Social Distancing During the Coronavirus? Take Your Banking Online
If the coronavirus has you self-isolating, you’re likely more concerned about staying in touch with loved ones and carefully planning your grocery excursions than about changing your money routine.
But if you’re concerned about how to do your everyday financial tasks from home, consider starting to bank online. Handling your finances remotely can be convenient even after you feel safe returning to a branch.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19,’’ says Richard Crone, a payments expert and CEO of Crone Consulting, LLC. “For the safety of consumers, the bank staff, all our families and the community, nobody should be walking into a branch. Financial services can all be obtained digitally. It’s a risk we don’t have to take.
What is online banking?
Online banking lets you manage your accounts through your desktop or mobile devices. You can typically perform tasks such as transferring funds, paying bills, depositing checks and checking your account balances.
If you have questions that you need a human to answer, you can usually reach out to the bank’s customer service reps via phone, social media, email or online chat as well.
There are many online-only banks, but these days, most brick-and-mortar banks also have online services their customers can use from home (or elsewhere). Banking apps and bank websites allow customers to log in securely to view and manage their account balances from anywhere they have the internet.
Is online banking safe?
Banking sites and apps take many steps to keep your money secure. Mobile banking apps often offer two-factor authentication, which requires you to login with your password as well as an additional code sent via email, call or text. Smartphone logins can be protected with passwords and sometimes biometric measures, like fingerprints. Bank websites also encrypt your data to prevent third parties from accessing it.
“It’s much safer to bank, and pay, with your mobile device,” Crone says.
And of course, in terms of the coronavirus, banking online will help you follow isolation recommendations.
What are the perks of banking online?
Most banking services can be done remotely. The only thing you can’t do from home is deposit and withdraw physical cash. If that’s a necessity for you, most banks have large ATM networks, and you can use your bank’s website to find a nearby machine. Of course, be sure to wash your hands when you’re done. Coulee Bank's ATM's are Free at any of our branches and at any Kwik Trip Stores.
Banking online saves time. Instead of driving to a branch, waiting in line and talking to a teller, you can finish your banking with a few taps on your smartphone.
If you’ve been waiting to download your bank’s mobile app or tour your account services from your desktop computer, now is a good time to start.
The article, Social Distancing During the Coronavirus? Take Your Banking Online, originally appeared on NerdWallet.
Free Ways to Protect Your Mental Health
Remember December 2019, approximately 40 years ago? It was a world where much of the country was focused on the holidays and new year, rather than toilet-paper supplies, a recession or the chance of loved ones getting infected by a dangerous virus.
In the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, life doesn’t just feel more bleak but also much, much different. And uncertainty, combined with life changes, can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.
“Millions of Americans are faced with newfound stressors related to teleworking, school closures, unemployment, investment insecurity and health care uncertainty,” wrote Stephanie F. Dailey, a licensed professional counselor and expert for the American Counseling Association, in an email interview. “All of these stressors, regardless of age or health status, have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.”
Below are a few free ways to protect your mental health during the pandemic.
Take media breaks
“While it is important to have accurate and timely information about the spread of COVID-19, too much media exposure can increase feelings of fear and anxiety,” says Dailey, who specializes in disaster behavioral health and crisis intervention, among other areas. She recommends taking intentional breaks from coronavirus coverage and “balancing media time with enjoyable activities — ideally unrelated to COVID-19.”
For the media you do consume, stick to credible sources. “Sensationalized or erroneous information can significantly undermine emotional health,” she says.
Mind your physical health
Mental and physical health go hand and hand. So get moving, if you can, with quarantine-friendly workouts, like yoga or body-weight exercises (such as pushups). If you jog, walk or hike outside, remember to keep at least six feet between you and others.
In addition to exercising, Dailey recommends sticking to your normal routines related to sleep cycles, eating habits, hygiene and medications. Ask your health care provider about telehealth options for your scheduled appointments. If you see a counselor, ask if he or she can continue with virtual sessions.
Talk to loved ones
“Connect with family and friends who are healthy, positive outlets,” Dailey says. “Social connectivity has been found to be the most beneficial means for coping with protective orders, such as shelter in place and quarantine.”
Even if you can’t leave your home, take advantage of video chats, phone calls, texts, emails, online gaming or even Netflix parties to connect with others.
Try an app to help you relax
Take advantage of the numerous mindfulness and meditation apps out there, such as Breethe, Calm, Headspace, Omvana, Stop, Breathe & Think and The Mindfulness App. Those apps are free, at least for a short time or for limited access, which Dailey says should be plenty. “There is no need to buy any additional functions unless you find one particularly useful,” she says.
Keep in mind that finding an app that works for you will come down to your personal preferences, so get ready to experiment. “Give yourself permission to try something else if you find that app or tool is not working for you,” Dailey says. Also start with “small, realistic goals,” she adds, particularly if mindfulness and meditation are new to you.
Check out free online resources
For more guidance, Dailey recommends a few resources:
As you try these tips and adjust to the “new normal,” Dailey recommends cutting yourself some slack.
“Give yourself permission to make mistakes, be imperfect and feel a wide range of emotions,” she says. “Remember that all humans are innately resilient, provided we allow ourselves room for error, do what we can to maintain our mental and physical health and do our best to stay connected.”
The article, Free Ways to Protect Your Mental Health, originally appeared on NerdWallet.
Business Corner: Small Business Action Plan
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is changing the way we all do business. There is much we still don’t know about how this situation will play out.
As this unprecedented crisis continues to evolve, many small business owners are wondering how to minimize losses, and what steps they can take to protect their businesses.
Small business owners are some of the most resourceful and resilient people we know. And now’s the time to lean into that resourcefulness, make a plan, and get to work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what actions to take.
Let’s take a look at some ways that you can take stock of the situation, generate solutions, and take action to protect your business. As you know, things are developing rapidly. Remain flexible to make changes on the fly.
Your first priority is to make sure that your family, staff, and especially yourself, are safe and safeguarded, to the best of your ability. Next, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to safeguard your customers as wel
Implement CDC-recommended precautions in your business as soon as possible. Among the most important recommendations are:
1. Actively encourage employees, especially those who are sick, to stay home.
2. Implement systems that allow them to work from home if possible.
3. Emphasize the importance of cough and sneeze etiquette as well as hand hygiene within your business.
4. Perform routine, thorough environmental cleaning.
Access and generate solutions
Since there are a lot of unknowns, it’s important to think about various possibilities and what you can do to adapt to them. The problems you face will vary depending on the nature of your business, and so your solutions will vary too. It’s important to look at the questions directly and make a plan based on what you’re able to do. Below are some examples of things you may need to consider.
What if I have to temporarily close?
• Think about selling your wares, services, etc. online.
What if this lasts several weeks or months?
• How this would affect your family, as well as your staff and their families — can you help them in some way?
Adapt and overcome
If you can, set up work from home options for yourself and your employees. Set up a workstation that can stay in place for as long as you need it. Create a space where everyone in the family knows that if you’re in it, you’re working. This can help you to stay focused when you’re working, and set up boundaries between working and hanging out at home
Moving in-person events and classes online
There are plenty of ways for you to connect with clients or customers via phone or video call. You can also find platforms that allow you to hold virtual events. You may even consider a YouTube channel, video conferencing, or livestreaming. For example, a gym, health club, or yoga studio can hold exercise classes online. Adapt the routines for people working out at home instead of in your facility.
These are trying times with many unknowns. By doing your best to stay safe, review your options, and make a plan you’ll better position yourself to come out on the other side.
This article, Small Business Action Plan, originally appeared on Constantcontact.com
Coulee Security Tip: Latest IRS Scams: How to Spot Them and Fight Back
IRS scams involve criminals impersonating IRS agents, other government employees or debt collectors over the phone, online or via the mail in an effort to trick you into sending them money for taxes, penalties or fees you don’t actually owe.
People lose millions of dollars a year due to IRS scams. Don’t be one of them. Here’s a list of recent IRS scams, how to spot one and (perhaps) how to get some revenge.
The latest IRS scams: Have any of these happened to you?
"You need to pay a small fee to get your stimulus check."
This is a growing scam related to the government’s ongoing response to the coronavirus, the Federal Trade Commission warns. Many Americans will qualify for a stimulus check, but the government (including the IRS) does not require anyone to pay anything to receive the money.
"We're calling from the FDIC and we need your bank information"
The Federal Depository Insurance Corporation insures bank deposits so that consumers won’t lose all of their money if a bank fails. But it does not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money, sensitive personal information, bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers or passwords. Scammers claiming to be from the FDIC are hunting for information they can use to commit fraud or sell identities.
"We're calling to tell you your identity was stolen; you need to buy some gift cards to fix it"
In this trick, a criminal calls the victim and poses as an IRS agent. The criminal claims the victim’s identity has been stolen and that it was used to open fake bank accounts. The caller then tells the taxpayer to go buy certain gift cards; later, the crook gets back in touch and asks for the gift card access numbers.
"We'll cancel your Social Security number"
In this IRS scam, the criminal contacts the victim and claims that he or she can suspend or cancel the victim’s Social Security number.
“If taxpayers receive a call threatening to suspend their SSN for an unpaid tax bill, they should just hang up,” the IRS says.
"This is the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, and we're putting a lien or levy on your assets."
There is no Bureau of Tax Enforcement. Victims often receive a letter from the fake agency claiming that they have a tax lien or tax levy and that they had better pay the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement” or else.
Password-protect the home screen, too. That way, if a criminal swipes your device, it would be difficult to get past the locked image, much less reach the banking app.
"Click here to see some details about your tax refund"
These emails are intended to trick the reader into clicking on links that lead to a fake IRS-like website and expose the user to malware. The IRS never emails taxpayers about the status of their tax refunds.
Fight Back: How to report IRS Scams
- Tell the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). You can report IRS scams online at or by calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.
- Forward email messages that claim to be from the IRS to firstname.lastname@example.org.Do not open the attachments or click on any links in those emails.
- Tell the Federal Trade Commission via the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- Report Social Security Administration phone impostor scams using the form on the Social Security Administration’s website.
- If the IRS scams appear to be impersonating a state tax authority rather than the IRS, contact your state Attorney General’s office.
This article, Latest IRS Scams: How to Spot Them and Fight Back, originally appeared on NerdWallet.com
Coulee Investment Center: Really Big Numbers
Call Shari Hopkins to schedule an appointment at 608-784-3904.
Shari Hopkins, CFP®, LPL Financial Advisor
Coulee Investment Center at Coulee Bank
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Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Coulee Bank and/or Coulee Investment Center are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.