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Money Matters: Cybersecurity state of mind


Just when you think cybersecurity couldn’t become a hotter button issue, recent socioeconomic unrest proves otherwise. Malicious actors, account takeovers, malware, ransomware – unfortunately, these are terms we all know too well. Here are a few critical reminders for keeping yourself and your finances cyber-safe.


  • Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information by phone, email or online. This includes your name, birthdate, Social Security number and bank account number.
  • Secure your SSN. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give it out when absolutely necessary.
  • Review your credit report once a year to be sure it doesn’t include accounts you have not opened. You can order one free per year at
  • Enable security features on mobile devices, especially if you have contacts, banking apps and websites saved.
  • Never use public wi-fi.


  • PASSWORDS: A long password is a strong password. Using a mixture of numbers, letters – upper and lowercase – and symbols is beneficial. Never share your passwords with anyone.
  • MOBILE DEVICES: Hackers love to target our devices. Practice the same proactive security as you would on your desktop.
  • VISHING: Beware of vishing! Vishing, or voice phishing, is phone fraud that uses social engineering to gain access to private personal and financial information. Vishing often involves a criminal pretending, over the phone, to represent a trusted institution, company or government agency.
  • FAKE NEWS: The internet can be a blank canvas for anyone to put out any information they desire – whether it’s accurate or not. If reputable news sources are not reporting on the story, then it’s likely fake. Only visit sites you trust to verify accuracy. Watch for bad grammar; this always warrants caution!

One of the easiest ways to stay safe from this barrage of attacks is to listen to your gut. If someone asks for information, heed any feeling of hesitation and do your research first. If something makes you feel “panic,” stop and don’t go any further. Panic is one of fraudsters’ most used tactics; they want you to react before you have time to think.


Emily Mays is vice president/chief administrative officer at Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, working in finance for 15 years. She is an enthusiastic social media marketer, financial literacy advocate and go-local supporter. She lives in East Franklin and has one daughter, Lola.