Be Aware, Be Skeptical About Mortgage Offers

Couple confused about finances

Financing your home is an important event. It opens the door to many new experiences, including unsolicited offers. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable, but you need to be aware and be skeptical so you can make the best decisions.

Where do these offers come from?

During the mortgage process, your information:

  • Is available to companies that buy or purchase lists from a credit bureau
  • Becomes part of the public record once it is recorded and can be accessed by companies searching for information

What type of information could you receive from outside sources?

Some of the information you receive by call, mail or email will likely be legitimate, and some will not.

You may receive offers for things like life insurance, offers to provide the financing or refinancing, or offers to provide copies of your records. Whatever it is, we ask that you look at the offer closely.

If you have any questions about any information or solicitations that you receive, please feel free to contact us by calling your local Merchants Bank branch. We will help you understand the information so you can make your best decision.

Please know that we would never sell your information. So, if you receive something saying the contact is sanctioned by Merchants Bank, it isn’t. Be skeptical.

*Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc Reports Year to Shareholders and Appoints Directors to Its Board

Greg Evans, President & CEO

During its annual meeting, which was held virtually with participation of shareholders by phone on Thursday, April 2, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI), reported strong 2019 financial results and shareholders re-elected two Directors and elected one new Director to the MFGI Board.

MFGI formally reported net income of $19,767,215 for 2019, a 4.7% increase over 2018 earnings. There was business growth on both sides of the Company’s balance sheet with year-end 2019 total deposits of $1.8 billion and total loans/leases of $1.7 billion. MFGI ended 2019 with $2.1 billion in consolidated assets, making Merchants the fifth largest banking organization chartered in the state of Minnesota.

“Given current events impacting all of us, last year seems like a very, very long time ago,” said Gregory M. Evans, MFGI President & Chief Executive Officer. “We certainly are proud of our continued business growth and performance of record last year, but our entire focus right now is placed on taking care of our friends and neighbors, and being here as a trusted advisor for our customers and communities.”

Re-elected to three-year terms as Directors were: Gregory M. Evans, President & CEO for MFGI and Merchants Bank and Richard T. Lommen, Owner/Operator & President for Courtesy Corporation. Elected as a new member of the Board of Directors to a three-year term was Bradley J. Peterson, Chairman & Chief Acquisition Officer for Mississippi Welders Supply. Peterson has served on the Merchants Bank, N.A., Charter Board since April of 2019.

At the meeting retiring Directors Ken Mogren and Mike Cunningham were recognized. Mogren, retired President of Winona Agency (now WA Group), has provided Board leadership for the MFGI and Merchants Bank Charter Boards for more than 15 years. Mike Cunningham, Partner of La Crescent Property Ventures, LLC and former CEO/Owner of The Board Store Furniture and Home Improvements, served on the Merchants Bank Charter Board for five years and retired in 2019 from the MFGI Board after 15 years of service.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of it’s more than 480 employees and shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 19 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. As the parent company for Merchants Bank, Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) also owns the First National Bank of Northfield, with two banking offices in Northfield and a loan production office in Bloomington, MN. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Be On The Lookout For Coronavirus Scams

With people nervous about the COVID-19 coronavirus, scammers already are swooping in to take advantage of those fears.

While it’s normal to want to learn more about the coronavirus and information surrounding it, experts are warning people to be cautious of scammers who are trying to infect your devices with malware, get personal information from you, or who are trying to get you to send them money for worthless or non-existent products. There have even been reports of crooks threatening people over late or missed payments.

According to the Federal Trade Commission and other experts, here are some of the scams to watch out for:

Email phishing has already begun. Scammers are sending out emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or other health agencies, claiming to contain updates about the coronavirus. Consumers are being warned to be wary of these emails and not to click on any links or download any attachments unless they are absolutely sure of the source. Clicking on links or downloading attachments could install malware on your computer or take you to counterfeit sites where you might be asked to provide vital personal information.

Some scammers claim to be selling products that can prevent the disease, treat it or maybe even make it go away. Don’t believe the claims. The FTC says there are currently no “vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus … online or in stores.” Don’t fall for these claims and don’t send any money. You’ll either be mailed a worthless product or receive nothing at all.

As more people suffer financial hardship due to reduced hours or loss of jobs, scammers are likely to be contacting them threatening to disconnect vital services such as utilities or communications unless you pay them immediately. Legitimate businesses won’t threaten you, won’t demand payment in cash, gift cards or wire transfers, and they won’t ask for financial account numbers, your Social Security number, or account passwords.

Some people are even posing as charities, hoping to rely on the kindness of others to steal your money.

To guard against these scams, experts say to:

  • Delete unsolicited email and to not click on links in them or download files.
  • Don’t fall for online claims of remedies or vaccinations.
  • Don’t react to threats by making payments with gift cards or wires.
  • If you have any concern that an email or call could be legitimate, type in a company’s official website address by hand or call an official number listed on a bill, statement or payment card. Tell them why you are contacting them.
  • Get information only from trusted sites, such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization or from trusted news sources.

While it’s natural to want to learn more about the coronavirus pandemic and to do what you can to protect yourself and others, it’s important to be cautious in order to protect yourself from scammers.