At Centinel Bank, we are dedicated to giving you the knowledge and skills needed to own your economic success, plan for your future, and make smart economic choices. We feel that investing in your financial knowledge leads to financial success, and this is key in building a strong community.
Teaching our customers and their children, as well as our Taos County communities about how to maintain a bank account, balance a checkbook and calculate interest, or save for college, establish good credit, buy a home, plan for retirement and recognize the need for an emergency fund are some of the topics covered through our education/financial literacy initiatives at Centinel Bank.
Our hope with our financial education efforts is to strengthen financial literacy for individuals and businesses in all populations and through all stages of life in our community– youth, teens, adults, and seniors.
Community Workshops & Presentations
As active community members, we are happy to conduct workshops, presentations, or one-on-one meetings in the community on financial literacy related topics. We invite community organizations and individuals to contact us, if you interested in having us lead such a session or workshop.
Financial Tools, Education & Resources
Tools For You
Click here to use a variety of easy-to-use online calculators to
help you solve common financial problems.
Articles and Education
The new year is an ideal time to set new goals. While diets come to mind, setting new financial goals should be on the top of our lists. As you reflect on the past year, focus on your
experiences then build on what worked and what didn’t – to shape this year’s money habits. Here are some ideas to consider as you set your financial goals for the New Year.
Keeping your finances organized will help you control your money and achieve your financial goals. Some basic tasks to help you get organized include making a budget, tracking your spending, and putting a system in place to ensure you pay your bills on time every month. Be sure to monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unexpected fees or unusual activity too. The sooner you find mistakes or unauthorized transactions, the easier it is to correct those issues.
Small Step: Like dealing with debt, organizing your finances can be daunting, so start small by picking one organizational task and focus on that task for one month before adding another. For example, you might start by making sure your bills are paid on time by setting up automatic bill pay from your bank account, giving yourself one month to learn about it, set it up, and get comfortable using it. Next month, focus on creating a budget, which gives you several weeks to learn about budgeting and working on it.
Create a Budget
Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend. If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you to pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget. Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly. Print several copies of this budgeting worksheet to help you get started.
- Identify how you spend your money.
- Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses.
- Track your spending and review your budget often.
Pay Down Old Debt
Confronting your debt and thinking about how to pay it off can be scary and overwhelming. Use the New Year to face your fears. Make a list of your debts, noting the monthly payment, current balance, and interest rate, and make a plan to start paying down the debts. Many experts recommend focusing on either debts with the highest interest rates or debts with the lowest balances to pay off. While you will likely save more money paying off debts with the highest interest rates, it may be faster to pay off the smallest balances first. Seeing this progress may help keep you motivated.
Small Step: Whichever method you choose for paying down debt, start by adding a small amount to one of your current payments. For instance, if you are focusing on paying off a credit card with a minimum monthly payment of $100, add $25 to that amount to start (for a total monthly payment of $125). Once you are comfortable with that new amount, add more when you’re able and stay focused on the goal.
Protect Your Money All Year, Every Year
With so many financial transactions occurring electronically, it’s important to proactively protect your personal information, including your credit card and bank account numbers. Use the New Year to take charge of protecting your money. Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. Always track your bank and credit card statements and your credit reports for unusual activity. Catching abnormal transactions early will allow you to take steps to prevent more harm if your information has been stolen.
Small Step: One important step to protect yourself from online scams and theft is to change your passwords regularly. If you have been using the same passwords for your financial accounts for a while, create new difficult-to-guess passwords and change them often to keep your money safe.
New Year, New Savings Habits
Pay yourself first. Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises. No matter how old you are, it's never too late to begin saving.
Think about what you want to save for in the coming year and beyond. If you need to open a new savings account to help you reach your goals. There are many types of savings accounts available to save for both short term and long-term goals.
Small Step: Decide on the type of savings account that will meet your goal and commit to depositing a set amount on a regular basis to get into the habit of saving. For example, if you open a basic savings account, deposit $25 every month and sign up for direct deposit or automatic withdrawals from your checking account to ensure that amount is saved. Once you’re comfortable with saving a small amount consistently, you can increase it.
Information is provided in partnership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) December Consumer News.
Tis the season to be jolly! As everyone gears up for the holiday season with decorating, meal planning, Christmas shopping, etc., fraudsters are diligently working and planning on how they can execute holiday fraud this season.
Why are the holidays prone to a high rise in fraud?
The holidays are known to be a very difficult time to detect fraud due to higher than usual transaction volumes, which makes it the perfect season for fraudsters to take advantage. The only way to avoid becoming a victim of holiday fraud is to stay ahead of the trends and develop a plan to stop fraud before it happens.
Most Common Types of Holiday Scams
The holidays are prime time for fraudsters because of all the holiday distractions they like to target people who are too busy to notice the red flags of a possible scam. The most common holiday scams include:
- Holiday Phishing Cons
- Dear “Santa” Scams
- Identity Theft and ATM Skimmers
Malicious Emails - During the holidays do not fall victim to pretend emails that contain bogus package tracking information from businesses or major retailers. These emails could infect their computer with a virus or download malware if they click on a link. Be aware of errors within the email such as: typos and grammatical errors, as these are common red flags of a phishing scam. It is important to confirm these malicious emails before opening any links, attachments, etc.
Fraudulent Offers - Kids love to receive letters from Santa, and while there are legitimate organizations and businesses that sell letters from Santa, there are scammers and con artists who create fake organizations to steal credit card information and personal information while pretending to offer this service. Make sure to research the organizations and businesses who are selling these letters to verify they are legitimate.
Unsecure Information - Lots of shopping means lots of bags to carry around from store to store. Identity thieves see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debit or credit card information. Shopping Tip: While shopping, keep your wallets close and be aware of your surroundings to avoid your identity and information being stolen.
How Consumers Can Avoid Holiday Fraud
Don’t let the joy and jolly of the holiday season be ruined by fraud. There are many ways to avoid fraud this holiday season. Here are some tips:
- Monitor bank accounts more frequently – you can do this conveniently at anytime from anywhere through:
- Our website for online banking www.centinelbank.com
- Mobile Banking through an app designed for your phone
- Text Banking, access your account through any mobile device with text messaging capabilities
- Customize account alerts (email or text). You can sign up to get notified when your account reaches a certain balance, when an item clears, and more.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest fraud trends – Check out our website on a regular basis, this is where we post updated information; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook, this is where we’ll let you know what is happening.
As always don’t forget:
- To closely monitor monthly bank statements
- Do not give out account information
Cheers to your fraud-free holiday season!
Credit Versus Debit. Do you know the difference?
The Centinel Bank Debit Card look like a credit card and can be used anywhere Mastercard® is accepted, but it functions like cash or a personal check using funds directly from your checking account.
Credit and ATM/debit cards look similar, but they use money in very different ways. Click here to see a chart explaining the difference between a credit card and a debit card.
Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Good Credit
Good Credit is Key to Solid Financial Future from Centinel Bank of Taos and ICBA
When establishing financial fitness goals, Centinel Bank of Taos and The Independent Community Bankers of America want to remind customers: it’s easier to build a credit score than to repair a bad one.
Having a good credit history is key to any financial plan. Credit scores take into consideration years of past behavior, so it’s important to establish a history of responsible credit practices and build your score by maintaining good habits. Click here to read tips on how you can establish a good credit score.
Focus to Improve Your Financial Situation, 5 Ways How
Thinking of applying for a loan? Do you know what your bank will look at to determine your creditworthiness? Lenders look at your 5 c's.
- Credit History/Character
- Collateral (when applying for secured loans)
To read more about the 5 C's of credit click here.
If you have questions and/or are thinking of applying for a loan, call us @ 575-758-6700 and ask to speak to one of our lenders.
What does it mean to bank local?
Where you choose to bank matters. Did you know, not all banks are the same? While they do provide many similar services, there're also many differences. Centinel Bank of Taos is a community bank, locally owned and operated, serving Taos County since 1969. Along with traditional banking services, Centinel Bank offers many community banking benefits.
This April, in celebration of Community Banking Month, we encourage everyone to consider what it means to bank locally. Banking local helps sustain our community today, tomorrow and for generations to come. Click here to read more.
Protect yourself from phishing attacks (cybercrimes)
Phishing is a type of fraud. Phishing attempts are getting very, very sophisticated. More and more people are finding themselves targets and sometimes victims of the fraud. At Centinel Bank we care about your security and offer the following information.
What is phishing?
Phishing is a form of fraud in which a target or targets are contacted by criminals through email, telephone or text message as well as through human interaction and malicious websites. It’s by someone posing as a legitimate institution, new employees or even repair personnel. The fraud is an attempt to lure individuals into providing sensitive data and attempt to trick them into divulging personal information. Examples include:
- Personally identifiable information
- Credit card details
- And more
The information is then used to access important accounts, steal your money, use your name to open credit cards or loans and more.
Click here to read how you can avoid being a victim and what to do if you think you are a victim.
Keep Hackers out of Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts
Social networking has changed the way we interact with friends, family and associates. While social networks play a significant role in our lives, they are also a high risk for security threats. Social media security should be taken seriously, you should always proactively secure your social media accounts.
Here are steps you can take that can help keep your accounts from being hijacked.
Make the most of your device lock screen
- Set your computing devices to lock quickly
?Make sure you have a strong, unique password and two-factor authentication. People can gain access to your accounts by acquiring credentials and trying them across different services
- Use different password combinations across all your accounts
- Pick up a password manager (example: keeper app)
- Use strong unique passwords with numbers and special characters
- Acquire a second code or “factor” to prevent attackers
- To add two factor authentications on Facebook, go to settings> security and login> two-factor authentication
- To add two factor authentications on Twitter, go to settings and privacy> account. In the security subsection click on review your login verification methods.