GrainHarvest 600

Montana Grain Growers Association: Making a Difference Since 1956!

Post written by Janine Merrill, Stockman BankMarketing Officer

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,

for amber waves of grain.

For purple mountain majesties,

Above the fruited plain!

GrainHarvest 600Lyrics that have stood the test of time, and a song that has been rooted in American culture for generations, America the Beautiful was written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1912.

One can only imagine that her inspiration for writing it must have included the beauty of Montana and all it has to offer.

Whether you are driving across the state or peering down at it from a jet far above, vast strips and fields of cropland are prevalent everywhere.

Amber waves of grain are truly plentiful in our landscape and present themselves in all their colorful beauty.

Two of the most prominent grains, wheat and barley, have been produced by Montana farmers for generations.

According to the 2017 Montana Agricultural Statistics publication by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 5,130,000 acres of wheat were planted and harvested in 2016.

This included different varieties of Winter Wheat, Durum Wheat, and Spring Wheat. In addition, 990,000 acres of Barley were planted and harvested.

Statewide_Montana_Grain_Growers_Association

Montana wheat continues to be among the best quality in the world.

Montana also continues to be the leading producer of pulse crops (dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties). Undeniably, agriculture continues to be the backbone of Montana’s economy.

For over 60 years, the Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA) has proudly advocated for Montana wheat and barley producers.

Organized in 1956, MGGA is recognized as a grain industry leader and is the only organization dedicated solely to representing the interests of Montana wheat and barley producers.

Working on issues that are critical to Montana growers’ success like crop insurance, the farm bill, trade policy, and transportation, as well as federal and state regulations and rising input costs, MGGA has a long history of success.

The organization’s honesty, integrity, and hard work have earned them the respect of congressional delegations, state legislators, and administrators at all levels.

Wheat field StockSnapThe MGGA is holding its annual Convention and Trade Show November 27-29 in Great Falls at the Best Western Heritage Inn.  This is an excellent opportunity to be part of one of Montana’s largest, most successful and respected agricultural gatherings.

All three days are filled with presentations on many varied and interesting topics as well as a large trade show featuring vendors from all over Montana.

There is no better convention to attend to get up to date on all things farming and current trends. It’s also a great opportunity to network with new and old friends.

As Montana’s largest Ag bank, we’re proud to support the MGGA and the work it does on behalf of Montana’s farmers.

Make it a point to stop by our booth while you attend the trade show. Be sure to chat with our friendly and knowledgeable Ag loan officers.

Have a cup of coffee on us, pick up a giveaway, and let’s talk farming!

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Property Taxes

Property Taxes – WHAT?

Jason Edmister

Jason Edmister,
Real Estate Loan Officer / AVP

Post written by Jason Edmister
Real Estate Loan Officer / AVP    

Congratulations! You’ve decided to purchase a home!

There’s nothing more exciting than buying a home, especially when it’s your first home. There’s also much to consider.

What type and size of house do you want and in what neighborhood? How much can you afford? What about a down payment? And, what are the property taxes?

Property taxes – what?

Yes, you read it correctly. No one likes talking about taxes, but it’s an important consideration when you’re exploring the purchase of a home.

What are property taxes?

Collected by the local government, property taxes are usually based on the value of a property, including land. The money generally funds education, road and highway construction, public servants such as law enforcement and fire services, as well as other services that benefit the community.

Knowing and understanding what the property taxes will be on a house is important because, if you escrow the property taxes, it becomes part of your monthly house payment. (With an escrow account, funds are set aside to make payments for your homeowner’s insurance and your property taxes.)

In addition, property taxes can rise based on a reassessment of value after a home is purchased.

How do you find property tax information?

Property taxes are public domain so you can view the taxes assessed to any home either by:

(1) accessing the county treasurer’s website and locating the tax bill utilizing such services as Tyler Technologies or whatever database used by the county to which the property is located.

(2)  If the specific county does not report the tax assessments online, then you may need to acquire the information directly from the county treasurer/assessor’s office.

Property Taxes It’s important to note that property taxes can be a bit tricky as the current assessment may be lower due to Tax Relief Programs, such as the current owner’s veteran status or an elderly credit.

In other words, what you see may be a tax bill that is less than the tax bill that you will receive.

Please have your real estate professional review the current property taxes and look at the Tax Relief programs in the county to see if any pertain to you.

Once you purchase the home, the county will most likely reach out to you to attain information regarding your purchase. This information will be used to update the assessment of your property.

If you feel the assessment is too high, you can appeal, so please read your assessment letter and contact your county assessor to start the process if that is the case.

Each county may use different formulas to assess your taxes and your assessment letter shows you the breakdown of your tax bill.

The best way to find your county tax assessment is to simply Google your county name and property tax. Another site that can be helpful is https://svc.mt.gov/dor/property.

Become aware and knowledgeable of legislation and proposals that affect your property taxes such as school levies and bonds. If it affects your property taxes, you have the right to vote.

Last thing to remember…

If your mortgage loan contains an escrow account set aside to collect for property taxes and most likely home insurance (hazard insurance) as well, you will still receive the property tax statement from the county. Your mortgage servicer also receives a copy as well.

Please remember that it’s included in your monthly payment so the mortgage servicer will pay it. In the rare circumstance you receive a delinquency notice, contact your mortgage servicer immediately.

Buying and owning a home is fun and exciting. But we know, at times, it can feel confusing and complex too.

At Stockman Bank, our goal is to make the process simple and easy.  Our real estate lending officers are ready to guide you, step by step, through the process – including a review of property taxes!

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Conrad fraud prevention

Preventing Fraud and Protecting Your Identity

Tonya Breding

Tonya Breding

Post written by Tonya Breding
Customer Service Representative, Cash Management Specialist
Conrad, Montana

This week was International Fraud Awareness Week. Over the past few days, our Conrad branch employees have held special events to promote anti-fraud awareness and education. We do this every year.

I’ve learned from my customers that concern about fraud and identity theft is different for everyone. While some people believe fraud will never happen to them, others worry about it on a daily basis.

We’ve all seen stories in the news about innocent people losing money to fraud because they paid fees to claim a prize in a lottery or contest they had never entered.

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Education, proactive precautions and a little common sense can help you prevent fraud and protect your identity.

Don’t share your personal information.

Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone.

Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.  Scam artists can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools.

Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

Slow down and talk to someone you trust about the situation.

Scam artists often try to rush you into making decisions by pressuring or even threatening you at times. Take your time, check out the story and consult experts.

Conrad fraud preventionShred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

Keep an eye out for missing mail.

Scam artists and fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking and online statements to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen.

Online banking allows you to monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. You can also sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as transactions of more than $500.

Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.

Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

Secure your internet connection.

Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)

Shop safely online.

Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Watch out for phishing and spoofing scams.

Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from unfamiliar sources.

With spoofing, a caller can display a phone number similar to yours on your caller ID, to increase the likelihood that you will answer the call. Again, the goal is to trick you into disclosing private information once you have answered the call.

Monitor your credit report.

Order a free copy of your credit report every twelve months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Finally, if you suspect any fraud:

  • Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can close your accounts.
  • Contact the fraud unit of the three credit reporting agencies. Place a fraud alert on your credit report and consider placing a credit freeze so the criminal can’t open new accounts. The fraud unit numbers are:
    • Equifax: (866) 349-5191
    • Experian: (888) 397-3742
    • TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
  • Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)
  • File a police report.
  • Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter. Write down names, titles and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.

To learn more about fraud and identity theft prevention, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer information site at www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identitytheft.

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American Flags

Thanking Our Stockman Bank Military Veterans

Ashley Glantz

Ashley Glantz

Post written by Ashley Glantz, HR Recruiting Specialist

We all know one.

Maybe you’ve had the honor of loving one.

Maybe you interact with them on a daily basis.

Maybe it’s a family member. Or a coworker. Or a friend.

For every interaction we have with our military veterans, we’re better for it. We owe a debt of gratitude to every veteran who has served, as well as their families who have supported them along the way.

Today we’d like to take a moment to thank a few of the veterans from the Stockman family for their service to our country, their friendship, and their hard work. Read more

Claire with gold coins 600

The Tooth Fairy – Gold Coins and Teachable Moments

Emily Houska

Emily Houska

Post written by Emily Houska, Marketing Officer

You’re probably asking yourself, “How does the Tooth Fairy have anything to do with a blog for Stockman Bank?”  Well, let me explain…

The other day, my oldest daughter, who is 5, had to get two front teeth pulled in order to provide enough room for her permanent tooth that was already well on its way.

Before the appointment, we had a few discussions about what to expect so she wouldn’t be too alarmed or afraid of what was going to happen.  I soon learned that she had something more important on her mind than the dentist.

In the days preceding her appointment, my daughter excitedly told me that she couldn’t wait to get her baby teeth pulled.  She said, “Mom, I’m almost about to have happy tears because I’m so excited to have grown up teeth now, and the Tooth Fairy is going to come to my house!”  The Tooth Fairy!

I had almost forgotten that this would be another one of my “side-jobs” as a mom.  My husband and I already had experience as Santa Claus (and the reindeer) and the Easter Bunny.  But the fantasy world of the Tooth Fairy was new and my daughter’s expectations were big!

Claire at dentist (1)

One day, she said, “Mom, I think the tooth fairy is going to bring me like a hundred dollars, maybe, I don’t know.”  Then, a couple of days later, she declared, “Mom, I think the tooth fairy brings GOLD!!  Gold Coins!”

I remembered back to my days as a teller at Stockman, where we had rolls of gold-colored dollar coins. This was perfect!  I can’t make $100 happen, but I can make gold coins appear!

As expected, the actual appointment was not very fun. We felt so bad about all those shots of Novocain and having two teeth pulled.

To let her know how proud the Tooth Fairy was that she was so strong and brave at the dentist, my husband and I decided for this first tooth fairy experience, she was going to get a few extra coins – five in fact – plus a $5 bill, and two new books we happened to have on hand.

The next morning, she was so excited to see the Tooth Fairy had really come and her eyes just lit up when she saw those gold coins! Before she left for school that morning, she was determined to find a “safe” place to store and save her new gold coins! I was really proud of her for wanting to save some of her tooth fairy money.

I used to wonder when the right time would be to start teaching my girls about money.  After playing my part as the Tooth Fairy, I realized that some of the best financial lessons for a young child can be part of our everyday experiences with them.

We can look for opportunities to talk about money in ways that make sense to them, and by doing this, we’ll be slowly teaching them financial lessons that will last a lifetime.

Here are some simple examples from the American Bankers Association® of teachable moments for children of all ages to help you get started:

At the bank:

Claire at dentist (2)

When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work.

Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.

On payday:

Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.

At the market:

It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want.

Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.

Claire with gold coins

Chores and allowances:

Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.

Paying bills:

Explain the many ways that bills can be paid. That may be over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account.

Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.

Using credit cards:

Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.

Browsing the Internet:

While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information.

Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.

Planning a vacation:

Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.

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