Break The Cycle Of Piling Up Debt

To say Americans spend beyond their means would be an understatement. A 2016 study of American household credit card debt by the website NerdwalletAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! revealed that the average household with credit card debt had balances totaling $16,425. And households that carried debt averaged $1,300 in annual interest, according to the findings.

Woman in debt

Getting a handle on your debt isn’t always easy to do, but you don’t have to tackle it alone, especially if you find that you can’t stop digging a deeper financial hole. There are debt relief agencies out there who can help.

But you need to do your homework before choosing one. If an agency offers a deal that sounds too good to be true – such as clearing all your debit for a fairly significant fee – steer clear of it. Experts point out that reputable financial counseling agencies typically are nonprofit organizations, and offer either free services or only charge a nominal fee to create and oversee a debt management plan for you.

One resource that can provide guidance in this area is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). Founded in 1951, NFCC describes itself as the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization.

NFCC’s website ( a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!)  offers an extensive amount of information, such as debt counseling tips and instructions on finding a financial counseling agency in your area.

Counseling agencies will usually work with your lenders to reduce the interest rates you’re paying on credit debt, and will consolidate your payments so that you’re only making a single payment to them every month. They then disperse the funds to your various lenders.

If you’re comfortable coming up with a debt management plan on your own, experts agree on a few things to get you headed in the right direction. For one, you need to figure out your total amount of debt as well as your monthly income.

Once you have these numbers in hand, it’s time to create a budget, one that’s realistic and will get the debt-reducing results you’re seeking. It’s good to be as specific as possible, to the point that you’re tracking how much you’re spending at the coffee shop each week.

Once you’re got a good handle on how much money is coming in, and how much is going out, it’s time to implement the budget and stick to it. This is going to require discipline and the need to give up some things in order to stay within your budget.

Another trick is to use cash instead of credit cards to make purchases. This makes you more aware of what things really cost because you’re actually handing over “real” money instead of relying on plastic. According to researchers, people are more likely to make impulse purchases when using credit cards because they feel like the money they’re spending isn’t really theirs.

A credit card balance transfer is another approach to consider for lowering credit card interest rates. Many credit card companies offer promotions of 0% interest for a year or more if you transfer your debt from an old card and pay a small fee.

You can also ask the issuer of your current card for a reduction in your annual interest rate. This has proven to be successful for many people, especially when they tell the lender that they’re looking into balance transfers.

Don’t Fall Victim to a Ransomware Attack – Be Vigilant and Alert Online

Bank5ConnectChances are you’ve heard about the recent “WannaCry” ransomware attacks that have affected more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries. Unfortunately, these types of attacks are becoming more and more widespread, and Bank5 Connect would like to remind its customers about what they can do to protect themselves online. Here is some advice for helping to avoid ransomware attacks and other similar email phishing schemes.

• If you receive an email you weren’t expecting, be cautious from the get-go. Never click on any links, or open attachments in an email from someone you don’t recognize.

• You should also be on high alert if you notice poor grammar or misspellings in an email, especially one claiming to be from a legitimate company or organization. Quite often, these can be signs of a phishing email crafted by a con artist.

• It’s also common for phishing emails to use time-based deadlines or threats. If the email says you have “24 hours” to do something, or threatens you with jail time or hefty fines if you don’t respond quickly, you should be wary.

• Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive an email promising you money, prizes, or even a job, you should tread with caution. Never provide personal or financial information to claim winnings you weren’t expecting. Likewise, if you ever receive a check (or the promise of a check) you weren’t expecting, don’t deposit it! Many money laundering schemes use unsuspecting people as middlemen. Remember to never conduct banking transactions for people you don’t know.

• Never provide personal or financial information from someone who requests it via email. Keep in mind that the government, and most banks and companies you do business with will never try to obtain sensitive information from you online (or over the phone for that matter). BankFive will never call or email you to obtain account information. If you receive an email requesting information and you’re having a hard time determining whether or not the communication is legitimate, just pick up the phone and call the company. Just remember to look up the company’s phone number on your own to ensure you’re calling the right place. Don’t rely on a phone number provided in an email that may be phony.

• And remember that if you ever do follow a link in an email, be very cautious of the site you end up on. NEVER enter your passwords, usernames or other personal information on a site you reach via an email link. It’s very common for phishing emails to “spoof” a website in order to trick users into thinking they’re on the authentic one. In reality, they can capture any sensitive information you enter on a phony site. If you’re looking to log into your account after reading an email, you’ll be safer entering the site’s web address directly into your browser, or using a bookmark to access it. This will help to ensure that you’re entering your info on the legitimate site, instead of a fake lookalike.

For more information on how to stay safe online, visit our Fraud Prevention page at

Bank5 Connect Wins Awards for Best Checking Account and Top Customer Service

We’re proud to announce that Bank5 Connect’s High Interest Checking Account has been named Best Checking Account of 2017As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! by GOBankingRates. This is the third year in a row that Bank5 Connect has received the honor, having won the Best Checking Account designation in 2016As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! and 2015As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! as well. GOBankingRates cited our High Interest Checking Account’s high APY, low fees, low initial deposit requirement, and low minimum balance requirement as reasons for the top ranking.

Bank5 Connect was also named one of the 10 Best Online Banks of 2017As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!, and received an Editors’ Pick for Top Customer ServiceAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! in the Best Online Banks category. GOBankingRates particularly praised our live chat support feature, which they said is not offered by most other online banks.

To determine the 2017 Best Bank winners, GOBankingRates surveyed data from 100 banks, including brick-and-mortar banks as well as online-only institutions, using criteria such as minimum deposit and balance requirements, fees, annual percentage yield (APY), availability of features such as mobile apps and remote check deposit, customer service accessibility, and BauerFinancial Star Ratings.

Losing a Loved One Can Open the Door for Identity Theft

Imagine someone stealing from a loved one after they have died. Tragically, that is happening millions of times a year because of unfeeling, manipulative identity thieves.

Not content to just prey on the living, identity thieves will scour obituaries in newspapers and scan hospital and funeral home records to come up with enough information to assume a deceased person’s identity. They’ll then turn around and file for tax return refunds, or open credit card accounts using their social security number.

Fraud security experts estimate that billions of dollars are lost annually to those pretending to be someone else who has died. It’s a lowly crime, but there are ways to guard against it.

If you experience the loss of a loved one, the last thing you expect to be confronted with is fallout from identity theft. But should it occur, one of the first things you should do is notify those entities that the deceased had financial dealings with, such as credit card companies, financial advisors, the Social Security Administration, and banks. Most, if not all of them, will require that you submit official death certificates.

The nation’s three credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – will also need to be notified and will need official certificates, too. Otherwise, your loved one’s accounts will remain open after their death, and could stay open for up to 10 years, even without activity, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization founded to provide victim assistance and consumer education regarding ID crimes.

The agency recommends notifying entities by telephone and then following up calls with written correspondence. Mail all correspondence certified, with a return receipt requested. And keep copies of all documentation, including letters that you send.

Other suggestions for preventing identity theft after death include:

  • Limiting the amount of information placed in published obituaries. For instance, only list the age of your deceased loved one, not their birth date. And avoid including maiden names or other personal information that thieves could take advantage of.
  • Check your loved one’s credit reports a few months after they have died to see if any attempts have been made to steal their identity. If something appears suspicious, report it immediately to the credit reporting bureau that issued the report.
  • Gather any documents or items containing a deceased loved one’s financial or personal information and store it in a secure place. These documents include, but are not limited to, bank statements, military records, pension statements, hospital records, and even wallets.
  • In addition, make sure your loved one’s computer is password protected to restrict access to similar sensitive information, and limit the number of people who have access to it. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for family members and friends who are experiencing financial difficulties to steal the identity of a deceased loved one in order to get themselves out of financial distress.

Digital Banking Solutions for Millennials

millennials and bankingMillennials are now the largest age group in America, and the Millennial generation is changing the way banks connect with their customers. So what is it that Millennials are looking for when it comes to banking? Well for starters, they’re looking for digital solutions to help them manage and budget their money.

According to the American Bankers Association, 23% of Millennials say that lack of a mobile app would be a main barrier to them engaging with a bank. Given this, and the ABA’s findings that Millennials are three times more likely to open a bank account with their phone than in person, and that 67% of Millennials want digital budgeting tools from their bank, it’s clear that banks offering digital services are the best fit for Millennial customers.

Bank5 Connect aims to fulfill the needs of its Millennial customers by offering a smartphone app with secure remote deposit functionality, debit cards that are Apple Pay compatible, online bill pay options, eStatements, and an assortment of handy online tools to help reach personal budgeting, investing, and retirement planning goals.

With Millennials taking over the work force, building their finances, and gearing up for major life events like marriage, home buying, and having children, they are a valuable customer base transforming the way banks do business. And Bank5 Connect is happy to service them!

Learn more about the financial habits and preferences of Millennials by viewing the Millennials Banking Infographic from the American Bankers Association.

Bank5 Connect Wins Best Checking Account of 2016

We’re happy to announce that for the second year in a row, Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking Account has been named “Best Checking Account of 2016” by According to GOBankingRates, our competitive interest rates, low minimum deposit requirements, and low fees contributed to the decision to award Bank5 Connect the number one ranking for best overall checking account. GOBankingRates also emphasized Bank5 Connect’s easy and convenient online and mobile banking, UChoose Debit Rewards program, and offerings like free first orders of checks, and ATM fee reimbursements.

Bank5 Connect also placed in GOBankingRates’ top-ten lists for Best Online Banks and Best Savings Accounts of 2016.

In order to determine the 2016 Best Bank winners, GOBankingRates examined over 120 financial institutions using criteria such as annual percentage yield (APY), monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance requirements and BauerFinancial Star Ratings.