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Financial Education

Tips: Fraud Prevention & Protecting Your Money

Scam artists are nothing new — they’ve been trying to fleece us out of our money since the beginning of time. What is new, however, is the increasing use of sophisticated techniques and technology. Each year the number of people victimized increases. It’s up to each of us to educate ourselves on how to avoid being taken.

If it seems too good to be true...You see a social media post from someone you don’t know praising another individual (you don’t know) for earning them a small fortune through cryptocurrency or other trading activities.This is a new, common type of spam-based scam that’s best to ignore and avoid.

Avoid Tax Time Scams
Have you gotten an email or text about a tax refund? Don’t click on any links, it’s a scam! According to the FTC, IRS impersonators are at it again this year and are sending phony messages about “tax refunds” – some of these messages may even look legitimate but they are trying to trick you into clicking fake links.
 
Here are a few tips from the FTC to help:
  • Never click on any links, which can put malware on your computer or phone, letting scammers steal from you.
  • Check the status of any pending refund on the IRS official website. Visit Where’s My Refund to see if you’re really getting a refund.
  • Share what you know. By telling your friends and family members about the scam, you can help protect your community.
 
Remember, the IRS doesn’t send emails or text messages about tax refunds.
Don’t let fraudsters take advantage of your generosity during the holiday season – or any other time of year like after a natural disaster. This time of year, scammers make phone calls that look like they are coming from reputable charities or even create fake charities. By doing a bit of research before giving, you can help ensure any donations you choose to make go to your intended recipients.
 
Here are a few tips from the FCC to help:
  • Donate to trusted, well-known charities. Beware of scammers who create fake charities. Always verify a charity’s legitimacy through its official website. If you have doubts, you can check with Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Verify all phone numbers for charities. If you need to contact a charity by phone or using text-to-donate, check the charity’s official website to see if the number you have is legitimate.
  • Do not open suspicious emails. If you receive a suspicious email requesting donations or other assistance, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Scammers regularly use email for phishing attacks and to spread malware.
  • Verify information in online solicitations. Double-check any social media solicitation for charitable donations before you give. Crowd-funding websites often host individual requests for help, but they are not always vetted by the site or other sources to ensure legitimacy.

Federal student loans have started to accrue interest again, and payments became due in October. If you’re concerned about repaying your loans, offers to “help” may be tempting. Scammers often use robocalls and texts about “helping” you with your loans. Before you act, know how to spot the scams.

Here are some first steps:

  • Find out who your loan servicer is. The servicer is listed on your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account dashboard at studentaid.gov.
  • Update your contact information with FSA and your loan servicers in order to receive timely updates about your loan and repayment plans.
  • Enroll in a repayment plan. Use FSA’s Loan Simulator to estimate your monthly payments and compare your repayment options. Consider an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Your servicer can help you sign up for an IDR plan. These plans set your student loan payment as a portion of your disposable income. Depending on your income, your payment could be as low as $0 per month.
  • If you have Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), FSA recommends you consider consolidating to Direct Loans to qualify for some repayment and forgiveness options.


How to Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

  • Work with your loan servicer to explore what options are right for you, free of charge. Fraudulent companies will try to take advantage of borrowers by guaranteeing immediate results or requesting money up front for services they can’t provide.
  • Don’t give away your FSA ID login information. Anyone who says they need it to help you is a scammer. If you share it, the scammer can cut off contact between you and your servicer — and even steal your identity.
  • Don’t trust anyone who contacts you promising debt relief or loan forgiveness, even if they say they’re affiliated with the Department of Education. Scammers try to look real, with official-looking names, seals, and logos. They promise special access to repayment plans or forgiveness options — which don’t exist. If you’re tempted, slow down, hang up, and log into your student loan account to review your options.
  • There are legitimate programs and resources available if you need help with your federal student loans. They include:
    Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Program
    Public Service Loan Forgiveness
    Teacher Loan Forgiveness
  • Always remember that you will never need to pay for help with your student loans. Get help at www.StudentAid.gov/repay.
  • If you have private student loans, contact your loan servicer directly.


What if I’m having problems with my servicer or I believe I am dealing with a scam?

You may file a complaint against the student loan servicer or potential scam with OFR using www.labor.maryland.gov/finance/consumers/frslcomplaints.shtml.

If you have any questions, please contact the Student Loan Ombudsman at studentloan.ombudsman@maryland.gov or over the phone at 410-230-6077.

Source: Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation

Unexpected call from your credit union or bank to verify your personal information? Hang up. It’s a scam. Read more from the FTC here on how to avoid these increasingly common phone or imposter scams. https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam

Scammers can also spoof or fake the phone numbers they are calling from to make it appear as an institution you know on your Caller ID. Learn more about a recent scam targeting veterans and service members here: https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2022/11/imposter-scams-targeting-veterans-and-servicemembers

Each member is entitled to get a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. Just go to annualcreditreport.com to get yours.

Credit Bureau Contact Information

Equifax

888-567-8688

Experian

888-397-3742

TransUnion

800-680-7289

 

Don’t let scammers take advantage of your generosity this holiday season…Want to support a charity? The FTC recommends searching for a cause you care about – like “hurricane relief” or “homeless kids” – and phrases like “best charity” or “highly rated charity.” When you consider giving to a specific charity, search its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”
 
Do your research before giving and don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. That’s something scammers do. Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made or changing the caller ID to make it look like it’s from a local area code. More resources are available here about donating wisely and avoiding charity scams.

According to Experian, “Account takeover fraud—in which bad actors use stolen credentials to commandeer real credit card, shopping or even government benefit accounts—is one of the most common forms of identity theft.”

However, recent reports show that even the credit bureaus (including Experian) are not immune to this type of fraud.

Read on to learn how a few individuals were impacted: krebsonsecurity.com

And consider these general tips to help you prevent account takeover from impacting you: Experian Blog – What is account takeover fraud and how to prevent it.

      Phishing – A criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication; typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to a legitimate one.

      Smishing – A form of criminal activity using social engineering techniques similar to phishing; typically carried out by SMS/text message, and often directs users to download a program/file which turns out to be a virus.

      Vishing – The criminal practice of using social engineering over the telephone, the term is a combination of “voice” and “phishing”; typically used to steal credit card numbers or other information.

Use extra caution when inserting your card at an ATM or a retailer, especially if it is unattended (such as a gas station pay at the pump). Fraudsters are getting more aggressive and we have seen a sharp rise in skimming-related card fraud in the first quarter of 2017.

Here are a couple of things you can do to help prevent this from happening:

  • Examine the ATM: Never enter your PIN in an ATM that doesn’t look genuine or has been modified. Thieves may place a thin reading device into or around the card slot to capture the data in the card’s magnetic strip.
  • If it’s hard to insert your card, if the surface is sticky, or if the slot is scratched, it might contain a reader
  • Before you insert your card, take hold of the place where you insert it on the machine. If it feels loose, do not insert your card.
  • If you insert your card and can wiggle it around, remove the card immediately and report it to the merchant and your financial institution immediately.
  • If using a gas pump, pay inside if possible.

Other tips for keeping your card safe:

  • Protect your PIN: If they have your card data, next they need your PIN.
  • There are many ways to hide a tiny camera on or near an ATM, such as in the light panel or brochure holder. Always use your free hand to cover your PIN every time you enter it.
  • Never write your PIN on the back of your card.
  • Never keep the card and PIN together.
  • Never divulge your PIN to another person who is not on the account.

Much of the fraud we see related to purchases is because the person made the PIN accessible to someone else, even family members.

If you find a withdrawal or a purchase on your account and you did not make that withdrawal or purchase, you must report it immediately. Check your accounts often through online banking or our mobile app. At minimum, review your statements monthly. If you are a victim, and do not report it within 60 days, you may incur the loss.

For more information, see the FBI’s article on this topic.

We have been made aware of fraudulent checks in circulation, appearing to be made out by Destinations Credit Union. These appear to be payments for things like mystery shopping. These checks are not issued by Destinations and we ask that if you are presented with one, that you provide the check and all documentation to:

Email info@destinationscu.org or mail to Fraud Department, Destinations Credit Union, 8767 Satyr Hill Rd., Baltimore, MD 21234.

 

Useful information on how to shop online safely: Article by Experian

 

The Federal Trade Commission offers good information on detecting identity theft, defending yourself against ID theft, and helping victims through the process of recovering when their identity has been stolen. This site offers streaming videos demonstrating how identities are stolen and the devastating effects they can have on individuals.

Should You Purchase ID Theft Protection? See what the FTC has to say on the subject.

U.S. Postal Inspection

View this document from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to learn about a wide range of mail fraud scams.

 

Accordion Content

Car Buying Tips

Thinking about buying a car? You’ve come to the right place! Destinations Credit Union has put together a lot of information on every phase of buying your car and getting yourself into the driver’s seat. Of course, you’ll want to check out our loan rates, calculate your loan payment, and even apply online. But before you finance your car, you need to find the right car or truck, find the best price and learn everything you need to know to save more money on the deal.

Apply online so you’re prepared when its time to test drive your new car

Car Shopping Made Simple We make car buying simple! Shop for your next vehicle with Destinations!
  • Shop from over 4 million cars in inventory
  • Save your car searches and compare
  • Get the CarFax Report
  • Get the Kelly Blue Book value range for that model
  • And more!

Calculator

Calculate your payments at your preapproved interest rate to see approximately what your payment will be.

Go get your perfect car! When you finance your loan with Destinations, we offer additional protection to you and your family in the form of:

GAP Insurance

One-time, low-cost loan protection makes up the gap between your auto insurance and the loan balance in the event of total loss of the vehicle.

GAP is available on all new and existing vehicle loans up to 84 months (new and used vehicles).

Benefits of GAP

If your vehicle is declared an insured total loss, GAP provides the following:

  • Benefits are paid to $50,000
  • Insurance deductible coverage is paid to $1000
  • $1000 down payment credit when new loan is financed with Destinations MOVING FORWARD

Payment Protection

Add peace of mind to you and your family. This voluntary loan-payment protection helps you get relief from the financial burden of delinquency, default, or foreclosure should a protected life event unexpectedly occur.

Help play it safe.

MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security* is a voluntary loan-payment protection product that helps you get relief from the financial burden of delinquency, default, or foreclosure if a protected life event unexpectedly happens to you. Simple eligibility requirements ease the enrollment process.

If a protected life event happens to you (and you’re a protected borrower or co-borrower on the loan), Destinations Credit Union will cancel or reduce repayment of your loan debt. Help lessen your worries, and your family’s worries, about paying loans during a time when your income may be reduced or lost and paying other household bills becomes challenging. Protected events include:

  • Loss of life, including those caused by acts of war
  • Disability, including those caused by acts of war
  • Involuntary unemployment

Call a Loan Officer at 410-663-2500 and ask about protecting your loans, today.

*MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security is a debt protection product offered by Destinations Credit Union. Enrollment in this debt protection product is voluntary and not required to obtain a loan. Please contact a Destinations Credit Union loan officer for additional information on benefit maximums, eligibility, limitations, and a copy of your contract.

Source: www.bls.gov, Economic Releases, The Employment Situation, February 2011

Trustage™ Auto Insurance

While you’re at it, you may want to think about shopping for new insurance. Trustage™ Auto Insurance may be able to save you some money.

You trust your credit union to offer products and services to help you do more with what you have. That’s why we’ve joined with a dedicated team of insurance professionals to bring you the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program.

Working with carefully selected insurance partners, these programs can provide discounted rates for credit union members, online services, and 24/7 claims service.

If you haven’t compared auto or home insurance rates lately, it’s a great time to take a look. Your credit union membership could result in some nice savings.

Get your free quote today or call 1-855-483-2149.

TruStage™ Auto and Home Insurance program is offered by TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and issued by leading insurance companies. Discounts are not available in all states and discounts vary by state. The insurance offered is not a deposit and is not federally insured. This coverage is not sold or guaranteed by your credit union.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance/Extended Warranty

Extend your manufacturer’s warranty to protect yourself against unexpected expenses.

Many members choose to extend the manufacturer’s warranty on their vehicle to protect themselves against unexpected expenses.

Through our partnership with Auto Exam, Destinations Credit Union offers a less expensive alternative to dealership extended warranties. Plus, you can take out a service contract at any time on vehicles that are 4 years old or less and have less than 60,000 miles – it doesn’t have to be at the time you purchased your vehicle.

  • Vehicle DOES NOT have to be in manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Vehicle DOES NOT require an inspection.
  • Vehicle must be eligible for coverage (4 years old or less and have less than 60,000 miles).
  • Member cannot file a claim within the first month and 1,000 miles of the contract.

For more information or a quote for your vehicle, contact a loan officer today at 410-663-2500.

Home Buying Tips


We have a wide variety of first mortgages designed to meet your needs. We also have great Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit with low-interest rates. The Home Equity Line of Credit offers interest rates as low as prime minus 1% and no closing costs!

From A to Z, familiarize yourself with the home buying process with the help of Destinations Credit Union. Review our helpful Home Buying Guide for advice on signing the paperwork, determining if you’re ready to buy, choosing a real estate agent, increasing your borrowing power, and much more.

Have a good understanding of the mortgage process with a good understanding of the common terminology. Brush up on your real estate vocab with the help of common mortgage terms provided by Financial Security Consultants, Inc.

TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program

Exclusively for credit union members like you, the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program provides affordable top-quality protection. You could enjoy discounted rates combined with online convenience and 24/7 claims service.

You trust your credit union to offer products and services to help you do more with what you have. That’s why we’ve joined with a dedicated team of insurance professionals to bring you the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program.

Working with carefully selected insurance partners, these programs can provide discounted rates for credit union members, online services, and 24/7 claims service.

If you haven’t compared auto or home insurance rates lately, it’s a great time to take a look. Your credit union membership could result in some nice savings.

Get your free quote today or call 1-855-483-2149.

TruStage™ Auto and Home Insurance program is offered by TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and issued by leading insurance companies. Discounts are not available in all states and discounts vary by state. The insurance offered is not a deposit and is not federally insured. This coverage is not sold or guaranteed by your credit union.

MAH-1112-7C9E

Give yourself a mortgage checkup.

Are you considering ways to improve your financial position? One good thing to look at is your existing mortgage loan, particularly since interest rates have dropped substantially in recent months.

It’s a good idea to re-assess your mortgage financing every few years. In that time, a lot can happen in your life. You’ve built equity in your home. Your income may have increased — or decreased. You may have accumulated additional debt or paid down debt you had when you first took out your mortgage. And of course, mortgage interest rates have changed. The loan that was the perfect fit originally may not be right for you today.

If your income has increased or you’ve paid down your debt, consider refinancing for a lower interest rate and shorter term. You’ll reduce your interest costs and better position yourself to enjoy a comfortable retirement or pay for future college expenses. If your income is less now due to retirement, one spouse staying home with children, or other factors, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage payment with a lower interest rate. In either case, refinancing to pay off consumer debt may also be helpful in increasing your tax deduction and reducing your monthly debt burden.

It takes only a few minutes to determine if a change in mortgage financing is right for you. Our mortgage consultants can help you compare your current mortgage’s interest rate and monthly payment with the low-interest rates available in today’s market to determine if refinancing would be beneficial based on your current financial situation and needs.

Take a minute or so to give yourself a mortgage check-up today by calling Credit Union Mortgage, your credit union’s mortgage partner, at 703-667-4566 (Toll-free 844-429-8714).

Building Wealth

Building wealth is a life-long pursuit that can mean different things at different points in our lives. Throughout your life, your priorities change. Fortunately, Destinations Credit Union has financial services that can help you bank smarter every step of the way!

From your child’s first savings account through their tween years, Destinations has a wealth of information and educational tools to help.

      Youth Savings – It’s never too early to start establishing savings — especially when Destinations makes it this easy!

      Coverdell Education Savings Account – Kids dream BIG. Help them fulfill those dreams well into the future. This education savings account helps to keep the cost of college affordable down the road.

      Spending Saving – Making Your Money – Teach children between 8 and 13 why caring about money should be important to them.

 

Young adults entering the working world need additional financial tools and education on financial options.

      Establish/Expand Banking relationship – Key to navigating financial success is building the right supporting infrastructure. Destinations offers several accounts, time-saving services — direct deposit and payroll deduction to keep money management easy and accessible.

      Consolidating Debt – Now that you have a steady paycheck, you may want to consider consolidating your debt into one low interest rate loan to make paying down your bills faster and easier.

      Responsible Financing – This is also a good opportunity to consider finally getting rid of the junker that got you through school and buying a new car or buying a starter home or condo. We offer our members a very customized process, plus very competitive rates due to the fact that any profits earned are poured back into securing lower rates for you!

As young adults settle down, your focus shifts to marriage, family and buying a house, among other things.

As individuals age and they help prepare their children to go out on their own, your focus begins to look toward securing your own financial future, including retirement planning and planning to pay for things like weddings or higher education.

  • Capitalizing On Home Equity – You’ve put a lot of hard work and money into your home. Capitalize on the equity you’ve established by transitioning it into financing for a family wedding, home improvements, or other large purchases.
  • Retirement and Estate Planning – You’ve put in hard work to be where you are now. It’s time to cash in on a little bit of relaxation and peace of mind. We work closely with the CUNA Brokerage to bring you trusted expertise surrounding retirement and estate planning.

Reaching Your Financial Destinations

Destinations Credit Union offers a blog, Reaching Your Financial Destinations, with a variety of topics aimed at helping you understand more about how things affect your financial life.

Make a Savings Plan

Saving is not only wise — it’s crucial to securing future goals. Learn how to create a savings plan you can actually stick to.

Financial Building Blocks

Building wealth amounts to a series of ongoing decisions. Equip yourself with solid knowledge by reviewing 10 tips that can have a major impact in building financial success.

Avoiding Payday Lending

If you need a few bucks to tide you over until payday, you might be tempted to go to a payday lender. If you are tempted to go to a payday lender for some short-term cash, we would highly advise against it. Learn more about why PayDay lending is a bad idea when it comes to building your wealth.

National Endowment for Financial Education

When it comes to assessing your financial picture, sometimes it can be hard to know where to even start. The Smart About Money website offers sound advice in several different aspects of money management in a way that’s very easy to understand and follow.

 


SATYR HILL BRANCH UPDATE: Our lobby is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays. Our Drive-thru is open Monday thru Saturday with normal business hours... NORTHWEST HOSPITAL BRANCH UPDATE: Our lobby is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8am - 3pm.Learn more
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