Cybercrime Awareness Session for Business Leaders

Invitation-Only Session for Business Leaders
Tuesday, July 19th
5:30-7:30 PM
Freedom Bank Community Room
Overview: This closed-door session will help business leaders understand the risks in today’s banking environment and assess their business’s exposure to risk due to transaction activity and use of technology. We will share what Freedom Bank is doing to protect the integrity of transactions and offer high-level advice for business owners to consider regarding their technology infrastructure.

Businesses that wish to learn practical steps to take to reduce fraud and enhance cyber resilience are encouraged to attend the public Cybercrime Awareness Session for Small Businesses on 7/26.


  • 5:30-6:00 – Beer/Wine and Appetizers available
  • 6:00-6:05 – Introduction
  • 6:05-6:15 – Business Banking Fraud Risks
  • 6:15-6:30 – Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Awareness
  • 6:30-7:00 – Q&A, Discussion
  • 7:00-7:30 – Social

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.

Fight IRS Reporting Mandates

To Freedom Bank Customers and Members of Our Community,

We care about you, your finances, and your privacy, so we want to let you know about a concerning proposal taking shape in Washington. If passed, the proposal would require financial institutions to report the inflows and outflows on personal and business accounts to the IRS.

Specifically, the proposed fiscal 2022 budget would require banks and other financial institutions to report to the IRS on the deposits and withdrawals of all business and personal accounts with a balance of more than $600.

Source: Pages 88-89 of the FY2022 Revenue Proposal:

The proposal would:

  • Constitute a broad, unwarranted infringement on the privacy of all bank customers.
  • Be intrusive and indiscriminate.
  • Undermine the goal of reducing the unbanked.
  • Increase taxpayer complexity and confusion.
  • Overwhelm the IRS with personal financial data and increase risk of data breach.

All Americans have a fundamental right to financial privacy. IRS data collection should be tied directly to tax liability and should be no broader than absolutely necessary. The Administration’s proposal would equate to a fishing expedition unsupported by reasonable suspicion of tax evasion. This proposed new expansive reporting approach to tax collection is unprecedented and warrants serious Congressional scrutiny.

Freedom Bank will not stand for this, but we need your help to ensure policymakers hear us loud and clear. If you want to make your voice heard by policymakers or learn more about this proposal, visit

You can also use the official contact forms to directly email our Members of Congress. Sample text for a message is included in this document:

Please let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to continuing to serve you and our community.

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:

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

Elder Abuse Awareness

Roughly 20 percent of older Americans fall prey to financial exploitation losing on average $120,000, or $3 billion every year, according to a study from the AARP Public Policy Institute (

Be on the Lookout for Elder Financial Abuse Scams

It’s an all too unfortunate reality that older adults are attractive targets for financial exploitation because they tend to possess more wealth than other potential victims. This is wealth that in many instances has been accumulated over their lifetime through hard work and conscientious saving.

The COVID-19 pandemic made the problem even worse with fraudsters coming out of the woodwork. Many of our vulnerable citizens found themselves the victim of scammers pretending to assist with COVID-19 related services and using medical and other ill-gotten personal information to perpetrate fraud and rob them of their life savings.

With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day happening on June 15, we wanted to provide our nation’s seniors and their family members with tips to guard against financial exploitation.

Medicare/Health Insurance Scams

It is difficult to imagine that someone could prey on those in need of medical assistance, but unfortunately, Medicare fraud is all too common. Criminals are posing as Medicare or medical supply representatives to obtain personal information or provide bogus services and using the information to bill Medicare or assume an identity to perpetrate fraud.

Another COVID-19 related scam centers around a FEMA program to assist with funeral expenses. While this is a legitimate program, and you can reach out to FEMA to apply for these benefits, citizens should be mindful that:

  • FEMA will not contact you until you call or apply for assistance.
  • The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this benefit.

As a good rule of thumb never share personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue.

Top Scams Affecting Senior Citizens - Zoom Phishing Emails, Telemarketing Phone Scams, Internet Fraud, Investment Schemes, Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams

Zoom Phishing Emails and Internet Fraud

At the onset of the pandemic con artists registered thousands of fake Zoom-related internet domains to send phony emails, texts or social media messages to trick consumers into clicking on bogus links related to purported “account suspension” or “meeting” notices. Those that took the bait inadvertently downloaded malware (malicious software) on their computer, exposing their personal information to potential use by fraudsters.

Internet scammers are also known for sending fake text messages alleging trouble with an internet account, credit card, bank account or shopping order. Many even contain realistic looking logos to lure you into clicking on a link and divulging personal information.

To limit your exposure, avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails or texts. If you suspect a problem with an account contact the bank or service provider directly.

Telemarketing/Phone Scams

Seniors schooled in etiquette may frown upon “hanging up the phone” or simply saying “no” to unsolicited calls, but it also leaves the door open to criminals posing as company representatives. Three notable examples include:

  1. The pigeon drop where con artists pretend to share found money in exchange for a “good faith” payment drawn from the contacted person’s bank account.
  2. The fake accident ploy where con artists create a false narrative that a loved one has been injured in an accident and needs money for medical expenses.
  3. Charity scams where con artists solicit funds on behalf of a charity for which they are not affiliated with or is not legit.

Remember, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. If you want to give, go directly to the source. And if you are worried about a friend or family member, verify the information with them directly.

Scams are always changing. This year’s pandemic fraud will be replaced by a new and creative scheme next year. The Federal Trade Commission has a “scam alert” page with information about the ever-changing ways that scam artists target consumers, at

And as trusted stewards of our customer’s financial data, feel free to reach out to Freedom Bank at 406-892-1776. Our employees are trained on the latest fraud prevention techniques. They can help you spot potential scams and take appropriate measures to protect your account if you suspect you have been a victim of financial fraud.

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 to learn more.



Don Bennett with Logan and Colleen Bench and the nominator, Megan Luce

We are honored to announce Maverick Bench as our second Hometown Hero. “He brought our community together during his battle of aplastic anemia. He had such a big soul and big heart for those around him. He is the perfect person to be honored as our hometown hero.”  Megan Luce wrote in her early March nomination of Maverick. The astronomical number of votes for Maverick support that statement.

What started as posts on Logan Bench’s personal Facebook page to keep his family informed regarding Maverick’s condition turned into a way to bring the Valley together during a time when everyone was facing a confusing year. “He was a light during COVID and a message to keep fighting,” said Megan. Megan spoke of the togetherness and love that everyone shared supporting Maverick during his fight. “I would read the blogs every morning, share them with my kids and send them to my relatives in Washington, Arkansas, and Louisiana. God has big plans for him.” She expressed the positive influence Maverick has had on her two young children, Devin and Charlie. They still remember where they were standing on the corner of Rose Crossing and LaSalle during the huge parade when they brought Maverick home.

The lasting impression Maverick has had on all of us is a testament of the beauty in the Flathead Valley. It takes just one person to bring out the greater goodness and in Maverick’s case, he truly reached almost everyone in the Valley, and beyond. Maverick’s parents, Logan and Colleen, were very grateful to accept the Hometown Hero Award on Maverick’s behalf, and wanted to thank everyone for their love and support. They especially wanted to recognize Angel Flight West with their free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions, The Jadyn Fred Foundation out of Missoula, and the Doug Betters For The Children Inc.

Logan and Colleen are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy with their other children and keeping busy with wrestling seems to help. If you follow them on Facebook, they have a dedicated a page for Maverick called Maverick’s Army. They are exploring the idea of creating a foundation called Maverick’s Army. But in the meantime, they have purchased a wrestling mat that has been traveling Montana appearing at wrestling tournaments in Maverick’s memory. “We even had a request to bring it to Oklahoma.” Logan mentioned they are looking into a trailer to carry the wrestling mat. “That way if anyone wanted to use it they could just hook up to the trailer.” Logan and Colleen have chosen the Doug Betters For The Children Inc. as the nonprofit to receive the $500 award. You can read more about Maverick and his beautiful family in an upcoming issue of The Daily Interlake.


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 to learn more.

Kelly Hamilton – February 2021 Hometown Hero

The first recipient of the Freedom Bank Hometown Hero Award is Kelly Hamilton.

Freedom Bank President Don Bennett with Kelly Hamilton, the winner of the February 2021 Hometown Hero Award.

Kelly Hamilton works fulltime for Weyerhaeuser and is a ‘twisted tails’ member of the Columbia Falls Lions Club. She graduated from Columbia Falls High School and currently lives in Columbia Falls. Kelly is very active serving the community and Flathead Valley. She is involved in numerous nonprofit programs. Recently she ran the largest Toys for Tots drive this past Christmas. With more kids in need due to COVID, she exceeded the goal for the drive and did it with more volunteers than in the past. “The volunteers came out of the woodwork to help,” she stated. She has been volunteering all of her life and is well known in the Valley for her services over the years. Some of the nonprofit programs she has been involved with are Fire Relief, Gap Fillers, Canyon Kids, the local Food Bank, and the Lions Club. The next time you see her helping our community, tell her thanks for everything she is doing.

Each winner of the Hometown Hero award selects a nonprofit to receive $500 on their behalf. Kelly has selected the Lions Club, specifically their Backpack Program to receive the prize money. If you would like to contribute to the cause, please contact the Lions Club for more information. You can read more about Kelly in the March 10th issue of the Hungry Horse News.

Congratulations Kelly!

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!

Click here to learn more about the Hometown Hero project.