Blogging with Kerri
Thank you for checking out Kerri's blog. We hope you'll find this information both informative and educational
Main Blog Category
Credit and Debit Card Scams
Scam #1: Skimming
Skimmers are a popular tool used by scammers to steal your credit and debit card information. The scammer places the skimmer device over a legitimate card reader in places such as a gas station or an ATM. Then when you swipe your card through the skimmer, the scammer has access to your credit and debit card information. When using gas station terminals and ATMs, be cautious of your surroundings and examine the card reader. Another way to avoid skimmers would be to make sure to use your EMV chip and insert your Connected Credit Union credit or debit card. Chip readers typically make it more difficult for scammers to skim your card data.
Scam #2: Account Takeover
Account takeovers are when scammers are able to hack into your account via phishing scams, physically stealing your card information or other types of fraud. The scammer then uses your account information by pretending to be you to make purchases or commit identity theft. By using Online Banking or Mobile Banking for your debit card transactions and eZCard Info for your credit card transactions, you can monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. Alert the credit union as soon as possible if you notice anything that might be fraudulent.
To report a debit card lost or stolen, please call 1-800-472-3272 (during non-business hours). Otherwise, please contact the credit union (during regular business hours) at (207) 623-3857 for Augusta or (207) 872-2636 for Winslow. Reporting promptly may limit your liability. To report a lost or stolen credit card, please call 1-800-991-4961.
Scam #3: Data Breaches
A data breach occurs when a business or organization is hacked and a scammer steals a customer's personal data, such as credit and debit card numbers. When you are notified of a data breach, make sure to verify if your information has been stolen and what sensitive information the scammers might have taken. Make sure to change any passwords that have been compromised immediately and monitor your accounts for any signs of fraud.
We’re Here to Help!
From answering your questions about fraud prevention to helping you take the proper steps in the event you are the victim of a scam, our Member Service Representatives are ready to help you.
4 Tips for Creating Strong Passwords
1. Avoid Simple Passwords
When choosing a password, avoid simple passwords that can be easily guessed by hackers. For example, your password shouldn't include birthdays, family member's names, phone numbers, etc. Your passwords should be more creative than just Password123.
2. Use Long Passphrases
Longer passwords are more secure than shorter passwords. Ideally, your password should be between 8 and 20 characters, including a mix of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Using a passphrase is a great way to create a long, secure password. A passphrase is normally a phrase or group of unique words used as a phrase such as "Playing+baseball+with+the+cat". Adding characters within the passphrase helps to increase the security. When choosing a passphrase, avoid well-known and common phrases such as popular quotes or song lyrics.
3. Regularly Update Your Passwords
You should update your passwords at least every three months. Regularly updating your passwords limits your chances of hackers gaining unauthorized access to your accounts. Changing your passwords immediately is very important after you have been notified of a security breach or a phishing attempt.
4. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
As an added level of security and protection, opt in for two-factor authentication when it's available. Two-factor authentication often requires both your password and a special time-sensitive code sent to your cellphone or email prior to logging in. This extra step may help prevent scammers from accessing your online accounts.
Popular Social Media Scams
Popular Scam #1 - Quizzes, Polls, and Games
A popular way for scammers to collect information about you is through social media. The increase of fun quizzes, polls, and games that require you to give away seemingly harmless information (such as the type of your first car or the name of your first pet) provide scammers with personal information as these are very common answers to security questions meant to provide an extra layer of security to your accounts. By searching your public social media account, a scammer could easily find the answers to your security questions and gain access to your personal accounts.
Popular Scam #2 - Clickbait Articles
Many posts on social media include links to articles. Some of these links are harmless, but others can be links to malware. The scammers will use clickbait article titles hoping you will open the link, where you will be sent to a malicious website that could attempt to download a virus to your computer. Be extra cautious when clicking any links connected to posts on social media. Shopping through social media can also be highly suspect. Always go directly to the website using a web browser if you are shopping online.
Popular Scam #3 - Hacked Messages
With a hacked message, a scammer will impersonate a friend and send you a suspicious message. The message will often include a malware link asking you to click on something or the message may ask you to send or wire money to help a friend. If you receive a message that seems out of character, reach out to your friend personally to verify the validity of the message.
Protect yourself from these social media scams with these tips:
- Review your privacy settings on your social media sites.
- Do your research before buying a product from a post or ad on social media.
- Avoid "friending" people you do not know or trust.
- Do not use the same password for multiple sites.
- Change your password regularly.
- Don't provide personal information to strangers on social media.
What is a Home Equity Line of Credit?
What is a HELOC?
A Home Equity Line of Credit, (HELOC) lets the equity you’ve built in your home work harder for you. By borrowing funds against your home’s equity when you need it, a HELOC can be ideal whether you’re paying for a major expense or completing home projects to make improvements to your living space.
The Basics of Calculating Home Equity
The easiest way to understand the amount of equity in your home is to start with your home’s market value and subtract what you still owe on your mortgage. For example, if you purchased your home for $300,000, and you’ve paid down $50,000 toward that amount, you could have up to $50,000 worth of equity in your home depending on the current market value.
Unlock the Equity in your Home
Should You Lease or Buy Your Next Vehicle?
Important things to consider when Buying your next vehicle:
- Are you content with driving the same vehicle for many years?
- Are you a high-mileage driver?
- Do you want to take ownership of a vehicle?
- Do you want the freedom to sell or trade your vehicle at any time?
- Can you afford a downpayment to keep your payments affordable?
Important things to consider when Leasing your next vehicle:
- Would you prefer driving a newer vehicle every few years?
- Are you a low mileage driver?
- Will the lease provide you with a considerably "lower payment" than a purchase and is it worth the fees involved to lease?
- Is a downpayment required?
- Do you always want a warranty on your vehicle?
Test Out Our Lease vs. Buy Calculator
With Connected Credit Union's Lease vs. Buy Calculator, we will calculate your estimated monthly payments and your total net cost. By comparing these amounts, you can determine whether leasing or buying is the better option for you.
Tips for Financing Your Next Vehicle
1. Review your credit score
Before you begin car shopping, look over your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the credit bureaus per year. Make sure that all the information on your credit report is correct. If there are any mistakes, you will want to get them corrected before you start your car shopping process.
2. Get pre-approved
Take the stress out of car shopping when you get pre-approved for your auto loan with Connected Credit Union. Contact our friendly loan team by calling (207) 623-3857 for the Augusta Office and (207) 872-2636 for the Winslow Office.
3. Do your research
Visit the NADA site to determine the value of your trade-in, as well as the value of your next purchase. This easy proactive approach can help to prevent you from paying too much for your next vehicle while ensuring you get a fair price for your trade. When you've found the perfect vehicle you can also use Carfax to learn the vehicle history before making your purchase.
4. Find the best deal
There's more to buying a car than just getting a low interest rate. You need options and we have several, including dealer partnership lending with our local auto dealerships! Find your vehicle at the dealer, be sure and tell them you are a Connected Credit Union member. Our partnership with them provides you with peace of mind, knowing your auto loan is at your local credit union, financed with people you know and trust.
5. Rate vs Rebate
In some cases, the lowest interest rate is not always the best deal. It may be to your advantage to opt for an available rebate and finance with your credit union. Check out this rate vs rebate calculator, you may be surprised with the results!
How to Get Started with Mobile Pay
What is a mobile wallet?
A mobile wallet is an app on your smartphone that stores your credit card and/or debit card information to make purchases instead of using your physical card. The three mobile wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Click on the logo below to learn more information about each of the three mobile wallets.
How do I use a mobile wallet?
You can use your mobile wallet to make purchases anywhere you see the symbol below. Simply open your mobile wallet app, select the card you would like to pay with, and either click when prompted on your phone or tap your phone on the payment terminal. Leave your wallet at home and pay with your phone! It's easy, safe, and convenient.
How do I add my Connected Credit Union debit or credit card?
Open up the mobile wallet app of your choice. In Apple Pay, you will tap the + sign to add your card information. In Samsung Pay, you will tap Menu, then Cards, then Add card, and finally Add credit/debit card. In Google Pay, you will tap Payment, then Add +, then Credit or debit card. After you have added your card information to your mobile wallet, you will need to call 1-844-646-5465 to finalize the verification process.
Financial Tips for College Graduates
1. Make a plan for your student loans
Student loans can be one of the scariest parts of graduating from college. The first step is to plan how you will repay your loans. Start by looking at how much you owe, the interest rates on each loan, and the repayment terms. Make sure you chose a payment plan that you can manage and always make your payments on time. If you can afford to, paying a little extra on the principle of your loans can help you pay off your student debt faster.
2. Create a budget you can stick to
Creating a budget can be very beneficial for managing your finances, especially if you are becoming financially independent for the first time. Start making your budget by listing your income and expenses, determining your savings goals, and allocating your funds to balance your budget. See our blog 3 POPULAR BUDGETS YOU CAN STICK TO for more ideas on how to create a budget that will work for you.
3. Start saving for retirement
Even though retirement seems so far away, the sooner you start saving, the better off you'll be in the long run. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you should take advantage of it and begin to save a percentage of your income for retirement. Some employers offer matching contributions to your 401(k), which you should max out if you are able. If your employer doesn't offer a 401(k), you should look into opening an IRA account to start your retirement savings instead. Learn more about IRA accounts at Connected Credit Union.
4. Build up your credit score
Building a strong credit score can also be very beneficial in the long run. To improve your credit score, focus on making on-time payments and paying down credit card balances. Avoid utilizing your credit cards at their capacity and opening too many new accounts within a short period of time. Remember that building a strong credit score can take time, but the sooner you start, the better off you will be. Having one major card is a better credit builder than having store cards. Again, keeping in mind credit cards should be used for emergency situations and paid in full every month if at all possible.
Maine Credit Unions Campaign for Ending Hunger $100,000 Challenge
Credit unions across Maine are dedicated to making a difference in their communities and collectively participate in the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. The Campaign has raised over $10.4 million since 1990 – over $960,000 in cash and food contributions in 2020 alone – with 100% of all funds raised going to organizations in Maine fighting food insecurity.
June is National Hunger Awareness Month and our credit union wants to help feed people in need in our community. From June 1 – June 30, Connected Credit Union will be participating in the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger $100,000 Challenge. As our state works to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, we want to make sure individuals and families have continued access to healthy, nutritious meals.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, the Campaign launched a month-long $100,000 fundraising initiative to help Good Shepherd Food Bank, community food pantries, and schools meet the unprecedented demand for food. This effort was enormously successful and in 30 days, our credit union network raised $230,000. With your help, we believe we can do it again!
Any donation amount helps. Please consider making a tax-deductible online donation to the Campaign. Your support will help ensure Maine families get the food they need.
How to Safely Use Personal Finance Apps
If you use a personal finance app, such as RobinHood, CashApp, Venmo, Paypal, and more, there are some important steps you can take to protect your personal data.
1. Examine the terms of service for apps you are using.
- Before agreeing to download, review the app’s data retention policies.
- Determine whether the app resells your information.
2. Find out what security features the app offers.
- Take advantage of any features that ensure your personal information remains safe.
- If you can, opt in to two-factor authentication for an extra level of protection.
3. Always confirm the validity of the app.
- Make sure you are downloading the correct app from your app store.
- Don't provide any personal or financial information unless you trust the organization.
4. Change your passwords regularly and avoid repeating passwords.
- Highly secure passwords often contain letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Don’t store passwords on your phone or in a location where others might be able to access them.
Contact us right away if you feel your information has been compromised!
Popular Online Banking Scams
Popular Scam #1 - Requesting Access
The scammer will request access to your online banking account to deposit money. However, once you have granted the scammer access, they transfer money from another one of your accounts instead of depositing funds. The scammer will then claim they "deposited" too much money in your account and you need to send the money back.
Popular Scam #2 - Computer Virus
The scammer will contact you claiming your computer has a virus affecting your online banking account. In order to fix it, they need to gain remote access to your computer. However, once you grant the scammer remote access into your computer and online banking account, they are able to steal your personal information and funds.
Protect yourself from these online banking scams trying to access your account with these tips:
- Avoid using the same password for multiple sites.
- Change your password regularly.
- Use security questions that scammers can't easily find the answer to online.
- Don't provide personal information to someone you don't know or trust.
- Be cautious of the caller ID. Scammers can manipulate the caller ID through spoofing.
- Say no to scammers asking for remote access into your computer.
- Never log in to your online banking with someone else accessing your computer.
- It's always better to play it safe, which means if something doesn't feel right, hang up the phone or end the communication.
It's best not to engage if you are skeptical for any reason.
Contact us right away if you feel your information has been compromised!
Debunking 4 Credit Card Myths
Myth #1: Having a credit card will hurt your credit score
This is not true. When used responsibly, a credit card can really help your credit score. 10% of your FICO credit score is calculated from your credit mix in use. Your credit mix is made up of credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, etc. Having a credit card can help to diversify your credit mix and be beneficial to your credit score.
Myth #2: Carrying a balance on your credit card will help to boost your credit score
Carrying a balance on a high-interest credit card can be very expensive in the long run. If you are looking to boost your credit score, you should aim to pay off your balance every month. 30% of your FICO credit score is calculated from your utilization rate, or how much your available credit limit has been used. If you carry a balance it may damage your credit score as this can indicate that you are overextended, and are more likely to miss or make late payments.
Myth #3: You should close that credit card you don't use very often
As mentioned above, 30% of your FICO credit score is calculated from your utilization rate. If you close down one of your credit cards, your overall credit limit goes down. Therefore, your utilization rate will increase and may negatively affect your credit score. However, it may be a good idea to close credit cards you are not using regularly, especially if they have a high annual fee.
Myth #4: You shouldn't apply for the Connected Credit Union VISA Rewards Credit Card
You deserve a better credit card and now is the time. It's the easiest way to manage your lifestyle and you'll earn rewards simply by using it for your everyday purchases like travel, fuel, groceries, and other items. A low interest rate and 24/7 fraud protection, as well as no transfer fees when switching from a higher interest rate card, are just a few of the perks that go along with being a Connected Credit Union cardholder. Go ahead, reward yourself today!
New Scam Alert: Amazon Calls
There is a new popular scam circulating involving scammers pretending to be representatives from Amazon. The scammers will claim there is a problem with your Amazon account because you have a fraudulent charge or a lost/damaged package. The scammers will attempt to get your personal information by requesting remote access in to your computer in order to steal your online banking information.
How to Stay Safe:
- Never allow someone who contacts you to have access to your computer remotely.
- Never give out your account number or personal information.
- Know that Amazon will never call you to solicit your personal information.
- Know that Amazon will never request payment outside of their website (i.e. through gift cards, mobile payment apps, wiring funds, etc.)
- If you receive a suspicious phone call or email, do not engage.
- Report suspicious activity to Amazon here.
CC The Owl's Tips for Saving
April is Youth Savings Month! This year's theme is "Be a Credit Union Saver and Your Savings Will Never Go Extinct." Teaching children the importance of saving money will instill good financial habits in them for a lifetime! CC the Owl has great tips to help our young members get started on their savings journey.
1. Pick a Place to Save
Help your child pick a place to start saving their money. Some great choices are a piggy bank, CC The Owl's coin savers, or a clear jar that can be decorated! Having a specific location to store savings helps children visualize their money growing. Choosing Connected Credit Union as a place to save is a smart choice because of our deposit matching program! Each time you fill your $5.00 coin book and bring it to the credti union to deposit your money, we will match your $5.00 deposit up to three times. This gets our young savers off to a great start! We also have a prize basket to choose from when deposits are made. Our young members love coming to the credit union!
2. Set a Goal
Setting a savings goal can be helpful to motivate your child to start saving their money. Your child can determine how much money they want to save and then you can create a timeline to help get them there. For example, the goal could be saving $8 in a month, by saving $2 per week.
3. Track Spending
A good part of being a saver is understanding how you use your money. Have your child write down their allowance/income for the week as well as their spending habits. Your child can see the value of saving and learn how to adjust their habits to save more and reach their goal faster.
4. Open a Youth Account
CC the Owl's Youth Savings Program teaches children the value of saving money by rewarding them with deposit matching and fun prizes! Learning and practicing money saving habits at a young age, will help them to build a financial relationship with the credit union and a strong financial future. Watch what happens when your child receives their first deposit match! They are immediately drawn to watching their balance grow and realizing that it pays to save. Let’s set them on the path to financial success together!
When Your Dream College Isn't Affordable
College financial aid letters force many students into making hard decisions. If your dream college or university isn’t offering enough financial aid, should you take on more debt to pay for your education there, or fall back to a more affordable school?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Before making your choice, consider these tips:
1. Compare Financial Aid Packages
Write down the amount of financial aid each school has offered (scholarships, grants, etc.), then preferred loans (federal Perkins loans and subsidized Stafford loans, whose interest is paid by the government while you are in school), and finally other loans. Compare this data with the school’s cost of attendance (tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, etc.). Which aid package will really save you the most out of pocket?
2. Review Your FAFSA
Are there reasons why you need more aid since filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), such as a job loss? If so, ask the school’s financial aid office if they will review the package they’ve offered. It is also important that you do not borrow more than you need. It is worth reviewing your budget to see if you can decrease your spending/expenses instead of borrowing more money.
3. Apply For Our Scholarship
Connected Credit Union is granting two $1,000 scholarships to qualified students looking to pursue post-secondary education or graduate degree. The applicant must be a member, must have been accepted to an accredited college, university or technical school and must demonstrate passing grades in all subjects. Please submit your scholarship application and accompanying materials to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 15, 2021.
4. Reach Out To Us
If there’s still a funding gap after you’ve maxed out government and school financial aid, give us a call. An option many credit union members have used is a loan or credit line secured by home equity – a relatively low-cost way to borrow that is usually tax-deductible. Working together, there’s a good chance we can find a path to higher education that’s right for you.
Online Credit Card Shopping Tips
Using your credit card online can be scary, especially with so many different types of scams and phishing attempts online trying to steal your information. We’ve got some tips and tricks to help you use your credit card to shop safely, online.
1. Don't shop on public devices
You shouldn’t do your online shopping on public devices, such as a computer at your workplace or school. Websites often save login information. Therefore, the next person to use that device may be able to access your account and credit card information. Even if you do log out and clear your browsing history, hackers may have been monitoring the keystrokes you used in order to steal your personal information.
2. Check for the 's'
When it is time to enter your credit card information online, take a look at the URL. Make sure it starts with https:// rather than http://. The ‘s’ stands for secure, confirming that your information is encrypted. The ‘s’ is not a guarantee that the transaction is 100% safe, but it is an added layer of protection.
3. Don't click on suspicious links
If you receive a suspicious email with a link, do not go shopping by directly clicking the link. Even if it is a well-known company, do not click the link. It could be fraudulent and a phishing attempt to get your information. Instead, navigate to the website yourself to do your online shopping. This way you know you are going to the correct website.
4. Print your receipts
After you’ve used your credit card to make the purchase, print off a copy of your receipt or confirmation. Make sure to compare the amount on your receipt to your billing statement and verify that they match.
5. Reward yourself
Connected Credit Union's VISA credit card is the easiest way to manage your lifestyle and you'll earn rewards simply by using it for your everyday purchases - even when shopping online. A low interest rate and 24/7 fraud protection, as well as no transfer fees when switching from a higher interest rate card, are just a few of the perks that go along with being a Connected Credit Union cardholder. Go ahead, reward yourself today!
Four Reasons to File Your Taxes Early
1. Get Your Refund Faster
Since many people tend to procrastinate, you can get your refund much sooner. The fastest method to receive your refund is to file electronically and have your refund deposited directly into your Connected Credit Union account with direct deposit. Working with Connected CU, the IRS will transmit your refund directly to your desired account. Our routing and transit number 211287353 and your account number are all you need. It can take several weeks longer if you opt for a paper return.
2. More Time to Pay
If you end up owing a balance to the IRS, you will have more time to save money for your payment by filing early. This allows three to four months of extra time that you wouldn’t have had if you had filed later. Filing early will let you know exactly how much you owe to the IRS.
3. Easier Scheduling a Tax Preparer
Accountants and tax professionals are also first come, first serve. Their schedules can fill up by the time you reach out to them if you wait too long. If you aren’t completely confident when filing your taxes, hiring someone can help you accurately complete your form.
4. Prevent Identity Theft
As soon as a criminal gets access to your Social Security Number, they can do a lot of damage. If they file with your Social Security number before you do, the IRS will decline your return since their records show you’ve already been paid. You haven’t, but the criminal has been. It can take months to clear this up with the IRS. If you can, file your taxes early and prevent the fraudsters from successfully filing a fraudulent return.
Tax Scams to Watch Out For
Suspended/Cancelled Social Security Number
A new social security scam is based around a robocall that claims your social security number is going to be suspended or cancelled because of owed taxes. The scam uses fear tactics to trick recipients into calling the number back and giving away personal information. However, your social security number will never be suspended and the IRS will only contact you through the mail or in person.
Another scam is fraudsters pretending to be the IRS by sending you an email or text message reminding you to file your taxes or claiming to have information about your refund. However, if you click the link in the message to file your taxes you will be brought to a spoofed site. A spoofed site is a site that is almost identical to the original site but is run by scammers. The site will send scammers any information you input making it easy for them to steal your identity. The message may also contain malware that would infect your computer and allow fraudsters to steal your data, such as passwords and PINs. The IRS will not send unsolicited emails or any other type of digital messages such as a text or social media message.
Since the IRS typically only sends letters, fraudsters have begun to send out letters claiming to be from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement. However, the Bureau of Tax Enforcement does not actually exist. Official IRS letters will also have a notice (CP) or letter (LTR) number on the top or bottom right-hand corner of the letter. You can verify this number by going to the IRS website.
Ghost Tax Preparers
Ghost Tax Preparers are fraudsters claiming that they are professional tax preparers. However, they may charge for a percentage of your refund, claim fake deductions to boost refunds, and/or direct the refund into their own account instead of yours. Ghost Tax Preparers also refuse to sign a return, making you responsible for their errors. Before you hire someone to help you file your taxes, make sure they have a valid 2021 Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). If you are looking for a certified tax preparer, you can search through the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.
We’re Here to Help!
From answering your questions about fraud prevention to helping you take the proper steps in the event you are the victim of a scam, our member service team is ready to help you.
Four Financial New Year's Resolutions for 2021
1. Start an Emergency Fund
Life can be unpredictable, which is why having an emergency fund is so important. It’s often recommended that you have three to six months' worth of expenses saved away in the event of an emergency.
2. Check Your Credit Score
Check your score from each of the three main credit bureaus in 2021 – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can check your score from each bureau for free once a year. Checking your score can tell you where your credit stands, ensure that your credit information is accurate, allow you to respond to changes quickly, and give insight on how it can be improved.
3. Try the 52-Week Money Challenge
If you often give up on financial resolutions because you’re not seeing immediate results, try the 52-week money challenge. You start by saving away $1.00 during the first week of the year, gradually increasing your savings by a dollar each week throughout 2021. You’ll save away $2.00 during the second week, $3.00 in the third week, and ultimately saving away $52.00 in the last week of the year. By the end of the year, if you complete the challenge, you’ll have saved $1,378.00.
4. Do Your Taxes Early
If you traditionally wait until the last minute to file your taxes, make it a goal to do so earlier. As many people tend to procrastinate, you can get your refund much sooner. Also, filing early can help prevent identity theft. As soon as a criminal gets access to your Social Security Number, they can do a lot of damage. If they file with your Social Security number before you do, the IRS will decline your return since their records show you’ve already been paid. It can take months to clear this up with the IRS. If you can, file your taxes early and prevent the fraudsters from successfully filing a fraudulent return.
Debit Card Holds
What is a debit card hold?
When you use a debit card, the store clerk usually contacts the financial institution that issued your card to get authorization. When the approval is given, the balance in your checking account is reduced or “blocked” by the amount of the purchase. This is known as a pre-authorization hold. The merchant determines the amount of the hold. Your financial institution establishes the length of time the hold remains in place. Typically the hold stays on your account until the funds are transferred to the merchant from your financial institution, often 3-4 days. If you look at your account online it may show as a pending transaction. Since transactions done with your PIN (personal identification number) are processed on the same day, they do not require a hold.
How can a debit card hold create problems?
In a few situations, the dollar amount of the transaction is unknown when approval is given. This may happen when you check into a hotel room, pay for gas at the pump, or use your debit card to pay for your meal at a restaurant. In each of these transactions, the merchant may get approval for a higher (estimated) amount– allowing for a tip, room service, additional or higher purchase amounts.
Let’s say you have $60 in your account when you use your debit card to pay for gas at the pump. Since the purchase amount is unknown when you insert your card, the merchant requests authorization for $50. The authorization causes a hold to be placed on your account for $50 and your available balance is reduced to $10. If you only purchased $20 in gas you may believe you have $40 available in your account. Unless you understand how a hold affects your account, your debit card could be declined in future transactions. This can be embarrassing and inconvenient. It could also be costly. If checks or other transactions are processed before the hold is released you may overdraw your account and incur overdraft fees.
How can you avoid these problems?
When a business asks for your card in advance of service – ask if the company will request a pre-authorization hold, the amount of the hold, and how the amount is determined. Be sure the hold won’t exceed your account balance.
Pay the charges with the same card you used at the beginning of the transaction. Ask the clerk when the hold will be removed.
Prior to making a purchase that will involve payment with a different card, by cash, or by check, inform the clerk of the different form of payment and inquire about their policy on reversing holds.
Protect yourself from overdrafts with Member Privilege it requires no action on your part - unless you would like to have access for ATM and everyday debit card transactions. The paid item fee is $29.00 for each item created by check, in-person withdrawals, recurring debit card transactions, or other electronic means. You may request to "Opt In" for coverage that includes access at the ATM and for everyday debit card purchases.
Use your PIN when paying for gas at the pump or consider using another method of payment (cash, check or credit card).
What is a FICO® Credit Score & How is it Calculated?
A FICO® score is a type of credit score created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Lenders use borrowers’ FICO scores along with other details on borrowers’ credit reports to assess credit risk and determine whether to extend credit. Here is how a FICO score is calculated:
35% Payment History: The first thing any lender wants to know is whether you’ve paid past credit accounts on time.
30% Amounts Owed: When a high percentage of a person’s available credit has been used, this can indicate that a person is overextended, and is more likely to miss or make late payments.
15% Length of Credit History: In general, a longer credit history will increase your score.
10% Credit Mix In Use: FICO Scores will consider your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and mortgage loans.
10% New Credit: Research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents a greater risk – especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.
Top 5 Financial Tips for College Freshman
1. Avoid High Bookstore Prices
- Buy or borrow books used from upperclassmen who have already taken the class.
- Check prices from book resellers such as Amazon and eBay for the best prices.
- Consider renting your books for the semester instead of buying.
2. Use Credit Responsibility
- Read the fine print on too good to be true credit card offers.
- Since you are beginning to build your credit, you should start with a credit card with a low interest rate with no annual fee.
- Avoid acquiring multiple credit cards and racking up debt that you cannot pay off.
3. Minimize Student Debt
- Remember that student loans should be used for tuition, books, housing, and meal plans – not spent on an extravagant social life.
- Get a part-time job or a work-study position to earn extra money.
- Even though student loans aren’t due until after graduation, start paying them off as soon as you can to minimize the total amount due upon graduation.
4. Set a Spending Limit
- Costs from unnecessary purchases can add up fast, especially when you are living on a budget.
- Set a limit of your non-essential spending in your budget, such as $50 or $100 per month.
- If you come in under your spending limit at the end of the month, save the extra money.
5. Utilize Connected Credit Union's Services
- If you are moving away for college, you can still do your normal banking via Shared Branching. With over 5,400 locations across the nation, chances are you’ll be close to a CO-OP Shared Branching location. Find a location
- Earn rewards through your Connected Debit Card on everyday purchases! With our UChoose rewards program, you'll earn rewards to redeem for cash, travel or gift cards when you sign for your purchases instead of using your PIN. Remember: Sign, don't PIN, it's a win/win. Learn More
- Download the Connected CU mobile app for convenient banking anywhere, anytime. Check your account balance, mobile deposit a check, transfer funds and more! It is available in the App Store and on Google Play.
Brandon's Landscape Management Inc., owned by our member Brandon Moore, has been providing the Waterville area with high-quality landscaping services since 2003. Brandon’s Landscaping Management Inc. provides spring and fall clean-up, mowing and trimming, mulch bed maintenance, plantings, hedge trimmings, and more.
If your home or business needs landscaping, contact Brandon’s Landscape Management Inc. at 351 Unity Rd Benton, ME 04901 by calling 207-453-2911 or emailing email@example.com.
At Connected Credit Union, we’re here for you and your business! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with our business services including savings accounts, checking accounts, mortgages, lines of credit, low rate equipment and auto loans.
3 POPULAR BUDGETS YOU CAN STICK TO
Creating your budget can be hard, and following it can seem even harder. With so many different types of budgets you can use, choosing one that will work for you may seem impossible. We’ve got three popular and helpful budgets that suit different types of financial goals and personalities.
Pay Yourself First Budget
Best For: Savers
- Start with your monthly income
- Pay yourself first, by subtracting money for your savings goals
- Pay Regular Bills
- Decide what to do with the surplus, you’ve already met your savings goals so it’s up to you!
Best For: Spenders
- Start with your monthly income
- 50% of your income goes to housing, transportation, utilities, and groceries
- 20% of your income goes to savings, retirement, and debt repayment
- 30% of your income goes to lifestyle expenses, such as entertainment and childcare
Best For: Regular Monthly Income
- Start with your monthly income
- Subtract out your monthly expenses, such as rent and food expenses
- Subtract out your variable expenses, such as entertainment and clothing expenses
- Account for your savings goals, such as an emergency fund
- Have a bottom line of $0 – every dollar should be accounted for