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COLUMN:Don’t let hackers spoil your holiday

- With holiday shopping upon us, the big guy in the red suit is making a list and checking it twice to ready for the season. Missing from his “nice” list are those “naughty” credit card hackers waiting to steal your credit information. Last year, hackers threatened to suck the fun out of the holidays by pilfering account information from Target customers, and more recently at Wells Fargo and Home Depot.

Cabela’s comes to Gainesville

- Cabela’s, a hunting, fishing and outdoor gear retailer, recently announced plans to open a new 79,000 square-foot location in Gainesville. Peterson Companies announced plans recently to redevelop the Betco Block Plant near the intersection and rezone it for the new Cabela's location.

Local dancers hit the stage for ‘Nutcracker’

- With stars from here and abroad, the classic “Nutcracker Ballet” returns to the Hylton Performing Arts stage Thanksgiving weekend. The Sunday afternoon “Nutcracker Tea” at the Gainesville Ballet Company studios in Gainesville on Nov. 16 was the perfect opportunity for young dancers to peek inside the world of dance and meet the starts of the upcoming production “The Nutcracker” coming again to the Hylton.

Get your local on Small Business Saturday is Nov. 29

- Nov. 28 is for the doorbuster sales at big box stores on Black Friday but Nov. 29 is set aside for the locals. Small Business Saturday was designated in 2010 by American Express as the follow-up to Black Friday. It's a day when small locally-owned stores host sales and special events to bring in customers and to remind residents about where those shopping dollars go.

Alpha Academy talks sexuality

- Alpha Academy hosted the Project Alpha Conference on Nov. 15 at Potomac Middle School in Woodbridge. The conference was put on in conjunction with Planned Parenthood of Washington DC (PPMW) and provided an environment where young men could learn about sexuality, manhood and relationship issues. A total of 28 young men between the ages of 12 and 14 attended the Project Alpha conference.

Vint Hill owners mum on plans for more homes

- Concerns that 600 or more houses could be built at Vint Hill along with questions about a planned psychiatric treatment center brought about 100 residents out Nov. 12 to hear a presentation about what can and can't be built. The Vint Hill development is located just south of Gainesville and has generated concern and interest from Prince William residents. The concern is over increased traffic along U.S. 29 while the interest centers around the new businesses and opportunities that will be built in the development.

EDITORIAL:Giving thanks

- This week marks Thanksgiving so we'd like to take a moment to consider the things that we're thankful for. Aside from the obvious -- our friends, families, freedom, prosperity and pumpkin pie, we're thankful for the quality of life that we find in Prince William.

Giving thanks, giving back

- The holidays bring stress but they can also bring out the best in people. Close to 300 volunteers helped pack and distribute 781 Thanksgiving meals for SERVE's Operation Turkey program last week at Manassas Adventist Prep School, according to SERVE spokesperson Tonya A. McCreary. In Dumfries, members of the Rolling Thunder Va. #3 motorcycle group and the USO gathered at the National Museum of the Marine Corps to hand out Thanksgiving baskets to 125 families.

The other powerlines

- Will it be A, B, or C? They are the three options being considered by Dominion Virginia Power to build more capacity to serve customers in the years ahead. Dominion favors Option C connecting an upgrade in Fauquier County with Gainesville. Dominion planners say that option would minimize adverse impacts on scenic areas, historic districts and the environment.

Chamber to hold silent auction

- On Dec. 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the Prince William Chamber of Commerce will host a networking event and silent auction luncheon. The event will be held at Heritage Hunt Golf and Country Club, 6901 Arthur Hills Drive in Gainesville. A portion of its proceeds from the auction go to benefit the Chamber Student Scholarship Fund. The luncheon is sponsored by Novant Health.

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COLUMN:Don’t let hackers spoil your holiday

Harwell, John
With holiday shopping upon us, the big guy in the red suit is making a list and checking it twice to ready for the season.
Missing from his “nice” list are those “naughty” credit card hackers waiting to steal your credit information. Last year, hackers threatened to suck the fun out of the holidays by pilfering account information from Target customers, and more recently at Wells Fargo and Home Depot.
As a credit card fraud expert and risk manager at Apple Federal Credit Union, I offer ten tips on how to protect yourself and your money this holiday season and beyond.

1. Periodically check your accounts online. Don’t wait for your monthly statement to arrive in the mail. If your account has been compromised, the crooks would have had time to run up your account. Report unauthorized transactions immediately.

2. Keep your PIN in a safe place. Don’t use an easy-to-guess PIN like your birthday. Do not write your PIN on your card or carry it in your wallet. Have a different PIN for each card. Keep your card numbers and the associated toll-free phone numbers in a lockbox at home.

3. Don’t give account information over the phone. No credit union or bank representative should ask for your PIN, so hang up on callers who ask for such personal financial details. This goes for unsolicited emails and text messages too.

4. Set up account alerts. You can place transaction alerts on your accounts so you are notified when transactions occur outside of your normal spending patterns. For example, if a $500 or more transaction occurs, you will be notified.

5. Report a lost debit or credit card immediately. Under federal law your liability is limited to $50 for unauthorized use of a debit card, but only if you report it within two business days.

6. Understand what your financial institution does to prevent fraud. Fraud can occur at financial institutions big or small. What is yours doing to ensure your safety? Is it compliant with Payment Card Industry Standards? Would it automatically credit your account for the loss? What if you miss the two-day time limit?

7. Know how your financial institution will treat you if you are a fraud victim. Not all financial institutions are created equal. For example, at Apple we monitor members’ accounts 24/7. If fraud occurs, we provide our member an extended grace period, rather than the standard two days. We also immediately credit the member’s account for the full amount of fraud charges while we conduct an investigation into what happened. These practices vary among institutions.

8. Pay attention at ATM terminals. Look around before you start a transaction and leave if you spot anyone or anything suspicious. Listen to your gut.

9. Don’t be the victim of a skimmer. Crooks skim credit and debit card information by attaching fake card readers and secondary keypads to ATM machines and other payment terminals. Don’t use a machine that looks like its been tampered with.

10. Make sure your account transaction is complete. Don’t leave the machine until you are certain that the transaction is finished, and you’ve put your cash away. Be sure and take your receipt.

Following these tips will help ensure a safe holiday shopping season, and that Santa is not the only one who knows about those “naughty” hackers. For more tips on fraud protection and cyber security, visit applefcu.org.
- John Harwell is the associate vice president and risk manager at Apple Federal Credit Union.
More Local News

COLUMN:Don’t let hackers spoil your holiday

Cabela’s comes to Gainesville

Local dancers hit the stage for ‘Nutcracker’

Get your local on Small Business Saturday is Nov. 29

Alpha Academy talks sexuality

Vint Hill owners mum on plans for more homes

EDITORIAL:Giving thanks

Giving thanks, giving back

The other powerlines

Chamber to hold silent auction

PW officials cautious on immigration action

Playing with madness

Prince William Guide


seal Nominate your favorite businesses and things to do in Prince William this winter!

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