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All Tricks and No Treats: 3 Ways to Protect Against Identity Thieves

Today is not only Halloween, but also the last day of Cyber Security Month, a month of focused attention on protecting your finances and identity online. While Halloween celebrates all manners of spooks and ghouls, it seemed fitting to end Cyber Security Month with some tips on protecting yourself against the real ghosts who creep the web looking for ways to steal your information. The more business we do and information we share online, the more identity theft becomes a growing threat to our financial security. There are ways you can help protect your good name and credit. Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe from identity thieves.

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10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money

Cyber Security Month continues on The Washington Trust Company Blog with a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your finances online. The news often includes reports about thieves gaining access to sensitive personal information that can be used to commit fraud or steal money, sometimes involving major security breaches at large companies such as retailers. "These reports may cause some consumers to be skeptical about engaging in even the simplest financial transactions, but that is unrealistic for most people, especially in today's online and electronic world," said Michael Benardo, Chief of the FDIC's Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. "That's why it's important to be vigilant about protecting your finances by taking some reasonable precautions."

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National Cyber Security Awareness Month

The Internet is part of everyone’s life, every day. We use the Internet at work, home, for enjoyment, and to connect with those close to us. However, being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. No country, industry, community, or individual is immune to cyber risks. As a nation, we face constant cyber threats against our critical infrastructure and economy. As individuals, cybersecurity risks can threaten our finances, identity, and privacy. Since our way of life depends on critical infrastructure and the digital technology that operates it, cybersecurity is one of our country’s most important national security priorities, and we each have a role to play—cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.

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Your Wallet: A Loser's Manual

Consider this: Your wallet is stolen. You immediately call your bank and credit card company to report the problem, close old accounts and open new ones. You even remember to call the Social Security Administration to notify them that you had your Social Security card in your wallet. At the end of the day, you feel fairly confident that the incident is behind you.

But weeks later you receive past-due notices on bills for merchandise you never purchased, and a few months later your application for an auto loan gets rejected because someone has used your name and Social Security number to open new accounts and run up thousands of dollars in debt. The good news: Your actual liability for these unauthorized purchases is limited by law or industry standards. The bad news: It's likely that you'll spend many frustrating hours trying to clear your name and straighten out your credit history.

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5 Tips To Protect Your Finances While Using Mobile Banking

1. Keep Track of your Mobile Device: Perhaps the biggest risk is also the reason why mobile banking is so popular -- mobile devices are easy to carry around everywhere we go. If your device has a digital locking mechanism you should use it. Some devices require you to trace a pattern or insert a PIN. While it might slow you down to have to enter a PIN each time you want to use your phone, that layer of security might be enough to keep a thief from accessing your bank account before you can report your phone as missing.

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How to Protect Yourself From Data Breaches

At Washington Trust, the basis of each customer relationship, many of which span generations, is trust. We take the security and privacy of our customers very seriously and take extra steps to ensure that their information is protected. Throughout the month, we will share tips on how you can best protect your finances both online and off.

"While there isn't really anything consumers can do to prevent a breach, you can be on the lookout for signs that something like this has occurred," said Jeff Kopchik, a Senior Policy Analyst with the FDIC. "And, if you receive formal notice from your bank or a retailer that your credit or debit card information was stolen as a result of a breach, there are steps you can take to protect yourself."

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You Can Meet the Spiraling Cost of College

Higher education opens doors for a young person, but these advantages come at a price: Today, tuition and fees at a four-year private college can run over $40,000 per year. With advance planning, your family can manage these costs. You'll need to research investment vehicles designated for college savers as well as potential sources of financial aid. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Take advantage of tax-free investment opportunities. Section 529 college savings plans were designed specifically to fund higher education. Contributions grow tax free, and withdrawals are tax free when used to fund qualified education expenses. There is no annual contribution limit, although contributions in excess of $14,000 a year ($28,000 when done jointly with a spouse) are likely to trigger the federal gift tax.

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Teach Your Children to Save for College

Being part of the college planning process can be very educational for children, as it presents them with valuable financial lessons for the future. Children can earn money, learn about sources of financial aid, research potential colleges, and take other steps that may relieve their parents of some of the responsibility of college planning.

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September is College Savings Month

September is College Savings Month, which means that we’ll be posting new advice all month on the Washington Trust blog about how to save for college, best ways to avoid struggling with student loans and how to prepare for dealing with other costs associated with college life. The goal of College Savings Month is to encourage parents to plan ahead for their children's college education costs. According to the College Board nearly half (47 percent) of all full-time undergraduate college students attend a four-year college that has published charges of less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees. At the other end of the spectrum are private four-year colleges that cost $35,000 or more yearly in tuition and fees. And that doesn't include room & board or other costs like books and a laptop!

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Financial Preparedness for Hurricane Season

Not only is September the peak of hurricane season, it is also National Preparedness Month. National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Ready Campaign of FEMA and held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for potential emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. The Ready Campaign asks individuals to do three key things to prepare for the unexpected: 1) get an emergency supply kit, 2) make a family emergency plan, and 3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses. Something else to consider is your financial readiness in case of an emergency.

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Saving for College — Why Waiting Could Cost You

Being able to afford to send your children to the colleges of their choice, without being limited by cost, can be one of the greatest satisfactions of being a parent. Continuing our month-long look at the Sandwich Generation, today we offer some helpful tips for planning ahead to cover your children’s college education expenses.

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Financial Records: What to Shred and When

Washington Trust and Cintas® are hosting a free document shredding event on Saturday, July 26th from 9:00AM until 12:00PM at Washington Trust’s East Providence branch at 587 Taunton Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island. Ahead of the event, we thought we would share some helpful tips on financial record keeping, and determining what should be shredded and when.

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Meet a Sandwich Generation Family

As a consequence of an aging population, more working Americans are finding themselves faced with a new challenge: trying to save for retirement while sandwiched between financial obligations to children and to elderly parents. All of this leads to one of life's biggest questions; How can I afford to do it all? 

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Focus Today on Saving for Tomorrow

July is National Sandwich Generation Month, a reminder that there?s no better time than now to start saving for your future. Careful financial planning will help ensure that you have enough savings in case you find yourself needing to take care of children and parents simultaneously. Saving also protects you from having to rely on your own children as you grow older, thus breaking the cycle of sandwiched responsibility for future generations.

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Sandwich Generation Month

Sandwich Generation Month is an annual commemoration and celebration of the dedication, patience and caring of adults who are part of the "sandwich generation" -  those caring for their children as well as their own aging parents. The term "sandwich generation" was coined by Dorothy A Miller in 1981 and officially added to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster in July 2006.

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Driving Down Debt: A Key to Pursuing Long-Term Goals

As you prepare to hit the busy highways this holiday weekend, consider the road ahead. It takes a lot of planning to travel, but no trip is without its bumps in the road. The road to financial stability is no different. If you want to do more to prepare financially for the future but find yourself slowing behind debt, here are some ideas for plotting a clearer route.

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The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Washington Trust Company. The information in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change at any time without notice. Any person relying upon this information shall be solely responsible for the consequences of such reliance. Performance is historical and does not guarantee future results.

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