and was replaced by Allen Brisentine. Allen, like George, was one of the founding Directors of TowerCares and is a superb choice to be the next Chair, based on his continued involvement in activities and deep desire to help people. Allen also served on Tower’s Board until this past May.
I would also like to welcome Monte Dzurenko to the TowerCares Board and note that Monte is currently the longest serving Director on Tower’s volunteer Board (2002-present). These three individuals demonstrate strong volunteer commitment and dedication to Tower, our members, and our values. On behalf of Tower’s Board, thank you all for your willingness to share your time and talents with us.
Have a safe and happy holiday season
In closing, I wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season, and enjoy time spent with your loved ones. In the spirit of giving, if you have family members or co-workers who are not yet Tower members, offer them the gift of credit union membership. Share your experience with Tower with them and invite them to join, so they too can be a part of the Tower family.
If you plan to use a credit card to do your holiday shopping, our World Card offers a great rewards program. Earn points on every purchase that you can redeem for gift cards, travel, merchandise, or cash back. Another option to consider is a Holiday Club Account, so you can start putting money away now to prepare financially for future holidays.
Arland A. White, Jr.