Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week was January 29 through February 2, and many federal agencies are offering information and resources to help consumers learn to protect themselves from tax-related identity theft and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposter scams. NCCIC/US-CERT encourages consumers to review IRS publication Taxes. Security. Together. and NCCIC/US-CERT Tip Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft. Users can also participate in a series of free webinars and chats on avoiding tax identity theft, hosted by the Federal Trade Commission, IRS, Department of Veterans Affairs and others.
EMV Chip Cards: What You Need to Know
Over the last couple of years, wallets across the United States have been filled with new debit and credit cards that have an EMV chip. It is our goal to ensure your ease of use when it comes to Anderson Brothers Bank products, including our debit cards. Because these cards are quite different from your old cards, we compiled a few handy tips for using your ABB debit card:
- Dip the Chip. Most merchants are EMV-ready to accept your chip debit card. If the machine accepts chip cards, you MUST insert your card in the chip reader - do not swipe. If you swipe the card instead of inserting it into the chip reader at a chip-ready machine, your transaction will likely be denied.
- Swipe the Stripe. If the merchant has not enabled their EMV chip reader, you will need to swipe your debit card like you've always done.
- Pay Attention to ATM Screens and Follow Directions. Anderson Brothers Bank ATMs require that you insert your ABB debit card, remove your card, insert your card again and proceed with your transaction. When prompted, remove your card from the machine.
There are many benefits to EMV chip technology, particularly in preventing counterfeit fraud. Please give us a call at 800-345-8081 or stop by any Anderson Brothers Bank location to learn more.
Hurricane Season Preparations
Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November 30 each year. Are you prepared? Check out this handy guide provided by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division for tips, phone numbers and helpful information.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Money
How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.
The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.
Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:
At the Bank. When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Ask the Branch Manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works.
On Payday. Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
At the Grocery Store. It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.
Chores and Allowances. Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
Paying Bills. Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
Using Credit Cards. Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.
Browsing the Internet. While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.
Planning a Vacation. Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.
Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. If you don’t know the answer, research it together or ask us!
Youth Emergency Preparedness Curriculum-Ready Kids
Check out this link from FEMA that teaches kids what to do before, during and after an emergency while utilizing skills such as problem solving, teamwork, creativity, leadership and communication.
You Could Face Late Fees, Other Charges
Recently, the Federal Reserve Banks have received a number of unauthorized transactions in which consumers have tried to use the Fed's routing numbers and their Social Security numbers to pay their bills.
It is important for consumers to know that when making online or e-check bill payments, they cannot use Federal Reserve routing numbers. Federal Reserve routing numbers are used for sorting and processing payments between banks. Any video, text, email, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or using an account at the Federal Reserve Bank is a scam.
The Federal Reserve provides banking services only for banks. Individuals do not have accounts at the Federal Reserve.
The bill payments being attempted using the Fed's routing numbers are being rejected and returned unpaid. Consumers who have attempted to use the Fed's routing numbers to pay their bills may be subject to penalty fees from the company they were attempting to pay.
10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers
From FDIC Consumer News Publication
The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft and its staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help further, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. As part of that coverage, they feature a list of 10 scams that you should be aware of, plus key defenses to remember.
Read more by clicking the article below.
Lessons Learned from the "WannaCry" Cyber Attack
Recently, you most likely watched widespread news coverage of a new cyber attack called WannaCry. It infected over 200,000 computers worldwide and locked numerous organizations out of their data, including hospitals in the United Kingdom. There are several reasons this attack gained so much attention. First, it spread rapidly from computer to computer by attacking a known weakness in Windows computers. Second, the attack was a type of malware called Ransomware, which meant that once it infected your computer it encrypted all your files, locking you out of your data. The only way you could recover your data was from backups or by paying the attacker a $300 ransom to decrypt all of your data.
Read more by clicking the article below.
Reverse Mortgage 101: Terminology, Tips and More
The vast majority of older Americans want to remain in their homes as they grow older, also known as aging in place. There are a number of costs to consider when aging in place including home modifications, transportation and in-home medical care. One way to pay for these costs and stay in your home is a reverse mortgage. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, the American Bankers Association encourages you to understand what it is and weigh the pros and cons.
Terminology: What You Need to Know
Reverse Mortgage – A reverse mortgage is a type of loan that allows you to borrow against the equity in your home. You must be at least 62 years-old to qualify.
Home Equity – This is the value of your home minus debt against it.
Homeowner – With a reverse mortgage, you are still a homeowner and still responsible for paying property taxes, insurance and upkeep.
Repayment – When the loan is over, you or your heirs must repay cash received from the loan plus interest. The reverse mortgage loan becomes due when the borrower dies, sells the home or moves out of the home. The lender may also require repayment if you fail to pay your property taxes, fail to keep your home insured or fail maintain your home. Be sure to read the terms of the agreement closely before signing.
Fees – Just like with any other mortgage product, there will be fees to close the loan. Lenders may allow you to pay the fees using your reverse mortgage. They are added on to the balance of your loan and must be repaid with interest when the loan is due.
Total Annual Loan Cost – Because different reverse mortgage products can vary, it can be difficult to compare prices and choose the best one for you. Ask your lender for the Total Annual Loan Cost, a single annual average rate, to help compare various reverse mortgage products.
Co-Borrower – If you live with a spouse or partner, it is highly recommended that you apply for the reverse mortgage together as co-borrowers. Anyone living in the home who is not a co-borrower will be required to pay the loan or move out when you move or die.
Payout Options – The way you take cash from your reverse mortgage can vary. You can opt for a line of credit to take cash only when you need it, a monthly payout, or a single lump sum.
Tips: Key Considerations and Red Flags
- Shop around. Be sure to check with multiple lenders. You can use sites like www.reversemortage.org , sponsored by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, to find lenders in your area.
- Understand your options. Be sure to evaluate all the options you have including applying for a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. Also consider selling your home.
- Be cautious. If someone is selling you something and suggests you use a reverse mortgage to pay for it, consult a trusted advisor before signing anything.
- Nothing is free. If anyone suggests that a reverse mortgage is free money, don’t believe it. Fees are built into the loan, which must be paid back with interest when it becomes due.
- Know your rights. After closing the loan on a reverse mortgage you have three business days to reconsider your decision. If you choose to rescind the loan, you must do so in writing.
- Consider borrowing jointly. If the reverse mortgage is in one person’s name and that person dies or leaves the home, the loan will become due. If there are two people living in the home – make sure you’re both on the loan or able to repay the loan – otherwise, you may end up losing the property.
- Consider your age. Be cautious if a lender is suggesting you do this at an early age. Your debt will begin to grow and equity will decrease as soon as you take out the reverse mortgage. The longer you have the loan, the more it will cost.
- Only take what you need. Carefully consider your payout options. Keep in mind that if you take the full amount of the loan in one lump sum, you will be charged full interest on the largest possible loan amount.
8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief
More than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. The American Bankers Association is offering eight tips to help consumers protect their information and avoid becoming a victim.
“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cyber security policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”
ABA suggests following these eight tips:
- Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
- Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
- Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. Annual Credit Report
- Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
- Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
- Report any suspected fraud to ABB immediately.
As spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.
"With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account," said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. "You'll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year."
ABA recommends these six tips to help you organize your finances:
- Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you're paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that's by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rate or eliminating smaller debt first.
- Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you've been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving - and stick to it.
- Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate. Annual Credit Report
- Download your bank's mobile app . From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
- Sign up for eStatements , paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house - physical and financial - more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
- Set up automatic bill pay . By signing up for automatic bill pay, you'll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
As loved ones age, we want to provide them with the best care possible. Visit www.eldercare.com for help connecting with skilled, compassionate providers for a better quality of life for you or your loved one.
Additionally, click the link below for helpful tips regarding Elder Financial Abuse. It's a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence.
Elder abuse isn't limited to financial abuse. The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) is a national non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with members in all 50 states. The goal of NAPSA is to provide Adult Protective Services programs a forum for sharing information, solving problems, and improving the quality of services for victims of elder and vulnerable mistreatment.
Don't Fall Victim to the Latest Tax Scam
As tax season nears, it's important to remain vigilant to avoid becoming a victim to scammers. Remember, the IRS will never:
• Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
• Ask you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer.
• Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.
• Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.
In the latest scam, fake CP2000 notices often arrive as an attachment to an email (big red flag!). Other telltale signs of this fraud include:
• A “payment” link within the email. Scam emails can link you to sites that steal your personal information, take your money, or infect your computer with malware. Do not click on the link.
• A request that a check be made out to “I.R.S.” Real CP2000s ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury” if they agree they owe taxes.
Don't fall victim to scams involving tax fraud. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Visit the IRS website for more information.
Preparing Your Finances for a Flood, Fire or Other Disaster
Without warning, a flood, fire or other disaster could leave you with a severely damaged home, destroyed belongings and barriers to managing your finances. Many people think of disaster preparedness as having a stockpile of water, canned food, and flashlights, but people also need access to cash and financial services. That's why it is important to include financial preparedness in your disaster plans. [Click the button below to read more.]
Choosing and Using the Right Bank Account
When managing your money, the right tools can make all the difference. That's why it helps to start by opening a bank account that best fits your lifestyle and financial goals. FDIC Consumer News provides some simple pointers to help you choose wisely and streamline how you manage your checking and savings accounts. [Click the button below to read more.]
Cyber Security Awareness
These days, we are always connected - either via mobile phone, computer or tablet. While these devices enable us to instantly connect with family and friends, make purchases, and post photos, this convenience can come at a high price. Many of the apps you use or sites you visit require you to provide personal information including your name, email address and possibly a credit card number. This puts you at an increased risk of having your information compromised by cyber criminals. Anderson Brothers Bank strongly encourages you to visit the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect for cyber tips and resources.