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CFCCU Blog

SHAZAM BOLT$

bolt banner2WE NOW HAVE SHAZAM BOLT$...

SHAZAM BOLT$ allows cardholders to do the following:
•View balance information for a primary account attached to a debit card
•Receive transaction alerts in the SHAZAM BOLT$ application
•Receive suspected fraud alerts
•Set up alerts for transactions exceeding a certain dollar amount, card-not-present transactions, and international transactions

SHAZAM BOLT$ also allows cardholders to take control of their account using transaction control. With transaction control, if your card is lost or stolen, or you just want to pause it while traveling, you can block or unblock your card with the quick tap of a button.

SHAZAM BOLT$ is available as a mobile application and online. The mobile application is available for free download from the iTunes® App Store or Google Play™.


Note:  There is no fee to use SHAZAM BOLT$. SHAZAM BOLT$ does not operate on voice over IP (VoIP), international numbers, or prepaid devices.


Cardholders can access SHAZAM BOLT$ from a personal computer (PC) or laptop at https://disclaimer.php?url=bolts.shazam.net/ShazamWebPortal/index.php. SHAZAM BOLT$ offers the same features whether accessed from a mobile device, PC, or laptop using the following Web browsers:
•Mozilla Firefox®
•Windows® Internet Explorer®
•Apple® Safari®

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The Bankers Are At It Again

Advocacy image bank taxBankers are at it again, trying to tax credit union competition out of the marketplace, which would eliminate the low cost financial services credit unions provide Iowans. While complaining about credit unions, the banks fail to mention they control more than 95% of the business loans in Iowa and 86% of the total deposits, have realized record profits the last six years in a row and have utilized state tax credits to avoid nearly 50% of their own state franchise tax liability. Apparently record profits and market dominance are not enough, they won’t be satisfied until credit unions are gone. Visit www.ProtectFinancialChoice.com to learn more.

#ProtectFinancialChoice

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567 Hits

New Scam Alert!

Recently we've had several members receiving phone calls from someone pretending to be with our institution and claiming they are behind on their loan payments. The caller offers to help them lower their interest rate while they take care of making payment arrangements and of course ask for account/payment card information. The phone number listed has a local area code and the caller ID shows up as Our Community Credit Union. Please do not fall victim to this scam.  Cedar Falls Community Credit Union does not accept cards as a means of making a loan payment and will never ask you for that information over the phone.  Always be cautious when giving personal information to any person who calls you.  As always, if you feel the call is suspicious, hang up and phone the credit union immediately at 319-266-7531.

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Member Appreciation Day

Member Appreciation Facebook

 

We started a remodeling project on our Main Office in downtown Cedar Falls in January of 2017. To celebrate the completion of the remodel, we are planning a Member Appreciation Event as a means of saying thank you to our members for putting up with the mess for the last 9 months.

CFCCU’s "Member Appreciation Tailgate Party" will be held on Friday, October 6th, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. There will be lunch, games, and prizes. According to Helen Pearce, CEO, "We are so thankful that our members have been understanding with the mess of remodeling. It seemed like the teller stations were moving every week and the entire place was filled with dust. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate the new look!"

 About Cedar Falls Community Credit Union: Cedar Falls Community Credit Union was originally chartered in 1958 as a member-owned financial co-operative serving the needs of a local machinists union. Membership was extended to other groups of employees over the years until in 1982, CFCCU received a community charter. Our current field of membership includes individuals who live or work in 20 Iowa counties: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Grundy, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Howard, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Tama and Winneshiek.

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Kelli Aikey Best of the Best Loan Officer

1st best of bestKelli Aikey, a CFCCU Loan Officer was selected as the top Loan Officer in the recent Best of the Best competition held by the Waterloo Courier.  CFCCU was selected with a Honorable Mention.

Cedar Falls Community Credit Union is your hometown credit union that meets the financial needs of people who live and work in the Cedar Valley. We have been successful in the Cedar Valley since 1958 because we take pride in what we do. Our current field of membership was recently expanded by the Iowa Credit Union Division to include individuals who live or work in 20 Iowa counties: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Grundy, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Howard, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Tama and Winneshiek.

"We are so fortunate to have such a knowledgeable staff who really care about what they do. It also makes our jobs easier when we have the best members anyone could ask for who trust us to help them," said CEO Helen Pearce. "And when we are able to help members in a time of need, that’s when we create those unforgettable bonds."

We are a local member-owned financial cooperative, providing a wide range of financial products and services, including savings accounts, certificates, IRAs and loans of all types with competitive rates. Established in 1958 in Cedar Falls, we continue to be large enough to provide valuable services to our members, yet still small and local enough to really know our members and their needs and expectations.

Cedar Falls Community Credit Union has been among the Best of the Best 15 out of  the last 15 years. Thank you to our members for voting us Best of the Best!

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CFCCU Ranked Fourth Nationally in Value to Members

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In the category of Credit Unions between $100 and $250 Million in assets, Cedar Falls Community Credit Union ranked fourth among nearly 733 credit unions nationwide in the value provided to members, according to the Return of the Member (ROM) report released by Callahan & Associates, a credit union research and consulting firm located in Washington D.C.

 

The quarterly report is a comprehensive scoring system of member value with consideration to three core credit union functions: savings, lending and product usage. Cedar Falls Community Credit Union earned a total score of 99.59% in the most recent ROM report reflecting data from the first quarter of 2017.

 

"We’re excited to be ranked No. 4 nationally in the latest Return of the Member report," said Cedar Falls Community CEO Helen Pearce. "This report shows that we are giving our members exceptional value."

 

More information about the Return of the Member report, including how scores are calculated, is available from Callahan & Associates.  

Cedar Falls Community Credit Union was originally chartered in 1958 as a member-owned financial co-operative serving the needs of a local machinists union.  Membership was extended to other groups of employees over the years until in 1982, CFCCU received a community charter.  The current field of membership includes individuals who live or work in 20 Iowa counties: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Grundy, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Howard, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Tama and Winneshiek.

For more information, visit www.cfccu.org or call (319) 266-7531.

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759 Hits

The Lease is Up--Should You Buy the Car?

car leaseYour auto lease gives you a right to buy the vehicle for a fixed price at the end of the lease. But should you? If you have less than three months remaining on a lease, now's the time to decide. So, find your lease and read on.

Do you like the car? If it's performed well with a minimum of unexpected cost and repair, then it might be good to renew the lease.

Will it still fit your needs? If you're driving a 2-door sports coupe but are expecting a baby, you probably need a new car.

What is your lease-end buying price? You'll find the purchase option price in your lease. Let's assume it's $14,000.

What is your vehicle actually worth? Check websites such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com Let's assume your highest wholesale value is $15,000.

How does your vehicle's wholesale value compare with its lease value? If it's higher than the lease value, then it's a good deal. In our example, your lease says you can buy for $14,000. You've confirmed wholesale value is $15,000. You're buying a car you know and like for $1,000 less than its wholesale value. Buy the car.

What if the wholesale value is less than the lease value? If it's a lot less, don't buy the car. It doesn't make sense to buy the car if your lease's buy-out price is $14,000, and the car's wholesale value is only $11,000.

What's the bottom line? If your lease car is a good friend, and you can buy it for no more than $1,000 over wholesale value, that's a smart buy. Your next smart decision is to finance it at Cedar Falls Community Credit Union.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association, Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Out in the Open: Landscaping Key to Home's Value

landscapeYou don’t have to get away to the great outdoors. The best outside spaces could be in your own back—or front—yard.  

The outdoor evolution Today’s outdoor spaces are varied, intricate, and personalized. It’s not unusual to see combinations of decks, patios, water features, and even fire elements, says Rick Meinzer of Platinum Landscapes and Pools, in Provo, Utah. “Some of the best hours to enjoy the environment are not in the heat of the day,” he says.

 Evolving material selections also offer homeowners choices. For example, composite decking can eliminate splinters and maintenance. Pavers and retaining wall components fashioned from concrete offer uniformity in color and appearance, making them an attractive alternative to natural stone.

First looks Curb appeal remains the foundation of that critical first impression when selling a house. An attractive, well-maintained front yard invites prospective buyers to take a closer look and conveys confidence that current owners paid as much attention to the inside of the house as they did the outside, says Lisa Morano of Morano Landscape, in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

 Homeowners without a deck or patio are wise to consider installing one before sale, says Kathleen Birkel Dangelo, vice president and general counsel of The Ohio Valley Group, a landscape and tree service contractor in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “Some kind of deck or patio is essential to resale,” she says.

The professional approach Frugal homeowners often tackle their own landscaping projects to stretch their dollars. Dangelo encourages individuals to at least meet with professionals before taking on a significant landscaping project.
“Do-it-yourself projects always tend to look like you did it yourself,” she says. If budgets are limited, Dangelo recommends developing a phased plan to implement over a series of years to spread out costs.

Money talks Setting a budget is a smart step for homeowners who want to control cost and outcomes. Dangelo says landscapers can work with homeowners to review options in broad strokes and then together can home in on a plan and budget that meet the client’s goals. 

Cedar Falls Community Credit Union can help you set a budget for your landscaping plans or provide the funding you need to make your landscaping visions a reality. Stop by or call today at (319) 266-7531.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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America's Credit Unions Save Members $$

 

state of iowa benfitsAmerica's Credit Unions Saved Members over $10.2 Billion in benefits for the year ending December 31st, 2016. Iowan's saved over $104 Million for an average of $182 per member household.   Just an interesting fact.

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Yes - You Can Be a Member

join now webIf you thought you couldn't join Cedar Falls Community Credit Union, think again. Our credit union has a community charter, which means anyone living or working in this community can join our credit union. Our current field of membership includes individuals who live or work in 20 Iowa counties: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Grundy, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hardin, Howard, Linn, Marshall, Mitchell, Tama and Winneshiek.

You might already know that there are many benefits to being a credit union member--such as low fees and loan rates, excellent member service, and democratic control.

Community-chartered credit unions offer those benefits and more: greater membership diversity, a wider variety of services, and larger pools of qualified volunteers.

We also offer encouragement and education about saving, and help in making sound personal financial decisions and habits. As a member-owner you'll also have the opportunity for your opinion to be heard and to vote for the board that guides how your credit union should be managed.

 If you're interested in joining, stop in or call Cedar Falls Community Credit Union at (319) 266-7531 or fill out our Join Now form found at:  https://www.cfccu.org/join-now.


Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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DEALER FINANCING GONE WILD…

josh latonya 1 webLaTonya Robertson has been a member of CFCCU for over 8 years. Several years ago, she purchased a vehicle at a dealership and was able to obtain a loan through the dealer. Recently, LaTonya decided to visit the credit union to discuss her finances. While speaking with loan officer, Josh Hurley, she realized that she has been significantly overpaying in interest charges on her loan.

Josh was able to refinance LaTonya’s vehicle loan with the credit union, dropping the interest rate by over 13% which impacted her payment dramatically! Not only was the credit union able to save her over $2,700 interest charges but her payment was reduced by $76.00 per month. Included in her reduced payment, LaTonya is able to protect her family from unexpected life events, as well as protecting her asset with GAP coverage.

In addition to her auto refinance, LaTonya took advantage of our credit card program where she can now transfer any high rate credit card debt to the low rate CFCCU MasterCard.

LaTonya’s story is exciting and we are excited to be a part of it! Stories like this are occurring daily at Cedar Falls Community Credit Union and we encourage you to stop in or call us to see how we can dramatically affect your life.

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Home Equity Loans: Low-Cost, Tax-Advantaged Credit

mortgage webIf credit card payments are eating up your disposable income each month, or if you need cash to remodel your kitchen--or to buy a new car--a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) might be your best bet.

There's also a tax advantage. Unlike almost any other consumer loan type, the interest on a home equity loan or HELOC of $100,000 or less is likely to be tax-deductible ($50,000 if married filing separately).

Home equity loans and HELOCs are two distinct products. With a home equity loan, you borrow a lump sum of money repayable over a fixed term, usually 5 to 15 years, giving you the security of a locked-in rate and a consistent monthly payment.

People tend to use home equity loans for large, one-time expenses like a major home-improvement project. You also might use one to start a business, make a big-ticket purchase, or consolidate high-interest credit card debt. This type of loan makes sense if you don't foresee future borrowing needs.

On the other hand, a HELOC is much like a credit card or any other type of open-ended credit. You can borrow money as needed, up to the credit limit your lender assigns. A HELOC is usually a variable-rate loan, so your monthly payments will change based on your outstanding balance and fluctuations in the prime rate.

A line of credit offers flexibility and ready access to funds, making it ideal for unexpected expenses like large medical bills. A HELOC also can help finance a child's college education, especially for higher-income families who don't qualify for financial aid.

Since home equity loans and lines of credit use your home as collateral, if you don't make your payments, you could lose your home. But if you don't take on excessive debt and you do make timely payments, you can't beat the low interest rates and tax-deductible interest of a home equity loan or HELOC.

A Cedar Falls Community Credit Union loan officer can explain which type of home equity loan may work for you. Call 319-266-7531 for more details.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Retirement—Gen Y, This Is for You

IRA webBy the year 2033, Social Security's reserve trust funds could be exhausted. Though people disagree about when the money will run dry, and how to avoid it, it could happen in your lifetime. You can prepare for it, starting now.
IRAs (individual retirement accounts) offer young workers the opportunity to potentially receive higher benefits than the current system can afford to pay. They also offer an opportunity to build a nest egg for retirement that the government can't take away.

 Invest regularly and you'll be surprised at how the money grows due to compound interest. Consider contributing a portion of your paycheck in one kind of IRA called a Roth IRA.

 For example, if you invest $25 a week in a Roth IRA until you retire (let's say in 50 years) and the money grows at 5%, when you retire you'll have $290,644 in tax-free money. If it grows at 8%, you'll have $869,583. You only contributed $65,000 to the total—the rest is due to compound interest.

Visit Cedar Falls Community Credit Union today to start planning and investing for your future.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Payday Borrowing Pokes a Hole in Your Pocket

 

payday loanGetting a payday loan to solve your cash-flow problem is like poking a hole in the pocket where you carry your cash. Over time, your money is apt to disappear as you "roll over" your debt.

Rollover debt occurs when you can't repay the full amount of a payday loan when it's due. Instead, you're forced to take out another loan for the original amount plus interest and fees.

As a result, the amount owed to payday lenders quickly grows, with the average payday borrower spending $793 to repay a $325 loan, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Find an alternative
If you're straining to repay a payday loan, contact Cedar Falls Community Credit Union as soon as possible to ask for help.
 
Examine your options
You can avoid short-term borrowing by examining your spending and your options. To reduce spending, take a hard look at what's a necessity and then cut out the extras. Next, consider options for generating income. Sell possessions that aren't being used, or work a second job or overtime hours.

To meet immediate needs, look for free services or merchants willing to let you pay over time. For example, if your car has a breakdown, look for a mechanic who will let you pay in two or three monthly installments.

The savings solution
To get out of the payday loan trap for good, establish a savings account. Ask Cedar Falls Community Credit Union about savings options, including how to directly deposit part of every paycheck directly into your savings.
By putting your savings in a credit union account, you can resist the temptation to tap the funds when you're short of cash. That way, the money will always be there when a true emergency arises.

Call us today at (319) 266-7531. We can help.


Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Six Rules for Managing Credit Card Debt

credit card webIf you want to be the master of your credit card debt load, follow these key rules:

 1. Take inventory. How many credit cards do you have? What's the balance and minimum monthly payment on each? What's the total balance? If it's more than you thought or can afford, it's time to pare down.

 2. Check out the cost of your credit cards. What's the interest rate on each card? What's the annual fee? Does your card offer a grace period? If the card doesn't have a grace period, or if you carry over a balance, or take a cash advance, you're usually charged interest right away.

3. Get one low-fee or lower-interest card and use it wisely. Make Cedar Falls Community Credit Union your first stop when starting your search. Check to see if you can transfer existing debt from your various credit cards to your new lower-interest credit card.

 4. Make the largest monthly payment you can afford. Even though you may not be able to pay your balance in full, paying the monthly minimum may do little more than cover the accrued interest.

 5. Watch out for "teaser rates." Your mailbox may be brimming with unsolicited credit card offers that promise attractive low-interest rates. But if you read the fine print, you'll see that after six months or so the issuer may double the low introductory rate.

 6. If you get in over your head, don't bury it in the sand. If you're having trouble making your monthly payments, contact your creditors before they contact you. If you're already screening calls from bill collectors, or refusing to open your mail, you need help.

Contact Cedar Falls Community Credit Union at (319) 266-7531. We're here to help you get your finances back in order.


Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Can Your Hear Me Now?

phone man

'Can You Hear Me?' Scam Hooks Victims With a Single Word

That's the operational security advice being promulgated to Americans by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in response to an ongoing series of attacks designed to trick victims into uttering a single word.

The FCC says in a March 27 alert that the scam centers on tricking victims into saying the word "yes," which fraudsters record and later use to attempt to make fraudulent charges on a person's utility or credit card accounts.

"The scam begins when a consumer answers a call and the person at the end of the line asks, 'Can you hear me?' The caller then records the consumer's 'Yes' response and thus obtains a voice signature," the FCC warns. "This signature can later be used by the scammers to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone."

Fake Tech Support

This isn't the first time that fraudsters have "weaponized" the telephone.

Scammers have long phoned consumers, pretending to be from a government agency such as the Internal Revenue Service. Another frequent ploy is pretending to be from the support department of a technology firm, such as Microsoft or Facebook, and then trying to get victims to pay for bogus security software meant to fix nonexistent problems on their PC.

Authorities have made some related arrests. Last year, Indian police arrested 70 suspects as part of an investigation into a fake IRS call center scam.

Also last year, the FTC announced a $10 million settlement with a Florida-based tech-support scheme, run by an organization called Inbound Call Experts, also known as Advanced Tech support. The FTC and the state of Florida said the organization ran "services falsely claiming to find viruses and malware on consumers' computers."

Researchers Study Scammers

In a recent paper, "Dial One for Scam: A Large-Scale Analysis of Technical Support Scams," researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook described how the tech-support version of these scams work, as well as how they might be disrupted by targeting the infrastructure on which scammers rely.

Screenshot of a technical support scam that mimics a Windows "blue screen of death" to increase its trustworthiness. 

"Scammers use specific words in the content of a scam page to convince the users that their machines are infected with a virus," the researchers say.

The Stony Brook researchers designed a tool called ROBOVIC - for robotic victim - that found that of 5 million domains that it successfully connected to during a 36-week period beginning in September 2015, it logged 22,000 URLs as serving tech-support scams, connecting to a total of about 8,700 unique domain names.

But those 22,000 different web pages used a total of only 1,600 phone numbers, of which 90 percent were connected to one of four VoIP services: Bandwidth, RingRevenue, Twilio and WilTel.

The researchers also phoned 60 scam telephone numbers to log the social engineering tactics - aka trickery - used by scammers. The researchers found that on average, scammers waited until 17 minutes of a call elapsed before offering their services in exchange for money. Most would offer support packages that ranged from a one-time fix to multi-year support, with costs ranging from $69.99 to $999.99. Scammers would typically offer multiple options, then try to persuade victims to pick the middle-priced one, the researchers found.

Freelance attacks appear to be rare. "Through the process of interacting with 60 different scammers, we are now convinced that most, if not all, scammers are part of organized call centers," the researchers write.

Fake Support is Lucrative

These attacks are relatively easy to launch, inexpensive to run, potentially very lucrative and show no signs of stopping.

Peter Kruse, head of the security group at Danish IT-security firm CSIS, this week warned via Twitter that multiple websites were pretending to be related to the technical support group from Czech anti-virus software developer Avast and urging individuals to call one of the listed phone numbers.

Needless to say, these numbers don't lead to Avast, which develops free security software that's used by many consumers. Instead, the numbers go to call centers tied to fraudsters. Avast has repeatedly warned that this a well-worn scam, with attackers often claiming to be connected to Avast, Dell, Microsoft, Symantec or other technology firms.

Advice for Victims

There's no way to prevent criminals from running these types of scams.

But law enforcement and consumer rights groups have long urged victims to file a report, even if they didn't suffer any financial damage as a result.

For anyone targeted by the "yes" scam, the FCC recommends immediately reporting the incident to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker and to the FCC Consumer Help Center. The FCC's site also offers advice on tools for blocking robocalls, texts and marketing calls.

Anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of phone scammers, for example, by paying for fake tech support, can file a fraud report with their credit card company.

Authorities also recommend they report the attempt to relevant authorities, such as the FBI's IC3 Internet Complaint Center or to the U.K.'s ActionFraud. Law enforcement agencies use these reports as a form of crowdsourcing, helping them secure funding to battle these types of scams, as well as take them down.

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The Credit Union Difference: Reaching Out to Those In Need

Credit unions are unique in the world of financial institutions. Nowhere is the credit union difference more vivid than in the diverse ways they reach out to millions of low- and moderate-income Americans who seek basic financial services to realize their dreams.

The examples of outreach are heart-warming, and the results are life changing. Some credit unions offer individual development accounts--savings accounts with matched incentives--to low-income members who are saving for a home, education, or small business development. Others offer financial literacy training to members trying to re-enter the workforce, to people who are incarcerated, and to new Americans.

 Building bridges with the Hispanic community is an important goal for credit unions, as well as fostering entrepreneurship through business loans. Credit unions also offer alternatives to lenders who often take advantage of low-income people who are not using mainstream financial institutions. Coupled with financial literacy programs, these individuals are able to build savings accounts and improve financial well being.

Some credit unions offer financial counseling programs as well as programs for area schools, colleges, and universities. Student credit unions operate in many schools, allowing the credit union to work with the resources and needs of the school.

 And these are just a few of the many ways credit unions impact small and large communities across the country.
 

Cedar Falls Community Credit Union is here to serve you. Contact us at (319) 266-7531 to learn how we can help you realize your dreams.


Copyright 2012-2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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The Best Things College Students Can Do With Their Tax Refund

For our members who have recently graduated from school or are still in school, tax season can be a happy time financially. Many people will get a tax refund from the IRS, and alot of folks will squander that money before it has a chance to make it through one statement.

Here are some ways to spend it responsibly and feel good about it.

1. Let it grow. Consider putting all of that money or part of it into a high-yield savings account. Instead of just holding on to it, why not let it grow while it’s sitting in your savings? 

2. Invest. If you’ve been waiting on an injection of extra cash to take the first step, consider this your investment window. Finding the right investment opportunity for you and your financial outlook is much easier to do if you’ve got the cash on hand. 

3. Pay it off. This one ties in closely to suggestion No. 1. If you’ve got a credit card or loan accruing more interest monthly than you would gain in a CD or similar account, consider paying the credit card off. Take a look at your obligations and see if one of them can be knocked out all at once with a portion of that tax refund.

4. Give yourself a small treat. It’s all right to spend a little on yourself. You work hard on your budget, and, hopefully, figured out a financially responsible way to spend a major portion of that refund money. Take what’s left and buy yourself something fun.

Happy tax-refund season! Spend responsibly!


Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Why Credit Unions Want to Make Kids Financially Strong

All parents want their kids to grow up healthy.

financial educationBut most of the time that discussion focuses on getting them to eat more vegetables and spend less time in front of screens.

Too few think about their kids’ well-being in terms of their financial health.  In fact, one in four parents don’t even feel qualified to teach their kids about money because they themselves don’t feel like they’ve been good enough stewards of their own finances, according to a survey by the investment firm T. Rowe Price. And two-thirds of parents worry about setting a good financial example for their children.

A perilous future
Fewer and fewer workplaces offer guaranteed pensions, making saving for retirement the responsibility of the individual.  Yet mobile technology and targeted online ads are making shopping instantaneous, increasing the likelihood of young people finding themselves in personal debt and ever-ballooning student debt. And almost no young person uses a checkbook, let alone learns to balance one.

 On top of all that, only 17 states require a high-school course in personal finance. Perhaps that’s why 40% of young adults who live on their own still depend on their parents for money.

This is why credit unions are such a powerful resource for families. Credit unions recognize that kids learning to make smart money decisions is a quality-of-life issue, one that’s every bit as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Credit union strong
That’s why every April credit unions across the country celebrate National Credit Union Youth Month. Unlike other institutions, credit unions are not-for-profit, and one of their seven foundational principles is education. They genuinely want to see their members succeed and gain financial strength.

 So if you’re unsure how to teach your kids about money, start by talking to them. Look for teachable moments and bring the topic up naturally—without ever lecturing them.  Solicit their advice at the grocery store about what’s the best deal, and introduce the concept of money early with an allowance. Allow them to spend some of the money they earn, but also talk to them about the importance of giving and saving.

And lean on your credit union. Open a youth savings account and see what educational resources your credit union might offer. It could be one of the first steps you help your kids take toward a stronger, brighter future.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Elder Financial Exploitation

senior citizenTo con artists, down-on-their-luck relatives, or opportunistic acquaintances, senior citizens are gold mines. Dwell on that for a moment...

 Individuals over the age of 50 control 70% of the country’s wealth, and seniors between the ages of 65 and 74, with an average net worth of $1.06 million, have more assets than any other age group.
“That’s where the money is,” says Jay Haapala, AARP associate state director of community outreach in Minnesota. “If college kids had a bunch of disposable income lying around, criminals would be trying to figure out how to scam college kids.”

Dementia, disability, and decline can make it even easier for criminals. All told, it is a problem that costs American seniors billions of dollars every year.

Common forms of exploitation There are a lot of scams, unethical businesses, and unscrupulous individuals preying on seniors all the time. While the details vary, there are a few familiar scenarios.

Breach of trust The vast majority of elder financial abuse—as much as 90%, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association—is committed by caregivers or close family members. A son is added to a checking account to help manage Mom’s bills and then starts using the account to pay off gambling debts. Or Grandpa gives valuables to the housekeeper and eventually—at her suggestion—names her in the will.

Phone scams Someone calls, ostensibly from the IRS, saying that an individual has a tax bill that is going to rise with interest and fees unless paid immediately. Or someone calls with news that there is a problem with a credit card and they need a Social Security number and birth date to access account information to clear things up.

Phishing scams As more seniors head online, they grow more susceptible to phishing scams. Phishing emails look as though they come from legitimate sources such as banks or credit card issuers. They ask seniors to click on a link to enter account information in order to verify recent transactions or to rectify problems with accounts. Unfortunately, the links are fake, and criminals use them to gather personal account information, which they use to drain accounts or steal identities.

So, how do you protect yourself and your loved ones from elder financial abuse? Sign up on the Do Not Call Registry. This prevents businesses from contacting you. Those that do come through either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care. “Either way,” says Haapala, “you should not do business with them.”

Haapala also reminds seniors to conduct their personal business within the financial services system. Financial institutions have fraud protection services that limit an individual’s risk. They also have systems that make it possible to trace funds back to criminals in some instances.

 

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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