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POSTED: Nov 16, 2017
MCU’s Tips for Avoiding Financial Stress this Holiday Season

The holidays may be a time of fun, feast and family, but the “Season of Giving” can also mean overspending and financial anxiety. Between entertaining, buying gifts and traveling, the holidays can leave a strain on your budget and cause financial anxiety. Luckily, avoiding holiday financial stress is possible. Check out our easy tips can help you save money, stay on budget and keep the “Happy” in “Happy Holidays!” this season.

1. Create a Budget and Stick to it

It’s easy to get carried away during the holidays but according to a survey commissioned VISA Inc., shoppers shouldn’t spend more than 1.5 percent of their household annual budget on holiday gifts and entertainment. A great way to stay on track financially with gift-giving is to create a micro budget for each person you plan to buy a gift for. This will keep you thinking about your budget with each purchase.

2. Plan Your Holiday Travel in Advance

It’s true the holidays can sneak up on you, but getting a head start on your shopping before the season is in full swing will give you the opportunity to take advantage of more sales and compare prices as you go. If you’re one of the more than 98 million Americans who will travel during this holiday season, you can save hundreds of dollars just by booking tickets in advance. According to a study published by CheapAir.com, the optimal time to book flights at the lowest price is more than seven weeks in advance. For example, the cheapest flights around Thanksgiving were booked 14 weeks in advance.

3. Avoid Last Minute Shopping Situations

In addition to planning your travel in advance, making enough time to check everything off of your shopping list in advance will help you to avoid over spending. This is because you’ll have enough to time to find the right gifts that are also right for your budget, instead of rushing to get items wrapped and on their way to loved ones. Shopping in advance will also help you to fight stress and avoid chaos, crowds and long lines that come with heading to the stores just days before the holidays.

4. Keep an eye out for coupons, discounts and deals

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known for their great sales, seasonal and holiday coupons can also save you some money when it comes to shopping. If you’re shopping online, be sure to search the web for existing coupon or promo codes before finalizing your purchase. These codes oftentimes go under the radar and aren’t well publicized. This little known trick can go a long way when it comes to saving this holiday season!

5. Create a Separate Savings Account for Holiday and Gift Expenses

Creating a designated account for gifts, entertainment and travel can help relieve financial stress by keeping your everyday saving separate from what you’ve set aside for the holidays. By only allowing yourself to withdrawn from your designated holiday account will also help to stick to your designated budget.

For MCU Members, the MCU Holiday Club Account is a great way to save, plan and manage your money for the upcoming holidays. With as little as $5.00 down, you can make direct deposits with each paycheck and watch your savings grow. On November 1, the funds will be transferred to your FasTrack Checking or Share Account for easy access. To start saving for next year’s holiday season, sign up for an MCU Holiday Club Account today!

6. Set up Account Alerts

There’s nothing more stressful than having your financial or personal information compromised during the holiday season. As you increase your card utilization online, at ATMs and while making purchases at the shops, you may be at a greater risk of having your card information compromised. Keeping an eye on your accounts is one of the best ways to spot and report potential fraud as early as possible, potentially saving you time, hassle and money.

One of the easiest ways for members to monitor their MCU accounts for suspicious activity is to enroll in MCU Account Alerts through NYMCU® Online Banking. These email or text message* notifications will be automatically sent to your cell phone or email when certain activity occurs within your account. If you do receive a notification regarding your account that looks out of the ordinary or suspicious, be sure to let us know immediately!

* Standard text message rates apply according to your plan. Delivery of alerts may be delayed for various reasons.

POSTED: Nov 07, 2017
Cyber Monday Shopping Safety Tips

With bigger and better deals every year and the convenience of avoiding the holiday mayhem at the shops, it’s no wonder why nearly 70 percent of consumers are expected to jump online to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals this year.

While Cyber Monday may mean saving big, it’s important for consumers to stay savvy when it comes to shopping online all holiday season. And with a reported more than 50 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers planning to make purchases from their mobile devices, protecting your financial and personal security will mean taking extra precautions.

Check out our tips below!

1. Stick to Secure Websites

Only submit your card details or sensitive information to secure websites. These websites ensure a safe, encrypted channel for a website to transfer data to a browser, and vice versa. They also verify the identity of each party — the vendor and consumer – and guarantee that your data will not be intercepted.

To be sure you are using a secure website, check for a small padlock symbol in the address bar. The web address will also begin with “https://:” (the s stands for 'secure').

2. Don’t Shop on Unsecured Wi-Fi Hotspots

Free public Wi-Fi networks can often be found in coffee shops, restaurants and airports. While these hotspots are handy, they should be used cautiously, especially when it comes to accessing personal information. Unsecured Wi-Fi networks don’t require passwords and can be easily hacked by thieves who can gather all of the sites you accessed while on the network and all of the personal information you entered there.

Stick to shopping on a secure Wi-Fi hotspot that requires a password or use your phone’s network data.

3. Don’t Fall for “Too-Good-To-Be-True” Offers

You may be on the prowl for great Cyber Monday deals but if it looks too good to be true, it’s best to assume it is. Identity thieves and cybercriminals are known to prey on bargain hunters this time of year. Watch out especially for email and text messages promising unreal deals. By clicking on links within these messages, you could be leaving your device vulnerable phishing software or malware.

4. Update Your Anti-Virus Software

Keeping Anti-virus and anti-phishing tools on all computers can help you to detect and remove viruses and keyloggers that can steal your personal and financial information. Updating these systems regularly will help you to protect your devices from the latest viruses and will help to cover any upgrades you may have made within your operating system.

5. Check for Fraudulent Apps

Shopping on your phone or tablet? Look twice before you download an app. In 2016 alone, hundreds of fake retail and product apps were reported in the Apple App Store in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Oftentimes, these counterfeit apps look strikingly similar to those belonging to popular retail chain stores and luxury-goods makers.

While many of them may be relatively harmless knockoff apps that serve for popup ads, accidentally entering any card or personal information can lead to potential fraud.

6. Set Up MCU Account Alerts

While there may always be some risk to shopping online, keeping an eye on your accounts is one of the best ways to spot and report potential fraud as early as possible, potentially saving you time and money.

One of the easiest ways for members to monitor their MCU accounts for suspicious activity is to enroll in MCU Account Alerts through NYMCU® Online Banking. These email or text message* notifications will be automatically sent to your cell phone or email when certain activity occurs within your account. If you do receive a notification regarding your account that looks out of the ordinary or suspicious, be sure to let us know immediately!

* Standard text message rates apply according to your plan. Delivery of alerts may be delayed for various reasons..

POSTED: Oct 27, 2017
An MCU Scam Roundup - Fall 2017

You may be working hard to protect your personal and financial information but criminals are still defrauding many victims by combining new technology with old tricks. Staying informed is key in avoiding being victimized by these new and advanced scams. Check out these recent scams reported by the Better Business Bureau that are currently affecting hardworking people everywhere.

1. Stay Smart and Steer Clear of the College Fund Scam

The New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection is warning consumers of a phishing scam targeting college students. Identity thieves are posing as representatives of government agencies and contacting students, claiming they are eligible for state government funds available for higher education. Victims of this scam are then told they will need to provide their financial information in order for said funds to be deposited into their checking account directly. They’re then asked to click on a link for more information. These links will expose your computer and personal information to scammers.

If you receive an email like this or one of a similar suspicious nature, it’s important to know the following:

• Do not click on links or open attachments in any email that is from an unknown source.

• Know that the only financial aid information you can trust will come directly from the federal government or the college itself, unless you have requested information from private financial institutions. Solicitation offers are highly suspicious.

• Pay attention to the details within messages you received. Phishing emails often include grammatical errors and may address the recipient incorrectly.

• Only use built-in spam filters from your mailbox to report spams. Do not click on any link from the message you received even though it says “report as spam”. Do not click on any “unsubscribe” link from unknown senders.

• Never share your personal information, such as bank account number, full name, home address or social security number.

2. No, Equifax isn’t Calling

Scammers are reportedly taking advantage of nervous consumers in the wake of the highly publicized Equifax data breach. Most notably, identity thieves are posing as the credit reporting agency and asking consumers to verify account information and provide additional details. It’s important to know that Equifax or similar organizations like financial institutions will never contact you by phone requesting information like this for any reason. If you receive a phone call like this, the following steps can help protect your personal and financial information:

• Never provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct

• Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof their numbers so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.

• If you get an automated call, hang up. Don't press any number on your keypad in attempt to speak with a representative or take your phone number off the list. This will likely just lead to more calls.

According to the Better Business Bureau, If you’ve already received a call that you think is fake, report it to the FTC. If you gave your personal information to an imposter, you’ll need to change compromised passwords, account numbers or security questions.

3. Phony Employment Offers

Employment scams may be little known to many consumers but are becoming increasingly common. Victims may see an ad on a poster or even be contacted directly through a job or employment website by an identity thief posing as head hunters or potential employers.

These scammers may offer their victims a brief interview over the phone, web chat, or through email before offering the job to their victims. The victim is then told that before they can begin working, they’ll have to provide personal information like their bank account information and even pay money up front for work provisions, supplies or certificates.

Once the scammers have what they want, they’ll be sure to disappear.

Luckily, employment scams can be easy to recognize and avoid. Here are some things to watch out for:

• Some listed job opportunities are more likely to be scams than others. Work-from-home; secret shopper positions or any job with a generic job title, such as caregiver, can be a red flag for fraud. Because these positions often don't require special training or licensing, they appeal to a wide range of applicants, bringing in more potential victims for the scammers.

• Search the web for similar job postings. If identical job listings appear in other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam. Also, check the real company's job page to make sure the position is listed there.

• Beware of on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but know that offers made without an interview uncommon and suspicious. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her.

• Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask him/her wire the money elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers.

• Avoid any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit or paying for training. This information can then be used for identity theft, so be absolutely certain before you share.

POSTED: Oct 18, 2017
ATM and Debit Card Fraud PreventionTips

Your debit card is a convenient and smart way to make purchases, manage your money and keep a budget. However, a recent increase in fraudulent schemes and theft means that card and ATM safety is more important than ever when it comes to protecting your money and personal information. To help safeguard your account and personal information, check out these useful ATM and Debit fraud prevention tips.

1.Location, location, location

Protecting yourself from ATM fraud can be as easy as avoiding certain remote ATMs and point of sale devices. These free-standing ATMs, which are often found in low-trafficked and poorly lit areas outside of grocery stores and bodegas, are most vulnerable to being tampered with by thieves. Similarly, self-serve gas pumps that accept credit cards at stations are known to have high instances of tampering.

It may be a bit out of the way when you’re out and about, but the safest ATMs you can use are always the ones located in the vestibules of a financial institutions that require a card to gain access.

2. Check the ATM for tampering

ATM skimming has become an increasing threat to cardholders. According to Bankrate.com, theft from ATM skimming is approaching $1 billion annually and Javelin estimates that one in five people have been hit by an ATM skimmer.

Before using an ATM or point-of-sale terminal, take a good look at the keypad and card slot and check to see if anything is loose or out of place. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs additionally recommends checking for keypads that appear raised or have an unusual color. A thief could have placed an overlay on the keypad to record the personal identification number you punch in.

It’s important to also note that some gas pumps have security tape that forms a seal around the card reader. If the seal is broken, it could mean the reader has been compromised.

When in doubt, don’t use the device.

3. Protect your PIN

Always shield the screen and keypad when entering your PIN or transaction amount. In addition to threat of “shoulder surfers”, or individuals trying to get a glimpse of your personal information from over your shoulder, thieves are increasingly installing pinhole cameras on or near ATMs and point-of-sale devices to record the information input.

Cardholders can also easily protect their PIN information by memorizing it so that they never have to write it down. When selecting a PIN, it’s strongly recommended to avoid numbers and letters that relate to your personal information and can be easily guessed. For example, don't use your initials, birthday, telephone or Social Security number.

4. Stay vigilant to those around you

It’s important to stay mindful of the people around you before beginning an ATM transaction. In addition to traditional thieves, shoulder surfers may hang around ATMs with the intention of stealing your personal information. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. As an extra precaution when using an enclosed ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting strangers follow you inside.

If anyone does follow you after you’ve completed a transaction, go to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police.

5. Check your transactions

Take time to regularly examine your bank account activity online to see whether funds have been withdrawn that you didn't authorize. As an additional precaution, you should hold on to your ATM receipts and check them against your monthly statement. You can also set up alerts so that you're notified when funds are withdrawn.

6. Immediately report a lost or stolen card to your financial institution

If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, be sure to contact your financial institution and report it immediately. Acting fast limits your liability for charges you didn’t authorize. Once you report the loss of your ATM or debit card, federal law says you cannot be held liable for unauthorized transfers that occur after that time.

POSTED: Oct 13, 2017
Reaching Financial Goals as a Family

Whether you’re looking to purchase a new home, save for retirement or just get out of debt, enlisting every member of your family and household is an important step as you work towards reaching your financial goals. It may not always be easy to talk about money but sharing information, brainstorming and making changes together over time can help families create positive financial habits and even bring people closer together.

To get started on successfully creating and implementing a new family budget, check out these tips below.

1. Get Everyone Involved

Families can often make the mistake of relying on one person to manage the money but the first step to successfully reaching a financial goal is to get everybody involved and aware of the situation.

If you’ve been primarily managing the family finances, it’s important to help everyone understand that the family has new goals that require everyone to make changes. While these conversations are difficult, it’s important for them to take place while every member of the family (including children) is present and to remember to consider all of the comments and questions of each family member.

These conversations are especially important, otherwise absent family members can derail the process.

2. Work Together to Develop an Accurate Diagnosis

Before a family can begin to manage their money differently, they’ll need to take time to fully understand their cash flow. To do this, keep track and make a list of all of your earnings and spending for approximately 2-3 months. Be sure to record every purchase, no matter how small.

Tracking your spending will quickly reveal where problems occur but it’s important not to let family members blame each other. Many small problems may resolve themselves once every member of the family understands the issue, but others will require you to work together.

3. Create a “Game Plan” Everybody Can Get Behind

A game plan can’t be successful if the whole family isn’t on board and ready to follow it. This means everyone’s input, priorities and ideas will need to be included so that each person feels heard and validated. Including the entire family will also help everybody understand that these changes require teamwork and collaboration. For example, the family may agree to start packing lunches instead of eating out, take public transportation more often or begin sharing more often.

Putting this plan together is a great opportunity to get creative. When every member of the family is involved and willing to be flexible, approaches or schedules that seemed unworkable can suddenly become possible.

The game plan should alo be put in writing, and should include a contingency plan to specify what happens if the family fails to meet the goals. This is especially reassuring for children, who need to know there’s a “Plan B” so family members can refer to it when questions arise.

4. Don’t Keep Spending Changes a Secret From Extended Family

Sharing your decision to make positive financial changes with friends and extended family is a great way to find additional support from loved ones and even pick up a few tips. For example, they may be more willing to hold a potluck instead of having dinner at a restaurant if they know an evening out isn’t in your budget anymore.

Your announcement may even free other family members to discuss their own issues and concerns. Issues that can be addressed include meals out, unnecessary driving trips, gifts, clothes, and special activities.

POSTED: Oct 12, 2017
Tips for Choosing the Right Credit Card

Credit is nothing new to Americans. According to data from Gallup, the average American has 2.6 credit cards and an average of $16,048 in credit card debt. For many of these consumers, special offers such as low balance transfers and enticing “teaser rates’ can play a significant role in their decision to open a new credit card.

However, if these enticing offers seem too good to be true, they likely are and consumers should always proceed with caution. In order to ensure you’re getting the best credit card for your needs and lifestyle, consumers will need to consider a few important factors.

1. Balance Transfer Offers

Appealing teaser offers and introductory rates may encourage consumers to transfer their high-interest debt to a lower-interest card in order to save money. However, it’s important to know the nuances of the balance transfer offer.

For example a balance transfer fee can play a role in whether or not choosing to transfer your debt is actually cost effective. Depending on the credit card, these fees can be as expensive as five percent of the amount transferred. On a $5,000 balance, the fee will add $250 to the amount owed. Additionally, the balance transfer limit may not allow you to transfer the entire balance of your high-interest credit card.

2. Interest Rates

You may not realize it, but your new credit card may not be as affordable as you thought. It’s easy to be enticed by appealing introductory rates but before signing on the dotted line, consumers will need to know for how long that rate will last, how it will change and what the maximum interest they may face.

3. Fees

Be sure to always read the fine print and to know the conditions of the card you are opening. A credit card can come with several fees that can add up quickly! They include:

  • Application Fee – A consumer can be charged with an application fee once they receive card approval. This is usually a flat fee and should be avoided. If you’re required to call a 900 number to apply for the card, that also may generate a fee.

  • Annual Holding Fee – this yearly charge is typically a flat fee that is in addition to any purchases charged. Even if you do not use this credit card, you will incur an annual fee. While many credit card companies and financial institutions will waive this fee, some credit cards can come with an annual fee amount to hundreds of dollars!

  • Processing fee – in addition to an application fee, a processing fee may be charged simply for the task of processing the application. These fees are more likely to be charged if the individual fails to qualify for the initial card offer and s then instead offered a less appealing offer. This fee is relatively rare, but is sometimes charged by the less reputable companies.

4 . Your Lifestyle

Ask yourself if the card compliments money management style and spending practices.

For example credit card details and features including grace periods and rewards programs should be consistent with your lifestyle and credit card habits. A grace period is the number of days after a purchase is made before the credit card company or financial institution begins to charge interest. For consumers who pay their card in full each month, a longer grace period may be more important than a lower annual interest rate.

Additionally, while it can be important to take advantage of reward programs or gain discounts on specific purchases, it generally has a smaller impact than interest rates and fees.

POSTED: Oct 04, 2017
Tips and Tools for Avoiding NSF Fees

Using your debit card comes with many advantages. Most notably, your debit card gives you the benefit of quickly and easily making purchases without the potential of running up a credit card bill you may not be able to pay at the end of the month. Nevertheless, the many types of debit card and checking account transactions make it difficult at times to keep up with your balances. And if you end up making more transactions than your account balance can handle, you may be charged with a Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Fee.

An NSF Fee is assessed whenever you write a check or make a debit or electronic payment (one time or recurring) and the payment or check is returned as unpayable due to insufficient available funds in your account. NSF Fees are a big price to pay for not keeping track of your account balances.

Following are some recommendations to help you stay on top of your account balances and avoid being charged NSF fees:

  • Check Your Balances Regularly:
    The most important tip to avoid NSF Fees is simple: check your balances on a regular basis to make sure you have sufficient available funds in your account to cover checks, debit card purchases, electronic payments, recurring withdrawals and any other payments you have scheduled. You can monitor your balances daily via NYMCU Online Banking, the NYMCU Mobile Banking App, and by setting up an Account Activity Summary Alert, which can conveniently send you an email or text message with a summary of your transactions and balances each morning.

  • Avoid Using Debit Cards to Buy Gas, Rent Cars and at Hotels:
    These types of businesses often place temporary blocks or holds on your checking account for security reasons, for amounts that exceed the amount of your purchase or rental, when you pay by debit card. These blocks and holds can tie up funds in your checking account needed for other purchases. Using a credit card or cash for hotels and car rentals, and gas can save you from paying more than you should in the long run.

  • Set up Automatic Electronic Payments:
    Automatic electronic payments (ACH payments) are a great way to conveniently pay bills without having to wait for a mailed check to be received and deposited by a merchant. Electronic payments are processed more quickly than paper check transactions, often within one business day, so you will spend less time wondering when payments will be completed.

  • Stop Recurring/Scheduled Transactions If Your Balance Drops:
    Be careful when scheduling automatic recurring electronic payments. If you think you will not have sufficient funds available in your account to cover an upcoming payment, you can place a Stop Payment Order with MCU. The Stop Payment fee is less than the NSF Fee. However, MCU may not be able to stop a payment unless the Stop Payment request is received at least three business days before the payment date. You may also be able to cancel a scheduled payment with some merchants and creditors for free.

    An NSF Fee can be charged to your account each and every time that a check or an electronic withdrawal request is returned unpaid. But there are laws that limit the number of times that a merchant or creditor can attempt to withdraw funds from your account for the same transaction. If you think a company is making excessive withdrawal requests, contact them immediately and tell them to stop. If that doesn’t work, place a Stop Payment Order with MCU.

For more information on NSF Fees, please refer to our Schedule of Dividends, Service Charges and Fees. For more information on NYMCU Online Banking, NYMCU Mobile Banking, and Account Alerts, please visit the Digital Banking section of our website.

POSTED: Sep 26, 2017
Credit 101: Tackling Frequently Asked Questions

Credit is important. However, if you’re feeling in the dark about what it is and how it works, you’re definitely not alone. According to a recent study conducted by NerdWallet and Harris Polls, most Americans don’t understand the basic ins and outs of credit.

Knowing how credit works and how it can affect you is an important step in the journey to achieving your financial goals. Not sure where to start? Check out our FAQ!

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that is calculated from an individual’s credit report and can play a significant role in how lenders assess your credit-worthiness, which is simply how trustworthy a financial institution or creditor determines you to be. For example, a strong credit score and history demonstrates to potential employers, utility companies, financial institutions and even landlords that you are a responsible person who pays their bills on time.

It’s important to note that each person has several different credit scores. Most notably, the three major credit rating agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion will each generate their own.

What Makes Up a Credit Score?

While information such as age, income, ethnicity and marital status don’t influence your credit score, five key factors will affect your score to varying degrees. They are:

  • Payment history (35 percent). You payment history takes into account how reliable you have been in making payments on time and if you have any payment delinquencies.
  • Credit utilization (30 percent). This factor measure how much you owe on your accounts and the amount of available credit used on your revolving accounts.
  • Length of credit history (15 percent). Your credit history is made up of how long accounts have been opened the length of time since credit cards were last used.
  • Types of credit used (10 percent). The mix of accounts you have, such as revolving and installment can play role in your credit score.
  • New credit (10 percent). This refers to your pursuit of new credit, including credit inquiries and the number of recently opened accounts.

What are the Benefits of a Good Credit Score?

Having a good credit score, which is considered to be 720 or higher, comes with several important benefits, including:

  • Increased credit card limits
  • Competitive mortgage and refinancing rates
  • Lower financing rates for loans and insurance
  • Excellent credit card deals
  • Leverage when negotiating with lenders

How Can a Poor Credit Score Affect Me?

Having a poor credit score, which is considered to be 620 or lower, can come with significant drawbacks, including:

  • Higher interest rates on credit cards and loans
  • Difficulty getting approved for a loan or credit card
  • Trouble getting approved for an apartment
  • Security deposits required for utilities
  • More expensive insurance premiums

How Can I Build Credit?

The key to building a good credit score is to avoid carrying a lot or debt and to create a borrowing history that demonstrates you are able to consistently pay your bills on time.

To start, set up automatic payments for fixed monthly bills, like cell phones or cable. This will not only make paying your bills easy, but will ensure you never miss a payment. If you are unable to set up an automatic payment, setting a reminder for when bills are due can also help.

Having a healthy relationship with credit is also important and having a credit card can help to bolster your credit score even if it’s only used minimally. If you don’t qualify for a traditional credit card, consider a secured credit card like the MCU Secured VISA® Credit Card, where you can obtain a credit line equal to the deposit you make, helping you to steadily improve your credit score.

My Credit Isn’t Great. How Can I Started to Rebuild it?

In addition to working towards creating a strong payment history, those with already damaged credit will have to work extra hard to show they can have a healthy relationship with credit. This means that paying down your debt is essential. Freezing your credit cards or using them only in emergencies is the first step.

Once you’ve taken on a new attitude towards using your credit card, you’ll need to set up a plan in which you can put a large piece of your budget towards your highest interest credit cards, while maintaining your other minimum payments will be the most effective step to minimizing your debt.

You can also consider consolidating your debt in order to pay it off more easily. However, It’s important to make sure the loan you are taking in order to consolidate your debts comes with decent rates and terms.

How Can I Check My Credit Score?

Before you look to an online service for your credit score, check your credit card and loan statements. Many major credit card companies and some auto loan companies have begun to provide credit scores for all their customers on a monthly basis.

However, checking your credit score isn’t enough. As a consumer, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and Transunion. You can order these reports online from annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. To receive your credit report, you will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.

POSTED: Sep 21, 2017
MCU’s Tips for Consumers Affected by Identity Theft

While you may be taking active steps to protect your personal and account information, new scams and recent data breaches have left millions of Americans vulnerable. To stay proactive in protecting your information, consumers can stay vigilant by keeping an eye out for the following warning signs:

  • Receiving a credit card that you didn’t apply for
  • Being denied credit or being offered less favorable credit terms like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason
  • Getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn’t buy

1. Notify Financial Institutions and Credit Card Companies

If an account or existing credit line has been affected, notifying your financial institution or credit card company should be your first priority and can save you money and a lot of trouble down the road. For example, the Fair Credit Billing Act specifies that your maximum liability for unauthorized charges is $50. However because most credit cards have zero-liability policies, consumers are often protected from having to take on any liability at all.

Consumers can then work with their financial institution or card company to determine the best course of action. This may be as easy as changing login information, passwords or PINs or may require closing accounts or placing a freeze on accounts so changes or charges cannot be made until you agree to them.

2. Monitor all Statements for Suspicious Activity

If you’ve noticed fraud or suspicious activity on one account, it’s very important to check other statements and financial records for other charges or activity you don’t recognize. This includes dormant or infrequently used accounts.

If you find unknown charges, call the financial institutions to alert them of the problem and request the account be locked or closed.

3. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

As a consumer, you’re entitled to at least one free credit report from each agency each year, which you can receive through one of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.

In addition to this report, consumers who believe they may be as risk of fraud can place a fraud alert on their credit report. Placing an alert is not only free but will also make it more difficult for new accounts to be opened in your name. To place an alert you’ll only have to contact one of the three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion). That company will alert the other two.

A fraud alert can be extended for up to seven years if a consumer provides proof to the credit reporting agencies that they are a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert will notify any institution that pulls your credit report to the fact your identity may be compromised. This will also prompt creditors to take additional steps in verifying your identity should you open any new accounts.

4. Consider Freezing Your Credit

For an extra layer of protection, consumers can also initiate a credit freeze. Like a fraud alert, a credit freeze also typically free for victims of identity theft. And while a credit freeze can be a good way to prevent ongoing fraud, it will likely also make it difficult receive approval for loans or credit cards.

It’s important to note that consumers will have to reach out to credit reporting agency individually to place the freeze.

5. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission

Once you have determined the extent of the fraud, consumers should file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Simply visit IdentityTheft.gov, create an account and Include as many details as possible. Based on the information provided, the FTC will create an identity theft report and recovery and track your progress, and pre-fill forms and letters for you. Your Identity Theft Report is important because it provides evidence of fraud, making it easier to correct discrepancies.

6. File a Police Report

Filing a police report helps identity theft victims gain access to the legal benefits. As a victim of identity theft, you should obtain a detailed police report about your situation. It is important to file detailed reports both locally as well as in the jurisdiction where the fraud occurred.

To file a police report it’s important to provide a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, a government-issued ID with a photo, proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill) and any other proof of theft ( bills, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notices, etc.).

POSTED: Aug 24, 2017
Budget-Friendly Car Maintenance Tips for the Cold Weather

For drivers, the quickly approaching fall and winter seasons mean that freezing temperatures; inclement weather and salted streets will be sure to worsen driving conditions and cause vehicle wear and tear. To prepare your car for the cold weather, regular maintenance is an easy way to help to mitigate damage, improve safety and prevent expensive breakdowns in the future.

Starting early is key. Check out our tips below on how to keep your car in good working order without breaking the bank this winter!

1. Check Your Tire Pressure

Snow, ice and sand can cause roads to become dangerous so it’s especially important for drivers to make sure their tires are in good working condition before the winter season starts. This includes tire pressure, which can decrease quickly in cold temperatures. Driving on underinflated tires can cause premature wear and make your car handle less predictably. If you check your tire pressure and find that one or more of your tires are low on air, you can fill them at a gas station air pump for little to no cost.

2. Maintain Visibility

More than 23 percent of car accidents in the United States are caused by hazardous weather and poor visibility. As we enter the season of sleet and snow, drivers should strongly consider replacing worn out windshield wipers and topping off windshield wiper fluid as an easy and affordable ways to make sure they maintain optimal visibility on the road.

In addition, always be mindful of any chips (even small ones) in your windshield. If you spot one, have it repaired as soon as possible. If left unattended, sudden temperature changes (such as defrosting a freezing windshield) can cause these chips to become large cracks, which means you’ll have to make the expensive repair of replacing your entire windshield.

3. Check Antifreeze Levels

Antifreeze is the fluid found in your radiator that helps to keep water from freezing or boiling in regular and extreme temperatures. As temperatures dip below freezing, keeping your vehicle’s antifreeze levels at a sufficient level is an affordable but important step to maintaining your engine and preventing repairs that could cost thousands of dollars.

4. Change Your Oil

According to a recent study by the Car Care Council of the Be Car Care Aware campaign, 22 percent of vehicles have low or dirty engine oil. No matter the season, consistently changing your oil every few thousand miles is one of the most cost efficient ways to maintain your car.

Just a few hundred dollars could save you from costly engine breakdowns and repairs. Because unpredictable weather can derail weekend plans to get your oil changed during the winter, being proactive and getting it done early this fall can help you know your car is set for the season.

5. Check Your Battery

Car battery failure is one of the most common reasons a driver finds themselves stranded and it can be especially dangerous in the cold weather. To help prevent unwelcome disasters, have your battery tested by a mechanic to find out if it needs replacing. It is also a good idea to keep a booster pack or jumper cables in your car just in case your battery does die while you’re out and about.

POSTED: Aug 22, 2017
Four Ways Your Credit Card is Better than Cash

Move over, cash – there’s a new king in town. You already know that your credit card is a great option for moving through a checkout line quickly; online shopping and booking vacations, but some less obvious perks could have you leaving behind paper money for good. Check them out below!

1. Track Your Spending Habits

It can be very hard to keep track of how you’re spending your money when using cash. Holding onto receipts throughout the month can be difficult and putting together a comprehensive list of all purchases (including small ones), tedious. However, using your credit card regularly means your spending history will be detailed on one bill at the end of each month, making it easy to review purchases and gain insights into your spending habits. Even better, cardholders can view their bill in real-time using online banking. Having easy access to this information is the first step to identifying any problematic spending habits and to make changes that work for you.

2. Build Your Credit

Credit is important. A good credit score will help you get approved for lower interest rates on loans, rent an apartment and even receive better pricing on insurance. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is based on your payment history, which is good news for responsible credit card holders. Using your credit card on items you would normally pay for with cash and then paying your bill on time each month will help you create a strong payment history, building your credit score with the added benefit of not having to take on extra debt.

3. Have a Safety Net

Credit cards offer a variety of features that can protect you if things go wrong. For example, while very little can be done if cash is lost or stolen, cardholders can simply call their financial institution to report their card missing and have a new one provided to them in just a matter of days. And with zero liability protection, cardholders are protected from losing any money if they're victimized by fraud. Similarly, if a consumer use their card in a transaction that turns out to be a scam, they can alert their financial institution or credit card company to place a stop on a payment.

4. Enjoy Rewards

You’re already spending your money on everyday items like groceries, utilities and gas. Why not earn perks for your purchases? While the benefits will vary, many credit cards will offer programs that may reward you for your spending habits. These rewards may include cashback, air miles and merchant discounts. Cash can’t do that for you!

POSTED: Aug 22, 2017
MCU's Tips for Saving Your First $1,000

If you’re having a difficult time building a nest egg, you’re definitely not alone. According to a recent survey conducted by GoBankingRates.com, a whopping 69 percent of Americans have reported having less than $1,000 in savings. More than half of those surveyed also reported that they would be unable to cover a $500 expense.

Breaking a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle can be difficult but it’s an important step in becoming financially secure and working towards long-term goals. Whether you’re new to managing your money or trying to break old habits, we’ve come up with some easy ways to start working towards saving your first $1,000. Check them out below!

1. Create a budget

A budget is a visual tool to help you manage your spending within your means so it’s easy to see how it’s the first step to creating spending plan that will allow you to start saving.

To start, keep track of your cash flow to help understand all of your costs and prioritize your spending. For example, once seeing your cash flow written down, you may be able to decide that while you need Wi-Fi, you can do without an expensive cable package. You’ll need to pay rent or your mortgage but can decide not to run your AC unit all summer or pay down debt before you can take a vacation. You may also prioritize exactly how much of your budget you would like to save.

Remember, not all expenses or sources of income occur within a single month. For example, your tax return may appear once a year, your car insurance bill may come due twice a year and homeowner association fees may only occur quarterly.

2. Cut back on small luxuries

If you’re working on a tight budget, making compromises on small luxuries can pack a big punch. These changes may include:

  • Packing lunch
  • Making coffee at home
  • Buying generic brand items
  • Canceling unnecessary magazine/newspaper subscriptions

3. Find a “side gig”

When cutting back isn’t enough, picking up a side gig is a great way to earn extra cash that can go straight into savings. Unlike a second job, a gig typically allows an individual to pick their own hours and work as little or as much as they want. This could include dog walking, house sitting or even joining a ride-sharing program. It’s popular too. According to Bankrate.com, 44 million Americans have taken on a gig to help get ahead. More than 35 percent of those surveyed reported earning more than an additional $500 a month!

4. Open a savings/share account that’s right for you

If you’re one of the more than 9 million people in the United States who don’t have a savings account, it’s time to open one. Having a savings account will not only give you a secure place to keep your savings but it will help you make your money work for you with interest. As an added benefit, account holders can set up direct deposit so a percentage of their paycheck goes directly into their account, helping them to set a pace for their savings without thinking about it.

However, not all savings products are created equal so it’s important to shop around for the account that works best for you. This means considering a credit union (who have share accounts), as they are known for having better interest rates and fewer penalties and fees.

POSTED: Aug 01, 2017
Finance 101: MCU’s Financial Tips for College Students

Being a college student is an exciting time filled with new experiences, curiosity and higher learning (and pizza, of course). It’s also the first time that many young people will find themselves independently taking on financial responsibilities. And while being a “broke college student” is an experience shared by many, it’s still extremely stressful.

Luckily, there are some easy steps to help students take control of their finances now and develop healthy money management habits that will last a lifetime. Check them out below!

1. Create a Budget

No matter the amount of money you’re working with, a budget will help keep your spending within your means.

With any spending plan, some compromises and sacrifices will have to be made. Students will have to set (and stick to) realistic limits on activities such as eating out, entertainment and shopping. Because college students are typically on tight budgets, it’s also important to recognize that seemingly small expenses can add up fast. For instance, a cup of gourmet coffee every day can eat up nearly $20 every week.

Remember to also make considerations for expenses (like a car insurance bill) that will only occur once or twice throughout the year as well. Check out MCU’s Tips for Creating an Effective Spending Plan for more information.

2. Stay Smart About Credit

Credit is important. A good credit score will help you get approved for lower interest rates on loans, rent an apartment and even receive better pricing on insurance.

College is a great time to take steps toward building credit. However, if students aren’t careful, they can easily get carried away, open several credit cards with enticing offers and find themselves in over their heads before they know it. This mistake won’t just damage your credit score for years to come but will immediately result in late fees and higher interest rates, which can add up quickly and dig students into a financial hole.

College students should stick to opening a student credit card with a modest limit and competitive rate that they can use sparingly, setting good habits for the future as they slowly but surely raise their credit score.

3. Keep an Eye out for Identity Theft

According to a Javelin Strategy and Research report, 22 percent of students in 2014 were denied credit or contacted by a debt collector due to identity theft and fraud. The study additionally found that compared to older age groups, 18-to 24-year-olds take nearly twice as long to detect identity theft, potentially making the extent of the fraud against them more significant.

To help avoid identity theft, college students should take steps to keep their personal information safe. This includes properly disposing of sensitive documents like bank statements and avoiding free standing ATMs, which are known to be easily compromised.

Students should also carefully review their account and credit card statements each month. It may be habit to simply skim to the bottom of your statement, find your balance, make a payment and then not give your bill a second thought. However, while your balance may have seemed about right, it’s important to know that fraud is often perpetrated in small amounts. Taking the time to go through your statement line by line is the best way to find any suspicious activity.

In addition to monthly statements, college students should review their credit score every 12 months. It’s easy and free! Like all consumers, students are privy to a free credit report each year, which can be accessed through any one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

4. Set up Alerts

Making payments on time and managing your accounts periodically will not only improve your credit score, but will help you avoid unnecessary fees and penalties. However, balancing classes and newfound responsibilities can make it tough for college students to stay on top of billings cycles and due dates. To stay organized, take advantage of text and email alerts to set up reminders.

5. Get Creative with Textbooks

Textbooks can be a major expense for students, especially if they purchase new copies at the campus bookstore. To help minimize this cost, students can look to buy used copies online, rent their books or even purchase the electronic versions. These alternatives may save hundreds of dollars every semester.

If you do choose to go the route of buying your textbooks, consider selling them at the end of your semester. Many college bookstores have buyback programs that can assist with this or students can look to online resources.

6. Take Advantage of Student Perks

Being a student can come with some serious money-saving perks. Your student ID may get you discounts at retailers, while the campus fitness center can save you the cost of a gym membership and a meal plan is often times cheaper than eating out.

Your school may also offer money-saving amenities. Keep an eye out for resources like free tutoring and check the student activities calendar for inexpensive student events, including concerts and festivals, which are both fun and budget-friendly!

POSTED: Jul 27, 2017
When Buying Your Leased Car is the Right Move

With lower monthly payments and the prospect of a new car every few years, it’s no wonder why vehicle leasing continues to be a popular option. However, the cycle of endless payments and fees, along with the restrictions and lack of equity that come with leasing, can leave many drivers frustrated.

If you’re a current leaser looking to become an owner, a buyout on your current lease can be a great way to do just that. It provides you the ownership you are looking for with the added benefits of already knowing the ins and outs of your car, including its accident and maintenance history.

Like any large purchase, potential buyers should consider important factors before signing on the dotted line. These considerations may include:

1. The Car’s Current Value

While you may love your current car, it’s always important to make a purchase with your head, and not your heart. Your goal as a leaser looking to buy your car should be to pay less than or near the private-party price. This means you’ll need to take time to do research.

To start, check for the residual price (also known as a buyout amount) on your lease agreement. This is the amount that the dealership will value your vehicle at the end of your lease. If you don't have your contract handy, you may be able to find this information on an online account you may have with the dealership.

Once you know your residual amount, you’ll need to know the value your car’s specific make and model. Taking the time to compare reputable resources, including TRUECar and Kelly Blue Book can help you gather as much information as possible and confidently make a decision about your purchase.

2. Condition and Maintenance

Most vehicles only have bumper-to-bumper warranties for three years, which means potential buyers should consider the condition of their leased car carefully before making the decision to buy. This may include:

  • Car maintenance
  • Tires
  • Mileage

You may find it beneficial to buy your car if it does have some wear and tear. While these damages may be small and even unnoticeable to a driver throughout your day-to-day life, they can become extremely expensive when the lease ends and the car is returned.

The good news? As a leaser, you do have significant advantages when it comes to evaluating your current car’s condition, as you already know the history of the vehicle’s maintenance history and how it’s been cared for. You can also take advantage of having it checked out for mechanical problems before its warranty expires. If anything does need to be fixed or maintained, you can arrange for the repairs of covered items at little or no cost.

All in all, if your car is in good overall condition and won't cost that much to keep up over the long haul, leasers can feel confident that their car would be a good purchase.

3. Your Budget

Like with any major purchases, you’ll need to figure out if buying the car will fit within the your budget. Unless you plan to pay for the car outright, the expenses may include:

  • A down payment
  • Monthly payments (with interest) to an auto loan
  • Insurance
  • General maintenance that will come with owning an older car

Loan calculator tools and other resources available online may be helpful in figuring out what expense may work with your monthly budget.

Finally, keep in mind that an important factor in determining the monthly expense of owning your car will be where you choose to finance it. The best financing deals are rarely found at auto dealerships. Shopping around for the most competitive auto loan and lowest interest rates may make all the difference when it comes to figuring out if your car can fit comfortably in your budget.

POSTED: Jul 17, 2017
An MCU Scam Roundup – Summer 2017

While many consumers are taking action to protect their personal information, identity theft is still affecting Americans in alarming numbers. According to the Identity Theft and Scam Prevention Services, approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion.

On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.

Criminals are defrauding many victims by combining new technology with old tricks to gain access to their money and personal information. Being informed is the first step to keeping your money and personal information safe. Check out these recent scams reported by the Better Business Bureau that are currently plaguing hardworking people everywhere.

1. “You're a winner!” Don’t take the bait with giveaway scams.

Popups scams aren’t new but identity thieves have learned to become even more convincing to those surfing the web. Most recently, consumers have reported browsing online when receiving a popup that reads, “Congratulations, you’re today’s lucky visitor.” The prize has been reported as $1,000 gift card, and you can select from a list of famous stores. Consumers are also told they need to act fast, as they only have two minutes to claim their prize.

The website is convincingly designed to look like the popular social media platform Facebook, including the site’s colors, font, and blue navigation bar. The scam becomes increasingly convincing to many as scammers use a technology to insert the model of phone you are using to browse online. For example, the target may be identified as a “loyal Apple customer.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers can spot a giveaway scam several ways:

  • Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information for coupons or giveaways. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there's a link to their privacy policy.
  • When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the giveaway is a scam, this is likely to reveal an alert or bring you to the organization's real website, where they may have posted further information.
  • Watch out for a reward that's too good to be true. Businesses typically give out small discounts to entice customers. If the offer seems too good to be true (a $100 voucher or 50% discount) it may be a scam.
  • Look for a mismatched subject line and email body. Many of these scams have an email subject line promising one thing, but the content of the email is something completely different.

2. Avoid Bogus Connection Requests on LinkedIn.

If you have a LinkedIn account, it’s important to keep an eye out for suspicious users claiming to be recruiters with promising job offers. LinkedIn users have reported receiving messages from seemingly legitimate accounts asking them to apply for a job.

The request will look convincing enough for users to follow the steps needed to apply. In some cases, applicants will then be asked to upload resume and provide personal information, which may range from their mailing address to Social Security/Social Insurance number. In other instances, users will be informed that they have been "hired" for the job and must pay upfront for training and others expenses.

No matter the details of the scam, the job never materializes. The scammer takes the money or information and disappears.

According to the Better Business Bureau, tips for dealing with job scams on LinkedIn include:

  • Set your LinkedIn privacy settings. You can limit which LinkedIn users can send you messages or connection requests. Go here to make adjustments.
  • Don't accept every request you get. Check out the user's profile for completeness and correct grammar. Just because you have several connections in common, does not mean they are real. Scammers frequently create a large network to look more legitimate.
  • Ask to talk on the phone. If a recruiter contacts you through email, ask to speak by phone. Scammers will try to dodge this with excuses, such as being out the country.

3. Watch Out for "Free Wi-Fi" Scams.

For many traveling this summer, free Wi-Fi hotspots will be a much appreciated resource found in locations such as coffee shops and hotel lobbies. However, scammers have been known to use fake Wi-Fi hotspots to steal personal information and/or gain access to your device and it’s very important to double check the network before connecting your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

These hotspots may be labeled something generic like "Free Public Wi-Fi" but they may be hazard to both your device and your personal information. In some instances, after a user connects, they are prompted to enter credit card information. Of course, this info is shared with the scammer.

In other scenarios, a hacker inserts him or herself between your computer and the Wi-Fi connection. Everything you do online – such as make a purchase or log into an account – is now transmitted through the scammer's computer. This means they can now access any passwords, credit card information, and other data you've entered online.

According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers can stay safe on public Wi-Fi connections in many ways, including:

  • Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information for coupons or giveaways. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there's a link to their privacy policy.
  • Be sure you are using the correct Wi-Fi connection: If you are in a place that offers free Wi-Fi, verify the name of the connection before joining. Scammers often set up fake hotspots next to real ones.
  • Be careful how you use public Wi-Fi: When using a hotspot to log into an account or make a purchase, be sure the site is fully encrypted (Use "https").
  • Consider using a VPN: If you regularly access public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the Internet, even on unsecured networks.
  • Always use antivirus software and a firewall. Protect your computer (and some cell phones) by using anti-virus software and a firewall from a reputable company.
  • Use good password sense: Protect yourself from hacking by using strong passwords and creating a different password for each account.
POSTED: Jun 26, 2017
Home Improvement Projects to Tackle this Summer

When done properly, do-it-yourself projects are a great way for homeowners to maintain their property, prevent expensive future repairs, increase their home’s resale value and even find opportunities for family bonding as you take on new challenges. Even better, a little can go a long way when it comes to your home and with the warm weather and long days, summer is the perfect time to get started. Check out our suggestions on where to get started below!

1. Landscaping and Outdoor Maitenance

You don’t need to be a professional to make your yard look like it was done by one. In addition to a well-trimmed lawn, simple projects such as weeding, cleaning and maintaining walkways and planting flowerbeds may require a bit of elbow grease and patience but will go a long way in creating an oasis for the summer.

Similarly, taking time to maintain a patio and deck area will add to the over appeal of any outdoor area. This may include power washing stone patios or taking a weekend to strip to repaint wooden decks. Outdoor furniture can also take a hit due to the elements and can benefit from a thorough cleaning, upkeep, and even replacement after every few years.

These projects can go a long way in sprucing up your home’s curb appeal, which may make it more attractive to potential homebuyers.

2. Paint

Never underestimate what a new coat of paint can do for a room. For just the cost of paint and rollers, along with a day or two’s worth of work, homeowners can update and brighten a room while also taking off years’ worth of buildup and staining at the same time. Homeowners can also get creative and try new trends such as bold accent ceilings to stay up-to-date with current styles.

It is also important to keep up with the exterior paint on a house. No matter how old your home is or how long you’ve lived in it, fresh paint will make your home look like new. A great quality paint job will last for years, so it means less overall upkeep on your exterior and savings over having to have it painted more often.

3. Pay Attention to Details

Small do-it-yourself decorating projects will allow you to make affordable changes that can update any room with a fresh new look. This may include rearranging the furniture, and replacing pillows and other worn-looking accents with more with up-to-date styles. Kitchen and bathrooms can also benefit from easy upgrades homeowners can take on without the cost of a contractor. These small renovations may include replacing cabinet handles, faucets and showerheads.

4. Insulate Pipes

Pipe insulation is the process of wrapping your pipes in a material such as fiberglass in order to keep them from freezing in the cold weather. While your mind may be far away from the winter weather, summer is a great time to take on this project. You may even thank yourself later – taking the time to insulate your pipes will help prevent expensive issues in the future, including water damage, deterioration, mold and mildew.

5. Learn Basic Furnace Maintenance

By learning how to do basic furnace maintenance tasks this summer, you can avoid splurging on professional help. These tasks may only take a few hours out of your weekend but they’ll go a long way in extending the overall life expectancy of your gas or propane-fueled furnace, while also increasing the efficiency of your unit. This means homeowners can look forward to a worry-free winter with lower energy bills are on the horizon.

POSTED: Jun 19, 2017
MCU’s Five Things to Know about HELOCs

As a homeowner, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a convenient financial lending product that allows you to borrow against your home’s equity to manage your expenses as needed. Check out our five things to know below!

1. How it Works. The equity in your home is the difference between the value of the property and the amount owed on your mortgage. A HELOC, which is known as “revolving debt”, allows homeowners to borrow against this equity in various amounts over time as needed. Once you pay back what you’ve borrowed, that amount is made available again.

For example, a homeowner may be approved for a $40,000 line of credit, which will remain open for 10 years. During that time, they may borrow $10,000 to take on home improvement projects, which would leave them an additional $30,000 to borrow. However, once they’ve repaid the $10,000, they will have full access to the originally approved amount of $40,000. The homeowner may use their line of credit as many times they want while their HELOC remains open.

2. Take Advantage of Competitive Rates. A HELOC is especially useful to homeowners because the interest rate tends to be much more competitive than the rates on credit cards and personal loans. This may save borrowers hundreds or even thousands of dollars throughout the lifespan of their HELOC.

However, borrowers shouldn’t fixate solely on the interest rate. Shopping around to get an idea of the terms and fees offered by different lenders will help you be sure that they’re getting the best deal possible.

3. Your Credit Score Matters. Like all lending products, the interest rate on a HELOC will depend on your credit-worthiness. Borrowers with high credit scores (700 and above) can expect to be offered the best rates and those with lower scores can expect to pay more.

Before applying for a HELOC, check your credit report. This will give you the opportunity to review your score and take actions to correct any mistakes that may be affecting it.

4. Know Your Limit. While the percentage will vary, many financial institutions will offer you a HELOC amounting to about 85% of the equity in a borrower’s home. Of course, just because you could be approved for that amount, a borrower should always stick to a loan or line of credit that they are confident about comfortably paying back. If a homeowner does default on a HELOC, they risk losing their home to a foreclosure.

5. Selling Your Home? While you don’t have to pay off your HELOC before listing your home, you’ll be expected to do so quickly once you’ve sold it. The easiest way to take care of the balance is to pay it out of the sale proceeds at the time of closing in addition to the remaining balance on your mortgage. However, homeowners can run into trouble if their homes have insufficient equity to cover these expenses.

POSTED: Jun 14, 2017
Six Budget-Friendly Activities for Your Summer in NYC

Having a little fun in the Big Apple without breaking the bank! Whether you’re a native to the five boroughs or just visiting for a day, we came up with some great activities that’ll make you and your budget happy.

Check them out here!

Take Day trip to Governor’s Island: Visit this small island off the tip of lower Manhattan to walk, bike, learn up on its Revolutionary War history, lounge in a Hammock or enjoy a picnic.
Price: Free if you take the Manhattan ferry at 10am, 11am, or 11:30am on Saturdays and Sundays, or the 11am or 11:30am from Brooklyn’s Pier 6. Otherwise it’s a $2 round-trip ferry fare.

Check out the Socrates Sculpture Park: The Socrates Sculpture Park hosts art exhibits imaginative enough to make you feel like you’re walking through a dream. The park is open and free to the public year round and sits atop nearly five acres of landfill in Astoria, Queens, creating a great urban feel to the waterfront landscape while also allowing guests to enjoy nature. The park boasts more than 90 varieties of trees and plant life blanket the park, from birch trees to daffodils.
Price: Free!

Kayak at the Downtown Boathouse: Kayaks are available for public use in the Hudson River from May through October. Participants are only allowed about 20 minutes of paddle time but then can enjoy all that Riverside Park has to offer afterwards!
Price:

Take a midweek excursion to the Bronx Zoo: While General Admission to the Bronx Zoo is typically $20.00 for an adult and $13.00 for a child, admission is free on Wednesdays! However, it’s important to note that special exhibits – like the Butterfly Garden, Congo Gorilla Forest and JungleWorld -- are not included.
Price: Free!

Enjoy Movie Night in a Park: From family friendly animated films to classic comedies and foreign flicks, outdoor movie nights pop up all across the city during the summer months. To plan a free movie night with friends and family, visit nycgovparks.org .
Price: Free!

Ride the Staten Island Ferry: Leaving every 15 or 30 minutes from lower Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry is an easy and free way to get impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.
Price: Free!

POSTED: Jun 13, 2017
MCU’s Tips for Using Your Credit Card When Traveling

Whether you’re traveling for business or taking a much needed vacation, using your credit card is an easy and convenient way to cover your expenses when you’re on the road. Before leaving home, check out our credit card tips for traveling below!

1. Let us know you’re traveling.* If you’re traveling, your card activity will certainly look unusual and may result in a hold being placed on your account for security purposes. Letting us know your travel plans will help us keep your card active and your trip running smoothly.

2. Check your card’s expiration date.* An expired credit card won’t be any help on your trip. Double check your expiration dates before you leave home, especially if you’ll be traveling for an extended period. MCU will send members a new credit card approximately two weeks before the current one expires. However, if you plan to be away during that time you can call to request a new card ahead of schedule.

3. Set up NYMCU Online and Mobile Banking. Having access to your accounts and credit card information can prove to be extremely helpful when traveling, especially if you need to make a payment or check your balance. Members can sign up for NYMCU Online Banking at nymcu.org or download the MCU Mobile Banking App to their iPhone or Android smartphone.

4. Spend Like a Local. When charging purchases abroad, you may have the option of paying in U.S. dollars instead of local currency. This is often referred to as “dynamic currency conversion.” While it may be easier to keep track of costs when choosing to pay in U.S. currency, travelers will usually receive a better exchange rate and save money by opting to initially pay with local currency.

5. Report a lost or stolen card ASAP. Mistakes happen. If you lose or misplace your credit card, contact us to put a stop on it immediately and prevent it from being used by someone else. A replacement card can also be arranged. To contact MCU regarding a lost or stolen credit card, call (800) 449-7728.

*To contact MCU, call (212) 693-4900.

POSTED: Apr 21, 2017
MCU’s Summer Energy Saving Tips

It’s no secret that combating the seasonal heat can be expensive. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, approximately 42% of all home energy costs are directly related to heating and cooling. As the summer months are quickly approaching, New Yorkers may be excited for the longer days, barbeques and trips to the beach but their understandably less excited for the much anticipated bump in their energy bills. Luckily, small changes can make a big difference when it comes to staying cool and sticking to a budget this summer. Check out our tips below!

Mind your lights

It’s easy to forget that your household lights can be a source of heat in your home. By turning off unnecessary lights, you’ll help to mitigate the heat in your home on a warm day. It is also important to note that while, energy bills tend to increase in the summer, making a simple change such as replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can help to manage the amount of electricity used within the household.

Use your fan

Running a ceiling fan can help make a room feel 3 to 4 degrees cooler. While that may not seem like much relief from the summer heat, it can help you cut back on your energy-eating air conditioning system by working to circulate the cooler air.

Air seal and insulate your home

Noticed a draft lately? Air that leaks through your home's envelopes - the outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings – allows for cool air to easily escape, which wastes a lot of energy and increases your utility costs. Well insulated homes can help keep cool air sealed in your home and make a real difference on your utility bills. To get started, cover up any openings under doors, around windows and close the fireplace damper when not in use, which is the same as an open window.

Invest in a programmable thermostat

According to the U. S Department of Energy, lowering the thermostat 10-15 degrees while at work, or away from your home can make a significant impact on your energy bill – reducing it by nearly 10 percent!

A programmable thermostat can help you easily get into this money-saving practice by automatically adjusting the temperature of your home based on your work and sleep habits. It can also greatly improve your general comfort levels by already beginning to bring the temperature back down before you return home or wake up.

Move furniture away from vents

If you have central air, you may want to check the placement of your furniture. You may not realize it but large furniture pieces or area rugs throughout your home may be blocking air vents, obstructing air flow and causing you to be setting your air conditioning to a higher setting than actually needed.

POSTED: Apr 20, 2017
MCU Car Buying Tips

Summer is the season of go, go, go. It’s no surprise that it is also the time of year many find themselves in the market for a car that will get them on the way to their next adventure (or just up the road for groceries). As exciting as buying a new car can be, prospective buyers should proceed with caution. Cars are an expensive investment and it’s easy to become attached to a make and model that could later leave you feeling in over your head financially. Luckily, using a few simple guidelines, you can confidently get on the road with the right vehicle at a great price!

1. Set a budget

Before you begin seriously shopping for a new vehicle, setting a budget is an important first step to saving both time, resources and even disappointment during your shopping experience. To ensure you’re making the best financial decision, a good rule of thumb is to keep the cost of all of your cars at or below 25 percent of your total monthly household income. It’s important to remember the annual expense of a car isn’t simply limited to monthly loan payments, but also fuel and car insurance.

2. Consider new, used and pre-owned vehicles

Purchasing a used or pre-owned vehicle may mean getting the most for your money. However, these cars often also come with higher interest rates when financed and shorter warranty periods. The car’s full history, including accidents and repairs, may also be limited. On the other hand, purchasing a new car on the same budget may mean getting a more basic model with less features but you’ll also have a full warranty, pay a lower interest rate, and in some cases have access to free maintenance and roadside assistance.

3. Do your homework

Whether you’ve decided on a used or new car, research plays a critical role in getting the best possible deal for your purchase. A quick internet search of the make and model you are interested in will help you to understand the general weaknesses of any car type, as well as typical repair costs and reasonable price points.

If you are specifically looking to purchase a pre-owned vehicle, the history of these cars can also be researched easily with its vehicle identification number (VIN). This can be done with a Carfax Report. It’s also important to ask the dealer or private seller questions about the car’s history. These can include:

• Are there any dealer documentary fees or other dealer specific fees that I should know about before I begin my negotiation?
• Does the car have any recalls?
• Is the car under warranty?
• How many miles are on it?

4. Shop for the best deal

Many potential car buyers often fall in love with a car and feel the need to make an offer immediately, for fear of losing their purchase to another buyer. Always avoid shopping with your emotions. Taking your time to shop and compare prices is the only way to know for sure that you are getting the best deal possible. Luckily, digital tools and shopping platforms can help with your process. These tools include MCU’s Car Buying Service, powered by TRUECar, which can help shoppers research thousands of new and used vehicles, see what others have paid and enjoy guaranteed pricing.

Shopping around for your financing options is also an important step in the car buying process. In fact, many individuals make the mistake of financing their car through a dealership, which may seem convenient but could prove to be more expensive than alternative options.


When the time comes to making a decision about financing your vehicle, remember MCU is there to help! We offer:

• Up to 125% financing available
• Low interest rates
• Flexible terms

Whether you choose a new or just new-to-you car, visit nymcu.org today to learn more about how an MCU Auto Loan can help get you on the road!

POSTED: Apr 04, 2017
MCU’s Tips for Creating an Effective Spending Plan

If you’re struggling to keep track of how you’re spending, a spending plan or budget will help you to plan and stay vigilant of your finances. By creating a breakdown of spending, income and debts, you’ll be able to better identify wasteful spending, adapt quickly to a financial emergencies and even achieve new financial goals.

1. Know Your Cash Flow

A budget is a tool to help you manage your spending within your means so it’s easy to see how the first step to developing an effective spending plan is to know both your income and expenses. Remember, not all expenses or sources of income occur within a single month. For example, your tax return and your car insurance bill may only appear once a year and home owner association fees may only occur quarterly.

To get the best idea of your cash flow, keep track and make a list of all of your earnings and spending for approximately 2-3 months. Be sure to record every purchase, no matter how small. Remember, a daily cup of gourmet coffee may not seem like much but the expense will add up! Known expenses and sources of income that occur outside of that time frame should be factored and planned for as well.

Creating a visual of your cash flow will not only help you determine how well you are managing your money, but will also aid you in determining how you can make changes to your spending habits.

2. Identify Your Financial Priorities

For most consumers, making choices about where to allocate funds is a necessary part of budgeting. This requires being able to differentiate between your wants and needs.

For example, once seeing your cash flow written down, you may be able to decide that you while you need wifi, you can do without an expensive cable package. You’ll need to pay rent or your mortgage but can decide not to run your AC unit all summer or pay down debt before you can take a vacation. You may also prioritize exactly how much of your budget you would like to save.

Prioritizing these expenses will help you to make the tough choices that will help you live within your means.

3. Set Goals

It’s difficult to change your spending habits and lifestyle without a goal to work towards. Whether, you’re working to pay off debt or reach a financial milestone, setting an objective for you budget will play an important role in how successfully you stick to it. In addition to staying committed to your budget, a long or short-term goal will also help you to focus your actions, research and resources.

4. Expect the Unexpected

Saving is a problem for many Americans. In fact, nearly 40 percent of US workers have reported having less than $1,000 in savings to cover an emergency situation. No matter what your debt situation is, you should also begin saving for a rainy day. Before you work toward your financial goals, it’s important to have a safety net in place. A general rule of thumb is to set aside 3 to 6 months' worth of living expenses for an emergency fund in case of job loss, illness or an unexpected bill. While saving for a rainy day make mean a delay in achieving other financial goals, these savings will ensure that your financial situation will be secure even during a difficult time.

POSTED: Mar 31, 2017
The Four Financial Attitudes to Avoid

Financial insecurity is a growing problem faced by many Americans. In fact, nearly 40 percent of US workers have reported having less than $1,000 in savings and the average household debt is now more than $16,000.

In some instances, people may struggle to pay for unexpected expenses such as a medical emergency, job loss or divorce. Others may have been tempted by payday lending loans, uncontrolled use of credit cards or convenient payment plans, which all contributed to a gradual accumulation of debt.

As the old saying goes, attitude is everything. No matter what your situation is or your goals are, avoiding troublesome financial attitudes and habits can go a long way. Check them out below!

1. Spending Too Much
Overspending is one of the fastest and most common ways an individual can find themselves in financial trouble. Overspenders often have a hard time keeping track of where their money goes and spending money has often become a form of fun and recreation. They also have a hard time differentiating between wants and needs and thrive on immediate gratification.

How to Avoid It: If you’re an overspender, you probably have a difficult time visualizing how much money is going out, compared to your income. To help create a visual of your cash flow, it helps to try writing down a budget and making a list of your purchases. After setting a budget, using cash can be helpful to avoid wasteful or thoughtless purchases. Once the allocated funds are gone, you’ll have to wait until the next pay cycle to make another purchase. It may be tough, but it’ll help reign in spending.

2. Saving Too Little
It can be hard for individuals to realize they are saving too little. While they may recognize that there is no “cushion” in their savings to cover an emergency expense, many may feel like they can rely on their 401(k) if needed. However, unfortunately, the funds in a 401(k) are unavailable to help in an emergency situation without incurring penalties and fees.

How to Avoid it: To help build savings, always make it a practice to “pay yourself first”. Direct depositing a percentage of every paycheck into a separate account set-aside account for long term savings that can also cover unexpected expenses is a great way to start.

3. Carrying Too Much Debt
Individuals who carry too much debt tend to focus the cost of a minimum payment, or only consider their individual installments, opposed to the overall expense. They may also become fixated on deals that promise deferred payments or special deals without paying attention to the overall expense. Those carrying debt will often take actions to consolidate debt to maintain a standard of living.

How to Avoid it: If an individual finds themselves carrying too much debt, they can get back on track by focusing on the overall expense of a purchase including interest. If the overall expense is figured within the individual’s budget, it may become more clear that it is actually unaffordable. They must also not be easily taken by sales that appear to offer “great deals” and take time to read the fine print.

It is also important to note that while these practices can help change current attitudes towards debt, the only way to truly be free of debt is to begin paying it off. A spending plan can help an individual begin the process of allocating the needed funds for monthly debts.

4. Caring Too Little About the Future
Many people are surprised when their budget collapses under the strain of accumulated debt. They may have failed to pay attention to their spending, ignored bills and disregarded the cost of interest and fees. Because they’ve failed to plan ahead, these individuals are often caught off guard when they find themselves in financial emergencies and will delay their ability to reach financial milestones, such as buying a home. Sometimes, these individuals also believe that if there were to find themselves in financial trouble, a family member or friend will help them out.

How to Avoid it: While this attitude can be found in anybody, it is common among adult children still living with their parents, as they often have both and income and relatively minimal expenses. This combination can be make it difficult to focus on properly managing money. If you find yourself struggling to focus on your financial future, setting both long and short-term goals is an effective motivator to begin planning and saving.

POSTED: Mar 30, 2017
Go Green, Save Green This Spring

This year, Earth Day is April 22nd and going green is easier than ever with MCU’s free digital banking tools. Signing up won’t just help the environment but also saves our members time, money and hassle. Check them out below!

NYMCU Online Banking: Safely and securely manage your MCU account. With NYMCU Online Banking, members can view account balances, transfer funds between accounts, signup for account alerts and much more.

NYMCU Mobile Banking: The NYMCU Mobile Banking App gives members the freedom to manage accounts, transfer funds, pay bills and find the nearest MCU ATM or branch locations anytime, anywhere. The NYMCU Mobile Banking app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android Tablets.

MCU BillPay: Avoid mailing costs and late fees by paying bills on an ad hoc or prescheduled basis. Members can also save time by paying friends and family quickly and securely with our recent person-to-person ePayments feature.

MCU eStatements: Never lose track of your statements again. eStatments not only notify you that a new statement has arrive each month via email, but gives our members access to up to 24 months’ worth of statements.

To learn more about these great paperless options and to enroll in MCU Online Banking, visit nymcu.org or download the NYMCU Mobile Banking App today!

POSTED: Mar 21, 2017
MCU’s Tips to Avoiding Common Home Buying Mistakes

For many, buying a home is more than just a financial achievement, it’s a life-long dream. As our economic climate continues to change, the housing market, home-buying experience and mortgage financing options will as well. If you’re looking to take the leap to buy in 2017, you may just be nick of time to get a great deal before mortgage rates and home prices continue to inch up. While the timing may be right, common mistakes during the home buying process may end up costing you time and money. To help prepare and avoid these missteps, check out our tips below!

Mistake: Not knowing your credit score. Some people do not realize their credit score is too poor for them to buy a home and obtain a mortgage. Others may just assume they have poor credit and do not realize their credit is good enough for them to obtain a mortgage at a good rate.

Tip: Don’t just know your credit score; understand what that means regarding your potential as a home-owner. Educations classes (such as MCU’s Home Buyer’s Seminar) are a great way to better understand how your score affects you in the home buying process.

Mistake: Assuming your down payment is the only upfront cost associated with buying a home. There are many fees and closing costs that need to be paid along with the down payment.

Tip: Know your budget when shopping for your home, and make sure to include additional costs when budgeting for your home purchase. Shop around when looking for your mortgage. In some instances, financial institutions will waive some closing costs and fees to help keep your initial payment low.

Mistake: Not knowing about all costs of home ownership in the neighborhood(s) where you are looking to buy. The cost of your home is more than just the price of your house.

Tip: Do research and find out the cost of property taxes, Homeowners Association Fee, Plan Unit development fees, homeowner’s insurance, and other costs that will affect how much you can actually afford.

Mistake: Having an unrealistic view of the mortgage process timeline. The process usually takes 30-45 days to close after receiving necessary documentation, not 30-45 days from the initial contact with the loan officer.

Tip: Plan effectively. Know that the process is just that, a process. Understand that your financial activity during this time period can affect your credit, which can affect your capacity to be a homeowner in the lender’s eyes.

Mistake: Choosing to delay the home buying process in anticipation of lower interest rates. While rates have increased slightly since 2016, buying a home is still financially attainable. However, experts agree that the Federal Reserve can be expected to raise rates further and waiting years or even just months could put you at risk of an even higher mortgage interest rate.

Tip: Start today. By locking in an interest rate before they inch up again. You could save yourself hundreds of dollars a month!

POSTED: Mar 17, 2017
An MCU Scam Roundup - Spring 2017

Consumers are getting smarter about fraud, but unfortunately thieves are too. According to a recent study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. Additionally, In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.

Criminals are defrauding many victims by combining new technology with old tricks to gain access to their money and personal information. Being informed is the first step to keeping your money and personal information safe. Check out these recent scams reported by the Better Business Bureau that are currently plaguing hardworking people everywhere.

1. The “You’ve Reached Your Storage Limit” Phishing Scam

This scam looks like just another email message from your company’s IT department. It’s so mundane or routine, these messages are easy to click on without thinking. However, a new scam should have you checking your email twice.

The reported version of this scam reads: “[name]@[company.com] update required” and appears to come from info@webmaster.com. According to the message, your email has reached the storage limit, and “you will be blocked from sending and receiving messages.” The message instructs you to click a link to validate your account and add storage. In a clever move, the scammers even made the link look like your email address. But in the version Better Business Bureau received, the link really points to a website with an overseas domain name.

Clicking the link takes you to a login form that asks you to enter your email address and password. But don’t believe it or fill it out! The form is a fraud and a phishing scam. It’s really a way to steal your email password, which opens you up to identify theft.

No matter what format it comes in, the Better Business Bureau recommends these tips to identify a phishing scam:

• Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.

• Don't believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn't mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the "Sent" email address.

• Check your company's IT department or internet service provider. If something sounds suspicious, confirm it first. Contact them directly from a number you know is accurate. DON'T click on any links in the message you suspect is a scam.

• Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of messages that don't contain your name, last digits of your account number, or other personalizing information. Pay attention to the ways in which your IT department normally addresses concerns and be cautious of any new method.

•Use unique passwords: Use different passwords for each account you create. This is the simple way to reduce your risk if one password falls into the hands of scammers.

2. Beware of Video Game Account Scams

Gaming is a multibillion dollar industry but it isn’t immune to scammers. If you’re a gamer currently stuck on certain level, buying an account from another player may seem like a fast, easy way to move forward in a game. However, not only is this practice forbidden by most game manufacturers, it leaves you vulnerable to scammers.

Scammers will often log into message boards and post they have an account to sell. Once they find a buyer, the transaction seems easy. The victim will pay the seller, and in exchange, the scammer provides the account information.

It all seems legitimate but these transactions often don’t go as planned when the seller/scammer provides incomplete or fake account details. Before the buyer notices, the scammer files a support ticket with the game manufacturer to change the account details. Other times, the scammer sells the account to multiple players and provides them all with the correct account information. However, when multiple users attempt to change the credentials at the same time, the manufacture realizes the account has been compromised and shuts it down.

While this practice is already forbidden among gaming companies, gamers can use these additional practices to keep their keep their online game account secure:

• Don’t share account information with others. Choose a secure password and don’t share your account information with anyone, including friends.

• Don’t pay users to play for you: Ignore offers from users who play for pay, putting in the hours you need to level up. You will need to share your username and password with these players, compromising your account. If your credit card is attached to your account, these users can go on a shopping spree.

• Don't share personal details in games. Other players may ask you about yourself, but sharing personal details such as your full name, address, birthday, etc. can open you up to the risk of identity theft.

• Use unique passwords: Use different passwords for each account you create. If your password falls into the hands of scammers, your other accounts won’t be compromised.

3. The Hazard of Online Cigarette Sales Ploys

As if you didn’t need another reason to quit smoking, new scams have been popping up encouraging consumers to purchase cigarettes from online international sellers.

While the vendor website may look legitimate and includes big brand names with great pricing, consumers can easily spot trouble when they go to check-out, the seller will not accept credit cards and insists on payment via wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

Don’t do it! The seller will take your money and confirm the order shipped - but the cigarettes will never arrive.

This scam is a cautionary tale for many other fraudulent retail operations. To spot an online sales scam, keep an eye out for the following before making a purchase:

• Be wary if the price is significantly lower than on similar sites. If a deal seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

• Avoid all retail websites that insist on a wire transfer or prepaid debit card transaction as a form of payment.

• Check for contact information and social media presence: Look for a real address and telephone number in the site’s contact information. Check out the company’s social media presence to verify their activity and search verifiable websites for consumer reviews.

• Use Whois.com. This website can help you check the domain name to see if it is registered in the country where the business claims to be located.

• Make sure websites are secure and authenticated: Before you purchase an item online. Look for "https" before the web address and online seals that ensure your credit card and/or banking information is secure.

POSTED: Mar 15, 2017
MCU’s Tips for Talking to Kids About Money

Talking to kids about money can help them develop positive habits that will stay with them throughout their entire lives. According to the National Standards for Financial Literacy, young people who learn about money early on are more inclined to make positive financial decisions, and better understand the trade-offs in the financial choices they make.

While it’s important to talk to kids about money early on, it can also be a challenge. To get started, check out our tips below.

Budgeting: Show and Tell

An allowance can help to introduce children to money but discussing a budget can help further their understanding of its importance.

By discussing expenses like the cost of new school clothes or favorite toys, kids can have a better idea what a dollar is worth and how important it is to plan on how to spend their money. These budgets can also help children to understand the importance of long-term saving for larger expenses they may want.

Depending on your level of comfort, parents can also invite their children to help plan the family budget to help them consider larger and more complex goals, such as monthly bills, groceries and saving for college.

Play money- themed games

Kids learn in many different ways. For many, this is through doing activities and having fun while they’re at it.

In addition to talking about a real-life budget, age-appropriate games, apps and toys can engage children and help them to think about the value of money and financial strategies. Games like Monopoly, Pay Day and the Game of Life may be classics but are still a great place to start.

Open a Youth Savings Account

A youth savings account is a great interactive way to get kids on their way to financial literacy. Taking children on trips to your credit union to complete to make a deposit and sitting down to review monthly statements are not only opportunities to spend time together, but to also teach basic banking skills and the importance of saving for the future.

MCU’s Smart Apple Savers and Future Investors accounts offer our young members features and benefits to make saving easy including:

• Minimum opening deposit of $10

• Earned share dividend rates

• Quarterly statements

• Dividends compounded and credited quarterly

• No minimum balance requirements, changes or fees

POSTED: Mar 03, 2017
Shared Secured Loans

If you’ve struggled with your credit history, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent study, more than 68 million Americans have a poor credit score of 600 or lower. Whether an individual has demonstrated poor long-term financial habits or has simply dealt with an unexpected expense, a low credit score can have many repercussions. This may include difficulty being approved for loans, higher interest rates, more expensive insurance premiums and even being passed over for a job.

For many looking to get back on track with their finances, a shared secured loan is an important financial product that can not only help rebuild credit but also offer a means to a line of credit at a lower interest rate. This is because it uses funds in a savings account — either a share account, share certificate account or money market account — as collateral for your loan.

The Benefits of a shared secured loan may include:

• The funds borrowed can be used for virtually anything

• The collateral from your share account qualifies you for a lower rate than an unsecured loan

• The maximum amount of money loaned is based on your deposit

• You continue to earn dividends on the full balance in your account

• As payments are made to the principal of the loan, funds are released back into your savings.

• Direct deposit or payroll deduction are available

While the benefits of a shared secured loan are significant, borrowers should also know:

• Shared secured loans do not boost your credit score as significantly as an unsecured loan.

• A shared secured loan on your record may demonstrated to lenders that you did not qualify for any other loan based on your income or credit.

• Like an unsecured loan, late payments on a shared secured will result in consequences.

Like all financial products, shared secured loans may vary on a case by case basis. To learn more about how an MCU Shared Secured Loan may work for you, visit nymcu.org today!

POSTED: Jan 12, 2017
The Benefit of Direct Deposit For Your Tax Refund
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Still getting your tax refund by mail? Try direct deposit and receive it earlier! Without having to visit a branch location, your refund will be made available quickly and easily as it is automatically electronically deposited into your checking or savings (share) account! According to the IRS, eight out of 10 taxpayers have already jumped on board with this method of receiving their refund and it’s easy to understand why – at no cost to you, your refund can be safely and securely deposited into up to three separate accounts.

To receive your tax refund through direct deposit, simply select it as your refund method through your tax software and type in the account number and routing number (you can even select this option when filing your taxes on paper!) or let your tax preparer know you want your refund delivered via direct deposit. To help avoid any errors, be sure to double check your entry to avoid errors.

If you’re not sure what your routing and account numbers are, you can locate them easily on your personal checks.

To learn more about using direct deposit to receive your tax refund, visit nymcu.org today!

POSTED: Dec 29, 2016
An MCU Scam Alert Update

An estimated 11 percent of adults in the United States lose money each year because of criminal activity – that’s 25.6 million people! Consumers are getting smarter about fraud, but unfortunately thieves are too. Criminals are defrauding many victims by combining new technology with old tricks to gain access to their money and personal information.

Being informed is the first step to keeping your money and personal information safe. Check out these recent scams plaguing hardworking people everywhere.

1. Don’t Get Hooked by Text Phishing

Consumers have become accustomed to phishing scams via email so thieves have switched it up by using text messages or SMS. Usually posing as a government agency or financial institution, identity thieves and scam artists will panic victims with a message that implies a sense of urgency and a immediate response in order for them to quickly turn over personal and account information. Text phishing – or smishing – scams typically ask consumers to provide usernames and passwords, credit and debit card numbers, PINs, or other sensitive information that scam artists can use to commit fraud. However, it is important to remember that credit unions, banks and government agencies will never reach out for sensitive information through these means.

Never open links in unsolicited text messages, as they may infect your mobile device with malware that will steal the financial information stored on the device. It is also important to not call any phone numbers provided in suspicious text messages. Instead, be sure to contact any financial information, government, agency, or company identified in the text message by using the information in your records or listed on the official website.

2. Download Apps with Caution

Because of the recent holiday season, new phony retail apps have popped up in both Apple and Android app stores. It’s important to keep an eye out for these apps, which typically have names and logos very similar to those of legitimate companies and popular digital shopping platforms.

It’s good practice to always be careful when downloading any new apps. While most fake apps are fairly harmless and are used to simply delivery spam-like advertising, others may require the user to enter their credit card information or personal information. If this information is shared, it could leave users at risk of fraud.

To help ensure that an app is secure and user-friendly, check to see how often and well the app has been reviewed.

3. There’s a New Tax Bill Scam on the Block

While consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in recognizing tax bills scams, fraudsters aren’t giving up. The IRS has recently reported that fake documents designed to look like real CP2000 notices have come into circulation. CP2000 notices are typically sent out by the IRS to notify a person that information it receives about their income doesn’t match the information reported on their tax return. In this instance, the counterfeit document are targeting victims be claiming that taxpayers owe money for the previous tax year under the Affordable Care Act.

The idea of getting a letter from the IRS can cause people to panic and act quickly without realizing they they’ve been scammed. Luckily, there are some easy to spot warnings that can help you avoid becoming a victim.

For example, the IRS will never:

• Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.

• Ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer.

• Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.

• Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.

POSTED: Dec 29, 2016
What to Know About Debt Consolidation

Even in the best of situations, managing debt is stressful and it can quickly become increasingly complicated as individuals struggle to manage multiple overdue balances and work with different creditors. As accounts become difficult to keep track of and interest continues to compound on unpaid bills, it can be easy to feel like the situation is out of control. Fortunately, options such as debt consolidation can help individuals regain control and begin the path to being debt-free.


Know Your Options

There are a few different methods to consolidate debt, in order to make the best decision for your circumstances, it is always best to be informed.

One of the most popular ways to consolidate debt is to transfer the balances of several higher-rate credit cards to a card with lower fees and (ideally) a zero percent APR introductory rate and a lower, more favorable rate after that. Borrowers can take advantage of this grace period to take advantage of paying down the principle of their debt.

A second common form of debt consolidation is to take out a loan large enough to pay off multiple creditors at once. Once your multiple bills have been consolidated into just one monthly payment, a borrower will not only have a much easier time keeping track of payments but could potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest. A loan may be obtained from your financial institution in the form of a personal loan or Home Equity Line of Credit or can be provided through debt relief companies.

Always Remember to be Mindful

While debt consolidation is a smart solution for many, it’s not for everybody. For example, it is primarily for those who have unsecured debts, such as credit or retail cards. If most of your debt and liabilities include tax debt, unpaid child support or old parking tickets these plans won't help. Borrowers should also be sure that they will be able to make the payments on the new card balance or loan they have taken out – this includes reviewing the details of the product agreement and interest rates. To help combat high interest rates, choose your lender wisely. Working with a financial institution you already have a relationship with can help ensure a more favorable loan agreement.

Debt consolidation also is not the end-all-be-all to financial troubles. As you consolidate debt, the credit cards and store cards that you’ve paid off could still remain open, which makes it easy for to run up new bills, on top of your consolidation loan debt. Consolidating debt also does not address underlying spending and financial problems. Because of this, those considering consolidation should also seek financial counseling for long-term success.

POSTED: Dec 29, 2016
The Benefits of Bill Pay

Consumers are on the go and they’re taking their financial institutions with them. According to a 2016 report from the Federal Reserve, 53 percent of smartphone users with a credit union or bank account have used a mobile banking app within the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, more than half of these users had used Bill Pay to make mobile payments with their smartphones to take care of bills and make payments, both to businesses and to friends and family.

Not convinced that Bill Pay is for you? Check out the benefits below!

1. It’s Fast and Convenient

Bill Pay not only allows you to handle all of your payments in one location, but because it’s accessed through online or mobile banking, it allows you to do so whenever and wherever you’d like!

Bill Pay also makes it easier to manage your money and stay on track of payments by allowing you to track payments, search payment history and search for specific payments. You can even schedule and automate some payments to be paid as soon as the next business day or months in advance. Just set it and forget it, we’ll take it from there.

2. It’s Secure

Online Bill Pay can eliminate the downsides that come with mailing payments, which can leave you at risk of a mail thief or misplaced checks. It is also important to note that because Bill Pay is kept behind online banking platforms, this payment method is distinctively secure and effective in protecting your information.

3. It's Green

Looking to make a small change that can go towards a big cause? Bill Pay can help eliminate paper waste with checks, envelopes and even stamps that go towards sending payments out to companies. While Bill Pay can work for bills received both in the mail and electronically, you can take your conservation efforts to the next level by requesting ebills as well.

4. It's friendly to your Social Life

There’s nothing worse than trying to split a bill multiple ways or telling a friend that you’ll have to pay them back late. Luckily, with MCU’s new PayItNow Bill Pay feature, members can now make payments to their friends and family, which will clear within just 24 hours or the next business day. All you’ll need is an email address and mobile phone number to complete your payment!

POSTED: Dec 29, 2016
Money Saving Last Minute Travel Tips

If you’ve found yourself wishing you could escape the New York deep freeze, it’s not too late to book a much needed getaway from icy sidewalks and icier wind chills. The best part? You won’t have to break the bank to make it happen.

Check out our money-saving last minute travel tips below!

1. Sign up for last-minute travel email lists

In order to fill empty seats and rooms, airlines, hotels, and cruise ships will often offer great discounts two weeks in advance. Travel websites and some airlines will offer weekly e-newsletters that share these great deals, which can be perfect for anybody who has a flexible schedule or can take time off quickly and easily.

2. Consider off-peak deals

Because airlines and hotels are less crowded on weekdays, mid-week vacations will offer you the best deals and the most options for your budget if you’re looking to book a trip last minute. The mid-week is also the best time to plan your trip. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are known to be the best days for booking last-minute travel, as prices tend to climb as the weekend approaches.

3. Negotiate for a rental home

A rental homeowner will almost certainly prefer to have their property occupied at a lower price compared to not at all. This will give you some leverage in a last-minute rental home negotiation, allowing you to get a deal within your budget. It is also worth considering a rental home in a town next to your destination?the available properties may be easier to find and more affordable.

POSTED: Nov 10, 2016
MCU’s Winter Energy Saver Tips

As the leaves change and sweaters come out of storage, it’s undeniable that the cold weather is quickly approaching and pumpkin spiced lattes won’t be enough to keep you warm for long – meaning things can get expensive fast. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, around 42% of all home energy costs are directly related to heating and cooling. As New Yorkers dig deep into their bank accounts to keep warm from another long winter and anticipated Polar Vortex, there are a few easy steps you can take to stay comfortable – both at home and with your heating bill!

Air seal and insulate your home

Noticed a draft lately? Air that leaks through your home's envelopes - the outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings – allows heat to easily escape, which wastes a lot of energy and increases your utility costs. A well-sealed envelope, coupled with the right amount of insulation, can help keep heat sealed into your home and make a real difference on your utility bills. To get started, cover up any openings under doors, around windows and close the fireplace damper when not in use, which is the same as an open window.

In addition to improving your energy costs, Sealing leaks and adding insulation come with the added benefits of reducing noise pollution and improving humidity control.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

According to the U. S Department of Energy, lowering the thermostat 10-15 degrees while at work, asleep or away from your home can make a significant impact on your energy bill – reducing it by nearly 10 percent!

A programmable thermostat can help you easily get into this money-saving practice by automatically adjusting the temperature of your home based on your work and sleep habits. It can also greatly improve your general comfort levels by already beginning to bring the temperature back up before you return home or wake up.

Open the Curtains During the Day, Close them at Night

Opening your curtains and letting the sun in is not only a great way to not only brighten up your living space, it also helps your home receive free heat receive free heat. By allowing the sun to shine in, you are saving money by not powering your lights, and by keeping your home a bit warmer. Close your curtains when the sun is going down to keep the heat inside.

Move Furniture Away from Vents

You may not know it but it may be time to rearrange your furniture. No, we’re not talking about making your living room Feng Shui friendly. Take a look around your home and try to spot any large pieces of furniture that may be blocking the heating vents. Moving these pieces may help to alleviate any air pressure issues in a home that have force-air central heating.

POSTED: Oct 25, 2016
MCU’s Identity Protection Tips for Online Holiday Shopping

With crowded stores and long lines, it’s no secret why millions of Americans are ditching their shopping carts in favor of the internet during the holidays. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, nearly half of all holiday shopping was done online in 2015 – and more people are expected to take to their laptops and smartphones to check off items on their shopping lists this year.

While online shopping is a great way to save time and find great deals, it can also make your personal and card information more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. To help keep the happy in “Happy Holidays,” check out these easy ways to stay safe while online shopping this season.

1. Stick to Just One Credit Card

When it comes to shopping online, your credit card can be a safer way to make online purchases, compared to other means of payment. Credit Cards provide valuable protection when doing holiday shopping since they have systems in place to handle fraud issues more expediently and don't leave you waiting for lost funds to be reclaimed.

Additionally, sticking to just one credit card can be beneficial while shopping during the holiday season both on and offline. Doing this will not only help you to stay on budget but will also help you to more easily keep an eye out for potential identity theft or fraud.

2. Be Wary of Public WiFi hotspots

Saving your data is great but think twice before logging into a public WiFi hotspot to shop online –your information may not be safe. These networks are unsecured connections that hackers can easily access and steal any personal information you may be putting out during the time you are connected.

3. Stick to Secure Sites

When visiting a website that asks for sensitive information such as credit card numbers, it’s important to make sure that the website is encrypted over a secure connection. Otherwise, your information could easily fall into the hands of hackers.

To ensure that you’re using a secured website, check out the URL – it should begin with “https” rather than “http”. The “s” at the end of “http” stands for secure and is using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection. You can also check for the “Lock” icon that is displayed somewhere in the window of your web browser.

POSTED: Sep 26, 2016
Scams to look for in 2016

According to the Federal Trade Commission, an estimated 11 percent of adults in the United States lose money each year because of criminal activity – that’s 25.6 million people! Criminals defraud many of these people by combining new technology with old tricks to gain access to their money and personal information.

Consumers are getting smarter about fraud, but unfortunately thieves are too. To help keep your information safe, check out these popular scams and schemes circulating in 2016.

1. Scholars Beware – The Federal Student Tax Doesn’t Exist

Imposters posing as IRS agents are trying to trick college students into paying a “federal student tax” – a tax that doesn’t even exist.

This year, many college students have reported that they have received phone calls from somebody claiming to be an IRS agent, informing them they owe a “federal student tax,” and often has some piece of information that makes the call seem legit. Sometimes it’s the name of your school, or another piece of information about you. The caller then demands that the money be wired immediately by untraceable methods such as MoneyGram.

Similar to other scams regarding the IRS, the caller can be persistent or even aggressive – they may threaten to call the police or even make follow-up calls with spoofed caller-ID information. So, while caller ID might say it’s 911 or the U.S. Government calling, it’s not. It’s all fake. If you do actually owe money to the IRS, you will receive a letter first.

2. Don’t Cash That Unsolicited Check!

It’s always nice to get a check in the mail, especially when you aren’t expecting it. It may only be a small amount that appears as a rebate or a refund but think twice before you cash something like this – it could cost you much more than the check you took to the bank .

By endorsing a check, you are signing a legally binding contract. This could mean you have unwittingly authorized a switch in your long-distance telephone service provider; or you could find yourself owing on a high-interest loan or on a program membership you never requested.

Cancellation of these memberships can be very difficult. They usually have a very short cancellation rights period, and your monthly fee could be much more than the small amount that you cashed or deposited.

3. Don’t Get Punished by the Good Citizen Scam

It’s often difficult to detect this type of scam but if you’re somebody who often files your taxes early, you could be at risk.

Scammers posing as IRS agents—either through phone calls, emails, or even postal mailers—claim that you are entitled to additional funds as the government’s way of thanking you for filing on time.

Even if there is some truth to government award programs, no one will contact you and ask for your personal identifiable information in order to “process” this reward, as the real IRS already has all of your information, including where you work and how much money you made last year.

4. Avoid Festival Fraud

Ordering tickets to festivals and other events online is an easy way to get a great deal but party-goers should be cautious. While many events advertised online are legitimate, some people have fallen victim to false event advertisements. After paying for their tickets in advance, they show up to the venue and find nothing there but other victims.

Luckily, it can be easy to save yourself the trouble that comes with with scams like these. Before providing any of your personal or credit card information, conduct an online search of the name of the event or its promoters along with words such as “scam,” or “fraud.” Check for online reviews of the event if it had taken place previously or in other locations or see if rickets for the event are being sold on legitimate third party vendors like Viator – sites like these also typically come with user reviews and ratings. It is also helpful to check for contact information on the website and be sure it actually works.

POSTED: Sep 16, 2016
Financial Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation

Planning a getaway? Whether it’s a brief weekend out of town or a trip around the world, these money tips can help keep your vacation stress-free. After all, that’s what a vacation is all about!

1. Let us know you’re traveling!

Our priority is protecting your money and personal information. One way that we do this is by keeping an eye on card transactions in order to spot irregular activity and detect fraud. If you’re traveling, your card activity is almost certainly going to look abnormal and may result in a hold being placed on your card or account for security purposes. This is especially true if you’re traveling abroad or a significant distance from your home.

While this could surely put a hitch in your vacation, it’s also very easy to avoid. Just let us know your plans to travel! Give us a call at (212) 693-4900 or visit your local MCU Branch to speak with a member of our team. We recommend giving us at least two days notice before you begin your trip.

2. Sign up for MCU Online Banking and download our mobile app

Downloading our mobile banking app means you can take a break from snapping photos on your phone and log into your accounts quickly and easily. This can help you manage your money when there isn’t a branch nearby or when taking the time to call into our contact center may be inconvenient.

A great vacation tool for staying on top of your accounts for day-to-day transactions and handle emergency situations? We think yes.

3. Preorder tickets and excursions

Looking to take a museum tour or see a show? Preordering your tickets can help you stay on a predetermined budget made before you start your travels and minimize the amount of spontaneous credit and debit card transactions made while you’re away.

The more you plan ahead, the less there is to think about on your trip – financially and otherwise!

4. Be mindful of important documents and currency

Before traveling, be sure to make copies of important documents including your passport, credit cards and drivers license. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home and bring the other copy with you. If you can, keep these documents in a hotel room safe. Do not carry them with you – it will leave you especially vulnerable if you lose your wallet or bag or fall victim to a pickpocket.

If you are planning to mostly use cash on your trip, you can save yourself stress and aggravation by ordering foreign currency ahead of time. For the same reasons that you must be mindful of your documents, don’t carry large amounts of cash at once.

5. Plan Ahead With a Vacation Club Account

The best way to have a financially stress-free vacation? Plan ahead.

Opening an MCU Vacation Club Account means putting away a little bit each month in an easy and convenient Check out the benefits below:

• Open your MCU Vacation Club Account with as little as a $5 deposit.

• Add to the account like any other savings account, through direct deposit or automatic payroll deduction, and watch your account balance grow.

• During the first week of May, the money you have accumulated in your Vacation Club Account will automatically be deposited into your FasTrack Checking Account or Share Account for you to access.

• Save for an even bigger vacation in the future by rolling over your funds right back into your Vacation Club Account.

POSTED: Aug 05, 2016
Co-ops Vs Condos: Know the difference

In New York City, co-ops and condos are among some of the most common kinds of real estate available to potential homebuyers. While there may not seem to be much of a difference in these homes as you flip through photo galleries on real estate websites, we’ve put together some key differences between the two that you may want to keep in mind as you go about your search!

1. Ownership

While co-ops are typically much more affordable than condos, there is a difference in the type of ownership between the two. Legally, condos are considered to be real property and co-ops are personal property.

Sound strange? Here’s why:

When you purchase a co-op, you’re purchasing stock in a privately-held corporation that owns the building. As a stockholder, you’re given a proprietary lease for a specific apartment.

Share allocation is not as simple as saying that if there are ten apartments, each owns 10% of the corporation. Shares are allocated based on the number of apartments, square footage, number of rooms and outdoor space.

On the other hand, a condo has much more straight forward form of ownership, in which owning a condo is like owning any other kind of home.

2. Board Approval

While both co-ops and condos have boards, which help to make sure the complex runs smoothly, Co-op boards are notoriously strict and have a greater say in what tenants can and cannot do.

In a co-op, the board can come up with rules regarding how you renovate your apartment, keep pets, and much more. In extreme cases, the co-op board can even evict a shareholder that it deems disruptive.

When buying a co-op, you must go before the board and submit to a potentially arduous approval process. The board will go over your finances and credit, and review your debt-to-income ratio, which they usually expect to be between 25% and 30%. This process involves a great deal of paperwork, which may often require the assistance of an attorney to prepare.

3. Subletting

If you think you may want to use your new home as a source of income at some point, you’ll want to consider the difference in subletting policies between co-ops and condos. As mentioned before, co-op boards can be very strict in the policies they enforce for co-op owners and this includes whether or not owners can sublet their units and if so, for how long. Condos, on the other hand, do not enforce subletting limitations.

4. Monthly Expenses and Taxes

Both condos and co-ops have monthly charges, which are respectively referred to as common charges and maintenance fees. These charges go towards the maintenance and operation of the overall building and its common areas. These fees can vary with the size of the building, number of units and types of amenities offered.

The main difference between a condo’s common charges and a co-op’s maintenance fees is that the maintenance fees include charges for a percentage of the building’s property tax, calculated according to the number of shares you own. If you own a condo, you are responsible for paying your unit’s property taxes directly to the government, which will likely cause your overall monthly costs to be greater than they would be for a similarly sized co-op.

It is important to note that both types of properties can also charge assessment fees for building renovation projects, such as the installation of a new elevator.

POSTED: Aug 05, 2016
Financial Conversations to Have Before Getting Married

Money can’t buy happiness but being on the same page about finances with your partner can make for a happy relationship. If you’re looking to tie the knot soon, these conversations about money help both get your marriage off on the right foot and remain successful throughout the years to come.

Budgeting

There’s no way around it – if you’re going to be spending your life with somebody, you should have an understanding of how you’ll be spending your money together too. It is important to know how your partner prioritizes saving money in relation to traveling, expensive goods, entertainment, etc. While knowing these preferences is important, talking about how closely you each stick to a budget right now is important as well to help create an understanding about how money will be managed.

You may not agree on everything but a conversation can help you avoid surprises and help to create a spending plan. This is important because without a budget and spending plan, it’ll be nearly impossible to work as a team as to not find yourselves coming up short each month – or, even worse, find yourself with a mountain of debt.

Joint or Personal Accounts?

While marriage means living together, some people don’t believe in keeping their money together. A conversation about holding joint or personal accounts will help a couple to talk about the financial benefits of marriage and if they are comfortable sharing all of their new responsibilities and expenses. This topic can get especially tricky when one party sees sharing money as a marker of commitment more than the other but it is beneficial to have in helping to set expectations.

This conversation may also lead to the topic of a prenuptial agreement and how both parties feel about keeping their money together or separate in all instances. There are also cases where it’s advisable to have a prenuptial agreement – for instance, when one partner is substantially wealthier than the other and has other heirs to consider. It will also save you a ton of time and money in the event that you divorce and go your separate ways.

Financial Obligations

As mentioned above, couples should communicate their expenses and responsibilities before getting married. Oftentimes, this conversation will include any financial obligations or debts that each person is currently responsible for. Putting these expenses on the table will help in both setting an effective budget and creating trust between both parties, as it eliminates surprises that may arise once you’re married.

Retirement

Marriage is for the long run so talking about the far-off future before walking down the aisle isn’t farfetched. Retirement savings and planning, as well as life insurance policies, will eventually be an important factor in the household income. To prepare for that time, talk about whether you participate in a retirement plan at work or contribute to an IRA. You could also make a plan to change the beneficiary information on any currently existing insurance policies.

Back Up Plans

There’s a reason why many couples include the phrase “for richer or poorer” in their vows – life can come with hard knocks. When money gets tight, fear or frustration can cause couples to fight. The best way the weather these stormy times is to plan ahead by discussing the importance of creating and growing an emergency fund. Important questions to discuss include what the ideal amount of savings is and what the rules are for withdrawing funds from this back up account.

POSTED: Jul 05, 2016
Recognizing the Signs of Identity Theft

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2014 more than 17.6 million Americans age 16 and over became victims of identity theft. Once stolen, a thief can use your identity and personal information to empty your bank accounts, make purchases online, use your medical insurance and open new credit card and utility accounts. While there are a lot of tips as to how you can help protect yourself from identity theft out there, it’s equally important to know the signs that you’ve become a victim so that you can take the necessary steps as soon as possible.

Your security is important to MCU and your other financial institutions, and as we monitor your accounts for fraud, you should keep an eye out as well. According to the Federal Trade Commission , key warning signs of identity theft include:

> Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account

> You don’t get your bills or other mail.

> Merchants refuse your checks.

> Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.

> You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.

> Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.

> Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.

> A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

> The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.

> You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.

POSTED: Jun 21, 2016
Four Things to Do When You Lose Your Wallet

1. Contact Your Financial Institutions or Debit or Credit Card Issuers

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you report the loss of a debit card before someone illegally uses it, you’re not responsible for those unauthorized transactions. Similarly, under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit cardholders aren’t liable for any expense incurred if their credit card information is stolen and used to make purchases as long as they have reported the card lost or stolen ahead of time. | To report a lost or stolen credit card to MCU, call (800) 449-7728. To report your MCU Debit Card lost or stolen, call (212) 693-4900.

2. Replace Your Driver’s License or ID

Losing your license or photo ID can be extremely stressful and inconvenient. However, replacing this personal document can be easy, as the DMV now allows New Yorkers to apply for a replacement license, ID or learner’s permit online, in person or through the mail. If you’re worried that your ID was stolen, you can help protect your personal identity by filing a report with your local police department. In some instances, this may even come with the added benefit of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) waiving your replacement fee. For more information on how to replace a New York State Driver’s License or Photo ID or on the steps you can take to report this document stolen, visit dmv.ny.gov.

3. Pull Your Credit Scores

Even though your old debit and credit cards will no longer work after you’ve reported them lost, they can still be used to steal your identity and open lines of credit in your name. In an effort to protect your identity and credit, 1 2 3 4 set up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. It’s also important to check for any strange activity throughout the year, even after the 90-day fraud alert expires.

4. Social Security Card Missing Too?

If an identity thief gains access to your social security information, he or she can easily open credit accounts in your name. If your social security card went missing with the rest of your wallet, look into applying for a credit freeze, which will prevent anyone from applying for credit under your name using this information. Using a credit freeze as precaution will come with a small fee, depending on the state you live in. However, it’s free to replace your social security card up to three times a year.

POSTED: Jun 21, 2016
2016 Is the Year to Buy a Home

Thinking about making the leap from renting to buying? Check out why 2016 is the year of the Homebuyer!

1. Rental Rates Continue to Rise

With the ongoing low supply and high demand of rental units throughout the New York area, the cost of renting is expected to continue to rise in 2016. According to Rent.com, 88 percent of property managers throughout the United States raised their rent prices in 2015 and 68 percent of property managers predict their rental rates will rise again in 2016, with prices expected to increase as much as eight percent.

2. Interest Rates are Historically Low, But Maybe Not for Long

While rental prices have been on the rise, persistently low interest rates have made buying a home more affordable in recent years. However, after seven years of near-zero interest rates, the Federal Reserve has announced a plan to lift its benchmark short-term interest rate gradually over the next three years. Officials expect the fed-funds rate to creep up to 1.375% by the end of 2016, according to the median projection of 17 officials, to 2.375% by the end of 2017, and to 3.25% in three years.

3. It’s a Buyer’s Market

As interest rates increase, a slump in home prices may prompt more owners to list their homes. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, more than 5.4 million existing single-family homes will be sold in 2016, up from an estimated 5.3 million homes sold in 2015. With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could come down even more.

Think you’re ready to start your search? Don’t forget to check your credit score first!

According to a 2015 Bankrate survey, only 46 percent of Americans have checked their credit score in the past year—but staying on top of it is easy. Simply request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

You’re also entitled to another free copy of your credit report within a 12 month period if you are on welfare, unemployed or have been denied credit within the last 60 days. If you spot an error on any of these reports, it’s important to request a dispute form from the agency within 30 days of receiving it.

POSTED: May 23, 2016
At a Glance: EMV Chip Card Technology and Fraud Protection

Received a new credit card this year? The new EMV Chip Cards don’t jut change the way you make purchases (you’re probably swiping your card a lot less these days) while using a card reader, chip technology works to reduce counterfeit fraud, which represents the biggest category of payment card fraud in the U.S.!

So how does EMV Chip technology protect you better than a swipe card?

1. They’re hard to clone

Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, the data on chip cards is constantly changing, making it extremely hard to isolate and extract. To do this, someone would have to get into the physical chip circuit and manipulate things to get your card information. Not only is this extremely complex and difficult, but it also requires a set of high-tech equipment that can cost north of $1 million. That’s a whole lot more than a $20.00 card skimmer, which can lift the static information off of a magnetic-stripe card.

2. They Keep Information Heavily Encrypted

Magnetic-stripe cards broadcast bank information into the payment terminal, which is then encrypted as soon as it’s received. EMV Chip cards are different in that they have sophisticated encryption built right into the chip. When you dip a chip card, it communicates with the payment terminal to authenticate that it’s actually you who’s making a purchase.

3. Each Purchase Goes through a Special Verification and Authorization Process

Unlike all transactions made with a magnetic stripe card, an EMV Chip card takes steps to verify that the individual making the purchase is actually the rightful cardholder by requiring they use a PIN or signature. EMV Chip cards also go through an authorization process when a card reader is offline or having trouble communing with EMV technology. This system of verification and authorization is just one more way EMV Chip cards help to protect you from identity and card theft!

Want to learn more? Get all the facts about EMV Chip Card technology here!

POSTED: Apr 17, 2015
5 Things to Know About Budgeting

According to the 2013 Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report, more than 43% of households in the United States are in debt. And debt doesn’t just affect your wallet; the stress associated with financial struggles can cause problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and more.

The best way to combat debt? Creating and sticking to a budget. It may be a tedious task, but budgeting is the only practical way to reign in unnecessary spending, make sure that your money is going to the right places, and help you set funds aside for long-term plans and projects.

Need help getting started? Check out these tips below!

1. Know What You’re Spending

Figuring out your expenses means making an effort to stay organized and keep track of your bank statements, receipts and financial files. Because not all expenses, like insurance payments, are monthly, you’ll get the best idea of your financial situation if you calculate your average expenses for the year and then determine the monthly average.

Remember, being thorough when you list your expenses is an important step when creating a realistic budget. Surprises and unexpected bills will always pop up. To account for these expenses, add an extra 10% to 15% to what you’ve calculated.

Don’t forget that keeping track of your expenses isn’t just a one-time exercise to determine your spending habits – it’s a lifelong practice that will help you stay accountable for what you’re spending. Having to keep track of expenses may cause you to think twice before splurging, and it’s especially satisfying and motivating to record when you’ve met a savings goal.

2. Determine Your Income

It’s not just your salary that you’ll need to consider. When figuring out your annual income, include any extra funds that come your way throughout the year like alimony, child support, interest, dividends and rental income. Like your expenses, your income will change from year-to-year, so don’t forget to factor in raises and other extra funds that come in over the course of a year!

3. Remember the goal is to Save, Save, Save!

Income – Expenses = Your Savings. It seems like a simple enough idea, but for many of us seeing a little extra green in our bank account only tempts us to spend. Your savings are an important tool to help you achieve your short and long term goals. They will help you make important purchases like a new car or a new home , and will help you prepare for things with a longer timeline, like retirement. Having adequate savings also provides peace of mind in the event of an unexpected emergency like a job loss or illness.

Think carefully before dipping into your savings. If there’s anything special outside of your normal expenses that you really want, a helpful trick is to commit to saving two times more than the price of the item. By the time you have saved enough, you may decide that you don’t want the item after all. At the very least, you will have added to your savings account.

4. Use Credit Cards Wisely

For some people, using credit cards makes it too easy to spend more money than they originally intended. According to EconomyWatch.com, people tend to spend 12-18% more when they pay with a credit card instead of cash. When paying with a credit card, consider your purchases carefully and strive to stay on budget.

5. Be Realistic

Setting unrealistic goals will only cause you to get frustrated and give up on saving. It’s best to think of budgeting as more of a lifestyle than a short term way to reach your goals.

Occasionally treating yourself is a great way to stay on track. By rewarding your efforts, you will not feel like you are being deprived.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Five Helpful Tips: Buying a Used Car.

* Shop around. Comparing similar makes and models can help ensure that's you're getting a fair deal.

* Research the vehicle's history. This includes past owners, use, and maintenance and if the car has been involved in any accidents or natural disasters. Running the vehicle identification number (VIN) will help confirm the car's history.

* Check the warranty. Contact manufacturers to confirm that you can use the coverage.

* Ask about the dealer's return policy. Get it in writing and read it carefully.

* Have the car inspected by your mechanic.

And don't forget to know your financing options! When it comes time to make your purchase, MCU members have access to exceptionally competitive auto loans, including:

* Up to 125% financing available

* Low interest rates

* Flexible terms

* Auto Refinance loans

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
USA Patriot Act Notice.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT PROCEDURES FOR OPENING A NEW ACCOUNT

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.

What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, Security Number and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Common Home Buying Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Obtaining a mortgage is perhaps one of the most complex decisions of your life: nevertheless, it is also one of the most important. With the length of time it takes to buy a home, and all of the different steps you need to complete throughout the process, many mistakes are made by potential homebuyers. Here are some of the most common mistakes made during the home buying process, as well as some tips to avoid these costly errors.

Mistake: Not knowing your credit score. Some people do not realize their credit score is too poor for them to buy a home and obtain a mortgage. In other instances, some people just assume they have poor credit and do not realize their credit is good enough for them to obtain a mortgage at a good rate.

Tip: Don’t just know your credit score; understand what that means regarding your potential as a home-owner. Educations classes (such as MCU’s First Time Home Buyer’s Seminar) are a great way to better understand how your score affects you in the home buying process.

Mistake: Assuming your down payment is the only upfront cost associated with buying a home. There are many fees and closing costs that need to be paid along with the down payment.

Tip: Know your budget when shopping for your home, and make sure to include additional costs when budgeting for your home purchase. Shop around when looking for your mortgage. In some instances, financial institutions will waive some closing costs and fees to help keep your initial payment low.

Mistake: Not knowing about all costs of home ownership in the neighborhood(s) where you are looking to buy. The cost of your home is more than just the price of your house.

Tip: Do research and find out the cost of property taxes, Homeowners Association Fee, Plan Unit development fees, homeowner’s insurance, and other costs that will affect how much you can actually afford.

Mistake: Having an unrealistic view of the mortgage process timeline. The process usually takes 30-45 days to close after receiving necessary documentation, not 30-45 days from the initial contact with the loan officer.

Tip: Plan effectively. Know that the process is just that, a process. Understand that your financial activity during this time period can affect your credit, which can affect your capacity to be a homeowner in the lender’s eyes.

Mistake: Taking referrals from your Real Estate Agent for banks/loan officers, attorneys and other important people in the home buying process. This likely means the real estate agent has a working relationship with these people, which could mean higher costs for you.

Tip: Find a family member or friend who recently purchased a home, and ask them for the financial institution and attorney they worked with. Always make sure you trust the people you are working with.

If you have other questions about obtaining a mortgage, call the MCU Mortgage Hotline at 212-238-3521 and speak with a Loan Originator today.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
When it Pays to Refinance Your Mortgage

With interest rates hovering at record lows, now may just be perfect time to consider refinancing your mortgage. However, while this financial move can save you thousands of dollars over time, it’s not the right decision for everybody and homeowners must take their personal circumstances into consideration.

A Good Rule of Thumb: Calculate Your Break-Even Period

Refinancing your mortgage becomes worth it when homeowners commit to staying in their homes longer than the break-even period, or the number of months you need to own your home after refinancing in order to recover the costs.

For example, if you pay $2,000 in closing costs to refinance and you lower your monthly payments by $100, it would take 20 months to reach the break-even point if you were to calculate it on a straight-line basis ($2,000/$100).

If you are interested in learning more about refinancing with MCU, contact the MCU Mortgage team at 212-238-3521.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Simplifying Your Financial Life – Download the NYMCU® Mobile Banking App

When you download the NYMCU® Mobile Banking app, you get the ability to securely manage your account using a tablet or smartphone. The mobile banking app is made specifically for mobile devices. Secure access to your account through our mobile app gives you the ability to:

> Deposit checks using our Mobile Deposit feature*

> View account balances

> See your transaction history

> Pay bills online with MCU BillPay

> Find the closest branches in the and ATMs in MCU’s network

> Transfer funds between accounts

> Transfer funds to other members

> View copies of cleared checks

Downloan on the App Store

Android app on Google Play

*Restrictions apply

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying a home is an exciting milestone in a person’s life. However, for first-time homebuyers, the process can be confusing and understanding the expenses involved and how to obtain a mortgage can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are some easy steps and tips you can follow to make your dream of becoming a homeowner an easier and more enjoyable experience.

1. Never underestimate your ability to become a homeowner. Many people do not know what their credit profile needs to look like to qualify for a mortgage, and because of this do not inquire about ownership. However, getting educated on both the mortgage application and homebuying processes will help you understand that your credit score is not the only key to mortgage approval and homeownership success. There are many free seminars and classes that are provided to first-time homebuyers, such as the seminars MCU offers its members.

2. Know the Requirements. Many first time homebuyers don’t realize the necessary steps and requirements that are involved within the process of having a mortgage application reviewed and approved, which can cause for frustration. Any institution that considers giving a borrower a mortgage will check his or her credit and employment history; current income; and assets, including bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds and retirement accounts.

3. Understand all of the expenses. Beyond the expense of a down payment, prospective homebuyers should know the additional costs associated with purchasing a home. This means anticipating to separately pay and having reserve funds for 3-6 months of housing expenses. It is also important to research the neighborhoods you are interested in. Where you choose to live will make the difference in expenses associated with property taxes, Homeowners Association fees, Plan Unit Development fees, homeowners insurance and private mortgage insurance, which will affect the overall cost of your mortgage.

4. Have Patience. It is important to know that this process and can generally take anywhere between 30 – 60 days to close after receiving all the necessary documentation. Most borrowers believe the process officially begins on the first conversation with the loan officer. However, this is a common misconception and the process of receiving a mortgage can only begin once you’ve submitted all of the necessary documentation.

The key to homeownership is keeping a realistic outlook in terms of the home-buying experience. To learn more about how you can become a homeowner and how to obtain a mortgage, call (212) 238-3521 to speak with a representative or visit the mortgage section today!

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Credit Score FAQ

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that is calculated from an individual’s credit report and can play a significant role in how lenders determine credit-worthiness for a loan or credit card. Your score will not only play a part in whether or not you are approved, but will also affect the interest rate you are charged.

What Makes Up a Credit Score?

Personal information like age, income, ethnicity and marital status don’t influence your credit score. However, there are five factors that will affect your score to varying degrees. They are:

> Payment history: (35 percent): This includes any late bill payments and delinquencies

> Amount owed: (30 percent) - How much you owe on your accounts and the amount of available credit used on your revolving accounts.

> Length of Credit History: (15 percent) – How long accounts have been opened the length of time since credit cards were last used.

> Types of credit used: (10 percent) -- The mix of accounts you have, such as revolving and installment.

> New credit: (10 percent) -- Your pursuit of new credit, including credit inquiries and number of recently opened accounts.

What are the Benefits of a Good Credit Score?

A very good credit score would be considered 720 or higher while a poor credit score would be considered below 620. Having a good score is very important and will give borrowers access to benefits, including:

> Increased credit card limits

> Competitive mortgage and refinancing rates

> Lower financing rates for loans and insurance

> Excellent credit card deals

> Leverage when negotiating with lenders

How Can I improve my Credit Score?

> Reduce your amount of debt. While this can prove to be difficult, it’s not impossible. Freezing your credit cards or using them only in emergencies is the first step. Then, setting up a plan in which you can put a large piece of your budget towards your highest interest credit cards, while maintaining your other minimum payments will be the most effective step to minimizing your debt, and repairing your credit score.

> Get a credit card if you don't have one. Having and using a credit card can help to build your scores, even when you don’t carry a balance. If you don’t qualify for a traditional credit card, consider a secured credit card like the MCU Secured Credit Card, where you can obtain a credit line equal to the deposit you make, helping you to steadily rebuild your credit score.

> Setup automatic payments. Making payments on time will help to build a strong credit score. By setting up automatic payments for fixed monthly bills, like cell phones or cable, will make paying your bills as easy as possible. If you are unable to set up an automatic payment, setting a reminder for when bills are due can also help.

How Can I Check My Credit Score?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, individuals should check their credit reports once every 12 months in order to check for mistakes that may hurt their ability to obtain a line of credit, protect against identity thieves and to be sure that all personal information is up to date and accurate. The only authorized site source under federal law that provides free credit reports is AnnualCreditReport.com. There are other websites that offer to check your credit score for you as well. However, these resources will eventually charge you for other services and products you may not necessarily need.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
How Can I Build, Improve or Re-establish My Credit?

Good credit is a very important component of your financial life. Today, credit scores are used for so many things in your day-to-day life. For example:

> Employers use them for pre-employment background checks

> Landlords check your credit when you apply to rent an apartment

> Credit Unions and banks use them when you apply for a loan or credit card

> Utilities, like gas and electric, check your credit when you want to get service turned on

> Many cell phone carriers check your credit when you want to sign up for service

A strong credit history says to potential employers, utility companies, financial institutions, landlords and cell phone carriers that you are a responsible person who pays their bills on time.

If you don’t have a credit history or you have experienced financial problems, there are several things you can do to build, improve or re-establish your credit and raise your credit score:

> Pay down your current debt

> Don’t run up big balances on your credit card

> Make payments on time

> Establish a responsible payment history

For a Secured VISA® Credit Card. A secured credit card requires a cash collateral deposit that becomes the credit line for that account. You can charge on the card only up to the amount you have on deposit.

Borrow against your savings with a Share Secured Loan, which allows you to borrow against funds you have on deposit.

The key to a good credit score is that you don’t have excessive amounts of debt and you have a history that demonstrates you are conscientious about paying your bills on time. It takes patience, but with time, you can build, improve or re-establish credit.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
How Do I Qualify for a Loan at MCU?

When you are looking to apply for a consumer loan, you may be wondering if there are any specific qualifications you need to meet. At Municipal Credit Union, we look at the entire financial picture of each applicant, and each application is looked at individually. Since no two individual's financial situations are alike, any questions you may have about qualifying for a consumer loan can be best answered by contacting our Loan Center at 800-LOAN-MCU or by visiting a local branch.

Here are some things to keep in mind about qualifying for a consumer loan at MCU:

> MCU looks at the whole picture of each applicant, rather than at one particular detail.

> There is no minimum credit score or length of employment requirement for obtaining a consumer loan.

> Your debt to income ratio will be considered when applying for a consumer loan.

> A debt to income ratio is calculated by dividing your total monthly obligations including mortgage, rent, installment loan and credit card payments by your gross monthly income (monthly payments/total income = DTI). When you borrow, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is important. Generally, a lower DTI ratio makes it more that a loan will be approved.

How much should you borrow?

You want a loan you can comfortably afford, not the largest amount you could possibly receive. Know your budget reality and find a loan that fits well with it.

What's the Qualification Process Like?

You can apply for a loan online, over the phone, or at any one of our local branches. You do not need to be a member to apply, but membership is required to receive a loan. Applying takes approximately 5 minutes, but could take longer if more information is needed. You will need to have your personal information handy, including but not limited to: your social security number, employment (if currently employed), income, and residency information to apply.

Pre-approval is usually immediate, but can take longer in special circumstances. If you apply online or over the phone, pre-approval will be given by phone. If you apply online and we cannot reach you by phone, we will attempt to contact you via email. After you are approved, you have options to finalize your loan including e-Sign or visiting one of our branches to complete your paperwork. If you're not currently a member, we'll sign you up during your visit.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Simplifying Your Financial Life – Enroll in Online Banking

When you enroll in NYMCU Online Banking, you get the ability to manage your account when and where you want. Instead of having to go to a branch, you can conduct your banking 24 hours a day/seven days a week, wherever you have a secure computer connection.

Secure access to your account gives you the ability to:

> View account balances

> Pay bills online with MCU BillPay

> Use the NYMCU® Mobile Banking app

> Sign up for Text Banking

> Enroll in eStatements and view 24 months of statements

> Manage your VISA® Card

> Transfer funds between accounts

> Sign up for account alerts that help you stay on top of your account activity

> Open new accounts

> Apply for a loan or credit card

Enrolling in online banking is simple. Just go to the home page of wwww.nymcu.org , click on “Enroll Now” in the Login box and follow the instructions to complete the process.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Simplifying Your Financial Life – Switch To eStatements

An easy way to simplify and organize your financial life is to sign up for eStatements.

With eStatements you can:

> Securely view your statement each month through NYMCU Online Banking

> Go paperless and reduce clutter by eliminating paper you need to store or file

> Conveniently access and view 24 months of electronic statements

> Protect yourself from identity theft by avoiding the possibility of your statements getting lost in the mail or falling into the wrong hands

> Go Green and reduce your consumption of paper

Here’s how to sign up for eStatements:

1. Login to Online Banking

2. Click on “eStatements” in the left menu

3. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Simplifying Your Financial Life – Sign Up for Email and Text Alerts

On payday, do you call MCU or go to a branch or ATM to confirm that your check has been deposited into your account? Do you sometimes bounce a check or overdraw your account because you didn’t realize your balance was low? Did you know you can set up email and text message> alerts for these and other situations and be automatically notified when certain activity occurs within your account?

You can set up alerts for:

> Electronic Deposits: Receive an alert every time an electronic deposit, like your paycheck direct deposit, is received on the selected account

> Debit Card Purchases: Get an alert every time your debit or check card is used for a purchase

> Account Activity Summary: Receive an alert every morning with a total amount of the prior day’s deposits, withdrawals and ending balance.

> Account Balance Change: Get notified every time the balance on the selected account is over or below the set amount

> Any Deposit: Get an alert whenever a deposit is made to your account

> Withdrawal Notification: Receive an alert every time a withdrawal over the specified amount is recorded on the selected account

> Check Stop Payment Expiration: Get an alert 10 days before the stop payment request expires and a second and final notification on the day the stop payment becomes void

> Custom Message: Set up a one-time customized message to be delivered on a specific date and time

Here’s how to sign up for Account Alerts:

1. Login to Online Banking

2. Click on “Account Alerts” in the left menu

3. Go to the “Email Setup” tab and enter the email address or cell phone number you want the alert sent to. Click “Submit”. You can enter up to five email addresses or cell phone numbers.

4. Go to the “Add Alerts” tab. Select the type of alert you want to set up, and click “Submit”.

5. Select the account you want to receive alerts about and the email address and cell number you want the alert sent to and click “Submit”.

When you sign up for alerts, you can get notified at home, at work, or on-the-go.

>Standard text messages rates apply according to your plan. Delivery of alerts may be delayed for various reasons.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Talk to Your Kids about Finances!

For many young people, hard work won’t be the only key to a college diploma. According to CollegeInSight.com, 60 percent of college students attending a public university in New York will graduate with student loans. In 2014, the average total debt incurred was $ 25,537! The cost of education can be daunting but you can give your loved one a head start to a lifetime of financial security just by starting the conversation on banking and financial literacy!

According to the 2014 MoneyMatters survey, young people who have knowledge of financial literacy and hold a checking account are:

> More responsible with loans and credit

> More financially cautious

> Less accepting of debt as a necessity

> Less fixated on possessions

> More adverse to incurring debt

Whether your child or family member has just begun the application process this fall or is well on their way to higher education, start the conversation today.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
What is a Credit Score and How Does it Affect my Loan Application?

A credit score is a numerical figure representing your credit rating based upon your credit history. Your credit score can help us determine your eligibility for a loan, your interest rate, and your loan terms. Generally, a higher credit score makes it more likely a borrower will qualify for a loan and get a better interest rate. Your credit score is only one part of your total financial picture, however, and any specific questions you have about your eligibility for a loan can be best answered by contacting our Loan Center at 800-LOAN-MCU, or by visiting a branch.

What Factors Influence my Credit Score?

Credit scoring systems will look at each account on your credit file and review it through a proprietary algorithm that uses the information alone and in relation to the other information on your credit file. Each credit bureau uses a slightly different algorithm.

Factors that influence your score include:

> Current or late payments

> How late the payments are

> The number of open accounts you have

> How much credit you are using in relation to how much credit you have available

> If there are serious delinquencies on your file such as bankruptcy, liens, and charge off accounts

> The length of your credit history

> The amount of credit inquiries, or requests by a lender for a copy of your credit report, you have

> The mix of types of credit you use

Where Can I Find my Credit Score?

You may go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request a copy of your credit report. This central site allows you to request a free credit disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: , Experian, and TransUnion. You will be given an opportunity to purchase a credit score from any of the nationwide credit reporting agencies after you receive your free annual credit report from them in response to a request made through www.annualcreditreport.com.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Don’t Retire from MCU

If you leave or retire from the job that qualified you for membership in MCU, that doesn’t mean you have to leave the credit union. In fact, if you are living on a fixed income, that’s the time you should really take a close look at the benefits you get at MCU, like our higher than average share account savings rates and our lower than average loan and VISA® card rates. And even if you’ve left your position for another job in another field, that’s still no reason to give up one of the best financial service benefits available to you.

Once a member always a member, as long as you maintain a share account with a qualifying balance.

So don’t retire from the fine financial services MCU offers you – use them to your advantage.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
MCU and You - Why a Joining a Credit Union is a Good Choice

Credit Unions are full service, member owned financial institutions. They are not-for-profit, so the focus is on serving the financial needs of their members and not on making a profit. Earnings go back to members in the form of more favorable rates and fewer and lower fees for products and services.

To join a credit union, you must belong to the “field of membership” that it serves. The field of membership is the common link that all members of a credit union share. It can be based on employer, geographic location, family, or membership in a group.

Federally insured credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Municipal Credit Union has been serving members since 1916 and is the oldest credit union in New York State. With branches in New York City, Westchester and Long Island, members have access to the credit union’s large and growing ATM network. MCU is an equal opportunity lender and offers loan products like Auto Loans, Mortgages, Personal Loans and Credit Cards, as well as deposit products like checking and savings accounts, CDs, and IRAs. Members can securely access their account information 24/7 through NYMCU® Online Banking, the NYMCU® Mobile Banking app, and NYMCU® Text Banking. Visit nymcu.org for more information.

POSTED: Nov 05, 2014
Five Things to Know: Protecting Your Online Security

More than 13.1 million people became victims of identity theft in 2013*. That’s a new victim every two seconds! Don’t put yourself at risk. Knowing these tips can help protect your information on the web.

1. Frequently change and diversify your passwords. This is the easiest way to keep hackers from accessing online banking and other important web portals with information stolen from less secure sites, such as social media platforms.

2. Keep software up-to-date. Updating your mobile apps and computer programs regularly can help eliminate bugs and prevent potential glitches.

3. Beware of unsecured networks. These networks often offer users free wifi in public places but can also leave you vulnerable to attacks. Always refrain from making online purchases or any other transaction involving your personal or financial information while using one of these networks.

4. Secure your email account by using a two-step verification process. This extra layer of security will make it even more difficult for hackers to gain access to your account.

5. Use Secure websites. Be sure to check for an encrypted connection, especially for emails, banking and online payments. A secure website is indicated by 'https' before the URL, rather than 'http,' A padlock symbol on the top or bottom of the screen is also a good sign.

*According to the 2014 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research.Javelin Strategy & Research, a Greenwich Associates LLC company, provides strategic insights into customer transactions, increasing sustainable profits for financial institutions, government, payment companies, merchants, and other technology providers.

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