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Hills Bank and Trust Company

HBT Connect eNewsletter from Hills Bank and Trust Company

  HBT Connect  
Volume 2, Issue 2: March - April 2012  

  Protect Yourself Online

Identity theft is a serious crime that can cost you time, money, lost job opportunities, and destroy credit. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) an estimated 9 million American’s have their identities stolen each year. (source: ftc.gov)

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information like name, social security number, or financial account information which is gained online or through stealing your personal documents. Awareness is your best weapon against many forms of identity theft. Hills Bank wants to help you protect your good name by sharing ways to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your identity.

Don’t respond to emails requesting personal information.
Email is not a secure way to provide sensitive information like account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc. If you think a business legitimately needs your personal information, call them from the number in the phone book, and not from a number provided via email. As a reminder, Hills Bank will never email or call and ask for your personal information.

Use strong passwords.
Use a password that has a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters that would be difficult to guess. Remember to change your password frequently and never share your password with anyone. You should never store your password on your computer, but if you need to write it down, store it in a secure and private place.

Use WiFi connections with caution.
Wireless networks usually don’t provide the same level of security as a wired connection, especially in public places like airports and hotels, in order to make it easier to access the network. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it’s probably best to avoid checking financial account information through a WiFi connection.

Internet browser security.
Never allow browsers to remember your username and password. When finished, be sure to logout completely to terminate your online session. If you are using a computer other than your own, clear out the browser history and delete the temporary files and history after logging out of your accounts. You can double check https websites by verifying the padlock icon on the status bar to view the security ticket for the site. In the “Issued to” popup window, the name should match the site you think you are on. If it doesn’t match up, you could be on a spoofed site.

Social networking security.
Stay safe on social networking sites and never include anything that would expose you to thieves. This includes personal and business names, addresses, phone numbers, job titles, birth dates, schedule details, daily routines, and whether or not you are home or on vacation. Many times thieves have the answers to break into your financial accounts by clicking on the “Forgot Password” link because they can guess your mother’s maiden name, your hometown, high school mascot, etc.

Monitor your accounts.
Hills Bank makes it easy to monitor your accounts with online banking and mobile banking. You can even have alerts sent to you when there is activity in your account. Wouldn’t it be better to get a text message or email within minutes of a withdrawal on your account to ensure you actually made the transaction rather than waiting to discover fraud up to a month later on your account statement? You should also monitor your credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. In accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), you are allowed one free credit report per year. Take advantage of these services.

For more information on arming yourself with knowledge against ID theft, please visit hillsbank.com’s ID theft video. It’s a great resource that provides information on ID theft and how to prevent it, and what steps to take in case you become a victim.

  Revocable Living Trusts

Chances are you have heard someone mention revocable living trusts. Maybe you know someone who is using one. This can lead to a whole host of questions. What are they? Why do people use them? Is it right for me?

A “revocable living trust” is just what the name says it is. It is “revocable” in that it can be changed or revoked at any time by the grantor (person creating the trust) while the grantor is living and competent. It is “living” in the sense that it is established and funded while the grantor is alive. Often, the grantor names him or herself trustee during their lifetime with a “successor trustee” designated to act in the event of death or incapacity. The successor trustee can be an individual, a bank, or a combination of the two.

People utilize revocable trusts for a variety of reasons. Some use them for the greater privacy afforded at death. If all assets (except those passing by way of beneficiary designation) are held in trust, formal probate through the court system may not be required at the grantor’s death. As a result, a complete inventory of one’s assets at death does not become a matter of public record.

Others use revocable trusts for continuity of management. If the grantor becomes incapacitated, the successor trustee can generally step in and manage the trust assets without necessity of any court proceeding.

Revocable living trusts can also be helpful in situations where the grantor owns real estate in more than one state. In these situations, an ancillary probate proceeding in each state where land is situated can be avoided if the land is held in the name of the revocable trust.

Whether a revocable trust is right for you depends on a number of facts or circumstances unique to your situation. Before making a decision, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine the potential advantages and disadvantages in your particular situation.

For additional information and tools on estate planning, please visit our Financial Resource Center by going to hillsbank.com and clicking on the “Wealth Management” tab. Alternatively, you may contact one of our trust officers at our Forevergreen location in North Liberty at 319-338-1522, in Cedar Rapids at 319-654-8020, or toll-free at 1-800-899-8858.

Non-deposit investment products are not FDIC insured, carry no bank guarantee, and may lose value.


Are You Giving Your Uncle an Interest Free Loan?

Receiving a refund check from the IRS is like getting money you didn’t have to work for — the check just appears in your mailbox after you file your income-tax return. Perhaps you’ve come to think of it as your annual bonus from the government.

Here’s another way of looking at it: Receiving a refund means you overpaid your taxes and provided an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. That money could have been invested throughout the year to generate income. For example, suppose you’ve been receiving a $12,000 annual refund for the past 10 years. If you had invested that $1,000 a month in a fund earning 8% a year (compounded monthly), you would have about $183,000 after 10 years — $9,000 more than if you had invested your refund each year as a lump sum.

Remember, it’s up to you to change your withholding allowances or estimated tax payments as your tax circumstances change. If you get married, have children, or purchase a home, you may want to make an adjustment in your withholding to better reflect your particular situation. Simply ask your employer to change the amount you have withheld from your paycheck. And, if you pay quarterly estimated taxes, review your income and deductions annually to determine the appropriate amounts to pay.

For more information about tax planning or wealth management strategies designed for the different stages of your life, visit our financial resource center.


Celebrate Spring and Agriculture

This month Hills Bank is celebrating spring and our agricultural heritage by hatching baby chicks. The hatching of our chicks represents the anticipation of new life and all of the good things that agriculture production provides us. Life’s new beginnings each spring portray Mother Nature at her best.

The eggs are currently incubating and set to hatch the week of March 19th. Stop by your local Hills Bank location now to view a unique agriculture display and choose the numbered egg you predict will hatch first.
If yours is the first to hatch, you could be a LUCKY
prize winner!

Drawing will be held to select lucky winner. No purchase or
account required to enter or win. Need not be present to win.

Barnyard Day at Hills Bank

Hills Bank invites you and your family to Barnyard Day
at our Coralville, Cedar Rapids Blairs Ferry Road, and Mount Vernon locations on Saturday, March 24th
from 9:00 - 11:00 am
. You'll see many different
animals and maybe even pet a few!

North Liberty Forevergreen Open House

Please stop by our new North Liberty Forevergreen location (on the corner of Hwy 965 and Forevergreen Road) to see our new office and visit with our staff during our grand opening celebration April 16th-21st. The two-story location houses our Trust and Wealth Management Department* and also provides retail, commercial, and real estate services.

*Non-deposit investment products are not FDIC insured, carry no bank guarantee, and may lose value.

University of Iowa Locations

Hills Bank and Trust Company has been selected by the University of Iowa as the new campus financial services provider. This contract provides two campus bank locations – one at the Iowa Memorial Union,
which is now open, and one at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which opens on Tuesday,
March 20th.

In addition to the new offices, Hills Bank will provide
more than 20 ATMs on campus, which will be installed over the next several months.

Want $20 when you open a new Hills Bank
account? Get your $20 opening deposit coupon!
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