National Data Privacy Day: Minimizing Your Risks

Robert M. Duplessis, CRISC, CISM, CBVM
Senior Vice President/Information Security Officer

Every January 28, security experts observe National Data Privacy Day, though the reason is far from celebratory. Instead, the day is devoted to raising awareness about the risks of sharing data in daily life. Over the years that awareness has evolved from warnings that using birthdays as PINs is a bit risky to the new reality that the privacy of data—everyone’s data—is under constant attack.

Hacker attacks on computers now launch at a rate of every 39 seconds*. Breaches that result in records being stolen are occurring at a rate of 158,727 per hour*! Worse, the pools of information available to be hacked are increasing, thanks to the growth of the internet of things (IoT).

The New Normal: Data in Motion
You may actively use settings to restrict public access to your social media accounts and practice good self-policing of your personal data. However, every time you shop for books or boots online, ask your voice-activated device a trivia question, stream videos or even send your DNA to a lab to learn about your ancestry, you are giving up valuable data about yourself. And, if you are like most people, you do so without considering the security risks.

IoT attacks were up 600% in 2017.

7 Ways to Play Defense
While it may seem as if society in general has already lost the war on privacy, that doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself against personal loss. There are tools you can use and actions you can take to keep your data from being turned against you. Here are a few of these.

  1. Know how those you deal with treat your information. Read our privacy policy, along with the policies of any site or service you access, to make sure they are protective of their customers’ data before you give them yours.
  2. Conduct an annual audit of your data. Determine where it is and what each organization you deal with knows about you. Uninstall any old apps—the older they are and the less frequently they are updated, the more vulnerable they are to hacking.More than 75% of the health care industry was infected with malware last year.
  3. Monitor your credit reports. The FDIC recommends visiting www.annualcreditreport.com* or calling 877-322-8228 to acquire a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. These reports function as early detection systems if someone is trying to borrow your identity.
  4. Be an early filer. Because many security breaches in the retail and health care industries have compromised social security numbers, file your tax return as early as possible, especially if you anticipate a refund. Fraudulent filings delay refunds for months while the IRS straightens things out.Three industries were responsible for 95% of the records stolen in 2016.
  5. Don’t trust, before you verify. Before giving up any information online through an email or text, verify that the person or company asking for it is legit. Hover over the address line to see where the email is really coming from. Verify any phone numbers through an independent online search before calling.71% of cyber attacks begin with phishing emails.
  6. Use tools designed to keep your information safe. Our Trusteer Rapport is security software that protects your online banking communications from being stolen. It works in addition to any antivirus or firewalls and is designed to catch fraud immediately. We also offer Security Manager, an authentication product for businesses or personal customers that generates passcodes via text and works in conjunction with your current security features.Small businesses were the target of 43% of cyber attacks.
  7. Secure you debit card. When you misplace your debit card, use our SecurLOCK™ Equip Mobile App to turn your debit card on and off and monitor spending.

Working Hard to Keep You Safe
It’s unfortunate that every time you touch a screen or pay by phone, credit or debit card you give up some personal information. We are committed to helping you protect your most valued possessions.

Whenever you have any doubts about your bank accounts, visit our FAQ section. Also, feel free to contact us online or call 877-866-0202. We are always happy to talk through your concerns, privately.

  1. Sobers, Rob. “60 Must-Know Cybersecurity Statistics for 2019.” Varonis. Web. January 2, 2019. <https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics/*>
  2. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.” Cybint. Web. December 3, 2018. <https://www.cybintsolutions.com/cyber-security-facts-stats/*>
  3. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.”
  4. Sobers, Rob. “60 Must-Know Cybersecurity Statistics for 2019.”
  5. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.”

*This is an outbound link that will take you away from the WordPress blog. Before you go, we want to let you know that you are accessing a resource that includes data not hosted on our website. This service has been provided for your convenience only. It does not imply that Old Second Bank endorses or sponsors the information you will be viewing. We also cannot guarantee its accuracy or that your privacy will be maintained should you choose to disclose any personal information while on the linked site. Also, please be aware that the products and services offered on third-party sites, including investment and insurance products, are not products of Old Second Bank and may not be insured by the FDIC. Thank you and hope to see you back here soon.

National Data Privacy Day: 8 Tips for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Robert M. Duplessis, CRISC, CISM, CBVM, Senior Vice President—Information Security Officer 

January 28 is National Data Privacy Day. Its observance serves as a reminder that maintaining the privacy of your personal information is a year-round responsibility.

What’s at Risk

At the heart of the battle for your privacy is your personally identifiable information (PII). PII is any combination of data points that can lead to your identification. The more information a hacker can pull together on you the easier it becomes to obtain more, with the goal being to steal your identity.

This information may include your email address and full name—data readily available online. But, it also includes your:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license
  • State identification
  • Financial account numbers
  • Medical information
  • Passwords
  • Address
  • Cellphone number

Companies like ours work diligently to protect your privacy and your data. We only collect the information we need to do business with you. We safely dispose of personal information when it is no longer needed. Unless required by law, we do not share your information without your permission or knowledge. (For more on Old Second’s privacy policies, click here.)

Every website, health care provider, insurance and financial company you deal with should have a similar policy. If they don’t or there is something about their policy that makes you uneasy, you should consider doing business elsewhere. However, it isn’t just businesses that collect data you need to be concerned about.

What You Can Do

Protecting your privacy is a shared responsibility. Every time you share your dog’s name or your child’s photo on Facebook, post vacation photos on Instagram or update your new job title on LinkedIn, you are adding to what hackers can find out about you and those you tag. Consider what Alexa and Google Home know! Then, consider how much information would be needed to start guessing your passwords.

The reality is that none of us will stop posting, sharing or using products that enhance our daily lives. What we can do, however, is take some precautions before we do. Here are some things to consider adding to your regular routine that can help safeguard your PII and that of your family members and friends.

  1. Revisit your social media settings. Make sure you know who you are sharing information with and whether you really want to. Also consider living less “in the moment.” Share photos and locations after you’ve left them.
  2. Tag only with permission. Not everyone wants their location and activities broadcast or their children’s names made public. Be respectful of the privacy of others.
  3. Manage your passwords. Change them regularly and refrain from using one to access everything. Many companies and services now use double authentication options. Consider opting into them.
  4. Monitor your credit reports. Whether your information was involved in a data breach or not, take advantage of your ability to order a report for free from each of the three reporting agencies each year. A credit-monitoring service, while an added expense, also may be warranted if your information was hacked, since hackers do not necessarily use your information right away. They may sit on it until your free year of monitoring is up.
  5. Keep your software and apps current. Updates and patches are intended to address vulnerabilities in the system. Also, uninstall apps and programs you no longer use. Hackers could use them as back doors into your system.
  6. Check your credit and debit card charges regularly. As soon as you see something odd, call your card issuer and cancel your card. Replacement cards arrive within days.
  7. Use caller ID. Every piece of information, including your voice, is fodder for scammers. If someone calls you and you don’t recognize the number or the caller’s name, do not feel compelled to pick up. Often, by entering the number in a Google search, you can confirm it was a fraudulent call.
  8. Refrain from clicking through links in emails. While legitimate companies provide links for convenience, you are better off signing onto your online account the way you typically do, just to be safe, or calling the customer service number you have on file for them.

For more tips and information on keeping your personal information safe, we maintain a variety of resources on our website. Also, feel free to call 877-866-0202 . We are always happy to talk through your concerns, privately.

Is a Home Equity Line of Credit Right for You?

Jackie Link, Branch Manager—Sugar Grove (NMLS# 996284)

Unless you’ve bought or sold your home recently or know someone in your area who has, you may be pleasantly surprised by its current market value. In fact, selling prices have been on a multiyear rise.

While the added appreciation in home equity is nice, it also means you may have additional borrowing power. That’s something you may want to gain access to through a home equity line of credit. (HELOC).

How a HELOC Works

A HELOC is a tool that allows homeowners to borrow a percentage (typically 70%- 90%) of the difference between the amount they have outstanding on their mortgage—if they have one—and the current market value of their home. As a revolving line of credit, it bears resemblance to a credit card but with a much higher borrowing limit.

Unlike most credit cards, the interest rate you are charged on a HELOC is lower since the line is secured by a home. For most homeowners, the interest is typically tax deductible, making it even more cost effective. However, you will want to verify with your own tax professional to make sure you qualify to take this deduction.

The rate on a HELOC will vary with the general level of interest rates. At Old Second, we use the U.S. Prime Rate as our benchmark and then add a fixed-margin rate to that, based on your financial information. We make the process easy and walk you through every step.

Although HELOCs are offered on a variable-rate basis, our clients can always switch to a fixed-rate option if they are concerned interest rates will rise. Instead of having the flexibility of paying only interest each month, payments under the fixed-rate option will include a specific amount of principal as well.

While different lenders offer different structures, Old Second’s HELOC provides 10 years of access. You can borrow and repay as often as you want during that time. If the line isn’t renewed after 10 years, it converts into a loan with a 20-year repayment plan, behaving like a second mortgage.

Qualifying for a HELOC is like qualifying for a mortgage, though a little less intense. There are no upfront fees and we charge a $50 annual fee (with the first year waived) as long as it remains open along with a pre-payment fee when applicable.

When to HELOC

As a personal cash management tool, you can access your line pretty much whenever you want by writing a check or calling to arrange a transfer. We see our clients using them to:

  • Spend before receiving, such as taking a vacation before receiving a year-end bonus.
  • Fund remodeling and home repair expenses.
  • Repay higher interest loans or credit card balances.
  • Cover large or unexpected expenses, from weddings and college tuition to replacing a car or paying medical bills.
  • Make a down payment on a vacation property.

Because HELOCs are both flexible and reusable, many homeowners take them out before they have an actual need. That way, they have a ready source of funding whenever the need arises.

To talk about how you might benefit from adding a HELOC to your financial toolkit, give us a call at 1-877-866-0202 or visit any Old Second Bank branch. Let’s talk about what we can do to help you achieve your goals.

Women and Wealth: What You Need to Know

Jacqueline Runnberg, CFP®, Vice President/Wealth Advisor

Jacqueline Runnberg“Girl power!” isn’t just an empowered cry from the 1990s girl band rock scene. It speaks to the current reality: the growing influence of women as wealth creators and decision makers.

Today, women are more likely to achieve higher levels of education and participate in the workforce at a similar rate to men. They also head up a growing number of households due to divorce, lifestyle choices and longer lifespans. In fact, it’s estimated that 95 percent of women will be their family’s primary financial decision maker at some point in their lives.[1]

In the U.S., women currently control about $11.2 trillion—39 percent of this country’s investable assets.[2] By 2030, it’s expected that at least two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of women.[3]

Yet for all this financial firepower, women tend to lag men when it comes to planning for their financial futures.

What Makes It Different for Women

When it comes to investing, women are said to be more conservative investors who are generally inclined to take less risk. This isn’t entirely a bad thing—men generally take too much risk. But, being too conservative can leave women unprepared to meet their income and health care needs later in life.

Unlike men, women also tend to put more emphasis on objectives and planning and are better savers. These are also very good tendencies for ensuring that wealth takes care of family members. But often, this planning isn’t being expanded to accommodate their own needs, needs that arise from longer life spans.[4]

Thinking About Tomorrow

Runnberg InfographicAmong the realities we try to make our clients more aware of is that women tend to live longer, which leads to the need for their invested wealth to last longer. Women often outlive their husbands. And if they are single, their longer life span makes them even more vulnerable to the high cost of health care than men and puts them in even greater need for planning.

Addressing these issues can extend beyond money. It can require a Plan B, should it not be feasible to count on other family members to step in if a single or widowed woman becomes incapacitated.

As part of a bank trust company, we can provide more encompassing services than many financial advisors. These include serving as a trustee, settling estates and ensuring bills are paid and medical and household services are received when a client becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

It’s all part of the holistic range of services we can provide our clients to help them feel empowered, confident and secure when it comes to talking about, understanding and then planning and investing for their family’s future needs as well as their own.

[1] Heather R. Ettinger and Eileen M. O’Connor, “Women of Wealth: Why Does the Financial Services Industry Still Not Hear Them,” Family Wealth Advisors Council, 2011.
[2] Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Andrea Turner Moffitt with Melinda Marshall, “Harnessing the Power of the Purse: Female Investors and Global Opportunities for Growth,” Center for Talent Innovation, 2014.
[3] Heather R. Ettinger and Eileen M. O’Connor, “Women of Wealth Study: Why Does the Financial Services Industry Still Not Hear Them,” Family Wealthy Advisors Council, 2011.
[4] Jean Chatzky, “Why women are better investors than men,” fortune.com, posted April 10, 2015, retrieved September 18, 2015.

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

BusinessManager: The New Way to Unlock Liquidity

David Mottet, First Vice President—Commercial Lending

Let’s face it, when accounts receivable start to build, it’s usually a good problem to have. It’s a sign you are doing something right.David Mottet, First Vice President—Commercial Lending

But, you can face as much as a 90- to 120-day delay before you collect on your receivables. Meanwhile, you still have to replenish inventory, possibly expand the workforce and gear up to meet increasing customer demand. This is what makes maintaining liquidity so tricky.

This is also why we are excited about having a new solution to offer you: BusinessManager. It’s an online program accessible directly from anywhere you have Internet access. It can help keep your sales growing without the financial hiccups since it enables you to convert your receivables into cash. That cash is then deposited to your account on a next-day basis. But unlike a traditional receivables-based line of credit, the advance rate under the BusinessManager program is up to 90 percent.

How it works
You simply enter the pertinent data from your invoices into the Web-based software. Once added to the system, the receivables are then automatically tracked and aged until they are paid by your customers.

The advance your firm receives is also calculated automatically and made next day through a deposit to your Old Second checking account.

Because of the tracking component, receivables reports are generated for you on an ongoing basis. The system is compatible with most popular accounting software programs, making integration into your operations fairly straightforward. The collection of your receivables is then made through a lockbox service managed at the bank.

BusinessManagerClick here to view our BusinessManager Infographic.

Positive cash flow with benefits
As an accounting tool, BusinessManager does more than simplify the process of accounts receivable-based borrowing. It speeds the process to create a quicker turnover ratio.

It also means that in addition to the improved cash flow and the freeing up of your staff’s time for other activities, you are better positioned to capitalize on new business opportunities. With access to cash, you can also take full advantage of supplier discounts when paying your expenses to lower your own operating costs.

To get your receivables working harder for you, contact your lender to set up an appointment to learn more about BusinessManager and the other cash management strategies available at Old Second Bank.

The Mortgage Process: Back From the Future

David Kozuh, Vice President—Residential Lending

Things have changed. But, not in the way many potential borrowers think.

David Kozuh, Vice President—Residential Lending   Things have changed. But, not in the way many potential borrowers think. Many still think it’s harder to get a mortgage than it used to be. Not necessarily. Despite the Financial Crisis of 2007–2008, banks have been helping homebuyers and owners take advantage of the low interest-rate environment all along. Even Millennials, despite their student debt loads, have been getting approved for mortgages. It’s also still possible to get a mortgage with a down payment of less than 20%. And, first-time homebuyer programs that provide money for down payments may even make it a little easier to afford a new home than in 2008. What Has Changed Since the crisis, the process of applying for a loan has improved. Many lenders, Old Second included, have made initiating a loan request even easier, leveraging online and mobile technology for applications, document gathering and communication. But, the biggest change involves the way an application is now processed. It takes longer…much longer. What could be done inside of 30 days in 2008, may now take longer. No home loan lender is immune—we are all subject to the same regulations. And, it’s about to get a little worse. It’s Not You, It’s the New Federal Regulations Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner, in the aftermath of the financial crisis there has been a return to the kind of lending standards—operational checks and balances—that most of us have used to apply to loans for decades. Those standards require time to analyze and verify that each mortgage applicant is qualified for and entering into the right type of loan for their financial circumstances. As of Oct. 3, a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Know Before You Owe,” will take effect. It is intended to offer additional protection by ensuring you understand the terms and consequences of your loan agreement at closing. This new rule will add a few more days to the closing process for all mortgage lenders no matter how automated their internal processes are. While a degree of patience has re-entered the mortgage process, we believe it ultimately ensures that you’ll gain full advantage of our expertise. Whether it’s a 30-year fixed mortgage, an adjustable rate, a line of credit for remodeling or a refinancing into a 15-year loan that will help you retire mortgage-free, our goal is—as it’s always been—to make sure you enter into the right financing structure.

Many still think it’s harder to get a mortgage than it used to be. Not necessarily. Despite the Financial Crisis of 2007–2008, banks have been helping homebuyers and owners take advantage of the low interest-rate environment all along. Even Millennials, despite their student debt loads, have been getting approved for mortgages.

It’s also still possible to get a mortgage with a down payment of less than 20%. And, first-time homebuyer programs that provide money for down payments may even make it a little easier to afford a new home than in 2008.

What Has Changed
Since the crisis, the process of applying for a loan has improved. Many lenders, Old Second included, have made initiating a loan request even easier, leveraging online and mobile technology for applications, document gathering and communication.

But, the biggest change involves the way an application is now processed. It takes longer…much longer. What could be done inside of 30 days in 2008, may now take longer. No home loan lender is immune—we are all subject to the same regulations. And, it’s about to get a little worse.

It’s Not You, It’s the New Federal Regulations
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner, in the aftermath of the financial crisis there has been a return to the kind of lending standards—operational checks and balances—that most of us have used to apply to loans for decades.

Those standards require time to analyze and verify that each mortgage applicant is qualified for and entering into the right type of loan for their financial circumstances.

As of Oct. 3, a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Know Before You Owe,” will take effect. It is intended to offer additional protection by ensuring you understand the terms and consequences of your loan agreement at closing. This new rule will add a few more days to the closing process for all mortgage lenders no matter how automated their internal processes are.

While a degree of patience has re-entered the mortgage process, we believe it ultimately ensures that you’ll gain full advantage of our expertise.

Whether it’s a 30-year fixed mortgage, an adjustable rate, a line of credit for remodeling or a refinancing into a 15-year loan that will help you retire mortgage-free, our goal is—as it’s always been—to make sure you enter into the right financing structure.

The Future of Banking Is Now

Keith Gottschalk, Chief Operating Officer

Keith Gottschalk, Chief Operating OfficerIt’s no secret: The pace of change in banking is speeding up. But where technology initially drove the changes leading to a better in-branch experience and more productive online activities, the application of that technology into easily downloadable apps for use on our phones and tablets has us crossing into a new frontier of convenience.

Faster, simpler, better, mobile.
As much as we look forward to seeing you in our branches during business hours, we know that isn’t necessarily where you’ll be when the need to bank occurs. This is why we continue to expand the ways you can conduct your banking activities—whenever, wherever and however you prefer.

For instance, unless you’ve been in the market for a loan recently, you may not know that O2 now accepts applications online for both mortgages and installment loans. Similarly, you can open new checking accounts without ever visiting a branch. We even offer you a person-to-person payment option that reduces the need to carry cash or your checkbook.

As we develop faster, simpler, better ways of serving you, we expect to add or enhance capabilities that will eventually include:

  • Kiosk banking, offering remote access to a teller located elsewhere (think Skype for banking)
  • The ability to use your cell phone as a debit card
  • A real-time transaction alert system to improve budgeting and security
  • Added functionality for ATMs for quicker crediting of deposits
  • The further streamlining of the lending process for even faster decisions

Ultimately, our goal is providing you with intuitive banking services, along with functions you can download through your preferred app store. The difference we intend to bring is providing these services and functions in one convenient, interconnected place—your community’s branch, both the physical version you visit and the mobile version you hold in your hand.

Interest Rates Are Expected to Move. Should You?

William Schumann, First Vice President, Head of Mortgage Sales

William Schumann, First Vice President, Head of Mortgage Sales

Interest rates are at historical lows—you’ve probably heard this before. It’s still true, but sources indicate not for much longer. Even the U.S. Federal Reserve, which influences the direction of interest rates, has indicated rates will be going up.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, buying before rates rise could lower your overall cost of ownership. Being able to lock in a low rate of interest lowers the amount of your monthly payment.

The current real estate environment has also created another factor those considering making the move to homeownership should be aware of—in some of the markets our bank serves, the selection of homes for purchase is much better than the selection of rental units.

Most homeowners are also able to deduct their mortgage interest on that home. There are no comparable deductions available to renters. Having access to this deductibility can significantly lower the after-tax costs of homeownership by lowering your income tax bill each year.

An additional advantage for home ownership is the opportunity it offers to build equity. You spend money on rent, but a mortgage payment represents both an expense (interest) and an investment in your asset (home equity). As equity builds, so does your personal wealth.

While the aspect of financial benefit figures significantly in the decision to buy instead of renting, homeownership also offers the ability to create a space of one’s own, to customize it to your liking and needs. And, it can provide stability, as well as a place you and your family can refer to as home for years to come.

If you do decide to take advantage of the current interest rate environment, it’s a good idea to “know” before you “go.” Visit your lender first to determine how much house you can afford so that you are only shown options in your price range. It helps make your decision and your home-buying experience go more smoothly.

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