Month: October 2019
Word of the Month: Interest
“Wow, Grandma! This is awesome!” Sean exclaimed as he toured his grandmother’s new boat.
With delight in his eyes, he admired what he was seeing. It was big. And it was beautiful.
Sean and Grandma sat down on the upholstered bench at the back of the boat and watched the passing waves.
“You know, Grandma,” Sean said after a while, “this must have cost a whole lot of money.”
Grandma laughed. “Well, yes and no,” she said.
“What does that mean?” asked Sean.
“Well, it did cost a lot of money, but because I saved up for it over time it wasn’t so hard. It was just a little bit at a time.”
Sean thought about this. It still sounded tough to save up so much money.
“Plus,” Grandma went on, “my saved money also earned interest, so it took even less time than I expected.”
“Interest?” asked Sean. “What’s interest?”
“Interest,” Grandma said, “which is actually referred to as ‘dividends’ by the credit union, is money that my savings earns while it’s in the account. It’s what helps my savings grow without any extra work on my part.”
“The money earns? For doing what?”
“For doing nothing!” Grandma laughed. “My credit union uses my money to loan money to my fellow members of the credit union so they can buy cars, homes and cover expenses for many other needs. Then, the credit union pays me some of those earnings since the money in my account allowed them to do that. It’s sort of a reward for saving money. You get it?”
“I’m not sure,” Sean said slowly. “Would this work for me, too? How much money do I need to save in order to earn interest?”
“Not a lot at all,” said Grandma. She sat quietly, looking out into the ocean. “I’ll tell you what,” she said after a minute. “How about I teach you about savings and interest by acting like your credit union?”
“What do you mean?” Sean asked.
“I’ll give you an extra dollar for every $10 you save over the next six months,” said Grandma. “That’s a great interest rate-10 percent! Do we have a deal?”
Sean smiled. This sounded cool. “Deal!” he said.
He was excited for the challenge. How much would he be able to save?
At first, saving some of his allowance money was easy for Sean. He put away a little at a time, a dollar here, two dollars there. It was just like Grandma had said she had done when saving up for her boat. This way, it wasn’t too hard for Sean to reach his first $10, and then his second and third. Soon, Sean had $40 saved up in a little glass jar at the edge of his desk.
But then came Sean’s birthday. His parents threw him an awesome Star Wars-themed party and all his friends and relatives came to celebrate along with him. His friends gave him presents, but most of his relatives gave him cash gifts.
When the party was over and everyone had gone home, Sean counted up his birthday money. He had gotten $250 in cash! Sean had never had so much of his own money in his life. He was thrilled! Now he’d be able to buy a few new Wii games, a new football and all the pizza he wanted. This was the best birthday ever!
But then Sean saw the little glass jar on the edge of his desk and the pile of money inside. He remembered Grandma’s boat and all she’d said about earning interest. He had $290 saved up already. With Grandma’s interest, that would be $329! And he would be making all of that money, just for holding onto his birthday money a little bit longer.
There were still five full weeks until the six months would be up and Grandma would pay him the interest he’d earned. But he really wanted to buy something with his birthday money. Could he wait that long?
After thinking about it, Sean decided to buy a new football for $25 and put the rest of his money away until the six months were up. He’d also continue saving as much money as he could.
It wasn’t easy to hold onto that money, but Sean knew it would all be worth it in the end.
And it was. When Grandma came to visit after the six months were up, she asked Sean how much money he’d managed to save. Sean told her he had $270. When Grandma handed over the $27 he’d earned, he knew he had made the right choice.
- Why do you think Grandma offered to reward Sean for his savings?
- Why do credit unions offer interest/dividends on savings?
- In your opinion, is it more important to have an account that offers greater convenience or a higher rate?
6 Ways To Spot A Payday Loan Scam
Payday loan scams may seem like old news, but they’re more common than ever. In fact, in 2018, the FTC paid a total of $505 million to more than one million victims of payday loan scams.
In this scam, a caller claiming to represent a collection agency who is acting on behalf of a loan company tells victims they must pay their outstanding balance on a payday loan. They’ll ask victims to confirm identifying details, such as their date of birth or even their Social Security number. They claim they need it as proof that they’ve seen the victim’s loan application and actually do represent the company. Unfortunately, the caller is actually a scammer trying to rip off victims or steal their identity.
In many payday loan scams, victims may have applied for a payday loan but not yet completed the application, or they may have submitted the application but not yet received the funds. In these scenarios, the victim has unknowingly applied for a loan with an illegitimate company which proceeds to sell the victim’s information to a third party. This way, the caller can appear to be an authentic loan collector because they know lots of information about the victim.
If you’ve applied for a payday loan, be on the lookout for these six red flags, any of which should alert you to the fact that you’re being scammed:
1. You’ve never received a payday loan
While these scams usually target people who have filled out an application for a payday loan, fraudsters often go after victims who haven’t completed one or who have done so but have not yet been granted the loan. Obviously, you can’t be late paying back a loan you never received.
If you haven’t completed your application or you haven’t yet received an answer from the loan company you applied to, you’re talking to a scammer.
2. The caller demands you pay under threat of arrest
Scammers often dishonestly align themselves with law enforcement agencies to coerce victims into cooperating. A legitimate loan company will never threaten you with immediate arrest.
3. The caller refuses to divulge the name of his collection agency.
If the caller actually represents a collection agency, they should have no problem identifying this agency by name. If they refuse to do so, you may be looking at a scam.
4. You can’t find any information about the agency the caller allegedly represents.
The caller is sometimes willing to name the agency, but the company is completely bogus. If you’re suspicious about the call, do a quick Google search to see what the internet has to say about this company. If you can’t find any proof of the company’s existence, such as a web page, phone number or physical address; or the search turns up evidence of previous scams, hang up.
5. You have not received a validation notice in the mail.
By law, anyone representing a collection agency and attempting to collect on an outstanding debt must send a validation letter to the debtor. This letter will inform the borrower that they can dispute the debt within 30 days. It will also detail the amount of money owed and the party to whom it must be paid.
If you have not received any such letter in the mail before the alleged debt collector calls, you’re probably looking at a scam.
6. The caller only accepts immediate payment over the phone.
If the caller was reaching out to you on behalf of a legitimate collections agency, they’d be happy to work out a payment plan with you, and provide you with an address to which you can mail your payments. When a “collector” insists that you pay in full over the phone and refuses to furnish an address to which you can mail your payments, you’re likely talking to a scammer who is only interested in getting your financial information and your money.
If you find yourself struggling to survive financially between paychecks, call, click or stop by Mutual Credit Union today. We’ll be happy to help you learn how to keep your finances at optimum health.
Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a payday loan scam or a similar con? Share your experience with us in the comments.
Mutual Credit Union Celebrates The 71st Anniversary of International Credit Union Day
On Thursday, October 17th, Mutual Credit Union will, along with more than 56,000 credit unions around the world, celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), and the philosophy and achievements of the credit union movement. There are 200+million credit union members around the world with more than 100 million in the U.S. alone-and Mutual Credit Union joins them in celebration of the not-for-profit cooperative spirit that all credit unions share.
This cooperative spirit has led to life-changing opportunities for people all over the world. At its most basic level, a credit union is people pooling their money to provide each other with affordable loans-it is literally people helping people. This is why Mutual Credit Union celebrates ICU Day. Because credit unions empower people, wherever they are in the world or life, to take control of their financial future. This year’s ICU Day theme is “Local Service. Global Reach.”
To celebrate You and International Credit Union Day we INVITE all members of Mutual Credit Union and the Public to visit any of our five branch locations for refreshments and a few goodies on Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please find a list of locations below or follow this link for more location details. Refreshments and Mutual Credit Union items available while supplies last.
- Cherry Street Branch – 1604 Cherry Street Vicksburg, MS
- Clay Street Branch – 4210 Clay Street Vicksburg, MS
- Raymond Branch – 460 East Main Street Raymond, MS
- South Frontage Road Branch – 2086 S. Frontage Road Vicksburg, MS
- Yazoo City Branch – 1505 Grand Avenue Yazoo City, MS
Mutual Credit Union members are welcome to celebrate with us in this worldwide movement that has made helping people its No. 1 priority for more than 160 years.
For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our web page. Any additional questions, please contact the marketing department at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1220.
Take Caution Before Borrowing Someone’s Charging Cable
You know the feeling. It’s like a bona fide coffee addict running low on caffeine, or like a hiker almost out of drinking water. You’re travelling and your phone is running low on juice. Frantic, you’re searching for a place to plug in and recharge. The last thing you want is to be completely stranded in a strange place with no way to order an Uber or pay for your dinner. In one last desperate move, you search through your bag for the charging cable you always keep there – and then you remember you lent it to your friend and never got it back.
What to do?
And then, like an angel, a stranger appears out of nowhere with a friendly smile on their face. They’re holding a wonderful, beautiful charging cable in their hands.
“Do you want to use this?” they ask.
What do you do?
A. Smile your thanks, grab the cable and plug in your phone.
B. Say “No, thank you,” before walking away, dead smartphone and all.
If you chose B, you made the right decision. Cybersecurity experts are warning against using a stranger’s charging cable or even borrowing one from an airport official or front-desk concierge at a hotel.
“There are certain things in life that you just don’t borrow,” says Charles Henderson, global managing partner and head of X-Force Red at IBM Security. “If you were on a trip and realized you forgot to pack underwear, you wouldn’t ask all your co-travelers if you could borrow their underwear. You’d go to a store and buy new underwear.”
Henderson heads a team of hackers that clients privately hire to break into their computers to identify vulnerabilities before blackhat hackers do. Henderson’s team will often send clients a compromised iPhone cable in the mail to see if the client will plug it in or if they’ve learned to be more cautious by discarding the charger instead.
Henderson warns that cyberhackers can easily implant charging cables with malware that can be used to hijack mobile devices and computers. This can spell complete disaster for the desperate traveler who graciously accepted the spare cable from their fellow passenger and plugged in their device.
At the annual DEF CON Hacking Conference in Las Vegas, a hacker known as MG showed the attendees how he had modified an iPhone lightning cable to serve as a hacking device. MG used the cable to connect an iPod to a Mac computer and then remotely accessed the cable’s IP address to take control of the Mac. These compromised cables are available on the Darknet for just $200 each.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that charging cables left over by previous guests in the front desk of the hotel are any better than a cable offered by a stranger.
“If the front desk had a drawer full of underwear,” says Henderson, “would you wear those?”
Unlike most scams aiming for as wide a target base as possible, using a charging cable to hack a victim’s device can only be pulled off on one victim at a time. Lucky for us, this means the charging cable hack isn’t as popular or widespread – yet. Henderson warns that the relatively inexpensive technology required for the hack and the fact that it is so easy to make the cable look completely innocent could mean an upsurge in these scams in the near future.
For now, it’s best to be aware of this threat and to practice caution when travelling.
Henderson adds that using public USB charging stations is currently a larger threat than compromised cables. These stations can easily be compromised and open your device to all sorts of malware and vulnerabilities. It’s best to use your own charger at all times.
“In a computing context, sharing cables is like sharing your password,” says Henderson, “because that’s the level of access you’re crucially conveying with these types of technology.”
To avoid falling victim to this hack, always pack an extra charging cable in your handbag. If you forgot to take one along or you can’t seem to find it, purchase a new one to use while you’re away. You can find charging cables in almost any convenience store for under $10 – a small investment for your safety.
The next time you’re running low on juice and a stranger offers you the use of their charging cable, make the safe choice!
Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by using a borrowed charging cable? Tell us about it in the comments.