Keep Your Holiday Packages From Being Stolen

Thursday, October 25 at 09:05 AM
Category: Business Banking

With more people shopping online for the holidays and carriers leaving deliveries by front doors, package theft is a serious problem.

Nearly 20 percent of homeowners surveyed this fall by the California-based home-security company Ring reported having a package stolen last year, with an average loss of $140. And as you might expect, the most likely time for theft to occur is during the holiday season, the survey found.

Here are six simple steps you can take to protect your holiday package deliveries from so-called porch pirates.

  1. Use security cameras. You can install them inside and outside your home, allowing you to watch your property from anywhere and record any activity. And if the cameras are visible, they might deter thieves from stealing your deliveries in the first place.
  2. Give instructions to the package delivery service. Some services let you indicate where to leave your package if you’re not home. You can instruct drivers to leave a package at a back door, with a building superintendent, or with neighbors.
  3. Have deliveries diverted to another address—maybe your workplace—or placed on hold if you’re on vacation.
  4. Free pickup. Another option is to have items sent to a retailer’s walk-in store for pickup, which may help you save on shipping fees.
  5. Sign up for alerts. Some carriers offer text or email alerts so that you know when a delivery will be made. If you aren’t home, you might be able to get back in time so that your package isn’t left outside for too long.
  6. Require a signature for delivery. Also, ask retailers to require a signature to make a delivery so that packages aren’t simply dropped off outside a house. 

 

Source: Consumer Reports*

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

 

 

FRAUD ALERT: Business Email Compromise Scams are on the Rise

Thursday, October 25 at 09:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Arvest Bank is warning business owners about Business Email Compromise (BEC) and E-mail Account Compromise (EAC) schemes. These are sophisticated scams targeting both businesses and individuals performing wire transfer payments. Perpetrators have been known to impersonate business executives, real estate industry representatives, HR staff, law firms, and trusted vendors to initiate or redirect wire transfers to overseas bank accounts.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, between December 2016 and May 2018, there was a 136% increase in identified global exposed losses. This type of scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 150 countries.

Typical of these schemes, a criminal uses email to impersonate a business executive or other employee to request fraudulent payments or obtain access to employee payroll or W2 information. The criminal will typically leverage a victim's authority to pressure targets into acting quickly or secretly when handling the transfer.

BEC/EAC actors heavily targeted the real estate sector in recent years. This includes title companies, law firms, real estate agents, buyers and sellers. Victims most often report a spoofed e-mail being sent or received on behalf of one of these real estate transaction participants with instructions directing the recipient to change the payment type and/or payment location to a fraudulent account. The funds are usually directed to a fraudulent domestic account which quickly disperse through cash or check withdrawals. The funds may also be transferred to a secondary fraudulent domestic or international account. Funds sent to domestic accounts are often depleted rapidly making recovery difficult.

How to Protect Yourself

The best defense is to verify all requests for a change in payment type and/or location.

BEC/EAC actors have been known to target all parties in a real estate transaction. BEC/EAC actors often request that payments originally scheduled for check dispersal be made via wire instead. BEC/EAC actors may also request changes to the original recipient’s financial information.

Be wary of any communication that is exclusively e-mail based and establish a secondary means of communication for verification purposes.

BEC/EAC actors will use information that is publicly available on real estate listing sites to target victims. This may include homes that are for sale and the progress of the sale such as “under contract” as well as the contact information of the real estate agent.

Be mindful of phone conversations.

Victims have reported receiving phone calls from BEC/EAC actors requesting personal information for verification purposes. Financial institutions report phone calls acknowledging a change in payment type and/or location. Some victims report they were unable to distinguish the fraudulent phone conversation from legitimate conversations.

One way to counter act this fraudulent activity, is to establish code phrases that would only be known to the two legitimate parties.

What to do if You are a Victim

If you discover a fraudulent transfer, time is of the essence.

  • First, contact your financial institution and request a recall of the funds. Different financial institutions have varying policies; it is important to know what assistance your financial institution will provide when attempting to recover funds.
  • Second, contact your local FBI office and report the fraudulent transfer. Law enforcement may be able to assist the financial institution in recovering funds.
  • Finally, regardless of dollar loss, file a complaint with www.ic3.gov* or, for BEC/EAC victims, bec.ic3.gov*. The IC3 will be able to assist both the financial institutions and law enforcement in the recovery efforts.

How to Report Fraud Related to Your Arvest Accounts

  • To report Identity Theft, financial fraud or an unauthorized transaction in your account, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523.
  • To report a lost or stolen credit, debit or ATM card, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523 or by using our Contact Us page.
  • To report a suspicious email, phone call or text message, please forward the suspicious email to, or send a message to: reportfraud@arvest.com.

 

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

 

Home Makeover: Indoor Edition

Thursday, October 25 at 09:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Winter may have you spending more time in your home, but that doesn't mean your home improvements have to stay dormant. There are still plenty of things you can do inside your home to improve its appearance, keep you busy, and most importantly, beat those winter doldrums. Best of all, you don't have to spend a fortune in the process.

Here's a quick list:


Rearrange furniture. One of the most affordable and easiest ways to give your home a new look is to rearrange the furniture. You can rearrange furniture in a single room or shuffle pieces from other rooms in your house. You'll be surprised at how moving a few pieces of furniture can change the entire feel of a room.

Awaken tired walls. Nothing makes a room look newer than a fresh coat of paint. Painting a room in a brighter color is a great way to brighten up the dark days of winter. Also, consider painting your trim around doorways to freshen the look of your house.

Re-fixture your cabinets. Tired of looking at the same-old kitchen cabinets? Give them a fresh look by changing the handles and fixtures. The right fixtures can make all the difference and will save you the high cost of having to replace your cabinets.

Re-grout tile. Do you have tile in your bathroom or kitchen that looks old and worn? Over time, grout between your tiles can get dirty. For a fresh new look, re-grout your tile with a new color. It's time consuming work, but inexpensive.

Another way to give your bathroom a refresh is to replace worn faucets and fixtures.

Clean your garage. Looking to get more space in your garage? Winter is a great time to get organized, and give yourself more space to work or store items.

Light up your home. See your home in a different light. Literally. Consider purchasing new lamps and lighting fixtures to give your home a brighter, new appearance.

These simple projects are great ways to spruce up your home. After all, if you're going to spend your winter indoors, you may as well be surrounded by beautiful scenery.

 

How to Score the Best Savings During Football Season

Monday, October 08 at 09:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Football season is in full swing and with it comes tailgating and watch parties.

Whether you are a season ticket holder dedicated to being in the bleachers or a fan who prefers the comfort of the living room couch, football season offers plenty of spending opportunities.

Leave the stress to the players on the field and rest easy knowing you are saving money without sacrificing any of your favorite traditions.

Host a Neighborhood Potluck
Do you and your neighbors share a favorite team or even support rival teams? Invite everyone over to watch the game together. Have each family bring a favorite dish to share—you will spend less time in the kitchen and more importantly you will avoid a massive grocery bill.

If you want to be creative, Marie Claire* suggests serving foods related to the teams’ hometowns. Encourage attendees to dress up in their preferred team’s colors and enjoy the festivities together.

Use a Credit Card with Rewards
If you do get stuck with the large grocery bill, be sure to use a credit card at checkout that will earn rewards on everyday purchases. Right now, if you apply for a new Arvest Consumer Credit Card you could receive a $100 rewards bonus.

After you set up the new account, continue to use the card and earn Arvest Flex Rewards on nearly every purchase. Next time you are over-spending on stadium food or splurging on a new team jersey, relax knowing you are earning points to redeem at a later date.

Carpool to the Stadium
For away games that require a road trip, coordinate with other fans and carpool. Keep track of money spent at the gas station and divide the bill evenly. Not only will each person’s portion of the cost be more reasonable, but the car ride home is the perfect opportunity to discuss the game-winning touchdown.

When you stop to fill up the car, offer to use your credit card and earn rewards on the purchase.

Tailgate Affordably
One of the most beloved and well-known football traditions is meeting up with fellow fans, grilling food and enjoying game-day festivities. With the hype of the big day, it can be easy to over-spend.

US News* suggests buying store brand items when possible. Condiments, chips and paper goods are all available for a fraction of the cost, if you are willing to skip the name brands. If meat is a staple tailgate item in your household, choose inexpensive side items and opt for the pricier hamburgers.

Search for Cheaper Tickets
It is no secret college football tickets are expensive, but certain games are more affordable than others. If you do not have season tickets or did not buy tickets in advance, be sure to check out websites like Vivid Seats* for last-minute tickets or deals.

Do not worry if the price for tickets is still too steep. Instead, consider purchasing tickets for a more reasonably priced game, and hosting a watch party at home for the popular game.

Whether paying for the great parking spot you scored at the stadium, picking up last-minute game-day foods or purchasing tickets to watch your favorite team, use your credit card to pay and earn points to redeem later.

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

 

Tags: Arvest
 

Easy Ways to Save Money on Summer Travel

Tuesday, July 24 at 12:00 PM
Category: Business Banking

Traveling can be expensive, especially during the summer months, but with a simple schedule change or the click of a button, you could be well on your way to your dream vacation without emptying your bank account. Leave the stress at work, and enjoy vacation knowing you’re getting the most out of your hard-earned pay check.

Flexible Schedules Equals Savings on Flights

Although it may be tempting to book flights for specific dates, it can pay to be flexible. According to USA Today*, July is the peak month for summer travel – and one of the most expensive times to fly. However, you can save money by flying domestically on slower days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays when airlines are trying to fill empty seats.

Want the deepest summer travel discounts? The USA Today report also reveals airlines usually offer the biggest discounts beginning August 28th. That means if you’re able to delay your beach getaway a few weeks, not only will you miss the crowds, but your budget will stretch further!  Plus, those cheaper airline tickets still earn you rewards points when purchased with a credit card, which can be redeemed on other expenses.

Eat Like a Local, for a Fraction of the Cost

Save on food expenses by exploring local markets and avoiding over-priced restaurants. Smarter Travel* suggests buying unique, local ingredients and using them to prepare your own meals. Even those small, everyday purchases can earn credit card rewards points.

If your accommodations don’t offer a place to prepare food, restaurants are still a good option! Rather than asking your hotel concierge for suggestions, Smarter Travel recommends finding local restaurants by reading blogs, travel books or talking to locals. You may find a diamond in the rough with authentic local cuisine that doesn’t charge tourist prices. Those daily restaurant meals are one of the easiest ways to rack up credit card rewards points when you travel. After all, you have to eat!

A Better Hotel Room is an Upgrade Away

Don’t settle for the standard hotel room when planning your summer vacation. According to Business Insider*, hotels are more likely to upgrade your room if you book later in the day. When rooms are left unoccupied, hotels may be more willing to offer upgrades to late arrivals. In addition, front desk hotel employees upgrade customers more often than 800 reservation numbers do, so when possible, call the hotel directly.

Don’t hesitate to mention when you are booking a hotel room for a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. Business Insider says some hotels offer perks or upgrades to help make your visit more positive and memorable.

Remember to ask how to become a member and earn points when you stay at certain properties. Not only do most hotels offer points and rewards opportunities for future stays, but likely so does the credit card you used to book the room!

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

When you opt in for that hotel room upgrade, don’t forget to opt in for your credit card rewards points! If you have an Arvest Bank credit card, you’re already halfway to earning 5X rewards points on up to $1,000 of all charges this summer starting July 1, 2018. Simply go online to your Arvest Rewards account, and click the activation button or call the rewards phone line at (800) 356-8085, extension 3 to activate the bonus offer and start earning 5X rewards on future purchases through September 30, 2018.

Not an Arvest Bank credit card customer? Don’t miss out on rewards for vacation purchases and everyday purchases both big and small. Sign up for a credit card today at your local branch or online! Be sure to activate rewards as soon as possible, because bonus points will only be awarded on eligible purchases from the time you activate until September 30, 2018.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Disclosure:  Activate to earn 5X Arvest Flex Rewards points on up to $1,000 in eligible purchases made on your Arvest Personal Credit Card between July 01, 2018 and September 30, 2018. The bonus offer must be activated online by clicking the activation button in your Rewards Account or by calling the rewards phone line at (800) 356-8085, extension 3. Bonus points will only be awarded on eligible purchases from the time your bonus is activated until September 30, 2018. Eligible purchases are not limited by merchant categories such as groceries or fuel, but 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. The Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. New applications are subject to credit approval.

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Tags: Arvest, Business Banking

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