1st Quarter 2020

Inside This Issue:

Holiday Food Drive Results

Each year during our holiday food drive we are reminded of how special and generous our communities are. This year we were able to deliver checks in excess of $5,100 to our local food pantries. These funds stay right here in our communities and help keep the food pantries fully stocked during the busy holiday season. Thank you for helping make a difference for our friends and neighbors this holiday season! 


Getting Prequalified: An Important 1st Step

“I’m interested in buying a house. Where do I start?”

A great jumping-off point for anyone looking to buy a house, whether you’re a first time home buyer or you’ve been through the buying process before, is getting prequalified. In the current market, most realtors will ask for a prequalification letter from your lender before they’ll begin showing you houses. The reason for this is that homes are not staying on the market very long. A prequalification letter shows the realtor that you have the financing in order and can submit an offer quickly. It also gives you an advantage over other prospective buyers because the seller knows that you have financing lined up, making you an attractive buyer. 

How do I get prequalified?

Getting prequalified is pretty simple. Start by completing an application and providing us with income information. We pull a credit report to find out what other debt obligations you have. Based on that information we are able to calculate the size of the loan that you are qualified for.

Beyond giving you an advantage in your housing search, getting prequalified also answers two very important questions:

How much can I afford?
How much money will I need to close the loan?

Understanding the home price and monthly mortgage payment that you can afford and how much you’ll need for a down payment can save you time and narrow down your housing search. 

To get prequalified for your new home, call (800) 795-2151 to schedule an appointment with one of our mortgage specialists or apply online.


Changes at our Arena Office

In November a letter went out to our Arena customers informing them that the lobby at our Arena location will be closing and transitioning to drive-up only beginning on January 1, 2020. The letter from CEO, Gary Harrop, explains the reasoning for this decision and our plans moving forward. See the full letter below:

To Our Arena Customers:

On January 1, 2020 we’ll be discontinuing lobby hours at our Arena location.  Our drive-up in that location, however, will remain open with no change in hours:  8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Saturdays.  Around the same time we’ll be closing our downtown Mazomanie office, which houses our loan processing department, and moving that staff to the Arena bank.

When we merged The Peoples State Bank with Community Bank Spring Green & Plain in 2005 we experienced a drop in customer visits as Spring Green customers that previously banked in Arena moved their business for reasons of convenience.  That trend of declining lobby traffic continued, given our full-service locations in both Mazomanie and Spring Green, coupled with the growing number of customers who have elected to use online and mobile banking services as a means to conduct everyday banking activity.  A trip to the bank is no longer a requirement in order to deposit checks, transfer funds or open an account.  This year alone our bank will receive 750,000 visits from customers using our online and mobile banking services.

Your account numbers will not change nor will you need a new supply of checks.  You can continue to use any of our six locations for your banking needs.  If you presently have a safe deposit box in Arena we do ask that you move the contents of your box to one of our other locations by January 1.  In doing so you’ll receive one free year of box rental in addition to credit for the time remaining on your present box lease.

Closing the Arena lobby was not an easy decision for us but advances in technology and changes in customer behavior are causing banks nationwide to make similar changes.  This was an especially difficult recommendation for me as 110 years ago my great-grandfather was instrumental in starting the Arena State Bank, now part of The Peoples Community Bank.  My goal, and that of our board of directors, remains continuing to offer banking services in Arena.

If you have questions on this change you can contact me at 795-1163.  If you have questions on banking services or safe deposit issues, Megan Jones can assist you at 753-2127.

Sincerely,

Gary S. Harrop, CFP, ChFC, CAP, RICP
Chief Executive Officer


Online Money Safety Tips

At the end of the year in 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people were digital buyers. That means around 25% of everyone on the planet shops online. With that many consumers on the web, it’s no surprise that criminals are flocking to the digital space, too. You can fight back against the hackers and frauds who may try to steal from you with a few precautions and common sense. Protect your wallet when shopping online by paying attention to the tips below:

Monitor Your Accounts

Proactively monitoring your financial accounts (such as bank and credit card statements) can help you catch errors and spot potential fraud at the first sign. To simplify this process, consider using a single credit card for all your online purchases. That way you will only have one statement to check instead of several. This practice has the added benefit of reminding you to stay on track with your budget, too.

PCB tip: Download our MobiMoney and SecurLOCK apps for complete control of your debit and credit cards. Turn them on and off with the click of a button. Learn more at SimplyGoodBanking.com.

Always Think Before You Click

To avoid infecting your computer or mobile device with malicious software, be cautious of clicking on a link to a deal or special savings on a social networking site or in an unsolicited email. Scammers will often disguise a social media post or email to make it seem as if it’s coming from a known retailer, but the link may take you to a fake site or infect your device. If you see a link that supposedly leads to a sale you want to take advantage of, visit the retailer’s website directly rather than clicking the link. From there you can verify if the sale is legitimate.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Online purchases require transmitting your credit card, bank account information, or other financial information over the internet. Using a public Wi-Fi connection to do so puts that sensitive information at risk. Hackers can tap into unsecured Wi-Fi connections at hotspots like coffee shops and airport terminals to capture it without you knowing. The new, more secure EMV chip cards do not protect against this kind of fraud. If you’re using a wireless connection to shop, be sure that it requires a password or WEP key. Also look for “https:” in the website address, rather than just “http:”, to be sure the website itself has security protections in place.

Be Proactive

Finally, take action if you hear about a data breach or other fraud that could affect your accounts by changing your passwords. This is especially critical if you use the same password on multiple accounts. If you notice suspicious charges on your credit card or transfers from your banking account, contact us right away. We can place a freeze on the account to prevent further fraud.