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Know where your money is coming from.

Apr 13, 17 • NewsNo Comments

What does a Nigerian prince, a secret shopper job that pre-pays and a foreign lottery all have in common? 99.9% of the time they are all a scam. The scenario is different but the result is the same. The victim(you) is asked to deposit a check or money order, sent from the scammer, into your financial institution account. The victim is then told to wire or Western Union money back to the scammer, but the victim gets to keep a partial amount. By the time all is said and done, the check is returned to the victim’s account as fraudulent and they’re out the full amount of the deposited check. With no recourse to the scammer.

How can this happen?

Knowing where your checks and money orders are coming from ensures that this is less likely to happen to you. Following basic safety measures and checking sources before allowing yourself to become victim of fraud helps keep your account safe and your money secure.

  • Don’t accept a check or money order from someone you don’t know or for reasons you’re unsure of.
    • People and businesses don’t normally send out free money for illegitimate or no reason, ESPECIALLY if you don’t know them.
    • Not all cashier’s checks are legitimate. There is technology out there today that anyone can purchase to make a real enough looking cashier’s check that even a Credit Union teller would not be able to tell the difference.
  • Don’t send money to somebody you don’t know.
    • Even if her grandson needs help getting out of jail, grandma is not as innocent as her email makes her sound. It’s probably not even grandma. Unless you recognize the person’s contact information ignore the requests.
  • Do NOT give your information to anyone. Whether it be through email, text or over the phone.
  • If you happen to be selling something to someone, accept only cash or payment through a payment service like Paypal.
    • If you are in a legitimate transaction of selling an item and the purchaser requests you to send money back immediately end the transaction.

If you feel like you may have been tricked into any of these scams or something similar please report it to the money transfer company as well as the FTC and your Financial Institution.

  • MoneyGram: 1-800-666-3947, www.moneygram.com
  • Western Union: 1-800-448-1492, www.westernunion.com
  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission):  www.ftc.gov

Careful Credit is Better than no Credit!

Sep 8, 14 • News1 Comment

Careful Credit is Better than no Credit!

 

You don’t want to have a mountain of debt, but you also cannot avoid credit. The fact is that you need credit throughout your life, and you want to have a high score in order to enjoy the most attractive terms. Here’s what you should know about credit, building credit and how you can benefit from responsible credit building.

The Reporting Agencies and Credit Scores
Credit management starts with understanding how the credit reports work. The reports include information such as address and place of employment in addition to the loans you have. It lists information on when the loan was taken or the account opened, the high balance, current balance, available open credit and payment history. It also shows all inquiries within a certain period. The reporting agencies will create a score based on all of this information.
When you Need Credit

There are certain purchases that require credit. A new house, car, motorcycle or even a top-of-the-line computer will probably require the use of credit to make the purchase. However, a good credit rating isn’t just for getting a great rate on your next loan. Utility and cell phone companies will look at your credit score when determining if a deposit will be required. There is a growing trend for companies to look at credit scores when making hiring decisions, particularly if you’re in the field of finance. Your credit score can have an impact on numerous areas of your life, so it’s important to be responsible with credit.

How to Start Building Credit

The hardest thing about building credit is getting that first loan. One option is to have someone cosign for you. Another option is to get a secured credit card. With the secured card, you’ll put funds into a savings account. Your limit will be equal to those funds, and the company will reserve the right to keep the secured balance if you don’t make the required payments.

How to Build a Higher Score

The score is based in part on your available credit and outstanding balances. Owing more than 50 percent of your line of credit on a card will bring the score down. Late payments are particularly damaging to your score. If you open numerous accounts in a short period, then your score can drop as a result. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to build a higher score.
• Pay bills early..
• Maintain low balances in relation to the limit. If your card has a $4,000 limit, you should never let the balance go above $2,000.
• Put extra money on the bills every month to bring the balances down faster.
• Skip the department store cards to limit the amount of open credit accounts you carry.
• Leave the unused card accounts open to help develop a long credit history and raise your score.

Mistakes to Avoid

You need to use credit to build the score and enjoy the benefits, but you must be responsible about it. If you’re charging small items to build up a history, then keep track of your purchases every month and be prepared to pay the balance off when the card arrives. Otherwise, do not charge little items like gas for the car, groceries, clothes and other items. Use the credit cards when you want to make a bigger purchase, and then put extra money on the bill every month to pay it off quickly. Don’t fall into the habit of charging extra items and telling yourself that it’s only a few extra dollars a month. It will cost you far more in interest charges, and it can lead to a dropping credit score if you aren’t careful.

Allied Federal Credit Union knows that credit is important to your life, but we also understand that you have to be responsible with credit. We’re here to help you improve your financial situation, and we’re happy to provide you with the personalized advice that you need. Contact us today to learn more about how to develop credit and improve your score for better financial option in the future.

How to give your child an upper hand with credit

Jun 11, 14 • News3 Comments

Sooner than you think, your children will be going out into the world. They will very quickly find that, perhaps, the greatest asset they need is a good credit rating and track record. Here’s how you can help. These steps, when executed carefully and responsibly will give your child an upper hand as they venture out into the world, in which a good credit rating is necessary. Some of the below items have been abused by irresponsible parents who have ruined their own credit rating, and then go on to wreck their teen’s in the same way. If you decide to employ any of the tactics below, do so with your child’s permission and active involvement. This is not a decision you make for them, but an opportunity to pass on valuable life skills, and set them up for the future.

Open a savings and/or checking account

Help your child open a checking and/or savings account that comes with a debit card. If under 18, a parent must help set up these accounts. Explain that the savings account is for investment, and the checking account is used for making purchases. Your child’s financial responsibility will be reflected in the way these accounts are handled. Help teach your child about credit by explaining that any overdrafts as a result of using the debit card may negatively affect their credit rating. This will also give you the opportunity to learn how well your child handles their money before giving them access to credit.

Give your Child Limited Credit to Learn With

To help build your child’s credit, they will need to have their own credit cards, or have loans in their own names. If the card is in your name with the child as an authorized user; or if the loan is in your name only with the child making the payments, it may help your track record, but will do nothing toward building credit for your child. Whether applying for a credit card, or obtaining a used car loan, your child will likely need a co-signer. Also, to obtain an auto loan, the child must be 18. Prior to your teens 18th birthday,consider starting your teen off with a credit card with a very low available credit, maybe $100-500, with you as the cosigner. Once they’re 18 and have hopefully proven themselves, decide if they’re ready to be responsible for a car payment.

Observe Carefully!

If you agree to co-sign with your child, you are responsible for paying the bills if your child falls short. Depending on the circumstances it, too, may reflect on your credit score. This is another reason to make sure they’re acting responsibly. They could be running up your bill.

Take advantage of bills you already have to pay.

Consider putting one or two household bills in their name. By doing so, and making sure they pay them regularly and on time, you will be adding one more way to help teach your child about credit—at the same time increasing their credit rating. You might even avoid giving them the money to pay these bills. Paying out of their own pockets will help them to learn fiscal responsibility. Sure, you can reimburse them later on!

Making timely payments

Make sure they understand they must stay within their credit card limit, which will probably be quite low for a first time user. Explain that running up a high bill and paying only the minimum monthly payment, even if it’s on time, will not help their credit score. The credit card use, or loan history, is reported to the credit bureaus every month. It takes a responsible user several years to build a respectable credit rating.

Credit cards to build your teens credit?

If you’re unsure of your child’s ability to handle the responsibility that goes with a credit card, consider a secured credit card. This requires a security deposit equal to the amount of the credit limit, thus building credit for your child without so much worry on your part. If your child likes to shop at a store that has a secured debit card program, this is another option. But make sure you know how much your child loads onto the card.

A child’s first venture into the world of credit is an exciting experience for them, but an untravelled road for the parent. Each child will be different—one may need to be held back on their first shopping spree, another may be more hesitant about using their newfound credit. It’s important that you keep close tabs, explaining what they need to know, or just ‘putting the brakes on’ for a while until the child gains more understanding.

Whatever you decide to do, come in and talk to one of our Financial Service Representatives. We’ll be glad to help you get your child on the right path to financial responsibility.

How Credit Unions Began

Jun 11, 14 • News2 Comments

How Credit Unions Began: The Origin of the Not-For-Profit Financial Institution

While banks such as Chase and Well’s Fargo advertise constantly on television, credit unions usually don’t. If you’re still wondering “what is a credit union?” the very simple answer is that it provides many of the services of a bank, but usually with lower fees, lower interest rates on loans, or better interest rates on deposits. Legal Differences From BanksLegally, credit unions are a not-for-profit financial institution. Every customer who maintains a minimum balance (typically $5 to $25, depending on the credit union’s charter) is considered a share-holding owner of the organization, and is eligible to vote for the officers that run the establishment, and vote on future policies.

For those curious, the difference between a not-for-profit institution and a non-profit institution lies in fundraising and taxes on any surplus revenue generated. A non-profit charity is reliant on donations or interest on an initial endowment, while a not-for-profit organization can charge fees and interest for services. This not-for-profit status means that credit unions are exempt from many of the federal taxes levied on banks; they still pay state and county taxes.

Banks, which rely on commercial lending as their bread and butter, have been trying to get that federal tax exemption changed since late 2011, when Occupy Wall Street caused many customers to close their bank accounts and join credit unions instead. Credit unions hold roughly 6% of the savings in the United States, compared to banks holding 93%; the banks claim that the federal tax exemption creates an unfair advantage for credit unions.

Community Focused Mission

Most credit unions have membership charters. To become a member and open an account, you have to be tied to whatever membership requirement the credit union has. Credit unions are tied to labor unions, educational institutions, geographical regions, military service members, and other affiliations. Credit unions are also restricted in the percentage of their assets they can use as collateral for business loans, which causes them to be quite selective in who they lend to among their membership.

Most of the benefits of a credit union comes from their mission of promoting thrift: They don’t spend great amounts on advertising, like banks do. For the most part, credit unions are dedicated to providing community-based service to their shareholders, running a small surplus, and maintaining a steady business. Because they’re not publicly traded companies, there is no distortion of their core mission by the whims of shareholders, or executive teams, trying to make a quarterly profit.

Founding Of The Movement

Among the first people asking “what is a credit union?” were the residents of Eilenburg and Delitzch in Germany, back in 1852. The first credit unions were formed there, after expanding the idea of a builder’s association, which was a financial service that allowed builders to pool capital and make loans to one another for construction projects. With a few tweaks to the portfolio of lending services to better serve rural members, credit unions spread across Germany, then to France, Italy and England by 1888.

The first credit union founded in the Western Hemisphere was founded in 1901 in Montreal, and in Manchester, New Hampshire in the US in 1908. Now, nearly 44% of all US checking accounts are drawn on credit unions, with membership benefits of a credit union extended to over 95 million American citizens.

Worldwide, credit unions are very popular financial services providers, with over a billion members worldwide in over 100 countries. While the benefits of a credit union are many, they vary from country to country, and the strict legal definition (including membership affiliation and not-for-profit status) can vary.

If you’re looking for a financial institution that will treat you like a member, not an account-holder to be gouged with monthly fees and service charges, look to a credit union. Membership, to quote the old slogan, has its benefits.

Unused features of many checking accounts

Jun 11, 14 • NewsNo Comments

When it comes to opening up a credit union checking account, you might not think about all of the great features this account offers. Like many people, you may spend more energy comparing features like cashback incentives and fee-free options. And while those features help you save money, there may be some great bonus incentives for utilizing a checking account that could help you in other ways. Read on to learn more about these great checking account features and how they could help simplify your life.

Customized Debit Cards

From personalized phone cases to customized photo blankets, personalization can help you stand out in a crowd while providing a fun keepsake. With our “Picture It” Visa Cards, you can enjoy the fun customization of a family photo right on your favorite check card. This simple technique takes only five minutes at one of our convenient locations, and you can use the card like any other debit card in your wallet.

Aside from giving you total customization, a “Picture It” Visa Card can help prevent identity theft. With so many bank cards looking nearly identical, your card will stand out to retailers and store clerks across the country. Using your personalized card will make stores pay closer attention, and your fun family photo may just prevent a would-be criminal from using the card in case of theft.

Fee-free ATMs

Getting cash out of the ATM can be frustrating when the machine charges a few extra dollars. You won’t need to worry about unexpected ATM charges with our fee-free checking account access. With more than 28,000 participating ATMs, you’ll be able to get the cash you need without the extra surcharge. Simply choose an ATM in the Co-Op network of our banking system, and you can enjoy a fee-free transaction every time.

Virtual Bill Pay

You can use your credit union checking account to pay bills virtually using the Virtual Bill Pay feature offered on all checking accounts. You won’t have to search for a stamp or risk missing a bill payment using this fast and convenient method for paying bills on time, every time.

Mobile Banking Assistance

These days, it can be tough to set aside time for routine financial tasks. When it comes to banking, you don’t always have the time to stop by your home branch to check on the status of your account. For those who live life on-the-go, mobile banking is a must. One of the most convenient checking account benefits is the ability to monitor your bank account no matter where you travel. Check your balances, transfer money and even pay bills using our specially designed Mobiliti Touchbanking app for your mobile device. Rest assured that the app is completely safe and allows quick access to your account.

Automatic Transfer Options

Do you need to pay off one of your credit union loans? With the automatic transfer option in your checking account, you can easily transfer funds between accounts to pay down balances and monitor your balances. This convenient checking account feature allows you to stay on top of your finances quickly and easily.

Additional Features
Along with the great checking account benefits listed above, all of our checking accounts offer additional features designed to simplify your banking experience. From free e-statements to unlimited monthly transactions, you can enjoy a wide range of services that will help you manage and track your spending with ease. Best of all, our UChoose Rewards Visa Card offers you the chance to earn points on everyday purchases every time you use your card and choose the signature option to pay. With so many great features, choosing a checking account can be a great investment into your financial future.

At Allied Federal Credit Union, we want our members to enjoy the maximum benefits of all of their banking accounts which is why we’ve compiled this list of some common but unused features of many of our checking accounts. If you’ve got additional questions about checking account features or banking in general, then we’d love to hear from you. Call or visit us today to find out how we can help you find the right account that meets your needs and goals.

4 Myths and Misunderstandings about Credit Unions

Mar 10, 14 • NewsNo Comments

Many people have heard of the numerous benefits members of a Credit Union receive, but a few believe that there are also drawbacks associated with these types of financial institutions. Sadly, these drawbacks are usually based on myths that do not or no longer apply to this type of institution. By explaining these common myths, most people come to understand that their local credit union is exactly where they want to conduct their financial business. (more…)

5 Smart Ways to Put Your Tax Refund to Use

Mar 2, 14 • NewsNo Comments

Practical tips that let you have your Tax Refund and spend it, Too

Although no one is really sure that they will get the tax refund of their expectations, it is filing season and there is a deadline in place. File early and while you are waiting, make a very short list of your plans for that refund once it arrives. Depending upon your expectations, you should have up to five destinations for your income tax refund. If you don’t have anything firm in mind, the following suggestions would be great places to start.

Five Practical Tax Refund Investments

Everyone’s needs are different, and your unique situation will play a huge role in how you choose to spend your tax return, but the following are among the 5 smartest things you can do with your tax return: (more…)

Budgeting for 2014 – Start on the right foot financially.

Jan 20, 14 • NewsNo Comments

New Year’s resolutions embody our dreams for the future. Statistically speaking, follow-through rates on resolutions are very low, however, our dreams are very big. Taking small steps is the easiest way to start toward a dream, proving that small steps pay off in the end.

Resolve to improve your personal finance in 2014. Here are a six good practices for budgeting for the new year, along with a suggestion for a small step to take with each one. Take your choice, or try them all. (more…)

How do Credit Unions Differ From Banks?

Dec 23, 13 • NewsNo Comments

In the post-recession times, it is very natural for people to look for financial institutions that make it easier for them to cut back on banking costs as well as provide them with the option of maximizing their savings. For this reason, credit unions have become the preferred options for many people who want to increase their earning potential as well as help their funds grow. If you have been considering the option to make a switch from traditional banking to a local financial institution, it is imperative for you to understand the difference between the two.

Differences Between Banks and Credit Unions

As you delve into more details about the cooperative banking options, you will find that there are a number of factors that set them apart from a traditional bank. You can learn more about these differences in detail through personal financial counseling and base your final decision on the financial advice you receive from your counselor. (more…)