How Can Your Business Prevent Credit Card Fraud?

ManWithCreditCardStaggering, sobering, scary. Those are just a few of the words that come to mind when you think about credit card fraud. Think of this, 97 percent of all companies suffer a data breach, according to a story CBS News’ “60 minutes” aired on November 30, 2014. So what can a company do? Most companies are doing all that they can. Still, it takes an average of 229 days from the time of the breach before it is discovered, according to the “60 Minutes” story. When a breach happens, a company tries to detect the breach as soon as it can and stop the bleeding as quickly as possible.

How can your company be protected? It really comes down to the company’s customers. There are a lot of tips that can be used. Here are just a few:

  • Keep information private and avoid sharing your information with other individuals.
  • Continually monitor accounts, including credit card and account statements.
  • Be skeptical. Question if things are what they seem. Hover over links to see where they lead. Verify email requests from companies.
  • Create strong passwords that are hard for others to detect and decipher and use passwords to protect your devices. (More information here on making a strong password.)
  • Ignore emails from senders you don’t know.

Individuals Should Take Greater Precautions with This Year’s Flu

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Because this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective against a current, mutated strain of the influenza virus, individuals should be taking extra precautions this year.

This year’s flu is unpredictable. Early in December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent an advisory to doctors noting that more than half of the 85 influenza virus samples it had analyzed were different than the virus strains included in this year’s vaccine, signaling that there has been a mutation, or a drift, of the strain.

This season’s most commonly reported strain of the virus is influenza A (H3N2). In the past, influenza A has been associated with higher rates of hospitalization and death than other strains, especially for people at high risk for complications, such as the very young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure you are vaccinated. During the 2012-13 flu season, 12,337 people were hospitalized with flu-related illness and 149 children died, according to CDC surveillance data. Ninety percent of those children were unvaccinated. While the flu vaccine is not as protective against a mutated strain, it can still decrease the severity of illness caused by such a strain.
  • Become educated on how influenza is spread. If you’re sick, stay home. Be sure to learn about preventive measures, like healthy eating, plenty of sleep, regular washing of hands, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, and drinking lots of fluids.
  • Check with your employer to ensure you have work alternatives in place, like working from home, if that is a possibility for your position.
  • When you start feeling symptoms, be sure to take antiviral medications. Such medications can make the flu milder and shorter.
  • If you’re sick, stay home or work from home. Don’t give the flu a chance to spread.
  • Set an example. If you’re a manager, don’t come to work sick. This tells the people you work with they should come in no matter how they feel.

 The above information is summarized and modified from an article from SHRM (Society for HR Management), written by Dana Wilkie.

Robert Root Has Joined Merchants Bank as Vice President for Network, Datacenter and PC Services

RobertRootWelcome

Robert Root has joined the team at Merchants Bank as Vice President for Network, Datacenter and PC services, according to Rodney Nelsestuen, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

“Robert is an important addition to our team as we continue to provide our customers the technology support they need today and in the future from their bank,” Nelsestuen said.

Root has more than 20 years of Information Technology experience, including the past 15 years with Eastwood Bank. He has a well-rounded background in infrastructure management, business analysis, information security and project management.

“I look forward to putting my skills to work for Merchants Bank and learning first-hand why it has the reputation as an industry leader in our region,” Root said.

Meet Ashley Wagner, Electronic Banking Representative at Merchants

Ashley with her daughter, Everly.

Ashley with her daughter, Everly.

How long have you been with Merchants?

Ashley: Two weeks! I’m really excited to be part of team…at my previous job I worked solo. Merchants is also the first bank that I’ve worked for. I’m really enjoying it so far…you never know what’s going to happen when you pick up the phone. I always like a change of pace. Things are different every day.

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Ashley: Do your best to remember your password. But, Electronic Banking can always help you if you don’t know it. Just give us a call.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Ashley: Try to save when you can, but also have a little fun with your money.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $50 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Ashley: I would pay off my student loans, my mortgage and then go on a trip to Europe.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Ashley: Green Haribo gummy bears and my daughter in her green winter jacket. She looks like Randy from “A Christmas Story.”

For more information on our electronic banking options, visit our website.

Pork Tenderloin

BlogRecipe-PorkTenderloin

What’s on your menu for Christmas this year? Try this delicious Pork Tenderloin recipe, found in the Merchants Family Cookbook.

Ingredients:
1 package pork tenderloin
1/2 cup flour
minced dried garlic or onion salt, to taste
1 can Beef Consommé soup

Directions:
Cut loin into 1 1/2 to 2″ slices. Dredge in flour and flatten with palm of hand or glass. Brown in skillet. Put in baking dish and sprinkle each piece with garlic or onion salt. Pour soup over top. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Leaving town for the holidays? Tell us!

LeavingTown

Are you planning a trip out of state this holiday season? It’s important for you to contact Merchants before you leave to ensure the best service while you are out of town. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your Merchants Bank debit or credit card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.

When contacting the Bank regarding your travel plans, we will ask for the following information:

  • Dates of your trip(s)
  • Exact travel locations
  • How we can contact you while you’re gone

If you have a Merchants Bank Debit Card – Please call us at (800) 944-6285 and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative about your travel plans.

If you have a Merchants Bank Credit Card – Please call us at (800) 944-6285 and ask to speak to our Credit Card department about your travel plans.

We strongly recommend that you carry more than one form of payment during your trip. Interruptions within any card network are always a very real possibility. Carrying multiple forms of payment reduces frustrations when trying to complete a needed purchase.

Meet Tayler Swanson, Electronic Banking Representative at Merchants Bank

Tayler Swanson, Electronic Banking Representative at Merchants, on a trip to Alaska last summer.

Tayler Swanson, Electronic Banking Representative at Merchants, on a trip to Alaska last summer.

How long have you been with Merchants?

Tayler: I’ve worked in the Electronic Banking department at Merchants for two years. I enjoy working with customers and helping them solve a problem. It’s a great feeling when things “click” and they value my help.

What is your top electronic banking tip?

Tayler: Always double check everything. Simple accuracy can be the problem half of the time when typing in your password or PIN.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Tayler: Whenever you have something you want to buy, wait and see. I’m actually giving that same advice to my younger brother right now, who is considering making a large purchase.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $50 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Tayler: I would buy back my childhood home. I grew up out in the country in Faribault and my parents sold our house shortly after I left for college at Winona State.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Tayler: I like exploring the outdoors. I actually got to visit Alaska this past summer with my girlfriend, which was amazing. We went mountain climbing, visited Lake Eklutna and went on an eight hour whale watching cruse. We saw seals, puffins, dolphins, sea otters, humpback whales, fin whales and a massive glacier.

For more information on our electronic banking options (including Online and Mobile Banking), visit our website.