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Online Security

Stay safe online, all the time

So much of life is spent online these days and we count on these services to be safe and secure. Usually they are, but online security isn’t always airtight and staying alert and aware is important. This includes email you open, websites you visit, and especially your Online and Mobile Banking.

Common Online Security Risks & How to Stay Safe

  • Online & Mobile Banking Break-Ins: These services are at the heart of your digital relationship with SMCU or any financial institution you do business with. Keeping them safe and secure against hackers or those who may access your devices is very important.
    • How to stay safe: Do not leave your phone unlocked or your computer unattended when you’re not using them. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. SMCU Online Banking requires passwords contain at least three of the following characters, and we recommend all four for all of your passwords:
  • Email “phishing” attempts: One of the most common online security risks is known as phishing. This is when you receive an email from what appears to be a reputable company, often a company you do business with. The email asks you to reply with or visit a website to enter personal information, like your user name, password, social security number, account numbers, and more.
    • How to stay safe: Always be sure you’re communicating with the actual company before you provide any sensitive information. Make sure you recognize the sender and that the email address and domain name is what you expect. Watch out for multiple typos or inconsistent language, as these can be signs of fraudulent messages.
  • Online auction/buying scams: The ability to buy and sell second-hand goods online is a big convenience, but it’s also very attractive to scammers. Typically, these scams involve someone that wants to buy your item with a money order and who offers to overpay if you are willing to send cash with the item. Their payment to you either never arrives or is fraudulent, and you have now lost your money and the item.
    • How to stay safe: Whenever you buy something online, ensure the seller is verified and that the item is “as-advertised” before sending payment. As a seller, ensure that you have the money (or at least that the payment has officially been initiated though PayPal, Venmo, etc.) before you ship the item or allow it to leave your possession.
      • Uppercase letters (A, B, C, etc...)
      • Lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc...)
      • Numbers (1, 2, 3, etc...)
      • Special characters (!, @, #, etc...)

If you are ever in doubt, simply delete the suspicious message and do not respond. Instead, use trusted methods to contact/interact with the companies you do business with rather than responding to communications sent directly to you. You can report suspicious emails to spam@uce.gov and visit the FTC's Identity Theft website to learn more.

General tips to protect yourself online

  • Lock your devices and make sure they require complex passwords or touch ID to unlock. If your device is lost or stolen, your information won't be so easily accessible.
  • Apps are conduits for information. Apps often access sensitive information about you, like your contacts list, location, even where you like to shop. Ask yourself if you really need that app.
  • Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use. Stores these days try using WiFi and Bluetooth to track you while you’re in the store. Turning off those features is usually a good idea.
  • Think twice about WiFi hotspots. Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your mobile device while you are connected. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services on these networks.
  • Never respond to an email or text message that asks you to share personal information.
  • Never download an attachment (and be wary of even clicking a link) in an email from a sender you don’t recognize.
  • If you sell something online, be sure you have the money before shipping the item.

Ways SMCU protects you

  • There is multi-factor authentication required to log-in to Online and Mobile Banking and we require a more complex set of characters in your passwords.
  • We lock your SMCU Online Banking account after five unsuccessful sign-in attempts in a row. This helps fight against automated programs designed to attempt thousands of sign-ins and eventually gain access to accounts.
  • SMCU will never ask you to provide personal information by email or outside of a secure area online – we will only discuss these details with you in a secure environment or in-person/over the phone after we have verified your identity.
  • Our public website smcu.org is secure site. You can verify this by noticing that the address begins with "https" and not "http". You'll also notice a padlock symbol in the address bar. We maintain our security certificates for the benefit of all members.

If you see suspicious transactions on your SMCU account or think your online security or may have been compromised, contact us immediately at (650) 363-1725.

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