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- Mission of Community banks threatened by new regulations
- Be watchful about credit and debit card use
- America Saves Week reinforces the importance of savings
- Before disaster hits -- be prepared
- Events Calendar
Mission of Community banks threatened by new regulations
As a result of one of the deepest recessions in this country's history, the banking industry is facing a different environment. New regulations were needed to prevent another crisis in lending, however, what we have now is a one-size-fits-all approach to an industry that contains a lot of diversity. The megabanks that caused the mortgage crisis are very different from the nations' 7,000 community banks like the Bank of Holland.
Community banks represent a time-tested business model focused on customer relationships rather than volumes of transactions. We were not responsible for the lending crisis, nor did we benefit from the $83 billion in taxpayer bailouts which then resulted in profits for the large banks that received them. Yet, we are being asked to come into compliance with the same rules and regulations.
As a community banker, I am concerned that small institutions like the Bank of Holland will be able to prosper under the weight of the new regulations. We play a vital role in our communities by helping families and residents finance their homes, plan for retirement, by supporting small businesses, and creating economic vitality and jobs. It is not right that our attention and resources will be directed away from that role to fulfill compliance requirements which should be applied solely to the megabanks that over-stepped their boundaries.
There are five steps Congress can take to reduce the regulatory burden on community banks and ensure small local businesses and families will continue to have access to the funding they need to remain economically sound. These are: exempt small banks from unnecessary mortgage regulations; waive new reporting requirements for small-business lending; require a cost-benefit analysis to ensure the justification of proposed new regulations for small banks; waive certain audit rules to reduce expenses without risk to investors, taxpayers or the deposit-insurance system; and eliminate requirements that financial institutions mail customers annual privacy notices when the institution has not changed policy over the previous year.
These changes would not alter the regulatory tools already in place to oversee community banks. They would ensure that Main Street banks can continue to provide economic lifelines to their communities, while keeping in place the rules needed to stop Wall Street excesses. I hope lawmakers listen to the rationale of community bankers across this country so bankers like myself can continue to focus on our mission -- the economic prosperity of the towns in which we do business.
Mark L. Luderman
Be watchful about credit and debit card use
by Debbie Stemper, BSA/Operations Officer
Credit or debit card fraud is a hassle consumers want to avoid. It's not fun to see a huge charge you didn't make on your credit card statement, or to have your bank account suddenly appear empty. Although these things are upsetting they can be remedied.
"First, you are not liable for unauthorized purchases," said Debbie Stemper, BSA/Operations Officer. "The major credit and debit card issuers provide $0 liability guarantees for unauthorized activity.
"That makes using cards a lot safer than cash. If your wallet is taken you can file a police report, but there's no guarantee you'll ever see your money again."
Additionally, of all purchases made with credit and debit cards, only .05 percent are fraudulent. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't be careful.
"Credit cards are actually the easiest to track. After your statement comes you have 21 days to pay the account, which gives you plenty of time to review the charges and dispute them with your card issuer," Stemper said. "If someone empties your bank account using your debit card it would be a shock even though you will recover all of your money."
There are several things you should do to protect yourself from fraud, Stemper says:
• Once a year you're entitled to a free copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three reporting companies. Get your free one and check it over. It's even better if you get one every quarter.
• Be careful with your Social Security Number -- only give it to reputable companies when you have initiated the contact -- not if they contacted you.
• Garbage cans and dumpsters are great sources of information for identity thieves. Shred financial documents before you discard them.
• Don't go away without stopping your mail or having someone pick it up. An overflowing mailbox is an invitation to identity and property thieves.
• Be sure your passwords are secure (no birthdays or pet's names) and change them frequently.
• When doing business online, make sure the site has "https" in the URL -- the "s" stands for "secure."
"Using your credit or debit card does offer lower liability than cash, but you still need to be watchful when you use them," Stemper said. "It can be a lot of work straightening out fraudulent claims or withdrawals -- and even more work if your identity is stolen."
America Saves Week reinforces the importance of savings
Peter Ertl, Branch Manager, East Aurora
Since the recent recession Americans have begun to increase their savings -- from 4.7 percent of their income to 4.9 percent at the end of September 2013, compared to September 2012. Community banks and other financial institutions are supporting this effort by bringing attention to the benefits of saving during America Saves Week at the end of February.
"The upswing in savings is a good sign, but we'd still like to see it increase," said Peter Ertl, Branch Manager, East Aurora. "Savings are the basis of good financial stability and independence."
Staff at the Bank of Holland are always willing to sit down with customers to discuss ways to meet financial goals. The bank offers products -- a high interest checking and a high interest savings account, and CDs -- to help consumers optimize their earnings on savings.
"We can help you look at your personal needs -- for example, do you need quick access to your money? What combination of accessibility and interest rate works best for you?" Ertl said. "People are more successful at saving when they set goals and have a spending plan. Having a plan helps you take better control of your finances. Another great tool is to save automatically."
Automatic savings can include your retirement plan at work, especially if your employer provides any matching funds. You can also have the bank automatically transfer funds from your checking to savings account each paycheck.
"Start small -- you'd be surprised how much even the change you accumulate in your pocket every day can amount to. For many of us it's $1.50 a day, which is $500 a year," Ertl said. "Plus, it's never too late to start saving. We all have goals in our minds, we just need to write them down and make a plan to achieve them."
Savings at community banks like the Bank of Holland are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor so you can also rest assured your money is safe. Remember, financial stability and independence are only a savings plan away.
Before disaster hits -- be prepared
Lynn McCabe, Head Teller
Natural disasters don't discriminate -- they can strike anywhere, anytime and anyone -- so it's always best to be prepared. The American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recommend three simple steps in case of disaster: prepare a kit, make a plan, and be informed.
Your "kit," which should be kept in a plastic container or duffle bag, should include the following:
• Fresh water (bottled is safest) -- one gallon per person per day.
• Nonperishable food such as -- canned meats, juice, fruits and vegetables; protein bars; dry cereal; peanut butter; nuts and dried fruit; crackers; nonperishable milk; vitamins.
• A chafing dish heated by Sterno for cooking; a propane stove; or charcoal, lighters and lighter fluid for a charcoal grill. Don't use the propane stove or grill indoors.
• Manual can openers, plastic eating utensils, paper plates and napkins, and garbage bags.
• Hygiene products such as moist towelettes, diapers, etc.
• Food for pets.
• Prescriptions, glasses, bug repellent and a basic first aid kit.
• Flashlights, batteries, matches in a waterproof container, fire extinguisher and a horn or a whistle.
Remember that ATM machines run on electricity so you should have some cash on hand, and keep your debit and credit cards accessible. Protect your insurance and financial information by storing it in a plastic bag. It's a good idea to put contact information for doctors, family members and friends in with that financial information.
And don't forget -- if you have to evacuate and you'll be in a place where there is electricity, take your cell phones, computers, and their chargers. If dangerous weather is a possibility, listen to the news, shop for supplies early, and make sure your emergency kit is packed and on hand!
February 7th,8th and 9th.
Theme: "Red Hot Winterfest"
Village of Arcade, NY
East Aurora Winterfest
February 14th – 23rd
Village of East Aurora, NY
Town of Aurora Department of
Parks & Recreation
The Healthy Zone Ice Rink
41 Riley Street
East Aurora, NY
Friday: 7–8:45 pm
Saturday: 1–2:30 pm
Sunday: 1–2:30 pm