Five Common Online Banking Mistakes

7-14 OnlineMany will argue that banking online has been the best invention since sliced bread. And there’s no doubt about that: no more statements and papers — everything is on your computer or mobile device, right at your fingertips.

But while banking online is certainly a feat that will make your life easier, there are some things that people do without even realizing it can be hazardous to your account safety. For your own security and protection, avoid these top online banking mistakes:

1. Don’t use an easy-to-guess password – You may be surprised at how many people don’t use original passwords, and how dangerous it can be. In an analysis of 32 million passwords done by Imperva, an Internet and data security company, found the top 10 passwords are: 123456, 12345, 123456789, Password, iloveyou, princess, rockyou, 1234567, 12345678 and abc123. These give hackers an easy in to your account. If you’re using one of these or something similar, consider changing it. Note that the best passwords are ones that use both letters and numerals and involve both lowercase and uppercase characters. Also, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi – When it comes to online banking, accessing community Wi-Fi is a no-no. Why?

“People generally don’t bother to check out the security characteristics of public networks before logging on, plus wireless transmissions can be intercepted by nearby Bluetooth-type devices,” says Richard Barrington, a spokesman for MoneyRates.com. That includes public libraries, too.

“The PCs [at libraries] are subject to viruses and spyware that you have no control over,” explains Robert Sicillano, a consultant for McAfee, an expert on identity theft.

3. Don’t dismiss anti-virus protection - This kind of software helps detect and protect you from malicious software (malware) and computer viruses. That’s important because “[Common viruses like] trojans and worms can infect your computer and use keystrokes and other tactics to get your bank credentials,” warns Sol Nasisi, chief economist at BestCashCow.com. It’s best if you set up your protection software to automatically update daily. Also, sometimes your financial institution may provide free software, so be sure to ask about it if you’re unsure.

4. Don’t ignore your account - Check your account regularly. That will help ensure nothing suspicious is going on in your checking and savings accounts. Try checking it once a day or week, but at minimum, you should be looking at it once a month. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately.

5. Don’t post password hints on social media – It sounds obvious, but don’t share any super personal information on any of your social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Doing so makes it easy for criminals to use this information and possibly open up an account in your name, or even use it to guess what your password is.

“It’s important to be careful sharing your pet’s name, your children’s names, or the name of the high school you attended, especially if you use this information as account passwords or answers to security questions,” says Lisa Robinson, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. “Never share your mother’s maiden name, your Social Security number, your bank account numbers, or your user names or passwords for any account.”

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Why You Should Automate Your Savings

Do you have a savings account? Most people will respond “yes.” But the real question is: is it actually accruing money?

Many people want to save, but when it comes to essentially adding money to their savings account, they’ll find they’d rather use the income for other things. Evidently, saving money is easier said than done. But in the long run, putting money away is much more helpful than harmful.

So how can you make sure that you’re saving as much as you can? One of the best ways to save is to set a certain payment from your paycheck to automatically go directly into your savings. It is worth it.

“You have to automate your savings,” says Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst at Bankrate. “If you wait until the end of the month and try to save what’s left, there’s typically nothing left over.”

The easiest way to go about this is to treat your savings like your other bills.

“That automatic payment toward your retirement or your emergency savings is just like any other bill,” McBride says. “You’re getting it taken care of right off the bat when you receive your paycheck.” So if you get paid bi-weekly, you’ll be putting aside money twice a month.

“Paying yourself first clears the biggest hurdle for saving, which is simply not being in the habit of saving,” McBride continues. “It takes care of saving money before you have a chance to spend it. About how much to put aside, experts recommend putting 10% of your take-home salary into savings. But if you’re not able to put away that much, don’t fret. As long as you’re consistent, your savings will build.”

If you’re saving for multiple things, consider setting up multiple accounts for each item. Where’s the benefit in that?

“Labeling the various accounts with a specific name that reminds the account holder of what they are saving for can help deter them from withdrawing money from that account and subsequently spending it,” explains Diane Morais, deposits and product integration executive at Ally Financial in Charlotte, NC.

“You can build an emergency savings fund while building a retirement fund or a college fund at the same time,” McBride adds. “You have to attack both at the same time in the same way by automating your contributions.”

Start automating your savings today. It’s quick, painless and, in the long run, will be worth it.

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Merchants Bank to Acquire Alliance Bank Location in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

MahoneyDickMerchants Bank and Alliance Bank have come to an agreement for Merchants Bank to purchase an Alliance Bank location in Eau Claire, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President & CEO Richard L. Mahoney.

“We believe this is an excellent opportunity to expand into an important market,” Mahoney said. “We believe that our expertise in business banking and company resources will be appealing to business owners in the Eau Claire area.”

The purchase includes the Alliance Bank Mall Drive location, as well as deposits and loans from the Mall Drive location and Alliance’s Pinnacle Way location. All told, Merchants Bank will be acquiring about $48 million in deposits and $17 million in loans.

“We know that Merchants Bank will take care of customers from both locations and will provide those customers the service they have come to expect,”said V. Philip Reim of Alliance Bank.
Terms of the sale were not released. Pending regulatory approval, Mahoney said he anticipates the sale being completed near the middle of February.

“Our strong equity position allows us to act on opportunities that make sense for us to pursue,” Mahoney said. “With our organic growth and acquisitions, we expect continued growth for the foreseeable future.”

For this and other Merchants Bank news: http://bit.ly/Q0Qmcm

Welcome to Our New Friends!

We’re excited to welcome our new friends and neighbors in the Rushford, Lanesboro and Red Wing communities. You may have questions regarding how your accounts will be handled once you become a Merchants Bank customer on November 15. The links below provide answers to many common questions about checks, debit cards and more! Please take a look at them and contact us with any questions you still have:

Rushford & Lanesboro personal customers: http://bit.ly/1bYFIuM

Rushford & Lanesboro business customers: http://bit.ly/17bxHFw

Red Wing ag customers: http://bit.ly/1hjjSt9

Merchants Bank Acquires New Locations

MahoneyDickMerchants Bank has reached an agreement to purchase the current Associated Bank branch locations in Rushford and Lanesboro, Minnesota.

The sale includes about $47 million in deposit and loan relationships, as well as the physical locations of the banks in Rushford and Lanesboro.

“Acquiring these locations aligns with our long-term vision to provide our banking services to customers across our region,” said Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President and CEO Richard L. Mahoney. “We recognize Rushford and Lanesboro as important communities in terms of our area’s economic development, and we look forward to serving all the financial needs of these important customers.”

Merchants Bank is also acquiring a small pool of agricultural loans and related deposits from the Associated branch in Red Wing. One of the focuses of the Merchants organization is Ag lending. Associated will continue to operate its Red Wing location. Affected customers will be notified individually at a later date.

The sale is pending regulatory approval. Barring complications, Mahoney said he expects the sale to be completed by late November.

Enjoy A Service that Can Save You Money

OnlineBankingENDo you want access to your account any time you want? How about a service that is free and can also save you money? Well, you’re in luck because Merchants Bank has just what you’re looking for. Our Online Banking service is free to our customers and allows for you to access your account when you need to.

Your time is valuable. Merchants Online Banking gives you convenient, easy to use, secure access to your accounts via the Internet. With Online Banking, you will have access to Bill Pay and Manage My Money, which will help you get the most of your banking needs.

Bill Pay allows you to pay virtually any one or any company through your Online Banking account. Save money on your postage, checks, and envelopes when you pay for your bills online instead of by mail. You decide who you want to pay, when you want to make the payment, and the account you want the payment to come from. It’s that easy.

Manage My Money is a Personal Financial Management (PFM) tool that is offered by Merchants Bank through Online Banking. You can get a complete picture of your financial information with Manage My Money. Track your spending, create budget goals, get account balances, bill due date alerts and much more, so that you can stay in control of your finances.

Take advantage of a great service, like the Online Banking, offered at Merchants Bank. Save time and money while you make safe and secure transactions with Online Banking. Click for more information on Online Banking.

Merchants Bank cares about what you think because it is important to us that we are providing you with the best service that we can. Please take a few moments to tell us what you think by answering the questions in this survey. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to learning more about how we can serve you better.

Merchants Bank Business Gift Card

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Make the gift card process easier for you and your customer

Do you own a business and offer gift certificates? How complicated is it to handwrite all of the information? Would you like an easier way for your business to offer the benefits of a gift card program? Or, do you offer gift cards but the administration of the program is a hassle? Don’t worry, Merchants Bank has thought of a way to make this easier for you with our Business Gift Card program.

What is the Business Gift Card program?

The Merchants Bank Business Gift Card program allows your business to offer gift cards to your customers. With the program, you will be able to tailor the card to your business, with three different programs. Programs available include 100-card, 500-card, and 1,000+ card programs.

Increase the average spending of your customers and the frequency of their visits. Reward your loyal customers and attract new ones with the Merchants Bank Business Gift Card program.

Launch your gift card program in five to seven days and receive toll-free customer support whenever you need it.

For more information on the Merchants Bank Business Gift Card program, please contact Credit Card Department Manager Deb Kemp at (507) 457-1160 or by email at dlkemp@merchantsbank.com. Let Merchants Bank help you start offering gift cards or make your gift card process easier today.