Cell Phone Porting Fraud: Check Your Phone

Shot of a businesswoman using technology at work

Fraudsters are getting names, phone numbers and other personal identifiable information of real people and transferring their phone number to a different cell phone service provider. They pose as the victim and report the phone lost to the current provider and request the number be transferred (or “ported”) to a device with a different cellular service provider. Once they do this they can find where the victim may have bank accounts, click a “forgot password” link and request a password change code be sent to the stolen phone number via text message, now directed to their device. Then they can change their account’s password and can then access and manipulate those accounts.

What to watch for:

If your phone suddenly loses service, switches to “Emergency Calls Only,” receives any alert messages or unexpected text messages in regards to authenticating an action you did not request, notify your cellular service provider and financial institution immediately.

Take action to protect yourself:

You can take action against cell phone porting (or “port-out”) fraud by contacting your cell phone service provider. Ask them about their porting/port-out security and request they ask for security verification (that you would set up) when action is requested for your account.

Lisa Franxman Named Market President for Merchants Bank in Rosemount


Respected, relationship-focused area banker Lisa Franxman has joined the team at Merchants Bank as Market President in Rosemount, according to Twin Cities’ Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

“Lisa is well known in the Rosemount and Farmington area as an exceptional banker and someone who is committed to making the area a better place to live,” Stovern said. “We are excited to have her as part of the leadership team here in the Twin Cities as we continue to grow.”

Before joining the team at Merchants, Franxman had been with Anchor Bank since 2000. She was named President of the Farmington location in 2011. In addition to her leadership skills, Franxman is an accomplished commercial and SBA lender, with a background in credit analysis. She is focused on enhancing and building long-term business relationships. In 2015, she received the Exceptional Business Woman award from the Dakota County Tribune.

“As a community banker, Merchants shares my values for making the communities we serve better places to live, work and grow,” Franxman said. “I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise, connections and knowledge in helping the Rosemount bank meet the needs of the area.”

Franxman has a long history of community involvement. She serves on the Executive Board of Hope for Tomorrow, currently leading the Farmington chapter. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she chaired the Women’s Conference committee in 2015 and 2016. She is a member of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Citizen Advisory Council. She served on the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Farmington and was President of the Club in 2015-2016.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Rosemount, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Lakeville. Other Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton, Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Shannon Spahr Promoted to Vice President/Controller


Shannon Spahr has been promoted to Vice President/Controller at Merchants Bank, according to Sue Savat, Chief Financial Officer.

“Shannon is an extremely hard worker and strives to meet the needs of all our market locations,” Savat said. “Her dedication and knowledge deserve to be recognized.”

Spahr has been with Merchants since 2010. She has held positions in the deposit and mortgage operations departments. She continued to grow her education: she graduated from Winona State University in 2011, from Stetson University in 2012 with a Master of Accountancy and became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 2015. She has been Controller at Merchants Bank since 2015.

“It is an honor to be recognized for my work,” said Spahr, “and most important to note is the hard work of our incredible team that is committed to providing outstanding service to our customers. It is the employees themselves that are the company’s finest feature, and I am fortunate to be part of this fine team.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton as well as Twin Cities locations in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Dawn Stenberg Promoted to Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender


Dawn Stenberg has been promoted to Assistant Vice President/Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, according to Sue Hovell, Director of Retail Banking Performance at Merchants Bank.

“This promotion recognizes Dawn for the leader that she already is here at Merchants,” Hovell said. “She has extensive knowledge of the mortgage process and has used that expertise to provide outstanding customer service to our clients.”

Stenberg started in banking as a teller at 16 years old. She started in the mortgage industry in 2008 and has been with Merchants Bank since 2012.

“I am honored and really appreciate the ongoing support I have received from Merchants as well as my co-workers,” Stenberg said. “I truly can’t imagine working anywhere else; the culture just aligns with my beliefs and personality, and allows me to serve my customers the way I do, which is the reason we’re all here.”

Stenberg also credits the entire mortgage team at Merchants Bank: “We have a tremendous mortgage team. Our knowledgeable processors, underwriters and closers all strive to provide a great customer service experience, both during and after the loan process. It’s just who we are.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton as well as Twin Cities locations in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Meet Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert


Dawn and her daughter in the kitchen at home.

Get to know Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Dawn: I started in banking in 2002, and I’ve been in mortgage since 2008. I came to Merchants in 2012, and here I’ve been a mortgage coordinator, mortgage underwriter, and now a mortgage lender.

What is your best banking/borrowing tip?

Dawn: A question I get asked a lot is whether or not customers should close open credit card accounts. It actually makes more sense to keep accounts with a long, healthy history open. If you close accounts in good standing and then just have fairly new loans open, it actually can hurt your credit score. Of course, fraud is a concern too. The more accounts that are open the more difficult it is to keep track of them all, making you more vulnerable to fraud. It’s important to find the happy medium between keeping healthy accounts open while still being able to manage and monitor all of them.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Dawn: Something that makes the process easier for everyone is to consistently make all of your loan payments on time. It’s also great to see customers saving, even if it’s just a little bit from each paycheck. Anything is better than nothing, and over time the savings will grow and it’ll help you be comfortable in your home.

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

Dawn: Have a budget. It’s important to keep track of your finances to ensure you are not overspending and to stay on track with your financial goals. It can also help create healthy spending habits.

If you had $1,875,000 what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Dawn: I would take a long extended vacation! Probably to Europe or New Zealand.

Picture your dream home. What is your favorite room and why?

Dawn: My favorite room is the kitchen; I love to cook. My favorite times are when my kids are helping me bake around the island. The kitchen for me is the focal point of the home – It’s where the family all gathers together.

Important Tax Fraud Alert

Tax Fraud

Just days into the start of the 2018 filing season, the IRS identified a new scam in which cybercriminals have stolen client data from tax professionals and filed fraudulent refunds using real taxpayer information, including bank account and routing information for direct deposit.

The fraudster then contacts the taxpayer posing as an employee of a debt collection agency working on behalf of the IRS. They ask the taxpayer to take certain steps to return the refund, but actually, the refund goes to the criminals.

If you have been the victim of this tax fraud scam, please contact a Merchants Bank Customer Service Representative for assistance. The IRS also asks the taxpayers to call the IRS toll-free at (800) 829-1040 (individual) or (800) 829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.

There is more information for taxpayers at Tax Topic Number: 161 – Returning an Erroneous Refund

Information reposted at the request of the Federal Reserve Banks on behalf of the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

Tim Nelson Joins Merchants Bank in Lakeville as Mortgage Lender

Tim Nelson, Mortgage Lender

Tim Nelson has joined Merchants Bank in Lakeville as a Mortgage Lender, according to Dan Vlasak, President of Merchants Bank in Lakeville.

“Tim is experienced in all types of mortgage loans, including construction loans, which will help Merchants Bank support our construction customers in the Lakeville area,” Vlasak said.

Nelson worked at Wells Fargo as a Home Mortgage Consultant for 16 years. He has lived in Lakeville for more than 20 years.

“I’m all in with Merchants,” Nelson said. “When you’re meeting with customers, it’s important to be able to confidently say that you can get their job done. Our group of operations professionals really deliver.”

Nelson is also involved in the community, working with the Lakeville Booster Club by fundraising to support Lakeville High School sports. As a self-described “family man,” he frequents the events to cheer on his children and their teams.