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.
A college education. A new home. Medical bills. Relief from high-interest debt. There sure are a lot of good reasons to borrow money. But before you take out any loan, there are some important questions you should ask. Let's take a look at five of them:
- Does a loan make sense right now? You may want to borrow to buy a home or purchase a car but is now the right time to get the loan you need to make it happen? That depends on several factors, not the least of which is your budget. Do you have room for a loan payment in your monthly budget? The best way to determine that is to take an honest and careful assessment of your finances.
- What's the best loan option for you? Today, there are no shortage of loan options. The solution that's right for you depends on the purpose of your loan and whether or not the loan will be secured by collateral. For example, if you own a home, you may be able to qualify for home equity credit, which uses your home as collateral and gives you the flexibility to borrow for a variety of reasons. If you don't own a home, you may want to take out a personal loan, which is unsecured.
- What's the cost? If you spend any time researching loans, you'll see that rates and fees vary considerably by lender and program. The best way to measure the cost of borrowing is to look at the Annual Percentage Rate or APR. The APR measures the yearly cost of funds, including fees.
You should also know if the interest rate on your loan is fixed or variable. With a fixed-rate loan, your interest rate doesn't change, which gives you the benefit of predictable monthly payments. In contrast, variable-rate loans, which are tied to an index, could result in higher monthly payments.
Another factor that will impact your monthly payment is the term or how long it will take you to repay your loan. In general, the longer the term, the lower your monthly payments will be, but the more interest you'll pay over the life of the loan.
- How much do you really need? You may be looking for an auto loan to help you buy a dependable car. You may, however, qualify for a larger loan that could land you a luxury car. Remember that borrowing more means higher monthly payments, so be sure to determine just what you need to reach your goal and stick to your budget.
- What's your credit score? Your credit score will determine whether you qualify for the loan and the interest rate you will receive. In essence, it helps a lender determine your ability to pay the loan back. You could obtain your credit score from your credit card company or from free credit score services. If your score is low, you may want to consider holding off on borrowing until you can raise it.
Getting a loan is a big decision, so make sure you carefully understand your goals and options even before you sign on that dotted line.
Mobile apps remain the most popular choice for consumers when banking, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Bankers Association. Research firm Morning Consult polled more than 2,200 U.S. adults about what methods they used the most to manage their bank accounts during the past 12 months. Forty-five percent of bank customers cited apps on phones or other mobile devices as their top option—the third year in a row that mobile banking was the most popular choice among consumers.
As consumer use of mobile devices continues to climb, cyber criminals are targeting their gadgets more frequently. At KS StateBank, we have safeguards in place to protect customer information, but it’s also important for users to use safety measures to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. It’s easy to forget that your mobile device can be vulnerable, but any device used to connect to the internet is at risk.
Here are some steps you can take to 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.
- Do not share your mobile banking user name or password with anyone. If your credentials have been compromised, let your bank know right away.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
- Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software. If you think your mobile device has a virus, do not log into your mobile banking app and report the incident to your bank for further guidance.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
- Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
- Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number.
- Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
- Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade 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.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Information for this article was provided by the American Bankers Association.
Veterans Day: We will be closed for Veterans Day on Friday, November 11 as we honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Thank you to our veterans for your bravery and sacrifice.
Thanksgiving: We will also be closed on Thursday, November 24 for Thanksgiving. Our branches and offices will return to normal hours on Friday, November 25. We're grateful for our clients and wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!
Worried about money? If so, you're not alone. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 87% of Americans reported feeling stressed about the rising cost of food, energy, groceries, and more since the pandemic.
But feeling stressed about money is not just limited to the pandemic or inflation. Many of us have experienced financial anxiety every day for a variety of reasons – from not having enough money to losing our jobs to saving for retirement.
The good news is that if you're having financial worries, you can take some steps to alleviate them. Here are ways to manage five of the most common types of financial worries:
Meeting everyday expenses. When is the last time you looked at your paystub or pay information? Inflation can sure take a bite out of your budget and make it difficult to meet your everyday expenses, such as your rent or mortgage and grocery bills. Some ways you can manage that include:
- Reviewing all your monthly expenses to see where your money is going.
- Looking for ways to trim expenses, such as cable television, subscriptions, etc.
- Creating a monthly budget and sticking to it.
Managing unexpected expenses. Life is unpredictable; we never know when emergency expenses like car repairs or medical bills can pop up. The best way to prepare is having an emergency fund. Here are some suggestions for building your fund:
- Open a savings account specifically for emergency funds.
- Have a portion of your pay automatically deposited to your emergency savings each pay period.
- Put any extra money you receive, such as a tax refund or bonus in your emergency fund.
Losing your job. Losing a job can be devastating to your finances, which is another reason why it's critical to have a safety net with an emergency fund. You can, however, protect yourself from job loss by being proactive and –
- Obtaining additional skills to enhance your resume and make your position more valuable.
- Going back to school or getting additional training relevant to your job.
- Starting a part-time business outside of work.
Saving for retirement. We get it. It's hard to save for the future when you may be struggling with the high cost of living today. But the fact is, any amount you save for retirement can help you in the future. Some ways to build your retirement fund include:
- Participating in your employer's 401(k) or other retirement plan and taking full advantage of matching contributions if your employer offers them.
- Opening an IRA if your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan.
- Talking to a professional to determine where you are in your retirement saving and how you can get where you want to be.
Managing debt. Though you may have debt with a mortgage and student loans, having excess debt like credit card debt can be devastating to your budget, especially with interest rates rising. Here are some strategies to manage excess credit card debt:
- Pay down high-interest balances first.
- Make payments that exceed the minimum amount due.
- Consolidate your debt to a lower-interest credit card or loan. If you do so, be careful not to run up balances on your higher-interest cards again.
When you take these steps, you can gain greater control of your finances, lessen your worry, and sleep better at night.
Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And in this time of expanded use of online and mobile banking, the problem is only growing worse. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $5.8 billion to phishing scams and other fraud in 2021—an increase of more than 70 percent over 2020.
It’s time to put scammers in their place.
Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. And at KS StateBank, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve joined with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time.
We want every bank client to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know something sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled.
These four phishing scams are full of red flags:
- Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
- Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from your bank, but it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
- Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number. No! Banks Never Ask That. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.
- Payment Apps: Beware of text messages from someone claiming to be your bank saying your account has been hacked. The scammer may ask you to send money to a new account they’ve created for you, but that’s a scam! Banks Never Ask That.
You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For tips, videos and an interactive game to help you keep phishing criminals at bay, visit BanksNeverAskThat.com. And be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, October 10 in observance of Columbus Day. We will reopen at our regular times on Tuesday, October 11.
Let's face it, it's expensive out there. The cost of groceries, gas, utilities, rent and so many other things has risen sharply over the past year. And now more than ever before, you may be thinking that it's time for a big raise. Your company, however, may see things a little differently.
Don't worry, though, because there are some steps you can take to boost your pay on your own. These include:
- Reviewing your pay information. When is the last time you looked at your paystub or pay information? Mistakes can and do happen, so be sure to carefully review your income and deductions to ensure everything is correct. Contact your benefits manager immediately to correct any mistakes.
- Changing your withholdings. When you first started your job, your employer had you fill out a W-4 and select the number of exemptions you want to claim, which impacts the amount of tax taken from your pay.
For example, if you claimed 0, you have more money taken out of your pay for taxes, but your tax bill at the end of the year is likely to be lower. Increasing your withholdings to a higher number like 1 or 2 would mean you'll pay less in taxes per pay period, giving you more take-home money. Keep in mind, though, increasing your exemptions could lower your tax refund. You could even end up owing money at tax time, so before you make any changes, talk to your tax advisor.
- Changing your benefits selections. Employers offer benefits to help you save money, but that doesn't mean you need to take advantage of all of them. For example, do you still need that pet insurance you're paying for? Can you change your health insurance coverage to a single or couple plan versus a family one if your children are working?
- Contributing to your 401(k). If your employer offers a 401(k) match, make sure you take advantage of it. It may not increase the money in your pay, but it will boost your retirement savings and help lower your taxable income. If you are making contributions and find yourself without enough money each pay period, consider lowering the amount you contribute as long as you qualify for the employer match (if they offer one).
- Having money direct deposited to savings. One easy way to get more out of your pay is to save more. Have a portion of your pay direct deposited into a savings account to make saving a habit.
Taking these steps may help you get a little bump in pay and relief now. So, when that pay raise from your employer does come, you'll be ahead of the game.
Deposit insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) enables consumers to place their money with confidence at FDIC-insured banks and savings associations (insured banks) across the country. FDIC deposit insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.
Here are some key things to know about deposit insurance:
What is covered under deposit insurance and how much?
The FDIC protects the money depositors place in insured banks in the unlikely event of an insured-bank failure. Each depositor is insured to at least $250,000 per insured bank.
FDIC deposit insurance covers all types of deposits held at an insured bank. This includes deposits in a checking account, negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) account, savings account, money market deposit account (MMDA), certificate of deposit (CD) or other time deposit account, as well as official items issued by an insured bank such as a cashier's check or money order. FDIC insurance covers depositors' accounts at each insured bank, dollar-for-dollar, including principal and any accrued interest through the date of the insured bank's failure, up to the insurance limit.
What is NOT covered?
The FDIC does not insure money invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, annuities or municipal securities, even if these investments are purchased at an insured bank. Safe deposit boxes or their contents; U.S. Treasury bills, bonds, or notes; and Crypto assets are also not covered.
You should understand the terms and conditions of financial products offered by non-bank companies and how your funds may, or may not, be protected. It is important to be aware that non-bank companies are never FDIC insured. Even if they partner with insured banks, money you send to a non-bank company is not FDIC insured unless, and until, the company deposits it in an insured bank.
FDIC insurance protects you only in the unlikely event the insured bank fails, and does not protect you against losses due to the non-bank company’s bankruptcy or failure to meet its obligations to its customers. A non-bank’s company failure or bankruptcy may result in delays in accessing your money, even when your money was deposited in a bank for your benefit.
How to calculate your coverage? EDIE!
FDIC Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE) is an online tool that can be used to determine whether your accounts are fully insured at each insured bank where your deposits are held. EDIE allows you to input dollar amounts you have on deposit in an insured bank or use a hypothetical scenario to determine your coverage.
FDIC does NOT insure non-deposit investment products, such as stocks, bonds, government and municipal securities, mutual funds, annuities (fixed and variable), life insurance policies (whole and variable), savings bonds, crypto assets, etc. EDIE is NOT an estimator for investments (even if the investments were purchased from an insured bank).
When and how is deposit insurance paid?
Deposit insurance is paid when an insured bank fails. When this happens, the bank’s chartering authority typically steps in to close the bank and brings in the FDIC as the deposit insurer. FDIC staff is on location the day it fails, working to identify those who have insured money in the bank. In many instances, another bank agrees to buy the failing bank and the transition is smooth for depositors. If there is no immediate buyer, the FDIC maintains access for depositors to their insured deposits.
For more information, go to: When a Bank Fails - Facts for Depositors, Creditors, and Borrowers.
I have additional questions about deposit insurance, who can I contact?
The FDIC website has a page of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about deposit insurance. You can also write and receive a response from the FDIC by visiting the FDIC Information and Support Center. If you wish to speak to a deposit insurance specialist, you may call: 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).
FDIC is an independent agency of the United States Government that protects you against the loss of your insured deposits if an insured bank fails. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. Since the start of FDIC insurance in 1934, no depositor has lost a single cent of insured deposit.
Information for this article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.
In relationships, communication is key. That's especially true when it comes to one of the biggest challenges for couples – managing money. For many, money is a taboo subject, which is probably why it's among the leading causes of divorce.
Couples that successfully manage money together and build a healthy financial relationship take some important steps, which include:
- Talking about money. Sit down with your partner and discuss your mutual feelings about money and your goals. Be prepared for full disclosure about your debts, income, and challenges. Honesty truly is the best financial policy.
- Opening a joint account. Arrange to have your paychecks deposited in a joint checking account and pay your expenses out of that account. This ensures you're both fully aware of your joint income and expenses.
- Creating a budget. Tally up your income and bills and create a monthly budget. Work together to decide what to do with excess funds in your budget. Your budget discussion should include your expenses (rent, mortgage, car payment, etc.), as well as wants, such as gym memberships and vacations. It should also include the amount of money you will allocate for savings. Our online financial management tool, My Money, can help you track everyday expenses and set goals.
- Having their own money. As part of your budget, you could each set aside your own money for things that are important to you. Work together to determine the amount of money you need. Each of you may want to maintain your own account for that money.
- Building savings. Have a portion of your monthly budget automatically saved each month in a joint account. Make sure you have at least six months of living expenses saved in the event you experience a financial setback.
- Discussing retirement plans. The earlier you can discuss your plans for retirement, the better. Talk about what you envision your retirement to be like. What are your goals? Where would you like to live? Then, meet with a financial professional to put together a financial plan to determine how much you need to save to get where you both want to be.
- Having regular check-ins. Carve out time each month to review your finances, progress, goals, and changing needs. Again, be honest and open. If something isn't working for you or your partner, talk about it and brainstorm ways to adjust. Also, make sure to celebrate your successes!
Like all relationships, the relationship you and your partner have with money requires work, but with strong communication and mutual commitment, you can build a better financial life together.
Selling stuff online can be a great way to make some extra cash. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other sites attract a lot of buyers — and scammers. Here are some ways scammers try to cheat you and what to do about it.
Fake payments and bogus refund requests
A scammer posing as a buyer says they want to buy the thing you have for sale. When it comes time to pay, they insist on paying through a mobile payment app. They send you a fake payment notification and hope you send the item before you realize it’s a scam.
Or they say there was an issue with the payment they sent. For example, they might say they accidentally paid you twice and ask you to refund one of the payments.
Fake check overpayment
The scammer offers to give you a check for more than the selling price. They tell you to deposit the check and send the difference back to them.
The check is fake, but if you deposit it, it’ll appear in your account balance. That’s because banks must make your money available quickly, usually within two days.
When a bank says the check cleared, that doesn’t mean it was a good check. It can take weeks for the bank to figure out the check was fake. By that time, the scammer has the item you sold and the money you sent back. And the bank takes the money from the fake check out of your account.
Fake verification codes
A scammer posing as a buyer says they’ve heard about fake online listings and wants to verify that you’re a real person. They send you a text message with a Google Voice verification code and ask you for that code. If you give it to them, they’ll use it to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number. Then the scammer could use the Google Voice number to rip off other people. If someone tracks the Google Voice number, it’ll be linked to your real phone number. That’s how the scammers conceal their identity.
Advice for selling things online
Many sites recommend selling your stuff to a local buyer you can meet in person and only accepting cash payments. If you’re not selling locally, see what seller protections the site offers.
To avoid a scam:
- Don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know.
- Never deposit a check for more than the selling price.
- Don’t share your Google Voice verification code — or any verification code — with someone you don’t know.
Report a Scam
If someone tries to cheat you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Information for this article was provided by Federal Trade Commission.
Join Our Team at KS StateBank!
Join our growing team and expand your career in banking. We have positions available in several areas of the bank, including with our Client Care team. Our Client Care Representatives are focused on building quality relationships and receive and respond to client communications across all markets while helping to resolve questions and issues in a way that best fits the client’s needs. If you are comfortable interacting with people over the phone – or even online – and enjoy working as a team, we encourage you to apply.
We also have open positions in Loan Operations, Government Finance, Document Management, and Retail Banking and we offer competitive pay and benefits. To learn more about these opportunities and apply, visit our Careers page.
Rising rates. Volatile markets. Record-level housing prices. Today, in the world of finance, it's tough out there. And with everything going on, it may seem like you don't have a whole lot of control of your money. But the truth is, you really do.
There are actually some pretty important and easy steps you can take right now to help reduce your risk and get more out of your money. These include:
- Reducing debt. Now, when interest rates are soaring, is a great time to work on shedding credit card and other high-interest debt. If you have extra money sitting in savings, consider using it to pay down your debt. Or, if that's not possible, find a balance transfer offer and consolidate your debt to a lower, fixed-rate loan.
- Locking in variable rates. If you have a home equity line of credit, now's a great time to convert it to a fixed rate. With a fixed rate, you'll have regular monthly payments that will stay the same even if interest rates continue to rise (something they're expected to do).
- Building your savings. The higher rate environment isn't all bad news. It's a great opportunity to earn more interest on your liquid savings. Consider opening a money market account or a CD. To make saving even easier, set up automatic transfers or direct deposit to savings. The money you save can be a safety net to help protect you from life's unplanned events, such as job loss or car repairs.
- Not being a reactive investor. We get it – the day-to-day volatility in the stock market can make even the calmest of investors anxious. The worst thing you can do, however, is make knee-jerk decisions. Before you buy or sell anything, do your research or talk to a professional to review your goals and risk tolerance.
- Avoiding unscrupulous lenders. Challenging financial times often bring out unscrupulous lenders and financial professionals who want to "help" you. Don't do business with any lender or professional without doing your research.
- Putting your home buying plans on hold. With rising mortgage rates, exorbitant home prices, and low inventory, now is not the best time to buy a home. Waiting until the market settles down may be a smart financial decision.
The most important thing you can do is to stay calm. Remember, nothing (not soaring rates or rising inflation or overpriced housing) lasts forever.
Computer-related crimes affecting businesses or consumers are frequently in the news. While federally insured financial institutions are required to have vigorous information security programs to safeguard financial data, consumers also need to know how to protect and maintain their computer systems so they can steer clear of fraudsters. Here is a short checklist.
Protect your computer. Install anti-virus software that scans your computer for malicious software ("malware") that can steal login IDs, passwords and account information (including credit or debit card numbers). Also use a firewall program to guard against unauthorized access to your computer. Anti-virus protection and firewall options vary, and some are free. Choose one, install it, and then set the software to update automatically.
Safeguard your smartphone, tablet and similar mobile devices, especially when using them for banking or shopping. Reduce your risk of downloading "apps" (applications) that contain malware by using well-known app stores, such as those established by your phone manufacturer or cellular service provider, or from the official Web site of the bank.
Also, to ensure that you have the latest fixes to software problems affecting mobile devices, opt for automatic updates for your operating system and apps or manually download updates as soon as you receive notice that they are available. Some banks provide customers with anti-malware software that can be loaded on a smartphone. You can also purchase the software from a reputable vendor.
And, don't leave your mobile device unattended. In case your device does get lost or stolen, use a password or other security feature to restrict access. You should enable the "time-out" or "auto-lock" feature on your mobile device to secure it when it's not used for a period of time. Some phones have a remote feature that will allow you to erase all the personal information on your phone or disable it in the event that your phone is lost or stolen.
Understand your Internet safety features. When you are buying something online or filling out an application that contains sensitive personal information, you can have greater confidence in a Web site that encrypts or scrambles the information as it travels to and from your computer. Look for a padlock symbol on the page and a Web address that starts with "https://." The "s" stands for "secure."
Be careful where and how you connect to the Internet. A public computer, such as at an Internet café or hotel business center, may not have up-to-date security software and could be infected with malware. Also, for online banking or shopping, avoid connecting your computer, tablet or smartphone to a wireless network at a public "hotspot" (such as a coffee shop, hotel or airport).
Be suspicious of unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to click on a link or download an attachment. It's easy for fraudsters to copy corporate or government logos into fake emails that can install malware on your computer.
Your best bet is to ignore any unsolicited request for immediate action or personal information, no matter how genuine it looks. If you decide to validate the request by contacting the party that it is supposedly from, use a phone number or email address that you have used before or otherwise know to be correct. Don't rely on the one provided in the email.
Use "strong" IDs and passwords and keep them secret. Choose combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols that are hard for a hacker to guess. Don't, for example, use your birthdate or address. Also don't use the same password for different accounts because a criminal who obtains one password can log in to other accounts. Finally, make sure to change your passwords on a regular basis.
Take precautions on social networking sites. Criminals can go there to gather details such as someone's date or place of birth, mother's maiden name or favorite pet and use that information to figure out and reset passwords. Fraudsters also may pretend to be your "friend" to persuade you to send money or divulge personal information. More tips on avoiding fraud on social media sites are available from the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Information for this article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.
From unexpected illnesses or injuries to regular trips to the doctor, medical bills and copays happen. And depending on the care you require or the type of insurance you have, they can really add up – and put a drain on your budget.
Sure, no one likes paying medical bills. But like all important bills, they need to be paid and managed. Here are some ways you can accomplish that:
- Carefully review your bills. When you receive a medical bill, be sure to verify the dates of service and the care provided, since billing mistakes can happen. If you don't recognize or are unsure of a charge, contact the medical provider right away.
- Set bill pay reminders. When you receive a bill, set a reminder to ensure you pay it on time. To make it even easier, schedule the bill payment in advance using online or mobile banking.
- Talk to your provider about a payment plan. If you've experienced a job loss or are having financial difficulty and can't afford the total amount due, be proactive and ask the provider to put you on a payment plan. Most providers will work with you. Also, if you miss a payment, contact the provider immediately.
- Never ignore your bills. It may come back to haunt you later, especially when it impacts your credit rating and your ability to borrow to reach a financial goal.
- Enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA). To help employees manage the high cost of medical care, many companies offer HSAs. An HSA is a tax-advantaged account where you can have a portion of your pay set aside each pay period for medical expenses.
- Talk to your tax advisor. You may be able to claim medical expenses on your tax return if you itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Talk to your tax advisor about your unique situation.
- Stay in network. One way to lower your bills even before you receive them is to use providers that are in your health insurance network.
In short, taking care of your medical bills is a great way to maintain strong credit and promote good financial health.
Each year millions of senior citizens are victimized by financial fraud or theft of money, property or valuable personal information. Often, an adult child or other relative is responsible. Other situations may involve trusted individuals such as caregivers, legal guardians, investment advisors or new “friends.” And because the types of abuse may differ widely, it’s important to take a variety of precautions. Here are suggestions for protecting yourself and your loved ones:
Choose an advisor carefully. If you’re considering hiring a new broker, attorney, accountant or other professional, even someone recommended by a friend or relative, it’s best to independently look into that person’s background and reputation before investing money or paying for services. For example, you can confirm that this person is properly registered or licensed and has a clean record with regulators and other consumers. When in doubt about how to research this information, ask your state Attorney General’s office or local consumer protection agency for guidance.
Make sure you not only understand the role an advisor will be playing, but trust that this individual will do what’s best for you and your finances. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say no. After all, it’s your money!
Be careful with powers of attorney. At some point, you may want to have a power of attorney, a legal document that authorizes another person to transact business on your behalf. While powers of attorney can be very helpful, be careful who you name as your representative. Powers of attorney can be easily misused because they allow the appointed person to step into your shoes and do everything you can do, including taking money from your account and borrowing money in your name. This is a matter to discuss with a lawyer who should prepare or review the document for you.
Protect your personal financial information. Never give out your bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, PINs (personal identification numbers), passwords or other sensitive information unless you initiate the contact. These requests may come from an unsolicited phone caller, letter writer, e-mailer or a person who shows up at your door. Be especially wary of someone who congratulates you about winning a (bogus) prize or lottery but first demands payment for taxes or other fees.
Also, keep your checkbook, account statements, and other sensitive information in a safe place. And shred paper documents containing sensitive information that is no longer needed.
Closely monitor your credit card and bank account activity. Review your account statements as soon as you receive them and look for unauthorized or suspicious transactions, which should be reported to your bank immediately.
Take your time when deciding on a major financial decision or investment. Make sure you understand the transaction and ask questions if you don’t. If you need to, ask a lawyer or financial advisor to help you understand the documents and discuss what’s best for you.
Be aware of scams involving reverse mortgages. These loans enable homeowners age 62 or older to borrow money from the equity in their homes. However, reverse mortgages can be complex products with a variety of risks and costs, and there are many reports of schemes by unscrupulous individuals using deceptive offers and high-pressure tactics to steer senior citizens into using the funds from a reverse mortgage for inappropriate or costly loans or investments. For guidance on the responsible use of a reverse mortgage, including how to locate a lender or a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration, start at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hcc/reverse_mortgages1 or call 1-800-569-4287.
Finally, here are additional tips:
- Beware of callers asking for money or information. If you’d like to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, consider signing up for the national Do Not Call Registry (call 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov). If you are on this list, be suspicious of calls from any company or organization that you have reason to believe is not eligible to contact you under the registry’s rules.
- Don’t comply with requests from strangers to deposit a check into your account (perhaps as part of an Internet sale) and wire some or all of it back. If you send the money and the check is counterfeit, you may be held responsible by your financial institution for the losses.
- If you use social media, many security experts advise against posting the names of relatives and anyone’s home address, full date of birth and daily activities because those can be valuable to a thief. A scammer could look for personal information on the Internet that they can use to call or e-mail an elderly person and pretend to be a relative in distress — such as a grandchild being injured, in jail or lost in a foreign country — and needing money sent fast, without telling anyone else in the family. They may also represent themselves as a lawyer or law enforcement agent needing money to help your relative.
To learn more about common frauds targeting seniors, start at the FBI’s Web page at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors.
Information for this article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, June 20 in observance of Juneteenth. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, June 21.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.
- Report the caller ID and/or callback number to the IRS by sending it to email@example.com (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission on FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
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.
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.
Information for this article was provided by IRS.gov.
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.
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.
FDIC Money Smart for Older Adults
FDIC Consumer News Beware, It’s a Scam
Social Security Retirement Benefits
This article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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