Strategies to Eliminate Debt

RCB Bank - Strategies to Eliminate Debt

As inflation continues to rise in the first half of 2022, consumer debt is rising right along with it, according to the Federal Reserve System’s consumer credit report released on Aug. 5.

Consumer debt in the United States is nearly $3.4 trillion, according to the Fed. That is approximately $10,600 of debt for every man, woman and child living in the United States.

Staring at a mountain of debt is daunting. But with proper discipline – and a lot of hard work – you can eliminate your debt.

If you’d like to learn how, read on for these tips on how to greatly reduce and eventually get out of debt.

Know What You Owe and Track Your Spending

You can’t get out of debt if you don’t know where your money is going.

The first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic assessment of how much money you take in and how much money you spend, according to Federal Trade Commission.

Start by listing your income from all sources. Then, list your “fixed” expenses — those that are the same each month — like mortgage payments or rent, car payments, and insurance premiums. Next, list the expenses that vary — like groceries, entertainment, and clothing. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest.

Change Your Routines

It’s important to account for every penny earned and spent. Most people are shocked at the amount of money spent monthly on fast food lunches, coffee shops and online purchases. Small expenses add up.

By changing your habits – packing a lunch instead of eating out or brewing coffee at home or drinking from the “office pot of coffee,” you can quickly accumulate “extra” money in your budget.

Then you can take those savings and make a debt payment immediately. The instant gratification of seeing balances fall can be extremely motivating.

Tackle Your Debt

Small debt victories likely will make you feel good and motivate you to continue. But you must find a strategy that is right for you, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB even offers a worksheet to help.

Here are the two methods the CFPB recommends. Both strategies have their pros and cons, the CFPB says.

Snowball Method – Tackle one debt at a time.

  • List all debts in order from smallest to largest.
  • Pay minimum payment on all debts while throwing as much money as possible to the smallest debt (for example, the money saved by changing your routines.)
  • After the smallest debt is paid, move on to the next smallest debt until debt free.

Highest Interest Rate Method – Pay a little more than the minimum payment on all debts.

  • Pay the minimum balance on each debt.
  • Take extra money and apply it to the debt with the highest interest rate.
  • Pay off debts in order from highest to lowest interest rates.

Don’t Take on More Debt

You cannot borrow your way out of debt. Low-interest payments and credit cards may indeed be a good deal, but you should work toward paying down what you currently owe before adding any new debt.

It’s important to try to make paying off your debt a top priority, because the way that you manage your credit could determine how much access you have to it in the future. Don’t be afraid to talk to a banker or a financial professional for suggestions on ways to attack your debt situation.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/current/default.htm

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/how-reduce-your-debt/

https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/coping-debt

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Don’t be a Victim of Back-to-School Fraud

As students head back to school and college, fraudsters are eagerly waiting – not only for the students, but for their parents and relatives as well.

But college students are especially susceptible to being a target. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people aged 20 to 30 lose money to fraud more frequently than older consumers.

Here are some common back-to-school type scams for which to be on the lookout:

High school diploma scam

Scammers will prey on those who are seeking their high school diploma.

  • If you have to pay for your diploma, it is a scam. You may need to pay for classes to earn your diploma, but once you earn it, you don’t have to pay for the diploma itself.
  • They claim they’re from the federal government. Educational programs are affiliated with state governments, not the federal government.
  • You can earn the diploma quickly. If there are no tests or classes involved, it is a scam.

Student tax scam

If you receive a text, email or call from the IRS claiming that you did not pay your student tax, this is a scam. The IRS always reaches out through mail first and will never demand payment through a wire transfer. If you are threatened with imprisonment, this also is a sign it is a scam.

Scholarship scams

Fraudsters know that education costs money and have many scholarship scams designed to get your money.

  • Never pay to apply for government student loans or financial aid. If you have to pay, it is a scam.
  • Also, you should never pay for a scholarship. If you are asked to pay fees in order to receive a scholarship, it is a scam.
  • If an organization guarantees you will get a scholarship, it most likely is a scam. No organization can absolutely guarantee a scholarship will be awarded to certain students.

Fake check scams

Scammers will target students who are looking to make money. According to the FTC, the scams that target students often involve jobs that could be done on the side — like being a mystery shopper, advertising with a car wrap or working as a part-time assistant or dog walker for someone pretending to be your professor. These scams all involve someone sending you a check, asking you to deposit it, sending some of the money to someone else, and keeping the rest as payment.

However, those “jobs” are all fake, and the check will bounce – and when it does, and the bank realizes the check was fake, it will want that money back.

Remember, as with all scams – just like the ones mentioned above – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at http://ftc.gov/complaint.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/10/not-what-you-think-millennials-fraud

https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2022/03/college-students-we-want-hear-you

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Final Home Walkthrough Checklist

Person handing over house keys

So you’ve decided on a house and your closing day is set.

That means you’re finished and can let out a big sigh of relief, right? Not so fast.

Since your home most likely is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, it’s best to make absolutely sure everything is as it should be before the keys are handed over to you.

That’s where your final walkthrough comes in.

A final walkthrough allows you to make sure the house you committed to buying is in the same condition as when you first looked at it and that everything is in working order. In essence, this is your chance to make sure your new home is absolutely ready for you.

Usually, it’s just you and the real estate agent at the final walkthrough.

Whatever you do, don’t rush through your final walkthrough. You may want to hurry up and “get to the finish line” of owning your home, but if you rush through this final step, you may overlook something you hadn’t seen before.

Here’s what to look for in your final walkthrough:

  • Make sure the seller’s belongings are completely removed – and be sure to check any external storage buildings or attic spaces.
  • Check the walls, ceilings and doors to ensure no damage occurred when the seller was moving their belongings out of the house.
  • Make sure all faucets – inside and outside – are working with adequate water pressure, that all the toilets flush and that there are no water leaks.
  • Check all light fixtures and make sure all the light switches work.
  • Test all electrical outlets by bringing a cell phone charger.
  • Check for any rodent droppings or pests.
  • If the seller promised repairs were to be done, verify that they have been completed.
  • If the seller has agreed to leave any appliances, make sure they are there and in working order, and make sure the manuals to those appliances also were left behind.
  • Check the yard, and if the property has gates, ensure they latch properly.
  • Make sure the seller left all keys and garage door openers in the house or with their real estate agent.

If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them. And don’t settle for an answer you’re not comfortable with. Remember to trust your gut. If something feels wrong, speak up. It’s better to walk away than signing a bad deal.

The final walkthrough is your last chance to fix any problems that may have been unaddressed. Don’t skip anything on the list, and if you find problems, consult your real estate agent to decide the best course of action.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

Sources:

https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_buying-a-house_mortgage-closing_checklist.pdf

https://benefits.va.gov/stpaul/docs/VeteransHomeBuyingGuide.pdf

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Are CDs Right for You?

certificate of deposit

If you’re new to investing and looking for a place to start, a certificate of deposit may be what you’re looking for. Or if you’ve been investing for some time, a certificate of deposit can be one of the many tools you can use to help you toward retirement.

Certificates of deposit – otherwise known as CDs – are considered to be one of the safest saving options, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

CDs can give you a place to keep your cash safe and potentially earn a higher interest yield than a savings account.

But before deciding to invest in a CD, keep in mind you should use money that you’re not counting on to use for anything else. For instance, you shouldn’t put your emergency savings funds into a CD.

That’s because with a CD, you commit to keeping your money untouched for a set amount of time – anywhere from 30 days up to 10 years or more, depending on the bank. There generally are penalties and fees if you withdraw your money before the term to which you agreed expires.

When your term expires, you can roll your initial investment and earned interest into another CD, or you can cash it out.

Before getting a CD, make sure you understand all of the terms and carefully read the disclosure statement. Ask questions, and check out the answers with an unbiased source.

The guaranteed rate of return of a CD is enticing, but keep in mind that rate usually is low and oftentimes won’t always beat inflation.

One advantage of a CD can be the fact that you can’t withdraw it (without incurring penalties and fees), so say if you have a big expense coming up that you have the money set aside for – like a vacation, for instance – putting those funds in a CD can keep you from dipping into it, plus it will add money to your original amount invested.

Keep these tips in mind when if you decide to go with a CD:

  • Minimum and maximum maturity terms.
  • Minimum deposit requirements.
  • Interest rates and annual percentage yield (APY).
  • Early withdrawal fees and/or penalties.
  • CD renewal policies.

The bottom line is this: Does a CD make sense for you? CDs can provide security and stability, but they likely won’t provide you with enough returns to build on your wealth.

Talk to a financial adviser to compare your options and help you determine what’s best for your situation.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubscertifichtm.html

https://www.investor.gov/introduction-investing/investing-basics/investment-products/certificates-deposit-cds

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Be Aware to Avoid Jugging

RCB Bank - Beware of Jugging

Have you heard of jugging?

You probably know what it is, but may not have heard the term by which it goes.

Simply put, jugging is theft. The jugglers can work in teams or work alone. They identify a potential victim withdrawing money from an ATM, or watch for people coming out of a bank with bank bags or cash envelopes. The jugglers will then follow the victim – sometimes to multiple locations – to look for the right time and place to steal the money.

Jugging cases have risen recently, according to law enforcement officials.

Use these tips to avoid becoming a victim of jugging:

  • Be on the lookout for individuals backed into parking spaces who do not exit their vehicle to conduct business.
  • If you’re in the bank and you feel like someone is watching you, advise the bank’s employees so they can contact authorities or assist you in getting to your vehicle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be distracted. This will make you look like an easy target.
  • Be vigilant when using ATMs, as jugglers typically target individuals using ATMs. Also, exercise caution when leaving the ATM or bank.
  • Be vigilant when arriving and departing. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t leave your car or the building if you observe suspicious vehicles parked in or around the parking lot.
  • Conceal your money before you leave the bank.
  • Don’t openly carry bank bags, envelopes or coin boxes.
  • Watch for people following you.
  • Don’t leave a bank bag (hidden or not) in your car unattended.
  • Make banking the last stop of your errands.

If you believe you’re being followed after leaving a bank or an ATM, call 911 and drive to a public area or, better yet, a police station.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://leb.fbi.gov/file-repository/archives/january-1963.pdf

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/two-leaders-jugging-crew-sentenced-federal-court

https://www.mctxsheriff.org/news_detail_T6_R459.php

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Why Your Debt-to-Income Ratio is Important

You’ve probably heard of debt-to-income ratio, but just what is it and why is it important?

RCB Bank - Why Debt to Income ratio is important

Your debt-to-income ratio – commonly referred to as DTI – is all of your monthly debt obligations, divided by your gross monthly income.

This ratio is one way lenders check how you manage payments you make on money you’ve borrowed.

This number can affect how much money you’re qualified to borrow and your interest rate. Higher DTIs appear riskier to lenders, while lower DTIs may allow for a lower rate and a higher loan amount.

Lenders have different DTI limits and lending criteria. The same holds true on different loan types as well, be it a mortgage or an auto loan, the acceptable DTI numbers typically will vary.

Generally, a DTI of 50 or higher is concerning, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a U.S. government agency dedicated to making sure you are treated fairly by banks, lenders and other financial institutions.

A DTI between 36 and 49 generally is considered good, but there is room to improve it. A DTI of 35 and lower shows lenders you have enough money to take on new debt and pay it back on time, and that if an emergency came up, you likely won’t fall behind on payments.

How to figure your DTI

As previously mentioned, your DTI is your monthly debt obligations divided by your gross monthly income.

To calculate it yourself, first add up all your monthly bills – rent or mortgage payment; student, auto or other loan payments; credit card payments; alimony or child support (if applicable); and other monthly bills not mentioned. Next add up your gross monthly income, which is your monthly salary before taxes.

Now that you’ve obtained those two numbers, divide your monthly debt obligations by your monthly gross salary. You’ll be left with a decimal number, such as .3391. Move the decimal point two places to the right, and you’ve got your DTI – in this case, 33.91.

Do your best to lower your DTI as much as you can before taking on new debt. It can not only help you qualify for a loan but may also help you get a lower interest rate.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. With approved credit. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151.

Source:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-debt-to-income-ratio-en-1791/

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What is an Escrow Shortage?

What is an Escrow Shortage? RCB Bank Mortgage Matters

Escrow accounts are a vital part of mortgages for nearly all homebuyers. Some lenders require mortgage borrowers to have escrow accounts, or the borrower may opt in to an escrow account through their mortgage servicer.

Escrow accounts set aside funds for tax and home insurance payments until they’re due. With each mortgage payment, a portion is set aside in the escrow account. When it’s time to pay property taxes and home insurance, the mortgage servicer will pay those bills on your behalf.

A cost increase of any of the items in the escrow account can cause an escrow shortage. For instance, if your property tax rises dramatically or your home costs more to insure if its value increased, this could make an escrow shortage.

If there is a shortage, typically you can pay the amount in full, or have the amount added to your monthly mortgage payment.

An escrow analysis typically is performed about once per year, so escrow shortages generally are rare occurrences.

But as a homeowner, it’s prudent to be prepared for any unexpected costs that come up with homeownership. It’s good to keep your eye on your escrow account, that way you can be prepared if it looks like there’s going to be a shortage.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151.

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Be Vigilant to Combat Fraud

Stay Vigilant against fraud

Scammers target everyone.

They rely on people being unaware and uninformed in their attempts to obtain your personal details and/or your money.

Every day, scammers prey on those who are uninformed. When they succeed, it’s because the scams appear to be authentic, trying to catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it.

While you can’t keep yourself from becoming a target of a scammer, you can protect yourself from scammers by staying alert and vigilant at all times.

Here are ways in which you can protect yourself:

  • Know that scams exist. Whether you receive an unprompted email, phone call, letter or text message, consider that it might be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t click on links in text messages or emails or open email attachments if you can’t verify who sent the message or you weren’t expecting it. This is one way scammers acquire access to your information.
  • Be wary if asked to send money by gift card, preloaded credit cards or virtual currency. Those types of payments are virtually untraceable and almost always are the sign of a scam.
  • Monitor your accounts. You should check your financial accounts daily online or through your accounts’ mobile apps, so you can catch if any unauthorized transactions have occurred. The quicker you notice fraud if it occurs, the quicker you can ensure less damage can be done.
  • Check your credit report. Review your credit reports for any suspicious activity, especially accounts you didn’t open.
  • Don’t divulge your personal information unless you know it’s a trusted and verified source. Scammers will frighten and threaten you and can sound very official. Don’t fall for their tactics.

As technology evolves, so do scammers. Letters and documents can be faked, which, at first glance, looks official. But there are ways you can spot a scam:

  • Low-resolution images. A company wouldn’t send out an email with a low-resolution image.
  • Poor spelling and grammar. If you receive a letter that doesn’t read correctly or has misspelled words, this is another sign of a scam. Companies don’t want their correspondence to look unprofessional, and documents and letters with grammatical and spelling errors are unprofessional.
  • The email address doesn’t have the name of the company. Generally companies that send email will do so from an email address that has the name of the company in it.
  • You weren’t expecting to be contacted. If you’re contacted out of the blue, and the correspondence says you must act now, it likely is a scam.
  • You’re asked to pay money because you won a prize. If you won a prize, you shouldn’t have to pay money to receive it. You also should be wary if you won a prize for a contest you didn’t enter.

If you believe you’ve been scammed, call your bank’s fraud department. You also can report fraud to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/.

 

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

 

Source:

https://www.ftc.gov

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5 Things to Know Before You Buy a Home

RCB Bank Mortgage 5 Things to Know

You don’t have to be an expert to buy a home. But it does help to be prepared, especially as the housing market continues to boom. If you don’t even know where to start, here are some tips to put you on the path to homeownership.

Find Out How Much You Can Borrow

It may be tempting to start looking at houses right away, even if you’re just browsing. But getting prequalified for a mortgage will let you know exactly how much you can afford to borrow. Finding the right mortgage lender can make the entire process that much easier. If you apply for prequalification and later decide you’re not ready to buy a house in your desired price range, it’s better to learn that before you start shopping for houses.

Keep “Hidden” Costs in Mind

Sure, you’ll know how much the houses cost based on their listing price. But what about insurance, property taxes, closing costs, moving expenses and HOA fees (if applicable)? Knowing about these costs before you start looking at houses can prevent a surprise you weren’t counting on and could sully the joy of buying your home. Ask your mortgage lender about the costs that come during the mortgage process.

Have Your Financial Records Ready

Your mortgage lender will thoroughly examine your finances to ensure you qualify for a loan. You’ll need paystubs, tax records, bank account statements and child support/alimony documentation, if applicable. Before you buy, make sure you have those documents ready so you won’t have to track them down later.

How Long Does it Take?

In pretty much all instances, finding and buying a house isn’t something that can be done in one day. It took an average of 51 days to close a mortgage in 2021, according to ICE Mortgage Technology. That doesn’t mean all mortgages take that long to close. But this will give you an idea of how long the process can take. So while there is no set-in-stone time of how long it takes to get a mortgage, the sooner you start the process, the better off you’ll be.

Down-Payment Options

Conventional wisdom says to aim for a 20% down payment on your mortgage. But saving money for a down payment on your dream home can be downright daunting and likely impossible on an average salary. The down payment is the upfront cash you pay toward the home purchase. Lenders offer a variety of mortgages with different down payment requirements. You can even buy with no down payment in some instances. Explore your options with your mortgage lender to decide how much you’ll need to save for a down payment.

There are a lot of things to know before buying a house. Remember, the more you educate yourself about the process, the more likely you’ll have the confidence to buy the house you want at a price you can afford.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

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Teach Teenagers About Money Management

It’s never too early to teach your teenagers about money management.

money saving tips teens

Whether it’s budgeting, saving, credit card interest or loans for big-ticket purchases, the more knowledge you impart upon teenagers, the better prepared they’ll be once they’re on their own. There are so many online money tools and financial phone apps, teenagers today can be more prepared and knowledgeable about money than any previous generation. And while these technological tools are useful in introducing teenagers to the concept of money management, they shouldn’t be entirely responsible for teaching them. That’s where you come in. Showing teenagers how it works in the “real world” will show them the rewards of proper money management and the pitfalls that can pop up along the way.

Here are some tips to help teach your teenagers:

1. Know the real cost of things. The price tag is rarely the actual cost. Talk about hidden fees, taxes and interest. Talk about personal expenses – utilities, car payments, mortgage, and unexpected purchases that can lead to financial trouble if you don’t plan for them, like auto repairs and medical expenses.
2. Learn to budget. Building wealth is not about how much money you make, it’s about how you manage the money you have. Money flows out faster than it flows in. Learn to spend less than you earn. Plan for purchases, comparison shop, negotiate terms and fees and save up money before buying things.
3. Be very careful with credit cards. Talk about the pros and cons of credit cards. One missed credit card payment can set you on a course toward long-term debt. Misuse of credit cards can also hurt your ability to take out a loan for a car or house. Don’t be afraid to share your personal experience with credit card misuse or debt and the sacrifices you had to make to rise above it.
4. Learn the secret to saving. The easiest way to build wealth is to set up automatic savings. Enroll in payroll direct deposit. Schedule recurring automatic money transfers from checking to savings. Start small and increase with pay raises. If you learn to put money aside and live below your means when you are young, it will be easier to build wealth as you move up the ladder.
5. Consider your future. Most adults in or nearing retirement wish they had saved more money. Nearly half of Americans have no retirement savings and still have to work when they are 70 and 80 years old. The younger you start saving, the greater control you’ll have over your financial well-being. Talk to your teenagers¬¬ about your personal retirement preparations.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. With approved credit. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Source:
https://www.fdic.gov/resources/consumers/money-smart/teach-money-smart/money-smart-for-young-people/index.html

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Email Scams on the Rise

Email Scams

Recently there has been a rise in email fraud where a scammer poses as a major retailer, luring unsuspecting people with claims that an expensive purchase was made by them. The email will give a number to call if the email recipient doesn’t recognize or wants to dispute the purchase.

This is a common phishing scam. The scammer simply wants you to call the number, and that’s when they’ll try to get information out of you.

Once the scammers get you on the phone, they’ll sound official. They may ask who you bank with. They’ll ask you for your account number and passwords.

Don’t fall for it. Do not give any personal information once they ask for it, no matter how official they sound. If they ask for access to your computer or mobile device, hang up!

There will be several red flags to look for if you receive such an email:

  • The email address won’t have the business’s name or domain.
  • There will be spelling and grammar errors in the email.
  • When hovering over links, the displayed website doesn’t direct to the business.
  • It may look like a reply to an email you never sent.
  • The business logos and images are blurry.

Don’t just call a number you receive in an email without researching the phone number first.  Review your accounts to see if any unauthorized charges were made. If you don’t see any charges that are mentioned in the email, it’s very likely a scam.

If you believe you’ve been scammed, call your bank’s fraud department. You also can report fraud to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/.

Source:

https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Scams-and-Fraud/Phishing-and-Other-Internet-Scams

 

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

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Beware of Micro-Deposit Scams

coins

As the world continues to move more toward digital transactions, more and more businesses and organizations utilize digital payment methods. Digital payments have boomed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because of their flexibility and ease of use.

But as more digital payment processing companies begin to emerge, scammers adapt. A new scam that has been on the rise is a micro-deposit scam.

Micro-deposits are small amounts of money – generally under $1 – that are transferred from one account to another. They typically come in pairs and in separate amounts, usually coming within three days of linking accounts. The purpose of micro-deposits is to verify if the account on the receiving end is the account that is intended to be linked to the depositing account.

So far, everything described is common when linking accounts.

But how micro-deposit scammers operate is by linking online accounts with strings of random numbers, just hoping to get a valid bank account. When a deposit is verified from a bank account, the fraudsters will use information about the account holder to withdraw funds from their account.

The best way to combat this type of fraud is to monitor your account regularly. If you notice a micro-deposit, DO NOT verify it if you didn’t initiate it and DO NOT click on any links that are embedded in a verification request message or download any attachments in a verification email.

If you’ve been the victim or a target of a micro-deposit scam, contact your bank to ensure it won’t happen again. And then contact the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/.

 

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

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In the Market for a Second Home? Now May be the Time to Buy

Couple looking at a house.

If you’re looking for a place to get away for weekends or longer vacations, or if you’re getting close to retirement and thinking of a place to relocate to, a second home may be just what you need.

A second home also can be a great investment opportunity.

Defining a second home

A second home is defined as a one-unit property that’s located within a reasonable distance from your primary residence. It can be a home you occupy for just a portion of the year.

It is not considered a second home if someone else lives there full time. For example, if you buy a home in Stillwater but you live in Oklahoma City and your child lives in the Stillwater home full time while attending school.

Second homes are typically located near an attraction such as a lake, mountain or beach.

A property can be considered a second home if you live there occasionally because you work far from your primary residence. For example, you live in Tulsa but work in Oklahoma City.

You may short-term rent a second home, but cannot rent it full time. Full-time rentals should be purchased as an investment property.

Financing a second home

The financing guidelines for a second home are similar to financing a primary residence. The down payment on a primary residence is a minimum of 3% in certain instances; the minimum down payment for a second home is generally 10%. Rates typically are higher on a second home than a primary residence. However, the terms usually are the same – up to 30 years.

Your lender will need to verify you have sufficient funds for closing and 6 months’ worth of reserves to cover both your primary and second home loan payments. Government loan programs (FHA, VA, USDA) are not available for second home financing.

If you’re interested in purchasing a second home, talk to a mortgage lender before taking the plunge. They can help you get prequalified. Your lender will help you navigate the process and determine if purchasing a second home is right for you.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

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Here’s How to Clean Up Your Credit Report

how to repair your credit report

If you’ve made some credit mistakes in the past, they may still be reflected on your credit report. The benefits of having a high credit score are many. But if you have some marks on your credit report, it’s likely that is what’s keeping your score from rising.

However, it won’t be an overnight process. It can take anywhere from one to six months to clean up your credit report, depending on how many disputes you need to make.

Examine Everything Closely

Completely scour your credit report to identify if there are any errors in it. You can pull a copy of your credit report for free once a year through the official AnnualCreditReport.com website. Federal law allows you to initiate a dispute with the credit bureau that’s reporting information you believe to be inaccurate. The credit bureau then has to investigate your claim and if there is an error, correct it or remove it.

Review Your Identity

This may seem like common sense, but it’s very easy to overlook. Make sure your name, address and Social Security number are correct on the report. Having an incorrect Social Security number on your credit report can lead to dire consequences.

Document, Document, Document

If you need to file a dispute, document it for your personal records. Keep any supporting documents pertaining to your dispute in a safe place, and then continue to follow up on the dispute until it is resolved. Also keep notes with dates, times and the people you spoke with at credit bureaus and lending businesses. Check your credit report again about a month later to make sure the people with whom you spoke followed through on what they said they would do.

Attempt to Remove Past-Due Accounts

If you have a past-due item on your report, try to get the creditor to remove it by asking for a goodwill removal. You can write a goodwill letter asking for a removal of a paid-up debt that at one point had a late payment. However, the creditor is under no obligation to forgive past-due payments, but some may if you’ve continued to be a customer in good standing.

As previously stated, repairing your credit report is not a fast process, but it’s worth it to take the time and make the effort to clean it up. Raising your credit score can make you more attractive to lenders and could lead to more favorable rates and offers.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. With approved credit. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Source:

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/privacy-security/credit-reporting

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Mortgage?

couple looking off into distance at house

Nowadays, we’re all used to buying something and it coming relatively quickly. With a few clicks, we can select what we want, buy it, and your purchase can be on its way within hours, usually finding itself on your front porch within days.

But if you’ve found your dream home, it won’t be as easy as picking it out and moving in the next day. Just like finding the right house, getting approved for your mortgage takes time.

It took an average of 51 days to close a mortgage in 2021, according to ICE Mortgage Technology.

The mortgage process has several parts, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s best to start the mortgage process first – even before you begin looking at homes. Getting prequalified for a mortgage not only shows owners you’re serious about buying, it also will let you know just how much you’re qualified to borrow.

That doesn’t mean all mortgages take that long to close. But this will give you an idea of how long the process can take.

Getting a mortgage requires a thorough review of your finances, including your income, your assets and your debt. Once you start the process, you’ll need to share financial documents and other relevant information with your mortgage lender.

If you’ve been approved for a mortgage after a thorough review of your finances, an appraisal of the property you want to purchase will take place. Your mortgage lender will request the appraisal. Appraisals can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.

Assuming the house appraisal is good, your mortgage lender will do a title search of the property, which ensures you’ll have a clear title. If problems arise with the title, this can add time to the process while the problem is remedied.

Once all of these steps are completed on your mortgage lender’s end, closing finally comes. There is a three-day loan disclosure waiting period that must take place before your official closing day. Once closing day comes, you’ll sign a bevy of paperwork before finally getting the keys to your new home.

So while there is no set-in-stone time of how long it takes to get a mortgage, the sooner you start the process, the better off you’ll be.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

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Looking to Build or Improve Your Credit Score? Try These Tips

credit score

Looking to Build or Improve Your Credit Score? Try These Tips

Your credit score plays a significant part in your financial well-being. Generally, the higher the score, the easier it is to get approved for loans or lines of credit, and you also can benefit from lower interest rates.

But a low score can make it difficult to secure credit, and the interest rates can be much higher. In essence, a credit score allows lenders to gauge how reliable you are at paying your bills. So if you don’t have a credit history, it can be harder for lenders to determine the level of risk.

A person with a higher credit score can save thousands of dollars over the course of their life than someone with a low score.

So what steps can you take if your credit is poor, or if you have no credit history? Read along and find out.

Review Your Credit Report

First things first: you need to figure out what your history shows, so you can find out if anything requires immediate attention. You can pull a copy of your credit report for free once a year through the official AnnualCreditReport.com website. Review your report to make sure everything is correct, and have any inaccurate listings removed. Federal law allows you to initiate a dispute with the credit bureau that’s reporting information you believe to be inaccurate. The credit bureau then has to investigate your claim and if there is an error, correct it or remove it.

Pay Down Your Debts

According to the Fair Issac Corporation (FICO), payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score. So avoid late payments at ALL costs. One way to avoid late payments is to set up automatic payments. Also, the more available credit you have, the higher your credit score will be. This is known as your credit utilization percentage, which refers to the portion of your credit limit that you’re using at any given time. This is the second-highest determining factor in your credit score. A good rule of thumb is to keep it under 30% of your credit limit. Once you get there, work at getting it under 10%, which is considered ideal to maximizing your credit score.

Ask for a Limit Increase

If you have credit cards, ask for a credit limit increase. If granted, this will lower your credit utilization percentage, which, as explained above, should help raise your credit score. But this is only helpful as long as you don’t use that limit increase to purchase more items.

Take Out a Personal Loan

If you’ve been using credit cards for a while and making timely payments, you should have enough credit history to qualify for a personal loan. However, this isn’t a quick fix. Personal loans can take up to a year to raise your credit score. But, it can diversify the types of credit on your credit report, and you can use your loan to prove you can consistently make payments on time.

Limit Hard Inquiries

Hard inquiries can affect your credit score for anywhere from a few months to two years, according to Experian. Hard inquiries include things like applications for a new credit card, an auto loan, a mortgage and other forms of credit. The occasional hard inquiry won’t have much of an effect. But many of them in a short period of time can damage your credit score. So if you are trying to improve your credit score, avoid applying for multiple new lines of credit for awhile.

If You Rent, Make it Count

If you pay rent monthly, there are several services that allow you to get credit for those on-time payments. Search the internet for companies that will report your rent payments to the credit bureaus on your behalf, which in turn could help your credit score. Note that reporting rent payments may only affect your VantageScore credit scores, not your FICO score. Some rent-reporting companies charge a fee for this service, so read the details to know what you’re getting and possibly purchasing.

The bottom line is start now. It can take several weeks, and sometimes several months, to see a noticeable impact on your score when you start taking steps to turn it around. Improving your credit score is a good goal to have, especially if you’re planning to either apply for a loan to make a major purchase, such as a new car or home, so the sooner you start, the better you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits of a good credit score.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. With approved credit. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

 

Source:

https://www.ficoscore.com/about/

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Cyberattacks and Phishing Attempts Likely to Increase

The U.S. Department of Justice cautions to be on the lookout for email phishing attempts.

Security High Alert!

Because of the conflict between the Ukraine and Russia, multiple Federal Agencies and cybersecurity firms have been warning of expected cyberattacks from Russia in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice cautions to be on the lookout for email phishing attempts.

Here is what to look for to keep your information safe when opening an email:

​Was I Expecting this email?

  • Was this email sent “out of the blue” or was I expecting this email?
  • Even random emails from friends could be a phishing attempt.
  • An unexpected email from your boss could be a Spear Phishing email.
  • Make sure you think through this before opening an attachment or clicking a link.

Emails insist on Urgent Action

  • An email that requires you to do “something” NOW is an indication of a phishing email.
  • Threatening negative consequences if immediate action is NOT taken is probably a phishing email.
  • Make sure to study the email for inconsistencies or indications that it may be bogus.

​Email Contains Spelling Errors or Broken English

  • Emails containing spelling mistakes should be treated with suspicion (everyone uses a spell checker).
  • Email contains grammatical errors. Broken English is a high indication of a phishing email.

​Be Wary of Suspicious Attachments

  • Again… Were you expecting the email with the attachment?
  • Look for unfamiliar file extensions (.zip, .exe, .scr, etc…).

Remember: If it looks suspicious to you, it is probably a phishing email.

You can report phishing emails to the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency by forwarding the phishing email to phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

You can find more information on fraud in the RCB Bank Security Center.

Source: https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up

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Spring Clean Your Mortgage

Mortgage spring cleaning

Spring traditionally is a time of regrowth, new life and budding. You may get the itch to deep clean and organize your house.

And while you’re at it, you should consider a “spring cleaning” of your mortgage as well. These tips could lead to saving money, so take the time to look to see if any of these situations apply to you.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private Mortgage Insurance, known as PMI, is required on some loans. If you started your loan with PMI, it will fall off once you reached the date when the principal balance of your mortgage is scheduled to fall to 78 percent of the original value of your home. This date should have been given to you in writing on a PMI disclosure form when you received your mortgage. If you can’t find the disclosure form, contact your servicer. Also, if your home has increased in value since you purchased it, your Loan to Value (LTV) ratio may be at a point to discontinue your PMI early. You can request this from your lender and they would determine with an updated evaluation of your home with an appraisal. Discontinuing your PMI can free up some extra money each month if this applies to you.

Insurance

Check to see if your homeowner’s insurance policy has risen, and shop around for a lower rate. Getting a quote costs no money. Are you bundling your home and auto policies? Most insurance carriers offer a discount for bundling policies. It’s a good idea to get quotes to see if there’s savings of which you weren’t aware. Also check to see if your agent might have you over-insured. Lowering your policy to what you only need vs. more than you need could lower your cost as well.

Tax refund

If you receive a tax refund, consider using it as an additional payment toward the principal of your mortgage. Making one additional monthly payment a year can shave up to four years off your mortgage!

Refinancing

Now is a good time to think about refinancing your home. If you’ve owned your home for awhile and don’t plan on moving anytime soon, refinancing likely will save you a significant amount of money. In some cases, refinancing to a 15-year mortgage will make more sense.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

Source:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/when-can-i-remove-private-mortgage-insurance-pmi-from-my-loan-en-202/

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Watch for Tax Season Scams

Scam! IRS Calling

As tax season kicks into high gear, scammers are looking to take advantage. Scammers will make aggressive phone calls posing as IRS agents, hoping to steal money or information from victims.

Scammers will demand immediate payment for tax bills, regardless of whether you owe taxes or not. And if you give the scammers personal information, that can lead to identity theft, which in turn could lead to the scammer filing tax returns in your name and stealing your tax refund – in addition to other negative financial effects.

“With filing season underway, this is a prime period for identity thieves to hit people with realistic-looking emails and texts about their tax returns and refunds,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “Watching out for these common scams can keep people from becoming victims of identity theft and protect their sensitive personal information that can be used to file tax returns and steal refunds.”

Be on high alert if you receive a call, text or email asking to disclose your personal information. Don’t click on any links if you receive an email, and don’t respond to any texts.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. You can report any email you receive and report the phone number from which you received a suspicious call or text by emailing the IRS at  phishing@irs.gov.

To ensure you stay safe this tax season, remember that the IRS will NEVER:

  • Demand immediate payment using a specific method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in law enforcement groups and arrest you for not paying.
  • Demand that your taxes be paid without giving you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.
  • Initiate taxpayer communications through email – ever.

Stay alert and safe this tax season, and remember the deadline to file your taxes is Monday, April 18, 2022.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Source:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

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Consider Refinancing Your Auto Loan

If your vehicle loan is dragging you down, it might be time to refinance.

Refinance Car

There are many reasons refinancing your vehicle loan is a good idea. See if any of these apply to you.

If you didn’t shop around originally

If you didn’t shop around when you purchased your vehicle, you may not have gotten the best rate. Lowering your rate could lower your monthly payment and could reduce the amount you pay over the life of the loan.

If you find a better rate than your current rate

As previously stated, getting a lower rate could lead to a lower monthly payment and could significantly reduce the amount you pay over the life of your loan. And depending on how much lower your new rate is, it could reduce the number of payments you have remaining if you decide to keep paying the same amount you’re currently paying.

If your credit score improved

If you’ve been making your loan payments on time for several months, it’s very likely that your credit score has improved. Refinancing when you have a better credit score can cut the interest rates for which you qualify.

If your financial situation improved

If your financial situation improves, you may qualify for a lower rate than what you’re currently paying. If you recently got a raise, paid off another debt or inherited some money, that may mean you qualify for a lower loan rate.

Refinancing your vehicle loan could save you money in the long run. But do your homework beforehand to make sure that refinancing is right for your financial situation. Take into consideration and research to see if there are any fees involved with paying off your current loan early.

And if you have any questions, talk to a banker to see if refinancing your vehicle loan is the right option for you.

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. With approved credit. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

 

Source:

https://www.bankrate.com/loans/auto-loans/when-to-refinance-a-car-loan/

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Can You Buy a House With No Money Down?

Can I buy a house with no money down

Buying a house likely is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Conventional wisdom says to aim for a 20% down payment on your mortgage. But saving money for a down payment on your dream home can be downright daunting and likely impossible on an average salary.

But there are alternatives to a conventional mortgage. There are some loans where you can buy a house with no money down. Other loans are available with little money down as well.

So how do you know which one is the best for you?

Let’s navigate some of the options.

USDA loan

The USDA loan program – otherwise known as the rural development loan – requires no money down. However, borrowers must meet certain credit and income requirements to qualify. And even though there is no down payment, a “funding fee” of 1% of the total loan amount is required, but that can be rolled into the loan if necessary. According to the 2017 USDA Rural Development Performance Report, nearly 72% of the nation’s land mass is rural. You can see if your area qualifies on the map linked here.

VA loan

If you are an active or retired United States military service member, as well as some reserves, you can potentially get 100% mortgage financing through the Department of Veteran Affairs. In fact, nearly 90% of all VA backed home loans are made without a down payment. You will still need to do a certificate of eligibility and may have to finance a VA funding fee into your mortgage, but overall, VA loans are some of the best mortgage deals out there.

Specialty loans

Some lenders choose to offer loans outside of the traditional, conventional federal regulations.

Some lenders offer no down payment mortgages for physicians, dentists and other medical professionals who are buying a primary residence. They can’t be used for buying a second home or vacation home.

Check with your bank to see what other options they offer.

Conventional 97 loan

For first-time homebuyers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer a Conventional 97 loan that only requires a 3% down payment that has no income limits, but tighter restrictions than conventional loans, and it carries higher interest rates. They also offer a 3% down payment loan that doesn’t require you to be a first-time homebuyer but it does have income limitations.

To receive a Conventional 97 loan, you will need a strong credit score, reliable income and employment, and a debt-to-income ratio under 43% (in most cases). The property must be your primary residence. This includes a single-family home, a condo, planned unit development or co-op. If you are not a first-time homebuyer, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also offer 97% loans with lower interest rates and mortgage premiums, however these are limited by income.

FHA loan

The Federal Housing Administration offers mortgage loans with as little down as 3.5%. FHA loans do require a monthly fee over and beyond your interest rate – similar to mortgage insurance. This is charged to the borrower two different ways; as a one-time fee of 1.75% of the loan amount and as a monthly premium. The duration and cost of your MIP may last for the duration of the loan. However, you do have the option to refinance your home at any point after you close the mortgage. This may be especially helpful when you have paid 20% of the home’s value and can get a new loan that does not require the monthly fee. Similar to the Conventional 97 loan, there are no income limits, the home must be your primary residence.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

Sources:

https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do

https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/loan-types/

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Pledge to Start Saving This Year

America Saves Week is February 21-25.

Start Your Savings Journey

The national campaign encourages individuals and families to take financial action in building wealth through saving money and reducing debt.

Since 2007, America Saves Week has been an annual celebration as well as a call to action for everyday Americans to commit to saving successfully. The America Saves pledge is the online tool that allows savers to set a goal, and make a plan to achieve better financial stability.

The secret to saving money is to make savings automatic. Join the America Saves initiative and put your savings on auto-drive. Get started in three simple steps.

Step 1: Set a goal.

Why are you saving? An emergency fund, a car, a down payment on a home or your retirement? Set your goal and stick to it.

Step 2: Make a plan.

How much money do you need to achieve your goal? How much can you afford to put away each month, or in how many months do you want to reach your goal? You are more likely to save money with a plan than without one.

Are you worried you won’t follow through on your plan? Make a formal commitment to save.

Put your goal and plan in writing and place it on your fridge. Set up a personal support system by sharing your goal with a close friend and ask them to hold you accountable. Use your bank’s services, like text banking and online banking, to help you track expenses and set up email alerts to remind you about your goal.  Take the America Saves pledge – available at www.americasaves.org/pledge.

Step 3: Set up automatic savings.

Ask your employer about automatic savings options at your job, such as split deposit, 401k retirement plans and holiday savings programs. Set up a savings account without a debit card tied to it. Basically, put your money where you can’t spend it.

Talk to your bank about setting up automatic transfers. Even setting up transfers in small amounts adds up over time. The idea is to pay yourself first by putting something – anything – away.

This year, take the pledge to save money.

 

Financially Fit is your home fitness guide for all things financial, provided by RCB Bank. Find money-building tips, insights and inspiration to help you improve your financial well-being at RCBbank.com/GetFit. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Standard carrier fees for data and text messaging may apply. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

 

Source:

https://americasaves.org/

 

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Be on the Lookout for These Scams This Year

A new year brings new scams, and here are some for which to be on the lookout.

Stop Fraud in 2022

Fake COVID-19 Tests Online

Fake and unauthorized at-home COVID-19 testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand. Be vigilant and do your research before buying an at-home test. Check the seller before you buy, especially if you’re buying from a site you don’t recognize or one of which you never have heard. Do an online search for the seller’s name, plus words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”

Text Message Scams

So you got a text message from a number you don’t recognize, promising prizes, saying you’re qualified for a special offer, or saying you have visited an unsecure website and your phone needs to be cleaned. Do not respond to or click on a link in these messages. Similar to email scams, text message scammers rely on the person receiving the scam to respond or click before thinking. By then, it’s too late. Do not ever click on a link unless you were expecting it and it’s from a number saved in your phone or one that you recognize and can verify. The same rule applies in general with emails.

Student Loan Scams

If you have a federal student loan, you probably already know that the Coronavirus emergency relief program that has paused your payments is ending. Repayments will begin again after May 1, 2022. Scammers know it, too, and are looking for ways to take advantage: they’re calling, texting, and e-mailing to try to use any confusion around restarting your student loan payments to steal your money and personal information. If a scammer calls about student loans, NEVER pay an upfront fee and NEVER give out your Federal Student Aid ID.

Invention Promotion Scams

Every year, tens of thousands of people try to turn their ideas into something they can market and sell. If you’re one of them, you might be looking for help — and shady invention promotion firms may be looking for you. To avoid scams, it helps to investigate the company or individual. Dishonest invention promoters lie about the profit potential of your invention to get you to pay for expensive, but often useless, services. Do an online search for the promotion company’s name, plus words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-extends-student-loan-pause-through-may-1-2022

 

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Mortgage Shopping Tips for the New Year

mortgage resolutions for new year

The new year traditionally is a time of reflection and resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to buy a house this year, here are some tips that will help that resolution become a reality.

Improve your credit score

If you have any debts or credit card balances, work on eliminating them or paying them down. Even if completely eliminating your debt isn’t possible, paying it down could increase your credit score – and even a small boost can mean lower interest rates on a mortgage. Also, paying these off might feel good, but don’t close those accounts as that could lower your score if you eliminate the positive reporting tradeline.

Avoid big purchases

Sure, you might need new appliances and new furniture in your new house. But wait until after you’ve closed on your mortgage before pulling the trigger on those purchases. Spending money on big-ticket items decreases your available cash – which is key in the home-buying process. Or if you use your credit card or take out a store line of credit to pay for it, it could hurt your credit score.

Save, save, save

Save every penny you can. Having money saved for a down payment and closing costs can majorly help you in the loan process. The more money you have in savings, the better. Evaluate your spending habits – if you eat out for lunch every day, bring your lunch instead and save the difference. If you stop for coffee a few times a week, skip it and save that money, too. These small things will add up over time.

Research lenders

Finding the right mortgage professional will make the process much easier. Your lender will be your mortgage resource and will help you every step of the way to bring your resolution to fruition. It also will be important to get preapproved for your mortgage, which the lender will help with as well.

Determine what you want in a house

Just what specifics do you want in your home? Do you want to live closer to work, or in a specific school district? These are the things that are good to know ahead of time, and they will help you narrow down available houses. And then, start looking!

Making a resolution and sticking to it always is fulfilling. And if buying a house is on your resolution list this year, these steps should help make the process much easier.

Lenders at RCB Bank are happy to help answer questions even if you are not a customer. Give us a call or visit our online Mortgage Center.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kenneth Wohl and meant for generic illustration purposes only. With approved credit. For specific questions regarding your personal lending needs, please call RCB Bank at 855-BANK-RCB. Some restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151. Kenneth Wohl NMLS #453934.

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Act Now To Protect Yourself from Scams

Special Offers Fraud

Now that 2021 is over, scammers will be working to take advantage of people looking for end-of-the-year deals. They’ll usually start the scam with a sense of urgency: Act now before this deal is gone forever!

Scammers will try to sell you on time-sensitive special offers. Some of these will be offers of a product or service for a small fee, normally for shipping fees. Be sure to read the terms and conditions if available. Usually deep within the terms and conditions, it will state that there is a trial period, usually 14 days to try the product/service then you will be charged the full amount if you don’t call to cancel.

And if no terms and conditions are offered, ignore the “deal.”

These are all examples of “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

Here are some warning signs of telemarketing fraud—what a caller may say:

  • You must act “now” or the offer won’t be good.
  • You’ve won a “free” gift, vacation, or prize. But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
  • You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier. You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • You don’t need to check out the company with anyone. The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
  • You don’t need any written information about the company or their references.
  • You can’t afford to miss this “high-profit, no-risk” offer.
  • You must pay by using a gift card.

If these or similar “lines” are spoken from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone.

Visit the RCB Bank Security Center for more information on how you can protect yourself from fruad.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources:

https://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/2891

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