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ABA Consumer Tips: How to Avoid Holiday Spending Headaches

WASHINGTON — As early Black Friday deals kick off the holiday shopping season sooner than ever, it’s important for consumers to develop a holiday spending plan to avoid financial headaches in the future, says the American Bankers Association.  ABA is highlighting seven tips to help consumers minimize their holiday spending debt.

“It’s a special feeling to make loved ones happy with the perfect holiday gift or to make donations to charities you care about deeply, but it’s also extremely important to spend within your means and avoid stressful debt in the New Year,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Mapping out a holiday spending plan and avoiding impulse buys will go a long way toward keeping your finances on track.”

Below are seven spending habits Americans should consider to help relieve the financial stress of the holidays:

  • Plan ahead. Before you start shopping, develop a realistic budget for holiday expenses. Figure out your bottom-line number and set aside holiday cash in increments throughout the year. If you need to use your credit card, think about what you can afford to pay back in January.
  • Keep track of other costs. Don’t forget costs beyond gifts, like postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel and charitable contributions. Keep in mind the end of the year is a time when large annual or semi-annual costs like car insurance, life insurance and property taxes arise.
  • Make a list and check it twice. Keep your gift list limited to family and close friends, noting how much you want to spend on each. If you’re donating to charities, factor in the total amount you plan to donate and how much each charity will receive.
  • Shop early and space out purchases. Avoid shopping while rushed or under pressure, which can lead to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an app that lets you compare prices before you buy anything in a store.  Before you head to the cashier (or online checkout), make sure your purchase is within the budget you set.
  • Avoid impulsive spending decisions. Finding a spectacular sale on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off course.  Stay strong and stick to your budget.  Don’t be blinded by limited-time incentives geared toward getting you to spend more.
  • Use credit wisely. Limit the use of credit for holiday spending.  If you must use credit, use only one card—preferably the one with the lowest interest rate—and leave the rest at home.  Pick a date when you can pay off your holiday credit card bills, and commit to paying off the balance by that time.  Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately.
  • Save your receipts and get acknowledgements for charitable donations. Not only will you need receipts for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent and to compare with your credit card statement.  Knowing how much you spent will help you plan for next year, too.  Keeping receipts or acknowledgement letters for charitable donations is a must if you want to receive tax deductions in the spring.

 

About the American Bankers Association
The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $17 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $13 trillion in deposits and extend more than $9 trillion in loans.

About the ABA Foundation
Through its leadership, partnerships, and national programs, ABA’s Community Engagement Foundation (dba ABA Foundation), a 501(c)3, helps bankers provide financial education to individuals at every age, elevate issues around affordable housing and community development, and achieve corporate social responsibility objectives to improve the well-being of their customers and their communities.

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Jewett City Savings Bank donates to 6 local charities to celebrate Main office renovations

Jewett City Savings Bank has donated a total of $2,000 to six local non-profit organizations on behalf of customers who opened new personal and business checking accounts during the Bank’s recent Renovation Celebration.

According to Kevin Merchant, president and CEO, the Checking for Charity initiative provided the opportunity for new checking account customers to support the charitable organization of their choice. As a result of the campaign, donations were made to United Community & Family Services, Jewett City Fire Department, Slater Library, Griswold PRIDE, Griswold Historical Society, and Saint Mary’s Food Pantry.

“We were pleased to include neighboring organizations in our celebration,” said Merchant.  “Community-building is as significant to us as the re-modeling of our Main Office. These groups help to foster a sense of community, and we are happy to support their efforts.”

The Renovation Celebration followed several months of extensive restoration, re-modeling, and modernization of the Bank’s Main Street headquarters in Jewett City. In addition to the Checking for Charity initiative, celebration activities included special offers, giveaways, and weekly prizes from local merchants.

Jewett City Savings Bank is a mutual savings bank operating full-service offices in Jewett City, Brooklyn, Dayville, Plainfield, and Preston, with online banking services at JCSBank.com and a Facebook presence at facebook.com/jcsbank.

Established in 1873, the Bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

 

Equifax Data Breach – Are you affected?

Equifax, one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the country, has announced a data security incident that may have compromised the personal information of millions of people in the United States. They have stated that the personal information accessed through this intrusion included names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers.

In response to this data breach, Equifax has created a web site to help consumers determine if their personal information has been affected. Visit the dedicated Equifax web site at http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ and click on the “Potential Impact” tab.  Follow the instructions provided and you will receive an immediate response as to whether your personal information may have been impacted.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has compiled an informative summary about the Equifax data breach and provides additional resources on protecting yourself following a potential breach of your personal information. Read the FTC article here.

Based on the information we have received, there is no reason to believe that your account numbers or debit card numbers with Jewett City Savings Bank have been compromised in the Equifax data breach. We want to remind you to always be vigilant in monitoring your account activity and reviewing your account statements, and you must contact us immediately if you notice unauthorized or suspicious activity on your account.  You can find more information about protecting your identity and your accounts on our web site at JCSBank.com/About – Security.

 

Beware of “Warranty” Telephone Scams

We have learned of a telephone scam in which the caller ID indicates that the call is coming from Jewett City Savings Bank.  The automated call informs the person that they have a warranty that is expiring and will ask for account or debit card information to continue or renew the warranty.  If you receive a call like this, you should hang up immediately.  Do not provide any information.

We want to take this opportunity to remind consumers that a bank will never ask you to provide your account information using automated telephone messages, text messages, or email messages.  If you receive a telephone call, text, or email message claiming to be from your bank and asking you to provide personal or account information, do not provide any account-related information, do not respond to the text message, do not call any telephone number provided, and do not click on any website link provided in an email.

Criminals use telephone scams (pretexting), text messages (SMiShing), and email messages (phishing) to attempt to get consumers to divulge account numbers, debit and credit card numbers, and other personal confidential information. They use threats of discontinuing services to convince consumers to provide them with their bank account, credit card or debit card information.  You should never respond to the messages or use the telephone numbers or website links provided in the messages. When there is a question about your account information, you should always contact the bank directly at a telephone number or website that you know to be legitimate (from a statement or receipt).

You can learn more about pretexting and phishing from the Federal Trade Commission. If you received a telephone call or text message, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTCcomplaintassistant.gov.

Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation now accepting 2017 grant requests

The Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation is now accepting 2017 grant applications from local 501(c)(3), 170(c)(1), and other qualified non-profit organizations in the communities served by Jewett City Savings Bank. The process is part of the Bank’s long-standing tradition of providing support to the local organizations that help strengthen the neighborhoods of Eastern Connecticut.

Guidelines and grant applications for 2017 are available online here and at all offices of Jewett City Savings Bank. Completed applications must be received no later than August 31, 2017. Funding will be awarded by December 31, 2017.

Grants, available up to a maximum of $5,000, may be awarded for existing program support, general support, special projects, and/or start-up endeavors covering a variety of issues impacting the community. Specific amounts will be determined by demonstrated needs and existing resources of each organization. The Foundation does not provide funding for individuals, sports, individual schools, or religious groups.

In 2016, the Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation achieved another year of record growth in charitable giving, providing more than $75,000 in grants to help local non-profits, including emergency services organizations, food pantries, and health and educational programs. The Foundation has awarded more than $670,000 since it was established in 2003.

“We look forward each year to this opportunity to support a great number of non-profit organizations that strive to make a difference in the communities we serve,” said Kevin Merchant, president and CEO of Jewett City Savings Bank. “It’s one more way we can reach out to enhance the quality of life for our customers, friends, and neighbors. We are happy to help make that happen. As a true community bank, it’s a part of what we do.”

Changes to the Online Banking Password Screen

Beginning Monday, June 19th you will no longer see your personal image and passphrase before entering your password to log in to Online Banking.

The first time you log in to Online Banking on or after June 19th, you will be asked to reset your security questions.  You may be presented with your security questions more frequently while the system updates your security profile.

Password Screen Changes:

Login Screen - Before

Login Screen – Before

Login Screen After

Login Screen – After

Your online security is very important to us.
Improvements to Internet browser security have made the image/passphrase combination unnecessary.  As a user, you are now alerted if a website’s Security Certificate does not match the URL to which you are visiting.  These alerts advise you to close your browser window and not continue to the web site.  In addition, you will now be protected by multiple levels of authentication that will guard against unauthorized account access.

  • The first level of security requires the input of your correct User ID and Password.
  • The second level is the unique ID of the device used to log in to Online Banking.  If the computer, phone or tablet is not recognized, you will be required to answer one or more of your security questions before you will be allowed to continue.
  • The third level of authentication is based on geographic indicators.  If a login attempt is made from a new geographic location, you will be asked to answer security questions before you can continue.

If you fail in three attempts to answer your security questions correctly, you will be locked out of Online Banking.   Please contact our customer support staff at any branch office for assistance with resetting your Online Banking access.

Lock Out Caused By Account Aggregation Services
If you use a service or app to aggregate your account information from several financial institutions, the new authentication methods may prevent the service from updating your account information and lock you out of Online Banking.  If this should occur, please contact us and provide the name of the service and the last date/time that it was used.  We will work with our system developers to determine if your account aggregation service can be authenticated.  Account aggregation services that have been authenticated include Intuit/Mint, Xero, Yodlee, Acorn, CashEdge and Lifelock.

We apologize if these updates cause any inconvenience. If you have any questions, or need assistance accessing Online Banking, please contact us at 860-376-4444.

Rev. 06-19-2017
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Jewett City Savings Bank Holds 144th Annual Meeting

Elects Elena Hermonot of Sterling as Corporator

President and CEO Kevin Merchant presided over Jewett City Savings Bank’s 144th annual meeting held recently at the Jacques Cartier Club. Highlighting the Bank’s 2016 performance, Merchant reported $63.6 million in loans originated over the course of the year, a 13.9% increase over the previous year and the largest organic loan growth in the Bank’s history. As a result of the growth, loan to asset ratios grew from 65.2% to 71.6%, he said, and interest income was also bolstered due to a significant increase in commercial loans.

The Bank’s total assets at year-end increased by $9.8 million, or 3.8%, to total $269.6 million. Net income earned in 2016 totaled nearly $1.3 million, an increase of 22.4% over 2015. Another $1.2 million, or 2.9%, added to capital increased it to nearly $44 million, leaving the Bank with a healthy Tier 1 Leverage or capital ratio of 16%; more than three times what is required for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to consider a bank to be “well capitalized.”

Merchant also focused on the Bank’s commitment to the community during the past year, including $76,000 in grants awarded by the Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation, an additional $50,000 in donations from the Bank in support of a variety of local initiatives, and 1,000 hours of time volunteered by the Bank’s employees throughout the year.

The Bank’s new branding concept, “Your Life Your Bank,” was the theme of the meeting. “Jewett City Savings Bank is here to provide the financial assistance that individuals and businesses need along that journey called life,” explained Merchant. “It’s that assistance and guidance that helps our customers to achieve their financial goals.”

Merchant also reported on the progress of the major renovation project underway at the Bank’s Main Office, which is expected to be completed in June 2017. He predicted that visitors to the Main Office will be pleased with the improved efficiencies and by the impressive combination of traditional and contemporary features within the building.

Elections

Newly elected Corporator Elena Hermonot

Newly elected Corporator Elena Hermonot

At the meeting, incumbent directors Louis Demicco and Diane Manning were re-elected. Demicco, president and owner of Jewett City Greenhouses, Inc., has been a director of the Bank since 1994 and has served as Chairman of the Board since 2005. Manning is the president and CEO of United Services, Inc. in Dayville and has been a director of the Bank since 2007.

Elena Hermonot was elected to serve as a corporator of the Bank. Hermonot is co-owner and manager of Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, a family business known as the largest grower of pasture-raised turkeys in Connecticut. Her background includes positions as a Certified Nurse’s Aide at Day Kimball Hospital and local nursing homes and as co-owner and manager of a cow farm in Middlebury. She supports community service activities as a member of Ekonk Community Grange and has volunteered as Poultry Superintendent at the Brooklyn Fair and served on the Sterling Family Day committee.

“Elena is a motivated and highly regarded member of the local business community,” said Merchant. “We are pleased to have her join the group of ambassadors who represent the Bank out in the community.”

A moment of silence was observed in memory of two corporators who died in 2016. They were Robert Chamberland, who became a corporator in 1984 and went on to serve on the board of directors from 1995 until 2008, and Leonard Zuckerbraun, who was elected as a corporator in 1964.

8 Ways to Protect Your Data Online

American Bankers Association logoThe American Bankers Association is highlighting eight tips to help online users protect their data and guard against online threats.

“Cyber thieves are using social media profiles to gather personal information and use it to commit fraud,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cyber security policy. “It’s extremely important that consumers limit the amount of information they share online and stay away from using easily retrieved information — such as birthdates, pet’s names or school mascots — as answers to security questions.”

ABA is offering the following tips to help consumers safeguard their information online:

  • Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  • Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
  • Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
  • Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
  • Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
  • Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
  • Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

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Jewett City Savings Bank pledges $25K to UCFS Campaign for Griswold Health Center

The Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation has pledged $25,000 in support of the new healthcare facility in Griswold planned by United Community and Family Services (UCFS). Announcement of the donation to the UCFS Capital Campaign for the Griswold Health Center was made today by Kevin Merchant, Jewett City Savings Bank president and CEO.

A federally qualified health center, UCFS provides medical, dental and behavioral health services to individuals and families throughout the region regardless of their ability to pay.

“The programs and services provided by UCFS improve the health and well-being of those in the communities that are also served by Jewett City Savings Bank,” said Merchant. “Their mission aligns with ours, and we are pleased to provide some financial assistance to support their efforts.”

Big check for $25,000 grant from the Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation for the UCFS Griswold Health Center

Displaying the ceremonial check announcing a $25,000 grant from the Jewett City Savings Bank Foundation for the UCFS Griswold Health Center are (from left): Pamela Kinder, Vice President, UCFS; Jennifer Granger, President and CEO, UCFS; Kevin Merchant, President and CEO, Jewett City Savings Bank; and Louis Demicco, Chairman, Jewett City Savings Bank.

We have updated our online bill payment system

Our updated bill payment system is now active, and we thank you for your patience during this update.

The first time you log in
When you select the Pay My Bills tab after the update, you will be required to accept the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy separately.

  • Confirm Payee Information
    While all payees will be transferred to the new system, before paying any bills, we recommend that you confirm the accuracy of your Payee Information.
  • Re-enroll in eBills. If you have been receiving eBills, you will need to re-enroll through Pay My Bills to continue receiving eBills. In most cases, the re-enrollment process will only require that you select the payee and enter identifying information.

Pay My Bills – Cookies

The Pay My Bills section of Online Banking requires the use of cookies – small files stored within your browser – to function properly. We’ve provided links to the instructions for enabling cookies for the four most frequently used browsers below.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT PAYMENT PROCESSING
Currently, funds are withdrawn from your account on the “send on” date you select when you schedule a payment. After April 27th, funds will not be withdrawn from your account until the “deliver by” date you select– meaning your current balance will not reflect payments that have been scheduled but not delivered to the payee.

To avoid fees due to insufficient funds, you must ensure funds are available in your checking account on the “deliver by” date when the payment is received by the payee.

What’s New
New features included in our bill payment system update are:

  • Alerts and enhanced fraud monitoring to protect you from unauthorized payments.
  • Payment monitoring
  • More flexibility in scheduling options
  • Enhanced eBills & new payment scheduling options
  • The ability to group payees into categories you create
  • The ability to schedule payment reminders with the option to receive email reminders
  • And more

Take a tour of the updated bill payment system.

For more information about our new Online Bill Payment system, you can use our information request form or give us a call at 860-376-4444.