Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

If you are like me, once everyone is home for the evening, I go around and lock all the doors and make sure the two by four is in the track of the slider door.  As an added security measure we have motion sensors on some large outdoor lights.  Your computer is like your home and there are numerous ways you can protect it from intruders too.

A firewall is a definite must have if you connect your computer to the internet.  Not only ensure you have one, but also make sure the default administration password has been changed.  The default password on a lot of home systems is “password” and everyone knows this, especially those with malicious intent.  Change it to something only you know.  If you need to write it down, be sure to store it in a safe place.

I recommend you find someone who knows a thing or two about in home firewalls and seek their advice on the best way to configure your solution.  Below are some additional items to consider for improving security for your computer:

  • Endpoint Protection – This is a new term describing the next generation of Anti-Malware software.  Make sure you have one running on your computer.  There are many commercially available solutions.
  • Auto Updates – You need to ensure your Endpoint Protection, Operating System and other software applications remain updated with the latest security patches provided by the vendor.  The most convenient way to do this is using the auto update features built into these solutions.
  • Screen Saver Lock – By setting up a password for your computer and enabling the screen saver lock, you keep information on your computer safe.  It also provides you control over who you allow to utilize your computer and when.

 


Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

My first car, a Chevy Cavalier Z24.  It was a manual and it was so much fun shifting through the gears at a rapid pace.  Today I enjoy driving my sons 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger.  Yes it is a manual transmission too and I have just as much fun racing through its gears like I did my old Z24.  Being an old car, it burns a little oil.  We check the oil regularly to avoid the risk of blowing up an engine.  Computers are like my son’s old car.  Preventative maintenance is also required.  While your computer may not blow up like an engine, it is at risk of failure if you don’t keep its operating system up to date. 

Vendors that manufacture the software for computers regularly release security updates.  These updates if not applied frequently will cause your system to be more susceptible to malware.  If your system is compromised, it can cause your system to behave erratically, become extremely slow, and even become inoperable. As a best practice, set your computer to auto update when a critical security patch is made available by the vendor.

The other software on your computer works the same way.  Vendors frequently produce releases to fix known security flaws.  Take a minute to review the settings within those applications.  You will likely find you can set them to auto update as well.


Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Mobile devices afford us the convenience of being connected anywhere, anytime.  Couple that with all the different forms of social media available today and you could be putting yourself at risk.  One way to limit your risk is to limit how much you share.  Most people would not share their tooth brush but are very comfortable announcing their next activity like “TGIF, heading north for a long weekend”. Think of your tooth brush before you make your next post and limit what and when you share.  Sharing how great your up north weekend escape was after it happened is much more appropriate then before you go.

Social media, like many applications is inherently good, but it can also be utilized by those with less than good intentions.  Below are some additional items to consider as you use social media:

  • Thoroughly review the security and privacy settings – Most applications like, Facebook for example, give you a lot of control over security and privacy.  Make sure you take the time to set them appropriately and check back periodically as vendors add security features which by default are not automatically enabled.
  • Don’t be a friend or connect to everyone – Do you know everyone you are connected with via social media?  If not, a perfect stranger could be watching everything you post.  Consider setting up special groups like Family, Friends or a Special Interest so you can share what is appropriate within those groups and membership is controlled.
  • Posting Pictures Online – If you are taking pictures with your mobile device, make sure you have disabled your phones ability to tag the photo with the GPS location of where it is tagged.  If you don’t and it gets into the wrong hands, the GPS coordinates could lead someone right to your front door.
  • Review the privacy settings on your mobile device – There are many configurable security and privacy settings within your mobile device.  Typically you can find them under the settings icon.  You may be shocked to know what your device is doing to track you and your activities.

Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Mobile devices have become a significant part of our lives. It wasn’t that long ago, cell phones were a privilege afforded by only a few. Today, virtually everyone carries a mobile device. The allure of always being connected and immediate access to virtually anyone or everything is immense. This additional access while great is not free from risk. Because we use our mobile devices to shop, bank and conveniently access private information, it has become even more imperative to take added precaution. Whether it is a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device, they typically have the ability to enable a screen locking feature. Enabling this feature not only requires a code for entry, it also encrypts the contents stored on the device. This is a great first step in securing your mobile device providing assurance your information remains protected if lost or stolen.

Below are some additional items to consider as you use your mobile device:

  • Never jailbreak your mobile device – While it seems to add functionality to bypass restrictions set by the manufacturer, it also greatly diminishes the devices security.
  • Only use device approved app stores – The Google Play or Marketplace and Apple’s App Store. Other places exist to download apps that appear to be the same as those found in the traditional app stores, but are often repackaged solutions with malicious intent. 
  • Remove no longer used applications – This will not only free up space, but reduce the number of possible applications that could someday become a vulnerability. 
  •  Keep your device operating system and apps updated – Vendors often release patches to add new features or functionality. In addition, they often deliver important fixes to known security issues. For convenience, you can configure your device to apply these updates automatically when they become available.

Check back next week for more information on the next Mercantile Bank Security Minute.

Article Written By: John Schulte| SVP, Chief Information Officer| Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Just in time for the holidays, when finances and overspending can be stressful, the new Cash Flow module is now live in our online management tool, MercMoney®. The Cash Flow module offers an easy way to project out your income/expenses (and replace the old checkbook register). 

MercMoney® is integrated into our online banking system and is a great way to empower you to take control of your finances and simplify your life. Budgeting, account aggregation and debt management are a just a few of the tools available, and best of all it’s free with any Mercantile checking or savings account.

Community Bank

It’s easy to set up MercMoney® and the Cash Flow module with a set-up wizard that identifies most re-occurring transactions, allows you to choose/edit future dated transactions and search history for other re-occurring items the wizard may miss. The wizard makes it easy (5-10 minutes) to replace a work intensive spreadsheet or manual process cash flow tracking process.

fintech financial management tool

This module works both for people who want an easy, casual estimate of their cash flow and for those who keep detailed records. It can replace your current checkbook register, spreadsheet, Quicken or paper reconciliation process – with an automated and more efficient cash projection. The mobile version of this module is expected to be released in early 2017 so you can budget while on the go.  

If you would like more information on MercMoney® and the new Cash Flow module visit https://www.mercbank.com/electronic/merc-money.asp or stop in to any of our branches.

 

Mercantile Bank interns Maddie Hugen and David Schroeder took on the task of creating a video that would give an overview of their experience at Mercantile Bank.  They collaborated with fellow Merc interns throughout Michigan to create this video showcasing their collective experience.

Exciting news! We are upgrading our online and mobile banking experience!  Improved with you in mind, this new design will make it faster and easier to use than ever before.  With enhanced security, new features and expanded functionality, it will offer convenient access to your banking information whenever and wherever you need it.  This upgrade will occur on September 14, 2016.  We encourage you to visit our Readiness page:  https://www.mercbank.com/upgrade/  to find out more details. 

 

At Mercantile Bank, you’ll find a home mortgage experience unlike any other.  We provide personalized service that goes far beyond appraisals, escrows, and finance rates.  We’re with you step by step through the entire mortgage process to make sure that you get the home financing program that meets your needs and lifestyle.  Visit our newly designed website to find out all the ways our team can help you.  Whether it’s a new purchase, or refinancing your existing home, discover why we’re the premier choice for all sorts of home loans.  *All loans subject to credit and collateral approval.

https://www.mercbank.com/mortgage/index.asp

 

An essential part of our cornerstone values is to strengthen the communities we serve throughout Michigan.   We accomplish this in many ways including our commitment to revitalizing our neighborhoods as well as creating and promoting economic prosperity by investing in industry, agriculture and real estate.  We also have a relentless drive to help provide affordable housing, supporting housing for low and moderate income families, persons with developmental disabilities and the homeless.

Our most significant impact goes beyond financial investments.  Our hands-on approach to community engagement has helped to support the people in our communities in countless ways.  Over the past year, Mercantile Bank employees have volunteered a total of 30,140 hours.  That’s an average of 62.53 hours per employee.  We’re proud of the efforts of our team throughout the communities we serve. 

 Watch our Community Impact Report video to learn more about all the ways we’re impacting our communities.

 

 

Mercantile Bank´s Giving Together program is another way for us to give back to the communities we serve. Non-Profit organizations are able to apply to be considered for a chance to receive a donation decided by the public during a weeklong voting period at www.mercantilegivingtogether.com or at our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mercbank

Congratulations to the most recent winners of our Giving Together Program! 

First Place: The Geek Group National Science Center

Second Place: West Michigan Veterans Assistance Program

Third Place: Foster Closet of Michigan-Isabella County Branch

Thank you to all of our finalists for the meaningful work that you do in our communities.  It’s our pleasure to help you in your mission. 

We are currently accepting applications through September 26th for Health & Human Service related organizations. To find out more about our Giving Together Program and to apply, visit us at: www.mercantilegivingtogether.com                                                                                                                                           

 

Old Town Lansing was the 2015 Community and Economic Development Giving Together Program recipient of a $5,000 donation. We visited with them recently to see how they are doing and how the Giving Together grant made an impact on them and the community they serve. See what Jamie Schriner-Hooper, Executive Director of Old Town Commercial Association had to say about their positive experience last year.

We are currently accepting applications from non-profit organizations with a Community and Economic Development focus. If you would like to see how the Mercantile Giving Together program can impact your organization and community, please visit www.mercantilegivingtogether.com to apply by June 27.

eNewsletter, community bank, information, quarterly, spring 2016ID Theft, protection, Deluxe, Provent,In 2014, over 25% of U.S. consumers were notified that their personally identifiable information had been compromised in a data breach – over 2.5 times more than in 2013.1 That’s why we’ve teamed up with Deluxe to offer Provent ID Protect Plus.  Membership for this program is $4.95 per month and includes great services such as;

-Monitoring to scan the Internet’s black market chat rooms for your personal and credit information.

-An online vault to store sensitive information with top level data security, with 24/7 online customer access.

-A certified Resolution Specialist to manage your fraud or identity theft case.

-Daily credit monitoring and alerts to notify you of activities associated with your credit file.

No one wants to be the victim of identity theft, so why not protect yourself with the help of your trusted financial partner.  Enrollment is easy, so come in and talk to us today! 

Click here to learn more!

 

The Mercantile Bank Leadership Camps featuring Kirk Cousins took place in April. Students from Grand Rapids and Lansing Schools were invited to spend a day learning about self-awareness, communication, and teamwork with pro quarterback, Kirk Cousins. It was an impactful day for students and volunteers alike. We have an incredible group of young leaders here in our communities! Thank you to everyone involved in making these powerful events possible!

 Loans, Mortgage, Cars, RV, Boat, House, Construction

Mercantile Bank is excited to offer some great mortgage, construction and consumer loan specials! 

Construction Loans- are you thinking about building that dream home?  Ask about our convenient one-time close construction to completion loan.  This great loan option provides you with a 16 year loan, with a one year construction and a 15 year repayment period.

First Time Homebuyers*- we offer a wide range of options for those looking to purchase their first home!  For a limited time, we have special rate options, access to up to $10,000 in down payment assistance, and we’re waiving the origination fees (up to $545 value.)

1.99% Consumer Loans (2.66% APR)** It’s back by popular demand! If you’re in the market for that new boat, truck or RV, let us show you how affordable it can be.        

Stop in and talk to our friendly, knowledgeable loan officers and find out how we can help you find the loan option that best fits your needs.

 

*Please consult a Loan Officer for complete details. All loans subject to credit and collateral approval. Waived origination fee available through October 1, 2017. All loan products and programs are subject to additional terms and conditions. Down payment assistance available through the Homeownership Opportunities Program for households at or below 80% of area median income. To be considered a first time home buyer the purchaser and purchaser’s spouse may not have owned a primary residence 3 years prior to purchase. Home buyer must contribute a minimum of $1000 toward the purchase and complete pre-purchase counseling; grant is repayable if the home is sold or refinanced within five years. Funding based on availability. Other restrictions may apply for down payment funds.

**Annual percentage rate (APR) is based on a $10,000 loan with 47 payments of $219.83 and 1 payment of $220.33, includes $135 processing fee. Loans subject to credit approval. All loan terms and conditions apply. 48 month maximum term. Automatic payment from checking account is required. Rate only applies to personal secured loans with maximum collateral age of 10 years and does not apply to real estate secured loans. Minimum credit score of 690 for advertised rate; APR may be higher based on credit qualifications. Offer valid on new loans and does not apply to refinancing of existing Mercantile Bank loans. Offer cannot be combined with any other loan discounts or offers. Limited time offer available as of 05/16/16, subject to change without notice. Contact a Mercantile lender for complete details.

Shredding, recycle, free, service,

The safety and security of your important documents is important to you, and so it’s important to us.  That’s why we’ve brought back our annual free Shred Day events!  Bring us your unneeded, sensitive documents to take advantage of this free service.  Check our website to find a location close to you.  It’s just one more way, we’re here to help you! 

Click here to find dates and locations near you!

-1 Javelin Strategy & Research, 2015 Identity Protection Services Scorecard- Direct-To-Consumer Market, April 2015                                                                                                                                                                     

It was a great start to our 2016 Giving Together Program! We enhanced our program in several ways, doubling the number of organizations who can compete for votes from 10 to 20, and adding a 2nd and 3rd place winner.  We just wrapped up our first voting period focusing on Schools and Education and are happy to announce our winners:

$5,000 1st Place Winner- Holt Public Schools (Holt, MI)

$1,500 2nd Place Winner: Calvin Christian Schools (Grandville, MI)

$500 3rd Place Winner: Ogemaw Kids Club (West Branch, MI)

It was a fun week of voting and we’d like to thank all of the schools and non-profit organizations that participated. You are all winners in our book!

The next application period begins on May 23 and continues through June 27. The focus for this period is Community & Economic Development. Non-profit organizations can apply at www.MercantileGivingTogether.com. The selected organizations will be announced on July 8 and voting will be the week of July 18-25th. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates throughout the year!