Archive for October 2019

Cyber Security Tips: How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online for the Holidays

With the holiday season just around the corner, chances are we will all do some online shopping at one point. Bear in mind, however, the need to keep your personal information secure from the growing number of hackers that want to steal your money or your identity.  Below are six cybersecurity tips to use during the holidays and beyond to ensure your personal information is protected.

Never use public WiFi for online purchases

Generally, local WiFi hotspots do not encrypt data. What this means is that it is MUCH easier for bad guys to hack into these networks to steal your information. In addition, it is very common for hackers to set up their own WiFi hotspots that appear to be legitimate by giving their network a name similar to the local establishment. For instance, they may simply name theirs ‘Airport WiFi’ (when the legitimate hotspot is ‘Dulles International WiFi’). Once you’re in, they not only can view every keystroke you make, but can infiltrate other data on your device.


Check every credit card statement

While using a credit card is the only smart way to make online purchases, equally important is the need to review your credit card statement each and every time. Check for unknown or suspicious charges. If you’re unsure about a purchase, immediately contact your credit card company to get additional details. The credit card company will proceed with investigating the charge.


Take other proactive steps to protect your card and banking information. For instance, sign up for notifications (emails or texts) that indicate each time a purchase is made using your card. Devote a single credit card to online purchases. If the card gets hacked and requires replacement, you’ll avoid the need to update any auto payments (like utility bills, etc.) that you may have set up using that card.


Use only websites that you trust

Fake stores exist that lure people into sharing their financial and personal information. However, there are ways to determine if a website is trustworthy. First, trust your instincts. If a website appears disreputable, it probably is. For instance, if the URL is a weird address (e.g., something other than .com, or a variation of a legitimate URL, like or fills your screen with pop-up ads, don’t even bother with it. Legitimate websites that have purchase forms for you to complete should have a lock () as well as ‘https’ (not just http) in the URL; these indicate that your information (name, address, phone, credit card, etc.) is sent securely.


An obvious red flag is when a website has grammatical errors; this is a clear indication that you’re dealing with a fake website. Of course, the old saying holds: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. In other words, if you find deals much cheaper than you’d expect, the products are likely to be stolen or counterfeit if they exist at all.


Secure your devices

It has become necessary to protect every device that accesses the Internet, particularly those that are used to make online purchases this holiday season. Be sure to change your passwords regularly. Perform regular updates to the Internet browsers you use. Make sure each device has anti-virus software and that you’ve installed the latest version.


Members Choice Credit Union is a cooperative, non-profit association serving the Ashland, KY community, and dedicated to the motto: “People Helping People.”  We encourage thrift among our members, offer fair and reasonable interest rates, and allow members to use and control their own money on a democratic basis in order to improve their economic and social condition. Contact us at 606-326-8000 to review your financial services needs. Visit us online. Please also follow us on Facebook.





4 Super-Scary Scams To Watch For This Halloween

Don’t let a Halloween scam spook you! Stay a step ahead of those crooks by looking out for these four scams this season.

1. The shipping scam

The internet is brimming with Halloween-themed stores in the months leading up to Oct. 31. Lots of these retailers offer an impressive selection of costumes, accessories and decorations at great prices.

Unfortunately, though, some of the retailers that own such sites will never deliver the ordered goods. That’s because, though the company may exist, and will appear legit, at the end of the day there was never a real intent to ship the item(s). The delivery date may be postponed until after Halloween, or the order might get canceled without notification. Sometimes, the shopper will receive the promised package on time – only the package is empty!

Before placing an order with a seasonal store, look for the company’s physical address and phone number. Check what the  Better Business Bureau (BBB) has to say about it and look for information about return and refund policies in case things go south. Finally, as always, be careful about sharing your credit card information with an unsecure site. Look for the lock icon near the URL and the “s” after the “http” in the web address; both indicate you’re on a secure site.

It’s also a good idea to order your costumes and décor in September. This way, you’ll have time on your side if you need to return a costume or a product that didn’t turn out as expected. You’re also less likely to purchase goods from iffy retailers and vendors you don’t recognize when you aren’t pressed for time. Finally, you won’t be forced to spend a ton of money on last-minute shipping costs when you make your purchase early in the season.

2. The fraudulent offer

In this scam, a bogus company advertises a “Super Special Deal” for “Today Only” offer, or something similar. It will offer amazing Halloween goods for prices that are too good to be true and lure lots of unsuspecting customers into the trap. Unfortunately, the company is bogus and the offer doesn’t actually exist. If you purchase the advertised product, you’ll never see the product – or your money.

As with all potential scams, check out a company’s authenticity and a website’s security before purchasing.

3. The fake ticket scam

Planning to take a trip to an amusement park, attend a concert or take in another event on Halloween? Be wary of the fake ticket scam, in which third-party vendors sell bogus tickets to unsuspecting customers right before an event. They’ll also tack on an exorbitant commission, claiming that they need to charge extra because of the last-minute purchase. Of course, the ticket is bogus and they’ll pocket the ticket money, plus the commission.

Make sure to get your tickets to any event you’d like to attend well in advance. Contact the event organizers directly to make sure you’ve reached the right address. If you find tickets being sold online near Halloween time, do a quick online search to see if the event has already sold out. Check for spelling mistakes and erroneous information about the date and time of the event on the ticket, as well.

4. The bogus purchase scam

In this scenario, scammers try to convince you that you ordered something you have no recollection of purchasing just to get you to share your personal information. Once the scammers have this data, they’ll do anything from emptying your accounts to taking out loans in your name or committing full-blown identity theft.

If you receive any emails, phone calls or text messages asking you about a costume you never ordered or a ticket you never purchased, do not engage with the sender or caller. Delete the emails or flag them as spam. Also, block the contact from calling or texting you again. With any luck, the scammer will get the message that you’re not an easy target and leave you alone.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and frightfully fun Halloween from all of us here at Members Choice CU!