Save the Date for Economic Summits

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Are you interested in learning more about the economic development outlook and innovative projects in Southeast Minnesota? Merchants Bank invites you to save the date for two upcoming events.

Southeast Minnesota Economic Summit – Rochester, MN
The third annual Southeast Minnesota Economic Summit will be held on Thursday, September 7 as economic experts and industry executives share their economic expectations, specifically regarding the manufacturing industry, for 2018.

As a banking leader in the region, Merchants is proud to partner with the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce as the pinnacle sponsor of the Southeast Minnesota Economic Summit.

Mark your calendars and contact the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce for more information at (507) 288-1122 or visit their website.

  • Date/Time: Thursday, September 7 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Location: Rochester International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW, Rochester, MN 55902
  • Price: $30 for Chamber members, $40 for Non-members, $300 for a table of six

Winona Economic Summit – Winona, MN
This year’s Winona Economic Summit will focus on the theme “Building a Better Business Climate.” Join us on Tuesday, September 26 for several speakers, including Senator Jeremy Miller, and panel of experts who will discuss new solutions for workforce issues in our area, the Minnesota economy, local housing issues and more.

Merchants Bank is also proud to partner with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce as the main event sponsor of the Winona Economic Forum.

Mark your calendars and contact the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce for more information at (507) 452-2272 or visit their website.

  • Date/Time: Tuesday, September 26 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Location: Tau Center, 511 Hilbert St., Winona, MN 55987
  • Price: $40 for Chamber members, $60 for Non-members

The 3 Online Banking Alerts You Should Have Set Up

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

If you’re not using the FREE alerts feature of Merchants Bank Online Banking, you’re missing out on tools that could protect you from identity theft and fraud.

To set up automatic alerts, sign in to your Online Banking account and click the Other Services tab. From here, select the type of alert you’d like to enable and follow the steps to configure. Alerts can be sent to an email address, via text message or both…it’s up to you!

Here’s the list of the top three alerts our Electronic Banking Specialists recommend all customers put in place.

My Profile Changed – Get an alert if there are any changes to your Merchants Bank Online Banking profile. For example, a change to the email address associated with your account. This alert may help you detect if someone else has accessed your account and is trying to make changes to your profile.

Internet Banking Login Error – Get an alert if your password is entered incorrectly when attempting to log in to Online Banking. This alert may help you detect if someone else is trying to access your Online Banking account.

Balance Alerts – Get an alert based on balances above or below a certain dollar amount. Simply select the account you’d like an alert for, then choose an option from the drop down and type in an amount. This alert may help you detect large withdrawals or purchases you did not initiate.

To learn more about all of our Merchants Bank Online Banking alert options, watch this video featuring Lucas Stangl, Electronic Banking Specialist.

To get started with alerts, sign in to your Online Banking account now.

Are You Using These 7 Tips to Protect Your Identity?

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

It may feel like keeping your personal information secure is impossible in a world tech-savvy hackers and scammers. Every day the news reports on new data breaches and scams. But, you can play an important role in protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud by taking small steps.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Check your financial activity. It only takes a few minutes, but reviewing your bank, credit card and other financial activity and statements for fraud is an important first step. If you see any suspicious activity, report it.
  2. Don’t use the “remember password” option. Using this feature on your computer or mobile device makes it easier for someone to access your accounts.
  3. Set up automated account alerts. Get a text or email alert for certain transactions, balances and more. We offer free alerts through Merchants Bank Online Banking for your checking, savings and loan accounts and through My Mobile Money for your debit card transactions.
  4. Be cautious when asked for personal information. If you are asked to provide personal information through a phone call, email or website pop-up page, think before you act. Verify the company or person asking for the information through a third party, like a phone book or other trusted resource.
  5. Store private information securely. Whether at home or work, do not leave your personal information out where others can see it.
  6. 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 away from the cards for easy access.
  7. Be a skeptic. If a situation sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can’t win the lottery if you haven’t entered. You don’t need to send a payment to claim prize winnings.

To stay up-to-date on Merchants Bank fraud alerts and scams, sign up for our alerts emails.

Privacy Code: Why You Need One

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

As part of our privacy standards, we would like all Merchants Bank customers to have a privacy code in place to protect you and your data from being accessed by someone other than you.

What is it?

A privacy code is a word or numbers or combination between 4 to 30 characters that you choose and will easily remember. This will be used to identify you and protect your data from being accessed by someone other than you. It is not the PIN associated with a card, phone banking or online banking system. It is a part of identifying you as a person.

When will it be used?

Merchants Bank staff will use a privacy code to identify that it is really you on the phone before we give you information on your accounts. If you do not have your photo ID with you, we may also use this to identify you in person.

Why do I need one?

Fraud and identity theft are increasing. Without a privacy code you may no longer be able to call in and obtain information over the phone.

To set up a privacy code, please call or visit your local Merchants Bank branch.

 

Ransomware and Rip Van Winkle: Don’t Ever, Ever Sleep Again

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Security Awareness Week: June 5-9, 2017

By Rodney Nelsestuen, Chief Information Officer

We all know the story of Rip Van Winkle who slept for 20 years and woke to find he’d missed the Revolutionary War and that society had changed dramatically. Today, poor Rip would find that a mere 20-minute nap may be enough to put him out of touch – especially when it comes to security.

This was driven home by the recent global attack of ransomware (aptly named Wannacry) that put hospitals, governments, and businesses on the defensive and interrupted the normal course of business on some estimated 250,000 computers in 150 countries, including the US. This event was one of the first to have a large-scale global reach and one which cost those who were attacked an estimated $3 billion dollars. Moreover, the success of Wannacry and its scale will most certainly result in a massive expansion of the ransomware “business.”

You may wonder why ransomware is suddenly so popular as compared to other types of hacking. Here are three reasons:

The attacker need do nothing and still gets paid.

Ransomware either encrypts files on a computer or blocks access to the files. These programs used to be delivered exclusively in emails as an attachment that a victim would open. While that delivery method is still in use, the more pernicious versions simply roam the internet and when they find an unprotected network or computer, will launch the attack without human intervention.

Stealing personal information and credit card data is still popular, but imagine how much work it is to steal, store, organize, and then find a buyer for that data. In short, the old fashioned methods of theft are a lot of work compared to a ransomware attack that threatens to delete all data on a computer unless the victim pays for the release. Attackers simply sit back and wait for the victim to pay.

Want to go into business? Try ransomware as a service.

Don’t know anything about computers or hacking? No need to worry. You can contract with a hacker and outsource your criminal activity. Organizations offering ransomware services are beginning to take root and will encourage bad actors of all types to try their hand at it.

After all, what do they have to lose? The outsourced service provider does all the work and gets paid a cut of the take, and you merely await your share as the business owner.

If one door is locked, just try another.

The interconnectivity of the internet and businesses across the globe makes it much easier for a ransomware attack to succeed. Can’t get into a corporate network? Try the company’s version of webmail, which can be accessed from any computer in the world. Can’t get a user to click on a link? Then use in-memory malware to deliver the payload. Find it hard to scale your crime? Then hack cloud services and launch attacks against thousands of high value targets at once. In short, ransomware has multiple attack vectors.

So what can I do to protect my business?

There are long-standing processes and tools that companies need as a foundation to stopping ransomware. While the list of approaches is long, let’s focus on three items that will reduce the risk of being hacked or a victim of ransomware:

  1. Whether you run your own technology or outsource it, be sure you know what protections and processes you have in place. Anti-virus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection software with expert alerts, and patching systems and applications are regularly among these basics.More importantly, make sure your security tools are on the most current versions. This may mean having updates almost continuously at times as risk conditions can change dynamically. It’s good to look into new technologies as new threats arise, but remember that the tools you do have may be the best there are if kept up to date.
  2. Layer security across your business. No one single solution will protect you from every attack. Whether physical locks on doors, increasing the sophistication of passwords, using out of band authentication, or segmenting your network with additional firewalls, consider using a layered approach to make it more difficult for bad actors to get through to your valued information. This includes using the security and authentication steps offered by your bank. Most banks will provide tools that allow the business to verify financial transactions before they occur. Unfortunately, too many businesses fail to adopt these solutions and processes.
  3. Train your staff on proper use of the connected world we live in – and keep security awareness in the forefront of employees’ minds. The human threat is twofold: first, people make mistakes and as humans, we always will.Second, there has been a growing threat from insiders who are ‘groomed’ by bad actors to ultimately take part in a crime. While this is an unpleasant topic, it’s something every business owner or manager needs to consider today.

One final thought. It would pay most businesses to be connected to an organization that monitors the global threat environment and can keep the business up to date on emerging threats. This external information can then be aligned with your internal IT steps and actions. There are several such organizations and many have very reasonable fees.

The security issues faced by businesses will only be more challenging in the future. Staying up to date on security technology, being vigilant on how users interact with your systems, and having an eye to the emerging threats as they grow are all smart and necessary steps for any business today.

While there are no sure-fire solutions to risk, by taking a multi-faceted approach you’re in the know about the threat environment, and you’ll feel better that you’re managing it in a sound manner. Then you’ll be able to sleep peacefully even with one eye open so as not to miss, as Rip Van Winkle did, the important things in life such as the birth of a nation.

Jenna Bauer is now a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Hastings

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Jenna Bauer, Mortgage Lender

Already a familiar face to the customers at Merchants Bank in Hastings, Jenna Bauer has accepted a new role as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants, according to Merchants Bank in Hastings President Bruce Goblirsch.

Bauer has been with Merchants for six years, working with customers as both a Customer Service Representative and a Lead Teller.

“Jenna understands and is committed to our customers,” Goblirsch said. “They already know how good she is at helping them get what is best for their banking needs. Her new mortgage customers will find that out as well.”

Bauer said knowing the Hastings customers and the Hastings market is a bonus to her as she starts as a Mortgage Lender.

“I’m looking forward to helping my current and my new customers in a different way, working with them to get into the home they want and fitting them with the best mortgage to meet their needs,” Bauer said. “I want them to know that I’ll be there for them from start to finish.”

Long-time Hastings Mortgage Lender John Aarness is retiring at the end of June.

Merchants Bank Twin Cities locations include Hastings, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants Bank has 21 locations in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, including Minnesota locations in 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. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Gina Miller Joins Merchants Bank as Vice President and Commercial Banker

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Gina Miller, Commercial Banker

Gina Miller has joined Merchants Bank as a Vice President and Commercial Banker, according to Shawn Sackman, Senior Lending Officer and Senior Vice President for Merchants Bank’s Southeast Region.

“We are excited to have Gina join our team,” Sackman said. “With her experience, ability and connections, as well as our increased presence in the La Crosse area, we know she will contribute to our continued growth.”

Miller had been with the Wells Fargo organization for the past 17 years, most recently as a Business Relationship Manager/Commercial Banker.

“Merchants is a great match for me because it is a community bank that is built on and values the relationships with its customers,” Miller said. “Building and maintaining those relationships has been my goal throughout my career, and I look forward to continuing that career with Merchants as it gains more market share in our area.”

Miller is a graduate of Viterbo University. She is active in the community. She is a member of the Coulee Region Young Professionals, a member of the Women’s Alliance of La Crosse, and a participant in the Chamber of Commerce’s La Crosse Area Community Leadership Program.

Onalaska is one of the fastest growing of all 21 Merchants’ locations. In 2016, Merchants reported record income of $14,154,891. The Onalaska location was one of the leaders in productivity, with nearly $2.2 million in net income.

In addition to Onalaska, Merchants has Minnesota locations in La Crescent, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has an additional Wisconsin location in Eau Claire. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.