Know From a Pro: Cyber Security with Pam Phillips

How you can keep your hard-earned money safe and secure

Welcome back to the “Know From a Pro” series, a monthly 5-question Q&A where the editorial team at sits down with an expert in the field to chat about a relevant and timely financial topic. If you missed the first article in our series where we talked “Rising Interest Rates,” you can find that by clicking the link here.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and with digital fraud and cybercrime prevalent in today’s society, we sat down with Mabrey Bank’s Chief Information Security Officer Pam Phillips to discuss the do’s and don’ts of keeping your money safe and secure.

1) We live in an era of digital fraud and cybercrime – especially as it relates to personal bank accounts. What are some ways to stay safe online?

While cybercrime has never been more prevalent, many websites give you the option to make your accounts, usernames and passwords as secure as possible. I tell people to #BeCyberSmart. Always enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This gives your account an extra layer of protection since it requires an extra form of identification. A cybercriminal might be able to figure out your password, but would be hard-pressed to replicate the answer to a security question or guess a six digit code texted or emailed to you.

A couple more tips include using strong passwords, pass-phrases and/or a password manager. Be sure to keep your software up to date on all of your digital devices as outdated software makes accounts less secure.

2) Over 70% of Americans have at least one social media account and many have several, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snaphat, TikTok, etc. Why should social media users be careful about what information they are putting on social media?

More and more, we are sharing all aspects of our lives openly on social media. While it is fun to keep up with your friends and loved ones, be careful of who can see what on your profiles. Only accept friend requests from people you personally know. Think before you post, and always assume that someone could see your post whom you don’t know.

The more personal information you share and the more frequently you post, the easier it could be for a hacker to use that info to steal your identity, access your data or commit other crimes, such as stalking. Even posts showing yourself on vacation can alert others that you are not at your home, which could lead to a robbery.

3) Often, cybercriminals will use less sophisticated methods of trying to obtain a customer’s information – like via a phone call. How can customers expect the bank to contact them if there is a question about their account?

Mabrey Bank will contact its customers by both phone or email. However, never assume this is the bank without verifying first. Phone numbers can be spoofed to look like the call came from the bank, and an email address can be slightly altered to trick a customer into thinking it’s an official bank email. Look for warning signs such as misspellings in emails or someone telling you that there is a “lost” piece of information they need you to confirm. If you ever have any doubt if it is actually the bank attempting to reach you, call the main Mabrey Bank phone number at (888) 272-8866 and speak with one of our in-house Customer Service representatives.

4) If a customer feels like their account or personal banking information might be in jeopardy, what are immediate steps they should take to secure their accounts?

Immediately change your online banking password to something complex and ensure that all of your contact information associated with your account is correct. Contact your financial institution for expert guidance as cards or accounts might need to be closed or temporarily frozen. Keep a close eye on all of your accounts for fraudulent activity, and if you notice anything amiss, always report it to your bank as soon as possible. An immediate response to fraud might make all the difference between a few dollars or several hundred being stolen from your account.

5) What recommendations do you have for customers to get ahead of digital fraud and prevent their personal information from being used by others to access their accounts?

You are an active line of digital defense between your money and those looking to steal it. Never share your digital banking username or password with anyone, even close family or friends. Once that information is out there, it is out of your control. STOP, LOOK and THINK before clicking on a link in an email or text, opening an attachment or divulging sensitive information over the phone. Even if it takes a little bit of extra time, it is always worth it to verify who you are giving your information to and how it will be used.

Sometimes, you can do everything correctly and your information or account can still be compromised due to a leak of personal information by a business or organization. However, if you stay vigilant and use secure passwords for accounts, you stand a good chance against cybercrime.

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