National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

During this month of spending and online shopping, we observe National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Holiday sales are expected to exceed $1 trillion this year, increasing the opportunity for identity theft across the country.

protecting-yourself-from-identity-theft-1

Follow these steps to ensure you are keeping yourself protected from possible identity thieves:

Destroy Receipts and Statements
Anything that has your personal information–especially account numbers and card numbers–can be used against you. Carefully shred and dispose of any bank statements, insurance records, old cards, and even receipts that might have your card number printed on them. All TopLine branch locations offer free Shred-It™ services where you can bring your past bills, receipts, financial statements, and more to have them securely shredded and tossed.

Be Skeptical
If someone is asking for your personal financial information like account numbers, PINs, security codes or Social Security number, be very wary, particularly if it is over the phone, via email or text. If you’re tempted to trust them, it’s a good idea to do a little research on your own to validate their requests. Call the company by using a phone number you have on records for them – from a statement or the back of a credit or debit card, and search for their company online. If it’s a scam, the website will look questionable or won’t exist, and others may have even posted warnings. TopLine will never contact you via phone, email or text to request personal information.

Watch Credit Card Solicitations
Empty your mailbox quickly so that credit card pitches can’t be filled out in your name. Take your name off of junk mail lists whenever possible to reduce the amount of unwanted mail.

Safekeeping for Your Social Security Number
According to the Social Security Administration, you should not keep your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep your family’s social security cards in a locked, secure location. Once your number is memorized, there is little need for the physical card.

Monitor your Information

Keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements on a daily basis, or weekly at a minimum.

If you don’t recognize a charge, contact your banking institution right away. Similarly, check your credit report at least once a year. Visit http://annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228 to request one. Once you’ve received your credit report, we’d be happy to help you make sense of what you see. Stop by any TopLine branch location or call us at 763-391-9494 to arrange for your free credit report review.

Password Know-How
Passwords for your online banking should be mixed letters, numbers, and characters, and should be changed every few months as a precaution. As cumbersome as it seems, use different passwords for different sites, and don’t leave a written list of passwords around, particularly at your place of work. There are a few helpful add-ons online to store all your passwords, such as LastPass, Sticky Password, LogMeOnce, and more. You can see a helpful review of these and more in an article at pcmag.com.

At TopLine, we are committed to helping you protect yourself from Identity Theft. For additional tips and links to more resources, visit TopLine’s Identity Protection resource.
For more information on Internet security, read our blog from June 2016.

Money Saving Tips for the Holidays – TopLine Federal Credit Union

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to start planning. For many, the holiday season is expensive and stressful rather than jolly. Check out these great tips on how to make this holiday season an affordable, stress-free, and memorable one!

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-35-04-am

Make a Budget

Shop smart this holiday season by creating and sticking to your budget. When drafting your budget, it’s important to include all the people you’re shopping for, the amount allocated for each person, your overall spending cap and extra funds for the little things. Make sure you don’t overlook the small expenses when drafting your budget such as Holiday cards, wrapping paper, home decorations, and travel expenses. Once your budget is created, setting up a savings account dedicated to holiday spending is an excellent way to avoid running up debt.

purse-522622_640Craft a budget to approximate what you can afford to salt away by subtracting expenses from income. It may be useful to differentiate between fixed expenses such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, and car payments, and variables such as food, entertainment, and vacations.

Create a savings goal and divide it by the number of weeks left before the holidays to calculate how much to set aside each week. It also may be helpful to review how much you spent on gifts last year to help determine your budget this year.

Set up an Account

Once you have your target, the next step is to set up a savings account with TopLine and decide how to fund it. If you already have direct deposit set up with your employer, it may be possible to divert a specified sum from each paycheck — $25, $50 or whatever you decide to contribute — to this account.

Automating the process makes it easier to meet a savings target while also “masking” the loss. You don’t miss what you don’t see. You might also consider padding the account to go beyond gifts and cover holiday-related outlays for decorations, dining out and traveling.

purchasing-689442_640Save money with Online Coupons

If you’re looking to score some deals on gifts, turn to your computer for some money saving resources. There are many money saving sites such as dealcatcher.com, couponcabin.com, and retailmenot.com that offer free printable coupons to redeem in stores or codes for online shopping.

Track Your Spending

Effectively tracking your spending will help you stay loyal to your budget when shopping. Setting up a separate Christmas fund in your bank account is a great way to manage and adhere to your budget. There are many great ways to help track your spending; Some create a spreadsheet to accurately track expenses, others choose money management mobile apps to help keep track of budgets and spending.

Get rewarded while you shop by determining which debit or credit cards will give you the most cash-back rewards or points when you use them. Consider using a credit card for your holiday shopping for extra fraud protection, price protection and the ability to earn rewards.

Contact TopLine if you would like to apply for a Platinum and Platinum Rewards Visa® EMV Credit Cards. TopLine offers cards with low rates and no annual fees. There are no hidden costs or sneaky fees. Not now, not ever. Plus, enjoy protection against lost or stolen cards and unauthorized purchases with VISA’s Zero Liability Program. Use your TopLine Platinum or Platinum Rewards Visa® now through December 31, 2016 and treat yourself to 2% Cash Back bonus* on EVERY purchase – from gas and groceries to your holiday shopping or travel! Don’t have a TopLine Credit Card? Apply today!