Consumer Alerts
Why isn't my DEBIT CARD working?

We have implemented new rules in regards to debit card transactions occurring outside of MInnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.  We know there are other merchants affected, or infected by the same malware that was used in the Target data loss.  Because we have not yet been notified which debit cards might be compromised our debit cards will now require customers to use a PIN in order to complete purchases at some retail stores, such as grocery stores, discount stores, and drug stores that are located outside of our area.  You will do this by selecting the DEBIT option instead of the CREDIT option when making a purchase.

Please review your statements carefully and if you see any outstate activity that was not authorized by you, contact us at 651-462-7611.  We apologize for any inconvenience, but feel these steps are necessary in order to prevent any further fraud.

When is a check or electronic deposit good?

 Good Bank customers can easily fall prey to scammers out there looking for a quick buck.  The scams change how they are presented, and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam. 

First the scams involve convincing the good bank customer that the stranger is "trusting" the victim with his funds.  The crook wants the victim to be in a position to "prove" he can be trusted.  Second, a check or an ACH deposit is sent to the victim or directly to the victim's account.  The check will be made out to the good customer of the bank.  When the victim is a longtime, well-known customer, it is not likely that the bank will refuse to accept the deposit of the check.  The check may be drawn on an account of a large, well-known company; it may appear to be a U.S. government check; it may appear to be a cashier's check.  However in every case, the check is not valid.  It may be a completely fictitious check drawn on a nonexistent entity at a nonexistent bank.  It may be fictitiously created check drawn on an actual company's account.  It may be a check drawn on a Canadian bank.  It may be a properly issued check which was stolen from the mail, chemically washed to remove the original payee and altered to show the victim as payee.

The crook convinces the victim to send part of the check proceeds to an accomplice as soon as the bank will allow the customer to withdraw the funds.  The reason given for sending the money varies.  It could be a percentage was agreed to be paid as part of the "deal". Funds may need to be paid to release additional funds. Funds may need to be paid for alleged taxes, licenses, fees or attorney fees for the deal. The amount of the check may be more than what was owed so a portion of the funds need to be returned.  The customer may be told that a foreign company needs an agent to cash a check in the U.S. and then wire the funds. The stories are sometimes very believable.

It is almost impossible to tell when you have waited long enough.  It is possible to be liable for the check for several years.   Just because an account is credited and the bank releases the funds does not mean that the check is good.  It is possible that a check drawn on a U.S. bank be returned two weeks after the depsoit is made. If the check is drawn on a Canadian Bank, the check can be returned several months later.  However, wiating weeks or even months is not always safe. If a legitimate check was stolen from the mail and then altered, the check can be returned for three years, or more, after it was deposited.  An electronic deposit also has similiar charge back periods. So those funds cannot be counted on either.

Most of these scams fall into the "too good to be true" category. If it seems to be too good to be true, it is.  The crooks take advantage of the fact that even their skeptical victims often can't figure out how they are being scammed.  Whenever you negotiate a check you have the potential for long-term liability. If you are being asked to cash a check for a stranger and send someone part of the money --- YOU are being scammed.  DON'T DO IT!

Other FDIC Resources for Consumers
The FDIC has several publications and tools to help individuals and businesses with financial consumer issues.  These are available yearround at

Identity Theft
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Deluxe ID TheftBlock can help you watch your credit files for early signs of trouble.  And, if you do become a victim, professional recovery experts help you restore your good name, and secure reimbursement for certain expenses. 
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Top 10 Tips To Avoid Consumer Scams

From the Office of Attorney General Lori Swanson
  1. Never disclose your credit card number, check routing information, or other banking information to telemarketers or other solicitors.
  2. Do not believe claims that you need to pay in order to “collect your winnings” from a contest or to obtain a line of credit.
  3. If you receive correspondence claiming that your financial institution, or account has been jeopardized, do not immediately disclose your account or other information. Contact the company at a telephone number or address that is listed in the telephone book, or that you know to be an accurate contact for the company.
  4. Be wary of solicitations asking you to wire money or send payment to a foreign country. It may be difficult for law enforcement officials to pursue lost funds outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.
  5. Do not send payment or wire money to a third party in response to a cashier’s check or personal check “overpayment” in connection with your sale of a vehicle, product or service. Remember, just because the bank may make funds from a cashier’s check available quickly does not mean the check is good. Financial institutions can take up to a week or longer to verify that a given cashier’s check or personal check is legitimate.
  6. Never respond to correspondence regarding a foreign lottery. These lotteries are illegal!
  7. Do not open spam email, or “click” on attachments, images, or links in e-mail messages, instant messages, or pop-up messages.
  8. When shopping online, always use a secure website (preferably one that offers encryption) or a well-known payment service. Do not disclose your pin numbers or other sensitive information in connection with a purchase unless you are absolutely positive that you are dealing with a reputable company.
  9. Don’t be rushed. People often make poor decisions when they are hurried. Most victims of scams later realize that if they had taken their time and thought it through, they would not have agreed to disclose their information or send money to a given scam operator.
  10. If it sounds “too good to be true,” it is.