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Smithville warns customers not to fall for “Fat finger dialing scam”

Information provided by Gabe L., Smithville’s Director of Information Security

The idea of scams involving fat finger dialing is not new. These scams rely on inattentiveness and innocent mistakes. They prey on accidentally switching digits while dialing a number.

Typically, you quickly know if you misdialed a number. You hear the voice of a person you don’t recognize answer the phone, or you get notified that “the call cannot be completed as dialed.” However, when dialing a toll-free number, this doesn’t happen.

According to the Federal Communication Commission, toll-free numbers are “telephone numbers with distinct three-digit codes that can be dialed from landlines with no charge to the person placing the call. Such numbers allow callers to reach businesses and individuals out of the area without being charged a long-distance fee for the call.”

The most common prefixes for toll-free telephone numbers are 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833.

Businesses utilize toll-free numbers to provide customers an easy and accessible way to call them.

Fat finger dialing scams work as follows: You go online to look up the number to your bank. While entering the bank’s phone number into your phone, for example, 111-111-1112, you instead accidentally enter 111-111-1121 and instruct your phone to call. After a few rings, you expect to hear a greeting from your bank. Instead, you are told that you have been selected for a survey, are eligible for a low-cost medical device, a subscription of some sort, or have won a vacation reward.

You think you are talking to your bank. Unbeknownst to you, you called a fraudster.

As you continue to follow their prompt, the fraudsters will ask you to enter a credit card number or your bank account to claim the “promotion.” Often, they will enroll you in automatic payments that will charge you monthly. They may even share your personal information, leading to a heightened risk of identity theft.

How does this happen?

As anyone can purchase a toll-free number, fraudsters will typically locate commonly used toll-free numbers of banks, financial institutions, retail services, businesses, insurance companies, government offices, the Social Security Administration, and more. The fraudsters will then register a phone number similar to those companies, often switching a number around within the phone number. No business utilizing toll-free numbers is immune to this fraud, not even Smithville.

The worst part?

As long as companies do not misrepresent themselves and disclose the details of the promotions, this tactic is completely legal.

What can you do to protect yourself from fat finger dialing scams?

Consumers can protect themselves from falling into fat finger dialing scams by verifying that they have correctly typed the intended recipient’s phone number and verbally confirming that they have reached the company they called. For example, if you tried to reach Smithville and the party on the other line will not verify they are representatives of Smithville, hang up the phone.

Remember—if at any time during a phone call you believe something feels off, hang up the call. Trust your instincts.

And if you do find yourself talking to a telemarketer scammer? Don’t be afraid to hang up the call.

Smithville Spotlight, Paige T., French Lick Customer Service

Paige T. has been with Smithville for 16 years. She’s seen a lot of change in technology and service quality during her time here, but her dedication to customers has remained the same.

Before we learned about her role at Smithville, we asked some hard-hitting questions to get to know her better:

    • Hometown: Bedford, BNL High School
    • Favorite TV Show: WandaVision, The Mandalorian
    • Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings trilogy, anything Marvel or Star Wars
    • Favorite Food: Lasagna
    • What She Likes to do in Free Time: Visit Walt Disney World with her husband and kids
    • Dream Vacation Destination: Tokyo Disney, Ireland, and Australia
    • Favorite Quote: “Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.” -Walt Disney

Paige joined Smithville as a Customer Service Representative in 2005. She was one of three staff members to open a customer service location in French Lick. With roots in the area, she enjoyed serving customers in the community. “Helping transition customers to fiber has been very rewarding and seeing the change in technology through the years has been interesting. I enjoy talking to customers and being a part of the French Lick community.”

In early 2019 Paige was promoted to the Customer Service Representative II role, which offered new challenges and opportunities to assist small and medium businesses. A normal workday for Paige involves answering calls to start new service, making changes to existing services, addressing billing questions, and anything else required to provide a great experience for customers.

There are some things she thinks people would be surprised to learn about her role at Smithville. “I don’t think people know how much training and knowledge is required in Customer Service. With different service types, options, technology, and technical information, it’s a lot to learn. We also take a large volume of calls each day with customers across the state. We all really enjoy serving our customers and work hard to make it a good experience for them.”

When asked to describe her time at Smithville in three words, Paige said “excitement, challenge, and growth.” We’re excited to see her continue to rise to the challenge and provide excellent customer service.

Join the Fun with Smithville’s FREE Pick-It Challenge!

It’s college basketball season and we are hosting a Pick-It March Mania contest! All those living in Indiana are invited to participate in this fun, free online contest.

Simply visit smithville.pickitchallenge.com to sign up, make your picks, and watch your name rise and fall (andhopefully rise again!) on the Leaderboard as games progress. It’s easy to play and no, you don’t have to be a basketball super fan to have a good time.

Game matchups will be announced March 14 and the first bracket games start March 19, so be sure to sign up soon.

We hope to catch you on the Leaderboard: smithville.pickitchallenge.com. Good luck and get ready for some March Mania!

Smithville Charitable Foundation Contribution Helps MCCSC Mobile STEM Lab Roll

After years of planning and fund-raising, the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) launched the innovative STEM to THEM mobile lab. The bus will travel to 14 elementary schools across Monroe county, introducing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to pre-K-6th grade students. The Smithville Charitable Foundation donated $25,000 to the project.

The Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools (FMCCS) raised and spent about $375,000 for the vehicle and robotics and maker labs, according to FMCCS Executive Director Cyrilla Helm. Numerous other community sponsors contributed as well.

A long-time dream in the making, the bus will travel to all MCCSC elementary schools twice a year, remaining at each school for approximately one week in the fall and one in the spring. Debra Prenkert, MCCSC director of elementary education, said students would complete a computer science lesson and coding in the fall and study engineering in the spring.

Grades K-2 will use Bee-Bots to learn algorithms and problem-solving, grades 3-4 will use Dash Robots to learn block-based coding, and grades 5-6 will use Micro:bits to learn more advanced coding, Prenkert said. Each stage acts as a building block to the next, encouraging collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

The STEM mobile lab helps bridge economic divides, allowing MCCSC children in every school an equal opportunity to learn with resources not all schools can afford to purchase. Also, the STEM bus will provide STEAM resources to students in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

The bus comes equipped with a laser cutter, 3D printer, color-coded lab stations, whiteboard cabinets that students can write on, three TV monitors, and robots to assist the learning process. It also has a wheelchair lift, a TV monitor, and an awning outside the bus. If COVID-19 regulations remain in place through the fall, the outside TV monitor and awning will allow students to continue lessons outside.

“This was a dream, and today it’s a reality,” MCCSC Superintendent Judy DeMuth said.

Don’t Get Blindsided by Unemployment Fraud Claims

Information provided by Gabe L., Smithville’s Director of Information Security

The extraordinary expansion of unemployment benefits by Congress as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a sharp rise in fraudulent unemployment cases. Unemployment fraud involves a process where criminals use others’ personal information to file for unemployment benefits on their behalf and then pocket the money for themselves. Criminals will deploy a series of methods to obtain personal information, including phishing, utilizing fake websites and social media, and purchasing user information off the dark web. Victims of unemployment fraud are often left with a bureaucratic mess to unravel.

To help detect and respond to identify fraud and unemployment fraud, follow the steps below.

Detection by mail: 

Open your mail. Yes, even that pesky junk mail. One of the first clues that you may be a victim of unemployment fraud is through your mail. When people file for unemployment benefits, they may receive letters in the mail from their respective state’s employment bureaus about the status of their unemployment benefits claims, approvals, request for more information, and other communications. It is also possible for you to receive a debit card in the mail that would allow you to access unemployment benefits. Do not activate or use the card. If you received such communications but did not file for unemployment benefits, then you may be a victim of unemployment fraud.

While you are opening your mail, make sure to comb through the mountain of credit card and debit card offer you receive. You may have a notice or a bill for a live credit or debit card that was fraudulently opened in your name.

Lastly, be on the lookout for a 1099-G. That is the tax form for anyone who received unemployment benefits. If you received one in the mail and did not file for unemployment benefits, you may be the victim of unemployment fraud.

Detection by credit and ChexSystem Report:     

Your personal information is valuable, and criminals may use it for a myriad of nefarious activities. If the criminal gets ahold of your data and decides to use it to open a credit card or a bank account in your name, they may also be able to use it to file for unemployment benefits. A rounded view of your financial history may assist in the detection of unemployment fraud.

Credit reports provide you an excellent way to preview the status of your outstanding credit card accounts, utilities, mortgages, and other loans. When you apply for a loan, lenders may request to run your credit to evaluate if you can repay that loan. It can also help you identify accounts fraudulently opened with your personal information. Through April 2021, you can go to annualcreditreports.com to get a weekly copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

You should also request your ChexSystem report by going to chexsystem.com. A ChexSystem report operates similarly to a credit report, but it involves checking and savings accounts. When you apply for a new checking or savings account, banks may review your consumer history using a tool called ChexSystem before they approve or deny your request. By requesting both your credit report and ChexSystem report, individuals can work to verify that no fraudulent accounts were created in their name.

Response:

  1. Report the unemployment fraud to the state.

Report any case of unemployment fraud to your state bureau that manages unemployment benefits. The United States Department of Labor provides a link to each state’s fraud reporting website. For example, if you live work in Indiana, you would report the unemployment fraud to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

  1. Report the unemployment fraud to the police.

Report any case of unemployment fraud to the state police or the relevant regulatory agency as directed by the state. For example, if you live in Indiana, in addition to reporting the fraud to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, you would also report the unemployment fraud to the Indiana State Police.

  1. Report the unemployment fraud to your employer.

Report any case of unemployment fraud with your employer. By notifying your employer of the unemployment fraud claim, you provide them an additional opportunity to contest the claim with their state labor department.

For the taxpayers that did receive an incorrect Form 1099-G, do not fret. The Internal Revenue Service has published guidance on January 28, 2021, that helps taxpayers by instructing them that if they are “unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received.”

Smithville Employees Share Holiday Spirit

Smithville employees made the holiday season brighter by purchasing toys and clothing for 25 area children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.

The initiative was sponsored by the Smithville Engaged team, a group of employees working to encourage engagement between employees and the communities we serve. This is another way employees are able to work together and give back to those in our communities.

For more information about the Angel Tree program and how you can get involved click here.

Cloud-Based Gaming Means Big Bandwidth Usage

Faster broadband speeds fuel optimal online gaming.

Gamers are counting down the days for the release of the long-awaited PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X next month. In the lead-up to the release of the next generation of consoles, both companies have allowed players to utilize cloud gaming technology, indicating that the cloud may be the future of gaming.
Cloud-based gaming services have a huge upside. They give users instant access to hundreds of games with 4K resolution and crystal-clear surround sound. They can stream to any of their devices, even smartphones, which means users can pause a game on one device and pick it up seamlessly on another. But all these benefits come with a price. High-def streaming monopolizes bandwidth, which means those with slower connection speeds may not be happy with their experience.
Google burst on the scene last year with its cloud-based service Stadia. Sony and Microsoft are now jumping on board with Playstation Now and Game Pass.
Each of the platforms operate similarly in that a monthly subscription provides instant access to a vast catalog of games. With Google, Microsoft and Sony all vying to be the Netflix of online gaming, you should review your network connection to be sure you enjoy a fast, smooth gaming experience.
Streaming 4K quality games requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth to operate in high-def with low latency. A broadband connection of at least 35 Mbps, upload and download, is recommended for operation. Keep in mind that is just a minimum recommendation — and that doesn’t factor in other devices using your connection. Some users have reported the graphics are not as sharp at lower speeds, and even those with 100 Mbps can experience noticeable input lag, though their graphics are better.
That’s not to mention the other people in your home. If you want to stream a movie or make a video call in another room while someone is using the game system, you’ll need a connection big enough to handle it all.
Users can also expect cloud-based games to drag on their Wi-Fi networks. And those with older routers may need an upgrade if they want optimal performance. In fact, Microsoft recommends users connect with a wired connection and “limit the use of other network-connected devices to get the best experience.”
Game streaming services require a tremendous amount of bandwidth to ensure high-resolution gameplay with low latency.
For most platforms, users will want at least 35 Mbps for 4K resolution and 5.1 surround sound. To get up to 1080p resolution, you’ll need at least 20 Mbps in addition to the usage from any other connected devices in the home.
Google has created a test page to test your connection speed to see what type of resolution you can expect in Stadia. You can also check your speed at TestMy.net or highspeedinternet.com.
Although cloud gaming is still in its infancy, there are several indicators that the future of the game industry might be heading in this direction. After all, remember what Netflix was like 10 years ago? If you or someone in your home plan to use your new console for cloud gaming this Christmas, be sure you have enough broadband speed to enjoy your high-def gaming.

Smithville Spotlight: Tiffany A., Scheduler

When asked to describe her time here at Smithville in three words, Tiffany A., Scheduler, replied “educational, rewarding, exciting.” Since joining the Smithville team in 2019 she’s learned so much about our service and installation process and has a passion for providing a great customer experience.

Before we learned about her role at Smithville, we asked some hard-hitting questions to get to know her better:

    • Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia (raised in Spencer, Indiana)
    • Favorite TV Show: Probably a tie between Schitt’s Creek and What We Do in the Shadows
    • Favorite Movie: Not a movie exactly, but I love the Planet Earth documentaries
    • Favorite Food: Sushi
    • What she likes to do in free time: Compose music, play guitar, hang out with my son and husband
    • Dream vacation destination: Ireland
    • Favorite quotes: “To achieve great things two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” -Leonard Bernstein and “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” -John Cage

 

As part of our Scheduling team, Tiffany plays a critical role for our customers and makes sure service gets installed accurately and in a timely manner. It’s much more than scheduling a time, though. The Scheduling team takes an order for service and makes sure all steps are required and in place to get customers connected. “My day is a mixture of inbound and outbound calls. In both instances, I am determining what needs done to get a customer set up with service. Duties range from scheduling customers, assisting technicians, talking with the supervisors, answering all emails, and projects assigned by our supervisor related to information gathering, updating information, and various orders and tickets.” The work of taking an order and making sure it gets installed correctly is a large task that requires a lot of knowledge. “Most people would be surprised by the amount of knowledge that is required to work here. We have to be very informed about the technology and installation process.”

Tiffany’s time at Smithville has been rewarding and has offered the opportunity to learn new skills. Working on new projects and processes have been welcome challenges. “The most rewarding thing since joining Smithville has been helping train my team on new software and projects. I have worked with my supervisor to implement new processes for providing services to renters and I was able to create the process and means to get that started.”

Tiffany appreciates the opportunities available at Smithville for growth, and that’s one of the big reasons she joined the team. “I feel like I can grow at Smithville. Many of my other jobs did not give opportunities for movement to different positions. You could go slightly upward but staying in the exact same role but with more responsibility. At Smithville, I feel like I can move into other departmental roles and find my best fit. Also, the company environment is much more friendly and family like. I feel like I am a valued member of the Smithville team.”

We’re looking forward to Tiffany’s future growth at Smithville and know that customers appreciate her hard work. She said it best when describing her passion for being at Smithville:  “My favorite part of working here is feeling like I have the ability to make positive change within and outside Smithville.”

Smithville Security Voted #1 in Best of Btown Awards

 

We’re thrilled to announce that Smithville Security was voted #1 in The Herald-Times Best of Btown Awards! Overall 9,266 people cast a total of 167,084 votes for their favorite Bloomington-area businesses in a wide range of categories in June. This was a 156% voting increase over last year. This award means so much to us because it’s selected by people in the community we serve. We’re so grateful to our customers for putting their trust in us to protect their homes and businesses.

To celebrate we are offering free basic installation and equipment on our smart home security starter package, a $625 value. Simply use promo code “Smart Home” when you call to receive this limited time free installation offer. Whether you are looking for a solution to protect against intruders, alert you to potential hazards or just welcome you home after a long day, we have the perfect solution for your home and business. Call today at 800-742-4084 or visit us online at smithvillesecurity.com.

Smithville Spotlight: Claressa E., Corporate Trainer

When asked to describe her time here at Smithville in three words, Claressa E., Smithville’s Corporate Trainer, replied “growth through relationship.” Growth relates to her own personal development, but also that of Smithville employees. Her passion for training employees, developing skills, and helping to grow careers is evident.

Before we learned about her role at Smithville, we asked some hard-hitting questions to get to know her better:

  • Hometown: Evansville, IN
  • Favorite TV Show: One Piece
  • Favorite Movie: Too many! Top picks would all be something Sci-Fi
  • Favorite Food: Home-cooked (i.e. My mom’s home), comfort food
  • What she likes to do in free time: Spending time with family and friends, listening to/discovering new music, watching movies/anime
  • Dream vacation destination: Santorini, Greece
  • Favorite quote: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” -Unknown
  • Something those on the outside looking in would be surprised about: How prevalent the idea that “WE are Smithville” is among employees. And how funny Ms. Darby can be!

 

Claressa joined Smithville in 2011 as a Customer Service Representative. She went through an extensive training process that sparked her interest in employee development. “I trained under Charlie Flinn and, while still in training, I told him that he needed some help & as soon as I learned the job, I would come back & work with him.  Charlie retired before that happened, but I did move to the L&D department in 2015.”

When Claressa joined Smithville she immediately found a friendly work environment. “I found that the owners were accessible and approachable, which is not something that happens often in corporate America. Being a family-owned business seems to cultivate a feeling of family among the employees as well. It’s also great working for a place where you believe in the products and services that we offer. No one (locally) can touch our network operations or our data over fiber service.”

Like many positions at Smithville, each day is unique and different for Claressa and that keeps things fresh and exciting. “Our duties fluctuate based on projects from other departments that may need our help in adoption and education to new hires that need onboarding and possibly training. We are responsible for jobs aids for several departments and those have to be created & maintained, and our training curriculums must be kept up to date, including scenarios and assessment materials.  And in order to train or facilitate effectively, we must be trained and certified as well, via courses offered on a national level or online seminars & WebEx meetings.” While that is a lot to manage, it is an important part of making sure Smithville’s employees are trained, confident, and prepared to take care of customers.

Over the last nine years, several projects and accomplishments have stood out for Claressa. “Joining the Learning & Development team and creating some of the core programs our department uses on a regular basis are great accomplishments. But I’d say the most rewarding would be the interaction with and success of the new hires that I’ve onboarded and trained since I’ve been in this position. Their success is our success.” Claressa helped to develop a new hire onboarding process that introduces employees to the many different departments and people at Smithville and shares important programs and resources available. This program has been well received by both new hires and supervisors at Smithville.

Throughout many different projects and initiatives one thing has remained for Claressa, when asked about her favorite aspect of working at Smithville: “Interaction with coworkers and helping others grow and succeed.” We’re looking forward to the success of many future new hires, thanks to her efforts and dedication.