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April 2016 E-Newsletter

Three Good Reasons to get Your Tax Refund via Direct Deposit

Did you know you can elect to receive your tax refund via direct deposit? This is a convenient, fast and safe way to get your money back from Uncle Sam. Below are just a few of the reasons you should opt for direct deposit this tax season:
It's Fast
According to the IRS, consumers who e-file and choose direct-deposited refunds can expect their refund to be processed within 21 days. That's compared to the four to six weeks expected processing time for paper filed returns and a refund check sent in the mail. That's one reason that eight out of 10 taxpayers will choose to get their refunds by direct deposit this year.
It's Secure
Receiving your tax refund via direct deposit is also very secure. Mailed checks can be stolen or forged, but funds sent via direct deposit are transferred directly from the government to your financial institution. The government also is very experienced at quickly and securely sending funds via direct deposit. In fact, 98 percent of all federal benefits are disbursed by direct deposit.
It's Efficient
Receiving your refund via direct deposit is efficient, both with regards to cost and convenience. It costs taxpayers $1 for every paper refund check issued, but only about a dime for each direct deposit made. Direct-deposited returns don't require you to take the extra step of depositing the funds in the bank, either. Another convenience is the ability to send portions of your refund into different bank accounts. Taxpayers can split their direct-deposited refund and have it sent to up to three different bank accounts. This is particularly convenient for spouses filing jointly who keep separate bank accounts, or for individuals who want to split their refund between checking and savings accounts.
If you have any questions about whether direct depositing your tax refund is a good option for you, speak to your banker or tax advisor.
Source: WBA Consumer Column E-Newsletter

Scam of the Week: TurboTax Phishing Attack  

It's tax season and the bad guys are in full swing. They try to get your Accounting or HR team to send over the W-2s of all employees, but they also target employees in the office and/or at the house. There is a current phishing scam going around you need to warn your employees, friends and family about.
TurboTax is a very popular online tax preparation site, and at the moment the bad guys have massive campaigns going that look like they come from TurboTax. The subject is about "important privacy changes". They want people to click on the link to "opt out" of having their personal information shared, but that's an obvious social engineering trick.
I would send the following to your employees, friends and family.
 "At the moment, there is a massive phishing scam that looks like it comes from TurboTax. The email tries to make you click on a link to "opt out" of sharing your personal information with others.
The email is a scam, if you click on the link it will download key logger malware which will steal your identity from your computer or phone.
Remember the following things:
◦Always have your Internet Security software updated, but do not rely on it.
◦Always keep all of your software up to date with the latest patches, computer and phone.
◦Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you are sure it's legit. For instance, if you want to go to TurboTax, visit their website directly by typing their address in your browser.
◦Think Before You Click! Always take a second to ask yourself if this might be a scam."
Let's stay safe out there.

Start Off on the Right Foot: Early Financial Mistakes to Avoid

Over the next two months, many young adults will graduate from college or a technical school with hopes of entering the workforce soon afterward. Once they do, it will be the first time many of them enjoy a regular paycheck. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when income starts rolling in:
Not saving for retirement
 This one mistake can end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime. Even if you only save one percent of your income, over the next 30 to 40 years of your career, the interest earned on that savings (especially if it's in a Roth IRA) really adds up. Retirement is one of the most difficult things to save for, because immediate needs and wants feel much more important. However, saving early can be the difference between retiring comfortably at 55 and needing to work an extra 5 or 10 years.
Not setting financial goals
Thinking ahead about your finances is difficult for young adults who haven't had to plan their money on their own before. Do you want to own a home in the next 5-10 years? How about get married? Start your own business? Write down your life goals for the next decade or so and then determine the financial goals that go along with them. This simple planning step will help you avoid needing to dig into your emergency fund in order to cover closing costs or an unexpected wedding expense.
Not starting an emergency fund
 Speaking of an emergency fund, starting one should be every young adult's first financial goal. Even if you start out saving to set aside just enough to cover three months of expenses, it creates a stress-relieving buffer in your bank account.
Living on credit cards
The benefit of credit cards is that they allow you to delay paying for items until weeks after the purchase (when the credit card bill comes due). The downside of credit cards is that they allow you to delay paying for items until weeks later. The trouble with the flexibility that credit cards provide is how easy it can be, especially for inexperienced consumers, to forget to keep track of their purchases, resulting in some damaging "sticker shock" credit card bills. If you choose to use credit cards, monitor your current card balance frequently and never buy anything you haven't budgeted for. Most importantly, pay off your balance every month.
Buying too much car
Avoiding this mistake can save you hundreds each month, and not just in lower car payments. New cars often cost more to insure than used cars, and they sometimes have a higher interest rate on the loan as well. New cars also lose up to 20 percent of their value as soon as you drive them off the lot, so equity is nonexistent. If you're worried about the cost of upkeep on an older vehicle, buy a certified pre-owned car that is only a few years old from a licensed dealership. You get the benefits of a modern car without worrying about ending up with a lemon.
Source: WBA Consumer Column E-Newsletter

How to Save for a Down Payment

The tallest hurdle to buying your first home will be saving for the down payment. To avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance, you'll likely need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price, which will probably mean tens of thousands of dollars.
As a young adult, saving this much money may seem impossible — like climbing a mountain. When you climb a mountain, it looks huge from afar. But if you take one step, then another, pretty soon you've reached the top, and the view is great.

Figure out how much you need to save
No matter the amount you have to save, approach it as a challenge. First, figure out exactly how much house you can really afford with the help of a home loan calculator. The calculator uses your inputs (income, expenses, debt) along with local tax data to recommend how much home you can afford — and how much of a down payment you'll need.

Figure out what you spend now
If you don't know exactly what your monthly expenses are, track all your spending for a month and analyze it to see where you can cut back. Think realistically about what you can sacrifice each month to reach your savings goal.

Cut out the small stuff
By now you've probably heard you should skip the daily latte and brown-bag your lunch, but those are savings cliches for a reason: They really do add up.
Something else that can add up: using coupons for your grocery shopping. Get familiar with the BOGO (buy one, get one) days at your local stores. With smartphone apps, you no longer need to clip and save paper coupons to present at checkout.
To save money on entertainment, rent movies through a subscription service such as Netflix or, even better, check out movies from your library. Libraries also frequently offer lectures, book groups and kids' programs. Look for other free community events at your local parks and take advantage of free-admission days at museums.

Find a high-yield savings account
Earning as much interest as possible will help ignite your savings. You can find high-yield savings accounts at Internet banks, credit unions or community banks. When you open the account, add an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you won't be tempted to spend money earmarked for the down-payment fund.

Sell what you don't need
You might want to declutter before you move into your first home, so why not start by selling stuff you don't want or need? If your neighborhood puts on a community garage sale, join in. Or sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, Craigslist or via a Facebook “virtual garage sale” page for your area.

Enlist family and friends
No, don't ask your friends to give you money. Instead, let them know that saving for the down payment is your No. 1 priority. If your friends want to go out for dinner, suggest you get together for homemade pizza or a potluck at home. Chances are you'll have a much more memorable evening.

The bottom line
Saving for a down payment can seem like a high mountain to climb, but if you look at it as a challenge, it can also be fun. And just imagine the feeling of accomplishment when you're relaxing someday in a home of your own.

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SHAZAM BOLT$ A Safer, Easier and Faster Mobile Solution to Manage Your Debit Card Transactions!

With the SHAZAM® BOLT$ mobile app you’ll enjoy the convenience of mobile and the flexibility to manage your accounts wherever the road takes you by checking your account balance anywhere, anytime.
One of the most interesting features of SHAZAM BOLT$ is Transaction Control.  This feature allows cardholders to pause their accounts without affecting previous transactions. With the quick tap of a button, this feature gives you the power to block or unblock own your card. That way if your card goes missing, cardholders, you can block or unblock own your card much like a temporary card block.
Reliable protection is also available with SHAZAM BOLT$. You’ll be able to automatically receive 24/7 email alerts on your smartphone, tablet or home computer whenever a debit card purchase is made where your card is not present, such as telephone or Internet orders. You can also be notified when potentially fraudulent activity occurs, such as purchases for large amounts or transactions in foreign countries.

When you receive an alert, you simply check the transaction. If the purchase isn’t valid, call us right away at (608) 784-9550 or (866) 784-9550 during normal business hours and we’ll put a stop to the fraud. If you need assistance, we also have 24-hours a day, 7-days a week by calling 1-800-383-8000. It’s like having a high-tech early warning system at your disposal every minute of every day.

With the SHAZAM BOLT$ app, you have access to balance information and you’ll always know whether you have enough money to make purchases. We’re also sure you’ll appreciate SHAZAM BOLT$ ATM locator is integrated with GPS technology so no matter where you travel, you’ll be able to use your mobile device to locate the nearest surcharge-free ATM along with directions.

Getting started is easy. Download the app, set your preferences and start keeping tabs on your account. The instructions are on screen, and we’re always glad to help if you have any questions. 
Download SHAZAM BOLT$ mobile app today on the Apple® App Store or Google Play.