131127-NTIS-Savings-Blog

In today’s unsettled economy, many people are looking for ways to stretch their money and sometimes this includes altering insurance coverage to dangerously low levels or eliminating coverage entirely. If you’re thinking about changing your coverage to save money, consider these key issues below and give us a call. We can help make sure you have the right protection at a price you can afford. Continue reading

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As you learned in part one of this blog, Willingly Robbed: Modern Payment Scams, there are many tricks con artists use to scam you out of your hard-earned money. While online security can be a scary topic to approach, there are some tips to keep in mind that can protect you from falling victim to one of these ruthless tricks. Continue reading

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You check your email one day and see you have a job offer. You already have a job, but the offer is one that would allow you to pick up a little extra money in your spare time. And the job itself sounds fun—secret shopping. All you need is a bank account. You respond to the email and get a friendly message back welcoming you to the program. You’re told your first assignment will be for a money wiring service. You are told that you will receive a cashier’s check for $4,000. You are to deposit it into your bank account and then wire $3,500 of that money back to the secret shopping service using a local Western Union outlet. The remaining $500 is yours to keep. You are also given a form to fill out about your experience. This is likely the easiest $500 you will ever make.

You follow the instructions you are given and everything works just as you expect, until one day you get a call from your bank telling you that the $4,000 cashier’s check was returned as fraudulent and you are out not only the $4000 for the check that was no good, but also the $3,500 in real money that you wired out. You are now $7,500 in the hole.

Unfortunately, this happens more than you might think. And it’s not just fake secret shopping jobs. Fraudsters have come up with a number of ways to get you to willingly send them money. Here are just a few of them: Continue reading

Tuesday evening, we will make updates to EECU’s Online Banking program to enhance security for your accounts. Many of you have already updated your account with a new username and a phone number or email address for account verification purposes, but if you haven’t already, you will be required to do so when you log in after the update.

What will change?

The first time you log in after the update, you will be greeted with a new screen. What you are asked to do at that point will depend on your current settings.

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EECU’s investment services team works each day to help our members choose investments and build portfolios that support their immediate and long-term financial goals. And in doing so, our advisors have become familiar with common concerns and misconceptions of the investments world. Here, they weigh in on a few of the most frequently asked questions.

Can you get me higher returns on my investments?

The short answer is, “Yes.” The long answer contains an honest question: “How much risk are you willing to take?” You see, there are always investments that offer higher rates of return, but it’s not comparing apples to apples. Higher risk—and sometimes lower quality—investments often have to pay higher yields to attract investors. Not all investors can afford or stomach the risks associated with these. There are, however, investments that balance out the risk and have a good track record of producing above-average income without as much risk. Of course, it’s important to note that these still carry more risk than a federally insured savings account or certificate of deposit (CD). Continue reading

My friend did not use her debit card very often. But one day her financial institution’s fraud department alerted her that that her card was being used to simultaneously charge $1000 at a truck stop in El Paso AND charge hundreds of dollars at various home furnishing stores in Rockwall. My friend was in neither place while those debits were occurring. Fortunately, after filling out and signing some forms, she was able to get her money back. But what happened? And how do you prevent it?

In her case, there were a couple of possibilities. She had recently used the card to buy lunch at a restaurant in the area. As is typical in these types of establishments, her card was out of her sight for a few minutes while the debit transaction was being processed. The server could’ve used an easily concealable handheld device to “skim” the card and store the information for later use. Skimmers are easily available online and can be used in situations like this to steal card information. Continue reading

If you paid a casual visit to the NBC website on Feb. 21, you likely got a little something extra with your info or funny video—computer malware designed to steal Online Banking credentials (see here and here). Welcome to the new world of bank robbery. Thankfully, there are ways to protect yourself.

Sophisticated criminals no longer wear masks and pass menacing notes to tellers. No, today’s bank robber simply infects a website with malware, then waits for users to become infected and log in to Online Banking on their own. The hidden malware on the user’s infected computer quietly passes the Online Banking login information back to the criminal, or in more sophisticated attacks, allows the criminal to highjack your session while you are still logged in. Later you may notice that money was sent to an unknown person or business using person-to-person payments or even Bill Pay.

I suspect that most of you will have one of two responses:

“My computer can get infected just by visiting a website?”

or

“I have antivirus software on my computer so shouldn’t I be safe?”

Continue reading

Article written by Barry Paperno for Credit.com

Some things never change when it comes to what annoys people about credit scores. While consumers’ understanding of credit scores has evolved over the years, within that always-increasing level of understanding there remain some parts of credit scoring, such as inquiries, that people just don’t seem to get. They get the idea of late payments and maxed out credit cards predicting risk. But inquiries?

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A credit inquiry is a notation that goes on your credit report every time your credit report is accessed by anyone with a “permissible purpose,” as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Inquiries remain on a credit report for two years, and generally fall into two categories: hard and soft inquiries. Only hard inquiries from within the past year can impact credit scores. Older hard inquiries and soft inquiries are ignored by the scores entirely. Continue reading

Good credit: it’s difficult to get, and even more difficult to understand. You’ll have an easier time building credit if you know the building blocks of a good credit score. Turns out it’s a bit more complicated than saving money and staying debt free.

Your credit score (also called a FICO score) is a 3-digit number based on a formula issued by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). This formula uses 5 different factors to determine your overall credit worthiness. You don’t need to have each factor memorized, but you do need to make your payments on time, maintain accounts that build credit, and avoid a few common pitfalls. Here’s the breakdown:

1. Payment history – 35%

Making regular payments on your credit cards, student loans and other debts will boost your credit score. Any missed payment will lower it. Recent history counts more, so if you’re making a good effort to repay your debts now, fear not: credit bureaus will take notice.

2. Amounts you owe – 30%

Long story short, don’t max out your credit cards. Credit bureaus look at the difference between your spending limits and the total amount of debt you have, so if you carry a balance regularly, this will lower your score. However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to installment loans (like student loans), which can actually improve your score if you keep up with the payments. Continue reading