7 Tips for Protecting Yourself Online

Monday, November 30 at 07:00 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to Symantec, 12 adults become a victim of cybercrime every second. Here are tips to keep you safe online: 

  1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  2. Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. 
  3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the organization impersonated in the email. To report a fraudulent email that purports to be from Arvest, forward the email to reportfraud@arvest.com
  4. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
  5. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
  6. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
  7. Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere. 
Practicing these seven tips can help you protect yourself online.
Information courtesy of American Bankers Association.

Tags: Privacy and Security

More Consumers See Improvement in Personal Finances

Tuesday, November 24 at 09:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arvest-backed survey shows mixed views on business expectations. 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – About a fourth of consumers surveyed in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma said they are better off than at the same time a year ago, and about a third of them expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next 12 months.

That’s according to results from the second phase of the Fall 2015 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, which was released today. This phase includes a study of consumers’ outlooks on personal finances, buying conditions over the next six months, and business conditions over the next year and the next five years.

Consumers in the three-state area, including Greater Kansas City, were surveyed in September, and 24 percent of them said their current financial situation is better than a year ago. That’s an increase of 1 percent since March.

In terms of how they expect their personal financial situation to change over the next 12 months, 33 percent of respondents expect to see improvement. That’s the same number as reported in March.

Additionally, 57 percent said their personal financial situation is the same as a year ago and 56 percent expect their situation to be the same a year from now.

More than half of those surveyed, or 55 percent, expect the next six months to be a good time to buy household items such as furniture, televisions and refrigerators. That’s down from 59 percent in March.

“It is good to see the consumers we’re here to serve maintain a positive outlook in terms of their financial situations,” Arvest Marketing Director Jason Kincy said. “For those who plan to make major household purchases in the near future, we remain prepared to help them via consumer loans, strategic savings plans or whatever makes the most sense for their individual situation.”

Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and lead economist for the survey, said Arkansans have a mixed outlook.

“Over the next year in Arkansas, there are expectations of an improving national economy, while consumers were less optimistic about their own prospects than they were in March,” she said.

Russell Evans, director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University, said consumers in his state have shown a similar outlook.

“Oklahomans overwhelmingly (89 percent) expect their financial situation to be the same or better in a year,” he said, “while remaining cautious about business conditions in the year ahead.”

Missourians also expressed caution about future business conditions, but “have definitely been responding positively to the sustained decrease in gas prices and increase in job growth in Missouri,” said David Mitchell, director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University.

As a region, respondents were more optimistic in their expectations of business conditions when looking at a longer timeframe. While only 32 percent expect business conditions to be favorable in the next year, 43 percent expect good conditions in five years. Those numbers are down 2 percent and up 1 percent, respectively, since March.

This round of results also includes a Current Conditions Sub-Index and a Consumer Expectations Sub-Index, which follows the model of the national Thomson/Reuters Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

The Current Conditions Sub-Index for the region is 90.3 in September, compared to 92.2 in March. The index is tabulated from the answers to two questions on the survey: “How is your current financial situation compared with a year ago?” and “What do you think of buying conditions over the next six months?”

The regional Consumer Expectations Sub-Index in September is 77.5, compared to March’s 77.4. The index is tabulated from the answers to three survey questions: “How do you expect your financial situation to change in the next year?” “How do you think business conditions will be in a year?” and “How do you expect business conditions will be in five years?”

These sub-indexes are meaningful in comparison to national indexes and to previous values of Arvest Consumer Sentiment indexes. Higher numbers indicate some combination of consumer satisfaction with their current and expected personal finances, current and expected economic performance, and the purchasing environment. Larger increases indicate more confidence across the three areas.

The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with the University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducting 1,200 phone surveys.

Arvest Bank’s sponsorship of this survey is due to its desire to provide beneficial data for its customers and communities. The data provides a reading of how consumers are feeling about the economy in the states where the bank operates. Additionally, with future results, consumers, as well as the business community, will be able to see how sentiment is trending.

The Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University provides state analysis of the Missouri data. The Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute, Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, evaluates the data for Oklahoma.

The survey will be conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to be completed in May 2016. With each study, the index score will be released first, followed by a second release on consumer outlook including the Current Conditions Index and the Consumer Expectations Index and a third release on savings and spending expectations.

Information about the survey and research partners, copies of this release, summary documents and print-ready logos can be found at www.arvestconsumersurvey.com.

Data released as part of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, summary and news releases is free for broadcast, publication or use in presentations. Please cite “Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey” as the source each time information is referenced.

Tags: Arkansas, Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, Kansas City, Missouri, Oklahoma, Press Release

Keep Your Financial Sleigh on Course During Holiday Shopping

Monday, November 23 at 09:35 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Holiday shopping can easily get out of control when you have a long list of gifts to buy, and you’re easily enticed by the latest gadget, toy or trend in the store window. Review these tips to rein in your spending before your financial sleigh gets off course.

Set a budget. This basic principle often gets abandoned when you have the non-routine expenses of the holidays. BEFORE you begin shopping, decide how much you’re going to spend on each person. Don’t forget your co-workers, babysitter, housekeeper, lawn maintenance person, postal delivery worker, etc. Allocate some money for people you may have forgotten when making your list. 
Start early. When you keep your eyes out for gifts, even before the holidays, you give yourself time to find a good deal so you’re not pressured to overspend on a gift at the last minute. 
Take advantage of free shipping. Many online retailers offer free shipping during the holidays. Take advantage of this offer, and it’ll save you the cost of gas and parking associated with going to a brick and mortar store. 
Team up with a friend. If you find buy one get one free sales or discounts for buying in bulk, then team up with a friend to share the goods and the savings. 
Accumulate rewards. An indirect way to save money is to earn money! Consider opening an Arvest Credit Card with Arvest Flex Rewards to enjoy a $50 bonus and two-times rewards on holiday spending upon approval for an Arvest Credit Card with Arvest Flex Rewards before Jan. 4, 2016.** Apply online. Already have an Arvest Credit Card? Use it between Nov. 3, 2015 and Jan. 2, 2016 to earn two-times rewards!
Don’t indulge. Your child doesn’t need every toy he or she desires. Just because an item is on someone’s wish list doesn’t mean you have to buy it for them, especially if his or her list is long.
Personalize it. Buy basic gifts and then add a personal touch at home. For example, buy plain stationary and then use letter stamps to put the receiver’s initial on each card. The receiver will appreciate the personalized touch and your wallet will appreciate the money saved from not buying customized items. 
With some conscious planning and forethought, you’ll hear the sleigh bells and change in your pocket jingling as a reminder to enjoy the season by shopping within your means. Come January you’ll feel like you’re riding along in a wintery fairyland when you see a positive balance in your bank account.
**Earn 2Xs Arvest Flex Rewards™ points on up to $2,500 in eligible purchases made on your Arvest Personal Credit Card between Nov. 3, 2015 and Jan. 4, 2016. Arvest Flex Rewards™ is a program where you can earn one point for every $1 you spend using your Arvest Credit Card. Open a new Arvest Personal Credit Card to qualify for the one-time bonus of $50. $50 bonus is awarded as 5,000 rewards points in the Arvest Flex Rewards™ program. To earn the 5,000 bonus points, you must use your card on any eligible purchase within the first three (3) months of account opening. Eligible purchases can be made by the primary cardholder or any additional cardholders on a single Card Account. Limit one 5,000 points bonus per Card Account. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, convenience check transactions, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. Bonus points will be applied to your account within three billing cycles after your qualifying purchase. To be eligible for either bonus offer, the Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. Bonus offers are subject to credit approval. For complete details, ask an Arvest associate or go to arvest.com/bonus. Offers valid from Nov. 3, 2015 to Jan. 4, 2016.

Tags: Arvest Flex Rewards™, Arvest Rewards, Budgeting, Credit Cards, Financial Education

Thanksgiving Hours

Friday, November 20 at 11:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

In observance of Thanksgiving, all Arvest Bank branches will be closed Thursday, Nov. 26. We will be open for normal hours on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 27.

For your convenience, you can bank 24/7 on Thanksgiving with one of our additional banking options:

Did You Know in 2014 …**

  • The total number of turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving Day was 51,150,000
  • The average cost per pound of turkey was $1.15
  • Average household spend on Thanksgiving dinner was $56.18
  • Average household spending on Thanksgiving weekend $312
  • The value of all pumpkins produced annually was $117 million

We hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. We are most thankful to you, our customer, for allowing us to serve your banking needs.

**Statistics courtesy of Statistic Brain Research Institute.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Arkansas, Holiday Hours, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma

Taking Stress Off the Thanksgiving Table

Thursday, November 19 at 10:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

It's supposed to be the most thankful time of the year. A season to enjoy quality time with friends and family and feast on delicious treats. Yet with the amount of cooking, cleaning and planning, those in charge of hosting the annual Thanksgiving dinner celebration can feel exhausted, inadequate and stressed ... anything but thankful.

But, what if you could actually take the stress off the table and enjoy the day? Here are some suggestions on how to make it happen:
  • Let go of the need for Thanksgiving dinner perfection. Television commercials and magazines portray Thanksgiving dinners in a way that's not always realistic for most of us. You don't need fine china and fancy desserts to enjoy the day. Do the best you can and remember the true meaning of the day — gratitude.
  • Ask for help. Just because you're hosting doesn't mean you have to do all the work. Assign desserts and side dishes to your guests that are easy to heat up and serve. If you have multiple guests with dietary restrictions, ask them to bring a dish they can eat.
  • Plan ahead. Nothing adds stress more than last-minute shopping and preparation. Plan to buy your turkey and other items well in advance. Also, if possible, get out all your serving dishes and set your table a few days before the big day.
  • Recruit a cleanup crew. The only thing more stressful than preparing a big meal is cleaning up afterwards. Don't be afraid to ask your guests for assistance. After sitting and eating so much, they may relish the opportunity to get up and help.
  • Get some exercise. Nothing relieves stress better than physical activity. If weather permits, go outside and have a family football game or a nice walk in fresh air.
  • Order a pre-made Thanksgiving meal. If you want to alleviate the stress of cooking a turkey, you can have someone else do it. It may cost you more, but you'll save time and will have less to worry about.
  • Dine out. Another option is to go out for Thanksgiving dinner. If you choose to do so, you'll want to plan ahead and make reservations well in advance.
No matter how you choose to simplify, the important thing is that you take the time to stop and enjoy the meaning of the day. So go ahead ... start taking your steps to de-stress Thanksgiving today. You'll be thankful you did.

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