Improving Your Credit Score

This is the second article in a two-part series about credit score information.  Our [previous post] showed you what information is included in a credit score.

 

Now that you know a little more about what goes into your credit score you may be wondering what you can do to improve it. Here are a few simple tips:

 

Pay Your Bills!

First, and foremost, pay your bills ON TIME, EVERY TIME. You can pay them a few days early to make sure they process on time. Being even one or two days late affects your score the same as being 30 days late. Over 30 days late? You are hurting your score even more.

 

If you can afford it try and make more than the minimum monthly payment on your credit cards. It will save you money, in the long run, because you end up paying less interest. It will also show lenders that you take your debt seriously and work hard to repay it.

 

Close Unused Accounts

Close unused accounts. If you have paid off a loan or a high interest credit card and you no longer intend to use it, close it. You do not want to close every line of credit offered to you because another thing credit bureaus look at is your used credit versus your available credit. Bottom line: If it is a card with a high rate then have it closed.

 

Get a Free Credit Report

You can always get a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three major credit bureaus. It’s simple to call and request your report. Then you know what lenders are looking at when they evaluate you as a borrower. Looking at your free credit report can also help you determine where you can improve.

 

To request a free credit report, visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com

Shop & Win Promotion!!

The biggest shopping day of the year is less than 48 hours away! We can’t offer you a great deal on a flat screen tv or e-reader, but that doesn’ t mean we can’t make you a deal!

If your Turkey Day plans include taking a trip to the stores at Midnight, be sure to check out the details of our Shop & Win Promotion. Each time you use your debit card between Black Friday and Cyber Monday you’ll be entered to win a $100 VISA Gift Card!

For Your Protection

At Central National Bank we’re all about service to our customers. And one of the services we provide is fraud monitoring.

For your protection, we recently placed a block on certain types of Central National Bank debit card transactions.  If you have problems using your debit card to conduct International telephone or Internet transactions, it may be due to our attempt to protect your account from fraud. Transactions affected are those that require you to key in your card number in order to make a payment.

This change will not affect traditional retail transactions (those made in person). So, if you’re traveling feel free to continue use your debit card overseas!

We know that being away from home can be tough sometimes. So make sure to let us know if you have travel plans. We can put extra monitoring in place to lend you “peace of mind” while you’re away from home.

Call your local branch if you have questions regarding this change or specific transactions.

We appreciate your business, as well as your patience and understanding! Thank you!

New Fraudulent E-mails Claiming to Be From Equifax

Equifax Corporate Security has received notice that some customers and consumers have received fraudulent emails and/or letters falsely claiming to be from Equifax.

One email purports to be from Global Customer Support Center. The email advises customers that they need to download a zip file in order to maintain their secure connection to Equifax. The file to download, however, contains a link to a malware site. There are also several links in the email to Equifax and Oracle. Other emails/letters ask customers to provide bank name, account number and other confidential information.

If you are an Equifax customer and have clicked on a link in one of these emails, immediately contact Equifax Security at Security.DataAdministration@equifax.com. If you have supplied any bank account numbers or other confidential information requested in a letter, you should immediately contact your financial institution.

If you are an Equifax customer and you have clicked on this link, contact Equifax Corporate Security immediately at (866) 493-5983 or Security.DataAdministration@equifax.com

New Fraudulent E-mails Claiming to Be From FDIC

We have received reports from customers who have received emails much like the one listed below. These e-mails and the link included are fraudulent and were not sent by the FDIC. Recipients should consider the intent of these e-mails as an attempt to collect personal or confidential information, or to load malicious software onto end users’ computers. Recipients should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mails and should NOT, under any circumstances, provide any personal financial information through this media.
Financial institutions and consumers should be aware that other subject lines and modifications to the e-mails may occur over time. The FDIC does not directly contact consumers in this manner nor does the FDIC request personal financial information from consumers.

= = = = = Sample Email = = = = = =

Suspicious E-mails Claiming to Be From FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of fraudulent e-mails that have the appearance of being from the FDIC.

The e-mails appear to be sent from various “@fdic.gov” e-mail addresses, such as “subscriptions@fdic.gov,” “alert@fdic.gov,” or “accounts@fdic.gov.

They have subject lines that read: “FDIC: Your business account” or “FDIC: About Your Business Account.”

The e-mails are addressed to “Business Customer” or “Business Owner” and state “We have important information about your bank” or “…financial institution.” They then ask recipients to “Please click here to find details.”

They conclude with, “This includes information on the acquiring bank (if applicable), how your accounts and loans are affected, and how vendors can file claims against the receivership.”

These e-mails and the link included are fraudulent and were not sent by the FDIC. Recipients should consider the intent of these e-mails as an attempt to collect personal or confidential information, or to load malicious software onto end users’ computers. Recipients should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mails and should NOT, under any circumstances, provide any personal financial information through this media.

Financial institutions and consumers should be aware that other subject lines and modifications to the e-mails may occur over time. The FDIC does not directly contact consumers in this manner nor does the FDIC request personal financial information from consumers.

Suspicious E-mails Claiming to Be From NACHA

The Electronic Payments Association has received reports that individuals and/or companies continue to receive fraudulent emails that have the appearance of having been sent from NACHA. These emails vary in content and appear to be transmitted from email addresses associated with the NACHA domain (@nacha.org). Some bear the name of fictitious NACHA employees and/or departments.

NACHA itself does not process nor touch the ACH transactions that flow to and from organizations and financial institutions. NACHA does not send communications to persons or organizations about individual ACH transactions that they originate or receive.

Be aware that phishing emails frequently have attachments and/or links to Web pages that host malicious code and software. Do not open attachments or follow Web links in unsolicited emails from unknown parties or from parties with whom you do not normally communicate, or that appear to be known but are suspicious or otherwise unusual.

See a sample below.

 

= = = = = Sample Email = = = = = =
From:payments@nacha.org [mailto:payments@nacha.org]
Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 7:32 AM
To: Doe, John
Subject: ACH transaction rejected

The ACH transaction, recently sent from your checking account (by you or any other person), was cancelled by the Electronic Payments Association.

Please click here to view report
——————————————————————

Otto Tobin,
Risk Manager

Posted March 7, 2010

Suspicious E-mails Claiming to Be From the Federal Reserve

There are reports that individuals and/or companies are receiving fraudulent emails that have the appearance of being sent from the Federal Reserve. Specifically, the email claims to be from the Federal Reserve Wire Network and appears to be sent from “fedwire@federalreserve.gov.” See a sample below.

= = = = = Sample Email = = = = = =

From: fedwire@federalreserve.gov[mailto:fedwire@federalreserve.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 10:09 AM
To: Doe, John
Subject: Your Wire fund transfer

The Wire transaction , recently sent from your checking account (by you or any other person), was cancelled by the Federal Reserve Wire Network.

Please click here to view details

——————————————————————

Adam Diaz ,
Fraud Department

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

This is a fraudulent email. It was not sent by the Federal Reserve. Do NOT click on any of the links.

Be aware that phishing emails frequently have attachments and/or links to Web pages that host malicious code and software. Do not open attachments or follow Web links in unsolicited emails from unknown parties or from parties with whom you do not normally communicate, or that appear to be known but are suspicious or otherwise unusual.

Money Does Not Buy Happiness. Or Does it?

You’ve all heard the old adage, but what if money actually can contribute to a happy and fulfilled life? Of course, I’m talking indirectly – taking a bag of money home and rolling around in it isn’t likely to cause giddiness. I recently read “Buying Happiness” by Gretchen Rubin and it got me thinking. I’ve decided money and/or the management of money really can lead to happiness. Here’s a rough summary of Rubin’s article…

  • Money can help you build and maintain relationships with loved ones. Whether it’s planning a trip to visit far-away relatives or taking a friend to dinner, you’re using the green stuff to gain one of the emotional needs that help you to lead a happy life.
  • Money can help you get more exercise. Physical activity is constantly linked with a better mood and attitude. Some people spend money on a gym membership, others a new bicycle or even a new iPod to listen to while running.
  • Money can bring you peace of mind. Period. So manage your finances wisely and don’t get too far into debt. If you are in the red, figure out a budget that can help you get out of debt. Just the feeling of being in control can greatly contribute to your peace of mind.
  • Money can help you eat better. Fresh and organic foods can be more expensive than processed meals, but by investing more you are contributing to good health and good relationships. At my house, the kitchen is where we usually spend time together as a family, whether we’re cooking, cleaning up or even hanging out, we’re always having fun.
  • Money can help you contribute to the happiness of someone else. Sometimes, just making a friend happy is worth the cost of a gift. You can get that happy feeling from helping strangers, too!

Rubin finished with one important reminder: We are all very different and have different desires. If your friend/daughter/father/cousin wants to spend money on something, don’t be quick to judge! It might not be important to you, but could mean the world to them!

Blue Jeans for Charity

Our Concordia branch location has come up with the idea to start a fundraising effort called ‘Blue Jeans for Charity’. Every last Friday of the month, employees can donate $3.00 in exchange for a chance to wear blue jeans to work that day. The bank then matches employee contributions and donates the money to a local charity each quarter.

March 25th marks the end of the first quarter for this new program and employees have chosen Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cloud County for the first donation. Funds raised amount to $250.00! The local paper will be on site to cover the event.

Jodi Rehbein, a CSR in Concordia, got the idea to start this, in part, because of the ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign. Rehbein indicated that, “The bank will display a countertop sign on the day we wear jeans, so our customers know why we are dressing down. It also gives them an opportunity to find out more about the charities we choose to support”.

Don’t Trust that Text… You Might Get “Smished”

The newest ruse called “smishing” is a variation of phishing where cyber thugs use SMS text messaging to target mobile banking customers.  Several articles suggest that we are in the early stages of mobile threats and that cyber criminals are still figuring out the best way to gain access to your personal information via cell phone. 

Malware, which is short for malicious software, is still the most pervasive fraud out there and can attack any computer through e-mail or poisoned Web downloads.  This is how criminals take control of your computer and ultimately your finances.

Obviously, mobile banking is becoming more and more common.  Criminals know this and will become very efficient at digging for your information.  Please make sure you and your friends are aware of this situation and if you receive a text that says it’s from your bank and to call the 1-800 number, go to your bank’s website to get the contact info, don’t just call the number provided in the text… You might get “smished”.  Your bank will never text you for the purpose of soliciting information.

Guest Blog by Tim M