On Our Minds

Biden Creating New "New Deal"

The S&P 500 Index grew 5.8% in the first quarter in response to the massive fiscal stimulus and the anticipation of a significant economic rebound. The recent passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package added to the previous five major stimulus bills totaling over $5.2 trillion. Lawmakers as well as the Federal Reserve have responded dramatically to the COVID pandemic flooding the market with liquidity and the markets responded positively. The COVID-relief money flooding into depository institutions is being used for consumption and investment and helping corporate earnings rebound quickly.

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IRS Lists Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

It’s the time of year when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its list of the latest tax scams. Scammers routinely use the anxiety of tax season to prey on the unsuspecting, and this year, they’re also using the pandemic and the government’s Economic Impact Payments to steal money and identities from taxpayers.

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Counterfeiting: Still a Real Problem

Counterfeiting currency has been going on since people began using money. It has been dubbed “the world’s second-oldest profession” in some quarters, and we’re not talking about wooden nickels. According to the United States Department of Treasury, an estimated $70 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation, or approximately one counterfeit note for every 10,000 in genuine currency.

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Economic recovery is underway

With the completion of the fourth quarter of 2020 corporate earnings releases, investors are monitoring daily COVID headlines, rising interest rates, and the potential for a new stimulus program. Corporate earnings were mostly better than expected and guidance for the year ahead was surprisingly strong.

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Avoid Corporate Account Takeover

Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. “Corporate account takeover” is a form of identity theft of a business. Criminals phony emails pretending to be someone you know to trick you into clicking on links or attachments that can lead to malicious software being installed on your computer. Once this happens, they will ask you to enter credentials where they will gain access to your email account. At that point, they will send emails to the bank appearing to be from you to initiate ACH and wire transactions.

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Initial market in President Biden's first days

The S&P 500 Index was down 1% in January based on investors’ revised expectations of corporate revenue growth and earnings. First, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and inoculation process is proceeding slowly while the virus is mutating. The new strains appear to be slightly more virulent and the vaccination timeline will take longer and delay economic normalization. Second, the peaceful installation of the Biden Administration with impactful policy changes have added uncertainty. New executive orders are being launched daily with an emphasis so far on changing carbon emissions, raising the minimum wage and bringing about social justice. Third, the expectation for further fiscal stimulus in the next 100 days is losing its enthusiasm. The passage of another $1.9 trillion relief package so soon after the recently passed $900-million package seems excessive even for the new Congress.

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6 Ways to Protect Your Business from Business Email Compromise Scams

Companies of all sizes are being targeted by criminals through business email compromise scams. In these scams, cybercriminals gain access to an employee’s legitimate business email through social engineering or computer intrusion. The criminal then impersonates the employee often a senior executive or someone who can authorize payments and instructs others to transfer funds on their behalf. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, over $10 billion has been lost by victims in the U.S. due to these scams.

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Why should I use my debit card?

One reason is our new “Use It. Love It. Win It.” Sweepstakes.* You can earn $500 just by using your Crews Bank & Trust Visa® Debit Card for everyday purchases. Sound good? Check out the official rules and details.

The sweepstakes is not the only reason to use your debit card. You may already be using it for dining and entertainment, groceries, gas, shopping online, and monthly bills like utilities, cell phone plans, gym membership, auto insurance, and much more.

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Investment Market Update: Positive Takeaways From 2020

2020 was an unusual and volatile one with the S&P 500 Index’s 34% decline in 30 days in March followed by a re-tracement and rise of over 16% by year-end. This proved once again that a longer-term outlook is required in successful equity investing.

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Stop Ransomware Before It Stops You!


Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts files, preventing access until a demanded sum of money is paid in exchange to unlock files. Individuals and businesses have become targets in this growing online fraud.
While monetary losses to individuals and businesses can be excessive, businesses have more to lose, since cybercriminals can gain access to clients’ personal information and extort money from them as well as the business. Fraudsters can buy a kit on the dark net for about $175 and charge a business a ransom of approximately $84,000 per attack.
Certified Information Security Manager Margo Leiter offers nine tips for consumers and businesses to help prevent ransomware attacks.

Tips for consumers:
• Don’t click. Visiting unsafe, suspicious or fake websites can lead to the intrusion of malware. Be cautious when opening any email with attachments or links you are not expecting, even when you recognize the sender. When in doubt, throw it out!
• Always back up your files. By maintaining offline copies of your personal information, ransomware scams will have a limited impact on you. If targeted, you will be less inclined to heed threats posed by cybercriminals.
• 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’ll receive the newest fixes as they become available.
• Enable popup blockers. To prevent popups, turn on popup blockers to avert unwanted ads, popups or browser malware from constantly appearing on your computer screen.
Tips for businesses:
• Educate your employees. Employees can serve as a first line of defense to combat online threats if properly trained to recognize malicious emails, websites and online ads. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses aid tremendously in preventing these threats.
• Manage the use of privileged accounts. In an effort to limit your network’s exposure to malware, restrict users’ ability to install and run software applications on network devices.
• Have a plan. Determine how you will keep the business running in the event of an attack. Teach employees what to do, such as unplug from the internet immediately. Law enforcement doesn’t recommend paying the ransom as this encourages criminals to continue. Routinely back up and store the data on a separate device or offline in order to access it in the event of a ransomware attack.
• Protect your systems. Keep antivirus, anti-malware, and firewalls up to date and patched. Conduct regular scans. Hire a security professional.
• Report ransomware. Contact your local FBI field office immediately to report a ransomware event and request assistance. Visit https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field to locate the office nearest you.

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