Safe Online Shopping

Be Alert. Be Smart. Beware When Shopping Online This Holiday Season.

Protecting yourself while shopping online is of utmost importance. In today’s digital age, it is crucial to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe online shopping experience. Opt for trusted platforms and payment gateways that offer encryption and fraud protection. Additionally, be cautious of suspicious emails or websites that may attempt to steal your personal data. Always double-check the legitimacy of the sender or the website before sharing any sensitive information.

7 ways to verify the safety of a website

  1. Check for a secure padlock: Browsers like Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox show a padlock in the URL to mark safe sites. Click on it to ensure the site’s certificate matches the company.
  2. Check if the URL is authenticated (HTTP Secure): Authenticated websites typically start with https:// rather than http://. Illegitimate websites usually won’t bother with security certification since they are quickly shut down. It is crucial to confirm the presence of https:// on pages before you enter your payment details.
  3. Check the domain name: Counterfeit websites often use domain names that closely resemble those of legitimate businesses or organizations. Upon closer inspeAuthenticated URLction, you may notice that two letters have been swapped or there is a minor misspelling. If you encounter a spelling error in the domain name, it indicates that you are not on the official site, and it is advisable to close the tab.
  4. Use a website checker such as Google Transparency Report Webpage: This tool enables you to quickly evaluate the security rating of a website’s URL according to the standards set by Google.
  5. Search the company with the Better Business Bureau: The Better Business Bureau can be utilized to assess the trustworthiness of a company.
  6. Check to see if the company has a social media presence: Legitimate companies typically maintain an active presence on social media platforms. To authenticate this, verify whether their website contains social media icons that effectively lead to their social media channels.
  7. Check the website contact page: Proceed with caution if the company lacks various means of contact such as phone, email, live chat, or a physical address.

Additional Security Tips

  1. Hover over links: When you hover over a website link, you can view the underlying URL at the bottom of your browser. This allows you to verify the true destination URL, even if the link is labeled differently or redirects you elsewhere.

The image shows a link that at first glance looks like it will take you to the Better Business Bureau, however, when you hover the cursor over the link you can see it will take you to the Freedom Bank website.

  1. Sounds too good to be true, it is: Sellers often mark down products to clear stock or launch new items. Overly attractive deals should raise suspicion, as they’re likely not genuine. Always tread with caution when a deal seems too good to be true.
  2. Search for reviews or potential scams: If you’re uncertain about whether a website is legitimate or fraudulent, try searching for the website name along with the terms “scam” or “reviews”. You can stay up to date on current scams on the Federal Trade Commission’s website. If others have been tricked by a fake site, you’re likely to find reports when you look for scams. A reputable online store should have numerous reviews available for you to analyze. Stay alert for reviews that seem generic, sound automated or unnatural, or are excessively brief, as these may be fake.
  3. Scammers try to invoke specific emotions: Scammers attempt to elicit feelings of anxiety, fear, joy, or sorrow. Their aim is to prompt you to make impulsive emotional decisions, thereby gaining access to your financial resources. If a phone call, email, or text message is evoking emotions within you, step back and give yourself a moment to think rationally before acting. Seek advice from trusted friends or family.

Protect yourself further with alerts, controls, and notifications provided by Freedom Bank

  1. Set up alerts: Through online banking or the mobile app you can set up custom alerts to be sent to your email and/or cell phone.
    • Stay updated on all transactions to your checking account and receive alerts whenever your debit card is used.
    • Establish alerts when withdrawals from your checking account exceed a predefined threshold or a set a low balance alert.
    • Receive alerts when changes are made to your online banking, including lockouts.
  2. Download the Freedom Bank MT mobile app: The Freedom Bank MT mobile app provides a variety of functions that help keep your accounts secure. You have the ability to establish controls for your debit card, activate or deactivate lost debit cards, configure various account alerts, monitor your accounts, view statements, and much more.
  3. Respond to fraud notifications: Freedom Bank utilizes 24/7 fraud monitoring for suspicious debit card transactions. If a transaction is identified as suspicious, the transaction will be blocked and you will receive a text message from 37268 within 15 seconds of the transaction attempt. You have two options for responding to the text:
    • If the transaction is legitimate and has been initiated by you, respond ‘YES” to the message and you will have the opportunity to reattempt the transaction, which should then be successful.
    • If you did not participate in the transaction or believe it to be fraudulent, reply ‘NO’. Your response will restrict further transactions until you either contact the fraud number provided in the message, or Freedom Bank at (406) 892-1776.
  1. Utilize card controls: Freedom Bank offers a variety of tools to help you secure and manage your debit card including but not limited to:
    • Set spending limits based on location, amount, and merchant type.
    • Set travel plans internationally and within the United States.
    • Gain total transparency in every transaction with each business identified.
    • Immediately turn off a lost or stolen card from your mobile device.

Annual Snack Drive for Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country

The Annual Snack Drive for Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country is running from May 22nd to June 2nd, 2023.

Freedom Bank is accepting non-perishable donated snacks and juice boxes for the children of Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country. Boys & Girls Clubs serve many school-aged children. They work with children after school during the school year. They also work with children during the summer all day. Snacks are always a wonderful way to fuel children so they can continue to learn.
Sizes of items do not have to be individual small sizes; large or bulk sizes are acceptable also.

All types of snacks are welcome. Here is a list to inspire (but not limit) your generosity:

  • Crackers/Goldfish
  • Fruit Cups
  • Pudding and/or Jello Cups
  • Pretzels
  • Cookies
  • Trail Mix
  • Juice Boxes

Snack donations are being collected in the lobby of Freedom Bank at 930 9TH ST W in Columbia Falls.

Please contact the Bank with any questions by calling 406-892-1776 and asking for Amy.

Addressing Current Events in Banking

Bank closures are in the news, which prompted us to address this topic for our customers and community.

Freedom Bank does NOT hold an investment portfolio, and therefore we are not impacted by the strain faced by the financial institutions currently under scrutiny. Our institution is well capitalized and has plenty of accessible liquidity.

Freedom Bank operates under an entirely different business model than the institutions that were recently closed. Our relationship-based business model is rooted in building long-term trust with our deposit and loan customers. Our method of investment is in our local economy via our loan portfolio. We are a small business ourselves, and we take pride in serving the unique needs of our customers and community. Freedom Bank is in it for the long haul to serve the needs of those who count on us for financial stability and prosperity.

The information below is publicly available information about Freedom Bank’s balance sheet, specifically regarding investments. We are well positioned to meet the banking needs of our customers.

If you have questions or concerns, please stop by or call 406-892-1776 to speak with an Officer or Don Bennett, Freedom Bank President.

Here are some helpful links:

Freedom Bank Balance Sheet Information about Investment Portfolio.

Source: Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Central Data Repository’s Public Data Distribution

Text Alerts from Freedom Bank Using 37268

A Freedom Bank debit card isn’t just a piece of plastic. It’s something that’s relied upon every day for groceries, gas, gifts, and so much more. Unfortunately, fraudsters are well aware that debit cards can allow them direct access to your bank account. To protect you from this, Freedom Bank utilizes state of the art fraud monitoring with a proactive, hands-on approach that keeps an eye on suspicious transactions. We know that sometimes this can be a frustrating and an inconvenient process for our customers and we are constantly trying to improve.

In response to the need for a more convenient form of fraud monitoring and notifying, we are introducing text alerts at the end of October. Text alerts are a brand-new debit card service feature that will increase card account security while decreasing instances of customers not being able to complete legitimate transactions.

How Debit Card Text Notifications Work

  • You will receive a message within 15 seconds if a questionable transaction is being performed. Messages will always be from the short code 37268:

FreeMSG Freedom Bank MT Fraud Center 888-XXX-XXXX $125.46 on card 1234 at Merchant ABC. If valid reply YES, fraud NO. To Opt Out, STOP.

  • If you reply ‘YES’, then you’ll receive this text message:

FreeMSG Freedom Bank MT Fraud Center 888-XXX-XXXX Thank you for confirming this activity. You may continue to use your card. To Opt Out reply STOP.

You will be able complete your transaction by running your debit card one more time after receiving this message from Freedom Bank.

  • If you did not participate in the transaction reply ‘NO’, you will receive this text message:

FreeMSG Freedom Bank MT Fraud Center 888-XXX-XXXX Your response has placed a block on the card. Call us immediately at 888-XXX-XXXX, avail 24/7. To Opt Out reply STOP.

Your card will be restricted until you either contact the fraud number provided in the message, or Freedom Bank at (406) 892-1776:

How to Gain Access to This New Feature

This feature is free to all card holders with a cell phone. To ensure you can take advantage of this new debit card feature please make sure all contact information is up to date with Freedom Bank. You can do this either by calling (406) 892-1776 or by stopping by the bank at 530 9th St. West Columbia Falls, MT. If you decide you do not want to receive further text messages, just text STOP to Opt Out.

How to Identify Fake Messages

Fake messages from scammers will look very similar to those sent by any financial institution. These messages are designed to scare or confuse you and create a sense of urgency usually the text message will reference high dollar amounts. These scammers want you to believe they are from Freedom Bank and will most likely have researched you beforehand. They may look like:

Free Msg- (Insert financial institution name here) Bank Fraud Alert- Did You Attempt an Instant Payment in the amount of                                                                                                          $5,000.00? REPLY YES or NO or 1 To STOP ALERTS

If you reply ‘NO’ they will send a second message saying you will be contacted shortly.

When the scammer calls, they may:

  • Provide you with your personal information such as addresses, social security number, and last four digits of bank accounts to verify their legitimacy.
  • Request account information.
  • Ask you to change personal information in your online or mobile banking account like phone numbers or email.
  • They will pretend to walk you through ‘reversing’ or ‘canceling’ the transaction by moving money between accounts.

Freedom Banks recommendations for protecting yourself from text scams:

  • Verify the short code that the text message came from. Freedom Bank will only use code 37268. In fact, you can add this to your list of contacts to help you identify valid text messages.
  • Freedom Bank’s messages only come after a questionable transaction has been denied. This alert is sent out after any questionable transaction, including small dollar amounts.
  • A customer service representative will not call you when you reply ‘No”. A fake text message scammer will contact you acting as a customer service representative and will try to talk you through how to ‘reverse’ or ‘cancel’ a transaction. Please be assured if you receive a text message from Freedom Bank, no money has left your account and there is nothing to reverse or cancel.
  • Be wary of any unsolicited contact. If you ever feel unsure or uncomfortable with someone on the phone, hang up and call the bank directly. A scammer will try to convince you not to do this. Remember, if you receive a text message from Freedom Bank, no money has left your account.
  • Do not move funds between accounts in an attempt to prevent fraud, no legitimate financial institution will ever ask you to do this.
  • Don’t trust any customer service representative or anyone who provides you with your personal information to verify their legitimacy.
  • To further control your debit card, download the new FreedomBankMT mobile app. Using this app will also enable you to view real time account balances, deposit checks, transfer money between Freedom Banks accounts and even pay bills. Visit the new-mobile-app page form more information.

Heritage Days 2022

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 17 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.

Freedom Bank is 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:

Wednesday – July 27, 2022

  • 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – 13th Annual Car Show at Marantette Park.

Thursday – July 28, 2022

  • 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 29, 2022

  • 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 30, 2022

  • 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.
  • 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 31, 2022

  • 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 20, 2022 with the Meadow Lake Pro Shop (406)892-2111
  • 9:00 a.m. –  12:00 p.m. Saturday Market Columbia Falls  – in front of City Hall on 6th Street West – Columbia Falls, Mont.                                                          The music will be playing, yummy food, handcrafted vendors, come and enjoy this ‘old timey’ farmers market.

Mobile App Card Control

Card Management Is Included With The Freedom Bank MT Mobile App

The next generation digital solution integrates directly with the FreedomBankMT Mobile application to deliver connected digital-first payment experiences. The additional card management functions create convenience and transparency for every debit card transaction.

These features include but are not limited to:

  • Understand spending clearly with quick, accessible insights.
    • Transactions will be more transparent with clear merchant names, logos, interactive maps to find merchant locations and contact information.
  • Manage your card on the go with advanced control.
    • View Subscriptions, Recurring Payments, and Card-on-file information.
    • Add Travel Plans when you need them, including out-of-country.
    • Engage in real-time notifications with transaction alerts
    • Turn your card off if you misplace it. Please note, if you have lost your card contact Freedom Bank as soon as possible at (406)892-1776.




Get it on Google Play  Download on the App Store

How To Access The Card Features

  • Simply tap the ‘Cards’ icon within the Freedom Bank MT mobile app to register your debit card and see all the new features, enable alerts or manage your existing card controls. Take advantage of the convenient safety controls at your fingertips.

Cybercrime Awareness Session for Small Businesses

Businesses in the Flathead Valley are seeing increasing attempts of bank fraud, phishing attacks, and ransomware. We see it at the bank, and we hear about it from our friends and neighbors. Freedom Bank is hosting a Cybercrime Awareness Session to help small businesses learn the common tactics scammers and hackers are using, as well as actionable advice to protect their business and their bank accounts.

Cybercrime Awareness Session for Small Businesses
Tuesday, July 26th
5:30-7:30 PM
Freedom Bank Community Room

Overview: This session will help small businesses understand the risks in today’s banking environment and assess their business’s exposure to risk due to transaction activity and use of technology. Businesses will get practical advice to make improvements in their protection against cybersecurity risks such as email account takeover and phishing.


  • 5:30-6:00 – Beer/Wine and Appetizers available
  • 6:00-6:15 – Bank Fraud Risks for Small Businesses
  • 6:15-7:00 – Steps to Improve Your Business’s Cybercrime Resilience
  • 7:00-7:30 – Q&A, Discussion



Cosponsored by

Safely Use Mobile Payment Apps

Avoid Sending Money to a Scammer

  • Don’t click on links in an unexpected email, text message, or direct message that asks you to send money. Don’t give any personal or sensitive information like your username, PIN, or password.
  • Confirm that you know the person you’re sending money to.
  • When sending to someone you know, double-check their information before you hit send.

Protect Your Accounts

  • Use multi-factor authentication. This means you need two or more credentials to get into your account: your password plus something else like an authentication code or fingerprint.
  • Never share your credentials, like a verification code you get via text or authentication app.
  • Set up alerts in the payment app to get transaction notifications outside of the app environment, such as via email or text.
  • Regularly check your payment app and bank accounts to make sure no unauthorized payments have been sent from or accepted by your account.

Paid a Scammer Through a Payment App?

  • Report it to the payment app or service and ask to reverse the transfer.
  • Tell your financial institutions.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at

Learn more at

Infographic about How to Safely Use Mobile Payment Apps and Services

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

Snack Drive for Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country

Freedom Bank is collecting donated non-perishable, packaged treats and snacks for the children of Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Glacier Country Logo

Boys & Girls Clubs serve many school aged children in our community. The organizations works with children after school during the school year and all day during the summer. Snacks are a wonderful way to help fuel children so they can continue to learn.

Sizes do not have to be individual small sizes; large or bulk sizes are accepted!

Some ideal items, but not limited to, are:

  • Dry Cereal
  • Cookies
  • Fruit Cups
  • Pudding Cups
  • Jell-O Cups
  • Pretzels
  • Trail Mix
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Crackers
  • Goldfish Crackers

Please drop off donations to Freedom Bank at 530 9th Street West, Columbia Falls, MT 59912. If you have any questions, contact us at 406-892-1776.