During the past few years as the U.S. economy slowly recovered from the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve used its economic policy-making influence to keep its target interest rate low – near zero since about 2009 – to help the delicate economy reboot and start the long process of recovery and growth.
Today, with most indicators showing an improved economy, the Fed announced it would raise short-term interest rates in support of growing confidence. In its November policy meeting, the Fed didn’t raise interest rates but left the door open to do so in December, which it did, based on the new economic data.
There are pros and cons associated with the Fed’s policy to begin raising interest rates. With low interest rates, consumers pay less to finance higher-priced items paid over longer periods of times such as homes and autos. The biggest con is found in savings accounts, where the low interest rates make little to no dent in returns creating little incentive to save.
With the Fed announcement, saving will become more advantageous to consumers with the added benefit of knowing the economy is improving. The cost of financing homes and autos will increase though with the higher interest rates.
Now may be a good time for consumers to consider refinancing their mortgages or other loans at low interest rates before they rise.
Many young kids will find one small piece of joy this Christmas with a teddy bear given to them at care centers throughout Utah serving at-risk children. The teddy bears are donated to the care centers from branches of Bank of American Fork and Lewiston State Bank as part of Project Teddy Bear.
“Sometimes children come in with nothing but the clothes on their back,” said Alex Essig, Kids Place asst., and Adoption Respite Supervisor for The Family Place. “These teddy bears are a great way to offer them some comfort and safety when they come from an environment where that might not have happened.”
The 16th annual Project Teddy Bear brought in 18,831 stuffed animals during the 2015 holiday season. Richard Beard, president and CEO of People’s Utah Bancorp, holding company of People’s Intermountain Bank, which provides banking services through the branches of its Bank of American Fork and Lewiston State Bank divisions, presented the stuffed animals to several Utah treatment centers during a ceremony Thursday.
“When it comes to kids, there is nothing more important to us than to do what we can to help them find joy and happiness during this holiday time,” said Beard. “We are a community bank and all of the members of the various communities our branches serve are very important to us. In addition to our day-to-day business operations, we want to do all we can to serve.”
The staff at The Family Place in Logan, Utah provides counseling, education classes for parents and children, and provides the Kids Place. Kids Place helps families that are in an emergency situation and need a safe place to bring their children when no other option is available. It also allows parents to bring their children to a safe place to socialize with other children and for other reasons.
“Depending on the child, they may be coming in not knowing why or what’s happened, or may be upset,” said Essig. “The teddy bear we receive from Lewiston State Bank is a great way to calm the child down and gives them something to talk with when they might not feel like talking to an adult. It’s so amazing to see. Even though they just met the teddy bear, that teddy bear quickly becomes their best friend.”
The mountains of stuffed animals were donated by customers and community members, and will benefit abused, at-risk and traumatized children. Children will receive the stuffed animals when they’re experiencing trauma or will use them in play therapy.
The Greenhouse Center for Growth and Learning in Pleasant Grove, Utah works with parents and children who need counseling and therapy. Many of the children they work with live in foster homes awaiting adoption. Some have issues with attachment or have to deal with other complex issues.
“When children come here they have usually experienced trauma such as abuse, neglect, broken families or other situations,” said Elsebeth Green, co-owner, clinical director, and therapist at Greenhouse. “Bank of American brings us these stuffed animals, which is a real blessing for us because we give each child a gift on their very first visit. They have often lost everything. They go to our closet and pick out a teddy bear, stuffed animal or a quilt made by people from the community.”
Bailey’s Moving & Storage, who donated boxes, moving supplies, trucks, and labor to Project Teddy Bear, delivered the stuffed animals to the Utah crisis centers.
Including children, teenagers, and adults, the community has donated more than 110,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals since Project Teddy Bear began in 1999.
Bank of American Fork employees and American Fork High School students boxed up the 18,431 bears up for delivery to the centers by Bailey’s Moving & Storage drivers. In Logan, Lewiston State Bank employees boxed up the 400 new stuffed animals to go to Cache Valley centers.
Center employees received and sorted the stuffed animals, which will be given throughout the year to children and parents during therapy sessions and to take home.
Guest post by Amy Falke
Numbered below are the Forbes tips, followed up with how MyRate Checking compares.
1. No monthly fee – MyRate Checking has no monthly fees.
2. No minimum balance requirement – MyRate Checking has no minimum balance requirement.
3. No limitations on the number or method of transactions – Done.
4. Free ATM access – Our customers have access to the nation-wide MoneyPass® network. Those that meet MyRate Checking qualifications have up to $15/month in out-of-network ATM-fees reimbursed.
5. Online and mobile access – Our mobile apps are superior, our bill pay system just underwent a powerful upgrade and mobile check deposit is free for consumer accounts.
1. Federal deposit insurance – Member FDIC? Sure thing.
2. Liquidity – All the convenience of a checking account, but a better interest rate than most savings accounts when qualifications are met.
3. A competitive interest rate – The Forbes article said anything higher than .70% is competitive. MyRate Checking is currently at 1.60% APY* on the first $25,000 (more than double this competitive rate) when monthly qualifications are met. When qualifications are not met, the APY is still .10% for that month, which is the APY our other interest-bearing accounts offer currently. MyRate Checking is designed to maintain a rate higher than most CDs. See ad below for details.
4. Online and mobile access – Our recent mobile upgrade has powerful and free tools like mobile check deposit and bill pay.
5. Sub accounts – A MyRate Checking account works well with other Bank of American Fork checking or savings accounts. See this article about automating your savings.
If you want to look at the Forbes article in its entirety, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/06/30/how-to-choose-a-bank-account-10-things-to-look-for/ . Forbes will redirect you to its current home page if you click on links to its specific articles.
Have you heard the story of how we came to be so involved in helping to protect our senior customers, and other seniors nationwide, from fraud? We became involved, in part, because of a girl who wanted to help her grandma. It became much more and we’re grateful to help other banks and organizations learn how to protect seniors from financial abuse.
There’s something you can do to help protect yourself or your loved ones. Start by learning a little more about elder financial abuse here.
Project Teddy Bear started on Friday. Are you participating?
Click to enlarge graphic.
You hear us talking about Project Teddy Bear every year, but now you know where the bears go and why this project is critical to Utah children.
We’re excited for Small Business Saturday this week!
Cyber Monday deals have already started and some of you might be prepping for early wake-up calls on Friday, but have you gotten into the spirit of Small Business Saturday yet? Small Business Saturday is on Saturday, November 28 this year and the idea is to do some of your holiday shopping at small or local businesses.
The difference that Small Business Saturday can make in our communities is great. Shopping at local businesses keeps money and growth in our local economy.
The American Bankers Association reports that last year, there were 88 million consumers “Shopping Small” on Saturday. ABA’s research shows more than 77 percent of consumers said Small Business Saturday inspires them to “Shop Small” through the year and not just for the holidays. In addition, 66% of consumers state the main reason they support small businesses is because of their contributions to the community.
If you commit to doing some of your holiday shopping at local businesses, you’ll build wealth in your community and you might find that you’ve been missing out on great vendors, products and services offered by your neighbors and friends.
Ways you might be infringing on copyrights and how you can avoid it
Guest post by John Rees, Attorney, Callister Nebeker & McCullough
Under federal copyright law, anyone who willfully infringes a copyright in certain ways will be subject to criminal penalties, including prison for several years. That’s a remedy to be taken seriously. It’s probably not likely that the average consumer or employee will be criminally prosecuted, but there are criminal remedies available. Since copyright infringement may be a crime, if I read a Dilbert® cartoon, really like it, and forward it by email to a friend, is there a chance I will be sent to prison?
What works are copyrighted? The definition is very broad and essentially covers anything that is original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression, which includes digital storage. This includes blog posts, newspaper and magazine articles, images on websites, presentations, memoranda, and educational literature. The list is very long. Usually the issue with copyright rests not with whether the work was original and therefore copyrighted, but instead whether the person in question of copyright infringement had the right to do what he or she did with the work.
Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is used, copied, distributed, revised, or publicly displayed without the consent of the author or creator of the work. Using the Dilbert® cartoon as an example, infringement includes making a photocopy of the cartoon, scanning the cartoon and saving it in a Dropbox® folder, sending the cartoon to a friend by email, or using the cartoon in a PowerPoint presentation to a chamber of commerce. Infringement also occurs when a presentation is copied and distributed internally in a business or an email is sent to a group in an organization to promote a strategic goal, but includes an image created by someone else.
The act of making a copy or sending a work by email is not really dependent on the audience. An internal email or interoffice copy is just as infringing as blasting a post with infringing material to thousands of subscribers to a news service. It should be noted, however, that the original comic may be delivered to someone in its original form, so long as a copy is not made and delivered.
There are a few considerations for assessing the risk of potential infringement. Sending an internal email of a Dilbert® cartoon is not likely to generate actual damages. If Scott Adams, as the creator, gets really upset, it’s possible he could seek an injunction against any future infringement, but it’s not likely there would be any actual damages. However, Scott would have a right to claim statutory damages. These are damages awarded for situations like this where the actual damages are nominal at best, but the law wants to provide a remedy to the copyright owner. Statutory damage awards may be as high as $30,000 for infringement of the work, but if the infringement is found to be willful, the award may be as high as $150,000. Statutory damages are intended to make us think twice before engaging in any potentially infringing activity.
Infringement does not occur if the person engaging in the copying or other activity has consent, permission, or an express license to copy, distribute, or otherwise use the work in a way that might otherwise be infringing. Usually professionally published works, and often websites, provide an easy way to request permission to use a work. This is not to suggest that the author may not want a royalty, or impose limitations on the work, but this is certainly the safest way to use a copyrighted work. The reason there is so much copying and distribution in the social media world is that the terms and conditions of the social media providers require licenses and rights to allow the distribution, copying, and other use of content posted on the social media sites.
Finally, there is fair use. Unfortunately, fair use does not mean copying anytime there is not a profit involved, or if there is less than 20 percent of a music composition involved. There are no bright line tests. In fact, the test is difficult to implement, and unless a work is being used by a nonprofit institution for teaching or critical analysis, or something very similar, be wary of claiming fair use. Typically fair use is raised after the infringement claim is made, not when someone is considering using a work of someone. If someone is prepared to take the time to do the analysis and take the risk of coming under the fair use umbrella, the person or business would be well advised to use the time and effort getting consent or a license from the author. In most situations, invoking fair use prospectively is risky.
Making decisions on the use of an original work created by another can be tricky. It’s easy to conclude that sending funny stories, posting newspaper clips, and forwarding cool content from a website does not constitute infringement, because we seldom, if ever, hear of anyone being sued for infringement. But this is one case where having the masses engage in the behavior does not provide legal comfort. It may mean that the risk of being sued is not real high, but it does not make the activity legal. It simply means the law is not always being enforced.
John Rees is a business lawyer with the law firm of Callister Nebeker & McCullough who helps clients find solutions to their business legal needs, particularly in a complex legal and business environment. He focuses on corporate and intellectual property issues, particularly relating to licensing and doing business on the internet.
This year will be Bank of American Fork’s 16th Annual Project Teddy Bear. Every year, we are overwhelmed by your support. This project never gets old for us. Since the project was started by Sandy Dubois in 2000, you have helped us help 91,422 children in Utah who needed a stuffed animal to hold. Stuffed animals are donated to local care centers, who give bears to children for play therapy or to children taken from their homes without any of their belongings. Here’s an inspiring video about where the bears go—it’s the story of one child and the tiger he received, narrated by one of the care center directors.
Every year we hope our care centers will call and say there’s no need for the bears—that all of Utah’s children are being taken care of and none are victims of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so Bank of American Fork seeks the community’s help in increasing the number of donations every year.
This year we want to collect 20,000 bears. We were so close last year! With families like the Madsens collecting more than 1,000 bears alone last year and schools like Spanish Fork High School supporting the drive for nine years in a row, we know we can do it. This year, if we reach our goals, we’ll also have helped more than 100,000 Utah children.
There is something you can do.
Project Teddy Bear will start its 16th annual collection beginning November 19. Drop off a new or clean, gently-used stuffed animal or teddy bear at any of our 14 branch locations. Each stuffed animal you donate makes a difference for one of Utah’s children. We know you care about the children in your communities, so talk to us at www.facebook.com/BankAF or @bankaf to find out how else you can be involved.
Heidi and her three brothers decided to gift their mom with a spa package for her birthday. As the only one who had ever visited a spa, Heidi was charged with figuring out the details of the gift. Heidi found a nice spa near where her mom lived, chose a package and sent Casey, the brother living in that area, to pick up the gift certificate.
The hard part was yet to come: Getting the money from the siblings going in on the gift. Can you relate? Despite that fact that we all know what it’s like to be in this position, no one enjoys that line between reminding and nagging.
Heidi lived near most of her siblings so she collected the money and offered to send it to Casey (since none of them kept checks on hand anymore). One brother lived down the street so that was easy. Heidi had a trip planned to visit another brother that week, so she send a text to the brother with the amount and he was ready with money when she came. She deposited the money from both brothers into her account. Then, Heidi set up a person-to-person payment from her Bank of American Fork account and was able to quickly send a payment to Casey, without a fee.
Heidi has used PayPal® before, mailed checks, had her bank mail a check from the old bill pay system, given cash in person, made an electronic payment from an account at another bank from their person-to-person system, and more, but a person-to-person payment on the new system at Bank of American Fork was the easiest—and cheapest—for her to use.
To use it, log in to your online banking. Select the “bill pay” tab and choose “add a payee” if you haven’t paid this recipient before. Then, select “pay an individual.” You’ll have the option to send the payment via email, using their account information or with a mailed check. Once you add the payee, that individual will be saved in your bill pay system to make it easier to send additional payments. You can even send a payment as a gift or donation. If you have questions, use the “live chat” feature or call 800-815-BANK.
After realizing how easy it was to use the new bill pay system at Bank of American Fork for fee-free, person-to-person payments, Heidi has been working on persuading her brothers to open MyRate checking accounts at Bank of American Fork so they can use the same system. Hopefully I’ll have an update on how that went soon.
Here’s are screenshots if you want to see the step-by-step. You can always call 800-815-BANK with questions.
PayPal is a registered trademark of PayPal Holdings, Inc.
Tiny Tim’s Foundation for Kids builds and delivers 64,000 toys every year to needy children around the globe. They are also sent to hospitals where patients can play with and keep them; including Primary Children’s and Shriners hospitals.
Employees and other volunteers enjoyed getting to know one of the bank’s customers and building cars for kids. Bank of American Fork employees love getting to know customers and enjoy learning about the interesting and unique people behind the businesses and organizations the bank serves. Although we don’t have the chance for every employee to learn about every customer, we appreciate our customers and the good work done in our community.
“Mr. Thacker, our longtime friend and customer, brings great joy to children in need throughout Utah and around the world,” said Bill Swadley, vice president CRA/business development officer for Bank of American Fork. “We are grateful that we can help him in one small way by arranging a day of service where people can go and help him in this great cause.”
Bank of American Fork also made a cash donation in support of Tiny Tim’s Foundation for Kids. We were lucky enough to receive a letter from some of the local volunteers who were able to help build cars because of the donation.