Concerned Staff and Cautious Member Miss a Scam!

With today’s fast-paced technology, scams,  seem to be everywhere and now they come in every size, shape and format. Seriously! Whether it’s identity theft or one of those “you won the lottery in Africa” e-mails! It’s hard to believe that some folks have so much time on their hands that they can just sit and think of the latest and greatest methods of how to cheat, good, decent, hard-working people out of their money.

I wanted to call your attention to something that happened just a few weeks ago, right here in our own backyard. Just a few short weeks ago, one of our management team members, alerted our sales and service staff about a new website, that you may have heard by now called fakechecks.org. Perhaps you’ve seen their ads on television?

The site is extremely informative, for those of you who may have never heard of it. It’s done by the National Consumers League and details the latest fraud scams out there to swindle you out of your money.

They start off simply, by saying that you could lose up to $4,101 from a fraud scam. Well, wouldn’t you know it, one of our members almost did just that-but some quick thinking by our staff helped save the member some embarrassment and their savings. The old saying, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, really rings true here.

The member responded to a work from home ad, and really wanted to make some extra cash on the side.  Who wouldn’t? I digress…the member applied to work from home and received a check, that once deposited, would make the member an official employee of the so-called company. The member, felt the $4,000 check was an awful lot of money to get paid up front and fortunately, they were informed enough not to give out too much personal information and did NOT give the company their social security number.

Here’s the scam: 

The so-called company wanted the member to be a mystery shopper and test customer service for a particular product and that they were to purchase product x at several local stores and rate them on their customer service. Once this was completed, the company wanted the member to test out several local wire-services and wanted them to wire some of that big check from their account back to them, thus giving them full access to the member’s account.  Our savy member took the check to our staff and said they felt uneasy about depositing it. And rightfully so, our staff members did some checking and verified that this was a scam.

Some advice from fakechecks.org: Legitimate companies WILL NOT offer you a job and send you a big fat check, without knowing some of your credentials and background information up front. Plus, if you haven’t been overseas-odds are you probably didn’t win some special lottery. These sound like common sense things, but maybe not. Who wouldn’ t want someone knocking at their door with a bouquet of balloons and a big check telling them their a big winner?

A big sigh of relief and kudos to our member who was again, savy to ask questions about the check and kudos as well to our staff who saved the member money.

Here’s some advice from fake checks.org. “When someone gives you a realistic-looking check or money order and asks you to wire them money in return. It’s phony, and so is the person’s story. But that may take weeks, even months to discover. Now your bank or credit union wants the money back. The bank or credit union is required to give you access to the funds you deposit within a few days, but they can’t be sure the check is valid by then.”

You’re responsible for the checks or money orders you deposit, so YOU will be responsible for paying back the missing money. 

My best advice, stay informed and again, if someone is seeking your personal information especially account numbers, either via snail-mail or the internet-don’t do it. Save yourself, time, money and potential embarrassement. And visit fakechecks.org to get informed and stay informed about current scams.

A big thank you to the folks at fakechecks.org. on keeping up with what’s happening out there.

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Why the Heck are we Blogging?

I’ve been involved with credit unions for a very long time, and during my tenure one of the most suprising things I think that I’ve seen is the attention that our blog is receiving.

CU industry people that I’ve known for years-have popped up within the last two months and said, I read your blog, I like your blog, yadda, yadda, yadda. But the question that I seem to get most is why the heck are we blogging? What’s in it for our members?

Well, I’ll tell you my theory. Blogging is a very inexpensive way to promote two-way communication with our members.  We always say, we’re delivering personalized banking solutions to everyone in Licking County. But in my opinion you have to do MORE than just say it, you have to walk the talk.

We want to have open communication with our members, whether it’s reaching out to the community, sharing information about an upcoming event or just those burning or even  simple, financial questions that you would like to find answers to-this is just another avenue where you can reach out and talk with myself or any members on our staff. The good, the great and yes, even the ugly. Can you do that with your current financial institution? Will they really take the time to talk with you one on one? Of course, we can’t get too personal, this is the internet. And before long, you end up on YouTube. Ah-the joy of fast-paced mediums.

Getting back to my point, we’re really not trying to be hip, we don’t have a myspace or facebook page, or any kind of avatar, but what we do have is the willingness to have a conversation with you about your financial future, thoughts, you name it. It’s what we do, deliver personalized banking solutions.

And by the way, blogging does have power! We have received more than 60 cell phones so far, but we still have a week to go-so dig deep people. Check your drawers and closets for those old cell phones and help out a great cause. We really appreciate the support and so will the local victims of domestic violence in Licking County.

Just some of my thoughts-

Al 

Pinch Hitting for Al …

Howdy folks,

 Al’s out of the office for a few days, so it’s me, Cammie Morrow, marketing director, pinch hitting for him on the blog. You’ve may or may not have heard by now that we’re celebrating International Credit Union Week. We have special drawings and contests for our members and our employees. Plus, stop by our lobbies in Newark and Heath this Thursday, for special treats all day. We’d love to have you celebrate with us!

That being said, I thought I would share an interesting topic that came up at a conference I attended last week. So often, I read Al’s blog and appreciate his efforts in helping move the credit union movement forward.  So I was wondering, if a topic that came up at our conference could help the the movement or at least make a difference locally?

Our speaker last week was Andy Sernovitz, who has a great blog and a fun book, Word of Mouth Marketing, How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He really makes you think about whether or not financial institutions are really over thinking our marketing. (Said the Marketer) Sometimes the simplest things can really capture a member’s attention and really make them feel appreciated. So, I’m asking YOU,  why do you love Hopewell Federal? What have we done to help you and if you’ve enjoyed a service that Hopewell Federal has provided for you, please tell a friend!

And if you’ve always wanted your 15 minutes of fame, I’d love to use your testimonial on print, t.v. or even radio! That’s right, if you’ve always wanted to get a taste of fame, now’s your chance.  So I ask, that if you love a service, product or heck, even dealing with one of our employees, because we think they’re pretty great too-please contact me directly at cmorrow@hopewellfcu.org. or give me a call at 740-522-8311 ext. 2505. I think no one says it better than you can-so call me! I look forward to hearing from you! And don’t worry, Al will be back next week.

Thanks,

Cammie

A Fresh Approach to Banking

So often,  when I tell people I work at a credit union, they say, “oh yeah, I always wanted to join one of those,” Why haven’t you? I ask. And the answer always seems to be the same. They didn’t know they were eligible to be a member. But yes, you CAN! When I share this with folks in Licking County, they seem to get that a-ha moment.

So I thought I’d take some time this week to separate some of the but’s from the facts.

1. But I thought I could only belong if you work for a certain company?

Answer:

Once upon a time, that may have been true, but NOT at Hopewell Federal. We’re community chartered. So if you live, work or worship in Licking County you can be a member! 

2. But I thought credit unions weren’t regulated like banks?

 Answer:
Yes we are. We follow similar regulations and sometimes, we have even more restrictions than banks in the types of investments and loans they can offer.

3. But I thought you have to pay a membership fee to join?

Answer:

No membership fee is required, but we do ask that you keep a minimum of $25 in your share savings account.

And we offer the same FREE services that banks do. You can get FREE on-line banking, FREE e-statements and FREE bill pay at Hopewell Federal with NO STRINGS ATTACHED! You can even get FREE checking-But, maybe you’ve heard that before too-

I say, if you’re tired of fees and tired of not talking with someone local, why not join a credit union?  We’re here, in your neighborhood and we’d love to have you as a member. If you are currently one of our members, I thank you for your membership. And, I would encourage you to tell your friends and neighbors about us. And if you just happened to cross our path via the world wide web and don’t live in the area… Check out the credit unions in your neighborhood and compare them with your current financial institution. Stop in and see what they have to offer. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find.

Try a fresh approach to banking, visit your local credit union.  

We’re in the Pink!

October is just jam-packed with causes that concern women, because it’s Women’s Health Month, so while we’re doing our part to help with domestic violence with our cell phone drive. Every Friday throughout October we’re thinking pink or rather wearing pink at Hopewell Federal!

October is also breast cancer awareness month and if you live here locally, you probably have heard about the Pack the Stands with Pink campaign. Each high school in Ohio that plays interscholastic volleyball was challenged to dedicate one home volleyball match to promote breast cancer education awareness and fundraising. And literally every school has packed the stands with bright pink t-shirts to help support the cause. It literally has taken on a whole life of it’s own.

 Locally, one of the high school’s asked us if we would support the cause and we just couldn’t say no! So every Friday in October, our employees will also be wearing the Volley for the Cure “pink” t-shirts to help support breast cancer education awareness.

So, whether you do your banking on-line or stop in to visit us in person, look for us on Fridays to be in the Pink! We’re embracing the cause and hope you will too! 

 And remember, if you have any financial questions to drop me a line. Have a great week!

-Al