Volunteer At A Soup Kitchen

This holiday season, take a break from frenzied consumerism by thinking about those who are truly less fortunate than you.Soup Kitchen Choose one block of time this month to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. When the colder weather draws larger than normal crowds, they can certainly use all the help you can offer. 

Once you’ve been given your job, roll up your sleeves and get to work – but be sure to keep your eyes open. Offer a smile to those who look especially downtrodden, a helping hand to the infirm and some warm words to anyone who can use it. Serve up lunch with an extra dose of kindness and brighten people’s day. 

When your shift is complete, you’ll find that you haven’t only given of your energy and time, you’ve also gained a new perspective in life by rubbing shoulders with the needy. When you dive back into your holiday prep, you’ll remember to appreciate all you have. 

Turn the holidays into a happy time for others! 

Ways to Serve or Donate in our Local Community:

United Way Holiday needs     United Way Holiday Ideas

Making The Holidays Count

Don’t spend your holidays sleeping in until noon and letting the time slip through your fingers with nothing to show for it.college break with laptop

Check out our handy list of ways you can make the holidays count while still getting some of that much-needed rest and relaxation you’ve been craving all semester. You can still get your beauty rest and sleep in, only not until noon – well, at least not every day.

1. Apply for scholarships and internships

During the semester, you’re so bogged down with schoolwork and other obligations that finding the time to pursue scholarships and internships can be daunting. Put your looser holiday schedule to good use by getting a leg up on your applications. Devote one afternoon – or more if you can swing it – to researching and applying for those scholarships and internships. One great resource can be found at careeronestop.org –  Scholarship Finder. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this search provides great tools to find those scholarships that match up with you best. Don’t Delay! Many deadlines are December 31, 2018 at midnight! 

2. Catch up with old friends

Don’t let your childhood friendships die because of neglect! Take the time this season to call up your old neighborhood pals and high school friends and have fun hanging out with those who know you best.

3. Plan next semester

Get a head start on planning next semester’s schedule by taking the time to do it now. You’ll be able to think more clearly when you’re not pressured and you can make your decisions at leisure. You might also want to give a thought to creating a daily, weekly and/or monthly study schedule to help you give school work your best shot.

4.   Workout

Don’t go back to school with that telltale holiday bulge! Fit a regular workout routine into your more relaxed vacation schedule and skip the binge-eating this season. You’ll look and feel a whole lot better! Many gyms offer a visitors plan or a trial price to try out their facility. This would be a great way to workout on a budget!

5.   Perfect your resume, cover letter and personal essays

It’s always a good idea to review, update and improve these documents every few months or so. Why not do it now? All it takes is an hour or two to make sure your resume, cover letter and personal essays show you in the best possible light. Be sure to tweak with any changes you’ve had in your work experience and education level and, of course, triple check for those pesky typos!

6.   Spend quality time with family

This might sound obvious, but don’t forget to spend some relaxed time just catching up with your family and creating new memories to take back with you to the dorm. It’s more than just sharing meals; give them your undivided attention, away from your phone.

7.   Volunteer

You might not have much opportunity to give back to the community during the semester, but when you’re on holiday break, why not offer your time and energy to a local cause? To partner with local agencies, consider contacting the United Way of West Central Mississippi at 601-636-1733 to match your time and skills with serving others. Volunteer to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign or identify a need near to your home.

Your Turn: How do you make your holidays count? Share your best tips and techniques in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/the-10-things-you-should-do-over-holiday-break

https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-experience/2011/11/23/holiday-survival-guide-for-college-students-and-parents

Do Your Kids Have Virtual Shopping Smarts?

Did you know that 73% of millennials questioned in a Bazaar Voice survey do all their Online shopping tips for youthshopping on their smartphones? It’s not surprising. The world of commerce is constantly becoming more digitized as retailers focus on improving their online presence to cater to cyberspace shoppers.

Online shopping has its downsides, though, mainly in the form of surprises when the item arrives, costly shipping expenses and impulse buys that are made too easily. Fortunately, it has its upsides, too.

Comparing prices between stores is a lot simpler when all it takes is clicking through a few sites instead of traipsing all over town. Couponing is now also just a matter of seconds, with no need for tedious clipping and saving.

Teach your kids to make the best of online shopping with this fun, educational activity. All you need is a computer!

Step One

First, sit down with your child to brief them on the ups and downs of online shopping. Talk about comparing prices, checking for discount codes and being wary of overspending or buying items of inferior quality. Teach them about reading reviews and looking for reputable companies. Mention comparison-shopping engines like Google, and others they may have never used, like Nextag, Price Grabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla.

Step Two

When they have the information down pat, tell them they will now be tasked with buying an item online! The item should be something popular and one they’re interested in.

Step Three

Give your child a debit or credit card, a fixed budget for the item and the following instructions:

The goal is to purchase the lowest-priced, yet best-made product. This will earn a minimum of 100 points. They will earn points for each part of the process, using the following guidelines:

Guidelines

1. The purchase must be of decent quality. They can earn 25 points for this category.
2. Shipping costs should not constitute more than 10% of the object’s price. The lower the
shipping costs, the more they earn for this category, with free shipping earning the full 15 points.
3. They must search for discount codes and coupons before making the purchase. This
can be done by checking coupon sites like Retailmenot and Couponcabin, or by signing
up for a store’s emails and earning a promotional discount. 5 points will be rewarded for
every discount search/website visited in search of a coupon code. Actually finding and
using a discount can earn them 15 points.
4. If your child is ordering from eBay or another site with multiple sellers, they should be
careful to only make purchases from sellers with excellent ratings. Buying from a badly
rated seller can cost them 5 points and using a high-rated seller can earn them 5 points.
5. Price is of utmost importance. If their object is of decent quality and very well-priced,
they can earn up to 40 points. 5 points will be given for every search for a cheaper
product.
6. Points will be taken off for any random ad-clicks, failure to do substantial price-checks
and comparisons, and for ignoring discount offers.
7. Sit back and watch, being careful not to offer any advice as your child makes a
purchase.
8. Tally up the score and explain the points you gave, congratulating your child on their
online shopping skills.

Your child is now cyberspace-savvy!

Your Turn: Are there any online shopping tips or tools that you have shared with your child or just a tip you yourself follow when shopping online? Share in the comments.

Source: www.cucontent.com

 

How Should I Fund My Holiday Shopping?

Q: I’ve made my gift list and I’m checking it twice. But, I’m getting a bit panicky just thinking about how I’m going to pay for all this stuff! What’s the best way to get me through this expensive season?  friends_window_shopping

A: Relax! You can keep your budget and your sanity, too! You can do it without having to dip into your savings or rack up a high-interest credit card bill that you’ll be paying off well into 2019. Instead, learn about your choices so you can spend responsibly and keep your holiday cheer all through the season. 

Let’s explore your options and take a look at why they may or may not be right for you.   

1.) No-interest credit cards 

It’s never a good idea to rack up debt. However, if you can get your hands on a credit card that offers an initial no-interest period, you can borrow the money to fund those purchases without it costing you a penny in interest. 

Nice: This can be a perfect solution for you if you have an excellent credit score and concrete plans to pay back the bill before the zero interest period ends. 

Naughty: Don’t go this route if you have a poor track record of paying down your credit card bills. You might end up carrying that balance well after the intro period ends. You’ll then be hit with super-high interest rates that will make your holiday expenses go much higher. 

2.) Personal loans 

Anytime you need a pile of dough, you can stop by Mutual Credit Union to apply for a personal loan. Our representatives are always happy to help, and you can walk out with the money you need to fund your holiday shopping shortly after starting your application. 

Nice: Like all of our lending products, our personal loans have low interest rates, which makes the payback plan affordable for almost any budget. 

Naughty: If you’re already carrying a load of debt and unpaid loans, don’t take out another one just to get you through the holidays. Consider lower cost gift ideas and focus on paying off debt.  

3.) Skip-a-Payment 

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we understand that the holidays can be super expensive for our members. That’s why we offer you our own gift this time of year: the option to skip a monthly loan payment to give you that extra cash flow. It’s more breathing room in your budget, just when you need it most! 

Nice: When you choose Skip-a-Payment, you’ll be able to pay for those presents with the money your saving by skipping your December payment. No high-interest bills to haunt you through the first part of 2019 because you saved yourself from adding another payment to your credit card!  

Naughty: When you choose to skip a monthly loan payment, you are essentially moving that payment to the end of the loan’s life. Every Skip-a-Payment will make the loan’s term one month longer. Consider this: If you skip just one payment a year on an auto loan, the loan will be six months longer than you’d originally anticipated. 

4.) Christmas Club Account 

Don’t wait until Black Friday to start thinking about your holiday shopping. Pay a little bit toward this expensive season all year long by opening a Christmas Club Account. This way, when November rolls around, you’ll actually look forward to buying all those gifts instead of dreading it. Put the cheer back in your holiday season by opening a Christmas Club Account today! 

Nice: Christmas Club Accounts offer you a way to pay for your holiday shopping ahead of the season, instead of playing catch-up on your bills in the coming months. It’s the perfect way to take the stress out of the holidays! 

Naughty: If you want to open a Christmas Club Account to help you make it through this season, you’re a little late. But, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year! 

5.) Deferred-interest financing 

If you’re buying several large purchases at big-box stores, consider signing up for the retailers’ deferred-interest financing. Many chain stores offer customers this interest-free financing option so they can walk out with their purchase today, and pay for it tomorrow. 

Nice: Deferred-interest financing works just like an interest-free line of credit, only it’s exclusive to the store selling the item. If you don’t like the idea of opening another credit card but you need that interest-free option, this can be the perfect solution for you. 

Naughty: If you neglect to pay off your bill before the interest-free period expires, you’ll be slapped with sky-high interest fees. Worse yet, you’ll have to pay interest retroactively for the entire interest-free period. 

If you’re still struggling to get through the holiday season, we can help! Stop by Mutual Credit Union today. We’ll show you how to stay in the black when your holiday expenses have you seeing red. 

Your Turn: How do you pay for your holiday expenses? Share your method of choice and tell us why it works for you in the comments below.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.thebalance.com/pay-for-big-holiday-purchases-interest-free-4154866

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704782304574541873369727460

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thestreet.com/amp/story/12808150/1/how-pay-your-holiday-shopping.html

10 Reasons To Be Thankful for Your Credit Union

We often take life’s many gifts for granted by failing to appreciate them deeply enough. Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to reflect upon everything that is wonderful in our lives and to show our gratitude for each and every gift we’ve been given. 

MSR shaking members hand across the deskThis Thanksgiving, give thanks for your credit union! Here are 10 reasons to be grateful you belong to Mutual Credit Union. 

1. Superior member service

At Mutual Credit Union, you’re always greeted with happy faces and representatives who are ready and willing to help you. There’s no cold, sterile atmosphere here! Instead, at Mutual, every member is part of the family. We’re truly invested in your financial wellness and we’re here to help you achieve and maintain it, every step of the way.

2. You have access to better savings rates

We’re not paying dividends to stockholders, and that means we have more savings to pass back to you. At Mutual, we’re proud to offer you share certificates, money market, and savings rates that are competitive.

3. We make it easy to qualify for credit

We are local and all decisions are made locally. No contacting a corporate office for approval states away on members that we know and value. The more we know you the better our opportunities are to grow together. That makes it easier for you to open a new line of credit, even if your existing credit isn’t perfect. 


4. We offer lower interest rates

Need a stash of cash? Stop by Mutual and take your pick of personal loans – home loans, auto loans, and more, all with reasonable interest rates that are often lower than the regional or national average. We’ll help you get the funds you need with a payback plan you can actually afford!


5. Your money is safe here

Federally insured credit unions and banks both offer insurance on accounts of up to $250,000. But credit unions are also subject to strict regulations on their investments and loans. This means you can keep your money here without worrying about its security. 

6. We offer FREE and Low Cost Checking Accounts

Our checking accounts exist to provide you with a safe, convenient place to store your money—not to milk you for it. We offer checking accounts at Mutual that are free or low cost to set up and maintain.

Conversely, according to a MoneyRates survey, the average monthly maintenance fee for a checking account at a bank is $12. That’s nearly $150 coming out of consumers’ pockets each year!

At Mutual, you’ll have a safe place to keep your money without it costing you and in some cases where you are even being rewarded for your checking account.


7. You own a piece of your credit union

Credit unions are member-owned and member-operated. You get to weigh in on our major decisions instead of being forced to follow along with whatever the higher-ups decide. Your money=your choices. 

8. We support our communities 

Credit unions are invested in the success of our communities. Here at Mutual, we are here to foster relationships within our schools, our community agencies, like The United Way of West Central MS, as well as our community businesses and their employees and families.


9. Fewer fees & added conveniences

From steep overdraft fees to costly ATM fees, there’s another bill to pay at every turn at other Financial Institutions.

Here at Mutual, we want to help you keep as much of your money as possible. If you have a question about your finances, or need help figuring out how to reach the next level of financial freedom, we’re here to help you find a solution. We offer mobile and online banking options to keep you on track and informed when it comes to your money. Mutual offers flexible payment platforms that work with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay for your added convenience. It’s like you own a large corporate company with all the features you need but with all the feels and conveniences that are synonymous with locally owned.

We also want you to have access to your money without worrying about expensive ATM fees. To that end, we provide our members with a large network of ATM’s through our shared branching network that offers Free or Low cost fees to you when withdrawing money. Some of our checking accounts even reimburse you monthly for ATM fees you might incur. 

10. You have access to a variety of financial services 

At Mutual, we’re a lot more than just a gigantic piggy bank. We provide members with an array of financial services to meet every money-related need at every life stage. These include: Credit Cards with low or no annual fees and low interest rates, Direct Deposit, Wire Deposits, Financial Education and Counseling Services, Youth Accounts, Holiday/Vacation Clubs, Holiday/Vacation Loans, Vehicle Loans, Mortgages and Home Equity Lines of Credit, Notary Services, Online Banking and more!

As a member of a credit union, your money is always in good hands. Aren’t you thankful you belong to Mutual Credit Union? 

Your Turn: Why are you thankful for Mutual Credit Union? Share your favorite reasons with us in the comments!

 

SOURCES:

https://www.motionfcu.org/articles/5-advantages-of-a-credit-union-vs-a-bank

http://www.experian.com/blogs/insights/2016/10/top-10-reasons-people-love-credit-unions/

https://www.lovemycreditunion.org/why-join-a-credit-union

5 SCAMS TO AVOID THIS BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday Scam Alert

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great fun – but they can also put you at great risk. Scams abound on the weekend that heralds the holiday shopping season, and you don’t want a phishing scheme or a bogus bargain to turn you into a Grinch. 

Here are 5 scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving.  

1. Crazy deals that are actually bogus 

The noisy crowds and flashy ads on Black Friday can lead you to make rash decisions and spend more than you planned. But be careful not to leave your senses at home. 

An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of genuine Ugg boots for just $9? These deals sound insane because that’s exactly what they are. And yet, thousands of people happily send their money to online stores that are advertising these laughable prices on Black Friday. And of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they won’t hesitate to use it for their own shopping spree – all on your dime. 

Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low. It’s only bait used by scammers to lure you into their trap. Black Friday deals tend to fall within the 20-30% off range or an offer of free shipping. 

2. Black Friday gift cards for cheap 

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might see an explosion of cheap gift cards being sold at online marketplaces. The gift cards are linked to big-name retailers and are offered for a fraction of their real value. 

These cards are usually stolen from their real owners. The victim of the theft will likely report the loss and the card will be disabled. And you’ll have forked over your hard-earned money for a card that’s not worth the plastic it’s made from. 

Be smarter: Don’t buy any gift cards that are retailing at a heavily marked-down price. 

3. Bait and switch 

Want to be the lucky winner of a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details and take this survey. You may just be the proud new owner of the super-expensive phone! 

If you know anything about online scams, you’ll already recognize this one. Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information. And, with holiday expenses growing each year, it’s the perfect time to lure an innocent victim into thinking they’ve just saved a ton of money. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from this scam just because you’re doing all your Black Friday shopping at the mall. “Bait and switch” scams can happen offline, too. 

The brick-and-mortar version of this scam is somewhat less nefarious. Retailers will advertise deals so amazing you’ll find yourself travelling across town and battling impossible traffic to grab these bargains. Once you finally reach the store, though, you’ll be told that those items are all sold out, but you can check out the items they do have in stock. You’ll be shown similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are just a waste of your time and often your money, too. 

Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with. 

4. Delivery problems 

With so much of your shopping happening online, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases. But if you get an email like this asking you to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date, you’re looking at a scam. You may also receive a message asking you to pay an extra fee for delivery after you’ve completed an order. Again, this email is bogus and you’re being scammed. Ignore these emails. And, if you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly. 

Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source. 

5. Online purchases that can only be paid for with a wire transfer 

If you’re planning on going on an all-out spending spree this Black Friday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected. 

A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and retailers you trust and frequent often. 

Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These are favorites among scammers since they are similar to paying with cash – once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back. 

Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card. 

Be an educated shopper this Black Friday and outsmart scammers! 

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a Black Friday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.finder.com/black-friday-scams

https://www.scam-detector.com/article/black-friday-scam

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-scams-watch-black-friday-cyber-monday/

Be More With Less

be-more-with-less

Look around your home, your room and your life. How much useless stuff is crammed into every available corner and taking up your valuable space, time and money? More importantly – is any of it actually making you happy? 

Courtney Carver believes that our obsessive drive to acquire more stuff complicates our lives on every level. And she is determined to change the world, one reader at a time. 

Courtney is the founder of Project 333, a minimalist wardrobe challenge that requires participants to choose just 33 items of clothing to wear exclusively for the next 3 months. You can read all about Project 333 hereSince launching her project in 2010, Courtney has been on a mission to spread awareness of her passion to readers around the world through her blog, at BeMoreWithLess.com. 

Be More With Less is all about simplifying your life to start living it to the fullest. To do so, you’ll embrace a minimalist approach when taking stock of your possessions and the way you spend your time. If you can’t honestly say that you need something, out it goes!

Courtney promises that joining her journey will help you rediscover the things that really matter. You’ll save money, have more space, create spare time and enrich each of your relationships by cutting down on the energy and resources spent acquiring and maintaining all your “stuff.”

As Courtney says, “Simplifying my life gave me the space, time and love to be more me.”

Be More With Less is updated several times a month with fresh content on a wide range of topics that all lead back to minimalism. You can check out the latest postings on the blog’s homepage or browse through the archives in any of the following categories: Clutter, Busy, Health, Money, Lifestyle, Work, Mini-missions, Project 333.

Some of the recent posts on the Be More With Less blog include: 

  • How to Quit Anything Without Feeling Like a Failure
  • Busy Boycott: Trading busyness for what you really want (+ live challenge)
  • Becoming Debt-Free: 21-day guide to help you get started
  • How to Let Go of 3 Fears that are Holding You Back Every Day
  • How to Simplify Your Life: gifts, downsizing, wardrobe, work and other good stuff
  • Journaling Prompts to Relieve Stress: 10 for Morning + 10 for Evening
  • 3 Little Lessons from Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333
  • 90 Days of Discipline: Why I’m Going All In and How You can Too
  • Choosing to Live with Less is a Privilege for Most of Us

Enrich your life by simplifying it. It’s that easy. 

Your Turn: Are you a fan of minimalism? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/experiencelife.com/article/be-more-with-less-qa-with-courtney-carver/amp/

https://bemorewithless.com/category/money/

https://bemorewithless.com

Staying Safe Online

shopping online

With the average American spending 24 hours a week online, internet safety is more important than ever. A hacked or compromised computer can put you at risk for money loss, phishing scams or even complete identity theft.

It gets worse: If your computer’s security has been breached, it can be turned into a “middle man” for online theft. Criminals mayremotely control a computer with weak security and use it as a patsy for large-scale crimes against hundreds or thousands of other computer users. An unprotected computer can commit awful crimes without its owner even knowing about it!

Fortunately, keeping your privacy, money and sensitive information safe when browsing the internet is simple; all it takes is awareness, some proactive steps and lots of common sense.

Read on for steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.

Avoid fake sites

The easiest way to get scammed online is to visit a fraudulent site. If you’re browsing a site you don’t usually use, ask yourself these questions to make sure it’s safe:

  • Does your browser warn you against visiting the site? Whether you browse with Chrome, Firefox or Safari, your browser will warn you about certain sites based on actual data and user reports.
  • Is the web text riddled with grammar mistakes and typos? Reputable website owners are careful to present a polished, professional look. If a site looks like it was written by a second-grader, leave it.
  • Is the site secure? Only visit sites with an https and not just an “http” in the address bar.
  • Does the digital footprint check out? Google the company’s name to see what the internet and Better Business Bureau are saying about them.
  • Is there a legitimate “Contact us” section? There should be an authentic physical address and phone number for the business.
  • Is there an excessive amount of ads? Ads are intrinsic to the online world, but if a website seems to be covered in intrusive ads, it’s likely a fake.
  • Check the shipping and return policies. If you can’t find this information, the site probably doesn’t really sell anything at all – though they are happy to take your money.
  • Is there a trust seal? Companies that deal with sensitive information make an investment to earn your trust. A trust seal, like the PayPal or Norton Secured seal, tells you the company has worked hard to deserve your trust.
  • Is the URL authentic? When redirected to another site, check the new URL to see if it matches the original company.

Practice password safety

It’s your key to almost every online board and gated site; do your best to keep it safe! Here’s how:

  • Use a password generator. The best way to ensure that your passwords don’t get hacked is to use a password generator like Sticky Password, LastPass or 1Password. These services generate a super-secure password for every site you visit – but you’ll only need to remember your one master password.
  • Change your password. If you don’t like the idea of using a password generator, experts recommend changing your passwords every 30-40 days.
  • Never double passwords. Using common passwords across multiple sites is easy on the memory but hard on your safety and security.
  • Use strong passwords. For optimal security, choose passwords that include a mixture of capitalization use, numbers, letters and symbols.

Update your browser

Perhaps the most neglected and simplest step of internet safety is keeping your browser updated. With just one click, you’ll increase your browser’s security and improve your computer at the same time.  

Here’s why you’ll want to keep your browser running with its newest version:

  • Increased speed. Each new version of your browser is an improvement on the old one. Why lag behind when you could be using a faster browser?
  • Improved website compatibility. Lots of websites rely on updated browsers to share all of their graphics and features.
  • A better experience. A newer browser will offer you added features, customizable extensions and sleeker graphics.

Above all else, an updated browser will provide better security. Internet companies are constantly looking for ways to protect you and keep you safer; take full advantage of their efforts by always using the latest version.

An updated browser offers stronger protection against the most recent scams, phishing attacks, viruses, Trojans, malware and more. Newer browsers have also patched up security vulnerabilities that may be present in your older browser.

Updating your browser is super-easy and super-quick. Late model computers will update automatically as soon as new iterations are released to the public. If your computer is a little older, you can choose the “auto-update” feature available on some browsers for the same results. Otherwise, you can update your browser manually by following the instructions on your browser. These are typically easy to follow and take just a few clicks.

Follow these tips for safe online browsing. A few small steps now can save you heaps of aggravation and money lost down the line. Don’t let those hackers get to you!

Your Turn: How do you keep safe online? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/update-your-browser/

https://www.whatismybrowser.com/guides/how-to-be-safe-online/why-should-i-update-my-web-browser

https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/186780/how-often-should-i-change-my-passwords

https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/preemptive-safety/top-10-internet-safety-rules-and-what-not-to-do-online

Advantages of Credit Cards

 

With all the flak they get, you might want to ditch your credit cards for good.

Here’s why that’s not the best idea:

First, credit cards can boost your credit score. You’ll need a credit history and a respectable credit score to qualify for any major loan. If you don’t have any open credit cards, it’s going to be difficult for you to land a favorable loan term.

Second, there are rewards and benefits. Many credit cards offer airline miles and points that are redeemable for merchandise or other rewards. If you play your cards right, you can have your credit card company foot the bill for an entire vacation!

And finally, your cards have purchase protection. Lots of credit card companies offer theft and loss protection for purchases that are made on your card.

Of course, credit cards must be used responsibly: Always pay your bill on time, don’t spend more than you can afford. And don’t sign up for a card that has a high annual fee.

The gifts and rewards may be worth less than a better interest rate–which is why your credit union’s credit card is usually your best bet.  A Mutual Credit Union Credit Card offers you – our member – advantages. For details CLICK HERE. 

Federally Insured by NCUA.

NCUA Blue Logo      Equal_Housing_Opportunity

FAKE CHECK SCAMS ON THE RISE

Scam Alert!

writing a checkIn early September, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) released a report warning about a spike in fake check scams across the country. While these scams are not new, their occurrence rate has doubled over the last three years and is up 12% from 2017. 

The BBB further announced that billions of dollars in fake checks circulate each year, and that the number of victims this scam snares annually is close to 500,000. 

The amount of money lost from these scams is just as staggering: The FTC reported losses of approximately $40 million from fake check scams in just one year. 

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this scam is the fact that the largest pool of its victims falls between the ages of 20 and 29 – a segment of the population that is far more familiar with electronic payment methods, like PayPal and Venmo, than with the archaic paper check. This makes them easy victims for the scam.

Aside from ordinary paper checks, this scam can also be pulled off with cashier’s checks and money orders. Regardless of the medium, each of these scams involves a scammer “overpaying” a victim and requesting the check be cashed with the difference being deposited into a designated account belonging to the scammer.

Steve Baker, an investigator with the BBB, cautions: “What they all have in common is that the check is counterfeit, and just because the money is credited to your account does not mean the check is good.”

Here are the most common variations of the fake check scam:

  1. “Buyers” send sellers a check written out for more than the asking price of an object sold on an online marketplace, such as Craigslist.
  2. Lottery “winners” are rewarded with an inflated prize and given instructions to pay back a part of the check to cover taxes or fees.
  3. “Employees” are granted checks for supplies, with instructions to wire back a part of it to the “company.”

In each case, the fake check or money order seems to clear in the bank or credit union. It is only a few days later, when the victim’s payout to the scammer is deposited and the account does not have sufficient funds to cover it, that the scam becomes clear.

The BBB warns that this scam can be hard to spot, especially for millennials who may not be familiar with paper checks. To that end, learning what to look for to determine a check’s authenticity is the public’s best weapon against this scam.

Wondering if a check is a fake? Hold it up to this checklist:

  • Is the check’s paper stock weak and flimsy?
  • Check the company’s name and address. Are they spelled correctly?
  • Every check will have an identification number printed toward its top and again at the bottom. Verify that these numbers match up.
  • If you’re allegedly holding a lottery-winning check in your hands, the check should be written out from a state lottery commission. If it’s made out by a random company, it’s bogus.
  • Look for the special ink required for the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) code that’s at the bottom of the check.
  • The check should have a routing number from its bank. You can Google the bank to find out if the routing number is genuine.

Aside from knowing how to recognize a fake check, it’s important to know which kinds of transactions are likely to be scams. If you come across any of the following, run the other way and don’t look back:  

  • You’re asked to wire money to a company you’re not familiar with.
  • You’re given a check by a “buyer” that is made out for more than the item’s sale price.
  • You’re given a check from a foreign bank you’ve never heard of.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee to claim a “prize.”

Now that you know how to spot a fake check and which kind of transactions to avoid at all cost, those scammers don’t stand a chance!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a fake check scam? Share your story with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://www.semissourian.com/story/2549480.html

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2018/09/05/better-business-bureau-releases-report-fake-check-scams/1202964002/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/fake-check-scams-an-exploding-epidemic-new-report-says-better-business-bureau/