American Federal Bank Welcomes New Officers

Four American Federal Bank employees have been invited to join the American Federal Professional Partnership. Approved for the designation of Officer are:

– Adam Braunberger, Business Banker, Fargo Downtown

– Mary Jones, Accounting Associate, Home Office Finance and Accounting Department, Fargo

– Paige Kjesbo, Ag and Business Banker, Wahpeton

– Ryan Paulson, Ag and Business Banker, Fosston

The American Federal Professional Partnership affords Officers the opportunity to become employee owners of the organization.  American Federal employees also are owners of the bank through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

American Federal is an employee-owned community bank with full-service Sales Offices in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota and the Lakes Country of northwestern Minnesota. Home Office is in Fargo, North Dakota.

American Federal Ag, Business and Personal Bankers provide trusted advice and solutions to help their clients achieve their goals. They forge long-term, personal relationship with their ag, business and consumer clients and offer banking, insurance, investments and mortgages.

 

Fraud Alerts Now Arrive via Text Message

American Federal Cash Card Check Card customers now receive text messages on their mobile devices when fraudulent activity is suspected on their account. The Cash Card Check Card is often called a debit card.

Here’s how it works:

  • If a suspicious transaction occurs on your debit card’s account, you will receive a text message from the number 37-268.
  • The text will say “American Federal Bank Fraud Alert: Did you attempt a transaction on debit card ending in 1234 at Bill’s Restaurant in NY for $123.45? Reply YES or NO.” (Card number, merchant, state and amount are made up for this example and will be specific to the suspicious transaction on your card in an actual alert.)
  • If you reply YES, you will receive a message thanking you for responding and no action will be taken.
  • If you reply NO, you will receive the response “American Federal Bank: You’ve indicated an unauthorized transaction. A temporary hold may have been placed on your card. Please call immediately 800-770-6605.”

If there is no response to a fraud text message, you will receive a phone call about the suspicious transaction. This call will always come from the Fraud Detection Center phone number 877-253-8964. We recommend that you put this number as a contact in your phone as American Federal – Fraud Detection so that you recognize it should you receive a call.

If we do not have your mobile number on file, you will receive a phone call. Please contact your local American Federal Sales Office, if you would like to provide us with your mobile number or if you have any questions about this new mobile alert feature.

We Are Happy to Welcome you Back to our Lobbies

Most American Federal Bank lobbies in North Dakota and Minnesota are now re-opened.

If you are planning a visit to the lobby, we encourage you to first call your local American Federal Sales Office to learn the re-opening status of the lobby.

If you wish to visit with your American Federal Banker, call ahead for an appointment.

It is the same friendly lobby you have always loved to visit with enhancements to maintain a safe and healthy environment for customers and employees while we all work to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We have always maintained a safe and clean environment, however, over the last several weeks, we have introduced some extra precautions and follow CDC guidelines to promote the safety and health of our customers and employees.

Protecting Customers and Employees

Thank you for understanding the adjustments we have made.

  • Touchless hand sanitizer stations, non-surgical masks and gloves available for you at the lobby entrance, and stanchions and floor markers to help us all practice social distancing
  • Wider spaces between furniture to further promote social distancing
  • Protective, clear panels in some areas for added protection from close contact
  • Cleaning and disinfecting procedures for common surfaces and shared objects
  • Meetings in our conference rooms for best social distancing
  • Monitoring the health of our staff by requiring employees to stay home, if they are ill or have an ill family member at home
  • Associates and Bankers practicing hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, limiting unnecessary contact and disinfecting their work areas
  • Associates and Bankers wearing face coverings when they expect to be in close contact with a customer or another employee for a longer length of time and social distancing is not possible

With these adjustments to our environment, one thing has not changed – our continued commitment to provide you with personal service that is safe for you and your family every time you visit our lobby.

Thank you for being an American Federal customer. We look forward to welcoming you back in the lobby.

Many Ways to Bank Smart at American Federal

As an essential business, American Federal Bank has remained open during the Coronavirus pandemic, safely providing trusted advice and financial services for customers through the drive-up, by phone, email, and electronically. And now, we have re-opened the lobby with health and safety protocols.

Here are smart ways to continue accessing your accounts:

  • If you wish to visit with your American Federal Banker, call ahead for an appointment.
  • For less direct contact, but convenience and safety, continue to use our Drive-Up, Night Drop, Telephone Banker, surcharge-free MoneyPass® ATMs and our electronic banking options.
  • We understand you may choose to limit your trips to the bank. You can manage your accounts virtually at any time, from almost anywhere, using any device with safe and convenient Online Banking, through our Mobile Banking app, including sending and receiving money electronically, with Online Bill Pay, eStatement and Remote Deposit of Checks.
  • With Mobile Wallet, you can make contactless purchases with no need to touch cash, or, in most cases, the pin-pad at the store terminal. You can use your Mobile Wallet online or in-store at participating merchants right from your smartphone or smartwatch.

Be Alert for Scammers

  • We value your security and take precautions to protect you from fraud, scams and identity theft. Remember, if we reach out to you by email, text message or phone, we will never ask you for confidential information, such as your username, password, Personal Identification Number (PIN) or other account information.
  • Watch out for dishonest individuals trying to take advantage of situations like the Coronavirus. Be aware of Coronavirus scams, including phony products on websites, fraudulent links or attachments in emails, text and social media.

PPP Loans

Our thanks go out to everyone who has supported our small businesses and farmers – the backbone of our region’s economy – during the Coronavirus pandemic.

We think it is important to invest in our communities and our farmers. The relationships we cultivate with our business and farm clients are why our Bankers’ are able to help clients with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

We appreciate the opportunity to have helped more than 650 small businesses and farmers with approximately $45 million in PPP loans.

Modification to the PPP with passage of the PPP Flexibility Act allows for greater loan forgiveness with more eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses to accrue up to 24 weeks and more non-payroll costs to be included in the forgiveness calculation, almost ensuring that most borrowers will obtain fully forgivable loans.

If you are directly affected by the Coronavirus, and need banking assistance, ask to speak with a Banker or an Associate today. We’re here to help.

About American Federal Bank

When you call American Federal Bank, you reach an Associate in your local Sales Office — someone who knows you and who you can trust to answer your questions and personally take care of you.

American Federal Bankers and Associates have the experience, knowledge and expertise you need in Ag, Business and Personal Banking, whether you are looking to expand your operation, manage an operating line, purchase farm, commercial, multi-family or residential real estate, plan for retirement or save for a major purchase.

Our Bankers forge long-term, personal relationships with their clients which has helped us work together through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Long Established, Safe, Stable and Employee Owned

You can trust the strength of American Federal Bank.

  • Founded almost 130 years ago in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, our roots run deep in the Red River Valley and Lakes Country of northwestern Minnesota.
  • American Federal is a highly regarded, employee owned community bank. Our employees live and work right in your community, so they understand you, your farm or business and the local economy.
  • American Federal Bank is a member of the FDIC. This means your deposits remain secure with American Federal. *
  • With a Tier-1 Risk Based Capital Ratio well above the required minimum and our diverse sources of funding and access to liquidity, you can trust that American Federal will remain in a strong position to meet your credit and liquidity needs. **

We continue to monitor the ongoing developments of the Coronavirus pandemic in our region and to balance the needs of our customers and the safety recommendations from government and health authorities.

We are incredibly proud of our employees who continue to take care of thousands of American Federal clients during the pandemic and who every day demonstrate their commitment to ensure we are creating a safe environment as we fulfill our role as an essential business in the communities we serve.

With gratitude and appreciation,

AMERICAN FEDERAL BANK

 

* FDIC Insurance available up to the maximum established by FDIC per depositor and ownership type

** Credit products and services subject to credit approval. Some fees and restrictions may apply

FBI Warns: Increased Use of Mobile Apps During Pandemic Could Lead to Exploitation

man and woman looking at a tabletAs the public increases its use of mobile banking apps, partially due to increased time at home from the Coronavirus pandemic, the FBI anticipates cyber actors will exploit these platforms.

Americans are increasingly using their mobile devices to conduct banking activities such as depositing checks and transferring funds. Studies of U.S. financial data indicate a 50 percent surge in mobile banking since the beginning of 2020.

With state and local governments urging or mandating social distancing, Americans have become more willing to use mobile banking as an alternative to physically visiting a bank.

The FBI expects cyber actors to attempt to exploit new mobile banking customers using a variety of techniques, including app-based banking trojans and fake banking apps.

App-Based Banking Trojans

The FBI advises the public to be cautious when downloading apps on smartphones and tablets, as some could be concealing malicious intent. Cyber actors target banking information using banking trojans, which are malicious programs that disguise themselves as other apps, such as games or tools. When the user launches a legitimate banking app, it triggers the previously downloaded trojan that has been lying dormant on their device. The trojan creates a false version of the bank’s login page and overlays it on the legitimate app. Once the user enters their credentials into the false login page, the trojan passes the user to the real banking app login page so they do not realize they have been compromised.

Fake Banking Apps

Cyber actors also create fraudulent apps designed to impersonate the real apps of financial institutions, with the intent of tricking users into entering their login credentials. These apps provide an error message after the attempted login and will use smartphone permission requests to obtain and bypass security codes texted to users.

TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS

Obtain Apps from Trusted Sources

Private sector companies manage app stores for smartphones and actively vet these apps for malicious content. Additionally, most U.S. banks, like American Federal Bank, provide a link to their mobile app on their website. The FBI recommends only obtaining smartphone apps from trusted sources like official app stores or directly from bank websites.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Cybersecurity experts stress that two-factor authentication is a highly effective tool to secure accounts against compromise, and enabling any form of two-factor authentication will be to the user’s advantage.

Do:

  • Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication on devices and accounts to protect them from malicious compromise.
  • Use strong two-factor authentication, if possible, via biometrics, hardware tokens, or authentication apps.
  • Use multiple types of authentication for accounts, if possible. Layering different authentication standards is a stronger security option.
  • Monitor where your Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is stored and only share the most necessary information with financial institutions.

Don’t:

  • Click links in e-mails or text messages. Ensure these messages come from the financial institution by double-checking e-mail details. Many criminals use legitimate-looking messages to trick users into giving up login details.
  • Give two-factor passcodes to anyone over the phone or via text. Financial institutions will not ask you for these codes over the phone.

Use Strong Passwords and Good Password Security

Cyber actors regularly exploit users who reuse passwords or use common or insecure passwords. The FBI recommends creating strong, unique passwords to mitigate these attacks. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s most recent guidance encourages users to make passwords that are 15 characters or longer.

Do:

  • Use passwords that contain UPPER CASE letters, lower case letters and symbols.
  • Use a minimum of eight characters per password.
  • Create unique passwords for banking apps.
  • Consider using a password manager or password management service.

Don’t:

  • Use common passwords or phrases, such as “Password1!” or “123456.”
  • Reuse the same passwords for multiple accounts.
  • Store passwords in written form or in an insecure phone app like a notepad.
  • Give your password to anyone. Financial institutions will not ask you for this information over the phone or text message.

If a Banking App Appears Suspicious, Call the Bank

If you encounter an app that appears suspicious, exercise caution and contact the financial institution. Major financial institutions may ask for a banking PIN number, however, will never ask for your username and password over the phone. If the phone call seems suspicious, hang up and call the bank.

Stockholders Re-Elect Three Directors

Stockholders at the June 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Federal Corporation re-elected three Directors to the bank’s eight-member Board.

Directors Dean McCleary, Ross Olson and Patrick Carey will serve three-year terms.

McCleary, American Federal Bank Chief Financial Officer and Board Treasurer, joined American Federal in 2002 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2014. He is a Senior Vice President and Director of the Home Office Finance and Accounting Department in Fargo.

Olson joined American Federal as the Chief Operating Officer in 1991, was named Executive Vice President in 2003 and retired in 2019.  He was elected to the Board in 1998.

Carey joined the Board in 1995.  He is the Senior Vice President of Sales for Stratasys, a global leader in 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

Other currently serving Directors are American Federal Bank Chief Executive Officer Steve Worwa, retired American Federal Bank Crookston Market President Percy Blake, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota Crookston Dr. Don Sargeant, farmer and business owner Jeff Topp, and American Federal Bank Hallock Market President Paul Craigmile.

American Federal Is a Top Ag Lender

Group of 8 bankers dressed casually standing in a sugar beet fieldAmerican Federal is ranked a “Top 100 Ag Lender” by the American Banker Association (ABA).

Each quarter, the ABA ranks financial institutions across America based on ag loan volume and concentration.

American Federal has been listed as a leading farm lender in the United States by the ABA for several years in the current and the last decades.

When American Federal opened its doors for business in 1891 as a neighborhood financial association in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, it was at the heart of agriculture productivity in the Red River Valley.

During the past 129 years, that deep connection with the land and the region’s farmers and ranchers has only grown. A testimonial to that growth and our trusted relationships with our clients comes in the form of American Federal being recognized as a Top Ag Lender in the United States.

Throughout the decades, in good times and challenging times, we have worked with farm owners and producers to help them be successful and achieve their goals.  During the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) this year, American Federal submitted applications for 655 small businesses and farmers, totaling $45 million in loan assistance for our clients, and received funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for 100 percent of the applicants.

 

Coronavirus Scams Continue Unabated

The number of scams and scammers using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a platform for theft continues to grow.

The public’s need for COVID-19 information, online purchases, and charitable donations are being exploited at historic levels, according to public service announcements posted by the FBI.

The FBI warns that online fraud and identity theft are rampant during the CVOID-10 pandemic, and cybercriminals are doing their best to take advantage of those in need.

As the range of online criminal behavior is expanding, the FBI wants the public to be aware of some of the worst and most prolific scams that cybercriminals currently have to offer.

Payment Protection Program (PPP) phishing emails are flooding the market. These emails are being broadcasted out to everyone and not targeting the business contact who applied for the loan. The emails are often convincing.

Fake emails and apps claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other respected information sources offering Coronavirus news and tracking are rampant. The FBI warns that following email links, opening attachments, and sideloading apps (apps downloaded from a third-party and not from the official app stores) also can lead to identity theft and malware.

Phishing emails saying you need to verify your personal information, even if it offers a financial stimulus payment from the government, should be deleted and not acted upon. No matter how tempting the reward promised, know that government agencies (like the IRS) never send unsolicited emails asking for private information. The FBI also warns that phishing email topics such as financial relief, fake cures, vaccines, testing kits, and airline refunds should not be responded to. Fake GoFundMe pages and other social media charitable contribution sites also can be fraudulent.

Counterfeit PPE equipment and Coronavirus treatments are being exploited. The need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is prompting fake claims. The sale of unapproved and counterfeit masks, goggles, gowns, gloves, sanitizing products, virus cures, and more are being pushed online. A spike in shipping and other cyber fraud means consumers may pay for products and shipping, but never receive them. Meanwhile, a bad actor may have your payment card information, address and possibly enough personal details for identity fraud.

Tips from the Federal Trade Commission

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails or phone calls about stimulus payment checks from the government. Don’t click on links or attachments in texts or emails you did not expect.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations.  There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
  • Be wary of ads for test kits.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced approval for one home test kit, which requires a doctor’s order.  But most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the FDA, and are without proof that they work.
  • Hang up on robocalls.  Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes. Scammers use these illegal sales calls to get your money and your personal information.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations.  Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.  Never donate cash, by gift card or by wiring money.

Stay in the Know

Overall, the message from the FBI and the FTC during this time is to be extra vigilant and cyber-smart. Hackers know how vulnerable the world is to Coronavirus fears, and everything involved with the pandemic can be exploited.

The FBI’s ic3.gov has helpful information and trusted sources for PPE, including where to report scammers so others can avoid them. They welcome all concerned to visit the site frequently as it is continually being updated with legitimate Coronavirus-related information and resources.

Go to ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on COVID-19 scams. Sign up to get FTC’s alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe.

Thank You While We Work Together During the Coronavirus

As restrictions put in place to blunt the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) are beginning to be relaxed, American Federal Bank continues to deploy precautionary measures to protect customers and our employees and to provide essential banking services through our Drive-Ups and digital and mobile services so our customers can bank from anywhere at any time.

Our bank lobbies, at this time, continue to be closed to provide the safest environment for our employees and our customers. We’ll let you know when our lobbies will re-open.

Drive-Ups Open

Customers can bank at our Drive-Ups and use our Night Depositories and surcharge-free MoneyPass® ATMs. Online Banking and our Mobile Banking app are available as convenient and secure ways to check account status, pay bills, deposit checks and move money between accounts and to family members, friends and personal service providers at any time and from almost anywhere.

You can use Mobile Wallet to pay at stores where you see the contactless symbol. No need to touch cash or, in most cases, the point-of-purchase terminal. Plus, you can use your digital wallet to pay for purchases online and in-app at participating merchants.

Focus on Cleanliness

While our bank lobbies are closed, our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees at each of our sales offices.

We are taking proactive steps to clean and disinfect our facilities to limit the risk of exposure, based on guidelines form the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state recommendations, so that when we re-open our lobbies, the environment will be ship-shape for everyone.

Employees will continue to use personal protective equipment, and we will be asking customers and visitors to practice physical distancing.

Small Business and Ag Operations

American Federal is committed to helping small businesses and farm operations with financial challenges due to the Coronavirus economic impact.

The United States Congress has authorized two rounds of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Small Business Administration for businesses and farm operations facing extraordinary circumstances.

We have processed more than 625 PPP loans for $45 million dollars in volume to assist our commercial clients. American Federal Bankers have worked evenings and weekends to help our clients with their PPP loan applications and collecting the required paperwork. Clients have expressed their appreciation like this: “you are the best,” “you make local decisions” and “you got our loan approved when others didn’t have access or couldn’t get it processed.”

Trusted Advice and Solutions

We understand that you may need assistance to help you make more informed decisions in this challenging time.

American Federal Bankers are always ready to listen and help you find the best solutions to reach your goals …. whether it is adjusting your budget, evaluating your best options for using your government stimulus payment or accessing emergency funds, building savings, reviewing your retirement goals, or understanding how to evaluate paying down debt or using our electronic services.

Keep Account, Personal Information Safe

To help keep your account information safe and secure during this time, make sure your contact information is up to date, and set up security account alerts.

Remember, if we need to reach out to you, we will never ask for personal or financial information or an access code through email, text or unsolicited phone calls. Visit Federal Trade Commission Coronavirus Scam for tips on how to recognize potential scams and learn more about how to keep your accounts and personal information safe.

We’re Here to Support You

As new developments emerge, we will share information with you about how we will continue to operate safely and effectively and assist our customers.

American Federal Bank

We’re Helping more than 650 Small Businesses with PPP Loans

As we adjust to staying home, working remotely and physical distancing, we’re help to help you.

Our Online Banking and Mobile Banking app are available as a convenient way to check your accounts, pay bills, deposit checks and send and receive money electronically.

Universal Contactless Card SymbolYou can use your phone’s Mobile Wallet to pay for services where you see the contactless symbol, shown at the left. No need to handle cash and in many cases, touch the point-of-sale terminal.

To keep your account information safe and secure, make sure you frequently review your account eStatement and set up account alerts.

Keep in mind, if we need to reach you, we will not ask for personal or financial information through email, text or unsolicited calls.

Be on the lookout for Coronavirus (COVID-19)scams and go to the IRS website to learn how the Economic Impact Payments, sometimes called Stimulus Checks, are being deposited or mailed to eligible U.S. citizens and how non-tax filers can get their payment by using the IRS ”Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” web portal and entering their bank account information.

As these unexpected times continue to unfold, we are committed to providing you with the service, support and solutions to help you be successful. We are here for you today, as we have been since 1891, and will continue to help you with your banking.

Paycheck Protection Program: Helping Small Businesses

During the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), American Federal submitted applications for more than 650 small businesses, totaling $45.3 million in loan assistance, and received funding from the Small Business Association (SBA) for 100 percent of the applicants.

Thousands of employees in the Red River Valley and Lakes Country in American Federal’s footprint have been helped through the program.

In northwest Minnesota, C and M Ford Sales, Hallock, MN, and Roseau County Ford, Roseau, MN employ 42 people. Owner Paul Blomquist turned to American Federal for assistance with the PPP. Jay Friedt, Ag and Business Banking Specialist at American Federal in Hallock, processed the small business application accurately and timely, Blomquist said.

“The experience was very professional and decisive,” Blomquist continued. “Jay kept it simple for me.”

“On Sunday morning, Jay said he was willing to help me with my PPP application,” Blomquist explained. “On Sunday night, I had a loan agreement number in hand for both car dealerships.  That’s going the extra mile. These funds will help me keep my staff employed during these very challenging times.”

American Federal will continue to assist small business clients in the event Congress provides additional SBA funding for small businesses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

We encourage you to help support your local businesses in any way you can. We are all in this together.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Online Banking Slows as Customers Check for Stimulus Payments

Customers may experience some temporary periods when Online Banking access may slow.  Our Online Banking site is experiencing unusually high traffic as customers check their accounts for their Economic Impact Payments, sometimes referred to as Stimulus Payments or Stimulus Checks.

If you experience a delay in your web page response, wait a few moments and try again.

We apologize for this temporary situation.  Contact your American Federal Banker, if you need immediate assistance.