Understanding Reverse Mortgages

RCB Bank Learning Center Mortgage Matters - Reverse Mortgages

For many people, homeownership is a significant way to accumulate long-term wealth. As they pay down their mortgages, homeowners build equity in their homes and eventually a majority of them own their homes outright. For many older homeowners, mortgage payments absorb a significant percentage of their income, preventing them from saving enough to fund a decent retirement. In addition, some senior homeowners may require more funds to cover house repairs, medical expenditures or other urgent needs. For these homeowners, a reverse mortgage can be an appealing financial tool that allows them to convert some of the equity in their property into cash without having to sell it.

So, why should a homeowner understand reverse mortgages? When considering taking out a reverse mortgage, the homeowner must understand that the home’s equity is used as security. This loan type allows homeowners 62 years and older access the equity in their homes in one of three ways:

  1. By a reverse annuity mortgage or periodic payments from the lender.
  2. By taking out a “reverse equity mortgage,” which offers a sizable single payment.
  3. By creating a line of credit that can be pulled upon as needed.

An important notation for the homeowner of 62 years old or older with a paid-off or low-balance mortgage that takes out a reverse mortgage, you do not have to make any payments on the loan as long as you live in the house. This is what makes them different from “forward” mortgages. The homeowner repays the reverse mortgage when the house is sold or the homeowner dies.

The benefits of reverse mortgages are accompanied by significant risks, especially when the reverse mortgage is in place for an extended period. To benefit from a reverse mortgage, you must also be willing to bear the associated expenses. These loans may have greater origination, closing charges and annual insurance premiums. A reverse mortgage could also impact how your family will inherit the property.

While such a loan can lower your home equity over time, you could still come out ahead if home prices improve. Before opting to apply for a reverse mortgage, you should consult with an approved reverse mortgage counselor to see which type of reverse mortgage is right for you.

You can contact one of our Mortgage Representatives today to assist you in meeting your homeownership goals!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author 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 NMLS #798151 and Member FDIC.

Sources:

Knaack, P., Miller, M., & Stewart, F. (2020). Reverse mortgages, financial inclusion, and economic development: potential benefits and risks. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (9134). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3528858

Loibl, C. Reverse Mortgage Borrowing and Financial Well-Being of Older Adults. files.consumerfinance.gov. consumerfinance.gov

Lee, Y. T. & Shi, T. (2022). Valuation of reverse mortgages with surrender: A utility approach. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11146-021-09869-7

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How Important is Crop Insurance?

Farmer in flooded field

Crop insurance is one of the best tools available today to manage financial risk in the agriculture industry due to the unpredictability of mother nature. This type of insurance provides a safety net for protecting farmers from financial loss caused by events beyond their control called “covered perils.” Such events are droughts, floods, storms, fires, pests, disease and even market fluctuations.

Historically, crop farmers only purchased Hail Insurance, then in 1980 the Federal Crop Insurance Act was established. Federal Crop Insurance was designed to protect a guaranteed yield based on historical yields of a farm; this is also called yield based. The industry changed dramatically in 1996 when a product called Crop Revenue Coverage was designed and brought to market.

Crop Revenue Coverage allowed a farmer to protect not only their yield but it placed some protection on the respective commodity prices; this is also called revenue based. The new coverage also gave the farmer the ability to “lock in” a Revenue Guarantee on each acre that is produced. This became a major game changer in U.S. grain production.
When farmers invest in insurance for crops, whether FDA backed or private sector, they have helped mitigate certain risks by providing financial compensation support, which can be the difference between recovery or financial disaster. Furthermore, crop insurance also supports the food industry. By protecting farmers’ incomes and livelihoods, it ensures a more stable food supply. This stability benefits not only farmers, but also consumers by maintaining consistent availability and pricing of food products.

Crop production is a risky business, but with the right crop insurance you have a greater chance of having a more profitable outcome as a landowner. If you are a landowner who is leasing their property for share crop leases, an RCB Bank Farm and Ranch Representative would be happy to talk with you today on how to meet your goals.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank is a community bank with locations across Oklahoma and Kansas. Founded in 1936, RCB Bank is committed to serving its communities with conservative banking practices and progressive banking products. Investment products are not insured by FDIC. Not a deposit or other obligation of or guaranteed by the depository institution. Subject to investment risk, including possible loss of the principal amount invested. Wealth advisors do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Seek advice from a professional tax consultant. Learn more at RCBbank.bank or give us a call at 855.BANK.RCB.

Sources:
Crop Insurance 101: The Basics | Market Intel | American Farm Bureau Federation (fb.org)
History of the Crop Insurance Program (usda.gov)

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Understanding Online and Payday Loan Scams

RCB Bank Learning Center - Understanding Online and Payday Loan Scams

Online and payday loan scams prey on individuals seeking financial assistance by promising loans in exchange for up-front fees. These scams are not only unlawful but can also severely damage an individual’s financial well-being.

One of the most common forms of loan scams is in the form of phishing emails, where thousands of fraudulent emails are sent out, urging recipients to confirm their bank account details. Unfortunately, many fall victim to these schemes, inadvertently providing hackers with the means to steal their money.

The criminals behind these scams often entice potential victims by offering loans without considering their credit history or employment status. Once victims respond to these offers, scammers proceed to solicit financial information, putting victims at further risk.

It’s essential to be wary of any requests for up-front fees or payments. Legitimate personal loans do not require payment before disbursement; any fees are typically included within the loan amount upon funding.

Additionally, any directories that list banks may not necessarily be affiliated with them, highlighting the reason for caution and verification. Legitimate personal loan companies and lenders must be registered in the states where they operate. Failure to register suggests illegal lending practices or outright scams. A good place to start your search is checking out the Better Business Bureau.

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a loan scam or have inadvertently shared your financial information, it’s crucial to notify your bank immediately. Prompt action can help safeguard your accounts and prevent further financial harm.

Remember: Stop, Think and Don’t Be Fooled. Stay vigilant against loan scams to protect your financial security.

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud, visit RCBBank.bank/Security or contact the Fraud Department at 877.361.0814.

The 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. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources:

Using Data Aggregators vs. Actively Managing Local Directory Listings. Using Data Aggregators vs. actively managing local directory listings. (2023). https://www.searchoptics.com/blog/using-data-aggregators-vs-actively-managing-local-directory-listings

Wedell, K. (2022, September 4). “predatory” payday loan scammers thrive with stolen data, BBB says. what to watch out for. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2022/08/31/payday-loan-scams/7953234001/

What to do if you were scammed. Consumer Advice. (2024, March 5). https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed

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Demystifying Mortgage PMI

Puzzle House Money

Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is a term that often swirls around the world of homebuying, leaving many prospective homeowners confused about its purpose and implications. Understanding PMI is crucial for anyone looking to purchase a home, as it can affect the overall cost of homeownership.

PMI is typically required by lenders when a homebuyer makes a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price. It serves as a protection for the lender in case the borrower defaults on their loan. While PMI benefits the lender, it allows buyers to qualify for a mortgage with a lower down payment, making homeownership more accessible to many.

There are a few ways that you can pay the PMI: monthly payment or single upfront payment. The most common method is a monthly premium. In this case, your lender automatically adds PMI to your monthly mortgage payment. This reduces the large upfront payment though monthly payments will be higher. Once the loan-to-value ratio reaches 80%, homeowners can request cancellation of PMI.

If the monthly premium is not an option then there is the upfront premium where the costs are paid in full. In this case, your lender arranges for you to pay PMI when you close on the loan. While it’s an additional closing cost, your monthly mortgage payment will be lower.

There are several ways to avoid or eliminate PMI altogether. Firstly, saving up for a larger down payment can help buyers avoid PMI requirements entirely. Additionally, some lenders offer piggyback loans or lender-paid PMI options, although these may come with their own set of terms and conditions. Check with your potential lender for more information before proceeding.

Understanding the costs and implications of PMI is crucial for prospective homeowners. While it can increase monthly payments, PMI enables many individuals and families to achieve the dream of homeownership sooner rather than later. However, it’s essential to weigh the long-term costs and benefits and explore all available options before committing to a mortgage with PMI.

In conclusion, PMI plays a significant role in the homebuying process, particularly for those with smaller down payments. By demystifying PMI and understanding its implications, prospective homeowners can make informed decisions when navigating the complexities of mortgage financing.

You can contact one of our Mortgage Representatives now to assist you today with lending and PMI!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author 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 NMLS #798151 and Member FDIC.

Sources:

What is Private Mortgage Insurance?. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (n.d.). https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-en-122/

Elem, O. (2023, September 13). PMI Calculator: Mortgage Insurance Calculator. Omni Calculator. https://www.omnicalculator.com/finance/pmi

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Make a Plan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Erase

Making a plan to pay off credit card debt is essential for anyone facing financial strain due to outstanding balances. The first step is to gather all credit card statements to understand the full scope of the debt. This includes noting the outstanding balances, interest rates and minimum monthly payments for each card.

Next, prioritize the debts based on interest rates. In general, the higher-interest cards should be paid off first to minimize the amount of interest accrued over time. While paying the minimum on all cards, allocate extra funds towards the highest interest debt. This approach, known as the avalanche method, can save money in the long run.

Alternatively, some may prefer the snowball method, which involves paying off the smallest debts first to gain momentum and motivation. Regardless of the method chosen, consistency is key. Stick to the plan by setting realistic monthly payments and avoiding accumulating additional debt. Utilize any extra income, windfalls or bonuses to accelerate debt repayment.

Creating a budget can help identify areas where expenses can be reduced to free up more funds for debt repayment. Cut back on unnecessary expenses and allocate the savings towards paying off credit card debt.

Finally, monitor progress regularly and adjust the plan as needed. Celebrate milestones along the way to stay motivated and committed to becoming debt-free. By making a plan and sticking to it, individuals can take control of their finances and achieve financial freedom. With discipline and determination, paying off credit card debt is achievable, leading to a more secure financial future.

The 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. RCB Bank is a member FDIC.

Sources:

Egan, J., & Strohm, M. (2021, July 30). The Debt Avalanche Method: How It Works and how to use it. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/debt-relief/debt-avalanche-method-how-it-works/

Egan, J., & Strohm, M. (2021a, July 28). The debt snowball method: How it works and how to use it. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/debt-relief/debt-snowball-method-how-it-works/

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Beware of Phone Fraud

Beware of phone fraud - RCB Bank Learning Center

There has been a drastic increase in mobile device fraud. Do NOT click on anything that you’re not expecting to receive. Learn about the hazards of falling victim to cell phone fraud and how to mitigate the risks below.

How mobile device fraud works: The fraudster will send a text message directing you to “click here.” This action may or may not download malware to your cellular device. The link can also forward your phone and its information. The information the fraudster gains could allow them to imitate you by accessing your data.

How can I stop it? If your cell phone has been compromised or stops working, please visit your cell phone provider. Explain that you may be experiencing a SIM swap and need your SIM turned off immediately and replaced.

How to minimize phone fraud risks: Do NOT click on any links that you are not expecting to receive. Questions you need to always ask yourself about links in emails or texts:

  • Were you expecting this message and link?
  • Is it from someone you trust?
  • Does the email/phone number match the contact information that you have for that person?

If any of your answers to the above questions are no, then you need to contact that person using a separate method from how you received the notification to verify whether the message is legitimate.

By following these simple steps, you may navigate safely through texts and emails while protecting your personal information from potential risks. In case you have already fallen victim to a scam, steps can be taken to mitigate further harm. Victims should contact the FBI through ic3.gov to report identity theft, reach out to their bank’s fraud department and remain vigilant against future scam attempts. You can call RCB Bank Fraud at 855-226-5722 or visit our Security Center.

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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What Are Trigger Leads?

RCB Bank Mortgage Matters- Trigger Leads

“Trigger Lead” is a term used in the mortgage industry to refer to a type of lead generated when a consumer’s credit report is accessed by a lender or creditor for the purpose of extending credit. These leads are often sold to other lenders or service providers who then use the information to reach out to the consumer with offers for credit or other related products.

When a consumer applies for a mortgage or other type of loan, their credit report may be accessed multiple times by different lenders during the application process. Each time a lender pulls the consumer’s credit report, it generates a trigger lead, indicating to other lenders that the consumer is actively seeking credit.

This can result in the consumer receiving numerous unsolicited calls or offers from lenders trying to win their business. While trigger leads can be beneficial for lenders looking to attract new customers, they can be overwhelming and intrusive for consumers who may already be dealing with the stress of the loan application process.

To opt out of trigger leads, consumers can take steps to limit the number of calls they receive. One option is to register for National Do Not Call Registry. A second option is to opt out of prescreened mail offers by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com or calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).

Additionally, there are efforts underway to address the issue of trigger leads at the legislative level. A bill currently under construction in the House aims to regulate the use of trigger leads and provide consumers with more control over who can access their credit information. If passed, this legislation could help protect consumers from unwanted solicitations and give them more control over their personal financial information.

Contact one of our Mortgage Loan Originator now to assist you today!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author 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, NMLS #798151 and Member FDIC.

Sources:

National Do Not Call Registry www.donotcall.gov

Cantu, T. (2024, January 16). Trigger leads – how borrowers can opt out. Mortgage Professional. https://www.mpamag.com/us/specialty/wholesale/trigger-leads-how-borrowers-can-opt-out/473054

Trigger leads –. – No other lead offers so much for so little as trigger leads. (2024, February 26). https://triggerleads.com/

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Checking Your Full Credit Report!

Check your full credit report

Checking your credit report is an essential step in managing your financial health. Your credit report contains detailed information about your credit history, including your borrowing and repayment behavior. Monitoring this information regularly helps you detect errors, spot signs of identity theft and maintain a good credit score. Here’s how to check your full credit report:

  • Access Your Report: You’re entitled to one free credit report* annually from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com the only authorized website for free credit reports, to request them.
  • Verify Your Identity: To access your reports, you’ll need to provide personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. This is crucial to ensure that you’re the only one accessing your sensitive financial data.
  • Review Your Reports: Once you receive your credit reports, carefully examine each one for accuracy. Look for any discrepancies, such as accounts you didn’t open, incorrect personal information or unfamiliar inquiries. These could be signs of errors or fraudulent activity.
  • Understand Your Report: Your credit report consists of several sections, including personal information, account history, inquiries and public records. Take the time to understand what each section entails and how the information within it impacts your creditworthiness.
  • Dispute Errors: If you spot any inaccuracies on your credit reports, file a dispute with the credit bureau reporting the error. They’re required to investigate your claim and correct any mistakes within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Monitor Regularly: Don’t wait until you need credit to check your reports. Make it a habit to review them periodically throughout the year. Some credit monitoring services offer ongoing access to your reports and alerts for changes, which can be helpful in staying vigilant.
  • Maintain Good Credit Habits: Ultimately, the goal of checking your credit reports is to maintain good credit health. Pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization low and only apply for credit when necessary to ensure your credit reports reflect positively on your financial responsibility.

By following these steps and staying proactive about monitoring your credit reports, you can better safeguard your financial well-being and make informed decisions about your credit management.

*Free credit reports do not include the credit score.

The 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. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and member FDIC. RCB Bank NMLS #798151.

Sources:  Home Page. Annual Credit Report.com – Home Page. (2024). https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

Consumer Finance. (n.d.). I got my free credit reports, but they do not include my credit scores. can I get my credit score for free too?. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/i-got-my-free-credit-reports-but-they-do-not-include-my-credit-scores-can-i-get-my-credit-score-for-free-too-en-6/

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First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Getting a Mortgage

RCB Bank Mortgage Matters

Buying a home for the first time can be an exciting yet daunting experience. One of the most critical steps in this process is securing a mortgage. Here’s a simple guide for first-time homebuyers on navigating the mortgage process.

  • Assess Finances: Before starting your homebuying journey, evaluate your finances. Calculate your monthly income, expenses, and debts to determine your borrowing capacity.
  • Check Credit Score: Your credit score influences mortgage eligibility and rates. Review your credit report to ensure its correctness.
  • Explore Loan Options: There are various types of mortgages available, each with its terms and conditions. Common options include conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans1, and USDA loans2. Research these options to find the best fit for your financial situation.
  • Get Pre-Qualified: Strengthen your buying position by getting pre-qualified for a mortgage. Provide financial documents like pay stubs and tax returns to your lender.
  • Gather Required Documents: Prepare necessary documentation, including proof of income, employment verification, and property information for the mortgage application process.
  • Understand Closing Costs: In addition to the down payment, be aware of closing costs, which typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. These costs cover various fees, including appraisal fees, title insurance, and attorney fees.
  • Stay Informed: Maintain communication with your lender and real estate agent. Ask questions and stay updated on deadlines and requirements.

By following these steps and staying informed, first-time homebuyers can navigate the mortgage process with confidence and secure financing for their dream home. Visit RCB Bank Mortgage FAQ for more information.

Click now to find one of our Mortgage Representatives to help you find that perfect home!

(1) Subject to eligibility requirements. (2) Subject to income and property eligibility requirements. 

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

Sources:

Brodskey, S. (2023, September 27). How to get a mortgage for a rental property | mortgages and advice … https://money.usnews.com/loans/mortgages/articles/how-to-get-a-mortgage-for-a-rental-property

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Sweetheart and Dating Scams

Sweetheart Scams occur when individuals are misled into believing they have formed genuine relationships with deceptive scammers. Once trust is established, these individuals exploit victims emotionally, financially and for personal information. The proliferation of online dating and social media has made it easier for such scammers to find innocent targets. Falling victim to this scam can be anything but “sweet,” so it’s essential to stay vigilant to prevent it from happening.

To safeguard your journey in love, consider these essential tips:

  • Be careful what you post online and make it public, scammers can use this information against you.
  • Beware of fake profiles as scammers can steal photos from real accounts and pose as anyone. Always research profiles to see if they have been used elsewhere.
  • Scammers can pose as military personnel so always ask a lot of questions to try to verify the story being shared.
  • Be wary if your new sweetheart can never meet “in-person” as this is a red flag that they may not have good intentions.
  • Never send anyone money whom you have met online or via the telephone.

Prompt Reporting: If you feel you have fallen for a scam or suspect your accounts or identity have been compromised, report the incident immediately. Contact reliable sources such as the FBI and file a complaint at ic3.gov to contribute to efforts against these fraudulent activities.
RCB Bank customers can contact us at 855.226.5722 during business hours or visit the RCB Bank Security Center for detailed information.

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

Sources:  FBI. (2024). Romance scams | Federal Bureau of Investigation.
https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/safety-resources/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams

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Beneficial Ownership Update

Pen Checking off task list items

As you may have heard, with the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) that was passed at the end of 2021, businesses will now have to register and report their Beneficial Ownership to FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) using an online portal, known as the BO IT System.

  • New businesses formed this year (2024) will have 90 days to register their Beneficial Ownership Information with FinCEN.
  • Businesses formed prior to Jan 1, 2024, will have until Jan 1, 2025, to register with FinCEN.
  • Businesses formed on or after January 1, 2025 will have 30 days to file their report with FinCEN
  • Businesses that fail to do so, MAY be fined by FinCEN.

What does that mean for RCB Bank business customers?

RCB Bank is still required to obtain the Certification of Beneficial Owners.

What do RCB Bank business customers need to know?

They can access the FinCEN BOI Reference Materials (Reference Materials | FinCEN.gov) for all the reference materials as well as the FAQs provided by FinCEN. From there they can access the BOI (Beneficial Ownership Information) E-Filing system and informational YouTube videos. Any questions about their business should be directed to their CPA, attorney or Secretary of State.

The Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting to FinCEN and the CTA marks a pivotal moment in corporate accountability. It’s crucial for companies to understand and comply with these regulations to maintain trust, integrity and legal standing. Stay informed and ensure your business stays ahead by delving into the nuances of these acts. Visit the resources listed for a guide on compliance and take proactive steps toward a transparent and responsible business future.

Source: Fact Sheet: Beneficial Ownership Information Access and Safeguards Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) | FinCEN.gov

Fact Sheet: Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) | FinCEN.gov

FinCEN Issues Initial Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Guidance | FinCEN.gov

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Data Privacy and Tax Scams

Data Protection Day

Data Privacy

In the digital age, the internet acts as a bustling superhighway, offering us a myriad of opportunities to connect and explore. However, this ever-growing landscape also serves as a prime hunting ground for scammers seeking to pilfer personal information. As we approach January 28th, designated as National Data Security Day, it becomes crucial to navigate this virtual highway with caution.

To safeguard your digital journey, consider these essential tips:

  • Upgrade your defenses: Lock down all your devices, networks, and personal information to thwart potential disasters.
  • Security Updates: Keep your devices secure by consistently updating security software, operating systems, and browsers.
  • Password Strength: Create robust passwords and refrain from sharing them. The strength of your defense often lies in the complexity of your passwords.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: Opt-in for multi-factor authentication when available, adding an extra layer of protection to your accounts.
  • Prompt Reporting: If you suspect your accounts or identity have been compromised, report the incident immediately. Contact reliable sources, such as the FBI to file a complaint at ic3.gov to contribute to efforts against these fraudulent activities.
    RCB Bank customers can contact us at 855.226.5722 during business hours or visit RCB Bank Security Center website for detailed information.

Tax Scams

As tax season approaches, the risks of scams escalate. Scammers will exploit various channels, including mail, phones and emails to deceive individuals. Be wary of enticing offers that seem too good to be true, especially those claiming to be from the IRS. Remember, the IRS will never contact taxpayers through email, text messages or social media to request personal information. Recent scams to be cautious of include false claims related to Employee Retention Credits, third-party online account assistance, fraudulent fuel tax credits and fake charities.

Protect yourself with these additional tips:

  • Verify Sources: The IRS does not send threats or prerecorded messages with warrants of arrest.
  • Secure Payment Methods: The IRS does not accept prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or debit cards over the phone.
  • Verify Tax Preparers: Ensure the legitimacy of tax preparers by checking their name and tax identification number on the return.

By adopting these measures, you can navigate the digital superhighway securely by protecting your personal information from potential threats. This National Data Privacy Day let’s prioritize online safety and fortify our defenses against cyber threats.

In case you have already fallen victim to a scam, steps can be taken to mitigate further harm. Victims should contact the FBI through ic3.gov to report identity theft, reach out to their bank’s fraud department and remain vigilant against future scam attempts.

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

Sources:

Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) | Home Page

FPC. (2023). FPC.gov. https://www.fpc.gov/data-privacy-day-2021/

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Fixed-Rates vs Variable-Rates: Which is Best for You?

Lock with Key

When it comes to securing a mortgage, one of the critical decisions you’ll face is choosing between a fixed-rate and a variable-rate mortgage. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and considerations and the right choice for you depends on your financial situation, risk tolerance and long-term goals.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages lock in one interest rate for the entire loan period, providing stability. This keeps your monthly payments consistent, making budgeting easier. This steadiness is appealing amid economic instability or rising interest rates.

The primary advantage of a fixed-rate mortgage is interest rate protection. You pay the same mortgage rate even if market interest rates rise. This stability can be reassuring, especially for homeowners who prefer to avoid financial surprises.

In exchange for predictability, fixed-rate mortgages have somewhat higher beginning interest rates than variable-rate mortgages. After getting a fixed-rate mortgage, you can’t profit from reduced interest rates until you refinance.

Variable-Rate Mortgages

On the other hand, variable-rate mortgages, also known as adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), offer a different dynamic. These mortgages have interest rates that can change periodically, usually in alignment with fluctuations in a specified benchmark interest rate, such as the Prime Rate.

Variable-rate mortgages provide lower beginning interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages, making them appealing to borrowers seeking reduced upfront payments. Variable-rate mortgages provide reduced monthly payments without refinancing when interest rates fall.

Variable-rate mortgages risk increasing interest rates. Your mortgage interest rate and monthly payments may rise with market rates. Variability makes budgeting harder and may not suit individuals who seek financial consistency.

Choosing the right mortgage for you

To determine the best mortgage for your situation, consider the following:

  • Risk Tolerance: For stability and avoiding future interest rate rises, a fixed-rate mortgage may be better. If you can handle some unpredictability and market volatility, a variable-rate mortgage may be right for you.
  • Financial Goals: Consider your long-term financial objectives. Fixed-rate mortgages provide locked-in payments for long-term homeowners. Variable-rate mortgages may save money if you expect a brief stay.
  • Current Market Conditions: Keep up with interest rates and economic projections. This information might help you decide when to lock in a fixed or variable rate.

Fixed- and variable-rate mortgages have pros and cons, so the right choice depends on your needs. Consult a financial adviser or RCB Bank mortgage representative to help you assess your long-term financial objectives and make a choice that meets your requirements.

Click now to find one of our Mortgage Representatives to help you find that perfect home!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author 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.

Sources:

Kopp, C. M. (2023, June 1). Fixed interest rate: Definition, Pros & Cons, vs. Variable Rate. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fixedinterestrate.asp

Fixed vs. variable interest rates: What’s the difference? (2023, October 17). https://www.valuepenguin.com/loans/fixed-vs-variable-interest-rates

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Navigating the Waters of Cryptocurrency Scams

Cryptocurrency, or “crypto,” has surged in popularity, with digital currencies like Bitcoin gaining widespread use. However, this popularity has also made it a target for scammers, leading to consumers losing over $1 billion to crypto scams in the first half of 2022, as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The appeal of crypto for scammers lies in its decentralized nature, the irreversible nature of transactions and the general lack of understanding among most people about how crypto operates. The absence of a centralized authority to flag suspicious transactions makes it an attractive playground for fraudsters.

Scammers employ various methods to initiate contact with potential victims, such as email phishing, SMS text messages (smishing), phone calls, packages and social media. They often use personal information to target victims or even imitate someone known to the victim. One common tactic is to promise unrealistically high returns on crypto investments.

The process involves instructing victims to convert US dollars into Bitcoin and send it to a specific digital address, frequently using Bitcoin ATMs for the transaction. Once the funds are transferred, the irreversible nature of crypto transactions leaves victims with no recourse.

To avoid falling victim to crypto scams, consumers are advised to exercise caution when dealing with cryptocurrency transactions. Running transactions through professionals like banks, CPAs or tax professionals can help verify legitimacy. Additionally, individuals should not send money on behalf of others and extra scrutiny is needed for checks received via non-USPS mail services.

If a situation seems suspicious, consulting trusted advisors is crucial. Scammers often employ tactics like repeated contact, harassment and pressure to prevent victims from seeking advice or reporting the situation to authorities.

In case you have already fallen victim to a scam, steps can be taken to mitigate further harm. Victims should contact the FBI through ic3.gov to report identity theft, reach out to the bank’s fraud department, and remain vigilant against future scam attempts.

Overall, the rise in crypto popularity has brought about a parallel surge in scams, making it imperative for consumers to educate themselves, exercise caution and seek professional advice before engaging in cryptocurrency transactions.

For more detailed information please visit RCB Bank website at the RCB Bank Security Center.

Source:

Fletcher, E. (2022, August 11). Reports show scammers cashing in on crypto craze. Federal Trade Commission. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/06/reports-show-scammers-cashing-crypto-craze

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Travel Scams: Protect Yourself from Fraud While Exploring the World

Scam Alert

As winter approaches and holiday travel plans take center stage, winter wanderers must be on high alert for potential scams lurking in various forms. From deceptive emails to cunning calls and enticing social media posts, scammers are ramping up their efforts to exploit the joyous spirit of the season. Here’s how to navigate the winter wonderland of travel without falling prey to fraud.

Social Media
Social media, a hub for festive cheer, is also a breeding ground for travel scams. Criminals imitate well-known hotels and resorts online, but their sites include misleading information, such as fake hyperlinks and phone numbers. Eager holiday-goers may find themselves making payments for dream getaways that exist only in the virtual realm leaving them empty-handed and out of pocket.

Robocalls
Robocalls, often associated with automated holiday greetings, can also mask sinister intentions. If your phone rings with an automated message, especially regarding travel, the safest bet is to hang up promptly. Legitimate travel agencies steer clear of robocalls, making them a clear red flag for potential scams.

Allow your winter travel experiences to be filled with pleasure and amazement, rather of the traps of frauds. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and ensure your winter holidays are as magical as they should be.

Booking Sites
Before booking winter travel offers, diligent research on the company is essential. While reviews and ratings provide insights, individual needs differ. Beware of seemingly irresistible deals, such as complimentary airline tickets, as scammers use these as bait to hook unsuspecting victims.

Cancellation Policies
Protect your winter escapades by always securing a receipt and understanding cancellation policies before confirming any reservations. Having these policies in writing serves as a crucial record should disputes arise later.

Wi-Fi Connections
As snow blankets landscapes, scammers attempt to cover their tracks with fraudulent schemes. Regularly monitor your financial accounts for any suspicious activity. Embrace the convenience of online banking but do your best to steer clear of public Wi-Fi networks that could compromise your security. Because they are vulnerable, public Wi-Fi networks present a serious threat. Visit RCB Bank Online Banking Tools here.

Planning a winter getaway? Alert your bank in advance. Provide details about your destinations and travel dates to ensure smooth financial transactions without unexpected disruptions.

Should the unfortunate happen and you find yourself entangled in a travel scam, swift action is imperative. Contact our RCB Bank support team at 1.855.226.5722 on weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. CST. For weekend assistance, dial 1.877.361.0814 on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays). Additionally, contribute to combating fraud by filing a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov.

 

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

Sources:

wDiller, N. (2023, May 30). Booking travel online? here’s how you can avoid scams. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2023/05/30/how-to-avoid-online-travel-booking-scams/70262016007/

Rayo, A. (2023, December 8). Stay scam free, no matter how Far away you roam. Consumer Advice. https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2023/11/stay-scam-free-no-matter-how-far-away-you-roam

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How Your Credit Score Holds the Key to Mortgage Approval

RCB Bank Learning Center - Credit Score effect on mortgage

Aspiring homeowners are no strangers to the challenges of securing mortgage approval, and in this quest, one often-overlooked factor emerges as a crucial element —the elusive credit score.

In the world of real estate, where dreams of owning a home come with a price tag, understanding the connection between credit scores and mortgage approval rates can be a game-changer. Your credit score is not only a number representation; it has the ability to significantly impact your ability to get a mortgage and become a homeowner.

Your credit score is more than just a score—it’s a passport to your homeownership journey. There is a direct link between higher credit scores and the likelihood of having that mortgage application stamped with approval.

The industry has long acknowledged credit scores as an essential metric of financial trustworthiness. Yet, what many may not realize is the extent to which lenders rely on this three-digit number to gauge an individual’s financial habits and risk potential.

Digging into the intricacies, it becomes apparent that a higher credit score not only secures better interest rates but significantly boosts the odds of getting that coveted nod from lenders. In a landscape where competition for mortgage approvals is fierce, understanding the nuances of credit scores becomes a strategic advantage.

What does this mean for the average home seeker? It’s a call to action, urging individuals to be proactive in cultivating a credit profile that appeals to lenders. Timely bill payments, debt reduction, and vigilant credit report monitoring are highlighted as key steps in this journey towards creditworthiness.

Schedule an appointment with an RCB Bank Mortgage representative today for more information while you search for your dream home. You can also take advantage of RCB Bank’s Loan Promotion to Save $500 by December 31, 2023. Click Save500 today!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Offer available for most purchases and refinances. With approved credit on RCB Bank Mortgage secondary market loans locked between October 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. Must meet minimum loan and program underwriting requirements. Lender credit must be used toward borrower closing costs. Not redeemable for cash or down payment funds. This offer is not valid with any other RCB Bank Mortgage incentives, promotions or discounts. OHFA Bond and 5/5 ARM products are not eligible for promotional credit. This offer is subject to change or terminate without notice. Other loan terms and restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #798151 and Member FDIC

 

Sources: Brennan, C. (2020, April 20). How your credit score affects your mortgage rates. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/how-your-credit-score-affects-your-mortgage-rates/

Nerdwallet. (2020, September 15). How credit score affects your mortgage rate. NerdWallet. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/credit-score-affects-mortgage-rate

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Creating a Holiday Budget to Stress-Free Spending

As the holiday season approaches, developing a realistic holiday budget, stress-free shopping, and a financially sound celebration are critical for everyone’s well-being. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season often gives way for individuals to overspend, resulting in financial stress that lingers long after the festivities end. With our step-by-step guide, we aim to empower individuals and families to take control of their holiday spending, allowing them to enjoy the season without the burden of excessive debt.

Assess Your Finances

Check your present financial status first. Document all of your financial transactions, including wages, savings, and obligations. When creating a practical budget, it is essential to know your current financial situation.

Set Clear Spending Limits

You should figure out how much money you can comfortably spend on holiday expenses. Allocate a portion of this sum for things like events, decorations, and gifts. With the goal of avoiding going overboard and stay on track with your budget, it is recommended to set specific spending limitations for each category.

Prioritize Your Expenses

Determine the expenses that are most important for you and your loved ones over the Christmas season. Spending should be prioritized according to what is most important to you, whether it be for thoughtful gifts, festive décor, or unforgettable activities that will be remembered.

Create a Detailed Gift List

List all the individuals you plan to buy gifts for, along with a budget for each person. Consider creative and cost-effective gift ideas to stay within your budget while still spreading holiday cheer. Make a tally of everyone on your gift-buying list and assign a certain amount to each person. To remain within your budget while still spreading holiday cheer, consider inventive and affordable gift ideas.

Shop Smart

Shop throughout the Christmas season to save money. For those last-minute holiday shopping, check around and see if you can save money by purchasing in bulk. Furthermore, look at do-it-yourself alternatives for an inexpensive, customized touch.

Plan for Events and Celebrations

Make a list in advance to save money on last-minute expenses at holiday parties, whether you’re hosting or just going. To prevent the celebration budget from getting out of hand, think about having a potluck style gathering or making some of the décor yourself.

Monitor and Adjust

Throughout the holiday season, check your expenses against your budget on a regular basis. Be sure you don’t go over your budget by making any required changes.

By following these simple steps, individuals and families can create a holiday budget that allows for meaningful celebrations without the stress of financial strain.

 

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

Sources:  Barroso, A. (2022, December 19). How to build a holiday budget that works every year. NerdWallet. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-build-a-holiday-budget-that-works-every-year

Duro, P. (2023, June 29). Budgeting for Christmas: A guide to stress-free holiday spending. MoneyCoach. https://moneycoach.ai/blog/budgeting-for-christmas-a-guide-to-stress-free-holiday-spending

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Navigating Online Shopping Safely for a Scam-Free Holiday

RCB Bank - Navigating Online Shopping Safely for a Scam-Free Holiday

During the holiday season, online shopping has become an essential element of the holiday experience. Still, even though online markets are convenient, you should be careful when using them. Here are some helpful hints for having a pleasant online buying experience and avoiding scams:

Track Your Packages: Whenever you make a purchase online, make sure to get a tracking number. This not only confirms the shipping but also permits tracking throughout the whole delivery process, providing greater transparency.

Verify Buyers and Sellers: Make verifying the authenticity of the people you interact with online a top priority. Be sure to check the feedback ratings on any online marketplaces or auction platforms you use and stay away from sellers that have poor or no ratings at all.

Beware of Unusual Payment Requests: Be wary of sellers who require payment exclusively through gift cards or wire transfers. This is a red flag and you should steer clear of such dealers. Such requests can be red flags for potential scams, allowing criminals to swiftly access illicit funds.

Too Good to Be True Deals: When you come across deals that look too good to be true, you should proceed with extreme care. Con artists frequently use alluring deals to trick consumers into falling for their schemes by capitalizing on their desire for holiday discounts. Exercise caution when encountering deals that seem too good to be true.

Monitor Financial Statements: You should keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements on a regular basis, especially after making purchases online and in the weeks immediately following the holiday season. Utilize mobile apps for convenient and prompt account monitoring. Like RCB Bank’s convenient  BankAnywhere options!

Guard Personal Information: Under no circumstances should you reveal sensitive information such as your date of birth or your Social Security number to unknown parties. The protection of personal data is of the utmost importance in the fight against identity theft. Protecting personal data is paramount in preventing identity theft.

Steer Clear of Suspicious Emails and Links: Avoid downloading suspicious attachments from unwanted emails and refrain from clicking on links in those communications. There is a possibility that you are falling victim to a con that is intended to steal your identity. Always use caution and be sure the information or message you get is legitimate.

If, unfortunately, you fall prey to a holiday scam, take immediate action. Contact RCB Bank at 877.361.0814, inform local law enforcement, and file a complaint with the IC3 at ic3.gov. Vigilance and proactive measures are the keys to a secure online shopping experience this holiday season.

Terms, qualifications and fees may apply. Full details at rcbbank.bank/BankAnywhere. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.

Sources: DiNardi, G. (2023, November 7). How to avoid Black Friday & Cyber Monday Scams (2023). RSS. https://www.aura.com/learn/black-friday-cyber-monday-scams

 Leonhardt, M. (2020, November 23). 10 ways to protect yourself against scams during Black Friday and cyber-Monday. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/24/ways-to-protect-against-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-scams

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Navigate Spending Black Friday and Cyber Monday

RCB-Bank-Learning-Center-Spending-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday.

As the holiday season approaches, consumers gear up for the annual shopping frenzy known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In the midst of enticing discounts and limited time offers, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and overspend. To help shoppers make the most of these sales events without breaking the bank, here are some valuable tips for strategic holiday shopping.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

One of the most crucial steps in preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is establishing a realistic budget. Shoppers should determine how much they can afford to spend on their holiday shopping and allocate specific amounts to different categories, such as gifts, decorations, and personal treats. By setting a budget, consumers can avoid impulse purchases and keep their spending in check.

Research Deals in Advance

To make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers are encouraged to do their homework ahead of time. Researching deals and discounts in advance allows consumers to identify the best offers and prioritize their purchases. Many retailers release their sales flyers early, giving shoppers the opportunity to plan their shopping strategy and focus on the items that matter most to them.

Utilize Price Tracking Tools

In the age of technology, there are numerous online tools and apps designed to help shoppers track prices and find the best deals. Price tracking tools can notify consumers when the price drops on a specific item, ensuring they get the best possible deal. By leveraging these resources, shoppers can stay informed and make informed purchasing decisions.

Beware of Impulse Purchases

The allure of deep discounts and time-limited offers can sometimes lead to impulse purchases. Experts advise shoppers to stick to their pre-determined budget and resist the temptation to buy items on a whim. Taking a moment to consider whether a purchase is genuinely necessary can prevent regrettable spending and contribute to a more mindful shopping experience.

Consider Online Shopping Safety

As Cyber Monday is predominantly an online shopping event, it’s essential for consumers to prioritize online safety. Ensure that the websites you visit are secure, use reputable payment methods, and be cautious of phishing scams. Protecting personal and financial information is crucial when navigating the virtual realm of Cyber Monday deals. You can visit RCB Bank Security Center to stay up to date on the latest fraud/scam schemes.

Shop with a Plan

Whether venturing into crowded stores on Black Friday or browsing online deals on Cyber Monday, having a plan is key. Create a list of desired items, set priorities, and stick to the established budget. By shopping with a plan, consumers can maximize their savings and minimize stress. Black Friday and Cyber Monday present exciting opportunities to snag great deals on holiday gifts and essentials. By approaching these sales events with a strategic mindset, shoppers can navigate the hustle and bustle while avoiding the pitfalls of overspending.

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

Sources:  Ramhold, J. (2023, September 13). How to prepare for Black Friday like a pro. dealnews. https://www.dealnews.com/features/black-friday/black-friday-strategies/

Lauren, L. (2020, October 26). How to set up your Black Friday budget and shopping plan. I Am That Lady. https://iamthatlady.com/black-friday-budget/

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Mortgage Pre-Approval vs. Pre-Qualification

As the real estate market continues to evolve, prospective homebuyers are faced with various choices and decisions. One of the pivotal considerations in the homebuying process is understanding the distinction between Mortgage Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification. To shed light on this often-confusing subject, experts weigh in to help homebuyers make informed decisions.

Mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification are frequently used interchangeably, but they carry different implications and serve distinct purposes in the home financing journey. According to financial experts, the differences lie in how thoroughly each process is evaluated.

Mortgage Pre-Qualification

Mortgage pre-qualification is the preliminary step in the home loan process. It involves a basic assessment of an individual’s financial situation based on self-reported income, debts, and credit. Lenders use this data to provide a rough estimate of the loan amount a borrower might be eligible for. It’s a valuable starting point for those beginning their homebuying journey, offering a snapshot of their financial capacity.

Mortgage Pre-Approval

On the other hand, mortgage pre-approval is a more comprehensive and rigorous process. It requires potential homebuyers to submit detailed financial documentation, including income verification, credit history, and other relevant information. The lender then conducts a thorough analysis to determine the exact loan amount a buyer qualifies for. A pre-approval holds more weight in the eyes of sellers, as it signifies a buyer’s seriousness and financial capability. Experts emphasize the importance of obtaining a mortgage pre-approval before house hunting in today’s competitive real estate market. Pre-approval simplifies the homebuying process and gives buyers an edge in a seller’s market.

While both pre-qualification and pre-approval have their place in the home financing process, understanding the key differences empowers buyers to make informed decisions aligned with their unique circumstances. As the real estate landscape evolves, education remains a powerful tool for aspiring homeowners navigating the path to homeownership.

Schedule an appointment with an RCB Bank Mortgage representative today for more information while you search for your dream home. You can also take advantage of RCB Bank’s Loan Promotion to Save $500 by December 31, 2023. Click Save500 today!

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Offer available for most purchases and refinances. With approved credit on RCB Bank Mortgage secondary market loans locked between October 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. Must meet minimum loan and program underwriting requirements. Lender credit must be used toward borrower closing costs. Not redeemable for cash or down payment funds. This offer is not valid with any other RCB Bank Mortgage incentives, promotions or discounts. OHFA Bond and 5/5 ARM products are not eligible for promotional credit. This offer is subject to change or terminate without notice. Other loan terms and restrictions apply. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #798151 and Member FDIC

Sources: Equifax. (n.d.). Difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved. https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/personal-finance/articles/-/learn/difference-between-pre-qualified-and-pre-approved/

 

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Cybersecurity: Protecting Yourself and The Bank

RCB Bank Cybersecurity

As we conclude October’s Cybersecurity Month, it is essential to reinforce the importance of safeguarding both yourself and your financial institution, such as RCB Bank, against the ever-present threat of phone-based social engineering. This form of cybercrime preys on trust and human vulnerability, making it crucial for individuals and institutions to stay vigilant.

Here are some final tips to keep in mind:

Verify Identities: When receiving phone calls requesting sensitive information, always take the time to verify the caller’s identity. Do not be hasty in sharing personal or financial details. To ensure that you are speaking with a legitimate representative, consider calling back using official contact details that you obtained independently from trusted sources.

Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is a powerful weapon against social engineering. Stay informed about common tactics employed by cybercriminals who aim to deceive you over the phone. Share this knowledge with friends and family to create a network of individuals who are equally vigilant. Protecting your circle can go a long way in thwarting potential threats.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): One of the most effective ways to enhance the security of your personal accounts is by enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring more than just a password for access. Whenever possible, activate MFA on your accounts to make it significantly harder for cybercriminals to breach them.

Exercise Caution Online: Be cautious about sharing personal information on social media or other online platforms. Cyber attackers often exploit the information they collect from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others to craft convincing schemes. Protect your personal data online to make it more challenging for malicious individuals to target you.

Report Suspicious Calls: If you ever receive a suspicious phone call related to your RCB Bank account(s), it is imperative to report it promptly to RCB Bank. You can reach us at 855.226.5722. Timely reporting of such incidents can help the bank take action to protect your accounts and investigate potential threats.

Phone-based social engineering is a persistent threat that preys on trust and human vulnerability. By understanding the tactics used by attackers and remaining vigilant, you can protect both yourself and your financial institutions. Remember that skepticism is a valuable defense, and it is essential to prioritize your security over convenience when dealing with phone calls from unknown or suspicious sources. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and staying informed and cautious is key to defending against these threats.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. By staying informed, you can enhance your digital defenses and protect yourself from the evolving landscape of cyber threats. Remember, vigilance is your greatest asset in the battle for digital security.

If you feel or think you detect fraud or are a victim of fraud call us at 855.226.5722 or visit our website RCBBank.Bank and click on Security Center for a variety of methods to keep you and your money safe and to stay up to date.

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

Sources: Risukhin, A. (2023, May 9). Social Engineering: What it is and how to protect yourself. ClearVPN. https://clearvpn.com/blog/what-is-social-engineering/

 

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Cybersecurity: Recognizing the Red Flags

RCB Bank Cybersecurity

Our phones have evolved beyond mere communication devices, transforming into powerful tools for social engineering. Phone-based social engineering is a sophisticated threat that manipulates individuals into revealing confidential information or engaging in actions that compromise security. Recognizing the warning signs of these deceptive tactics is crucial to safeguard your personal and financial information.

Unsolicited Calls: One of the primary red flags is receiving unsolicited calls, especially from unknown numbers. These calls often involve requests for sensitive information or demands for immediate action. Scammers count on the element of surprise and pressure, making it essential to approach such calls with caution. Always verify the caller’s identity before sharing sensitive data or complying with their demands.

Urgency and Fear Tactics: Scammers are adept at creating a sense of urgency or fear, which puts their victims on the defensive. They aim to coerce individuals into making hasty decisions by inducing panic or stress. In these situations, taking a moment to pause and assess the call’s legitimacy is paramount. Legitimate organizations don’t resort to fear tactics to obtain your information.

Caller ID Spoofing: Another technique cybercriminals use is caller ID spoofing. Attackers can manipulate caller IDs to make it seem like they are calling from a trusted source, such as a bank or government agency. As such, never rely solely on caller ID information to determine the authenticity of a call. Always ask questions and verify the caller’s credentials independently.

Information Verification: Beware of callers who ask for personal or financial information over the phone, even if they claim to represent a legitimate organization. Legitimate institutions will typically offer alternative means of communication or verification. Only disclose your information over the phone if you know the caller’s identity.

Inconsistencies: Inconsistencies within the call, such as contradictory information or a caller who avoids answering direct questions, are often clear indicators of a scam. If something feels off during the conversation, trust your instincts. Cybercriminals rely on confusion and misdirection to achieve their goals.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. By staying informed, you can enhance your digital defenses and protect yourself from the evolving landscape of cyber threats. Remember, vigilance is your greatest asset in the battle for digital security.

If you feel or think you detect fraud or are a victim of fraud call us at 877.361.0814 or visit our website RCBBank.Bank and click on Security Center for a variety of methods to keep you and your money safe and to stay up to date.

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

Sources:

Delesline, N., & Carlton, G. (2022, June 2). What, exactly, is cybersecurity? and why does it matter? ZDNET. https://www.zdnet.com/education/computers-tech/what-is-cybersecurity-and-why-cybersecurity-matters/

LaPonsie, M. (2019, May 3). 10 most common phone scams to look out for – U.S. news. https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/most-common-phone-scams

Slandau. (2022, March 28). 14 phishing Red Flags for 2022, CyberTalk.org phishing. CyberTalk. https://www.cybertalk.org/2022/02/28/14-phishing-red-flags-to-watch-for-in-2022/

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Cybersecurity: The Artform of Deception

RCB Bank Cybersecurity

In the digital age, deception has evolved into an artform, and phone-based social engineering has emerged as one of its most cunning creations. Deceptive tactics employed by these attackers often involve the impersonation of trusted entities or individuals to gain the trust of their unsuspecting victims. Let’s take a deeper dive into the intricate web of deception that these cybercriminals create.

Phishing Calls: Scammers are masters at deception who frequently disguise themselves as legitimate institutions such as banks or government agencies. Armed with a persuasive tone and a knack for manipulation, they call individuals with the intention of extracting sensitive information like Social Security numbers and credit card details. These calls, seemingly benign at first, can lead to disastrous consequences, with personal finances hanging in the balance. Phishing – What is it?

Vishing (Voice Phishing): Vishing is the darker, vocal sibling of phishing. Criminals employ a range of tactics in this malicious endeavor. They might deploy pre-recorded messages that demand immediate action or pose as authoritative figures like IT support or even law enforcement. The intention is to confuse individuals into revealing personal information or coercing them into transferring their hard-earned money into the pockets of these unscrupulous characters.

Pretexting: For attackers, crafting convincing backstories or pretexts is second nature. Impersonating a coworker in need of information for a supposed work-related task, these criminals exploit human empathy and trust. The victims, never suspecting the deceit, end up divulging sensitive data that can be exploited to the attacker’s advantage.

Impersonation: Some of these fraudsters take their deception to the next level, going to great lengths to mimic voices, mannerisms, and emotional tones. They may pose as a distressed family member or a colleague urgently seeking assistance. These emotionally charged calls prey on the victim’s sense of responsibility and sympathy, leading them down a treacherous path of deception.

Spear Phishing: In targeted attacks, these cybercriminals invest time in researching their victims. Armed with an extensive dossier, they craft highly personalized messages or calls. These communications reference specific events, acquaintances or people in the victim’s life, making them appear incredibly legitimate. This personalized touch elevates the deception to an entirely new level.

The world of phone-based social engineering is fraught with danger, where trust is leveraged as a weapon and deception reigns supreme. It’s imperative for individuals to remain cautious and verify the authenticity of callers before divulging any sensitive information, for the art of deception knows no bounds in the digital realm.  A Word of Caution About Fraud

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. By staying informed, you can enhance your digital defenses and protect yourself from the evolving landscape of cyber threats. Remember, vigilance is your greatest asset in the battle for digital security.

If you feel or think you detect fraud or are a victim of fraud call us at 877.361.0814 or visit our website RCBBank.Bank and click on Security Center for a variety of methods to keep you and your money safe and to stay up to date.

 

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

Sources:

Cahill, E. (2023, July 13). Phishing, Smishing and vishing: What’s the difference? Experian. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/phishing-smishing-vishing/

Delesline, N., & Carlton, G. (2022, June 2). What, exactly, is cybersecurity? and why does it matter? ZDNET. https://www.zdnet.com/education/computers-tech/what-is-cybersecurity-and-why-cybersecurity-matters/

Jones, C. (2022, September 22). Phishing, vishing, SMiShing, whaling and pharming: How to stop social engineering attacks. Expert Insights. https://expertinsights.com/insights/phishing-vishing-smishing-whaling-and-pharming-how-to-stop-social-engineering-attacks/

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What exactly is cybersecurity, and how can you protect yourself from its various forms?

RCB Bank Cybersecurity

In today’s digital age, the term “cybersecurity” has become synonymous with safeguarding our digital lives. It’s the shield that guards our critical systems and sensitive information from the relentless onslaught of digital threats. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks. These attacks can take many forms, ranging from identity theft to sophisticated scams. Understanding these threats is the first step in fortifying your digital fortress.

One of the most horrendous forms of cyberattacks is identity theft. This occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses your personal information, often for financial gain. Criminals may make unauthorized credit card transactions, apply for loans in your name and social security number or commit other fraudulent activities. To shield yourself from these threats, consider the following precautions:

  • Be vigilant: Never share personal information with unknown callers, texters, or email Verify the legitimacy of any organization before disclosing sensitive data.
  • Strong passwords: Avoid easily guessable passwords, such as family names or pet names. Opt for complex combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. Refrain from writing down or storing passwords electronically, as lost devices could compromise your security.
  • Social media caution: Beware of oversharing on social media, as personal information gleaned from your profiles can be used against you. Visit: Online Quizzes
  • Regular credit checks: Obtain your free annual credit report to ensure its accuracy and detect any suspicious activities early.

Scams come in various disguises, from romance and gift card scams to fake home repair offers and even imposters posing as trusted institutions like your bank. Here’s how you can avoid falling prey to scams:

  • Verify charitable events: When approached with requests for donations or assistance related to disasters, always seek more information and ensure the legitimacy of the cause.
  • If it sounds too good to be true: Apply the age-old adage. If an offer seems suspiciously generous or unrealistic, it probably is.
  • Beware of contingencies: Never accept funds or sweepstakes winnings that require you to send money back. Legitimate winnings and gifts do not come with such conditions.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. By staying informed and following these guidelines, you can enhance your digital defenses and protect yourself from the evolving landscape of cyber threats. Remember, vigilance is your greatest asset in the battle for digital security.

Visit our Security Center for a variety of methods to keep you and your money safe and to stay up to date.

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

Sources: Delesline, N., & Carlton, G. (2022, June 2). What, exactly, is cybersecurity? and why does it matter?. ZDNET. https://www.zdnet.com/education/computers-tech/what-is-cybersecurity-and-why-cybersecurity-matters/

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Financial Fitness: Embrace No-Spend Days

RCB Bank Learning Center - No Spend Days

In today’s consumer-driven society, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless spending. We often find ourselves tempted by the latest gadgets, trendy clothes and indulgent treats. It’s crucial to recognize the importance of financial fitness and the impact it can have on your budgets. One simple yet powerful technique to regain control of your finances is to incorporate a weekly “no-spend day” into your routine. Listed below are some benefits of this practice and creative ways to make the most of your no-spend days.

Concept

A no-spend day is exactly what it sounds like – a day where you avoid any unnecessary expenses. It’s an opportunity to hit the pause button on impulsive buying habits and reassess financial priorities. By setting aside one day each week for this purpose, we develop mindfulness around spending patterns and establish healthier financial habits.

Benefits

Saving Money: No-spend days provide a golden opportunity to save money. By eliminating even a day’s worth of expenses, you can significantly boost your savings over time. The money saved can be allocated towards emergency funds, paying off debts or pursuing long-term financial goals.

Developing Mindful Consumption: Engaging in no-spend days forces us to evaluate wants versus needs. By consciously choosing not to spend, we become more aware of our spending triggers and gain a clearer understanding of what truly matters. This newfound mindfulness carries over to regular spending habits, helping us make wiser financial decisions.

Cultivating Creativity: Instead of relying on money to entertain us, discover alternative ways to have fun and enjoy life. This might involve exploring nature, engaging in hobbies, organizing game nights with friends or having a cozy movie marathon at home. The possibilities are endless, limited only by our imagination.

Making the Most

Plan Ahead: To maximize the benefits of no-spend days, plan your activities in advance. Take a few moments at the start of each week to brainstorm free or low-cost options for entertainment, relaxation and personal development. By having a plan, you’ll be less likely to give in to impulsive spending temptations.

Embrace Frugal Cooking: No-spend days provide an excellent opportunity to experiment with frugal cooking. Take stock of the ingredients already in your pantry and challenge yourself to create delicious meals from scratch. Not only will this save you money, but it can also improve your culinary skills.

Engage in Self-Care:  Self-care doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Use no-spend days to prioritize self-care activities that don’t require spending money. Whether it’s practicing meditation, taking a relaxing bath, reading a book or exploring a new hobby, dedicate time to yourself for personal well-being.

Connect with Others: No-spend days are an excellent opportunity to strengthen relationships without spending money. Plan a picnic in the park with friends, host a game night at home or organize a potluck dinner. Focus on shared experiences rather than material possessions, deepen your connections and create lasting memories.

Incorporating a no-spend day each week is a powerful tool to enhance your financial fitness. Embrace the challenge of finding joy and fulfillment without relying on material possessions. Financial freedom is not about depriving yourself but rather about aligning your spending with your values and long-term goals. Implement no-spend days and embark on a journey towards a healthier and more financially fit future.

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

Sources: Dow, N. (2023, January 3). It’s time to cut yourself off: Here’s how to do a no-spend challenge. The Penny Hoarder. https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/save-money/no-spend-challenge/

Larsen, K. (2021, January 3). Tips for a no spend day or week or month. Believe In A Budget. https://believeinabudget.com/5-tips-for-a-no-spend-day-or-week-or-month/

 

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