5 Tips for Secure Use of Business Online and Mobile Banking for the Holidays

5 Tips for Secure Use of Business Online and Mobile Banking for the Holidays

We can never overstate the importance of protecting your online security, especially during the busy holiday shopping season for businesses and their customers.

Follow these top tips from our Electronic Banking Specialists to help reduce security threats:

  1. Never share log in IDs and passwords. Each individual user under the business should have a separate log in and password, even seasonal or temporary employees.
  1. Delete inactive/dormant profiles. Remove inactive users, whether former employees or accountants. In Merchants Bank Online Banking, you can make these kinds of updates through the Preferences tab. Set a reminder on your calendar to review this access at least once a quarter.
  2. Never have your browser or phone remember passwords. Always type in your password. While it may seem a bit inconvenient at times, it greatly increases the security of your account information.

    Think about where you’ll be doing business online this holiday season: buying inventory, packing supplies, postage and shipping; processing your employee’s payroll or holiday bonuses or paying for seasonal marketing materials and campaigns. You’ll want to minimize the risk to your account and business information if any of these companies are compromised during the holidays season.

  3. If logging in on a mobile device, be sure your phone or tablet is password protected. In case your device is lost or stolen – which could happen at one of those holiday parties or events you’ll be attending – you don’t want the fraudster to have access to information you have on your device.
  4. Be sure to keep contact information up to date for yourself and other users. It’s very frustrating to request a password reset and not receive it due to a bad email address. To update your information with Merchants Bank, give us a call.

Bonus Tip for Business Online Banking Supervisors and Business Owners: Before the end of the year, review your company users, checking what access they have to which accounts. Also, review debit cards the account may have opened and close any cards that are no longer used. Both of these quick reviews will help reduce fraud on business accounts.

Once you’ve taken this steps to secure your business account, rest assured that you have one less thing to worry about during the holidays. Wishing you a successful fourth quarter!

To learn more about our Online and Mobile business banking options, click on the appropriate link below:

Merchants Homegrown Approach to Leadership Development

I Believe Leadership Series

We all want a team of talented staff. A business with skilled employees who care deeply about their customers is on the road to success. The people who work for your business can make a big difference. At Merchants, we feel this combination – our talented team coupled with personalized service – is what sets us apart from other financial institutions.

Attracting and retaining difference-makers as part of the Merchants team has always been important to us. We also feel it’s one of the reasons we’ve celebrated so many successes. That’s why we’re proud to have launched the I Believe Leadership Series, Discovering the Leader In You! in 2018. The program was designed by Merchants’ staff Kristine Valk, Training Director and Alberta Rosburg, Chief Human Resource Officer and is based on the philosophy of servant leadership.

“After recognizing that Merchants needed a leadership program, Kristine and I tried to find one that we could send our employees to,” said Alberta. “However, we quickly realized that if we wanted a program to reflect the Merchants’ culture, we needed to develop it ourselves. I’m so proud of Kristine, all of her hard work and the end result. The 15 students currently attending are growing in new ways to help them be servant leaders for our co-workers and customers.”

Students in the I Believe Leadership Series are from several areas of the Bank, including customer-facing departments such as Credit Cards, Mortgage and Commercial Banking as well as support departments like Compliance & Risk, Human Resources, Marketing and Mortgage/Loan Operations. The program curriculum covers a wide range of topics, relevant for those working with customers face-to-face or behind the scenes:

  • Temperament assessment and working with different personalities
  • Effective coaching skills
  • Understanding and applying strengths
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication and conflict resolution
  • Leading through change
  • Employee motivation and accountability
  • Team building

At this time, students are approximately halfway through the series. Many are already seeing a positive impact in their day-to-day interactions with customers and co-workers.

“The I Believe Leadership Series has been such a valuable and positive experience thus far. Fifteen of us have learned about servant leadership and how to focus on traits that lead to good, productive interactions on both a professional and personal level. The section on Finding your Strengths has been one of my favorites to date. A test identified five of our strengths as well as ideas on how to use them to strengthen communication. It’s exciting to think about how each of us will benefit from these new skills and knowledge. “– Wendy Cagle, Loan Review Officer in Winona.

“The information from the program has helped me be more focused on my conversations with customers and associates during my daily interaction,” – Ken Graner, Market President for Lanesboro and Rushford.

In addition, Training Director Kristine Valk has witnessed the impact of the series firsthand: “Before the program began, some of our participants didn’t really know one another. As we continued through the program, attendees have learned more about one another and are embracing each other’s talents. It’s really become an environment of trust and openness that’s resulted in more collaborative work.”

The program will run on an annual basis with current students graduating in April 2019 and a maximum of 20 new students beginning the series shortly after that. As part of one of five strategic priorities for the bank, talent management and leadership development will continue to be a key focus for Merchants in the years to come. Our I Believe in Leadership Series graduates will help all of us strive to serve each other and you better.

To learn more about working at Merchants Bank:

Protect Your Identity During the Holidays or Any Time of Year

CardProtectionApps-Blog

It’s important to take steps to protect your personal identity, especially during the holiday shopping season. Let’s work together to help keep your information safe.

Use Our Free Fraud Tools

Your security is top of mind at Merchants Bank. We have a number of ways to help you protect yourself with our SecurLock Equip app for your Merchants Bank credit card and My Mobile Money app for our debit card. These apps are very similar.

With SecurLock or My Mobile Money you can:

  • Turn your Merchants Bank credit card or debit card on and off.
  • Control where your credit card or debit card can be used.
  • Receive automatic notifications about possible fraud and take action.

More on SecurLock and My Mobile Money can be found on our website.

Plus, if you use Merchants Online Banking, consider using the “Alerts” functions to monitor activity. To set up automatic alerts, follow the steps outlined in our video tutorial. Alerts can be sent to an email address or via text message.

Best Practices to Use When Shopping Online During the Holidays:

  • Change your passwords often. Use a mixture of numbers, letters and special characters. Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
  • Be suspicious. Thieves will use calls or emails to trick you into sharing passwords, social security numbers, etc. If you don’t recognize the caller or email, don’t reply.
  • Don’t click on links in emails from your credit card companies, investment companies or banks that would have you update account information. Remember, Merchants Bank will never ask you to update your personal information via a link in an email. When suspicious, call the company at a number you confirmed in a separate source, like a phone book or prior statement.
  • Make a fraud kit. Keep a list of your credit and debit cards, account numbers, expiration dates and customer service of fraud department telephone numbers in a secure place.
  • Read through your credit card bills. If you see a charge you don’t recognize, call and get the charge reversed.
  • Don’t use the “remember password” option. It makes it easier for someone to access your accounts.
  • Do NOT keep a list of passwords in an unprotected document on your devices or written down in an unsecure place.
  • Never save your credit card number online. If that site gets breached, you are at risk. Enter your information each time you make a purchase.

If you’re traveling or spending the winter somewhere else, let us know by contacting your local Customer Service Representative so we can make sure you have the best service.

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. Let us know the dates of your trip, your travel locations and how we may be able to contact you.

If you have additional questions, please contact us. We’re happy to help.

 

 

 

 

Dan Nistler to Lead Merchants Bank Locations in Rochester

Dan Nistler, Market President

Dan Nistler has been promoted to Market President at Merchants Bank in Rochester, according to Dan Massett, Regional President.

Nistler’s primary responsibilities will be to provide leadership for Merchants Bank’s two Rochester locations, along with meaningful community engagement for the Rochester area. He will also continue serve as a Commercial Banker and trusted financial advisor for business clients. Nistler succeeds John Doyle, who will be retiring as the Rochester Market President for Merchants at the end of 2018. Doyle has led the growth of Merchants in Rochester since Merchants entered the market in 1999.

“Dan is a proven business developer and has over 20 years of community leadership in the market,” said Massett. “He is eager to continue building the Merchants Bank presence in the Rochester area.”

Nistler has been with Merchants since 2013 and has been a banker in the Rochester area since 1999. He is a US Navy veteran, serving on the USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716), and graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

“Merchants Bank has an iconic position in the region as a banking leader and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a leadership role in Rochester,” said Nistler. “The Rochester area has a bright future and I think Merchants is well positioned to play a key role the community’s future growth.”

Dan and his wife, Carole, have lived in Rochester since 1998. Their daughter Natalie is currently attending the University of Minnesota. Nistler is an active Rochester community volunteer. He was previously involved with the Rochester Rotary Risers and Rochester Area Family YMCA and currently volunteers his time for the Gamehaven Council (BSA), St. Francis Catholic Church, Rochester Catholic Schools, KSMQ Public Television and Winona State University-Rochester Advisory Group. He enjoys spending time in his hometown of Ely, MN whenever he can, especially on the lakes of the Boundary Waters.

Since 1999, Merchants Bank has been a community partner in Rochester, with two locations to help individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals. With a focus on mortgage and business financing, Merchants has been fortunate to grow as Rochester has grown. In addition to traditional banking services, the Bank also offers a full line of business loan, lease and floor plan finance solutions, digital banking, security apps, cash management tools and wealth management services.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rochester, Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, 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.

4 Fall Home Tune Ups to Review Now

HELOC-Blog

Have you been putting off a home repair or remodel project? This Fall might be the right time to take it on, and potentially save yourself time and money on expensive repairs next Spring.

So where should you start? Here are four areas to review before winter hits.

1. Window Replacement
Average Cost – $5,773*
New windows can have a big impact on your utility bill, especially if you make the investment in glass with multiple panes. If you notice drafts, condensation or frost on your windows it may be time to upgrade.

2. Roof Repairs
Average Cost – $688*
Maintaining the quality of your roof is critical to keep your home protected and dry. Winter weather especially can aggravate small leaks and other problems, so take the time to assess your roof now.

In particular, you should pay attention to:

  • Blown off or missing shingles
  • Bad or leaking flashing around pipes, chimneys, skylights or the gutters running down the angles of your roof
  • Locations of possible ice dams
  • Water build up around low slopes or inadequate pitches

Hiring a professional to help review and fix these problems can save you from future headaches and expenses.

3. Furnace Tune Up or Replacement
Average Cost – $284 to repair, $4,000 to install*
Don’t let your comfortable, cozy home be interrupted by a broken (or worse, dead) furnace. Part of keeping your furnace in tiptop shape includes occasional maintenance from a professional, which is routinely done before the temperatures drop.

If your furnace is 10-15 years old – the average age of a furnace – it may be a better financial investment to replace it. Just like upgrading your windows, a new high-efficiency furnace can also save you money on your utility bill.

4. Exterior Paint
Average Cost – $2,500*
While a fresh coat of paint is easy on the eyes, it can also help prolong the life of any outdoor surface that will be covered in snow. Help protect your siding, trim, deck and stairs with new exterior paint and sealant.

At Merchants Bank, our Home Equity Line of Credit can help qualified applicants pay for fall home improvements or repairs. If you have equity in your home, now is the time to take advantage of our great introductory rate of as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months and 4.00% APR after that.**

Contact your local Merchants Bank Personal Banker to get started, or apply online now.

*http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost

**Subject to credit approval. As of September 1, 2016, the Annual Percentage Rate on a home equity line of credit with an 80% or less loan-to-value and a credit score greater than or equal to 700 was 4.00%. This special offer has fixed-rate pricing as low as 2.9% APR for the first six months, based on relationship reward discounts. Following that six-month period, the rate will become variable, subject to change, based on U.S. Bank, N.A., prime rate plus a margin that is determined based on the loan-to-value in your home and your credit score at the time of application. Current rates vary from 4.00% to 6.00% APR. Maximum possible APR is 18%. Minimum possible APR is 4.00%. An origination fee may apply, in addition, you are responsible for certain fees to third parties, such as appraisers, credit reporting firms and government agencies, which are generally from $100–$1,000. Following the first year, there will be an annual fee of $25. Offer available on new home equity lines of $10,000 or more only or on existing lines of credit with an increase of at least $10,000. Consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest expense. Property insurance will be required. Limited time offer.

Meet Becky Zoellner, Cash Management Specialist

 

ZoellnerBecky

Get to know Becky Zoellner, one of our Cash Management Specialists. At Merchants, we offer a variety of Cash Management services to help businesses improve efficiency, security and more. Our options include tools for collection, disbursement, security and management.

When did you start your banking career?

Becky: I started my banking career in 2009. When I started in banking, I did not plan on it being my career.  However, it wasn’t even a year and I realized I had a passion for working with customers on each of their unique financial situations that brought them into the bank.

What do you like most about your job?

Becky: Every business is very unique.  My favorite part of my job is working with my customers to understand their business. I want to understand where they’re looking to grow and figuring out their strengths and weaknesses and developing a cash flow plan that fits their specific needs. In addition to learning about my customers’ businesses, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of cash management.  You don’t need to be an expert in cash management, that’s my job, but I want you to feel comfortable and have a good understanding of solutions available to help meet your business goals.  

Can you help businesses assess which cash management services make sense for them? How does this process work?

Becky: Absolutely.  I like to talk to owners and managers, preferably within their work environment.  I want to learn about the business and its processes.  What works well?  Where are the struggles?  From there, we can talk about cash management services that can help along with putting together a plan of how to implement them. 

What does community banking mean to you?

Becky: Community bankers take the time to get to know you and your business.  As a community, we’re all working together towards being the best for ourselves and all those around us. I was drawn to a community bank because I firmly believe in having strong, service-oriented values. The most important thing for me is to be able to give customers my best service and that of my team of co-workers.

What are some of the biggest benefits to a business using Cash Management services?

Becky: With cash management services, you get control and understanding of your account activity. The various products and services help with maximizing cash flow and monitoring for fraudulent activity. 

What are your tips for wrapping up your fiscal year?

Becky: Use a trusted expert. My expertise is cash management, your expertise is in your industry and a CPA has expertise in tax law. We have experts so that we know these very important business functions are done correctly. Also, early on, write your financial goals for the next year down! Many individuals and businesses forget that step, but it is so important. After you have your goals defined, writing down a concrete plan to reach those goals is just as important. As the year goes on, set aside time to analyze your progress and see if any adjustments need to be made and what needs to be done to reach those goals.

What do you do to work with businesses around year end?

Becky: Year end is a good time to think about successes and where there are opportunities for improvement.  I’m generally busy meeting with businesses on how to obtain their goals for the following year. Questions I usually ask are:

  • Do you want your staff to be more efficient with their time?  Remote deposit capture will allow your staff to make deposits right at their desk.
  • Are you looking to improve cash flow?  Processing receivables and payables through ACH will provide a better handle on when funds are crediting and debiting your account.
  • What are you doing to ensure your business isn’t faced with the consequences of fraud?  Let’s talk about how our online banking can assist with separation of duties and how ACH Filters and Positive Pay can assist you with daily activity monitoring. And the list goes on.

If you could snap your fingers and own your own business, what would you want it to be?

Becky: I would love to be a travel consultant because I would assume it would require me to travel more!

What’s your favorite thing about supporting local business?

Becky: I love that local businesses genuinely care about their customers’ experience, and that makes it feel like you’re supporting a friend.  Who doesn’t love that?    

 

If you are interested in finding out how your business could benefit from cash management services, contact one of our Cash Management Specialists.

 

Some Cash Management services may have fees that apply.

Hope to See You at these Fall Events

Save the Date - Upcoming Events

Join our staff at these great events. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. 

9/21 Spring Grove Window Washing
2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

Get your car windshield washed for FREE! For each windshield washed, Merchants Bank will donate $5 to Raise the Roof, which supports the Houston County Fair youth livestock building project. We hope you can join us! No customer relationship required. Free will donations also accepted.

9/28 Cannon Falls Customer Appreciation
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls

We’ll be serving grilled hot dogs, served with all the fixings, and refreshments in our parking lot. We truly appreciate all of our customers in the community and look forward to seeing you!

11/30 – 12/10 10 Days of Giving
Winona, St. Charles, Cottage Grove, Hastings

Help us ensure no one in our communities go hungry this winter! We are honored to once again coordinate the fundraising efforts to support our local food shelves.