3 Ways to Refresh Your Finances

Monday, February 26 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Each New Year presents an opportunity for you to refresh your financial outlook with a clear perspective. By reflecting on the past year and setting priorities for 2018, you can take control of your money.

Here are three suggestions to help you put your best financial foot forward this year.

1.     Look back to get ahead. Though it may not always be an enjoyable experience, looking back at your 2017 finances can help you move forward in a positive financial direction in the New Year. Identify your successes, find patterns and see how you can replicate those in 2018. If you discover any budget missteps, don’t dwell on them. Instead, ask yourself what you could have done to have avoided them all together. If there are any problem areas that could potentially come up again this year, try to avoid those pitfalls by better preparation. You can use these resources to help with money management and planning. The linked educational portal has information and calculators you can use to help you understand things like how to build an emergency fund, how much you can afford towards a car or home, or how long it will take you to pay off a credit card balance. 

2.     Seize opportunities to spend smarter. Analyze what you spend your money on. It is beneficial to create a spending plan to help you understand where you currently stand and to chart a course for the future. It is also helpful to take a look at how you make your purchases. You can get the most out of your everyday spending by taking advantage of smaller, established financial authorities that offer rewards and bonus opportunities on smart spending solutions. Arvest Flex Rewards™ Credit Cards offer up to a $75 bonus for new credit card accounts from now until June 30. In addition, during the months of March and April, card users can earn three times rewards points on gas and travel purchases. Rewards points can ultimately be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, travel, gift cards and more. You can apply online. Remember to be responsible when using your credit cards—paying off the balance each month will build a strong credit history.  

3.     Plan for big expenses. Don’t let big purchases sneak up on you this year. For instance, if you know your family wants to take a vacation this year, start planning now. Timing is important; plan your trip around airline sales or hotel deals to see a huge difference in your wallet. Some websites, like airfarewatchdog.com,* allow you to sign up for alerts when tickets to your desired destination go on sale. You can also use your credit card rewards points to help you pay for your travel expenses, baggage fees and more. 

The New Year is a perfect time to get serious about your finances and set a positive pace for smart spending and saving.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution. 


Tax Scams and How to Avoid Them

Monday, January 22 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Arvest Bank recognizes the ongoing threat of criminals trying to steal your funds or obtain your personal information or account information. As tax season approaches, these threats take on other forms. In recent years, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. This article looks at the different scams affecting individual and businesses and what to do if you if you spot a tax scam. 

REMEMBER: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. In addition, IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment, or other enforcement action. Recognizing these telltale signs of a phishing or tax scam could save you from becoming a victim. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door

Scams Targeting Taxpayers

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone is not answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request. Please See: Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

Some con artists have used video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Taxpayers are urged not trust calls just because they are made through VRS, as interpreters do not screen calls for validity. For more details see the IRS YouTube video: Tax Scams via Video Relay Service

Con artists often approach victims with Limited English Proficiency in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected tax bills. Please see: IRS Alerts Taxpayers with Limited English Proficiency of Ongoing Phone Scams.  Note that the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Surge in Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes

When identity theft takes place over the web (email), it is called phishing

The IRS has issued several alerts about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information to steal their identity and assets. 

Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes may seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Be alert to bogus emails that appear to come from your tax professional, requesting information for an IRS form. IRS does not require Life Insurance and Annuity updates from taxpayers or a tax professional. Beware of this new scam.

Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages. The IRS is aware of email phishing scams that include links to bogus web sites intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between "IRS" and "gov"), though not IRS.gov (with a dot). These emails are not from the IRS.

The sites may ask for information used to file false tax returns or they may carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.  Additionally, please be aware that Arvest Bank does not make use of "pop-up" web browser windows on our websites for surveys, free credit reports or promotional offers. If a pop-up window appears when visiting our web site, such as when using Arvest Online Banking, it may be caused by unauthorized "adware" or "spyware" software installed on your computer which monitors your web browsing activity.

Soliciting Form W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals.

The IRS has established a process that will allow businesses and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam currently making the rounds. See details at Form W2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There also is information about how to report receiving the scam email.

How to Report Tax-Related Schemes, Scams, Identity Theft and Fraud

To report tax-related illegal activities, refer to this chart explaining the types of activity and the appropriate forms or other methods to use. You should also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

How to Report Fraud Related to Your Arvest Accounts

  • To report Identity Theft, financial fraud or an unauthorized transaction in your account, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523.
  • To report a lost or stolen credit, debit or ATM card, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523 or by using our Contact Us page.
  • To report a suspicious email, phone call or text message, please forward the suspicious email to, or send a message to: reportfraud@arvest.com.
Tags: Tax

8 Ways to Simplify Your Financial Life

Sunday, January 21 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

As you ring in the New Year, you may make resolutions to spend more time with your family and friends, improve your health, or focus on your financial well-being. To help you get started on that last one, consider taking time to streamline and automate your finances so that you can free up your schedule, alleviate money worries and give your other resolutions the time and effort they deserve.

Here are eight easy ways to get more out of your money and save time.

  1. Use online and mobile banking. Don’t spend valuable time wondering what your account balance is or if a check has cleared your account. Instead of calling the bank or reviewing your monthly account statement, enroll in online and mobile banking to view up-to-the-minute account activity — any time. With these convenient services, you can check balances, transfer funds, and even set account alerts to notify you about specific account activity. Arvest offers Online Banking with BlueIQ™ and Arvest Go mobile banking to help you organize and stay on top of your finances.
  2. Pay bills and people electronically. Think paying bills is a hassle? You can make the process easier by paying bills electronically with online bill payment and transfer services You can pay just about anyone — from your babysitter to the utility company — with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on your phone. You can even arrange to have recurring bill payments set up to make paying your rent or mortgage easier each month. Arvest BillPay, Arvest to Arvest Transfers and Popmoney are services that give you the control and flexibility you need to move your money where it needs to go.
  3. Set up automatic debits. Need to pay your gym membership or your monthly phone bill? You can save time by having these vendors automatically debit your account each month. Generally, the vendors’ websites will include information regarding automatic debits. You’ll need to provide your account number and routing number to set up the services.
  4. Shop with your debit card. Whether you're going to the grocery store or on a vacation, be sure to bring along your debit card for a fast, safe, and convenient way to pay for purchases. Using a debit card is much faster than writing a check and a lot safer than carrying cash. Arvest Chip-enabled debit cards work anywhere Visa® is accepted.
  5. Deposit checks from your mobile device. Need to deposit a check, but you aren’t near a bank or ATM? With Mobile Check Deposit, you can deposit your check in seconds — right from your mobile device. Enjoy faster access to your money with Mobile Check Deposit.
  6. Sign up for electronic statements. You'll not only save valuable time storing and filing statements; you'll also help save paper and the planet. Arvest e.Statements are available through online banking and delivered as PDF files for most accounts.  
  7. Set up transfers to savings. Saving money is possible, especially when you can arrange to have funds automatically deposited in your savings account each month.
  8. Sign up for direct deposit. Why wait to receive a paper check on payday?  With direct deposit, your funds can be automatically deposited into your checking or savings account on payday, giving you quicker access to your money.


Take advantage of automated services to make 2018 the year you bank smarter and save time! 

Tags: Financial Education

Saving Money on Gas

Saturday, January 20 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Whether driving cross-town or cross-country, everybody wants to save money at the pump. Regardless of the make and model, your car's estimated gas mileage is just that — an estimate. Here are some simple steps to help you get the most mileage out of your vehicle:

At the Pump

·       Check your owner's manual for the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher octane gas* than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit — and costs you at the pump. Some cars do require premium fuel, so before you fill up, check your owner's manual to find out if the higher-priced gas is required or just recommended.

·       Shop around. Specialized phone apps and websites can help you find the cheapest gas prices in your area. Also, many gas stations advertise regular weekly specials at their locations.

On the Road

·       Start driving as soon as the engine is started. Modern engines don't need much time to warm up. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping.

·       Don't speed. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour. According to Fueleconomy.gov*, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

·       Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.

·       Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve fuel economy when you're driving on the highway.

·       Minimize the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-downs and red lights. Anticipate bends and turns on familiar roads. Letting up on the gas often eliminates the need for braking.

·       Use the air conditioner only when you absolutely need it. Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an "economy" setting that allows the circulation of unchilled air. Many also have a "maximum" or "recirculation" setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load — and save gas.

·       Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

·       Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car's fuel economy by up to two percent.

·       Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.

At the Garage

·       Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine according to your owner's manual can increase gas mileage by an average of four percent.

·       Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. It can increase gas mileage up to three percent, improve handling, and prolong the life of your tires. Check your owner's manual or the door jamb for the proper level of inflation (not the tire itself, which shows the maximum tire inflation pressure); check the tire pressure when the tires are cold, because internal pressure increases when the car has been on the road for a while and the tires heat up.

·       Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.

When Shopping

·       Be skeptical about any gizmo that promises to improve your gas mileage. The EPA has tested supposed gas-saving devices — including "mixture enhancers" and fuel line magnets — and found that very few provided any fuel economy benefits. Those devices that did work provided only a slight improvement in gas mileage. In fact, some products may even damage your car's engine or cause a substantial increase in exhaust emissions. For a full list of tested products, visit www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/reports.htm*.

Information courtesy of Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.  


Tags: Financial Education

Give Yourself the Gift of Identity Protection

Tuesday, December 12 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

It may not show up on many shopping lists, but identity protection could be one of the biggest gifts consumers can give themselves this holiday season. 

That’s because, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, an estimated 15.4 million consumers were victims of some type of ID theft in 2016. That number is up from 13.1 million in 2015. 

Arvest Bank understands how much people enjoy the holiday season, but we also want to remind everyone that December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Arvest also wants consumers to know it is critical to know how to help protect themselves from identity thieves because of the long-lasting effects such an attack can have on their credit and bank accounts. 

With that in mind, here are some tips created by the Federal Trade Commission that can help consumers avoid identity theft. 

  • Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work.
  • Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.
  • Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
  • Shred receipts, credit applications and offers, insurance forms, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.
  • Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
  • Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device.
  • Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.
  • If you post too much information about yourself via social media, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
  • Install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often.
  • Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers.
  • Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.
  • Don’t use an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password, and always log off when you’re finished. 

For more information on privacy and identity protection, visit www.ftc.gov* and look for the ‘Tips & Advice’ tab. If you’re interested in the kind of identity-theft protection that includes theft-resolution and file-monitoring services, Arvest offers IDProtect®* with some of its checking accounts. Identity monitoring services can alert you if someone tries to open an account or secure a loan in your name. To learn more about Arvest Bank and IDProtect®, visit www.arvest.com and select IDProtect® under the ‘Personal’ tab.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution

Tags: Financial Education, IDProtect

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