5 Ways To Prepare For Your College Graduation

After four years of late-night cramming sessions, a grueling class schedule, too many term papers to count and lots of hard-core partying, the big day is finally within sight. Graduation! You can hardly wait to toss your cap into the air and start making your mark in the big wide world.

As you count down toward graduation, don’t forget to check off these important tasks you’ll need to tend to before you can get your diploma.

1. Put your papers in order    

Don’t celebrate the end of college paperwork just yet! Before graduation, you’ll need to submit an application to graduate. You may also need to officially confer your degree. These steps can differ in each school, so find out what your particular requirements are before the end-of-term rush.

2. Polish your resume, cover letter and portfolio

Hopefully, at this point, you’ll have already written up your resume and cover letter and organized your portfolio. During these last few months in college, take the time to perfect these gateways to the working world. Ask a few friends to read through your resume and cover letter and check them for typos and inconsistencies.  You can also show these documents and your portfolio to a career counselor at your school to ask for professional tips on making them shine.

3. Find a summer job or a paid internship

It isn’t easy to find that first post-college job. But, whether you’ve landed the perfect position for next year or you’re still hunting for a job, the clock starts ticking on that student loan debt as soon as you graduate. If you won’t be starting your new job until fall, or you haven’t found one yet, it’s best to accept a temporary summer job or a paid internship so you have some kind of income to put towards payments.

4. Find a place to live

In the rush to find a job for next year, you may have forgotten about another crucial decision you need to make: Where are you going to live? If you plan on moving back in with mom and dad, you’re good to go. Otherwise, start apartment hunting as early as possible to get the best picks. You can look up rentals in the area on sites like Rent.com, and ApartmentGuide.com.

5. Spend time with your friends

As you tie up the loose ends of your life in college, don’t forget about the people who matter most to you in school. The relationships you form in college can last a lifetime. Make sure you get a few good late nights in with your best buddies before graduation.

Use these last few months of college wisely by making sure you’ve got your post-college life in order, and taking the time to live it up just a little bit more before adulting for real.

Your Turn: How did you prepare for your college graduation? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

5 Steps To Take After Being Hacked

Uh oh — you’ve been hacked! Finding out someone has cracked open your accounts and helped themselves to your information can be alarming, but there are ways to mitigate the damage while jump-starting your recovery process.

Here are five steps to take after being hacked.

Step 1: Assess the damage

First, take a step back and determine how much damage was done. Unfortunately, one hacked password can often be the gateway to multiple hacked accounts and even complete identity theft. This is especially true if you use the same password for several accounts, or use the hacked account or device for password recovery on other accounts. So, first things first: Review your credit card and account statements for any suspicious activity.  Also, try accessing your email, social media accounts and mobile devices to see if they’ve been hacked.

Step 2: Change your passwords

Once you know which accounts and devices have been hacked, change the passwords and PINs on these accounts. For an added measure of protection, it’s a good idea to change the passwords on all of your accounts that may hold sensitive information. Remember to choose strong, unique passwords for every account. A strong password uses a combination of letters, numbers and symbols; varies the use of capital letters; and does not use a piece of personal information that can easily be scraped off the internet, such as your date of birth or home address. You may want to use a password service like LastPass  or  StickyPassword to make this step easier.

While completing this step, consider signing up for two-factor authentication for any accounts that do not already have it in place.

Step 3: Protect your credit

Now that you’ve blocked the hacker(s) from your accounts, it’s time for damage control.

First, dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised account(s). If necessary, have the account(s) locked, or even shut and/or deleted.

Next, place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This serves as a red flag to potential lenders and creditors, making it more difficult for the scammer to open up additional lines of credit or to take out a loan in your name.

Consider a credit freeze as well. This blocks potential lenders from accessing your credit report, making it impossible for the hacker to open new credit accounts in your name. (Note, you will need to lift the freeze for any legitimate credit you are applying for).

Step 4: Alert the authorities

You can alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about a possible or confirmed identity theft at identitytheft.gov.  You’ll also find a detailed recovery plan on the site to help you repair your credit and reclaim your identity.

Hacking is usually done remotely, but it’s still a good idea to let your local law enforcement agencies know about the breach. This way, they can be on the alert if the hacker decides to assume your identity and use your credit cards in stores near your hometown.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to let Destinations Credit Union know what’s happened! Whether it’s a credit card that’s been stolen, a checking account that’s been breached or a social media account that’s been broken into, we’ll do all we can to protect your accounts. If you’ve been hacked, give us a call at 410-663-2500 to see how we can help.

Take additional precautions with your Destinations Credit Union credit and debit cards by using card controls in our mobile app. You can set up an alert to get a message each time your card is used. You can also temporarily or permanently lock your card from the mobile app.

Step 5: Proceed with caution

Once you’ve taken all necessary steps toward damage control and mitigation, you can start thinking about the future.

It’s important to keep a close eye on your accounts for the next month. Look out for any suspicious activity on all accounts, including charges you don’t recall making, large withdrawals of cash and even new loans being opened in your name. If you find any fraudulent activity, be sure to let the account holders know and to follow the steps suggested above.

If you’ve opted to go with a credit freeze, it will generally lapse after 90 days. If your accounts are determined to be safe, consider opening new lines of credit now to jump-start the recovery of your credit health.

If the hacker went all out and stole your identity, it’s best to follow the recovery plan outlined by the FTC . This plan may include replacing your Social Security number, driver’s license and more.

Getting hacked is never fun, but taking immediate and decisive action can help mitigate the damage, as well as speed up the recovery process.

Your Turn: How have you dealt with your accounts being hacked? Tell us about it in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.allthingssecured.com/identity-protection/what-to-do-when-youve-been-hacked-step-by-step-guide/
https://digitalguardian.com/blog/data-breach-experts-share-most-important-next-step-you-should-take-after-data-breach-2014-2015

Can Halloween be Celebrated Safely This Year?

Q: With COVID-19 still disrupting all kinds of plans, I’m wondering about Halloween celebrations this year. Is there any way to safely celebrate Halloween in 2020?

A: How to safely celebrate this year is a question that’s frightening Halloween lovers all over the globe. Fortunately, the answer is not all that scary. With some flexibility and wise precautions, Halloween can still be a frightfully fun day for the entire family.

Here’s all you need to know about celebrating Halloween safely in the era of COVID-19.

Should I take my family trick-or-treating this year? 

According to many medical health professionals, the answer depends largely on where you live.

“In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread [and circumstances] haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea,” says Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group. “In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s OK to plan to trick-or-treat, but it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year.”

What safety precautions do I need to take when trick-or-treating?

If you plan on taking your kids trick-or-treating this year, or making the rounds yourself, here’s how you can keep safe from infection:

  • Stick with family: The risk of transmission grows exponentially when people spend extended time with members of another household. It’s best to keep your trick-or-treat group to family only this year.
  • Keep it small: If your child insists on trick-or-treating with neighbors or friends, keep the group as small as possible. Kesh recommends limiting groups to three or four members and, preferably, sticking with families that are also careful about social distancing.
  • Mask up: Halloween costumes make following this coronavirus precaution super-easy.
  • Keep face-to-face exposure to a minimum: If possible, trick-or-treat from a distance. Knock on doors and then retreat down the steps. The homeowner can toss you your treats instead of handing them over. The less close interaction you have with others, the lower your risk of infection.
  • Sanitize often: Keep some hand sanitizer with you at all times and soap up after touching germy surfaces, like doorknobs or communal treat baskets. It’s equally important for everyone to wash up once you get home, especially before digging into any treats.

How can I safely invite trick-or-treaters to my home?

The thought of hordes of kids traipsing through your doors and reaching grubby hands into a communal basket of candy might scare you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock your doors on Halloween night and be the neighborhood party-pooper.

“The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible,” says Molly Hyde, an infection control practitioner. “If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy.”

If you’d like to be extra cautious, you can avoid face-to-face interaction with trick-or-treaters by setting up a bowl of candy outside and letting your visitors help themselves. Keep a bottle of sanitizer nearby, or a box of disposable gloves, with a helpful sign to remind kids to keep their germs to themselves. You can also choose to ditch the bowl and space individual treats out on your front porch with a sign instructing kids to take one.

At the end of the night, it’s best to disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers, outdoor railings and any other surfaces that might have been touched by dozens of trick-or-treaters.

Can I throw a Halloween party this year?

Crowded indoor parties are out, but with a bit of creativity, you can still celebrate Halloween with friends. Here’s how:

Choose an outdoor venue, such as a local park, and invite your friends to your Quarant-een bash.

Have everyone bring along their Halloween costumes, comfortable lawn chairs, hot autumn beverages and individual party bags, or packaged treats, in their trunks.

At the party, have everyone park so the trunk of every car is in full view. Set up the chairs at safe distances and let everyone show off their costumes.
Pop open the trunks for “trunk-or-treating,” corona-style!

Don’t let COVID-19 scare all the fun out of Halloween this year. With the proper precautions, you can spook the entire neighborhood this Halloween and still keep it safe.

Your Turn: How are you celebrating Halloween safely this year? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/09/will-halloween-2020-be-canceled-coronavirus/
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/a33826132/halloween-trick-or-treating-health-safety/
https://www.jsonline.com/story/life/wisconsin-family/2020/09/10/halloween-2020-trick-treat-wisconsin-during-coronavirus/3458109001/