Prevent Fraud on Your Merchants Bank Cards

fraud word abstractPreventing fraud on your bank accounts can feel like a daunting process, but at Merchants Bank, we make it easy. By collaborating with us, you’ll have 24/7 fraud detection monitoring on your debit and credit card accounts and gain access to education on latest fraud alerts and trends. The fight to prevent fraud involves not only our expertise and diligence, but a constant open line of communication with each of our customers.

How does fraud detection at Merchants Bank work?

  • We work with our trusted partners, FraudWatch at Elan Financial Services and VISA Falcon Fraud Prevention Services, to monitor fraud trends and detect fraudulent transactions on your debit or credit card accounts 24/7.
  • We will call you in the event of a suspicious transaction. You may receive a call from our partners, Elan or Falcon, who will make you aware that the call is being placed on behalf of Merchants Bank.
  • When our partners call you they will ask you for some identifying information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number. They will never ask you for your full number. If you are uncomfortable and don’t want to speak with our partners, please call your local Merchants Bank office and verify the transaction or let us know that you did not make the purchase in question.

What can you do to prevent fraud? Keep in touch!

  • Ensure the Bank has your most up-to-date contact information. Call your local branch if you need to make any changes.
  • Contact us before you go on vacation and don’t be shy about sharing the details, for example: dates, exact locations and how we can contact you while you’re gone. If you make purchases in a state or country where you don’t normally use your card, we may think these transactions are fraudulent unless we know otherwise.
  • If you forget to contact us before you left on vacation, call a Customer Service Representative at your local branch during your trip to provide the information listed above.
  • Contact us if you’ll be making a large purchase that would be uncharacteristic when compared to your purchase history.

Click here for more security information from Merchants Bank make sure to review the Alerts section of our website.

Seven Ways to Save at the Supermarket

7-14 SupermarketFood shopping is an essential part of living for every family. But over the years, prices on fare have increased steadily, causing households to spend more and more on their weekly groceries. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American family shells out nearly $540 a month on food, with an average of approximately $312 for groceries.

But unlike your mortgage or gas bill, what you spend on food is flexible. Start with these tips to reduce your supermarket spending today:

1. Scour store sales and stock up. While many people think it’s the coupons that save families in groceries, it’s more so store sales — and combining a store sale and a coupon is one of the best money saving things you can do. Also, when something nonperishable that you use is on sale, it’s a good idea to stock up. It may seem counterintuitive at the time to spend more money (since you’re buying more), but in the end, you can save hundreds. Meats are also good to buy in bulk when they’re on sale, as they will freeze well.

2 …But don’t be fooled by said sales. Many times, a store will list a product for something along the lines of “buy five for $10” when, if you do the math, you may only be saving a couple cents. Also, keep in mind that when sales like these are listed, many times, you don’t need to buy five products, or whatever amount listed to get the sale price. So, for example, if a sale is for “two for $5,” buying one will cost you $2.50. Retailers are just listing that price in hopes that you’ll buy more. Don’t fall for it!

3. Clip coupons. Search your Sunday newspaper or visit websites such as Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and Redplum.com where many manufacturer coupons can be found and printed for free. There are also sites such as CouponMom.com, LivingRichWithCoupons.com and TheGroceryGame.com that offer up-to-date sales-tracking services for most states and grocery chains. In addition, it’s a good idea to shop at the stores that double your coupons (usually under 99 cents).

4. Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Even if you know you’re on a budget, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that you’re likely to spend more money if you don’t eat beforehand. So, before you hit the market, have a meal or take a snack with you if you’re on the go.

5. Use cash. “It’s psychologically more difficult to fork over cash than a credit card,” says Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com’s household savings expert. It’s said that using cash when grocery shopping will cut your spending by about 25 percent. Before going grocery shopping, stop at an ATM so that you’re fully stocked up on cash. You could also start a “grocery jar” and drop a few bucks into it each day or week, and use it solely for food shopping.

6. Keep your focus. Does a product ever catch your eye so much that you evidently stop and examine it, mulling over whether you should purchase it? It turns out that the more you interact with a product, the more likely you are to buy it.

“Virtually all unplanned purchases…come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfillment,” says Paco Underhill in the book Why We Buy. Another way to avoid impulse buys? Ride your bike or walk to the store.

“It’s amazing how focused you can be when you are limited to one shopping bag full of groceries,” says Ross Williams, writer at simplemindedinvestor.com. “Once you are very conscious of each purchase, it seems to carry over even to the small items where space isn’t really an issue.”

7. Check over your receipt. Just because a product is on sale doesn’t mean the register will automatically ring it up correctly. Always watch your products being scanned and if something trips you up, don’t be afraid to ask politely if that price is correct.

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Surcharge Free ATM Options

SurchargeFreeATMsLooking to use your Merchants Bank Debit card free of charge to obtain cash or check account balances? Try these:

  • Merchants Bank owned ATMs
  • Fee Free cash at any one of more than 400 Kwik Trip or Kwik Star locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa.
  • MoneyPass ATMS where you won’t be assessed a surcharge fee by the bank at MoneyPass ATMs. A foreign surcharge fee may still apply. You can find a MoneyPass location, or access locations through an iPhone or Android app, by starting here.

Plus, remember you can also get cash back when using your Merchants Bank Debit Card at most point of sale locations

Target Data Breach

Target is investigating a potential data breach that may have affected millions of debit and credit cards nationwide. Initial reports indicate the breach appears to have started around Black Friday, November 28, 2013, and may have extended through the middle of December.

If you used a debit card, credit card or gift card at a Target store between these dates, please be sure to monitor your account activity closely for fraudulent transactions and report any transactions that you did not initiate to the financial institution that issued your card.

We have not yet received notification that any Merchants Bank credit cards or debit cards were involved in the breach, and even though Merchants Bank has fraud monitoring security in place, we strongly encourage Merchants Bank customers to monitor their own Merchants Bank Credit Card and Debit Card activity. For our customers who would prefer the peace of mind of having their current card(s) closed and new ones reissued, please feel free to stop in your local Merchants Bank office.

To monitor Merchants Bank Credit Card activity, please go to www.merchantsbank.com and click on Credit Card Login.

To monitor Merchants Bank Debit Card activity, please go to www.merchantsbank.com and login to your Online Banking account.

To monitor Merchants Bank Visa Gift Card activity, please go to www.ppdmoney.com or call 1-866-208-3282.

If you notice any fraudulent activity on a Merchants Bank credit or debit card, please report it as soon as possible by calling your local Merchants Bank branch or calling toll-free, 1-800-944-6285. Please note, initial reports indicate that the data breach did not affect purchases made online at Target, just in the retail stores.

For tips on protecting your card information, identity, and more, please visit https://www.merchantsbank.com/files/IdentityTheft.pdf

Merchants Bank Looks to “Swipe Out Hunger” for Area Food Shelves

SwipeOutHungerAppBannerMerchants Bank will be donating 5 cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between November 29 and December 15, up to a total of $10,000, for area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,” the Bank’s second annual Facebook Giveaway.

The “Swipe Out Hunger” giveaway will work like this:

  • Supporters of area food shelves will be able to vote once per day between November 29 and December 15 for their chosen organization
  • At the end of the giveaway, nominated food shelves will receive a percentage of total amount of money raised based on the percentage of votes that organization receives on Merchants Bank’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MerchantsBank

The Food Shelves were nominated by bank locations (Bank locations making the nomination are noted in parentheses), and there were a number of locations that nominated the same organization. Participating this year are: SEMCAC Houston County Food Shelf (Caledonia and Spring Grove), Friends in Need Food Shelf (Cottage Grove), La Crescent Food Shelf (La Crescent), The Hunger Task Force (Onalaska), Channel One Rochester (Rochester), Southeast Minnesota Education & Resource Center (St. Charles), Winona Volunteer Services (Winona), 360 Communities (Lakeville), Eagan & Lakeville Resource Center (Apple Valley and Rosemount), Hastings Family Services (Hastings), the Cannon Falls Food Shelf (Cannon Falls), SEMCAC in Preston (Lanesboro), SEMCAC in Rushford (Rushford), the Randolph Food Shelf (Hampton) and the Red Wing Area Food Shelf (Red Wing).

Have You Activated Your MasterCard Debit Card?

MasterCard Debit CardIf you have yet to activate your Merchants Bank MasterCard Debit Card that is attached to your checking or savings account, please do so today. As of September 4, Visa Check Cards no longer work. If you have any questions about activating your MasterCard Debit Card, have lost your card, or are interested in getting a MasterCard Debit Card, please contact our Electronic Banking department as soon as possible at (866) 496-0522, or stop in at your convenient Merchants Bank location.