Makoti Building Donation

Cornerstone Bank representatives hand over keys to Makoti Mayor

Cornerstone Bank Donates Makoti Building

Cornerstone Bank has proudly served the Makoti community for well over half a century. While the bank remains committed to customers in the area, we reluctantly closed our Makoti location this past summer due to continued staffing challenges along with a limited number of transactions.

“The bank building has been a fixture of Makoti’s Main Street for many decades,” stated Cornerstone Bank Chairman Gary Petersen. “It was important to us that it continued to be an asset to the community.”

After discussions with community leaders, the decision was made to donate the building to the City of Makoti. Petersen along with Cornerstone Bank Market President Grant Wentz recently met with Makoti Mayor Chase Karna to hand over the keys to the building.

Petersen added, “Mayor Karna graciously accepted the building on behalf of the City. We’re happy to see them take over the building and use it as they see fit to benefit the community.”

Continued Service

Cornerstone Bank remains strong and available to meet the financial needs of customers in the Makoti area.

  • Our online banking and mobile banking app provide convenient access to accounts.
  • Call us at 701-862-3131 to see if your needs can be met over the phone. Account transfers usually do not require a trip to the bank.
  • Use your debit card for cash withdrawals and checking balances at any ATM.
  • Business can be conducted at any Cornerstone Bank location.

Pictured: Cornerstone Bank representatives Chairman Gary Petersen and Market President Grant Wentz along with Makoti Mayor Chase Karna.

Cyber Security Tips To Keep You Safe

Woman scrolling her phone reading about cyber security tips.

In today’s digital age, cyber security has become an essential aspect of our daily lives. With the increasing number of cyber attacks and data breaches, it has become crucial to take necessary steps to protect your personal and sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. In other words, you are the first step to protecting your personal information!

In this article we will cover:

  • What is Cyber Security
  • Tips for keeping your bank account secure
  • Some General Cyber Security tips

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security involves a range of practices and measures that are designed to safeguard our digital devices, networks, and data from unauthorized access, theft, and damage. From using strong passwords and two-factor authentication to regularly updating our software and being wary of suspicious emails or links, there are various ways to enhance our cyber security.

By taking the necessary precautions, you can prevent cyber criminals from stealing your personal information, financial details, and other valuable data. Cyber security is not just about protecting yourself, but also about safeguarding your businesses and communities from cyber threats.

Protecting Your Bank Accounts From Cyber Threats

Cyber security is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to protecting your bank accounts. With the rise of online banking and mobile apps, it’s more important than ever to take steps to secure your financial information.

Here are some tips to help keep your bank account information protected:

  1. Banks and government agencies will never send an unsolicited email asking for your personal information.
  2. Never provide personal information in response to an unexpected email, phone call, or text message.
  3. Do not share your account information, including passwords, PINs, etc. with anyone.
  4. Make sure to log out of Online Banking before leaving your computer unattended.
  5. Avoid logging into Online Banking when the Wi-Fi is public and open to everyone.
  6. Set-up alerts on your accounts to monitor activity.
  7. Use Bill Pay to reduce the number of checks you mail.
  8. Sign up for electronic bank statements to reduce the amount of account information in your mailbox.
  9. Ensure the contact information on your bank account is up-to-date, including your cell phone number and email address, so that we can easily reach you if potential fraud were to occur on your account.
  10. Regularly review your statement(s) or online banking account for unauthorized transactions and contact us immediately if you discover fraudulent activity.
  11. If your account information is needed for direct deposit, only provide it to verified businesses or individuals.
  12. It is important to monitor your credit report for unusual activity. To obtain a free annual credit report, visit:

By following these simple tips, you can help to protect your bank accounts and keep your financial information safe from cyber threats.

General Cyber Security Tips

It is not just your bank accounts that you have to keep protected online. It is becoming increasingly more important to keep yourself and your personal information safe online in general. Here are some general cyber security tips to help protect yourself:

  1. Password protect your devices to secure against unauthorized access.
  2. Ensure that your devices, including operating systems, browsers, and software, stay up to date.
  3. Install a trusted antivirus solution on computers and mobile devices.
  4. Use caution when opening emails, downloading attachments, or clicking on links. Malicious software, capable of stealing information or damaging your devices, may be in attachments or links.
  5. Be cautious when answering questions in social media surveys as these may be designed to gather enough information to guess your passwords or to steal your identity.
  6. If you receive a suspicious email, social media message, or text message from someone you know, call them and ask if they sent the message before interacting with it. Their email, social media account, or device may have been compromised, and the message you received may be from a fraudster hoping to steal your personal information.

In conclusion, cyber security is important to keep ourselves and our information safe in the digital world. By being vigilant and proactive, you can ensure that your online presence remains secure and protected.

Sanford Joins Corporate Board of Directors

Brent Sanford

Sanford joins Cornerstone Bank Corporate Board of Directors

Former Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota Brent Sanford has joined the Cornerstone Bank Corporate Board of Directors. Sanford brings a wealth of experience in business, finance, and community service.

“I am pleased to welcome Brent to our Corporate Board of Directors,” says Cornerstone Bank Chairman Gary Petersen. “Brent is a great addition to our organization with his broad experience and tremendous business knowledge of the Dakotas and beyond.”

Sanford’s Background

Growing up in Watford City and returning there in adulthood as a third-generation business owner. Sanford understands the importance of strong communities including the value of a strong community bank. Prior to serving as North Dakota’s 38th Lieutenant Governor, Sanford served as Watford City’s Mayor leading the community through immense growth and development during the oil boom. He has also served as City Councilman and on various other community boards. In addition, Sanford has experience as an accountant and Chief Financial Officer.

“I look forward to working with the Board in furthering the economic activity and opportunities for the bank’s service areas,” says Sanford. “Cornerstone Bank has always been an outstanding corporate citizen and I am excited to be a part of continuing that tradition.”

Sanford graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant. He and his wife Sandi have three children, Sydney, Nicolas and Erin.

Learn more about us!

FDIC Insurance Explained

Couple meeting with a banker explaining FDIC Insurance.

FDIC Insurance Explained

In this article we’ll cover:

  1. What is FDIC Insurance?
  2. Other financial products. Are they covered?
  3. How does FDIC Insurance protect bank customers?

What is FDIC Insurance?

You’ve probably seen the signs that say: “Each depositor insured to at least $250,000.” Have you ever thought about what that sign really means?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was formed to protect the money deposited into accounts at banks covered by FDIC insurance. That means your money is protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account category.

FDIC coverage separates insured accounts into different categories, such as single accounts, joint accounts, certain retirement accounts and others. These categories cover checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. As an FDIC Member, the coverage is automatic – so you don’t need to apply.

“Cornerstone Bank has a long history of offering financial services in the Dakotas. During that time there have been numerous financial crises including most recently the Great Recession in 2008 and economic uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gary Petersen, Chairman. “Cornerstone Bank has shown resiliency because of strong leadership and adhering to conservative banking principles. As an FDIC insured bank, we fully subscribe to the regulatory framework that has kept the banking industry, particularly community banks, safe and sound for decades.”

What about other financial products?

Even if they are invested through the bank, other financial products like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and securities are not covered .

Talk with one of our bankers to explore ways to set up your accounts for maximum FDIC coverage. We’re here to help keep your money secure and protected.

How does FDIC Insurance protect bank customers?

  • The FDIC insures up to $250,000 in eight separate account categories per depositor per bank.
  • In the 88-year history of the FDIC, no one has ever lost a penny of an insured deposit.
  • The banking industry completely funds the FDIC, not taxpayer dollars.
  • The banking industry knows that a strong FDIC and deposit insurance fund are essential to the banking system. Banks stand ready to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of the fund and strength of the FDIC.

To learn more check out this video from the FDIC. Have more questions or want to calculate your FDIC coverage? Click here. 

Staller Named Chief Banking Officer

Dan Staller

Staller Named Chief Banking Officer

Dan Staller has been named as the SVP/Chief Banking Officer in Fargo with over 28 years of banking experience. In addition to his experience as Chief Banking Officer, Staller has also previously held the roles of Market President, Business Banker, and Business Banking Manager.

A graduate Minnesota State University Moorhead, Staller also holds a degree from the Graduate School of Banking. He has served on numerous non-profit and community boards.

Cornerstone Bank CEO/President Jeff Thomas said, “We are excited to have Dan onboard. His wealth of experience makes him a great fit to work with our team across the Cornerstone footprint, contribute to strategic planning, and drive business development.”

Click here to see our full leadership team.

Should I Use A Debit Card or A Credit Card?

Debit cards vs. Credit Cards. Young woman online shopping

Should I use a Debit Card or a Credit Card?

Most of us carry at least two pieces of plastic to pay for things – a debit card and a credit card. But what’s the difference between the two?

In this article we talk about:

  1. What is the difference between a credit and debit card
  2. Which one is better?
    1. Debit cards
    2. Credit cards
  3. Which one you should use.

So what’s the difference?

To begin with, think of it this way: With a credit card, you’re borrowing someone else’s money to make a purchase, but you’ll have to pay it back. With a debit card you’re pulling money directly from your own bank account. It’s the difference between taking out a short-term loan or spending only what you have.

So which one is better?

Let’s just say, ‘it depends.’

Debit Cards

Using a debit card is like writing a check. You’re spending money from your account for goods or services. If you don’t have enough money in your account, the debit will be turned down. If you do, money is deducted from your account almost in real time. Debit cards can also be used at ATMs or to get cash back at places like grocery stores. These cards can be great to help keep you from spending more money than you actually have and they can be great for in-store purchases.

Learn more about your Cornerstone Bank debit card and it’s features by visiting the Debit Card Page.

Debit Card Tip: Carrying a debit card is safer than carrying cash. If you need cash you can always use your debit card at an ATM to make a withdrawal.

Credit Cards

Credit cards can be perfect for large purchases because you’re borrowing someone else’s money for a short period of time. They also come with some liability protections and benefits that most debit cards don’t have. These benefits might range from cash back, to points for airline miles or lodging. Benefits can also include extended warranties or rental car insurance. Because of these protections, using a credit card for rentals or online purchases can be safer than using a debit card.

While both card types offer ways to dispute a purchase, your credit card issuer is trying to get its money back from a merchant. With a debit card dispute the money that came from your account is gone and unavailable for use until the dispute is resolved.

That doesn’t mean credit cards don’t come with drawbacks. If you have trouble controlling your spending or paying your account bill on time, it can be costly. That’s because interest is charged on bills that aren’t paid in full by the end of each billing period. You could also face a late fee. The longer you take to pay off the bill, the more you’ll pay in interest charges.

It’s also quite possible that credit cards that offer rewards will charge you an annual fee, whereas debit cards often come free with an account at your financial institution.

Learn more about our Cornerstone Bank Credit Cards and find the right fit for you by visiting our Credit Cards Page. Or to apply click here. 

Credit Card Tip: When used responsibly, credit cards are a great tool to help you build your credit score.

So which one should you use?

While credit cards generally come with more protections, you’ll want to make sure you pay them off as fast a possible to avoid paying interest charges. Responsible use of a credit card can also help build your credit score.

Debit cards, on the other hand, can be great for in-store purchases and are good for people who want to limit spending to only what is in their account.

Either way, experts recommend that you always monitor your accounts online and to report any discrepancies immediately. You should report a lost or stolen card immediately.

No matter what card you use, be sure to take the time to read about your protections and rights as a cardholder.

To find the right product and learn more about the different types of cards visit with one of our bankers today! 

Paying Debts and Learning to Save

Couple paying off debt and learning to save.

Paying Debits and Learning to Save Money

‘Don’t worry, be happy’ is great advice, but it isn’t easy to follow when it comes to experiencing financial issues. Many of us worry about money – how much we owe, why we can’t save enough – and that doesn’t make us happy. High on the list of financial concerns for many people are bills that need to be paid – especially credit card debt, loans and health-care costs. By paying debts and learning how to save many people can find relief from financial stress.

In this article we will cover:

  1. Paying Debts
  2. Learning to Save Money

Paying Debts

The more money you owe the deeper the hole feels, and interest costs can add up quickly if you are only making minimum payments. To make it worse, missing payments can hurt your credit rating, making it more difficult to get a loan in the future.

Morgan says the key is to pay off those bills as soon as you can. She also suggests making more than the minimum payments whenever possible and paying off loans or credit card balances with the highest interest rates first.

By only making the minimum payment each month, you will end up paying more in interest charges over time. And the higher the interest rate is, the more it will inevitably cost you.

Evaluate your debt payoff strategy with this calculator.  (NOTE: This is only an estimate. Actual payoff amounts and timelines can vary.)

Learning to Save

The wise move here is to work on paying off your debts first, then start saving. Building an emergency fund is important because that money can be used instead of having to borrow money for unexpected expenses such as replacing a broken refrigerator or medical expenses. When it comes to your health, Morgan also recommends having health insurance to help offset the high costs of care.

Take the time to figure out how to balance your income and your expenses. As well as prioritizing your needs and wants. Many people find it’s easier to automate monthly fixed expenses and savings deposits. That’s because you can set up automatic payments at your financial institution to pay those expenses. After that if you have leftover money, you can automatically direct it into savings accounts. Be sure to also take advantage of employer matches for retirement funds; it’s essentially free money and can make a big difference over time.

Then, once you find the balance between paying debts and saving for the future, you’ll worry less and smile more.

Visit with one of our expert bankers today!

Common Financial Mistakes

man frustrated with his finances.

Are you making some common financial mistakes?

What you do with your money can get you into a financial mess, but it can also get you out.

Face it, we buy things – and that can mean trouble if we spend too much and don’t leave enough to save or pay bills each month.

In this article we will cover:

  1. How your spending can make a difference
  2. The secret to avoiding common financial mistakes

Your spending makes a difference.

Taking out a loan for a new SUV or a bigger house can mean bigger payments and higher interest costs each month.

Think about it: The difference between a top-model vehicle and the entry-price model can cost you hundreds of dollars more in payments each month. The same goes for the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan. That’s money you could be using to pay off credit card debt or add to your savings.

Even the seemingly ‘little things’ can add up. Expenses like a gym membership, a new smartphone, or dinner out on a regular basis can add up.

Expert Tip: Cutting your spending by only $50 a week will save you $2,600 year – enough to pay down loans or even sink into an emergency savings account to help you cover unexpected expenses down the road.

What’s The Secret to Avoiding Common Financial Mistakes?

The key to staying ahead of spending problems, follow a budget. Knowing how much you owe and what your income is will give you a good picture of your monthly finances.

Expert Tip: Assess your needs and cut back wherever possible.

The concept is simple, spend less than you make. Then with the extra money, you can come up with a plan to put the rest into savings or invest for the future.

It can feel overwhelming. Maybe you aren’t sure where to start. Getting help from a financial professional is a great place to start. They will be able to take a fresh look at things for you.

Beware and don’t let your savings or having a little extra money in your checking account at the end of the month tempt you.

Expert tip: Set up an automatic transfer from every paycheck to go into a savings or separate account. If it’s automatic you won’t see it! Start small with $5 and grow from there.

Ready to get started on the right path with your finances? Meet with a banker today!