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General News

 

SGBC Announces New Directors

South Georgia Banking Company announces the additions of Matt Coley and Noel Williams, as members of the bank’s board of directors. As SGBC grows and prepares to thrive in the next decade, adding proven leaders with fresh perspectives to the leadership team is a key element to success.

 

“Matt and Noel each bring distinctive strengths, including long-term vision and a solid understanding of both business and agribusiness, to our team,” said Glenn Willis, President and CEO of South Georgia Banking Company. “The energy and depth of experience of these two new board members represent the core values of our bank as we move into our 50th anniversary in 2020.”

 

Coley, a fourth generation farmer, agribusiness owner and Vienna native, holds a B.S.A. and M.S in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia. He is also a member of the AGHON Honor Society, the highest honor a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UGA may attain. After graduate school, he worked for Senator Chambliss as a staff member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition andForestry.

 

After a few years in Washington, Coley returned home to Vienna to join his family’s agribusiness and farming operation, consisting of 3500 acres of cotton and 400 acres of peanuts. The family’s cotton gin and peanut buying point, Coley Gin and Fertilizer, has been in operation since 1945.  Coley has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of twenty-five “Movers and Shakers” in Georgia agribusiness and the UGA Alumni Association in its 2018 “40 Under 40” class. He currently resides in Cordele with his wife, Whitney, and their daughters, Mary Stockton and Harrison where they are members First United Methodist Church.

 

Williams, a Cordele native and University of Georgia graduate, is a principal with Partners Benefit Group, an insurance agency headquartered in south Georgia. Williams is also a newly elected member of Georgia’s House of Representatives, serving the citizens of Crisp, Pulaski, Wilcox, and portions of Houston County, that form House District 148. Elected Freshman Legislator of the year in June of 2019 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, he serves on the insurance committee, retirement committee and natural resources committee in the State House.

 

Williams is dedicated to the growth of his community and serves in multiple capacities to help impact economic growth and address challenges. In addition to previous positions as chairman of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce and a representative for the Cordele Industrial Development Council, he currently serves as chairman of the board for the Crisp Regional Foundation, a board member for Crisp Regional Hospital, and secretary of Crisp Academy Board of Trustees. He and his wife Laura reside in Cordele with their children Trey and Elizabeth where they are members of First United Methodist Church.

 

Online Romance Scams: True Love or True Crime

Millions of people use online dating sites and it’s no secret to scammers. They are there too, hiding behind fake profiles. Dating sites are used to meet people – but in some cases, users find themselves in a sticky situation rather than finding romance. Scammers private message users and start chatting several times a day. Once a “relationship” develops, the scammers typically make up stories to ask for money. Think it just happens every now and then? Think again. In 2016,  $220 million was lost due to Romance Scams.*

 

Following are a few go-to moves dating site scammers use that are big red flags.  Typically, scammers will:

  • Profess love quickly
  • Say they’re living or traveling outside of the U.S. for business or military purposes
  • Ask for money and lure you off the dating site
  • Claim to need money for a plane ticket, hospital bills, or a visa/other traveling document
  • Plan to visit but never actually show up

 

While South Georgia Banking Company hopes you never find yourself in one of these situations, the first step you should take is to stop communicating to the scammer immediately and block them. Regardless of what the scammer says, never wire money, put money on a gift/cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. Scammers ask for these types of payments because they know they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous. They also know these types of transactions are almost impossible to reverse.  

 

While it may be embarrassing, if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer, contact your bank right away and the online dating site.  Many online dating sites are reputable and want to shut down scammers before they strike again, so report your experience. Also, remember money scams are illegal, so it’s a good idea to report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

 

Source: Federal Trade Commission


 
Small Business Credit Worthiness Tips

The Importance of Credit Worthiness for Your Small Business

What many people don’t realize when starting a business is that it has its own credit score with a unique algorithm that determines your company’s creditworthiness. Unlike a personal score, a business credit score typically ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best possible outcome. South Georgia Banking Company would like to take the opportunity to share some information on small business credit worthiness and how you can establish it with your own company.

Why do you need a business credit score? 

Separating your business and personal assets is critical. One of the key benefits that corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) provide is the protection of your personal assets. To keep this protection, it is critical that you consistently show a clear separation between yourself and your business. Establishing your small business’s credit can help you do this.

What makes up a business credit score? 

Most of the credit bureaus are secretive about the formulas they use to create a business credit score, and some even admit that there can be more than 800 different data points that are taken into consideration. That can make it feel daunting to build up your business credit. Luckily, we can look to consumer credit scores to give us a good sense of the factors that are likely to be the most important, namely:

• Payment History
• Credit Utilization
• Credit History
• Credit Inquiries
 
Now that we know the key factors that make up a business credit score, let’s take a look at how you can establish your business credit. Specifically, you should: 

1. Incorporate your business as an LLC to protect your personal assets.

2. Obtain a federal taxpayer identification number (TIN/EIN).

3. Open a business bank account. It’s important to note you can’t open a business bank account without first obtaining an EIN.

4. Obtain a business credit card. This can be as simple as opening up a business credit card and making a number of small purchases that are easy for you to pay off quickly over the coming weeks. Assuming you already have money set aside and earmarked for this, you will be able to quickly pay off your business credit card and thus establish your company’s credit.

5. Open a business credit file. This can be done with all three of the reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, you can apply for a D‑U‑N‑S Number at Dun & Bradstreet. D&B and other credit bureaus can use this nine-digit number to identify your business and its credit file.

How can you continue monitoring your business credit?

By law, each of the three major credit bureaus is required to give you free access to your personal credit score once per year. That is not the case with your business credit score. Despite that, it is worth monitoring your company’s credit score one or two times per year so you can correct any errors and make sure your file is up-to-date. This can help ensure you continue to receive favorable loan terms and are able to better negotiate with suppliers and vendors.

When you’re just starting off, establishing your business credit score may not be your top priority. But, if you plan it right, growing and expanding your company can become much simpler and less expensive if you’ve taken the time to establish good business credit up front.

South Georgia Banking Company would love to help your small business establish a great credit score – please call us or come by today to get started!
 
Source: Forbes
 
Think you know the score when it comes to online shopping? Unfortunately, scammers are usually one step ahead! They come up with something new every time their latest scheme gets blown wide open. It’s important to be vigilant whenever you're checking out a tempting offer or clicking an intriguing pop-up advertisement.

South Georgia Banking Company would like to provide you with some solid rules of thumb on how to avoid online shopping scams this holiday season.
 
Do Your Research
Generally speaking, you’re okay when you buy from established online retailers and from websites of well-known brands, but you might be tempted to stretch your dollar by buying from an unknown site offering similar products at much lower prices.

Before committing to anything, check out the website online, looking particularly for user reviews as well as badges from consumer protection agencies. Doing so allows you to check any negative reports about the company or their merchandise.

Buy Only From Secured Sites
 
When you do your online shopping, you'll have to provide financial information; most likely this will come in the form of your credit card details. No matter how secure a site may be, it's important to realize that putting credit card information on the internet carries an inherent risk; therefore, it's important to minimize that risk with these tips:

• Make sure that the website you are shopping on has all the signs of being legitimate. The easiest is to check if the URL begins with an “https” because that means the website is a secured one. The "s" indicates an additional layer of security known as an SSL or Secured Socket Layer.

• Another way to determine the level of security on a website is to search the domain name on a domain search website to check the create date, such as WhoIs.DomainTools.com or other domain checked sites. Older websites tend to be more reliable than newly-formed ones; sometimes, newer sites can be fake online shopping sites that usually disappear after a short while. Again, search online for reviews of the company.

• Key Point: You should also look for well-known security labels such as VeriSign and McAfee. Payment options should include third-party payment services such as Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal. Beware of websites that only accept money orders or wire transfers; it's a sure sign you will not get what you pay for and that you will never get a refund even if you lodge a dispute.

Maximize Credit Card Protection Services

If you determine the website is reliable, that does not mean your personal information is safe. One of the most insidious online shopping scams is when hackers obtain your credit card information from secured sites. If your credit card company offers a unique credit card number you can use for specific sites, you'd be wise to use it.

Check your credit card statements for any unusual or unauthorized charges and promptly report suspect findings to your credit card company. Many have insurance against consumer fraud, so you won’t be liable for fraudulent charges. If your credit card issuer doesn't have that kind of protection, find one that does, especially for online purchases.

Keep Your Personal Information Personal

No legitimate online shopping website will require information such as your mother's maiden name or your Social Security number. Credit card companies also don’t ask for your password over the Internet or the phone.

Read the Fine Print
Always read the fine print in any transaction. Many people develop a blind spot for text that appears to be legalese or in small print, but you need to read the terms and conditions because they contain important information that can impact on your rights as a consumer.

South Georgia Banking Company is committed to arming our customers with the knowledge to keep your finances safe while enjoying the convenience of online shopping. As always, we are here to answer any questions.

Employee Spotlight: Brenda McGee in Vienna

We believe our customers will agree that SGBC employees are our greatest asset! Today we want to spotlight Vienna branch employee, Brenda McGee, who began her career in banking exactly 32 years ago today! “I feel as though God led me to this job,” Brenda reflects. “I was new to town and came to the bank to open up a checking account. While talking to customer service representative, Linda Hobbs, I mentioned that I would be looking for a job. She asked me to fill out a job application for the bank and two weeks later I was hired.”
 
Brenda started her career as a teller and later moved into operations as the computer processor for Bank of Dooly. South Georgia Banking Company purchased Bank of Dooly in 2014 and Brenda began working in the compliance department. “My 27 years spent in operations and computer processing helped me understand compliance today,” Brenda says. “I am part of a compliance team that ensures the bank abides by applicable laws, rules and regulations.”
 
Undeniably, the banking industry has seen many changes in the past 32 years. Brenda regards technological advancements as the greatest change. “Some products that we could not live without in the early days (camera film and extra storage for reports/checks for example), we no longer need!” says Brenda. “Computers have changed and financial institutions are able to provide so much with one product or service. Online banking and mobile banking services have enhanced access and provide 24-hour availability to our customers.”
 
Along with Brenda’s dedication to her career, she has also participated in many community activities in Vienna over the years. Parades, fall festivals, and the Big Pig Jig are just a few. She has also served as President of the Dooly County Cancer Society and chairman of the Dooly County Relay for Life. Brenda has always felt that participating in fundraising activities, food drive collections, and most any community projects are just “part of my day.”
 
“Being a part of the banking family for 32 years has been a tremendous blessing in so many ways,” concludes Brenda. “Although my husband and I don’t have children, I have been blessed with love from children of my co-workers and now their grandchildren.” South Georgia Banking Company has been so very lucky to have had Brenda McGee as part of our banking family – we know she’s a blessing to her community of Vienna as well.
 
 
 
National Data Privacy Day

Tips to Keep Your Information Safe in Recognition of National Data Privacy Day

This week, South Georgia Banking Company recognizes National Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28) and along with American Bankers Association is highlighting eight tips to help online users protect their data and guard against online threats.
 
“Cyber thieves are using social media profiles to gather personal information and use it to commit fraud,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy.  “It’s extremely important that consumers limit the amount of information they share online and stay away from using easily retrieved information — such as birthdates, pet’s names or school mascots — as answers to security questions.”
 
SGBC offers the following tips to help consumers safeguard their information online:
 
• 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.

• Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

• Watch out for phishing 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 sources you are not familiar with.  

o Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. 

• Keep personal information personal. Hackers 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.

• 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.

• Shop safely. 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.

• Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere. 
 
Data Privacy Day commemorates the 1981 signing of the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. It is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit, public private partnership focused on cyber security education for all online citizens. As always, call any of our SGBC branches if you have questions about your financial data and privacy. We are here to help.
 
Call 1.877.482.5680 for any questions.

How to Dig Out of Debt

Millions of Americans are dealing with debt overload every day. If you’re struggling to pay your loans, credit cards or other bills, here are some steps you can take to begin managing the problems.
Create a budget. Budgeting gives a clear picture of what you can afford so you can balance your income and expenses. 
 
Try to get a clear picture of your monthly income and expenses. "Even if you have a regular weekly, bi-weekly or monthly paycheck, budgeting enough money to pay your regular expenses and pay down debt may not be easy," said Elizabeth Ortiz, the FDIC’s deputy director for consumer and community affairs.
 
Ortiz added: "Also, many individuals have incomes that vary considerably from month to month because they work on a contractual or temporary basis with hours that equate to full- or part-time work. For them, budgeting can be tricky, especially when they are trying to pay down debt. That makes it especially important to know how much money is available and the expenses that must be paid regularly so that accidentally overspending doesn’t become an issue."
 
Contact your creditors about easier ways to make your most important bill payments. Many people find it helpful to schedule their essential monthly payments sometime soon after the deposit of their first paycheck of the month. In that case, you can ask your lenders, utility providers and credit card issuers to change your monthly billing-cycle date to line up with your first monthly paycheck.
Also, if you think you can’t make payments as scheduled, you can be proactive and ask your creditors to consider an extended payment plan that results in lower monthly bills over a longer period of time. Keep in mind, though, a longer payment period could mean you’ll pay more in interest. "Discuss a payment plan that can help you avoid getting too far behind," said Berry Holston, an FDIC consumer affairs specialist. "That’s especially important with a mortgage because if you have problems repaying the loan you could lose your home."
 
Have a strategy for saving money on interest and fees. Consider paying off debts with the highest interest rates first. Also, avoid late fees by making sure all bills are paid on time.
"You can track payment due dates on a calendar or use your bank's online bill paying service," said Heather St. Germain, an FDIC senior consumer affairs specialist. "Many banks offer this service, which allows you to see all of your bills in one location online and make payments directly from your bank account."
 
Consider getting help from a reputable credit counselor. Many companies and public service organizations offer assistance to individuals in creating a budget and learning to manage money, including debt, often for free or at a low cost. Under the Credit Repair Organization Act, companies and service organizations are required to explain the total cost of the service, timeframes to see results, a written contract of the services you will receive, and your right to cancel service without charge within three days. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers tips on how to find and choose a credit counselor.
 
Also, be on guard against companies that promise to settle your debts or erase a bad credit history if you pay a big fee upfront. These are usually scams to steal your money and perhaps valuable information like your Social Security number, without delivering on their promises.
 
Know your rights if a debt collector contacts you. Debt collectors have rules they must follow under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, such as providing you with a debt validation notice stating the amount you owe and the creditor's name.  Debt collectors are also limited on when and how often they can contact you.
 
Contact South Georgia Banking Company with any questions - as always, we are here to help.
 
Source: FDIC

The Importance of Credit Worthiness for Your Small Business

What many people don’t realize when starting a business is that it has its own credit score with a unique algorithm that determines your company’s creditworthiness. Unlike a personal score, a business credit score typically ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best possible outcome. South Georgia Banking Company would like to take the opportunity to share some information on small business credit worthiness and how you can establish it with your own company.

Why do you need a business credit score? 

Separating your business and personal assets is critical. One of the key benefits that corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) provide is the protection of your personal assets. To keep this protection, it is critical that you consistently show a clear separation between yourself and your business. Establishing your small business’s credit can help you do this.

What makes up a business credit score? 

Most of the credit bureaus are secretive about the formulas they use to create a business credit score, and some even admit that there can be more than 800 different data points that are taken into consideration. That can make it feel daunting to build up your business credit. Luckily, we can look to consumer credit scores to give us a good sense of the factors that are likely to be the most important, namely:

• Payment History
• Credit Utilization
• Credit History
• Credit Inquiries
 
Now that we know the key factors that make up a business credit score, let’s take a look at how you can establish your business credit. Specifically, you should: 

1. Incorporate your business as an LLC to protect your personal assets.

2. Obtain a federal taxpayer identification number (TIN/EIN).

3. Open a business bank account. It’s important to note you can’t open a business bank account without first obtaining an EIN.

4. Obtain a business credit card. This can be as simple as opening up a business credit card and making a number of small purchases that are easy for you to pay off quickly over the coming weeks. Assuming you already have money set aside and earmarked for this, you will be able to quickly pay off your business credit card and thus establish your company’s credit.

5. Open a business credit file. This can be done with all three of the reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, you can apply for a D‑U‑N‑S Number at Dun & Bradstreet. D&B and other credit bureaus can use this nine-digit number to identify your business and its credit file.

How can you continue monitoring your business credit?

By law, each of the three major credit bureaus is required to give you free access to your personal credit score once per year. That is not the case with your business credit score. Despite that, it is worth monitoring your company’s credit score one or two times per year so you can correct any errors and make sure your file is up-to-date. This can help ensure you continue to receive favorable loan terms and are able to better negotiate with suppliers and vendors.

When you’re just starting off, establishing your business credit score may not be your top priority. But, if you plan it right, growing and expanding your company can become much simpler and less expensive if you’ve taken the time to establish good business credit up front.

South Georgia Banking Company would love to help your small business establish a great credit score – please call us or come by today to get started!
 
Source: Forbes
 

UPDATE: Our online banking update has been delayed. When a new launch date is available, we will give you an update.

South Georgia Banking Company is excited to announce the unveiling of our newly enhanced online banking service! The new site provides all of the same functionality you have been accustomed to while introducing new features in a fresh, easy-to-use interface. We are thrilled to offer our customers the latest in internet banking technology. This enhancement is scheduled to roll out October 21, 2018.
 
Exciting new features:
• Responsive design for users on the go
• Simplified navigation menu
• Supportive of touch-screen technology devices
• Enhanced account information display
• Redesigned screens for account information, internal transfers, loan payments, user information, and messaging.

Important things to note:
• Ensure your contact information and email address are up-to-date
• Your Access ID and password will not change
• All transaction history will remain
• All scheduled transfers will remain

Thank you for your business and support of this change. Should you have any questions, please contact us at 1.888.782.4211.