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June 2020 E-Newsletter

Is Digital Banking For Me?


COVID 19
Now is a great time to learn more about digital banking, in times when face to face interaction is unavailable or households need to change the way they conduct their finances. Technological advances in the ways we obtain credit, make payments, and manage money can provide convenient ways to access some financial products and services that no longer require going to a physical bank branch. These “brick and mortar” banks, a term used to denote a bank branch located in a building, were once the only option we had. With digital banking and mobile banking now widely available and even newer technologies on the horizon, you might be asking, “Is it safe for me to take the leap to digital banking?”

So what is digital banking? The key features of digital banking are affordability, convenience, and instant access to information. These features help consumers understand their financial standing in real time, as well as plan for long-term goals and unexpected emergencies. Whether your bank has physical branches or not, online and mobile banking enables consumers to manage their finances remotely from anywhere, including depositing checks, transferring money between accounts, and even paying friends and family electronically through peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms. The October 2019 issue of Consumer News provides helpful information about protecting yourself when using online and mobile banking technology. Some banks, known as online-only banks, have opted not to provide a physical location at all.

The FDIC provides insurance for the funds that you deposit in FDIC-insured banks. This means that, if your FDIC-insured bank fails, the FDIC will protect you against the loss of your insured deposits whether the bank is brick and mortar or online-only. For more information visit FDIC deposit insurance.

Depositors in FDIC-insured banks also benefit from other consumer financial protections. State and federal regulators supervise banks to protect consumers from certain practices, including those involving overdraft fees and correcting account errors. For more information on consumer financial protections, visit Consumer Assistance & Information - Consumer Protection Topics.

1. What do brick and mortar banks offer?
In addition to traditional banking services like depositing money and withdrawing cash, brick and mortar bank locations generally offer services such as providing money orders and notarizing documents, which involve an in-person interaction with a teller or other bank employee. Many brick and mortar banks also offer safe deposit boxes, which customers can lease for storage of valuable items. It is important to note that the FDIC does not insure the contents of safe deposit boxes.

Many brick and mortar banks also offer online and mobile access to their banking services, which their customers can use to manage their money online. Contact your bank or check their website to learn about all of the services it provides.

2. Is it a legitimate bank?
Before engaging with any bank, whether it is digital-only or brick and mortar, it’s important to make sure you are working with a legitimate FDIC-insured bank. Make sure it isn’t a fraudulent website set up by criminals to mislead and entice people into transferring money or disclosing personal information for use in committing identity theft. To confirm that a website belongs to an FDIC-insured bank, check the FDIC’s online database, BankFind. BankFind includes both digital-only and traditional brick and mortar banks.

3. What's best for me?
Brick and mortar banks provide the opportunity to build a personal relationship and have personnel who can go over loan terms or address account issues in person. This relationship is important to some consumers, and others may simply like knowing the bank has a physical presence and commitment to their community. In some circumstances, banking online or on a mobile device may not only be a convenience, but a necessity when face to face interaction is unavailable, even if it is only temporary. The bank that’s right for you might be brick and mortar, online, or a bit of both. The best news is that options are available to access your money and keep your funds FDIC-insured.

The article, Is Digital Banking For Me? originally appeared on fdic.gov

Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse

Kids and FinanceIt’s easier than ever to handle our finances without setting foot inside a bank with so many advances in technology, but these changes have also made fraud and financial abuse a prevalent problem for older adults. Most elder financial abuse involves scams, forgery, identity theft, or undue pressure to give someone access to property or funds by simply providing information over the phone. Older adults are often targeted for such exploitation because they may be perceived as trusting, they may be cognitively impaired, they may have more funds available after a lifetime of saving, and potentially less exposure to technological advances.

Seniors can protect themselves from financial abuse by making sure financial records are organized and being aware of how much money is in all accounts. In addition, you can protect your assets by talking to someone at your bank, an attorney, or a financial advisor to discuss your options for ensuring your wishes for managing your money and property are followed in the event you become incapacitated. Other activities to help protect yourself include:
 
  • Carefully choosing a trustworthy person to share your financial planning matters with so they can assist you with tracking your finances if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Locking up your checkbook, account statements, and other sensitive information.
  • Ordering copies of your credit report to review for suspicious activity. (You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every twelve months. To order your free annual reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll- free 1-877-322-8228.)
  • Never providing personal information, including your Social Security number, account numbers, or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Asking for details in writing and getting a second opinion from a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Paying with checks and credit cards instead of cash to have records of transactions.
Family and friends can also help by being aware of the many ways in which an older person may be financially exploited. There are many scams and frauds that attempt to get bank account information or Social Security numbers from the elderly to steal their identity or money. Be on the lookout for signs of possible financial abuse, including:
  • Unexplained account withdrawals.
  • Another individual unexpectedly making financial decisions on the older person’s behalf.
  • Disappearance of funds or valuable possessions.
  • Unanticipated transfer of assets to another individual.
  • Sudden changes to a will or other important financial documents.
  • Suspicious signatures on checks.
If you suspect elder financial abuse, talk to the victim to determine what is happening and who is involved. For instance, you’ll want to know whether a new person in their life is helping them manage their money or a relative is using their credit card without permission. If financial abuse seems likely, you may want to contact your state’s adult protective services and the local police for assistance.

You should also contact any bank or other financial institution involved to notify them of the potential abuse, and they may be able to assist you. They may not be able to provide you with specific information about accounts or transactions due to privacy laws, but they have the ability to review information for potential abuse as well as the resources to report abuse.

Also be aware of consumer financial protection regulations that help protect funds withdrawn from an account without authorization. For example, most cases of fraud and identity theft are committed using an access device, such as when an individual steals an older person’s debit card and pin number to withdraw money from a checking account.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act, which is implemented through Regulation E, protects consumers from losses that may occur as a result of certain unauthorized electronic financial transactions, such as unauthorized ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale terminal transfers in stores. If a debit card or the card number is used to make an unauthorized withdrawal from a checking or savings account, you can minimize your losses by contacting your bank as soon as possible. Your maximum liability under Regulation E is $50 if you notify your bank within two business days after learning of the loss. Additionally, many credit card issuers have zero-liability policies, meaning that customers typically do not pay for unauthorized transactions, so contact your credit card issuer as soon as you discover any.

The article, Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse, originally appeared on fdic.gov

5 Ways to Move More While Staying Home During COVID-19

Support Small Businesses
Staying at home during COVID-19 may make it harder than usual to get in your daily steps. However, during this time it's important for your health and well-being to stay active.

Walking—either at home or outside—remains a generally safe option for adults and children during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless you are showing signs of the illness or have tested positive. Regardless, if you do decide to walk outside you need to abide by social distancing guidance from the CDC or your local health department.

On average, Americans walk about 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, which is around 1.5 to 2 miles. That may seem low compared to the common goal of 10,000 daily steps.

Keep in mind that many fitness centers are closed during COVID-19, and social distancing right now is the recommended Federal and state guidance, so, here are five creative ways to move more while you stay home:

1. Take a jog or a walk around the block
When the sun is shining, take advantage of it. You can still practice social distancing and enjoy the benefits of exercising in nature. As a way to start small, try tracking the steps you currently take and aim to add 1,000 extra steps to work your way up. Consider taking a series of short walks throughout the day, aiming for six separate "mini-walks" of at least 300 to 500 steps each.

To enhance cardiovascular fitness, consider incorporating at least one "brisk walk" of at least 2,000 to 3,000 steps for 30 minutes each day. To help build endurance, work toward 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day. If you have a pet at home, bring them, too.

2. Try free online workout classes
Many fitness companies are offering free online workout classes—even for non-members. Now is your chance to try out that yoga or high intensity interval training (HIIT) class you may have been curious about—in the comfort of your home.

3. Be Resourceful 
If you don't have workout equipment at home, try finding ways to substitute. Run up and down the stairs a few times a day, use the wall for push-ups or soup cans for bicep curls. While it may not be the traditional workout you are used to, it still gets your body moving and muscles working.
Businesses without an online checkout option might fulfill orders over the phone or via email, so reach out to staff members with inquiries.

4. Set an hourly alarm
Keep yourself accountable by setting an alarm to get up and walk around the house for a few minutes every hour. Small bursts of activity may help you reach your daily steps goal.

5. Dance to your favorite songs
Walking isn't the only aerobic exercise that gets your steps in. Turn up your favorite songs and throw a dance party with your family in the living room. It's a great way to get your steps in and brighten your mood.

If you need extra motivation, check with your employer about incentive-based wellness programs, including ones that provide financial rewards for meeting certain daily walking goals. "Walking ranks as one of the most popular and accessible ways for people to help maintain or improve their health, and we want to help encourage our members to become more active during COVID-19," said Anne Docimo, M.D., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare. We also remind members that while taking a step toward getting or staying active
– either in your home or by following safe social distancing practices while outside.

This article, 5 Ways to Move More While Staying Home During COVID-19, originally appeared on Wisbank.com

Coulee Bank Mortgage Center: Why Use a Local Mortgage Professional?

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If you’re thinking about buying pretty much anything today, it’s second nature to start looking online. But purchasing a home isn’t like buying a new pair of shoes. If you want to find the best deals and services, it's time to put down your smartphone.

When you’re ready to work with a mortgage professional, you should work with a local advocate who will take the time to get to know you and understand your interests. Here’s why it pays to take your search offline:

Better Service: Working with someone locally means partnering with someone who knows the ins and outs of homebuying in your area. They can also better gauge your situation and offer you the best loan options for your unique financial situation. On the other hand, an “instant quote” online may not take the more subtle aspects of your finances into consideration; they simply match you with “cookie-cutter” plans that are notorious for offering worse terms and higher interest rates.

More Stability: Online services are often less stable than local, brick-and-mortar ones. The former are usually newer and less established, which makes it more likely for them to go out of business — causing you more hassle in the long run.

Personalized Attention: When you enter your information into a standard lender comparison tool, you’ll get quotes from those in their database, but that may leave out great lenders in your area. Instead of sharing your information with many people you don’t know (and receiving endless marketing calls as a result), in-person consultations will maintain your privacy and ensure that you get a quality face-to-face interaction.


Are you planning on buying a new home? Or are you ready to refinance your current place? Reach out to a Coulee Bank mortgage lender today!
 

Coulee Security Tip: How Do I Avoid Scams Related to Economic Impact Payments or COVID-19? 

Support Small Businesses
The IRS and Coulee Bank urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the economic impact payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money. Remember, the IRS will not call, text you, email you or contact you on social media  asking for personal or bank account information – even related to the economic impact payments. Also, watch out for emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about economic impact payments or refunds.

Beware of online requests for personal information.
Legitimate government agencies or banks won’t ask for ssn or login information.

Check the email address or link by hovering over it with your mouse, if the highlight says a different location it is probably a phished email.

Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a phishing email.

Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name.

Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action or else. 

Coulee Security Tips are provided by Coulee Bank's IT Network Risk Manager, Quentin Fisher. He is always on the lookout for ways to keep our customers' information safe, here at the bank, at work and home.

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