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How to Avoid the Busy Holiday Scamming Season

You're not the only one joyfully anticipating the holiday season. Cyber criminals are all aflutter, too, as they look forward to the killing they'll make ripping off innocent shoppers like you. Here are some of the most common ways these thieves operate, because awareness can help you avoid becoming yet another victim.

Antisocial media

Beware those enticing ads that turn up on Facebook and other social media sites offering vouchers, gift cards and deep discounts, as well as the online surveys these ads often link to. These offers are often only empty promises designed to steal your personal information.

Additionally, if you receive concert, theater or sporting event tickets as a gift, never post pictures of them online. Cyber thieves spend lots of time monitoring social media, just waiting for the opportunity to create phony tickets they can resell from your barcode image. If your ticket is resold, you might just find yourself out of a seat on the night of your event. It's also unwise to post live from an event that gives criminals a heads-up that your home is empty and ripe for picking. Better to wait until the next day to post about the wonderful time you had.

Pandora's inbox

It may be a mystery to you how cyber thieves got your private email address, but it's chillingly clear they're up to no good. Your inbox may fill up with all kinds of legitimate-looking product offers and delivery notices this holiday season, but clicking on links of bogus ones or entering personal information on the linked sites can provide criminals with the opportunity to steal your identity.

Apps are far from immune

With mobile apps available for just about everything, it's a sad sign of the times that certain free mobile apps (often disguised as games) have been specifically designed to steal personal information from your phone. This is a particularly scary development since many people use their phones to secure their cars and homes. For this reason, only install apps from familiar companies and, at the very least, find a third-party review from a trusted site if you're interested in an app from an unfamiliar source.

USB Trojan horses

Lots of people use portable USB drives, which makes it all the more important to avoid those being distributed as giveaways this holiday season unless they're from a trusted source. These innocent-looking devices are often used as a method of introducing malware to computers.

Gifts that keep on giving … to criminals

A spirit of generosity is traditional at holiday time, but if you're not careful, your donations may never make it to the needy. Fake charities that skillfully tug at your heartstrings abound at this time of year, just waiting for you to willingly give your hard-earned cash to scammers. Before donating, be sure to check out charities thoroughly, to make sure that they're not only legitimate, but also that they allocate the bulk of funds toward their causes rather than “administrative costs.”

Tips to avoid holiday scams

These strategies will also help keep you a step ahead of scammers:

-Only shop online with reputable businesses you trust, using secure websites with an address that begins with https.
-Don't shop or bank over public Wi-Fi.
Protect your credit card privacy by covering your account number with your hand when shopping in public.
-Don't respond to suspicious unsolicited calls or emails. Only open email attachments from senders you trust, and contact businesses only through their official websites, phone numbers or email addresses.
Monitor your credit to catch fraud at its earliest stages.

Scammers may be smart, but you can still outsmart them. A little foreknowledge and caution go a long way toward ensuring you'll enjoy a safe and memorable holiday season.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

5 Financial Tips for Fall

Fall means dreams of pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners and a cozy holiday season just around the corner. Here are five ways to make sure you’re financially well-equipped for the last stretch of the year.

Fall means dreams of pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners and a cozy holiday season just around the corner. Here are five ways to make sure you're financially well-equipped for the last stretch of the year.

1. Tackle back-to-school shopping wisely

Whether you're shopping for your kids or yourself, approaching back-to-school sales with a clear focus can ensure you're spending on the right things.

It might be tempting to buy something just because it's on sale. To guard against impulse buys, make a list of what you need, not what you want. Set a budget and stick to it. If you must make large purchases such as laptops, look for reliable models that should last through several school years.

2. Winterize your home: Save energy, save cash

As temperatures drop, home heating bills rise. But properly sealing and insulating a house can save an average of about 11% a year on energy costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Keep your expenses to a minimum by sealing gaps and cracks in windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Clean and inspect your furnace to ensure it's running as efficiently as possible. Also consider increasing your insulation. Though your wallet will take a hit for the season, you'll probably get more than your money's worth in a few years.

3. Start your holiday gift hunt

We all know that the sale to beat all sales — Black Friday — comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. But don't forget about the little guys: Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day usually mean smaller but still significant discounts. As the year winds toward its close, expect sales on appliances, cookware, clothing and electronics. Beat the winter rush and get started on your holiday shopping.

4. Traveling in December? Book your trip now

If you're flying for the holidays, now is the time to book if you haven't already. Follow your favorite airlines on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for their email announcements for deals. This is also a great time to cash in your travel credit card miles, especially if your earned perks are due to expire at the end of the year.

5. Check your flexible spending account balance

If you've been putting money aside in a health care flexible spending account, or FSA, make sure you spend it before your money effectively disappears at year's end. Book yourself a dentist or eye appointment, or get an annual physical. And check with your company to see whether there's any wiggle room. Your employer might allow you to roll over up to $500 to the next year or give you a few months' grace period. With a little planning in the fall, you can save enough money to get through the long (and often pricey) holiday season that's just ahead.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

F&M Bank Corp. Announces Record Quarterly and Year to Date Earnings and Dividend Increase

TIMBERVILLE, VA–(Marketwired – Jul 22, 2016) – F & M Bank Corp. (OTCQX: FMBM), parent company of Farmers & Merchants Bank, announces its financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2016.

Selected highlights for the year include:

Net income of $4.4 million

Net interest margin of 4.39%

Net interest income increased $889 thousand

Loans held for investment increased $21.9 million

Non-performing loans have decreased $1 million

Dean Withers, President and CEO, commented, “We are pleased to announce record second quarter and year to date earnings of $2.358 million and $4.448 million. These results represent increases of 8.4% and 9.9% for the respective periods. Loan demand continues to be strong with the growth in loans held for investment totaling $21.9 million year to date. Our net interest margin at 4.39% has been stable over the last several quarters and continues to drive our extraordinary results.”

Withers continued, “Non-performing loans have decreased $1 million from year end and $1.7 million from the same period in 2015. A strong local economy and robust real estate sales have both aided the continued improvement in our non-performing loans.” Withers stated, “On July 21, 2016 our Board of Directors declared a second quarter dividend of $.20 per share to common shareholders. This is an increase of $.01 over the prior quarter and $.02 over the prior year. Based on our most recent trade price of $24.00 per share this constitutes a 3.33% yield on an annualized basis. The dividend will be paid on August 18, 2016, to shareholders of record as of August 4, 2016.” 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 www.fmbankva.com 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.

1) The net interest margin is calculated by dividing tax equivalent net interest income by total average earning assets. Tax equivalent interest income is calculated by grossing up interest income for the amounts that are nontaxable (i.e. municipal securities and loan income) then subtracting interest expense. The tax rate utilized is 34%. The Company’s net interest margin is a common measure used by the financial service industry to determine how profitable earning assets are funded. Because the Company earns nontaxable interest income from municipal loans and securities, net interest income for the ratio is calculated on a tax equivalent basis as described above.

2) The efficiency ratio is not a measurement under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. The efficiency ratio is a common measure used by the financial service industry to determine operating efficiency. It is calculated by dividing non-interest expense by the sum of tax equivalent net interest income and non-interest income excluding gains and losses on the investment portfolio. The Company calculates this ratio in order to evaluate how efficiently it utilizes its operating structure to create income. An increase in the ratio from period to period indicates the Company is losing a large percentage of its income to expenses.

CONTACT:
Neil Hayslett
EVP/Chief Administrative Officer
540-896-8941
NHayslett@FMBankVA.com

 

F&M Bank Nationally Recognized as Top-Producing Lender

TIMBERVILLE, VA—July 22, 2016— Farmers & Merchants Bank, a locally owned independent community bank headquartered in Timberville, VA, is proud to be nationally recognized as a top-producing lender by Independent Banker.

The award winning magazine, produced by the Independent Community Bankers of America, named Farmers & Merchants Bank one of the top 50 community banks across the United States. This honor distinguishes Farmers & Merchants as a community bank with a proven record of successfully responding to the needs of its community and providing loans to individuals, families, and small businesses.

Farmers & Merchants ranked in the top 10 banks nationwide in total overall lending. A successful, community bank holding over $650 million in total assets, Farmers & Merchants ranked number 3 with 89.1% of total loans to total assets, a jump in the rankings from number 14 in 2015. Of the 50 banks holding $500 million plus in assets, Farmers & Merchants was one of only four Virginia banks awarded, and the only Virginia bank to break the top 30. This is an impressive recognition for a locally owned and operated community bank.

Farmers & Merchants Bank prides itself on strong customer service and relationships, and this award is a reflection of the service of dedicated employees and the thriving communities served by Farmers & Merchants Bank.

About F&M Bank

F&M Bank serves the Shenandoah Valley with eleven full-service branches, a network of ATMs, and a wide variety of financial services. Both individuals and businesses find the organization's local decision-making, and up-to-date technology provide the kind of responsive, knowledgeable, and reliable service that only a progressive community bank can. Farmers & Merchants Bank has grown to over $650 million in assets — celebrating its most successful year in history in 2015 — and boasts over 160 full and part-time employees. Its conservative approach to finances and sound investments, along with excellent customer service, has made F&M Bank profitable and continues to pave the way for a bright future.

F&M Bank Breaks Ground in Fishersville

F&M Bank Plans for 4th Branch in Augusta County, VA

TIMBERVILLE, VA—July 5, 2016— Farmers & Merchants Bank, a locally owned independent community bank headquartered in Timberville, VA, is excited to announce it will soon break ground on its 13th branch in Fishersville, VA.

The ground breaking ceremony will take place on Tuesday, July 19th from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm at the intersection of Myers Corner and Route 250 in Fishersville. Myers Corner is a 139-acre mixed-use real estate development in the Fishersville area of Augusta County, Virginia. Myers Corner is located across Route 250 (Jefferson Highway) from the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, Wilson Elementary School, Wilson Middle School, and Wilson Memorial High School.

The Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, public officials, and F&M Bank staff and board members will be in attendance and available for comment. The public is invited to attend the event and stay for a light lunch following the ceremony. Bridgestone Construction will begin construction of the new branch mid-July.

F&M Bank currently operates bank branches in Craigsville and Staunton, a loan production office in Fishersville, and a new branch scheduled to open in Grottoes mid-July 2016. The much anticipated Fishersville branch is slated to open early 2017 with Jonathan Lindsay taking the helm as branch manager. Lindsay has been with F&M since 2015 and is currently the assistant branch manager at F&M Bank in Bridgewater.

About F&M Bank

F&M Bank serves the Shenandoah Valley with eleven full-service branches, a network of ATMs, and a wide variety of financial services. Both individuals and businesses find the organization's local decision-making, and up-to-date technology provide the kind of responsive, knowledgeable, and reliable service that only a progressive community bank can. Farmers & Merchants Bank has grown to over $650 million in assets — celebrating its most successful year in history in 2015 — and boasts over 160 full and part-time employees. Its conservative approach to finances and sound investments, along with excellent customer service, has made F&M Bank profitable and continues to pave the way for a bright future.

Local Business Profile

Check out our Q&A with locally owned and operated businesses in the Valley!

We interviewed Skip Frost, Executive Agent of Integrity Insurance.

Q: When did your business open? Is it locally owned?
A: We opened in February of 2013, so we're new, but bring over 35 years of insurance experience. We are locally owned. The business is owned by myself and two partners – Brian Showalter and Brandon Crawford. Brian and I are both from Bridgewater and Brandon is from Broadway.

Q: What types of services/products do you offer?
A: We specialize in Commercial Lines Insurance, e.g., Business owner’s policies, Commercial Property, General Liability, Worker's Compensation, Etc.

Q: Why did you decide to open your business in the Valley?
A: We love the valley! It's home to us and we enjoy all the valley has to offer. From a business perspective, the area has done very well in terms of business growth amidst a struggling economy. With JMU, EMU, Bridgewater College and others, there will always be a steady influx of young entrepreneurs which will continue to contribute to the economic growth of this area.

Q: Name one thing people may not know about you or your business?
A: We set ourselves apart by taking a team approach with all of our clients. Every client has the expertise of, and access to, three agents. From the quoting process through policy delivery and beyond, the Integrity Team works diligently to be sure that our clients receive the best coverage with the most affordable premiums.

Q: Just for fun, what is your favorite song?
A: Someday by Rob Thomas.

Integrity Insurance is located at 410 Neff Avenue, Suite 400, in Harrisonburg.

Find out more about this local business that serves all of Virginia by visiting their website: http://www.integritygroupva.com/ or by giving them a call: 540-433-0200.

Crossroads 10th Anniversary

Crossroads 10th Anniversary

Congratulations to our Crossroads Branch on celebrating ten years of serving the Harrisonburg Community. We'll be celebrating at the branch August 26, 2016 with all day refreshments in the branch and giveaways! Plus, Saucy Dogs food truck will be on-site between 11 AM and 4 PM.

 

Online Banking Supported Browsers

Supported Browsers – our online banking supports the latest versions of Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Each time a new version of these browsers is released the bank encourages you to update your internet browser for the best online experience.

Effective Monday, July 11, 2016, users attempting to gain access to online banking with Internet Explorer versions 7 or 8 will be unable to do so. Please, update your browser to the latest version. Feel free to contact your local branch with any questions regarding this update. Thank you!

F&M Buys New Space In Timberville

Farmers & Merchants Bank has purchased the former Carilion Family Medicine building at 165 New Market Road and plans to move its in town retail banking operations to that location.

By VIC BRADSHAW

Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG — F&M Corp. has completed the first step of its Timberville shuffle.

Farmers & Merchants Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, has purchased the former Carilion Family Medicine building at 165 New Market Road and plans to move its in town retail banking operations to that location. It paid Longhorn Investments LC $390,000 for the property.

That move will open up space at 205 S. Main St. — now doubling as the Timberville branch and F&M Corp.’s offices — to expand its headquarters. Neil Hayslett, F&M’s chief administrative officer, said the corporate staff includes 42 people.

In addition to freeing space for corporate offices, Hayslett said, moving just across New Market Road, which is Va. 211, from the Wal-Mart Supercenter has other advantages.

“With Wal-Mart soon to open, we felt that being on 211 would give us greater visibility, greater traffic counts than we see here in this location,” he said in a phone interview. “We have a fairly large number of customers in the New Market area, many whom I assume shop at Wal-Mart, so this will be more convenient for them than the current location and no less convenient for customers who are used to coming to the current location.”

The former medical clinic building is 4,200 square feet, but Hayslett said the bank won’t need that much space. A roughly 200-square-foot section of the structure will be demolished. A drive-thru will be added, and the mansard roof will be removed and replaced with a gable roof.

The bank uses about 4,000 square feet at the Main Street site, about 20 percent of the total space there.

The clinic renovation involves gutting the building to make it functional for a bank, which he estimated would take at least six months and cost about $600,000.

Twelve or 13 retail banking staff members will move to the new location from Main Street. Hayslett said no new positions would be added, but the branch should operate more efficiently because the lobby and drive-thru teller areas are now separate but won’t be after the move.

Once the new location opens, he said six private offices in the banking area will be available for corporate staff, so there won’t be an “urgent” need to remodel that space. Staff additions aren’t anticipated initially at the headquarters, but needs should change over time.

“We’ll most likely move some people in this building around,” Hayslett said. “Some of the departments are not the most efficient — everybody’s not together that should be.”

All the space in the Main Street building is in use, he said. About 18 months ago, the roof on one side was raised so storage space could be turned into offices for three people.

Contact Vic Bradshaw at 574-6279 or vbradshaw@dnronline.com

Farmers & Merchants Bank will be moving its Timberville branch to a vacant building at 165 New Market Road.

Daniel Lin / DN-R