Using Technology to Remain Financially Fit

Are you interested in trying a new bank technology but not sure what’s available? Look no further! Technology is almost limitless and staying up to date can help make your life a bit easier. FDIC Consumer News offers an overview of some current services and most of them are free!

 

Personal Financial Management and Budgeting: Financial planning tools are one way to stay financially fit. One great tool is an electronic check register on your home computer (many consumers find this much easier to use and balance than an old-fashion paper check register.) There are also “companion applications” for your smartphone that allows access to your electronic check register wherever you are.

Mobile banking services go one step further. They allow you to access your bank account from anywhere using your smartphone, iPad, computer or other device. According to FDIC Consumer News “an estimated 30 million Americans currently manage their finances using mobile devices.”

Think about this? Let’s say you are in a store and trying to decide upon a major purchase, you would need to know if you have enough money in your account to cover the cost. If you’re balance is low, you can use mobile banking to transfer funds from one account to another, in order to cover the charge.

Depositing checks using your smartphone or other mobile device: Many banks have rolled out a “remote deposit capture” (RDC) feature. We, at Community Bank of the Chesapeake, like to call it “mobile deposit capture.” This is a feature that allows customers to take a picture of a check with their mobile device and deposit that check electronically, without the interruption of visiting a branch or using an ATM. This is convenient for customers who do not live or work close to a bank branch, yet would like their money ASAP.

If you use mobile RDC, carefully keep track of the checks you deposit. For instance, you can write the date you deposited the item on the front of the paper check and hold onto it until the check has cleared and the money is in your account. We recommend holding it for 5 business days! Then you can destroy the check, preferably using a high-quality paper shredder. Contact us with any questions.

Account Alerts: Community Bank of the Chesapeake and most mobile banking systems, will allow you to sign up to get text messages on your mobile phone or e-mails if your account balance drops below a set dollar amount, which can help ensure that you don’t overdraw your account. We also call if we observe “suspicious” — potentially fraudulent — transactions involving your account. Setting up mobile alerts is a convenient and safe way to monitor what is going on with your checking account in real time!

Bill Paying: Paying bills through your mobile device or computer is just another way technology makes your life easier. Imagine you forgot to send your check in the mail and your bill is due! With Bill Pay your e-bills can be scheduled and set for auto pay, making sure you’re never late on a payment. Tip: We even let you create an “approved list” on our bank’s online banking web site.

As with any mobile banking service, always check with us before signing up to make sure you know about fees or other key factors.

Finally, when using any mobile financial service, keep privacy and security issues in mind. Protecting your devices with passwords is always a smart idea.

Tips for the New Year

 

 

It’s that time of year — the time to ring out the old and ring in the new, to ditch bad habits and replace them with good ones. We can’t guarantee you’ll lose weight, or become a better human being, but we can give you some suggestions to help you whip your finances into shape. Here are some tips for the New Year.Tips for the New Year

 

Save and invest. Don’t underestimate your ability to save and invest. With compound interest, even modest investments now can grow over time.

Lighten your credit load. Paying off high-interest debt may be your best investment strategy. Few investments pay off as well as, or with less risk than, eliminating high-interest debt on credit cards or other loans.

Boost your “rainy-day” fund. Many experts recommend keeping about six months of expenses in a federally insured account to cover sudden unemployment or other emergencies.

“Sure thing” is fine as an expression but not as an investment pitch. Promises of guaranteed high returns, with little or no risk, are a classic warning sign of fraud. The potential for greater returns typically comes with greater risk. You know the saying—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Take charge of your money. If you don’t know where it goes, start keeping track. There are plenty of tools to help you set a monthly budget and stick to it.

Pay yourself first. Put yourself at the top of your “payee” list. Regular automatic deductions from your paycheck or bank account into a savings or investment account will keep you on track toward your short and long-term financial goals.

Know your investment self. You’re the best judge of yourself. Use that knowledge to find investments that are a good match for you, based on your goals and your ability to tolerate risks.

Make sure your older investments still fit you. Take time to review your holdings and see if they’re still appropriate for you. If you’ve outgrown them, it’s probably time to sell them and buy something better suited to you.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. One way to reduce the risks of investing is to diversify your investment holdings. Think twice before investing heavily in shares of your employer’s stock or any single investment.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially when it comes to your account statements. Sure, it can hurt to look at statements when investments are losing value. But if you don’t review your statements, you may miss problems in your accounts that are unrelated to performance.

Do your homework. Asking questions about financial opportunities and checking out the answers with unbiased sources can help you make informed choices and avoid fraud.

To learn more financial tips and how to get your finances in our in the new year, visit your local branch or contact a member of our team today.

Tip for Shopping Online

Tips for Shopping Online 
(Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information)

Know who you’re dealing with.

Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or online shoppingproblems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don’t reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information that way.

Know what you’re buying.

Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out” may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.

Know what it will cost.

Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare “apples to apples.” Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of your purchase. Do not send cash or money transfers under any circumstances.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.

Can you return the item for a full refund if you’re not satisfied? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will get your order? A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options, so you can see exactly where your purchase is and estimate when you’ll get it.

Pay by credit card.

If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. In the event that someone uses your credit card without your permission, your liability generally is limited to the first $50 in charges. Some companies guarantee that you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card online; some cards provide additional warranty, return, and purchase protection benefits.

Keep Records.

Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them; be on the lookout for charges that you don’t recognize.

Protect Your Information

Don’t email any financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins “https” (the “s” stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

Check the privacy policy.

Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they’re going to use the information. If you can’t find a privacy policy — or if you can’t understand it — consider taking your business to another site that’s more user-friendly.

Holiday budgeting tips

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or the general holiday season, chances are you’ll be spending money on things during this time ofholiday budget year that are outside your regular budget. Remember the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol? Those three ghosts have inspired a timeless strategy for holiday spending. Here are some tips for spending smart.

 

CHRISTMAS PAST

Look back. Review how much you spent last year and how you spent it. Analyze what you spent money on, over what period of time, and how you paid for it. If you used credit cards, be sure to look at how long it took you to pay them off. If you were still carrying Christmas debt on your credit card while on summer vacation, you may want to rethink how you handle the holidays.

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Make a list. Include not only gifts, but decorations, cards & postage, food & drink, travel and any special stuff you’ll need to buy.

Decide how much you have to spend. Set a budget and stick to it. Period.

Comparison shop—use online resources. If you’ve taken time to make a list of who you’ll be buying for, it will be easy to think about what to buy for them. Start shopping at home—or at least start looking at home. Go online for gift ideas and start comparing prices.

Use cash if possible. Since you’ve established a budget, done your homework to find the best price and have committed to staying within your budget, shopping with cash will be a cinch. You’ll be forced to think about an impulse purchase, perhaps thinking it through to the point of realizing it really isn’t worth it. If you do choose to use credit cards, be sure to exercise discipline to stay within your budget.

Track Expenses. Track every dollar you spend: cash, checks and credit cards. It doesn’t matter if you use money management software, a spreadsheet or the back of an old Christmas card, but be sure to record how you spend. Not only will this keep you on track, but it will also help with returns and with planning for next year.

Beware of the spirit of Christmas Present(s). Retailers spend a lot of time and even more money to help you “get in the spirit”. Their hope is that the more spirit you have the more money you will spend. Hold strong against developing an overly generous heart for the wrong reasons. That happy high in your gut at the register will likely be replaced with a spending hangover when the credit card bill arrives. 

CHRISTMAS FUTURE

Shop early. Buy next year’s holiday decorations on clearance as soon as the holidays are over. Keep your eyes open for bargains throughout the year and stash them away. Beware though: track that spending and don’t lose track of what you’ve bought.

Save all year. Make holiday saving a year round commitment. Set up an account at a local bank, perhaps a different bank than your main bank, just for holiday savings. Set aside a designated amount with each paycheck or as you pay your monthly bills.

With a little planning and some discipline, the holidays can truly be a relaxing time to enjoy family, friends and responsible gift-giving.

Introducing a safer way to pay

The last time you were in a retail store, you may have noticed swiping your card through a brand new card reader. Many retailers are currently in the process of updating their payment systems to accept chip cards, the latest and safest way to pay. In the coming weeks, Community Bank of the Chesapeake will begin updating our customers’ cards, issuing new Checkcards with security chips. Here are a few things you need to know in advance ofGraphic_2 the rollout.

What does the microchip do?

The chip in your card adds an extra layer of security by creating a unique, one-time use code every time you dip your card at a chip-enabled terminal. Your purchase can only be approved with the chip-generated code. The bad news for would-be fraudsters is that the chip in your card is virtually impossible to duplicate, meaning that making counterfeit chip cards is much more difficult than counterfeiting magnetic striped cards.

How do you pay with a chip card?

Paying with a chip card is easy! Instead of swiping it like you would a magnetic strip card, you insert the card into the slot at the bottom of the machine so that the chip can be read. Leave the card in the machine while the transaction processes. You may be prompted to sign for your purchase. On some terminals, the machine will beep to alert you that the transaction is complete and that it is safe to remove your card. Remember to always take your card out of the machine!

You can use your new chip card anywhere magnetic cards are accepted.

Your card will still have a magnetic strip, which means that you can still use the card at a retailer that hasn’t upgraded to a chip-enabled point of sale terminal. Be aware, however, that the chip functionality will only work at retailers that have activated their chip terminals.

You still need to guard against fraud when you use your card online, over the phone or by mail.

Unlike with in-store transactions, there is no card-reading device receiving the secret, one-time authentication code from the microchip to verify your card’s authenticity. This means that you still need to remain vigilant when shopping online or giving your card data over the phone or by mail. You should always be sure to monitor your account on a regular basis and report any unauthorized transactions to your bank as soon as possible. When shopping online, always verify that the site is secure before entering your payment information.

While these new chip cards cannot completely eliminate the threat of fraud or data breaches, they will go a long way to help keep your card data and information safe. If you have any questions about chip cards or how to use them, please visit your local branch or call us toll free at 888-745-2265. Be sure to keep an eye on our website, cbtc.com, for updates on when you can expect to receive your chip card.

Check out this infographic from the American Bankers Association to learn more about how to use your chip card!

We will begin issuing EMV cards to all card holders beginning November 30, 2015. There is no need to request a new card and there is no extra charge.  You will automatically receive your new card in the mail before your current card’s expiration date.  Once your new card arrives, be sure to activate it for use and then destroy your old card. If you have any questions, please contact your local branch or call us toll free at 888-745-2265.

 

8 Tips to Protect Your Identity

Provided by: the American Bankers Association 

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft has topped its list of consumer complaints every year, for the last 15 years. Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains and misuses someone’s personal information without permission, typically for economic gain. For many victims, it can result in drained bank accounts, poor credit, and a damaged reputation.

In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Community Bank offers the following tips to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of ID 8 waysidentity theft:

  • Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Protect your mobile deviceUse the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

In addition to these precautions, Community Bank of the Chesapeake recommends adding the additional protection of Identity Restoration services. Contact your local branch manager for more information and to sign up.

12 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Device

Provided by: the American Bankers Association

 

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same

Modern mobile phone with icon of lock.Isolated on white background.3d rendered.

convenient access for criminals. Follow these tips to keep your information (and your money) safe.

  1. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  1. Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  1. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  1. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  1. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  1. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
  1. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  1. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  1. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  1. Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  1. Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
  1. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Smart(phone) Ways to Simplify Your Life

You know it can help you take and make phone calls, access email, take pictures, surf the Web, get driving directions, and even play your favorite music. But are you aware of just how smart your smartphone really is? Today’s smartphones have features and apps available that can help you simplify virtually all aspects of your life. Here are just a few things your phone can do:

 

Take measurements. Need to measure a room in your home to see if new furniture will fit? You can download smartphone apps that let you actually take measurements. If you play golf, you can use these apps to measure your distance to the pin.

Start your engine. Going somewhere? There are smartphone apps that let you start your car remotely. You can start your engine, unlock or lock your doors, and even pop your trunk from inside your home — or virtually anywhere else you have an Internet connection.

Deposit checks. Need to deposit a check in your account? You could go to the branch and wait in line or you could use our mobile deposit app and make the deposit right from your smartphone using your phone’s camera.

Monitor your health. Planning to exercise? You can monitor your heart rate using your smartphone. In addition, there are apps that make it easy for you to track your steps and calories and even log your food intake.

Store business cards. Networking? Your smartphone makes it easier than ever to keep and store the business cards you receive.

Accept credit card payments. Do you have a business that sells goods or services? With devices and apps for your smartphone, you can actually swipe credit or debit cards and process payments electronically — no matter where you are.

Technology is always changing, so you can expect that smartphones will truly put an easier, more productive life where it belongs: in your hands.

Struggling With A Student Loan? Ask Your Lender for Help

If you’re one of the millions facing unemployment and staggering student debt, you may find yourself unable to make your monthly payments on your student loans. With the threat of wagestudent loan garnishment and irreparable damage to your credit score hanging over your head, where do you turn for help?

 

The answer is your lender. There are often different options available for repayment that you can choose to suit your needs and financial situation, but you need to be proactive about finding out what those are. The first step you need to take is to determine whether your student loans are serviced through the U.S. Department of Education or through a private lender.

 

Options for federal loans depend on the program. You may be able to lower your monthly payment or temporarily put repayment on hold. You can choose from a menu of repayment plans and change from one to another at any time. Possibilities include lower monthly payments that increase over time, an extended repayment period that results in lower monthly payments, and monthly payments based on your income.

 

Although these kinds of plans may reduce monthly payments, remember that the longer you take to pay down the loan, the more you pay in interest. Federal loan borrowers also might qualify for forbearance or deferment, which can temporarily reduce or postpone payments.

 

To get help with a federal loan, contact your servicer, the organization that collects your loan payments. Borrowers can identify their federal loans and the servicers for those loans using the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System.

 

For private student loans, contact your servicer to learn about possibilities such as forbearance or deferment or alternatives like rate reductions, extended loan terms or other loan modifications. On July 25, 2013, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a statement encouraging financial institutions to work constructively with private student loan borrowers experiencing financial difficulties.

 

Finally, beware of unsolicited offers from companies that promise an easy solution to student loan woes. The solicitation may even appear to be affiliated with the government or represent government programs. Often times, these are attempts to obtain your personal information and commit identity theft, or scams that collect fees for services that are freely available through the Department of Education or a private institution.

 

To learn more about federal student loans and repayment options, start at studentaid.ed.gov. Also find information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

401(k)s and IRAs: Why you need a retirement savings plan

Planning for a financially secure retirement is most often ranked as the number one reason why people save and invest. Social Security and company 401postpension plans may provide some of the income you need during retirement, but contributions to your company retirement plan and your IRA may make the difference between enjoying the retirement lifestyle you want and relying on others for your basic needs.

Contributions to retirement plans and IRAs move you closer to a financially secure retirement in three ways:

You save and accumulate money. Having a portion of your wages deferred into your 401(k) or other retirement plan can be the simplest and least “painful” way to save. Often the amounts are not missed as you automatically adjust your spending accordingly. Contributions to an IRA also add up, especially over longer periods of time. Contributing $5,500 a year over 20 years will add up to over $202,000 with a 6% earnings rate.

Your earnings are tax deferred. Earnings on funds within your retirement plan and IRA are not subject to income tax each year the way your other savings are. This means you have more money working for you. You will have to pay tax on the earnings when you withdraw the funds (except for a Roth IRA), but most people are in lower tax brackets when they retire.

You reduce your current income taxes. The amount you defer into your 401(k) plan reduces your taxable wages and you pay less tax each year. For 2015, the limit on the amount you can tax-defer into your 401(k) is $18,000 unless you were age 50 or above and then it is even larger. Contributions to a regular IRA are deductible if you are not covered by an employer-sponsored plan or if your adjusted gross income is below $98,000 for 2015 (married filing jointly) or $61,000 (filing a single tax return). Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible, but distributions are tax-free.

If you’re thinking about planning for retirement, Community Bank can help! Visit your local branch or visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our Wealth Advisors.