Prepare in Advance of Hurricanes

 

Severe storms can cause havoc for people, businesses and property. Now that the 2019 Hurricane season has arrived, Victory State Bank is urging its customers and neighbors to prepare in advance of threatening weather by following safety measures when a violent storm is forecast.

Websites, such as USA.gov, the National Weather Service, FEMA, and Ready.gov, can help you plan ahead for disasters and take appropriate measures. Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank suggests you review the information provided on these sites, and take the following steps ahead of an impending major storm:

1) Monitor local radio and TV for updates.

The path of a storm could change quickly and unexpectedly. Follow the instructions of state, local, and tribal leaders.

2) Hunker down and take shelter.

Stay alert when a severe storm is heading toward the United States.

3) Communicate with friends and family. 

§  Tell them WHERE you are riding out the storm.

§  Tell them and HOW you will let them know you’re safe. You can call, text, email, or use social media.

4) Keep away from windows.

Close storm shutters; flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

5) Prepare for power outages. 

§  Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer.

§  Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to check food temperature when the power is restored.

6) Be aware of a potential storm surge.

§  Storm surges pose a great threat to safety and can cut off potential evacuation routes.

§  If you’re told to evacuate, don’t wait.

§  Avoid driving through flooded areas.

§  Almost half of flash flooding deaths occur in vehicles, according to FEMA.

§  When you’re driving, look out for flooding in low-lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips.

7) Connect to Resources

 

§  Download the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety updates. The app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.

§  Visit Ready.gov to learn more about emergency preparedness and follow USAGov and FEMA on Twitter for storm updates.

 

 

7 Ways to Protect Your Loved Ones From Cyberbullying

 

 

As defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), cyberbullying refers to the “practice of using technology to harass, or bully, someone else.”

With the interest of our friends and neighbors in mind, Victory State Bank, the only community-based commercial bank in Staten Island, N.Y., is sharing the following information from CISA, a part of the Department of Homeland Security:

Bullies used to be restricted to methods such as physical intimidation, postal mail, or the telephone. Now, developments in electronic media offer forums such as email, instant messaging, web pages, and digital photos to add to the arsenal. Computers, cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are current tools that are being used to conduct an old practice.

Forms of cyberbullying can range in severity from cruel or embarrassing rumors to threats, harassment, or stalking. It can affect any age group; however, teenagers and young adults are common victims, and cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools.

Why has cyberbullying become such a problem?

The relative anonymity of the Internet is appealing for bullies because it enhances the intimidation and makes tracing the activity more difficult. Some bullies also find it easier to be more vicious because there is no personal contact. Unfortunately, the Internet and email can also increase the visibility of the activity. Information or pictures posted online or forwarded in mass emails can reach a larger audience faster than more traditional methods, causing more damage to the victims. And because of the amount of personal information available online, bullies may be able to arbitrarily choose their victims.

Cyberbullying may also indicate a tendency toward more serious behavior. While bullying has always been an unfortunate reality, most bullies grow out of it. Cyberbullying has not existed long enough to have solid research, but there is evidence that it may be an early warning for more violent behavior.

How can you protect yourself or your children?

  • Teach your children good online habits

Explain the risks of technology, and teach children how to be responsible online (see Keeping Children Safe Online for more information). Reduce their risk of becoming cyberbullies by setting guidelines for and monitoring their use of the Internet and other electronic media (cell phones, tablets, etc.).

  • Keep lines of communication open 

Regularly talk to your children about their online activities so that they feel comfortable telling you if they are being victimized.

  • Watch for warning signs

If you notice changes in your child's behavior, try to identify the cause as soon as possible. If cyberbullying is involved, acting early can limit the damage.

  • Limit availability of personal information 

Limiting the number of people who have access to contact information or details about interests, habits, or employment reduces exposure to bullies that you or your child do not know. This may limit the risk of becoming a victim and may make it easier to identify the bully if you or your child are victimized.

  • Avoid escalating the situation 

Responding with hostility is likely to provoke a bully and escalate the situation. Depending on the circumstances, consider ignoring the issue. Often, bullies thrive on the reaction of their victims. Other options include subtle actions. For example, you may be able to block the messages on social networking sites or stop unwanted emails by changing the email address. If you continue to get messages at the new email address, you may have a stronger case for legal action.

  • Document the activity 

Keep a record of any online activity (emails, web pages, instant messages, etc.), including relevant dates and times. In addition to archiving an electronic version, consider printing a copy.

  • Report cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities 

If you or your child are being harassed or threatened, report the activity. Many schools have instituted anti-bullying programs, so school officials may have established policies for dealing with activity that involves students. If necessary, contact your local law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies have different policies, but your local police department or FBI branch are good starting points.

Source: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security

 

 

 

Victory State Bank Installs Potentially Life-Saving Defibrillators

 

At All Its Locations

 

Staten Island Heart Society instructs bank’s employees in use of AEDs, CPR and NARCAN®

 

 

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Victory State Bank, a leading advocate for the enrichment of Staten Island’s quality of life, has installed an automated external defibrillator (AED) in each of its locations throughout the borough.

 An AED is a battery-operated device that can save a person’s life after cardiac arrest when used to administer an electrical shock through the chest wall to the heart.

 “The need for first aid treatment can occur anywhere and at any time. That is why we strongly believe in equipping our employees with the tools and the training needed to administer life-saving assistance,” said Raffaele (Ralph) M. Branca, president and CEO of Victory State Bank.

 The financial institution, the only community-based commercial bank in Staten Island, N.Y., purchased the potentially life-saving devices through the guidance of registered nurse Rachel Volpe, director of operations, Staten Island Heart Society. The not-for-profit organization subsequently provided free AED and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to 51 Victory State Bank employees over a three-day period at the bank’s new business center in Dongan Hills.

Attendees were additionally provided with NARCAN® (naloxone) kits and training for the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses.

 

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK 

 VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates six locations on the Island, including its full-service banking headquarters in Great Kills; full-service branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank, and a business center in Dongan Hills. The bank’s much-anticipated seventh site and full-service Meiers Corners branch is under construction and due to open in the second quarter of 2019.   

 

Victory State Bank commenced operations on Nov. 17, 1997. The Bank's initial capitalization of $7 million was primarily raised in the Staten Island community. The Bancorp's total equity has increased to $35 million primarily through the retention of earnings.

 

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

 

Media Contact: Barton Horowitz

 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

 

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

 

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

New Federal Policy to Give Employers an Additional Way to Provide Health Insurance

 

 

Health insurance is arguably a foremost concern of consumers and business alike. With workers and employers and employers in mind, Victory State Bank – the only community-based business bank in Staten Island, N.Y. – is sharing the following news from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

On June 13, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury issued a new policy that will provide hundreds of thousands of employers, including small businesses, a better way to provide health insurance coverage, and millions of American workers more options for health insurance coverage.

The Departments issued a final regulation that will expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). When employers have fully adjusted to the rule, it is estimated this expansion of HRAs will benefit approximately 800,000 employers, including small businesses, and more than 11 million employees and family members, including an estimated 800,000 Americans who were previously uninsured.

Under the rule, starting in January 2020, employers will be able to use what are referred to as individual coverage HRAs to provide their workers with tax-preferred funds to pay for the cost of health insurance coverage that workers purchase in the individual market, subject to certain conditions.

According to the government, these conditions strike the right balance between employer flexibility and guardrails meant to protect the individual market against adverse selection, and include a notice requirement to ensure employees understand the benefit. Individual coverage HRAs are designed to give working Americans and their families greater control over their healthcare by providing an additional way for employers to finance health insurance.

Many businesses have struggled with the high costs and complex bureaucracy of providing health insurance coverage, leading to less coverage for workers. Over the last decade, a significant number of small businesses have stopped offering any health insurance to their employees. As a result, a smaller percentage of Americans working in small businesses are being covered by employer health benefits, and many are left uninsured. Moreover, 80 percent of employers that provide coverage only offer one type of health plan to their employees, leaving workers and their families with no choices and plans that may not meet their needs.

The HRA rule makes it easier for small businesses to compete with larger businesses by creating another option for financing worker health insurance coverage. The rule enables businesses to better focus on serving their customers and growing their businesses — and not on navigating and managing complex health benefit designs.

The HRA rule also increases workers’ choice of coverage, increases the portability of coverage, and will generally improve worker economic well-being.

This rule will also allow workers to shop for plans in the individual market and select coverage that best meets their needs. Because HRAs are tax-preferred, workers who buy an individual market plan with an HRA receive the same tax advantages as workers with traditional employer-sponsored coverage.

Further, by increasing employee options and empowering more people to shop for health plans in the individual market, the government anticipates the final rule should spur a more competitive individual market that drives health insurers to deliver better coverage options to consumers.

In addition to allowing individual coverage HRAs, the HRA rule creates an excepted benefit HRA. In general, this aspect of the rule permits employers that offer traditional group health plans to provide an excepted benefit HRA of up to $1,800 per year (indexed to inflation after 2020), even if the employee doesn’t enroll in the traditional group health plan, and to reimburse an employee for certain qualified medical expenses, including premiums for vision, dental, and short-term, limited-duration insurance. This provision will also benefit employees who have been opting out of their employer’s traditional group health plan because the employee share of premiums is too expensive.

Source: The U.S. Department of the Treasury

 

IRS Warns Taxpayers of Pervasive Phishing Schemes

 

 

Victory State Bank is urging consumers and business owners to be on the lookout for tax-related scams. In doing so, Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank is echoing the concerns of the Internal Revenue Service, which is alerting taxpayers to,j the ongoing threat of Internet phishing scams that lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

The IRS warns taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals to be alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information. These attacks tend to increase during tax season and remain a major danger of identity theft.

To help protect taxpayers against these and other threats, the IRS highlights one scam on 12 consecutive week days to help raise awareness. Phishing schemes are the first of the 2019 “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.

“Taxpayers should be on constant guard for these phishing schemes, which can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like it’s the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watch out for emails and other scams posing as the IRS, promising a big refund or personally threatening people. Don’t open attachments and click on links in emails. Don’t fall victim to phishing or other common scams.”

The IRS also urges taxpayers to learn how to protect themselves by reviewing safety tips prepared by the Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, state revenue departments and the private-sector tax community.

“Taking some basic security steps and being cautious can help protect people and their sensitive tax and financial data,” Rettig said.

New variations on phishing schemes

The IRS continues to see a steady stream of new and evolving phishing schemes as criminals work to victimize taxpayers throughout the year. Whether through legitimate-looking emails with fake, but convincing website landing pages, or social media approaches, perhaps using a shortened URL, the end goal is the same for these con artists: stealing personal information.

In one variation, taxpayers are victimized by a creative scheme that involves their own bank account. After stealing personal data and filing fraudulent tax returns, criminals use taxpayers' bank accounts to direct deposit tax refunds. Thieves then use various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer, including falsely claiming to be from a collection agency or the IRS. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review some basic tips if they see an unexpected deposit in their bank account.

Schemes aimed at tax pros, payroll offices, human resources personnel

The IRS has also seen more advanced phishing schemes targeting the personal or financial information available in the files of tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools and organizations such as Form W-2 information. These targeted scams are known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES) scams.

Depending on the variation of the scam (and there are several), criminals will pose as:

  • a business asking the recipient to pay a fake invoice
  • as an employee seeking to re-route a direct deposit
  • or as someone the taxpayer trusts or recognizes, such as an executive, to initiate a wire transfer.

The IRS warned of the direct deposit variation of the BEC/BES scam in December 2018, and continues to receive reports of direct deposit scams reported to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Direct Deposit and other BEC/BES variations should be forwarded to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IRS requests that Form W-2 scams be reported to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Subject: W-2 Scam). 

Criminals may use the email credentials from a successful phishing attack, known as an email account compromise, to send phishing emails to the victim’s email contacts. Tax preparers should be wary of unsolicited email from personal or business contacts especially the more commonly observed scams, like new client solicitations.

Malicious emails and websites can infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware without the user knowing it. The malware downloads in the background, giving the criminal access to the device, enabling them to access any sensitive files or even track keyboard strokes, exposing login victim’s information.

For those participating in these schemes, such activity can lead to significant penalties and possible criminal prosecution. Both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which handles scams involving IRS impersonation, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division work closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Tax professional alert

Numerous data breaches across the country mean the tax preparation community must be on high alert to unusual activity, particularly during the tax filing season. Criminals increasingly target tax professionals, deploying various types of phishing emails in an attempt to access client data. Thieves may use this data to impersonate taxpayers and file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has joined with representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation's taxpayers.

The Security Summit partners encourage tax practitioners to be wary of communicating solely by email with potential or existing clients, especially if unusual requests are made. Data breach thefts have given thieves millions of identity data points including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and email addresses. If in doubt, tax practitioners should call to confirm a client’s identity.

Reporting phishing attempts

If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email or social media attempt that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), they should report it by sending it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

Tax professionals who receive unsolicited and suspicious emails that appear to be from the IRS and/or are tax-related (like those related to the e-Services program) also should report it to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Source: Internal Revenue Service