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News for YOU!

News for YOU! is a free, monthly newsletter provided by KS StateBank that offers tips and other information to help you make wise financial choices. Please feel free to sign up now to receive new editions of our newsletters each month, as well as other updates. You can also subscribe to our business newsletter, News for YOU! Business Edition. 

News for YOU! Business Edition

Visit the 2021 News for YOU! Archive.

 

May 2022

7 Things You Can Do When Interest Rates Rise

Economics is complicated. But, you don't have to be an economist or professor to realize an important fact: interest rates are on the rise.

That's due in large part to the Federal Reserve's ("the Fed's") recent decision to raise the fed funds rate, interrupting a two-year run at 0%. While that benchmark rate represents the interest banks charge each other for borrowing, it can have a profound impact on you – and your budget. What's more, with the Fed indicating future hikes will soon follow, the impact is likely to get greater over time.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare:

  1. Make room in your budget. You can't control rising rates, but you can control your spending. Take some time to review your expenses and cut out some of the extras. For example, instead of three streaming services, cut it down to one.
  2. Shop for savings rates. The rising-rate environment is not all bad news – at least not for savers. Fed rate increases often prompt financial institutions to raise the interest rates they pay on savings, money markets, and CDs. So, now's a great time to shop around for the best savings rates. You can find our current deposit rates here. You can even open many of our personal deposit accounts online.
  3. Up your savings game. Speaking of saving, keep doing it. To make it even easier, set up automatic transfers from your checking account each month. Or, have a portion of your pay direct deposited to your savings account. Your savings is a safety net that can help you manage unexpected expenses.
  4. Consolidate credit card debt. Having credit card debt is never optimal since the rates are often variable rates and higher than those of other types of credit. In a rising rate environment, it can be devastating to your budget. If you can, consolidate your credit card debt to a lower interest loan or take advantage of a balance transfer offer. If you do consolidate debt, be sure to put your credit cards on ice. The last thing you need is more debt.
  5. Refinance other high-interest debt. Do you have a student loan or mortgage with a variable rate? Now's a great time to take a look at your options for refinancing to a fixed rate. In some instances, refinancing could really help lower the amount of interest you have to pay each month and over the life of your loan.
  6. Lock in a fixed-rate mortgage. If you're planning on buying a home, be sure to choose a fixed-rate mortgage and lock in your rate as soon as you can. A lower interest rate will allow you to keep your payments lower, reduce the interest you have to pay over the life of the loan, and afford more house.
  7. Work on your credit score. A strong credit score will help you earn better rates, which could save you significantly on mortgages and auto loans. Check out these credit-score boosting tips from Experian.

In summary, there's not a lot you can do about economics and rising interest rates. You do, though, have the power to prepare for them.

 

How to Safely Use Mobile Payment Apps and Services

Online payment systems or apps like Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp let you quickly send and receive money. If you link the service to your bank account or debit card, it’s almost like handing someone cash. Be sure you know who you’re sending money to. Once you send money, it’s nearly impossible to get it back. The American Bankers Association and the Federal Trade Commission have provided information to help protect ourselves when using mobile payment apps and services.

Avoid Sending Money to a Scammer

  • Don't click on links in an unexpected email, text message, or direct message that asks you to send money. Don't give any personal or sensitive information like your username, PIN, or password.
  • Confirm that you know the person you're sending money to.
  • When sending to someone you know, double-check their information before you hit send.

Protect Your Accounts

  • Use multi-factor authentication. This means you need two or more credentials to get into your account: your password plus something else like an authentication code or fingerprint.
  • Never share your credentials, like a verification code you get via text or authentication app.
  • Set up alerts in the payment app to get transaction notifications outside of the app environment, such as via email or text.
  • Regularly check your payment app and bank accounts to make sure no unauthorized payments have been sent from or accepted by your account.

Paid a Scammer Through a Payment App?

  • Report it to the payment app or service and ask to reverse the transfer.
  • Tell your financial institutions.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Learn more at ftc.gov/paymentapps and aba.com/consumers.

 

Memorial Day

All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, May 30 in observance of Memorial Day. On this day we honor and remember those who have died while serving in the United States armed forces.

 


 

April 2022

Save Money at the Pump in 2022 

Gas prices have reached record levels and may continue to climb. And though it may seem like that's beyond your control, there are actually some steps you can take to stretch your gas money a little farther, which include:

  • Shopping around. You've probably noticed that gas prices can vary significantly from station to station and city to town. To find the cheapest gas stations near you, visit websites or download gas saving apps.
  • Signing up for rewards. Many stations offer reward programs that offer discounts or points that can be used toward future fill ups.
  • Paying with your credit card. You could also get a rewards credit card that may offer rebates on gas. Just be sure to pay your bill on time to avoid costly finance charges.
  • Planning your travel. You can minimize travel by planning your activities and errands on the same day instead of making separate trips on different days.
  • Sharing the ride. If you commute to work, see if you can find others who live and work near you to carpool. It could save you a lot of money and get you access to the carpool line on the highway.
  • Avoiding peak traffic times. Traffic will greatly increase gas consumption. So, try to avoid peak commute times by staggering your work hours if possible.
  • Traveling lightly. Transporting extra cargo can reduce your gas mileage, so leave the excess baggage at home.
  • Taking it slow. According to fueleconomy.gov, each mile you drive over 50 mph can lower gas mileage by 7% or more.
  • Maintaining your car. Schedule regular maintenance and get your car tuned up to keep the engine running efficiently.
  • Getting a fuel-efficient car. If you're thinking about purchasing a car, now is a great time to make fuel efficiency a priority. You can visit fueleconomy.gov for mileage estimates on a variety of makes and models.

Gas prices may be high, but if you buckle down and plan a little, you can make them more manageable.

 

Financial Spring Cleaning

As many of us begin our spring cleaning, sorting and tidying up around the house, it’s important to add financial organization to your spring cleaning to-do list. People are motivated to get things done when the weather warms up and the flowers bloom, which makes it an ideal time to look closely at your savings and spending habits. Putting in the work now will help you live your best life in the months ahead. We’re highlighting a few things you can do to organize your financial house this spring.

  • 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.
  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • 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.
  • Sign up for e-statements, 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.
  • 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. 
  • Manage your money on the go. Utilize your bank's mobile app to check your balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, deposit a check and send money to friends from wherever you are.

Learn more about the services we have available at KS StateBank to help you organize your finances this spring.

 


 

March 2022

Save, Organize, and Streamline Your Finances

One of the best ways to reach your financial goals is to save your money in an FDIC-insured bank. Organizing your finances and keeping track of your spending can save money by reducing fees and interest charges. Don’t miss out on opportunities to save, like planning ahead to tuck some of your tax refund into your savings account. Below are some things you can do to keep your financial matters in order.

Your Bank Account
The following banking tools can make things easier when conducting transactions.

  • Direct deposit. Consider having your pay, pension, or Social Security benefits automatically deposited into your bank account. Direct deposit is safer, easier, and more convenient than getting a paper check in the mail and having to deposit it into your bank account. It may even help you avoid some bank fees or minimum balance requirements. Direct deposit also gives you access to your money sooner than with a paper check and allows you to avoid possible check cashing fees.

  • Bill pay services. Many banks offer online bill-paying services that enable you to pay bills quickly and easily. These programs generally allow you to sign up on your bank's website to receive bills electronically from entities you do business with, such as utility companies. If you choose to receive bills electronically, you can review the bill and pay it from the bank’s website. You can also get such bills in paper form and still pay them electronically from your bank’s website.

    Many merchants, such as insurance or utility companies, will allow you to pay recurring bills with an automatic withdrawal from your checking account. You must be sure to keep track of these transactions, however, to avoid overdrawing your bank account. Here are ways to avoid overdraft and account fees.

  • Online banking. Online banking lets you review deposits and withdrawals, keep track of your balance, deposit checks electronically, and move funds between your checking and savings accounts at your convenience. For example, with online banking you can quickly review your account and make sure you didn't forget to record any debit or ATM card transactions. You can also get an update on whether funds from recent deposits are available for withdrawal and view your bank statements. In addition to websites, many financial institutions have mobile banking applications that allow you to access your account from your smartphone or other device. Find more information on mobile banking on our Banking at the Speed of Technology.

Put your savings on autopilot
You can arrange with your bank to automatically transfer a certain amount of your pay from your checking account into a savings or investment account on a regular schedule. Automatic savings programs make it easy to build an emergency fund or save for the future.

Look into automated money-management tools
Your bank or another third party may offer money-management software. At KS StateBank you can use our free online financial management tool, My Money, found in Online Banking. Consider using these programs to help you organize your finances, understand how you spend your money, and spot potential fraud or theft (by providing a regular summary of account balances). If you select a third party, be sure to research and choose a known and trusted organization to avoid fraudsters.

Savings ideas for your tax refund or child income tax credit
If you are receiving a tax refund or the child income tax credit, you should plan what to do with it. People may use tax refunds to make large purchases they might not have the cash for at other times of the year. It also provides an opportunity to start a new savings option, contribute to your emergency fund, or reduce outstanding debt. Visit Tax Season and Your Refund Options for good savings ideas.

By using these tips, you can better prepare your finances to avoid fees or interest charges, while also increasing your opportunities to save.

Information for this article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.

 

Scammers Work Year-Round; Stay Vigilant

Scammers are at work throughout the year, so it’s important to watch out for all types of schemes, including IRS impersonation scams. These can include text message, email and phone scams. With tax season underway, the Internal Revenue Service has provided information about what to look out for so you aren’t tricked out of your hard-earned money.

Text Message Scams
Last year, there was an uptick in text messages that impersonated the IRS. These scams are sent to taxpayers' smartphones and have referenced COVID-19 and/or "stimulus payments." These messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools. Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS also will not send taxpayers messages via social media platforms.

If you receive an unsolicited SMS/text that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS, you should take a screenshot of the text message and include the screenshot in an email to phishing@irs.gov with the following information:

  • Date/time/time zone they received the text message
  • Phone number that received the text message

The IRS reminds everyone NOT to click links or open attachments in unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text messages – whether from the IRS, state tax agencies or others in the tax community.

Unemployment Fraud
The IRS reminds workers to watch out for claims of unemployment or other benefit payments for which they never applied. States have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities. Criminals are using these stolen identities to fraudulently collect benefits.

Because unemployment benefits are taxable income, states issue Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, to recipients and to the IRS to report the amount of taxable compensation received and any withholding. Any worker receiving a fraudulent or inaccurate 1099-G should report it to the issuing state agency and request a corrected Form 1099-G.

For details on how to report fraud to state workforce agencies, how to obtain a corrected Form 1099-G, how to find a list of state contacts and other steps to take related to unemployment fraud, taxpayers can visit the U.S. Department of Labor's DOL.gov/fraud page.

Individuals may be victims of unemployment identity theft if they received:

  • Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment for which they did not file. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
  • An IRS Form 1099-G reflecting unemployment benefits they weren't expecting or didn't receive. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits they did not receive or an amount that exceeds their records for benefits they did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which they did not file for benefits.

A notice from their employer indicating the employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim.

Email Phishing Scams
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS that is fraudulent, report it by sending it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov provides complete details.

There are special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. These visits include times when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment. The IRS may also visit if it needs to tour a business as part of a civil investigation (such as an audit or collection case) or during a criminal investigation. The IRS provides specific guidance on how to know it's really the IRS knocking on your door.

Phone scams
The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many variations of the phone scam, victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other verbal threats include law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation or revocation of licenses.

Criminals can fake or "spoof" caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country, including from an IRS office. This prevents you from being able to verify the true call number. Fraudsters also have spoofed local sheriff's offices, state departments of motor vehicles, federal agencies and others to convince taxpayers the call is legitimate.

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.

For anyone who doesn't owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

  • View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed. Taxpayers can also review their payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice or
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help.

Help for Victims of ID Theft
Unfortunately, scams and schemes can often lead to identity theft. While identity theft can have many consequences, the IRS focuses on tax-related identity theft.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual's stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Taxpayers may be unaware of this activity until they e-file a tax return and discover that a return has already been filed using their SSN. Or, the IRS may send them a letter saying it has identified a suspicious return using their SSN.

If a taxpayer learns their SSN has been compromised, or they know or suspect they are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:

  • Individuals should respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.
  • Taxpayers should complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if an e-file tax return rejects because of a duplicate filing under their SSN or they are instructed to do so by the IRS. Individuals can use a fillable form at IRS.gov, then print and attach the form to their paper return and mail according to instructions.
  • Victims of tax-related identity theft should continue to pay their taxes and file their tax return, even if they must do so by paper.
  • Taxpayers who previously contacted the IRS about tax-related identity theft and did not have a resolution should call for specialized assistance at 800-908-4490.

More information is available at: IRS.gov/identitytheft or the Federal Trade Commission's IdentityTheft.gov.

The official IRS website is IRS.gov. People should be aware of imitation websites ending in .com. This applies to other IRS tools too – they all end in .gov.

For more information, visit Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

Information for this article was provided by IRS.gov.

 


 

February 2022

Saving for Retirement 

Preparing is key
Financial needs change through all stages of our lives. The one constant focus as we age should be on saving for retirement years. As you begin your retirement plan, there are a number of things to consider.

Saving for retirement
Retirement has many logistical aspects, and one of those is saving. USA.gov provides things to consider as you plan your retirement savings. Starting early and saving on a consistent basis should help you move toward the savings amount you need. The amount to save for retirement will depend on your needs and specific situation. The United States Department of Labor has ideas and tips in their Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement.

Retirement income needs
Income typically decreases for people when they retire. It is essential for you to know what your expected retirement income will be, and compare it to the expenses and debt you think you will have in retirement. Consider what kinds of loans you need to pay, such as auto or credit cards. Make a plan to pay off any debts you do not wish to carry into retirement. FDIC Consumer News Take a New Look at Your Money Habits has ideas on paying down debt. Take into account healthcare and long-term care costs you may have, which tend to be higher for older individuals.

Your Retirement Savings and Deposit Insurance
FDIC deposit insurance protects bank customers in the event that an FDIC-insured depository institution fails. Bank customers don’t need to purchase deposit insurance; it is automatic for any deposit account opened at an FDIC-insured bank. Deposits are insured up to at least $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category. To determine if your retirement account or retirement plan account qualifies for FDIC deposit insurance coverage, visit Your Insured Deposits .

Social Security benefits
What you earn during your working years will determine how much you receive in monthly Social Security income when you retire, or if you become disabled and are unable to work. The Social Security Administration’s web pages offer information for every age. They have pages for when you are ready to apply for retirement benefits, as well as pages for young people.

Housing in retirement
Staying in your current home after retirement may be attractive. You will want to consider if that is the best plan for you, and what fits your needs as you age. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Home maintenance, repairs, taxes, and other costs over time;
  • Proximity to trusted family or friends when you might need their assistance;
  • Location of your home in relation to places you want, or need, to go to such as medical appointments, the grocery store, or public transportation; and
  • Whether your home has stairs, for example, since physical ability may diminish as one ages.

Secure Documents
Keep your important financial documents in a safe location, where they can be accessed during an emergency. You may want to provide copies or share how to access these documents with someone you trust. Consider creating a limited power of attorney to appoint a trusted family member or associate who could access your checking account to pay your bills on your behalf, if you are unable to do so.

Here are suggestions on what documents to keep:

  • Bank and brokerage account information. List your bank, brokerage account, and safe deposit box information. Make sure this information is secure to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Mortgage and loan information. Create a list of all your financial obligations and loans, how much the payments are and when they are due.
  • Insurance Policies. Having insurance policy information handy will help if an insured event occurs.
  • Retirement, Pension, and Social Security information. Having your income sources listed could help manage that information.
  • Contact list of doctors and any financial professionals you use. This can help manage both your health and financial affairs.

Retirement planning can be a complex task. Planning ahead, being informed and prepared can ease the task when you are ready for the next chapter of your life.

Additional resources
FDIC Money Smart for Older Adults

FDIC Consumer News Beware, It’s a Scam

Social Security Retirement Benefits

CFPB Planning for Retirement

This article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.

 

7 Ways to Make Online Car Buying Easier

Today, more than ever, we're buying more and more things online. We're shopping for clothes, gifts, experiences, and groceries. And since COVID-19, a growing number of people are buying something even bigger online: cars. Yes, cars.

Although buying a car online can be convenient – and a surefire way to avoid aggressive salespeople chasing you around car lots – it does require some pre-planning.

Here are 7 steps to make your online car buying experience easier:

  1. Narrow your car search. When it comes to buying a car, you've got options – new or used, gas-powered or electric, SUV or sedan, 2 or 4 doors. Before you begin shopping for a car, you'll need to determine the options that work best for your needs. Factors to consider are the miles you drive, where you live, who'll be driving the car, and how long you plan to own it.
  2. Set a budget. Whether you're purchasing a car in person or online, you need to review your budget to determine how much you can spend each month. Think about how much money you can put toward the down payment. If you have a car to trade in, make sure you understand its value before you negotiate the price of your new car. Resources like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book can provide estimates. Also, when considering your budget, factor in the monthly cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance, which can really add up.
  3. Get pre-approved. If you need a loan to purchase a car, which most people do, consider asking your financial institution for a pre-approval. A pre-approval lets a dealer know how much you can spend and can make the approval and purchasing process easier. You may also be able to obtain financing through the dealership, but you'll want to compare rates and terms.
  4. Start browsing online. Once you've determined your budget and needs, you can start to identify makes and models, and potential features. Do your research to learn about car ratings and reviews to compare options.
  5. Visit reputable online dealers. As with any type of online shopping, it's important to do business with reputable places. Ask your friends, family, or neighbors for recommendations, and be sure to read customer reviews. You should also speak with the Internet sales manager to learn more about the car, negotiate a fair price, and understand online policies, such as delivery and returns.
  6. See the car in person. A car is a huge investment. So, it's a smart idea to inspect the car in person and take it for a test drive before you buy it. Some local dealerships may even bring the car right to you for your test drive.
  7. Finalize the purchase. If you've inspected the car and find the price and purchasing policies acceptable, talk to the dealership about how to complete the process. The dealership may ask you to come in person to sign papers or allow you to sign them online. Some may even deliver the car and papers to you.

Buying a car online isn't hard, but it does require planning. Use the power of technology to do your research to ensure you drive away with the car that's right for you.

 

Presidents Day

All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 21 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 22.

 


 

January 2022

Protect Your Finances from Inflation 

If you've turned on the news recently, you've probably heard a lot of talk about inflation and the economic factors that cause it. You don't, however, have to fully understand how inflation works to feel its impact. However you experience it, inflation always delivers the same result: steadily rising prices that result in a decrease in your purchasing power.

You cannot stop inflation from happening, but you can prepare for it. Here are some ways:

  • Budget. If it seems like every personal financial lesson involves budgeting, it's only because it's true. In times of inflation, it's critical to look at where your money is going to understand how you can reduce your spending.
  • Shop smarter. The easiest way to beat inflation is to find ways to cut spending whether that involves using coupons, switching to less expensive brands, or taking advantage of loyalty programs available with merchants.
  • Reduce debt. Excess credit card and other high-interest debt can really drain your budget in good economic times, let alone during periods of inflation. An easy way to gain some budget room is to consolidate high-interest debt with a balance transfer offer or personal loan. If you manage to cut some of your other expenses, think about putting the extra money toward your debt payments.
  • Refinance your mortgage. Speaking of reducing debt, with rates still low, you may want to refinance your mortgage. You could not only lower your payments, but also reduce the amount of interest you have to pay over the life of your loan.
  • Boost your income. If you're thinking of getting a side hustle, now may be a great time. Or if it's possible, ask for a raise at work or extra hours.
  • Review your portfolio. The best strategy for managing changing economic conditions is diversification. Talk to your financial advisor about the right balance for you.

Inflation can definitely put a strain on your budget, but with some smart steps, you can reduce its impact.

 

Avoiding Scams and Scammers

When cybersecurity is inadequate, it can lead to stolen identity and financial loss. Most scams and scammers have two main goals--to steal your money and your identity. You should know what to look for, how they work, and what to do, so you can protect yourself and your finances.

Maintaining cybersecurity is very important, even for consumers. It is not simply something that concerns large corporations and other businesses. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Do not open email from people you don’t know. If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.
  • Be careful with links and new website addresses. Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.
  • Secure your personal information. Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.
  • Stay informed on the latest cyber threats. Keep yourself up to date on current scams. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can provide you with Alerts.
  • Use Strong Passwords. Strong passwords are critical to online security. Review CISA guidance on Choosing and Protecting Passwords.
  • Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs. Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.
  • Update the operating systems on your electronic devices. Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

Here are some trending scams to look out for:

Money Mules
Scammers use people as “money mules” to receive or move money obtained from victims of fraudulent activities. Scammers proactively recruit people to be part of fraudulent activity without their knowing it. If a stranger asks you to open a bank account, or asks for access to your bank account or debit card, be extremely guarded. A scammer may ask you to move money and direct you to deposit funds into your bank account, or ask you to purchase virtual currency or gift cards for someone else’s benefit. In these scenarios, you may be unknowingly hiding someone else’s money for them. Be very cautious if a stranger asks you to receive or forward packages containing money or goods, which may also be part of a similar fraudulent scheme.

If you believe you have engaged in, or contributed to, money mule activities, stop transferring money or merchandise, and stop communicating with the person giving you direction. Then, immediately report your concern to your bank. Your banker can assist you with the appropriate steps toward protecting your bank account and money. You should also report the suspected activity to law enforcement. Visit the U.S. Department of Justice webpage on money mules for more information.

Online Dating
Romance scammers, as they are often called, create fake profiles and try to develop relationships with their targeted victims through online dating apps or social networking websites. Once the relationship develops and they have earned your trust, the scammer makes up a story and asks for your money. Be aware that scammers are lurking in these areas, so you can keep yourself and your money safe. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has additional information on romance scams.

Impostors
Impostor scams are when a scammer pretends to be someone you know or trust to convince you to send them money. They may even claim they are with the FDIC or another government agency. These scams are communicated through emails, phone calls, letters, text messages, faxes, and social media. The messages might ask you to “confirm” or “update” confidential personal financial information, such as bank account numbers. In other cases, the communication might be an offer to help victims of current or previous frauds with an investigation or to recover losses. Some scams request that you file official looking forms, such as insurance claims, or pay taxes on prize winnings. They might claim that you have an unpaid debt and threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest if you don’t pay. Other recent examples include check endorsements, bankruptcy claimant verification forms, stock confirmations, and investment purchases.

The FDIC or other government agencies do not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money or sensitive personal information, and we will never threaten you, or demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or digital currency. FDIC Consumer News: Scammers Pretending to be the FDIC has more information on impostor scams.

Mortgage and Foreclosure Scams
Watch out for scammers who falsely claim to be lenders, loan servicers, financial counselors, or representatives of government agencies who can help with your mortgage. These criminals prey on vulnerable, desperate homeowners. For more on mortgage scams and how to protect yourself, visit the FTC Mortgage Relief Scams.

Foreclosure scams usually come from multiple advertisements stating that a company wants to save you from foreclosure. This scam allows fraudsters to take the equity out of your home. They may even try to evict you from your home and sell it. Learn more at Common Foreclosure Rescue and Loan Modification Scams under the FDIC Consumer Assistance Topics.

Ransomware
One cyber threat often discussed in the news is ransomware. Typically, this scam targets businesses, not individuals. Ransomware is a type of malware created to lock or encrypt files on an electronic device like a smart phone or computer. The sender of the ransomware then demands a ransom in exchange for unlocking or decrypting the information on your electronic device. The scammer typically threatens to publically disclose or sell the compromised information, if the ransom is not paid.

If you believe your business is a victim of a ransomware attack, contact law enforcement immediately. You can also contact a local field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or U.S. Secret Service to report a ransomware attack and ask for assistance.

Maintaining your cybersecurity will help prevent you from being a victim of identity theft and potential financial loss. Staying current on the latest types of scams can help you to identify the risks and learn how avoid them, so you can protect yourself and your finances.

Additional Resources

FDIC Podcast: Banking on Innovation: Building a More Resilient Banking System

FDIC Consumer News: Beware It’s a Scam

FDIC Video: #FDICExplains Phishing

CISA: Ransomware 101

FDIC Press Release: Online Dating Scams

FCC: Auto Warranty Scams

For more help or information, go to FDIC.gov or call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). Please send your story ideas or comments to consumeraffairs3@fdic.gov.

This article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 17 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 18.

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