Protect Yourself Against a Sweetheart Scam

As we prepare for Valentine’s Day, we would like to take the opportunity to share a new trend in fraud – the Sweetheart Scam. Unfortunately, this fraud is often not reported due to embarrassment by the victim. The persons perpetrating the fraud are professional cons and are very good at manipulating their victims, often receiving $10,000 plus before the scam is stopped. 

The bank has noticed an upswing in this type of fraud and would like to help educate our customers as to how this occurs, and what you can do to protect yourself or a loved one from such a scam. 


Wikipedia describes this as “a Romance Scam – a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf”.

How it works: Stolen Images

Scammers post profiles, using stolen photographs of attractive people, asking for others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing.  Letters (& emails or instant messages) are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money. This might be requests for gas money, bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses, etc. There is usually the promise that the fictitious character will one day join the victim in the victim's country. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed or stops sending money. Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance was a farce.

Steps to take to protect yourself:

Run image searches of profile photos at or to see if the image of the person that you are connecting with belongs to multiple profiles across the internet. Keep in mind that in an effort to entice women, scammers often use photos of men in the military, while attractive young women, particularly models and adult-film personalities, are used to attract men.

Never share your online banking credentials, including passwords. Especially beware of scammers who want to send you money by making a deposit through mobile banking – often submitting a fraudulent check and then asking you to forward the funds via wire transfer or through a purchased gift card to assist with medical bills. By the time the check is returned as fraud and deducted from your account, the funds that have been sent are unable to be retrieved.

If you encounter a scammer, immediately report the user to the dating service that you may be using and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Sources – Wikipedia, AARP and FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

F & M Bank Corp. Announces Record Earnings and Dividend Declaration

TIMBERVILLE, VA—January 24, 2017—F & M Bank Corp. (OTCQX: FMBM), parent company of Farmers & Merchants Bank, announces its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ending December 31, 2016.

Selected highlights for the quarter and year to date include:

  • Net income of $2.5 million and $9.6 million, respectively;
  • Net income per common share increased 15.42% YTD;
  • Net interest margin of 4.34%;
  • Non-performing assets declined $1.9 million or 21.5% compared to a year earlier;
  • Loans held for investment increased $47.6 million YTD;
  • Return on Average Assets of 1.34% YTD.

Dean Withers, President and CEO, commented “We are pleased to announce record fourth quarter and record year to date earnings of $2.518 million and $9.567 million, respectively. These results represent increases of 15.45% and 13.66% for the respective periods. Loan demand continues to be strong with the growth in loans held for investment totaling $47.6 million year to date.  Deposit growth also accelerated in the second half of 2016 with the year to date increase now totaling $42.4 million.  Our net interest margin at 4.34% has been stable over the last several quarters and continues to drive our extraordinary results.”

Withers continued, “During the 2016, we opened our twelfth branch in Grottoes, Virginia and began construction on our thirteenth branch in Fishersville, Virginia.  These branches will supplement the two branches we opened in 2015 in Staunton and Craigsville to further strengthen the growth of our southern market.” Withers stated, “On January 19, 2017 our Board of Directors declared a fourth quarter dividend of $.22 per share to common shareholders.  Based on our most recent trade price of $26.85 per share this constitutes a 3.28% yield on an annualized basis. The dividend will be paid on February 16, 2017, to shareholders of record as of February 2, 2017.” Highlights of our financial performance are included below.

F & M Bank Corp. is an independent, locally-owned, community bank holding company, offering a full range of financial services, through its subsidiary, Farmers & Merchants Bank’s twelve banking offices in Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page and Augusta Counties, Virginia. The Bank also provides additional services through two loan production offices located in Penn Laird, VA and Fishersville, VA and through its subsidiary, VBS Mortgage located in Harrisonburg, VA.  Additional information may be found by contacting us on the internet at or by calling (540) 896-8941.

This press release may contain “forward-looking statements” as defined by federal securities laws, which may involve significant risks and uncertainties. These statements address issues that involve risks, uncertainties, estimates and assumptions made by management, and actual results could differ materially from the results contemplated by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could have a material adverse effect on our operations and future prospects include, but are not limited to, changes in: interest rates, general economic conditions, legislative and regulatory policies, and a variety of other matters. Other risk factors are detailed from time to time in our Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Readers should consider these risks and uncertainties in evaluating forward-looking statements and should not place undue reliance on such statements. We undertake no obligation to update these statements following the date of this press release.

SOURCE: F & M Bank Corp.

CONTACT: Neil Hayslett, EVP/Chief Administrative Officer; 540-896-8941 or


9 Tips for Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt

Buried in credit card debt? You’re not alone. According to NerdWallet, in 2015 the average U.S. household with debt had $15,762 in credit card debt at an average 18% interest rate. Here are nine tips on how to climb out.

Buried in credit card debt? You’re not alone. According to NerdWallet, in 2015 the average U.S. household with debt had $15,762 in credit card debt at an average 18% interest rate. Annual interest alone was $2,630, or more than $50 a week.

Here are nine tips on how to climb out. Remember, though, there are no magical solutions.

Stop spending more than you make

Tell yourself the truth. Analyze your bills to see where your money is going. Car payments, rent or mortgage, groceries and utilities are essentials; nearly everything else is subject to elimination or reduction. And don’t forget those $100 withdrawals from the ATM. Create a realistic budget and declare allegiance to it. Concentrate on the little things; just knocking off a $4 latte on the way to work can save $80 a month.

Keep paying on the cards

Failing to pay every month on every card just makes matters worse: The interest goes up and the debt goes up.  Always pay at least the minimum listed on the bill.  Not doing so may ruin your credit rating, making it harder to borrow money for essentials, such as a car, in the future.

Concentrate on paying off your smallest debt

The typical American has about four credit cards, so try pounding away at the one with the least debt. After you pay it in full, stop using it and apply the monthly payment to the next smallest bill. This “snowball effect” is a slow cure but leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment. This method, however, may cost you more in the long run, so read on.

Pay off the card with the highest interest

Pretty basic math here. Eliminating debt that costs you 28% is better than killing debt that costs you 18%. Try throwing your entire income tax refund or last month’s overtime pay at this bill. Then move on to the account with the next-highest interest rate.

Consolidate onto a lower-interest card

This can save you a ton in interest, especially if you eliminate all your other cards. Cards are available that will charge you 0% interest on the debt you have transferred.  However, this rate goes up after a specified time, usually 12 to 18 months. In addition, the issuer usually charges a fee — 3% is typical — on the transferred debt. Still, this can be a great deal if you can substantially reduce your debt in a relatively short time.

Take out a personal loan

Many lenders, including credit unions and banks, offer unsecured personal loans, meaning you don’t have to use your home or car as collateral. However, everything depends on your credit score. Below 620, interest rates will be high, although perhaps still below the rates on the credit cards it will be replacing. It’s worth shopping for.

Try a home equity loan

This loan, tapping the difference between the sale value of your home and money you still owe on it, also is based on your credit rating, as are home equity lines of credit. In addition, you could lose your home if you default. Consider with caution.

Cut a deal with the credit card company

This might be a long shot, but if you have a good credit history with the company and clearly have just fallen on hard times, it might negotiate with you on a lower interest rate. Like any other company, it wants to retain good customers.

Declare bankruptcy

This is the nuclear option. Yes, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate all your credit card debt and leave your home protected from repossession. However, it will be nearly impossible to get a mortgage for five years, and the filing will haunt you for up to a decade if you hope to finance anything at a reasonable rate.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ready to start eliminating credit card debt?


How to Get out of Debt in the New Year

A brand new year often inspires positive life changes such as breaking free of debt. If collections calls have been interrupting your dinner or you’re just stressed out from heavy-duty debt, here’s how to eliminate the burden.

Determine where you stand

In order to solve a problem, you need to fully understand it. Assess your situation by listing all your debts, including balance owed, interest rate and minimum payment required for each. Next, order your free credit reports to make sure you haven’t forgotten any debt or overlooked errors. Finally, compare your income and expenses and calculate how much you can realistically use toward debt reduction each month.

Don’t make things worse

The last thing you need is anything that increases your debt. Commit to not taking out any new loans or credit lines and, if possible, avoid incurring and charging additional expenses on existing accounts.

Take time for triage

You’ll save more in the long run by paying off debts with the highest interest rates first. This category usually includes consumer debt such as credit cards, personal or payday loans, and medical bills. Other types of debt, such as mortgages, car loans and student loans, typically have lower rates, making it more affordable to pay them off over a longer period. Throw as much money as you can each month at your highest-interest debt while still making timely, smaller payments on everything else. Then focus on paying down the next higher-interest loan.

Consider consolidation

When multiple debts are out of control, debt consolidation can be a lifeline. This refinancing process streamlines debts into a single monthly bill, often with lower interest and a smaller overall monthly outlay. This may help eliminate debt faster and less expensively. Home equity financing, personal loans and zero-interest balance transfer credit cards may provide effective options.

Improve cash flow

Even the best debt-reduction plans are useless without having enough money. Do the following to improve your cash flow:

• Bring bag lunches to work and eat fewer restaurant meals.
• Try free and inexpensive entertainment including parks, beaches and hiking trails, as well as local theater, concerts and sporting events.
• Sell unwanted items online or at yard sales.
• Take on additional part-time employment, ask for extra hours at work or turn hobbies into income.
• Make sure you’re getting the lowest prices for phone, internet, insurance and other consumer goods/services.

Set the odds in your favor

Why work hard to pay off debt just to end up in the same boat next year? These approaches can help ensure lasting success in curbing expenses and avoid building up debt:

Create a budget to keep future spending within your means.
• Continue to reduce unnecessary expenses.
• Commit to saving regularly, even if you can spare only a small amount each month, to protect against being thrown back into debt by unexpected events.
• Once credit cards are paid off, keep future balances low and try to pay them in full each month.
• Treat yourself to inexpensive rewards such as a new CD or ice cream to celebrate each important debt-reduction milestone.

Eliminating debt can bring dramatic changes over the coming year. In return, you’ll enjoy improved financial health, stress relief and the freedom to spend your paycheck on what really matters instead of having it siphoned away by past obligations.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Interested in learning more about debt consolidation?


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