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July 2014 | Volume 11 | Issue 7

Happy 4th of July

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Five Mobile Banking Security Tips

It wasn't that long ago that an account deposit or withdrawal required a visit to your bank to complete the transaction. Today, we have lots of options when it comes to financial transactions. Mobile banking is an increasingly popular way to monitor and manage your money.

The following are best practices you should follow to make sure your banking information on your mobile device remains safe.

1 Keep Track of Your Mobile Device

Perhaps the biggest risk is also the reason why mobile banking is so popular -- mobile devices are easy to carry around everywhere we go. They can contain everything from passwords to contact lists to our calendar appointments. Information like that can be dangerous if your mobile device falls into the wrong hands.

Apart from tethering all your gadgets to your body there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.

  • Set your device to require you to trace a pattern or insert a passcode to log in each time. While it might slow you down to have to enter information each time you want to use your phone, that layer of security might be enough to keep a thief from accessing your information before you can report your phone as missing.

  • Set your device to auto lock after a short amount of time. This will save you from having your phone be open and active for extended periods of time when you are not actually using it.

2 Don’t Follow Links

You may have heard the term phishing. Phishing refers to the practice of tricking someone into revealing private information. Fishing and phishing are similar concepts -- there's bait involved with both. With a phishing scheme, that bait might be as simple as a text message or e-mail. It may be as complex as a fake Web site designed to mimic your bank's official site, which is called spoofing.

You should never follow a banking link sent to you in a text message or e-mail. These links could potentially lead you to a spoofed Web site. If you enter your information into such a site, you've just handed that data over to thieves. It's always a good idea to navigate to a Web site directly. Enter your bank's Web address into your phone and bookmark it. This will help you avoid bogus Web sites.

On a related note, you should never send your account information or password via text message or e-mail. It's a common phishing scheme to send out bogus requests for such information. Don't fall for it!

3 Avoid Banking On Public Networks

Many mobile devices allow you to connect to different types of networks, including Wi-Fi networks. You might be tempted to check your balance or make some transfers while you grab a quick drink at a coffee shop. But before you log into your account, make sure you're not connected to the public network.
Public connections aren't very secure -- most places that offer a public Wi-Fi hotspot warn users not to share sensitive information over the network. If you need to access your account information, you may want to switch to another network. If you're using a smartphone or other cellular device, disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to a cellular network is a good solution. You never know who might be listening in over the public network.

4 Use Official Bank Apps When Possible

First Community Bank and Trust offers an official smartphone app. In general, official apps like FCB&T’s tend to be more secure than sending information by non-encrypted SMS messages or e-mail. First Community Bank and Trust goes to great lengths to make sure any information sent across a network is encrypted.

5 Be Careful of What You Download

While there aren't as many examples of malware out in the mobile device market as there are on traditional PCs, the fact remains that mobile devices are just specialized computers. That means it's possible for someone to design an app that could try to access your information. One way this could happen is if the app hides a keylogger.

A keylogger is a program that records -- or logs -- keystrokes. Every letter or number you enter into your phone could be recorded. If a hacker pairs a keylogger with some code that either sends off an e-mail or text message at certain times of the day, you might be sending all your keystrokes to someone anywhere on the globe.

For the moment, mobile devices are less prone to malware attacks than computers. But you should still be careful when downloading apps -- not just your banking app, but all apps. Do a little research before you download that next widget or game to make sure the app developer has a good reputation. And if you've jailbroken an iPhone or you've sideloaded unapproved apps, be aware that your data could be vulnerable.

Follow These Best Practices

Don't be scared off from using your mobile device to access your bank accounts. Just be sure to practice good, safe behaviors and keep track of your gadgets. With a little common sense and attention, mobile banking can be both convenient and secure.

If you have any further questions regarding mobile banking security or if you would like to start using our First eMobile TouchBanking app on your smartphone, contact us at (708) 946-2246 or (708) 258-0530. We would be happy to help you with either matter.

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Nine Things to Know About Borrowing from Your 401(k)

Managing your 401(k) can be tricky. Here are nine things to know.

Via a 401(k) loan, many employers allow their employees to borrow money from their 401(k) plans. Make sure you know the rules and understand the relative advantages and disadvantages of a 401(k) loan before you sign on the dotted line. Here are nine things to know about a 401(k) loan:

401(k) Loan Fact 1 - Borrowing Limits

In general, you can borrow the lesser of $50,000 or one-half of your retirement plan balance. To accept the loan, you must typically agree to begin paying back the loan during your next pay period. Most often, this is done via an automatic deduction from your paycheck.

401(k) Loan Fact 2 - Loan Length Restrictions

Unless you use the money to acquire a home, you must pay the loan back over five years or less. If you borrow the money so you can purchase a residence, the length of the loan may be significantly longer, but be sure to note the risk of termination below.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of 401(k) loans. First, the advantages:

401(k) Loan Fact 3 - No Credit Check Required

No credit check will be performed if you request a 401(k) loan since you aren't actually borrowing money. Instead, you are temporarily tapping your retirement funds. Since no entity is loaning you money, there is no need to check your credit.

401(k) Loan Fact 4 - Pay a Competitive Interest Rate . . . To Yourself

Regardless of your credit score, you'll pay a competitive interest rate. The rate is often in the neighborhood of prime, consistent with typical consumer loans. Better yet, you'll pay the loan, including the interest, to yourself - not to a bank. The entire amount of each loan repayment goes to your 401(k) account.

401(k) Loan Fact 5 - Low or No Application Fees

Since a 401(k) loan isn't a true loan, any application fees are usually minimal.

Consider several important disadvantages before requesting a 401(k) loan:

401(k) Loan Fact 6 - Lost Investment Growth

Your borrowed 401(k) money will not be invested for your retirement for the entire time the money is outstanding from your 401(k) plan. Therefore, you forgo all potential investment gains from all borrowed funds for the duration of your 401(k) loan.

401(k) Loan Fact 7 - Negative Tax Impact

When you pay back your loan, you do so with post-tax (after-tax) dollars. Consequently, a $100 loan repayment reduces your take-home pay by $100. Worse, when you take the money out of your 401(k) plan during retirement, you will pay tax on the same money again.

401(k) Loan Fact 8 - Risk of Termination

No matter the cause, if you cease working with your current employer, your entire loan is usually due within 60 days. If you are unable to pay back the loan balance during that quick time frame, the entire amount you are unable to pay is deemed a distribution, which is likely to be subject to significant federal income tax, state income tax, and early distribution penalties.

401(k) Loan Fact 9 - Better Than a Distribution

While a 401(k) loan has some benefits, its significant negatives ought to be avoided except during a genuine financial emergency. Still, if your only other source of money in an emergency is an outright distribution of your 401(k) money, a 401(k) loan is the preferable option.

For more information or to discuss your particular situation contact Jim Ulman or Clint Squier at 708/946-2246.

Jim and Clint

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

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First eMobile

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Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender An Equal Housing Lender

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First Community Gold Club News

Our Gold Club is for those customers who are 55 years of age or better and have at least $1,000 in any combination of accounts with our bank. Members receive increased rates on CDs, discount on check orders, two free dinners per year, and much more. First Community Gold Club is open to anyone and can be enjoyed by customers and non-customers alike. If you are interested in signing up for our Gold Club or for one or more of our trips, contact Irene Brothers today at (708) 946-2246.


Amish Acres 52nd Annual Arts and Craft Festival

Thursday, July 31st, 2014, Nappanee, Indiana

Amish Acres

This event showcases over 300 artists and crafters from across the country, all situated around the large Amish Acres pond. Four stages offering family entertainment are available as well as strolling musicians throughout the festival. And when you get hungry there are plenty of festival food items to choose from.

Cost of the trip is $35.00 for Gold Club Members and $38.00 for non-members. Price includes transportation, admission to the festival, goodies on the bus to and from. Lunch will be on your own. We will depart Peotone at 7:30 AM and Beecher at 8:00 AM and return to Beecher at 4:30 PM and Peotone at 4:45 PM.

Call Irene at (708) 946-2246 for reservations.

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Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender An Equal Housing Lender

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Upcoming Bank Holidays

4th of July

The bank will be closed on Friday, July 4, 2014 in observance of Independance Day..

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Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender An Equal Housing Lender

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ID Theft

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Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender An Equal Housing Lender

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