Featured

Welcome!

Cornhusker Bank is pleased to welcome you to our blog. You’ll find tips and advice from our collaborative associates, as well as updates on the bank and events. Cornhusker Bank associates feel it is important to share insights and we love bringing you into the conversation. Our posts on this blog are an extension of our relationship with you, and we hope you find value here which proves our commitment to your success!

How You Can Start Saving for College

It’s no secret, college is becoming increasingly expensive every year. If you are a new parent, the idea of saving for your young child’s college education can seem daunting, seeing as college costs are increasing on average by 3.5% a year. Luckily, there are some options for putting aside money for college.

You can plan ahead now by opening a traditional savings account. While this is good and will allow you to save for the future, there are better options available to you for saving for college. Your best bet is to open a 529 College Savings Plan. What makes a 529 College Savings Plan different than a traditional savings account?

  • Earnings from a 529 plan grow federal tax-free, and the money is not taxed when it is taken out to pay for college. Other means of saving may have their earnings taxed, and will have capital gains tax taken out when money is withdrawn.
  • You get to stay in control of the account. If you open the account for your child, you are still in control and decide how to money is used when it comes time to pay for college.
  • 529 College Savings Plans are very low maintenance accounts, and only require you to contribute, then you can set it and forget it.
  • Anyone can open a 529 College Savings Plan. There are no income limits, age limits, or annual contribution limits to a 529 plan.

To see if a 529 College Savings plan is right for you, or to speak with a member of our Wealth Management & Financial Services Team, please contact us today to set up an appointment! To schedule an initial consultation, call 402-434-2265 or 800-837-4481 and ask for the Wealth Management department. You can also request an appointment while visiting any one of Cornhusker Bank’s branch locations.

Investments in 529 plans involve risks to principal and may involve additional fees such as enrollment charges and annual maintenance fees. 529 plans offer no guarantees. Depending on your state of residence and the state of residence of the beneficiary, the plan may or may not be eligible for state tax benefits.  There are exceptions to the gift tax and estate tax exemptions; please contact a qualified tax, legal or financial advisor for more information prior to investing.

10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

The basics on how to protect your personal information and your money.

The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft, and our staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help further, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. As part of that coverage, we feature here a list of 10 scams that you should be aware of, plus key defenses to remember.

List of 10 scams.

To learn more about how to avoid financial scams, search by topic in back issues of FDIC Consumer News and the FDIC’s multimedia presentation Don’t Be an Online Victim. Also find tips from the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

How to Fix Your Credit Before Applying for a Loan

If you are thinking about applying for a mortgage or an auto loan, understanding your credit score is one of the first steps. Your credit score will determine what rate you will get your mortgage at, or if you even get it at all. If you have bad credit you may be rejected or pay a much higher interest rate on your mortgage. There is good news however, a low credit score is not permanent, and there are steps you can take to raise your credit score. So whether you are in danger of not being approved for a mortgage, or you just want to improve your score in hopes of a better interest rate, here are some simple steps to follow to raise your credit score.

Check your score
This seems like a no brainer. The very first step is to see where you sit. Pull a credit report and check it for errors. Your credit report will include all of the criteria that factors into your score. Check your report to make sure account balances add up and there are no incorrect accounts reporting in your name.

Keep your credit balances low
Keep an eye on your credit card balances. The sweet spot to improve your credit is to utilize 30% of available credit. Essentially this means if you have a credit card with a credit line of $1,000 the best balance to keep on it is $300. You also want to avoid large fluctuations on your credit card, this means not charging any large unnecessary purchases to your credit card. If you have multiple credit cards, consolidate them down to one or two, this will make them easier to monitor.

Pay bills on time
This also seems like a no brainer, but essentially your credit score is letting lenders know that you have a history of paying back money you borrow. Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. If you have a hard time making payments on time, set up payment reminders or automatic withdrawals.

Rebuilding your credit can take some time. You do not want to learn you have a low score when you find your dream home, so if you are even thinking about looking for a home it’s a good idea to check your credit and work towards starting to improve it. Payment History and Credit Utilization make up 65%  of your credit report, so consolidating debt, keeping credit balances low, and paying on time can make a huge impact on your credit score.

Renting Vs. Buying a Home

Should you rent, or buy a home? Eventually most people are faced with this question, does it make more sense financially to rent or buy. Each decision has its perks. By renting property you have a landlord who takes care of maintenance issues, whereas owning your home means you are responsible for home improvement, but by owning a house it becomes an asset. Everyone’s situation is different and there is not a one size fits all plan for everyone.

While there are many things to consider when deciding if homeownership is right for you, here are a few things to think about:

1.  Do you have a steady job or income? 

Do you have a job with a certain sense of security? Do you plan on changing jobs anytime soon? These can be huge factors in getting approved for a home loan as well as being a successful homeowner.

2. How long do you plan on staying? 

If you are planning on living in a city for just a few years, it can make more sense to rent, as you are not tied down to a specific area. If you are ready to put down some roots, then it may make sense to purchase your home. If you plan on staying in one spot for a prolonged period of time, then it may not make sense to have expensive rent payments when you could be putting it towards a mortgage.

3. Responsibility vs. flexibility 

Would you prefer the responsibility of owning a home or the flexibility of renting? If you own a home and have to move for work, it may take a long time to sell your house, whereas it may be easier to pick up and move when renting.

4. Freedom

Owning a house means that you are free to make any changes you want, big or small. Want new appliances or to put holes in the walls? Want to repaint or have pets? When you own a home you really are the master of your domain, and you do not have to seek permission from a landlord before doing anything to the house. Freedom to be free of answering to others can make home ownership worth it to some people.

How to Protect Your Accounts from Fraud

In today’s day and age, cyber security threats are extremely serious and are continuing to grow every day. The sophistication of cyber threats is increasing and in today’s increasingly digital world they can be hard to avoid. Many of these threats are targeting people’s identities and bank accounts, so it’s important to know what’s out there before you wade out in to the internet. Here are some of our tips to safeguard yourself against fraud:

– If someone calls you, do not give out personal or sensitive information.

If you did not initiate a call, it’s usually best practice not to give out any sensitive information. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call them back at a phone number you can independently verify, ie. The phone number on the back of your credit card.

  • Do not send information via email.

If you can avoid it, it’s best not to send account or personal information via email, as it tends to be an insecure channel of communication. If replying to an email requesting information, be sure to verify that you are speaking with the true person.

  • Monitor your account online

While your bank does have fraud detection in place, the easiest way to stop anything before it gets too serious is to check your accounts regularly to make sure all transactions are legitimate.

  • Review your credit report

You can receive a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Pull your credit report to ensure there are no fraud accounts opened up in your name.

  • Use a unique username or password for each account

It can be tempting to reuse usernames and passwords across website profiles, but this means if one account is compromised, then all of them can potentially be compromised.

  • Do not open suspicious looking emails

If you think an email is suspicious, or has attachments and is not in your address book or is not someone you know, do not open the email or download any attachments. Email is the perfect way for scammers to deliver malware straight to your computer.

When online, it is always best to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to your personal or financial records. Taking a few minutes to be careful today can save you hours of hassle and clean up should your identity or account be compromised. If you are in doubt, or worried that your account may be compromised, contact us today to discuss your options.

5 Steps to Take Before Buying a New Car

young african woman showing her new car key

Buying a car is a huge decision, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. As long as you do your research it can be a pain free experience. We have compiled the steps to make your car buying experience as easy as possible.

  1. Research Vehicles

Not sure exactly what you want yet? First step is to research what type of vehicle will suit your lifestyle best. Once you decide what type of vehicle you want, figure out your price point and what features you want in your vehicle.

  1. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Once you decide on the vehicle you want, figure out your budget. Getting pre-approved for an auto loan will give you an idea on how much you can spend and what your APR will be on the loan. To be pre-approved you will need to provide your loan officer with employer and salary information as well as balances of other debts you may have. This can help narrow down your vehicle selection and allow you to make an offer on a vehicle on the spot without having to go to the bank to be approved for an auto loan.

  1. Figure Out Your Trade-In Value

If you are going to trade-in your current vehicle, determine the value of your car. This will help in deciding if you want to trade-in your vehicle or sell it on your own separately.

  1. Negotiate a Sale Price

After you have test driven the car and have decided you want to buy it, it’s time to negotiate a price. You should price out the car online and figure out the blue book value to make sure you are paying a fair price.

  1. Close the Deal

If you like the car and the price is right, it’s time to close the deal. Before you sign you should ask for a breakdown of all of the fees and taxes you will be paying to ensure you are not blindsided by hidden fees. After you sign all of the paper work it is time to take delivery of your new car!

Once you decide that you are in the market for a new vehicle, call one of our loan officers to set up an appointment to get pre-approved.

Steps to buying a home

Congratulations! You have decided you want to make the leap to homeownership, but now what? For first time homebuyers the process can seem daunting, but we are here to help! Some decisions you make leading up to the purchase of your home can greatly affect how much you will pay for your house in the long run. Here are the steps to ensure that your home buying experience goes as smoothly as possible.

  1. Start doing your research now

Buying a home may be one of the biggest decisions in your life. The last thing you want to do is rush into buying a home. Do some research on the area you are planning on moving to, then figure out what style of house you like and the general price ranges.

  1. Determine your Budget

Calculate out your monthly costs and annual household income to make sure you can afford a mortgage and the added costs of home ownership. This will also help you determine your price range when looking for a house.

  1. Get preapproved

Once you determine a price range for a home you are comfortable with, speak with a banker to get preapproved for a mortgage. This will involve bringing in your financial documents to the bank and they will tell you how much you can spend on a home.

  1. Start Seriously Looking

With your preapproval in hand, it’s time to start looking at houses in earnest. Find houses that fall within your price range. This is the part where you can seek the advice of a real estate agent for help on finding homes in the neighborhoods you like and that are in your price range.

  1. Get a home inspection

Most offers on a house are contingent on an inspection. An inspector will check the home for any damage or serious issues. It is at this time you can renegotiate the price or say that certain damages must be fixed before you close on the house.

  1. Have the home appraised

Have an independent appraiser determine if you are paying a fair price for the house.

  1. Sign all of the paperwork and close the sale

The Danger of ATM Skimmers

Do you ever wonder how credit card fraud is committed? While there are many ways out there that thieves can get your account information, skimming devices are becoming ever more prevalent. So what is a skimming device? A skimming device is an electronic device placed on or in ATMs or card readers with the purpose of stealing or “skimming” the information off of the magnetic strip. Skimmers are generally made up of two components, the first is used to capture the information on the magnetic script, and the second is used to capture the PIN number.

These devices can be as simple as a small chip placed inside of a card reader, or as complex as a false cover that mimics the card reader. Skimmers can be used in conjunction with small cameras to capture PIN numbers of the skimmed cards. Some skimmers work with a false key pad instead of a camera to steal the PIN numbers.

With all of the places that accept cards how are you supposed to know where these skimmers might be? There are two places that seem to be targeted more than others.

ATMs- With more and more people opting to carry cards instead of cash, ATMs are the perfect spot for scammers to place skimmers. Withdrawing money from an ATM requires both swiping your card and entering your PIN number, both of which are needed to skim the account information. ATMs can also be out of the way and do not require face to face interaction. This gives thieves the opportunity to install these devices without having to interact with anyone, and allows them to return to retrieve the device without being noticed.

Gas pumps- The second place that scammers like to place skimmers is on gas pumps. More and more people pay at the pump which gives thieves a large pool of potential targets, and again, these do not require face to face interaction with anyone. A scammer could drive up, get gas, and install a device while blending in and without anyone noticing. After a few days they could then return to the pump and retrieve the skimmer without anyone being the wiser.

Now more than ever it pays to be vigilant with your debit and credit cards. It can be hassle to report your card stolen, deal with the fraud process if your card was used, and to update reoccurring payments your card was on file for. Some signs to watch out for are suspicious attachments to an ATM or gas pump such as off-color pieces of plastic on the device, loose keypads and loose card skimmers.

Scammers are becoming more and more creative every day, and it can be hard to detect a skimmer. If you are suspicious of a card reader, report it to the bank that owns the ATM or the gas station if it is on a gas pump. If you believe your debit or credit card was compromised, contact your financial institution to have them block all activity and replace your cards.

3 Types of Identity Theft College Students Should Be Aware Of

By: Eva Velasquez

Identity theft is one of the hardest-hitting crimes that consumers face, largely because it’s easy to pull off. Whether through old-fashioned means like dumpster-diving or stealing your driver’s license, or through more sophisticated cyber crimes like hacking into a university network, thieves can make off with your entire identity before you even know your information was compromised.

There are a lot of steps that college students can take to prevent this crime. Passcode and password locking their hardware, shredding those pesky pre-approved credit card offers, locking their dorm rooms … the list goes on. But what too many college students aren’t aware of is the wide variety of crimes that fall under identity theft.

Most individuals typically envision identity theft as someone using their credit card or opening a new account in their name. And that’s still a major threat, with the overwhelming majority of cases involving financial identity theft. But don’t be fooled into thinking your identity is safe just because your credit card hasn’t been compromised.

  • Criminal identity theft: College students are particularly susceptible to criminal identity theft, considering they live near so many strangers. If someone in your dorm or apartment building uses your identity at the time of arrest—simply because they know your name, apartment number or other minor details—you could be left facing charges for the unresolved issue. If this person happens to have borrowed or stolen your driver’s license, perhaps because you’re old enough to purchase alcohol and they’re not, then they may even be able to provide your complete identity to the police. You never find out about the incident, and therefore you never resolve it until a warrant is issued for your arrest.
  • Medical identity theft: Much like criminal identity theft, college students have to safeguard their identities against people who want to use them to secure medical care. It might be something that seems harmless on the surface. Maybe, a girl in your building needs a way to access birth control without alerting her parents. But it can also be something very serious, such as someone stealing your identity in order to get a prescription for controlled substances. Not only can your medical record permanently reflect care that you never received, but you could find yourself involved in a crime if those prescriptions are then used for illegal distribution.
  • Internet takeover: One of the scariest identity theft crimes for young people to envision just might be internet takeover. While the other forms of the crime are alarming, they can more easily be resolved. But when someone takes over your technology or gains access to your accounts, the fear of long-term damage is very real. They may just lock you out of your accounts for the fun of it, but it could lead to expulsion and lost job opportunities if a hacker takes over your university account and deletes your work, or accesses your Facebook account and uses it to post hate speech, embarrassing photos, or other potentially harmful content.

So what are college students supposed to do to protect their identities? The first step is to understand the different ways identity theft can hurt you. From there, it’s important to safeguard your information, your documents, even your computer, and to keep others from nabbing your sensitive data. Never give out your university passwords, your account passwords, or even your personal documents. You can be implicated in any crimes that are committed under your identity, and you can face lifelong

Eva Velasquez is president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center

3 Types of Identity Theft College Students Should Be Aware Of

By: Eva Velasquez

Identity theft is one of the hardest-hitting crimes that consumers face, largely because it’s easy to pull off. Whether through old-fashioned means like dumpster-diving or stealing your driver’s license, or through more sophisticated cyber crimes like hacking into a university network, thieves can make off with your entire identity before you even know your information was compromised.

There are a lot of steps that college students can take to prevent this crime. Passcode and password locking their hardware, shredding those pesky pre-approved credit card offers, locking their dorm rooms … the list goes on. But what too many college students aren’t aware of is the wide variety of crimes that fall under identity theft.

Most individuals typically envision identity theft as someone using their credit card or opening a new account in their name. And that’s still a major threat, with the overwhelming majority of cases involving financial identity theft. But don’t be fooled into thinking your identity is safe just because your credit card hasn’t been compromised.

  • Criminal identity theft: College students are particularly susceptible to criminal identity theft, considering they live near so many strangers. If someone in your dorm or apartment building uses your identity at the time of arrest—simply because they know your name, apartment number or other minor details—you could be left facing charges for the unresolved issue. If this person happens to have borrowed or stolen your driver’s license, perhaps because you’re old enough to purchase alcohol and they’re not, then they may even be able to provide your complete identity to the police. You never find out about the incident, and therefore you never resolve it until a warrant is issued for your arrest.
  • Medical identity theft: Much like criminal identity theft, college students have to safeguard their identities against people who want to use them to secure medical care. It might be something that seems harmless on the surface. Maybe, a girl in your building needs a way to access birth control without alerting her parents. But it can also be something very serious, such as someone stealing your identity in order to get a prescription for controlled substances. Not only can your medical record permanently reflect care that you never received, but you could find yourself involved in a crime if those prescriptions are then used for illegal distribution.
  • Internet takeover: One of the scariest identity theft crimes for young people to envision just might be internet takeover. While the other forms of the crime are alarming, they can more easily be resolved. But when someone takes over your technology or gains access to your accounts, the fear of long-term damage is very real. They may just lock you out of your accounts for the fun of it, but it could lead to expulsion and lost job opportunities if a hacker takes over your university account and deletes your work, or accesses your Facebook account and uses it to post hate speech, embarrassing photos, or other potentially harmful content.

So what are college students supposed to do to protect their identities? The first step is to understand the different ways identity theft can hurt you. From there, it’s important to safeguard your information, your documents, even your computer, and to keep others from nabbing your sensitive data. Never give out your university passwords, your account passwords, or even your personal documents. You can be implicated in any crimes that are committed under your identity, and you can face lifelong

Eva Velasquez is president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.