In The News
ONLINE BANKING UPDATE
Pine Country Bank strives to protect your Online account information. On September 1st, 2016, we will be implementing a new password policy. Passwords are required to be (8) or more characters with at least (1) Upper case, (1) Lower Case, (1) Number and (1) Symbol. The password must be changed every 90 days. You will need to follow the requirements for these fields during your next password change.
Special Travel Offer to Checking Customers of PCB
August Hometown Happenings
August 1: Pine Grove Zoo - Critter Encounter, 2:15-3pm
August 2: Charles A Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum - Morrison County Historical Society 80th Anniversary Mystery Historic Picnic, 6pm
August 2: Rice Women of Today- National Night Out, 5-7pm
August 3: St Francis Green Fair Free Event, 4-8pm
August 3: Royalton Public Library - Dave Cofell in Concert, 7-8pm
August 3: Pine Grove Zoo - Wild Wednseday Training Demonstration
August 3-5: Benton County Fair
August 4: Great River Arts Association Open Mic Night, 7-9pm
August 6: Royalton - Platte River Days
August 6: Pine Grove Zoo - Artic Wolf C.H.O.M.P., 10:15-10:45am
August 8: Great River Arts Association Messy Summer Art Camp, 10am-3pm
August 8: Pine Grove Zoo - Critter Encounter
August 9: Lions Park - Rice Farmers Market, 5-7pm
August 10: Pine Grove Zoo - Wild Wednesday Training Demonstration, 12:15-2:45pm
August 11-14: Morrison County Fair
August 12: Little Falls Golf Club - Flyer Athletic Boosters (FAB) Golf Tournament, shotgun at 11am
August 12: Herbies Bar - Little Falls Knights of Columbus Council 1804 Annual Chicken and Corn Feed, 5:30-7:30pm
August 13: Pine Grove Zoo - Bison and Elk C.H.O.M.P, 10:15-10:45am
August 13: Great River Arts Association Free Art 2nd Saturday: Swimming Selfies, 11am-2:30pm
August 15: Carnegie Library Craft Event, 5:30-6:30pm
August 15: Pine Grove Zoo - Critter Encounter
August 15-19: Great River Arts Children's Theater Camp
August 16: LeBlanc's Rice Creek Hunting & Recreation - Chamber's 11th annual Sporting Clays, 3-7pm
August 16: Lions Park - Rice Farmers Market, 5-7pm
August 17: Falls Ballroom - Vintage Vehicle Celebration, 6-8pm
August 17: Royalton Public Library - Sidewalk Chalk Art, 2-6pm
August 17: Rice School - Rice Women of Today Bike Rodeo, 5pm
August 17: Pine Grove Zoo - Wild Wednseday Training Demonstration
August 18: Alices Attic - Lunch, 12pm
August 20: Alice's Attic - Western Round-Up, 10am-4pm
August 20: Rice Family Fun Day - Parade, 3pm
August 20: Pine Grove Zoo - Keeper's Choice, 10:15-10:45am
August 21: Morrison County Chaplaincy Fundraiser Pancake Breakfast, 7am-1pm
August 22: Pine Grove Zoo - Critter Encounter
August 23: Lions Park - Rice Farmers Market, 5-7m
August 24: Pine Grove Zoo - Wild Wednseday Training Demonstration, 2:15-2:45pm
August 26: Pierz Golf Course - Horison Health Wacky Hacker Golf Tournament, 10am-5pm
August 27: Hospice Run - Horizon Health
August 29: Pine Grove Zoo - Critter Encounter
August 30: Lions Park - Rice Farmers Market, 5-7pm
August 31: Pine Grove Zoo - Wild Wednseday Training Demonstration
If you would like an event included, please email us at email@example.com.
Get Ready For College with PCB
Pine Country Bank has all the services you need to bank easily from school.
- Bank remotely and deposit checks from anywhere
- Online bill-pay, free online and mobile banking and free e-statements
- Parents can deposit checks at the bank
- College Rewards Card with a great rate and manageable credit line
- Earn rewards on your everyday spend
Katie Kapus-Jackson Article for Greater Lakes Realtors Newsletter “Affiliate Spotlight”
Pine Country Bank's Katie Kapus-Jackson was featured in an article for the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors Newsletter!
As Vice President of Pine Country Bank, Katie Kapus-Jackson leads the mortgage practice for their four locations in Little Falls, Royalton, Rice and Bowlus, Minnesota. With over 40 years of combined mortgage and real estate experience with Loan Processor Cheryl Ploof, the team knows a thing or two about helping people buy homes.
Through the ten years she has been at Pine Country Bank, she’s made a name for herself within the communities the bank serves—“Your Hometown Bank” is the bank’s slogan and she emulates that. Customers continually refer her to friends and family and customer surveys describe her as easy to work with, very experienced and flexible in how she works with customers. “Some people like to email, some like to meet face-to-face and some like to text. We try to communicate with our customers how they prefer, not what might be easiest for us. It really makes a difference to get to know them and what is most convenient for them.”
Katie, along with Ploof, work on a variety of mortgage options including conventional loans, VA Loans, Rural Development Loans, FHA Loans and Construction Loans for primary residences, second or vacations homes and investment properties. “There are a number of options we can offer to our customers and we make sure to find the best solution for each individual.”
When asked what keeps her at Pine Country Bank she reiterates that Pine Country Bank truly is a hometown bank that cares about its customers. The bank itself has a focus of giving back to the community through their Hometown Pledge and allows employees to spend a number of work hours volunteering which Kapus-Jackson enjoys. She has also gotten to know customers over the years and has helped many get multiple home loans. “There’s a young girl, her mom bought their first home a few years back, that made me a little frog that I have up on my wall. She still comes and hugs me every time she sees me out in the community! I love that.”
When Kapus-Jackson isn’t with her Pine Country Bank family, she is spending time with her family at home – husband Scott, son Tyler (26) and Lindsay (23). She loves to boat on the water with her family, make cards, vacation and spend time with family and friends.
Katie Kapus-Jackson looks forward to helping more new and returning customers with their mortgages. “I just find it very satisfying helping people with the dream of home ownership.”
See full article here.
Pine Country Bank Sponsors 'A Night In Black & White With A Splash Of Red' Fundraiser EvenI
Get your tickets at Pine Country Bank TODAY, $35 in advance or $40 at the door of event! The event will be at 5pm this evening (Wednesday 6/22).
Free Ice Cream at PCB In Appreciation of Dairy Month
June is Dairy Month and Pine Country Bank will show their appreciation on June 10th by providing free ice cream treats to all who step foot in the door, 11am-2pm at all Pine Country Bank locations (while supplies last)!
**Dairy Princesses will only be at Little Falls and Royalton branches
Pine Country Bank Shows Appreciation For Teachers
Pine Country Bank delivered cakes to the local schools in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
Pine Country Bank donates to help fund St. Francis Music Center’s three orchestras
Because of the continued financial support over the years, “We are able to welcome any string musician who is interested in participating, without charge,” said Robyn Gray, director of the Music Center. “Pine Country Bank is a true partner in accomplishing our goal: to provide a rich performing arts curriculum for the Little Falls area.”
Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank, presented the check to Gray. Also pictured are Lorna Lange, Vice President of Pine Country Bank, and Elizabeth Rydeen, Grant Writer/Editor for the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.
Ronning said, “This donation is part of our giving back to the communities where our banks are located. Our intent is to help where help is needed and to make a difference to the people of the community.”
Taxes can be tough, these tips may help!
Service Members may qualify for special tax deductions. Do you qualify for a Combat Zone Exclusion, or reimbursement for travel expenses? Check out this video from the IRS to learn more.
At Pine Country Bank, our Hometown Pledge allows us to donate time, money and resources to local organizations including charities. Did you make charitable contributions this year? If so, don't miss these tips from the IRS regarding deductions.
Did you know Pine Country Bank has Health Savings Accounts? Check out these great tax savings tips then see us to open your HSA or make a contribution to your existing Pine Country Bank HSA!
You could use your credit card rewards for a vacation like our customer Kim Primus did!
Find a credit card that's right for you, here!
Storm Signing Takes Place At Sauk Rapids-Rice High School
Friends, family, several coaches and students gathered at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School for a massive 'Signing Event', where they not only celebrated athletes who have commited to continue playing sports after high school but also students who will continue with arts like violin and choir and several other activities in between.
Some 23 seniors were recognized at this signing celebration, which is seen as quite unique! "We wanted to honor everybody," Sauk Rapids activities director Luke Lutterman said.
Our own Pine Country Bank employee, Kristen Petron, is headed to Bemidji State for track and plans to major in business and finance. We're super proud!
The others recognized included:
Lucas Bentrud is headed to Bethel for baseball. He thanked his parents for "scrubbing grass stains" out of his uniform.
Marianna Blair is going to Wayne State in Nebraska to play soccer. She plans to major in business management. She said she decided to go to the NCAA Division II program "about a month ago" and also looked at Minnesota-Morris and the College of St. Benedict.
Kobe Boraas is headed to Lake Region State, a two-year college in Devils Lakes, North Dakota, to play basketball.Brooke Butkowski is headed to Wisconsin-River Falls to play volleyball. She thanked her teammates, many of whom she played with since sixth grade.
Richard Carriveau is going to St. John's University to play football and major in physical therapy. He's a linebacker/offensive tackle.
Robert Cox will attend Concordia-Moorhead to study to become a registered nurse with a music performance minor and to play the violin. "And thanks to my mother," Cox said. "She's videotaping this, of course."
Kyra Harvey will join Butkowski at Wisconsin-River Falls to play volleyball. "I want to thank my parents quite obviously," she said. "But I also want to thank my coach Dave Anderson. We bumped heads more than a few times and I want to thank him for pushing me."
Larissa Kleen is going to St. Benedict to swim.
Kaylee Kuepers will attend Winona State and participate in the choir.
Brooke Lorentz is headed to Minnesota-Morris to play soccer.
Katie Lucas is also headed to Wisconsin-River Falls to play soccer.
Dean Marlin will attend St. Mary's in Winona and play soccer. He thanked coach Chad Keller for giving him an opportunity to play. "He took a chance on me junior year by putting me on varsity even though I had never played soccer before," he said.
Quinlen Marshall is going to St. John's to participate in band. "I'd like to thank the administration and staff for putting an emphasis on the fine arts," he said."A lot of schools don't always do that, but our school does and I really appreciate that."
Mady Mohs is officially undecided, but plans to play soccer at either Wayne State, St. Benedict or North Dakota.
Brittney Munson will be involved in the music program at Concordia-Moorhead.
Morgan Orcutt will participate in the choral program at Bemidji State.
Andrea Skillingstad will attended Mayville State in North Dakota and play basketball. "I'd like to thank my family for always being at my games no matter how far away they were and spending the summers in the gym with me," she said.
Jayson Valek plans to swim at St. John's.
Amelia Woolsey is headed to Texas Tech to play in the band and major in biology and Spanish.
Too learn more about the event see the article in SCTimes here.
Celebrate Agriculture With Us Today!
Agriculture is essential to everyday life. Today, on National Ag Day, we celebrate the individuals who dedicate their lives to feeding the world!
Here at Pine Country Bank we work closely with agriculture producers to meet their everyday banking needs. We partner with several agencies and organizations to accomplish this, including:
- Local USDA Farm Service Agencies
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Rural Finance Authority
- The Adult Farm Business Managament Program
- Farmer Mac’s Farm & Ranch Loan Purchase Program – a secondary market to agriculture lending – of which Pine Country Bank is an approved lender
We also offer many traditional agricultural lending and deposit products with flexible terms tailored to your farm operation. For more info click here.
Our agricultural lenders have over 50 years of combined agricultural lending experience and understand the ups and downs of farming, as they have all worked on farms before. We know that flexibility and adaptability are essential when working in partnership with farmers to help you successfully meet your goals.
Support Your Local Food Shelf This Month
Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign
For more than 30 years, Minnesota FoodShare has coordinated the March Campaign, the annual grassroots food and fund drive that provides more than half the food distributed by 300 food shelves throughout the state. The March Campaign is the only statewide effort where every dollar donated goes directly to food shelves to purchase food for the hungry.This year they are introducing action weeks for schools, businesses, restaurants, congregations and stores to get involved in the March Campaign by raising food and funds. Minnesota FoodShare provides materials and recources for individuals and organizations to get involved in their own way. Learn more and sign up here: Action Weeks
More Rewards. Not More Rules.
Learn more & find your card here.
Pine Country Bank Donates To The Boys & Girls Club of Little Falls
Learn more about our hometown pledge program here!
See what the Boys & Girls Club is all about and how you can help here.
Business Insights Lunch & Learn Event Feb. 17th - Social Media for Small Business
Click here to register!
Upcoming Ag Events
There are several Ag Events and Meetings coming up, including:
MN Ag Expo on Jan. 27 & 28 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato
MREA Ag Property Tax Information Meeting on Wed., Jan. 27, 3:30 PM, at Maple River High School, Mapleton
South Central College Ag Symposium on Tuesday, Feb. 9 in North Mankato
Pine Country Bank Donates to Morrison County United Way
Did you know that 1 in 10 people in Minnesota experience the stress of hunger? Families in Minnesota miss out on 100 million meals each year!
This year Pine Country Bank (PCB) employee’s raised $5,883 during our workplace campaign and our Little Falls branch donated $1,000 for a total of $6,883!! These donations can be used to fight hunger right here in Morrison County.
Last year Morrison County United Way helped provide nearly 4,000 hot meals over 850 of which were for seniors. It’s not too late to have your own employee campaign. Contact Morrison County United Way at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.
Every dollar helps! Together we can Live United and HUNGER FREE!
Talk to Your Family about Security Online and at Home
For families with children and aging parents, it’s important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home.
It may be time for “the conversation.”
The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry have teamed up to combat identity theft in the tax arena. Our theme: Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.
Especially in families that use the same computer, students should be warned against turning off any security software in use or opening any suspicious emails. They should be instructed to never click on embedded links or download attachments of emails from unknown sources.
Identity thieves are just one of many predators plying the Internet. And, actions by one computer user could infect the machine for all users. That’s a concern when dealing with personal financial details or tax information.
Kids should be warned against oversharing personal information on social media. But oversharing about home addresses, a new family car or a parent’s new job gives identity thieves a window into an extra bit of information they need to impersonate you.
Aging parents also are prime targets for identity thieves. If they are browsing the Internet, they may need the same conversation about online security, avoiding spam email schemes and oversharing on social media.
They may also need assistance for someone to routinely review charges to their credit cards, withdrawals from their financial accounts. Unused credit cards should be canceled. An annual review should be made of their credit reports at annualcreditreport.com to ensure no new accounts are being opened by thieves, and reviewing the Social Security Administration account to ensure no excessive income is accruing to their account.
Seniors also are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudsters posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, and demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand that a certain payment method, such as a debit card, be made.
Fraudsters will try to trick seniors, telling them they have won a grand prize in a contest or that a relative needs money – anything to persuade a person to give up personal information such as their Social Security number or financial account information.
Some simple steps – and a conversation – can help the young and old avoid identity theft schemes and scammers.
To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together. You also can read Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.
Join Us at the Pine Country Bank Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament
Here are the details for 2015 Pine Country Bank Holiday Classic!
Tuesday, December 29 and Wednesday, December 30
Varsity teams play at the high school gym, JV at the middle school gym
$6 adult, $3 student tickets
See the schedule on our Facebook Page
Celebrate the Season with Us at our Holiday Open Houses
Pine Country Bank supports Enterprise Market
Pine Country Bank donated $500 to help the efforts of Enterprise Market in Little Falls. The Market, open 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sundays, employs the customers of Employment Enterprises Inc. (EEI). It offers a variety of goods and foods at reduced prices. It is located between O’Reilly’s Auto and Pizza Ranch on LeMieur Street. Read more about the Enterprise Market
Pictured are (from left): Pine Country Bank President Rob Ronning; EEI Executive Director Pam Baltes and Pine Country Bank Vice President Lorna Lange.
Contact Pine Country Bank Before Your Holiday Travels
Prevent financial issues while you're away from home
Travel during the holidays with greater peace of mind and stay on top of your finances. Contact us today by calling, emailing or stopping in and let us know of your travels before you use your Pine Country Bank cards away from home. If you need help with your cards when you're away, we are available to help.
320.632.9740 (Little Falls)
Other tips for your travels:
- Know your daily ATM withdrawal and purchase limits before you leave, and make sure they will fit your needs.
- Know your Personal Identification Number (PIN) numerically and alphabetically. Most foreign ATMs require a 4-digit numeric PIN.
Local Senior Intern Kristen Petron Reflects on Time at Pine Country Bank
This summer, Kristen Petron, a local senior in high school, interned at Pine Country Bank. When back in school, she was asked to write a paper and she reflected on her time with us at the bank. We couldn't be happier to have had her with us and wanted to share the experience she had serving our customers.
The assignment was to discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. This is her paper, put here with Kristen's blessing.
The Big Bang
Some people experience eye opening moments that change them. Mine was my first summer job. I could not decide what I wanted to do, or if I even wanted to work. Little did I know, the day my mother came home and approached me saying “I have a job for you,” would have changed me. That day, I was unsure if that was how I wanted to spend my summer. To this day, I am so grateful I gave in and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
Growing up in a small town where everyone knows everyone is something I cherish. I wasn’t so sure at first how many people I would, or wouldn’t, know who would come through the bank. I quickly realized how many people I didn’t recognize from my hometown. Yes, I did know quite a few people come in, but not as many as I thought. The people are what made me go from childhood to adulthood as a person in my community. People whom I see at church or at local restaurants no longer see me as a child. They now see me as a grown young lady who is in the workforce and learning the ropes of life. I am now the one working for them and helping them with their needs, not the other way around. I enjoy going out into town to see familiar faces, drop a simple smile, and say “Hello.”
I learned a lot this past summer, not just about the banking world or my coworkers, but about life in general. This is the summer when I learned how much I loved to work with people and be in the world of finance. It made me change my postsecondary plans so I could pursue a career in finances. Choosing what to do for a living is a large step towards adulthood. At first, I was a little out of my comfort zone,working with all new people whom I’d never known before.
Once they cracked me from my shell, and I was myself, I become more comfortable and confident in that environment. I learned a simple lesson that summer. I saw that I am willing to try new things in life. I had the opportunity to take this job, and I took it, and I ended up loving it. I am excited to see where the gift of willingness to try new things could take me. With college just around the corner, I have learned that all I have to do is get out there and try new things while being myself. I can go on all day about how much I learned that summer, but what I most took away is how much I grew as a person. It hit me that I am no longer a child in my own little world and that life is going to continue whether I am ready or not. Before that summer, I would have said I was not ready for the “real world.” Now, I believe that I am fully ready to take on whatever is going to be thrown at me, and I will respond with a bang.
Pine Country Bank has a special place in my heart. Adding to everything said already in this paper, I wouldn’t have wanted anywhere else to begin working. I mentioned earlier how I cherish being in a small town and the small town feel. This works in perfectly with the bank’s slogan of, “We’re your hometown bank.” The people who I have met along the way; bosses, coworkers, and customers, have created some great relationships in my life that’ll never be forgotten. I always look forward to seeing these people and sharing a giggle with them. I sometimes wonder where life will take me some day and where I’ll end up, but something I know, is that Pine Country Bank will always have a special place in my heart.
Pine Country Bank Celebrates Birdie Waldoch’s 25+ Years at the Bank
Birdie Waldoch started at Pine Country Bank in 1989 as a teller and since then, has held many positions throughout the bank. Today she is a Personal Banker and Assistant Cashier while helping with other duties in other areas of the bank as needed.
Birdie is one of those employees you can always count on. “Birdie always goes the extra mile helping our customers and her co-workers,” notes Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank.
“My favorite part of my job is working with the customers and helping them out in whatever their needs may be. I feel very close to our customers with being involved with them through my years at the bank. I also enjoy working with such a great group of employees at all the branch offices.”
Birdie also enjoys spending time with her husband, Dave, and her three sons, daughter-in-laws and her five grandchildren.
The bank recently celebrated the anniversary and presented Birdie a plaque in recognition of her 25+ years of service as a loyal employee.
Tips to Safeguard Your Information and Accounts
At Pine Country Bank the security of customer information is a priority. We are strongly committed to the safety and confidentiality of your records. Every day, unscrupulous individuals are busy developing new scams targeting the unsuspecting public. One of the best ways to avoid fraud is to become an educated consumer.
- Watch out for copycat Web sites that deliberately use a name or Web address very similar to, but not the same as the real one. The intent is to lure you into clicking through to their Web site and giving out your personal information, such as a bank account number, credit card number or Online Banking login information.
- Always use your pre-established links to access Web sites and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails. If you ever receive a suspicious e-mail representing itself as Pine Country Bank please forward the message in its entirety to email@example.com
- Ensure that your own personal computer has updated anti-virus and firewall protections. Apply security patches for all of your programs and operating systems regularly.
- Passwords should be unique to you and changed regularly. Do not use birthdays or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess. Never write down your password or give it to another person.
- Monitor your account activity frequently using our free Online and Mobile Banking services.
- Sign up for free Online Banking eStatements to avoid having your paper statement sitting in an unsecure mailbox where it could be compromised.
- Set up free Security and Balance Alerts through Online Banking to be notified via phone, e-mail and/or SMS text message when there is login activity or changes in your expected balance.
- Set up a personalized Phishing Phrase for your Online Banking so that you always know when you are on our secure Web site.
Please keep in mind that we will never ask for or email you requesting your online banking password. We may on occasion call to verify other information regarding your online activity should we see something of concern in your login patterns. If you plan to travel and use your Online Banking or debit card, it is very helpful to call us in advance to avoid your account being temporarily disabled for security purposes.
In case of errors or questions about your electronic transfers, call or write us at the telephone number or address listed, as soon as you can, if you think your statement or receipt is wrong or if you need more information about a transfer listed on the statement or receipt. We must hear from you no later than 60 days after we sent the FIRST statement on which the problem or error appeared.
For personal accounts, limitations on your liability for unauthorized electronic funds transfers and other electronic errors that are covered by Regulation E are explained in the EFT Disclosure Statement in our Consumer Terms and Conditions brochure. However, if you use online services for any business activity, you assume all risk of loss for unauthorized transfers and payments, and you must establish your own internal security procedures for employees you authorize to prevent all unauthorized use by other employees or persons.
We encourage you to review our Security & Privacy link which can be found at the bottom of any page of our www.pinecountrybank.com Web site. If at any time you have questions regarding security or possible fraud, please contact our customer service representatives at 320.584.5522 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Key takeaways from the 2015 Business Insights Event sponsored by Pine Country Bank
On Wednesday, October 14, business owners and professionals gathered for the 2015 Business Insights event on the Franciscan Campus to hear experts share tips for success on business growth. This year’s theme was “Surviving—and Thriving—in Business Today” and featured speakers Kim Sovell, an Adjunct Instructor of Marketing at the University of St. Thomas, and Dave Mona, MN Business Hall of Fame Inductee and co-host of WCCO Radio “Sports Huddle”. This was the 11th year for the annual Business Insights event put on by Pine Country Bank, the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Falls Radio, the Morrison County Record and the Little Falls Business Association.
Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank, was a leader in establishing the event. “This event is about bringing area businesses together to learn about pressing issues and gain insight on how to be successful in business today. The attendees left this year’s event with actionable items they can incorporate in their own businesses immediately.”
The event kicked off with Kim Sovell’s presentation on the millennial generation—their lifestyles, work preferences and buying habits. Businesses can’t ignore this generation’s unique qualities as millennials represent nearly 25% of the entire population with $200 billion in annual buying power. Attendees learned where millennials shop, what
kind of advertisements they pay attention to and how they live their daily lives. She closed her presentation by having attendees take a “How Millennial Are You?” quick by Pew Research and audiencemembers could see the aggregated answers appear onscreen immediately. Key takeaways from the presentation were tips on where and how to advertise to this population group and how to employ and manage them effectively.
“This session was extremely relevant and I learned a lot; I realized I’ve been focusing my advertising efforts in the wrong places and I’m going to make some changes immediately from what I’ve learned today,” one attendee commented.
Dave Mona’s talk “Growing Your Business: Everything I Didn’t Learn from Sid” was more conversational as he told stories of his career and things he learned from other business leaders. He advised business owners and managers to practice what you preach because in his public
relations business, Weber Shandwick, they encouraged employees to have a life outside of work but the employees felt they had to stay late each night since the leaders of the business did. After realizing this, they made an effort to leave the office at a decent time and made sure to say goodbye to everyone so they didn’t feel like they had to stay late. “Our goal was to make the company a great place to work because happy employees mean great work and better productivity.”
Key takeaways from the presentation were the importance of word of mouth, how to get PR for your business and to focus on your strengths or “you’ll die with a lot of strong weaknesses.” The audience also had quite a few laughs hearing stories about working with Sid Hartman for years and “Sid-isms.”
Debora Boelz, President/CEO of the Little Falls Area Chamber, knows the importance of staying current in business. “These events are about providing resources for our local businesses to thrive in today’s economic environment. Small businesses are an essential part of our community so we bring people in to educate us around trends and best practices.”
Dave Mona with the Business Insights sponsoring partners
Pine Country Bank employees participate in the Women's Build for Habitat for Humanity
Several Pine Country Bank employees participated in the Women's Build for Habitat for Humanity for the newest house in Royalton. They worked along side other women to build camaraderie, community, and a home. It's just another way Pine Country Bank and its employees support the communities we serve.
”The Women’s Build for Habitat For Humanity is an extremely rewarding event! This year, the home being built is located in Royalton. A group of women built and erected the entire frame for the new house. We learn so much and have a lot of fun in the process! The homeowner works alongside us. Habitat For Humanity offers a fantastic opportunity to build homes, relationships and community spirit.”
-Paula, Pine Country Bank Loan Processor & Member of Habitat For Humanity Board of Directors
“Working on the Habitat for Humanity
House during the Women’s Build was an awesome experience! Watching the progress was amazing – from starting with a cement slab and stacks of lumber to putting the walls together, raising them and watching it take shape as a house. To see so many wonderful women – including the homeowner herself – come together to accomplish this was humbling and very rewarding!”
-Jennifer, Pine Country Bank Credit Analyist
“It was a very fun and rewarding experience to work alongside such an amazing group of women. Our construction manager, Dale Peterson, did an amazing job teaching us how to use the tools safely and walking us through the process of building and putting up the walls. We all started out timidly using the nail gun and power tools but by the end of the day everyone came together and walls were completed. I couldn’t wait to drive by the home and show my family what an amazing project I had been a part of.”
-Michelle, Pine Country Bank Loan Officer
”Helping to build a home for Habitat for Humanity was a very empowering experience. It was great to see so many women using power tools for the first time and feel confident with them at the end of the day, including myself. I believe we all felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work that we did at the end of the day.”
-Jill, Pine Country Bank Cashier
Let's make even more of an impact! Friday October 16th is the Fabulous Armadillos concert fundraiser at the Falls Ballroom! Dance at 8 pm includes late night snack $40 ticket price! Call Habitat for Humanity of Morrison County office at 320-616-2084 or stop in Pine Country Bank for tickets.
Register Now for Business Insights: Surviving and Thriving in Business Today - Oct 14, 2015
If you have your own business or help manage one, this event is for you. Two business experts talk about today's pressing business issues and provide guidance on how to keep growing your business. Best of all, it's free!
Register now at littlefallsbusinessinsights.com
Join our conversation on Facebook!
The Pine Country Bank Team would like to welcome you to our new Facebook page (better late than never, right?!).
We would like to invite you to follow and 'Like' our page to stay up to date on local events, community news and banking tips! We are your community bank and are excited to connect with you, so join the conversation!
The Harm in Password Reuse
We know that constantly changing and thinking up new passwords is a pain but we encourage you to keep your security top of mind. Every day, malicious cyberactors compromise websites and post lists of usernames, email addresses and passwords online. Here is some information on password reuse and how to keep yourself secure online.
What is password reuse?
Password reuse is when someone reuses the same password on multiple websites or accounts. This is a vulnerability when the password is exposed in coordination with other information that identifies who’s using the password, such as first and last names, login names or email addresses.
How is password reuse a threat?
Password reuse is a threat because malicious actors can take advantage of a reused password if there’s other associated information that identifies you. This typically occurs through one of two potential scenarios.
- In the first and most common scenario, the malicious actors can search for other accounts you use and try to log in with the same password. In some cases, the actors might try to find personal accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter or banking websites. If they can identify those accounts and you reuse your password, they can log in as you. In other instances, the malicious actors may try to determine where you’re employed and attempt to use the information for remote access, such as through a remote email or timecard access.
- A second scenario involving a malicious website is much less common, but it still poses a threat. In this scenario, the malicious cyberactor sets up a website that spoofs a legitimate website and requests that you enter an email address, password and potentially other information to gain access. Once you’ve done that, they know who you are and can search for your other accounts where you used the same password.
How do you avoid password reuse?
Avoiding password reuse can be challenging because of the number of websites and accounts that require passwords, some of which require updating your password every 30 days.
There are two ways to both avoid password reuse and ensure any password meets the recommended password complexity requirements.
- The first technique is to use a password manager to remember each unique password. Password managers are applications that can be stored on a computer, smartphone or in the Cloud, and will securely track passwords and where they’re used. Most password managers can also generate complex random passwords for each account if you choose to do so. As long as the password to access the password manager is sufficiently complex, this technique can be effective. However, if the company running the password manager is compromised (which does happen!), it’s possible all your passwords will also be compromised. If you choose a password manager that’s local to your computer or smartphone, that information may be compromised if malware gets on your computer or you lose your smartphone. When choosing a password manager, ensure it’s from a known, trustworthy company.
- The second technique is to choose a repeatable pattern for your password, such as choosing a sentence that incorporates something unique about the website or account, and then using the first letter of each word as your password. For example: The sentence: "This is my August password for the Center for Internet Security website" would become "TimAp4tCfISw." Since a strong password is complex and includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and a symbol, this password keeps the capitalization within the sentence, translates the word "for" to the number "4" and adds the period to include a symbol. The vulnerability in this technique is that if multiple passwords from the same user are exposed, it may reveal the pattern.
Regardless of how a unique password is chosen, it’s critically important that every password is unique. Some companies, such as Facebook, have begun programs to identify password reuse. Facebook’s program to identify password reuse involves monitoring for lists of compromised usernames, emails and passwords, and attempting to match those to the usernames or email addresses of existing Facebook users. If a match is found, Facebook asks the user to reset their Facebook password.
Sun, Sand and Cybersecurity
Every summer, vacationers put their house lights on timers and their mail on hold when they travel away from home. It’s just as important when taking a vacation to take similar precautions with good cyber habits. Many cyber criminals specifically target travelers…
Criminals often set online lures to sell fake vacations or tickets. These may be just simple advertisements or sophisticated scams using realistic websites, complete with phone operators that will “assist” you.
Social media posts with pictures of tourist attractions may update your friends and family, but they also tell criminals that you’re on vacation and your house is empty. Other older posts may contain personal details or pictures of your home, telling thieves what items of value are in the house or how to circumvent security systems.
Sensitive data, such as login names and passwords, are especially valuable to criminals. One way criminals obtain such data is by installing a “keylogger” on hotel public computers. The keylogger records every keystroke typed on the computer and then transmits that information to the criminal.
Some cyber criminals specialize in “sniffing” the Wi-Fi and public networks in airports and coffee shops, allowing the criminal to collect and read all information sent over a wireless network. Other criminals use a practice called “juice jacking”, where the criminal rigs a public charging kiosk to siphon information directly from your device when you plug into it.
Who’s the Boss?
The cyber security threat doesn’t end with you; Social engineers often use information about a boss’ vacation to gain physical access or commit financial fraud. The social engineer knows that they can reference the boss and the boss will not be reachable to verify whether he/she really did order the “repairman” or gave instructions for a fraudulent wire transfer.
When in Rome…
Different countries have different laws, which may allow government employees or law enforcement full access to your device without your knowledge or permission. Some countries are known to collect all data residing in that country, while others collect data from devices left in hotel rooms. This may be very important in countries that do not have the same freedom of speech as the United States. Some of these countries are known to have jailed tourists who posted negative comments online about the government or who posted criminal activities online, such as the use of alcohol or drugs. Luckily, with a little care it’s possible to avoid these problems. Follow these simple tips to ensure that the only memories from your vacation are good ones:
Easy Tips to Protect Yourself
- Use discretion when posting personal information on social media. This information is a treasure-trove to social engineers. Do not post information about travel plans or details; save the pictures and updates until after you return home.
- Set email away messages to only respond to known contacts in your address book.
- Disable geo-locational features, such as automatic status updates and friend finder functionalities.
- Remind friends and family members to exercise the same caution.
Easy Tips to Protect Your Devices
- Keep your electronic devices with you at all times.
- Before traveling abroad, change all passwords that you will use while traveling, and upon return change the passwords of any accounts that were accessed while abroad. This includes passwords used by social media websites and email providers, for which you have automatic logins.
- Do not access sensitive accounts (e.g. banks, credit cards, etc.) or conduct sensitive transactions over public networks, including hotel and airport wi-fi and business centers, or Internet cafés.
- Use up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-adware protection software; apply recommended patches to your operating system and software.
- Use wired connections instead of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections, whenever possible.
- Do not plug USB cables into public charging stations; only connect USB powered devices using the intended AC power adapter.
- Know the local laws regarding online behavior, as some online behaviors are illegal in certain countries.
6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid
6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid
Pine Country Bank offers tips for managing money together
Summer wedding season is in full swing and newlyweds will soon be managing their finances as a pair. Pine Country 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. 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, Pine Country 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 the health of your bank accounts and your relationship.
- 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.
- 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.
Royalton Platte River Day - We Our Customers Like Royalty
Royalton Platte River Day was on August 1st and Pine Country Bank participated in the parade in a royal way! The theme for the Pine Country Bank float was "Pine Country Bank treats our customers like Royalty."
Curt Smallbrock Joins Pine Country Bank as Commercial Lender
Pine Country Bank has announced that Curt Smallbrock joined the bank as a Commercial Lender at the bank’s Rice branch. His first day with the bank was July 13, 2015.
Lorna Lange, Vice President and Branch Manager of the Rice location feels that Smallbrock is a great addition to Pine Country Bank’s Commercial Lending team.
Curt and I worked together in previous management roles so I know first-hand that he is more than capable to step into this role with Pine Country Bank. His experience with community banks and large financial institutions coupled with his local knowledge of our communities were the perfect fit for our bank.
Smallbrock has over 21 years of financial experience. He has worked at all levels of banking starting as a teller and working his way up to management positions. He has experience in all aspects of banking including customer service, personal banking, mortgage and was also a licensed financial advisor.
I’m looking forward to working with the employees and customers of Pine Country Bank. The bank has a reputation of getting to know their customers and meeting them face-to-face which is hard to do at larger financial institutions.
Learn more about Pine Country Bank's commercial lending services.
Summer Newsletter - Mind What You Do Online
Don't miss our Summer Newsletter - Mind What You Do Online!
- Tips on keeping yourself and your computer secure
- The Top 10 Financial Tips for Students
- Community News
- Hometown Pledges by Pine Country Bank
- Information on VA Loans
- Employee spotlight on Cheryl P., our Mortgage Loan Processor
Drive "Fore" Cancer Event Raised $14,190 to Support Local Cancer Patients
The Drive "Fore" Cancer event held at Eagles Landing Golf Club on June 19 successfuly raised $14,190 to support Morrison County cancer patients.
Katie Kapus-Jackson, a Pine Country Bank Mortgage Lender, helped organize the event with three other local women. These women had friends diagnosed with cancer and saw the need for assistance to local residents; this is the 7th year of the fundraiser.
Pine Country Bank has supported Katie and local cancer patients by sponsoring the event all seven years.
Pine Country Bank of Little Falls supports Drive “Fore” Cancer golf tournament
Pine Country Bank is a $500 corporate sponsor for the 1st Annual Drive “Fore” Cancer tournament on Friday June 19th at the Eagles Landing Golf Course. The tournament has been in existence for 5 years, recently renamed and reorganized to allow proceeds to remain 100% local, and more quickly reach Morrison County residents who are in need of support. The event typically raises around $14,000 for local cancer care.
Pictured are Lori Kush, committee member of Drive “Fore” Cancer, Dave Cebulla, Pine Country Bank and Connie Hoheisel committee member. Katie Kapus-Jackson of Pine Country Bank is also on the committee.
The Top 10 Financial Tips for College Students
It's that time of year when we're celebrating high school graduations and getting the students in our lives ready for college. Share these tips with the college students you know - their financial health and education is important!
- You are in charge. You are responsible for your finances and you should act accordingly by creating a realistic budget or plan and sticking to it.
- 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 throughout the semester.
- Use Credit Wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation. Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
- Utilize Your Bank Account. Banks are more than money in a vault. They offer valuable services that students can benefit from like check cashing, debit cards, online banking, balance alerts, personal loans, direct deposit, financial education and some offer identity theft protection.
- Lookout for Money. There's a lot of money available for students, you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships and look for student discounts.
- New is Out. Consider buying used books or ordering them online. Buying books can become expensive and often used books are in as good of shape as new ones.
- Entertain on a Budget. Limit your hanging out fund. There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and most are free to students. Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out.
- Be particular when it comes to money. Don't just trust anyone with your money. Be skeptical of classmates, friends or salespeople that have ideas for your money.
- Save. Things happen, and it's important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or when you have to buy that unexpected bus ticket home. No matter how small the amount you should start putting some money away immediately.
- Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask. Your parents or your banker are a good place to start and remember the sooner the better.
Cheryl Ploof Named Employee of the Month
Our very own mortgage loan processor, Cheryl Ploof, is recognized by the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce as the May Employee of the Month.
Ploof has worked for Pine Country Bank since 2006 when her and Katie Kapus-Jackson came to Pine Country Bank as a team after working together at Wells Fargo.
“Every day, all day, she gives 110 percent,” said Katie Kapus-Jackson, who has worked with Ploof for 15 years. “She’s like my left hand. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if she wasn’t here.”
“I really enjoy coming to work every day. Pine Country Bank has great employees that are knowledgeable, friendly and fun to work with,” Ploof said. “It’s a very good feeling making people’s dreams come true by helping them get into their perfect home.”
We couldn't be happier to have Cheryl a part of the Pine Country Bank team; it's our employees that make this bank special.
Visit our Home Mortgages page to learn about the services Cheryl and Katie provide.
Read the Morrison County Record article to learn more about Cheryl.
Katie Kapus-Jackson and Cheryl Ploof (right), the Pine Country Bank mortgage lending team.
Pine Country Bank Celebrates Teachers
Every year during Teacher Appreciation Week, Pine Country Bank delivers cakes to the schools in the surrounding communities. This year, a total of eleven cakes were given to schools in the Rice, Royalton and Little Falls school districts.
"Teachers play a key role in student success and offer a great service to our local communities," notes Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank. "This is our way to say a simple “thanks” to all that our local teachers and staff do."
Avoid Becoming A Tax Scam Victim
With tax season comes tax scams. Make sure you protect yourself against scams that attempt to steal people's tax refunds, bank accounts or identities with these four tips:
- Don't respond to emails appearing to be from the IRS. The IRS doesn't initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to email@example.com.
- Don't respond to unsolicited emails and don't provide sensitive information via email. If the email appears to be from your employer, financial institution, broker, etc., contact the entity directly. Don't open any attachments or click on links contained in unsolicited or suspicious emails.
- Carefully select the tax sites you visit. Use caution when searching online for tax forms, advice on deductibles, tax preparers and other similar topics. Don't visit a site by clicking on a link sent in an email, found on someone's blog or in an advertisement. The website you land on may look just like the real site, but it may be a well-crafted fake.
- Secure your computer. Make sure your computer has all operating system and application software updates. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software should be installed, running and receiving automatic updates. Ensure you use a strong password and different passwords for each account.
Here are some additional resources:
Hometown Pledge - St. Francis Music Center Orchestra Program
Pine Country Bank representatives Lorna Lange, Vice President of Pine Country Bank and manager of the Rice branch, and Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank, presented a $500 check to Bobbi French, director of the orchestra program at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls.
Ronning said, “This donation is part of our philosophy. We give back to the communities where our banks are located. If it weren’t for the people of the communities we serve, Pine Country Bank would not be here.” French echoed her sentiments, “And we, as an orchestra, give back to our community. Having the gift of music, we willingly share.”
Learn more about the organization by visiting the St. Francis Music Center website.
Hometown Pledge - SAL's City Flag Project
Pine Country Bank donated $500 for a second year to the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) City Flag Project. SAL members initiated the project in 2006 with the intent to display American flags throughout the city of Little Falls. This is the 10th anniversary of the project and an additional 51 flags will be hung on the new light poles in the downtown area, for a total of 156 flags to be displayed throughout the city. The flags are displayed beginning Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 11, Patriot Day, and weather permitting, on display again for Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
The Patriot Flag Program sponsored by the SAL enables businesses and individuals to donate toward the project annually to show their pride in the U.S. Flag, country and community. This year’s theme is “So That All May Know We Are Proud.” The group has plans to be part of the Dam Festival parade, June 20, for the 10th anniversary of the City Flag Project.
Learn more about the Sons of The American Legion by visiting The American Legion website.
Pictured are (from left): Committee member Adjutant Chair Al Stencel; Pine Country Bank President Rob Ronning and Committee Member Greg Santema. Also part of the committee, but not pictured is Matt Derry.
Brand New Website
We are excited to have a brand new website for Pine Country Bank. It has a clean new look and now it’s easier to navigate the site and find what you are looking for.
We’d love to hear what you think! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or questions you have.
Pine Country Bank employees volunteer with 2014 "Women Build for Habitat for Humanity"
Our employees are always up to something good. Recently, five of our women employees rolled up their sleeves and built homes!
Here’s what each had to say about the experience:
Diane: “It’s amazing the amount of time and work involved to build these homes. The new homeowner needs to put in 300 hours of “sweat equity” labor so they are working right next to us in the building process. Seeing the tears in their eyes the day they are handed the key to their own home makes all our volunteer time and work worthwhile.”
Paula: “The Women Build for Habitat for Humanity is an extraordinary event. It’s amazing how much construction work can get done by women in one day. We had a great instructor and all of us were eager to do as much as we possibly could. We worked alongside the homeowner and it touched my heart to see how much this home meant to her. The afternoon flew by. We had a lot of fun and left with a great sense of accomplishment.”
Susie: “It was awesome to talk to Kathy Kalhammer and find out the details of how they get through the application process and choose who will get a home. Also, many of the details regarding the building and loan portion that most of us hear or assume are not true. I gained a much better understanding of the whole process. Also, the homeowner was working with us to put together and put up the walls, which was great. It was nice to get to know her personally and hear about her young son, knowing the people whom we were helping. It was truly a great experience and I will definitely do it again.”
Tina: “It was very exciting and a lot of fun. The bond you immediately feel with the other woman is heartwarming. Getting to work side by side with the Jessica was nice too, and it’s always empowering learning new skills. When the work is done and you look back on the house, you have a sense of pride that you helped.”
Leonice: “It was nice to see the different people come together to help out someone that none of us have ever met. It was reassuring to me that there are such good people doing good things right here in my own area.”
PHONE SCAM ALERT
There have been some reports from customers about receiving phone calls from Pine Country Bank. These phone calls seem to be from an automated phone system from the Washington state area claiming the account holder’s account has been frozen.
THIS IS A SCAM, HANG UP IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY INFORMATION. Please contact us immediately if you were a victim of this scam.
With all the news of scams, threats and breaches, you should know your rights. Check out your credit report to ensure the information being reported is accurate. www.AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to get your free annual credit reports. This right is guaranteed by Federal law and you will never be asked to enter in your bank account or card information.
Don't be fooled by look-alike sites. You can be sure that you are on the right site if you type www.AnnualCreditReport.com in your browser address line. Don't come to this site by clicking on a link in another site or in an email. The site is maintained by Central Source, LLC. Central Source, LLC is sponsored by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion so you have a single site where you can ask for all three of your free credit reports.
Sauk Rapids-Rice Education Foundation (SRREF) Receives Donation from Pine Country Bank in Rice
The Sauk Rapids-Rice Education Foundation accepted a generous donation from the Pine Country Bank in Rice. This $1000.00 donation was the second of three annual donations and is again earmarked to benefit children attending Rice Elementary School. The donation will provide Rice Elementary students with increased access to mobile technology and will supplement the District’s technology initiative. Together with organizations such as the Pine Country Bank in Rice, we are opening the doors of opportunity for every student at Rice Elementary and in the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District as they advance through elementary to secondary and beyond.
While Rice Elementary was named specifically in this donation, we are proud of the success of all Sauk Rapids-Rice students, which is due to the hard work and commitment of our communities, families,administration, Board of Education members and staff.
Pictured from left Lorna Lange Vice President of Pine Country Bank and Rice Branch Manager, Daniel Bittman Superintendent of Schools ISD 47, Rob Ronning President of Pine Country Bank, Dan Cairns SRREF Advisory Board Chair, Christina Bemboom Rice Elementary Principal, and Jan Solarz Board of Education and SRREF Advisory Board Member
Online Banking News
Your password is more than just a key to your computer or online account. It is a gateway to all of your important information. If your password falls into the wrong hands, a cybercriminal can impersonate you online, access your bank or credit card accounts, sign your name to online service agreements or contracts, engage in financial transactions, or change your account information. Unfortunately, many users are still not taking the necessary steps to protect their accounts by using strong passwords. Far too often, passwords with simple combinations (such as 123456, password, qwerty, or abc123) are being used. In other cases, people simply use their pet’s name or their birth date — information that can be easily found online, such as on a Facebook or genealogy page.
How to Create Secure Passwords
Cybercriminals have developed programs that automate the ability to guess your passwords. To protect yourself, passwords must be difficult for others to guess but, at the same time, easy for you to remember. Here are some recommendations:
- Passwords should have at least eight characters and include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Avoid words and proper names, regardless of language. Hackers use programs that try every word in a dictionary.
- Don't use personal information — names, birthdays, etc., that someone might already know or easily obtain.
- Change passwords regularly — at least every 60 days. If you believe your system or an online account you access has been compromised, change your passwords immediately.
- Use different passwords for each account you have.
- Make sure your work passwords are different from your personal passwords.
Protecting Your Passwords
- Do not write down your passwords. If you need to remember your passwords, write down a hint to a password, but never the password itself. Store the hint in a safe place away from your computer.
- Do not share your password with anyone — attackers may try to trick you via telephone calls or email messages into sharing your password.
- Do not reveal your password on surveys, questionnaires, or security forms.
- Decline the “Remember Password” feature in Web browsers.
- Always remember to log out when using a public computer.
- If you need a utility to store your passwords, an “electronic vault” may be a viable option. When deciding which password manager/electronic vault to use, look for programs that use powerful encryption algorithms, keylogger and phishing protection, and lock-out features.