Frequently Asked Questions

  • Beneficial Ownership Rule FAQs
    • Question

      What is the Beneficial Ownership Rule and what additional information is now needed when opening a new business account or loan?

      Answer

      All banks and financial institutions are subject to a new Beneficial Ownership Rule under the Bank Secrecy Act intended to assist the government and law enforcement in the ongoing fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Each time a new business account is opened, you will be required to provide identifying information (name, address, date of birth, social security number) of the “beneficial owners” of the business and certify that the information is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.  The rule defines a beneficial owner as: 

      • Each individual that has 25% or more of the equity interest in the business; and
      • One individual that has the authority to exercise control of the business (such as a CEO, executive officer or treasurer)

      To ensure an efficient account opening experience, we recommend that you obtain the information listed above for each of the identified individuals.  If your business will frequently need to open new accounts or loans with us, please complete this Beneficial Owner and Controlling Person form and keep this information current.
       

      Learn More

  • Business Samsung Pay
    • Question

      If I erase my Samsung Phone, does that cancel my physical cards or can I continue to use them?

      Answer

      Erasing the information on your Samsung will have no effect on your physical cards. You can continue to use your cards as you normally would. Erasing your Samsung Phone will delete the virtual cards from Samsung Pay and they can no longer be used. You can add your credit and debit cards back into Samsung Pay at any time.

    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank protect my virtual cards?

      Answer

      Yes. Just like your physical credit and debit cards, your virtual credit and debit cards are covered by zero liability protection. The zero liability protection** covers fraudulent purchases and payments made by others using your physical or virtual credit and debit cards. If you suspect unauthorized use of your virtual credit or debit card, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

      You should receive access to funds by the next business day in most cases, pending resolution of your claim. Please consult your customer and account agreements for full details.

      ** See www.mastercard.us/zero-liability.html  for details.

    • Question

      Which Sandy Spring Bank debit cards are eligible for Samsung Pay?

      Answer

      Currently, the following cards are eligible:

      Sandy Spring Bank personal and business debit cards (excludes ATM-only cards) including HSA and Flex Xpress debit cards

    • Question

      Will all merchants accept Samsung Pay?

      Answer

      Samsung Pay uses proprietary technology that works with both Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) used to swipe cards and Near Field Communication (NFC) to make contactless mobile payments. MST and NFC enable the Galaxy S6, S6 active, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note 5 to make transactions at most card readers where you can swipe or tap your card, excluding gas station pumps.

      Please continue to carry your physical cards to use where Samsung Pay is not accepted. Most merchants will display the contactless payment symbol to let you know they accept contactless payments. You can visit this website to determine terminals that accept Samsung Pay http://www.samsung.com/us/samsung-pay/

    • Question

      Does Samsung Pay show my Sandy Spring Bank debit card transactions?

      Answer

      Wallet displays the time or date of the last Sandy Spring Bank debit card purchase you made with Samsung Pay, but it won’t display all your purchase details. For a complete view of all your Sandy Spring Bank debit transactions, sign in to Online Banking or use our Mobile Banking App and select the appropriate account.

    • Question

      How do I add my physical debit or credit card to the Samsung Pay App?

      Answer

      From the home screen, touch apps, touch Samsung Pay, touch install. Cards can be easily added to the Samsung Pay app by using your device’s camera to scan in your card’s information, or by manually inputting the card information yourself.

    • Question

      What if my Samsung Phone is lost or stolen?

      Answer

      Samsung Payments can’t be made from your phone without being authorized via fingerprint or the PIN chosen during the setup process. If you register with Samsung’s Find My Mobile service, you can remotely erase information on the phone, including any cards stored in Samsung Pay. The URL is http://www.samsung.com/us/support/answer/ANS00048501/

      You should also review your Online & Mobile Banking transactions. If you notice any suspicious activity, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

    • Question

      What is a virtual card?

      Answer

      Virtual cards are the digital form of your eligible physical credit and debit cards. When you add your physical card to Samsung Pay, it is stored as a virtual card. It will have a unique virtual card number that is only associated with Samsung Pay.

    • Question

      Why am I being asked to call Sandy Spring Bank to verify my card?

      Answer

      This is just an extra security step from Android Pay. Simply call the number provided so we can verify your card. Then look for a wallet message letting you know that Android Pay has been activated.

    • Question

      What type of device do I need to use Samsung Pay?

      Answer

      You can use Samsung Pay with the Galaxy S6, S6 active, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note 5 and newer devices that are compatible with Samsung Pay. Please visit http://www.samsung.com/pay for a full list of compatible devices.

    • Question

      Will merchants receive my physical card number?

      Answer

      Most merchants won’t have access to your physical card number; they’ll receive the unique virtual card number associated with your credit or debit card.

      Please note: MasterCard must provide your physical card number to certain transit merchants (e.g., subway systems) in order to process real-time decisions about whether or not to approve your purchase.

    • Question

      Will the card image in Samsung Pay match my physical card?

      Answer

      No. The card image won’t be an exact match. Keep in mind this doesn’t affect how your cards work with Samsung Pay.

  • Business SecurLOCK FAQs
  • Businesss Debit Card Alerts FAQs
  • Debit Card Alerts FAQs
  • First National Bank of Omaha (FBNO) Business Credit Card FAQs
  • First National Bank of Omaha (FBNO) Credit Card FAQs
  • Pay Someone P2P FAQs
  • Sandy Spring Bank New Website FAQs
  • Business Android Pay
    • Question

      Which Sandy Spring Bank debit cards are eligible for Android Pay?

      Answer

      Currently, the following cards are eligible:

      Sandy Spring Bank personal and business debit cards (excludes ATM-only cards) including HSA and Flex Xpress debit cards.

    • Question

      Will all merchants accept Android Pay?

      Answer

      No. You can look for these symbols. Not all merchants have adopted this technology. Please continue to carry your physical cards to use where Android Pay is not accepted. Most merchants will display the contactless payment symbol to let you know they accept contactless payments. You can visit this website to determine stores that accept Android Pay http://www.amongtech.com/which-stores-accept-android-pay/

    • Question

      How do I add my physical debit or credit card to the Android Pay App?

      Answer

      From the home screen, touch apps, touch Android Pay, touch install. Cards can be easily added to the Android Pay app by using your device’s camera to scan in your card’s information, or by manually entering the card information yourself. If requested, follow any additional steps to verify your card.

    • Question

      What is a virtual card?

      Answer

      Virtual cards are the digital form of your eligible physical credit and debit cards. When you add your physical card to Android Pay, it is stored as a virtual card. It will have a unique virtual card number that is only associated with Android Pay.

    • Question

      Will merchants receive my physical card number?

      Answer

      Most merchants won’t have access to your physical card number; they’ll receive the unique virtual card number associated with your credit or debit card. Please note: MasterCard must provide your physical card number to certain transit merchants (e.g., subway systems) in order to process real-time decisions about whether or not to approve your purchase.

    • Question

      What type of device do I need to use Android Pay?

      Answer

      To use Android Pay, you need a smartphone or tablet running Android 4.4 or above. This requirement is met by the majority of Android devices in existence, and if yours has been purchased within the past couple of years, the software should be compatible with Google’s payments platform. You may check the version of Android installed on your device by going to Settings > About Device. It does not matter which wireless carrier’s services you’re using.

    • Question

      Will the card image in Android Pay match my physical card?

      Answer

      No. The card image won’t be an exact match. Keep in mind this doesn’t affect how your cards work with Android Pay.

    • Question

      Why am I being asked to call Sandy Spring Bank to verify my card?

      Answer

      This is just an extra security step from Android Pay. Simply call the number provided so we can verify your card. Then look for a wallet message letting you know that Android Pay has been activated.

    • Question

      Does Android Pay show my Sandy Spring Bank debit card transactions?

      Answer

      Android Pay displays the time or date of the last Sandy Spring Bank debit card purchase you made with Android Pay, but it won’t display all your purchase details. For a complete view of all your Sandy Spring Bank debit transactions, sign in to Online Banking or use our Mobile Banking App and select the appropriate account.

    • Question

      What if my Android Phone is lost or stolen?

      Answer

      While we hope your phone is never lost or stolen, it’s a good idea to enable your Android Device Manager. On your Android device, go to the Google Settings app, and then tap on Android Device Manager. The locator feature is enabled by default, but to enable remote data wipe, tap on the box next to “Allow remote factory reset,” then tap “Activate.”

      If your Android Device is ever lost or stolen you can use Android Device Administrator to lock it remotely, create a new password, and wipe your personal information from it.

      We also recommend that you notify their mobile carrier and promptly call the Sandy Spring Bank customer service number on the back of your card. You should mention you added your card to Android Pay, so the Sandy Spring Bank can disable the card for use with Android Pay. If you locate the device, you will need to add their card back to Android Pay before making any purchases.

      You should also review your Online & Mobile Banking transactions. If you notice any suspicious activity, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank protect my virtual cards?

      Answer

      Yes. Just like your physical credit and debit cards, your virtual credit and debit cards are covered by zero liability protection. The zero liability protection** covers fraudulent purchases and payments made by others using your physical or virtual credit and debit cards. If you suspect unauthorized use of your virtual credit or debit card, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

      You should receive access to funds by the next business day in most cases, pending resolution of your claim. Please consult your customer and account agreements for full details.

      ** See www.mastercard.us/zero-liability.html for details.

    • Question

      If I erase my Android Phone, does that cancel my physical cards or can I continue to use them?

      Answer

      Erasing the information on your Android will have no effect on your physical cards. You can continue to use your cards as you normally would. Erasing your Android Phone will delete the virtual cards from Android Pay and they can no longer be used. You can add your credit and debit cards back into Android Pay at any time.

  • ebiz eStatement FAQs
  • Business SecurLOCK
  • Insurance Claims
    • Question

      What should I do in the event of a homeowners or commercial property loss?

      Answer

      As soon as possible, contact the company carrying your insurance to report the loss. Keep a record of repair costs and retain receipts for any expenditures. If the loss involves theft or vandalism, notify the police immediately.

    • Question

      If trees on my property are blown down am I covered?

      Answer

      Many homeowners' policies don’t provide coverage for damage to trees caused by wind. But if a tree falls and damages insured property such as a house or a fence, the damage is almost always covered.

    • Question

      Is there anything I can do to help speed up the claims process?

      Answer

      An adjuster will contact you as soon as possible, but priority will be given to the most severe losses. Larger claims may be settled in stages, not all at once. While you wait for the adjuster to contact you, gather the following:

      • Estimates. Get at least two, preferably three repair estimates for the adjuster to review.
      • Photos. Take photos of the damaged property and gather any pictures showing the property before the loss.
      • Replacement Costs. List all damaged property, including each item’s description, age, original cost, place of purchase, and estimated replacement cost. Include any receipts or canceled checks for these items.
    • Question

      What if a storm has damaged my home so severely that I can’t stay in it?

      Answer

      Most homeowners' policies provide coverage for living expenses if you can’t stay in your home. Most policies will reimburse you for “reasonable expenses” over and above your normal living costs (such as lodging, for example, since it’s over and above your mortgage or rent payment) if your home is uninhabitable as a result of a covered peril and you must temporarily relocate. But most policies will reimburse you only for those food expenses over and above what you would normally pay for food.

      You must keep all receipts in order for the expenses to be considered part of the loss. The expenses must be in line with normal living costs and must be a necessary and direct result of the loss. Policies typically limit recovery under “additional living expenses” to a percentage of the amount of coverage on the home itself.

    • Question

      Power was out for a few days and the food in my refrigerator and freezer was spoiled. Is the replacement cost covered?

      Answer

      Most residential policies have a “power failure” exclusion and don’t cover food spoilage that results from power outages.

    • Question

      My stereo and computer equipment were damaged by a power surge. Is that covered?

      Answer

      Probably not. Most homeowners policies provide coverage under “sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current.” But coverage doesn’t apply to loss of transistors, computer chips, and similar items. So, damage from a power surge wouldn’t be covered for your computer, TV or stereo.

    • Question

      How long after an adjuster reviews my claim should I have to wait to receive a check?

      Answer

      It depends on the cause of the claim. If your claim is an isolated incident, you’re more likely to get a resolution quickly. If your claim is one of many, the claim process is likely to take far longer. You should call back a few days after your interview with the adjuster, to see when they submitted the paperwork to your insurance company. You may also want to contact the insurance company after the adjuster has forwarded them their report.

    • Question

      I’ve just received my claim check and it’s not nearly what I expected. What recourse do I have?

      Answer

      If the check is for an amount that’s lower than you expected, it’s usually because of policy terms that require settlement on an actual cash basis, to be followed by a separate payment for replacement costs when repairs or replacement are completed. Check with Sandy Spring Insurance or with your insurance company.

    • Question

      What’s the difference between actual cash value and replacement-cost coverage?

      Answer

      If the policy indicates that settlement will be on a replacement-cost basis, then payment will be made for the actual cost, at today’s prices, to repair or replace, limited only by the total amount of coverage that was purchased. If the adjustment basis is actual cash value, settlement will be made by determining the replacement cost at today’s prices, less a reasonable amount for depreciation, age, or obsolescence. Some policies provide coverage for the home on a “guaranteed replacement cost” basis, in which case the carrier pays whatever it costs to repair or rebuild the home, regardless of policy limits.

  • Business Apple Pay
    • Question

      What type of device do I need to use Apple Pay?

      Answer

      At this time, Apple Pay works on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the iPad Air 2. It also works with the new iPad mini 3 but for in-app purchases only. An in-app purchase is when you buy content, services or items online.

      Once it’s released, the Apple Watch will work with an iPhone 5 or later. Please visit Apple for a current list of supported devices.

    • Question

      Will all merchants accept Apple Pay?

      Answer

      No. Not all merchants have adopted this technology. Please continue to carry your physical cards to use where Apple Pay is not accepted. Most merchants will display the contactless payment symbol to let you know they accept contactless payments.

    • Question

      How do I add my physical credit or debit card to Apple Pay?

      Answer

      To add a card on iPhone® 6, iPad® Air 2 or iPad mini 3, go into Settings, open Wallet® & Apple Pay, and select “Add Credit or Debit Card.” On iPhone, you can open Wallet, then swipe down and tap the plus sign. From there, use your iPhone’s camera to enter the card information or type it in manually. If you already have credit and debit cards in your iTunes account, you can add those to Wallet by simply entering the card security code. The card security code is a 3- or 4-digit code on your card. Keep in mind the first card you store in Wallet is your default payment card, but you can always change that in Settings. Consider making your Sandy Spring Bank Debit MasterCard® your default card. For more information on adding your credit or debit cards, please visit the Apple Pay page.

    • Question

      Will the card image in Apple Pay match my physical card?

      Answer

      No. The card image won’t be an exact match. Keep in mind this doesn’t affect how your cards work with Apple Pay.

    • Question

      Why am I being asked to call Sandy Spring Bank to verify my card?

      Answer

      This is just an extra security step from Apple. Simply call the number provided so we can verify your card. Then look for a Wallet message letting you know your card is ready for Apple Pay.

    • Question

      Does Wallet show my Sandy Spring Bank debit card transactions?

      Answer

      Wallet displays the time or date of the last Sandy Spring Bank debit card purchase you made with Apple Pay, but it won’t display all your purchase details. For a complete view of all your Sandy Spring Bank debit transactions, sign in to Online Banking or use our Mobile Banking App and select the appropriate account.

    • Question

      What is a Device Account Number?

      Answer

      Apple refers to the digital form of credit and debit cards as the Device Account Number.

    • Question

      Which Sandy Spring Bank credit* and debit cards are eligible for Apple Pay?

      Answer

      Currently, the following cards are eligible:

      • Sandy Spring Bank personal and business debit cards (excludes ATM-only cards) including HSA and Flex Xpress debit cards
      • Sandy Spring Bank personal Visa® credit cards (Sandy Spring Bank business Visa credit cards and all MasterCard credit cards will be eligible in the near future)

       

      * First Bankcard a division of First National Bank of Omaha NE is the issuer of the Sandy Spring Bank credit card accounts. Sandy Spring Bank is not responsible or liable for the account.

    • Question

      What if my iPhone is lost or stolen? 

      Answer

      While we hope your phone is never lost or stolen, it’s a good idea to download Apple’s Find My iPhone app before that happens. You can use the app to quickly place your device in Lost Mode so your information is not accessible, or you can remotely erase your iPhone. Please note: Find My iPhone must be enabled in iCloud settings on your device before you can locate it with this app.

      If you can’t download the Find my iPhone app or can’t disable Apple Pay using your iCloud account from another device, you should cancel your physical debit or credit cards which will delete your virtual cards from Apple Pay. You should also review your Online & Mobile Banking transactions. If you notice any suspicious activity, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank protect my virtual cards?

      Answer

      Yes. Just like your physical credit and debit cards, your virtual credit and debit cards are covered by zero liability protection. The zero liability protection** covers fraudulent purchases and payments made by others using your physical or virtual credit and debit cards. If you suspect unauthorized use of your virtual credit or debit card, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

      You should receive access to funds by the next business day in most cases, pending resolution of your claim. Please consult your customer and account agreements for full details.

      ** See www.mastercard.us/zero-liability.html for details.

    • Question

      If I erase my iPhone, does that cancel my physical cards or can I continue to use them? 

      Answer

      Erasing the information on your iPhone will have no effect on your physical cards. You can continue to use your cards as you normally would. Erasing your iPhone will delete the virtual cards from Apple Pay and they can no longer be used. You can add your credit and debit cards back into Apple Pay at any time.

    • Question

      Will merchants receive my physical card number?

      Answer

      Most merchants won’t have access to your physical card number; they’ll receive the unique virtual card number associated with your credit or debit card.

      Please note: MasterCard must provide your physical card number to certain transit merchants (e.g., subway systems) in order to process real-time decisions about whether or not to approve your purchase.

  • Borrowing
  • Debit and Credit
    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank protect my virtual cards?

      Answer

      Yes. Just like your physical credit and debit cards, your virtual credit and debit cards are covered by zero liability protection. The zero liability protection** covers fraudulent purchases and payments made by others using your physical or virtual credit and debit cards. If you suspect unauthorized use of your virtual credit or debit card, please contact us immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.

      You should receive access to funds by the next business day in most cases, pending resolution of your claim. Please consult your customer and account agreements for full details.

      ** See www.mastercard.us/zero-liability.html  for details.

  • Ebiz
  • External Transfers
    • Question

      What types of accounts can I setup for External Transfers?

      Answer

      You can setup checking and savings accounts for External Transfers. External Transfers are available to consumer accounts only.

    • Question

      What are the ownership requirements for External Transfers?

      Answer

      You must be an owner on the accounts at both Sandy Spring Bank and the other institution. The exception is if you are requesting an account for outbound transfer only. External Transfers are available to consumer accounts only. Sole proprietors and business accounts are not eligible for the External Transfer service. ebiz, our online banking system for business accounts has an External Transfer feature available

    • Question

      What is the fee for External Transfers?

      Answer

      There is no fee for External Transfers.

    • Question

      What is the dollar limit?

      Answer

      You may transfer a total of $5,000 per transfer cycle. A cycle lasts from the time the transfer begins processing until it is completed (usually the settlement date displayed in BankXpress).

    • Question

      How many accounts can I setup?

      Answer

      You may setup three accounts to perform both inbound and outbound transfers using your Sandy Spring accounts. You may setup one account for the purpose of sending outbound transfers only.

    • Question

      Why would I want to setup an account for outbound transfers only?

      Answer

      In the event you have a child away at college and you would like to send money to them electronically, outbound transfers would be a good option. It still requires that you include a voided check for checking accounts and a copy of a recent statement for savings accounts.

    • Question

      How do I setup accounts for External Transfers?

      Answer

      Once you login click on the Transfer tab. Then click on the ‘Add External Transfer Account.’ Read and click to accept the terms of the agreement, then complete the online form. You will need to print off the form, sign it, and submit it to our Client Service Center along with a voided check for checking accounts, and a copy of your most recent statement for savings accounts.

    • Question

      How long does it take to get setup?

      Answer

      After we receive your signed authorization form plus proof of ownership of the external account, we will send a prenote to your other account. The prenote allows us to electronically verify the information you input when setting up the external account, and generally takes six business days. Unless your other bank sends us any correcting information, your account will be ready to use.

    • Question

      What happens if one of my accounts doesn’t have sufficient funds for the transfer?

      Answer

      If a debit is returned for insufficient funds we may cancel your External Transfer service.

    • Question

      What if I have more questions?

      Answer

      Please send us a secure message when you are logged into BankXpress Online Banking. You may also call us during business hours at 800.399.5919 and press 2 for our Client Service Center.

    • Question

      How do External Transfers work?

      Answer

      Transfers are made through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network. Once you make your transfer request the funds are credited on the effective date. Transfers take three business days, not including the day you request the transfer. External Transfers are available to consumer accounts only.

    • Question

      How long does an External Transfer take?

      Answer

      Transfers begin their processing the next business day after your request, provided they are made prior to the cutoff time. External Transfer requests made after the 3:00 p.m daily cutoff time do not begin processing until the following business day. The transfer is complete as of the effective date, specified when you request the transfer.

    • Question

      What do I do if I want to cancel an External Transfer?

      Answer

      You cannot cancel a transfer if it has already begun processing. If it is still pending and has not begun processing you may cancel the transfer by clicking ‘delete’ on the transfer from the Pending Transfers page.

  • General
    • Question

      What are the community office hours?

      Answer

      Please click here for our hours.

    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank have notary service available? When and where?

      Answer

      Notary service is usually available during lobby hours in our community offices. We recommend that you call ahead to verify that there is a notary available. Certain fees may apply. Please refer to our Personal Deposit Account and Electronic Banking Agreement  and Personal Fee Schedule for more information.

    • Question

      How can I change the address on my accounts?

      Answer

      You can change your address by contacting our Client Service Center or visiting any community office to complete a Change of Address form. You can also send us a secure email through BankXpress online banking or a letter that includes your account number(s) and signature to: Sandy Spring Bank (SSB), Client Service Center, 17801 Georgia Avenue, Olney, MD 20832.

    • Question

      Why can’t I log onto BankXpress or ebiz online banking?

      Answer

      Please contact us at 800.399.5919 and press 2 for our Client Service Center. Let us know what error information you received when attempting to log on and we will assist you in logging on successfully. We are available Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    • Question

      What is the bank routing number?

      Answer

      ABA/Routing number: 055001096

    • Question

      What are your consumer loan rates?

      Answer

      Click here for our current consumer loan rates.

    • Question

      How can I order personal and/or business checks or deposit slips?

      Answer

      Personal Check Orders  Business Check Orders

      or by contacting our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and pressing 2. You may also visit any of our community offices during lobby hours.

    • Question

      How can I change the PIN to my Debit Card?

      Answer

      You can change your PIN at any of our community office ATMs. Press “More Selections” and “PIN Change”. If you have forgotten your PIN, you can request a PIN reminder by contacting our Client Service Center at 1.800.399.5919 and pressing 2.

    • Question

      How can I place a stop payment?

      Answer

      You can stop payment of a check through BankXpress online banking, ebiz online banking, or by contacting our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and pressing 2. You may also stop by any of our community offices. Certain fees may apply. Please refer to our Personal Deposit Account and Electronic Banking Agreement for more information.

    • Question

      Can I have more than one Debit Card for my personal and/or business checking account?

      Answer

      It is our practice to issue one Debit Card per person for personal clients and one per authorized signer for each business entity. If you have special circumstances, please contact our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2.

    • Question

      How do I stop an auto-debit from my account?

      Answer

      If another financial institution or company, such as an insurance company or health club, is debiting your account, you will need to contact them directly to cancel the auto-debit.

      If Sandy Spring Bank is debiting your account for payment on a SSB loan or service, please mail a letter instructing us to cancel the auto-debit to: Sandy Spring Bank, 17801 Georgia Ave, Olney MD 20832, or visit one of our community offices.

    • Question

      Why can’t I access all of my accounts using my Debit Card?

      Answer

      There is one primary checking account and one primary savings account on the Debit Card. When making MasterCard purchases only the primary checking account will be used. You may add additional accounts to your Debit Card by calling the Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2, or visiting any of our community offices. These secondary accounts are only accessible through Sandy Spring Bank ATMs.

    • Question

      How do I send a wire transfer?

      Answer

      Requests for an outgoing wire transfer must be originated in person at one of our community offices during lobby hours. You will need to contact the receiving company/organization to obtain their wiring instructions. There are fees to send wires both domestically and internationally. For complete details, please contact our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2.

    • Question

      My Debit Card is about to expire; when will I receive a replacement?

      Answer

      A replacement card should arrive on or about the first of the month the card is supposed to expire. i.e. If your card expires 11/14, then you should receive your replacement around the first week of November. If you haven’t received your replacement card by the 15th of the month your card will expire, please contact the Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2.

    • Question

      What information do I need for an incoming wire transfer?

      Answer

      You will need to provide your Sandy Spring Bank account number to the company who will be wiring the funds to you. Remember: your account is the ten-digit number located at the bottom of your check following the ABA/Routing number.

      Certain fees may apply. For more information, please contact our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2.

    • Question

      How do I dispute a transaction made with my Debit Card?

      Answer

      Please contact our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 and press 2, to report unauthorized transactions on your check card.

    • Question

      How do I change my name on my accounts?

      Answer

      To change your name on an existing account, you will need to complete a new signature card and provide verification of the legal change of name, which includes an updated social security card. You can do this by contacting our Client Service Center or visiting one of our community offices during lobby hours.

    • Question

      What should I do if my Debit Card is lost or stolen?

      Answer

      Please call 301.774.6400 or 800.399.5919 and press 2 for our Client Service Center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. One of our representatives will block your old card and order you a new one.

      After hours, or on non-business days, please call 800.236.2442 to have your card blocked. On the next business day, please call our Client Service Center to order a replacement. You may also request your replacement card using our secure message feature through BankXpress online banking.

    • Question

      What does “electronified” check mean?

      Answer

      An electronified check means that the information from the paper check has been submitted to us electronically. The merchant or other financial institution guarantees that this is a true representation of the paper check and that they are submitting the electronic request in place of the paper check. They further guarantee that the paper check will not be submitted for payment. With an electronified check, Sandy Spring Bank does not receive the paper check; therefore, we cannot return it in your statement.

    • Question

      What should I do if my Sandy Spring credit card is lost or stolen?

      Answer

      For information on how to report a lost or stolen Sandy Spring Bank credit card, please Click here

    • Question

      Do you offer Certificates of Deposit?

    • Question

      Where are Sandy Spring Community Offices located?

      Answer

      Please click here for our locations.

    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank offer certified checks?

      Answer

      We provide Cashier’s Checks, which are guaranteed funds, for Sandy Spring Bank clients. Certain fees may apply. Please refer to our Personal Deposit Account and Electronic Banking Agreement  and Personal Fee Schedule for more information.

    • Question

      If I am not a Sandy Spring Bank client, can I cash a check payable to me?

      Answer

      Yes, if the check is drawn on Sandy Spring Bank, you may present it for payment at any of our community offices. There must be sufficient, available funds in the account on which the check is drawn and you must provide a valid form of identification at the time of the transaction.

    • Question

      How are withdrawals posted to my account?

      Answer

      The bank posts all deposits and credits to a client’s account prior to posting any debits and withdrawals.

      All debit/withdrawal transactions will be placed into groups which will determine the priority of when that transaction will post to an account.  Within each group, transactions will be posted in date and time order (when available), check serial number order (lowest check number to highest check number) or low to high dollar amount order if neither date/time or check serial number is available.

      The chart below that outlines the new posting priority groups and the posting method of each transaction within a priority group.

      Group Type Transaction Posting Method
      1 Credit All deposits, credits, refunds, transfer credits and advances Low to High Dollar Amount Order
      2 Debit Outgoing wire transfers, cashed checks, in-person withdrawals, ATM withdrawals, transfer debits, deposit return items, SSB automatic loan payment, debit advices, and previously incurred service charges/fees (i.e. overdraft fees from previous day) Date/Time Order
      3 Debit Non-returnable electronic items (i.e. debit card Point of Sale and signature transactions) Date/Time Order
      4 Debit ACH Withdrawals Date/Time Order
      5 Debit Checks (in-clearing, electronified, bill payments issued in check form) Serial Number Order
      6 Debit Monthly and Maintenance Service Charges Low to High Dollar Amount Order
    • Question

      Does Sandy Spring Bank offer Cashier’s Checks? If so, how do I get one?

      Answer

      Yes, we do offer Cashier’s Checks. You can request one at any of our community offices. Certain fees may apply. Please refer to our Personal Deposit Account and Electronic Banking Agreement  and Personal Fee Schedule for more information.

    • Question

      Can I cash checks in the drive-thru if I am not a Sandy Spring Bank client?

      Answer

      Yes, with a valid form of identification.

    • Question

      According to my receipt I had money in my account when I made my ATM withdrawal; why was I charged an overdraft fee for it?

      Answer

      The balance on your receipt reflected the available funds in your account at the time the transaction occurred. When your other outstanding withdrawals for that day were posted to your account that evening, you did not have sufficient funds in your account to cover all your withdrawals. All debit/withdrawal transactions will be placed into groups which will determine the priority of when that transaction will post to an account. Within each group, transactions will be posted in date and time order (when available), check serial number order (lowest check number to highest check number) or low to high dollar amount order if neither date/time or check serial number is available.

    • Question

      What can I do to avoid overdraft fees?

      Answer

      You can avoid overdraft fees by keeping sufficient funds in your account to cover any withdrawals you make. Recording electronic transactions in your register right away helps to keep your records as current as possible. Online banking and telephone banking are also available to monitor your account activity as frequently as you desire at no charge. When you receive your monthly statement, balance your account to make sure you recorded everything. As an added precaution, we do offer overdraft protection options if you would like to apply.

    • Question

      What is the safe deposit box availability?

      Answer

      Safe deposit box availability varies by community offices. It is best to check with the most convenient community office to determine if the box size you would like is available.

    • Question

      When will the funds be available when I deposit a non-cash deposit?

      Answer

      In most cases, our policy is to make funds available to you on the first business day after the day we receive your deposit. For determining the availability of your deposit, every day is a business day, except Saturday, Sunday, and federal holidays. If you make a deposit before 3:00 p.m. (Maryland Offices) or 4:00 p.m. (Virginia Offices) on a business day that we are open, we will consider that day to be the day of your deposit.

      There are a few instances where we do not make all of the funds you deposited available to you on the first business day after the day of your deposit. Depending on the type and amount of the check that you deposit, funds may not be available until the fifth business day after the day of your deposit. However, the first $200 of the deposit will be available to you on the first business day after the day of your deposit. We will notify you if we are not going to make all funds available to you on the first business day after the day of your deposit. For more information please refer to the Funds Availability Disclosure in our Personal Deposit Account and Electronic Banking Agreement.

    • Question

      What are your mortgage rates?

      Answer

      Since mortgage rates can change several times a day, we recommend that you speak directly to our mortgage department at 800.869.8523 for the most up-to-date mortgage rates.

    • Question

      Why is my available balance more or less than my current balance?

      Answer

      The available balance for your account may differ from the current balance because of pending transactions that have been presented against the account, but have not yet been processed. Once processed, the transactions are reflected in the current balance and show in the account history.

      The available balance also includes credit available if you have a line of credit linked to your checking account.

    • Question

      How can a third party receive a payoff quote for my loan?

      Answer

      A third party can request a written payoff quote by faxing that request to 703-319-9518. The request must include the client’s written authorization. Requests received prior to 3:00 p.m. will be faxed to the requestor’s fax number the next business day.

    • Question

      Where is the account number located on my checks?

      Answer

      For personal accounts, the account number is the 10-digit number immediately, following the routing number at the bottom of your check. Our bank routing number, 055001096, is listed first followed by your 10-digit checking account number.

    • Question

      What are your deposit rates?

      Answer

      Click here for our current deposit rates.

  • Mobile Banking
    • Question

      Which wireless carriers are supported?

      Answer

      We support all the popular US wireless phone carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. If your carrier is not listed when you enroll, select ‘Other’ and try the Mobile Web op­tion, or check back later, as new carriers will be added over time.

    • Question

      Do I need a text message or data plan?

      Answer

      Yes, a text messaging and/or data plan is recommended, as data usage can become expen­sive without them. Please check with your wireless carrier for more information.

    • Question

      What is Activation?

      Answer

      Activation is a one-time process that helps ensure your security. After you enroll a phone, you will receive an activation code which will be required to begin using Mobile Banking on your device. Your activation code is good for 24 hours. If you are unable to activate your phone during that time, just return to the management page on your computer and follow the prompts to request a new activation code. We recommend you print your activation code and instructions for easy reference during installation.

    • Question

      With three options to choose from, how do I know what’s right for me?

      Answer

      With three great mobile options, it’s up to you to decide which combination of our new Mobile Banking solutions are the best fit for you.

      Sandy Spring Bank Mobile Banking App:
      We recommend that you download our iPhone or Android App to easily view your information on your mobile phone.  Make a deposit by simply taking a picture of the front and back of a check and electronically sending it to us for collection. Mobile Deposit is safe, secure, and free.

      Text Banking: Get started
      For quick balance updates, we recommend that you enroll in Text Banking.  Text a command to us anytime at 96865, and we’ll reply with your requested information in seconds.

      Mobile Browser BankingGet started
      If you don’t use an iPhone or Android, we offer a Mobile Browser option to support your banking needs. Visit sandyspringbank.com on your phone’s browser, and sign on with your Sandy Spring Bank Online Banking username and password.

    • Question

      What is Sandy Spring Bank Text Banking?

      Answer

      Sandy Spring Bank Text Banking gives you access to your accounts via text messages on your phone. It’s a fast, easy way to look up account balances or recent account history by sending a text command to a shortcode.

    • Question

      What is the Sandy Spring Bank shortcode?

      Answer

      The Sandy Spring Bank shortcode will be provided to you once you enroll in Text Banking. For ease of use, we recommend that you add this number to your phone’s address book or contacts and name it something that you will easily recognize, such as Sandy Spring Bank Text Banking.

    • Question

      Can I use both Text Banking and Mobile Banking on my phone?

      Answer

      Yes, you can use both options from the same phone. To do so you will need to activate each op­tion on your phone prior to use. We recommend that you activate both Text Banking and Mobile Banking when you enroll, even if you aren’t sure that you will want to use both. By activating both at the time of your enrollment, you will eliminate the need to make changes later.

    • Question

      Is Text Banking supported on my phone?

      Answer

      Sandy Spring Bank Text Banking will work on any text message capable phone from one of our supported carriers.

    • Question

      Will I receive unsolicited text messages?

      Answer

      No. You will only receive messages when you specifically request them with one of the Text Banking commands.

    • Question

      How much does this service cost?

      Answer

      Mobile Banking is a free service offered to our Online Banking customers. However, there may be charges associated with text messaging and data usage on your phone. Check with your wireless phone carrier for applicable fees.

    • Question

      I’m not enrolled for Online Banking. Can I still use this?

      Answer

      You must first enable your bank account(s) for Online Banking before using Sandy Spring Bank Mobile Banking.

    • Question

      How do I sign up for Mobile Banking?

      Answer

      Log in to Online Banking from your computer. Go to User Services and choose the Mobile Management option from the Manage Account box. Enroll your mobile phone and follow the activation instructions.

    • Question

      Is it secure?

      Answer

      Yes, our Mobile Banking service utilizes best practices from online banking, such as HTTPS, 128-bit SSL encryption, PIN or password access, and application timeout when your phone is not in use. Only the phones that you personally enroll in the service can ac­cess your accounts, and account data is never stored on your phone. In the event your phone is lost or stolen, the service can be immediately disabled by either going to sandyspringbank.com or calling our Online Banking support line at 800.399.5919.

  • Mortgage
    • Question

      What is PMI? Can I get rid of the PMI on my loan?

      Answer

      PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance is normally required when you buy a house with less than 20% down. Mortgage insurance is a type of guarantee that helps protect lenders against the costs of foreclosure. This insurance protection is provided by private mortgage-insurance companies. It enables lenders to accept lower down payments than they would normally accept. In effect, mortgage insurance provides what the equity of a higher down payment would provide to cover a lender’s losses in the unfortunate event of foreclosure. Therefore, without mortgage insurance, you might not be able to buy a home without a 20% down payment.

      The cost of PMI increases as your down payment decreases. Example: The cost of PMI on a 10% down payment is less than the cost of PMI on a 5% down payment. Your PMI premium is normally added to your monthly mortgage payment.

      The decision on when to cancel the private insurance coverage does not depend solely on the degree of your equity in the home. The final say on terminating a private mortgage-insurance policy is reserved jointly for the lender and any investor who may have purchased an interest in the mortgage. However, in most cases, the lender will allow cancellation of mortgage insurance when the loan is paid down to 80% of the original property value. Some lenders may require that you pay PMI for one or two years before you may apply to remove it.

      To cancel the PMI on your loan, contact your lender. In most cases, an appraisal will be required to determine the value of your property. You will probably also be required to pay for the cost of this appraisal. Another way of cancelling the PMI on your loan is to refinance and to get a new loan without PMI.

    • Question

      Should I Refinance?

      Answer

      The most common reason for refinancing is to save money. Saving money through refinancing can be achieved in two ways:

      1. By obtaining a lower interest rate that causes one’s monthly mortgage payment to be reduced.
      2. By reducing the term of the loan, thus saving money over the life of the loan. For example, refinancing from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan might result in higher monthly payments, but the total of the payments made during the life of the loan can be reduced significantly.

      People also refinance to convert their adjustable loan to a fixed loan. The main reason behind this type of refinance is to obtain the stability and the security of a fixed loan. Fixed loans are very popular when interest rates are low, whereas adjustable loans tend to be more popular when rates are higher. When rates are low, homeowners refinance to lock in low rates. When rates are high, homeowners prefer adjustable loans to obtain lower payments.

      A third reason why homeowners refinance is to consolidate debts and replace high-interest loans with a low-rate mortgage. The loans being consolidated may include second mortgages, credit lines, student loans, credit cards, etc. In many cases, debt consolidation results in tax savings, since consumer loans are not tax deductible, while a mortgage loan may be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor regarding tax deductibility.

      The answer to the question “Should I refinance?” is a complex one, since every situation is different and no two homeowners are in the exact same situation. Even the conventional wisdom of refinancing only when you can save 2% on your mortgage is not really true. If you are refinancing to save money on your monthly payments, the following calculation is more appropriate than the rule of 2%:

      1. Calculate the total cost of the refinance–example: $2,000
      2. Calculate the monthly savings–example: $100/month
      3. Divide the result in 1 by the result in 2–in this case 2000/100 = 20 months. This shows the break-even time. If you plan to live in the house for longer than this period of time, it makes sense to refinance.

      Sometimes, you do not have a choice–you are forced to refinance. This happens when you have a loan with a balloon provision, but no conversion option. In this case it is best to refinance a few months before the balloon comes due.

      Whatever you choose to do, consulting with a seasoned mortgage professional can often save you time and money. Make a few phone calls, check out a few web sites, crunch on a few calculators and spend some time to understand the options available to you.

    • Question

      Should I pay points? Does a zero-point/zero-fee loan really exist?

      Answer

      The best way to decide whether you should pay points or not is to perform a break-even analysis. This is done as follows:

      1. Calculate the cost of the points. Example: 2 points on a $100,000 loan is $2,000.
      2. Calculate the monthly savings on the loan as a result of obtaining a lower interest rate. Example: $50 per month
      3. Divide the cost of the points by the monthly savings to come up with the number of months to break even. In the above example, this number is 40 months. If you plan to keep the house for longer than the break-even number of months, then it makes sense to pay points; otherwise it does not.
      4. The above calculation does not take into account the potential tax advantages of points. When you are buying a house the points you pay may be tax-deductible, so you could realize some savings immediately. On the other hand, when you get a lower payment, your tax deduction reduces! This makes it a little difficult to calculate the break-even time taking taxes into account. In the case of a purchase, taxes could reduce the break-even time. However, in the case of a refinance, the points are NOT tax-deductible, but have to be amortized over the life of the loan. This results in few tax benefits or none at all, so there is little or no effect on the time to break even. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the tax deductibility of points and mortgage interest paid.

      If none of the above makes sense, use this simple rule of thumb: If you plan to stay in the house for less than 3 years, do not pay points. If you plan to stay in the house for more than 5 years, pay 1 to 2 points. If you plan to stay in the house for between 3 and 5 years, it does not make a significant difference whether you pay points or not!

      Zero-Point/Zero-Fee Loans

      Whatever happened to the conventional wisdom of waiting for the rates to drop 2% before refinancing?

      You have a 30-year fixed loan at 8.5%. A loan officer calls you up and says they can refinance you to a rate of 8.0% with no points and no fees whatsoever.

      What a dream come true! No appraisal fees, no title fees and not even any junk fees! Is this a deal too good to pass up? How can a bank and broker do this? Doesn’t someone have to pay? Whose money is being used to pay these closing costs?

      No–this is not a scam. Thousands of homeowners have refinanced using a zero-point/zero-fee loan. Some refinanced multiple times, riding rates all the way down the curve in 1992, 1993, 1996 and, more recently, in 2004. Some homeowners used zero-point/zero-fee adjustable loans to refinance and get a new teaser rate every year.

      The way this works is based on rebate pricing, sometimes also known as yield-spread pricing, and sometimes known as a service-release premium. The basic idea is that you pay a higher rate in exchange for cash up front, which is then used to pay the closing costs. You will pay a higher monthly payment–so the money is really coming from future payments that you will make.

      You can also think of this as negative points! For example, a 30-year fixed loan may be available at a retail price of :

      8.0% with 2 points or
      8.25% with 1 point or
      8.5% with 0 points or
      8.75% with -1 point or
      9% with -2 points

      On a $200,000 loan, the loan officer can offer you 8.75% with a cost of -1 point, which is a $2,000 credit towards your closing costs. A mortgage broker can use rebate pricing to pay for your closing costs and keep the balance of the rebate as profit.

      What are the benefits of a zero-point/zero-fee loan?

      The main benefit is that you have no out-of-pocket costs. As a result, if the rates drop in the future, you could refinance again even for a small drop in rates. So if you refinanced on the zero-point/zero-fee loan to get a rate of 8.75% and if the rates drop 1/2%, you can refinance again to 8.25%. On the other hand, if you refinanced by paying 1 point and got a rate of 8.25%, it may not make sense to refinance again. Now, if the rates drop another 1/2%, a zero-point/zero-fee loan can drop your rate to 7.75%, whereas if you paid points, you may have to do a break-even analysis to decide if refinancing will save you money.

      The zero-point/zero-fee loan eliminates the need to do a break-even analysis since there is no up-front expense that needs to be recovered. It also is a great way to take advantage of falling rates.
      Some consumers have used zero-point/zero-fee loans on adjustable loans to refinance their adjustables every year and pay a very low teaser rate.

      What are the disadvantages of a zero-point/zero-fee loan?

      The main disadvantage is that you are paying a higher rate than you would be paying if you had paid points and closing costs. If you keep the loan for long enough, you will pay more–since you have higher mortgage payments. In the scenario where you plan to stay in the house for more than 5 years, and if rates never drop for you to refinance, you could wind up paying more money. If, on the other hand, you plan to stay at a property for just 2-3 years, there really is no disadvantage of a zero-point/zero-fee loan.

      Whose money is it?

      Since you are being paid “cash” up-front in exchange for a higher rate, it really is your own money that will be paid in the future through higher payments. Investors who fund these loans hope that you will keep the loans for long enough to recoup their up-front investment. If you refinance the loans early, both the servicer and the investor could lose money.
      To summarize, zero-point/zero-fee loans in many cases are good deals. Make sure, however, that the lender pays for your closing costs from rebate points and NOT by increasing your loan amount. So if your old loan amount was $150,000, your new loan amount should also be $150,000. You may have to come up with some money at closing for recurring costs (taxes, insurance, and interest), but you would have to pay for these whether you refinanced or not.

      Zero-point/zero-fee loans are especially attractive when rates are declining or when you plan to sell your house in less than 2-3 years.

      Zero-point/zero-fee loans may not be around forever. Lenders have discussed adding a pre-payment penalty to such loans, however few lenders have taken steps to implement such a measure.

    • Question

      What is the difference between pre-qualifying and pre-approval?

      Answer

      A pre-qualification is normally issued by a loan officer, who, after interviewing you, determines the dollar value of a loan you can be approved for. However, loan officers do not make the final approval, so a pre-qualification is not a commitment to lend. After the loan officer determines that you pre-qualify, he/she then issues you a pre-qualification letter. This pre-qualification letter is used when you are making an offer on a property. The pre-qualification letter indicates to the seller that you are qualified to purchase the house you are making an offer on.

      Pre-approval is a step above pre-qualification. Pre-approval involves verifying your credit, down payment, employment history, etc. Your loan application is submitted to an underwriter and a decision is made regarding your loan application. If your loan is pre-approved, you are then issued a pre-approval certificate. Getting your loan pre-approved allows you to close very quickly when you do find a house. A pre-approval can help you negotiate a better price with the seller, since being pre-approved is very close to having cash in the bank to pay for the house!

    • Question

      What is a rate lock?

      Answer

      You cannot close a mortgage loan without locking in an interest rate. There are four components to a rate lock:

      1. Loan program.
      2. Interest rate.
      3. Points.
      4. Length of the lock.

      The longer the length of the lock, the higher the points or the interest rate. This is because the longer the lock, the greater the risk for the lender offering that lock.

      Let’s say you lock in a 30-year fixed loan at 8% for 2 points for 15 days on March 2. This lock will expire on March 17 (if March 17 is a holiday then the lock is typically extended to the first working day after the 17th). The lender must disburse funds by March 17th, otherwise your rate lock expires, and your original rate-lock commitment is invalid.
      The same lock might cost 2.25 points for a 30-day lock or 2.5 points for a 60-day lock. If you need a longer lock and do not want to pay the higher points, you may instead pay a higher rate.

      After a lock expires, most lenders will let you re-lock at the higher of the prevailing market rates/points, or the originally locked rates/points. In most cases you will not get a lower rate if rates drop. In some cases, prior to the rate lock expiration date, the lender may allow you to negotiate a rate lock extension at the original rate/points. An additional fee may be charged for this extension.

      What happens if rates drop after you lock?

      Most lenders will not budge unless rates drop substantially (3/8% or more). This is because it is expensive for them to lock in interest rates. If lenders let borrowers improve their rate every time rates improved, they’d spend a lot of time relocking interest rates, since rates fluctuate daily. Also, they would have to factor this option into their rates, and borrowers would wind up paying a higher rate.

      Lock-and-shop programs.

      Most lenders will let you lock in an interest rate only on a specific property, which means, if you are shopping for a home, you cannot lock in an interest rate until after you sign a purchase contract for a specific property. If you are shopping for a home, some lenders offer a lock-and-shop program that lets you lock in a rate before you find the home. This program is very useful when rates are rising. However, lock-and-shop rates are usually higher than the prevailing market rate. Also, the lender may charge a non-refundable fee or deposit towards closing costs.

      New-construction rate locks.

      Most lenders offer long-term locks for new construction. These locks do cost more and may require an up-front deposit. For example, a lender might offer a 360-day lock for 1 point over the cost of a 30-day lock, with 0.5 points being paid up-front, as a non-refundable deposit. Most long-term new-construction locks do offer a float-down–i.e. if rates drop prior to closing, you get the better rate.

    • Question

      Can I get rid of the PMI on my loan?

      Answer

      PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance is normally required when you buy a house with less than 20% down. Mortgage insurance is a type of guarantee that helps protect lenders against the costs of foreclosure. This insurance protection is provided by private mortgage-insurance companies. It enables lenders to accept lower down payments than they would normally accept. In effect, mortgage insurance provides what the equity of a higher down payment would provide to cover a lender’s losses in the unfortunate event of foreclosure. Therefore, without mortgage insurance, you might not be able to buy a home without a 20% down payment.

      The cost of PMI increases as your down payment decreases. Example: The cost of PMI on a 10% down payment is less than the cost of PMI on a 5% down payment. Your PMI premium is normally added to your monthly mortgage payment.

      The decision on when to cancel the private insurance coverage does not depend solely on the degree of your equity in the home. The final say on terminating a private mortgage-insurance policy is reserved jointly for the lender and any investor who may have purchased an interest in the mortgage. However, in most cases, the lender will allow cancellation of mortgage insurance when the loan is paid down to 80% of the original property value. Some lenders may require that you pay PMI for one or two years before you may apply to remove it.

      To cancel the PMI on your loan, contact your lender. In most cases, an appraisal will be required to determine the value of your property. You will probably also be required to pay for the cost of this appraisal. Another way of cancelling the PMI on your loan is to refinance and to get a new loan without PMI.

    • Question

      Should I refinance?

      Answer

      The most common reason for refinancing is to save money. Saving money through refinancing can be achieved in two ways:

      1. By obtaining a lower interest rate that causes one’s monthly mortgage payment to be reduced.
      2. By reducing the term of the loan, thus saving money over the life of the loan. For example, refinancing from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan might result in higher monthly payments, but the total of the payments made during the life of the loan can be reduced significantly.

      People also refinance to convert their adjustable loan to a fixed loan. The main reason behind this type of refinance is to obtain the stability and the security of a fixed loan. Fixed loans are very popular when interest rates are low, whereas adjustable loans tend to be more popular when rates are higher. When rates are low, homeowners refinance to lock in low rates. When rates are high, homeowners prefer adjustable loans to obtain lower payments.

      A third reason why homeowners refinance is to consolidate debts and replace high-interest loans with a low-rate mortgage. The loans being consolidated may include second mortgages, credit lines, student loans, credit cards, etc. In many cases, debt consolidation results in tax savings, since consumer loans are not tax deductible, while a mortgage loan may be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor regarding tax deductibility.

      The answer to the question “Should I refinance?” is a complex one, since every situation is different and no two homeowners are in the exact same situation. Even the conventional wisdom of refinancing only when you can save 2% on your mortgage is not really true. If you are refinancing to save money on your monthly payments, the following calculation is more appropriate than the rule of 2%:

      1. Calculate the total cost of the refinance–example: $2,000
      2. Calculate the monthly savings–example: $100/month
      3. Divide the result in 1 by the result in 2–in this case 2000/100 = 20 months. This shows the break-even time. If you plan to live in the house for longer than this period of time, it makes sense to refinance.

      Sometimes, you do not have a choice–you are forced to refinance. This happens when you have a loan with a balloon provision, but no conversion option. In this case it is best to refinance a few months before the balloon comes due.

      Whatever you choose to do, consulting with a seasoned mortgage professional can often save you time and money. Make a few phone calls, check out a few web sites, crunch on a few calculators and spend some time to understand the options available to you.

    • Question

      Avoid the Top Ten Mortgage Mistakes

      Answer

      If you’re like most people, purchasing a home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. If you’re considering buying a home, you’re likely aware of the complexity of the endeavor. Because of the numerous factors to consider when purchasing a home, it’s important to prepare as best you can. Some common home-buying principles and caveats are presented here for your consideration. By keeping them in mind, you’ll help create a successful and more enjoyable experience. These Top Ten lists are by no means exhaustive. Since your home could cost you 25 to 40 percent of your gross income, it’s important to conduct research, ask questions and study the process carefully.

      Buying a home

      1. Looking for a home without being pre-approved. As a potential buyer competing for a property, you’ll have a better chance of getting your offer accepted by being as prepared as possible. Consider this hierarchy of preparedness:
        • Neither pre-qualified nor pre-approved
        • Pre-qualified
        • Pre-approved

        The benefits available at each level can be easily understood when viewed from the seller’s perspective. Imagine you’re a seller in receipt of multiple offers to purchase your property. A complete stranger (buyer) is asking you to take your property off the market for at least the next two to three weeks while they apply for a loan. As the seller, lets consider the type of buyer you’d prefer to deal with.

        Neither pre-qualified nor pre-approved
        This buyer provides no evidence that they can afford to purchase your property. You may wonder how serious they are since they’re not at least pre-qualified.

        Pre-qualified
        This buyer has met with a mortgage broker (or lender) and discussed their situation. The buyer has informed the broker regarding their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The broker may also have seen their credit report. The buyer provided you with a letter from the broker stating an opinion of what the buyer can afford.

        Pre-approved
        This buyer has provided a broker written evidence of income, expenses, assets, liabilities and credit. All information has been verified by a lender. As a result, much of the paperwork for this buyer’s loan has been completed. This buyer will probably be able to close quickly. They provide you with a letter (pre-approval certificate) from the lender. You’re as certain as possible that this buyer can close.

        As a potential buyer, you can see that being pre-approved will give you the best chance of getting your offer accepted. This is critical in a competitive situation.

      2. Making verbal agreements. If you’re asked to sign a document containing instructions contrary to your verbal agreements–don’t! For example, the seller verbally agrees to include the washing machine in the sale, but the written purchase contract excludes it. The written contract will override the verbal contract. More importantly, your state may require that contracts for the sale of real property be in writing. Do not expect oral agreements to be enforceable.
      3. Choosing a lender just because they have the lowest rate. While the rate is important, consider the total cost of your loan including the APR , loan fees, discount and origination points. When receiving a quote from a lender or broker, insist that the discount points (charged by the lender to reduce the interest rate) be distinguished from origination points (charged for services rendered in originating the loan).

        The cost of the mortgage, however, shouldn’t be your only criterion. Have confidence that the company you select is reputable and will deliver the loan with the terms and costs they promised. If in the final hours of the transaction you determine that the lender has suddenly increased their profit margin at your expense, you won’t have time to start again with a different lender. Ask family and friends for referrals. Interview prospective mortgage companies.

      4. Not receiving a Good Faith Estimate. Within three business days after the broker or lender receives your loan application, you must receive a written statement of fees associated with the transaction. This is both the law and the best way to determine what you’ll pay for your loan. Bring the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) with you when you sign loan documents. You should not be expected to pay fees which are substantially different from those contained in your GFE.
      5. Not getting a rate lock in writing. When a mortgage company tells you they have locked your rate, get a written statement detailing the interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and program details.
      6. Using a dual agent–i.e., an agent who represents the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. Buyers and sellers have opposing interests. Sellers want to receive the highest price, buyers want to pay the lowest price. In the standard real estate transaction, the seller pays the real estate commission. When an agent represents both buyer and seller, the agent can tend to negotiate more vigorously on behalf of the seller. As a buyer, you’re better off having an agent representing you exclusively. The only time you should consider a dual agent is when you get a price break. In that case, proceed cautiously and do your homework!
      7. Buying a home without professional inspections. Unless you’re buying a new home with warranties on most equipment, it’s highly recommended that you get property, roof and termite inspections. This way you’ll know what you are buying. Inspection reports are great negotiating tools when asking the seller to make needed repairs. When a professional inspector recommends that certain repairs be done, the seller is more likely to agree to do them.

        If the seller agrees to make repairs, have your inspector verify that they are done prior to close of escrow. Do not assume that everything was done as promised.

      8. Not shopping for home insurance until you are ready to close. Start shopping for insurance as soon as you have an accepted offer. Many buyers wait until the last minute to get insurance and do not have time to shop around.
      9. Signing documents without reading them. Whenever possible, review in advance the documents you’ll be signing. (Even though some specifics of your transaction may not be known early in the transaction, the documents you’ll sign are standard forms and are available for review.) It’s unlikely that you’ll have sufficient time to read all the documents during the closing appointment.
      10. Not allowing for delays in the transaction. In a perfect world, all real estate transactions close on time. In the world we live in, transactions are often delayed a week or more. Suppose you asked your landlord to terminate your lease the day your purchase transaction was scheduled to close. A day or two before your scheduled closing date, you discover your transaction is delayed a week. In a perfect world, no one is inconvenienced and your landlord is willing to work with you. More likely, however, your landlord is inconvenienced and angry. Will you be thrown out? Will you have to find interim housing for a week or more? The eviction process takes a little time, so the Sheriff won’t immediately remove you, but this type of stress-producing episode can be avoided. How? Terminate your lease one week after your real estate transaction is scheduled to close. That way, if there is a delay in closing your transaction, you have some leeway. This approach might cost a little more, then again, it might not.

      Refinancing your home

      1. Refinancing with your existing lender without shopping around. Your existing lender may not have the best rates and programs. There is a general misconception that it is easier to work with your current lender. In most cases, your current lender will require the same documentation as other companies. This is because most loans are sold on the secondary market and have to be approved independently. Even if you have made all your mortgage payments on time, your existing lender will still have to verify assets, liabilities, employment, etc. all over again.
      2. Not doing a break-even analysis. Determine the total cost of the transaction, then calculate how much you will save every month. Divide the total cost by the monthly savings to find the number of months you will have to stay in the property to break even. Example: if your transaction costs $2000 and you save $50/month, you break even in 2000/50 = 40 months. In this case you’d refinance if you planned to stay in your home for at least 40 months.

        Note: This is a simplified break-even analysis. If you are refinancing considering switching from an adjustable to a fixed loan, or from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, the analysis becomes much more complex.

      3. Not getting a written good-faith estimate of closing costs. Within three business days after the broker or lender receives your loan application, you must receive a written statement of fees associated with the transaction. This is both the law and the best way to determine what you’ll pay for your loan. Bring the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) with you when you sign loan documents. You should not be expected to pay fees which are substantially different from those contained in your GFE.
      4. Paying for an appraisal when you think your home value may be too low. Have the appraisal company prepare a desk review appraisal (typically at no charge) to provide you with a range of possible values. Your mortgage company’s appraiser may do this for you. Do not waste your money on a full appraisal if you are doubtful about the value of your home.
      5. Using the county tax-assessor’s value as the market value of your home. Mortgage companies do not use the county tax-assessor’s value to determine whether they will make the loan. They use a market-value appraisal which may be very different from the assessed value.
      6. Signing your loan documents without reviewing them. Whenever possible, review in advance the documents you’ll be signing. (Even though some specifics of your transaction may not be known early in the transaction, the documents you’ll sign are standard forms and are available for review.) It’s unlikely that you’ll have sufficient time to read all the documents during the closing appointment.
      7. Not providing documents to your mortgage company in a timely manner. When your mortgage company asks you for additional documents, provide them immediately. They are doing what’s necessary to get your loan approved and closed. Delays in providing documents can result in a costly delays.
      8. Not getting a rate lock in writing. When a mortgage company tells you they have locked your rate, get a written statement which includes the interest rate, the length of the rate lock and details about the program.
      9. Pulling cash out of your credit line before you refinance your first mortgage. Many lenders have cash-out seasoning requirements. This means that if you pull cash out of your credit line for anything other than home improvements, they will consider the refinance to be a cash-out transaction. This usually results in stricter requirements and can, in some cases, break the deal!
      10. Getting a second mortgage before you refinance your first mortgage. Many mortgage companies look at the combined loan amounts (i.e., the first loan plus the second) when refinancing the first mortgage. If you plan on refinancing your first loan, check with your mortgage company to find out if getting a second will cause your refinance transaction to be turned down.

      Getting a home-equity loan/line

      1. Not knowing if your loan has a pre-payment penalty clause. If you are getting a “NO FEE” home-equity loan, chances are there’s a hefty pre-payment penalty included. You’ll want to avoid such a loan if you are planning to sell or refinance in the next three to five years.
      2. Getting too large a credit line. When you get too large a credit line, you can be turned down for other loans because some lenders calculate your payments based upon the available credit–not the used credit. Even when your equity line has a zero balance, having a large equity line indicates a large potential payment, which can make it difficult to qualify for other loans.
      3. Not understanding the difference between an equity loan and an equity line. An equity loan is closed–i.e., you get all your money up front and make fixed payments until it is paid if full. An equity line is open–i.e., you can get numerous advances for various amounts as you desire. Most equity lines are accessed through a checkbook or a credit card. For both equity loans and lines, you can only be charged interest on the outstanding principal balance.
        Use an equity loan when you need all the money up front–e.g., for home improvements, debt consolidation, etc. Use an equity line when you have a periodic need for money, or need the money for a future event–e.g., childrens’ college tuition in the future.
      4. Not checking the lifecap on your equity line. Many credit lines have lifecaps of 18 percent. Be prepared to make payments at the highest potential rate.
      5. Shop around but don’t make a decision only on price. Initial and ongoing service is important.
      6. Not getting a good-faith estimate of closing costs. See item number four above.
      7. Assuming that your home-equity loan is fully tax-deductible. In some instances, your home-equity loan is NOT tax deductible. Do not depend on your mortgage company for information regarding this matter–check with an accountant or CPA.
      8. Assuming that a home-equity loan is always cheaper than a car loan or a credit card. Even after deducting interest for income tax purposes, a credit card can be cheaper than a credit line. To find out, compare the effective rate of your home-equity line with the rate on your credit card or auto loan.

        Effective rate = rate * (1 – tax bracket)
        Example: The rate of the home-equity line is 12 percent, your tax bracket is 30 percent, your effective rate is: .12 * (1 – .3) = .12 * .7 = .084 = 8.4 percent.
        If your credit card is higher than 8.4 percent, the equity loan is cheaper.

      9. Getting a home-equity line of credit when you plan to refinance your first mortgage in the near future. Many mortgage companies look at the combined loan amounts (i.e., the first loan plus the second) when refinancing the first mortgage. If you plan on refinancing your first, check with your mortgage company to find out if getting a second will cause your refinance to be turned down.
      10. Getting a home-equity line to pay off your credit cards when your spending is out of control! When you pay off your credit cards with an equity line, don’t continue to abuse your credit cards. If you can’t manage the plastic, tear it up!
    • Question

      What is an Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

      Answer
      Example:      
      30-year fixed 8% 1 point 8.107% APR

      The annual percentage rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different from the note rate. It is commonly used to compare loan programs from different lenders. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires mortgage companies to disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. Typically the APR is found next to the rate.

      The APR does NOT affect your monthly payments. Your monthly payments are a function of the interest rate and the length of the loan.

      The APR is a very confusing number! Even mortgage bankers and brokers admit it is confusing. The APR is designed to measure the “true cost of a loan.” It creates a level playing field for lenders. It prevents lenders from advertising a low rate and hiding fees.

      If life were easy, all you would have to do is compare APRs from the lenders/brokers you are working with, then pick the easiest one and you would have the right loan. Right? Wrong!

      Unfortunately, different lenders calculate APRs differently! So a loan with a lower APR is not necessarily a better rate. The best way to compare loans in the author’s opinion is to ask lenders to provide you with a good-faith estimate of their costs on the same type of program (e.g. 30-year fixed) at the same interest rate. Then delete all fees that are independent of the loan such as homeowners insurance, title fees, escrow fees, attorney fees, etc. Now add up all the loan fees. The lender that has lower loan fees has a cheaper loan than the lender with higher loan fees.

      What fees are included in the APR?

      The following fees ARE generally included in the APR:

      • Points – both discount points and origination points
      • Pre-paid interest. The interest paid from the date the loan closes to the end of the month. Most mortgage companies assume 15 days of interest in their calculations. However, companies may use any number between 1 and 30!
      • Loan-processing fee
      • Underwriting fee
      • Document-preparation fee
      • Private mortgage-insurance

      The following fees are SOMETIMES included in the APR:

      • Loan-application fee
      • Credit life insurance (insurance that pays off the mortgage in the event of a borrowers death)

      The following fees are normally NOT included in the APR:

      • Title or abstract fee
      • Escrow fee
      • Attorney fee
      • Notary fee
      • Document preparation (charged by the closing agent)
      • Home-inspection fees
      • Recording fee
      • Transfer taxes
      • Credit report
      • Appraisal fee

      An APR does not tell you how long your rate is locked for. A lender who offers you a 10-day rate lock may have a lower APR than a lender who offers you a 60-day rate lock!

      Calculating APRs on adjustable and balloon loans is even more complex because future rates are unknown. The result is even more confusion about how lenders calculate APRs.

      Do not attempt to compare a 30-year loan with a 15-year loan using their respective APRs. A 15-year loan may have a lower interest rate, but could have a higher APR, since the loan fees are amortized over a shorter period of time.
      Finally, many lenders do not even know what they include in their APR because they use software programs to compute their APRs. It is quite possible that the same lender with the same fees using two different software programs may arrive at two different APRs!

      Conclusion:

      Use the APR as a starting point to compare loans. The APR is a result of a complex calculation and not clearly defined. There is no substitute to getting a good-faith estimate from each lender to compare costs. Remember to exclude those costs that are independent of the loan.

    • Question

      Why Do Mortgage Interest Rates Change?

      Answer

      To understand why mortgage rates change we must first ask the more general question, “Why do interest rates change?” It is important to realize that there is not one interest rate, but many interest rates!

      • Prime rate: The rate offered to a bank’s best customers.
      • Treasury bill rates: Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. Commonly called T-bills they come in denominations of 3 months, 6 months and 1 year. Each treasury bill has a corresponding interest rate (i.e. 3-month T-bill rate, 1-year T-bill rate).
      • Treasury Notes: Intermediate-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. They come in denominations of 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.
      • Treasury Bonds: Long-debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance its debt. Treasury bonds come in 30-year denominations.
      • Federal Funds Rate: Rates banks charge each other for overnight loans.
      • Federal Discount Rate: Rate New York Fed charges to member banks.
      • Libor: London Interbank Offered Rates. Average London Eurodollar rates.
      • 6 month CD rate: The average rate that you get when you invest in a 6-month CD.
      • 11th District Cost of Funds: Rate determined by averaging a composite of other rates.
      • Fannie Mae-Backed Security rates: Fannie Mae pools large quantities of mortgages, creates securities with them, and sells them as Fannie Mae-backed securities. The rates on these securities influence mortgage rates very strongly.
      • Ginnie Mae-Backed Security rates: Ginnie Mae pools large quantities of mortgages, secures them and sells them as Ginnie Mae-backed securities. The rates on these securities influence mortgage rates on FHA and VA loans.

      Interest-rate movements are based on the simple concept of supply and demand. If the demand for credit (loans) increases, so do interest rates. This is because there are more buyers, so sellers can command a better price, i.e. higher rates. If the demand for credit reduces, then so do interest rates. This is because there are more sellers than buyers, so buyers can command a lower better price, i.e. lower rates. When the economy is expanding there is a higher demand for credit, so rates move higher, whereas when the economy is slowing the demand for credit decreases and so do interest rates.

      This leads to a fundamental concept:

      • Bad news (i.e. a slowing economy) is good news for interest rates (i.e. lower rates).
      • Good news (i.e. a growing economy) is bad news for interest rates (i.e. higher rates).

      A major factor driving interest rates is inflation. Higher inflation is associated with a growing economy. When the economy grows too strongly, the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to slow the economy down and reduce inflation. Inflation results from prices of goods and services increasing. When the economy is strong, there is more demand for goods and services, so the producers of those goods and services can increase prices. A strong economy therefore results in higher real-estate prices, higher rents on apartments and higher mortgage rates.

      Mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as interest rates. However, actual mortgage rates are also based on supply and demand for mortgages. The supply/demand equation for mortgage rates may be different from the supply/demand equation for interest rates. This might sometimes result in mortgage rates moving differently from other rates. For example, one lender may be forced to close additional mortgages to meet a commitment they have made. This results in them offering lower rates even though interest rates may have moved up!

      There is an inverse relationship between bond prices and bond rates. This can be confusing. When bond prices move up, interest rates move down and vice versa. This is because bonds tend to have a fixed price at maturity–typically $1000. If the price of the bond is currently at $900 and there are 10 years left on the bond and if interest rates start moving higher, the price of the bond starts dropping. The higher interest rates will cause increased accumulation of interest over the next 5 years, such that a lower price (e.g. $880) will result in the same maturity price, i.e. $1000.

      Effect of economic data on rates

      Number of arrows indicates potential effect on interest rates.
      1 arrow=least effect, 5 arrows=max. effect

      Economic Event Effect on
      Interest Rates
      Significance of event
      Consumer Price Index (CPI) Rises arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates rising inflation.
      Dollar Rises arrow-red Imports cost less; indicates falling inflation.
      Durable Goods Orders Increase arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates expanding economy
      Gross National Product Increases arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Home Sales Increase arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Housing Starts Rise arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Industrial Production Rises arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Business Inventories Rise arrow-redarrow-redarrow-red Indicates weak economy
      Leading Indicators (LEI) Increase arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Personal Income Rises arrow-green Indicates rising inflation
      Personal Spending Rises arrow-green Indicates rising inflation
      Producer Price Index Rises arrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-greenarrow-green Indicates rising inflation
      Retail Sales Increase arrow-greenarrow-green Indicates strong economy
      Treasury Auction Has High Demand arrow-red High demand leads to lower rates
      Unemployment Rises arrow-redarrow-redarrow-redarrow-redarrow-red Indicates weak economy
    • Question

      Can my loan be sold? What happens if my lender goes out of business?

      Answer

      Your loan can be sold at any time. There is a secondary mortgage market in which lenders frequently buy and sell pools of mortgages. This secondary mortgage market results in lower rates for consumers. A lender buying your loan assumes all terms and conditions of the original loan. As a result, the only thing that changes when a loan is sold is to whom you mail your payment. If your loan has been sold, your existing lender will notify you that your loan has been sold, who your new lender is, and where you should send your payments from now on.

      If your lender goes out of business, you are still obligated to make payments! Typically, loans owned by a lender going out of business are sold to another lender. The lender purchasing your loan is obligated to honor the terms and conditions of the original loan. Therefore, if your lender goes out of business, it makes little difference with regards to your loan payments. In some cases, there may be a gap between the date of your lender’s going out of business and the date that a new lender purchases your loan. In such a situation, continue making payments to your old lender until you are asked to make payments to your new lender.

    • Question

      What happens if my lender goes out of business?

      Answer

      Your loan can be sold at any time. There is a secondary mortgage market in which lenders frequently buy and sell pools of mortgages. This secondary mortgage market results in lower rates for consumers. A lender buying your loan assumes all terms and conditions of the original loan. As a result, the only thing that changes when a loan is sold is to whom you mail your payment. If your loan has been sold, your existing lender will notify you that your loan has been sold, who your new lender is, and where you should send your payments from now on.

      If your lender goes out of business, you are still obligated to make payments! Typically, loans owned by a lender going out of business are sold to another lender. The lender purchasing your loan is obligated to honor the terms and conditions of the original loan. Therefore, if your lender goes out of business, it makes little difference with regards to your loan payments. In some cases, there may be a gap between the date of your lender’s going out of business and the date that a new lender purchases your loan. In such a situation, continue making payments to your old lender until you are asked to make payments to your new lender.

    • Question

      What is the difference between pre-qualifying and pre-approval?

      Answer

      A pre-qualification is normally issued by a loan officer, who, after interviewing you, determines the dollar value of a loan you can be approved for. However, loan officers do not make the final approval, so a pre-qualification is not a commitment to lend. After the loan officer determines that you pre-qualify, he/she then issues you a pre-qualification letter. This pre-qualification letter is used when you are making an offer on a property. The pre-qualification letter indicates to the seller that you are qualified to purchase the house you are making an offer on.

      Pre-approval is a step above pre-qualification. Pre-approval involves verifying your credit, down payment, employment history, etc. Your loan application is submitted to an underwriter and a decision is made regarding your loan application. If your loan is pre-approved, you are then issued a pre-approval certificate. Getting your loan pre-approved allows you to close very quickly when you do find a house. A pre-approval can help you negotiate a better price with the seller, since being pre-approved is very close to having cash in the bank to pay for the house!

    • FICO
      • Question

        How can I increase my score?

        Answer

        While it is difficult to increase your score over the short run, here are some tips to increase your score over a period of time.

        • Pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections can have a serious impact on your score.
        • Do not apply for credit frequently. Having a large number of inquiries on your credit report can worsen your score.
        • Reduce your credit-card balances. If you are “maxed” out on your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively.
        • If you have limited credit, obtain additional credit. Not having sufficient credit can negatively impact your score.
      • Question

        What if there is an error on my credit report?

        Answer

        If you see an error on your report, report it to the credit bureau. The three major bureaus in the U.S., Equifax (800-685-1111), Trans Union (800-916-8800) and Experian (888-397-3742) all have procedures for correcting information promptly. Alternatively, your mortgage company may help you correct this problem as well.

    • Rate Lock
      • Question

        What is a rate lock?

        Answer

        You cannot close a mortgage loan without locking in an interest rate. There are four components to a rate lock:

        1. Loan program.
        2. Interest rate.
        3. Points.
        4. Length of the lock.

        The longer the length of the lock, the higher the points or the interest rate. This is because the longer the lock, the greater the risk for the lender offering that lock.

        Let’s say you lock in a 30-year fixed loan at 8% for 2 points for 15 days on March 2. This lock will expire on March 17 (if March 17 is a holiday then the lock is typically extended to the first working day after the 17th). The lender must disburse funds by March 17th, otherwise your rate lock expires, and your original rate-lock commitment is invalid.
        The same lock might cost 2.25 points for a 30-day lock or 2.5 points for a 60-day lock. If you need a longer lock and do not want to pay the higher points, you may instead pay a higher rate.

        After a lock expires, most lenders will let you re-lock at the higher of the prevailing market rates/points, or the originally locked rates/points. In most cases you will not get a lower rate if rates drop. In some cases, prior to the rate lock expiration date, the lender may allow you to negotiate a rate lock extension at the original rate/points. An additional fee may be charged for this extension.

      • Question

        What happens if rates drop after you lock?

        Answer

        Most lenders will not budge unless rates drop substantially (3/8% or more). This is because it is expensive for them to lock in interest rates. If lenders let borrowers improve their rate every time rates improved, they’d spend a lot of time relocking interest rates, since rates fluctuate daily. Also, they would have to factor this option into their rates, and borrowers would wind up paying a higher rate.

      • Question

        Lock-and-shop programs.
         

        Answer

        Most lenders will let you lock in an interest rate only on a specific property, which means, if you are shopping for a home, you cannot lock in an interest rate until after you sign a purchase contract for a specific property. If you are shopping for a home, some lenders offer a lock-and-shop program that lets you lock in a rate before you find the home. This program is very useful when rates are rising. However, lock-and-shop rates are usually higher than the prevailing market rate. Also, the lender may charge a non-refundable fee or deposit towards closing costs.

      • Question

        New-construction rate locks.

        Answer

        Most lenders offer long-term locks for new construction. These locks do cost more and may require an up-front deposit. For example, a lender might offer a 360-day lock for 1 point over the cost of a 30-day lock, with 0.5 points being paid up-front, as a non-refundable deposit. Most long-term new-construction locks do offer a float-down–i.e. if rates drop prior to closing, you get the better rate.

  • Privacy
    • Question

      Are there any regulations on disclosure of account information?

      Answer

      Yes. Under current law, we are allowed to share certain information such as your name, address, and information about your accounts – among our family of companies. In some cases, such as fraud investigation or in response to a validly issued search warrant or subpoena, we may be required by law to provide certain information to law enforcement agencies. There are also laws and regulations that affect the sharing of information with firms outside our family of companies such as check printers, data processors and marketing firms.

    • Question

      Why does Sandy Spring share information within its family of companies?

      Answer

      Our goal is to make your financial dealings with us more efficient and easier for you to manage. In addition, information sharing allows us to keep you informed about new products and services, often provided at special rates because you have other account relationships with us. It also helps us to prevent fraud. For example, because of information sharing, a client who reports a lost or stolen debit card knows that the information will automatically be shared throughout our family of companies to prevent problems with other accounts. These uses of information not only offer you convenience, they also dramatically increase the chance of preventing further losses and of apprehending the thief.

    • Question

      Will my medical records be shared within your family of companies?

      Answer

      No. We recognize that, when clients provide medical information for a specific purpose, they do not wish it to be used for any other purpose other than to provide the product or service they have requested. If a client provides personal medical information, we will use it only for the purpose for which it is intended and will not disclose it unless you direct us, in writing, to do so.

    • Question

      Can I prevent my information from being shared with other companies in your family of companies?

      Answer

      Yes. You can choose to opt out of affiliate information sharing, except for information about your specific transactions and experience.

    • Question

      Why does Sandy Spring share information with outside companies?

      Answer

      We use third parties to help us process your financial transactions and to provide you with a full range of financial products and services. For example, we use third parties to print your checks, to process your account transactions, to help us market our products and services, and to mail account statements. This means more efficient services and helps keep your costs as low as possible. In addition, when you open an account or apply for a loan, or line of credit, we use various credit bureaus as part of the process for approving your application. We may also use outside companies to help us with fraud investigations.

    • Question

      Will the third parties keep my information confidential?

      Answer

      We will not share your information with any company that does not agree to keep your information confidential. We carefully select the third-party companies we work with and any information that is shared is always subject to a strict confidentiality agreement. Moreover, it is a violation of federal law for a third party to reuse customer information received from us unless that information is also publicly available elsewhere.

    • Question

      How do I remove my name from Sandy Spring’s marketing lists?

      Answer

      To remove your name from our marketing lists, please do one of the following;

      • Write to:
        Quality Control – Operations
        Sandy Spring Bank
        17801 Georgia Avenue
        Olney, MD 20832
      • Call our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 or 301.774.6400
      • Send us an email at [email protected]
      • Visit your nearby community office

      In order to ensure that we accurately reflect your request, please provide your full name, street address, and social security number. For telemarketing and/or email requests, also include your telephone number or email address as appropriate. It may take up to eight to twelve weeks for your request to be fully effective. If you choose to remove your name from our list, you may not hear of new products, special offers or discounts that we extend to our clients from time to time. Please note that we will continue to send you marketing material and promotional materials in your statements.

      Go to the Sandy Spring Privacy Notice

    • Question

      What kind of information does Sandy Spring collect?

      Answer

      The kind of information we collect depends upon your financial needs and the products and services you request. For example, when you apply for a loan with us, we need information about your financial status – such as your place of employment, income, monthly expenses and personal assets and debts outstanding – to process your loan application. In addition, in order to make your banking as convenient and efficient as possible, we maintain information about your transactions with us, your account balance, and repayment history. Our collection and use of information is consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Use and Protection of Customer Information developed by the American Bankers Association.

    • Question

      How does Sandy Spring obtain the information?

      Answer

      We collect information from many sources. Much of our information comes directly from you when you fill out a loan or account application. For a loan application, we also obtain information from credit reporting agencies and other creditors regarding your credit and repayment history. We retain communications from you (such as letters or emails) in order to answer questions you may have and to keep records of your requests or concerns regarding our products and services. We also use your letters or emails to measure how effectively we have addressed your concerns. We also obtain demographic and household information from outside sources such as database information firms.

    • Question

      Who at Sandy Spring has access to my information?

      Answer

      We have strict internal policies against unauthorized use or disclosure of your information. Our employees have an appropriate level of access to your personal information in order to conduct your financial affairs. We emphasize the importance of confidentiality through our code of conduct, employee training, operating procedures and privacy policy. We require the businesses with which we have a relationship to maintain the confidentiality of consumer information.

    • Question

      What do I do if I see any inaccurate information on my statements?

      Answer

      Sandy Spring works hard to assure that your information is current, accurate, and as complete as possible. If you see any inaccuracy in your statements or in any other communications from us, please call our Client Service Center at 800.399.5919 or 301-774-6400 or contact us at [email protected]. It is our policy to investigate and correct inaccuracies in a timely manner.

    • Question

      Why does Sandy Spring need my information?

      Answer

      We maintain information and data about you to maintain the security of your accounts and to protect you and the entire institution against fraud. We need clear and accurate information to be able to positively identify you and authenticate your transactions in order to prevent access to your accounts by unauthorized individuals.

      We also collect and analyze client information as the first step in developing new products. For example, if we know you are a homeowner in need of additional financing, we can recommend a home equity loan or credit line as an alternative to an installment loan because of its potentially lower costs and tax benefits.

      We are also required by laws and regulations to gather certain information. For example, we are required by federal regulation to obtain a tax identification number (generally a social security number) for many of our accounts, including all savings, checking and/or investment accounts that pay interest.