Five Common Online Banking Mistakes

7-14 OnlineMany will argue that banking online has been the best invention since sliced bread. And there’s no doubt about that: no more statements and papers — everything is on your computer or mobile device, right at your fingertips.

But while banking online is certainly a feat that will make your life easier, there are some things that people do without even realizing it can be hazardous to your account safety. For your own security and protection, avoid these top online banking mistakes:

1. Don’t use an easy-to-guess password – You may be surprised at how many people don’t use original passwords, and how dangerous it can be. In an analysis of 32 million passwords done by Imperva, an Internet and data security company, found the top 10 passwords are: 123456, 12345, 123456789, Password, iloveyou, princess, rockyou, 1234567, 12345678 and abc123. These give hackers an easy in to your account. If you’re using one of these or something similar, consider changing it. Note that the best passwords are ones that use both letters and numerals and involve both lowercase and uppercase characters. Also, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi – When it comes to online banking, accessing community Wi-Fi is a no-no. Why?

“People generally don’t bother to check out the security characteristics of public networks before logging on, plus wireless transmissions can be intercepted by nearby Bluetooth-type devices,” says Richard Barrington, a spokesman for MoneyRates.com. That includes public libraries, too.

“The PCs [at libraries] are subject to viruses and spyware that you have no control over,” explains Robert Sicillano, a consultant for McAfee, an expert on identity theft.

3. Don’t dismiss anti-virus protection - This kind of software helps detect and protect you from malicious software (malware) and computer viruses. That’s important because “[Common viruses like] trojans and worms can infect your computer and use keystrokes and other tactics to get your bank credentials,” warns Sol Nasisi, chief economist at BestCashCow.com. It’s best if you set up your protection software to automatically update daily. Also, sometimes your financial institution may provide free software, so be sure to ask about it if you’re unsure.

4. Don’t ignore your account - Check your account regularly. That will help ensure nothing suspicious is going on in your checking and savings accounts. Try checking it once a day or week, but at minimum, you should be looking at it once a month. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately.

5. Don’t post password hints on social media – It sounds obvious, but don’t share any super personal information on any of your social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Doing so makes it easy for criminals to use this information and possibly open up an account in your name, or even use it to guess what your password is.

“It’s important to be careful sharing your pet’s name, your children’s names, or the name of the high school you attended, especially if you use this information as account passwords or answers to security questions,” says Lisa Robinson, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. “Never share your mother’s maiden name, your Social Security number, your bank account numbers, or your user names or passwords for any account.”

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Cyber Security Tips for Business Owners

CyberSecurityTipsIf you own a business, your list of stressors is probably vast: Sales, employee turnover, competition — so the last thing you want to worry about is your cyber security. Nevertheless, it’s important to establish an official security plan. Why? Cyber fraud (any crime that involves a computer and/or network) is becoming more and more of a frequent issue. In fact, companies with 250 employees or less suffered more than 30 percent of all online attacks last year (up from about 18 percent in 2011), according to Symantec.com’s 2013 Internet Security Threat Report.

“Cyber criminals are business people, too,” said Arild Jensen, owner of Secos Security, a Granada Hills, CA firm that specializes in cyber security for small businesses. “They’re going to go for the easiest, most rewarding target.”

Fear not. Here are five easy ways to make sure your business’s Internet environment is as secure as it can be.

1. Choose strong passwords. Make sure passwords — for e-mail, Wi-Fi, websites and other platforms — are secure. The most important aspect of creating a password: How long it is.

“The length of the password matters more than its absolute complexity,” explains Steve Gibson, president of Gibson Research in CA. They should be eight or more characters. For even more protection, include letters, numbers, punctuation or special symbols, like an exclamation point.

2. Stay up to date — on everything. That means having the latest security software, web browser, operating system, etc., which can help guard against viruses, malware and other online threats. Most of these programs can be set to update automatically. Also important: Whenever you update your antivirus software, make sure to run a scan afterward. Installing or updating your antispyware technology is crucial as well. Spyware — as the title suggests — essentially spies on you, and is able to access personal information from your business without you knowing.

3. Pay attention to Wi-Fi. Rename your office network and change the password often, about every five or six months.

“Almost anyone can go online and find software that will automatically break into [the network],” explains Michael Hicks, director of the University of Maryland — College Park’s Cybersecurity Center. Tip: Avoid making the network title your company’s name.

4. Work with your financial institution. Ask your financial institution about protection programs. They may be able to offer a plan that allows you to monitor any suspicious activity that has occurred, like checking payments that you don’t recognize. This can help you prevent any unauthorized transactions before they occur.

5. Back up your data regularly. Sometimes, even when you do everything right, hacking can still occur. Having backup copies of important business data and information ensures that you’ll never have to start from square one. Store extra files (everything from Word documents and spreadsheets to human resource info and financial files) at a location other than your office. To make it easier, set up your files so they get backed up automatically.

6. Educate your employees.
Making sure workers are up to speed on the safest online tactics means less of a chance of a cyber mishap. Also instill the importance of not posting any confidential business-related information on social media platforms they may have, and that they don’t store business-related information on personal hard drives. Your employee’s passwords should also be different from what they use for personal passwords.

 

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Budget for a Happy Holiday Season

OnlineBankingENYour mom is going to love that holiday gift you bought her, and your grandpa, well, you just can’t wait for him to open your present. What about your dad, have you thought of a good gift for him?

Budgeting for everyone on your holiday list can be difficult, that’s why Merchants Bank has thought of ways to help you track your spending and access your accounts in the palm of your hands.

Merchants Bank Online Banking customers have access to a personal financial management tool, “Manage My Money.”

It’s like having your own personal money management software without having to purchase expensive software. All from the comfort of your home or your office.

You can do a great deal with this free tool, including:

  • Follow your net worth and watch the value of your real estate holdings
  • Consolidate and track your investments, such as stocks and your 401k
  • See where you’re spending your money by tracking your purchases by category or in general
  • Generate reports on spending, expenses and credit card utilization
  • Set budgets and receive alerts if you go over budget
  • Create custom reports especially for you
  • Link to your accounts, no matter where they are held

That’s just the beginning, and you’ll find it easy to use. It’s as simple as logging on to your Merchants Bank online banking and then following the prompts for “Manage My Money.”The help doesn’t stop with “Manage My Money.” Merchants Bank Mobile Banking makes it easy for you to get a quick update on your accounts when and where you need it. Using Mobile Banking allows you to get more things done because it’s easy, convenient and fast. With Mobile Banking, you can do all of your banking on the go.

Click here for more information on Mobile Banking or download details.

Don’t forget to budget for everyone on your holiday list. Track spending and access accounts in the palm of your hand with Merchants Bank’s “Manage My Money” and Mobile Banking.

If you need help, just give us a call at (866) 496-0522, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Snowbirds, Are You Going Away for the Winter?

SnowbirdENIf you’re going away for the winter, please let us know so that we can be sure to send your important information from Merchants Bank.

You can change your address in one of two ways. You can come in and see one of our Customer Service Representatives. They can set up the change and set up a time for the address to automatically convert when you return.

The other way to change your address is through Online Banking. Go to “Other Services” and then “Change of Address.” If you change your address this way, you need to remember to change it back when you return.

You’ll also want to let your other important contacts know where you’re going to be, so they can be in touch. We have “Snowbird Kit” information available for download on our website under “How Can We Help You?”.

Don’t forget to change your address when you travel south for the winter so you can enjoy your time away knowing that Merchants Bank will be able to send you the information you need.

Enjoy A Service that Can Save You Money

OnlineBankingENDo you want access to your account any time you want? How about a service that is free and can also save you money? Well, you’re in luck because Merchants Bank has just what you’re looking for. Our Online Banking service is free to our customers and allows for you to access your account when you need to.

Your time is valuable. Merchants Online Banking gives you convenient, easy to use, secure access to your accounts via the Internet. With Online Banking, you will have access to Bill Pay and Manage My Money, which will help you get the most of your banking needs.

Bill Pay allows you to pay virtually any one or any company through your Online Banking account. Save money on your postage, checks, and envelopes when you pay for your bills online instead of by mail. You decide who you want to pay, when you want to make the payment, and the account you want the payment to come from. It’s that easy.

Manage My Money is a Personal Financial Management (PFM) tool that is offered by Merchants Bank through Online Banking. You can get a complete picture of your financial information with Manage My Money. Track your spending, create budget goals, get account balances, bill due date alerts and much more, so that you can stay in control of your finances.

Take advantage of a great service, like the Online Banking, offered at Merchants Bank. Save time and money while you make safe and secure transactions with Online Banking. Click for more information on Online Banking.

Merchants Bank cares about what you think because it is important to us that we are providing you with the best service that we can. Please take a few moments to tell us what you think by answering the questions in this survey. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to learning more about how we can serve you better.

Back to School

Back To SchoolGet Everything on Your List

Notebooks, check. Pens, check. Pencils, check. Open an account at the bank, check.

Going back to school can be a difficult process, but not with Merchants Bank. Merchants can help your student start the school year off right with a new account and Merchants Bank Mobile Banking.

With the busy school year just around the corner, it‘s important to start thinking about what your student needs for school. Merchants Bank has accounts that are not only convenient, but also easy to track. You can access your accounts on the go with Merchants Bank Mobile Banking and Online Banking. You can also get any information you need at any of our convenient locations.

Having an account will help your student learn the importance of saving, balancing, and responsibility of having an account. Sign your student up for an account today, so they can start learning how to keep track of their money now.

Merchants Bank offers many student solutions for high school and college students. Read more about our student solutions here.

Don’t make this school year harder than it needs to be, let Merchants Bank help you check every item off your school list.