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