Data Breach_Broken LockOctober is National Cyber Security Awareness Month! Learning how to identify online fraud and understanding how fraudulent activity happens helps with prevention. Here are some past blog posts with information on identity theft and prevention.

The Practical Side of Starting a Small Businessbanking

So you’re thinking of fulfilling a dream and starting a small business. Maybe that dream is fueled by a passion of yours. Or maybe you see a great opportunity that you just can’t pass up.

How do you get started? Probably the first thing you should do is separate emotion from reality. Are you caught up in the romance, intrigue and excitement of owning a business and being your own boss? Are you someone who enjoys the thrill of the chase? Do you envision yourself as being the next Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett? Is the dream just that – a dream – or is it something you can pull off and establish a sustainable, profit-making business?

Now, let’s look at it in another light. Sit down and seriously weigh the pros and cons of starting a business. Would you be better off financially pursuing another career? Are you prepared to hire and fire employees and make budgetary cuts to keep the business afloat during tough times? Do you know how to create a business plan and budget?

Fortunately, there are several resources at your fingertips if you decide it’s time to take the plunge. A great place to start is the U.S. Small Business Administration website ( The site, which is also available in Spanish, is chock-full of information such as guides, tips, articles and videos. It even provides a step-by-step outline on starting a business. Each step provides specific details for moving the process forward.

Here’s a quick look at each step taken directly from the site (excluding the details, which are available on the website):

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

Use these tools and resources to create a business plan. This written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.

Step 3: Choose a Business Location

Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Step 4: Finance Your Business

Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

Step 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

Step 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register your business name with your state government.

Step 7: Get a Tax Identification Number

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 8: Register for State and Local Taxes

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 9: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Step 10: Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.


The website points out that there also numerous resources available to assist startups, micro businesses, and underserved or disadvantaged groups. These include resources for specialized enterprises, such as:

  • Environmentally-friendly “green” business
  • Home-based business
  • Online business
  • Minority-owned business
  • Veteran-owned business
  • Woman-owned business

The SBA website is just one of many resources to not only help you decide whether starting a small business is right for you, but to also help you getting that business up and running. We have business specialists at BankFive who are ready to assist, too. You can tap into their broad depth and breadth of experience to make your business a successful venture. To learn more, check out the SBA section of our website at


Here’s a Financial “Gift” for Newlyweds

Getting married? Or just tied the knot? Congratulations! There’s a lot to look forward to in the future. And there will be lots of “new” things to get used to.o-FIRST-YEAR-OF-MARRIAGE-facebook

As two lives intertwine, situations will surface that were never encountered before. And lots of those situations will revolve around finances. From buying a house to setting a budget, money is inevitably a central theme in anybody’s marriage.

So what’s the best way to approach the “M” word? Communicate! Financial experts stress that it’s important that newlyweds keep the lines of communication open about their finances and financial expectations. Couples who aren’t afraid to talk about money matters are better prepared to deal with financial issues down the road.

So where do you start? There are several steps you can take to provide for financial stability in your marriage. Here are some to consider:

  • Share your financial goals and spending habits. Chances are neither will be perfectly aligned with your spouse’s. But by letting each other know where you’re coming from financially, it’s a good way to set a course for the future moneywise.
  • Be open about any financial baggage you’re bringing into the marriage. Exposing all your monetary skeletons may not be easy and could be a bit embarrassing, but it’s better than keeping it a secret and setting up your relationship for potential problems later. Topics worth discussing include outstanding bills and credit scores.
  • Establish a budget and stay with it. Perhaps you were a little loose with your money when you were single. But marriage brings with it major financial obligations that require budgetary control, such as purchasing a house or starting a family. A monthly financial blueprint to follow can make those obligations easier to handle.
  • Separate or joint? Accounts, that is. You need to discuss whether you want to have checking and savings accounts in both your names, or whether you want to keep them separate. It’s a matter of preference. But as mentioned before, it’s important to be open about your accounts and not maintain “secret” accounts.
  • “Separate or joint” applies to filing taxes, too. It’s a decision you will need to make in advance of tax season, so it wouldn’t hurt to consult with a financial adviser to determine what the best way to go is.
  • Update plans and documents to reflect your marital status. This ranges from changing beneficiaries for your 401(k) plan and life insurance to deciding whether you need to review your health insurance coverage. For instance, one spouse may want to pick up the other’s health plan because it’s more affordable and comprehensive.
  • If you have wills or other estate-planning documents, they should be reviewed to determine if any revisions are necessary.
  • Set up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Decide in advance if one of you will be responsible for contributing to the fund or whether this will be a joint responsibility. Financial experts recommend that the fund has enough to cover three to six months of normal expenses.

Marriage is a significant step for any couple. Getting off on the right foot financially can lead to marital harmony for years to come.


 Tips To Help Your Credit Score Soar

So your credit score isn’t exactly where you’d like it credit score 2to be. And improving it may seem like pulling teeth. But it doesn’t have to be painful (or require a trip to the dentist).

A credit score is a statistical approach to determining the likelihood of an individual paying back money that is borrowed. So your credit score is, of course, tied to your credit history. Your credit history comes into play in determining your qualifications for loans and the interest you will pay. If you have a good credit history, it will be reflected in your credit score. A bad credit history, on the other hand, could bring down the score.

Fortunately, there are several ways to boost your score and have a positive impact on your credit history. Based on advice from experts, here are some of them:

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report from This is a website, authorized by federal law, that gives you access to free credit reports. The three major credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – must each give you one free copy per year. With that in mind, plan to get a copy from each of the agencies every four months.

Once you have a copy of your report, check it over closely, and especially look for errors. If you find any, you can dispute them online with any of the credit bureaus.

  • Pay your bills on time. Timely bill payments go a long way toward achieving a good credit score. If you’re prone to forgetting when bills are due, set up automatic bill payments through your lender or your financial institution.
  • Don’t miss making payments or pay less than the minimum amount due.
  • If you are rebuilding your credit, a secured loan like a passbook loan is a great way to repair your credit. In this type of loan, you borrow against deposits you hold in the bank.
  • Eliminate small balances on cards you hold. This is because one of the things that adversely impacts your score is the number of cards that have balances.
  • If you don’t have any credit cards, get one or two. This will help your score as long as you don’t charge too much and you pay your bills on time.
  • If you have credit cards and you’re thinking of closing them, don’t do it. Your credit will drop with each card you cancel.
  • Don’t overuse your credit cards. Try to stay well below your credit limit for each card. This is important when it comes to assessing your “credit utilization ratio,” which is a major factor used in credit scoring models to calculate your credit score. You can figure out your utilization rate by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit card limits. You should strive for a ratio of 30 percent or less.
  • Another score-booster is to pay down your balances and keep them low.
  • Don’t close old accounts that reflect a great repayment record. A history of good debt is good for your credit score.
  • Your score dips a bit each time you apply for credit. It drops because a new application usually indicates a person wants to tap into more credit.

A Primer on EMV Technology and Its Impact on Consumers

(This is a first in a series on EMV technology, which is designed to thwart credit and debit card fraud.)

EMV technology – you may have heard of it, especially in light of major data breaches involving retailers such as Target, Michaels, and Sally Beauty. But just what does EMV have to do with these crimes? And what impact is it going to have on consumers?

Simply put, EMV is intended to thwart such breaches and other counterfeit card fraud by using chip card technology. EMV – which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – is a global standard for credit and debit cards. These cards are embedded with computer chips and tethered to technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions.Chip-and-PIN-Point-to-Point-Encryption

Cards with magnetic stripes contain data that doesn’t change from one transaction to another. That makes these cards easy targets for crooks, who use stolen card data to create counterfeit cards.

Each time an EMV card is used for payment, the card’s chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. So if a thief creates a fake card based on stolen transaction information, the card will be denied because the information will be outdated

Cards equipped with computer chips are intended to replace cards with magnetic stripes on the back of them. Unlike magnetic stripe transactions, which process unchanging data (card number and the card’s expiration date), each chip card transaction exchanges dozens of pieces of information between the card, the checkout terminal and the acquiring bank or processor host.

Although EMV technology is starting to deploy across the United States, it’s been active in Europe for quite some time. For financial institutions and merchants, the switchover in the U.S. requires adding new in-store technology and internal processing systems, and complying with new liability rules. It also means issuing millions of new cards to consumers, who will need to activate the cards and learn a new process for making payments.

According to Smart Card Alliance, a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use, and widespread application of smart card technology – approximately 120 million U.S. consumers have already received an EMV chip card, and that number is projected to reach almost 600 million by the end of this year. How do you know if you have an EMV chip card? Look for a small, metallic square on it. That’s the computer chip that’s been embedded in the card.

How do you know if you already have an EMV chip card? Look for a small, metallic square on the front of your card, like the one shown in the picture above, featuring a computer chip that’s been embedded into the card. You may have already heard some of the names being used for cards with EMV technology such as the “smart card”, “chip card”, “smart-chip card”, “chip-and-choice card” and/or “EMV smart card.” You may have already heard some of the names being used for cards with EMV technology, such as the “smart card”, “chip card”, “smart-chip card”, “chip-and-choice card” and “EMV smart card.”

Experts point out that EMV technology will not totally prevent data breaches and fraud from occurring, but it will make it harder for criminals to benefit from stolen card information.

Up next: EMV Card – How do I use it and what happens when I do?

Go Green for the Summer and Save

July 17, 2015

Go Green This Summer & Save More   It may seem counterintuitive to think about starting a cold-weather savings account in the carefree height of summer, but the nature of the season can offer savings opportunities that are otherwise unavailable during other times of the year.  Summer is a great time to establish a savings […]

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Data Breach vs. Identity Theft

July 6, 2015

When it comes to hot topics, few could be hotter than data breaches and identity theft. Rarely does a day go by that either isn’t making headlines. But how do they impact you? And did you know that there are differences between the two? Let’s take a closer look at each: What exactly is a […]

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5 Ways to Build or Repair Your Credit

June 15, 2015

A credit score is the crux of your financial life, and if it’s not up to par, it can be a scarlet letter to lenders.  When you apply for a mortgage or a car loan, your lender determines how much of a risk you are — and how much interest to charge you — based […]

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Arm Yourself Against Identity Theft

May 8, 2015

If you’re like most Americans, you’re online every day. And some of that online activity might include checking bank accounts, paying bills and purchasing items. Unfortunately, this leaves you susceptible to cyber intruders and thieves, who are always looking for ways to steal sensitive financial and personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account […]

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Fall River Affordable Housing Seminars|BankFive

May 6, 2015

Fall River, Mass. (May 6, 2015) – The Fall River Housing Corporation, together with BankFive, will present two seminars to provide first-time homebuyers with information about what they need to know when purchasing a home. Topics to be discussed include budgeting and credit, the housing search process, lead paint issues, home inspections, obtaining a mortgage, […]

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