News Blog

September 13, 2017 – As you may or may not have heard, Equifax Inc., a credit reporting agency announced that they had experienced a cyber security incident potentially impacting up to 143 million U.S. consumers. We, Decorah Bank, have received initial notification from Equifax that they found no evidence of unauthorized activity on any of the information that the Bank has provided for credit purposes. Although this is good news, it does not mean that your information wasn’t impacted by this breach as you may have had credit checks performed elsewhere. At this point, assume that these cyber criminals have all of your highly personal information. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Watch out for the following:

  • Phishing emails that claim to be from Equifax where you can check if your data was compromised
  • Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
  • Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
  • Fraudulent charges on any credit card because your identity was stolen

Consider these 6 steps to help prevent identity theft:

  • Sign up for credit monitoring (there are many companies providing that service including Equifax but we cannot recommend that)
  • Place a fraud alert on all three of your credit files. For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission on how to place a fraud alert.
  • Freeze your credit files with all three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember that generally it is not possible to sign up for credit monitoring services after a freeze is in place. For more information about freezing your credit files, visit the Federal Trade Commission Credit Freeze FAQs. The following are phone numbers and links for the three major credit bureaus: (These websites are experiencing a high volume of traffic and may be temporarily unavailable)

Equifax Credit Freezehttps://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Toll-Free: 1.800.685.1111

TransUnion Credit Freezehttps://freeze.transunion.com/
Fraud Victim Assistance Department P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834
Toll-Free: 1.888.909.8872

Experian Credit Freezehttp://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013
Toll-Free: 1.888.397.3742

  • Check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity. Fraudsters know you will be on high alert immediately following this attack, so ongoing monitoring of your accounts is critical.
  • If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, and are a Decorah Bank/Cresco Bank account holder, we offer a free service to assist you! Call or stop in for details and personal assistance.

 

 

construction on  new parking lotDecorah – September 6, 2017 – We’re excited that work has begun on our additional staff parking lot. It will provide 23 parking spaces for our growing staff and will help make parking more available for others on the East end of downtown. Unique features of the lot are a solar production canopy and rainwater runoff gardens.

Young mother teaching her children at homeOpportunities galore

Decorah & Cresco – September 5, 2017 – If your child is old enough to ask you to buy them a toy, they are old enough to start learning basic financial lessons. The best teachable moments come in everyday moments – usually while shopping or viewing an advertisement. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books and play games that involve spending wisely and saving money.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

While shopping
Tangible items will provide good examples of needs and wants. During a grocery store visit, you can show that an apple is a good source of energy and a candy bar doesn’t have any health benefits.

Explaining your pay check
For older children, you can talk about how the work you get paid to do helps to pay for your housing, meals and clothes, and how you like to set money aside to save for costly emergencies, future college expenses, vacations, etc.

Paying bills
Show your child a bill and then talk about how you are able to pay for it. Talk about how you will pay for it: by check, cash, or from your online bank account. Explain how this money comes from your bank account and your funding source (eg. your pay check). Be sure to cover late penalties and emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.

Embracing chores
Assign tasks and give them a monetary value. Your job is to pay them fairly and on a routine basis after the tasks are completed by the child. Discuss ways to budget and encourage them to divide each “pay day” into spend, save, and share categories. Help your child to set a goal, such as saving for a toy.

Planning a get-away
Set aside a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can contribute to reaching the target by vacation day.

Going to the bank
Bring your kiddos with you and show them how transactions work. Bank employees can explain how a bank operates, how saving money generates interest in their savings account, and how community banks help the community. If you’re getting a loan, don’t shy away from bringing in your older child. There’s a lot a child can observe during each visit. Plus, who doesn’t love a child with an inquisitive mind?

 

Dollar SignsDecorah & Cresco – September 1, 2017 – In an effort to improve the U.S. payments system, you may have noticed a change in the times during the day the electronic Direct Deposits post to your account. This recent change was made by NACHA (National Automated Clearing House Association) as part of phase 1 of the Same-Day ACH Rule to help provide you with faster access to your same-day credits.

Beginning on Friday, September 15, 2017, phase 2 of the Same-Day ACH Rule will change the times that electronic debit payments post to your account. Once the second phase of this rule goes into effect, any ACH debit can clear your account on the same day it is initiated. ACH debits include, but are not limited to, automatic drafts, check conversions and electronic payments.

For example, if you write a check at ABC Store and they turn your check into an electronic payment, that check could clear your Decorah Bank & Trust account the same day you write it.

Other things you should know:

  • When you authorize a merchant or biller to debit your account with Decorah Bank & Trust, the merchant or biller should include information or a statement about the timing of the payment. If the merchant or biller offers the consumer the option to make a same-day payment, it might be referred to as a same-day payment, or noted that they intend to collect the funds as quickly as possible. That means that debit may withdraw funds from your account on the same day.
  • You should always have sufficient funds in your account to cover every payment you make, authorize, or initiate. You should frequently review your transaction history and your account statements.
  • If you have pre-authorized a recurring electronic payment, such as a water bill, insurance payment, newspaper subscription, cable bill, etc., there will likely be no change to the time these payments are posted to your account.
  • Decorah Bank & Trust has no control over when these ACH files are received and/or when they post to your account.
  • Same-Day ACH impacts all financial institutions, not just Decorah Bank & Trust.

In short, we’re doing our part to make it faster and easier for our customers to make payments, and to update account balance information more frequently during the day. Should you have any questions about how the new Same-Day ACH rule can affect your automatic debits, please contact Customer Support at 563.387.5230.

Piggy Bank CHalkboard $+$=College

Hint, it has nothing to do with test scores.

Decorah & Cresco – September 1, 2017 – College students have a tremendous understanding of test scores and GPAs, but how can we help them understand their credit score and the value of saving? Here is the American Banker’s Association top 10 tips that are designed to give students an edge on mastering personal finance. If you are a college student and take these nine tips into account, you will be well on your way to success.

  1. Congratulations! You are in charge. You are responsible for your finances, and you should act accordingly by creating a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
  2. Watch spending. You control your money, determining how you spend or save it. Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last longer.
  3. Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. How you handle your credit in college will affect you after graduation.
  4. Use your bank account. Banks are more than money in a vault. Bankers offer valuable services like mobile banking apps, balance alerts, direct deposit services, financial education, and identity theft resolution services.
  5. New is out. Consider buying used books or ordering them online.
  6. Entertain on a budget. Get creative with fun activities to keep you busy in college. Make simple recipes instead on eating out.
  7. Be picky. Don’t trust just anyone with your money. Be skeptical of classmates, friends, or salespeople that have ideas for your money.
  8. Save it. Things happen, and it’s important that you are financially prepared when your vehicle or computer breaks. No matter how small the amount, you should start putting some money away. Start today.
  9. Just ask. Mastering your finances is a journey. Your parents or your banker are a good place to start learning.

Source: ABA.com/Consumers

Financial Education on chalk board

Getting ready for the real world

Decorah & Cresco – August 14, 2017 – As the back-to-school date approaches, many of today’s younger consumers are likely gearing up to spend money, yet among U.S. adults ages 18-34, just over half are paying bills on time. Furthermore, 44% of high school students report that they don’t know what a credit score measures, according to a recent study conducted by the Consumer Federation of America. We want to help change these numbers.

Decorah Bank and Cresco Bank is trying to change those statistics at a local level by providing financial literacy education to our Decorah, South Winneshiek, and Turkey Valley High School students and our Crestwood Middle School students. To help in that endeavor, we have partnered with EverFi, the nation’s leading education technology company. To date, EverFi’s financial literacy programs have helped 209 area students, equating to 1,260 hours of learning in these four schools. The eight-hour program per student covers key financial topics such as saving and budgeting, financing higher education, identity protection, credit scores, and more through web-based courses that use video, 3-D gaming, avatars, and social networking to bring financial concepts to life. Course curriculum aligns with both the state of Iowa and national financial literacy standards.

According to pre-and post-assessment surveys, students’ knowledge of the primary financial topics rose by an average of 49%. We’re excited to be supporting this kind of change and helping teach the next generation of adults.

Team hands within logo symbolPERSONAL BANKING

Decorah – August 11, 2017 – Enjoy a full-time career in the Personal Banking Department at our Decorah location. The ideal candidate will thrive in delivering excellent customer service and will be comfortable meeting new people. This candidate will help in supporting an existing client base while having a keen attention to detail and appreciating lifelong learning. Previous banking experience is helpful. If becoming a team member of our family and employee owned bank interests you, learn more about this exciting career opportunity!

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

August 18, 2017 – Here’s your opportunity to support meaningful customer relationships and work with state-of-the-art systems. Our Decorah location is seeking a full-time Customer Support employee. If the idea of working with several software/online applications while delivering excellent customer service appeals to you, consider applying for this position. You’ll be expected to have a keen attention to detail, have ten-key skills, and appreciate lifelong learning. This position also provides services on our ATM network and offers the opportunity to work alongside a supportive team. If becoming a team member of our family and employee owned bank interests you, learn more about this exciting career opportunity!

Decorah Bank and Trust Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. Decorah Bank & Trust Company is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. Minority | Female | Disabled | Veteran

 

 

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time Based goalsDecorah & Cresco – August 7, 2017 – A big step in successfully managing your money is learning to set and save toward financial goals. You will always have both short and long-term financial goals to work on. Short-term financial goals could include saving for a new video game, a phone, or a weekend trip with friends. Long-term financial goals might include saving for a new car or paying college expenses. You will also have goals for things like buying a house and saving for retirement.

Remember the acronym SMART. You may have heard about SMART goals before, and it applies to financial goals too. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based. If you set a goal to save for a new car, you might save a little each month, but you will have no way to know if you are going to be able to buy the car you want at the time you want it. Instead, decide how much money you need to save for a new car. Decide when you want to purchase the vehicle. Now figure out how much per month you need to save to reach your goal. If you want $2,000 saved towards your new vehicle purchase in one year, you would need to save $167 per month.

Look at your budget. Does the car fit with your current budget? If not, is there somewhere you can make an adjustment to make this work? If you can’t, saving $167 per month might not be realistic. When setting financial goals you need to fit the monthly savings into your budget, and keep track each month to be sure you are sticking to your goals. You will usually have more than one financial goal at a time, and you might not be able to make them all work with your current budget.

It can help to prioritize your goals. Which are most important? If you can’t do one of them what would you cross off the list first? Maybe you can save for them all at one time, but won’t be able to save as much as you hope. It’s not uncommon to have more items than you would like to save for than what is realistically possible. You may have to make some adjustments to your budget and to your list of goals.

Remember the concept of “pay yourself first.” Put your goal money in savings right away out of each paycheck before spending money on other short-term wants like going out to eat or a new shirt. Ask your employer if they can direct deposit paychecks into multiple accounts. This can make saving almost automatic.

If you really want to be creative while reaching your goals, consider using an online personal finance manager (PFM), like what Decorah Bank offers. PFM categorizes and tracks spending and saving from your accounts in easy to manage colorful charts.

It takes a little time to create and follow a budget based on financial goals. Mastering this skill, however, can help you for years to come. Knowing how much you need to save each month towards your goals and tracking your progress will ensure you stay on track and are able to meet your goals. Enjoy the journey!

It’s the ideal flip-flop scenarioKaitlyn and Jordan

Decorah & Cresco – July 31, 2017 – Isn’t it nice when good things fall into place? It just so happens that Kaitlyn Otteson, Cresco Bank’s personal banker (pictured left), moved back to Decorah and wanted to return to her work as a personal banker in Decorah. Concurrently one of Decorah Bank’s tellers, Jordan Isham, felt it was time to take another step in her banking career. Today Jordan will begin her work as a personal banker at Cresco’s location, and Kaitlyn will resettle as a personal banker at Decorah’s location. Please join us in congratulating these two employee-owners!

Home Buying 101

Couple On Sofa Taking A Break From Unpacking On Moving Day

Decorah & Cresco – July 20, 2017 – When it’s time to start thinking about buying your first home, it’s easy to let your emotions take over. Before you start looking, do some research to avoid costly mistakes that might keep you up at night in the future. It’s all too easy to buy a house you can’t afford, and that can affect your ability to build wealth in the long run. Understanding steps of the home-buying process helps you make smart decisions.

First, you should know that buying a house takes time. According to the National Association of Realtors, the average home buyer looks for around 10 weeks or more. No house – even that adorable cape cop with the perfectly manicured flower garden is worth rushing to buy until you are ready. Take some time to learn how to buy that house to save you from buying pains later. The decisions you make in the home-buying process can make a difference between a home that is a blessing for many years to come or a bully that keeps bugging you for more lunch money. For people that do their homework, buying a house isn’t a stressful, draining experience. It can actually be a lot of fun, especially if you’re making smart decisions with your head and not your heart.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Set a realistic time-frame for the home buying process
  • Find out how much home you can really afford. Start with a calculator.
  • Calculate how much you’ll need for a down payment
  • Learn how to buy a house with confidence. Find an experienced support team.
  • Interview more than one real-estate agent – true professionals enjoy tough questions
  • Figure out your must-haves in your first house
  • Get a home inspection, appraisal, and final mortgage approval
  • Be prepared to pay property tax, homeowner’s insurance, and possibly even homeowner’s association fees
  • Know what to expect from contract signing until your celebratory closing day

When you are ready to make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, you’ll want the backing of experts. You’ll want a house that fits your needs and your budget. You don’t have to do this alone. Learn more from our mortgage team.