Friday, December 11, 2015

Tips for Managing Your Finances When You Travel

Are you traveling over the holidays? Sometimes planning gets so chaotic, people forget to keep their finances in order. Add a few financial management items to your packing checklist to prevent frustration down the road. 

Tell your bank you'll be traveling.

To protect customers against fraud, most banks monitor your normal spending habits. (including geographic location.) If out-of-area purchases suddenly show up on your account, the bank may flag or block those transactions as potentially fraudulent. Also keep the 800 numbers for your credit cards on hand in case you need to report a lost or stolen card.

Double-check your accounts.

Make sure you have enough funds set aside for emergency money during your vacation. Set up automatic or early payments for any bills that will be due while you're away. Don't miss any payment dates because you're gone. That only results in unwanted late fees. 

Make sure you have a way to check in while you're away.

With services like online banking, text alerts and mobile banking  you can watch your account balances even while you're away. You'll likely be making withdrawals from unfamiliar ATMs and making purchases at new places. Carefully watching your accounts while on vacation is a good idea. This will keep your spending in check and help you catch any fraudulent activity right away. 

Carry a variety of payment options.

Take along several credit cards, a check book and a debit card. Then, if one payment method fails, you'll still have access to your funds. Carry a small amount of cash for small purchases and souvenirs. Use several wallets. If one gets lost/stolen you still have options.  Have to make currency exchanges? Talk to your bank about the most cost-effective method for your situation.

By following these tips, your vacation should go much smoother.  

Peoples State Bank, Member FDIC

Friday, December 4, 2015

Protect Yourself from ATM Skimming

Traveling over the Holidays. Pulling out extra cash for gift shopping. Grabbing cash for a last minute grocery run. ATMs are used very frequently this time of year. 

You might know the basics of protecting yourself from identity theft. You shred documents with sensitive information, check your credit scores and protect your social security number. 

But, are you aware of another common financial scam that can severely impact your bank accounts? ATM skimming. 

What is ATM skimming?

ATM skimming is a crime in which thieves attach a device to an authentic ATM in order to capture the information stored on the magnetic strip on your bank card. (having a chip card will help prevent this) 

A hidden camera is often installed on or near the ATM to record your PIN number as you enter it. The external device used for skimming is normally only installed for a few hours before the thieves remove it and extract the data it collected. 

The criminals then combine the PIN numbers obtained on the video with the stolen data to make online purchases or withdrawals at other ATMs using the bank card information.

You can protect yourself.

The crime depends on consumers using a compromised ATM, so inspect the ATMs you use most often. Watch for signs of tampering, such as new scratches, discolored keys, flashing lights and visible wires. Using the same ATMs on a regular basis will help you notice changes more easily.

If you must use a strange ATM, use extra care when inspecting it for signs of skimming. If you suspect an ATM is compromised, notify the bank immediately.

Using ATMs located inside bank branches is also safer, due to the increased security compared to ATMs on the street. 

Another good habit to get into is shielding your PIN as you enter it. You'll be protecting your PIN from video cameras and potential onlookers, as well. The best protection for your PIN is to change it every few months and avoid using numbers like your birthday, anniversary and your spouse/child's birthday.

Use our MobiMoney app to turn off any features of your debit card that you rarely use. For example, out-of-state purchases or online purchases. 

What if you've been a victim of ATM skimming?

You should monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. Online and mobile banking let you view your account as often as you wish. If you notice withdrawals or purchases that you didn't make, notify your bank right away. 

Check with your bank to see if they offer a service that will notify you via text or email of unusual purchase activity. 

In many cases, the sooner you notify the bank there is a potential problem, the more likely you are to be refunded the stolen money.

Peoples State Bank, Member FDIC