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Do you own a small business? Did you know that small business is one of the top targets for online fraud? According to Symantec's June 2012 Symantec Intelligence Report, 36 percent of all targeted attacks during the first half of 2012 were directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees and they continue to increase at a minimum rate of 24 percent with an average of 151 targeted attacks being blocked each day during May and June.
As a business owner you must take steps to protect yourself against online fraud such as corporate account takeover. The American Bankers Association defines corporate account takeover:
What is Corporate Account Takeover?
Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business' finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.
The American Bankers Association has created a resource for small business owners to access information about account takeover and steps to take to protect yourself and your business. Please go to the American Bankers Association website for more information regarding Corporate Account Takeover.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concerns for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What names are on your checking account? This sounds like a pretty simple question, but you would be surprised how many people are unclear about it. If you are married, perhaps you do not have both you and your spouse on the same account. There are many reasons why this may be the case. Maybe you and your spouse have separate accounts. Perhaps when you opened the account, the other person wasn't present or maybe you have had major life changes. There can be many reasons why.
Think back to when you opened your account one, five, 15 or more years ago. Is everything the same as it was back then? Have you revisited your account set up to ensure your account reflects the stage of life you're in now? Let's discuss why it might be important to do a quick review of your accounts. It's something that may take you a few minutes, but can be very worthwhile.
Account titling can be something that we would be glad to help you with at your local MutualBank Financial Center. You should have an account review on at least a yearly basis to make sure your present life situation is reflected in your bank accounts. This is very important as banking becomes more dependent on electronic banking, such as mobile banking, online banking, etc. Also, as an estate planning tool, you need to be sure that your assets pass to who you want them to go to in the event of an unexpected tragedy. This is important whether you are 18 or 80!
Let us at MutualBank help you live a better life!
It’s only early September but the somewhat below normal temperatures makes it feel like autumn even though the official start is still a few weeks away. That cool crispness of the early morning brings back memories of heading off to school for another year. As I sit here thinking about the young men and women returning to a Ball State that is much different since my last class there I recall other changes.
In the mid-1980s well before most of today’s college students were born, I was a young stock broker working in a world most of them would find horrifying- no iPods, no cell phones, no texting(!), and almost no personal computers. We did have a computer or two around the office mostly for the accounting department. They weren’t an essential tool for me as they are today.
Somewhere back in that time a certain trend in the investment markets began. As the 80’s boom got rolling and the economy grew, interest rates started falling. While there have been ups and downs along the way the overall trend has been down for decades.
I laugh a little now recalling a conversation with the head of the firm I worked for back then and agreeing with him that an 8% long-term municipal bond rate was what seemed to be acceptable to most of our clients who wanted tax-free income. Anyone looking for even half that rate of interest today is going to be very disappointed.
Declining interest rates are a problem for people who depend on their savings to generate income for them as many of our clients do. The situation has never been worse than the last few years as our government has tried to revive the economy with policies that push rates down even more. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note recently hit an all-time low under 1.5% and that’s reflected in all interest bearing investments.
People who invested in 5-year bank certificates of deposit as recently as 2007 received 5% interest but now face a 70% reduction in income as those CDs mature. The rates being offered do not even make up for the reduction in the buying power of the dollar caused by inflation.
Another trend that represents a possible solution to this problem is the tendency of stock dividends to rise over time. The dividends paid by the stocks in the S&P 500 stock market index have more than tripled since 1988 and have increased or stayed the same in all but 19 out of the 98 quarters since then.
But isn’t there more risk to principal in stocks? Yes there is or at least there has been greater volatility. The S&P 500 has grown in value more than fivefold in the last 25 years but there have been and will be periods of decline. The last significant one was in 2008 and the index has recovered about 80% of that decline so far. Dividend income also fell in 2008 but surpassed its old high two years ago.
Of course not every stock in the S&P 500 is a dividend payer and not every one is an attractive investment. MutualWealth Management Group can select stocks appropriate for your needs and design a well-diversified, managed portfolio that may minimize volatility risk and maximize your income and growth potential. A total portfolio may also include some bonds which may further dampen volatility.
As the summer draws closer to an end, we start gearing up for all things Fall. This includes working with companies who offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees, reviewing retirement plans and investments and helping individuals prepare for the upcoming holiday season. One staple event for MutualBank this time of year is the beginning of our United Way campaign.
MutualBank is a pacesetter company, meaning we run our company campaign prior to the start of the formal United Way campaign. This year, we wanted to do something a little different with our campaign kickoff meeting.
In order to make it fun and raise extra money for United Way, we thought of a contest. We selected several fun costumes and thought about who our employees might be willing to pay money to see wearing them. A couple of executives came to mind and we put the plan into action. Employees voted on the costume by paying $1.00 per vote. At the meeting, we provided a photo opportunity where employees could pay $1.00 to have their photo taken with our executives.
Fortunately, Pat Botts, President, and Lynda Stoner, Vice President and Regional Manager, were great sports! They are willing to do whatever it takes to raise money for United Way. Clearly, you can see that based on their costume. The winning costumes were "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" from The Cat in the Hat.
And who says bankers can't be fun?
Above: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Pat Botts
Below: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Sue Godfrey-United Way,
Michael Brown-United Way, Pat Botts
I dread the beginning of school, because I know that means I start hearing the statement, “I need money for…………….” On a weekly basis there is something that my children need (or think they need) money to buy or do something at school. Usually I grumble a little bit and then one of them will say, “Just get the money at the bank.” Convenient that I work at a bank and they have all the money I need, or so my children think.
When do we decide to teach our children about money, hopefully before it is too late. When I started working at 16, I lived at home and had very few expenses. So every week I cashed my check and had my weekly spending money. Like most youngsters, cash in the pocket meant I must spend it as soon as possible. I know that if I would have saved ½ of my paycheck from ages 16 to 22, I would have had a pretty decent savings to either buy a car, down payment on a house, pay down school debt, etc.
There will always be a debate on whether to give children an allowance or pay for chores and while we do not currently do either at home, maybe we should. How will our children learn how to save, to be charitable, or make financial decisions if we do not train or equip them? One of the reasons we are in the economic crisis today is that we all were spending more than we made. Spending more than we have is definitely one trait that we must not pass down to our children.
The reality is, waiting until our children get a job at 16, 18, 22 or at whatever age, may not be the right answer. By then, it might just be too late. We all must learn that we must budget and make decisions on each of our priorities. While we expect our children to learn a lot at school, we must also make the decision to teach our children along side with the schools to make our communities better.
It’s back-to-school time. Early August, really? Back in my day (aka “old geezer comment coming next”), we didn’t start school until after Labor Day! What is it with the here and now – it’s changing faster than ever, and it is simply hard to keep up! (Especially for us geezers, right?)
I’ve shared with you that we have a teenager in the house. She will be actively driving come next spring. She is polishing up her defensive driving skills in the meantime. I am asking my teen to put some money away to purchase a car at some point. I will help, but I certainly won’t be buying that Porsche she has a photo of on her smart phone.
Chances are good, that if we become a three-car family, there are some options we will look at – saving money for an old clunker (after all, I drove a 1963 VW bug back in 1979), seeking out a car loan for a little newer vehicle (also possibly translated as a “safer” vehicle), and my lender recently even enlightened me that I could roll a vehicle loan into my mortgage loan – for convenience, of course. I have a little time to consider the options, and see how well my teenager is saving money for her future transportation.
College expenses are going to be hefty, also, though we have a few more years. Finding money to set aside to help our daughter – go get those scholarships, young lady! – is tough. The 529 College Savings Plan is there to help us, help her. She will also need to have some “skin in the game” for school – it’s no longer “like it was, back in the old days.” But we will do what we can, by taking advantage of setting aside some money, and planning – for her future.
Also creeping up on me is my own retirement. While it is off on the horizon just a bit, I need to be accountable to have set aside enough money so I can live a retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed of – you know, traveling with spouse, family, and friends! I want to live that dream, and so I have to prepare. I do my best to set aside money and contribute to my employer’s 401(k) plan. By putting some money there, my company matches me, in essence, giving me “free” money on top of my own contributions. But is it enough? That’s hard to say, so I, on occasion, I also talk to a financial adviser.
I encourage my spouse, who works in a small family business, to set aside some money in an IRA. We cannot rely on Social Security, if it will even be there, and so, it is important we spend time planning for our financial future. The future. It will be here before we know it. My goal is to be a financially prepared, old geezer.
We have seen an increased number of customers who have had their email accounts hacked…in other words someone has gained unauthorized access to an email account and may attempt to commit fraud using your email account.
Signs that your email account might be hacked:
What to do if you suspect your email account is hacked:
Steps to protecting your email account:
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email email@example.com.
Do you have a smartphone? According to this blog I stumbled upon, there are 91.4 million smartphones in the United States.
Advantages of a smartphone include:
Mobile apps are the key to accomplishing those three things. There is a mobile app for everything from banking to calorie counters. There are apps for helping you identify the constellations and even for finding the cheapest gas near you.
So if there is an app for nearly everything, wouldn't you want an app for your favorite reward program?
Need a last minute gift, but want to use your UChoose points? Go to the app, redeem your points for an eCertificate, then redeem the eCertificate in the store!
In a matter of minutes, you can manage it all!
Download the app today! It's free! The app is available for iPhones and Android models. Simply go to iTunes or Google Play and download the
UChoose Rewards app today!
I asked several friends, both FaceBook and non-FaceBookers, if they use electronic banking, bill pay, &/or electronic bank statements. Many of the FaceBookers do – not surprising. Some of my other friends don’t, and a few suggested they worry about having identity stolen or a lack of ‘trust’ for the internet.
Is the security of hard copy checks, in-store credit or debit purchases, and mail better? I wonder if my friends use their debit/credit cards in stores, where others have access to them. The only times I have had anything manipulated or stolen, was in a restaurant where a shady waitress evidently swiped my credit card twice, and had a nice meal. The credit card company took that charge off when I called them – they were accommodating. The second time, someone may have looked over my shoulder while I was shopping in Chicago. The bank evidently electronically noticed that my card number was trying to be used in a fraudulent manner, called me (I had just walked in the door from the Chicago trip), and together we blocked the charge, and the bank closed down that credit card, and reissued me a new number. That was a really proactive, positive example of my community bank in action.
So my ‘bad’ experiences toward fraud or identity theft have been out there in retail establishments, rather than via the internet. Do I use my credit card electronically for internet purchases? Just ask my poor husband. You bet I do - for everything from airline tickets to concert tickets, shoes, purses and crafting supplies. We use one credit card for online purchases, and I reconcile that bill every month, just before I pay it through my bank’s electronic bill pay feature.
One of my best friends from college, Nancy, says she likes her bank statements mailed ‘just in case.’ Just in case of what? What if your mail is stolen from your mailbox? What if your mailman is Newman (from the Seinfeld show) and chucks his bag full of mail out a window, along with your bank statement? Some identity theft comes from ‘dumpster diving’ criminals who access paper records from the trash as well as stealing mail from mailboxes, looking over shoulders at the ATM or in a retail establishment.
Nancy told me that she has those “annoying to-be-filed piles” of paper in her home. She also wrote that one of her children’s schools is ‘paperless’ and she loves it – “I can always find what I need on my Blackberry.” Her other children’s school is not paperless, and she “constantly has papers coming home and I’m going through their binder to find what I need.” Nancy’s last sentence sums it up, “Hmmmm.”
The dilemma Baby Boomers are experiencing is being born on the tail end of a paper-filled society and the infancy of the internet. Change. It’s hard.
Memorial Day is one of those holidays that mean different things to different people. To some it is the time to remember those that have given their lives to serve our country. To others, it’s a time to remember those we love who have passed on. To most of us, though, Memorial Day weekend is a long weekend and one that indicates the beginning of summer. Whatever reason you celebrate this holiday, it’s a good time of year to think of your financial health and future plans.
As you water-ski, you might not be thinking about your 401K or the bank CD in which you have invested. But half way through the calendar year is a good time to make an appointment with someone that can give you a “check-up” on your money and how it is working for you.
Here is a short checklist of things to take with you as you discuss your financial future:
What does that last one mean? Have you ever tried to reach a destination without directions? It’s not easy. Similarly, your financial goals need a compass and the compass is you. It’s important to think about and discuss your future. Most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their retirement. So, if you want to retire in 10 years or in 30, your advisor will need to know that so they can design a plan that works for you.
Memorial Day weekend is certainly a fun weekend, but can also be a profitable one if you use it as a milestone towards your financial future!