March 20, 2020

COVID 19: Banking During Difficult Times

In addition to health concerns, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left many consumers questioning their financial wellbeing.

“Is my money safe?”

“What do lower interest rates mean for me?”

“How do I get money if the bank lobby is closed?”

As always, Fortifi Bank is here to guide you through unfamiliar territory. During uncertain economic times you may hear rumors or see advice spread through social media. We urge you to know the facts and talk to your banker about any worries or concerns.

So – what are the facts?

Your money is safe in the bank.

Bank deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), an independent agency of the U.S. government. That means in the unlikely event a bank fails, your deposits will be reimbursed up to the insurance limit – at least $250,000 – and depending on how your accounts are titled, often much higher. If you have concerns, consult your banker to determine your coverage for your specific situation.

Regardless of a bank’s operating conditions (i.e. temporarily reducing operations to drive-thru or ATM only), your deposits are still insured by the FDIC. Visit the FDIC deposit insurance FAQs for more detailed information.

Besides lacking protection of FDIC insurance, cash kept at home is at risk for loss through burglary, house fire, and natural disaster. It also misses out on the ability to earn more over time through compound interest.

Banks are trusted, secure, and stable.

Fortifi Bank’s decision to temporarily close our lobbies came after the CDC’s strong encouragement to do our part to maintain social distancing. It does not reflect the health or stability of the bank – which is very strong. The lobbies may be closed, but we are open. Our employees are working and conducting business as usual. Full-service banking is available through our drive-up and in our offices by appointment.

You always have access to your money – even if the lobby is closed.

Whether it is during pandemic or simply outside of normal lobby hours, in-person service is just one way to access your deposits. Fortifi Bank ATMs, located at most branches, allow you fast access to cash 24/7. With qualifying accounts, you can utilize third party ATMs without incurring fees. Please reference your account specifics to see qualifications.

Even more convenient is online and mobile banking. Log-in from anywhere to monitor account activity, make transfers, pay bills, and even deposit checks through your mobile device. Mobile Pay is a secure way to make purchases at many merchants with just the tap of your phone – no physical cash or card required.

If you need help getting started with any of our convenient digital banking options, contact a Fortifi Bank personal banker. We are happy to walk you through setup.

Interest rates are low – and that can be a good thing.

While it’s true checking and savings accounts won’t earn as much interest in a lower rate environment, those in the market to buy a new home or refinance an existing mortgage can take advantage of some attractive low mortgage rates. However, in the current market, rates are extremely volatile. Up-to-date rates can always be found at FortifiBank.com and lenders are always available to discuss options.

Rate changes are a little different in the business lending world. Longer term loans are minimally impacted when the Fed lowers rates because the rates are based on longer-term factors. It’s also not as simple as locking in a rate and ordering an appraisal. That’s why we’ve shared three common-sense steps commercial loan borrowers can do to investigate rate fluctuations in the market.

Scams are on the rise.

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus. Criminals will use fear, intimidation, trickery, urgency, and disinformation related to the virus to gain access to your personal information.

Remember, financial institutions or the federal government will never contact you and ask for your social security number, bank account number, or credit card number. We’ll also never ask you to confirm your PIN, expiration dates, the CVV code on the back of a credit card, or any other sensitive information. Anyone who does is a scammer.

The Federal Trade Commission has the latest information on COVID-19 scam tactics and what to do if you fall victim.

If you are concerned you have fallen victim to a scam, contact us immediately so we can work together to protect your accounts. Call 855.876.1500 or email hello@fortifibank.com.

Small businesses need consumer support.

As CNN Business reported, social distancing may help mitigate the coronavirus crisis, but it also threatens to devastate our Main Street businesses. During this time when bars, restaurants, and other local businesses are experiencing less foot traffic or temporarily closing, every amount of consumer support makes a difference. Ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards, and shopping online when available are ways to help your favorite businesses through difficult times.

Fortifi Bank recognizes that coronavirus is causing serious monetary implications for families. If you have been affected by mandatory quarantine, unpaid time off, or other financial hardships due to the outbreak, please contact your banker to discuss options.

Above all, it’s important to remember that this, too, shall pass. History shows us that the market can rebound well beyond the high point when it fell. Stay calm, stay healthy, and stay the course. We will get through this together.

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