Don’t Ignore That $1 Charge on Your Card

It can be easy to dismiss that $1 charge you don’t remember making on your debit or credit card. But you should be paying attention: Scam artists often make $1 “test” charges to see if you’ll notice and take action. If you don’t, crooks know it’s safe to continue using your card, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars in a short time period. If you think you may be a victim of fraud, contact your card issuer and Hopewell Federal Credit Union, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Fraud Prevention Awareness from HFCU

FRAUD DEFINITIONS
Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Vishing also called (Voice Phishing) is the voice counterpart to the phishing scheme. Instead of being directed by an email to a website, the user is asked to make a telephone call.
SMiShing is a spin-off version of Vishing. In this instance the victim receives a text message via their cell phone with the implications that there is a threat to their account and request a callback to a number provided in the message. The social engineering tactics used are the same as the phishing and vishing attacks; the only difference is the delivery method.

PREVENTION
• Remember….Hopewell Federal Credit Union will never call, email or text requesting your account number, social security number or last four digits of either.
• Ignore e-mails or pop-up messages that request personal or financial information
• Don’t use links in messages, even if the message appears to come from your credit union. Enter your credit union’s Web address in the browser yourself. Phishers can make links look like they go one place, but it actually send you to their legitimate-looking fake site.
• Read carefully. Typically, phishing messages are not personalized, whereas official credit union communications are. A typical warning sign is that the communication presents an urgent nature to the request.
• Call Hopewell Federal Credit Union at 740.522.8311 to confirm the message. Always use the phone number printed on official statements or credit cards. Do not use the number that appears in the message.
• Keep your home and work computers safe with current technology solutions, including gateway routers and virus/malware/spyware detection software, which will help prevent virus infections and warn when you are attempting to access a known phishing site.
• Don’t e-mail personal or financial information.
• Review credit card and account statements, as well as online transaction, as soon as they are available to check for unauthorized charges.
• Only open attachments or download files that you have requested or subscribed to.
• Forward phishing e-mails as an attachment to spam@uce.gov and the impersonated organization impersonated.
• If you’ve been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft for assistance. Also, file a complaint on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center Web site, http://www.ic3.gov/.

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Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone–regardless of age–can take steps to shape up their finances.

As you decide on your New Year’s resolutions, think SMART–financial goals that are specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Here are some examples of financial goals for different generations:

Youth
* Collect your change. Each time you buy something, save the change you get back. Deposit the change in a container at the end of every day. Over time it could add up to a significant amount of money.

* Save your allowance. Whether you want to buy something you’ve been eyeing for months or you want to start saving for college, the only way you are going to do it is by putting your allowance away. Deposit at least part of your allowance in a share savings account at the credit union.

Gen Y
* Open a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) and start saving. Make savings a habit and invest at least 10% of every paycheck for retirement. The longer you have to save with a Roth IRA, the more you save on taxes. Although contributions aren’t tax-deductible, your money grows tax-free and comes out tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements.

* Put your credit card away. Use credit cards only when you know you have the funds set aside to pay the bill in full when the bill comes. Don’t leave a balance on your credit card or you’ll be charged interest.

Baby boomers
* Put your debts in priority order. Make a list of all your liabilities and organize them by the annual interest rate. Pay off those with the highest rates first, while still making at least minimum payments on all the others. Set a specific, realistic date for when you plan to achieve your goal of paying off all debts.

* Determine your net worth. Calculate your assets minus liabilities each year–preferably on Dec. 31–so you quickly can see whether you’re gaining ground or falling behind. Your net worth should be increasing each year. If it’s not, make a plan to improve it, such as pay down a specific debt or put more money into a retirement account.

Seniors
* Evaluate your estate plan. Establish or review your will, advance directives, and powers of attorney, and make sure they reflect your preferences and current situation. Make sure all of your intended beneficiaries are on file for all your financial accounts.

* Check all insurance policies. For example, know what is covered in your homeowners policy and verify your liability coverage. Call your insurance agent if you have any questions.

Guidelines for Paperwork Storage

Many people struggle with knowing what paperwork to hang on to, how long to keep it, and what to shred. Follow these guidelines to help keep your files lean and organized.

Keep for less than one month
• Receipts for small purchases and ATM transactions—Keep until you reconcile against your checking account or credit card statements.

Keep short term (less than one year)
• Credit card, utility, cell phone, and other monthly statements until you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• If you’ll need any of these bills for tax purposes (i.e., you write off part of your cell phone bill for a small business), keep them for tax documentation.
• Loan and mortgage statements—Get rid of monthly or quarterly statements when your end of year statements arrive.
• Copy of your driver’s license
• Comprehensive list of credit union and other financial institution account numbers; credit card account numbers (in case your wallet is stolen or for another emergency)
• Old insurance claims—If the claim has been paid.
• Social security statements—Shred last year’s when you receive a new one and have reviewed for accuracy.
• Pay stubs—Purge individual pay stubs once your annual W-2 form arrives and you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• Vehicle paperwork—Keep for one year after you sell the vehicle.
• Receipts for major purchases (to use the warranty or prove value in the case of loss or damage or for items you may want to return).

Keep one year
• Hopewell Federal Credit Union checking or savings account statements. If you use Hopewell online, you might choose to not receive paper statements—account information is available 24/7 and statements are available monthly.
• Retirement plan statements: Keep quarterly statements of contributions and withdrawals for one year. Toss after matching figures with annual statement. Keep annual summaries until you retire.

Keep long term
• Tax documents to include proof of charitable contributions and tax-deductible medical expenses.
• Loan and mortgage annual statements
• Receipts and information relating to major home improvement
• If you buy or sell property, keep records of legal fees and your real estate agent’s commission for six years after you sell your house.
• Bills for major purchases

Keep indefinitely
• Birth, death, and marriage certificates
• Divorce, adoption, citizenship, military discharge, and veterans papers
• Social Security cards
• Wills and living wills
• Passports
• Diplomas
• Insurance beneficiaries
• Education records
• Immunization records
• Tax returns (1040)
• Tax forms related to retirement accounts
• Documents related to trusts or giving stock to beneficiaries
• Power of attorney
• Inheritance records
• Updated household inventory
• Proof of major debt repayment
• Legal correspondence
• Bankruptcy paperwork
• Retirement account documentation that shows contributions and withdrawals

Keep electronic data on an encrypted USB flash drive or encrypted external hard drive. You can cut down on a lot of paperwork by signing up for online statements and payments from Hopewell Federal. If you don’t have a safe deposit box, stop at Hopewell Federal Credit Union for details about this safe, affordable way to store your valuable documents.

Shop at Home for the Holidays

Thinkstock (r) / liquidlibrary

Does the thought of making your way through crowded malls and shopping at 20 different stores only to wait in long check-out lines have you feeling like the Grinch? Shopping online during the holiday season can save time and minimize stress, but know a few simple rules before you dive into the world of online purchasing.

1. Only buy from familiar companies. Confirm the seller’s contact information in case you have questions or problems in the future. Know exactly what you’re buying. Carefully read the product description. Remember–if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Protect your privacy. Read and understand the company’s online privacy policy and keep any personal information, passwords, or PINs (personal identification numbers) private. Look for these signals indicating that you have entered a secure Web page:
* A screen notice that says you’re visiting a secure site
* A closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen
* The first letters of the Internet address you are viewing change from “http” to “https”

3. Pay safely. After you review all terms of the sale, such as cost for shipping, delivery date, and return policy, you are ready to buy. Credit or charge card payments offer consumers the most protection. Finally, print all transaction records and any other useful information pertaining to your purchase.

Although online shopping allows you to virtually load your sleigh with just a few mouse clicks, practice safe browsing this holiday season.

Is a Credit Union Better Than a Bank?

Is a CU better than a bank? Jack Otter of CBS Moneywatch weighs in…

Click here to watch the video

Celebrate International Credit Union Day: Local Beginnings Bring Global Change

The credit union idea arose centuries ago as people worked under a common effort without thought of profit – they put out fires, harvested crops, and avoided high-priced loans by lending to one another.

In the 1850s, hard times hit Germany, and people turned to each other for help. They removed small savings from under mattresses and made reasonably priced loans to one another, forming the original credit unions. In the 1920s, Edward Filene took cooperative finance to the next level in Boston, as a means of lifting working people out of debt and creating a better life.

On January 17, 1927, the Credit Union League of Massachusetts celebrated the first official credit union holiday. January 17th is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, America’s “Apostle of Thrift,” who credit union founders believed to symbolize the purpose and spirit of credit unions. During this time, the credit union movement was new and spreading. People involved only began to recognize the celebration’s significance and were unable to devote the time required for sufficient planning. Credit Union Day quietly faded away.

The U.S. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society initiated a new national Credit Union Day celebration in 1948. The third Thursday of October was set aside as the national day of observance. This occasion brought members together to promote the credit union philosophy nationally and reflect upon credit union achievements and history. Members raised funds for the movement and paid homage to loyal supporters and pioneers.

The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), established in 1971, assists credit union movements and supports their development around the world. WOCCU observed the first International Credit Union (ICU) Day more than 30 years ago, and continues to endorse global celebrations. The credit union movement has grown to 188 million members in 100 countries. Celebrate the credit union difference during this year’s ICU Day – October 18, 2012.