Financial Education

At North American State Bank, we want to help you in your financial aspirations in any way possible. One of the most important is providing invaluable knowledge about money and banking. While you're welcome to speak with any of our dedicated staff to learn about these important topics, we also want to make online resources available to you so you can learn when it's convenient to you.

FDIC Money Smart

Control Your Credit Score

Detecting Financial Fraud

How to Avoid Identity Theft

How to Avoid E-mail Fraud

How to Avoid "Phishing" Scams

How to Protect Your Computer

Grandparent Scam Tips

FDIC Money Smart

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has developed computer-based personal financial management training sessions for people of all ages. Check out FDIC Money Smart today!

Control Your Credit Score

An important part of your financial well-being is your credit score. Below is some important information that can help you understand how this plays into the bigger picture of financial freedom that we are so diligent in helping you attain. Click here for additional information on how to obtain a free copy of your credit report.

What is your credit score? A credit score is a three-digit figure calculated from your credit history utilizing software called FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation). Despite what many think, the system is fair as the name implies; but you must understand how it works to use it to your advantage.

Why is it so important? Lenders use your credit score to determine your credit risk or whether or not you will repay the money they lend you. A higher credit score means that you are a lower credit risk or better customer. A high score also qualifies you for a better interest rate, which can translate to thousands of dollars in savings. So, it is in your best interest to monitor your credit score.

How is my credit score calculated? FICO uses five factors to create your credit score: payment history, amount owed, credit history duration, newly opened credit accounts, and types of credit used. Each factor is weighed differently depending on your individual circumstances.improve your score.

  1. The first step in establishing good credit is to open a savings and checking account. This account will enable you to display your money managing habits. Your savings and checking account can also pave the way for your first bank-issued credit card.
  2. It is never too late to improve your credit score. In fact, the lower your credit score, the more you can raise your score. If you have missed payments in the past, then your best plan of action is to work on your payment future. If possible, pay down the balances on your credit cards. This will very quickly improve your score. At the very least, make the minimum payments.
  3. If you have experienced a hardship of any kind, do not be afraid to call your creditor before your account gets sent to a debt collector. Tell them why you are having trouble making ends meet, and work out a modified payment plan that makes your payments manageable. You will be surprised by how reasonable the creditors will be, just remember they are not out to get you. The creditors just want their money usually with reasonable terms.
  4. If you have a credit card with a high interest rate that you cannot pay down, take advantage of balance transfer offers, but beware of the fine print, which is usually the balance transfer fee. Liberty Bank's credit card has no balance transfer fees and a low rate. Never use all of your available credit. Spreading out your charges between a couple of cards will help you stay below the available credit limit.
  5. Closing accounts does not improve your score necessarily. If you close an account, then you change the utilization ratio of your accounts. For example, spending $1,000 of a total available $2,000 limit or 50 percent compared to spending $100 of an available $1,000 or 10 percent. You should keep your ratio at 20 percent to 30 percent. You do not want to max out your accounts.
  6. Be selective in getting new accounts because the issuance of new credit will negatively affect your score. Keep the oldest account open even if you do not use it often because it shows more credit history. Ideally, you only want three major credit cards, and store specific credit cards do hurt your score. Credit inquiries negatively affect your score as well.
  7. Check your credit report every year for errors. Review your credit report with all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Lenders are not required to report to all three agencies. These agencies are available by phone or the Web to dispute items on your credit report and also to make 100-word notes on your credit report.
  8. Bankruptcies show up on your credit reports for 10 years, and will strongly affect your creditworthiness. Weigh all your credit report and score options before filing for Bankruptcy; it should be your absolute last resort. Debt consolidation and credit score clearers also will cost you more in the end. If you follow our seven simple steps, you can take control of your credit score. Do not be intimidated by your credit report and score, you can successfully establish, manage and repair your credit report and score; just follow our eight simple steps.

Detecting Financial Fraud

Even the most secure consumer can sometimes have their financial information stolen by a thief, con artist, hacker, friend, or family member. In the event fraud does happen, the best way to ease the pain and stem the loss is to quickly detect it. Here are some tips on early detection of financial fraud:

  • Review your account statements for transactions you did not authorize immediately upon receipt from banks, insurance companies, investment firms and credit card companies.
  • For even faster detections, sign up for online banking access to your accounts and review as often as possible.
  • Know your statement delivery dates and inquire with your financial provider if delayed. This may be an indicator that someone may have changed your address or stolen information from your mailbox.
  • Closely review notifications from collection agencies or lenders for delinquent payments as this may be an indicator that someone has used your identity.
  • Listen to and record information from a debt collector calling on a debt you do not owe. Do not just hang up and assume they have the wrong person. This is another indicator that someone has used your identity.
  • Review your free annual credit reports on-line at www.annualcreditreport.com and look for credit opened without your knowledge.
  • If you have become a victim of fraud, contact any member of our North American State Bank team so we can assist you in the recovery of your loss.

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How to Avoid Identity Theft

Financial account credentials, passwords, Social Security numbers and other personal information are sought by thieves to commit identity theft, which can damage your credit and cost you countless hours and dollars in the effort to restore your good name. You can minimize your risk of identity theft by observing the following tips, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers.
  • Treat your trash and mail carefully. Always shred documents you discard that may contain sensitive financial or personal information, including credit offers you receive in the mail. To opt out of prescreened credit offers, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Deposit outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox, and promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
  • Be on guard when using the Internet. Beware of "spoof" e-mail and "phishing."
  • Select intricate passwords for log-in to financial and personal information online. Use at least eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, one or more numerals and one or more symbols. Change your password often. Do not share it with others, and do not record it in an easy-to-find place.
  • Verify sources before sharing information. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with.
  • Safeguard your purse and wallet. Protect your purse and wallet at all times. Don't carry your Social Security number or card; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
  • Store information in secure locations. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home and work.
  • Review your credit reports at least every four months to check for errors and fraud,and review your credit before using credit to buy a home or car, or to make other large purchases. 

If you become the victim of identity theft:

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How to Avoid E-mail Fraud

North American State Bank will never ask for sensitive financial or personal information, such as account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers, in an e-mail message.

Be aware that e-mail "spoofing" - the forgery of an e-mail header so that the message appears to come from someone other than the actual source - is an often-used technique of online impostors. Unsolicited "spoof" e-mails requesting your financial account credentials or personal information are a typical ploy in "phishing" - fraudulent techniques used by these impostors to "fish" for, or lure you into supplying, such information. 

Account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers are also often sought by impostors to commit identity theft, which can damage your credit and cost you countless hours and dollars in the effort to restore your good name.

How to protect yourself:

  • Ensure that you have a firewall, system security software, anti-virus software and spyware-detection software installed on your computer - and keep it up-to-date.
  • Be wary of e-mail from senders you don't know. Don't click on links to web sites in unsolicited e-mail, and don't open attachments to unsolicited e-mail. When in doubt, delete the mail without opening it.
  • If you receive an e-mail message that warns you with little or no notice that your financial account will be shut down unless you confirm your financial or personal information, do not respond to or comply with the request.

To report suspicious email messages:

  • If you receive an e-mail message claiming to be from North American State Bank and you are uncertain about its authenticity, contact us .
  • If you receive an e-mail message claiming to be from a company other than North American State Bank and you are uncertain about its authenticity, contact the company using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine.
  • You may also forward suspicious e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov .

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How to Avoid "Phising" Scams

"Phishing" is a fraudulent technique used by online impostors to "fish" for, or lure you into supplying, your financial account credentials or personal information.

Typically, a phishing scam begins with the delivery of an unsolicited "spoof" e-mail message claiming to be from a bank or online merchant, with a subject line such as "Important Security Issue," "Account Verification Required" or "Update Account." The message directs you to a web page and asks you to enter your bank account or credit card account number, account password, Social Security number or other information to verify your identity. However, the web page is not actually associated with the bank or online merchant - it's on a counterfeit replica site.

Occasionally, a spoof e-mail message may ask that you download a file attachment - a tactic to plant a computer virus, keystroke logger, spyware or other software on your computer to collect financial account credentials or personal information. 

It is important to know that North American State Bank will never ask for sensitive financial or personal information, such as account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers, in an unsolicited e-mail message. 

To Avoid Phishing Scams do not reply or comply with email messages that:

• Asks you to enter sensitive financial or personal information (account number, User ID, password, Social Security number) directly into the e-mail or on a non-secure web page 

• Asks you to confirm or refresh your bank account, credit card or billing information

• States that your account has been compromised or that there has been third-party activity on your account, and asks that you enter or confirm your account information 

• States that there are unauthorized charges on your account and asks that you enter or confirm your account information 

• Threatens to close or suspend your account if you do not immediately supply the requested information 

• Solicits your participation in a survey where you are asked to enter sensitive financial or personal information 

Help prevent fraud by reporting suspicious email messages immediately:

• If you receive an e-mail message claiming to be from North American State Bank and you are uncertain about its authenticity, contact us.

• If you receive an e-mail message claiming to be from a company other than North American State Bank and you are uncertain about its authenticity, contact the company using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine. 

• You may also forward suspicious e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.scam

Any action you take in compliance with a spoof e-mail request may compromise the security of your account or your computer. If you have taken any action in compliance with a fraudulent e-mail or should you believe that your account has been otherwise compromised:

  • Carefully review your account transaction detail now, and on a regular basis
  • Immediately report any fraudulent transactions by contacting us
  • Change your password from an uninfected computer
  • Run a virus scan and spyware detection scan on your computer, and clean up any programs that are detected
  • Change your password again

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How to Protect Your Computer

North American State Bank employs a variety of procedures and technologies to help ensure the security of your financial account credentials and personal information. You can also help safeguard the security of your computer by observing the following tips:

  • Prevent the unauthorized use of your computer by requiring a login password at start up. To create a strong password, use at least six to eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, one or more numerals and one or more symbols.
  • Change your password often. Do not share it with others, and do not record it in an easy-to-find place.
  • Log off or lock your computer if you must step away from it while working, and log off, lock or shut down at the end of a work session or end of the day.
  • Do not leave your laptop or notebook computer where it can be easily removed.
  • Ensure that you have a firewall, system security software, anti-virus software and spyware-detection software installed on your computer - and keep it up-to-date.
  • Use only software from reliable vendors. Shareware, freeware and trial-use programs may install unwanted adware or spyware on your computer.
  • Be wary of e-mail from senders you don't know. Do not open attachments to suspicious e-mail. When in doubt, delete the mail without opening it.

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