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Jul 16

2013

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As part of our commitment to protecting members and their finances, we post current scams and provide tips on how to protect your personal information and accounts. Three new scams are making headlines and have even affected some Pacific Service CU members.

 

Online Photo Sharing Scam
The FBI has put out an alert about cyber criminals using online photo sharing programs to gain access and harm victims’ computers. The scammer advertises a product online. To see photos of the for sale item, the buyer must provide an email address. The scammer sends either an attachment or a link to a gallery of photos, both of which infect the recipient’s computer with malicious software.

 

There are several ways you can protect yourself from a scam of this nature. First, keep your computer software, anti-virus software, firewalls and operating system up to date and set your anti-virus software to scan files before downloading them.

 

Additionally, when shopping online, stick to reputable retailers. If an item price seems much lower than it should be, the retailer may be fraudulent. Use extra caution when contacted directly by the seller after losing an online auction claiming that the original buyer fell through.

 

Dating Scam
Online dating continues to rise in popularity. Although this can be a great way to meet someone, unfortunately, it can also attract fraudsters. Here’s how the scam usually works. The fraudster reaches out to the victim online. Over the course of weeks or even months, the communication continues and the two form a connection. Victims may even receive flowers or gifts. Ultimately, however, the fraudster will ask for money or ask the victim to perform a favor by cashing a check for them. The money borrowing continues until the victim realizes they have been scammed.

 

The FBI reports several common threads in scams of this nature. The scammer professes instant feelings of love, sends photos that look too professional, claims to be traveling or working abroad, or asks to leave the dating website to communicate using personal email. Stories often include a personal tragedy, financial hardship or the inability to cash checks where they’re working or traveling.

 

To protect yourself, stick to nationally-known, reputable dating sites. Do not cash checks for someone else, wire money, provide your account number, or setup automatic transfers to strangers. Above all, trust your instincts. If a situation seems suspicious, it probably is.

 

This type of crime is often underreported because the victims are embarrassed. If you think you’ve been a victim of a dating scam, the FBI recommends that you file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

 

Employment Scam
Online employment scams are a common type of fraud. Here’s how the scam usually works. A job seeker applies online and after an email exchange, is hired. The employer may ask the prospective employee to provide personal information to set up employee benefits. Or, in order to receive paychecks via online, to set up an automatic transfer to their account, the employer then asks to verify automatic transfers, which often give the fraudster access to the employee’s account.

 

Employment scams, although often intricate and authentic in their appearance, are simply an attempt to gain personal information and commit identity theft. To protect yourself, keep your personal information private. Never provide account numbers, account access, Social Security numbers or any personal information to strangers.

 

If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, or that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. The sooner we know about fraud attempts, the sooner we can act to protect you. We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number, or add a password to your account for future transactions if it should become necessary.

 

You may also be interested in:
Government Lawsuit Scam Alert
Fraud Alert: Tax Scams
Utility Bill Scam Alert

 

by Michelle, AVP, Operations

Jun 18

2013

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These days, your smartphone probably carries more confidential information than your wallet. Phones often have password vaults or stored passwords, banking information, your contact information and more. Now that your phone is more important than your wallet, phone theft is the new purse snatching. So, how can you keep your personal information safe?

 

Password
The first step is to lock your phone with a password. It’s basic and not foolproof; however, it’s the easiest deterrent for thieves that want quick access to your personal information. If they can’t access your information quickly after stealing your device, you will have time to report the loss and the thieves may move on.

 

Password Storage
Don’t store critical personal data in accessible applications, like notes, calendars or email. If you want to use your device as a password vault, consider a password and data vault app, like Secure Wallet, eWallet or Google Wallet, to safely house your secure data.

 

Remote Access
Use remote access like wi-fi and Bluetooth only when you need it and only from trusted sources, especially if conducting financial business. Don’t opt to have your phone automatically connect to nearby wi-fi networks and be sure to turn your Bluetooth availability off when not in use.

 

Applications
Instead of using your mobile browser, download an application, or “app,” instead. As long as you download from your device’s official store or marketplace, applications are safer than simply shopping or accessing websites online because they can help protect you from fraudulent phishing sites. You should also consider installing antivirus protection on tablets and notebooks. Be sure to download from your official app store or marketplace.

 

Logout
When accessing personal or financial information online, don’t skip the important step of logging out. Logging out closes your session and shuts down access to someone trying to access the site or app after you.

 

Additionally, don’t let your browser or device save your passwords. Enter your password for access every time.

 

Delete
When you get rid of your phone, be sure to wipe it clean of all data. Typically, phones have an option to erase the content or return it to the original factory settings.

 

As always, we encourage you to stay informed about current scams. We regularly post scam alerts and risks associated with banking on our blog.

 

If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud or your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. We can cancel compromised Pacific Service CU cards, change your account number or add a password to your account for future transactions.

 

You may also be interested in:
The Keys to Passwords
Mobile Fraud – The Rumors Dispelled
Using online channels to prevent fraud

 

by Nannette, Vice President, Technology Solutions Group

May 16

2013

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Most consumers are familiar with mortgage loan refinancing. However, members often tell us they didn’t know they could refinance their auto loan.

 

Vehicle loans are typically established with 4-6 year terms.  During the loan period, economic and financial situations can change.  You may be able to proactively respond to these changes with an auto loan refinance.  Improvements in market rates, your credit score or your income can add up to big savings.

 

Rates Change
Annual percentage rates periodically change.  In a rate environment like we are in today, rates have been declining.  If you purchased a car more than a year ago, it is possible that your current interest rate is higher than what is being offered today.  Refinancing could lower your monthly payment while keeping the same term.  Or, refinancing to a lower interest rate and keeping the monthly payment the same could reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off the loan.

Credit Improves
Multiple factors are used in calculating credit scores, including payment history.  After a year or more of timely repayments, a credit score may improve.  A higher credit score may qualify for a lower rate.  Lower rates not only reduce the monthly payment, they also reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

Income Changes
If your income has increased, you may want to consider refinancing to a lower interest rate and shortening your term.  Both actions will save finance charges and increase your equity in your vehicle.

Conversely, if your income has decreased and overextended your monthly budget, you may prefer to extend the loan term and lower your payment to help pay other expenses.

 

To find out if an auto loan refinance is right for you, try our online Loan Saver calculator.  Or, if you prefer the personal touch, with a phone call and a few minutes, we can determine if we can save you money.

 

You may also be interested in:

4 Ways We Can Help With Your Car
Your home can save you money – on your car
4 Steps to Living Debt Free

 

by Chris, Vice President, Lending

 

A $200 fee applies to reduce the rate of an existing PSCU loan.

 

May 9

2013

Sactown Credit Union 10-Mile Run benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

At Pacific Service Credit Union, we pride ourselves on being an active part of our community. We’re already hard at work in 2013 contributing in the communities that we serve. Here’s a little more about our funding in the first three months of the year.

 

Kids Day 2013 Sponsorship
Once again, we are a proud sponsor of Kids Day 2013 benefitting The Children’s Hospital of Central California, which provides medical treatment to over 100,000 children.

 

YMCA of San Francisco
We are supporting the Presidio Community YMCA’s afterschool learning program at Sutro Elementary School. The program provides free, high quality afterschool services to youth in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond neighborhood.

 

Diabetic Youth Foundation
Our donations support the DYF with their mission is to improve the quality of life for children, teens and families affected by diabetes by providing education and recreation to foster personal growth, knowledge and independence.

 

San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Foundation (SFDSF)
This year’s funding will provide back-to-school supplies for 300 low-income, at-risk children. The event gives private access to a local Target store for the children and deputy sheriff officers to shop. Merchandise is specially priced to maximize what each child can purchase with their allocation.

 

CU4Kids
Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions and business partners from across the country benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Funding supports treatment of children, regardless of their ability to pay.

 

Children’s Miracle Day Fundraiser
We were one of many credit unions supporting the Credit Union SacTown Ten-Mile Race benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, including hospitals in Oakland and Fresno.

 

Fresno Police and Neighborhood Watch program
Our funding supports community block parties and education for children. Children participate in crime prevention and games that reinforce positive living, improve relations with law enforcement officers and encourage community spirit.

 

Fresno Police Activities League (PAL) programs
Our involvement will support programs for low-income, at-risk residents of the community, including bicycle repair, bicycle giveaways and a mentoring pen pal program.

 

American Red Cross Save-a-Life Days (Formerly CPR Saturdays)
For the 11th year, our funding will sponsor a series of regional training events that deliver lifesaving skills to vulnerable populations in underserved communities at no cost.

 

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano – Admiral’s Garden event sponsorship
Proceeds from the event help the Food Bank supply food to needy families during the summer months when donations are historically low. We have supported this event since 2004.

 

If you are involved in a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that you feel may fit our mission, we would be happy to consider them for a charitable contribution. Simply email me and include your organization’s name, email address and phone number.

 

by Kristin P., Business Development

Apr 3

2013

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It’s in the news.  Mortgage rates are hitting record lows – again. If you fall into any of the categories below, it may be time to consider your refinancing options.

 

You have a variable- or adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) Loan.
If you’re currently in an adjustable-rate loan and you have at least 80% equity in your home, this is the time for you to refinance.  Even if refinancing won’t lower your payment, fixing your interest rate and your payment could still save you a lot money in the long run.

 

Your rate is a half a percentage point above today’s rate.
As a rule of thumb, if your current loan is more than half a percentage point higher than current mortgage rates, you may save money by refinancing if you plan to stay in your home. Be sure to ask about closing costs and any points or fees associated with the loan.  Those costs could reduce or eliminate your potential savings.

 

You have a balloon payment.
A loan with a balloon payment has a remaining balance that must be paid off or refinanced after your term is completed.  For example, your payment is based on a 30-year amortization term; however, the loan itself is only for a term of 15 years.  If you have a loan with a balloon payment, consider refinancing to a traditional fixed-term loan.  It may not necessarily lower your monthly payment, but it will remove the balloon payment and help you lock in today’s low rates.

 

You have equity.
Home values are improving in most areas.  People that couldn’t refinance even a year ago are finding that they can now.  If you have been paying down your mortgage loan for some time and think you may now have at least 80% equity in your home, it’s worth the effort to lower your mortgage interest rate.  Your lender should be able to quickly assess your home’s market value to determine if you will be eligible to refinance; however, ultimately, a professional appraiser will be required in most cases to complete loan processing and confirm your eligibility.  Depending on your loan type, your lender’s requirements, and your approximate loan-to-value ratio, you may have to pay out of pocket for an appraisal.  An appraisal typically costs $300 to $500.

 

Call your mortgage lender as a starting point, or better yet, a real estate specialist at Pacific Service CU.  We’re happy to help.

 

by Hemlata, AVP, Real Estate

 
   
 
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