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Should I be concerned about Viruses & Spyware?

We have said this before, however it is a concept worth mentioning again; the best way to protect your Internet Banking Account is by protecting your PC. Farmers State Bank computers are protected by multiple Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware/Malware products. You should protect your own home computer by installing reputable Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware/Malware programs… and by ensuring that these programs are receiving frequent & possibly daily updates. You should also ensure that you install security patch updates on your PC for applications such as Microsoft Office & Internet Explorer, and for operating systems such as Windows & Apple OS.

In addition, you should never share passwords unless you trust the person you are sharing with to access & use everything protected by that password. Plus, you should avoid performing Internet Banking or Shopping transactions on a PC that you are unfamiliar with, that may not be protected as described above (Steer clear of ‘Courtesy’ PC’s found in restaurants, hotels, malls, airports & etc.). These are just a few tips that will go a long way towards protecting your personal accounts and other sensitive information. Other helpful information is available on our Customer Awareness page. By following these precautions, you will greatly reduce the chance of thieves stealing personal information from your home computer.

Change of Address Form

Have you moved? Click here  You can then print and fill out the form. Once you have signed the form, you can return it to your nearest Farmers State Bank.

ATM & Debit Card Usage Tips

Treat your card as if it were cash: Always put your card away immediately after using it and keep your ATM or Debit Card in a safe location when it is not in use.

Keep your PIN number private: Memorize your PIN number, never write it on your card or store it with your card. Also, never let someone else enter your PIN for you.

Increase account security by telling the Merchant “credit” and simply sign for your purchase. Receive all the same advantages of a debit card purchase without the need for a PIN number.

Never disclose information in response to unsolicited e-mails or phone calls: Never provide your debit or credit card number, PIN or any other non-public personal information to any person or entity in response to an unsolicited e-mail. If you perform transactions over the phone never disclose your PIN. Your Financial Institution will never ask you for your PIN.

Be alert of “Shoulder Surfing” or “Skimming”: Block the view of others when using an ATM or PIN debit terminal. Avoid questionable machines, do not swipe your card in machines that claim to clean, re-magnetize or renew your card. This machine could be a “skimmer” which is used to copy identifying information from the magnetic strip on your card.

Be cautious while shopping online-only use secure sites: Look for secure transaction symbols when shopping online to ensure your account information is protected.

Report a lost or stolen card immediately:  call your Financial Institution to reduce the chance that it will be used improperly. Farmers State Bank customers can do this one of three ways; By calling 888-492-7111 during normal business hours to speak with a representative at our Debit Card Desk, through our online banking site (Netteller), or by calling 866-546-8273 if it is after hours.

**Information courtesy of and Farmers State Bank

Understanding your Checking Account

If you have a checking account at a bank or other financial institution, you may have noticed some changes in recent years. According to a report issued by the Federal Reserve, of the 93 billion non-cash payments made in 2006, 63 billion were electronic, compared to 30 billion using checks.

Checking accounts have changed. Up until a few years ago, you automatically received copies of your cancelled checks in your monthly bank statement. Today, some banks will charge you a fee to provide copies of cancelled checks. Therefore, it is important that you review your bank statement thoroughly each month to make sure the transactions listed on your statement match your receipts and entries in your check register.

Banks now exchange information electronically rather than waiting for a paper check. This is called Check 21. If you write a check to pay for a purchase or pay a bill, your check may not be processed as a check, but rather as an “electronic check conversion,” and the payment will be debited from your account as an electronic fund transfer.

Overdrafts and Bounced Checks
It is very important that you know how much money you have in your account to avoid fees and penalties for insufficient funds and returned checks. In the “good old days,” if you wrote a check without sufficient funds to cover it, the bank would likely honor the check and then call and tell you that you needed to put some money in your account. Today’s world is quite different.

If you write a check, make an ATM withdrawal or use your debit card to make a purchase or other electronic payment without sufficient funds in your account (an “NSF item”), it can prove costly. If your bank accepts the payment, you will probably be charged an overdraft fee. If your bank rejects the payment, you will be charged a “bounced check” or “non-sufficient funds” fee. Add that fee to the “returned check fee” from the merchant, and that adds up to some hefty penalties. Processing NSF items is costly to banks and requires special handling, whether paid into overdraft or returned.

Most banks offer “courtesy overdraft protection” plans to their customers. While these plans are not free, they will protect you from the returned check fee from the merchant, credit report “dings” and possible criminal prosecution. You might also consider linking your checking account to your savings account, granting the bank permission to transfer funds between accounts. Or you might set up a line of credit with your bank. This would be considered more of a personal loan, and you would be charged interest. If you have a credit card through your bank, you could link your checking account to the credit card. Remember, with each of these options, you will still have to pay a fee. However, it will be much cheaper than having a check returned to a merchant.

But, let’s say that you are very diligent about managing your checking account. You still need to be aware of a few things. Never, never, never give your bank account information to anyone who calls you on the phone! If anyone requests this information, an internal alarm should immediately go off. The only time you would provide that information is when you have initiated the call. Scam artists can trick you into providing your account number and routing information and send a “demand draft” through your bank, which is processed like a check. You may not know that the bank has paid the draft until you see the charge on your bank statement.

The world of check processing is changing but, to minimize your worries, remember:

1. Do not give out your bank account information to anyone you do not know.

2. A checking account is a convenient and efficient way to manage your money.

3. Keep track of your transactions and know how much money you have in the bank before writing that check or using that debit card.

This information was provided by the Indiana Bankers Association

What's Your Financial Vocabulary IQ?

In the current economic climate, we hear terms such as subprime, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, ARM, recession and depression. Do you know what theses terms mean to your current financial situation? This month’s column is designed to help you understand some of the financial terms you may need to know as you navigate financial waters.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
Unlike a conventional mortgage with a fixed interest rate that remains the same throughout the life of the loan, an adjustable-rate mortgage changes periodically, and payments may go up or down accordingly. The borrower may start out with a low interest rate, but as the interest rate rises, so does the payment.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The yearly cost of a mortgage, including interest, mortgage insurance and the origination fee (points), expressed as a percentage.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
The rate of return on an investment for a one-year period.

Average Daily Balance
A method for calculating interest in which the balance owed each day by a customer is divided by the number of days.

An investor who believes the stock market will decline.

Bonds are debt, and are issued for a period of more than one year. The U.S. government, local governments, water districts, companies and many other types of institutions sell bonds. When an investor buys bonds, he or she is lending money. The seller of the bond agrees to repay the principal amount of the loan at a specified time, although some bond types may pay off prior to maturity.

An investor who believes the stock market will rise.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Measures the prices of consumer goods and services and is a measure of the pace of U.S. inflation. The U.S. Department of Labor publishes the CPI every month.

Conventional Fixed Mortgage
This type of government-sponsored mortgage meets the funding criteria of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Credit Scoring
A statistical technique that combines several financial characteristics to form a single numerical score to represent a customer’s creditworthiness.

A period during which business activity drops significantly, marked by high unemployment rates and deflation.

Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association)
Unlike Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae is a publicly traded company, created in 1938, to expand the flow of mortgage money by creating a secondary mortgage market to provide affordable home ownership to low-, moderate- and middle-income Americans.

Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.)
A stockholder-owned, government-sponsored enterprise chartered by Congress in 1970 to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing for middle-income Americans.

FHA Loan
A mortgage issued by federally qualified lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that is popular with first-time homebuyers. It allows low- to moderate-income borrowers to borrow up to 97 percent of the value of the home.

Five Cs of Credit
Five characteristics that are used to form a judgment about a customer’s creditworthiness: character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions.

Prepayment Penalty
The fee a borrower pays a lender when the borrower repays a loan before its scheduled time of maturity. Most loans do not include such provisions.

An extended decline in general business activity; a decline in the gross national product for two consecutive quarters.

Subprime Lending
Practice of making loans to borrowers who do not qualify for the best market interest rates due to the borrower’s deficient credit history.

While we may be navigating some tough financial waters currently, the sky is not falling. However, now is a good time to talk to your trusted banker to make sure your financial lifeboat is sound.