Employee-Owners Blog

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Protect your Information and Assets

Local scams that RiverWood Bank employee-owners and customers have seen


We are often sharing articles and tips in this newsletter and online to protect your identity and hard earned money. But unfortunately, the criminals keep trying to take advantage of people and circumstances in all the communities we serve.

The following are a collection of recent scams that RiverWood Bank employee-owners and customers have seen and experienced. We want you, our customer, to know what to be on the lookout for and be assured that we are part of your trusted defense against scammers. We are working hard to protect you!

Our employee-owners and customers in BAXTER AND BIG LAKE have been called by criminals pretending to be from the SocialRWB Service Area Map 082019 Security Administration who were trying to get their Social Security number (SSN) or money. The phone message states that your SSN is involved in fraudulent activities and to call the 800# and give the last digits of your SSN. Or, scammers say your SSN has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, they say your bank account is about to be seized – but they’ll tell you what to do to keep it safe. They give instructions on putting your money on gift cards and giving them the codes – which means that your money is gone.

In BENSON, scammers have targeted customers pretending to be a bank calling and needing to verify information. Criminals have also used the mail sending a letter saying a relative had died and a customer was entitled to the money from the estate. The customer was told to send money by Western Union and then they would get a very large check. This is a scam.

In MONTICELLO, scammers have been targeting victims by phone, mail and in person. Calls have been received about winning a hotel stay and the scammers are requesting information that includes a SSN and date of birth so that they can get the hotel room set up for you. This is a scam! Another customer had received a letter saying they had won $8,000 from Publishers Clearing House. The customer brought the letter into us to look at before they sent all their information to them along with a check for $800 to cover taxes. Our staff was able to help them call the Publishers Clearing House customer service line, 1-800-392-4190, to verify whether they had won or not. Finally, the community has received warnings about recent roofing repair scams. Criminals are soliciting to repair roofs in the area and ask for $100 to $1,000 in advance to hold the date for the repair prior to you talking to your insurance agent. As a reminder, get in touch with your insurance agent prior to giving any money to a repair company.

In BAUDETTE, computer scams have occurred a number of times. These scams generally begin with a call or email from a con artist posing as a representative of a well-known company, such as Microsoft or Norton. The scam artist typically claims your computer has been infected with a virus or is not working properly because of an error. The scam artist then says that he can remove the virus or fix the error for a fee if you allow him to remotely access your computer, usually by going to a website. In some cases, the scam artist uses this access to steal personal or financial information on your computer, which can be used to commit the crimes of theft or identity theft. Other times, the scam artist may attempt to install malware on your computer, which may allow the scam artist to control the computer remotely, or rogue applications that display fake security alerts to convince you to pay for a useless service. Another twist, our staff has seen is when a customer receives a call saying they overpaid for previous computer work they had done and they need to refund them. The scammers then transfer money from one account of the customer’s to another to make the person think the “repair company” made the deposit. The criminal tells them they “accidentally” typed in one too many numbers in the amount they deposited and to keep the fraudster from getting in trouble with his boss, they need you to send the “extra” money to them in the mail.

If you are questioning whether something is fake or if you want a second opinion on information you have received—RiverWood Bank is here to help. Don’t hesitate to call or stop by your local branch if you have any questions. We also encourage you to report any scams you see.

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357, press 1. Go online ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money.

Your Second Home…Our First Priority

Blog Shemon Family 082019The tradition of growing up with a family cabin is what spurred Kathy to convince her husband Mike Shemon they needed to seek out a retreat north of the metro. This was more than three decades ago, when they were a young married couple living in the Twin Cities. She was a big city girl having grown up in Minneapolis and he was a small town boy born and raised as a Wabasso, MN, Rabbit.

What fit them best then, a timeshare in Breezy Point.

“No matter what you are doing…golfing, fishing, on the lake, or shopping…it is just peaceful here. Your blood pressure drops and you can relax and enjoy time together,” described Kathy and Mike as they reflected on why they have a second home in the Lakes Area.

Three years ago they purchased a cabin as part of an association on Pelican Lake, just across from where their timeshare had been. They liked the low maintenance, but quickly outgrew the space now that their daughters had families of their own.

So this past winter they sold that cabin and in January closed on a home in Backus, MN, situated on Lake Ada with a bunk house for extra sleeping and a large yard.

Kathy and Mike knew what they wanted each time they were searching for a lake retreat. They said it helped that they have a good friend and realtor who is based in the Lakes Area so he could narrow the search and patiently watch for just the right property. He also connected them with Jaime Rowlette, mortgage lender with RiverWood Bank in Baxter, early in the process so they knew what they could afford and what they wanted to spend.

The Shemons are looking forward to making memories with their grandchildren and adult children for many years to come at their new lake retreat!

RiverWood Bank is now offering long-term fixed-rate financing for seasonal second homes. RiverWood Bank is an employee-owned and operated bank with locations across central and northern Minnesota. We provide both personal and business banking services, including residential mortgages, commercial banking, cash management services and more. With our online banking and mobile banking services , you can manage your account no matter where you are. RiverWood Bank: modern banking with a hometown feel.

6 Smart Money Moves for New Graduates

More than 70 percent of college graduates began their career owing more than $37,000 in student loans in 2017. New graduates from both high school and college would be wise to focus on their financial future right now, says RiverWood Bank. The following are six smart financial decisions graduates should consider to position themselves for financial success as they embark on their next phase of life.

“The habits new graduates develop right now will have a big effect on their financial future,” said Paul Means, President/CEO of RiverWood Bank. “Living expenses add up quickly once you’re out on your own, and many young adults who didn’t plan ahead are delaying major milestones like getting married or buying a home because of their financial situation. The good news is that you can have a bright financial future if you think strategically about money right out of the gate.”

RiverWood Bank recommends the following financial tips for new graduates:

  • Live within your means. Supporting yourself can be expensive, and you can quickly find yourself struggling financially if you don’t take time to create a budget. Calculate the amount of money you’re earning after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, transportation expenses and car loans.
  • Pay bills on time. Missed payments can hurt your credit history for up to seven years and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and utility bills. Take advantage of any reminders or notification features. You can also contact creditors and lenders to request a different monthly due date from the one provided by default (e.g., switching from the 1st of the month to the 15th).
  • Avoid racking up too much debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Find a card that best suits your needs – there are many to choose from, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.
  • Plan for retirement. It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to retirement accounts like a Roth IRA or your employer’s 401(k), especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years. Automatic retirement contributions quickly become part of your financial lifestyle without having to think about it.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Hardships can happen in a split second. Start an emergency fund and do your best to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start saving immediately, no matter how small the amount. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings.
  • Get free help from your bank. RiverWood Bank offers personalized financial checkups to help you identify and meet your financial goals. You can also take advantage of free digital banking tools that let you check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track your budget all from your phone.

RiverWood Bank is an employee-owned and operated bank with locations across central and northern Minnesota. We provide both personal and business banking services, including residential mortgages, commercial banking, cash management services and more. With our online banking and mobile banking services , you can manage your account no matter where you are. RiverWood Bank: modern banking with a hometown feel.

Making the Dream of an Out-of-State Home a Reality

Blog Vavra Family 082019Vilem Vavra has fulfilled two dreams he has in life.

The first—owning his own business—was accomplished more than two decades ago when he and his wife, Laurie Vavra, started a cleaning business in Morris, MN, soon after getting married.

Another dream was sparked in 2006 after a snowmobile trip in the mountains of Wyoming with other local business owners from Morris. He was hooked on the scenery, deep powder and climbing the rugged terrain…a passion he quickly began to share with his older son.

After a few trips west, Vilem realized that having a place of his own in Wyoming would allow him to reduce the cost of lodging, food, gas and other amenities as well as provide an opportunity to visit the mountains more frequently. He and Laurie began the search for their out-of-state retreat.

Searching was made easy with the internet but finding a place that suited them took about year. Then things moved quickly. Vilem made the 14-hour drive to see the home in-person and Kari Schmidt, mortgage services manager at RiverWood Bank, quickly got to work.

"We had not originated loans in the State of Wyoming, which required extra work behind the scenes for our team related to locating an acceptable appraiser, title company and reviewing state specific guidelines. But for the Vavras, their closing went as smoothly as any other transaction we do,” explained Kari.

In November of 2018, they purchased a home in Saratoga, Wyoming. The entire family, including their younger son, have been able to experience the beauty of the mountains.

Vavra’s advice to others who may be considering an out-of-state home is to use online resources and building relationships with local businesses that you hire to take care of routine maintenance when you’re not there.

RiverWood Bank offers long-term fixed-rate financing for seasonal second homes. RiverWood Bank is an employee-owned and operated bank with locations across central and northern Minnesota. We provide both personal and business banking services, including residential mortgages, commercial banking, cash management services and more. With our online banking and mobile banking services , you can manage your account no matter where you are. RiverWood Bank: modern banking with a hometown feel.

6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid

The wedding season is winding down as the temperatures turn colder and newlyweds are settling into marriage including managing their finances as a pair. RiverWood Bank is encouraging couples to waste no time addressing how they will handle money issues as spouses and financial partners.

“Developing a financial plan can often take a backseat to the excitement of a wedding,” said LOCAL BRANCH MANAGER. “But it’s important to remember that this is not only a marriage of hearts but also a marriage of finances.”

To help couples start their journey on strong financial footing, RiverWood Bank warns consumers of these post-wedding money mistakes:

  • Avoiding the money talk. Discussing your finances can be a bit uncomfortable for many couples, but those who tackle it head on will be better for it. Understand your partner’s financial goals and spending habits. While you may have different answers, this conversation can help you develop an approach to money management that works for both of you.
  • Not setting a budget. A mistake many couples make is not establishing a budget early on. After assessing your finances as a pair, determine how you’ll spend your money each month. Are there certain expenses that you should be cutting back on and others you should be saving up for? Coming to an agreement on these things and setting a budget will be beneficial for your financial health and your relationship. There are many online tools that can be used to build and monitor a budget. RiverWoodBank.com has financial calculators for paying off debit, savings as well as mortgage and loan payments.
  • Not having a plan for your accounts. There is no ‘right’ way to manage your accounts. Couples can choose to have exclusively joint accounts, a joint account as well as separate accounts for saving or personal spending, or keep things entirely divided. Discuss your preferences together and decide what makes you both the most comfortable. If you aren’t sure what your options are talk to a local banker.
  • Failing to set up an emergency fund. Life is full of surprises and unfortunately, some of these surprises can be expensive. Having an emergency fund will help you avoid precarious financial situations should something come up. It’s important that you decide together how you’ll set aside the money.
  • Not establishing a minimum cost for discussing big expenses. While not all purchases demand a conversation, more expensive ones that impact the family budget should. Determine what that threshold is as a couple. For any expenses above that cost, you both should be in agreement on whether it’s a necessary purchase.
  • Forgetting to update your beneficiaries. Now that you’ve officially tied the knot, you should likely identify your spouse as the person who will receive the benefits of your will, life insurance policy and financial accounts like your 401(k), checking and savings. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for an emergency to arise to handle this.

RiverWood Bank is an employee-owned and operated bank with locations across central and northern Minnesota. We provide both personal and business banking services, including residential mortgages, commercial banking, cash management services and more. With our online banking and mobile banking services , you can manage your account no matter where you are. RiverWood Bank: modern banking with a hometown feel.

 

 

 

 

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