Tip #3: How to Recognize “It’s Too Good to Be True”

SAWWednesday

Fraud happens on a daily basis. In many cases, it could have been prevented if the person had simply asked themselves this one question: Does this situation sound too good to be true?

Here are real examples of fraud that have happened to Merchants Bank customers. Do any of these situations sounds too good to be true?

  • You receive a phone call from what appears to be a legitimate company stating you are owed $600. When you call the company, you give them your card number and PIN so they can deposit your $600. The next day $600 in cash in taken from your account.
  • You receive a call stating you’ve won the lottery. You must send a money order in the amount of $450 to cover a processing fee and then you can claim your winnings. You take out cash, purchase the money order and send it in the mail. You never receive your lottery winnings.
  • While on your computer, a pop-up appears alerting you that your computer has been compromised by a virus. You call the phone number on the screen to get help removing the virus. Before the company can begin, you need to pay $300 up front. You give them your card number and PIN. After a few minutes, the you can see the company accessing your computer remotely and taking your personal information.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission reports customer fraud on their website. Here are a few real “too good to be true” scams from 2015:

Each scam demonstrates that clever fraudsters will use any information and technology at their disposal to obtain your information or get you to send them money. If you find yourself in a situation that sounds too good to be true, take a moment to verify the validity of the person, business or claim. You’ll be glad you did.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

Join Us for Community Appreciation Picnics this Summer

BlogCommunityAppreciationPicnic

Please join us for these Community Appreciation Picnics in June and July!

6/3 Spring Grove
Food starts at 6:00 p.m., Music starts at 6:30 p.m.
At Spring Grove Fest Building • 110 North Division Avenue
Kick off Music in the park with Merchants Bank’s Community Appreciation Picnic.
6/23 St. Charles
5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
At St. Charles City Park
Merchants Bank staff will be serving brats with all the fixings, catered by Porkmaster Chefs. Also, the Winona County Dairy Princesses will be serving ice cream treats from the Little Red Barn.
7/16 Hampton
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Hampton
Merchants Bank staff will be serving grilled hot dogs served with all the fixings!
7/17 Rosemount
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rosemount As a part of Rosemount’s Leprechaun Days celebration, the Merchants Bank staff will be grilling hot dogs and serving refreshments in the Bank parking lot.
7/24 Cottage Grove
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove
Merchants Bank staff will be grilling hot dogs, and serving pulled turkey sandwiches, ice cream treats and refreshments in the Bank parking lot.
7/24 Winona Downtown Drive-Up
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank Downtown Winona Drive-Up Facility
Merchants Bank staff will be serving free grilled brats and refreshments.
8/5 Rushford and Lanesboro
Save the date! More details to come.
8/21 Goodview
Save the date! More details to come.

Earn Cash Now by Switching to eStatements

eNews-eStatementBlog

Did you know that 4% of identity theft victims report stolen mail as the source which fraudsters use to obtain their personal information?* You can help prevent fraud and earn $5 for each Merchants Bank checking or savings account enrolled in eStatements by the end of this month.

Why should I sign up for eStatements?
eStatements are convenient, notice of when they are ready to view is delivered directly to your email inbox and reduce your risk of fraud by helping you monitor your account activity regularly. Plus, you’ll receive an eStatement up to five days sooner than your paper statement.

Which accounts are eligible to earn $5?
All personal and business checking and savings accounts are eligible to earn $5 for each account enrolled in eStatements (payment automatically deposited into your enrolled account). Customer accounts previously enrolled in eStatements are not eligible for this promotion.

How do I enroll in eStatements?
Current Merchants Online Banking users can go to www.merchantsbank.com and log in to your Online Banking account. From the main menu, click Preferences and then eStatements. Click Edit in the bottom left corner of the screen to change your eStatement settings. There is no charge for enrolling in eStatements.

Not currently enrolled in Online Banking? Visit our website for more information on Merchants Online Banking and eStatements.

Earn your $5 today by signing up for eStatements. Login to your Online Banking account to get started.

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*https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/mailfraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/identitytheft.aspx

New Staff Here to Help You

At Merchants Bank, we are happy to welcome new employees and celebrate new positions filled by current staff. These frontline employees are all looking forward to serving you. Take a moment to congratulate them.

AndersonCarleyCarly Anderson has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Apple Valley. Carly previously worked at Orangetheory Fitness as a Sales Associate and at Merrill Hair Designers as a Receptionist and Sales Clerk. Carly is currently attending Metropolitan State University and is pursuing a degree in Finance. In her free time, she loves taking her dog to the dog park or taking the four wheeler for a ride.

BondellRossRoss Blondell has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Rochester. Ross previously worked at Menards as a sales person and at Fastenal as a Machinist.

DodsonKristinKristin Dodson has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Hampton. Kristin and her family recently moved to Minnesota from Alaska. She previously worked for Northern Schools Federal Credit Union, the University of Alaska and most recently, was a stay at home mom. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children.

John Piscitiello, Vice President and Commercial Banker

John Piscitiello has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Banker in Apple Valley. John previously worked at Associated Bank as a Commercial Banker and at Safire Group as a Investment Banker. John is a Winona native and graduated from Cotter High School and St. Mary’s University. He and his wife have four boys. In his free time, he enjoys fishing the St. Croix river, coaching youth basketball for Lakeville North High School and supporting the Courage Kenny Foundation serving individuals with disabilities.

DigginsLiz

Liz Diggins has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Banker in Red Wing. Liz previously worked at Associated Bank for 12 years as a Sales and Support Specialist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the College of Saint Benedict and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She enjoys spending her free time visiting their cabin, fishing, gardening, golfing and reading.

Jim Vrchota, Vice President and Commercial Banker

Jim Vrchota has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Banker in Winona. Jim previously worked at United Prairie Bank as a Senior Vice President and at Center National Bank as a Commercial/Ag Lender. He has been in banking since he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1981. He and his wife, Tami, have been married for 35 years and have four grown children. Jim’s hobbies include running, community theater and hunting.

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Tip #2: How to Review Your Bank and Credit Card Statements for Fraud

SAWTuesday

What’s the most important step you can take to prevent identity theft? Review your account transactions on a regular basis. Regardless of how you receive your statements or banking information (paper statements, eStatements, Online or Mobile Banking), reviewing your account information is crucial to catching fraudulent transactions.

First, look at each line item on your statement or in Online or Mobile Banking:

  • Review each item to see if you recall the transaction.
  • If you have a joint account, make sure to ask the other account owner about transactions you do not recognize.
  • If you see an item you believe is an unauthorized charge contact Merchants Bank immediately.

Next, review your transactions for a prenote.

A prenote is a normally a zero-dollar transaction sent to test the validity of an account. For the most part, prenotes are used by banks or other businesses you have authorized to set up electronic transfers. However, some fraudsters have started collecting account information by using prenote transactions. If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a prenote transaction on your statement or in Online Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Then, review your transactions for a pre-authorization.

A pre-authorization is a transaction sent to secure funds for a payment. For example, if you book a hotel online you might have a pre-authorization on your card in the amount of the hotel room but the hotel would not actually charge your card the amount until your stay is complete. It’s important to note that pre-authorization does affect the available balance in your account on a debit card or available credit on a credit card.

Fraudsters are now using pre-authorization to test the value of card numbers.

  • For debit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize thousands of dollars to see what the account is worth. Typically pre-authorization will appear in your Merchants Online Banking account as a red “pending” transaction and never change to black.
  • For credit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize small dollar amounts to see if the card number is valid. Typically pre-authorization will appear on http://www.mycardstatement.com in the Pending transactions section of your account and never move to the Transaction view of your account.
  • If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a pre-authorization in Online or Mobile Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Finally, make it a habit to review your financial transactions at least monthly. You know your spending history better than anyone and that makes you the best person to detect a fraudulent transaction on your account(s). If you want to access your account information more frequently, consider enrolling in Merchants Bank Online or Mobile Banking. Make sure to save your debit and credit card receipts to compare them against your statement.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

 

Hope to see you at these events in June!

Merchants Bank, Community Events

Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout June. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

6/3 Spring Grove Music in the Park/Community Appreciation
Food served at 6:00 p.m., music starts at 6:30 p.m.
Join our Spring Grove staff for music in the park, a meal and ice cream treats and milk to celebrate June Dairy Days.
6/5 Caledonia Dairy Days Celebration
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Caledonia
Please join us for ice cream treats in our lobby to celebrate Dairy Days.
6/5 Lanesboro Dairy Days Celebration
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Lanesboro
Please join us for ice cream treats in our lobby to celebrate Dairy Days.
6/5, 12, 19, 26 Hampton Dairy Days Celebration
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Hampton
Please join us for root beer floats in our lobby to celebrate Dairy Days.
6/6 Apple Valley Christian Elder Biker Ride
10:00 a.m.
At Merchants Bank in Apple Valley
Please join us for a welcome home celebration.
6/7 Trinona Triathlon
At Lake Park in Winona
6/10 Cannon Falls Bears Game vs. New Market Muskies
7:30 p.m.
At John Burch Park in Cannon Falls
Join us for Merchants Bank night at the Cannon Falls Bears game! Merchants Bank will provide free tickets to the game and enter for a chance to win a pair Twins tickets.*
6/11 Cannon Falls Dairy Days Celebration
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls
Goodhue County Dairy Royalty will serve treats in our lobby.
6/12 Red Wing Dairy Days Celebration
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Red Wing
Goodhue County Dairy Royalty will serve treats in our lobby.
6/19 Winona Steamboat Days Kiddie Parade
10:00 a.m.
At the Lake Park Band Shell in Winona
6/20 25th Annual Winona Pancake Breakfast
8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
At Merchants Bank Winona-Downtown
$5.00 per person • $17.00 per family • Children 6 and under FREE Open to the public. Parking available in Bank parking lot, located at the corner of Third and Walnut Streets.
6/20 Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest Parade
10:30 a.m.
Located on the corner of 80th and Jamaica Streets
6/20 Rushford/Peterson Gammel Dag Days Parade
1:00 p.m.
Located in Peterson
6/21 Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade
12:31 p.m.
Located on Broadway Street in Winona
6/23 St. Charles Customer Appreciation Picnic
5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
At the St. Charles City Park
Merchants Bank will be serving brats with all the fixings, catered by Porkmaster Chefs. The Winona County Dairy Princesses will also be there, serving ice cream from the Little Red Barn.
6/27 Brownsville Days Parade
1:00 p.m.
Located in Brownsville
6/27 Lewiston Heartland Days Parade
6:30 p.m.
Located on Main Street in Lewiston

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*No purchase or customer relationship necessary to enter to win. On person per entry. Drawings will be held the on June 10, 2015. Winner will be notified by telephone. Employees or Merchants are not eligible to win.

Tip #1: How to Tell if a Website is Legitimate

SAWMonday

If you’re one of the 190 million Americans who shop online,* it’s important to take steps to verify the legitimacy of a company website before placing an order. Here are five tips to help you determine if a website is legitimate.

1. Can you easily find the company’s full contact information?

You should be able to locate the business’s full name, physical address, telephone number and email address. In addition, if you call the telephone number listed, make sure you can reach a live person who can verify details about the business.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s contact information.

2. Is there a Terms and Conditions web page?

Find the Terms and Conditions page on the website and read it carefully to understand company products, return policies and more.

Red Flag = You cannot find the company’s Terms and Conditions page.

3. Does the site accept secure payments?

If the company wants to accept secure payments with a credit card, they must use SSL security which properly encrypts your payment and personal information. Websites with SSL security have a website address that begins with “https” instead of “http.” For example, https://www.merchantsbank.com.

Red Flag = The company’s site does not accept secure payments.

4. Is the site design and information professional?

Review the site for typos, errors, misspellings, stolen images and more.

Red Flag = The company’s site contains any of the above.

5. What happens when you Google search the company’s name?

Type the company name into Google and read related customer reviews, feedback and articles.

Red Flag = Bad feedback or customer experiences.

Visit the FTC Consumer website for information on current website scams.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

*http://www.statista.com/statistics/183755/number-of-us-internet-shoppers-since-2009/