Heightened Cyber Security Awareness

This current environment requires us all to be focused on resilience. Just as you fasten your seat belt before driving, take precautions before using the Internet to be sure you are safe and secure.

Image of bald eagle with words "Stay Vigilant. Heightened Cyber Security Awareness."

The National Cyber Security Alliance has some tips to help you stay protected online:


Lock your devices, like your tablet and phone: You lock the front door to your house, and you should do the same with your devices. Use biometric authentication, such as facial recognition or your fingerprint, to lock your tablet and phone. Securing your devices keeps prying eyes out and can help protect your information in case your device is lost or stolen.

Think before you act: Ignore emails or communications that create a sense of urgency and require you to respond to a crisis, such as a problem with your bank account or taxes. This type of message is likely a scam.

When in doubt, throw it out: Clicking on links in emails is often how bad guys get access to personal information. If an email looks weird, even if you know the person who sent it, it’s best to delete.

Make passwords strong: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.


What you post will last forever: Be aware that when you post a picture or message online, you may also be inadvertently sharing personal details with strangers about yourself and family members – like where you live.

Post only about others as you would like to have them post about you: The golden rule applies online as well.

Own your online presence: It’s OK to limit who can see your information and what you share. Learn about and use privacy and security settings on your favorite websites.

You can learn more at stopthinkconnect.org.

2021 Heritage Days: The Way We Were

The community celebration began in 1956 to mark the prosperity brought about by industrial expansion, which included the railroad, lumber business, and the Anaconda Aluminum Company.

Freedom Bank is honored to be a part of Columbia Falls’ growth over the past 16 years. Just like many of our customers, Freedom Bank is a small local business. To participate in this community and to be able to support and watch it grow has been inspiring.

Look for Freedom Bank in the parade down Nucleus Avenue on Saturday, July 24th at 12:00 pm. After the parade, roughly at 1:30 pm, Freedom Bank sponsors a Wild Horse Drive down Highway 2 from Columbia Heights to the Blue Moon. We are also a main sponsor of the Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena, a team and prize sponsor for the 3 on 3 basketball tournament, and a sponsor of the Columbia Falls Community Market at the Coop.

Heritage Days is an adventure and celebration for the whole family. Take a look at the complete schedule below or visit the official website here: http://cfallsheritagedays.com/index.html

Wednesday – July 21, 2021

  • 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – 12th Annual Car Show at Marantette Park.

Thursday – July 22, 2021

  • 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. – Columbia Falls Community Market at the Coop
  • FREE Open Swimming at Pinewood Park Pool.
    • 6:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Adults and kids to 12 years old
    • 8:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Adults and kids 13+ years old

Friday – July 23, 2021

  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Wildcat/kat Athletic Endowment
  • 5:30 p.m. – Wildcat/kat Athletic Endowment Auction and BBQ
    Marantette Park in Columbia Falls.

    •  5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. BBQ and Social Hour. $5.00 per plate
    • 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Raffles
    • 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Live Auction
    • 8:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Beer Garden
  • 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Lion’s Club Concert at Marantette Park.
  • 7:00 p.m. – Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Bar & Grille

Saturday – July 24, 2021

  • 7:00 a.m. – Firemen’s Breakfast at Don Anderson Fire Hall, 624 1st Ave. West.
  • 8:00 a.m. – Boogie-to-the-Bank 5k & 10k Run. North Fork to Discovery Square . Contact Ashley Campbell at 406-751-4758 for more information.
  • 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Arts, Crafts, Food Vendors and activities for the kids at Marantette Park.
  • 10:00 a.m. – Class Reunions meet to participate in parade. (See your Class contact person for more info.)
  • 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – North Valley Senior Center Fund Raiser Luncheon.
    (salads, sandwiches, pies and beverages)
  • 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. enjoy the North Valley High Steppers line dancing demonstration
    For more information call the Center at 406-892-4087. The Center is located at 205 Nucleus Avenue.
  • 12:00 p.m. – Main Parade on Nucleus Avenue (Railroad Street to 7th Street West). Parade participants will stage along Railroad Street at the north end of Nucleus Ave. at 11:00 a.m.
  • 1:30 p.m. – Freedom Bank’s Wild Horse Drive on Hwy. 2 from Columbia Heights to the Blue Moon.
  • 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. – CFHS Class of 1981 40th Reunion – at Eagles 4081 Columbia Falls
  • 7:00 p.m. – Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Grille

Sunday – July 25, 2021

  • 7:00 a.m. – 20th Annual WAEA Wildcat/kat Athletic Endowment Golf Scramble  – Meadow Lake Golf Course – Columbia Falls, Mont.
    Pre-registration and payment is highly encouraged due to limited teams.

    • Format: 4 person scramble – all skill levels invited
    • Start: 8:00 a.m. Shotgun Start
    • Rules: USGA rules govern play
    • Tees: Men play the WHITE tees, Women play the RED tees
    • Field: Number of teams are limited to 36 with a max. of 4 players per team
    • Handicaps: Callaway System
    • Cost: $100.00 per player for 18 holes of golf, lunch and hole prizes. Register by July 14, 2021 with the Meadow Lake Pro Shop (406)892-2111

Micah Hill – April Hometown Hero Award Winner

We are very proud to give Micah Hill the April Hometown Hero Award. Micah was recently selected as the Superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools and has courageously lead the Kalispell community throughout the pandemic. “I’m glad my little voice was heard,” stated Colette Riel when she was notified that her nomination won. With his leadership, the Kalispell schools remained open; hiring more teachers to assist with remote learning demands and developing other transitional plans.

Micha Hill and Don Bennett

Micah Hill receives Award and $500 check to The Flathead Youth Home

Hill demonstrated that it just takes that one person to bring the community together and make the Flathead Valley a beautiful place to live. Just recently he was selected by his peers as Superintendent of the Year for the Northwest Region and is now a finalist for State Superintendent of the Year.

Hill has chosen to donate the $500 award to The Flathead Youth Home. The Flathead Youth Home provides short-term crisis intervention and longer-term group care for youth, aged 10 to 18, in the Flathead Valley. It’s a place where children and teenagers can find security, a sense of belonging, and a place to call home. Other nonprofits that Hill would like to recognize that make the Flathead Valley a community are the Kalispell Education Foundation which provides grant-based investments in programs and resources that encourage collaboration, innovation, and academic excellence, Sparrows Nest of NW MT ensures safe, supportive housing and resources for unaccompanied homeless high school students in the Flathead Valley, Heart Locker acts as a “store” open to students at NO cost where K-12 students can take what they need, and the Flathead Community Health Center where primary medical care for the whole family is provided and no services are denied based on the inability to pay. All of these programs support children, families, and the people of the Flathead Valley; the foundation of our community. You can read more about Micah Hill in an upcoming issue of the Hungry Horse News.

The Hometown Hero award will continue running through January 2022. If you know of someone that is going out of their way, above and beyond expectations, cultivating our community and making a positive impact, please nominate them for the Hometown Hero Award. Each nomination is a true testament of the beauty in our community and demonstrates the impact individuals have on our families, friends, and neighborhoods. If the individual you nominated did not win this month, we encourage you to nominate them again!

Visit www.FreedomBankHometownHero.com to learn more.


Five Holiday Scams to Avoid

‘Tis the season… for holiday scams! As the end of the year approaches, criminals are working overtime to take advantage of busy employees.

Here are five threats to watch out for this holiday season:

Infected e-Cards and Memos

Holiday cards can spread cheer—and also malware. Criminals love to send cute Christmas and New Year’s e-cards which entice you to click a link— but once you do, your computer is infected with malware that can steal your online banking credentials, credit card numbers and more.

This year, the party started early, when a rash of Emotet-laced Halloween invitations was reported back in October. Recipients were invited to a “Come and say hello to your neighbors and enjoy some food and drink… Details in the attachment.” If you click on the attachment, a Word document opens, prompting the user to “Enable Content.” Once clicked, the malware is loaded onto the victim’s computer.

Days before Thanksgiving, researchers reported a surge of “Thanksgiving lures,” such as a “holiday memo” that announced office closure dates. Busy staff, making their holiday plans, were undoubtedly tempted to click without thinking, and fell victim to these holiday scams.

To protect your friends, family and colleagues, make sure everyone is familiar with the common “Enable Content” trick shown in the image below, and knows NOT to click the button.

Fake Retail Deals

Do those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals sound too good to be true? Cybercriminals love to lure consumers into clicking on fake offers. Often, these phishing email perfectly mirror real email blasts sent by Amazon or other big names. This year, fake e-commerce sites are trendy holiday scams, with researchers reporting a 233% increase compared with last November.

To be safe, don’t click the link— instead, type the store’s address directly into the address bar, and then look for holiday offers on their web site. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

Gift Card Scams

Gift cards are popular, both at home and in the office, as rewards for employees and convenient thank-you gifts for vendors and clients. This makes them a popular target for holiday scams. Criminals take advantage of that by tricking people into purchasing gift cards and giving them the codes to redeem them. According to the Wall Street Journal, consumers reportedly lost over $74 million in scams involving gift cards or reloadable cards in January-September of this year (an increase of $53 million compared with 2015).

In a typical scam, a criminal impersonates someone you know such as a close relative, and send emails or text messages asking you to purchase gift cards. The cards are supposedly a “reward” or a surprise — meaning that often, the victim is asked to keep the purchase secret. The victim sends the card details to the scammer, who steals them and cashes out.

To protect you and your family, make sure everyone is aware of common gift card scams, and knows to verify requests via phone before responding.

Point-of-Sale and ATM Skimmers

Look carefully at that ATM or point-of-sale terminal before you insert your credit or debit card. Criminals can place “skimmers” to steal your credit or debit card number as you swipe. They can also overlay a keypad to capture any PIN numbers you enter.

Check card readers and PIN pads carefully for unusual signs such as cracks, loose parts or scratches. If you notice anything suspicious, don’t use that machine. Consider using ApplePay, GooglePay, SamsungPay or similar modern payment technologies for retail purchases, since they offer extra security measures that never reveal your card number to the merchant.


Modern criminals break into ecommerce sites in order to inject snippets of code into the checkout page and steal customer card numbers. These e-skimming attacks (often referred to as “Magecart” attacks) have reached epidemic proportions, affecting retail giants such as Macy’s and Newegg, and prompting warnings from the FBI, US-CERT and others. Criminals have honed their tactics, often targeting popular third-party ecommerce software and plugins, in order to infect thousands of websites at once.

Merchants can defend against this by carefully vetting third-party code that is included in their site. Make sure your software is up-to-date, and stay apprised of any known vulnerabilities in your ecommerce platform. Have your web site tested regularly so that you are alerted to issues early on, before hackers break into your system.

For consumers, e-skimming attacks are a tricky problem, because there is no easy way to detect the malware in web sites that you visit. Carefully consider whether the online shop you use is reputable, and consider using virtual credit card numbers to reduce your risk if a site is infected. If you suspect an ecommerce site is infected, or notice fraud related to an ecommerce sale, report any incidents to www.ic3.gov.

Cybercriminals work overtime during the holidays! Share this list to keep your friends and colleagues aware of holiday scams, so everyone stays safe this season.

Enroll in eStatements and Make an Impact in Our Community

A committee of local individuals have created a vision for a community center called the HUB; a 27,000 square foot facility that features a full-size gym, technology room, commercial kitchen, walking space and meeting rooms for civic and educational programs.


Click here to learn more about the HUB.

Community Centers have long been the hub of small towns. They are places where people can come to socialize, participate in physical activities, engage in life-long learning, and support one another.

At the heart of the HUB, our children will find hope, opportunity and a path to a great future. Hundreds of students will have a safe, nurturing and affordable place to go after school, including teens who will have their own space. The Boys and Girls Club will be the centerpiece of the HUB.

Freedom Bank President Don Bennett has been involved with the project since inception, and Freedom Bank is eager to contribute to the goal of raising $5.5 million dollars.

That is where our customers come in.

Through the end of January, Freedom Bank is giving $5 to the Boys & Girls Club of Glacier Country for each account that enrolls in eStatements. Visit the Online Banking page to learn how to enroll your accounts, or contact Lynette Smith at (406) 892-1776 if you have any questions.

Giving Progress as of 11-01-2019

Stay Safe Online

Freedom Bank Wants You To Be Safe Online This Holiday Season

Here at Freedom Bank we want you to be safe this holiday season. We have teamed up with National Cybersecurity to make you more aware of protecting yourself online. Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – has been designed to not only encourage personal accountability and proactive behavior in digital privacy, but also promote security best practices, consumer device privacy and e-commerce security.

The 16th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is in full swing! Held every October, NCSAM has been a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about not only the importance of cybersecurity, but also ensure that everyone has access to the appropriate resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

Below are some of the highlighted calls to action and their key messages:

Own IT.

We live in a world in which we are constantly connected, so cybersecurity cannot be limited to the home or office. When you’re traveling, it is always important to practice safe online behavior and take proactive steps to secure your smart devices. With every social media account you sign up for, every picture you post, and status you update, you are sharing information about yourself with the world.

  • Double your login protection: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
  • Update your privacy settings: Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Keep tabs on your apps and disable geotagging (which allows anyone to see where you are).
  • Connect only with people you trust: While some social networks might seem safer, always keep your connections to people you know and trust.

Secure IT.

Have you noticed how often security breaches, stolen data, and even identity theft, are front-page headlines nowadays? Cybercriminals attempt to lure users to click on a link or open an attachment that may infect their computers. These emails might also request personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. When users respond with the information or click on a link, these attackers now possess access to their personal accounts.

  • Avoid using common words in your password: Substitute letters with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter “A”/
  • Be up to date: Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it!
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications which implore you to act fast. Many phishing emails create urgency, instilling fear that your account or information is in jeopardy.

Protect IT.

Today’s technology allows us to connect around the world through banking, shopping, streaming, and more. This added convenience undoubtedly comes with an increased risk of identity theft and scams. More and more home devices (such as thermostats, door locks, etc.) are now connected. While this may save us time and money, it poses new security risks.

  • Secure your Wi-Fi network: Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices, and you can better secure your Wi-Fi network and devices by changing the factory-set default password and username for each one.
  • Know what to look for:
    • Identity Theft – bills for products or services you did not purchase, suspicious charges on your credit cards, or any changes to your accounts that you did not authorize.
    • Imposter Scams – an imposter may contact you saying they are from a trusted organization informing you that your SSN has been suspended, or your account has been locked, while asking for your sensitive information or payment to fix the issue.
    • Debt Collection Scams – scammers may attempt to collect on a fraudulent debt. Debt collector scammers typically request payment by wire transfers, credit cards, or gift cards.

Visit these sites to learn more:



The information provided in the MS-ISAC Monthly Security Tips Newsletter is intended to increase the security awareness of an organization’s end users and to help them behave in a more secure manner within their work environment. While some of the tips may relate to maintaining a home computer, the increased awareness is intended to help improve the organization’s overall cyber security posture. This is especially critical if employees access their work network from their home computer. Organizations have permission and are encouraged to brand and redistribute this newsletter in whole for educational, non-commercial purposes.
Disclaimer: These links are provided because they have information that may be useful. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in the links and neither endorses nor intends to promote the advertising of the resources listed herein. The opinions and statements contained in such resources are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of CIS.

Freedom Bank Receives “Outstanding” Rating for Community Reinvestment Act Performance

Quote from Don Bennett: We don't view community investment as a regulatory requirement. For us, it is just how we do business.Freedom Bank received the highest possible rating for our performance in the Community Reinvestment Act during the most recent examination by the FDIC. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requires federally insured depository institutions to support the borrowing needs of the communities where they do business, including low- and moderate-income areas.

The “Outstanding” rating is based on Freedom Bank’s performance under the lending, investment, and service tests. These tests examine mortgage, small business, and community development lending, community development investments, and community development services in the communities a bank serves.

Freedom Bank was recognized in these key areas:

  • 90.9% of home mortgage loans and small business loans, by number, were made to borrowers located in Flathead County.
  • 82.8% of small business loans were made to businesses with less than $1 million in Gross Annual Revenues, demonstrating Freedom Bank’s commitment to meeting the small business credit needs of Flathead County.
  • Good distribution of lending to customers of different income levels and business customers of different sizes.

“We don’t view community investment as a regulatory requirement,” says Freedom Bank President Don Bennett. “For us, it is just how we do business. Columbia Falls believed in us when we opened our doors as a single-wide trailer in 2005 and we work hard every day to return the favor.”

Just like many of our customers, Freedom Bank is a small business. We consider our small size and local character to be our core strengths. Bennett adds, “Freedom Bank remains committed to the continued vitality and successes of our customers, no matter where they are at in their financial journey.”

If you want the money you deposit at a bank to stay local, you can count on Freedom Bank. Give us a call or stop in today to learn more about what we offer. We want to be your bank!

Heritage Days 2018



“Then & Now”


Wednesday – July 25, 2018


  • 5:00 p. m. – 9:00 p. m. – 9th Annual Car Show at Marantette Park
  • 4:00 p. m. – 7:00 p. m. – The American Legion Freedom Post 72 will be preparing food for the Car Show. A nominal fee/donation will be requested to cover costs of the food.
  • 7:00 p. m. – plaque to be presented at the Veterans Memorial Wall.



Thursday – July 26, 2018


  • 11:30 a. m. – 5:00 p. m. – Class of the 1950’s Alumni Gathering – Teakettle Room at the N.V. Physical Therapy Center – 235 Nucleus Ave.
  • 5:00 p. m. – 8:00 p. m. – Community Market at O’Briens Liquor Store*
  • FREE Open Swimming at Pinewood Park Pool

6:30 p. m. –   7:45 p. m. Adults and kids to 10 years old

8:45 p. m. – 10:00 p. m. Adults and kids 11+ years old

  • 7:00 p. m. – Lion’s Club Concert at Marantette Park


Friday – July 27, 2018


Wildcat/kat Athletic Endowment Auction and BBQ *

The Coop – 830 1st Ave. West – west of Glacier Bank in Columbia Falls.

  • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. BBQ and Social Hour. $10.00 per plate
  • 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Silent Auction
  • 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Live Auction
  • 8:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Social/Cash Bar and Dancing w/Music on The MoveHelp us reach our “MILLION DOLLAR MISSION” to assist with the financial support of CFHS athletics.


  • 7:00 p. m. – Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Bar & Grille


Saturday – July 29, 2017


  • 7:00 a. m. – Firemen’s Breakfast at Don Anderson Fire Hall, 624 1st Ave. West
  • 7:30 a. m. check in at Berube Physical Therapy for the Heritage Days 3 on 3 basketball tournament.

Teams will consist of boys and girls, grades 5-6, grades 7-8 and grades 9-12 and Men’s Open Registration forms may be picked up at the Columbia Falls Chamber Office, Berube Physical Therapy, and Whitefish Credit Union. Completed forms must be turned in by July 23rd to any of the above locations. Contact Laura Gadwa at 892-2072 with any questions. Cost per team is $80.



  • 8:00 a. m. – Boogie-to-the-Bank 5k & 10k Run. North Fork to Discovery Square.  Contact Ashley Campbell at 406-751-4758 for more information.
  • 9:00 a. m. – JIM’S Rat Race – by Glacier Bank and JIM. (the race will start after the last runner is finished with Boogie) Open to children ages 4-13. Its a short race from Whitefish Credit Union down to the Boogie to the Bank finish line. Contact Ashley Campbell at 406-751-4758 for more information.
  • 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. – Arts, Crafts, and Food Vendors by Whitefish Credit Union.
  • 10:00 a. m. to 3:00 p. m. – North Valley Senior Center Fund Raiser Luncheon (salads, sandwiches, pies and beverages )From 11:00 to 12:00 enjoy the North Valley High Steppers line dancing entertainment. For more information call the Center at 406-892-4087.  The Center is located at 205 Nucleus Avenue.
  • 12:00 p. m. – Main Parade on Nucleus Avenue (Railroad Street to 7th Street West). Parade participants will stage along Railroad Street at the north end of Nucleus Ave. at 11:00 a.m.
  • 1:00 p. m. to 5:00 p. m. – Family Playland in the Glacier Bank parking lot.
  • 1:30 p. m. – Freedom Bank’s Wild Horse Drive on Hwy. 2 from Columbia Heights to the Blue Moon. *
  • 7:00 p. m. – Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Grille
  • 7:00 p. m. to 9:45 p. m. – Falls Fest Fundraiser by the Rotary Club, with music by “Jacque Jolene & The Last Chance Band” at Marantette Park.


Sunday – July 30, 2017


  • 9:00 a. m. – 18th Annual WAEA Wildc/kat Athletic Endowment Golf Scramble

Glacier View Golf Course – West Glacier, MT

Format: 6 person scramble – all skill levels invited

Start: 9:00 a.m. Shotgun Start

  • 10:00 a. m. to 1:00 p.m. – Worship Service at Marantette Park – The focus will be “One Church” – unity inside of Christ. Non-denominational and not affiliated with any particular group, church or organization. Everyone in the community is invited.




Identity Theft Seminar




Employers face liability for 5 kinds of ID Theft, join us for an free informational meeting reviewing the steps business owners need to take to reduce their risks, protect their business and impact their bottom line. PLUS what steps consumers can take to reduce their personal risks in light of the Columbia Falls Breach. Thursday, November 9th at 7:00 pm or Friday, November 10th at noon in the Freedom Bank conference room.

Columbia Falls Community Market – June 8th