Simple Ways to Add Value to Your Home

Your home is more than just the place you live, eat and sleep; it’s a serious financial investment. For many people, it’s the single largest investment they’ll make in a lifetime. As with any investment, the goal is to “buy low and sell high.” So, rather than simply waiting for property values to rise on their own, why not jump–start your home’s value by improving it? Here are a few simple ways to do just that:

  1. Fix up the kitchen.
    The kitchen is the heart of any home. It’s also the place most prospective buyers use to gauge whether they’re seriously interested in purchasing a particular home nothing can make or break a potential home sale like the kitchen. But you don’t have to drop $10,000 on a fancy red–knobbed stove and double–door refrigerator to add value to your home. For a few hundred dollars, you can replace your kitchen faucet and cabinet hardware. Changing those items alone can add substantial value to your home.
  2. Improve your home’s curb appeal.
    Nothing improves a home like a fresh coat of paint. Tired, peeling paint will turn off a prospective buyer before they even get a chance to experience your home from the inside. If your home is brick or stone, a few hours with a rented power washer can add thousands in value for less than $100 investment.
  3. Invest in a little lawn care.
    When a prospective buyer drives up to your house, they’ll take it in as a whole – including the surrounding lawn and landscaping. Spending a couple hundred dollars for a professional to come by and mow and trim your lawn and shape your hedges can really make your home’s exterior pop.
  4. Don’t forget the bathroom.
    The bathroom can be another deal–breaker for a lot of home buyers. A grubby or dated bathroom can send a prospective buyer running for the exit. Simple, inexpensive improvements, such as replacing lighting fixtures and the toilet seat, can do wonders. You could even add a new sink for a few hundred dollars.
  5. Buff those floors.
    If you have an older home with hardwood flooring, hiring a professional to refinish them can add a huge amount of visual appeal as well as real value to your home. Costs depend on square footage, but several rooms can be redone for less than $1,000 in many cases.
  6. Add a deck or patio
    A simple brick or stone patio can be laid for under $1,000, depending on its size. A deck may cost more, but it can add more than its cost in improved home value and general curb appeal. Relaxing with friends on a deck or patio, enjoying grilled burgers as the sun sets is something just about anyone can envision – and mental images like that help sell homes.
  7. Make your home high–tech.
    Or at least make it seem that way. The simple addition of a Nest or other smart thermostat can make even an older home seem cutting edge. They only cost around $250, and not only do they make your home seem more high–tech, they can also save you money by making your heating and cooling system more efficient.
  8. Paint the interior.
    Just as a coat of paint will add value to the exterior of your home, freshening up your interior walls will likewise improve its appeal. Just remember, lighter colors can make interior spaces seem bigger and brighter, and neutral colors have a broader appeal to potential buyers.

Vampires, Permissions and Lessons Learned in a Google Phishing Attack

You have probably seen the recent news about Google Docs phishing messages. This attack took advantage of several technical mechanisms but most notably, the attackers relied on simply asking for full access to a user’s email and the user granting permission.

Bad apps are like vampires at your front door; you have to invite them in. And a lot of people opened their doors this week.

This illustrates the reason so many attacks use social engineering. You can have layer after layer of security in place on your computer and network, but if an attacker can just ask you to let them in, and you accept, then the proverbial drawbridge gets lowered and all that security is moot. The attacker is inside.

The Google Docs attack illuminates the dangers of giving permissions to apps, whether browser apps or mobile apps. These permission requests have become so common that a lot of people just approve them without giving them much thought. But think about the apps you have installed that integrate with your Gmail or other email accounts. What are they doing with the permissions you granted them? Did that app really need to send and receive email on your behalf? Does that game really need to access your contacts list?

When you mix business content with personal apps on the same device, these questions become even more important. It’s one thing for an app to read your personal email, but what if you have sensitive work email on your phone as well? Can the app also read that?

Here are some essential lessons to be learned from the Google Docs phishing attacks:


Buying Your First Home

With interest rates at or near historic lows, now is a very good time to purchase a home. Your First Nebraska Bank mortgage loan officer is a great resource if you’re thinking of buying. We can assess your unique situation and walk you through all the steps you need to take to get the best house for your money. But before you do, we’ve put together a few tips that every first–time home buyer should consider.


A Hack of 500 Million Yahoo Accounts Starts with a Single Click

In 2014, hackers associated with Russia succeeded in breaching Yahoo’s network and gaining unfettered access to the entire Yahoo user base. Over 500 million users’ data was exposed and it took almost two years for the full extent of the breach to become apparent. According to FBI documents, the attacker’s access began with a single click on a phishing email sent to a Yahoo employee. From that one workstation, attackers moved inside the network and found the tools that granted them access to customer data and the rest, as they say, is now history.

This very public story, and its roots in a single user falling for an email attack, starkly demonstrates the ease with which attackers can breach a network. With all the media hype about “zero-day” vulnerabilities and secret government hacking tools, the reality is that simple social engineering/phishing tactics generally open any doors an attacker needs.

The one bright side to this fact is that the defenses against this type of attack are well known, though not always easy to implement.


Time for a Financial Checkup

We realize this may not sound like a ton of fun, but we promise it will be less painful than you think. Taking a good look at your current financial health doesn’t take much time and can pay serious dividends in the future. As always, if you want a more in–depth conversation regarding your own individual financial situation, stop in at a First Nebraska Bank location and speak with one of our personal bankers.

Here are a few steps you can take to assess and improve your financial health going forward:

  1. Write down your financial goals for the next year. This is as simple as it sounds, and it can help you focus on what you need to do to improve your situation. Maybe your goal is to pay off one or more credit cards. Maybe it’s saving for a family vacation. Whatever your goals, make sure they’re attainable – paying off your entire credit debt may not be feasible in one year, but paying off one or more credit cards may be. Regardless of what they may be, write down your goals. A journey of many miles begins with one step.
  2. Review your retirement savings plan. This can mean the difference between spending your golden years relaxing on a beach and working as a greeter at a local big–box store. If you don’t already contribute to a retirement savings plan, now is the time to start doing so. If you have received a raise or other income increase over the past year, be sure to adjust your retirement account contributions accordingly. Review your contributions against your employer’s match to make sure you’re getting the full benefits possible. Match the maximum, if you can – after all, this is literally free money.
  3. Rebalance your investment portfolio. You should do this every year. Resist the urge to rebalance your investments based on the day–to–day vicissitudes of the market. What seems like a serious downturn one week can be made up over time. Rebalancing after a market drop means you’re turning paper losses into real ones, and that is something you should avoid. In addition to rebalancing your positions, you should reevaluate your risk tolerance as you age. While people in their 30s or 40s may tolerate a fair amount of risk to achieve a higher reward, people nearer retirement should be more averse to risk and allocate their portfolios to reflect this.
  4. Review your insurance plans and coverages. Your insurance needs change over time, and your insurance coverage should, too. Make sure your life insurance beneficiaries are current (life changes such as divorce will affect this). Also, consider the value of your home. Have you made significant improvements that have raised its value? Have you acquired valuable items, such as jewelry or art, that require separate insurance coverage? Make sure to also review your auto coverage. Perhaps you can negotiate a lower premium or deductible if you’ve been a valued customer for many years.
  5. If you don’t have a savings plan, start one. If you have one, evaluate it and adjust it as needed. If you’re earning more than you were, perhaps you can increase the amount you deposit every month. You can also consider other savings options, such as certificates of deposit (CDs) or money market accounts.
  6. Review your estate plan. Planning for one’s passing isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. After all, you don’t want to leave your loved ones with having to deal with the burden of your financial affairs in addition to the grief of losing you. To that end, make sure that your will and other estate documents are up–to–date and notarized, if necessary. Make sure, too, that any specific end–of–life medical needs are detailed in an advanced health care directive, also known as a living will. This is a legal document in which you declare what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

Fake Netflix App is Actually Ransomware

Kaspersky warned on their blog: “People are downloading a new app, looking to get free access to Netflix accounts. What they’re actually getting is a malware strain called Netix that encrypts users’ data and demands $100 in bitcoins to unlock their files.

The program, called “Netflix Login Generator” is downloaded by users looking to gain access to Netflix without paying. The app purportedly has leaked Netflix accounts, which users can use to access the streaming service for free. In reality, all it does is provide fake account credentials that don’t work.

Once installed, the app shows you what looks like a login–password pair generator, but that’s just a distraction; it’s actually busy encrypting your data. Once it’s finished with that, up pops a ransom note. So remember than when something sounds very enticing and perhaps too good to be true, it usually is.

Do not let social engineering tricks manipulate you into downloading and executing applications that you really should not trust.


5 Tips for Tax Season

Tax experts say that if you’ve done things exactly right, you should neither owe nor receive money when you do your taxes. That’s because you’re maximizing your take–home pay without having to pay the government come April 15. But, if you’re like most people, you’re not this precise in your planning. So, when tax time rolls around, you end up receiving a refund or owing money.

When it comes time to do your taxes, you can do a few things to increase that refund or reduce that tax payment. Here are five things to consider:

  1. File your tax return sooner, rather than later. By doing this, you or your accountant will have more time to deal with new tax rules, and you’ll likely receive your refund faster. You’re also less likely to become a victim of tax identity fraud if you file early, which can occur when scammers file a tax return using your information and pocket your refund.
  2. Take advantage of the deduction for contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA) and the possible tax credit that comes with them. If you use tax preparation software, such as TurboTax, it will typically walk you through this step. Just make sure you have the proper tax documents from the financial institution managing your IRA.
  3. Write off home refinancing points. When you refinance your home, you have to deduct the points paid on the new loan over the life of that loan, rather than deducting it all at once as you do when purchasing a home. That means you get a tax break every year that you have the refinanced loan.
  4. Deduct student–loan interest paid by your parents. If you’re no longer claimed as a dependent on your parents’ taxes but they pay off your student loan, you can deduct that interest because the IRS treats it as if the money were given to you and you paid off the loan yourself.
  5. If you’re receiving a large sum as a tax return, you might consider filling out a new form W–4 with your employer and increase your allowances. Your next tax refund will be smaller, but you’ll receive more money throughout the year. This is a particularly good idea if your financial situation has changed – for example, a promotion with a pay raise.

So, how should you adjust your allowances? If you’re single and currently claiming zero, consider claiming one. If you have children but aren’t claiming all of them as allowances, then you might start claiming the actual number of children you have. (We do not, however, recommend claiming more allowances than you have, as you may end up owing the IRS a considerable amount of money at tax time next year.)

Tax Advice Disclaimer – The information on this website should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a professional Tax Adviser who is familiar with all the relevant facts. Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is General in nature and is not intended as tax advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individuals’ specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters. First Nebraska Bank assumes no obligation to inform any person of any changes in the tax law or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure – Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

A Guy Walks Into Your Office...

If you work in an office, retail location or any other space that can be accessed by the public, take a look at the people around you. Do you know them all? Chances are, there is at least one person nearby who is unfamiliar to you. Does anyone know why this person is there? There are hundreds of innocent reasons for a new face to show up at your workplace, but has someone made sure the reason is, in fact, innocent?

It’s important to understand that not all cybercrime is committed remotely. In fact, gaining access to information on site allows a criminal the opportunity to connect a device to your network, leave USB drives with malicious files on them, take unsecured documents, “shoulder surf” personal data or even talk an employee into visiting a malicious website. There is also the threat of theft of personal items (purses are popular), removal of hardware with sensitive information (like laptops) and bodily harm to your co–workers.

Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to help prevent this type of attack:


Become a Super Saver in 2017

Saving money is one of those things we all would like to do more of, but when push comes to shove, we’re not so great following through. But just think how great it would be to have a few hundred extra dollars in the bank when that unexpected car repair comes up or your kid brings home an application for volleyball camp. Saving money isn’t as hard as it seems. Here are a few suggestions to help you pump up your savings this year:

  1. Set a goal and stick to it.Pick a number and then divide it by 12 months or the number of paychecks you receive in a year. That gives you a fixed amount to put away every month or paycheck. Getting into a saving routine makes it easier to do.
  2. Ask your spouse or partner to help you stick to a plan. Sticking to any plan is easier if a loved one helps keep you on track. The same goes for saving money. Of course, your partner will need to walk a fine line between gentle reminders and nagging.
  3. Open a savings account. This may seem like a no–brainer, but it really is important. Rather than stuffing cash into an empty coffee tin, a savings account protects your money, offers interest and puts it just a little farther out of reach, which can help you resist the temptation to raid it. For information about opening a First Nebraska Bank savings account, click here.
  4. Set up direct deposit. Saving money is even easier when it’s done automatically. You can set up your account for direct deposit, in which will transfer a certain amount from your checking account to your savings account every month or week or other interval you choose.
  5. Watch your money grow. This is the best part. Once you’ve gotten into the routine of putting away money, you’ll be surprised at how fast your savings will grow. The next time something unforeseen pops up – be it a little emergency or an unexpected opportunity – you’ll have the money to take care of it.

Watch Out for Phishing Schemes!


Amazon Shipping Failure
Amazon is always a popular phishing email theme; however, this season a specific one is being called out by Amazon officials. Emails are going out stating that a package cannot be shipped due to a processing error. The email directs the user to click on a support link in order to confirm their name, address and credit card information. The link included in the email directs the user to a fake Amazon webpage set up to mimic the online retailer and harvest credit card information. After the bank information is harvested the user is then redirected back to the real Amazon website.

An easy way to prevent this type of fraud is by logging into your Amazon account. From your account summary, you can verify if the same notification or message is showing up.

When logging into your account make sure to not use any links in the email and instead navigate directly to

Department Store Gift Card Text Messages:

People are receiving text messages saying they can claim a $100 (or more) gift card to places like Walmart or Target. The message comes with a link that looks to be legitimate, but isn’t. The user is prompted to enter a lot of personal information (name, DOB, telephone number, address, etc.), perhaps share the offer on Facebook, and complete a survey. The intention of the perpetrators is to obtain as much information about you as they can to steal your identity.

To avoid falling for this, just remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Delete the text and move on.


Avoid Mobile Banking Scams

Be on the lookout for two primary mobile banking scams: the “Sweetheart Scam” and the “Payday Scam.” What they have in common is that the perpetrator gains your confidence – and your bank account number. They then deposit a bad or stolen check and get you to give them the funds. By the time you realize it, they’re long-gone and it’s too late.

The Sweetheart Scam
In this scheme, a fraudster lures a victim via an online dating site. Once a relationship with the victim is established, the scammer devises a plausible reason to obtain access to the victim’s bank account – typically a sob story or a need to pay a business for goods received. Even if the victim establishes a new account rather than giving access to their main account, thinking this will protect them, the damage has been done.

The fraudster then sets up mobile banking for the account, including remote deposit capture (RDC). He/she then deposits a fake, stolen or otherwise bad check into the account. Once the funds become available, the scammer either wires the money to another account, asks the victim to send him the money or asks for a debit card to access the money.

By the time the deposited check is discovered to be bad, the scammer is long gone and the victim is left with an overdrawn account.

The Payday Loan Scam
As with the Sweetheart Scam, this ruse involves setting up mobile banking and RDC for the victim’s account. In this case, however, the victim signs up for a payday loan advance online. The fraudster responds as a payday loan employee asking to verify the applicant’s ability to pay.

He/she does this much in the same way as the sweetheart scammer – by asking for access to the victim’s account and depositing a stolen, fake or otherwise bad check. The scammer then asks the victim to withdraw the funds and send them to him/her, thereby demonstrating an ability to pay.

Of course, as before, by the time the deposited check is discovered to be bad, the scammer is nowhere to be found.

In both cases, the scam works because the victim doesn’t think they’re the one giving away money. After all, the victim is receiving a deposit from the scammer and merely returning his/her money once the check is deposited. Unfortunately, as we now know, only the outbound funds are real.

The bottom line is, don’t ever give anyone access to your bank account credentials, and never set up a new account for somebody you do not intimately know. Scammers are ingenious and diligent, and they’re coming up with new schemes every day. Your best defense is to be aware and to stay informed.

If you have any questions regarding a potential online scam or any other financial issue, feel free to call or stop in to any of our locations.

Watch Out For Fake Apps!

The holidays are here and the scammers are out in force. Their latest trick is fake apps. Starbucks started the first “retail app” it, and many stores have followed.
But scammers are now creating fake apps, trick you into downloading them to your smartphone or tablet, and ask you to load your credit card information in these apps. You can guess what happens next.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind about this Scam of The Week:

  1. Be very judicious in deciding what app to download. Better safe than sorry.
  2. If you *do* decide to download an app, first thing to check is the reviews, apps with few reviews or bad reviews are a big Red Flag.
  3. Never click on a link in any email to download a new app. Only go to the website of the retailer to get a link to the legit app on the AppStore or Google Play.
  4. Give as little information as possible if you decide to use an app.
  5. Be very, very reluctant to link your credit card to any app!


Sticking to a Holiday Budget

Can you feel it? Excitement is in the air. Black Friday is almost here! The television is bombarding you with ads proclaiming the savings you’ll enjoy by getting up at the crack of dawn and hitting the stores early. You’re raring to go, but... have you considered how you’ll feel about all those “savings” once all the holiday hoopla has worn off and you start paying for them in January?

Instead of spending with reckless abandon this year, we recommend sticking to a budget and finding ways to fulfill your Christmas list that won’t break the bank.

  1. Put aside money for holiday shopping. This is something you should be doing all year long. Put away $5 here, $10 there. Whatever you can spare, whenever you can spare it. Come November, you’ll have plenty of money to spend on holiday shopping – without the credit card hangover in January.
  2. Organize your house first. This may sound strange, but by going through closets and cupboards, you can often find ways to save holiday money. You might find unopened items that you can “re-gift.” You might also stumble upon a trove of wrapping paper and bows you didn’t know you had. You may even find a rumpled $20 in the couch cushions.
  3. Make a list and stick to it. This may seem like a no–brainer, but it really is important. By sticking to a list, you’ll resist being dazzled by all the door-buster bargains you’ll likely see while out shopping.
  4. Start shopping early. This one goes hand–in–hand with No. 1 above. If you shop year ’round, you can purchase things little by little, thereby avoiding a giant credit card bill in January. There are fewer crowds in May, too, so there’s that.
  5. Pre-shop online. By doing a little research online, you can find the best prices for the items on your list. And, while we always recommend spending your money with local retailers when possible, if the online price is too good to pass up, then it might be a good idea to take advantage of it – but not before giving your local store a chance to match it.
  6. Get creative. You can put together gift baskets full of soaps, candles and other sweet–smelling spa items for much less than you’d think. You can also fill a basket with imported cheeses and a bottle of wine for a great gift.
  7. Budget. Last and most important: Set a budget before you start shopping. This is best done before the holiday season even starts. Determine how much you can spend, compare it to your holiday list, and you’ll know what you can afford for each person on it. It may not be fun or exciting, but you’ll be glad you stuck to it when the New Year rolls around.


Bad guys are coming up with new ways to scam you out of your money all the time. Their latest trick is a Tech Support scam that puts a big warning screen on your computer, claiming that if you do not call the support number, your whole hard disk will be deleted in 5 minutes.

There are variations of this scam, that claim they are your Internet Service Provider, or claim to be Microsoft and you need an urgent update you need to call in for, or they show you a blue screen that claims your computer needs to be repaired. There is always a number to call, and these scammers will try to put hundreds of dollars on your credit card.

Don’t fall for it! If you see error messages on the screen, follow policy and contact the person in your organization responsible for IT problems. If you see this on a computer at the house, ignore these messages and do not call the fake tech support number


Overdraft Services From First Nebraska Bank

First Nebraska Bank offers a wide variety of products and services designed to help you prevent overdrafts, as well as the inconvenience and possible merchant fees incurred as a result. Our overdraft protection options allow you to choose the products and services that are right for you when unanticipated expenses or unforeseen problems may leave you short of funds.

Options include the following:

Account Alerts:
With First Nebraska Bank’s online banking, you can set up text or email account alerts, which may help you take action to avoid overdrawing your account. Simply log in to our online banking and click on the My Alerts tab, then choose DDA Alert and select from the following options: Check Cleared Alert, Daily Account Balance Alert, Low Checking Balance Alert or Pending Checking Transaction Alert.

Sweep (Transfer) From Another Checking or Savings Account: can set up a sweep from another First Nebraska Bank account to your checking account if it becomes overdrawn. To set up the sweep is free, but there is a $3 fee for each automatic sweep. This option works well for customers who maintain higher balances in other accounts, such as a savings account. Fees may apply on the related savings or money market account if the number of transactions exceeds withdrawal limits. See your account opening disclosures for more details.

Overdraft Protection Loan: : A revolving overdraft protection loan will advance funds automatically to your checking account to help you avoid an overdraft and resulting overdraft/NSF fee of $32 per item. This overdraft protection loan does have an annual fee of $30, regardless of the number of times you access it. Ask for more details about overdraft protection loans at your local branch.

If you are approved for an overdraft protection loan, you will be required to comply with the overdraft protection loan agreement, including its repayment terms and interest rate charged.

You can set up, change or cancel your overdraft coverage options any time by visiting a branch or calling us toll-free at 1-844-649-5691.

computer with lock

October Safety

But I was only gone for a minute!

While most attacks are performed remotely (generally via email), having someone with nefarious intentions come to your place of business is still a very real threat. Research released this week shows just how devastating even a minute alone with a locked computer can be.

This research details the efforts to create a USB device that steals password hashes from a workstation; which can then be used during an attack. The attack works on all current, modern versions of Windows, and appears to work on the latest versions of MacOS.

It is worth noting that this is just one flavor of this type of attack. The options for what can be done are much more varied if someone finds an unlocked, unattended computer (not that any of us have EVER forgotten to lock our computer when we step away for just a minute or two, right?).

What can be done to guard against this? All visitors should be confirmed with the appropriate people. Visitors should be signed in and escorted everywhere while unauthorized visitors should be politely turned away. Properly monitoring guests that visit your locations can be an invaluable tool in preventing this type of attack.



There is a new Scam of The Week where bad guys have taken an actual past scam that the Federal Trade Commission has resolved and is now refunding money on. Bad guys take these FTC cases and create a phishing attack out of them.

Here is the rule: If you receive any emails from an official-sounding organization that promises you a refund for any amount, be very careful and never click on any links or open any attachment you did not ask for. Delete the email.

When you are really expecting an FTC refund, go to the website yourself using your own shortcut, or by typing the address in your browser.

Remember: Think Before Your Click!


What’s That Little Chip in My New Card?

Soon, First Nebraska Bank debit cards will issue what’s known as chip, or EMV, cards. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – the three major card issuers that together developed the chip card standard in Europe. The standard is now being widely adopted in the United States. Chip cards are easily recognized by the small computer chips embedded on the front. That tiny chip is actually quite amazing because it can save you from the headache of debit card fraud.

How It Works
The old swipe–and–sign method you’re familiar with is convenient, but it’s not very secure. The reason is the magnetic stripe on the back of a traditional debit or credit card contains your account number and information, so if the merchant who took your card is ever hacked (like Target, Home Depot and others have been), the hackers have the data they need to duplicate or use your card without your knowledge.

With a chip card, the embedded chip generates a unique account number for every transaction, and once that number is used, it can’t be used again. So, if a hacker steals your debit card information, the account number he/she steals is worthless.

You use a chip card by inserting it into the bottom of one of the new terminals that merchants across the country are installing. Once the terminal reads the card, it notifies you when it’s OK to remove it. You then sign, confirming that you are in fact you.

Though many merchants have the new terminals, some have been slow to adopt them due to the expense of switching over their point–of–sale systems. If you encounter an old swipe terminal, you can still use your chip card the old–fashioned way by swiping it. However, your card won’t be protected by the unique account number feature.

One other advantage of chip cards is that they are much more readily accepted when you travel outside the country – especially in Europe, where they’ve been the standard for many years. They typically use the chip–and–PIN method, rather than the chip–and–signature method common here in the United States, so you may have to explain this to the merchant taking your card.

You should know that while chip cards protect you from fraud when you make in–person transactions, they don’t offer any extra protection when you use them online or over the telephone. That means, when shopping on the web, you should make sure you only deal with reputable, well–known merchants.

Adopting the EMV standard is just one more way First Nebraska Bank is working to maximize your security when you shop. If you have questions about this or any other banking–related topic, feel free to call or stop by one of our many convenient locations.

August Safety

Pokémon Malware, Muggings And Other Mayhem

You have probably heard about the new Pokémon app. It’s going viral and sends people on the street to catch these little virtual creatures. There are some risks if you have the "gotta catch'em all" fever.

First, please stick to the vetted app stores, do not download the app from anywhere else. Why? Bad guys have taken the app and infected it with malware, and try to trick you downloading it from untrustworthy websites.

Second, anyone using the app, and especially kids should be VERY aware that they are not lured into a real–world trap which could lead to mugging or abduction. Other players can track you in the real world using this app so be careful.

Third, there are possible privacy issues if you use your Google account to log into the app. Create a throw–away account and use that to log into Pokémon, not your private or business account.

As always, Think Before You Click!


Understanding In–App Purchases in ‘Free–to–Play’ Mobile Games

Remember how much fun Angry Birds was? Remember, too, how frustrating it got when you would almost beat a level, only to run out of feathered ammunition? Well, there was another option – the nuclear option, if you will – and it was the eagle. The eagle could clear a difficult level in a single shot, and it was sitting right there tantalizingly in your menu bar. The trouble was, unlike the game, the eagle wasn’t free; it cost real money, billed to your credit card via what’s known as an in–app purchase.

This is one way so–called free–to–play games make money. And while you may not be tempted to beat a level by spending $1.99, your young child, who may or may not understand the real value of money, might.

This is especially important to understand in light of the current Pokèmon Go craze. As with Angry Birds, Pokèmon Go is a free–to–play game that offers a variety of in–app purchasing options. The game is extremely popular right now with kids (as well as their parents, it should be noted). But before you let your little ones roam your neighborhood looking for little monsters to capture and train, you should disable the in–app purchasing option on their phones.

For Apple devices, go to Settings > General > Restrictions. Once there, click Enable Restrictions, choose a four–digit code, and then switch off the in–app purchases option. For Android devices, open the Google Play store, tap the menu icon on the top right and scroll down to Settings > Require Authentication for Purchases. Make sure the first option for all purchases is selected.

Even if you’ve disabled in–app purchases, your kids will still have plenty of fun chasing down their wild Pokèmon. There’s another upside to this, at least in the Pokèmon world. With in–app purchasing disabled, your young ones no longer have the option to simply purchase Pokè Balls and other items used to lure and capture Pokèmon. They actually have to get off the couch and venture into the real world to play the game – which also means they burn calories as they play. Regardless of the game, in life that’s known as a "win–win."

Pokèmon Go is only one of many free–to–play games that offer in–app purchasing. There are some that are insidious in their ability to trick a child into spending lots of money. One game in particular, Super Monster Bros, makes it very easy for kids to spend hundreds of dollars on in–app purchases, either accidently or on purpose. And, since it’s free–to–play, it’s easy for your child to download it and start spending money with just a few minutes of play time on your phone. So, play it smart. Disable in–app purchasing now.

July Safety

Reusing Credentials, Very Bad Idea!
Since high profile breaches involving user credentials are seemingly occurring by the month these days, we wanted to discuss what malicious people do with this information, and ways you can protect yourself if your credentials are ever stolen.

How it Works
In many cases, usernames and passwords are stolen from a service provider. This large dump of credentials will then be sold on various dark websites hosted overseas. A purchaser of these credentials will often use them to try and log into various high target websites such as online retailers, digital video game storefronts, and banking websites. The hope is that people who had their account information stolen from one service provider will also be using the same set of credentials for other services. The passwords often are separated to create a wordlist to use for password cracking, and email addresses will often be sold off to use in spam email campaigns.

Now that we have discussed what a credential breach can lead to, it is important to discuss the ways to protect yourself. First and foremost, and we cannot stress this enough, DO NOT USE THE SAME SET OF CREDENTIALS FOR MULTIPLE SITES AND SERVICES. In addition to unique credentials, multi–factor authentication should be used when available. This goes double for any credential tied to banking and online shopping. We also recommend using your cellphone or a token instead of an email address for multi–factor authentication, as it is easier for attackers to compromise an email account compared to something you physically have. Also, when you find out a service provider you use has been breached, go ahead and change your password immediately, even if you are unsure if your account was impacted or not.


Getting Your Wallet Ready for Your Summer Vacation

Picture this: You’re four days into your summer vacation. You and the family pull into a gas station to fill up the car. You swipe your credit card and... declined! That can’t be, you think. You’ve got a low balance and have never missed a payment! What’s happening?

After a quick call to your card issuer, it all becomes clear. As part of its fraud protection program, your credit card company has temporarily put a hold on your card because the system has noticed that your card is being used for purchases in California, and you live in Nebraska. While this would have been extremely helpful had your card number actually been stolen by some west coast identity thief, in your current situation – legitimately on vacation in California – it’s a severe annoyance.

You can avoid this situation with a quick call to your credit card company prior to leaving, to tell them about your upcoming travel plans. We also recommend that you contact First Nebraska Bank so you have no problems retrieving cash or using your debit card while on vacation.

In addition to letting your bank and credit card issuers know about your impending travels, you should be aware of a couple of things before you take the family on vacation.

If you’re traveling overseas, consider purchasing travel or gift cards from First Nebraska Bank, as our debit cards cannot be used internationally. These short–term–use cards have the added benefit of not using your actual account numbers, so if they’re lost or stolen, your identity and finances won’t be compromised.

Be aware, too, that many credit cards charge additional fees for overseas transactions. If you’re planning to use a card for a foreign trip, it might be worth applying for a travel–optimized card that waives these fees. It should also be noted that most European card readers are of the chip–and–PIN variety, some of which won’t accept a swipe–only card. Here in the United States, we’re slowly switching to chip cards, but not all card issuers have made the change yet. Make sure your card has a chip before using it in Europe.

With some quick and simple planning, you can make sure that your family stays busy enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of a well–deserved and long–awaited summer vacation, rather than sitting around a stuffy motel lobby waiting for your bank and credit card company to unlock your finances.

Have fun, and happy travels!

NOTE: As part of our own anti–fraud program, an automated phone system will contact you if we notice purchases that are outside your spending norm. However, in order for the system to work effectively, we need to have your current contact information on file. The next time you’re in one of our locations or on the phone with us, make sure everything is up to date. It could save you big headaches down the road.

Email Warning

The FBI issued an alert about a new scam you need to be aware of. This is an email you receive which threatens to make public all your personal, and sometimes very private information unless you pay a ransom in an electronic currency called Bitcoin.

It is easy to get intimidated by threats like this, and you might be pushed into trying to prevent possible negative consequences. However, do not fall for pressure tactics like this, because if you do, your data will be sold to other scammers who will continue to haunt you.

If you receive email extortion demands, do not answer, and do not pay anything. Report this scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) instead. Here is their website:

Remember... Always Think Before You Click!


How Much Money Is in Your Home?

Did you know that your home could be hiding thousands of dollars in untapped cash? We’re talking money that could be used to consolidate debt, pay for a big-ticket expense or even finance a home improvement project!

That’s right. Because if you’ve had your home for a while, you likely have a fair amount of equity built up in it. And that equity can be used as collateral for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Equity is your home’s current market value minus the amount you still owe on your mortgage. So if your home is currently worth $130,000 and you owe $70,000, you have $60,000 in equity. And that equity can be used to free up cash for a variety of expenses.

One option for tapping your home’s equity is a traditional home equity loan. In this case, you borrow a fixed amount of money, pay a fixed interest rate and pay it back over a fixed amount of time. This is typically the best option for a one-time large expense such as a kitchen remodel or consolidating debt.

Another option is the home equity line of credit. This is an ongoing loan that works kind of like a credit card. It still uses your home’s equity as collateral, but you pay a variable rate and withdraw money as you need it over time. This can be a good option when you have multiple home improvement projects, or if you want to pay ongoing expenses such as sending a child off to college.

Incidentally, one advantage of using a home equity loan to complete a home improvement project is that the project in question may actually raise the overall value of your home. This is called Return on Investment or ROI. Depending on the type of remodel and the amount borrowed, you could end up adding a lot of value to your home with not very much investment (while enjoying a new kitchen or bathroom to boot).

For example: if you have a house valued at $150,000 and owe $50,000 on your mortgage, you have $100,000 of equity. If you borrow $25,000 to add a bathroom, your home may now be valued at $165,000, and you now owe $75,000 on it. That means that you now have $90,000 equity in your home, which is only $10,000 less than you had before – but you got a $25,000 kitchen out of it.

Again, this is just an example. The particulars will change depending on your situation. But it does show that a home equity loan can be a very smart investment.

At First Nebraska Bank, we love to help our customers tap the hidden potential of their homes’ equity. So if you’ve owned your home for a while and you want to improve it – or if you simply want to free up some cash for another expense – come in and talk to one of our home equity experts today!


Storm Warning!

Spring is here and it brings with it storm season. Now is a good time to visit your Emergency Response Plan. This includes reviewing, updating, and training as necessary. Your plan should include:

Other Recommendations:

Don’t forget that you need a plan at home too! Your family needs to be just as prepared for a weather emergency. is a great resource for guidance on developing an Emergency Response Plan for your business or home.



International criminal organizations have added online crimes to their means for gaining illegal financial profit. One recent method is to render a computer unusable by locking it with so–called ransomware.

Recently, file–encrypting ransomware has been gaining popularity among criminals. File–encrypting ransomware works by encrypting the contents of the victim’s hard drive and then demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. However, payment of the ransom does not in any way guarantee the victim their files back and only works to further encourage the criminals and support their continued malicious activity. You should never pay criminals!

Usually a computer infected with ransomware can be cleaned of the infection, but the encrypted files can only be decrypted with the correct decryption key. Regular backups are therefore vital in defending against ransomware. In case of an infection it is recommended to report the crime to the relevant authorities, clean the infection from the system and restore the affected data from your backups.

In the past few months we have seen several high profile stories regarding hospitals being the victim of this method and paying the ransom. At First Nebraska Bank we back up all critical data so we should never be in this situation. Remember, if you suspect your computer to be a victim of one of these scams report this to the Data Center immediately so that we may take the proper precautions. NEVER PAY CRIMINALS!


Five Things You Should Know About Your Credit Report

Just about everyone has a credit report and a credit score. But just what are these things and how are they derived? Let us give you some insight.

  1. Your Credit Report and Score Aren’t the Same Thing – Federal law says that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year. This does not however mean you can get your credit score for free. That’s because your report and your score are two different things. The report is a collection of all your credit activity: what loans, credit cards, etc. you have currently, what you owe and how well you stick to their payment schedules. Your credit score, on the other hand, is a three–digit number that represents your creditworthiness to potential lenders.
  2. There is More Than One Credit Score – There are in fact three companies that monitor Americans’ credit profiles: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each issues a credit score based on proprietary factors. Therefore, each score will be slightly different – though they are typically fairly close. For instance, if your Equifax score is 688, your TransUnion score may be 684, while your Experian score may be 690. If one of your scores is wildly different than the others, this may indicate an error in your credit report.
  3. Credit Reports Often Contain Mistakes – This is one reason why it’s important to check your credit score often, especially if you’re about to make a big purchase, such as a car or home. If you find a mistake in your credit report, you can dispute it with the reporting agency. They are required to investigate errors within 30-45 days. Common errors include wrong previous addresses, late payments more than seven years old or having an account listed as closed by the provider that was actually closed by you. A recent FTC report showed that one in four credit reports contains at least one potentially serious error.
  4. Your Credit Score Is More Than Just Your Payment History – While your payment history is a big part of your score, it also takes into account other factors such as the number of accounts you have open, what kind of accounts you have open, how much of your available credit you’re using and how long you have had these accounts open.
  5. Closing Old Accounts Won’t Necessarily Help Your Score – In fact, closing old dormant credit accounts can actually hurt your score. While this seems counterintuitive, remember that a part of your score is the ratio of debt to available credit. So if you close an old account, you are actually reducing the amount of credit available to you, which increases this ratio, potentially harming your score. Your score also takes into account the length of your credit history, so if you close your oldest accounts, you can effectively shorten this history, which can further penalize you.

These are just a few important factors regarding your credit report and your credit score. If you have any other questions regarding this or any other financial topic, please don’t hesitate to stop in to your nearest First Nebraska Bank location to chat with one of our friendly bankers.


Tips on Making IRA Contributions

Individual Retirement Accounts or IRAs are a great way to save money for your retirement. They allow you to put away a part of your income without having to pay taxes on it until it is withdrawn later.

There are, however, certain rules that you must be aware of in order to get the most from your savings and avoid potential pitfalls.

From the IRS:

If you have any questions about retirement savings and taxes, or if you would like to set up or roll over a retirement savings account, don’t hesitate to stop into your nearest First Nebraska Bank location or call for more information.

Tax Advice Disclaimer – The information on this website (article) should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a professional Tax Adviser who is familiar with all the relevant facts. Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is general in nature and is not intended as tax advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individuals’ circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters. First Nebraska Bank assumes no obligation to inform any person of any changes in the tax law or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.


We’ve Completely Overhauled Our Checking Accounts

To better serve you, we’re offering a new array of checking account products tailor−made for your personal financial lifestyle. But regardless of the account you choose, you will receive:

Check out the various options below to compare the different features of each account. Let us know which one you'd prefer or stop in and visit with us. We’re happy to go over them with you! Several options include cash rewards and eStatements rebates. There’s also a high interest account!

You can read about our complete account offerings here.

If you have questions, simply drop by or call any First Nebraska Bank location or contact us.


Five Tips for Improving Your Financial Health for 2016

It’s a new year and a new you... at least that’s what most of us say as January rolls around. But in addition to improving our physical health, there are things we can do to improve our financial outlook as well. Here are five easily achievable resolutions to start you off:

  1. Start Small – Whatever your financial goals for 2016, pick ones that are achievable. For instance, while it’s unlikely that you’ll find a new job at double your current salary, maybe you can work towards getting a promotion that’ll improve your income.
  2. Track Your Spending – This is an important one. Even the littlest expenses add up. Your seemingly harmless three–dollar morning latté adds up to 60 a month. In other words, if you brewed a cup at home and took it with you in a travel mug, you’d save a whopping $720 a year!
  3. Protect Your Online Identity – Credit card fraud and other forms of identity theft are rampant these days. Password–protecting your smartphone is a good way to keep your personal information out of the hands of thieves. Using a password management system such as 1Password or Apple’s built–in iCloud Keychain can help by allowing you to use and manage much more difficult–to–crack passwords.
  4. Lower Your Regular Bills – Many monthly bills such as car insurance or cable can be lowered simply by asking. These companies want to keep you as a customer. If they think you might jump ship to the competition, they may just lower your rates. Credit card companies, too, can sometimes lower interest rates if you simply ask. Of course, you need to be a customer in good standing with good credit for this approach to work!
  5. Plan Ahead – Whether it–s an expected expense such as holiday shopping or an unexpected one (think car repairs), putting a little money away each month over the year can help take the pinch out of paying for these expenses when they come due.

It should go without saying that following these rules doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun either. As the saying goes, "All things in moderation... including moderation." That means that you can go ahead and reward yourself with that latté every now and then. After all, a treat isn’t a treat if it’s an everyday thing.


Staying Safe & Secure This Online Holiday Shopping Season

We live more of our lives online today than at any other point in history. This is especially true of holiday shopping, where the convenience of getting the perfect gift at the perfect price with just a few mouse−clicks is irresistible. But while you’re out to get the perfect gift at a price that’s a steal... there are cyber thieves who are actively trying to steal your information so that they can make off with your identity.

So this holiday season, follow these few simple tips to shore up your online security and protect your valuable identity from would−be thieves.

Don’t share your secrets.
Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

Shred sensitive papers.
Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

Keep an eye out for missing mail.
Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

Monitor your credit report.
Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at

Protect your computer.
Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an "s" after the "http" to be sure a shopping website is secure.

Protect your mobile device.
Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

And of course, report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. Incidentally, these are rules that are important to follow all year long – not just during the holidays. So get into the habit of protecting your identity starting now!


8 Tips for Happy Holiday Budgeting

To avoid a Holiday hangover when those January credit card bills start showing up, check out the tips we’ve put together below. In fact, you may even get to drop your "sticking to a budget" New Year’s resolution for 2016!

  1. Remember the reason for the Holidays. Regardless of the particular holiday you celebrate, the "reason for the season" is selflessness and family. Keep this in mind when shopping and planning get−togethers.
  2. Consider giving gifts that can’t be bought in stores. Baking holiday treats is a classic that continues to be appreciated. Or perhaps you and your kids are good at crafts. Making unique Holiday ornaments is a fun way to save money while giving a truly personal gift.
  3. Before you shop, set a budget and stick to it. Do this rationally and calmly at your kitchen table, before you head to the mall to be dazzled by the lights, decorations and signs shouting SALE! and PRICE CUT!
  4. Make a list and stick to it. Instead of suddenly remembering a niece or nephew and buying something on the fly, put together a thorough list with pricing for each gift. This will help you stick to your budget.
  5. If you have to use credit cards, do so wisely. Pick the card with the lowest rate and pay it off as fast as you can. Otherwise your $50 gift may end up costing you twice that over time.
  6. Avoid department store credit cards. Though you may "save 10 percent" on your purchase, department store cards typically have high rates that will end up costing you big over time.
  7. Challenge yourself to a cash−only Holiday shopping trip. Avoiding credit cards altogether will not only save you money on interest and fees, it will give you a hard limit above which you cannot spend.
  8. Consider shopping online instead of battling the crowds at the mall. Online stores often offer better prices than their brick−and−mortar competitors and will ship right to your home or office. Plus how cool is it to shop from home in your robe and slippers with a nice hot cup of coffee?


Tips on Kids & Money

If you don’t want to find yourself bailing your kids out of debt sometime around their sophomore year of college, it’s a good idea to teach them the skills they’ll need to be financially savvy now while they’re young.

To get started, check out these important tips:


Mobile Banking From First Nebraska Bank

Mobile banking offers many advantages that you may not be aware of, including easy–to–use apps, the latest security and 24/7 access to your accounts. It allows you to be connected and in control of your money at all times, as long as you have access to the internet.

Multiple Options for Access

There are three different options for accessing your accounts:

Texting is the simplest method. It allows you to check your balance, get a history of the last five transactions on your account or even get daily or low balance alerts.

Using your mobile web browser accesses your online account just as you would from your computer. You may have to turn your device on its side or resize the browser window to improve legibility.

The downloadable mobile app is the most efficient way to use mobile banking. It allows you to check your balances, view account history, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, deposit checks and find the nearest location or ATM. It’s intuitive and user friendly. Step–by–step instructions guide you, followed by onscreen confirmations of your actions, before any commands are processed.

The Latest Security

Even though you are accessing your account via your mobile device, you are still required to enter your password, so it’s still secure. We recommend that you maintain a passcode on your phone, which adds another level protection from someone gaining access to your account. And if you happen to lose your phone or have it stolen, you can log in to your online banking and disable your phone’s access to your account.

No Fees

Mobile banking is free. There’s no charge for having access to your account on your phone. Mobile deposit and paying your bills via your phone are free services that we have established for your convenience.


While mobile banking is simple and convenient, it’s hard to replace the value of a face–to–face interaction with someone who cares about your financial future. So stop by one of our ten locations today to discuss how First Nebraska Bank can help you grow!


Five Reasons to Refinance Now

Seven years after the economic collapse of 2008, mortgage rates are still at near−historical lows. But as the economy gains steam and the unemployment rate slowly returns to pre−recession levels, the chances of the federal funds rate creeping up – and mortgage rates along with it – increases. But there’ time to take advantage of a low rate and reduce your monthly mortgage and potentially save big over time.

Five Reasons You Should Refinance Now

  1. Interest Rates Are Low – It’s a great time to borrow money. The Federal Reserve, which regulates the nation’s financial institutions, has indicated that interest rates will likely remain low for the time being. But this won’t last forever.
  2. Home Values and Appraisals – Prior to 2013, homeowners who attempted to refinance experienced challenges due to home appraisals and home values coming in too low to be able to qualify for a refinance loan. Since 2008−2009, home values have increased substantially and many home owners who did not qualify for a mortgage refinance previously (due to appraisal/home values) will not have the same home value challenges in many instances.
  3. Mortgage Insurance Has Decreased − Earlier this year, the Federal Housing Administration announced it would reduce the mortgage insurance premium rate charged on FHA−backed loans from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent, which some estimates suggest will result in an average savings of $900 a year for new homebuyers and anyone refinancing a house. It was a decision designed to spur home buying, but it’s good for homeowners who want to refinance as well. Another reason to consider refinancing, especially if you have an FHA loan: You may be able to refinance from an FHA loan to a conventional mortgage and remove your mortgage insurance payments altogether, reducing your monthly payment even more – if you have enough equity in your home.
  4. Family Situation – There is no "rule of thumb" when it comes to the interest rate drop justifying a refinance, mostly due to the many factors that can create a reality where a refinance can benefit a family financially. For example, when a household switches from dual to single−income, it may be necessary to refinance to a longer term to lower the payment based on the change of income status. Not only do lower rates save money, but also some families need to refinance to a lower rate, as well as a new 30−year fixed term to maximize cash flow for their household, based on budgeting for a lower household income. In addition, many Americans find themselves in consumer debt due to circumstances beyond their control, and a refinance that did not make good financial sense two years ago may now be very appealing, based on their household budget and low mortgage rates.
  5. Updated Regulations – Lending guidelines have eased somewhat over the past couple of years, and the housing market has shown more signs of life than in previous years. In recent years, many newly implemented regulations have created challenges for some homeowners who might have attempted to refinance two years ago. Since that time, however, the lending institutions and mortgage industry have had sufficient time to implement and learn how to operate within the regulatory environment, which has created more accountability for lenders. Also, lending guidelines slowly continue to improve, making mortgage qualification and refinance easier to understand and more accessible compared to recent years.

Contact your nearest location to speak with one of our mortgage specialist to see how refinancing your mortgage could benefit you.


At First Nebraska Bank, the seed is our symbol not only because it harkens back to our agricultural roots, but also because it is the universal emblem of growth. And for more than 130 years, we’ve been focused on helping Nebraskans grow their families, farms and businesses by giving them the financial backing they need.

So tell us how you plan to grow with First Nebraska Bank, and you could win a $500 landscaping package! Simply click here to enter.

The winner will be announced May 22, so enter today!


Your Financial Institution & You

In life, the only constant is change. Some changes you see coming from a mile away; others take you by surprise. But whether it’s a change in your personal life or professional life, your financial institution can be an important resource for you as you move forward towards your life’s goals.

In addition to the above situations, your financial institution can be an invaluable resource when unexpected changes happen, whether that may be the sudden loss of a spouse or the sudden onset of an expensive medical condition.

The bottom line is, your bank is much more than just a web page or mobile app you check every once in a while; it’s people who have the experience, expertise and empathy to help you and your family meet life’s challenges and thrive.


Understanding Your Credit Report

There are four main categories to each credit report: personal information, public record information, creditor information and credit inquiries.

Personal information is pretty self–explanatory, but you should take time to scrutinize the variations in the spelling of your name and whether it’s listed with or without your middle initial. The names listed come from information provided to financial institution or lenders you currently do or have done business with. The rest of the information that will be in this section includes:

Public Records will include legal issues related to your financial situation, including:

Creditor Information comprises the bulk of your report. All of your loans, credit cards, etc. will be shown in this section, along with any collections for accounts that were sold or unpaid. With each account, the following information will be provided:

In this section, the accounts will typically be split between positive and adverse action accounts. Positive accounts are those that have been paid in full and on time. The adverse action accounts are those that have a negative effect on your credit score. Late payments, outstanding balances or collections will likely all report under adverse actions accounts. If the report is accurate and the account is truly adverse, they’ll be removed from your report after seven years of being cleared up. One bureau, Transunion, will list the date when the account will be removed.

The terms Charge off or Payment after Charge off, means that the creditor has given up on you, charging the account as a loss. Most often, they have sent the account to a collection company. Even if you make a payment after the account has been charged off, this will not be removed from your credit report for seven years.

Credit Inquiries is the section that shows creditors or individuals that have pulled and reviewed your credit report, such as the bank where you opened an account or applied for car or mortgage loan. There are two types of inquiries:

Your credit score is made up of five categories: Payment history, amounts owed in relation to limit, length of credit history, types of credit and new credit. So be smart with your credit decisions; only apply for credit as needed. Know what you are signing up for. Understand the terms, rate and fees that apply before agreeing to take on more credit.

An annual review ensures that the report is accurate and up–to–date. With the rise in identity theft, there is always a chance that there are errors in your report – including accounts that do not belong to you. Staying on top of your credit will ensure that you get the best rates and terms on any financial transaction.

Take control of your financial future. Get a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies at


It’s That Time of Year Again... Tax Season!

Some folks are busy planning what they’re going to spend their tax refunds on while others are trying to find ways to increase their returns or reduce their income so they don’t have to pay in. If you’re looking to do the latter, an IRA could be just what you need.

Now you may be asking yourself, "What exactly is an IRA?" Well, an individual retirement account (IRA) provides tax advantages for retirement savings in the United States. It allows you to contribute pretax income into an account that can grow tax–deferred. There are specific contribution limits established annually. Individual taxpayers are allowed to contribute 100% of compensation up to a specified maximum dollar amount to their Traditional IRA. Contributions to the Traditional IRA may be tax–deductible depending on the taxpayer's income, tax–filing status and other factors.

Be sure to seek professional tax advice to learn how contributing to an IRA could potentially benefit you.

Now that you know what an IRA is, you’re probably asking, "How does it work?" When the individual begins to receive distributions from a Traditional IRA, the income is treated as ordinary income and may be subjected to income tax. For people over the age of 50, higher annual contribution limits may apply if the IRA has been recently created or under-funded in previous tax years. These are known as "catch-up contributions." Unless an exception applies, money can typically be withdrawn penalty free as taxable income from an IRA once the owner reaches age 59 1/2. Once the owner reaches age 70 1/2, annual distributions from the account are required.

If you currently have an IRA, there is still time to make a contribution to your IRA for 2014 or open a new account before the April 15th deadline. You could potentially save money on your tax return and help plan for your retirement!

First Nebraska Bank’s Individual Retirement Account (IRA) requires $100 minimum opening deposit. Interest is compounded and credited quarterly back to the IRA. You can choose between an 18–month and 60—month term. An early withdrawal penalty may apply. Another benefit of an IRA is that it is not subject to the ups and downs of the financial markets. This means that even if you're contributing to your retirement through a 401(k), you may be able to benefit from the safety and security of an IRA with First cBank. If you would like a bank representative to contact you with more information on IRA’s, please fill out the contact us form here.

Tax Advice Disclaimer
The information on this website should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a professional Tax Adviser who is familiar with all the relevant facts.

Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is General in nature and is not intended as tax advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individuals’ specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters.

First Nebraska Bank assumes no obligation to inform any person of any changes in the tax law or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure
Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.



Protecting Your Mobile Device

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals.

Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.

In addition:


Kick–Start Your Savings in 2015!

Now that we’ve all made New Year’s resolutions to stick to a budget and save more money... just how exactly are we going to make that happen? Well first of all, saving money always sounds harder than it is – even though it seems as if expenses always sneak up and wreck our plans to put money away. The key is to not get discouraged and understand that this isn’t an overnight process.

First, open a designated Savings or Money Market account in which to put funds aside. You need a separate account, because everyone knows that if you keep money in your checking account, you will spend it. You can set up a reoccurring transfer with your Online Banking or Mobile App or have it deposited separately with your employer’s payroll department.

Next, start small. Something is better than nothing. If you aren’t sure how much you can afford to put away every paycheck/month, start with $10 and see how it goes. You can always increase the amount at a later time. Another option is to do more – for example, $100/month; if you run short in your checking account, you can always transfer the money back. This may help you reevaluate your expenditures for the month and help you stay on budget.

There are also apps available that can help you save money. For example, Digit is an app that links to your account, evaluates your spending habits and automatically transfers available funds to your savings.

The bottom line is, we all experience unexpected expenses in life, which is part of the reason to save. So don’t stop putting aside money because you have a little hiccup. Stick with it, and you’ll see that your savings will grow faster than you thought possible.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for our #MoneyMonday tips, giving you easy everyday ideas on how to keep a little extra money in your pocket.



Monitoring Your Accounts to Protect Yourself from Fraud

Part of a successful budget is knowing how much you are spending and what you’re spending it on. Reviewing your accounts and monthly statements gives you an insight into this important aspect of your budget process. But it also has the added benefit of helping protect you from fraud by allowing you to notice any charges that look suspicious.

Other things you can do to prevent fraud include:

Here are some other scams to be aware of, courtesy of the FBI.


Budgeting Resolutions for the New Year!

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, creating a budget is one that will not only pay off, it’s also easier than you think to stick to. Believe it or not, budgeting is easy and everyone can do it; you just need to follow a few simple tips.

Follow these tips and you’ll watch your debt shrink and your savings grow! For more helpful guidelines, check out this article.



Online Shopping Safety

We are constantly bombarded with information about identity theft and ways to keep our personal information secure, but some are incredibly complicated. Some easy solutions to protect your personal information are to buy a shredder, sign up for eStatements, and monitor your accounts regularly. Updating your anti–virus software and verifying you’re using the newest version of your internet browser will help keep your information safe online. With all the security breaches in the media, it might make you feel like it’s time to give up the Internet altogether. As that’s not very realistic, instead of swearing off the World Wide Web, you just need to know how to protect your information when shopping online. Here are some quick safety tips for shopping online.


Holiday Shopping on a Budget

With the holidays right around the corner and Black Friday looming, it’s a great time to plan how to keep your holiday spending in check. Heading out shopping and simply picking up items without considering some sort of budget, you’ve set yourself up for trouble. If you're equipped with a plan, it will be simple to stay within your budget. Often, the best gifts aren’t the most expensive ones. When giving to a loved one, think of something sentimental to your relationship. The old adage does apply here; it’s the thought that counts! People enjoy receiving something that comes from the heart. After all, it’s the reason for the season!

Here are some tips for shopping wisely this holiday season.



Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries, so it never hurts to take a few extra precautions when your family and your home are involved. Here’s a link from the National Fire Protection Association that gives you some simple things you can do to keep your holiday safe:


Keeping Costs Down This Thanksgiving

If you’ve drawn the short straw and are preparing a Thanksgiving meal for your extended family, there are some things you can do to keep the costs from spiraling out of control, including simple things such as planning out the meal and buying items you need now rather than waiting for the week of Thanksgiving. You can also switch up your normal traditions and have a potluck or go volunteer at a community meal instead of staying home. The link below has additional tips that may come in handy:



Cloud Storage: the Future is Here

Recent news of celebrities’ private photos being stolen has exposed (no pun intended) some of the pitfalls in how smartphones and "The Cloud" often work together.

So what is "The Cloud," anyway? Well, despite its mysterious name, the cloud is nothing more than a data storage solution in which your information is stored offsite rather than on your device. The benefits are, your data doesn’t take up room on your device and, should your device fail or be stolen, your data isn’t lost along with it. However, it does mean that your private, personal information is entrusted to a third party, who has the responsibility of keeping it both available and secure.

The celebrity photo breach in question was a simple matter of the attackers either guessing, brute–forcing or getting the targets to give away the passwords on their Apple iCloud accounts. Because their iPhones were backing up to the iCloud service, this meant that all of the victims’ data, including pictures, was accessible.

Smartphones backing up to online cloud storage is not just an Apple feature. Android phones can do this as well – either to Google or to a carrier’s own cloud storage service. Often in the excitement of getting a new phone, we simply rush through the initial setup and accept when it offers to backup your data for you... after all, why would having backups be bad, right?

At the end of the day, cloud storage is here to stay. So here are some tips on protecting your privacy:

  1. Pay attention to prompts when setting up your phone. If it is going to backup, where is your data going and how is it protected and accessed? If all that is needed is your email address and a password to retrieve your data from anywhere in the world, you should think twice.
  2. If you do use a cloud storage service, use the strongest authentication process possible – not just a username and password. Choose a strong password (at least 15 characters) and utilize any additional options, such as one–time-password (OTP) features, like a texted pin code). It may be a pain to log into but keep in mind the value of the data you are storing.
  3. When setting up the security questions on your account, remember that a lot of these answers can be guessed or found out with some digging. If the security questions have answers that others could find out, consider using bogus answers only you would know.
  4. Remember that your phone collects and stores an enormous amount of information about you, your habits and your life. Both advertisers and attackers know this. Pay attention to what apps you install and what permissions they ask for and why.

Lastly, just a word of advice. Taking private pictures of yourself using a phone where most apps – even games like Angry Birds – state they can have direct access to your media files may not be the best idea.


The Joys (and Financial Benefits) of Organizing Your Home

You’re cooking dinner for guests tonight. Your recipe requires you to peel carrots. You’re pretty sure you have a peeler... you just can’t remember where you put it. So you run out and buy another one. This happens to people all the time. And it’s not just vegetable peelers. It can be food items, tools, computer and audio cables... just about anything. Not only does this ad–hoc approach to acquiring things clutter up your home, it’s also expensive!

So whether you’ve just moved or you’ve been in your house for years, now is the time to organize your belongings to make finding a battery when the flashlight’s dead or a fingernail clipper when there’s a hangnail much easier.

And what do you do with all the extra stuff you find along the way? Sell it at a garage sale or donate it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and take the tax deduction!

Here’s what to do.

Tackle One Room at a Time. Don’t take on every cupboard and box at once. If you still have boxes from a recent (or not–so–recent) move, place them in rooms according to which room they came from in your old house. And to fit it into your busy schedule, make a plan to tackle one room per weekend.

Whatever you do, don’t take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach and clog your garage and attic with unmarked boxes. You’ll regret it in five years when you have to move again. Either unpack and distribute the contents in appropriate rooms or donate the goods to charity. Save your storage space for seasonal décor and family mementos in labeled boxes.

Think Visibility, Accessibility, Flexibility – they’re the three tenets of organization. You’re more likely to use what you can see and easily access. Be open to reconfiguring and reorganizing storage spaces based on your family’s evolving needs.

Invest in a Few Smart Storage Solutions, such as:

Space-Saving Organization Tips by Room:

Here are a couple other sites with organizational tips that might come in handy.



Keeping College Kids Safe & Secure Online

When they’re not in class, college students spend most of their free time online–whether engaging in social media, researching papers or playing games. So college is a time when online security and safety are of paramount importance. Dangers range from annoyances such as viruses to serious identity and data theft scams that can quickly upend a college student’s semester.

For the latest tips and tricks on maintaining a safe online environment when your child is away at college, check out this informative piece from


Get the Apps You Need for College!

From banking to studying to finding where you parked your car at the homecoming game, we’ve got the apps you need to keep your life in order while you’re on and off campus this fall.

10 Apps for College



Summer Road Safety

As the summer starts to wind down, farming activity revs up. Wheat harvest begins the first wave of farm machinery and equipment to hit the pavement–and it only gets busier from there on. Here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe while traveling on the roads.

Farmers and Drivers:

Before passing farm machinery:

Remember, the best practice is to slow down, pay attention, and stay off of your cell phone while driving. Please be patient and courteous to each other when sharing the roadway.

You can refresh your safe driving practices by reviewing Nebraska’s Driver’s Manual –


10 Tips for Fighting Fraud

The best way to fight consumer fraud is to prevent it, and the best weapon to protect yourself against fraud is information. If you can identify a scam, recognize when a deal is "too good to be true," and know when to say "no," scam artists won’t stand a chance.

And remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here are 10 tools you can use to fight fraud.

  1. Ignore all mail, phone and e–mail solicitations for foreign lottery promotions and investment opportunities. Consult with someone you know and trust to collaborate on your philanthropic and investment decisions.
  2. Always be cautious about submitting advance fees for any business or sweepstakes offer–no matter where the offer originates.
  3. Don’t trust e–mails or text messages that appear to be from your financial institution or a government agency that request your bank account or Social Security number. Legitimate institutions will never e–mail or text you to request details about your account or financial status.
  4. Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
  5. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet to persons or businesses that are unknown to you.
  6. Never click on links sent in unsolicited e–mails. Use firewalls, anti–spyware, and anti–virus software to protect your computer.
  7. Inspect your credit report. Visit to order your FREE annual credit report.
  8. Review your financial statements and credit card statements regularly. Look for charges you did not make and report them to your bank or Credit Card Company immediately.
  9. Watch out for home repair scams and travel club fraud. Seek competitive bids and pricing, and be wary of any offer that seems too good to be true.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask a banker, trusted advisor, family member or friend if you have any doubts about an offer or business. Regardless of your age, sex, education level, financial status or location, you are a potential victim.

If you think you are a victim of fraud, don’t hesitate to call your financial institution or contact the Nebraska Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-727-6432 or visit their website at



Vacation Travel Tips

Summer is a great time to travel. The kids are out of school for the summer, and you naturally want to take advantage of the nice weather and longer days. Vacation is a time for relaxation and having fun--but packing all the essentials is only half the battle. Preparing your home for your trip is necessary as well.

Depending on how long you are going to be gone, have your mail stopped temporarily or have a trusted neighbor or friend stop by regularly to collect your mail. He or she can also stop by and check on your house at the same time.

Setting up an electrical timer to turn on lights or TVs, mimicking your regular schedule, is also a good way to ward off potential intruders by fooling them into thinking someone is at home. If you are leaving for an extended period of time, consider having your utilities turned off to avoid possible flooding, fire or gas leaks.

Inform a family member or friend of your itinerary in case you need to contact someone or be contacted during an emergency. In addition, avoid announcing your travel plans on social media. Alerting people of your absence is an invitation for trouble.

Create a list of all the items you will need to make packing easy. It is a great way to ensure you don't forget anything. Go through your wallet or purse and make sure you are taking only items you’ll need. Losing your wallet is stressful enough when only one or two credit cards are missing rather than all your cards.

Carry money and identification in your front pockets or close to your body to avoid appearing as an easy target for thieves. When flying to your destination, carry on anything you may need such as medication and an extra change of clothes in case your luggage is delayed. It's a good idea to carry on anything of real value, in case your luggage is lost permanently or stolen.

Research your destination thoroughly. Know where you are going, and have a plan on how you are getting there, so that if you get separated from the group you aren't lost in an unfamiliar place. Having a basic idea of the layout of the area will come in handy and make navigating less stressful.

Make a plan of your activities. Whether you're spending the day at the beach and need plenty of sunscreen or hiking through nature and need appropriate footwear and clothing, you'll be sure to have the right equipment if you plan ahead.

For additional vacation tips check out this useful link


Tips for Saving Money in College

College is expensive, and every penny you can save counts. Everything from textbooks and supplies to transportation, food and entertainment will cost you money. Scholarships and financial aid help lessen the burden, but there are a variety of other ways to help you keep money in your pocket.

First and foremost, apply for scholarships; after all, it's free money. Check with your high school guidance counselor if you're beginning your first year of college or the financial aid office of the college you are attending. Filling out the applications may take some time and seem like a pain but at the end of the semester when you aren't living on ramen noodles, you'll be glad you put forth the effort.

Make a budget. Know where your money is going. Keep your receipts, whether you pay cash or credit. Track your expenditures for a month so that you are aware of how you are spending your money. It's easy to cut back on unnecessary spending when you know what your habits are. It will also help you save money for those big-ticket items that you really want.

Always buy used textbooks. Once you have your class schedule, find what textbooks you need. You can save a lot of money buying used, and you can also shop online to see if you can find it cheaper than in the bookstore. Asking friends if they have taken a course in the past and still have the textbook is an option too. If you have to buy new, check and see if the previous version had any major changes. If not the previous used version could save you a bundle and you can manage if there were just a few small changes. Sell your textbooks once you're done with the class. The bookstore will usually buy them back--or try selling them online or to your friends. You probably won't need that World Religions 101 textbook ever again.

Lastly, find a part-time job. Joining the real world may not sound like fun now, but having extra income will give you some additional freedom financially. Look for jobs on campus. It will save you money not having to drive to a job, and usually they are pretty easy and may allow you time to study and get some of your homework out of the way.

For additional tips on saving money in college, check out this helpful link




Need a quick, secure way to pay someone without writing them a check or giving them cash? Popmoney is your solution. This personal payment service is offered as part of First Nebraska Bank’s Online Banking Click–N–Pay bill payment product.

Popmoney is a pay service that eliminates the hassles of checks and cash. With Popmoney, sending and receiving money is as easy as emailing or texting. You don’t need to know anyone’s personal banking information–just their contact information.

Here are a few ways Popmoney can be helpful:

Using Popmoney is as simple as paying a bill online. First, enter the person’s name and email address or cell phone number, as well as the amount you would like to send them. Then, select the day you would like the payment to be sent. You are able to include a personal message so the recipient knows who is sending them money and for what reason. There is a flat $0.50 fee for sending payments, regardless of amount. If the recipient does not accept your payment within 10 days, the money is put back in your account. As soon as the recipient receives their notification and follows the instructions to verify their information, the funds are deposited to their account as early as the next business day.

Receiving payments is easy too! The recipient will receive a message letting them know they were sent money via the information entered to send the payment, i.e. text or email. Since First Nebraska Bank offers Popmoney through our FNB Click–N–Pay, all you would have to do is simply log in to your online banking, go to Popmoney and accept your pending payment. No additional passwords or accounts need to be set up and your financial information remains secure. If the recipient doesn’t bank with First Nebraska, they may need to check with their financial institution to see if Popmoney is offered or they can easily set up an account at or download the app to accept their payments. If you want to know more about Popmoney and how it can benefit you, stop by your nearest location and ask us how!


Prepare Your Home for Summer

We’ve been counting down the days until summer arrives... but now that the snow is gone, have you taken the time to make sure your home is ready for summer?

Here are some great tips to help prepare your home so you can enjoy the warm weather:

For additional ideas to prepare your home for summer, check out this helpful article

April TIPS



You’ve probably heard a lot about the "Heartbleed" vulnerability that is affecting the security of many servers and online sites. We’re happy to report that our website, online banking and all other web services, are completely unaffected by "Heartbleed."

This security vulnerability is tied to specific code in software called OpenSSL. The compromised code was never in use on any First Nebraska Bank or vendor server used by First Nebraska Bank.

While the "Heartbleed" vulnerability is a serious issue, it can be patched securely. If you are concerned with any of your personal services or online accounts, check with your software vendors, online providers and hosts to ensure they have mitigated any risk.

If you have online accounts with websites such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, you may need to change your password to be safe. You can find a list of sites affected by Heartbleed here

You can also check to see if a site has fixed its vulnerability here


Let’s face it; a dream wedding can quickly become a nightmare as costs spiral out of control. Last year, the average wedding cost $30,000. You’ve got to hire a photographer, a baker, a florist, a band, a caterer, a bartender... And then there’s the gown and the venue. The list goes on and on.

So what can you do to keep costs down while still giving yourself or your little girl a dream wedding? Plenty, as it turns out. In fact, like many things in life, preparing a well thought–out budget beforehand (and sticking to it) can be the key to keeping the whole event manageable.

For other ways to have a dream wedding on a budget, check out this helpful article at!



Preparing for Spring Weather

Here in the Midwest, spring brings the possibility of dangerous weather. Now is a good time to visit your Emergency Response Plan.

Your plan should include:

Other Recommendations: is a great resource for guidance on developing an Emergency Response Plan for your home.


Buying a New Home

Buying a home is one of life’s biggest investments and commitments. Owning a home is rewarding–but taking on the responsibility can be overwhelming. Don’t worry; we’re here to help!

Download your FREE home-buying information sheet here!



Saving Tax-Free with an IRA

There are many ways to save for the future. You can contribute to your company’s 401(k) plan. You can put extra money into a savings account. You can even stuff extra cash into a coffee can. But one of the simplest and safest ways to save for retirement is by contributing to an Individual Retirement Account or IRA.

With an IRA, you pay no taxes on the amount you contribute in a particular year. And you pay no taxes on the interest the IRA accrues that year (so long as it stays in the IRA). In fact, the only time you pay taxes on your IRA is when you finally withdraw your money from it after you hit retirement age. And since many people believe that they will be in a lower tax bracket when they retire, this can mean that you pay less tax than if you had paid it as you contributed.

If you think you might benefit from an IRA, speak to a First Nebraska Bank financial planner for more information. Learn more here

Tax Advice Disclaimer

The information on this website should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a professional Tax Adviser who is familiar with all the relevant facts.

Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is General in nature and is not intended as tax advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individuals’ specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters.

First Nebraska Bank assumes no obligation to inform any person of any changes in the tax law or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.


Avoiding Tax Season Scams

The Internal Revenue Service has issued several recent consumer warnings on the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. When identity theft takes place over the Internet with the perpetrator masquerading as a legitimate entity, it is called phishing.

Phishing (as in "fishing for information" and "hooking" victims) is a scam in which Internet fraudsters send e–mail messages designed to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information. This information can then be used to steal the victims’ identity. Once the scammer has done this, he or she is free to apply for credit cards and loans in the victims’ names, ruining their credit along the way.

Phishing scams succeed because they look like legitimate e–mails to the untrained eye.

Current tax-related phishing scams include phony e–mails that claim to come from the IRS, enticing victims by telling them that they are due a tax refund.

So, this time of year, be extra–vigilant– and be extra-aware of any suspicious emails that claim to be from the IRS or any other tax governing entity promising you a refund.



Sticking to Your Financial Diet

Just as it is when it comes getting your body in shape, there are a variety of tips and tricks you can use to help keep your finances healthier in 2014.

Whether it’s incorporating new web and app–based technologies or tracking your daily spending... or simply just being better organized across the board, with a few simple steps (and the breaking of some bad habits), you can really improve your financial outlook–maybe even dramatically.

Check out this article for some great ideas on how to shape up your finances!


In the News

Would-be cyber-criminals often use real–world events to perpetrate their attacks. Public interests can help them determine what people are more likely to click on, making their attacks more successful. Here are a few ways current events can be used against you:

Phishing Emails: can contain content that takes advantage of what people are currently talking about. Whether it’s pop culture or politics, email content that people find interesting is more likely to succeed when used for phishing purposes. Phishing scams can also be timed to coincide with specific events. For example, right now there are phishing emails circulating regarding Benefits and Open Enrollment.

Googling: Attackers can use Google or other search engine results to their advantage. Whenever there is a major news story, hackers attempt to poison the search results to make their malicious page show up near the top of the list. So whenever there is big news going on, be careful of simply Googling the term and clicking the top links without checking where they go.

Phone Scams: Believe it or not, these still exist–mainly because they are effective. Phone scams can often make use of things people are talking about–or are confused about–such as the new healthcare law or taxes.

So be smart and be vigilant. And remember, it takes two people to pull off a successful scam: the scammer AND the victim.

November Tips


10 Tips For Holiday Shopping On a Budget

  1. Debit Instead of Credit: Use debit instead of credit cards. A debit card automatically forces you to spend only what you have, and allows you to avoid paying interest. Leave the credit cards at home. Let's say that you go ahead and charge the $817 (that is the amount which the average American is planning on spending this holiday), and pay the minimum payment of $10 a month with an average annual percentage rate of 18 percent. It would take you 133 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you will pay $840.83 in interest.
  2. Know Your Budget:Know your budget, and make it non-negotiable: $10 means $10, not $12. Be sure to keep a running log of what you spend.
  3. Don't Get Department Store Credit Cards:When you open up a new credit card, many retailers offer you a 10 or 15 percent savings on your first purchase. But that savings will quickly vanish if you don't pay off your credit card balance in full. Some retailers, like Marshall Fields, for instance, will hit their customers with annual percentage rates upward of 20 percent.

    Do the Math: If you pay $100 for a blouse and take the 10 percent discount, you would pay $90. However, if you were unable to pay the balance by the due date, you would pay $18.90 in interest, assuming a 21 percent APR, which would completely wipe out your $10 savings. You are now paying $108.90 for the blouse that was originally priced at $100!
  4. Make a List:Make a detailed list of who you want to buy for, how much you want to spend, and which gifts you expect to buy. This keeps you focused.
  5. Pre-Shop:Do some research before you hit the stores. Call around and go online to find better deals. You should also try to consolidate to a few stores to cut down on transportation costs.
  6. Stock Up On Stock:Instead of gifts, buy stock directly from a company, which allows you to avoid the fees and hassles of a broker or online service. For children, it could be the start of a wonderful tradition that instills a legacy of saving. Plus, it is a great, educational stocking stuffer, if your child knows the company.

    For example, you can buy stock directly from Mattel, Inc (which was selling at $20.28 earlier this week) for your nephew instead of the hot toy that he's sure to forget. Or buy your father-in-law a share of stock directly from Home Depot (selling at $25.45 a share earlier this week) instead of a new power drill. Consider it a present for the future.
  7. Pick a Card:Instead of giving an old-fashioned paper gift certificate, try a prepaid gift card, which works like a debit card. The money is loaded onto the card so that the person can get exactly what they want, but there a few things to watch out for. Sometimes the card company will charge the purchaser a fee. For instance, for a $25 gift card, some companies add an extra fee on top. If it's $5.95 for a $25 card, that means you have paid an interest rate of 23.8 percent.
  8. Browse the Net:Instead of browsing the racks, try going online to shop. Many retailers offer discounts that are only available online, and they sweeten deal by offering free shipping and no-hassle returns.
  9. Free Gift Wrap:: If the store you are shopping in has a free gift-wrapping service, take advantage of it. You can save so much money by not buying fancy gift-wrap that you can put your savings toward other gifts.
  10. Beware the Gift Receipt:Many stores offer gift receipts, which do not have a price on them, as a way for the gift recipient to bring the gift back, supposedly without knowing how much you spent. Don't go for it. Be bold and ask for an actual receipt with the real cost of the item on it, to make sure if someone's returning your gift, they get the full value, not just store credit or the price the day of return, which might be reduced. They're going to find out what gift cost anyway, so there's no need to hide behind gift receipt.


Shopping during the holiday season can present unique danger. Taking a few prevention measures can help keep your holiday season joyous.

The holiday season is a time when busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. The following tips from the police department can help you be more careful, prepared and aware during the holiday season.

October Tips


Is Your Money Safe From Cyber Thieves?

From banking to shopping to connecting with others, we live more of our lives online than at any other point in history. With that trend showing no signs of slowing, it's important to know what you can do to protect your money from those who want to steal it. Simple things like not sharing your PINs and passwords with anyone else can help. In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, First Nebraska Bank offers these tips to help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:

Don't share your secrets.

Don't provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

Shred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

Keep an eye out for missing mail.

Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

Monitor your credit report.

Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at

Protect your computer.

Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser's padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an "s" after the "http" to be sure the website is secure.

Protect your mobile device.

Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer's recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.


10 Ways to Protect Your Smartphone From Hackers

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals. First Nebraska Bank recommends following these tips to keep your information - and your money - safe.

  1. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  2. Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  3. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  4. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary "permissions."
  5. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps regularly.
  6. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
  7. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  8. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you're punching in sensitive information.
  9. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer's recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  10. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

September Tips


Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

The first step to acquiring a mortgage is ensuring that you have a good credit history, which helps secure a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments. During the housing boom, a score of 680 was enough to get a good interest rate, but today many lenders want a 740, or even a 760, to qualify for the best rates. To improve your credit score, the American Bankers Association advises that consumers:

Pay bills on time.

Payment history makes up 35 percent of your credit score, according to The longer you pay your bills on time the better your score. Avoid missed payments by putting as many of your bills on automatic pay as possible. Many banks offer automatic debits from accounts and online bill pay.

Don't close old, paid off accounts.

According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can in fact damage it. Only apply for the credit you need. Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account.

Talk to credit counselors if you're in trouble.

Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won't hurt your credit score. But avoid debt settlement; it will hurt your score since you're paying less than you owe. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (

Evaluate your credit report annually.

Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans - such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each credit reporting agency, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission's website at, or call 1-877-322-8228.

Don't skim. Read the fine print.

A loan or credit card application is a contract, so read it thoroughly before signing. Be aware of introductory rates that expire, as well as the length of monthly billing cycles.

Set a budget and stick to it.

Developing a financial plan will help you keep your finances in order. Don't spend more than you can afford, and don't "max out" your cards. Never forget that credit isn't free money.

Comparison shop.

Don't jump at the first appealing offer. Compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet, or at your local bank.


Our Best Tips for Online Safety

Computers have become such an important part of our lives - for accessing information, keeping in touch with friends and family, shopping, working, and other activities - that it's easy to overlook the risks of using them. We rely on computers so much that many of us neglect the importance of PC security to keep our passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information safe from identity thieves. To help keep your computer and information safe, we've compiled a list of seven computer security tips to follow that can reduce your chances of being an identity theft victim by enhancing your PC's security:

Never open unsolicited e-mail.

Always delete unsolicited e-mail, and never, ever, click on a link in an e-mail from someone you don't know. Doing so could infect your computer with a virus.

Use strong passwords that are impossible for a thief to guess.

Use a different password for each login, and make sure that each password is a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. People who use the same passwords for everything make it easy for thieves to steal their identities.

Install antivirus software and keep it updated.

There are many trusted antivirus programs online that people can download free or for a donation. Download at least three, run them at least once a week, and keep them updated. (McAfee®, Norton™ and AVG are just a few examples.)

Protect your computer with a firewall.

A computer firewall creates a virtual wall between your computer and thieves who want to access your personal information. Hardware and software firewalls help keep your computer safe when you're online.

Don't share your personal information online.

Social networks are fun and great for connecting with friends but thieves use them to trick people into providing their personal information. You wouldn't share your private information with a stranger on the street, so don't share it with a stranger online either, no matter how long you've "known" them.

Keep your operating system updated.

When your computer operating system tells you an update is available, install it as soon as possible and get in the habit of keeping it updated at all times.

Be wary of fake antivirus notifications and other scareware.

Antivirus viruses (a.k.a. "scareware") trick users into thinking that they have a computer virus in order to frighten them into providing their credit card information to download an "antivirus program" that will remove it. If you have scareware installed on your machine, disconnect your computer from the Internet, call a computer tech to remove it, and remember to never provide any personal information in the pop-ups that appear on your screen.



August Tips


Buying into a Budget

The idea of living on a budget can seem tedious, restrictive and daunting. In reality, living by one is incredibly freeing. A simple, effective budget requires only three things: information, income and expenses.

Start with Your Income

What you use to create a budget is less important than the information you include. Use Excel, Word or a pen and paper to write down, in as much detail as possible all sources of income you have coming in to your home each month (salary, tips, child support, investment income, etc.). Subtract what you pay in taxes and underline or bold the final amount.

End with Your Expenses

Write down all your monthly expenses, starting with bills like rent/mortgage, utilities, credit cards, groceries, gas, etc. That amount should equal 40% or less of your pre-tax income. Then, record what you'd like to spend money on (saving, retirement, entertainment, shoes, vacation, etc.). Bold the final number and compare it with your income total. Your expenses should be less than your income. If they're not, cut until they are.


Shred Everything!

When it comes to shredding, the safest approach is to think of your home or business as a liquidation company - everything must go! Every day hackers and ne'er-do-wells find data in dumpsters that they can use to steal business and personal information. Shredding everything removes that possibility.

Shred Safe, Shred Often

There are a few things you can do in your office or at home to dramatically reduce the amount of information that makes it to the trash:

Choose a shred company that processes more than just paper and make it easy for your employees or your family to keep your personal, financial information safe through shredding.