By Amy Falke
The Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services recently recognized Bank of American Fork for its pioneering efforts in age-friendly banking. Bank of American Fork has been a national leader in developing programs and products that make banking friendlier to seniors and those with physical or mental impairments.
Bank of American Fork trains its employees to be conscious of the needs of Utah’s growing elderly population. Bank employees receive training on how to recognize the signs of elder financial abuse and how to report it.
Staff members are also trained how to assist families in structuring their banking to create checks and balances that help protect the senior and the caregivers. This financial structure is built around a line of innovative products designed by Bank of American Fork called AccountSmart TM Tools for Seniors. These products provide customers with services like view-only access to accounts, automatic transfers and bill payments, and a limited power of attorney to assist caregivers and seniors in managing finances.*
Our call center employees have received training from Relay Utah on assistive listening technologies to help us better serve customers with speaking or hearing impairments. These employees frequently receive calls from elderly individuals who have difficulty coming into a branch to complete transactions. The call center representatives do an excellent job in educating customers on our online banking tools and other technologies that help facilitate banking from home.**
Many of the technologies available to customers can be accessed through Bank of American Fork’s iPad app. This app features a user-friendly interface and larger, high-contrast text. Tablet users can also visit mobile.bankaf.com on their mobile device.
Bank of American Fork strives to cultivate a senior-friendly culture. All customers are treated with respect, but employees are especially conscious of elders’ needs when they come into a branch, provide a comfortable environment to accommodate hearing and vision restrictions or a place to sit while an associate provides assistance with a teller transaction.
It has been said that a society can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. This is a good test for businesses as well. Bank of American Fork is committed to the continued development of products, training and services to provide quality customer service to all that entrust the bank with their banking needs.
*Fees may apply
**Although mobile banking is provided by Bank of American Fork free of charge, you may be charged access rates depending on your mobile carrier. Web access is needed to use mobile banking. Check with your service provider for details on specific fees and charges.
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
Courtesy of FDIC
Many consumers use debit, credit and prepaid cards, often interchangeably, to purchase goods and services. However, these three types of cards are quite different. Consider the following.
Each card works differently. If you use a credit card, you are borrowing money that you must pay back, in addition to interest, if you do not pay the balance in full by the due date. But, if you use a debit card, which is issued by your bank and linked to your checking or savings account, the money taken from the account is yours and you will never incur interest charges.
With prepaid cards, you are spending the money deposited onto them, and they usually aren’t linked to your checking or savings account. Prepaid products include “general-purpose reloadable” cards, which display a network brand such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa; gift cards for purchases at stores; and payroll cards for employer deposits of salary or government benefit payments. Be aware of the possibility of unanticipated fees and, with certain types of these cards, the potential for limited consumer protections against unauthorized transactions.
Watch for fees. You may be charged an overdraft fee if you use a debit card for a purchase but there aren’t enough funds in the account and you have given your bank written permission to charge you for allowing the transaction to go through. “You can always revoke that authorization if you don’t want to risk paying these fees, and future debit card transactions will be declined if you don’t have the funds in your account,” explained FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist Heather St. Germain.
Similarly, a credit card issuer may decline a transaction that puts you over your credit limit unless you have explicitly agreed to pay a fee to permit over-the-limit transactions.
Prepaid cards are sometimes marketed with celebrity endorsements and promotional offers. “While some prepaid card offers seem attractive, remember that you may have to pay various fees on the card,” said Susan Boenau, Chief of the FDIC’s Consumer Affairs Section. “These costs may include monthly fees, charges for loading funds onto the card, and fees for each transaction.”
As an alternative to a traditional checking account or prepaid card, consumers who don’t plan to write checks but do want to bank electronically may want to consider opening a “checkless” transaction account that allows you to pay bills and make purchases online or with a debit card.
Your liability for an unauthorized transaction varies depending on the type of card. Federal law limits your losses to a maximum of $50 if a credit card is lost or stolen. For a debit card, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 if you notify your bank within two business days after learning of the loss or theft of your card. But, if you notify your bank after those first two days, under the law you could lose much more.
Your liability for the fraudulent use of a prepaid card currently differs depending on the type of card. Federal law treats payroll cards the same as debit cards, but currently there are no federal consumer protections limiting your losses with other general-purpose, reloadable prepaid cards and store gift cards. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering increasing the consumer protections for prepaid cards, but any action is likely to be a year or more away.
In addition, the funds you place on a prepaid card may or may not be covered by deposit insurance in the event of a bank failure, depending on how the account where the funds are held is set up and whether the bank or the card issuer’s records at the time of the bank closing identify each cardholder’s ownership interest.
For all cards, industry practices may further limit your losses, so check with your card issuer.
Also take steps to guard any cards from thieves. Never provide any numbers in response to an unsolicited phone call, e-mail, text message or other communication you didn’t originate. Immediately review your statement for unauthorized transactions.
To learn more about the three types of payment cards, visit www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/information/ncpw/index.html, which includes an FDIC “quick guide” to understanding the differences in the cards.
We’re celebrating one hundred years of serving Utah communities with free cookie Fridays. Each month one of our 13 branches will be spotlighted—for that month, the spotlighted branch will have free cookies in their lobby. You can read a little bit about the history of Bank of American Fork below, with a history of the spotlighted branch. For a deeper history and to view photos visit here and select “downloads”.
Bank of American Fork was established in 1913 as The People’s State Bank of American Fork. The first two decades after opening brought success for the bank and its reputation for being safe and sound was solidified. Challenges came in 1932, when the People’s State Bank of American Fork closed its doors to prevent a run on deposits. While a third of the nation’s banks did the same and never reopened, the People’s State Bank was open for business nine months later after tremendous sacrifice on the part of its management. The 1940s and ‘50s were better years for banking, and the People’s State Bank of American Fork thrived. In the 1960s the name was shortened to Bank of American Fork and proved itself a technological leader when it made a large investment in upgrading to advanced computerized systems. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bank of American Fork began to receive national recognition for being safe and strong. It was during this time that the bank began strategic expansion across Utah, finding communities where Bank of American Fork fit and filled needs. Today, we are proud to be a part of 13 communities, and Utah’s community bank leader.
Saratoga Springs Branch December 29, 2008 The twelfth branch opened as Lehi expanded westward toward Saratoga Springs as the fastest growing community in Utah. As a result of the fast growth, traffic around the Lehi branch was becoming a concern. The branch location was originally ideal, but Lehi’s Main Street had become crowded with retail space and congested traffic. It was getting harder for customers to access the bank, especially during rush hours, some of the busiest time at the branch. Seeing a need for better access for customers and an opportunity as Lehi grew toward Saratoga Spring, Bank of American Fork purchased land there. The branch opened when there were enough loans and deposits to support it. A few years later, Pioneer Crossing opened to connect Saratoga Springs with the rest of Utah County, sky-rocketing the area’s population and increasing traffic at the Saratoga Springs branch.
Don’t forget to stop by the Saratoga Springs branch on Fridays this month and grab a cookie!
Project Teddy Bear in its 14th year
The little boy was so traumatized by neglect and abuse that he spoke to his therapist from inside a cardboard box for two years. Inside, he clung to his trusted teddy bear—the only one he felt comfortable with enough to have inside with him. This child—and thousands of others like him—has benefitted from your donations to Bank of American Fork’s Project Teddy Bear. Each holiday season, we collect new and clean, gently used stuffed animals to give to children at family support centers across Utah. Many of the children are victims of abuse, neglect, poverty or addiction. Some have been taken from their homes into state custody during the night; others have been moved from one foster home to another; yet others have experienced the violent loss of a loved one.
When these children, and perhaps all children, can hug and hold their own teddy bear, it brings comfort and a feeling of safety.
You can help. Project Teddy Bear is an opportunity for you to join with the communities in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, and donate teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, all Bank of American Fork branches will be accepting donations of new or clean and gently used stuffed animals through December 16.
This year will be the 14th anniversary of Project Teddy Bear at Bank of American Fork. When the bank started the program in 2000, it collected 237 bears. Since then, more than 52,000 bears have been donated to Utah’s at-risk children.
To see how the American Fork branch is transformed during Project Teddy Bear, check out this Time Lapse Video from 2009 Donations. You can also find testimonials from employees of the treatment centers on Bank of American Fork’s YouTube playlist about Project Teddy Bear.
Forget about checks and IOUs; make your person-to-person payments with the click of a mouse. Just log into your Bank of American Fork online banking and select the TheWayiPay “sendmoney” option on the homepage Dashboard to get started. Customers can pay virtually anyone using only the recipient’s name and email address.
TheWayiPay online person-to-person payment service allows you to make secure payments from your Bank of American Fork consumer checking account to nearly anyone with a U.S. financial institution account using their email address as the destination. Payments processed are deducted from your account electronically and deposited directly into the recipient’s bank account in two to three business days – and no, they don’t have to be Bank of American Fork accountholders to receive payments. There is a $1 fee per payment.
Below are answers to some of the common questions we get about TheWayiPay person-to-person payments:
Q: What is TheWayiPay?
A: TheWayiPay is a secure consumer online person-to-person payment service that allows you to electronically send money to virtually anyone who’s enrolled with an email address and a U.S. financial institution account.
Q: How do I enroll for TheWayiPay?
A: Enrollment is easy. If you are an existing customer with personal online banking, you will need to add the TheWayiPay option to your online banking dashboard by selecting the “sendmoney” widget from the “configure” menu.
If you do not have personal online banking you will first need to contact our customer service team, available Monday – Friday, 7:15 A.M. – 6:15 P.M. Mountain Time, to request online access.
Q: Are there fees for TheWayiPay payments?
A: Yes. There is a $1.00 fee per payment.
Q: How does it work?
A: After enrollment, payees are added by creating a new payee and then going through a safe and secure payee enrollment process. You will be required to enter their name and email address, as well as a short confirmation code before a new payee can receive payments. New payees are required to follow a secure link from an email that will be sent to the email address provided requiring them to enter a security phrase that you will create and provide them to confirm their authority to receive payments, and then to enter their account information for the account for which they would like to receive payments.
Once the new payee is added all you will have to do is enter the payee’s name in the new payment field for future payments.
Q: How long do payment deposits take?
A: Payments should take approximately two to three business days to be completed.
For more information about TheWayiPay, visit any Bank of American Fork branch or contact us at 1-800-815-BANK.
TheWayiPay® is a registered trademark of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc.
The Kathy Lee Parker show is an internet talk show. The topic for the November 20 show is elder financial abuse prevention, and how families can talk during the holidays about how to set up checks and balances that will reduce this risk.
Tracey Larsen, vice president and special projects manager at Bank of American Fork and the financial representative for the Governor’s Commission on Aging is representing the bank on the show. The show also features Nan Mendenhall, director of Adult Protective Services from the Utah Department of Aging and Adult Services. She will tell stories and give practical examples that families can use in their discussions.
To listen to the show live on November 20 at 6:00 MST go to LAtalkRadio.com then click on the channel 1 Listen Live button in the left margin.
To listen to the show at a later time go to LAtalkRadio.com/Kathy and scroll down to the November 20 show listing.
Listeners may find these links to be helpful:
Looking for the perfect gift for those hard-to-please relatives and friends?
Didn’t get all your holiday shopping done on Black Friday? Shopped out?
We have the solution: a VISA® Gift card. Bank of American Fork’s VISA® Gift cards allow recipients to decide how they want to spend their money, saving you the hassle of shopping for all the people on your list. They’re the perfect gift for any occasion, including those coming up—holidays and end-of-the-year employee rewards.
VISA® Gift cards can be used to make purchases in stores, in restaurants, over the phone, online, or anywhere VISA® cards are accepted. VISA® Gift cards are available in any whole-dollar amount from $25 up to $500 when purchased online or up to $750 when purchased in a branch. You can pay for in-branch purchases right out of your Bank of American Fork checking account.
VISA®, VISA (stylized) and the name Visa are federally registered Trademarks of Visa.
When a customer came to Becky Ivins and Layne Cardon interested in buying a home that needed a lot of fixing up, they did what they usually do: look for a custom-fit solution that would work for the customer and for Bank of American Fork. The solution was a rehabilitation loan.
Rehabilitation loans work this way: the bank uses a construction loan to aid in the purchase of a home in need of rehabilitation. The appraiser looks at the current value of the home and the expected value after rehabilitation. The loan includes money to fix the home up. The loan then rolls over to a mortgage based on the higher value. In the end, the homeowner generally has an immediate ROI with the extra equity that results.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but generally has win-win-win outcomes. This is a good program for first-time home buyers and a good way for individuals to build a rental portfolio using solid financial practices; this process improves run-down homes in older neighborhoods and has a positive effect on property values; and the bank benefits from these loans.
“I had a client that had lived in his home for several years and he needed to update the home and add extra bedrooms,” said Ivins. “We were able to help him add an extra bedroom and bathroom. We started with the construction loan, paid off his existing mortgage with the loan and then he rehabbed the home. In the end, his payment was just a little bit higher and he was able to reduce his rate.”
The following are some FAQs about rehabilitation loans:
Q: What do I need to have in order to be considered for a loan like this?
A: It’s a good idea to have:
• A source for foreclosed or run-down homes. One example is www.hudhomestore.gov for FHA-foreclosed homes.
• A financial institution.
• Some cash—at least 20-30 percent of the project cost to invest, depending on the project cost.
• A good contractor.
• An inspector.
• Landlord experience.
• A realtor that understands the process.
• An idea of rents in the area. You can try looking at services like www.rentometer.com.
Q: What are the first steps in obtaining a rehab loan?
A: Contact Becky Ivins at Bank of American Fork—she’ll send you a list of questions to get the initial process rolling. You’ll need to be prequalified to purchase a property, and after that, Becky Ivins (NMLS #447529) or Layne Cardon (NMLS#447514) will sit down with you to go over the details of your specific situation. Once you’re prequalified, you find the property that fits the program. A realtor can help calculate the estimated rent, how much it would cost to rehab, an estimated return on investment and whether it’s better to rent the property or resell it.
Q: What are some of the risks, pitfalls or things to avoid?
A: First of all, we will help you look for some of the problems that a person obtaining this type of loan might face (sometimes this is why a loan is turned down). Ivins always tells those who are interested, “We’ll work through the numbers together and figure out if this might work for you.” That being said, there are some risks you should consider.
If you have not been a landlord or had rentals before, it can be a challenging and frustrating process. The key is learning about the program and getting all the details before you begin.
Don’t be surprised if along the way you have some things that you did not think you would need to fix and end up having to fix them. That is why it is best to have some cash available.
If you can’t sell the home, finish the project or rent it out for enough to service the debt, you could lose money or even go bankrupt.
Rehabilitation loans are a good option for first-time homebuyers, and a good way for individuals to build a rental portfolio using solid financial practices. Becky Ivins and Layne Cardon at Bank of American Fork have the experience with this type of loan that will help you feel confident and comfortable. If you want to learn more, call 800-815-BANK and ask for Becky Ivins or Layne Cardon.
When it comes to banking, your vote is the one that matters. If you want your bank to take care of you personally, support the local economy and get the most for your money, then show your vote by switching to a community bank.
Why? Here’s the short version:
• Community banks usually have just as many services. Bank of American Fork offers online bill pay, online money manager (an aggregator and budgeting tool), person-to-person electronic payments, mobile apps and more.
• Community banks support the local economy. The loans we make are usually local and we pay local taxes.
• We’re fast. Because decision-making is local, we can be quick about it.
• We care about the community. We are here to stay. We want to be involved in community events. We want to support community-building teams, groups, activities and people.
• Community banks care about you. When you switch to a community bank, you’re switching to personalized service and relationship-based banking. We don’t just want to give you a place to put your money, we want to help you understand your options and become more financially savvy.
Tell us, what do you look for in a bank?
Thinking of switching to a community bank? Call 800-815-BANK to find out more.
Families are often together during the holidays, making it a great time to talk about how everyone can be involved in protecting senior family members from financial abuse. Some shy away from money talk, but families can take the pressure off the situation by making the conversation about putting checks in place, not about blame.
In Utah, up to $1 million a day is stolen from seniors—an average of $85,253 per victim (Source: The Utah Cost of Financial Exploitation, Jilenne Gunther, MSW, ID, Legal Services Developer, Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services). The majority of seniors are exploited when they become unable to manage their own finances and they have to ask for help. However, families and trusted friends or advisors can put systems in place so that help is available when needed, without the threat of fraud or liability of false accusations.
The top three ways seniors are exploited happen when seniors deed their homes, add others as a joint bank account holder or give to someone else a general financial power of attorney. These are often done to make it easier to manage their finances, but there are ways to help without so much risk. Since 57 percent of the amount stolen from seniors is stolen by family members, putting precautions in place protects everyone involved.
Use third-party monitoring. Instead of giving the helper joint access to accounts to make sure the senior family member isn’t being scammed, consider asking a family member, CPA or trusted friend to monitor accounts with extra statements or online view-only access. There are several ways this acts as a precaution. In a situation where the helper has read-only access instead of joint account access, helpers can watch for scams or fraud by others, while the senior still maintains full control over their finances. On the other side, if a helper is added as a joint account owner, they are seen as an equal, regardless of who originally owned the account. One of the implications of having a helper that has joint access is that they can make payments or account changes without any approval from the senior. Another is that now that account and the senior are vulnerable to lawsuits or tax liability of the joint owner—the money, by law, is seen as theirs and can be seized.
Limit access to nest eggs. If a senior has a nest egg, and a helper is needed to manage bills or payments, consider adding the helper to a second smaller account. At Bank of American Fork, seniors can set up automatic transfers each month so the amount that is needed to pay bills would come from the larger account that income is deposited in. Then, the helper can be given access to the smaller account for paying bills, limiting the risk of fraud to only the balance in the smaller account.
Use a limited power of attorney agreement instead of a general financial power of attorney. A general financial power of attorney agreement means that the helper has unlimited power—to sell the house or car even. This creates serious temptation, even for honest people. Using a limited power of attorney agreement to assist with smaller accounts only means that the senior can still get the help they need, but in a less risky way. This also protects the helper or family member involved from being falsely accused of mismanaging funds or other assets. Sometimes disagreements within families about how to manage the senior family member’s finances result in false blame.
Don’t deed your home. A senior who deeds their home can be kicked out—they no longer control the home. This can be the result of conscious fraud, but it can also be an accident. The home is now vulnerable to a lawsuit or liability against the helper that the home is deeded to, and can be repossessed. Most of the time, a home is the owner’s largest asset. Thus, it is recommended that they keep this financial safety net as long as possible.
Choose advisors carefully. If you or your family member is considering hiring a new broker, attorney, accountant or other professional, be sure they’re properly registered or licensed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say no. After all, it’s your money!
Protect your personal financial information. Never give out your bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, PINs, passwords or other sensitive information unless you made the contact. Even if you did make the contact, it’s okay to ask why the person asking for it needs it. Keep your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information in a safe place and shred old documents that have this information on them. If you’re concerned about remembering these numbers and want to share them with family members in case of an emergency, consider giving access to each of these numbers to different helpers—so no one person has full access.
Closely monitor credit card and bank account activity. We mentioned that read-only access is a good alternative to adding a joint account holder. Make sure that the senior and the helper with read-only access are reviewing account activity often.
Take your time when making major financial decisions. It’s okay to ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand the decision you’re making. If you don’t, talk to your lawyer or trusted financial advisor. If you are being pressured to do something right away, or if someone tells you that you have to do something right now, walk away.
Beware of requests from strangers or solicitors selling goods, services or “need-to-know information.”
• Be suspicious of calls from any company or organization that you don’t have a prior relationship with. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, you can sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry (call 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov).
• Don’t comply with a request from a stranger to deposit a check into your account and wire some or all of it back—if the check you received was counterfeit, you could be held responsible for the losses.
• Be aware of scams involving reverse mortgages, or any other salesman using high-pressure tactics to sell you something.
• One of the ways scammers target seniors is by using information about their families to get money. A caller may contact you and pretend to be a relative in distress, asking you to wire money. Make sure you talk to another close relative of that person, and call the relative in distress with the phone number you have for them. Talk to your banker or a trusted advisor, who may be aware of similar scams in your area.
• If someone tells you that you have to have it or do it, don’t hesitate to take down their information and talk to a trusted helper before you send or buy anything.
The best way to protect yourself or your family members from fraud is by setting up these regular checks ahead of time. Just as a business owner wouldn’t give full access to make changes and decisions to the accountant without some checks and balances, families should have some checks in place to keep decisions transparent. Families who trust and care about each other can set up financial plans that will protect everyone involved from fraud or liability—these tips aren’t just for repeat offenders or seniors who don’t trust their helpers.
Bank of American Fork offers products specifically designed with this issue in mind—seniors who want or need some help, but want to be protected from fraud, and families who want to be helpers, without the liabilities of full control. Visit a branch to set up AccountSmart Tools for Seniors, or to find out more, call 800-815-BANK or visit www.bankaf.com.