Keep Your Finances Safe While Travelling

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, you may be preparing to travel.  We wish you safe travels and offer a few tips for keeping your finances safe while traveling. 
When accessing your accounts or paying bills online:
• Use a secure network with up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall.
• Don’t access your personal information from a public computer.
• Fully log out of your account when finished.

When using an ATM:
• Convert your personal identification numbers (PINs) to four numeric digits (not your birth date)—the standard for ATMs in most foreign countries.
• Be aware of your surroundings when entering your PIN and receiving cash.
• Make effort to use ATMs that are indoors, such as inside a financial institution.

Thwart ATM Skimmers

Every year sophisticated thieves steal millions of dollars from consumers by “skimming” their personal account information. Skimming, sometimes called “card cloning,” involves a thief installing a magnetic card reader, or skimmer, over the actual card reader at an ATM or gas pump.

When you swipe your card, the skimming device steals the information and transmits it to a remote computer. At the same time, a tiny, concealed camera reads your PIN as you key it in.

The camera often is in a bar the thief has affixed to the machine that looks the ATM’s trim. Criminals usually ensure their counterfeit equipment matches the machine’s color scheme. Their methods are growing more sophisticated, including keypads that fit over the machine’s real keypad, eliminating the need for the camera.

Luckily, you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim:

• Use the same ATM as often as possible. Memorize how it looks, so you will know if anything about it looks fishy.
• Inspect the ATM. If anything looks unusual—cracked, loose, scratched, or taped—don’t use it.
• Avoid ATMs in popular tourist locations, as they’re common targets. When possible, use indoor ATMs, which are harder for thieves to tamper with.
• When entering your PIN on the keypad, cover the keypad with your free hand to block the view of a spying camera.

Check your account often. If you notice unusual activity, contact us at Hopewell Federal Credit Union immediately.

As Banks Boost Fees, Credit Unions Are an Even Better Deal

Tell your friends it’s time to switch to a credit union. Why now?

As national studies report soaring bank fees on checking accounts, ATM use, and overdrafts, the data show many credit unions still offer no- or low-fee checking accounts, with no or low minimum balance requirements. On average, to avoid fees, banks require a $585 minimum balance on noninterest-bearing accounts, and a staggering $5,857 balance on interest-bearing accounts.

The studies also show:

* Credit union overdraft fees are consistently lower–$5 to $10 lower–than bank fees for nonsufficient funds.

* More credit unions than banks offer at least one free ATM transaction outside their networks.

* Credit unions’ ATM fees to nonmembers are commonly $1 lower than bank fees to noncustomers.

* Credit unions offer lower fees on loans and credit cards and higher rates on savings accounts.

* Credit union members saved $6.3 billion last year by not doing business with banks.

* In every service and performance satisfaction category, credit unions ranked higher than banks and, overall, ranked seven points higher than the financial industry average.

As member-owned nonprofit cooperatives, credit unions’ mission is to provide members with affordable financial services, while banks exist to make profits and satisfy shareholders. And credit unions provide members nationwide access. Through national ATM networks and shared branch alliances, credit unions offer nearly 30,000 cash machines and the ability to conduct in-person transactions at almost 4,700 branches.

Your friends are bound to agree. It’s time to switch to a credit union.

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

Who’s Liable if Junior Goes on a Spending Spree With Your Debit Card?

Kids these days. You hand them your three-and-a quarter-inch debit card and they take a mile. But, who is liable for Junior’s spending binge if it’s piled on top of authorized use of the card?

To understand liability with this issue, look at this example:

Mom Member gives her son, Sonny, her debit card and a list of items to pick up at the grocery store. He purchases everything on the list, but then takes a sharp turn off the path of being a good son and also decides to get some cash at the ATM, fills up his gas tank, buys pizza and soda for 20 of his closest friends, and purchases a new gaming system.

Sonny dutifully returns the card to Mom. Mom checks her account online a few days later and discovers Sonny’s shopping spree. She calls her credit union to report the “unauthorized” transactions. Is Mom entitled to get her money back? Under Regulation E, which regulates electronic funds transfers, probably not.

Reg. E says, “If the consumer grants authority to make transfers to a person (such as a family member or co-worker) who exceeds the authority given, the consumer is fully liable for the transfers unless the consumer has notified the financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized.”

If Mom Member had notified the credit union that transactions no longer were authorized while Sonny was still using the card, she wouldn’t be liable for any additional debit card transactions after providing the notice. And, the credit union could have canceled or suspended the card to prevent any further misuse.

Alas, if Mom Member discovers Sonny’s misuse after the fact, it’s too late.