Keep Thieves from Getting Their Hands on Your Passwords

When’s the last time you changed the password for your online banking account? Or for the website where you pay your credit card bill? If you can’t remember, now’s a good time to switch it up. And don’t create a new password that’s easy to figure out, or use the same password you’re already using for other accounts. That’s just looking for trouble.prevent-thieves-from-getting-your-passwords

Cyber security experts offer a number of tips to help ward off online thieves. And rightfully so, since millions of people fall victim to cyber-crimes every year.

Have a password that’s easy to remember? Chances are it’s going to be easy for a thief to figure out, too. Sure, it’s hard to forget “123abc”, but using such a short and simple password is an open invitation to cyber theft.

Mix it up. Experts recommend using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to create a password. And throw in a made-up word or two, like “beahighve” or ‘”jabberwockysnark”.

Don’t get personal. You know how you post all those photos of your pet on Facebook and mention her by name, then use that name as a password? That’s easy pickings for a thief. So stay away from such things as names, birthdays and addresses.

Make it long. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. That is, if you follow the previous suggestions for creating a password.

Don’t share. This may sound rude, but passwords aren’t meant to be shared with friends, partners, family members, or neighbors. They’re intended to protect you and your information. So keep them to yourself.

Alter them frequently. It’s recommended that passwords be changed every month or so.

Get some help. If you’re having a tough time keeping track of all your passwords, there are software programs that can manage them for you. Some are free; others you have to pay for. These programs store your login credentials for all the websites you use, and help you access those sites automatically. They encrypt your password database with a master password, which is then the only password you have to remember.

Stay out of the public eye. That free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop down the street may be enticing to use, but it’s not going to protect you from cyber crooks. They love public Wi-Fi because it gives them easy access to people’s passwords and online accounts.

Don’t get lazy. Isn’t it great how some websites will “remember” your login and password information for you so you don’t have to type it in every time you visit those sites? Convenient, yes, but this “remembering” feature is yet another avenue cyber thieves can use to uncover your login credentials.

Remember that when it comes to passwords, the first line of defense is you. So don’t open yourself up to thievery by failing to follow these basic password safeguards.

Ways to Avoid Those Pesky ATM Fees

No one likes paying fees to access their own money, but if you use an out-of-network ATM, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And unfortunately, ATM fees continue to climb. When you withdraw cash from an ATM that’s outside of your bank’s network, you’re typically charged twice. You’ll likely be charged by the owner of the ATM, since you’re not a customer, and you may be slapped with a fee by your own bank as well. According to a recent Bankrate survey*, the average total cost of withdrawing cash from an out-of-network ATM in 2018 is $4.68, which is 36% higher than it was in 2008. That’s a pretty heft fee for withdrawing your own money.ways-to-avoid-those-atm-fees

The good news, is that there are surefire ways to avoid these types of ATM fees. The first and most obvious method is to refrain from using an ATM outside of your bank’s network. If you’re planning a trip, be sure to take out enough cash from your regular ATM or bank beforehand. Or, prepare yourself by checking to see if there will be any in-network ATMs around your destination. In this day and age, it’s easier than ever before to locate an ATM within your bank’s network. Most banks have this information available on their website or mobile app.

Some banks are also part of a “shared” ATM network. In a shared network, customers of one bank can usually use the ATMs of the other participating banks without incurring any surcharges. Bank5 Connect is part of the SUM ATM network, which includes thousands of ATMs across the country. Bank5 Connect customers can withdraw money at any ATM within the SUM network, surcharge-free. Visit http://www.sum-atm.com to find a SUM ATM in your area.

Another way to avoid ATM fees is to open an account that offers reimbursements for ATM fees. Many online banks are able to offer these types of ATM fee rebates because “online-only” accounts cost them less money to operate. With Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking account, customers are never charged by Bank5 Connect for using an out-of-network ATM, and we reimburse other banks’ surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle.

If all else fails and you’re on-the-go and need fast access to cash, going the “cash back” route could also be a good alternative to using an out-of-network ATM. Many brick-and-mortar stores allow you to request cash back when you make a debit card purchase using your PIN number. So, rather than paying around $24.68 to take $20 out of an out-of-network ATM, you could buy a soda or a bag of chips for $1.50, and request $20 cash back. Your debit card gets charged $21.50, and you walk out with a snack and a crisp $20 bill.

So, stop giving your money away! If you do a little planning ahead, it’s easy to say no to ATM fees.

*Source: https://www.bankrate.com/banking/checking/checking-account-survey/

Do You Need to Switch Banks When You Move?

You finally landed that dream job, but it means moving across the country. There’s a lot to think about to make it a smooth transition. While you’re stressing about selling your old home, securing a new one, and dealing with the movers, it’s easy to overlook something as basic as your bank. But it’s important to consider whether you’ll have easy access to your funds after your move, or if a bank switch is in order.advantages-of-online-banks-when-you-move

If you’re banking with a nationwide or international bank, you’re probably good to go, but you should still check to ensure that there are branches or ATMs near your new home that you’ll have easy access to. However, if you’re currently banking with a local community bank or credit union, or a financial institution with a limited regional footprint, there’s a good chance you’ll have to open new accounts in your new location in order to access your money as conveniently as before.

One way to avoid having to uproot your funds every time you move is to bank with an online bank. With an online bank there are typically no branches, so you don’t need to worry about finding a new bank when you move. You can keep the same bank accounts wherever you go. At Bank5 Connect, our customers can access their money, free of charge, from any ATM within the SUM Network (www.sum-atm.com), and if they use an ATM outside of the SUM Network and are charged a fee, we reimburse them up to $15 per statement cycle.

Here are some other advantages of using an online bank:

  • You can bank anywhere there is an internet connection. On online bank is open 24 hours a day (unless of course, the bank’s website is undergoing maintenance, which typically doesn’t last very long and is done during off-hours). And, in the event that internet service isn’t available, most online banks can be contacted by phone.
  • You have access to real-time account information, such as balances, deposits, and withdrawals, with just a few keyboard clicks. This provides for ease of access and lets you stay on top of activity in your account.
  • You could get higher rates. Since online banks don’t have infrastructure such as physical branches and overhead costs tied to them, they can usually offer higher interest rates on savings and checking accounts. For online banks with lending capabilities, those lower overhead costs can translate into more attractive loan rates for customers as well.
  • It’s easier to spot and fix problems with your account. For instance, you don’t have to wait for a printed bank statement to review your account activity.
  • You can pay bills using online banking. No more envelopes and stamps and questioning yourself about whether you remembered to sign the check before sending off the bill. With online bill pay, everything can be done electronically with an online record you can refer back to if necessary.
  • Transferring money from one account to another is a breeze using online banking. You save yourself time by bypassing a trip to the bank or going through a complicated process by phone.
  • Mobile apps are available from virtually all online banks to give you even more flexibility. With most online banking mobile apps you can take photos of checks and deposit them into your account, you can pay bills, and you can check your account activity on the go. It’s important, however, to avoid using public Wi-Fi (such as the networks available in coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants) when conducting online banking transactions, as these networks are not secure.

To learn more about making the switch to an online bank like Bank5 Connect, visit our website today!

Send Money Fast With Person-to-Person Payments

There’s no question that online banking has transformed the way we handle money. And you don’t have to look any further than person-to-person payments for proof.send-funds-with-person-to-person-payments

Person-to-person payments, also commonly referred to as “peer-to-peer payments” or “peer-to-peer transactions”, have revolutionized the way people can send money to each other. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend sitting next to you in a restaurant or a family member across the country – you can send and receive funds electronically in a matter of a few days, if not a few hours, depending on which person-to-person payment service you use.

If you have a bank account or credit card, you can use it to make a person-to-person payment using online technology that lets you transfer funds from your accounts via the internet, using a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

There are two basic approaches to person-to-person payments. With one approach, users establish secure online accounts with a trusted third-party vendor (such as PayPal or Venmo), designating which bank account or credit card they’d like to use to transfer and accept funds. The third party’s mobile app or website is then used to send or receive funds. Users typically are identified by their email address and can conduct fund transfers with anyone who is also a member of that same third-party network.

With the second approach, customers use their financial institution’s online banking interface or mobile app to designate which account they’d like to transfer funds from, and the amount of funds they’d like to transfer. The recipient is identified by either their email address or phone number, and they do not have to be a member of the same financial institution as the sender. Once the sender has initiated the transfer, the recipient will typically receive an email or text message with instructions on how to deposit the payment into their account. In some cases, the sender will have already designated exactly which account the money should be transferred to, and in that case the recipient will simply receive a notification alerting them that the transfer has taken place.

Before initiating a person-to-person payment, it’s a good idea to check into such things as fee structures, funds availability, and privacy practices.

  • Fee-related questions to consider before choosing a person-to-person payment service include whether there are charges to sign up, send money, or receive money. At Bank5 Connect, there is no fee for Standard Delivery of person-to-person payments, however fees may be incurred if Expedited Delivery is selected.
  • Check into the service’s policy regarding when funds will be deducted and when they will be available to a recipient once a transaction has been initiated. Some services are quicker than others in this respect.
  • Check out the service’s privacy settings and adjust them to your preferences if possible. And keep in mind that a service provider’s privacy policy may change, so it’s always a good idea to periodically recheck them after signing up. At Bank5 Connect, we take your privacy and security very seriously. You can view the privacy policy and terms of service associated with our person-to-person payment service here.

Bank5 Connect’s person-to-person payment service is called Pay People, and is available through our online banking system. To learn more about Pay People, or to sign up for online banking and begin taking advantage of person-to-person payments, visit us at http://www.bank5connect.com/home/online-banking/moving-money

Appointing a Beneficiary to Your Bank Account

You may not have considered adding a beneficiary to your bank account, but doing so can help you to protect the money in your account and ensure that it’s passed on to the appropriate person after your death.AdobeStock_49222902

Checking and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit (CDs), can have beneficiaries associated with them. Naming a beneficiary to your accounts clearly defines who gets the money once you are deceased. Without a named beneficiary, any bank accounts you have will have to go into probate court after your death, where the court will decide who your money should be transferred to. Probate can be a long, drawn-out process, and can also be expensive for your loved ones.

One way to avoid probate is for you to decide in advance who should receive the funds in your account after your death. This is referred to as naming a “payable-on-death”, or POD, beneficiary to your account.

Most financial institutions, including Bank5 Connect, will add a beneficiary to your account for free. Your Bank5 Connect account can only have one beneficiary listed, and that beneficiary must be a person, not an organization.

Most financial institutions allow you to change your named beneficiary as often as you like. Changing a beneficiary may be necessary if your beneficiary dies before you do. Or, you may want to make a change if you get a divorce and your ex-spouse is listed as your beneficiary. It’s generally a good idea to review who you have listed as your beneficiaries every few years, so you can make adjustments as necessary.

Naming a beneficiary to your bank account doesn’t require you to give up ownership or control of your funds. The beneficiary cannot withdraw funds from your account while you’re still alive, nor are they entitled to receive any financial statements or other correspondence regarding your account.

After your death, the funds in your account will be available to your beneficiary. They’ll just need to present photo identification and a death certificate before your financial institution will release the funds in your account to them.

To name a beneficiary to a Bank5 Connect account, you’ll need to obtain a form – either by email or regular mail – from the bank to fill out. The form then needs to be notarized, since it’s a legal document, and returned to Bank5 Connect.

For more information on naming a beneficiary to your Bank5 Connect account, or to obtain a form, fill out the contact form at https://www.bank5connect.com/home/contact.

Should You And Your Spouse Use Joint Accounts or Separate Accounts?

It’s a question that inevitably comes up when two people marry. Should they continue to utilize their own separate checking and savings accounts, or should they merge their finances into joint bank accounts?AdobeStock_90060964

What works for one couple may not work for another. Because both banking approaches each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to explore, discuss, and weigh all options before arriving at a mutually agreeable decision.

Some of the distinct advantages of joint bank accounts include:

  • Because a joint account generally results in more money being pooled together, it can help with avoiding account fees such as those associated with maintaining a minimum monthly balance.
  • With a joint account, both parties have access to the money in it. This can prevent you from having to frequently transfer money between your account and your spouse’s account, and it can also be convenient in an emergency, or if one spouse passes away.
  • It can make it easier to handle shared expenses and bills. Instead of having to determine how much money should come out of your individual accounts each time a payment is due, you can simply write a check, or schedule bill payments, directly from your joint checking account.
  • Because both spouses can see the spending habits of the other, there is an increased level of accountability with a joint account. With both of you viewing the money as “our” money instead of “my” money and “your” money, there’s also a higher likelihood of financial communication regarding the household’s budget and purchases.
  • If either you or your spouse is a stay-at-home parent, a joint account could help alleviate tension and resentment. Since the stay-at-home spouse doesn’t have a traditional salary to place into their own separate account, having access to the funds in a joint account could help them to feel valued and compensated for work they do inside of the home.
  • In the event that one spouse loses their job or is out of work on medical leave, having a joint account already in place can prevent you both from having to merge your money at the last minute. It can also prevent you from having to cancel and re-do any bill payments that may have previously been scheduled from the out-of-work spouse’s account.

On the flip side, merging your money into a joint account has some disadvantages as well. These include:

  • Some couples associate a joint account with having to surrender their financial independence. With a joint account you and your spouse could feel trapped without each having access to “your own” money.
  • With many couples marrying later in life, there’s a good chance of both parties coming into the marriage with their own finances already in good, working order. For example, you both may have bill payments scheduled from your own individual checking accounts, or you may have your pay from work directly deposited into your own account every week. These things could be a bit of a hassle to un-do and re-do, so some couples may prefer to leave their accounts “as is” after they tie the knot.
  • With a joint account, there is a lack of privacy in regard to your finances. You may not want your spouse nagging you about that coffee you buy on the way to work every morning, or maybe you just want to be able to buy them a present without them seeing the transaction details on your joint debit card statement!
  • If one spouse enters the marriage with student loan debt or alimony or child support obligations, the other spouse could become resentful if those payments or to be made from joint funds.
  • When bills are paid out of a joint account, it’s fairly typical for one spouse to manage the couple’s finances. This could eventually turn into a point of friction if the spouse who’s managing the money starts to view the job as a burden or chore.
  • In the event of a separation or divorce, a joint account can become a bit challenging. Because both parties have legal access to the money in the account, it’s possible for one spouse to drain the funds without the other knowing. Even if you both leave the money where it is, it can be messy determining who gets exactly what from a joint account after the relationship is over.

As you’re deciding which type of account is right for your marriage, keep in mind that there is a third option – having a combination of both joint and separate accounts. Some couples keep a portion of their incomes in separate accounts so they can still access “their own” money, while each contributing to a joint account as well. A joint savings account could be used to save for things like a down payment on a home, college tuition, or a vacation, while a joint checking account could be used exclusively to pay major monthly bills such as mortgage payments or utilities.

No matter what banking approach you decide to use, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the arrangement on a regular basis to determine if it’s still the best fit for your family.

You can learn more about Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking Account here: http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-checking

You can learn more about our High-Interest Savings Account here: http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-savings

Feel Safe and Secure With Online Banking

The popularity of online and mobile banking continues to rise, largely due to its convenience and ease-of-use. And doing your banking online can be just as safe as banking at a brick-and-mortar bank, as long as you take the proper precautions.AdobeStock_52514650

Here are some general tips for helping to ensure a safe and secure online banking experience:

Ensure the bank is insured.

If you’re beginning a relationship with an online bank, it’s important to verify the bank’s insurance status. Check their website for an FDIC logo or the words “Member FDIC” or “FDIC Insured”.

The FDIC has an online database of FDIC-insured institutions at https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com 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 Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. You can use this database to determine if your online bank or a bank you’re interested in is covered under FDIC insurance. You can search for an institution by the bank’s name or address. A positive match will display the official name of the bank, the date it became insured, its insurance certificate number, the main office location for the bank, its primary government regulator, and other links to detailed information about the bank.

When using this tool though, be aware that some banks, like Bank5 Connect, operate under a “DBA” name (also known as a “doing business as” name). A DBA name will not work with the FDIC database tool, so you’ll need to search with the bank’s address instead.

Also keep in mind that not all online banks are insured by the FDIC. Many banks that are not FDIC-insured are chartered overseas. Check with your bank or the FDIC if you are uncertain whether your deposits are insured.

Bank5 Connect is FDIC insured, and also insured by the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). There is no dollar limit to the DIF’s insurance coverage; they cover everything above FDIC limits. What this means is that all Bank5 Connect deposits are insured in full. To learn more about Bank5 Connect’s DIF coverage, please visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/misc/fully-insured-deposits.

Make sure the online banking website is secure.

Whenever you’re entering sensitive personal or financial information online, be sure to check to make sure the website is secure. First and foremost, you should ensure that the browser is showing “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” on the page where you’re entering the sensitive information. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is transmitted between the browser and the website. The “S” at the end of HTTPS stands for “secure”. When you see the “HTTPS” (some browsers also display a small icon of a lock or a key next to the web address when you’re on a secure page), it means that all communication between your browser and the website are encrypted. Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access.

And even if the bank’s website is secure, it doesn’t mean that sending an email to an address listed on the website is secure. You should never send sensitive information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, through unsecured e-mail.

Use a strong password or PIN.

When you’re deciding on a password or PIN (personal identification number) for online banking, be sure it is not a password or PIN that you use for other websites or accounts, and ensure it is strong. Never use something that’s easy to guess (no common words, names of loved ones, or birthdates), and use a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols for increased security. Passwords should also be changed regularly, and remember to never share your password or PIN with others.

Use a secure device and network.

Any time you’re doing banking activity online, make sure your computer or mobile device’s virus protection and other security software is up to date. It’s also important to never transmit sensitive information or conduct banking business over public Wi-Fi networks.

Check your bank accounts regularly.

Even if you follow all of the steps above, you should still get in the habit of monitoring your bank accounts on at least a weekly basis for any irregular or suspicious activity. If you do notice any strange transactions, be sure to notify your banking institution immediately.