Enjoy the gift of financial security this holiday season

Park State Bank logoBy Dale Lewis

As we enter the holiday season, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is an extra measure of vigilance to protect yourself against fraud and identity theft.

Sad to say, a time of year when most of us are counting our blessings and thinking about making the holidays bright for friends and family is a time of increased activity by those who would separate us from our money with scams, consumer fraud and criminal deception. Here are some of my tips, from the perspective of an experienced community banker, to make your holidays safer when it comes to handling your money and monitoring your accounts:

Credit cards are a favorite target for criminals seeking to use your money for their holiday cheer. As you are out and about making purchases in stores or shopping online, be extra careful with your credit cards and keep a more focused eye on them, along with your printed and online statements.

When you are shopping, carry only the credit cards you plan to use. I suggest putting holiday spending on one card to limit the risk of potential problems and also to keep better track of what you’re buying and how much you’re spending.

I also recommend that you designate just one card for all of your online purchases. This will limit your exposure if somehow that card becomes compromised. Also, you can reduce your chances of falling victim to online fraud by ensuring that your computers have the most up-to-date security software and by reporting any suspicious activity as soon as you suspect it.

When you are in stores, don’t let your cards out of your sight or even out of your hands. New security features are in place at many retailers, requiring you to insert your new card with a security chip into a credit-card reader instead of, or in addition to, swiping the card. Make sure take your card when you leave the store.

When using your card to obtain ATM cash, check the machine for evidence of tampering before you use it. Glue and overlays on the card reader are typical evidence of tampering through devices designed to steal your card information and allow others to withdraw funds from your account. If you see anything suspicious, report it—and find another machine.

One of the best ways to safeguard your bank accounts and credit cards is to monitor transactions online. Yes, go over your monthly statement when it arrives in the mail or by email. But the holiday season is a time when it’s worthwhile to go online every few days and make sure that all of the credit card spending you see on your account is spending for which you are responsible.

Don’t get hooked by phishing, a form of online fraud in which consumers receive email messages from criminals claiming to represent their banks or credit cards and asking for personal or account information. These contacts usually start with a request for personal or account data for “validation” or to address a phony problem. They sometimes also ask consumers to click on a button that downloads a compromising file.

Reputable banks never ask for your secure information this way. So never give it out—and report suspicious solicitations if you get them.

Lots of legitimate charities become more active around the holidays. But lots of unscrupulous characters also get more active. Pretending to raise money for charity is a familiar scam that plays on the emotions of unsuspecting, good-hearted people.

It can be difficult to tell which charities are legitimate and which are not. My advice is to be extra alert and vigilant. When you are approached by email or phone, ask for a call-back number or for the person making the offer to send information to you by U.S. mail. Such validation efforts are a quick and effective tool to separate the real charities from the scam artists.

As we enter the holidays, you’ll be better able to enjoy this special time if you’re more confident about the safety of your accounts. A few extra but simple steps can provide the security to give yourself the gift of financial peace of mind.

Dale Lewis is president of Park State Bank in Duluth. You can reach her at president@parkstatebank.com or 218-722-3500.

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Park State Bank names new Directors


OCT. 29, 2015

Park State Bank names new Directors

New board includes Twin Cities and Duluth business leaders

MINNEAPOLIS—Park State Bank, a nearly century-old financial institution with offices in Minneapolis and Duluth, today announced the following new members of its Board of Directors after the bank’s acquisition by Park Financial Group Inc. earlier this month:

Raymond E. Cabillot is CEO at Farnam Street Capital in Minneapolis. He brings significant business experience and acumen and serves on a number of corporate boards. He is a Duluth native.

Linda Krug is CEO of Krug Consulting and Mediation in Duluth. She previously served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She also was Co-Director of UMD’s Master’s Program in Advocacy and Political Leadership. Krug serves on the Duluth City Council.

Dale Lewis served for 31 years as President and CEO of Park State Bank and will remain the bank’s President. She has been a leader in the Twin Ports business community, recognized for support of small business and entrepreneurship, including receiving the Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award.

Thomas Palmer becomes Chairman of the Board and will serve as CEO of Park State Bank. He has been a community banker for 40 years, serving as president of a number of banks in the Twin Cities. He is a Duluth native.

David Saber is Chairman and CEO of Park Financial Group Inc. He previously led Wipfli’s Financial Institutions Strategic Advisory Services Group and served on the practice’s Executive Management Team. Saber was also a member of the faculty at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Allan J. Zlimen is an attorney and was founding partner at the Stewart, Zlimen and Jungers law firm in Roseville, Minn., with primary areas of practice in the financial and health care fields. He has extensive experience as a bank director.

Park State Bank, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, has offices at 1108 Nicolet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and 2630 W. Superior St. in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. It offers a full array of banking services at both locations and online at parkstatebank.com.


Rob Karwath | North Coast Communications | 218-343-9418 | rob@northcoastcommunications.com

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Join Park State at the Lake Superior Harvest Festival

250px_250px_LakeSuperiorHarvestFestival2015-1Park State Bank is proud to be a sponsor of the Lake Superior Harvest Festival, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park.

Held rain or shine, the event is a free, family-focused day that brings thousands of producers and consumers together to celebrate healthy communities through sustainably produced food. Admission and parking are free.

Harvest Festival features local farmers, artisans, live music, active organizations and businesses devoted to sustainability. Park State Bank is one of those businesses. Just as we build a sustainable local economy by buying local, we add even more strength by banking locally. All of Park State Bank’s activities go to help individuals and businesses right here in our region.

This year, Harvest Fest has new activities, demonstrations and displays dedicated to renewable energy, energy conservation and action to prevent climate change. Festival-goers can compete in an energy obstacle course and win points for conserving energy. This year also features a greater recognition of our shared Western Lake Superior “foodshed” and includes more farmers from the Chequamegon Bay area of Wisconsin. For more information about the festival, click here.

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What’s the real story with reverse mortgages?

Park State Bank logoBy Dale Lewis

I’ve had a number of questions recently about reverse mortgages. They seem to be on the minds of many people, perhaps because there are lots of solicitations out there—particularly TV advertisements—urging older people to consider them.

Those who have asked me about reverse mortgages seem to know there are risks as well as the reward of cash that come with these financial products. They want to know the full picture and my thoughts. So let me share them with you.

Most of us are familiar with a standard home mortgage—a loan we take out to buy our homes and pay back over time. With a regular mortgage, we gradually increase our ownership stake, or equity, with every payment. Eventually, the idea is that we fully pay off the loan and own the home.

At the core of a reserve mortgage is the notion that your home equity is worth something and that you can tap it by making an arrangement with the bank. You get cash back through a loan. The bank gets a security interest in your home under that loan. For some people, that is just fine. But I suggest that it’s often a steep price to pay for not as much cash as those TV ads might imply.

Let’s understand some of the fundamentals of reverse mortgages to determine if this tool is right for you. First, you must be an older homeowner, usually 62 or older, to enter into a reverse mortgage. The amount you may borrow also depends on the interest rate you receive and, of course, your home’s value.

Typically, a borrower can get back in cash only a small fraction of the value of the home. Less than half of the home’s value is not uncommon. Fees and other restrictions may reduce that amount further. The amount you may take immediately at closing also is usually limited. Spread over the expected lifetime of the reverse-mortgage borrower, those funds quickly can look small, indeed. A reverse mortgage also will reduce the amount of money you will leave to your children or other heirs.

One of the questions that often come with reverse mortgages is, “Can I stay in my home?” You can without repaying your reverse mortgage loan, as long as you keep up your home to preserve its value. And upon the death of you or your spouse, your children or other heirs can use their own money to repay the reverse mortgage loan and reclaim the home. They also can sell the home, using the money they receive to repay the loan.

In addition to considering the fees associated with reverse mortgages, one of the questions you should ask if you are considering this tool is whether you can afford to stay in your home and keep it up. Usually, borrowers have to prove that they can do this, as the reverse mortgage will require it.

If you plan to leave your home, a reverse mortgage probably isn’t your best option, as you’ll only receive a relatively small share of the value of your home. A better choice would be to sell the home and benefit fully from the value you have built up, recognizing, of course, that you’ll need to find another place to live.

Other options exist, too, for older people and others who want to tap the equity in their homes for cash. Home-equity loans and home-equity lines of credit are two common tools for homeowners to extract cash for life needs. They generally offer more flexibility for the borrower.

Reverse mortgages exist because they do fit some people’s needs, but not as well as those TV advertisements imply. If you are considering a reverse mortgage, my advice is to talk with your local community banker about your needs. Your banker will have information about reverse mortgages as well as other options you may want to consider.

Dale Lewis is president and CEO of Park State Bank in Duluth. You can reach her at president@parkstatebank.com or 218-722-3500.

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We’re celebrating 100 years with 1 percent loans

Park State Bank logoAs we prepare to mark 100 years in business, we’re celebrating with a special 1 percent loan program.

Qualified lenders can secure a 1 percent loan on a car, boat, ATV or other vehicle. Here’s more on our program.

For additional information, please contact Steven Raj, Vice President of Lending, 218-727-8001 or stevenr@parkstatebank.com.

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