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  • Social Engineering...Don't Be Fooled and Keep Your Banking Information Safe!

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    What is social engineering? 

    CSO Magazine defines Social Engineering:

    “Social engineering is essentially the art of gaining access to buildings, systems or data by exploiting human psychology, rather than by breaking in or using technical hacking techniques. For example, instead of trying to find a software vulnerability, a social engineer might call an employee and pose as an information technology (IT) support person, trying to trick the employee into divulging his password.”
    – CSO November 2011

    Social Engineering can take on many forms and fraudsters can be very successful using this method since it is very low tech and costs very little (if any) money to do. When it comes to banking online, it's even more important to understand the risks and how to keep your information safe and secure.

    Here are some common methods of social engineering: 

    • Posing as a bank employee and calling you to trick you into divulging your personal financial information.
    • Posing as a relative calling you to say that your nephew, cousin, aunt, etc. has been stranded in Europe and needs money wired to them in order to get back home.
    • Facebook or Twitter scams such as free gift cards, phony charities, “watch this amazing video” are all used to trick people into again divulging private information to steal identities.

    Protect yourself from social engineering:

    • MutualBank will not call or email you asking for personal, financial, or username and password information.
    • If you are suspect of a call you’ve received, insist on calling back with the published phone number of MutualBank or in the case of a relative the number that is known to you.
    • If it’s too good to be true…it probably is. Be very leery of extremely cheap or free products / services advertised on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.

    At MutualBank, we strive to keep you educated of new scams or frauds.  For more information about protecting yourself visit our Alerts and Security information.  
    Visit our Alerts anytime at bankwithmutual.com and click on "Alerts and Security". 

    MutualBank customers can always call 800-382-8031 to report any instances of fraud or suspicious calls. Together we're working with you to keep your information safe.

  • Holiday Debt Woes

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Now that the Holidays are over, it is now time for those credit card bills to arrive and the determination of what was actually spent on holiday gifts become reality. 

    As many Americans utilize credit cards to purchase gifts during the holidays and other items all year long, the repayment of that debt is always a challenge.  The excitement of the holiday season is over and the stress rises.  We use credit cards either as a convenience or because the cash is not available when we want.  Then the credit card bill arrives and we have a choice to make, pay the minimum payment and payoff the credit card in about ten years or try to make payments to reduce the balance more rapidly.  The following are a few suggestions to make the credit card debt go away and then utilize cash for the next holiday season or purchase.

    1. Have a plan and try to determine a reasonable payback period.  The quicker you pay off credit card debt, the more money you will save.  If you have $500 on a credit card and pay the minimum payment, you will end up paying over $1,200 when you eventually pay off the credit card ten years from now.  If you payback in three months, your total payback would be approximately $518. (Assuming 21% credit card rate)
      1. Use our calculator in our Financial Education Center to find out how long it will take to pay off your credit card.
      2. Once the credit card is paid off, use the payment you were making to create savings.  This will then allow you to use cash for your 2012 holiday purchases without having to resort to credit cards.
    While this is easier said than done, it takes discipline.  And we’re here to help. Every year we make New Year’s resolutions, but if we are not disciplined it is very hard to stick to those resolutions.  Let’s chat. Maybe we can work together to come up with a game plan to help you pay down your debt.  Go ahead… make 2012 a year that you take control of your finances instead of your finances controlling you.
  • Businesses: I'm Talking To You!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    New Year’s Resolutions... nope, I don’t subscribe to them.  I also don’t subscribe to fad diets (although there are times when I should), the latest fashions, or much else that seem to be the latest topics, trends, or crazes.  However, what I do believe is necessary and appropriate is to use the calendar as a good benchmark for various aspects of life.  Spring and Fall time changes are good reminders to change the batteries in the smoke detector.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect and make a special effort to thank that special person for putting up with me.  Well you get the idea...

    And, this is the time of year that I encourage our lending team to get out and talk to our clients and vice-versa.  Businesses traditionally are ramping up for the year and looking forward.  They are thinking about meeting with their CPA.  They are looking at the year ahead and trying to determine what sales goals are for the year.  And it is at this time of the year that bankers should be taking the time to visit with their clients.  Here is a list of conversation topics that your banker needs to be having with you (who initiates the conversation is not as important as having it).

    • How do you (the business owner) think 2011 will end up and why? (Did revenue go up, down or sideways?  What kind of bottom line do you expect and why? )
    • What are your 2012 expectations – where do you see this year differing from last and why?
    • Major acquisitions of fixed assets (equipment, real estate) on the horizon?  What will that do for the company (does it make sense to invest hard earned money into something – will it make the company more efficient?)
    • Any other potential changes on the horizon (staffing, ownership buy outs, possible acquisition of additional lines of business)?
    • Expectations of what you (the business owner) want from your banker (number of meetings each year, communications channels, etc.)

    You should expect your banker to be of assistance, giving you good guidance and advice.  If the banker can’t understand your business, it is difficult for him/her to be able to help you.  Meet with your banker, make sure he/she “get it”, and open up those communication channels for both of you to succeed.  The bank doesn’t do well unless its clients do well, and businesses don’t do well unless their bank is by their side helping them achieve the goals and aspirations of their companies.

    Go ahead and start these conversations today!

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