Eight Financial Tips Every Consumer Should Understand
National Consumer Protection Week helps consumers avoid common financial pitfalls


Cincinnati – According to some estimates, as many as 73 percent[2] of people use the same password for multiple sites. Odds are many of those individuals are also saving their passwords in their favorite internet browser to automatically enter secure sites each time they visit. But that's exactly what they shouldn't do, says Tom Scarborough, vice president and manager of threat intelligence and strategy at Fifth Third Bank.

"Consumers should never save their username and password combinations for any site. Doing so puts them at risk of identity theft, especially on a public computer," says Scarborough.

His warning is just one of several tips Fifth Third is offering to bring awareness to National Consumer Protection Week, March 1-7, 2015. The coordinated effort, spearheaded by the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Federation of America and several Federal agencies, encourages consumers to make better-informed decisions.

Consumer protection refers to much more than identity theft. Finances, health and privacy are also important cornerstones of National Consumer Protection Week.

"Bankers naturally want to help our customers grow and protect their investments, protect themselves from identity theft, and enjoy their right to privacy," said Scarborough. "In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, we tapped a few of the thoughtful, curious minds at Fifth Third to compile a list of eight simple ways consumers can protect themselves this week and all 52 weeks of the year."

Fifth Third's tips include ways for consumers to educate themselves on topics ranging from identity theft to long-term health insurance, home buying to credit scores.

National Consumer Protection Week Tips

  1. Forget "Remember Me." Never use the "save ID and password" option in your browser—especially on a public computer—or on your mobile device.
  2. Beware of Phishing, SMiShing and Vishing. Phishing—when a fraudster impersonates a legitimate company online in an attempt to steal confidential information—has gone offline to text and voice messaging. SMiShing, or phishing via text message, asks the potential victim to access a website or call a phone number, neither of which is legitimate. Vishing refers to phishing over the phone, whereby the potential victim is asked to respond by phone to either an e-mail or telephone message. It is often difficult to distinguish SMiShing and Vishing schemes from the companies they impersonate; when in doubt, ask to call back to a customer service number you know is valid.
  3. Pass on PMI: Borrowers putting less than 20 percent down on a new home purchase are required to buy private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI insures a lender in case of loan default, but does not protect the borrower themselves. PMI can cost up to an additional $100 per month or more depending on the size and Loan to Value of the loan; that's $36,000 over the life of the loan. Ask yourself, "Is putting down less than 20 percent worth the monthly mortgage insurance?" If not, consider purchasing a home for which the money you've saved is at least a 20 percent down payment.
  4. Know Your Number. Borrowers with a credit score equal to or greater than 740 will pay a full percentage less than those with a credit score of 680. One percent doesn't sound like much… until you start thinking of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Keep your credit score strong by avoiding late fees, staying current on all bills and limiting your open lines of credit to only those you need.
  5. Everyone Can Afford a Financial Advisor. How much do you need to save or invest to have access to a financial advisor? For most banks or credit unions, the price of entry is simply being a customer. Many banks have licensed bankers or investment executives whose job it is to help consumers save more, spend less and plan for their futures… they just aren't being fully utilized! Get the advice you're looking for by simply calling your financial institution and making an appointment to sit down and share.
  6. Keep Independent Company. Independent insurance brokers aren't bound to one company like a captive agent is, so they can look at different types of products with a critical, unbiased eye. Insurance isn't one-size-fits-all; there are many factors that make up the "bigger picture." Your financial advisor can work with an insurance broker to identify a customized solution that will meet your needs, at a price you can afford.
  7. Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance. With 70 percent of seniors needing some form of long-term care assistance before they die,2 your chances of caring for an aging parent or spouse are high. While health insurance and Medicare may cover some expenses, neither are usually enough to cover the high cost of caring for someone who needs constant attention. Long-term care insurance is a smart investment in your long-term healthcare needs.
  8. Don't Spell "Write". It takes an expert hacker three minutes (or less!) to crack a password.3 One way to make your password more effective? Use improper grammar. An algorithm developed at Carnegie Mellon University unlocked 10 percent of long passwords comprising grammatically correct phrases.4 Don't use personal information like a birthday or a pet's name, address, names or parts of names, phone numbers, dates... but consider making spelling errors that only you can remember!

About Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. As of December 31, 2014, the Company had $139 billion in assets and operated 15 affiliates with 1,302 full-service Banking Centers, including 101 Bank Mart® locations, most open seven days a week, inside select grocery stores and 2,638 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Investment Advisors. Fifth Third also has a 22.8% interest in Vantiv Holding, LLC. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of December 31, 2014, had $308 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $27 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Fifth Third's common stock is traded on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market under the symbol "FITB." Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. FDIC, Equal Housing Lender Equal Housing Lender.

  1. "Is Your Password Really Protecting You?" by Ashley Welter, posted on July 24, 2013, http://www.instantcheckmate.com/crimewire/is-your-password-really-protecting-you/
  2. "What You Need to Know About Long-Term Care Insurance," by Kathy Kristof, posted June 18, 2014, CBS Interactive, Inc., http://www.cbsnews.com/news/who-needs-long-term-care-insurance/.
  3. "Is Your Password Really Protecting You?" by Ashley Welter, posted on July 24, 2013, http://www.instantcheckmate.com/crimewire/is-your-password-really-protecting-you/
  4. "Bad Grammar Make Good Passwords, Researchers Say," by Hal Hodson, posted January 17, 2013, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2013/01/bad-grammar-make-good-password.html