Making the Most of E-Banking

Gone are the days when visiting a branch during banking hours was the only way to take care of finances. E-banking lets you complete almost all transactions that used to require a trip to the bank. Here are four E-banking features that will help you get the most from banking remotely.

1. Online banking

Imagine settling in for the night and realizing you aren’t sure whether your account balance covers a check you mailed earlier in the week. With online banking, you don’t have to sweat it out and wait for the next day’s business hours. Free online banking lets you securely access your current savings, checking, CD and loan account information and also view your account history. Simply log in through your home computer, laptop or tablet to set your mind at ease while saving time, paper, postage and transportation costs. While you’re logged in, you can also pay bills, transfer funds between accounts and make loan payments.

2. eStatements

Not only does e-banking make money management more convenient, opting to go paperless with eStatements means you’ll have less paper clutter to contend with. eStatements are as easy to read as their paper counterparts; you can even view images of cancelled checks. With your secure login ID and password, these statements are for your eyes only, unlike paper statements that anyone might pick up and read. Typically, eStatements can be viewed online for a few months and saved to your computer for permanent storage and access.

3. Mobile banking

When banking needs arise on the go, mobile banking lets you securely do everything you can with online banking, all through your smartphone. Mobile banking uses a free, downloadable app to transform your phone into a virtual bank branch so you can pay bills, transfer funds, check balances and review history as you would at home with online banking.

One particularly nice feature unique to mobile banking is that it allows you to make deposits to your accounts from just about anywhere by simply endorsing checks, snapping a picture of them and filling in deposit information. Make sure to include the letters “MDC” (Mobile Deposit Capture) next to your signature on the endorsement line. This will help you remember if the check was deposited and avoid confusion. You’ll also be able to receive text message alerts when balances dip below a certain threshold, funds are received, or other activity occurs in your accounts.

4. P2P capability

Not long ago, if you wanted to make an electronic payment to a friend or business associate, you needed to have the recipient’s bank account information. P2P, a service now offered by financial institutions such as Farmers & Merchants Bank, allows customers with a debit card to make these person-to-person payments to any other individual with a debit card or checking account, using only the recipient’s email address or cell phone number. This service works even if the sender and receiver bank with different financial institutions. When funds are credited to the receiver’s debit card, P2P transfers can take place instantly. If the recipient prefers a bank account deposit, cash will arrive within one to two business days.

When you take full advantage of e-banking, branch hours and location don’t have to limit money management. You can save time and cash, and stay organized anywhere, anytime.

Sign Up for E-Banking Services or Contact Us.

 

Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet © Copyright 2015 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Using a HELOC to Pay Off High-Rate Debt. Is it a Good Idea?

Homeowners might wonder whether it’s a good idea to tap their home equity, or the market value of the property minus what is still owed on it, to pay down other types of debt, especially high-interest credit card balances.

Homeowners might wonder whether it’s a good idea to tap their home equity, or the market value of the property minus what is still owed on it, to pay down other types of debt, especially high-interest credit card balances.

One way to do this, using a home equity line of credit, is growing in popularity — more than $120 billion in HELOCs were created in 2014, an increase of about 22% over the previous year.

How a HELOC works

A HELOC, or home equity line of credit, is a bit like a second mortgage since your home serves as the collateral for the loan. However, a HELOC is a form of revolving debt, like a charge account, in that you’re able to withdraw money up to an approved limit, using a card or check, repay it and draw it down again. Since it’s secured, a HELOC usually has a much lower interest rate than the average credit card or a personal loan. You pay interest only on the amount you take out, and what you pay is often tax-deductible* on HELOCs up to $100,000.

Most lenders limit how much of your home’s value you can borrow. If your house is appraised at $400,000, you could borrow as much as $320,000 on it, including the first mortgage, at an 80% debt-to-value cap. So if your mortgage balance is $250,000, your home equity is $150,000, but the maximum you could borrow on that would be $70,000.

If you have significant debt, say, on a credit card with a 15% interest rate, a HELOC might seem like an easy solution. You could save on interest costs and lower your monthly payments. But proceed carefully. Unless you’re certain you have a stable plan for keeping up your payments, you could be putting your home at risk as a short-term solution to a financial jam.

Fees and risks to consider

Before you go too far, find out what obtaining a HELOC from your lender would cost — it might be substantially more than taking out a personal loan, for instance. A HELOC might require an application fee, property title search, an appraisal and attorney fees and even points, like on a mortgage. Lenders might waive some of these costs, but some also charge annual fees and withdrawal fees.

Most HELOCs have variable rates, so your monthly payments could go up or down periodically. Ask your lender how often the rate can be adjusted, and by how much. Some financial institutions offer fixed-rate HELOCs, but they might have higher initial interest rates than adjustable-rate credit lines.

Suppose your income drops unexpectedly, say from a job loss. If you were to default on unsecured credit card debt, the issuer wouldn’t be able to take possession of your property. But default on a HELOC and the lender could cause you to lose your home.

Using a lower-rate HELOC to pay down high-rate debt can be a savvy financial move as long as you fully understand all the costs and risks and have a stable plan for keeping up with your repayments.

*Please consult your tax advisor for questions.

© Copyright 2015 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Interested in applying for a HELOC or other kind of loan? We can help. Start the loan process here.

 

2015 Christmas Club Dates

2015 Christmas Club Dates

The holidays will be here again before you know it. Get a head start on shopping with your F&M Bank Christmas Club savings.

2015 dates for deposits and savings disbursement:

Monday, October 5th The last day to make deposits for 2015 disbursement
Wednesday, October 7th  Direct Deposit customers will see a credit to their designated account
Friday, October 16th  Paper disbursement checks will be available for pickup at F&M branches
Tuesday, October 13th  Customers may begin to make deposits for 2016

Not a Christmas Club member? Contact us to get started for 2016.

 

Important information regarding the U.S. Government data breach incident

Government Data Breach
It was recently announced that the U.S. Government has suffered a data breach affecting multiple Federal agencies and approximately 4 million individuals.

June 9, 2015

It was recently announced that the U.S. Government has suffered a data breach affecting multiple Federal agencies and approximately 4 million individuals. The Federal Government has confirmed that the information hacked could be used to facilitate identity theft and fraud. The individuals affected are government employees and political appointees.

Below are recommended steps to remain vigilant against possible identity fraud:

1.    Be wary of emails or telephone calls that request information. Neither the U.S. Government nor our financial institution will ask you to provide any information in relation to this possible data breach incident.
2.    Check your Account Statements. Review your statements carefully and repeatedly. Any purchases, large or small, should be verified as a purchase you made.
3.    Check Your Mail and Your Email. Look for mail and emails addressed to you that you do not recognize. This may include credit card accounts, medical bills, or notices from companies with which you do not have a relationship.
4.    Get Help. You are not responsible for fraudulent transactions on your account, but you need to notify us as soon as possible if you see any suspicious activity. In addition, if you are concerned about fraud beyond the transactions on your current account, you may have access to an Identity Fraud Protection program that includes Fully Managed Identity Fraud Research, Remediation, and Recovery Services. We will submit your name to our Recovery Care Center and, within 24 business hours, you will be contacted by an Identity Recovery Advocate who will investigate the situation and work on your behalf to remediate any fraud. Contact us with any questions.
5.    Take Action. If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies shown below. A fraud alert is a notation on your credit file to warn credit issuers that there may be a problem. The credit issuer is asked to contact you at the telephone number that you supply to validate that you are the person applying for the credit. This is not the same as credit monitoring.

TransUnion: 1.800.916.8800
Experian: 1.888.397.3742
Equifax: 1.800.685.1111

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is permissible for consumers to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).

To order a free credit report:
Online: www.annualcreditreport.com or by Telephone: 1.877.322.8228

If your F&M Bank account includes identity theft protection, and you suspect identity fraud of any kind, let us know. Whether it is financial or non-financial fraud, even if it is not connected to this incident or your account, we can help. You will be assigned to a certified, professional Identity Recovery Advocate at no cost to you. These professionals are standing by to answer questions, place fraud alerts, research potential fraud, dispute fraudulent transactions on your behalf, and perform the legwork to return you to pre-theft status, no matter how long it takes—all at no cost to you as a valued accountholder with F&M Bank.

We appreciate your trust in our financial institution. It is important to us to provide professional identity theft protection services for our F&M Bank accountholders for any identity theft incident that affects you and/or your family.

 

Mobile Banking For Business

Mobile Banking For Business
Are you considering mobile banking for your business?
Find out how these tools may provide more for your business than you previously thought.

Are you considering mobile banking for your business?
Find out how these tools may provide more for your business than you previously thought.

mobile banking for business
Mobile banking has been around for a few years, and today more people are utilizing it than ever.  According to a Federal Reserve poll, 42 percent of smartphone owners used mobile banking in 2011. These numbers increased to 48 percent in 2012, and 51 percent in 2013. Many small businesses, however, have resisted banking “on the go” because of security and functionality reasons. While 73 percent of small business owners say they use mobile devices to conduct social media marketing, only 18 percent use their device to manage accounts, according to Constant Contact Inc. survey data. So how beneficial is adding a banking app to your business phone?  Let’s address the main two issues:

Security
Just as online banking created its own set of new security risks, mobile banking does as well.  What happens if you lose your phone?  This is certainly a consideration when you are dealing with not only your money, but important business information. First, make sure to have your phone passcode or ID protected, with short “timeout” duration.  This means that once your screen saver goes on, the identification must be entered to gain access to the phone.  Next, make sure your bank uses a two-factor authentication to support its app.  The extra security means a hacker will need your username and password, as well as the mobile device, in order to login to your account. Also, be careful who you give access to.  Is your current bookkeeper going to carry out the same precautions with their mobile device as you would?  Make sure that anti-malware software is downloaded on every device with access to your business information.  Finally, as with any kind of banking, having a monitoring system in place with employees is a best practice, no matter how well they are trusted.

Functionality
Businesses have more banking data than consumers. Having a small display screen is not always conducive to accessing all this information. Also, businesses have a need for banking functions (wires, cash management, etc.) that aren’t always supported on your banking app.  As banking apps continue to become more sophisticated, however, these functions will become available with less of a security risk.  My suggestion would be not to focus on what mobile banking can’t provide your business, but what it can.  Checking balances or transferring funds, when you’re not at your desk, can save you a lot of time. Not to mention you have the ability to do your banking 24 hours a day no matter your location.  Another great feature is a mobile alert.  If your business account reaches a certain balance or a payment needs to be made, why not have the reminder get sent right to your phone?  Also fraud alerts can be set up if there is unusual activity on your account.

By Jonah Pence, Commercial Relationship Manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank located at 80 Cross Keys in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

>> Visit F&M Bank’s Mobile Banking Info Page

 

Financial Considerations Before Traveling Abroad

Financial Considerations Before Traveling Abroad
The number one most important step to take is to notify your bank of your intended travel plans. Not doing so may result in the freezing of your debit card. Our clients’ security is a number one priority for us at F&M Bank, so if we see someone using your account outside of your normal activities, we are going to take precautions to protect you against fraud.

Traveling abroad can be full of excitement and fun, but it takes a decent amount of preparation.  It is important to research hotel ratings, the best price in airfare, and tips for packing appropriate attire; but don’t forget to make sure you make financial preparations as well.


There are many financial considerations to take into account before embarking on your trip.  You will need to consider security, foreign transaction fees, and exchange rates- and you will want a financial plan in place before take-off.

The number one most important step to take is to notify your bank of your intended travel plans.  Not doing so may result in the freezing of your debit card.  Our clients’ security is a number one priority for us at F&M Bank, so if we see someone using your account outside of your normal activities, we are going to take precautions to protect you against fraud.  Simply call your bank branch and your Customer Service Representative will be glad to assist you by putting an alert of your travel plans on your account to avoid any complications.

At F&M Bank, we do not charge additional fees for using your debit card internationally.  However, you will likely be charged foreign transaction fees (usually ranging from 1% to 5%) and ATM fees by the vendor you are using to withdraw funds.  Additionally, many foreign ATMs only allow PIN transactions, so make sure you have your PIN number handy before traveling.  

Here are some other suggestions to keep in mind:  

•    Travel with at least two forms of payment.  If something goes wrong with one, you will want back up.
•    Take photocopies of all of your important documents including your passport, credit cards, debit cards, birth certificate and driver’s license and store them in a different location than the documents themselves.  This way, if something happens to the originals you will be able to prove your identity. 
•    Check your health insurance to make sure you will be covered while you are traveling.  If not, consider purchasing a rider. 
•    The most expensive place to purchase currency is in the airport at your destination.  Consider exchanging money through an international bank prior to departure.
 

If we can answer any questions to help you prepare for your next travel adventure, please contact us.  We are always here to help as Your Community Bank.  Bon voyage!

F&M Bank’s Community Shred Days

One in 14 will become a victim of identity theft. Protect your identity by safely disposing of personal documents at our Community Shred Days starting this spring!

Stop by one of these branches to safely dispose of your personal documents with Shred-It, formerly Cintas Document Shredding.

Elkton
Friday, May 8th, 3pm-5pm

Edinburg
Saturday, May 9th, 9am-noon

Bridgewater
Friday, May 15th, 3pm-5pm

Broadway
Saturday, May 30th, 9am-noon

Timberville
Friday, June 5th, 3pm-5pm

Crossroads
Friday, June 12th, 3pm-5pm

Port Road
Friday, June 19th, 3pm-5pm

Luray
Saturday, September 12th, 9am-noon

Staunton (new location at 2813 N. Augusta Street)
Friday, September 25th, 3pm – 5pm
Donations and canned goods will be collected for Valley Mission

Woodstock
Saturday, September 26th, 9am-noon

Find Directions to a Branch Near You. See you at Your Community Bank’s Shred Day!

>> Read our blog post about protecting your home and work computers from Phishing scams.

>> Learn more about F&M Bank’s Identity Theft Protection Service, ID SafeChoice.

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Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility

Looking back as a mother of 5, I can now see the visible difference in teaching kids about finances and choosing not to do so.  Now that my children are adults, the difference that financial education and learning to save has made in their lives is remarkable.  My only wish is that my kids would have had a savings option like the Treehouse account that F&M offers.  Like so many children whose parent signs them up, they could have put their money in a special piggy bank – keeping it out of sight and out of mind! –  and watch their savings grow with each “deposit” of a coin.

Even though my kids didn’t have an account like this, my grandchildren certainly do! As soon as they were old enough to write their own name we opened an account for them. They love the Treehouse Newsletter they receive and are so excited when it comes in the mail each quarter.  Of course, they also love receiving a birthday card each year and that little gift they get after so many deposits…

I just love watching them compete to see who can save the most.  It makes me very happy to see my grandchildren learning the foundations of savings; setting them up for a better future.

Barbara Bartley
Office Manager and Lender, Fishersville

If you would like more information about our Treehouse Savings Club, or other savings options