Simple steps can thwart hackers, malware and viruses

  • Never include sensitive information in email. Forged email purporting to be from your financial institution or favorite online store is often sent by criminals to extract personal information.
  • Never open or respond to unsolicited bulk email messages. Delete all spam without opening it. Responding only confirms your email address to the spammer, which can intensify the problem.
  • Never click on links within an email. It's safer to retype the web address into your browser.
  • Don’t open attachments from strangers. If you don't know the sender or aren't expecting the attachment, delete it.
  • Don’t open attachments with odd filename extensions. Most computer files use extensions such as “.doc” for documents or “.jpg” for images. If a file has a double extension, like “heythere.doc.pif,” it is highly likely to be a dangerous file and should not be opened.
  • Never give out your email address to unknown websites. Many sites sell email addresses or may be careless with your personal information.
  • Don’t believe the hype. Many fraudulent emails contain urgent messages claiming your account will be closed if sensitive information is not provided immediately or that important security information needs to be updated online.

Even if you're not tech-savvy, fraudulent emails are often easy to identify. Many contain bad grammar, spelling and design. As a reminder, Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union employees will never email or send a text message asking for online banking passwords, PIN numbers or other personal information.

Bank, buy and browse online safely and securely

  • Be selective about where you surf. Sites that are engaged in illegal or questionable activities often host damaging software and make users susceptible to aggressive computer attacks.
  • Always use secure web pages when you’re conducting transactions online. A page is secure if there is a locked padlock in the lower left-hand corner of your browser or if the web address starts with https.
  • Select a strong password. Never use birth dates, first names, pet names, addresses, phone numbers, or Social Security numbers as your password. Instead, use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Be sure to change your passwords regularly.
  • You should never use the “remember password” feature for online banking or internet retailers.
  • Work on a computer you trust. Firewalls, Antivirus and Anti- Spyware software will help protect your computer and your personal information.
  • Don’t use public computers for sensitive transactions. Since you cannot validate the computer’s integrity, there’s a higher risk of fraud when you log in from a public computer.

Here are three more simple security steps: Always sign off from Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union online banking or any other website that's accessed by a user ID and password. Utilize automatic timeout features that prevent others from continuing your banking session in case you leave your computer unattended. And when a computer is not in use, disconnect it from the Internet or shut it down.

Just because it's paper doesn't mean it's safer

  • Lock your mailbox. Don’t leave mail in your box longer than necessary –- especially if it does not lock.
  • If you’re traveling, don’t let mail pile up. Have the post office hold your mail when you're not home to collect it.
  • Monitor mail closely. Take immediate action if bills do not arrive as expected or if you receive unexpected credit cards or a mysterious account statement.
  • Don’t give out personal information in surveys. Surveys, both online and offline, can be dangerous if they ask you to provide confidential information.
  • Safeguard your Social Security number. Don't publish it on checks and other public documents. Don't carry your Social Security card with you; keep it in a safe place at home.
  • Know your rights regarding copies of your driver’s license. Business transactions, like checking into a hotel, do not require a copy of your driver’s license.
  • Shred bills, bank statements, pre-approved financial solicitations and other confidential letters and documents before discarding them.

One way to check whether someone has stolen your identity is to regularly check your credit report. Take advantage of free credit reports offered through Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union and review them for accuracy or unexplained changes in your credit score.

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