Top Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft

chipThe numbers don’t lie: the problem of credit card fraud and identity theft is still prevalent. In fact, the 2016 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research shows that there are more victims than ever with over 13 million Americans affected last year. Overall, identity thieves have stolen $112 billion in the past six years that’s nearly $35,600 per minute, or enough to fund a four-year college degree in less than five minutes.

How can you protect yourself from credit card fraud and identity theft? Try these tips:

1. Enact a credit freeze. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, stops unauthorized individuals from getting access to your credit report. Creditors check your credit report before opening new financial or service accounts in your name, if you block access to it, identity thieves won’t be able to open credit cards in your name. When you are ready to apply for new credit, you can reverse the credit freeze.

2. Keep mobile devices secure. Tablets and smartphones are extremely convenient and efficient for managing your finances. However, unless you secure them properly, you can leave yourself vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft. Make implementing all available software updates for your devices a priority and use the security features offered by Android and iOS platforms, including biometric (fingerprint or voice recognition) passwords and data encryption. In addition, look for settings that allow you to remotely wipe clean the contents of your device if it is lost or stolen.

3. Set strong passwords. Your password is the first line of defense against credit card and identity theft. Changing your passwords on a regular basis is also an important step. If you can’t remember your passwords, try using an electronic password manager such as LastPass to keep them straight and secure.

4. Activate account alerts. Most financial institutions, credit card issuers and brokerages, offer free text message and email notifications to provide you with real-time alerts of suspicious activity. Make sure you keep tabs on these notifications and if you do receive something that indicates fraudulent activity, contact the account issuer immediately.

5. Don’t disregard data breach notifications. According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) research, 20 percent of data-breach victims suffered fraud in 2015, up from 1 in 7 in 2014. Retail breaches remain a major source of these breaches, but the largest increase in breaches was in government agencies and health care organizations, both potentially risk the exposure of your Social Security number and potentially financial information as well.

Even the most stringent security measures cannot provide absolute protection from credit card and identity theft. That’s why it’s so important for you to take proactive steps to safeguard your own financial accounts and stay vigilant when monitoring for any suspicious activity. If you have any questions about credit card fraud, identity theft or protecting your financial information please contact us.

Achieve Your Goals with Smart CD Savings Strategies

An OSB certificate of deposit (CD) account is a great savings tool, providing the opportunity to earn interest and shelter your money. When used wisely, a certificate of deposit can save you in a financial pinch, or even fund your future. Here are two strategies for putting the financial power of a CD to work for you:
Consider using CDs for a “rainy day” fund

In a regular savings account, a “rainy day fund” can be too easily tapped for other things. To help you remain disciplined about saving, a certificate of deposit may be a better choice because your money is secured for a predetermined term and is off-limits.

Use your CD for financial goal setting

If you have a long-term financial goal, a CD is the perfect vehicle to be assigned to helping you realize it.  If you want to buy a house, for instance, you can put money into a CD and when it matures, you can roll it into another CD until your savings goals are met. Seeing that interest accumulate can help you stay motivated reach your goal!

OSB CDs also keep your money working in our local community, consider taking advantage of one today!

Why Community Banks are Different…in a Good Way!

All banks are the same, right? They’ve all got tellers and lenders, they cash checks and write loans, they have ATMs. They all do the same things, because they’re all the same—or are they?

It’s a fact: Community banks are different. Different…in a good way. For example, community banks do more than just cash checks:

They’re helping businesses grow.

U.S. Small Business Administration statistics show that small firms employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and created nearly two-thirds of nation’s net new jobs over the past decade and a half. Community banks are natural partners to small businesses because they understand them so well and are committed to their success. As such, the funding, expertise and opportunities small businesses receive from community banks helps them grow and keeps dollars in our community – making it an even greater place to live

They’re creating jobs.

Community banks employ more than 700,000 Americans across more than 52,000 locations nationwide, according to Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). In addition to their own employees, community banks help create employment locally by improving the economic infrastructure of the communities they serve and enabling businesses to get the financing they need to grow and add more employment opportunities.

They’re supporting the local economy.

ICBA statistics also show that community banks fund nearly 60% of small business loans under $1 million – reinvesting their deposit dollars back into their community. As a small business themselves, community banks are passionate about ensuring that the communities they share are thriving.

They’re helping local farmers.

Consistently the largest provider of agricultural credit, community banks provide $57 billion in agricultural loans (ICBA data). This comprises more than 70% of commercial agricultural loans in America.

They’re doing more than writing checks.

Communities banks, like OSB Community Bank (OSB) give back to the communities they serve, providing financial and in-kind support to organizations in their communities. Reinvesting back into the community is a central part of the community banking philosophy. OSB employees volunteer many hours to local community organizations – serving on boards for Hospice of Lenawee, Kiwanis, Cascades Humane Society, Jackson Enterprise and many more. Plus, our team is always ready to get involved in community events that foster stronger relationships.

They’re here for the long haul.

A community bank isn’t just another bank. Community banks are different and making a difference to the businesses, individuals and communities they serve. They strive to develop long-term relationships and are committed to supporting the local community through employment, reinvestment and volunteerism. Despite the uncertainty facing other financial institutions community banks are here for the long haul, so you can feel confident that working with (or for) a community bank is a decision you can feel good about over the long-term.

Holiday Shopping Security

Christmas is just around the corner and scammers and cybercrooks are more abundant than ever. Because this is the biggest shopping time of the year, scammers take advantage of this by bombarding you with spam emails, and malware. Now is the time to start taking some precautionary measures to prevent yourself from falling victim to any of the thousands of scams you will receive this time of year.

There are many ways that cybercrooks will try to get your money, one of the most popular being through email scams, also known as phishing. 90% of emails that are sent each year are either spam or some sort of virus. The best practice against this is to make sure you don’t click on anything you feel is suspicious or just seems somewhat out of the ordinary. If you get an email claiming that you have an unclaimed fortune from your twice removed uncle from Texas, you can pretty much guarantee yourself that it’s a scam. If you receive an email from someone that you know but it seems suspicious, contact the person to see if they sent you the email and confirm that it is safe. A big email scam that is happening this holiday season is fake order confirmation emails. These emails pose as order confirmations and ask you to click on a link which then infects your computer with a nasty virus that collects usernames and passwords for your email and other credentials on your computer (more on this can be found here) and it also installs a program that will scan websites you visit for vulnerabilities.

When it comes to online shopping, a few things you can do to ensure that you are in fact secure while shopping online is (1) to shop on popular online stores like Amazon, BestBuy, Newegg, etc. (2) check to make sure the address for the checkout starts with https, and not just http. Something else to watch for is pop ups. If the website you’re considering buying from has pop up ads when you click on parts of the website this might indicate that it could be a scam website. Carefully review your credit card and bank statements over the coming months to identify any potentially fraudulent charges and notify your financial institution right away if there is any suspicious activity. Note that most financial institutions have timelines which must be adhered to in order to resolve fraudulent card activity.

There is no sure fire way to make sure you are secure. It seems that the bad guys are always a step ahead of everyone else and they stop at nothing to try and find a way to exploit the public. If you practice these fairly practical and easy steps, you will have taken a huge leap towards securing yourself this Christmas shopping season.

The Spirit of Community Banking

The OSB Team is proud to serve our community.

With Thanksgiving literally right around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the abundance that we have in our lives and how we might make things better for those who are not as fortunate as we are.

Family, friends, having a means to make a living and being part of a caring community…these blessings are easily taken for granted in our fast-paced lives, yet for some people these things are out of reach. As a community bank, we strive to do what we can to help improve the opportunities available to those in the communities we serve during the holidays—and throughout the rest of the year.

This past year, we have proudly supported area schools and students through our back to school drive, the Dr. Fish scholarship awarded to Lenawee and Jackson County high school graduates, and additional financial support. We have also been fortunate to have many opportunities to work with a diverse group of community organizations and to participate in their fundraising efforts to make our community stronger.

Helping our local business community thrive is an integral part of OSB’s mission. Our Small Business Summits and Business After Hours events are key parts of our commitment to helping businesses succeed by providing education and networking opportunities. Our leadership team is also dedicated to making a difference in our community by lending their time and talents to local nonprofit organizations including HOPE Community Center, Hospice of Lenawee, Lenawee County Mission, and Cascades Humane Society.

OSB is thankful for the opportunity to serve the residents and businesses in our local area. We look forward to sharing the spirit of community banking during this holiday season and all year long and we encourage you to consider how you can make a difference, too.

OSB’s Business Manager Can Help Your Business Accelerate Cash Flow

Businesses of all sizes need to have access to working capital in order to operate and grow. OSB Business Manager makes it easy for businesses to increase their cash flow by providing much-needed working capital for your receivables. By bridging the gap between your payables due now and the receivables your customers won’t remit for 30 days or more, our Business Manager program positions your company to leverage growth opportunities, offer extended credit terms, take advantage of supplier discounts, and reduce debt.

OSB’s unique Business Manager program allows your business to operate with confidence and receive cash deposits in its operating account every time an invoice is submitted, giving you quick access to the money you are owed—regardless of whether you receive payment in 30, 60, or 90 days.

By using OSB’s Business Manager your cash flow will be accelerated, so you don’t have to worry about having funds available to make payroll, staff appropriately, purchase new equipment, upgrade technology or meeting other needs related to growing your business or seizing new growth opportunities. You will also be able to take advantage of potential vendor discounts for upfront or cash payment, volume purchases, and timely payments.

Business Manager is Different from Invoice Factoring
While you may have heard of, or even used a program that sounds somewhat similar to Business Manager (perhaps something that may have been referenced as “invoice factoring”), be assured that this service is very different—and provides significantly more benefits to your business in terms of lower costs, flexibility, and the ability to maintain direct contact you’re your clients. There are additional benefits that make Business Manager a better alternative for most businesses including:

  • Lower fixed costs and no additional fees or APR financing charges.
  • Acceptance of invoices with longer payment terms.
  • More frequent funding (daily vs. weekly)
  • No intermediary to deal with—you work directly with OSB.
  • No long term contracts or cancellation penalties.
  • Maintenance of your client relationships and retention of the collection process stays with your business—your customers never deal with us, just you.
  • Your business retains billing ownership—only the remittance address changes to that of the bank.

Business Manager Works for Businesses of All Sizes in a Diverse Range of Industries OSB’s Business Manager program is designed to meet the needs of businesses in a wide range of industries, all with their own unique needs.

Here’s an example of how the program supports the day-to-day operations and growth of one type of business: A mid-size trucking company that wants to leverage new market opportunities but has limited working capital to support its growth. With the Business Manager program as a debt free receivables financing solution, the company can access higher line limits and higher advance rates. This benefits the business by accelerating its cash flow, allowing it to add additional trucks and take on additional contracts without worrying about the extra working capital needed to cover the increased payroll and fuel expense. As a result, the business has increased sales by 300 percent in two months and continues to pursue additional growth opportunities.

Position Your Business for the Future with Help from OSB’s Business Manager Program

More information about Business Manager can be found online. Our business banking team is also happy to answer any questions you may have about using our Business Manager program to help your business access needed working capital and take advantage of future growth opportunities. Contact us today.

The Best Online Tools for Managing Your Money

9314For many of us, balancing a physical checkbook has become a thing of the past. However, we still need to keep track of our money. Yet, it can be challenging to keep track of our expenses and multiple bank, credit card, and investment accounts—especially when we’re on the go. So, if you are looking for a simple way to keep track of your personal finances, you may want to consider some of OSB’s electronic financial management tools. Using these tools can not only help you stay organized, but also provide you with insight into your spending patterns which can also help you budget and manage your money more effectively.

OSB Mobile Banking App
As an OSB customer, one of the first financial management apps you should consider is our own Mobile Banking smart phone app which helps you manage your deposit and loan accounts without having to be at a computer or one of our branches. The OSB Mobile Banking app allows you to view account balances and your recent transaction history; transfer funds between accounts; pay bills; and find ATM and branch locations.
The app also features Text Banking which allows you to view account activity via texting short codes for even quicker access to account information. For example, texting “B” will reply with your current account balance.
In addition, with the OSB Mobile Banking app you can sign up for Notify Me Alerts which send text or email notifications about your account status, check and deposit clearing activity, or if your balances rise or fall below an established threshold. You can also receive notifications about account-specific security information.

Personal Finance Manager
OSB’s Personal Finance Manager is a web-based financial management dashboard that allows you to consolidate and track financial information from your all of your online banking accounts. With Personal Finance Manager, you can create a comprehensive view of all of your financial relationships in one secure place—making money management easy.

This tool allows you to link your online banking accounts (even those not at OSB), to create budgets and track spending, as well as managing debt. Personal Finance Manager can also be used to help manage business accounts and financial information. In fact, if you own a business, you can incorporate all of your business and personal accounts into one dashboard view, giving you a complete picture of your finances.

Don’t Forget to Manage Your Credit, Too
The above web-based tools are effective for managing your accounts and overall spending. Remember, keeping an eye on your credit is also important. In addition to the big three credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), there are several other subscription-based credit monitoring options on the market such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame that provide your credit score and recent activity, such as credit account balances, inquiries, and other data.
Using an app to get a handle on your personal finances can be a smart move, and apps can make it easier to manage your money when you travel and when you have many accounts at different institutions. One last tip: If you do decide to use one or more apps listed in this article, or you use a different one, be sure that the devices that you use to access your apps are password-protected to keep your sensitive personal and financial information safe.