Fight the Fraudsters: 10 Smart Tips to Prevent Credit/Debit Card Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraudsters are finding new ways to steal member login credentials, credit/debit card information and personal information, leaving people in bad financial and personal situations. However, there are credit/debit card fraud prevention and identity theft prevention steps you can take to stop the fraudsters and keep YOUR information safe. Our Executive Vice President at BHCU, Cheryl Altieri, is here with ten smart tips to prevent you from falling victim to credit/debit card fraud and identity theft, so read on to learn more!

Here’s How to Prevent Credit/Debit Card Fraud

If you’re like the majority of people in the U.S., then you probably have at least one credit card, if not more. These days, swiping or tapping a credit card at a machine or typing the info in online to make a purchase is the norm, and because it’s so quick and convenient, it’s easy to forget about the reality of credit card fraud. Luckily, these four credit card fraud prevention tips are the best ways to keep your information safe:

Get Your Shred On
When you receive your credit card billing statements in the mail, it’s vital that you don’t just throw them out. Instead, shred them!
Be Smart When Shopping Online
Online shopping is the way of the world, but you should only be making purchases on websites that are 100% secure. To figure this out, look for a lock symbol in the lower right corner of your browser and “https://” in the address bar.
Stay on Top of Your Billing Statements Every Month
This may seem time consuming, but dealing with credit card fraud will take up way more of your time! Always check your monthly statements and be on the lookout for any unauthorized charges. It’s also important to get in the habit of checking your accounts daily.
Watch for Credit Card Skimmers at Gas Stations and ATMs
Fraudsters will sometimes place a skimmer on a gas station or ATM machine. These can be found by pulling on the device that takes your credit card — if it feels loose or comes off, do not use this machine.

Now That Your Credit Card is Safe, Here Are the Best Identity Theft Prevention Tips

From opening accounts to applying for credit cards to getting approved for loans, people can do a lot of damage when they steal your identity, and it can cost you money AND negative hits on your credit score. Here are the best ways to keep that from happening:

Make Sure You’re Consistently Monitoring Your Accounts

Just like we discussed with your monthly credit card statements, although this may seem time consuming, keeping tabs on your account activity will help save you the stress (and money) of dealing with identity theft.

Take Advantage of Alert Tools
When your iSAVE checking account, savings account or iSAVE credit card hits a low balance or gets overdrawn, getting alerts from your financial institution will quickly inform you of any suspicious activity. Give us a call or utilize online banking to set these up.
Place a “Freeze” at all 3 Credit Bureaus
Creating accounts at the different credit bureaus can prevent someone from applying for credit in you name. As an added layer of protection, it makes it that much harder for someone to use your information to get credit.
Know the Most Important Identity Theft Warning Signs
These include:

      • Seeing odd charges on your account
      • Noticing accounts on your credit report that you don’t recognize or inaccurate information
      • Realizing your checks are in a strange order on your bank statement
      • Receiving an email that you weren’t approved for a credit card that you know you didn’t apply for
      • Receiving an email about changes to your address, password or information that you know you didn’t make

Be Savvy About the Scams
Scams can take place online, over the phone, via SMS, through emails and even on social media. For example, vishing and smishing are two fraud tactics that are increasing — this is when a fraudster sends an SMS text message from a credit union’s number claiming to be from the fraud department. The best way to keep your identity safe is to know the different types of scams out there.
If You’re Unsure, Call
BHCU cares about your financial well-being. If something doesn’t seem right, give us a call, even if it’s regarding a non-BHCU account!

Enjoy the best identity theft protection and credit card fraud prevention services at BHCU in Delaware County, PA! Our team is always here to help you with any of your financial questions or concerns, so contact us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BHCU and TCF Support Local Delaware County Resident In Need

BHCU and TCF Support Local Delaware County Resident In NeedDelaware County, PA — February 11, 2020 BHCU — Your Delaware County Credit Union — recently joined forces with The Community’s Foundation (TCF) — a not-for-profit committed to improving the quality of life for people in the community — to support Delaware County resident and business owner, Jim Murray. 

A few months ago, Jim fell 40 feet from the top of a scaffolding set up leaving him with catastrophic injuries and a life changing circumstance, significantly impacting his and his family’s life. Since this accident, Jim — who has provided for his community in the past — has been struggling with medical expenses, hospital bills, equipment and keeping his business alive. 

BHCU came across Jim’s Go Fund Me page, and after learning about his injuries, BHCU asked the Delco community to share his story. Every time someone shared his story on social media, BHCU donated $1 to Jim. With over 1,100 social engagements, BHCU then decided to take their fundraising efforts even further by more than doubling it, with the final donation coming out to $2,500.

“Helping the members in our community is our #1 goal,” stated Gary Golden, CEO of BHCU. “Although we usually do this by providing financial services that help our members gain financial independence, when we learned about Jim’s situation, we knew we wanted to do even more. We are beyond appreciative for all of the people who made this fundraiser a success.”

After BHCU’s fundraising social campaign, TCF became aware of Jim’s story and encouraged him to apply for their Pay It Forward grant. Jim was approved and awarded an additional $1,000. Thanks to a little community support, two Delco organizations were able to help out a community man and his family.

Ask The Expert: Q&A With Our Certified Financial Planner!

You asked, our certified financial planner, Bob Protesto, answered! Here are 5 common questions that individuals, parent and small business owners are concerned about when it comes to their finances, answered by BHCU’s certified financial planner!

1. I want to create a bucket plan to prepare for retirement — what should be on there?
I always have the framework of Three Buckets that I like to see clients have funded when they are preparing for — or living in — retirement. The earlier you can start funding these buckets as you prepare for retirement, the better off you’ll be.

  • Bucket 1: Cash Reserve
    While working, it’s advisable to have 3-6 months of expenses put away in an Emergency Fund. While in retirement and not earning a paycheck, the number should be closer to 1-2 years of expenses. This should be money you can count and can access without any penalties and without a large tax hit — think money markets, savings accounts, BHCU’s high-yield iSAVE Savings account, Share Term Certificates (CDs) and conservative brokerage accounts.
  • Bucket 2: Income
    Once you decide to retire and stop earning a paycheck, guess what you need? A paycheck! Social Security is the main (and only) source of retirement income for most. If you’re lucky enough to have a pension, you’re better off than most. In an ideal world, Bucket 2 would cover the costs of any essential lifestyle expenses in retirement — annuities and income producing investments can help make up any difference.
  • Bucket 3: Growth
    With advancements in modern medicine, we, on average, are living longer than generations before us, so you must plan for the possibility that you could be retired for 30+ years. Are you prepared for your expenses to more-than-double in retirement? For example, a stamp cost $0.25 in 1990; today it’s $0.55. Items in Bucket 2 historically do a terrible job of keeping up with inflation, and far too often I see retirees being too conservative with their money — this is why you must have a portion of your money set aside for long-term growth or else inflation will eat away at your savings.

2. When should I prepare a will?
The short answer? Yesterday.

The long answer? Well, as the old saying goes, the only certainties in life are death and taxes, that’s why having a will before you’d ever think you’d need one is so important. Anyone who has dependents/children, who owns a property/assets or who wishes to leave money to loved ones or a charity must, must, must have a will. A will is one part of the Estate Documents that you should have when preparing for end-of-life — it is what directs what happens to your estate (i.e., what you own) and care of any minors you’re responsible for at the time of your passing. If you die without a will, the courts will decide for you. It is also important to create any Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Proxys, Trusts and update beneficiaries on any Retirement Accounts.

*Disclaimer: Not to be taken as legal advice. Please contact an estate attorney for more guidance.

3. What tips can you share to help parents save for their kids’ education?
Education expenses (and the mountains of student loan debt) are one of the hot button topics of today. According to finaid.org, college expenses have been increasing at a rate of 8% per year. That means the cost for a newborn to attend college when he/she’s 18 will be TRIPLE the cost today. I don’t know what the future of the college landscape holds, but I have to believe some sort of reform will happen. Regardless, it’s always smart to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. A couple of smart moves to consider are:
Start a 529 College Savings Plan ASAP: 529 Plans are state-sponsored plans where you save after-tax dollars and distributions are generally tax-free if you qualify for education expenses. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, you can use up to $10,000/year for private K-12 and higher education expenses. Be sure to research any additional tax benefits your state may or may not offer to use a 529 Plan. BONUS TIP: Use time to your advantage. Start funding the Plan as soon as the child is born (or even better, before!).

Consider the trades: College isn’t for everyone and we are in dire need of good, skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen.

Consider community college for 1-2 years: This will knock out most of the “core” curriculum classes, so you can considerably reduce your overall expenses.

529 college savings plans are offered by BCG Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, BCG Securities, Inc. is located at 51 Haddonfield Road, Suite 210, Cherry Hill, NJ. You should read the prospectus and/or 529 plan program description carefully and consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses carefully before you invest or send money. The prospectus and 529 plan program will provide complete information about these subjects.

To obtain a prospectus, contact your BCG Securities, Inc., Representative.

4. Should I do a Roth or Traditional IRA/401k?
A Traditional IRA or 401k is funded with pre-tax dollars, grows tax-deferred, and qualified withdrawals are typically taxed as ordinary income in retirement. A Roth IRA/401k is the opposite — it’s funded with after-tax contributions, but it still grows tax-deferred. However, qualified withdrawals are tax-free in retirement. With that being said, the catch with Roth IRAs is that not everyone is able to contribute to one. Once you earn over a certain amount per the IRS, you are “phased out” of contributions.

Anyone who can contribute to a Roth IRA should. Anytime the IRS tries to limit or stop people from something, it typically means it’s a good deal. Furthermore, the main question is: which way do you think taxes are going in the future? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not down. As of this writing, the US is $23.1 TRILLION dollars in debt, and they’re going to need the tax revenue at some point to start paying it down.

With the Roth IRA or 401k, you can pay the taxes now at the known tax rates and have everything grow tax-deferred. As long as you’ve had the account for 5 years and you reach age 59.5, all withdrawals are tax free. The benefits don’t stop there, either. With a Roth IRA, there are no Required Minimum Distributions at age 72, distributions don’t count toward Medicare Part B IRMAA and beneficiaries receive Roth IRAs income-tax free.

*As always, please consult your CPA/tax-preparer for specific guidance.

5. I own a small business. Which Retirement Plan should I have?
If you’re like many small business owners, running your own business is an all-consuming endeavor. In the face of everyday demands, choosing a retirement plan for your business can become a casualty. The idea of establishing a plan could evoke worries about complicated reporting and administration. Here’s a primer on the 3 main types of small business Retirement Plans:

401k Plan: This is the most common type of company sponsored Retirement Plan, to the point where “401k” is often synonymous with “Retirement Plan.” The benefits of a 401k Plan are that they typically have higher contribution limits, meaning you and employees can contribute more. They’re also fairly flexible and able to be amended to change with the growing needs of your business. Plus, you can set a company match and vesting schedule to incentivize employees. The negatives, however, are that 401k Plans can be costly and time consuming to run. Administration & Recordkeeping fees can run a few thousand dollars each year, and the plan requires year-end compliance testing & filing with the IRS.

SIMPLE IRA: These plans are designed specifically for smaller businesses — you must have fewer than 100 employees to be eligible. They are very straightforward and can be a very cost-effective option for employers. Unlike the 401k, there is no administration or filing with the IRS, so you save money there. Additionally, a SIMPLE IRA Plan requires a 3% company match or flat 2% contribution to all eligible employees.

SEP IRA: This can be established by most business entities, however, a vast majority are used by sole proprietors. The advantages of the SEP begin with the flexibility to vary employer contributions each year from 0% up to a maximum of 25% of compensation, with a maximum dollar contribution of $57,000 in 2020.

If your financial question was not address in thia Q&A with our financial certified planner, don’t worry! Contact BHCU today, and our team members will be happy to help you.

Bob Protesto, CFP®, CRPC®

Meet Our Advisor

Bob Protesto, CFP®, CRPC®
A Delaware County native, Bob Protesto is a fully licensed Certified Financial Planner™ professional and comes to BHCU with over 10 years of experience in helping individuals and business owners achieve financial success. We encourage you to sit down and talk with Bob to see how he can help you plan for financial success.

Break Up With Your Bank: 4 Advantages of a Credit Union

If your finances have always been in the hands of big banks, then this is the year to turn over a new leaf and get involved with a financial institution that actually cares about you and your needs—it’s time to get involved with a credit union! Big banks are like selfish partners who only care about themselves, whereas credit unions ALWAYS put their members’ needs first. At BHCU, being a member isn’t just about banking—it’s about belonging. Read on to learn four more benefits of joining a credit union like BHCU! 

You’ll Fall in Love with Lower Rates on Loans and Credit Cards

When it comes time for you to apply for an auto loan, mortgage loan or credit card, you’re going to want to find the lowest rate possible, and you’ll almost always find the lowest rates in the market at a credit union. Plus, some credit unions offer a credit card—like BHCU’s iSAVE Credit Card—that isn’t designed to take your money, it’s designed to help you save! With this credit card, you’ll enjoy no balance transfer fees, 1% monthly cash back deposited right into your iSAVE Savings account and no annual fees. Falling head over heels yet? We don’t blame you.

Enjoy a More Laid-Back Approach For Qualification Requirements

Most banking institutions are so picky when it comes to approving people for credit cards and loans, but credit unions are typically more forgiving. For example, if you don’t have a credit history—or you do and it’s low—you’ll have almost no shot qualifying for a credit card or loan with a big bank. However, when you go to a credit union, you can be sure that their heart is in the right place, so they will work with you and do everything they can to help get you approved.

Community Involvement is at the Core

Credit unions don’t just pour their hearts into their members—they also pour their hearts into supporting their community. From awarding grants and scholarships to starting charitable foundations, credit unions are known for playing a positive role in their local community, and typically, their members can get involved too. At BHCU, we love being able to give back to our community, and that is why we founded the BHCU Kids Foundation which focuses on providing resources and support to at-risk youth in Delaware County.

You Can Always Count on Savings Accounts with Higher Rates

If you are looking to improve your financial status in the new year, then you may be interested in opening an savings account, but you’ll improve faster if you open one with a credit union. Credit unions always have higher rates on savings accounts when compared to banking institutions, which means that your money will grow faster when it’s sitting in a credit union savings account. And at BHCU, opening an iSAVE Savings account can help you earn up to 15x higher than the national average savings rate.

Are you ready to finally break up with your bank and join a credit union? Then contact the team at BHCU in Ridley Park and Glen Mills, PA today!

Unwrap Budgeting Tips: Here’s How to Create a Holiday Spending Plan

BHCU holiday spending plan‘Tis the season for festive parties, baking goodies, giving back to others and buying gifts, but all of these holiday activities can take a toll on your on your finances. The financial experts at BHCU are here with 4 tips on how to create a budget for your holiday season, so you can stay merry and bright all season long.

Create a Budget That’ll Lead Your (Spending) Way
Before you start spreading holiday cheer by purchasing gifts for friends and family, it’s important to first create a realistic budget. This means that it should, first and foremost, include any normal expenses, such as:

  • Rent or mortgage payment
  • Utility bills
  • Internet bill
  • Cell phone bill

Once these are in your budget, it’s now time to add holiday festivities to it, which may include things like:

  • Hosting parties
  • Travelling to see friends & family
  • Purchasing groceries to donate
  • Buying ingredients for potlucks

From here, you can subtract your expenses from monthly income and figure out how much money you’ll have left over for purchasing gifts.

Make a List, Check It Twice and Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Naughty
Between holiday parties, holiday shopping and the usual errands of life, this time of year, although wonderful, is also stressful, so keeping track of who you’ve bought gifts for and who you haven’t can be overwhelming. To avoid getting carried away with your gift giving, make a list of the people you need to buy for and what you want to buy them. As soon as you purchase it, cross them off the list! Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will also prevent you from going outside of your budget.

Choose Your Favorite Way to Pay So You Can “Sleigh”
Rather than recklessly swiping your credit card, taking out a certain amount of money—the exact amount you’ll need to get your gifts—is a great way to keep you from overspending on holiday shopping. However, if you choose to use a credit card (it is more convenient, after all!), opt to use a card with cash back perks.

Get In Touch With Your Inner Elf
Just because it’s the season of gift giving doesn’t mean you have to overspend on gifts. If you’re looking to stick to your budget this year, you may want to consider doing some DIY gifts, such as:

  • Homemade jams
  • Granola mixes in mason jars
  • Baked goods
  • Framed photos
  • Handmade ornaments

Not only with this give your gift giving a person touch, but it will also keep costs low, help you stay within your budget.

Circle Back to Be Sure You Stay On Track
Once you’ve made a few purchases, it’s important to touch base throughout the season to check in with how much you’ve spent. By doing this, you’ll be able to determine if you’re on track with your budget or if you’ve overspent. This way, you can wrap up the season breaking even and not by breaking the bank! If you’re finding yourself in need of some extra cash, you can always refer new members to BHCU and receive a referral bonus!

There’s no place like BHCU for the holiday season—and every season! Thanks to our personal checking accounts and unique iSAVE programs, we can help you achieve your financial independence. Visit us today!