Keep Your Information Safe: Password Security

PasswordYou probably have a password for your email accounts, favorite online stores, and social media sites, not to mention countless more. At Tigers, we take the security of our members’ accounts very serious, but there is only so much we can do if your password is as simple as “password123.” As part of our series on online safety, we want to inform you about what makes strong passwords and how to use them securely.

Build a Better Password
Cyber criminals have gotten very sophisticated at stealing passwords by developing programs that expertly make educated guesses. They also use information that can be easily found on social networking sites or Google to hack your accounts. Beat them to it by not using common information such as birthdates or pet’s names. Create a more complicated code that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. In fact, we recommend using a passphrase that uses multiple words or complete sentences.

Example: “time for coffee” can become Timef0rCoffee? or Time4Coffee!
Or take a favorite song or poem lyric:


Using Passwords Securely

  • Make sure to have different passwords for every account. If you have too many passwords to remember, consider using a password manager.
  • Never share your passwords with anyone else.
  • Do not use public computers to log into a work or bank account. Anyone could infect these computers with a code and capture your data.
  • Be careful when you are required to create personal security questions. Try to use questions where answers aren’t publicly found on the internet.
  • If important information or passwords are kept on your mobile device, make sure you have a PIN set up to secure your phone in the event it is lost or stolen.
  • If you are no longer using an account, be sure to close, delete or disable it.

Implement these tips into your daily online routine and stay on top of your credit and debit statements for suspicious activity. Remember that using a password with mixed case characters, numbers and symbols is far more secure than anything else. For more information about protecting yourself online, view our security training video libraryAnd stay safe!

Protecting Yourself Online

Earlier today, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked, posting a false tweet about an attack on the White House. The fake tweet rattled quite a few feathers today, even causing stocks to briefly drop over 100 points. The twitter account has since been suspended, and they have been working to correct the issue.


After the incident, Mike Baker reported that the employees of the Associated Press received a phishing email about a half hour before the hack. Phishing emails use suspicious links or attachments to record your confidential information. If these hackers were able to bring the AP, as well as the stock market, momentarily to its knees today, think of the damage they could do to the rest of us. That’s why we’ve compiled these safety tips to help protect you from these kinds of attacks:

  1. Do not trust an email with grammatical and/or spelling errors.
  2. Look for your name. If an email contains a generic greeting or just uses your email as the greeting itself, this is a major red flag.
  3. Roll over links to see the actual URL. If it does not match up with what the text says or you’re unsure, don’t click on it.
  4. Don’t trust solicitations. Tigers does not send text messages or emails to members asking for credit card or personal information that could compromise the security of your identity and finances.
  5. If you are really in doubt, call the number on the back of your debit/credit card. Don’t trust any phone numbers contained in the email itself.
  6. Sometimes these emails will look very legitimate. We suggest you treat all email as suspicious. Think before you click on the link or attachment and use your better judgment.

For more information about online safety and protecting your identity, be sure to check out our security videos library.

Tigers Supports Mizzou Sustainability

Tigers Booth

One of the greatest perks of working at a credit union is having the opportunity to get out into the community we serve and becoming involved in the things our members care about. A perfect example of that is getting to work with Sustain Mizzou again to promote the second annual Sustainability Week.

Sustainability Reusable BagsSustainability Week includes a number of events that showcase sustainable resources at Mizzou. Each day of the week highlights a different aspect of sustainability which expands beyond environmentalism into campus life, culture, research, technology, business, even our daily lives.

Part of our involvement in Sustainability Week consisted of donating the reusable bags giveaway. But as a financial institution, our greatest contribution is informing the public on how to live financially sustainable. Check out our guide for 5 ways to cut back, save money and lighten your footprint.

1. Sign up for eStatements. Getting a paper statement in the mail is so 2000 and late. eStatements are faster, safer and it’s super easy to sign up. We also have eStatements for credit cards.

2. Eat clean and local. Contrary to convincing packaging, not all labels are created equal. Lisa Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine, says that the “grass-fed” label on meat is meaningless, but you should buy USDA-certified organic meats, poultry and dairy products.

photo3-2Organic foods are usually more expensive, so we suggest splurging only on organics that don’t have a peel like berries. Non-organic foods like bananas and avocadoes are fine since they have protection. Farmer’s markets are the way to go for fresh produce. The Columbia Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon through November.

3. Utilize online bill pay.  The Environmental Protection Agency reports that paper bills use hundreds of gallons of fuel each year! With our new bill pay program, Bill PayXL, you’ll save on postage and can set up handy automatic payments and reminders.

4.Unplug! Turn off the lights, the computer, the T.V. and the phone. Enjoy the company of friends without these distractions. According to financial advisors, turning off electronics for 18 hours each day could save you $131 over the course of a year.

5. Make a green budget. If you want to clean up your lifestyle, there are immediate changes that will allow you to afford living in a way that promotes sustainability. We offer a free account aggregate called uni$ource that allows you to monitor all your finances in one place as well as create a budget and track your spending. Take a look at your current habits and pick out ones that are wasteful. Cut back your spending in those areas first — the money you save can be used to support habits that are healthier for you and for the earth.

Sustainability Week continues through Friday. For more information or for a complete schedule of events, check out the Sustain Mizzou website or get involved with the Sustainability Office on campus. We’re all in this together!

Transferring Your Mortgage

Couple-Moving_WEBTransferring your mortgage to a new lender can lower your interest rate, reduce your monthly payment or even let you to pay off your loan early. But, first you must determine if it makes sense.

First, look into loans with shorter terms. If you currently have a 30-year fixed-rate loan, refinancing to a 10-, 15- or 20-year term will lower the total amount of interest you will pay and let you to pay it off faster. Then look at rates. Generally speaking, if rates are lower by one percent or more, it may be a good time to transfer. But, when shopping for rates, be careful. Lenders offering no points and fees usually charge higher interest rates.

To figure out whether it pays to transfer, you must calculate refinancing costs and determine how many months will it take to break-even. You should consider transferring if you plan to stay in your home for more than the time it takes to break-even.

Remember, you can also transfer personal loans and credit card balances and save money. By transferring a loan to a new lender you can spend less money each month. So, no matter what kind of loan you currently have, you should check out your refinancing options with several different lenders. Check out our website for more information including our current rates and the various loans we offer. Remember, transferring a loan can help you squeeze more money out of your monthly budget and save more at the same time!

Transferring Your Car Loan

Transferring or refinancing a car loan with a different lender is one of the best kept secrets around for saving money, but most people never think of it.

78428822_Convertible_blogCar refinancing is like mortgage refinancing – only easier, quicker and without closing costs. When you transfer a car loan, you pay it off with a refinanced loan from a different lender that offers some benefit, such as a lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR), longer payment term or cash offer. A lower APR can reduce the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan. A longer term could help lower your payments. And, a cash offer can simply put money in your pocket.

However, if your current interest rate can only be reduced by a few points, transferring your loan probably won’t save you enough money.

Begin by researching lenders. Credit unions, banks, finance companies and online lenders refinance car loans, so be sure to compare rates. And, be prepared to research new lenders because most will not refinance their own loans. Be sure to visit our website for additional helpful information including our current rates and the many benefits we offer.

Smart Ways to Overcome Holiday Debt

ImageFor many, getting in debt over the holidays is unavoidable. If you are one of the many American consumers who put one (or five) too many holiday purchases on a credit card, you don’t have to let your spending hangover ruin the New Year. Now is the perfect time to put together a plan to pay off that debt as quickly as possible. Here are some tips to effectively deal with that holiday debt.

Size the breadbox. First, you must get a handle on just how big a hole you’ve dug. Create a comprehensive list of all the debt you accumulated just over the holiday season. Review all your credit card statements and calculate how much you spent on decorations, gifts, events, dining, entertaining, and other holiday-related expenses. Knowing this total figure can help you set reasonable goals for paying it off.

Develop a payoff plan. Take a good look at your budget and ask yourself how much you can realistically set aside each month specifically for credit card payments. Remember, in order to make a dent in your debt, you must pay more than the minimum payment each month. If you can’t see yourself paying more than the minimum, start cutting back elsewhere to free up some money – cut back on cable channels, scale back your cell phone package, or perhaps eat out less. Remember, a few temporary cutbacks now will help you pay down your debt faster.

Consolidate your credit card debt. Take advantage of 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) transfer credit cards to reduce total interest payments on the debt you’ve accumulated. If you can’t pay off the full amount of your holiday debt within the next couple of months, spread it out over six or twelve months at a 0% APR. Just be sure you understand what the interest rate will become after the promotional period is over so you don’t end up paying back all you’ve saved with a ridiculously high interest rate.

Stop using your credit cards. Everyone in your household has to stop using credit cards for day-to-day purchases. Period. So, make sure family members who share credit card accounts understand this.

Find income elsewhere. If you are truly motivated to eliminate that holiday debt as quickly as possible, you could look for another income stream. Think about taking on a part-time job. Perhaps you can create a side business out of a hobby. Or, you may even consider selling some personal items on auction websites to generate some quick cash to pay off that debt well before the next holiday season.

Use bonus money to pay off debt. If you have recently received a holiday bonus — or you are filing your taxes early and are getting a refund — use that extra money to reduce your holiday debt as soon as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t simply carry this burden on into the next holiday season and repeat the whole cycle. Take care of the holiday debt you’ve accumulated now and make the 2013 a year with fewer financial anxieties.