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Tips & Tools

Mobile Devices

That smartphone in your pocket, that tablet on your coffee table or that laptop on your desk contains a treasure chest of information about you, your friends and your family.

This data includes contact information, photos and location data. Because of this, your mobile devices need protection. Follow a few simple security precautions and enjoy your mobile tech with peace of mind.  


Keep operating software and security programs current on all devices

Having the most up-to-date mobile security software, web browser, operating system and apps is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats. 

Delete when done

Many of us download apps for specific purposes, such as planning vacations, and have no use for them later. You might also lose interest or need for certain apps. Delete apps and accounts you no longer use or need.   


Secure your devices

Use strong passphrases, passcodes, PINs or other features, such as facial identification, to lock your devices. These passwords are your first level of defense if your device is lost or stolen.  

Treat personal information is like money

Value it. Protect it. Information about you, such as the games you like to play, what you search for online and where you live, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about what services or people request that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites. 

Own your online presence

Use security and privacy settings on websites and apps, especially social media platforms, to manage what is shared about you and who sees it. 

Now you see me, now you don’t

Some physical stores and locations look for devices with WiFi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Cybercriminals can use this technology, too. Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use. 


Get savvy about WiFi hotspots

Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to them. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection. 

When in doubt, don’t respond

Fraudulent text messages, calls and voicemails have become extremely common. Just as with email, mobile requests for personal data or immediate action are almost always scams. Treat spammy text messages and phone calls as you’d treat email spam – block and report.  


"Online Safety + Privacy Basics, Mobile Devices" - May 1, 2022

Community banks such as KodaBank are well-equipped to protect your money no matter what is happening in our economy, within our country or across the world.

  1. You have continued access to your funds & bank services. You have access to your funds through in-person services & electronic tools, such as mobile & online banking. 
  2. Your money is safe, secure, & insured. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures individual bank deposits for up to $250,000. No consumer has lost a single penny in the history of this insurance fund. You don't have the same level of protection when your money is outside the banking system.  
  3. KodaBank is prepared. Banks prepare for & respond to recessions, natural disasters, & other business disruptions with tested & proven business continuity plans & procedures. Banks have the highest level of security among critical U.S. industries - including energy & telecommunications - and the most stringent regulatory requirements.  
  4. You can help safeguard your money. Check your account often & notify the bank immediately if you suspect fraud. 
  5. Your banker is listening & ready to act. Reach out to your banker with any concerns. North Dakota and Minnesota's banking industries are strong & ready to help.  
"Your Money is Safest in the Bank" - February 28, 2022
North Dakota Bankers Association 

How Money Smart Are You? 

Learn about everyday financial topics.  

How Smart Are You?  is a suite of 14 games & related resources about everyday financial topics.  It's based on FDIC's award winning Money Smart program. 

Games include:
  • Borrowing Basics
  • Building Your Financial Future
  • Buying a Home
  • Credit Reports & Scores
  • Disasters - Financial Preparation & Recovery 
  • Making Housing Decisions
  • Managing Debt 
  • Protecting Your Identity & Other Assets
  • Using Credit Cards
  • You Can Bank On It
  • Your Income & Expenses
  • Your Money Values & Influences 
  • Your Savings 
  • Your Spending & Savings Plan 

How Money Smart Are You?  - October 4, 2021

Romance Scams are on the Rise

Is it amour - or scam-more?

Lesley Fair - February 11, 2021

Online romance may begin with Panic! At the Dicso's High Hopes, but according to a new FTC Data Spotlight, all too often it ends with the conclusion that - to quote the J. Geils Band - Love Stinks.

Far be it from us to put a damper on Valentine's Day, but reports to the Consumer Sentinel Network suggest that the injury inflicted by romance scams is on the rise.  According to the new Data Spotlight, "For three years running, people have reported losing more money on romance scams than on any other fraud type identified in Sentinel.  In 2020, reported losses to romance scams reached a record $304 million, up about 50% from 2019.  For an individual, that meant a median dollar loss of $2,500."

Why the increase?  The continued popularity of dating apps is part of the story, but the pandemic has played a part, too.  For right now, the need for social distancing and masking makes the "meet cute" at the local coffee shop less likely.  Of course, we've all heard heart-warming stories of romances that started on screen and blossomed IRL, but the Data Spotlight suggest that at least some of those digital dalliances may be hiding something more sinister. 

 What does that have to do with you?  We thought you'd never ask.  Chances are that someone you know - a friend or family member perhaps - has a long-distance love they have yet to meet.  A subtle word from you about the telltale signs of a romance scam could mean one less report to Consumer Sentinel in 2021 about a heart broken and a wallet emptied by a romance scammer.  

It can be a difficult topic to broach, but we have a sure-fire opener: "I just read the most fascinating thing on the website of the Federal Trade Commission, America's consumer protection agency."  (What? That's not your typical conversation starter? No Valentine for you!)

Regardless of how you bring up the topic, Valentine's Day offers a way to share some heart-to-heart hints.

Romance scams can happen to anyone.  According to the Data Spotlight, reports of money lost on romance scams increased for every age group in 2020.  The 20-29 crowd saw the most notable spike, with the number of reports more than doubling since 2019.  People between 40 and 69 were once again the most likely to report losing money to romance scams.  And people 70+ reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.  

Every picture tells a story, but some of those stories are fiction.  Knowing that fetching photos can lure in a love, scammers routinely steal people's snaps and pass themselves off as the person in the picture.  To investigate their identity, try a reverse-image search of their profile picture or other photos they send you.  If the pictures is associated with another name or if they details don't match up, you're dealing with a scammer.

Don't mix romance with finance.  We've always cautioned people not to wire money or send gift cards to online loves, but we have a new tip to add.  Don't let your guard down just because that special someone sends you money first.  You can bet the money's stolen.  Next, they'll want you to send it on for some cooked-up reason.  This is how people become unwitting accomplices to money laundering.  As soon as the requests for money start, it's time to - depending on your musical generation - Go Your Own Way, bid them Bye Bye Bye, or make it clear that We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

The Federal Trade Commission Business Blog  - February 11, 2011

What You Need to Know About Romance Scams

Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.  The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day.  Then, they make up a story and ask for money.  
The Lies Romance Scammers Tell
They'll often say they're living or traveling outside of the United States.  We've heard about scammers who say they are:
  • working on an oil rig
  • in the military
  • a doctor with an international organization 
We've heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:
  • pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
  • pay for surgery or other medical expenses
  • pay customs fees to retrieve something
  • pay off gambling debts
  • pay for a visa or other official travel documents
Scammers ask people to pay:
  • by wiring money
  • with reload cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam
Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous.  They also know the transactions are almost impossible to reverse. 

Federal Trade Commission - June 2019

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