Two-Step Verification – Why You Should Use It to Keep Your Information Safe

It’s easier thank you think for someone to steal your password. And with some many fraudulent scams going on, its hard to know how to keep your information secure.
Two-step verification can help keep the bad guys out—even if they have your password.

Here’s how it works!
1. When you get ready to login to your account online, you’ll first enter your username.

2. Next, enter your password

3. Here’s where the two-step verification comes in. After you enter your password, you’ll be asked for a code. The code will be sent to your cell phone by text message. You’ll then enter that code on the computer, and you’ll be logged in like usual.

By making two-step a requirement to login to your account(s), you are further securing your personal information from being easily acceptable, because no one can get in without the code (the one that is being sent to your cell phone). Pretty cool right!

Common mistakes people make that put them at risk for having their password stolen
• Using the same password for everything
• Never changing the password
• Using basic information like a birthday, house number, or wedding date
• Using sequential numbers such as 0000 or 12345
• Clicking on links in a text or email from an unknown source

Just remember, no form of online security is 100% full proof. But, if you do your part and do everything you can to make it harder for the bad guys to access your information, you’ll be one-step closer to keeping your information secure.

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Beware of scammers attempting to intercept your economic stimulus payment

During this unprecedented time in our nation, thousands of people are falling victim to criminal scammers who are committing fraud due to COVID-19.

Most taxpayers will receive stimulus payments through direct deposit. But some will receive their payment through traditional paper checks. Many of the paper check recipients are elderly and many are those who do not use banking services at all.

Five useful tips that can help you avoid falling victim:

  1. Know that the IRS will NOT call you. The IRS will NOT text you. The IRS will NOT email you. They do NOT work like this. If you receive messages from the IRS through any of these mediums from someone requesting information about your economic payment, it’s a scam!
  2. Remain vigilant against the criminals who are plotting to take your money. Report suspicious calls to law enforcement immediately.
  3. If you want to check the status of your stimulus payment, visit the IRS website at and click on “Get My Payment.” ONLY use this website. DO NOT use any other sites or services that claim to be able to process your payment.
  4. Do not click on links in emails. If you don’t know who it came from, ignore it or delete it.
  5. NEVER share your personal information or financial information with anyone.

    Useful Information
    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), is the agency who is responsible for protecting the integrity of the federal tax administration, including attempts to impersonate the IRS to defraud taxpayers.

    If you fall victim to criminals using this pandemic as an opportunity to commit fraud, contact TIGTA at
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Social Networking Online

For many of us, social networking is life! From spouses looking at social media to kids and teens playing video games, and now we are all working at home, along with our kids doing online school – it opens the door for the bad guys to interrupt our daily lives.

Get the conversation started with your families using these online safety tips!

1. Never register on a gaming site using your real full name.
Your first name is fine, but there is absolutely no need to use your real last name, date of birth, city, address, or any personal information like this. By taking the time to create an alias, it will help reduce the risk of being targeted and becoming a victim.

2. Be Real!
Be yourself, be kind, be honest, and be respectful, just like you would if you were talking to a person standing in front of you.

3. Use Smart Passwords
Passwords should never be shared with anyone other than your spouse. Use letters (a mix of upper and lowercase), numbers, and symbols. Never use easy passwords, such as your birth date, your age, or sequential numbers, such as 1,2,3,4,5 or 0000.

4. Social media posting – use caution!
Keep your posts clean and NEVER post inappropriate messages. Don’t talk about sex or share explicit pictures with anyone EVER. Not even by text messages or in your private story. All someone has to do is take a quick screen capture and pass it on to others. It can put you at risk with strangers and friends, and it could come back to haunt you as you get older and look for employment, colleges, clubs and activities, church functions, and more.
Once you post something (even if you delete it later), it’s out there in the universe and almost impossible to take back.

5. NEVER, ever, ever meet an online friend (that you don’t know) in person. There is absolutely no way to be certain that the person you meet online is really who they say they are. It’s easy to fake a profile picture, it’s easy to post a description of yourself that isn’t real, and it’s easy to post fake information.

Be smart, be alert, and think before you react.

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Coronavirus Scams

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting people of all ages and ethnicities. It has no color and does not discriminate. But, leave it to scammers to be ready to prey upon vulnerable people at a time like this. They have already created several ways for defrauding people and they simply have no shame.

The U.S. Attorney put out a recent press release with a message warning people not to fall victim to these scammers. Their office is working with law enforcement partners to help protect the public against deceitful crooks.

Some examples of scams linked to COVID-19 include:

  • Treatment scams: Scammers are offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.
  • Supply scams: Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
  • Provider scams: Scammers are also contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
  • Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.
  • Phishing scams: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
  • App scams: Scammers are also creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.

Be wary of unsolicited emails and those requesting your personal information online for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will never contact you in this manner.


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Support Options May be Delayed or Unavailable

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and as a precautionary health measure, some of our customer service support options may be delayed or unavailable.

You can still reach us by email, which is our preferred measure of communication. We will do our best to respond as soon as possible.

We wish you all good health and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Working from home? Here are some teleworking security tips.

Since the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak started, many of us began working from home. While working from home is great, and can help slow the spread of the virus, it also brings new challenges.

If you are lucky enough to have a home office, you can probably find space for your new electronics and paper filing storage. But if you don’t have a home office, you might get stuck working from your kitchen table or in your bedroom.

Tips for protecting your devices and personal information online:

  • Create strong passwords.
    A good password will be unique, have a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols, and be a little long (at least 12 characters).
  • Update your security software and Secure your home network.
    Start with your router. Turn on encryption (WPA2 or WPA3). Encryption scrambles information sent over your network so outsiders can’t read it.
  • If you are using a laptop, make sure its password protected.
    NEVER leave it un-attended.
  • Securely store sensitive files.
    Keep confidential information out of site and under lock and key. If you don’t have a file cabinet, use a locked room or safe.
  • Dispose of sensitive data. Shred it!
    Don’t just throw it away or tear it up. Thieves will be looking for anything in your garbage that has personal information on it.
  • Follow your employer’s security practices.
    Your home is now an extension of your office, so follow the protocols that your employer has implemented.
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Coronavirus Scam

The Coronavirus is making headlines every day and it’s got us all on edge! We’re running out to buy water, stock up on food storage, purchase hand sanitizer by the dozens, bleach, sanitary wipes, masks, etc. Anything that we think will help us stay healthy.

In addition, schools are closing at the possible hint of exposure, our financial market is declining, and travel is being postponed. What’s also scary, is that vendors are selling fraudulent Covid-19 products that claim to cure the virus. But really, these products can cause major health issues for people and also violate federal law.

Criminals are taking advantage.
As people search for answers, the criminals come out and are trying to take advantage of our fears and desperation. The FBI recently released a warning about a fake world health organization flyer that’s been making the rounds. And phishing scams are on the rise.

What you need to know, so that you don’t get ripped off!
Look out for fraudulent emails and fundraising scams. Emails that look real (but aren’t) are being sent out with links and attachments asking you to click and download. If you do, you could be giving hackers your personal information. A search on for Coronavirus turns up more than 3,000 results. But the FTC warns that scammers are setting up bogus charities. Be sure to do your research before donating.

Stay informed so that you don’t fall for any of these rip-offs!

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It’s Tax Season! Protect your personal information.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Three words that many people don’t like to hear, let alone talk about. We all have to pay our taxes and we all have to provide certain private information to them, or we could be at risk for fines or other long-term issues.

But if you think about it, the IRS contains a database with 300 million social security numbers. Let’s think about the safety issue that could pose a potential problem with that. They collect, process, and store large amounts of personal information in their system. It’s a gateway for online criminals and identity thieves.

How to minimize your risk and protect your personal information and tax data:

  1. You don’t absolutely have to do everything online. Consider requesting information through traditional mail. It might take longer, but could also be safer.
  2. Voluntarily ask the IRS for an Identity Protection Pin Number (IP PIN). This number helps prevent your SSN from being used on fraudulent federal income tax returns.
  3. Review your credit report at least once a year. And check for any unauthorized activity or errors. Credit bureaus make mistakes all the time, so if you find an error, contact them and they will work with you to get it fixed.
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Are School Lockdown Drills Going Too Far?

This is an issue that has a lot of parents and kids shaken up.

Most schools put students through some kind of active shooter drill. Some practice lock downs, while others are made to feel a little too real, and go so far as to teach kids how to run and hide, barricade doors, and even fight back.

New reports are showing that instead of improving safety, these type of drills are actually doing more harm than good, and in some case cases actually traumatizing students and giving them anxiety.

Shouldn’t schools and districts alike notify students AND parents in advance of running any kind of active shooter assimilation?

Makes sense, right? Well some schools choose not to notify their students or the parents which has made many kids frightened that an active shooter is actually on site for real.

How effective are these drills anyway?

Critics argue that drills can go too far. There should never be an instance where a student thinks that their life is in danger when it actually isn’t.
They could be causing students anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, or worsening school performance.

Perhaps more resources should be focused on preventing gun violence. After all, real lives are at stake.

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Juice Jacking Scam

If you have a cell phone, you want to know about this!

Free public charging stations – you see them everywhere. From malls to airports, it’s a quick and convenient way to power up your phone’s battery – right? Well, apparently plugging in could cost you big in the long run.

What is it?
The scam is called juice jacking. It’s a type of cyber attack involving a charging port that doubles as a data connection. Plug in to juice your phone and a hacker could use that connection to jack your personal information.

Common sense should tell most of us that if a free-standing charging station is setup in an open setting, something is up. But we’re not always smart when our cell phone battery life is low. A free charge could end up draining your bank account. Hackers can watch and record everything on your cell phone screen in real time, so charger beware.

Safety tips to prevent your personal information from being stolen

  1. Use common sense. If a charging station is just sitting out in the open (not even mounted down to the ground), that’s a red flag. Someone is probably sitting nearby waiting for you to plug-in, so they can remotely hack your device and duplicate your screen.
  2. When you plug your device in, you shouldn’t see anything strange on your screen. If you do and it’s out of the norm, stop and disconnect immediately.
  3. Use a wall outlet charger. This is the best way to charge your phone. No information can be transmitted this way and it’s just for power.
  4. Buy a portable charger. They are inexpensive and you can take it with you.
  5. If a charging station question pops up asking you for permission to access your data, say NO. It will still charge without granting access to your personal information.
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