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.

Meet Annette Bleninger, Cash Management Officer, CTP

BleningerAnnette

Get to know Annette Bleninger, 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?

Annette: I started almost 20 years ago as a Teller. I moved to new accounts and eventually became a Branch Manager. Then I moved to Cash Management, and I’ve been in this field for about 15 years.

What do you like most about your job?

Annette: I really like the variety and the opportunity to meet with business owners and learn about their business.

Can you help my business assess which Cash Management services make sense for us? How does this process work?

Annette: During our first meeting, I like to talk about what your business is currently doing…what works, doesn’t, and what you want to achieve. Then I come back with my recommendations of products and services that would be a good fit to help achieve your goals. I don’t work to sell all of our products and services to every client. I want to make sure I recommend only the most effective and efficient processes for your unique business.

What does community banking mean to you?

Annette: To me, it means being small enough to know each customer and take care of them, but large enough to have the products and services they need. We can provide what you need, but we aren’t the big bank that just considers you a number.

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

Annette: I always like to discuss the top three benefits: save time, save money, and efficiency. Every business is looking to do these things, and we can help with that. There are so many different products and we can figure out which ones would be most beneficial for your business together.

What are your tips for wrapping up your fiscal year?

Annette: Use year-end as a good time to look at the users of your products, such as online banking or payment functions, and determine what updates need to be made. You can use a checklist:

  • Are your users still employed with you?
  • Do they all need access to that product?
  • Is there anyone new that will need access?
  • Are payment limits correct?

Throughout the year, keep track of which users are added, and note any questions or situations you’d like to address. One of the most important things you can do is hire trustworthy people to run things, and keep up to date with core functions and technology. 

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

Annette: I’ve always thought it would be very interesting to be a travel agent. It may be a dying industry, but it would be so neat to know about all kinds of places.

What are some of your favorite small businesses and why do you like to shop local?

Annette: There are so many cool businesses. When my husband and I go out to eat, we like to go to local restaurants and quaint shops in the old downtown of Hastings. Another benefit of having strong community roots is having these unique places to visit!

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.

3 Essential Small Business Security Practices

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Keeping your business protected from fraud and security threats can feel like an overwhelming job. One place to start is by focusing on internal controls that help keep your business’s financial information more secure. Our Security Officer, Kerri Bronk, recommends putting the following three internal controls into practice and reviewing them regularly.

“The idea is to have a combination of different types of security checks and balances in place – and to make sure you keep them up-to-date,” said Kerri. “These simple internal controls can really have an impact on how secure your business information can be.”

Authorized Account Signers

A small business may want to have a few people listed on a financial account as an authorized signer. This can vary by business but may include the owners, an office manager or bookkeeper.

Kerri advises, “[a]uthorized account signers have access to some of the essential functions of your financial account, so you want to make sure this type of access is only granted when necessary.”

 FAQs about Authorized Signers

  • What can an authorized account signer do? An authorized signer is different from an account owner (who has complete control over a financial account). In regards to a checking or saving account, for example, a signer can make withdrawals, sign checks and access some account information.
  • How many authorized account signers can I have? There is no limit. However, the more individuals who have access, the more risk you’re taking.
  • How often should I review this access? On an annual basis or when you’ve had an employment change in your executive management team or accounting/payroll staff.
  • How do I make changes to authorized account signers? Changes to authorized signer need to be done in person at a Merchants Bank location. Contact your Customer Service Representative to make an appointment.

Authorized Cardholders

You might like to have the option for several people to make business purchases with a debit or credit card. This is where authorized cardholders come in.

FAQs about Authorized Cardholders

  • What can an authorized cardholder do? An authorized cardholder can use a debit or credit card tied to your business account to make purchases and get cash from an ATM. You can set spending limits per card user to help keep spending in check.
  • Does the authorized cardholder need to be a signer on the account? No, you can give a person access to a card without having other signing abilities.
  • How many authorized cardholders can I have? There is not a set limit to the number, but again the more access, the harder it will be to track spending.
  • How often should I review this access? Who has access to business debit and credit cards should be reviewed more frequently. We’d recommend making updates to your authorized cardholders each quarter or when you have staffing changes.
  • How do I make changes to authorized card holders? For both your Merchants Bank debit or credit cards, stop into your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.

Access to Account Information

Knowing who has access to your business account information and keeping the number of people to a minimum is one of the best ways to avoid a security or fraud threat.

Considering that small or mid-sized businesses lost a median amount of $289,864 to employee funds theft in 2017, it’s critical to thoughtfully review who should have access to this information.*

FAQs about Account Access

  • What kind of information can I give employees access to? You can select the level of information you want an employee to receive from paper statements to viewing accounts in Online & Mobile Banking or credit card transactions through mycardstatement.com. You can also use our mobile card controls – My Mobile Money for debit cards and SecurLock Equip for credit cards – to have alerts on card spending.
  • How many people can have this access? This varies by solution, please ask at your local Merchants Bank location.
  • How often should I review this access? It’s extremely important to stay current with account access. This should be updated immediately when staff join or leave your business.
  • How do I make changes to who has access to my account information?
    • Statements: Contact your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.
    • Business Online & Mobile Banking: Once you have set up your Business Online Banking account with you as the owner, you can add or remove secondary users and define account access or transactions limits per user at your convenience. If you have any questions or need help with user setup, just contact our Electronic Banking Department (ibsupport@merchantsbank.com or (866) 496-0522).
    • mycardstatement.com: Contact your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.

“My last tip regarding internal controls is to ensure that no single employee has access to all the financial aspects of your business,” said Kerri. “For example, you want to make sure that employees who can pay business expenses with a business credit card are not the same employees who pay the credit card bill.”

Just remember that Merchants Bank is always here to help. If you think your business bank account information has been compromised or have a security concern, contact your local Merchants Bank location and ask to speak to your Cash Management Specialist or a Customer Service Representative.

 

*https://www.hiscox.com/documents/2017-Hiscox-Embezzlement-Study.pdf

Top Business Fraud Updates – April 2018

FraudPrevention-Blog

Please review our most recent fraud alerts and security reminders to help protect your business.

Email Spoofing On the Rise

Our business customers have reported an increase in email spoofing scams. Fraudsters are posing as a customer or employee of the business and sending an email to the business asking for a wire transfer or ACH payment. Only after completing the wire transfer have businesses found out that they were dealing with fraudsters and not their actual customers or employees.

Before you complete transactions to your customers, make sure to verify who you are speaking with over the phone or through an email through a secondary source. Call your customer directly through a phone number you have verified. When working with customers via email, remember to look at both names and email addresses for consistency. If you notice anything suspicious, take the extra time to make sure both your business and your customer’s information is safe. When in doubt – check it out and verify.

Directory Listings Scam

Have you been contacted by someone wanting to verify or confirm your business information for a directory listing? Be cautious. Scammers have been calling business claiming to be able to help them with their online directory listings for a fee. In the end, the business is out the money and their information was verified for a directory listing that doesn’t exist. To avoid falling for this scam, make sure to verify who you are speaking to and confirm the phone number through a third party, like the phone book or Yellow pages. Read more details about this scam here.*

Steps to Take Now to Prevent Fraud

Here are three simple things you can do now to prevent fraud on your business accounts. We recommend:

  • Checking your business bank accounts daily for fraudulent transactions. If you are suspicious of a transaction, contact the Bank immediately.
  • Using a fraud transaction detection service, such as Positive Pay, to help you prevent fraudulent checks and transactions from hitting your account.
  • Using our free debit and credit card security apps to track and review all of your transactions immediately. Learn more about My Mobile Money for your business debit card and SecurLock Equip for your business credit card.

Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks

This tip is part of the FCC’s top ten cyber security tips for small businesses. Protecting and cleaning any computer that handles business information or touches your network is a must. One of the best defenses against online threats is making sure you have the latest security software, web browser and operating system in place too. You can set each of these to automatically install when a new software update is available. In addition, your antivirus software can run a scan after each update to ensure your machines are adequately protected. Take half an hour to check your settings and update your software now. Get more tips here.*

Consider Security First

Use this guide from the FTC to create a security first approach to your business. This in-depth article gives you-step-by-step best practices for protecting sensitive information your business may handle. Read the FTC’s Start with Security Guide now.*

Next Steps If You Have a Security Concern

If you think your business bank account information has been compromised or have a security concern, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to your Cash Management Specialist or a Customer Service Representative.

 

*You will be linking to another website not owned or operated by Merchants Bank, NA. Merchants Bank, NA is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from Merchants Bank, NA.

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.

Fraud and Scam Updates – February 2018

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Review our most recent fraud alerts and updates to help keep your personal information secure. Want to be automatically updated about recent scams and fraud? Sign up for our Alerts emails here.

Computer Pop Up Scam

Have you heard of this scam? You are on your computer when a pop-up warns that your computer is compromised. If you don’t act now, your computer will crash. Offering to help, a scammer dials into your computer to try “fix” the issue, meanwhile gleaming your personal information. Sometimes, the scammers require a payment to “fix” the computer. In the end, the scammers have what they wanted all along, the personal information they got off your computer and now your credit card information you used to pay them. Please be on the lookout for this scam to protect your private information.

Stolen Mail

Our customers have reported an increase in stolen mail, including people who use their mailbox for outgoing mail.

We’d like to remind all customers to be cautious when sending or receiving personal information, bank account information or checks through the mail. If you’re expecting something to arrive and it doesn’t, check on it – balance your checkbook to make sure all checks clearing your account are for the amount you issued. If you are sending checks through the mail, consider putting your mail in a United States Postal Service Collection Box or take it to the Post Office.

Sharing Login Credentials

It’s never a good idea to share your login credentials, or any private information, with anyone, even people you know or think you know. This tip is especially important to remember when you’re talking to someone over the phone on a call you did not initiate. Please remember that Merchants Bank will never ask for your personal information unless you have previously initiated a conversation with us about your accounts or an application.

Family Emergency Scam

Merchants has recently seen an increase in imposter scams. Customers have almost fallen for some emergency scams, including being asked by a fraudster posing as a relative to send money for bail. If you’re asked to send money in an emergency situation, verify the true location of your friend or relative before responding – even if the person you’re talking to sounds like someone in your family.

Be a skeptic. If the situation doesn’t sound right, it’s time to do some more investigating. If you have doubts, just call or come in to discuss the situation with us. We’re here to help.

Next Steps If You’ve Experienced Fraud

If you notice fraud on your statement, be sure to contact us within 60 days from the date your statement was issued. In most cases, if the fraud is reported within 60 days we have a better chance of resolving the issue. After 60 days from the statement’s issue date, there is nothing we can do to retrieve the lost funds.

If you think your bank account information has been compromised or you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

Top Business Fraud Updates – January 2018

FraudPrevention-Blog

Please review our most recent fraud alerts and security reminders to help protect your business.

Stolen Business Checks

Fraudsters are using stolen checks from local businesses to make purchases. To prevent your business from losing money due to stolen checks, we recommend:

  • Checking your business bank accounts daily for fraudulent transactions. If you are suspicious of a transaction, contact the Bank immediately.
  • Using a fraud transaction detection service, such as Positive Pay, to help you prevent these checks from hitting your account.

The sooner you can notify the Bank of a fraudulent transaction, the more we can do to help you. Dedicating time to review your accounts regularly can definitely help keep your business more secure.

Lessons to Learn from Uber Hack

You may have heard about the hack and attempted cover-up at Uber that has recently surfaced in the news. The personal information of more than 57 million customers and 600,000 drivers was stolen in a data breach in October 2016. The company then paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep quiet. What can we learn from this series of events?

First and foremost, it’s important to create a plan for how your company will handle cybersecurity breaches. Simply thinking, “it won’t happen to us” is hardly an option in today’s tech-savvy world. Being prepared beforehand can help you take the right steps if something happens. The FCC provides a free guide, called CyberPlanner*, to help small businesses create cyber plans.

Train Employees on Security Principles

This tip from the FCC* is an important reminder of the role your employees play in protecting your business from security threats. It’s important to establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines, that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

Next Steps If You Have a Security Concern

If you think your business bank account information has been compromised or you have a security concern, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to your Cash Management Specialist or a Customer Service Representative.

 

*You will be linking to another website not owned or operated by Merchants Bank, NA. Merchants Bank, NA is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from Merchants Bank, NA.