Category Archives: Financial Wellness

Say “Bah Humbug” to Holiday Scams

Christmas on laptop iStock_000010766072Small

Christmas carols, stockings hung by the fire, time to celebrate with friends and family—we love the holidays! Unfortunately, so do fraudsters, and as budgets get tight this time of year, scammers often ramp up their efforts. Don’t get scrooged by holiday fraud attempts, which come in many guises. Beware of situations such as these: Phone, Text, and Email Scams Fraudsters often pose as legitimate service providers asking for your account information. Such attempts are known as “phishing” (by email) or “smishing” (by text). They may route you to a fraudulent website where you are to fill in your personal details. Don’t be fooled! Consumers will NEVER contact you over the phone, by text, or by email asking you to provide personal information such as account numbers and Social Security numbers. If you receive a request over the phone or online from someone asking you to provide such information, do not … …continue

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If It’s Too Good to Be True…

Excited Shopping Woman

As budgets get tight around the holidays, fraudsters often ramp up their scam attempts. Mystery shopper or secret shopper schemes are particularly common this time of year. These schemes may be advertised online or the scammer may target individuals by mail or email. This kind of fraud tends to target victims who are out of work, looking for more work, or otherwise in a tight financial situation—in other words, those who can’t afford to be a victim of fraud. This makes identifying scam attempts all the more important to potential victims. The following red flags indicate that a mystery shopper or secret shopper offer is a scam: You are unfamiliar with the company or individual contacting you to participate in their mystery shopper program. You receive a communication asking you to keep your participation confidential or not reveal the source of funds received for the activities.  You receive a check … …continue

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Lifelong Money Management Tips

Financial Plan

The information in this post is provided by our partner Accel Financial Counseling. Accel’s counseling services and educational programs are available free to all Consumers members. It’s never too late to get your financial records organized. Here are some tips to help you sort through all your documents. Keep a home file in a fire-safe box to maximize the efficiency of your financial records. Items should include: Information on credit cards, debit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, and copies of contracts Copies of insurance policies Information on home mortgages, land, and other property Information on motor vehicles and driver’s licenses Copies of birth, marriage, death, divorce, and citizenship papers Copy of will, last instructions, and safe deposit box keys Tax records for the last six years Records of pension plans, education, health records, and employment Current household inventory. List everything you own, how much it cost, and approximately how old … …continue

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More Employers Providing Financial Counseling to Staff

Business Savings

A quarter of companies in the U.S. now offer their employees one-on-one financial counseling and more than half offer one-on-one investment advice, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. And these employers have good reason to provide this extra service: Distracted employees are less productive. In fact, a recent survey from McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union found that 36% of respondents said they spend at least two hours per day worrying about their finances or handling them. Accordingly, about 44% of male respondents and 49% of female respondents reported having difficulty concentrating as a result of the stress. Because of this, financial education is becoming an essential part of a company’s wellness program, just like physical wellness. Companies that support the all-around well-being of their workers see higher productivity levels. Would your business and employees benefit from a financial wellness program? Our Consumers @Work program brings … …continue

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Eight Questions to Ask Yourself to Avoid Scams and Fraud

Puzzled Girl

While some attempts at fraud are blatantly obvious, others are sneakier—and can prove extremely devastating. When you’re searching online for a great deal or evaluating an offer you’ve received in the mail or electronically, here are eight questions to ask yourself when you’re unsure of its legitimacy. 1. Does the reward (or payment) make sense for the task involved? 2. Is this offer out of the ordinary? 3. Does this offer require sending money to someone (or a business) that I was previously unfamiliar with? 4. Is the ad soliciting for a “secret shopper” (a frequent scam tactic)? 5. Do the funds originate from an offer on Craigslist? 6. Am I being asked to return money via wire transfer, Western Union, or other methods? 7. Does the offer specify that I’m not to tell my credit union or bank about the origins of the money? 8. Does the offer sound … …continue

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Protect Yourself from Craigslist Fraud

Some attempts at fraud are blatantly obvious. For instance: that typo-filled email you got from a sketchy sounding foundation asking you to send them your account information or wire them money so that they can send you a cash award you’ve never even heard of. Others are sneakier—and can be more devastating when they claim victims. We’ve recently had members bring to our attention a rising number of scams related to Craiglist and secret shoppers. In one version of these scams, a member will receive a check with a letter asking her to use the funds to make purchases at a certain store in order to participate in the secret shopper program, keep some of the money as reimbursement for the time involved, and wire the excess back to the sender. In another, a member receives a check with a letter asking him to cash it, keep a certain amount … …continue

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You’re Invited! Complimentary Long-Term Care Seminar on March 28

Who’s going to take care of you as you age? Your spouse? Your children? The government? On Thursday, March 28, 2013, Consumers Credit Union’s Gull Road office is hosting a complimentary Long-Term Care Seminar at 6:00 pm to help you think through the above questions. The seminar will be presented by guest speaker, Dennis V. Rinner, CFP, one of the most sought after speakers on Long-Term Care. Rinner will discuss the risks associated with losing your savings and assets to Long-Term Care and Health Expenses. Attendees will also learn: What Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance will and won’t cover How to secure your financial future in advance of a catastrophic illness Ways you can minimize the impact of health issues that occur before or during retirement How to safeguard your loved ones from the expense and burden of providing care should you become disabled Strategies to help you maintain … …continue

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Don’t Set Yourself Up for Financial Failure: An Interview with Sean Mansell, Collection & Loan Servicing Manager

The past few weeks, Sean has shared with us his tips on debt management and bankruptcy. In this third post in a three part series,  we’re taking a step back with advice on how to avoid getting over your head in debt in the first place. Sean’s favorite saying is a John Lennon quote: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” When it comes to your finances, it’s best to prepare for the unforeseen in order to avoid the sticky financial situations that arise when times get tough. Here’s what Sean recommends.   You’ve worked in the financial industry for many years. What do you often see get people into trouble financially? Oftentimes what I’ve seen people get into trouble with are the little things that creep up on you. It’s thinking, “Well, I only have a small balance on this credit card,” so you get another credit card … …continue

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I Think I Need to Declare Bankruptcy: Now What? A Conversation with Sean Mansell, Collection and Loan Servicing Manager

Last week Sean shared the basics of bankruptcy and debt management strategies with us. Today we’re going a bit more in-depth. Of course no one wants to experience the negative repercussions of declaring bankruptcy, but sometimes it’s the best option for a fresh start. This is the second post in a three-part series. When a member is considering bankruptcy, why would they – and we – want to make sure they’ve explored their other possible options first? In a bankruptcy, everyone loses. We, as an organization, lose. The member ends up losing, because unfortunately they’re put behind a negative credit situation – which they can recover from. But ultimately we want to try to help the member keep up with their payments, because it offers a win-win solution. We’re helping the member stay in their home, keep their car, and minimize their credit damage. But we’re also helping our membership … …continue

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Understanding Bankruptcy: A Conversation with Sean Mansell, Collection and Loan Servicing Manager

Bankruptcy is a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. We sat down with our Collections and Loan Servicing Manager, Sean Mansell, to learn the basics of bankruptcy, how to avoid it when possible, and what to do when it’s really your best option.  This is the first post in a three-part series. Bankruptcy has negative connotations, but it can be necessary in some situations. When should someone consider declaring bankruptcy? Really, the purpose of a bankruptcy is for a fresh start. Now, there are people who abuse the bankruptcy code, but there are people out there for whom bankruptcy is a viable option, and it’s not a four letter word. It can actually help them provide relief and allow them to start the path to credit recovery. However, there still are negative connotations that are associated with bankruptcy as well as negative repercussions. First and foremost: credit. If … …continue

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