Personal – First Bank https://localfirstbank.com North and South Carolina Community Bank Sun, 22 Apr 2018 09:05:44 -0400 en-US hourly 1 Happy National Financial Literacy Month! https://localfirstbank.com/article/happy-national-financial-literacy-month/ Wed, 18 Apr 2018 20:09:58 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=11027

April, like any month of the year, is the perfect time to take a look at your spending habits and build better behaviors to hit your long-term savings goals. But what makes this month especially ideal is that it’s National Financial Literacy Month!

Below, find a handful of quick and easy-to-do tips to get on the right financial track.

Happy Financial Literacy Month with tips

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Staying Safe from Tax Scams https://localfirstbank.com/article/staying-safe-tax-scams/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 20:25:33 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10875

It’s that time of year again when you get a tickle in your throat and your eyes start to water. Yep, it’s tax time.

We received the following very handy and timely article from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) in regards to staying safe during this season of numbers crunching and record keeping. As always, if you have any specific tax questions, be sure to consult a tax prep professional.

As people nationwide seek to file their tax returns, cybercriminals attempt to take advantage of this time of year with a variety of scams. In fact, the IRS reported a 400% rise in phishing scams from the 2015 to the 2016 tax season. In the state, local, tribal, and territorial government sector during 2017, approximately 30% of all reported data breach incidents were related to the theft of W-2 information, which was likely used for tax fraud.

Watch out for these scams

Unfortunately, much of your personal information can be gathered from multiple locations online with almost no verification that the right person is receiving the information. Criminals know this and use the information to file a fake tax refund request! If a criminal files a tax return in your name before you do, they will file it with false information to get a large refund, forcing you to go through the arduous process of proving that you did not file the return and subsequently correcting the return. Once they have your personal information, criminals can continue to commit identity theft well beyond the tax season.

Another favorite technique used by criminals during the tax season is sending phishing messages indicating that a new copy of your tax form(s) is available. These emails often impersonate state, local, tribal, and territorial government comptroller or IT departments.

If you fill out or attempt to login into the phishing website, the criminals will be able to see your login name and password, which they can then use to try and compromise your other accounts. The more information they gather from you, the easier it is for them to use the information to file a fake tax return in your name.

Lastly, tax fraudsters also impersonate the IRS and other tax officials to threaten taxpayers with penalties if they do not make an immediate payment. It is important to remember:

  • The IRS will not initiate contact about payment with taxpayers by phone, email, text messages, or social media without sending an official letter in the mail first.
  • The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment over the phone using a specific payment method such as a debit/credit card, a prepaid card, a gift card, or a wire transfer.
  • The IRS will not threaten to immediately notify local police or other law-enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying.
  • The IRS will not demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.

What you can do

Here are some basic tips to help you minimize the chances of becoming a victim of a tax scam:

  • If you haven’t already, file your taxes as soon as you can…before the scammers do it!
  • Be aware of phone calls, emails, and websites that try to get your information, or pressure you to make a payment. If something seems suspicious, contact the organization through a known method, like their publicly posted customer service line.
  • Ignore emails and texts asking for personal or tax information. Be cautious as to whom you provide your information, including your Social Security Number and date of birth.
  • Don’t click on unknown links or links from unsolicited messages. Type the verified, real organizational website into your web browser.
  • Don’t open attachments from unsolicited messages, as they may contain malware.
  • Only conduct financial business over trusted websites. Don’t use public, guest, free, or insecure Wi-Fi networks. Remember, the “HTTPS” does not mean a site is legitimate.
  • Shred all unneeded or old documents containing confidential and financial information.
  • Check your credit report regularly for unauthorized activity. Consider putting a security freeze on your credit file with the major credit bureaus if you suspect you have been targeted for identity theft.
  • If you receive a tax-related phishing or suspicious email at work, report it according to your cybersecurity policy.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to send suspicious emails related to tax fraud to its phishing@irs.gov email account or to call the IRS at 800-908-4490. More information about tax scams is available on the IRS website.

If you suspect you have become a victim of tax fraud or identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft website will provide a step-by-step recovery plan. It also allows you to report if someone has filed a tax return fraudulently in your name, if your information was exposed in a major data breach, and many other types of fraud.

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Introducing First Bank to Western North Carolina! [infographic] https://localfirstbank.com/article/introducing-first-bank-to-western-north-carolina-infographic/ Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:12:46 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10859

We couldn’t be more excited to welcome all our new customers from Asheville Savings Bank to the First Bank family. The below infographic is a handy way to get to know us a little bit better. Simply click on it to enlarge.

Welcome to all our new customers from Asheville Savings Bank

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Dream It, Do It Q1 Winner: Herrera Family https://localfirstbank.com/article/dream-it-do-it-q1-winner-herrera-family/ Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:34:38 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10556

One of the first “Dream It. Do It.” winners is Silverio Herrera who was nominated by his wife, Jeni. In August 2017, we met with the Herrera family at our Fuquay-Varina branch.

We surprised them with the good news that they would receive $10,000 in support of Silverio’s dream of a skid steer to grow his concrete business.

Here is a video of that wonderful meeting.

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Equifax Breach: FAQs and Resources https://localfirstbank.com/article/equifax-breach-faqs-and-resources/ Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:45:18 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10289

This month, the personal information of millions of Americans—including Social Security numbers, addresses, and in some cases, credit card numbers—were stolen when Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, had its systems compromised by hackers.

There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud now and in the future. Below, you’ll find a FAQ provided by the American Bankers Association and links to helpful articles from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Equifax Breach FAQs

I’ve been hearing about the Equifax breach in the news. What happened?

Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, experienced a massive data breach. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.

Was my information stolen?

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance it was. Go to a special website set up by Equifax to find out. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected. Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.

How can I protect myself?

  • Enroll in Equifax’s services. Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring and other services, whether or not your information was exposed. You can sign up at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/.
  • Monitor your credit reports. In addition, you can order a free copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free report from each of the credit bureaus once per year.
  • Monitor your bank accounts. We also encourage you to monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Use online and mobile banking to keep a close eye on your accounts.
  • Watch out for scams related to the breach. Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.

Should I place a credit freeze on my files?

Before deciding to place a credit freeze on your accounts, consider your personal situation. If you might be applying for credit soon or think you might need quick credit in an emergency, it might be better to simply place a fraud alert on your files with the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report which requires businesses to take additional steps, such as contacting you by phone before opening a new account.

How do I contact the three major credit bureaus to place a freeze on my files?

Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or visit its website.
Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or visit its website.
TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or visit its website.

Where can I get more information about the Equifax breach?

You can learn more directly from Equifax. You can also learn more by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage on the breach. To learn more about how to protect yourself after a breach, visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen.

Additional Resources

In addition to the sites listed above, you can review the following articles for more tips:

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Dream It, Do It Q1 Winner: Anita Autry https://localfirstbank.com/article/dream-it-do-it-q1-winner-anita-autry/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 17:39:02 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10222

After Anita Autry told us about her dream—to secure a service dog for her son who is severely inhibited by his autism—we knew we had to help.

On July 26, 2017, we invited Anita to come to her local branch in Elizabethtown, NC under the auspices of telling us more about her contest entry. But instead, we surprised her with the wonderful news that she was in fact our first Dream It, Do It contest winner and recipient of $15,000. This video is what we captured from that very special meeting.

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Dream It, Do It: Where Are You? [Infographic] https://localfirstbank.com/article/dream-it-do-it-where-are-you-infographic/ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:35:25 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=10156

After receiving more than 500 entries in the month of July alone, we got curious about where in the Carolinas we were hearing from the most. Here are some location stats from those we received from mid-April through the first week of August 2017.

First quarter of First Bank's Dream It, Do It contest received more than 1,000 entries.

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Dream It, Do It Contest: More Than 1,000 Entries in First Quarter [Infographic] https://localfirstbank.com/article/dream-it-do-it-contest-more-than-1000-entries-in-first-quarter-infographic/ Thu, 29 Jun 2017 18:36:16 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=9968

Our Dream It, Do It contest has seen some amazing entries come through. Here are some stats from the first quarter of our campaign.

First quarter of First Bank's Dream It, Do It contest received more than 1,000 entries.

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4 Common Costs Of Renovating An Older Home https://localfirstbank.com/article/4-common-costs-of-renovating-an-older-home/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:13:03 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=9868

Older homes appeal to a number of home buyers. They tend to be located in great locations, are durable, come at a good price and have original features that are not found in newer houses today.

However, they may come with some problems that need to be addressed before moving in. Homes that are built before 1990 tend to be considered older, while homes built before 1920 are sometimes referred to as antique.

Whether it’s a simple fix or a big project, the cost can add up quickly. Before you decide to make the purchase, you should know how to identify potential red flags and estimate the total cost of the renovation.

What To Look For

Foundation Problems

The most costly repairs are found when there are problems with the foundation. Depending on the type of ground the house lays on, various problems can occur. Usually unstable ground, any seismic activity, and lots of moist soil over a period of time can lead to problems.

What to keep in mind:

  • Are there major cracks?
  • Is there unevenness in foundation walls?
  • Are there cracked tiles or concrete floors?
  • Look for floors that are not level.
  • Look for stuck windows and doors that fail to latch.

Estimated cost: if there are repairs or a replacement needed to the foundation, costs can quickly skyrocket up into the $20,000-$30,000 range. It is important to factor these costs into the final price of the house when looking at an older home with structural damage.

Plumbing

When searching for an older home, one should ask the previous owner or Realtor about the plumbing system. Knowing how old and what type of pipes are in the house can be handy information. Brass, copper, and PEX pipes can all last an average of around 50 years. However steel and polybutylene pipes can wear down in as little as 20 years and have more problems.

What to keep in mind:

Estimated costs: it is not uncommon to ask for the previous owner to reduce your price of the cost to replace polybutylene pipes. However, if you are paying for it yourself, whole-house pipe replacement can cost anywhere between $2,000-$5,000 depending on how many pipes are in the home.

Hazardous Materials

Three hazardous materials to know before you buy an older home are asbestos, radon, and lead. All 3 are more common in older homes and can lead to serious health consequences if not taken care of.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was used commonly as insulation in walls, pipes, and homes before the 1980s. If asbestos is enclosed properly and not exposed to the open air, it is harmless. When exposed, the asbestos fibers cause myriad health problems such as mesothelioma.

Lead, which is particularly hazardous for children, can be found in paint and plumbing systems of a home built before the 1980s. And radon is a radioactive type of gas that occurs naturally from the type of bedrock the house is built on and can cause lung cancer over long periods of exposure.

What to keep in mind:

  • The type of paint used in the exterior and interior of the home.
  • Look for exposed, crumbly asbestos in insulation, pipes, and ceilings.
  • Buy a radon test-kit to test for radon in your home.

Estimated costs: you can buy home testing kits for radon and lead to check the levels in the home. If radon, lead, or asbestos is present, it would be best to hire a professional to remove it. Lead paint removal can be done for between $8 to $15 per square foot on average. Radon can be handled for an average cost of $1,300 per home. Depending on the size of the asbestos, a wall or pipe system can cost anywhere between $750-$1,200. However, a whole house project removal of asbestos can run as steep as $18,000.

Electrical

Electrical fires, shocks, power failures, and shorts are all at an increased risk when buying an older home. And keep in mind, those houses also contain fewer outlets throughout the home, which can be a problem with all the technology we use today.

It’s important to find out the age and condition of the wiring in the home you are looking at.

What to keep in mind:

  • Look for exposed wiring out of walls and outlets.
  • Will you need to add any outlets?
  • Is there any water damage?
  • The age of the wiring used.

Estimated cost: since electrical work is dangerous, it is best to contact a local, licensed electrician, who may charge anywhere between $50-$100 an hour.

After that, the price is dependent on how many outlets, breakers, or panels need to be addressed or installed. The cost is $50-$100 per outlet, breakers are anywhere from $5-$30 dollars, and a new service panel can be the most expensive at anywhere between $200-$500 plus labor.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the list of frequent repairs above. It can still be truly beneficial to purchase an older home, but you’ll need to invest to fix the problems. Seek out skilled professionals and work from quality local resources. Before you know it, you’ll have the home of your dreams.

Ready to get started? We have great options for mortgages, including construction loans.

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Hold That Line: Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud https://localfirstbank.com/article/stop-phone-credit-card-fraud/ Fri, 26 May 2017 19:24:14 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=9830

Your phone rings. It’s an unfamiliar number, but you only glanced at the caller ID before picking up the call. The voice at the other end says your credit card may have been compromised; they can even provide the last four digits on the card.

It’s a scary situation, and one that’s all too familiar. To figure out the best next steps to take in this situation, we asked the skilled team of fraud detection experts in the BankCard department for some help.

First, take a deep breath. Fraudsters hope you’ll be so overwhelmed by what they are telling you that you’ll inadvertently share the details that allows them to hack your card.

Second, no matter how legitimate the call may seem, it’s important that you don’t give out any personal information on calls you didn’t initiate. Personal information includes the following:

  • Your credit or debit card number
  • Your bank account or Social Security numbers
  • Log in information for any online banking tool used for managing your finances

If you think there’s a possibility that it is First Bank’s BankCard or Customer Service team, you can ask if you can return the call by using the main customer service number located on the back of your debit or credit card or the one on your credit card billing statement.

Third, don’t return calls from numbers left on your answering machine or sent in an email unless you can verify that it is First Bank’s real phone number.

And lastly, it’s always a good idea to make sure First Bank has your current information updated (email and cell phone). That way we can contact you directly if we identify a fraudulent transaction.

Unfortunately, fraudsters constantly revise their schemes. Each time we catch on to one scam, another variation or an entirely new one pops up. No matter what they say, remember to be calm, patient and persistent. And if you are tempted by an agent to provide additional account information, simply hang up and call First Bank directly.

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