Taking a vacation or traveling for the holidays?
- Have an extra set of eyes on your property. If you go away for the holidays, no matter how short the trip, coordinate with family members or trusted friends to check on things while you are gone.
- Avoid visible signs that you’re away. Make sure mail, newspapers and delivered packages don’t pile up. Make use of timers for lights to be turned on and off in your home at different times. Leave a radio or streaming audio device on while you are away, set to a station with a 24 hour talk show.
- Save your social posts until you get home! It’s natural to want to share your fun, but post vacation pictures ONLY when you return home, and ask traveling companions to do the same.
- Avoid electronic pickpockets. Protect your debit and credit cards, passports, driver’s license, and more in RFID-blocking wallets or pouches.
Use Caution While Surfing the Web
Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi or free “Hot Spots”, even if they can help keep the data bill from your phone carrier down.
- Hot Spots and unsecured Wi-Fi are easily penetrable by hackers, just sitting and waiting for someone to go shopping.
- Everything you do on an unsecured network can be watched by a hacker. This includes seeing your credit or debit card information, knowing what items you purchased, and any login credentials you used including user name and password. This makes it easy for hackers to change your login credentials, do their own shopping (with your credit or debit card), or even change the delivery address of the item you just purchased.
- Open a dedicated account if you use a debit card for online purchases. Then, transfer only the funds necessary to cover your online purchases. For extra security, make sure this dedicated account is not tied to any other account and does not allow overdraft services.
Contest Fraud: Legitimate Winnings Need No Deposit
Any contest, lottery, or winning notification that requires a deposit, pre-paid taxes, or any outlay of money upfront is a scam, plain and simple.
- The method of delivery does not mean your “winnings” are legitimate. No matter how it’s received, whether by phone, email, Fed Ex, Priority Mail, certified mail, etc., any request that asks you for money upfront is a scam.
- Fraudsters look for payment methods that are difficult to trace or refund. Be wary of requests for monies to be sent via wire, Western Union® , MoneyGram® or by buying gift cards in order to claim lottery winnings, to gain a prize or to show “good faith” that a larger sum of money will be sent to you at a later date.
- You cannot win if you did not enter. No matter how good the fraudster’s cover story is, you cannot win a foreign lottery if you are not a resident of that country, nor can you win any contest or lottery that you did not enter. If you can’t recall entering, it’s likely a scam.
- Err on the side of caution when depositing cashier’s checks or money orders. If you get a cashier’s check from someone you don’t know and they tell you to deposit the check and send money back, don’t be fooled!
- Ask your bank to verify the funds with the originating bank before making the deposit.
- Request a 5 day or longer hold on that check to be sure it has cleared.
- Avoid spending the funds even if the bank makes the check available to you.
Protect Your Online Activities
Privacy is also your responsibility. In the world of corporate breaches, merchant hacks, and social engineering on social media sites, are your devices safe?
- Guard against viruses and malware. Make sure you have updated virus protection on your computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones (remember, phones are computers too).
- Use social media carefully.
- Customize your Social Media settings to be as private as possible.
- Only “Friend” or “Like” those you actually know.
- Post vacation pictures ONLY when you return home, and ask traveling companions to do the same.
- Watch who is tagging you, and who you are tagging. If you tag or @mention a friend in a status update, for example, anyone who sees that update can click on your friend’s name and view that person’s profile too.
Verify the Authenticity of Any Solicitation
Before sharing account information or parting with funds, do a little research. If you ever question the source or discover that something feels “off”, trust your gut and avoid sharing personal or account information.
- If you are giving to charities or non-profit organizations, ensure that the organization is legitimate. For National charities, you can check the National 501(c)(3) registry to make sure they are a registered non-profit organization. If you choose to give locally, make sure the charity is real. Look for reviews online or ask questions about them.
- It’s ok to hang up. Have you had calls or emails seemingly from a bank, or even the IRS, asking for personal information? These are attempts to take your money, so just hang up! Don’t worry about being perceived as rude, it’s more important to protect your information.
- Don’t give your account information to anyone! Greenfield Savings Bank will not call and ask for your account number, your PIN, or other personal information. Remember, fraud is not your fault UNLESS you give your information away. Call your bank immediately if you believe this has happened.
- The IRS will never call or email. If monies are owed, the IRS will always send a certified letter. They will never call or solicit payment by email.
- Know who is really calling. If a caller is requesting personal or financial information and claims to be a representative of your bank or another business, do your due diligence before sharing any information. Hang up and call your bank back using a published number from a public directory, official company website, or a business card. This serves as confirmation that the request is from a legitimate caller, and will also allow you to report the incident if it turns out to be attempted fraud.
- Be wary of electronic solicitations. If you receive an email asking you to reply with personal information, hit DELETE immediately, and then permanently delete the messages in your trash can or deleted emails folder. Clicking any links in the message could be an attempt to place malicious software on your device and get your personal information.
Hector Toledo Appointed to Greenfield Community College Board of Trustees
On September 8, 2019, Governor Charles Baker officially appointed Hector Toledo, Vice President and Branch Distribution Network Officer of Greenfield Savings Bank, to Greenfield Community College’s esteemed board of trustees.
Raised in Springfield, he has spent the past 25 years volunteering for numerous non-profits. He is a Board member and chair of the finance committee for Baystate Health; a Board member for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; a former Chairperson of the Board of Springfield Technical Community College; and a Board member of both the YMCA of Greater Springfield and the United Way of Pioneer Valley. Hector’s hard work and dedication has made him a tremendous asset to his home city and the surrounding communities.
“We are delighted to have Hector join our Board,” remarks GCC’s President, Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez, “He is a seasoned executive who is no stranger to the community college board role. His perspectives will serve us well as we advance equity in terms of access to opportunities and outcomes in our communities.”
Though new to GCC, Hector has served on boards alongside the school’s former President, Dr. Robert “Bob” Pura. He is not only familiar with GCC’s outstanding reputation, but is acutely aware of the life-changing impact community colleges have on the students they serve. An alum of STCC, Hector is of the first generation in his family to attend college.
“One of the greatest qualities of community colleges in this state is the automatic support and hope given to students regardless of where they come from, their ethnicity, their gender or their age,” shares Hector. “Community colleges are among the few beacons of hope left across the state where people with little or no money can pursue their dreams or even just figure out what those dreams are with little to no debt. They make higher education a possibility rather than a pipe dream.”
With a wealth of leadership skills, strong financial expertise, and a personal connection to the life-changing impact of community college, Hector is well-positioned to balance GCC’s expectations to perform with the real needs of its students, community, and staff.
“All of us at Greenfield Savings Bank are proud of Hector Toledo’s appointment to the GCC Board of Trustees,” commented John H. Howland, President and CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank. “Hector’s management experience and his firm support for public community colleges as an affordable quality education and pathway to a career will be an asset to the College.”
Trustee Robert Cohn echoes this sentiment. “Hector Toledo will be a superb asset to our board. He is well versed in community college structures and his financial savvy as a Greenfield Savings Bank manager makes him a perfect fit. I have spent some time with Hector– the entire board of trustees welcomes him to a wonderful board that cares deeply for the college and the community!”