Blog & News

Unauthorized Debit Card Transaction?

shazam dispute

In our previous post we’ve laid out good practices for keeping your account information safe from fraud.   But, we understand that consumer fraud is still a risk that our customers could encounter.  With the growing complexity of consumer debit card fraud, we have partnered with SHAZAM to help provide us expertise on the process of quickly resolving customer fraud involving unauthorized charges.

We recommend to review your recent purchases often.  With our mobile banking app or online banking portal you can see those charges in real time.  When you notice a charge that is unauthorized:

Call 833 – 288 -1126 – Shazam Dispute Resolution Services (M-F, 8am to 5pm)

You can also call FNB Osakis at 320-859-2101 and we can help you initiate the case and take the proper procedures to cancel the card, order a new card, and help you get what you need.

How the dispute process works

As the primary cardholder, you’re responsible for filing a dispute and providing details about the transaction.  Once your call is received, SHAZAM will open a claim.

SHAZAM dispute representatives will begin an investigation.  Most claims are resolved within 5-10 business days.  If more time is needed to investigate the claim, we’ll apply a temporary credit to the account.  Estimated time frames will be provided at the time of your call.

As the dispute process continues you’ll be asked to provide supporting documents and signatures.

SHAZAM will contact you following the investigation with the final decision.

If you don’t recognize a transaction, it’s a good idea to check the following before filing a dispute:

  • Did another authorized person on your account (like a spouse or child) make this transaction?
  • Is this a purchase you made recently for future use, like travel plans?
  • Is this an annual or monthly payment, like a magazine subscriptions, you may have forgotten?
  • Did you make a charitable contribution?

When you report a dispute, the following information may be helpful to have on hand:

  • If applicable, the date you contacted the merchant along with the merchant’s response and name of the person your spoke to.
  • Tracking numbers, contracts, and/or service agreements, if applicable
  • Date you returned item(s) or cancelled service along with cancellation/confirmation numbers, if applicable.

By: First National Bank of Osakis

Keep Your Checking Account SAFE!

Scams and fraud have never been more threatening to your everyday life.  It is important to keep your main checking account void of any connections to higher-risk areas, such as debit cards, online shopping, or connections to 3rd party vendors such as Paypal, Venmo, etc.  With the more auto deposits, auto withdrawals and the amount of connections we run through our main checking account, if an incident of fraud occurs, it can be time-consuming and stressful to close accounts and reopen a new one.

Set up a separate checking account that you use for the higher-risk internet/debit card transactions, but only transfer the funds into the account necessary to make your transactions.  There is very little cost to having multiple accounts, and with mobile banking, it’s simple to transfer funds when needed.  Now, if there’s ever a worry that your account information has been compromised, peace of mind is as simple as closing that account and opening a new one. This leaves your main account—financial home base—still safe and free of the stress that comes changing that account and updating all the types of transactions we put through our main account.

Here are some tips to help keep fraud at bay.

  1. Look for the lock or HTTPS symbol when entering your payment information in any browser—this means the security certificate is in place to ensure secure transmission of information between the website and yourself. If a website does not have this level of encryption, it is not safe to submit your payment information.
  2. Always check for “skimmers” when using a debit card at the gas pump or ATM. These devices are normally fixed to the card swipe mechanism, tug on the plastic housing to make sure no device is sitting in it.  Check out these videos here and here
  3. Refrain from ever emailing or messaging account numbers to people or filling out forms and scanning and emailing them without first encrypting that email message or uploading into a secure, encrypted portal.
  4. Many scams involve someone giving something to you and requesting you deposit it and send them money. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  The fraudster ends up with funds, and you end up liable for the bad check.
  5. Another common scam is letting someone online maintenance your computer, and they will lock you out of it or steal your information, demanding ransom of some amount. If you need computer maintenance you’d be better off taking it to a person with a reputable business.  There are certainly many reasons you want to keep your computer’s security updates current, so take the time to learn from a friend, family member, or a reputable business on how to do that yourself.
  6. Purchase items from reputable websites of businesses you know, or can ask people you know, about. Many websites advertise very low prices as a front to scam you into stealing your payment information.  Many reviews on websites are also fraudulent can offer false confidence.

Finally, the most important form of defense from fraud is banking with people who know you.  Keeping your accounts in one place, and with a locally-owned and managed bank, allows closer attention and quicker action in those instances where your information may have been compromised.

By: First National Bank of Osakis

The Real Reason for Bank Consolidation

Increased compliance regulation is invading the customer relationship and exhausting locally-owned and managed community banks into consolidating at a historic rate.

Since 2010, the year major banking compliance regulation was passed in the form of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the United States has lost over 1,800 banks, and 94% of that consolidation has occurred among the smallest banks, less than $250 million in assets (FNB Osakis is $64.5 million in assets). I mentioned in my last post that consolidation in the community banking industry is especially troublesome for rural areas due to the loss of locally-owned and managed banks that play important roles in teaching personal finance, driving economic development and providing community leadership.  In this post, I’m going to show you why this consolidation is occurring.

Chart of Banks by Asset Size

Since the passing of Dodd Frank, there have been many studies attempting to absolve compliance regulation from increasing the pace of consolidation in the community banking industry.  As the leader of a small locally-owned and managed community bank, and a fifth generation banker, I can lay out the ways compliance regulation has impacted our business model and competition within our marketplace.  Data can tell you a lot of things, but it doesn’t capture the story, nor the frustration of generations of bankers whom feel the integrity of their business model is at stake.

The customer relationship is the core of the business model for locally-owned and managed community banks.  Investing in You is our mission at FNB Osakis—life-long, generation spanning relationships are what we’ve done for 115 years.  Embedded in those relationships are the accountability and trust that the compliance regulations are increasingly trying to coerce within the growing, larger banks.  This compliance regulation is invading our customer banking relationships with an assumption that locally-owned and managed community banks need the same policing as large banks and credit unions, and doing so with disproportionate costs to both the banks and its customers.


My grandfather, Newman Olson, Jr, and current Chairman of our Board of Directors, used to tell stories of how simple banking was; loans were promises documented by a single piece of paper.  Geographically speaking, the local bank was the only place to keep your money.

Enter technology.  With the ability access bank accounts online, comes more choices for the consumer.  Mobile banking and the Automated Clearing House allows funds to be deposited without ever having to walk into a bank.  Debit cards and ATMs allow people to get cash nearly anywhere.  Absolutely great convenience, giving people a branch of their Bank in their pocket.

As technology evolves, new customers can nearly do anything without ever physically entering a branch of their Bank.  This type of relationship brought a need for compliance laws and other banking regulations that ensured that Banks were collecting the information necessary to “know their customers,” as well as communicate via disclosures information that is common sense, such as the costs of a mortgage, the fees associated with an account, etc.  These are all conversations that happen daily at the First National Bank of Osakis, and I’m sure many other locally-owned and managed community banks.

In order to adhere to the regulations set forth by Federal and State laws, Banks are required to heap mountains of paper on each customer. We are required to spend staff time and knowledge keeping pace with constantly-changing laws.  We are required to purchase expensive legal software to draft agreements for their loans and deposit accounts that even the Bank officers would admit are complicated to understand.  We are required to hire expensive consultants for independent audits to verify we do, in fact, know our customers and treat them honestly.

Compliance Costs Graphic

Compliance Costs Graphic

Unfortunately the costs are disproportionately expensive.  The largest banks in asset size are more than 1,200 times bigger than your average locally-owned and managed community bank. This allows them to spread their costs among hundreds of thousands of customers.  Additionally, locally-owned and managed banks have to compete with the proprietary technology these large banks can develop at fraction of the cost that a locally owned and managed bank has to pay 3rd party vendors to provide.  Even more expensive, because of a reliance on 3rd party vendors, locally-owned and managed banks must spend additional time and expense proving to our regulators that we have vetted these vendors and understand the complicated legal contracts we must negotiate to keep our customers’ data safe.

The combination of increased liability, assumed distrust, and tiresome transparency required by regulators is forcing locally owned and managed community banks to sell.  And they are selling and merging at pace that could mean half as many community banks of less than $250 million by the year 2028.

During the last economic recession, we learned why having Too Big To Fail Banks puts too much of our livelihoods at stake.  Whole communities are potentially at risk because their wealth is controlled miles away from them by people with no regard to the impact their decisions have on future of those communities.

Bankable Assets Pie Charts

Dodd Frank and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was the regulatory reaction to Too Big To Fail Banks.  Since enacting this regulation, the problem of Too Big To Fail has only increased.  In 2008, when the Large Banks received their bailout funds, they held 78.2% of the bankable assets in the United States.  As of 2017, the top 125 of Banks in the United State have 82.8% of those assets, with the smallest 5,000 banks having 7.2% of the assets.

The compliance regulation and capital requirements were well-intentioned, but the inclusion of locally owned and managed community banks to the very onerous requirements set forth only added another disproportionate expense. Locally-owned and managed community banks had only two options, comply and accept the costs or drop the product completely and focus on niche areas, becoming less diversified and more susceptible to future sector-driven economic shocks.  Although, its truly a no-win situation, as with more niche areas comes regulation requirements due to higher “concentrations.”

Most importantly, movement toward only niche areas is especially problematic in rural areas that require financial institutions to be “jack of all trades” in order to have healthy economic growth in their communities. The relationship a customer has with their bank and their community is the key to communities sustaining generations of economic cycles.  I can only speak about the boardroom of our Bank.  We do not want to be limiting our product offerings.  It’s not good for our community and it is not good for our customers.  Unfortunately, it appears to be happening in other boardrooms, as the trends are showing that small community banks are getting pushed out of the consumer/retail lending markets that made up over 36% of their loan portfolios in 2010 is down to 28% in 2017.

Whether intentional or not, the failure for our leaders to acknowledge the unique qualities  that make locally-owned and managed community banks self-regulated in its areas of compliance is contributing to their unprecedented consolidation and needs to be corrected as soon as possible with regulatory relief targeted specifically at locally-owned and managed community banks.

There’s only two ways to stop consolidation in the community banking industry—having customers that care about their banking relationship, and regulation that acknowledges locally-owned and managed community banks are, and have always been, acting with their customers best interests in mind.

I’m asking you to contact your legislators  ASAP, point them to this post and demand that they exempt the good guys, locally-owned and managed community banks, from costly, intrusive, and redundant compliance regulations.  They are considering regulatory relief legislation at this moment.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it here again: where you bank matters.

I ask you to continue to vote with your money and invest it in a locally-owned and managed community bank.

By: Justin Dahlheimer, President/CEO

Banking Local Matters

Entering 2018, the 115th year of the First National Bank of Osakis’ existence, it is important to reflect on the vital role locally-owned and managed community banks play in personal finance, economic development, and community leadership for their small communities.

Year after year, we read articles (such as this recent one in the WSJ) narrating the consolidation of the community banking industry.  Not wholly different than consolidations in the other sectors of the economy; selling out to larger ownership, operating farther away from its customers, where important decisions to communities are narrowed down to what can be quantified by projections used to excite shareholders, while operating at the margin where consumer trust is often abused.

“Of America’s 1,980 rural counties, 625 don’t have a locally owned community bank—double the number in 1994, federal data show. At least 35 counties have no bank, while about 115 are now served by just one branch.”

Based on the data in the charts below, this consolidation is especially bad for rural communities.  Big banks are less interested in making the investments needed to help rural areas thrive, but they want your money.  They are less interested in helping you learn the financial skills necessary to avoid their punitive fees, but they want your accounts.  They are less accountable with the tremendously important personal data you entrust them with, but they want your relationship.

Wall Street Journal Chart Decline Rural Banks

Wall Street Journal Chart Decline in Rural Lending

Additionally, our locally-owned and managed community banks face pressure from Credit Unions entering areas of business they have no historical experience in (Agriculture, Commercial, Small Business), serving populations with no common bond other than the air they breathe, and doing it with tax advantages that Banks don’t receive.  All while the wealth from those communities is sent off to corporate headquarters.

Banks Vs Credit Unions graphic

Is this good for customers?  Maybe the same way buying a dozen eggs for 10 cents cheaper from Wal-Mart is.  Potentially a win at the check-out line, but a loss for the all the other areas that contribute to personal and community wealth.

Fortunately, all trends can change.  Where you invest your money matters.  At the First National Bank of Osakis we are committed to earning your trust and your business through investing in you.  Whether that’s with our emphasis in the personal financial education our children need to be learning, the support our community needs to thrive, or in products that provide convenience you can trust that is backed by people you know.

If you aren’t banking local, ask yourself “why don’t I bank with a locally-owned and managed community bank.”   We would be happy to hear the answers to that question, have an opportunity to show you what we have to offer, and discuss our future plans for products our customers want and need.

In 2018, we will continue to show our customers that they can, and should, expect more from their Bank.  And if they do, it can make all the difference in the community they live, grew up in, or just enjoy spending time.

By: Justin Dahlheimer, President/CEO

MUST READ! – Equifax Data Breach

equifax data breach

During the week of September 4th, 2017, Equifax (one of the three common credit bureaus that report consumer credit) was breached, subjecting, reportedly, 143 million peoples’ personal information.  We are suggesting our customers take the following precautions with their credit profiles.

According to the company’s press release

“(t)he information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers.”

Unfortunately, hackers possessing this type of information could apply for fraudulent loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.  If the fraudster has this type of information, financial institutions that take online, mobile, or web-based loan applications, or don’t have long-term relationships with their customers cannot easily distinguish you from someone pretending to be you.

If an unknown credit application is submitted, you could be at risk of the lowering of your credit score, as well as companies seeking collection of debts that were opened with your information.  We cannot stress enough the importance of working with institutions that know you.  Credit decisions at FNB Osakis do include consideration of your credit score, but it is just one piece of the application.  With a long-term relationship that includes your main deposit account, we are able to underwrite your credit based on your true cash flow and credit performance with FNB Osakis and place you in the best lending product for your needs.

What Should Our Customers Do?

We are strongly recommending our customers to do the following (and please, if you have concerns contact FNB Osakis, and we will do our best to help you):

1. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.coman online service Equifax has set up, to check if personal information has been compromised.

2. A number of experts also advise consumers to place a credit freeze on their credit reports, if they believe they are at risk of identity theft. Based on Equifax’s disclosure, it’s reasonable to assume that the risk is high.

Should you choose to freeze your credit, do know that if you are in the process of selling/buying a home, a new car, or opening up new credit accounts, this will make those processes more involved and you will have to communicate with your lenders the reason you chose to freeze your credit.

To learn more about the credit freeze process, follow these links from the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission. Minnesota state law requires a $5 fee for each credit freeze. Consumers may contact the credit reporting agencies as follows:

Experian Security Freeze
(888) 397-3742

Equifax Security Freeze

(800) 685-1111

TransUnion Security Freeze

(800) 680-7289

3. Monitor accounts closely and frequently. By viewing accounts online and checking throughout the month, customers will be able to identify possible problems sooner.

4. Review credit reports every three or four months. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus per year. They can request a single report from one of the bureaus every three or four months. By staggering these requests, consumers will be able to monitor credit throughout the year. 

By: First National Bank of Osakis

FNB Osakis Featured on Podcast for Insight on Community Banking

FNB Osakis President, Justin Dahlheimer, was recently featured on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’ podcast, Building Local Power.  Dahlheimer discussed the many benefits, challenges, and opportunities for local community banks.   Here’s a quote from that interview:

“We’ve got a stake in every customer’s personal financial livelihood. It should be that way. It’s embedded transparency. It’s accountability,” says Justin Dahlheimer of the relationship community banks have with the people that they serve. “We want to weather the community risk and be able to charge off loans, not come back after customers and ruin financial lives and move on to the next thing… [We want to] work together and leverage dollars to bring more wealth into the community versus just recirculating or poaching wealth from other banks. We want to create that wealth.”


You can find the transcript of the interview here.


By: First National Bank of Osakis

House Hunting? What you COULD afford vs. What you SHOULD budget for

house buying budgeting

Congratulations!  You’re in the hunt for a home – which for most people is one of the first, and often the largest, long-term investments they will make in their financial future.  When the market is heating up, the pressure to make your decision and act quickly can get ahead of the prudent budgeting and planning necessary to make a rewarding decision.  We’d like to take you through the process you ought to be following before you decide to put pen to paper on your Purchase Agreement and eventually your first mortgage.

Traditionally, a home that is kept up and improved with some constant sweat equity, will increase in value over time, which can turn out to be a great vehicle for building your net worth.  One could argue that building equity, combined with mortgage interest tax deductions makes home ownership a necessary milestone in sound personal finance.

It’s important to purchase the right home for you and/or your family, and that takes some planning.  Building on another one of our blog posts where we introduced a new way to look at savings a developing a budget, creating a budget for your home is a bit more involved.  The average person lives in their home for 13 years before they move.  A person in their 20’s can have quite a few different life events happen that would affect their future budget; marriage, children, student loan payments, job transitions or planning for retirement savings.  So, you MUST budget room for life to happen when you consider buying a home.  It may not even be life events to budget for, it may be savings goals (automobile purchases, vacations, etc.), or making improvements throughout your home (home ownership requires continual maintenance to preserve home value).  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a useful worksheet to help budget for those future expenses and goals.

Without factoring in those future goals, you may find yourself making an offer on the top end of what you’re preapproved for, often set at what you can presently afford, and find yourself “house poor” in the not-to-distant future.  What that means is that you can afford the home you’re in, but being inflexible with funds for life events will more than likely have a negative impact on your monthly cash flow.  Most conventional mortgage products have a requirement to not exceed 43% of your gross income with debt obligations.  Putting yourself at that maximum without including future savings may prevent your ability to cover unexpected events.  See the example below differences you’ll see one what you could buy versus what you should buy.

Pros and Cons List on Monthly House Payment

In this example, you’ll see that the home that they should to shop for is quite a bit different than what they could be shopping for.  The income and current expenses are the exact same for both examples, but folks going down the could route and maximize the amount of mortgage they can withstand for their income may have difficulty putting money away for retirement or vacation.  The folks following the should route still become homeowners and gain the benefit of building equity, but they also have room to put away $850 per month into savings!

Buying into what you could buy into may hinder your opportunity to grow your financial wellbeing down the road.  This graphic illustrates the importance of building a long-term budget to match up with your long-term investment.  In doing so, you’ll have a better grasp on deciding on a good home price that will compliment both your own and your family’s current lifestyle, while leaving room for growth in the years to come.

All that said, if you are beginning your search for a new home, make your first stop here, at the First National Bank of Osakis.  We have numerous products, and will take the time to understand your goals combined with your budget to help you make the best decision possible.

By: First National Bank of Osakis

Paying Yourself First

retired couple

Whether you are one of the people that are taking actions to create financial stability or not, there is a habit that everyone can benefit from—paying yourself first.  It’s common for people to pay for their expenses (fixed, variable and living), and put into savings what’s leftover, which is paying yourself last.

The idea of paying yourself first is to take money you receive from paychecks, gifts, selling items, etc., and immediately putting a portion of that into a savings account and working with what’s left to cover your expenses.  Moving that savings transaction to the front of the line ensures that the maximum amount to save is achieved each month, and reduces your chances to spend those funds on frivolous items that aren’t really necessary.

Now, we’re not looking to downplay the importance of taking care of your expenses, as that is still very important, but taking care of your own financial health is the first step to take in reducing or preventing those expenses you have each month.  Paying yourself first is an excellent way to help you achieve that freedom.

How much you decide to save is different with each person or couple.  Sitting down and creating a budget is a great way to determine the amount that you can tuck away has a great one to use


Plug in your monthly income, monthly expenses, and look to see what you project to have available for savings.  Build into your budget some flexibility for planning for items that may not be needed monthly (house maintenance, auto maintenance, etc) but would be nice to have reserves set up in the event a large bill is incurred.  It’s also good to give yourself and allowance for some fun items.  This can often be a very fluid exercise, evaluating your projected budget for the month and how things went for the previous month, adjusting items to the appropriate levels or trying to reduce expenses that seem high.

There are a couple different ways to get yourself into the habit of paying yourself first, but the easiest way to do so is to make it automated.  Many employers are able to put a certain amount of each paycheck directly into a savings account for you.  This “out of sight, out of mind” method makes the transition to paying yourself first much easier to accomplish.

If your employer does not offer that feature, or you prefer managing the transfers yourself, we at the First National Bank of Osakis can help you get into the habit of paying yourself first.  Our online banking website has features that allow you to customize your savings contributions, transferring funds to the appropriate accounts (checking, savings), and do so automatically.

You may also find it useful to have your paycheck direct deposited into a main savings account, only to transfer out the funds necessary to a checking account to pay your bills, appropriate to specific savings accounts (such as Health Savings Accounts), and put away for retirement (Individual Retirement Accounts).  This will protect your main account from fraud, as you won’t have a debit card attached to it, and allows what remains in the account to be paid interest and be your growing emergency fund.

If you’re curious what paying yourself first will do for your account, our section of financial tools has a savings calculator to help you calculate the future value of your savings routine.

Implementing this habit can help your future self reach the financial goals you’re striving for now, whether it’s to establish an emergency fund, take an island vacation or have a down payment available for a home.  Right now is the right time to start this habit, whether it’s setting up a budget (and sticking to it!) to determine what you can save or talking with your employer to setup the next check to have money set aside for you so you don’t have to.  Paying yourself first puts you in a higher chance of making that topic of money become one that can be fruitful and exciting, instead of tense and stressful.

By: First National Bank of Osakis

Credit Scores Demystified

man using credit card

You probably hear credit scores mentioned routinely in the news or on commercials, but have they ever been properly explained?  Most often, by the time you’ll understand what a credit score is, and why it should be important to you, you might have already made decisions that lower your score.  The focus of this post is to explain credit scores, how your decisions impact them, and why you should care about them.

The simplest definition of what a credit score is: a number (more formally called a FICO score) that summarizes your credit risk based on your financial behaviors.  These behaviors include: the types of loans you have, how much outstanding debt you have, how much available credit you have, and how often you make your payments.

Why have credit scores become so important?  Well, frankly, because many banks and lending institutions have become so big they know very little about their customers, nor do they find it cost effective to initially assess their customers’ lending risk.  The largest banks have policies in place that approve or deny loans solely based on your credit score.

Where can you see your credit score? is a website created by the three credit reporting bureaus to provide consumers with a free annual credit report in accordance with Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Instead of pulling a credit report with scores from all three credit reporting bureaus, we advise that every 4 months you pull a report from one of the three bureaus, allowing you to look at your credit report on a more current and constant interval.  If you pull a report with scores from all three bureaus at the same time, you won’t be able to pull another free credit report for 12 months.

What’s a good or bad credit score?  There are three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.  The scores reported by each bureau will vary by 10-50 points or so due to the formulas the different bureaus use.  Credit scores range from 300-900, with the majority of people between in the 600-800 range.  Scores of 700+ are excellent, 650-699 are good, and 620-650 are OK.  Consumers with scores below 620 will have difficulty getting loans and credit with reasonably favorable terms.

In 2009, the national average FICO score (for all intents and purposes, the credit score) was 692. In Minnesota, the average score is 707.

What types of decisions can impact your credit score?  The following are the five main components of your credit score: Types of credit in use, amount of new credit, Length of credit history, amounts owed, and payment history.  The graphic below shows the relative importance of each component.

How can you improve your credit score?  Check out this article for a more detailed version of the summarized advice listed below

Pay more than the minimum – length of repayment matters to the credit reporting bureaus, and you’ll have a much shorter repayment period if you make more than the minimum payment each month.

Negotiate – working out a plan with your lenders is much better than letting a sour situation go worse.  Most lenders would rather make it easier for you to repay than let you default, and making good on a restructure shows that you have your finances in order.

Switch to debit cards – you can still swipe plastic, but you aren’t adding to your debt pool.  Debit cards deduct from your checking account and allow you to live within your means.  You run the risk of swelling your debt by using your credit cards to purchase everyday expenses, such as food or gas.

Get rid of those store charge cards – You know what I’m talking about, every time you are at a chain store they ask “would you like to open a X account and save X%?”.  Just say NO!  Fewer cards equals less debt, and a lower propensity to use debt.  You may save that X% initially, but you’ll make up for it the second you miss a payment on that card

Contact the credit reporting bureau – if you see errors on your credit report, get them fixed!  There is a place for comments on your credit report, all you have to do is call the credit reporting bureau’s phone number listed on the credit report and notify them of any errors.

How can you damage your credit score? Check out this article for a detailed description of the summarized advice listed below.

Late payments – the biggest factor is missing, or simply not paying, your debt on time.  You’d be surprised just how much your score is impacted by being late on something as trivial as cell-phone bill.

High balances on credit cards – a high amount of debt on your credit cards is a sign of financial weakness to the credit bureaus.  Ina perfect world, you’d pay your credit cards off every month.  Keep your credit card balances as low as possible.

Lots of applications – your credit score will go down for every time your credit report is pulled.  To avoid this, you shouldn’t apply for credit too often.  Or in the case you are car shopping, do all your shopping on the same day, because that’s only one hit on your credit report.

Having the majority of your credit be the same type – especially if it is credit or charge card debt, because it shows a reliance on higher-interest, higher risk-related credit to finance your living expenses.

At the First National Bank of Osakis, we like to stress that the credit score is only a component of your financial history.  Customers are people, not numbers, and the dialogue accompanying your financial history is just as , if not more, important than the score itself.  However, we like to stress to our customers the importance of keeping an eye on your credit score because of its implication in other aspects of  their lives, such as getting insurance (higher or lower rates), your tv/internet/phone rates (some companies require deposits if your score is too low), and qualifying for student loans.  In addition, it’s never too early to explain to your children, siblings, or friends the importance of their credit score.

So, get your free credit report once every 4 months and contact the credit reporting bureau for any errors.  While we at FNB do not attach numbers to faces, we feel obligated to help those in the community understand their importance so they can make informed financial decisions.  For more information on credit scores, I encourage everyone to read through this 20-page brochure put out by FICO, the company that actually calculates your credit score.

As an aside, our hope is for this blog to continue to explain financial concepts, programs, regulations, and practices to the community.  PLEASE feel free to leave any questions or requests for topics to cover in the comments.

By: First National Bank of Osakis

Investing in YOU

investing in you

At the beginning of 2016 we decided to brand our Bank’s mission as “Investing in YOU.”  For decades we have been committed to giving consistently great customer service, or as former President and current Board of Director Bruce Pederson would always say “We do community banking, and we do it well.”  With services moving more and more to the online environment, while good for convenience, takes the focus away from the “community” part of community banking.  We feel empowered to re-communicate what community banking is—or should be.  We settled on three words, “Investing in YOU.”

We believe that your banking relationship is one of the most important investments you can make in your financial future.  The relationship you have with your bank should be lifelong.  From teaching you proper, prudent, financial literacy lessons as a young person, to helping you build credit and establishing a career as a young adult. Through helping you navigate the critical financial years of your early 20s to mid 40s while you build a family and mature into a career.  And to, finally, setting up retirement and protecting all that your hard work has earned, your Bank should be right there with you.  Not selling you products or services, but providing you what you need, when you need it.  Investing in a relationship that spans time and generations.  That’s our mission.

Over the past decade, the large banks are training future customers into viewing shopping for banking services as a commodity-style relationship.  They want you to treat the decision to buy a house or open a checking account the same as buying eggs or milk.  They want you to look at the price they decide is important for that transaction.  Those who have been to loan closings, or received checking statements know that the price they sell and the price you pay can be very different things.   Financing costs, fees, time, hassle, stress are all components of the transaction that often aren’t marketed upfront.  You shouldn’t have to read the fine print to get down to a basic understanding of the relationship you are about to enter.  That’s not the relationship you should expect from your bank.

FNB Osakis is investing in you.  We are putting our knowledge, products, and passions into helping you navigate your financial life.  Will we always have the cheapest prices, lowest loan rates, or highest deposit rates?  Probably not.  But we are committed to establishing an honest, life-long relationship, where we earn your trust and you have ours.  We aspire to be the financial home that helps you make good decisions, whether that’s with our products or not.

But it starts with you investing in you.  The choice to invest your money in our institution is an investment in yourself.  Whether directly, through the convenience of our products and the honesty of our guidance, or indirectly through our investment of volunteer time, loans, and donations in the Osakis community, an investment in FNB Osakis will yield a lifetime of returns.

Best of all, with the investments we’ve made in our digital environment, you can always bank with people you know, anywhere you go.

By: Justin Dahlheimer, President/CEO