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Financial Conversations with Fitz #59 - Bank Account and Credit Card Security - 04/05/2010

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Beautiful morning yesterday!!!!!   Was in MPLS over the weekend and noticed a lot of field work done and small grains seeded.   This could be a busy week for our farmers in North Iowa.   Several meetings this week and both on Thursday night.    Winnebago/Hancock Cattleman meet at Branding Iron on Thursday night.    We are hosting a PPAT meeting at the TSB Community Room in Forest City on the same night.   Tough when both fall on same night.  I remember when we had a full house at cattlemans meeting in years past.   Small turn out any more.   But if you like good food and want to support the small cattleman around here be sure to take it in.   Carol and Paul Kassels will be here for the PAT certification at 7:00 in our community room.   I seem to remember last year that Kassels had trouble getting here from Swea City and we postponed the meeting.    Only to have a couple of dozen of our area farmers show up at 7:00.  Fund raiser for the Fair Board on Saturday night at the Branding Iron.

A lot of new announcements on privacy and credit card changes.   We will be posting some of these new FDIC notices on our web site over the next month.    It is important that you heed what you get in the mail or do over the internet to protect.   A lot of Phishing going on lately and not with a pole but with software to steal pertinent information on your account.   A couple of tips today from the FDIC:  Don’t log into your bank account at the library or free wireless connections at coffee shops or kiosks.   That is where the criminals often try to intercept Internet traffic, including passwords, from these locations.   Be sure to wipe out the history if you do from these sites.   If you do that it doesn’t stay on the hard drive once the computer is turned off.   Watch for pop-up windows asking for personal information or warning of a virus.   Call you anti-virus software company if you need help.   I was a victim of this and took by computer up to WCTA to get rid of it.    I do have McAfee security on my machine.   Be sure you have security tools on your machine.   It does set up a firewall to stop hackers or at least slow them down.   Run your virus scan periodically to double check what might have gotten through.   They recommend weekly, I don’t do it quite that often but probably should.  

Choose “strong” user ID's and passwords that are easy for you to remember but hard for hackers to guess.   The strongest have a combination of letters and numbers and are at least 10 characters long.   Don’t forget if you are a victim of any ID theft be sure to call us immediately at any of our offices.   We have the system provided to you to search out and protect you as soon as you call us.    This firm does a great job getting your account cleared up and protected.  Be sure to check you statement from us and your credit cards immediately to be sure you are only getting your bills.   Sometimes you can sign up for something over the internet and not sure you did.

We have some more security information on our website at the Security Corner.

Remember that you should deal with people in community banks and organizations that when they put something together for you that they will  be sitting with them at ball games, church or community events.  So, if in doubt give us a call.