As students prepare to graduate and head off to college or begin their professional careers, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and Gibsland Bank & Trust (GBT) want to remind them of the importance of planting seeds for their financial future.
“Graduation is an exciting time for many students transitioning from the classroom to the ‘real world’ and starting to establish their financial independence,” said Andy Gilbert, CPA and Chief Financial Officer at GBT. “As your local community bank, we can work with recent graduates to set them up for success by creating a financial plan that incorporates their short and long-term financial goals. Remember, the financial decisions you make now will affect your future.”
GBT offers the following tips to help new graduates take control of their finances:
1. Create a budget. Put your smartphone to good use and learn about our online banking services available to help you manage your finances and track your spending remotely.
2. Pay off student loans. It may be tempting to make only the minimum monthly payments, but a more aggressive repayment plan can save you thousands in the long run. Some employers will help you pay off your student debt; make sure to ask about this when negotiating your new job.
3. Plan for retirement. Automate your savings so that a portion of each paycheck goes directly into a savings account. Take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) plan (and any matching contributions) if offered. If you don’t see it, chances are you won’t miss it.
4. Spend responsibly. Shopping and weekend getaways are a great way to recharge from the work week, but can quickly eat away at your budget. Research the products you’d like to buy, along with restaurants and excursions in your price range and plan accordingly so these purchases and activities don’t become a financial burden.
5. Establish an emergency fund to cover life’s unexpected events and to give you greater peace of mind. Start by putting away $1,000 (the daily cost of a tall latte in a year) then contribute spare change or a little from each paycheck until you have between three to six months of net pay.
“This stage of a grad’s life is all about empowerment—and financial matters are no different,” said Gilbert. “We congratulate this year’s graduating class and wish them a prosperous and secure future.”
As Americans kick off the spring season by cleaning, sorting and tidying up around the house, the American Bankers Association and Gibsland Band & Trust is encouraging consumers to add financial organization to their spring cleaning to-do list. To help, ABA has highlighted six tips for organizing your financial house.
“People are motivated to get things done when the weather warms up and the flowers bloom, which makes it an ideal time to look closely at your savings and spending habits,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Putting in the work now will help you live your best life in the months ahead.”
ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:
1. Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
2. Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
3. Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
4. Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
5. Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
6. Manage your money on the go. Utilize GBT’s mobile app to check your balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, deposit a check and send money to friends from wherever you are.
Depending what type of documents you’re dealing with, you need to store some of them for certain periods of time, others you can digitize, and others you can throw away or shred.
Keep physical copies of forever:
• Birth and death certificates
• Social security cards
• Pension plan documents
• ID cards and passports
• Marriage license
• Business license
• Any insurance policy (good to keep even if they have a digital copy in case problems come up)
• Wills, living wills, and powers of attorney
• Vehicle titles and loan documents
• House deeds and mortgage documents
Keep for certain period of time:
• Tax records and receipts (keep for seven years)
• Pay stubs and bank statements (keep for a year)
• Home purchase, sale, or improvement documents (keep for at least six years after you sell)
• Medical records and bills (keep at least a year after payment in case of disputes)
• Warranty documents and receipts (keep as long as you own them)
Keep the most recent version of:
• Social security statements
• Annual insurance policy statements
• Retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc)
Documents to Shred (anything that has personal information like your name, address, phone number, social security number, or bank account information):
• ATM receipts
• Credit card receipts
• Used airline tickets
• Expired credit cards, visas, passports, and IDs
What are money mules?
Money mules are people who receive and move money obtained from victims of fraud. Some money mules know they’ve been recruited to assist criminal activity, but others become money mules without realizing their activity is benefiting fraudsters.
How do people become money mules?
•Responding to a job advertisement or social media post that promises easy money for little effort.
•Helping someone they’ve met online (possibly on a dating website) or over the phone by agreeing to receive and transfer money.
Whether it is cash, packages, gift cards, or virtual currency, assisting money movement puts money in the pockets of criminals and could lead to serious consequences for you. By knowing the signs of money mule activity, you can protect yourself and your community, and avoid assisting fraudsters.
Think twice about agreeing to help people move money!
•Don’t open a bank account or move money at someone else’s direction.
•Don’t give someone access to your bank account or debit card.
•Don’t allow money from people you don’t know to be deposited into your account.
•Don’t take a job that promises easy money and involves sending or receiving money or packages.
•Don’t agree to receive or forward packages.
•Don’t agree to purchase gift cards or virtual currency at someone’s direction.
If you’ve acted as a money mule, it is never too late to stop!
•Stop communicating with the person giving you direction.
•Tell your financial institution and consider changing accounts.
•Report suspicious communications or activity to law enforcement.
•Protect yourself by learning about scams and money mule activity.
Money mules help international criminal networks steal money from senior citizens, businesses, and people just like you.
For more information, visit www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch/money-mule-initiative
We saw it all last week: Arctic blasts, burst pipes, power outages, and collapsed buildings, scammers aren’t far behind with weather-related scams.
Scammers know severe weather may have shut off your electricity, heat, and water and might pose as your utility company. They might call to say that they’re sorry your power went out and offer a reimbursement, but first they need your bank account information. (Red Flag )
They might email you to say that there’s an error in their system, and you have to give them personal information so they can turn your gas on again. They could even threaten to leave your utilities shut off if you don’t send them money immediately. But those are all lies.
If you get one of these calls, texts, or emails, here are some things you can do:
Thank the caller and hang up. Never call a number left in a voicemail, text, or email. Instead, if you’re worried, contact the utility company directly using the number on your bill or on the company’s website. Verify if the message came from them.
If you get a call out of the blue and the caller claims you have to pay a past due bill or your services will be shut off, never give banking information over the phone. To pay your bill over the phone, always place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
Utility companies don’t demand payment information by email, text, or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.
If the caller tells you to pay by gift card, cash reload card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency, it’s a scam. Every time. No matter what they say.
Help protect your community by reporting any scams you see at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.
The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad. Here are #8 examples of teachable moments to help you get started:
#1 At the bank
When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Ask the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.
#2 On payday
Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
#3 At the store
It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different items at a store. Fruits and veggies are a need; Candy, toys or expensive cereals are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands. You can hold up two items and compare pricing and make a decision together on which you should choose.
#4 Chores and allowances
Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a new toy, and figure out how to achieve it.
#5 Paying bills
Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
#6 Using credit cards
Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.
While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal
information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.
#8 Planning a vacation
Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.
Customer Training on Cybersecurity & Corporate Account Takeovers
An introduction to Cybersecurity including Myths, Top Challenges, and Simple Steps to Cybersecurity
Material: Corporate Customer Training on Cybersecurity Handout
Recording: Corporate Customer Training on Cybersecurity & CATO 5/25/17
What is a corporate account takeover?
Simply put, corporate account takeover is the business equivalent of personal identity theft. Hackers, backed by professional criminal organizations, are targeting small and medium businesses to obtain access to their web banking credentials or remove control of their computers.
These backers will then drain the deposit and credit lines of the compromised bank accounts, funneling the funds through mules that quickly redirect the monies overseas into backers accounts. A computer can be compromised very easily by visiting an infected website or by simply opening an email.
There has been a steady increase in account takeovers since 2009 resulting in billions of dollars of damage.Security best practices
When it comes to protecting sensitive financial information from hackers, there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned knowledge.
As a business owner, you should have a level of understanding about how to secure your computers that allows you to take proactive steps and avoid, or at least minimize most threats.
Experts advise following best practices including using a dedicated computer, keeping patches and anti-virus up to date, installing a host based firewall, verifying all transactions before approving and reviewing bank transactions daily.
These best practices should be the minimum security baseline for every company’s online banking transactions.Steps for better security
Use a dedicated computer for financial transactional activity. Do not use this computer for general web browsing and email.
Apply operating system and application updates regularly (patches).
Ensure that anti-virus/spyware software is installed, functional and is updated with the most current version.
Have host-based firewall software installed on computers.
Use the latest version of internet browsers, such as Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome and keep patch up to date.
Activate a “pop-up” blocker on internet browsers to prevent intrusions.
Turn off your computer when not in use.
Do not batch approve transactions; be sure to review and approve each one individually.
Review your credit report/banking transactions regularly.
Contact your information technology provider to determine the best way to safeguard the security of your computers and networks.
Warning signs of a system or network compromise
Inability to log into online banking (thieves could be blocking access so that you won’t see the theft until the criminals have control of the money).
Dramatic loss of computer speed.
Changes in the way things appear on the screen.
Computer locks up so the user is unable to perform any functions.
Unexpected rebooting or restarting of the computer.
Unexpected request for a one time password (or token) in the middle of an online session.
Unusual pop-up messages, especially a message in the middle of a session that says the connection to the bank system is not working (system unavailable, down for maintenance, etc.).
New or unexpected toolbars and/or icons.
Inability to shut down or restart the computer.
Examples of deceptive ways criminals contact account holders
The FDIC does not directly contact bank customers (especially related to ACH and Wire transactions, account suspension, or security alerts), nor does the FDIC request bank customers to install software upgrades. Such messages should be treated as fraudulent and the account holder should permanently delete them and not click on any links.
Messages or inquiries from the Internal Revenue Service, Better Business Bureau, NACHA, and almost any other organization asking the customer to install software, provide account information, or access credentials is probably fraudulent and should be verified before any files are opened, software installed, or information provided.
Phone calls and text messages requesting sensitive information are likely fraudulent. If in doubt, contact the organization at a phone number you obtained from a different source (such as the number you have on file, that is on your most recent statement, or that is from the organization’s website). You should not call phone numbers (even with local prefixes) that are listed in the suspicious e-mail or text message.
If you believe your Gibsland Bank & Trust account has been compromised contact us immediately.
The one-time refers to the security code being good for one-time only, not that the authentication security will occur one time. It will be at least once from each device and it also depends on your computer settings. Below are some FAQ’s that may help:Advanced Login Authentication FAQs OLB Device Profile
Q: Why did I have to go through the additional authentication process? (Why did I get stepped up?)
A: Most common reason would be this is a new device profile identified for the customer or there has not been enough consistent use of the Device to confirm the correlation.
Because the Device Profiling looks at many factors together, as well as a system cookie and a Flash Object from a prior session, there are some instances where changes to a combination of factors would trigger a risk score that requires additional authentication.
• Clearing Cookies + a Browser Setting Change
• Many devices used by a single user in a short period of time
• Multiple people using the same device can trigger a risk profile
• A Browser Update, Cleared Flash Object, Dates Out-of-Synch
These situations are difficult to pinpoint and difficult to explain but essential to appropriate assessment of risk.
Suggested response to consumers: We recently upgraded our security system and our system controls are asking you to confirm your PC and network path before proceeding. Please follow the instructions to provide additional authentication so the system can learn this profile is safe and you can access the system from this profile in the future.
Q: Are there adjustments that can made to my PC to make it work better?
A: There are some settings in a PC that make Device Profile work more effectively. Essentially these settings will expose more of the PC Profile to the Device Review so make it easier for the system to tell the legitimate customer from a fraud attempt.
If a user continues to get stepped up over and over, we have found that sometimes users’ browsers don’t encrypt the Device ID correctly and therefore cannot be recognized as a previously used Device.
Here are some hints we have found helpful in resolving client-side issues that prevent device from properly registering and resulting in users being stepped on every login:
• Clear cookies but do not check “preserve favorite sites” in Internet Explorer. (NOTE: this should be done once to give user a clean slate for registration to adhere, it should not be done frequently as this can cause step up to take place. See item # 6)
• Add the bank site and online banking to trusted sites list in your browser setting
• Ask the user delete any Flash cookies for the bank and online banking website (this can be done at http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager07.html and scroll through the list to find the bank website, highlight and click delete website)
• Confirm that user is using a supported browser. If they are, attempt with a different supported browser. The list of compatible browsers is available on FIS Client Portal under Documentation / Online Banking
• Confirm that user is not accessing OLB with network/router/ VPN device – if they are, they need to try without that device in place. These types of devices will cause step up to take place if users cannot avoid using them they will be stepped-up.
• Make sure that the users do not have any settings/programs in place that will clear cookies automatically upon leaving browser, leaving page, shutting down computer or on a daily run that cleans computer. This will potentially cause the users to be stepped up each time they login.
• Make sure that that following settings are set on their device:
o Third-Party Cookies should be allowed
o Flash available
Additionally some browser software/plug-ins stops items from loading and can limit our ability to recognize their system.
Gibsland Bank & Trust customers should be aware that fraudulent emails (“Phishing,” pronounced fishing) are being sent to some U.S. residents. These unsolicited “phony” emails are sent to random email addresses hoping to trick recipients into revealing their credit card or banking account numbers, PIN numbers, and/or online banking login data.
GBT policy does not allow requests for confidential information (passwords or PIN numbers) through regular email. Contact your local GBT Branch Office with questions or concerns.
Be cautious when accepting $20 and $10 bills. A significant number of counterfeit bills have been detected in the Northwest Louisiana region in the past months.
All of the $20 bills contain the same serial number: JJ05094677B, blue ink in the top left corner of the face of the bill, the number 150 written upside down on the left hand side, close to the middle of the bill, and are 2009 series.
Some, but not all, of the $10 bills contain the same serial number: ML54581685A and are 2013 series.
Additional characteristics of the counterfeit currency are:
• The paper bills are printed on thinner than normal currency paper
• The colors of the ink are not correct
• The watermarks are not visible
Click here for a document provided by the United States Secret Service, describing the security features in the most recently issued bills.
You’ve just won a lottery or sweepstakes that you didn’t even know you had entered!
Sounds too good to be true? You’re right! Odds are it’s a scam.
Maybe it happened like this…
• You receive a call, email or a letter and check in the mail.
• The letter may contain grammatical errors or include a telephone number that has a Canadian Area Code.
• You’re told to mail or wire a small amount for taxes and fees to claim your prize.
What should you do?
Hang up the phone! Ignore the email! Shred the letter!
Never wire or send money to anyone, anywhere, who says you’ve won a prize.
The checks associated with lottery and sweepstakes scams are fraudulent. These counterfeit checks can sometimes take several days to be discovered and returned to GBT unpaid. You are responsible for any check(s) you cash or deposit into your account. If you should cash or deposit a check that is returned for any reason, you are fully responsible for loss related to the fraudulent check. In most cases, GBT can immediately debit your account(s) or file litigation to recover the money.
Older Americans are often targeted by scammers. If you’re a caregiver for family or a friend, warn them about lottery and sweepstakes scams.
To learn more about protecting yourself and others, visit:
If you’re shopping around for a new car, RV or boat, beware of criminals who are posting online ads for items that they do not own.
Be very cautious especially if the seller suggests using a third party to handle the transaction. We have been informed of local residents falling victim to this type of scam. They found a vehicle they wanted to purchase online and began email correspondence with an individual. The individual directed them to wire the money to a third-party shipping company. Turns out that neither the company nor the vehicle actually exist.
Consumers recount almost identical stories to BBB where they find cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, boats, jet skis, semi-trucks or farm equipment at too-good-to-be-true prices ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 primarily on local Craigslists, Autotrader and local free print publications. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is! Please read the details about this type of scam in the BBB link below.
Read more from the BBB here: https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/17905-vehicle-shippers-springing-up-on-internet-may-be-scams-bbb-warns
Another New Year means it is time once again for National Clean Off Your Desk Day. There are many reasons why this is an important task to help kick your new year off with a strong start.
1. It keeps you focused and makes accomplishing tasks easier. It is hard to prioritize tasks without organization and focus tends to be divided with more stacks of paper on your desk.
2. It increases your efficiency. You will save the time it takes for you to go through piles of paperwork by having an organized system for your files. Perhaps cleaning out older files in a filing cabinet will help house the extra papers and keep them off your desk.
3. It opens up your workspace. While you do need a clean space to be able to work, you also need to have room for other supplies. It is hard to balance books, papers, binders, staplers and other various office items with a cluttered desk. It would also be helpful to have a place for that coffee cup without worrying about spilling it on crucial files.
4. It makes you look professional. Now that does not mean you are not currently professional, but the look of a clean, organized desk shows an image of confidence and competency to coworkers and even customers. Customers do not want to think they will end up at the bottom of a pile of paperwork never to be seen again.
5. It keeps sensitive information safe. This is the most important reason to have a clean desk. It helps keep any paperwork dealing with sensitive personal information safe by making sure it all has a place either locked away or in the shred bin if it is no longer needed in physical form. This will lower the possibility of fines or personal information going public.
You’ve been invited to check out a retailer to secretly shop their store and evaluate the quality of service, product availability and the best part – keep the items plus earn a paycheck. It really does sound like a too good to be a true opportunity, however, such a job does exist and is sanctioned by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) mspa-global.org. Naturally, for every good opportunity, there is a scam behind it.
GBT has recently been made aware that counterfeit GBT money orders are being mailed out by criminals in conjunction with a mystery shopper scam. We are receiving calls from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Tennessee that letters have been received by people who have not applied to become a mystery shopper.
Most of the counterfeit money orders are for the amount of $1,978.77 and have a check number starting with 481.
If the money order you have matches those, it is most likely fraudulent.
You may email any questions regarding these counterfeit money orders to Scott Spillers: [email protected]
Remember: Legitimate companies don’t charge people to work for them – they pay people to work for them.
Read more from the BBB here: https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/19227-secret-shopper-sounds-cool-until-its-a-scam
The Federal Trade Commission is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help you guard against potential census scams. Knowing how the 2020 Census process works, what information you will — and won’t — be asked for, and some red flags will help you spot and report scams.
The Census Bureau will NEVER ask for:
-your full Social Security number
-bank account or credit card numbers
-money or donations
-anything on behalf of a political party
Learn more: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/…/2020-census-visiting-homes-a…
The Office of Financial Institutions has shared the following ALERT: Cyber criminals are sending phishing emails to various state, local, tribal, and territorial government recipients.
These emails include a malicious link to a phony SBA website that the criminals are using to steal login credentials.
The phishing email contains:
A subject line, SBA Application – Review and Proceed
A sender, marked as [email protected][.] gov
Text in the email body urging the recipient to click on a hyperlink to address:
The domain resolves to IP address: 162.214.104[.]246
Here is a screenshot of the webpage arrived at by clicking on the hyperlink:
Please be advised: letters that reference GBT have been sent out from “ClearPath Lending.” The “Payment Reduction Notice” states that the individual’s VA loan may be eligible for an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. The phone number listed is not a GBT number.
As it states on the backside of the letter, “ClearPath Lending” is not affiliated with GBT in any way and no loan information has been provided to them. Mortgage companies are taking advantage of a federal law that allows them to identify potential customers using publicly available information.
These are tough times, with many confused and uncertain about their financial future. It is at times like this that scammers are the most active, and we have to pay special attention to make ourselves less vulnerable.
According to the U.S. Secret Service, a well-organized Nigerian crime ring is committing large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs. The fraud network is believed to consist of hundreds of “mules,” willing or unwitting individuals, who are recruited to help launder the proceeds of fraudulent financial transactions.
Here’s how it’s happening:
Individuals are receiving multiple automatic deposits from state unemployment insurance programs. In almost every case, the deposits were made in the name of a person who had no connection to the account holder. Although the primary state targeted is Washington; there is also evidence of attacks happening in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
If you receive an unexpected automatic deposit consider the following:
• Are you eligible to receive the funds?
• Is the deposit from a state you reside in or is it from out-of-state?
• Is the name listed on the deposit that of someone other than yourself?
• Did you receive a phone call or email asking you to forward/withdraw all or part of the funds to send to someone else?
• Have you been told you can keep part of the funds?
• Have you been told not to let your bank know why you are withdrawing these funds?
• Were you a previous victim of an internet scam?
If you received an unexpected automatic deposit, especially from a state unemployment program, and answered yes to any of these questions, contact Gibsland Bank & Trust immediately.