5 Ways to Spot a Lottery Scam

lottery scam

According to the FBI, in 2014 consumers lost more than $8 million to solicitation scams promising instant wealth and grand prize earnings. These scams, commonly referred to as the “advance fee,” “lottery” or “sweepstake” scam, involve fraudsters issuing counterfeit checks and fake award letters to consumers who have allegedly won a lottery or sweepstake raffle. The consumer, who most likely never entered the alleged drawing, is issued a check worth more than the amount owed and instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving their lump sum payment. Unfortunately, the check — in addition to the raffle — is bogus.

Consumers fall victim to lottery and sweepstake scams at alarming rates. It’s extremely important for them to recognize the red flags associated with this type of fraud before they deposit any check they weren’t expecting or send money to an unknown recipient by check or electronic wire.

Before you participate in any lottery or sweepstake, Citizens Bank Minnesota encourages you to keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the check. Scam artists are using sophisticated technology to create counterfeit checks that mirror the appearance of legitimate checks. Some are counterfeit money orders, some are phony cashier’s checks and others look like they are from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.
  • Never ‘pay to play.’ There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back or send you more than the exact amount —that’s a red flag that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a local branch.
  • Verify the requestor before you wire or issue a check. It is important to know who you are sending money to before you send it. Just because someone contacted you doesn’t mean they are a trusted source.
  • Ensure a check has “cleared” to be most safe. Under federal law, banks must make deposited funds available quickly, but just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. Be sure to ask if the check has cleared, not merely if the funds are available before you decide to spend the money.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. Bank staff are experts in spotting fraudulent checks. If you think someone is trying to pull a fake check scam, don’t deposit it—report it. Contact your local bank or the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, fraud.org.

For more information about fake check scams and how you can avoid them, go to fakechecks.org.

Article courtesy of the American Bankers Association

2016 Spring Planting Reminders

spring plantingIt is official….Spring is really here and soon most farmers will be working hard to get their crops in.  As a reminder, early planting may help to maximize yield potential for corn and soybeans; however, planting too early can be detrimental to the crop.  Soil temperature and weather conditions should dictate when optimal planting should take place.

While checking temperatures and weather conditions, make sure to keep the following dates in mind:

Corn = Early Plant Date is April 11, 2016, Final Plant Date May 31, 2016                                 Soybeans = Early Plant Date is April 21, 2016, Final Plant Date, June 10, 2016

The above dates pertain to Southern Minnesota.  Always double-check with your MPCI agent to confirm.

Another important date to keep in mind is Acreage Reporting date of July 15, 2016.  Many times we get busy after planting and this date slips our minds; however, if after you finish planting you go right to the FSA office and certify your acres, drop off a copy of your 578’s and maps to your MPCI agent, you will be finished and on to the next project.

Happy Planting and we wish you a Safe Spring!

By:  Brian J. Shropshire,
Vice President

Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

FireSafetyTips

The Do’s and Don’ts of Protecting your Home and Personal Belongings

  The devastation that a fire causes can be tremendous; but there are things that all of us can do as homeowner’s and renters that can help prevent dealing with one of these life changing events.  Fires cost millions of dollars every year.  We all can help in reducing the cost of these fire losses by implementing some fire prevention measures and regular fire maintenance.

Do’s:

  • Make sure that smoke alarms are in place and are properly working. Test them out on a monthly basis and replace them every 10 years.  It is recommended that you have 2 types of smoke alarms; hard wired and battery.  Also make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on each level of the house.
  • While cooking, make sure you stay in the kitchen. Cooking is the #1 cause of home fires.
  • Make sure that you keep at least one UL-listed 10 pound approved fire extinguisher in the house and garage. Make sure you are familiar with how to use a fire extinguisher and examine them to make sure they are still fully charged.
  • Having fire stops and fire doors in homes can prevent a fire from spreading quickly in a home; and can give the fire department the advantage of getting control of the fire before it does further damage. When fire stops and fire doors are used in conjunction with one another it can isolate the fire to where it originated.  A fire wall between an attached garage to a house can protect the rest of the house and contents when a fire starts in a garage.
  • Create a fire escape route with your family and practice it so that everyone knows the drill. Practice it from different rooms in the house so that everyone understands the safest and best route out.  Remember to stay low and before opening a door know to use your sense of touch to check if it is hot or not.

Don’ts:

  • Avoid using space heaters as they can be a source for a fire. If you need to use a space heater, do not leave them unattended.  Make sure the space around them is clear and does not have anything close to it, which could heat up and catch on fire.  Keep a minimum of 3 feet away from anything combustible.  Do not plug a space heater into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Do not overload outlets and/or extension cords. Do not use electrical cords that are not in good shape.  These can cause electrical fires and could go undetected until out of control within the walls of your home.  Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpet.
  • Do not let the lint filter in your dryer go uncleaned.  Also, clean dryer vents and the hosing on a regular basis.  You do not want blockage in the vent that could cause it to overheat and start a fire.
  • If you have a wood burning fire place in your home do not leave it unattended. Do not remove the ashes when hot from the fire place. Once removed make sure they are a fair distance away from your home and any other building/property.  Do not keep combustible items near a fireplace and/or wood burning stove. Make sure the fire place and/or wood stove is maintained and cleaned on a regular basis and is installed by a professional contractor.
  • Do not leave candles unattended and burning when not in the room. Do not burn candles near anything that may be combustible.  Do not leave a child in a room with a burning candle unattended.

The fire departments in the U.S. deal with and respond to almost 2 million fires each year.  The U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and injures approximately 20,000 more.  Remember your family, home and belongings are the most valuable things that you have and you want to make sure they are protected at all times.  By following these rules, you can help prevent the devastation that a fire can cause.

Submitted By: Nick Hage – Citizens Agency Manager

Citizens Bank Minnesota donates $15,000 and is committing up to $65,000 in total for Madelia Fire Disaster Relief

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Madelia has suffered a tremendous loss and Citizens Bank Minnesota is committed to supporting our fellow neighbors, businesses and friends and to help this small community rebuild after a fire that took place on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. Mark Denn, La Salle Branch Manager, and Fire Chief for Madelia Fire Department states,  “As an employee of Citizens and a volunteer fire fighter and Chief for Madelia Fire Department, I am amazed at how the surrounding fire departments and communities have come together to support Madelia. Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation for all the help to rebuild Madelia’s main street!”

Citizens will donate $10,000 to the 10 area Fire Departments involved in the incident. A donation of $5,000 will be given to “Madelia Strong, Inc.”, which was formed locally to administer financial relief to those affected by the fire. Lastly, Citizens will establish up to $50,000 in interest free loan funds, to be administered out of their La Salle Branch, to be used for both personal and business purposes to those applicants that demonstrate job displacement or loss resulting from the fire.

Those interested in learning more about the loan program please contact our La Salle Branch at (507) 642-3121. Let’s get Madelia back on its feet!

Leaving town? No need to leave your hometown bank!

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Citizens Bank Minnesota offers online banking, mobile banking, e-statements, bill payment, bank-to-bank transfer and mobile deposit!  Bank-to-bank transfer allows you to quickly transfer funds between your accounts at different institutions.  Bill payments can be setup to automatically come from your account each month! We have mobile banking apps for both Apple and Android smartphones – just search in your app store for “Citizens Bank MN” and download the free app!  Mobile deposit is perfect for those who do not live close to one of our branches.  You can simply take a picture of your check and deposit into your Citizens account! You can find more information about our Online Services at http://www.citizensmn.com

Coming soon!  Advanced Bill Payment, Apple Pay, and EMV chip cards!

If you would like to learn more about any of these features please contact us!

By: Jenn Wendorff, Sr. Client Service Representative

Minnesota Bankers Association Honors Citizens Bank Minnesota

MBA

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN – The Minnesota Bankers Association (MBA) recently recognized twenty-one Minnesota banks for their community involvement. Citizens Bank Minnesota was one of twenty-one banks honored for their community involvement. Citizens employees volunteered over 5,800 hours on behalf of their bank for organizations such as American Cancer Society, United Way Day of Caring, Adopt-a-Family, Junior Achievement, National Teach Children to Save Day, local school programs, churches and non-profits. Citizens is also proud of being awarded top fundraising team for the American Cancer Society’s Brown County Relay for Life event raising $24,425.00. Citizens continues to support local businesses through its Go Local initiative that encourages its employees to shop locally first for all their purchases.

MBA President/CEO Joe Witt congratulated the recipients and stated “This extraordinary level of volunteer participation by Minnesota banks demonstrates their deep commitment to the communities they serve. In addition to providing the capital that helps families and local businesses thrive, the banking industry’s record of supporting local programs is second to none. The MBA is pleased to recognize these 21 banks for their commitment to making a real difference in their local communities.”

The Minnesota Bankers Association is the state’s largest trade association devoted exclusively to the representation of commercial banks. The MBA was founded in 1889 and represents 95% of Minnesota’s chartered banks. The MBA is proud to support our member banks as they work to ensure vital communities throughout the state. For more information, please visit our website at www.minnbankers.com.

Citizens Celebrates 140 Years of Making Things Happen

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February 1, 2016 marks Citizens Bank Minnesota’s 140th Anniversary! We have a short anniversary video that highlights 140 years of making things happen!  You can view our video here: 140th Anniversary Video

 

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