Protect Yourself from Ransomware

June 9, 2021

Malware – There’s been a lot in the news lately regarding Malware attacks.  What exactly is it?  Simply put, Malware is “malicious software” designed to damage and destroy computers and computer systems. Cybercriminals typically use it to extract data they can leverage over victims for financial gain.

Ransomware is a type of malware that accesses a victim’s files, then locks and encrypts them, and demands the victim pay a ransom in order to get the files back. Cybercriminals use these attacks to try to get users to click on attachments or links that appear legitimate but actually contain malicious code.  Ransomware is like the “digital kidnapping” of valuable data – from personal photos and memories to client information, financial records, and intellectual property. Any individual or organization could be a potential ransomware target.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself:

  • Keep the software on all of your Internet-connected devices up to date. Make sure you are running the most current versions of your security software as well as other frequently used programs and apps.
  • Turn on two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication – on accounts where available. Two-factor authentication can use anything from a text message to your phone to a token to a biometric like your fingerprint to provide enhanced account security.
  • Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by regularly making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
  • Make sure to use a strong password with at least 12 characters. Focus on phrases that are easy for YOU to remember.
  • If you doubt a link in an email, social media posts, and online advertising, don’t click on it.  This is often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them before saving anything.

Information provided by #stopthinkconnect


Practical Steps to Help Prevent Identity Theft

May 26, 2021

Identity thieves are constantly looking for new ways to obtain personal and financial information such as credit cards or Social Security numbers. There is no perfect way to completely protect yourself against identity theft, but here are 10 practical steps you can take to make it harder for identity thieves.

  1. Guard your social security number and don’t carry your card with you. If you are asked for your number, ask why it is needed and how it will be protected.  If possible, only provide the last four digits instead of the entire number.
  2. Freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This will restrict access to your records so new credit accounts cannot be opened without your permission.
  3. Be wary of phone calls that appear to come from government agencies or businesses, and emails that look legitimate. Instead of providing information, call the agency back or email them directly using the information found on their official website.
  4. Review your financial statements and credit reports Make sure every transaction listed is accurate on your financial and bank account statements. The same is true for your credit reports. The three major credit reporting bureaus are giving consumers access to a free credit report weekly until April 20, 2022.
  5. Use strong passwords and add an authentication step. Don’t reuse old passwords and don’t rely on security questions to keep your accounts safe. Your mother’s maiden name and your pet’s name are easy passwords to figure out. Create passwords that include lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  6. Use alerts to receive a text or email when transactions are made on your accounts. Argent has a great service called CardValet that provides alerts on transaction amount, location, and merchant type when your debit card is used.
  7. Protect your mobile devices by keeping them locked, password-protected, and your antivirus software current and updated. Be wary of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.  Even though a network requires a password, doesn’t mean it’s secure.
  8. Use a banking app rather than a mobile browser. To download the Argent App, visit the App Store or Google Play.
  9. Shred your credit card, bank, or investment statements! Shred any document containing personal or sensitive information as well as any junk mail with a pre-approved offer for credit.
  10. Don’t overshare on social media. Use privacy controls so information like your birth date, your employer or your family members isn’t publicly accessible.

Simple Saving Tips

May 19, 2021

For many, saving money can be a daunting task.  Whether you want to save for a particular purchase or have funds available for the unexpected, saving should NOT be overwhelming.  Check out these 5 simple ways to make saving easy:

  1. Count your coins and bills – Pay with cash. At the end of each day, empty your pockets and save that extra change in a jar, a cup, or a small box.  When it’s full, deposit your collection directly into your savings account.  
  2. Prep before grocery shopping – Before heading out, check your pantry and make a grocery list, then use coupons and loyalty programs to maximize your savings as you shop.  Receipts usually show you how much you’ve saved.  Deposit that amount directly into your savings account.
  3. Cut the cord – Ditch the pricey cable or satellite TV bill and consider switching to an online streaming service.  If you choose to stay with cable, bundle your phone, internet and cable to save.  Deposit the difference of what you would have spent into your savings account.
  4. Order smaller servings at restaurants – When dining out, opt for appetizers or split an entree with your companion.  Deposit the difference of the full entrée into your savings.
  5. Lower your car payment.  Refinancing to a lower interest rate on your auto loan could save you a considerable amount over the life of your loan.

These 5 tips are simple ways to start the savings process. Everyone’s spending habits are different, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.   Once you master the simple ways of saving, it will make it easier to transition into others areas.

Argent Credit Union can help you save! Check out our great rates on auto refinancing.  And, you make no payment for 60 days helping you save even more.

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Autism Society of Central Virginia

January 3, 2018

Argent is proud to support the Autism Society, whose mission is to improve the lives of all affected by autism by maximizing the self-sufficiency, independence, and quality of life for those living with autism.  They are the local voice and resource of the autism community.  More Info