Saving Big on Summer Travel, Part 1: Planning Your Trip

By Susan Wolfe

As the last of the winter snow melts and temperatures start to creep up, you may catch yourself at your desk staring out your window on warm, sunny spring days. If you’ve got children, they’re likely doing the same thing, simply counting down the days until the end of the school year.

Don’t worry, though. You’re not alone. It’s been a long, cold winter for all Milford and Stratford residents. And after months of hibernation, your family is long overdue for a summertime getaway.

But if you’re hesitant to break out a map and plan your next trip because you’re worried about finances, consider the following tips that may be able to help you plan a cost-effective summer vacation. In Part 1 of this series, we will cover steps you can take to save money as you plan your trip.

Selecting a destination: When it comes to planning a cost-effective vacation, it’s all about location. Did you know that the cost of living in Tennessee, for instance, is half of what it costs to live in Connecticut? By looking around the country, you’ll see great disparities in cost of living that will allow you to either save some extra cash, or include other events on your trip that might otherwise be out of your price range.

Look for group rates: If you have friends or family members that you like to travel with, try to coordinate with them while you’re planning your trip. Many hotels, airlines and entertainment groups will offer discounted group rates that will enable you to try new experiences without having to pay top dollar.

Be spontaneous: While you’ll generally pay more for airfare if you wait to book your flight, you can often get discounted prices if you wait until the last minute and are willing to be flexible about where you travel. If you have the flexibility, pack your suitcase and head to the airport to see what standby flights they’re offering. You can get a great last minute deal and possibly end up somewhere you might otherwise not have thought about.

Combine business with pleasure: If you travel for business, you can often get reimbursements or tax deductions for your expenses. If you can combine your leisure trip with a little bit of business, you may be eligible to recover some of your costs come next tax season (contact your tax advisor for details).

Consider avoiding hotel chains: While popular hotel chains are convenient and deliver a consistent and reliable experience, you’ll certainly pay a premium for it. Even a modest hotel room may cost you over $100 a day. There are numerous other options out there that may be more affordable and unique. Homesharing is one option. You may also want to research hostels or campsites too. Depending on your lifestyle and the type of trip you’re looking for, some of these alternative lodging options may help you have a truly unique and cost-effective trip.

Be sure to check out our Online Learning Center for more great ways to get more bang for your buck when making financial decisions. Also check back next week for the next installment of this series.

For Milford and Stratford residents looking for more consultation on their finances, stop by any office of The Milford Bank.

Beware of These Common Types of Fraud, Part 3

By Lynn Viesti Berube

In many ways, the technology we use in our daily lives makes us smarter, more adaptable and gives us the ability to accomplish more, from anywhere. But without taking proper security precautions, these tools can be used against us. In fact, hackers and con artists were able to steal over $15 billion from consumers in 2016.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we reviewed some of the most common types of fraud being perpetrated today. Part 3 will wrap up the series, providing several more types of fraud that all consumers should know.

Pay close attention, because we don’t want to see you become another statistic!

Spear-phishing: Spear-phishing is a type of attack in which a con artist sends you an email that appears to be from someone you know. These emails can come with attachments that will download malware on your device if you click on it, or the con artist might simply facilitate a conversation in the hopes of collecting personal information for another attack later.

Spoofing: Spoofing typically refers to the manipulation of your caller ID so it displays a fake name and number. However, this can also be done with websites and email addresses. Con artists will do this to gain your trust in the hopes that you will provide them with privileged information.

Spyware: Spyware is a blanket term that refers to any type of malware that has been installed on your computer, cell phone or other connected devices, with the aim of tracking your actions and collecting information without your knowledge.

Vishing: This term is a combination of two words: voice and phishing. Vishing attacks are perpetrated when a recorded phone message prompts you to reveal sensitive information that can be used for identity theft.

Whaling: Whaling is essentially the same as phishing—but on a much larger scale. In these cases, it is common that corporate executives or payroll departments will be targeted, with con artists posing as a CEO, lawyer or other management-level employee in order to gain trust and access.

With so many types of attacks being launched on a daily basis, it is vital for consumers and businesses alike to remain vigilant. A failure to adopt better security practices can leave your life savings, your assets and your future to chance. At The Milford Bank, we believe that technology has the ability to help you make smarter financial decisions. But you’ve got to recognize the responsibility that comes along with it.

To learn more about how to protect the financial future of yourself, your family or your business, stop by any office of The Milford Bank. You can also learn more by checking out our Online Learning Center by clicking here.

Beware of These Common Types of Fraud, Part 2

By Lynn Viesti Berube

As discussed in Part 1 of this series, the stakes for maintaining your privacy and financial security have never been higher. With the influx of connected devices that we now use in our daily lives, a failure to adhere to strict security practices can leave you vulnerable to a number of types of fraud. According to one study from Javelin Strategy, over 13 million people were the victims of fraud last year, with combined losses reaching $15 billion.

In Part 2 of this series, we will cover even more types of fraud that you should be watching out for. If you know what types of fraud are out there, it will greatly increase your chances of becoming a victim yourself.

Man-in-the-middle attack: These are attacks in which a hacker intercepts communications between two parties, altering them to serve their purposes.

Pharming: Hackers can use malware to route you to their own websites, which are often built to look exactly like another organization’s page. These dummy websites are particularly dangerous if you are tricked into entering personal information in order to sign in.

Phishing: Hackers can spoof the email addresses of people from your contact list. When they send you an email, it will look like it is coming from a friend, family member or coworker. But instead, it has been embedded with a virus or software that will give them access into your computer or device.

Ransomware: Ransomware is software that gives a hacker access to your computer and lets them target proprietary data. The hacker will then encrypt the data so that you can’t gain access to it, and will demand a ransom before restoring your access.

Scareware: Scareware is a program that displays an on-screen alert that you may be exposed to a virus or spyware. The user is then prompted to purchase antivirus protection that is actually malware itself.

Skimming: The magnetic strip on the back of your debit or credit card can be used by fraudsters to steal your information and access your financial records. Skimming devices can be secretly installed on card-reading devices, such as ATM machines, gas pumps and checkout counters.

Smishing: Smishing is like phishing. The difference is that instead of receiving a questionable email, the malware comes to you via text message. By responding to the text, you may inadvertently download malware onto your device without ever knowing its there.

Your data and your financial security are inextricably linked. As such, it is critical that you educate yourself about all the ways that criminals are looking to take advantage of people that don’t adhere to tight cybersecurity principles. To learn more about how to protect your assets, check out our Online Learning Center here or stop by any office of The Milford Bank in Milford or Stratford.