Are You Using These 7 Tips to Protect Your Identity?

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

It may feel like keeping your personal information secure is impossible in a world tech-savvy hackers and scammers. Every day the news reports on new data breaches and scams. But, you can play an important role in protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud by taking small steps.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Check your financial activity. It only takes a few minutes, but reviewing your bank, credit card and other financial activity and statements for fraud is an important first step. If you see any suspicious activity, report it.
  2. Don’t use the “remember password” option. Using this feature on your computer or mobile device makes it easier for someone to access your accounts.
  3. Set up automated account alerts. Get a text or email alert for certain transactions, balances and more. We offer free alerts through Merchants Bank Online Banking for your checking, savings and loan accounts and through My Mobile Money for your debit card transactions.
  4. Be cautious when asked for personal information. If you are asked to provide personal information through a phone call, email or website pop-up page, think before you act. Verify the company or person asking for the information through a third party, like a phone book or other trusted resource.
  5. Store private information securely. Whether at home or work, do not leave your personal information out where others can see it.
  6. Make a fraud kit. Keep a list of your credit and debit cards, account numbers, expiration dates and customer service of fraud department telephone numbers in a secure place away from the cards for easy access.
  7. Be a skeptic. If a situation sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can’t win the lottery if you haven’t entered. You don’t need to send a payment to claim prize winnings.

To stay up-to-date on Merchants Bank fraud alerts and scams, sign up for our alerts emails.

How to Control Debit Card Activity

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

Take control of your debit card transactions with our free My Mobile Money app. Use it to:

  • Set card transaction alerts
  • Set spending controls
  • Turn your debit card(s) on and off
  • Deny transactions based on criteria you choose
  • And much more!

Learn how to enable the top three features recommended by our staff. Before you begin, make sure you have downloaded the app, enrolled and signed in.

Feature 1: Transaction Alerts

From Customer Service Manager, Michelle Schroeder: “I can’t say enough about the automatic notifications for all transactions. I love seeing everything that goes through my debit card. It’s perfect in case I forget about an automatic withdrawal I had approved or someone is attempting fraud on my account.”

To receive alerts for certain transactions on your mobile device:

  1. Choose the card you wish to set alerts for.
  2. Select Alert Preferences.
  3. If you would like alerts on all transactions, click the “Send alerts for” drop down and select All Transactions.To set specific alerts, such as alerting for all online purchases, click the “send alerts for” drop down and selected Preferred Transactions. Then choose the type(s) of alerts you wish to set.

Feature 2: On/Off and Automatic Denials

From Commercial Banking Officer, Mike Swanson: “My wife and I have used the on/off feature for our debit card more than once. If one of us misplaces our card…leaves it in the car, forgets it on the counter or something else, we can just turn it off on the app until we find it. If our cards really were lost, it would prevent anyone else from using them. It’s just nice peace of mind.”

To turn off a debit card:

  1. Choose the card you wish to turn off.
  2. Slide the Card ON/OFF button from green to red.

To deny debit card transactions based on dollar amount:

  1. Choose the card you wish to set up for denials.
  2. Select Control Preferences.
  3. Select Spend Limits and slide on Per Transaction.
  4. Simply enter in the maximum amount that will be allowed for a transaction.
  5. Click Save.

Feature 3: Location Controls

From Customer Service Representative and Lead Teller, Tina Bechtel: “I’ve used the location feature and that’s really handy. You just set up if you only want to allow transactions based on a city, region or state. Transactions attempted from outside that area are then automatically denied.”

Although these options give you the flexibility to protect your card while traveling, you still need to notify us (contact your local Merchants Bank) of travel plans outside of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin to ensure your debit card can be used while out of town.

To deny transactions based on the location of your mobile device:

  1. Choose the card you wish to set up location controls for.
  2. Select Control Preferences.
  3. Select Locations.
  4. Swipe the My Location function on.
  5. All attempted transactions outside of the zip code where your mobile device is located will be denied.

To allow transactions based on locations you select:

  1. Choose the card you wish to set up location controls for.
  2. Select Control Preferences.
  3. Select Locations.
  4. Swipe the My Regions function on.
  5. Select the plus symbol.
  6. Add a region by entering a zip code or using the map to zoom.
  7. Give your region a title and choose save.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 to add up to two other regions.
  9. All transactions within the regions you selected will be allowed.

If you have questions about My Mobile Money, contact your local Merchants Bank.

Privacy Code: Why You Need One

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

As part of our privacy standards, we would like all Merchants Bank customers to have a privacy code in place to protect you and your data from being accessed by someone other than you.

What is it?

A privacy code is a word or numbers or combination between 4 to 30 characters that you choose and will easily remember. This will be used to identify you and protect your data from being accessed by someone other than you. It is not the PIN associated with a card, phone banking or online banking system. It is a part of identifying you as a person.

When will it be used?

Merchants Bank staff will use a privacy code to identify that it is really you on the phone before we give you information on your accounts. If you do not have your photo ID with you, we may also use this to identify you in person.

Why do I need one?

Fraud and identity theft are increasing. Without a privacy code you may no longer be able to call in and obtain information over the phone.

To set up a privacy code, please call or visit your local Merchants Bank branch.

 

Ransomware and Rip Van Winkle: Don’t Ever, Ever Sleep Again

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

By Rodney Nelsestuen, Chief Information Officer

We all know the story of Rip Van Winkle who slept for 20 years and woke to find he’d missed the Revolutionary War and that society had changed dramatically. Today, poor Rip would find that a mere 20-minute nap may be enough to put him out of touch – especially when it comes to security.

This was driven home by the recent global attack of ransomware (aptly named Wannacry) that put hospitals, governments, and businesses on the defensive and interrupted the normal course of business on some estimated 250,000 computers in 150 countries, including the US. This event was one of the first to have a large-scale global reach and one which cost those who were attacked an estimated $3 billion dollars. Moreover, the success of Wannacry and its scale will most certainly result in a massive expansion of the ransomware “business.”

You may wonder why ransomware is suddenly so popular as compared to other types of hacking. Here are three reasons:

The attacker need do nothing and still gets paid.

Ransomware either encrypts files on a computer or blocks access to the files. These programs used to be delivered exclusively in emails as an attachment that a victim would open. While that delivery method is still in use, the more pernicious versions simply roam the internet and when they find an unprotected network or computer, will launch the attack without human intervention.

Stealing personal information and credit card data is still popular, but imagine how much work it is to steal, store, organize, and then find a buyer for that data. In short, the old fashioned methods of theft are a lot of work compared to a ransomware attack that threatens to delete all data on a computer unless the victim pays for the release. Attackers simply sit back and wait for the victim to pay.

Want to go into business? Try ransomware as a service.

Don’t know anything about computers or hacking? No need to worry. You can contract with a hacker and outsource your criminal activity. Organizations offering ransomware services are beginning to take root and will encourage bad actors of all types to try their hand at it.

After all, what do they have to lose? The outsourced service provider does all the work and gets paid a cut of the take, and you merely await your share as the business owner.

If one door is locked, just try another.

The interconnectivity of the internet and businesses across the globe makes it much easier for a ransomware attack to succeed. Can’t get into a corporate network? Try the company’s version of webmail, which can be accessed from any computer in the world. Can’t get a user to click on a link? Then use in-memory malware to deliver the payload. Find it hard to scale your crime? Then hack cloud services and launch attacks against thousands of high value targets at once. In short, ransomware has multiple attack vectors.

So what can I do to protect my business?

There are long-standing processes and tools that companies need as a foundation to stopping ransomware. While the list of approaches is long, let’s focus on three items that will reduce the risk of being hacked or a victim of ransomware:

  1. Whether you run your own technology or outsource it, be sure you know what protections and processes you have in place. Anti-virus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection software with expert alerts, and patching systems and applications are regularly among these basics.More importantly, make sure your security tools are on the most current versions. This may mean having updates almost continuously at times as risk conditions can change dynamically. It’s good to look into new technologies as new threats arise, but remember that the tools you do have may be the best there are if kept up to date.
  2. Layer security across your business. No one single solution will protect you from every attack. Whether physical locks on doors, increasing the sophistication of passwords, using out of band authentication, or segmenting your network with additional firewalls, consider using a layered approach to make it more difficult for bad actors to get through to your valued information. This includes using the security and authentication steps offered by your bank. Most banks will provide tools that allow the business to verify financial transactions before they occur. Unfortunately, too many businesses fail to adopt these solutions and processes.
  3. Train your staff on proper use of the connected world we live in – and keep security awareness in the forefront of employees’ minds. The human threat is twofold: first, people make mistakes and as humans, we always will.Second, there has been a growing threat from insiders who are ‘groomed’ by bad actors to ultimately take part in a crime. While this is an unpleasant topic, it’s something every business owner or manager needs to consider today.

One final thought. It would pay most businesses to be connected to an organization that monitors the global threat environment and can keep the business up to date on emerging threats. This external information can then be aligned with your internal IT steps and actions. There are several such organizations and many have very reasonable fees.

The security issues faced by businesses will only be more challenging in the future. Staying up to date on security technology, being vigilant on how users interact with your systems, and having an eye to the emerging threats as they grow are all smart and necessary steps for any business today.

While there are no sure-fire solutions to risk, by taking a multi-faceted approach you’re in the know about the threat environment, and you’ll feel better that you’re managing it in a sound manner. Then you’ll be able to sleep peacefully even with one eye open so as not to miss, as Rip Van Winkle did, the important things in life such as the birth of a nation.

Prevent Fraud on Your Debit Card with Just a Tap

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Controlling and monitoring your personal or business debit card usage anywhere, anytime has never been easier with My Mobile Money Access, available now for all Merchants Bank customers. With My Mobile Money Access you can protect yourself or your business from fraud by setting custom alerts and controls per debit card to determine how your card can be used. Plus, you’ll have the ability to turn your card off when you’re not using it, and turn it on only when you are.

Our Top Features
Over the past two months, Merchants Bank staff has successfully tested the different alerts and features of My Mobile Money Access. Here are four key areas you can use to ensure you’re getting the most out of My Mobile Money Access.

Manage Your Spending
With customizable controls, alerts for spending limits, and easy-to-find account balances, you can make sure you’re always on track with your budget.

Keep an Eye on Your Card with Transaction Alerts
A wide range of alert options make My Mobile Money an app that meets the specific needs of your business. Choose to set alerts for:

  • All card activity
  • Spending limits
  • Transactions where your card is not present
  • International transactions
  • Specific Merchant category purchases, such as gas stations, online purchases, etc

Card Controls Help Protect Your Account from Fraud
You can even set the app to deny a transaction before it takes place, based on criteria you set. Turning your card on and off will deny a fraudulent transaction before it takes place and, along with other card controls, will not interrupt recurring bill payments like rent or monthly subscriptions.

Account Management Keeps You in Control
My Mobile Money Access also has these account management features:

  • MoneyPass® ATM locator
  • Balance inquiries
  • Transaction history
  • Low balance alerts

You can download My Mobile Money Access for your personal or business debit card now. If you are a business with multiple employees who have individual debit cards, each employee can download the application on their own phone and set up an account while the business owner can add, view and control multiple cards for the entire business.

To learn more about My Mobile Money Access, visit our website. If you have questions about downloading the app or would like additional recommendations on it’s use for you or your business, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

Tax Scammers Target Might Target You: Here’s What to Do

Tax Scam Awareness

It’s that time of year — tax time. It’s also a great time to get up to speed on tax-related scams. Here are two ways tax scammers might target you and what you can do about it:

Tax Identity Theft
This kind of identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund. Tax identity theft also happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job. You find out about it when you get a letter from the IRS saying:

  • More than one tax return was filed in your name, or
  • IRS records show wages from an employer you don’t know

If you get a letter like this, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. You can find more about tax identity theft at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and irs.gov/identitytheft.

IRS Imposter Scams
This time scammers aren’t pretending to be you — they’re posing as the IRS. They call you up saying you owe taxes, and threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay right away. They might know all or part of your Social Security number, and they can rig caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from Washington, DC – when it could be coming from anywhere. Leaving you no time to think, they tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number right away.

The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by mail. You can report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or at 800-366-4484, and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Visit IdentityTheft.gov
IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. You can report identity theft, get step-by-step advice, sample letters, and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. These resources will help you fix problems caused by the identity theft.

What Should You Know About Merchants Bank EMV Chip Credit Cards?

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What is an EMV chip card?

The term “EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the original developers of chip cards. These cards increase the security of in-person transactions by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

How do I know if I have a chip card?

If you have a chip card, you will notice a small chip icon on the front of the card. At this time, Merchants Bank Visa Credit Cards offer EMV chip technology and have the chip icon. If you are a current Merchants Bank Visa Credit Card cardholder, your EMV chip card will be sent to you upon expiration of your current card. New cardholders will be issued a chip card upon credit approval.

Is paying with a chip card different from paying with my other cards?

Yes, making a payment with a chip card is slightly different than the card transactions you are used to. Instead of swiping your card at the register, you’ll simply follow these instructions:

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Step 1: Insert the chip end of your card into the terminal with the chip facing up.

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

Step 2: Keep the card in the terminal during the transaction and follow the prompts on the screen.

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

Step 3: Take your card when prompted. It’s that easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do all stores accept EMV chip cards?

Not yet, but the trend is growing and if a store does not yet accept chip cards, you can still swipe your card to pay.

What happens if I swipe my EMV chip card instead of inserting it into the register?

The terminal will display a message asking you to insert your card instead.

To learn more about EMV chip technology, contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank.

If you are a business and would like to accept cards, or have a terminal that does not currently accept EMV chip cards, contact our Credit Card department.

Credit cards are subject to credit approval.

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