Protect your finances with travel tips

2020 Travel TipsSummer is officially here. As the days are longer and the weather warmer, many folks are preparing for their annual summer vacation. While travel is an exciting time, it can pose a risk to your finances.

When planning for out of state travel it is important to cover all your bases, including your bank accounts. It is true that paying with debit and credit cards offer more security on larger purchases compared to cash only. This is because both debit and credit cards offer protections, such as zero-liability for fraud charges. Having this protection in place can ease anxiety and offer peace of mind while traveling.

At Ohio Valley Bank, protecting customers from fraud is a top priority. To do this there are protocol that sometimes may take place, such as a hold on a transaction that comes from an unknown location out of the bank’s general area. To avoid this potential headache and keep your travel carefree, Angie Kinnaird, OVB Assistant Vice President Bank Card Department, encourages folks to place a travel alert on all cards, including both debit and credit.

“If travel alerts are not placed, customers take the risk of their cards being blocked by Fraud Center detection as a precautionary measure of preventing fraud. When cards are blocked, customers would not have access to their funds until the customer can contact the FI to remove the block,” Kinnaird said.

Customers should place alerts on all cards they plan to use during travel. According to Kinnaird, customers should request travel alerts 24-48 hours prior to arrival.

“Customers are welcome to call, email or visit a local branch to report travel plans,” she said. “Any travel outside of local normal pattern of use or within a 40-50-mile range I strongly recommend a travel alert to avoid any inconvenience to the customer.”

Along with travel alerts, there are additional things you can do to make travel worry-free. We recommend the following tips:

  • Bring a minimum of two cards to use on vacation. Should one card have issues, you would be covered with having a second one available. Traveling as a couple? Even better. If you each bring a card, that will provide backup coverage.
  • Only use ATMs that look safe. Avoid ATMs in secluded or poorly lit locations. Check each device to confirm that the card reader does not appear to be tampered with or have a removable piece attached to it. If anything seems off, find another machine. Remember you can take advantage of cash-back options with your debit card at certain stores.
  • While on vacation, save all receipts. Should you have an issue arise, having your receipts available will help you identify the potential problem quicker.
  • Limit what you share on social media. While it is fun to post photos while on vacation it can put you at risk. If you have public social media accounts it is a good idea to share photos once you return home. Unfortunately, if criminals know you are out of town, they may seize the opportunity.
  • Pack a list of emergency phone numbers, including a number for your bank. Should any issues occur, having a list of contacts ready will help you get things solved faster and in turn, get you back to vacation-mode.
  • Keep your cash out of sight, in a secure place. While a vacation might make you more relaxed, you still need to be aware of your surroundings. Whether you are out shopping or in a public location, such as a restaurant or a beach, flashing cash can bring unwanted attention. Organize your money before heading out each day.
  • Make sure all Wi-Fi you connect to is secure. For example, if you are staying at a hotel ask what their official Wi-Fi network is. It is quite common for hackers to set up fake Wi-Fi networks at hotels. Often these networks appear to be legit and are set up to take advantage of unsuspecting guests.
  • Password protect all devices. You are only as strong as your password, but this mantra rings even more true during travel. Losing your phone, laptop or tablet can put your financial information at risk. By password protecting these devices, your information will be kept safe should these items fall into the wrong hands.

In addition to financial protection, there are additional travel concerns this summer due to COVID-19. For more information on how to travel safely during the pandemic, check out the CDC’s recommendations https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.

 

Contactless banking with OVB e-Services

E-Services 3

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation, we are finding ourselves more reliant on technology than ever before. From distance learning in schools to remote work environments, technology is making it possible to navigate our “new normal.” Many have also moved to safe and easy contactless banking through OVB NetTeller, OVB Line Telephone Banking, OVB Text Message Banking, and the OVB Mobile App.

“Our e-Services line of products offer numerous benefits,” Andrew Bush, OVB online banking manager, said. “First and foremost, among them is time and convenience. When you can pay your bills with our Online Bill Pay service, send money to a friend, see your balances, transactions and more all without needing to make a trip to your local branch, it frees you to do the things that matter most to you.”

Bush also described OVB’s e-Services products as an asset for dealing with the “new normal” that COVID-19 has created.

“Along with the time and convenience, I’d be remiss to not point out the peace of mind these products can provide. As the COVD-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our daily lives, the ability to perform contactless banking is a huge relief to many,” he said.

Do you have older relatives who are less technology savvy, but unable to visit their branch due to being in a high-risk category for the virus? If so, you are not alone. According to Bush, ensuring that all of the bank’s e-Services products are user-friendly is the primary focus.

“One great thing about our e-Services platform is its ability to adapt to each user’s individual needs and habits. If they prefer to use a tablet or smartphone our OVB Mobile Banking app is available on both Android and iOS. Does your relative like using their desktop or laptop computer? No problem. They can log into NetTeller via our website, no app necessary,” Bush said. “What if your relative doesn’t like using computers at all? I’d invite them to use Text Message Banking, as well as our OVB Line service, which was recently upgraded to include new features.”

If you are not familiar with OVB’s e-Services options available, we are here to help! Perhaps you never gave them much thought before the pandemic or maybe you need a refresher? Below are the different e-Service options available at OVB:

  • Mobile Deposit – OVB Mobile Deposit has grown in popularity over the years and has become an especially helpful product during the pandemic. It is the fastest way to deposit funds safely. Deposits made before 5 p.m. eastern are processed on the same business day with funds available after nightly processing. To use this product, you must have either an Android or iPhone with the most current version of the OVB Mobile Banking app installed. Mobile Deposit is available for use on Android and Apple tablets with cameras as well. For more information, check out our Mobile Deposit FAQ.
  • Text Message Banking– Along with Mobile Deposit, additional Mobile Banking technology is a great asset to meet your banking needs. OVB’s Text Message Banking is a quick way to get your bank balance or recent history. To activate Text Message Banking, simply go to www.ovbc.com on a desktop or laptop computer. Sign in to NetTeller with your credentials and click on the Text Banking tab. From there you simply complete and submit the form. Once you confirm the information provided, you will receive a text confirming activation. Voila! Now you can comfortably bank via text.
  • OVB Line Telephone Banking – Would you rather not rely on your computer when it comes to banking? No problem. Check out OVB’s Line Telephone Banking at 888-FONE-OVB (that’s 88-366-3682). This service is available 24/7 to serve your basic banking needs, including getting your balance; listening to transaction history; deactivating your OVB debit card; reporting your lost or stolen card; transferring money between accounts; and making loan payments from your OVB account. OVB Line Telephone Banking was recently upgraded last month and now includes features such as voice recognition. You can also now activate your OVB debit card. More Info.
  • Benjamin Tracker – Looking for some budgeting help made easy? Check out OVB’s Benjamin Tracker. With the pandemic many folks have had to rework their budgets and this product is the perfect tool to help you stay on track. Benjamin Tracker enables users to manage their money, monitor spending, set goals, and actually see where their money goes. This free product is available through both NetTeller and the OVB App.
  • NetTeller – We have already mentioned NetTeller many times in this post as it is such a great tool to manage your banking from the comfort of home and when you are on the go. Through NetTeller you can easily check balances, make transfers, research transactions, and download all your financial information in the privacy of your home. Applying for NetTeller is a simple process, click here to get started.
  • Bill Pay – Looking for ways to make paying your bills quicker and easier? Simplify your process with Bill Pay. To get started, just click on the Bill Pay tab in NetTeller. From there you will be able to start paying your bills immediately. Bill Pay is free. A nominal fee applies for special services, such as FedEx rushed payments and stylized special occasion gift checks.

One of the best ways to keep up with OVB banking news and rates is by subscribing to Rate Watchers, which is a weekly newsletter. As the pandemic continues to bring many changes, Rate Watchers is a great way to keep up on your community bank’s updates. Also, don’t forget to stop by the bank’s COVID-19 update page for the latest banking-related pandemic news.

For more information on OVB’s e-Services options and to view tutorial videos on how to use the products, visit www.ovbc.com and click on the e-Services tab.

 

Keep up with COVID-19 scams

COVID Scams 2This year has been challenging on many levels due to the COVID-19 virus. Along with health and economic concerns that come with a pandemic, scams are on the rise as well.

When the virus essentially changed life as we know it this past March, many COVID-19 scams jumped on the scene. Unfortunately, as tax season is approaching its end and as the virus continues to linger, more COVID-19 scams are popping up. While fraud is scary, being aware of existing scams will help you stay protected.

According to Chris Brown, Ohio Valley Bank BSA and fraud specialist, current COVID-19 scams to watch for include the following: text message scams, robocall insurance deal scams, phishing email scams, and online links that advertise items related to the virus. Brown said that the U.S. Secret Service is also aware of unemployment scams concerning the pandemic.

“During pandemics and disasters scammers see people who are vulnerable. They will use any platform they can to obtain your financial and personal information. If the link, text, phone call or email sounds or looks fishy, odds are it is,” Brown said. “If you have any concerns about something you feel is a scam, please reach out to your local bank. We are equipped to help you determine if something is legitimate or not.”

As tax season approaches its final hurdle, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has warned taxpayers about the possibility of fraud and other financial scams associated with COVID-19. According to the IRS, criminals often use every opportunity to exploit bad situations, which includes the pandemic. For example, criminals have continued to take advantage of the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments by using them as a way to steal money and personal identifying information.

Text message scams along with robocalls are also on the rise as the pandemic continues. The calls and texts typically claim to come from government organizations; banks; or even a family member in distress. Unfortunately, robocalls are harder to detect now as the caller’s ID can be adjusted to look as if it comes from your local area code. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, some folks may receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department, which offer COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information. The Treasury Department said all such communications are scams, and if you receive something similar to contact the FBI immediately at www.ic3.gov. The Federal Trade Commission also encourages people to hang up immediately should they receive a robocall.

“Romance Scams” relating to COVID-19 have also come about recently. Due to many folks quarantining themselves at home due to pandemic precautions, increased internet usage has been a result. According to www.CybercrimeSupport.org, cybercriminals are working to capitalize on high internet volume by luring people into romance scams – essentially preying on the sense of isolation folks may feel during this time of seclusion. Be mindful of any online communication where a stranger asks for money. To read more about romance scams and how to recover should you be a victim, visit this resource page.

As people are using social media even more now to communicate due to the many restrictions the virus has imposed on gatherings, COVID-19 scams are popping up on those platforms as well. While social media scams in general have been around for quite some time, the pandemic has caused an increase. With social media, cybercriminals are using it as a tool to distribute false information to capitalize on panic. In addition, some people will receive messages from “friends” asking for money on social media, which in most cases is a hoax.

Another scam to watch for are ones that claim to come from delivery services, such as FedEx. This type of fraud is categorized as a phishing scam. With phishing scams, criminals send emails or design website links to mimic businesses. They attempt to get people to enter personal and financial information through these mock methods. Delivery scams, which typically present in the form of text or email, are on the rise as people are ordering online due to being at home more often. According to FedEx, examples of this scam include the following:

  • Unexpected requests for money in return for delivery of a package or other item, including personal and/or financial information, such as a Social Security number, bank account number, or other identification.
  • Links to misspelled or slightly altered websites. For example, the correct website for FedEx is www.fedex.com, but a scam might use fedx.com to fool people.
  • Alarming messages and requests for immediate action or claims that you have won a prize and must submit personal and/or financial information to obtain it.

As the pandemic is not going away anytime soon, many businesses have adapted to work-from-home policies for their employees. While working from home is a great way to maintain productivity and keep employees safe, there are some security risks associated with remote work. According to www.CyberCrimeSupport.org, companies, especially small businesses, should make sure their employees are trained to uphold cybersecurity policies at home. Employers also should continue to make their work-from-staff aware of all COVID-19 fraud and encourage them to not fall for phishing scams, especially while using company resources.

Other COVID-19 scams to continue to watch for include the following:

  • Individuals and Businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online or engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information that gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Fraudulent charities. Unfortunately, people will take advantage of others’ kindness during times of crisis. If you do not recognize a charity, research the organization first before making a donation.
  • Online offers that advertise COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits. Currently, there are no vaccines and/or pills available to treat COVID-19 in stores or online. In addition, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits available.
  • Avoid situations where there is a sense of urgency to submit personal or financial information as this is a red flag for many scams.

Brown reiterated the importance of contacting your bank should you be a victim of a COVID-19 scam. He advised people to continue to ensure that their personal and financial information is protected.

“Do not share your account information with anyone. Do not allow yourself to be a third party to a money mule scam to accept unauthorized state benefits or payments for someone not an owner on your account,” Brown said.

Staying informed certainly is your best defense against potential scams. Fact check all information you encounter regarding COVID-19. Scammers and even your friends, who mean well, may share information about the virus that has not been verified. Visit www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov for valid COVID-19 information. For financial information, visit the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau . Should you need additional guidance regarding the virus itself, contact your primary care physician.

For more information on COVID-19 scams, check out this post, which details some of the original examples of fraud associated with the virus.  For OVB and banking information regarding the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 resource page.

Soak up summer fun with local events

 

2020 Summer Events Pic

This summer take advantage of our area’s beautiful local parks.

Sunny summer days are officially here. While summer 2020 will go down in history as being quite different, it can still be fun.

The COVID-19 virus came on the scene late winter and has drastically changed our lives. Many folks have adjusted to a “new normal,” which has included things such as distance learning for students and finding new, safe ways to socially interact with friends and family. The virus has impacted several aspects of life, including local events. Some families have even had to cancel their much-anticipated summer vacations.

As disappointing as it is to have so many traditional activities and events canceled this summer, there are still many opportunities to celebrate the season of sunshine right here in our local communities. This summer is the perfect time to embrace taking a staycation. Not only does a staycation help you save money, but it gives you a chance to explore your local area as well as reconnect with your family from the comfort of home. Check out our staycation tips here. If you are looking for some fun educational activities to do with your kids this summer, we’ve got you covered here.

There are still quite a few local festivals and events taking place this summer. All events still on tap will operate under adjusted guidelines as an effort to keep our communities safe and healthy. This Saturday, June 13, the Family Resource Network will host their 27th Fishing Rodeo at Krodel Park in Point Pleasant from 8-11:30 a.m. Registration will take place at 7:30 a.m. A fishing license is not required to participate. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Event organizers ask folks to not participate if they have a fever, respiratory symptoms, or if they have had suspected exposure to COVID-19. Face masks are recommended and there will be distancing precautions in place. Hand sanitizer also will be available.

Taking place this Saturday in Vinton is the 5th Annual Celebration at Field of Hope, which is a faith-based nonprofit organization that offers facilities and treatment to help people beat drug and alcohol addictions. The celebration will feature a panel of eight speakers, including Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin. According to Kevin Dennis, Field of Hope CEO, the celebration will feature the grand opening of the organization’s new gymnasium as well as the unveiling of a new nationwide project. A free breakfast will also be provided. Social distancing will be in place at the celebration.

In Gallipolis, the Bossard Memorial Library opened its doors again this month with health restrictions in place. Masks are required to enter the facility, however, there are many remote activities for library patrons to enjoy this summer. The library’s annual Summer Reading Program is now offering a virtual option, which began June 10 and concludes Aug. 10. Participants may pick up their reading log at the library prior to starting the program. The library also said patrons may use their library cards to download audiobooks, eBooks, comics, music, movies and television shows. In addition, the library’s Facebook page has been posting virtual storytelling sessions, which is a great activity to enjoy as a family.

The Mayor’s Night Out Summer Concert series kicked off last Friday at Point Pleasant’s Riverfront Park. The concert series takes place every Friday evening through Aug. 21 from 8-10 p.m. Social distancing measures are in place and concert goers are recommended to wear face masks. Tonight’s concert will feature country music artist Matthew Adam.

July will still offer a variety of Independence Day celebrations. In Racine, the Fourth of July celebration will include a parade, chicken barbecue and fireworks. To comply with health guidelines, there will be no dining area this year. Fireworks are set for 10 p.m. at State Mill Park. Viewers are encouraged to stay in their cars or to stand beside their vehicle to watch. In Middleport, Independence Day activities will be fireworks only. Folks are asked to stay in their cars and/or practice social distancing during the display.

In Mason, Independence Day will begin with a parade at noon. Parade lineup is slated for 11:30 a.m. at Faith Baptist Church with the parade route proceeding to the town fire station. Fireworks information will be announced later. While Point Pleasant’s Liberty Fest activities have been canceled, the event will still offer fireworks at Riverfront Park. Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. with social distancing measures in place.

Wellston’s 2020 “Celebration of Our Nation” fireworks display will take place Saturday, July 4. Due to virus precautions, there will be no no additional downtown activities. Wellston Main Street officials ask that people watch from their yards or porches and refrain from congregating in large groups downtown. During the display, social distancing guidelines should be observed, such as wearing a face mask and keeping six feet apart.

The River Recreation Festival in Gallipolis, which is an area Fourth of July tradition, has been postponed. According to Chamber President Jenni Swain, the chamber is looking to reschedule the annual event later this summer or early fall.

Other activities this summer include kayak and paddle boat rentals at Krodel Park in Point Pleasant. While some of their activities were canceled, Point Pleasant’s Fort Randolph is now open Fridays and Saturdays from 11-5 p.m. through Sept. 6. Masks are encouraged and social distancing guidelines will be in place for all visitors.

The Mason County Quilt Trail recently released a GPS guide, which is located at www.masoncountytourism.org. The quilt trail covers all of Mason County and features 40 squares and Mail Pouch Barnes. The quilt trail is a fun way to see local art from the safety of your vehicle.

Several other summer events are still in the process of being planned to meet health and safety guidelines. Local fairs will be releasing information soon as well. Check with your county representatives regarding those events.

Looking for other activities? Visit local parks. Our communities feature many great parks. Visiting a park is the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air as well as exercise, which the CDC encourages during this time of uncertainty.

Check this post frequently as additional summer events might be added periodically. Remember to think Community First this summer as you support local businesses and enjoy area events. Have a safe and happy summer!

Summer financial fun

As we wrap a very unconventional academic year, plans are now underway for what could be an unusual summer. The COVID-19 virus has made life different for many people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to enjoy summer vacation.

There are many activities you can do as a family, such as movie and game nights; camping in your backyard; taking neighborhood walks; cooking meals together; working on home projects; and more. While many parents are likely exhausted from distance learning, it is still important to not only continue to teach children valuable lessons but spend quality time together as well. The world is different for all of us, and as things continue to rapidly change one of the best things we can do is enjoy time with our loved ones.

Financial literacy lessons do not have to be boring, in fact there are many fun activities that you can do with your kids. By using project and game formats, some children might not even realize that they are learning something too! As many folks are having to rework their budgets due to the virus, the importance of saving money is more vital than ever. It’s never too early to teach kids how to save their money and plan for the future. Here are some of our recommended financial activities that you can do as a family:

  1. Encourage competition. Sometimes a little sibling rivalry can be a good thing. Create a savings challenge. Urge kids to save their allowance funds as well as money they may receive from holidays and birthdays. Create a stats chart by using a dry erase board. Update the stats on a weekly basis – this visual aid will inspire your kids to keep saving with hopes of winning. As for the winner’s prize, add a bonus to their amount saved. If you are able, match the amount they saved as another incentive. For families with one child, perhaps work with neighbors and/or cousins for the savings competition. Send updated charts via email or have video call in sessions to keep momentum going.
  2. Let the kids decide on dinner. Do your children often complain about their meals? Here is a way they can pick what they want to eat, but with a twist. Provide your children with a “budget” and price various items in your pantry/refrigerator. Once they pick their recipe, they will need to see what ingredients their budget allows for. This not only encourages kids to spend wisely, but also shows them how to not be wasteful. Cook the meal together as a family. If you have leftovers, consider sharing with family and friends, but remember to practice social distancing.
  3. Create a “mock mall”. Put together various items from clothing and shoes to video games, movies, toys, and food. Let your kids use play money to shop. After they make their purchases, go over each item. Determine if each purchase is a want or a need. Discuss the value of the items as you emphasize the importance of spending wisely. For older children, consider giving them a pretend credit card as well, which will teach them to understand the cost of borrowing money.
  4. Plant flowers. Just like plants and flowers need regular maintenance and attention to grow, so does your bank accounts. Planting flowers together will allow you to spend quality time outside, while also learning an important financial lesson. Discuss how finances need regular maintenance just like plants. Explain how just like the seeds or initial flowers start small, savings accounts begin small too, but with regular maintenance and care they grow as well. This activity can span the entire length of summer vacation. Bonus? Flowers might just be what you need to brighten both your mood and yard.
  5. Create savings jars. To explain how saving works, this fun craft allows kids to use their artistic creativity. Use four jars to represent four ways to categorize saving: spend, give, grow, and save. Have your children label each jar and then decorate as they please. For more on this activity, check out our video lesson here.
  6. Pizza party game. Generally, most kids love pizza, so this activity is just the thing to keep them happy while learning valuable financial skills. Whether you order pizza or make your own, use the pizza to showcase the basics of budgeting. For example, the pizza represents your family’s monthly income, while each slice represents its own expense category, such as utilities; food costs; taxes; childcare; entertainment; and more. The best part? You can enjoy a family pizza night together afterwards!
  7. Make movie night a learning experience. While movie theaters across the country are currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still demonstrate the cost of entertainment activities by setting up your personal family theater experience. Have each child pick a movie to watch first. From there, create pretend tickets as well as a snack bar featuring delicacies, such as microwave popcorn, soda, and candy. Switch off between yourself and your children when it comes to “working” the home theater. Using play money, have each family member purchase their own ticket and snack item of choice. This game teaches kids the expense of entertainment activities, while also showing how to budget money properly. For example, they might decide to share a bag of popcorn with their siblings, so they have enough left to spring for candy too.
  8. Play with “coin caterpillars”. A popular financial activity for younger children is the coin caterpillar game. It works by using coins to create wiggly lines on a piece of paper. Children are encouraged to draw their caterpillar’s legs and antennae. Once their caterpillar is finished, have children count the coins to determine the value of their new insect friend. This activity not only teaches addition skills, but also helps youngsters differentiate between the types of coins.
  9. Uncover a secret message by determining what is a want and what is a need. Check out our wants vs. needs activity here. Write down the items on the list shown in the video on either a dry erase board or large piece of paper. Have your children play the game by deciding which item is a want and which is a need. As done in the video, circle the first letter of the items that are wants. Once finished, reveal the secret message!
  10. Show the importance of giving back. We strive to make Community First our focus at OVB. We encourage our neighbors to apply that mission to their daily lives as well, which will ultimately make us a stronger community. The importance of community is stronger than ever. It is never too soon to share with your children the importance of giving back. While in-person volunteering may not be available, there are many other things you can do while still practicing social distancing. For example, use your quarantine time to go through each family member’s closet and select items for donation. Search your pantry to gather items to donate. Many food banks are still in need of donations. Make sure to call your donation place of choice before going to see what their drop-off procedures are.

These are just some of the many ways to help kids grasp the concept of saving, budgeting, and managing their money wisely, while also having fun as a family. Another step you can take to teach your children about finances is to include them in family money discussions. For example, show them how you budget for monthly expense. Also, consider opening a savings account for your child. You can easily open a student savings account online at www.ovbc.com.

For more financial literacy video lessons and activities, check out our new Virtual Classroom. Remember to visit frequently as we plan to continue adding new content.

OVB BANKit recognizes program winners

Pink piggy bank with a dollar bill in the slotThe 2019-2020 academic year was certainly different, but thanks to support from area teachers and schools, Ohio Valley Bank was once again able to offer the BANKit program.

OVB partnered with area high schools in Ohio and West Virginia to present the program, which brings real life banking lessons to the classroom. Lessons are presented throughout the entirety of the academic year or semester. Created in 2010, OVB BANKit utilizes a game format, where students open mock bank accounts, including savings, checking, money market and certificate of deposit. Students also have the option to both buy and sell shares of Pseudosoft stock, the fictional OVB BANKit company. In addition, students draw a “Real Life” card for each BANKit session, which may provide them with unexpected cash or force them to pay a bill. Students are expected to manage their accounts throughout the program with the goal being to end the year with the highest portfolio total.

OVB BANKit features a variety of banking lessons, including:

  1. Bank account types
  2. Check writing as well as basic bank paperwork, including deposits and withdrawals
  3. Credit/Credit Scores/Credit Reports
  4. Debit vs. Credit
  5. Budgeting
  6. Identity Theft

While this school year presented challenges due to flu outbreaks in February and eventual closures due to COVID-19, thanks to cooperation with partnered teachers, the program was still able to wrap in an adjusted format. Teachers were sent BANKit materials and lessons to include in their distance learning plans, while student portfolio totals were updated and adjusted to close out the academic year. OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush commended area teachers for being both flexible to work with as well as their efforts to still have a successful BANKit year.

“The teachers and schools we partner with for OVB BANKit have always been very welcoming and excellent to work with. This year was quite different, but we were able to make things work. I am still proud to recognize this year’s program winners,” Roush said. “I appreciate the work our area teachers do not only with our program, but also with their own class curriculum. Our teachers have stepped up in a time of crisis to make sure our area kids continue to get an education. That is the epitome of Community First, which is something we value very much at OVB.”

OVB BANKit reached students at Gallia Academy High School and River Valley High School in Ohio as well as Point Pleasant High School and Wahama High School in West Virginia. Due to scheduled visits being canceled with school closures, South Gallia High School and Mason County Career Center BANKit sessions were unable to be completed, however both schools are still valued partners with the program. Approximately 352 students completed the program this academic year.

Once again, this year’s OVB BANKit program was competitive across the board. All participating students did a great job, however, a few stood out as the overall BANKit winners at their respective schools.

Congratulations to the following school winners:

  1. River Valley High School (semester 1): Elijah Garnes
  2. River Valley High School (semester 2): Shaelyn Huffman
  3. Gallia Academy High School: Brant Rocchi
  4. Point Pleasant High School: Cheyenne Durst
  5. Wahama High School: Wesley Plants

Individual classroom winners also included the following students:

  1. River Valley High School: Nathan Brown, Morissa Barcus, Ethan Campbell and Eric Swartz
  2. Gallia Academy High School: Yahshua Parks, Aryan Cox, Grantland Bryan and Tristan Preece
  3. Point Pleasant High School: Brady Sayre, Blake Towe, Caleb Stewart and Kaydean Ella
  4. Wahama High School: Kody Hollis, Chris Jones and Dalton Berkley

Winners are typically awarded a prize at the end of the program, however as final in person visits were canceled, prizes were either awarded as bonus points to final class grades or will be presented during the upcoming academic year.

Finally, OVB also wants to give special recognition to South Gallia High School’s Jeff Fowler, who will be retiring this month after many years of incredible service to his community and students. Fowler has been a wonderful support system for OVB’s education programs, especially BANKit, and will be greatly missed.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Mr. Fowler over these past several years. When I started this job, he welcomed me into his class as if we were old friends. He is supportive of BANKit as well as OVB. He always brought his students to the bank’s annual shareholders meeting as he not only wanted them to learn, but also wanted to stress the importance of community. I, along with my fellow OVB bankers, wish him a happy, well deserved retirement,” Roush said.

For more information on OVB BANKit and other financial education programs, e-mail hdroush@ovbc.com. Also, be sure to check out our new Virtual Classroom, which has a variety of financial lessons and activities.

 

Celebrate Teach Children to Save all month

Pink piggy bank with a dollar bill in the slot

Spring is starting off a bit different for all of us, but with kids at home doing online schoolwork, now is the perfect time to teach your children important financial lessons. Ohio Valley Bank is once again celebrating the American Bankers Association’s Teach Children to Save campaign.

While Teach Children to Save day is set for April 24, OVB encourages families to embrace the campaign all month. It’s never too early to teach children how to successfully manage their money. According to the ABA, Teach Children to Save has helped reach 10.5 million students through the commitment of more than 260,000 banker volunteers.

“Even though schools are currently closed due to COVID-19, we are working on other ways to spread the Teach Children to Save message to area youth. Since we can’t come to the schools right now, we hope to bring the valuable lessons from this program to your child’s living room,” Hope Roush, OVB Financial Literacy Leader said. “I encourage everyone to take the ideas from this blog post and apply it to your home school activities. Teaching children valuable financial skills is important now more than ever.”

OVB Vice President, Corporate Communications Bryna Butler echoed Roush’s thoughts regarding Teach Children to Save.

“Youth outreach a very special part of our Community First mission. These are the next leaders of our communities, and as the community bank, it is our responsibility to prepare them for the future. Teach Children to Save is a great way to reinforce the importance of saving and investing as part of overall financial wellness,” she said.

As many families are reworking their budgets due to the uncertainty of the world, consider involving your children in the process. By letting them see exactly how much things cost and how a budget works, you are providing them with the tools they need to carry into adulthood. Taking an active role in the Teach Children to Save campaign by teaching your children to make sound financial decisions will make our communities even stronger.

The following tips are ways you can incorporate the Teach Children to Save message at home with your families:

  • Set an example. Be responsible with your money. Show your children the importance of paying bills on time, setting savings goals, and budgeting as this will help your children understand money management. Remember children often emulate their parents’ habits, which includes their financial well-being.
  • Be open when it comes to your budget. As mentioned above, by involving your children into your budget planning, you will help them see hands-on what it takes to manage everyday expenses. Encourage your children to ask questions and be prepared to answer them. This list from the ABA offers eight ways to talk openly with your children about money.
  • Open a savings account for your child. Involving your children in the banking process at an early age can help prepare them to handle finances as an adult. OVB’s Statement Savings account, which does not require a minimum balance, is for ages 18 and under. Savings accounts can be opened online. Also, show your children how you manage money online through services such as NetTeller or Mobile Deposit. Many kids are already very tech savvy and showing them how you can easily bank online is a great way to maintain their attention. When stay-at-home orders are lifted and it’s deemed safe, bring your kids along with you on your next trip to the bank.
  • Demonstrate the differences between wants and needs. One of the major lessons in the Teach Children to Save campaign is learning to decipher between what is a want and a need. Children and even adults sometimes easily confuse the two prioritizing their wants over their needs, which can lead to bad financial decisions. Show your children items that are considered a need, such as food, and compare it to items that are wants, such as their newest video game. You can even make a game out of it: explore your house and point to different items where you ask your children to determine what is a need and what is a want. This could be both a fun and educational quarantine game for the whole family!
  • Help your child create a savings plan. Ask your child to think about something they really want. After costs are determined, create a plan to help them save for their item of choice. On the plan make a space where your child can keep track of the money earned toward their goal.
  • Involve family and friends in your child’s savings goal. By having others encourage your child’s saving goal this will only further solidify the importance of saving money. Also, teach your children how to save the money they receive from special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays.
  • Put the literacy in financial literacy. Encourage your children to read books that cover various money concepts. Not only will this help their reading comprehension, but they will be smart money managers, too. Check out the ABA’s reading recommendations here.

For more information on OVB’s financial education programs, contact Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com. In addition, visit https://www.ovbc.com/kids/centsables  to explore OVB’s superhero team, The Centsables. The Centsables website offers a variety of financial games and activities for children as well as information for parents.

 

 

Protect yourself from COVID-19 scams

The world continues to rapidly change as we learn more about the repercussions of the COVID-19 virus. Health and safety of our communities continues to be our top priority. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has also caused more cases of scam and fraud.

From phishing scams to fraudulent phone calls and fake charities, there are many ways criminals are working to get your personal and financial information. OVB BSA Officer Barb Patrick urges folks to be aware of all potential scams and to report any suspected fraud immediately.

“Report all fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint) and your local bank,” she said.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud involving COVID-19, additional outlets to report to include the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov. Cyber scam complaints may also be submitted through http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

According to Patrick, people should be particularly aware of COVID-19 related phishing scams, which can come via email and text. Phishing emails, for example, may ask you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the media, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails that seek your private information in order to send money. The emails might be designed to look like they are from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Beware of emails that might even falsely claim a link to a list of COVID-19 cases in your area.

According to the FBI, phishing emails may claim to be related to charitable contributions; general financial relief; airline carrier refunds; fake cures and vaccines; and fake testing kits. Other emails might even come in the form of workplace policy. For example, some cyber criminals have targeted workplace email accounts, which could prompt you to click a link to a fake company policy thus prompting the download of malicious software. Therefore, it is important that companies and individuals have up-to-date virus protection software installed on their devices. Follow these recommendations to avoid falling victim to phishing emails:

  • Verify email address or link. Inspect links by hovering your computer mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. It might be obvious that the website is not legitimate. However, cyber criminals are more than capable of creating links that closely resemble legitimate sources. Delete the email immediately.
  • Be wary of online requests for personal information. For example, a COVID-19 email that prompts you to enter your Social Security Number or login information is a scam. Government agencies will not ask for this information. Do not respond to any emails with your personal data.
  • Avoid emails that insist on urgency. Many phishing emails are written to create a sense of urgency, which is a major red flag. These emails are designed to demand immediate action, with the goal being to get you to enter your personal information.
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors. If an email contains grammatical errors as well as misspelled words, chances are it is a phishing email.
  • Keep an eye out for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Generic greetings, such as “Dear sir or madam” are likely not legitimate.

According to the United States Department of Justice, other COVID-19 scams to watch out for include the following:

  • Individuals and Businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online or engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information that gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

To combat additional COVID-19 scams, the Federal Trade Commission encourages people to hang up on all robocalls. The FTC also says to ignore all online offers that advertise vaccinations and home test kits. Currently, there are no vaccines and/or pills available to treat COVID-19 in stores or online. In addition, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits available.

The importance of fact-checking information you encounter regarding COVID-19 is essential. Scammers and even your friends, who mean well, may share information about the virus that has not been verified. Visit www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov for valid COVID-19 information. Should you need additional guidance, contact your primary care physician.

By staying vigilant and aware of COVID-19 scams, we can work together to keep our communities and loved ones safe.

 

 

 

Area schools offer lunch deliveries

The world is certainly a different place than it was two weeks ago. The COVID-19 virus has caused many businesses to temporarily close. Ohio and West Virginia will be under a “stay at home” order effective Tuesday evening. These measures to keep our communities safe and healthy has also resulted in school closures for both Ohio and West Virginia.

While school closures are a necessary step to keep people safe and practice social distancing, it also has created some difficulties for parents and students. Many of our area students rely on school to not only provide an education, but also to give them a meal each day. Several of our area students are on free lunch programs. They rely on these programs. To make sure no student goes hungry, our area school districts have stepped up to the plate with lunch pick-ups and/or delivery programs.

School lunches are considered an essential service and will still be provided. We commend our local schools for stepping up to the plate and taking care of our kids. The following school districts are providing meals:

  • Gallipolis City Schools – Gallipolis City Schools will provide pick-up and/or delivery on Fridays. Each student will receive five days’ worth of meals. As of today, students were provided with enough food to get them through until this Friday. Pick-up and delivery times will take place from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meals will be available for pick-up at Gallia Academy Middle School. For more information and to schedule delivery, call 740-446-3214 ext. 7.
  • Gallia County Local Schools – Delivery meals to students in the Gallia County Local School District is now available. Friday delivery will include five meals and a snack pack. To schedule delivery, call The Education Connection at 740-441-3052.
  • Meigs Local Schools – Meigs Local Schools will offer pick-up locations at Meigs Elementary and Meigs Middle School. The sites are set up as drive-thru service in the back of both buildings. Both locations will offer this service on Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-noon. Each family will receive five meals per child.
  • Jackson City School District – The Jackson City School District will provide pick-up meals only at the entrance of the district’s three elementary schools as well as the entrance at the Jackson Middle School gymnasium from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. For more information, call 740-286-6642.
  • Oak Hill Schools – Oak Hill Schools will offer meal delivery and pick-up meals Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-noon. Delivery will take place on the normal bus routes. For more information, call the Oak Hill Board Office between the hours of 10 a.m.-noon at 740-682-7595.
  • Scioto Valley Local School District – The Scioto Valley Local District will distribute food for district families. Pick-up at Piketon High School and Jasper Elementary will be available as well from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays and Fridays. To arrange services, please call 740-289-4117. Be sure to leave a message with your name, address, phone number, and number of children per household.
  • Mason County Schools – Mason County Schools have been offering meal delivery and pick-up at schools across the county. To check supply and for more information, call your child’s school.
  • Cabell County Schools – Cabell County Schools will continue to offer meal delivery for students. “Grab & Go” student meal sites are located across the county, which provide free bagged meals for any child 18 and under. The sites operate Monday-Friday of each week. Please call 304-528-5048 for more information.

If you do not see your child’s school district on this list, we urge you to contact their school/board office for additional information. From all of us at OVB, we thank all schools, teachers, and volunteers who are making this service possible for area children. Our best defense to combat this virus is to work together. By thinking Community First, we will get through this.

 

Focus on Community First

The world is a much different place today than it was a week ago. Even an hour ago. As this post is published, there could even be more changes. However, one thing that remains steadfast is Ohio Valley Bank’s commitment to their Community First mission.

OVB prides itself on being an independent, community bank. This is made possible thanks to the support of our local areas. As the world adjusts to a “new normal” in response to the COVID-19 virus, many lives and routines are changing as a result. Our communities have felt this affect as both schools in Ohio and West Virginia are closed. In Ohio, restaurants and bars are now limited to drive-thru/carryout options only. Movie theaters have shut their doors as well. While these measures are necessary as public health is the top priority, many businesses are going through a difficult time. Local businesses, especially, could face challenges due to closures and social distancing.

How can you help? In line with the Community First mission, try to shop locally whenever possible. Local grocery stores are still open and are a necessity as many folks find themselves “hunkering down” for the foreseeable future. What else can you do to help our local businesses?

  • Take advantage of carryout options at local restaurants. The food industry is struggling as they have been limited to drive-thru and carryout only. By ordering carryout, you achieve social distancing while also supporting the restaurant and their employees. Take it a step further by ordering several meals, which can be frozen and eaten later.
  • Purchase gift cards from your favorite local shops. Purchasing a gift card from your favorite local restaurant and store can directly help their business. As more businesses close entirely during this trying time, ask about online gift card options. The gift card purchases not only help businesses in the present but can also be used when the shops open back to full capacity in the future.
  • Shop online. If you aren’t sure if your favorite shop has an online option, give them a call to see about out-of-store purchase availability.
  • Donate supplies. Many businesses that are still open are trying their best to keep customers and staff safe by utilizing additional sanitizing procedures. However, essential items, including hand sanitizer, are becoming difficult to keep in stock. If you have sanitizer or cleaning products to spare, your donation would surely be appreciated.
  • Send a nice note. It might sound cheesy, but in uncertain times a simple act of kindness can go a long way. Letting your favorite shop know you care is a good way to boost morale. Optimism is needed now more than ever.

In addition to helping businesses, we can assist our communities by making sure local food pantries have plenty of items in stock. Consider donating non-perishable food items to your nearest food bank/pantry. Call for delivery instructions.

At OVB, the health and safety of our community and customers is our top priority. Starting Wednesday, March 18, several of our branches will be operating drive-thru only with extended hours for customer convenience. Existing customers may visit inside lobbies via appointment. For a full list of branch operating hours, visit https://www.ovbc.com/about/locations–hours.

We encourage our valued customers to take advantage of the following non-contact banking channels, including:

  • NetTeller Internet banking. Enroll at https://bit/ly/nettellerovb.
  • OVB Mobile App. Use the NetTeller link to enroll.
  • OVB Line telephone banking. Call 1-888-FONE-OVB (888-366-3682). Make sure to have both your social security number and account numbers ready.
  • Text Message Banking. Located inside NetTeller, click the “text banking” tab for instructions.
  • ATMs. OVB customers have the benefit of surcharge-free transactions at any Moneypass ATM in the nation. Other banks’ fees may apply.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. By keeping the Community First mission in mind, we will prevail.