Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Beware of Fraudsters

Have you ever received an email from a random individual offering you a job, and even better – advance pay before you have even interviewed? What about receiving a message from someone who claims they are romantically interested in you and within days requests to deposit a check into your account with the promise to designate a portion of the cash to you?  Have you ever heard the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”? Well that applies to these scenarios.

Recently, our Fraud Department has noticed an influx of our members falling prey to scams like these. Let me break down these two scenarios a little bit better.
Scenario 1: At some point in the past year or so, you have posted your resume on a job search engine. One day, you receive a job offer sent to your personal email describing a position the “employer” is pretty much giving to you with the promise of a paycheck before you even start. All you have to do is send your account information and you’re set! Should you send any of your information? NO. In fact, you should block the sender and report the email as spam.

Scenario 2: You have recently started online dating. After exchanging some messages with a promising contender for your heart, they ask if they can deposit a check into your account. Even better – since you two are exclusive, they want to provide you with some money for the trouble and have offered to deposit the check on their end using RDC (remote deposit capture). You agree and send them your login information. They download the app on their mobile device, deposit the check, and boom – your balance increases $5,000.  All you have to do is head to the credit union and withdraw the amount they want you to send to them. The things we do for love!

Both of these situations have one thing in common – you never meet the person on the receiving end. You never meet your “employer” nor do you ever meet your new “crush”. In the end, you’re the one with the negative balance in your account, and your information is in the hands of a scammer somewhere in the world.
So, what can you do to avoid these types of situations? Never give out any of your account information or personal information.  Stop all communication with the fraudster – they will be very persistent. These scams are common no matter what age you are. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please call our Fraud Department immediately at 505-342-8871.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Money Management vs. the Pythagorean Theorem

Growing up, kids and teens learn about the Pythagorean Theorem, ionic compounds, and how to diagram compound sentences. But after they finish school, do they actually remember all the information surrounding these topics? Maybe. How about actually applying these skills in the real world? Eh, probably not. Don’t get me wrong, the Pythagorean Theorem is great. I can’t say I have done much with it since I learned it back in middle school, but I am sure there are people out there that really enjoy solving problems using the Pythagorean. And, yes, I had to look up the spelling of that word. I think I am getting a little bit off topic. Back to financial literacy. So, why aren’t we teaching our children and teenagers how to balance their checkbook or how to manage their credit score - both skills that will last a lifetime. Most people apply these skills daily, and at least monthly.  Why don’t we teach our youth basic money management skills?

I know that first paragraph was kind of a downer, but there is good news. Your credit union (us, U.S. Eagle) tries to actively fix this problem to the best of our ability. We do this through financial literacy. We go into schools and organizations and actually talk with our youth about budgeting, understating credit, saving money, and more. We discuss these topics in their classrooms and engage them in conversation to help them learn about these basic financial concepts.

Now, my personal favorite financial literacy tool is “Mad City Money”. Kids love this game, as well as parents and you’ll see why. Mad City Money is a simulation that gives kids a taste of the real world. They have a family, bills, and a steady income. Participants must decide where they are going to live, how they are going to commute, what they are going to eat, and much more. They discover how much internet costs, how expensive groceries and eating out can be, and…how much diapers cost! I find parents who participate in this game sometimes enjoy it more than their kids…

Through these presentations and simulations, our youth are learning more about these important financial topics. They are engaged and they are having fun. This is one way we hold true to the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People”.  We encourage parents to bring in their kids or teens and teach them about the importance of saving their money in a savings account. Even if it just $5.00 per month. Getting into the habit of saving at a young age can really pay off in the long run.
If you are interested in facilitating financial literacy at your school or organization, please call Danielle at 505-342-8875.