Make Holiday Saving Automatic With Holiday Club Account

Were you left feeling a little strapped for cash this holiday season?  Well, it’s not too early to start planning for the upcoming year.  With a holiday club account, you’ll be ready for the holidays in 2016. This short-term savings account is an easy way to gradually save and to protect the money from yourself until the holiday season arrives. You could use an existing account to save for the holidays, but that money may prove too tempting to leave untouched.

You will be able to rest easy knowing that your holiday funds will arrive in late October and you won’t need to start worrying about how you will make it all work during the holidays.

Hopewell offers a HOpewell HOliday club account.  Stop by one of our locations to start your 2016 holiday savings plan today.

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Don’t Let Hackers Crack Your Nest Egg

Don’t assume your retirement accounts are safe from hackers just because they’re insured by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) or FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Hackers are poised to move from retailers to financial institutions, and your retirement accounts are squarely in their cross-hairs.

Your financial and personal information can be stolen in more ways than at an ATM or gas pump. The 2015 IRS hack was accomplished using personal data, such as Social Security numbers, stolen in previous breaches.

Your IRA and 401(k) accounts make attractive targets for hackers because you most likely don’t track them as frequently as you track your credit card and checking accounts. A hacker can empty your account in minutes and you might not realize it until you do your annual review. Finding the hacker can take weeks, if not longer.

The NCUA or FDIC insurance on your retirement accounts only comes into play if your financial institution fails. Recently, however, some of the larger mutual fund companies have added two-factor authentication for access to your online information and will reimburse funds taken from an account in an unauthorized transaction.

Don’t make it easy for cybercriminals to harm you. Here’s how to protect yourself:

* Use strong passwords. Passwords remain the weakest link for data theft. Avoid personal information such as birth dates, pets’ names, or anything someone can find on social media.
* Use two-factor authentication. If it’s available, take advantage of it. Some retirement account providers will text a code to your smartphone before you can log in.
* Check accounts frequently. Check for any changes at least once a month. A small change can indicate a bigger issue—investigate it.
* Just say “no.”If your browser gives you the option to remember your password, click the option to “don’t ask me again,” to prevent an accidental “yes” someday when you’re in a hurry.
* Shop on trusted websites. The big giants such as PayPal and Amazon are more likely to have security policies in place than smaller sites.
* Use credit instead of debit. When given the choice as you swipe, opt for credit. Credit card fraudulent activity won’t lock up your account funds.

Any account connected to the Internet, from DropBox to your retirement accounts, is susceptible to an attack. Protect yourself with knowledge, and use proper security protocol and trustworthy devices to defend against attacks on your nest egg.

To learn more about protecting your accounts from fraud, talk to the professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. We can recommend steps you can take to keep your information safe.

Tips to Protect Your Identity and Money in the New Year

Identity theft plagues millions of consumers across the United States. In 2014, nearly 13 million people fell victim to fraud, resulting in a net loss of $16 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2015 Identity Fraud Study.

Although financial institutions and retailers dedicate plenty of resources toward protecting their customers’ sensitive information, individual consumers also play an important role in thwarting this type of crime. Here’s a look at what you can do to ensure that your money doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the upcoming year.

Set a strong password for your online bank account
People with the most advanced home security systems still lock their doors at night. Setting a strong password for your online bank account is no different: Even if your financial institution spends tons of money on tools to ward off hackers, you still need to make sure that the first line of defense — your password — is robust.

Your password should contain a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Create a different password for each one of your various email, social media and bank accounts. That way, if someone gets hold of your login credentials for Facebook, they won’t also have access to your hard-earned dollars.

Ignore requests for your personal information
Unless you’re certain that the person or company making the request is legitimate, never give out your Social Security or credit card number. If you receive an automated telephone call that asks for this type of information, hang up. If you get an email that solicits your personal information, delete it immediately, and don’t click on any links embedded in the message.

It’s a good idea to practice the same kind of caution when shopping online, especially because online fraud is expected to increase toward the end of the year, according to NerdWallet’s statistics on credit card fraud. Use your intuition and sense of judgment. If a website just doesn’t look right, try a different one.

For additional support, invest in antivirus software, and be sure to run regular scans and make updates when they’re available.

Monitor your balances
If hackers manage to obtain your credit or debit card information, they can run up charges in your name. That makes it crucial to review your monthly statements, keeping an eye out for any fraudulent transactions that you don’t recall making. If that happens, notify your financial institution immediately. The faster you do that, the better your chances are of fixing the issue and minimizing your losses.

The takeaway
Fighting fraud is a team effort, and consumers can do their part by coming up with strong passwords and practicing good judgment when reading emails and surfing the Web.

Financial institutions like Hopewell Federal Credit Union often have additional resources on how to prevent cyber crimes. Take advantage of them — the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to safeguard your personal information.

Tony Armstrong, NerdWallet

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

8 Ways to Save Vacation Money

Plan your next vacation ahead to ensure that you get the most for your money without sacrificing a good time. Then relax, knowing that you might even have funds left over when you get home. Here’s how:

1. Airfare—Book flights on Yapta and be eligible for a voucher if the airfare goes down after you’ve purchased your tickets. Sign up for alerts from Airfarewatchdog; follow other travel sites on social media as well. Call your airline agent and ask for a deal. Use a regional airport—low-cost airlines often don’t service the large international airports.
2. Lodging—If you book by phone, ask the desk agent to beat the online rate. Consider an apartment or home rental instead of a hotel—you’ll save even more by cooking your own meals. Consider booking a place to stay through airbnb.com.
3. Food—Make lunch your main meal. Lunches often are 30% cheaper than the same entrées on a dinner menu and you’ll be less likely to splurge on expensive alcoholic beverages. Stock up on snack foods before you leave home and replenish your supply at local grocery stores rather than convenience marts.
4. Search for vacation package deals—Package deals often give great discounts. Find them on Expedia and Priceline, or daily deal sites like Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes.
5. Use a travel rewards card—Look for a card with no foreign transaction fee, a microchip, and generous rewards. Credit union credit cards often offer freedom of choice for airlines.
6. Book by your budget—If budget is more important than destination, search “explore” on kayak.com or “flights” on Google.com. Select your departure city, season of travel, price, and get ready to be inspired.
7. Add a free destination—Find deals under “special offers” or by searching “stopover” on your airline’s website. You might be able to squeeze in an extra destination at little or even no cost.
8. Travel off-season—If you’re flexible, travel in the shoulder seasons—just before or after peak season depending on your destination. Prices are low, the weather could be really nice, shops and restaurants are open, and there are fewer tourists.