Make Christmas happen for a needy child this season by donating a new, unwrapped gift to Toys for Tots. Collection bins are located in all GCF branches now through December 14th.
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|November 13, 2012||6 Mo Ago
|1 Yr Ago
|5 Yrs Ago
|Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 538.62 or 4.41% since 12/31/11)
(Up 16.94 or 1.35% since 12/31/11)
(Up 278.74 or 10.70% since 12/31/11)
|10 Year Treasury Bond Yield||1.59%||1.79%||2.06%||4.26%|
Confessions of a Scam Victim
I did it. I've often read that anybody could become a scam victim, but never believed it could happen to me.
Online security is my pet subject. I read about it, I write about it. I knew what to look for, what to avoid.
The email appeared legitimate by every measure. Words were spelled correctly. The grammar and punctuation were proper. It was crafted by a business writer, not a Nigerian shyster.
I knew the bank that issued my credit card was planning new products for their customer's security. I recognized the name appearing in my inbox to be the person who was facilitating the program.
Everything appeared legitimate. So I didn't suspect a thing when I read the email announcing an enhanced credit card monitoring service. All I needed to do was answer a couple of quick questions.
My busy schedule didn't allow opportunity to revisit this request before the deadline. I'd better do it now if I wanted full protection.
The product was tied to my online login, so the last question required my credentials to process. No sooner did I click "Submit" when I had that uh-oh moment.
Yes, readers, I did it. I had just given a thief access to my credit card.
I fought back the churning sensation in the pit of my stomach long enough to take action. By the time I got a customer service representative on the phone, I had already logged in to my account and changed my password.
We cancelled the card and now I await a replacement with a new number. A few days without a credit card is a small price to pay compared to the damage that would have occurred if I hadn't taken immediate action.
I know what you're all thinking. No matter how well-written the email appeared, asking for my credentials should have raised a red flag. None of you would have fallen for it, right?
That's exactly what I would be thinking if I were the reader rather than writing this article. But the point here is that scams have become so sophisticated that they can fool anybody.
The latest banking Trojan, Citadel, is the most dangerous banking malware seen yet. It's an advanced variant of Zeus that captures keystrokes to steal online banking credentials.
A fake pop-up appears during online banking sessions that fools users into re-entering bank account logins and passwords. It doesn't seem unusual to authenticate credentials before performing secure transactions. So the user bites. And gets bitten hard.
Citadel exploits vulnerabilities in older, unpatched software versions. Particularly Java. You might find routine update alerts bothersome, especially as often as Java or Adobe need patching. But there's a reason for it.
This Trojan can slip past the most commonly used anti-virus programs. Experts found infected machines with current updates of McAfee, Norton and Microsoft Security Essentials installed and fully operational.
No matter how knowledgeable you are about web threats, anyone can fall victim to the type of fraud we see today. I'm not alone.
Even security firm RSA was compromised by a spearphishing attack when an employee couldn't resist opening a confidential attachment to an email he thought he received in error. It was no error. It was cybercrime.
The moment the attachment was opened, cyberthieves had access to RSA's computer network from the inside. Their database of algorithms was breached. Along with it, the security of their customers.
Only one client reported to be affected by the breach, Lockheed Martin. Early warning of the compromise allowed them to stave off an attack.
Fraud prevention is no longer a matter of education. We all know it lurks around every keystroke.
Today, it's a matter of constant vigilance. If you're distracted or let your guard down for an instant, it will happen to you. And with our busy lifestyle, where we're trying to squeeze in more and more tasks in a limited amount of time, it's virtually impossible to be on guard every minute of every day.
It can, and has, happened to the best of us. So what do you do?
Act promptly. Immediately change your passwords, before a thief has a chance to clean out your account.
Contact the institution to alert them of the breach. No matter if it's your personal bank accounts, credit card or an online merchant, they can flag your account and change whatever necessary to block any unauthorized transactions.
Yes, in our current day and cyberage, any momentary lapse can render us a victim. But when it does happen to you, that alert status kicks right in as a constant reminder to slow down and pay closer attention. Hopefully, it won't be too late to minimize the damage.
|On The World Wide Web
The NJ Department of Emergency Management lists resources for victims of Hurricane Sandy on their website. Point your browser here.
FEMA offers disaster assistance for Hurricane Sandy victims. Find relatives, apply for assistance or use the resources available on their website.
The scenes are hauntingly familiar. Flood ravaged homes, entire contents water drenched and lining the streets. Looters pouring through the rubble in hopes of finding an overlooked treasure.
Nothing unusual about this scene where I live. South Florida's motto is "Another weekend, another hurricane."
But to see such disaster unfold in the place we once called home, a place where building codes don't anticipate 150 mph winds, is heart wrenching.
It will sound hollow, no doubt, when I say that things will return better than ever. There will be much toil and aggravation before you reach that point.
Maybe I can help in the meantime by sharing some pointers we learned cleaning up after our own encounters with some of nature's most ravaging forces.
Living through a flood is an event in itself. A saltwater flood is totally different. You'll find all kinds of interesting things in your living room once the water recedes. Seaweed, barracuda... remnants of all forms of ocean life have taken over the dwelling you once called home.
Once these new creatures are back where they belong, you'll have a chance to assess structural damage. Be sure you include items that appear to have survived. Anything near the water line will need replacing. Salt is corrosive. It will continue to eat away any material it came in contact with long after you think it's all cleaned up.
Pay particular attention to wiring and electrical items. You may be able to turn on a lamp whose cord was underwater. But it could create a fire hazard as the wires continue to corrode over time.
Don't start your car if any part of it came into contact with saltwater. Even a small amount splashed up into the wiring harness can cause the airbags to deploy without warning. Have a qualified mechanic go over the entire system before calling it safe.
Daily routine takes on new meaning when you're recovering from a disaster. Yet life does continue to go on. It matters not if your place of employment was washed away or your car destroyed. Bills still need to be paid. Mortgage payments become due. Your family needs to eat.
And, oh yeah, now you're trying to rebuild your home while paying for temporary living arrangements.
There is help. Unemployment benefits are available to some who typically are not eligible to receive them in the form of disaster assistance payments. If you cannot reach your place of employment as a result of this disaster, became unemployed due to an injury caused by it, or a dependent of someone who was killed in the storm, you qualify for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Self-employed people who lost their business or suffered an interruption of activities also qualify.
Meeting routine expenses can be hard when your life is suddenly disrupted. Essentials like food or clothing are often donated by community responders to distribute to those most in need.
But what about the utility bills that continue to arrive? What if you can't pay them?
Call the utility company and tell them how you've been affected by the storm. They may have a program for someone in your position to offer temporary help.
If you survived the storm unscathed, you may consider paying someone's utility bill to help them through this difficult time. The utility company would know of someone in need if your loved ones or neighbors are unharmed.
The most stressful part may well be dealing with your insurance company. When a disaster of this type strikes, they can have more claims than they can handle. This doesn't help you at all when your primary residence is unlivable.
Contact them immediately to get your claim into their system. If you're living elsewhere temporarily, make sure your agent knows how to reach you.
Take pictures of everything. Your destroyed home, water damaged belongings, battered landscaping. They'll support your claim.
By now you know that flood damage isn't covered under a standard homeowner policy.
Hiring a public adjuster may reap you the largest benefit. They represent you and not the insurance company, and paid out of your claim proceeds. They know what you should be compensated for as well as how to deal with insurance companies. Policies are complex. They can assure you're not missing on a benefit rightfully yours.
NJ public adjusters must be licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance. Find the status of an adjuster you're considering before you hire them at this site.
New York residents can find disaster resources here.
GCF Bank continues to keep all those affected by this horrific storm in our thoughts and prayers.
Tip of the Week
Still receiving a paper check from the government? As of March 1, 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department will stop issuing paper benefit checks. All payments will be in electronic form only. Stop by any GCF branch to apply for electronic deposit. Your money will automatically appear in your account. It's faster, safer and more secure. And our staff makes applying easy, too. Stop by today!
For months I had been saying the U.S. markets would trade sideways (neither trending up nor trending down) until after the U.S. Presidential Election. And they did. So what happenned once the election results were known? Below is a headline from a popular business page, but most others echoed the same tone:
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 Headline: U-Turn: Stocks Tumble After U.S. Elections
And the slide continues. In just one week since the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost more than 4.41%. No editorial comment needed, just the mathematical reality.
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." - James D. Miles
Today in History
1927 - New York's Holland Tunnel officially opens for traffic.
In its first day of operation, an estimated 52,000 cars traveled through the Holland Tunnel between New York to New Jersey. Today, nearly twice that many travel it daily.
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