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News and Articles of Interest

Protecting Your Identity

News about the recent Equifax security breach

Protecting Your Identity

As more and more information is shared digitally, it may seem like protecting your identity is a losing battle, especially when news like the Equifax breach comes to light. We are here to share the facts, offer advice and give you peace of mind about online banking.

Recently, Equifax, one of the three national consumer credit reporting agencies, announced a major data breach. This breach affects approximately 143 million Americans. This is what we know according to Equifax: the data breach occurred May – July 2017, and the information stolen includes consumers’ personally identifiable information, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. Approximately 209,000 credit card numbers and dispute documents with personally identifiable information for approximately 182,000 consumers were also stolen. There is no evidence of unauthorized access to consumers’ credit reporting databases.

To be clear, Park Bank was not compromised and your information was not stolen from our bank. However, Park Bank takes the security of our customer information very seriously, and we are providing you with the information we know about this massive breach and the steps you can take to protect your personally identifiable information if you so desire. Following this unprecedented breach, we are also asking our customers to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity in any of your Park Bank accounts by calling 608-526-2265 or emailing

Equifax has established a website that informs consumers if they may be affected by the breach, provides additional information on the breach, and offers complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring. This information is available at

You can download and print out the information about the Equifax breach here.

Reporting suspicious activity

To protect your identity and personal information, we strongly encourage our customers to take the actions noted below.

You can also find another list of resources on our website at:

Steps to take to protect your identity

There are many things you can do to keep your information safe and secure, online and offline.

  • Be aware of impersonators that may be trying to use your information and report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Keep your passwords private.
  • Be careful of what you share on social media or to anyone asking for personal information.

Here are more tips from the FTC:

If you have any questions about your security with Park Bank, feel free to contact any of our branches at your convenience.

Mr. Farmer goes to Washington

Morgan Farmer

I was asked to help represent Wisconsin bankers at the American Bankers Associations' Government Relations Summit in Washington, D.C. this Spring. This was my third time going on this trip. I have some smart-alecky friends that always say, "Another banking conference? My gosh! That must be boring? What do you talk about? I bet it's REALLY interesting! Ha! Do you all get your calculators out and talk about compound interest? Do you compare green visors and mechanical pencil brands?"

(Note to self: I need to find some different friends.)

The Government Relations Summit is huge - 1,500 bankers this year - and what I really like about it is that we spent the first part of the meeting talking about why banking is cool. Here's three hours of speakers and presentations into some "simple math":

Local Deposits + Local Loans = Local growth.

In other words, banks - and small, community, locally-owned banks like Park Bank in particular - drive the local economy. We take local deposits and turn them into local loans that result in local growth. When you bank locally, YOU drive the economy in your community. Banks only amplify what our customers already do. Banks don't build things. And banks don't really create anything. We just get behind our customers who do.

Missing the Bus

The second half of the conference was meeting with our respective Congressional delegations to highlight the role that community banks have in driving local economies. I met with Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, and the Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner. Those were fun meetings.

I also missed the bus. Literally.

Late in the afternoon the bankers from Wisconsin took a bus ride to the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. I was under the impression that we had 30 minutes to tour both Memorials so I hustled over to see Honest Abe and back . . . only to find that out later that it was 30 minutes for each Memorial. By the time I returned to the World War II Memorial our bus had moved on to the Lincoln Memorial without me. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I caught up with everyone.

Overall it was a great trip. These seminars are a great opportunity for me to be reminded about why community banking is great (Local Deposits + Local Loans = Local Growth) and I enjoy talking to other community bankers. Meeting with our Congressional representatives and talking about the value of community banking is fun too.

You know what's not fun? Missing the bus.

National Teach Children to Save Day

The American Bankers Association began sponsoring National Teach Children to Save day in 1997 to recognize the importance of teaching our youth the value of money and how to save it.

This day is observed on April 28th and is a good opportunity to get the conversation started with our children and keep it going year round.

The American Bankers Association offers a number of resources for this topic and many others. Here are a few that you may find useful:

Download this fun "Roadmap to financial responsibility" to make learning how to save exciting!

When it’s time to introduce your child to banking, be sure to choose a bank that will guide them correctly throughout their big financial steps…savings, home buying, business ownership, retirement, etc. Our professionals at any of the 3 locations are here to help.

April is Community Banking Month

"Where you choose to bank matters." This is the message being expressed throughout the month of April as Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) celebrates Community Banking Month.

"Your choice of bank is your vote on where your money goes. Is it reinvested back into your own community, or is it sent off to a banking hub in another state or halfway around the world?" said third-generation community banker Rebeca Romero Rainey, ICBA’s chairman and chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, N.M. "When you deposit funds in your community bank, that money is redistributed back into the community in the form of loans to residents and entrepreneurs."

What is a Community Bank?

A community bank, defined by Independent Community Bankers of America and Community Bankers of Wisconsin, are banks that focus on area families, businesses and interests. Unlike many larger banks that may take deposits in one state and lend in others, community banks channel most of their loans to the neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, helping to keep local communities vibrant and growing.

Park Bank is proudly a community bank, a small business that understands the needs of other small businesses, friends and neighbors with interests in seeing the local economy thrive.

Customer testimonial:

"I am the owner of Shoot the Duck, Inc., the parent company to La Crosse Archery and Sparta Archery. We had a very real challenge for growth and needed funding that our current lending institution was unwilling to provide. David (Justus) and Park Bank came to the rescue with an SBA loan that has helped us grow the business and become the dominant player in Western Wisconsin. Last year David came to us and said, "I really think you should buy that building that you're leasing", which we hadn't even considered. It turns out to be the right decision and David was there to help us with this too.

"Professionally, I have the belief that he truly cares about our business. He asks the right questions and pays attention to what we are doing. I've made recommendations to others and will continue to do so."

-Keith Rosenthal

Below are some fun facts about community banks.

  • Community banks constitute 96 percent of all banks!
  • There are more than 600 counties—almost one out of every five U.S. counties—that have no other physical banking offices except those operated by community banks.
  • There are more than 51,000 community bank locations nationwide.
  • Community banks hold more than $3.9 trillion in assets, $3.1 trillion in deposits, and $2.6 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community.
  • Community banks employ 700,000 Americans and create countless jobs thanks to their role in lending to small businesses and agricultural enterprises.
  • Community banks make more than 50 percent of small business loans.
  • Community banks make 90 percent of agricultural loans.
  • More than 2,500 community banks have been in business for more than 100 years.

Share your stories

During the month of April we will share some of our favorite customer stories and would love to hear your Park Bank experiences. Share your stories on Facebook or Twitter.

What every new homeowner needs to know

Things Homeowners Should Know

If you are in the market for a new home, here are some very important steps to follow before taking the plunge.

  • Don’t make any sudden moves.  Don’t create any substantial changes with your credit profile by making large purchases, opening new credit cards, or taking out any other loans. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible.
  • Getting Pre-Approved is “where it’s at!”  There is a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage.  Being pre-qualified only means that a banker has discussed a buyer’s credit, income and assets and has advised them on a budget.  This does not mean they will actually receive a loan.  A pre-approved buyer has had their financial information verified and is approved for a mortgage based on this information.  This is important so you aren’t wasting time looking at homes you will not be approved for and it can also give you negotiating tools with a seller when they know you are a serious buyer.  “Your first step in buying your new home should start with talking to one of Park Bank’s experienced loan officers. We can provide you with a free, customized pre-approval letter so that your home purchase can go smoothly.” – Jennifer Westlie, Assistant Vice President
  • Don’t ask what you can afford, KNOW what YOU can afford.  Understand there are more costs to homeownership than just the mortgage payment.  Other expenses such as property taxes, utilities, maintenance and homeowner-association dues also need to be budgeted so you will never be at risk of financial hardships.  No matter what the loan officer or website states you can afford, YOU need to know what you will be able to spend without stretching yourself too thin.
  • Rate is important, but it’s not the only thing.  Getting the best rate will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.  But you also need to look at the quality and character of the banker and bank you will be dealing with for the life of that loan.  Community banks, like Park Bank, offer local decisions, local commitment and local investments.  And with Park Bank, your loan starts here and stays here!  Our customers have always made their loan payments at their local Park Bank branch. If you have ever had your loan sold to a huge mortgage servicer, you know why this is important.  You get that in addition to competitive rates and low closing fees.

Our customers have always made their loan payments at their local Park Bank branch. If you have ever had your loan sold to a huge mortgage servicer, you know why this is important.


Secrets of success for your small business

Secrets to a Successful Business

Starting up your own small business can be exciting and overwhelming.  Having the right support system in place, starting with the right lender and financial advisor, is a good place to start.

Here is another place to start…the SBA (Small business Administration) has compiled a list of 20 questions to ask yourself before you start down this path.  You can read those questions here.

What’s next?

After answering the 20 questions, determining the type of business you will own and who your customer will be, it is important to understand your financial needs.
You will need to determine your start-up costs and what it will take to operate your business.  The right lender will help you develop a business plan and cash flow analysis.  And, the right type of loan is also extremely important.

Park Bank is a SBA lender.  What does that mean?  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.”
With the SBA’s help, Park Bank is able to offer loans with longer term loans, lower injection costs and no balloon payments.  With the experience of the Park Bank staff any new small business is off to the right start.

“The SBA is a great partner,” says Dave Justus.  “Together we have been able to work with hundreds of small businesses.”

 Read more about the benefits Park Bank can offer with a SBA loan.



Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclimation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State


Straight Talk: A blurring of the lines

November 1st, 2015

NorthWestern Financial Review, November 2015 Edition

By Tom Bengtson  

How many times have you heard a politician or regulator say they use data to make decisions? That sounds great until you look a little deeper. Three trendy approaches to data analysis — disparate impact theory, proxy data and behavioral economics — completely destroy the credibility of any government official who claims to use data to drive objective decision making.

Disparate impact, a theory affirmed by the Supreme Court in June, says judgments can be made according to the results of particular practices, regardless of the intent of those instituting those practices. So if lenders turn down a disproportionate number of mortgage applications from potential borrowers of a particular ethnic background, the lenders are guilty of discrimination even if they treat all applications in the same color blind manner.

Proxy data is used by some analysts to make educated guesses about the ethnic backgrounds of customers based on their addresses and surnames. This approach is used when no formal data is collected about the ethnicity of particular loan applicants. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has used proxy data to target auto lenders. Proxy data is an extremely weak analytical approach; I think of my own home where our adopted Hispanic children would surely be miss-categorized based on their Swedish last name.

While traditional economics are based on rational decisions leading to predictable outcomes, behavioral economics dispenses with the traditional connections between concepts such as pricing and demand. Behavioral economists will argue that people often act irrationally, giving economists license to predict economic outcomes on a random basis. The result is usually a syllogism supporting a pre-conceived theory advocated by the economist long before beginning the research. President Obama signed an executive order in September directing federal agencies to use insights from behavioral science.

Daniel Moynihan said we are entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts. Since his Senate days in the 1970s and 1980s, it seems we have embraced methodologies that blur the line between facts and opinions. 

It is hard enough to do anything when we all agree on the facts but when those facts can be manipulated to mean whatever the most powerful player in the group wants, we have a problem. This is manifesting itself in banking in a number of ways, particularly with respect to rules around loan loss reserve provisioning and UDAAP compliance, not to mention the housing and auto lending examples cited above.