In The News
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 email@example.com 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.