Little Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

You don’t have to be a great detective to figure out that the holiday season is the time for giving. Retailers, from jewelry stores to auto manufacturers,season to give have made that painfully clear as they flood the airwaves and cyberspace with images of beautiful diamond bracelets and luxury cars with giant red bows. And while many of us would love to indulge and shower those we love with beautiful and expensive gifts, it’s simply not financially possible.

 

But to experience the true meaning of the holiday season, and the joy of giving, you don’t have to spend large amounts of money. There are plenty of little ways you can give back to make a big difference in the lives of others. Here are a few suggestions on how to give:

  • Collect canned goods and other foods and bring them to a food pantry. We have our annual Food and Toy Drive through December 7. Stop by any branch and drop off any donations and we would be happy to see that they make it to the food bank.
  • Donate old coats and boots to a shelter. The winter can be cold and harsh for many struggling families.
  • Visit elderly patients in nursing homes. The holidays can be a very lonely time for many people.
  • Buy someone’s cup of coffee in the drive-thru line.
  • Shovel a driveway or walkway for an elderly neighbor.
  • Write a letter or make a card to thank someone you care about.
  • Collect and donate toys to give to less fortunate children, or to children in hospitals.
  • Bake a cake or cookies for a neighbor.
  • Do an act of kindness for someone and invite them to do the same for someone else. You’ll start a chain of kindness.
  • Volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter and invite family members to join you. You’ll form a great bond of kindness.
  • Read to a child.
  • Smile and say hello to everyone you meet or encounter.
  • Send a card or letter to a soldier away from home.
  • Pick up trash to keep your community clean.
  • Share your skills. If you have expertise in a certain area, such as resume writing, tutoring, cooking, etc., volunteer your time to help others who could benefit from your knowledge.
  • Call or write a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while.

Start giving today!

Again, it doesn’t take much to give back; all you need is an open heart. And that’s a gift that’s priceless.

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.

Fifth Annual Food and Toy Drive November 12-December 7. Donate today!

You can help us make a difference and brighten up the holiday season for those in need.Holiday Food & Toy Drive

 

We’re proud to announce the start of our Fifth Annual Food and Toy Drive. Each year it brings us great pleasure to bring back this special seasonal event to help support the organizations and individuals in our communities.

Helping others during the holidays

You can drop off non-perishable food goods, such as canned vegetables and fruit, soups, baby formula, powdered milk, peanut butter and hot/cold cereals, at any Community Bank branch between November 12 and December 7.

Collections made in Southern Maryland will be donated to the Southern Maryland Food Bank, collections in King George County will be donated to the Department of Social Services for the King George Food Pantry and collections in Fredericksburg will be donated to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

We are also collecting new, unwrapped toys to distribute to local families with young children during the holidays. Toys collected will support the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

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.

 

Halloween Safety Tips

It’s the most “spooktacular” time of the year. That annual ritual when young pirates, princesses, superheroes, mermaids, and other characters venture out into the streets to collect tasty treats from friends and neighbors. But while Halloween can bring joy and excitement to children, it can bring worries to parents about their children’s safety. Here are some simple tips to ensure your child enjoys the treats of the season — and stays safe.Halloween Safety

 

Food Safety:

  • Instruct your children to eat only factory wrapped candy or treats from people they know and trust.
  • Carefully examine all the candy and treats for any signs of tampering.
  • Read the labels on all candy packaging. This is especially important to parents whose children have dangerous food and other allergies.

Costume Safety:

  • Ensure costumes are flame retardant.
  • Do not have your children wear masks or other equipment that obstructs their vision.
  • Before applying makeup, be sure to test it on a small section of your child’s skin to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Ensure your child’s costume is not too long, which could cause them to trip or fall.
  • Choose comfortable shoes, such as sneakers. While princess heels may look great, they may cause your child to fall or experience foot pain.
  • Make sure your costumes are bright or reflective. Or, purchase reflective tape that can be adhered to any costume.

Road Safety:

  • Make sure young children are always accompanied by an adult.
  • Have children carry flashlights so that they can see and be seen.
  • Keep children on sidewalks and instruct them to walk not run.

General Safety:

  • Adhere to the trick-or-treat hours your city or town has established.
  • Instruct children to stay away from candles and lighted jack-o-lanterns or other decorations that use fire.
  • Teach children not to enter any houses without being accompanied by a trusted adult.
  • Ensure children only go to houses of people they know.
  • If a house is dark, instruct children to stay away.

Home Safety

If you plan on handing out treats, here are some safety rules to ensure the safety of trick or treaters who visit you.

  • Turn on outside lights and make a clear path so young visitors can see where they are going.
  • Choose healthier, lower calorie snacks.
  • Limit the amount of snacks you provide to your young guests.
  • Turn out your lights when trick or treating has ended in your city or town or when you run out of candy.

Treat yourself to more safety tips.

For more helpful tips on keeping children safe, visit the Center for Disease Control or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Protect your business from account takeover

Provided by: The American Bankers Association 

 

Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. Criminals use spoofed emails, malicious software spread through infected attachments and online social networks to obtain login credentials to businesses’ accounts, transfer funds from the accounts and steal private Webinformation, a fraud referred to as “corporate account takeover.”

Combating account takeover is a shared responsibility between businesses and financial institutions. Bankers can explain the safeguards small businesses need and the numerous programs available that help ensure fund transfers, payroll requests and withdrawals are legitimate, accurate and authorized. Companies should train employees about safe internet use and the warning signs of this fraud, because they are the first line of defense.

Here are some precautions you can take to help protect your business from account takeover:

  • Protect your online environment. It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Do not use unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.
  • Partner with your bank to prevent unauthorized transactions. Talk to your banker about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay and other services offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes and batch limits help protect you from fraud.
  • Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact your financial institution, stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.
  • Understand your responsibilities and liabilities. The account agreement with your bank will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover. Talk to your banker if you have any questions about your responsibilities.

To learn more, see the American Bankers Association’s Small Business Guide to Corporate Account Takeover.

 

Friday Focus: The Accokeek Foundation

Along the Potomac River just across from the historic Mount Vernon plantation sits Piscataway Park, a 5,000-acre span of natural landscape. The park is a product of a large-scale conservation effort begun in the 1950s, when rapid development threatened to destroy the land. Today, the stewardship of the park is a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Accokeek Foundation, an organization dedicated to sharing the land and its heritage with visitors. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Anjela Barnes, the Foundation’s Marketing Director.accokeek

 

 

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Accokeek Foundation’s mission is to cultivate passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commitment to stewardship and sustainability. We were founded in 1957 to protect the view from George Washington’s Mount Vernon as one of the nation’s first land trusts, and we continue land conservation efforts today to ensure continued protection of the viewshed and the working landscapes in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the Foundation uses Piscataway Park to interpret agriculture and environmental stewardship to its 20,000 annual visitors, including school youth, local residents, recreational enthusiasts and D.C. area tourists. The National Colonial Farm, a well known historic farm museum established in 1958, demonstrates Maryland agriculture during the 18th century, and has been the backdrop for hundreds of school tours each year. The Ecosystem Farm, a certified organic 8-acre farm, teaches visitors about sustainable food production using innovative growing techniques. It is the goal of the farm to demonstrate a compelling variety of possibilities that inspire people to want to grow while creating a thriving, engaged community.

 

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: There are so many favorite moments that it’s hard to choose just one, but I would say that the best moments come by way of the school tours offered to kids aged 13 or younger. Last fall, the organic farm we operate was host to a group of kids from D.C.’s Mundo Verde Public Charter School. The kids learned about what it’s like to be a farmer, where their food comes from and even helped to harvest carrots–a lot of carrots! For many of the kids, it is their first time visiting a farm, an experience quoted by one teacher as, “one they’ll never forget.”

 

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Because of recent federal budget cuts, including sequestration and the 2014 shutdown, the Accokeek Foundation has been impacted by a decrease in federal funding. Support from private foundations and individuals help to provide the funds needed so we can maintain and provide an open space that is available daily and free for all to enjoy its beauty.

 

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: There are many ways to get involved with the organization. Volunteering on a recurring basis is often the most rewarding way to get involved and give back by helping with the gardens, caring for heritage breed livestock, working the on-farm market or lending a hand during special events. Individuals and families can also join and become members of the Accokeek Foundation to support the natural and cultural heritage programs offered. Or simply visit, bring your family and friends, and enjoy the natural beauty of Piscataway Park, preserved and protected for generations to come.

 

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.

We’re sprucing up your statements!

We are very excited to announce that our statements are getting a makeover! Starting in October, we will be moving to a full-color, easy-to-read formatstatements screenshot_business edited for all account statements.

With this update, we will also be changing the statement cycle schedule for our personal checking customers. Beginning in mid-October, personal checking customers will receive statements as of 20th day of each month. All interest-bearing personal checking accounts will have their interest credited at that time. The statement cycles for savings accounts, money market accounts and commercial checking accounts will remain the same. If you are a personal checking customer receiving a combined statement with another account, your statement will follow the new schedule and will be issued on the 20th.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new look of our statements. And don’t forget: your statements are also available in digital format, which means that you can help the environment and save a tree when you switch to e-Statements! E-Statements are a convenient, clutter-free way to manage your finances while being green at the same time.

If you have any questions about this upcoming change or your statement cycle, please stop into your local branch or contact us toll free at 888-745-2265.