Take Steps to Protect Your Social Media Accounts

 

Since identity thieves commonly use the Internet as a source of information about their intended victims, it’s becoming increasingly important to do everything in one’s power to protect personal data from online criminals.

 

One source of information for thieves is social media, so it’s vital you ensure your privacy by taking steps to protect yourself when using social media.

 

As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission explains, “The Internet has made our lives easier in so many ways. However, you need to know how you can protect your privacy and avoid fraud.  Remember, not only can people be defrauded when using the Internet for investing; the fraudsters use information online to send bogus materials, solicit or phish.”

 

To point you in the right direction toward social media security, Victory State Bank, the only community-based commercial bank in Staten Island, N.Y., suggests that you:

 

§  ADJUST YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS, IF NEEDED 

Always check the default privacy settings when opening an account on a social media website. The default privacy settings on many social media websites are typically broad and may permit sharing of information to a vast online community. Modify the setting, if appropriate, before posting any information on a social media website.

 

§  MINIMIZE BIOGRAPHICAL CONTENT

Many social media websites require biographical information to open an account. You can limit the information made available to other social media users. Consider customizing your privacy settings to minimize the amount of biographical information others can view on the website.

 

§  DON’T SHARE ACCOUNT INFORMATION 

Never give account information, Social Security numbers, bank information or other sensitive financial information on a social media website. If you need to speak to a financial professional, use a firm-sponsored method of communication, such as telephone, letter, firm e-mail or firm-sponsored website.

 

§  CHOOSE FRIENDS AND CONTACTS CAUTIOUSLY 

When choosing friends or contacts on a social media site, think about why you use the website. Decide whether it is appropriate to accept a “friend” or other membership request from a financial service provider, such as a financial adviser or broker-dealer. There is no obligation to accept a “friend” request of a service provider or anyone you do not know or do not know well.

 

§  UNDERSTAND THE SITE’S FUNCTIONALITY 

Familiarize yourself with the functionality of the social media website before broadcasting messages on the site. Who will be able to see your messages – only specified recipients, or all users?

 

Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

Whether they reside on Staten Island or elsewhere in the nation, it is natural for many employees and business owners to look forward to a tax refund.​ But will they make best use of their refunds?

As many Americans receive their refunds this year, the American Bankers Association (ABA) has highlighted seven tips to help them use the money wisely – and Victory State Bank, the only community-based business bank in Staten Island, N.Y.,  is echoing the advice.

“Prioritizing your tax refund to create an emergency fund and pay off debts first will help position you for financial comfort the rest of the year,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “As those who have been affected by the federal government shutdown this year can attest, financial challenges can arise quickly and it's critical to have money set aside for those unexpected hardships.”

 Carlisle highlighted recent changes to the tax code as a reason for consumers to file their returns as early as possible this year.

 “There are a lot of new wrinkles to the tax code that may surprise people, so you’ll want to get a jump start on filing this year and then talk to your employer about adjusting your withholdings to calibrate them accordingly,” said Carlisle.

To help consumers make the most out of their money, Victory State Bank is sharing the following seven tips from ABA:

SAVE FOR EMERGENCIES

About 40 percent of Americans are positioned to cover a $400 emergency expense. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three to six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like losing your job or having to replace your car.

PAY OFF DEBT

Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.

SAVE FOR RETIREMENT, YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION,

OR FUTURE HEALTH EXPENSES

Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is employer-sponsored. Look into opening a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan to ensure school expenses will be covered when your child reaches college age. Or save for future health expenses with tax-free dollars by investing in a Health Savings Account.

PAY DOWN YOUR MORTGAGE OR STUDENT LOANS

Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loans each year to save money on interest while reducing the term of your loans. Be sure to inform your lender that your extra payments should be applied to principal, not interest.

INVEST SAFELY WITH U.S. SAVINGS BONDS OR MUNICIPAL BONDS

The U.S. Treasury allows for savings bond to be purchased using your tax refund for as little as $50. Savings bonds earn interest for a maximum of 30 years.

INVEST IN YOUR CURRENT HOME

Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by increasing the value of your home.  This can include small, cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term, and with tax credits (as long as Congress continues to renew the program). If you have more substantial renovations in mind, your bank can help with a home equity line of credit.

DONATE TO CHARITY

The benefit is two-fold: Giving to charity will make a difference in your community, and you can also claim the tax deduction, if you itemize.

ABA also stressed the importance of lower-income workers filing a tax return – even if their income is too low to trigger any federal tax liability – in order to potentially claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  Depending on a recipient’s income, marital status and number of children, the EITC can result in a refund of up to $6,431 to help them ensure financial security.

 

 

10 Steps For Setting Up Payroll

 

Are you ready to grow your one-person business by adding new employees? Before hiring, have a plan in place for paying your staff members, advises Victory State Bank.

To help you set up payroll, the only community-based business bank in Staten Island, N.Y., is sharing the following tips from the Small Business Administration: 

 

1)      Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

2)      Find out whether you need state or local tax IDs.

3)      Decide if you want an independent contractor or an employee.

4)      Ensure new employees return a completed W-4 form.

5)      Schedule pay periods to coordinate tax withholding for IRS.

6)      Create a compensation plan for holiday, vacation and leave.

7)      Choose an in-house or external service for administering payroll.

8)      Decide who will manage your payroll system.

9)      Know which records must stay on file and for how long.

10)  Report payroll taxes as needed on quarterly and annual basis.

 

The IRS maintains the Employer’s Tax Guide, which provides guidance on all federal tax filing requirements that could apply to the obligations for your small business. Check with your state tax agency for employer filing stipulations.

EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

Distinguishing between employees and independent contractors can impact your bottom line, as this affects how you withhold taxes and avoid costly legal consequences. Learn the differences before hiring your first employee.

An independent contractor operates under a separate business name from your company and invoices for work completed. Independent contractors can sometimes qualify as employees in a legal sense. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission created a guide for making the determination.

If your contractor is discovered to meet the legal definition of employee, you may need to pay back taxes and penalties, provide benefits, and reimburse for wages stipulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

 

 

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 five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

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

Media Contact: 

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.

 

 

 

 

16 Ways to Protect Yourself From Fake Ticket Sales

 

If you plan on buying tickets for a concert featuring one of your favorite entertainers, or want to surprise your special someone with seats at a Broadway hit, Victory State Bank advises you to make doubly certain you are dealing with a legitimate ticket vendor.

Staten Island’s only community-based business bank points to information posted by the government website USA.gov, which warns of ticket selling scams.

Such frauds occur when a scammer uses tickets as bait to steal your money. The scammer usually sells fake tickets – or, you pay for a ticket, but never receive it. These scams are common when tickets for popular concerts, plays, and sporting events sell out.

Scammers, including individuals and fake resale companies, take advantage of the situation in ways such as: Charging prices much higher than the face value of a ticket; creating counterfeit tickets with forged barcodes and logos of real ticket companies; selling duplicates of a legitimate ticket and emailing it to several buyers, and pretending to sell tickets online to steal your credit card information.

 To help keep you safe from ticket fraudsters, consider the following 16 tips:

1)      Buy tickets at the venue box office.

2)      Buy tickets from authorized brokers and third party sellers, with verified contact information.

3)      Verify that the seller has a real physical addresses and phone numbers. Scammers often post fake addresses, PO Box, or no address on their websites.

4)      Check the actual web address of the resale ticket seller. Some scammers create phony websites that closely resemble authentic ticket company websites.

5)      Search for negative reviews about the seller. Use the seller’s name, email address, and phone number, along with the words “fraud,” “scams,” and “fake tickets” for your online search.

6)      Look at the tickets before you buy and verify the date and the time printed on them.

7)      Make sure the section and seat numbers on the tickets actually exist at the venue.

8)      Have the seller meet you in person in a public place for the ticket exchange.

9)      Ask the seller for proof that they bought the tickets, if you are buying from an individual.

10)   Use a credit card to pay third party sellers. Your credit card offers protections, if you need to dispute a charge.

11)   Check for complaints against a ticket seller with your state’s consumer protection agency.

12)   Don’t wire transfer money to pay for tickets.  

13)   Don’t trust sellers who want you to pay with a prepaid money card.

14)   Don’t pay before seeing the tickets

15)   Don’t meet an individual ticket seller alone or in a low-traffic area.

16)   Don’t automatically trust online search results for ticket sellers. Search results can include paid ads, sellers that charge high fees, and scams.

HOW TO REPORT TICKET SCAMS

There are several options to report a ticket scam:

Source: USA.gov

 

 

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 five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. 

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

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

Media Contact: 

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.

 

 

9 Shopping-Safety Strategies for the Holiday Season

 

 

With the 2018 holiday shopping season having arrived, Victory State Bank is reminding consumers to continue taking steps to protect their identities and money. Earlier in November, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas issued a list of Holiday Shopping Tips, which Victory advises consumers pay attention to.

“The busy holiday shopping season is upon us but, unfortunately, this also means scammers are ready to prey on unsuspecting shoppers,” said Commissioner Salas. “With Americans spending nearly $1,000 during the holidays, it is important that they know how to protect their hard-earned money. We encourage everyone to use these tips as a guide when shopping to ensure the holiday season is a time of joy and not frustration.” Victory State Bank concurs, and in doing so is sharing the following tips for the DCA:

1)      KNOW YOUR CONSUMER RIGHTS

Stores can set their own refund policy, but they must post a sign with all conditions or limitations at each register, point of sale, or at each entrance where customers can easily read it. If no refund policy is posted, you can return any unused item within 30 days, and the business must give you the choice of cash or credit. Visit nyc.gov/dca to get all of DCA’s tips, including industries that have certain requirements like furniture storeselectronicsused cars, and supermarkets.

In New York City, businesses must give you a receipt for purchases over $20 automatically and upon request for purchases between $5 and $20.

Stores must post prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. It is illegal to charge more than that posted price.

Download 10 Things Every Consumer Should Know from nyc.gov/dca, or call 311 to request a copy.

2)      CREATE A BUDGET AND MAKE A LIST

Don’t let holiday spending put you in debt. Decide what you want to buy and how much you want to spend in advance, start shopping early and watch your bank balance. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you pay in cash or with a prepaid debit card — but be wary of hidden fees with prepaid cards.

BE A SMART SHOPPER

§  Use websites, smartphone apps (see below for our tip about fake apps before you download) and social media to research products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts before you start shopping. Avoid entering your personal information to get a coupon—some scammers use the promise of discounts to steal your information.

 

§  Save your receipts to make returns easier and check with the store for extended return policies and/or free return shipping, and any restocking fees.

 

§  Keep your eye on your credit card when making a purchase. Some employees have used handheld machines illegally to swipe card information and use it later to hack into accounts.

 

§  Think twice before you buy the “female version” of a product. Gender pricing is prevalent and means you could pay more for an item marketed towards females than items marketed towards males. Many people take advantage of holiday deals to make non-gift purchases. Whether you’re shopping for a new TV, a used car, or to remodel your kitchen, get DCA’s tips first at nyc.gov/dca.

 

3)      GIFT CARDS ARE ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR GIFTS – KNOW THE RULES

The value of a gift card is valid for at least five years from when the card was purchased, or when money was last loaded onto it. In New York, all fees must be listed, and no inactivity or service fees can be charged if the card has been used within the past 25 months. If you’re buying an “experience” card (like a spa treatment, flight or hotel stay), buy one with a specific dollar value so you can benefit from these consumer protections. Visit federalreserve.gov for the latest information on gift card rules and visit osc.state.ny.us to see if you have unclaimed funds because unused gift card values issued by New York corporations are required to be turned over to the Comptroller’s office as abandoned property after five years of dormancy.

4)      BE ON ALERT FOR HOLIDAY SCAMS

It’s a busy time of year and unfortunately scammers try to take advantage of people and their generosity. Shop at stores you know, research charities before you donate, protect your personal information and be wary of suspicious calls and emails, especially if they offer free things or deals that are too good to be true. Some common scams this year are:

§  Fake apps: A lot of fake retail and product apps pop up around the holiday season, some even mimic real shopping apps. Fake apps can do anything from giving you annoying pop-up ads to installing malware or stealing your personal and credit card information. Before you download an app, read the reviews and check the publisher to make sure they are legitimate. If you are shopping at a specific store, go to that store’s website to find its official app.

 

§  Gift Card Scams: Be careful of websites or social media sites that offer free or discounted gift cards. These sites often ask for your personal information or ask you to pay for a gift card that has no balance. Also, be suspicious of anyone who asks you to pay a bill with a gift card – government agencies (e.g., IRS, FBI, NYPD, etc.) and public utility companies (e.g., Con Edison) will never ask for payment using gift cards.

 

§  Delivery Scams: Watch out for texts or emails that say you will be receiving a package but then ask you to enter personal information. If you have questions about a delivery, don’t click the email but contact the carrier directly. Some thieves will even come to your door with a package for you sign for but then ask you to swipe your credit card for a “delivery charge.” Package theft is also common during the holiday season so be sure to have your packages delivered to a place where they will be safe.

 

§  Temporary Holiday Jobs Scams: If you’re looking for a temporary job during the holiday season for some extra money, be careful of jobs that are advertised online and that ask for personal information or payment in order to apply. Under the Fair Workweek Law, retail employers must give workers predictable schedules. Learn more about workers’ rights at nyc.gov/dca.

 

§  Social Media Gift Exchange: Be wary of social media posts inviting you to join a “Secret Gift Exchange,” promising that you will receive as many as 36 gifts in exchange for sending a $10 gift to a stranger. This is an illegal pyramid scheme, and it can be a way for scammers to obtain your personal contact information.

 

§  Fake Holiday E-Cards: Unfortunately, not all e-cards are sending holiday wishes but instead they may install malware to steal your personal information. Be wary of a e-card notification that is not from a recognized name but instead a “friend” or “secret admirer” and avoid links or attachments that end with “.exe,” which could download a virus.

 

5)      PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE

Only shop on secure websites — use familiar websites or research and read reviews of new ones, and check that the website starts with https (not just http) or has a padlock icon. Avoid typing your personal information when using unsecured Wi-Fi. Also, don’t click on shopping links included in unsolicited emails or social media sites — type the address directly into your browser. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information on how to be safe, secure, and responsible online.

6)      SHOP LOCAL AND DON’T BUY COUNTERFEIT OR “PIRATED” GOODS

Support New York City’s local economy by shopping at local retail stores and avoid buying counterfeit and pirated goods, which are illegal and jeopardize local jobs. Also, be suspicious if a deal seems too good to be true—it might be a knockoff.

7)      GET A DELIVERY DATE. SECURE A DELIVERY DATE IN WRITING BEFORE YOU LEAVE A STORE

 If retailers don’t specify a “ship by” date for your online purchase, they must ship within 30 days.

8)      CHECK FOR RECALLS

To check if a gift or toy has been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission at cpsc.gov and click on the recall section.

9)      FILE A COMPLAINT IF YOU’VE HAD A PROBLEM THE BUSINESS WON’T RESOLVE

File a complaint with DCA at nyc.gov/dca or by contacting 311. DCA mediators will help. You can file your complaint in multiple languages.

 

 

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 five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

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

Media Contact: 

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.