Medical Identity Theft: What to Do and How to Prevent It

Medicare is replacing its old cards with new ones. They contain an 11-digit code instead of a Social Security number. Unfortunately, even though the cards have not yet been issued, scammers are taking advantage of this change.

A caller pretending to be a Medicare representative will ask for payment in exchange for the new ID. Alternatively, the caller might claim to need the victim’s medical information to send out their new card. In reality, though, the cards are free and will be mailed automatically.

In another variation, a caller will wrongly insist that the victim must purchase Medicare’s prescription drug coverage or risk losing all coverage. 

In another ruse not limited to Medicare members, the caller asks for the victim’s checking account number and Social Security number to deposit a supposed refund from their insurer.

Once the scammer has the victim’s medical information, though, they can:

  • Pose as the victim to see a doctor,
  • Obtain prescriptions, and
  • File a false health claim.

Don’t be the next victim!  Here’s what you need to know about medical identity theft. 

The cost.
The average medical identity theft costs $13,500 to fix, but can affect other areas of life and home, such as:

  1. Loss of health coverage. Scammers might max out your benefit limits, leaving you with no coverage. 
  2. Ruined credit history. Scammers can destroy your credit history by racking up hospital bills in your name and then disappearing.
  3. False medical records. When the scammer receives treatment in your name, it’s documented on your medical records. This can be extremely dangerous when you seek medical attention in the future.
  4. Higher premiums. The scammer’s medical activity may cause your premiums to rise. 

Preventing medical scams.
Take proactive steps to ensure you’re not the next victim.

  • Know that Medicare will never call you. They always contact members via mail.
  • Be wary of suspicious-looking bills from third-party providers. If you receive any, alert your insurer immediately.
  • Study your Explanation of Benefits (EOB). If you spot treatments you don’t remember receiving, notify your provider.
  • Check your medical records. Always check them regularly for suspicious doctor visits, prescriptions or maladies.
  • Review your credit history often. If you see unfamiliar charges, immediately ask for a fraud alert and place a freeze on your credit.

Fixing your medical history.
If you spot an error on your medical records, it’s crucial that you correct it so it doesn’t affect your medical treatment in the future. Send a copy of the documents detailing the discrepancy to every medical professional and facility involved in your care. 

Fighting back.
If you’ve been victimized by medical identity theft, be sure to report it! Alert the FTC using their website at www.ftc.gov, or at 1-877-438-4338. If you are a member of Medicare, call 800-MEDICARE or visit www.Medicare.gov. Alternately, report the scam to your own insurance provider. 

Why The Money Talk is Important

Despite financial education being one of the most important lessons to shape our adult lives, it is not something many people learn until much later in life. As a parent, you have many “talks” with your children, but too often the “Money Talk” isn’t one that happens until it is too late.  

Respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2018 consumer survey indicated they considered lessons from parents extremely important to a child’s financial literacy. However, research suggests that’s not happening.

In that same survey, 61 percent of respondents said they received most of their financial education through experience and life lessons. Only 23 percent felt they had received financial education from home and – surprisingly – only 3 percent of Ohioans received financial education in the classroom.

As a result, Ohio’s teens may not be graduating high school with financial know-how.

Each year, The National Financial Educators Council administers a 30-question financial literacy test to participants ages 10 and up in all 50 states. Teens in Ohio, ages 15 to 18, averaged 60.32 percent on the test. Nationally, students of the same age scored an average of 61.11 percent

Parents want their children to have a good handle on finances before they leave the house in their late teens or early 20s, but most aren’t sharing the necessary wisdom to make that happen.

In the 8th annual Parents, Kids and Money survey, conducted by T. Rowe Price, 69 percent of parents have some reluctance discussing financial matters with kids. And, 35 percent of parents rated talking to their children about family finances as either very or extremely uncomfortable – ranking it alongside talks about death and drugs. Partly, parents may feel too self-conscious about their financial situation to be comfortable sharing advice with their children. This survey also found parents who have declared bankruptcy are 24 percent more reluctant to discuss money with their kids. And, parents carrying more than $5,000 in credit card debt are 14 percent more likely to feel uneasy having those financial conversations. 

“Financial literacy” is an easy term to define, but a more difficult one to put into practice. Here are some tips to help you equip your children with a bright financial future:

  • Set an example. Children who consistently see their parents pay the bills on time and keep a budget are more likely to adopt those practices in their own lives. Parents who have made financial mistakes should also share the experience with their children. That knowledge can prepare kids to avoid the same mistakes with their money in the future.
  • Make savings a tangible concept. Encourage younger kids to collect spare change in a clear jar or container so they can see their savings grow. Each time the kids want a small treat, parents can offer to put the money they would have used to buy the treat into the “savings jar,” instead. Once the jar is full, children can count the money and use the funds to purchase an extra-special treat. That way, they’ll associate a sense of excitement with savings. They’ll learn that delaying gratification can lead to a greater payoff down the road. Also, be sure to stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union during Youth Week from April 16th through April 21st to earn extra saving bonuses on deposits made to their youth accounts.
  • Have kids learn with their own money. Kids will learn the value of a dollar better if it’s their own. Younger children who are paid a small allowance for chores they complete around the house will learn the concept of working for money. Kids can then begin to spend their own money on some of the things they want. They’ll begin to appreciate what these items actually cost and will be more open to lessons about price comparison.
  • Get kids familiar with banking. Parents can make a trip to their financial institution an exciting event for younger kids. Let them in on the process – maybe even let them press the buttons on the ATM or help to fill out a deposit slip. They’ll feel included in adult chores and won’t feel intimidated by banking later in life.
  • Get help. DoverPhila offers Banzai, an award-winning, web based financial literacy game, for free to its community. The credit union also offers other programs and events geared towards fostering financial literacy in kids, teens, and adults; as well as a financial counselor.

 For more information about financial literacy call the credit union at 330-364-8874.

ATM Update

We want to bring you up to date on what we’ve learned regarding the ATM skimming event that occurred in February and how we’re working to ensure all of our ATMs are secure going forward.  But first, we again apologize for the inconvenience and any anxiety caused by this event, and especially to those who were impacted.  At this time, all members with known fraud have been reimbursed with all funds restored to their accounts.

The skimming device that was used on the West High Avenue ATM was a high-tech, razor-thin, skimmer that was placed deep inside the card reader by criminals.  The current anti-skimming software on that particular machine was not able to detect this device, and an individual inspecting the machine would not be able to see this device.

We have contracted with Diebold-Nixdorf, an international leader in banking technology and security, to employ a new, state-of-the-art card reader built with enhanced security and fraud protection measures.  The new card readers will be noticeable as you will insert your card into the machine long edge first. When inserted incorrectly, on-screen prompts at the machine will guide you through your transaction and the experience will remain intuitive.  These are the first card readers of this type activated by any financial institution in our service area. 

We take the security of our entire banking operation seriously, and we come to work every day with a desire to earn your business and maintain the trust you’ve placed in us.  It remains our goal to provide the best possible products and services to meet our members’ financial needs. 

DoverPhila ATMs will be updated accordingly.  Please be advised the ATM will be down most of the day during the update.

Main – completed March 22nd
New Phila – March 26th
Uhrichsville – March 27th
Dover – March 28th
Newcomerstown – March 29th

Park Street & Drug Mart - TBD

Rite Aid Acquisition Affects ATM Access

A recent acquisition of more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores by Walgreens Boots Alliance has affected the surcharge-free access at Ohio Rite Aid ATM locations.  As of March 15, 2018, DoverPhila members will continue to have surcharge-free access at two Rite Aid locations in Tuscarawas County – New Philadelphia and Uhrichsville.  All other Ohio Rite Aid ATMs will incur surcharges. 

Due to this recent change, DoverPhila has joined the MoneyPass® ATM network, effective March 26, 2018, which will increase the surcharge-free ATM locations to over 25,000 across the United States; however, you will receive a fee* for using an ATM not owned by DoverPhila.  For more information regarding this, please feel free to contact our ATM Department.

*Fee - a charge from DoverPhila for processing a transaction from another financial institution's ATM.

Update On Recent Fraudulent Activity

DoverPhila Members: Upon further investigation, it is apparent a skimmer was installed on the ATM at our New Philadelphia branch.  The estimated exposure window for debit cards is February 22, 2018 through February 25, 2018. As a precaution, we checked our other ATM locations and they are free of any external devices.  If you suspect that fraudulent activity has occurred with any of your DoverPhila account(s), please contact us immediately. You can do so by contacting our ATM Department at 330-364-8874. We are diligently working to restore the missing funds to our member’s accounts and will close all impacted debit cards and reissue new ones.

We are currently working with the New Philadelphia Police Department regarding this matter.  As we have updated information, we will provide those details.

To help minimize potential fraud, please ask about (or download) DoverPhila’s My Mobile Money app - this will help to control and monitor debit card usage anywhere and at any time using your smartphone.

DoverPhila Offering Award-Winning Financial Literacy Program for Free

Area residents are getting a free education in how to manage their money. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to make the curriculum available to the community and 10 schools in Tuscarawas County, completely free.

"Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program. Kids have their own bank accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life," Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. "But because DoverPhila is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it's important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world. DoverPhila realizes that, and they're doing something about it."

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 35,000 teachers and available in all 50 states.

“We’ve offered time, money, industry experience, and a variety of credit union resources to help our schools teach personal finance in the classroom,” Shana Simmons, Director of Marketing & Member Services, said. “Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget – but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges, and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings, and more.”

“Too often students get out of school and they just aren't ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top. We're excited to work with DoverPhila to improve financial literacy in local schools.

Those interested in using the Banzai program can click here for more information.

New Year, New You, New Budget

Just like swearing off chocolate and carbs, sticking to a household budget is a New Year’s resolution easier made than accomplished. In fact, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2017 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, last year only two in five U.S. adults said they had a budget and kept close track of their spending throughout the year.

Everybody knows it’s important to track personal finances and maintain your financial health. So, why do Americans have such a difficult time sustaining a budget?

It likely doesn’t have much to do with a lack of money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household in America makes $74,664, well above the $18,871 national poverty line for a family of three. It’s also unlikely that consumers are too busy to keep up with their budgets. Some budgeting apps like Wally and Mint, can track spending and income with minimal attention from the user.

Financial planning and psychology experts believe the real reason people struggle with budgeting is psychological. According to an article in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, humans only have a finite amount of willpower. We can only restrict ourselves so long before we indulge. Just like dieting, people tend to see budgeting as restrictive; therefore, struggle to preserve the motivation to stick with it.

As you ramp-up your drive for 2018, here are some tips to help you exercise good budgeting habits and overcome a craving to spend.

  • Don’t mindlessly spend: If you don’t feel you have enough money, you could be spending money unnecessarily. Search the corners of your budget for empty spending that isn’t serving you. Many financial blogs offer creative tips to help with this. Check out Lauren Greutman’s list of 13 Things You Should Never Pay For.
  • Make time: If you don’t feel you have enough time to track spending, try finding a simple solution – like an app. Phone apps such as Wally and Mint track spending and income for you. They require minimum attention and time.
  • Start small: It takes weeks to form a new habit, and the same thing applies to tracking your income and expenses. In the beginning, keep it simple. If your spending plan is too complicated or restrictive, you will not stick to it.
  • Budget with a friend: If you don’t feel confident, get some help! Apps, financial blogs, and spreadsheets might help if you’re a little stuck in your budgeting process. But if you don’t even know where to start, consider seeking help from a trusted family member or a financial expert. Your local credit union is dedicated to financial literacy and can offer help and advice for your unique budget.

To learn more about how a credit union can help you be financially fit, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org and find a credit union in your area.

DoverPhila Introduces New Products While Continuing to Give Back

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union continues to strive in the financial industry while giving back as it wraps up another successful year.

The credit union was able to give back $1.2 million to its members. DoverPhila is a community-focused, financial cooperative controlled by its members making it possible for it to reward its members with a bonus dividend. The credit union’s financial success is also shared with its members through other fiscal opportunities such as low cost auto loans, higher interest rates on certificates of deposits (CDs), and a vast array of other products and services.

The credit union also continued to build its relationships within Tuscarawas County through various sponsorships that included Union Hospital’s Run for Home half-marathon, United Way of Tuscarawas County’s Color Us United 2k and Rock ‘n Run 5k, Tusky Days Festival, East Central Ohio ESC’s Family Reading Festival, New Towne Mall’s Wishes & Wants, and Tuscarawas County Public Library Bookin’ It 5k Walk/Run. The credit union also donated to area organizations such as United Way of Tuscarawas County, Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio, Leadership Tuscarawas, Tuscarawas Clinic for the Working Uninsured, Kent State University Tuscarawas, Tuscarawas County Philharmonic, Tuscarawas County Community Hospice, Trinity Hospital Twin City’s mammography unity expansion, and many more.

This year also marked the construction of the credit union’s new North Dover location and the launch of new financial resources. These services include the My Mobile Money App that allows members to control how their DoverPhila debit cards are used, a web-based financial literacy program called Banzai that is available for free to area schools and community organizations, and a new mortgage service area available on its website that offers various mortgage calculators along with prequalification and full-residential loan applications.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is excited to welcome 2018 as it continues to serve and meet the needs of its members while building community. Anyone who lives, works, and attends church or school in Tuscarawas County can share in its success by making a simple $5 deposit at any of its five locations in Dover, New Philadelphia, Newcomerstown, and Uhrichsville. Please call a member service representative at 330-364-8874 for more information about opening an account.

Everything You Want to Know about Bitcoin (…But Were Afraid to Google)

What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a form of money that is entirely digital. The U.S. has dollars, Europe has Euros and the internet has bitcoins. The fact that bitcoin is digital isn’t all that interesting – because, in reality, an estimated 92% of all money is digital. Bitcoin is fascinating because it’s decentralized. That means no single nation, bank or institution controls it. Instead, the bitcoin currency is administered and propagated by bitcoin users.

How Does Bitcoin Work?
Bitcoin works much like a regular currency. You can buy and sell digitally and you can use bitcoin to make “real life” purchases if the vendor accepts bitcoins. You can invest with bitcoin, exchange your bitcoins for other forms of currency, and transfer bitcoins. You can also create new bitcoins through a process called mining. This is where bitcoin’s decentralized system becomes super-interesting. Rather than a large financial institution printing money, anyone can mine new bitcoins.

“Miners” solve complex mathematical problems, which validate other bitcoin transactions within the bitcoin network. This system of peer-validation is the bedrock of the revolutionary blockchain technology that makes Bitcoin so secure and allows for peer-to-peer value transferring. For every “block” of transactions successfully validated, the miner is rewarded new bitcoins.

Is Bitcoin Legal?
Yes. Bitcoin has an infamous reputation due to its ability to be traded securely and anonymously without the regulation of a centralized institution. It has been associated with money-laundering and illegal purchases on the web’s black market – but it’s still legal.

Of course, as with all currencies, bitcoin is illegal when you use it to purchase illegal products.

How can I Earn Bitcoins?
There are several ways to get into the bitcoin market. The first of these is mining. As mentioned above, mining is the process of solving mathematical problems that are available to anyone in the bitcoin network. Miners provide transaction validation for the network and are rewarded with bitcoins.

In 2009, you could earn 50 BTC per “block” mined. Today, it’s considerably less, at just 12.5 BTC. Also, these mathematical problems are a lot harder than what you’ve encountered in high school calculus. Lastly, you’ll need to invest in specialized computers to tackle these problems.

You can also get bitcoins by working for them. You’ll find lots of job postings that pay in bitcoins on the internet.

There are also high-risk ways to get bitcoins, such as gambling and currency trading.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Bitcoin Earnings?
The IRS views your bitcoins as property rather than currency; so every transaction you make within the bitcoin network will impact your capital. In addition, if you are paid in any crypto-currency, this income will be taxed.

In many ways, bitcoins are subject to the same tax laws as regular currencies, including regulations, rules regarding reporting, and sales tax.

If you use bitcoins frequently, check with your accountant. Keep accurate records of your transactions so you can report your bitcoin income. It must be recorded in U.S. dollars at the exchange rate it was valued for at the time of the transaction.

Surviving the Holidays with Your Sanity Intact

With crowded stores and an ever-growing list of people to shop for, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to overspend on your holiday shopping. No worries, though; we’ve got you covered! Read on for pre-and post-holiday tips and have yourself a jolly December without breaking the bank.

 6 Pre-Holidays Tips

1. Revise your gift list
Chances are, lots of the people you exchange gifts with would be relieved to be taken off your list. Talk to co-workers and acquaintances about just exchanging cards this year, or make a deal to only exchange homemade or inexpensive gifts. This way, you can focus on buying special gifts for those closest to you instead of generic gifts for everyone you’ve ever met.

2. Organize a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa
Still got a mile-long list? Try one of these creative solutions! A Yankee Swap or a Secret Santa activity saves money and stress while adding a bit of intrigue to any party. Everyone involved only needs to bring a single gift – and it’s always fun. Set a reasonable price cap on gifts so no one walks out with a candy cane while the person next to them hauls off a flat-screen TV.

3. Bake holiday treats
Reduce the financial weight of the season by whipping up your own holiday treats instead of buying gifts. It’s hard to find the perfect gift, but no one turns down a tin of homemade holiday cookies!

4. Make a budget and stick to it
We all plan to stick to a budget this holiday season – make this the year it really happens. Set an absolute limit to how much you will spend on the holidays.  This will encourage you to plan your spending rather than grabbing impulse items as you shop.

5. Make use of holiday deals….but don’t get distracted
When prices drop, we sometimes go wild, snatching up random items because we don’t want to miss out on those “crazy, low holiday prices.” Make use of these deals by buying items on your list at a discounted price – but don’t buy things you don’t need.

6. Rethink giving
Instead of running to the mall again, think of other ways you can give that will make the world a better place and truly brighten someone’s holiday. It’s the perfect time of year to volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charity organizations.

2 Post-Holiday Tips

1. Use those gift cards
Gift cards are a typical holiday gift, but they’re often forgotten and unused. Put your gift cards in your wallet and spend them creatively.  If you’re not a fan of on-the-go coffee, use your Starbucks gift card to pick up ground coffee beans to use at home.  Rent a movie with your iTunes card.  Whatever it might be, just use those gift cards!

2. Re-gift
You’ll probably wind up with a bunch of gifts you don’t want.  Hold onto them; many gifts can be re-gifted next year or used as birthday gifts throughout the year.

Credit Union Collects Over $30,000 for United Way

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union collected over $30,000 for United Way through its annual in-house campaign involving corporate, employees, and credit union members.

The United Way campaign started on Monday, October 23rd and concluded on Saturday, November 11th. Credit union members who participated in the campaign received a pledge card that hung in the lobbies of each DoverPhila location. With members’ lobby pledge cards, credit union employees’ donations, and a corporate gift from DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, the annual campaign raised a total of $30,110.71 for United Way.

United Way is a local nonprofit organization with one goal in mind – improving the community. By partnering with area organizations, United Way can make this goal a reality. The monetary donations go towards providing a better future for area youth, creating a healthier community, and helping people in crisis.

For more information or to donate to United Way, call 330-343-7772 or visit www.tuscunitedway.org.

DoverPhila Partners with Area Organizations to Promote Financial Literacy

OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County, United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc., and DoverPhila Federal Credit Union are partnering to offer a financial literacy workshop for area residents. “Master Your Money – Simple Tips to Improve Cash Flow” will be held Tuesday, December 5th, 10:00AM to 12:00PM at OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County at 1260 Monroe Street in New Philadelphia. 

The workshop will offer easy and straightforward methods to reaching financial goals. Topics include tackling expenses, increasing savings and improving credit.

“Many of the customers that we serve struggle with numerous financial difficulties due to lack of employment or other employment related issues. This collaboration with United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc. and DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is a positive step in helping area residents become financially stable and achieve financial independence,” said JoAnn Breedlove, COO of OhioMeansJobs Centers in Stark and Tuscarawas Counties. 

“This collaboration is a great example of how United Way brings together organizations with common missions and goals,” said Robin Waltz, President of United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc.

For further details contact OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County at 330-364-9777. Pre-registration is suggested but not required.

How Do Merchant Data Breaches Affect Your Identity?

Every year millions of Americans become victims of fraud due to merchant data breaches. And, with the recent Equifax breach, which affected 145.5 million people, chances are your information has been compromised. 

Although most consumers have probably only heard about a few breaches, more than 1,100 data security breaches have occurred thus far this year exposing more than 171 million data records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Many credit unions are working hard to implement debit and credit card chip technology, but they do not prevent online merchant transaction fraud. As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve in both sophistication and scale, the need to safeguard your data has never been more critical.

Credit unions work hard to protect their members' data security including blocking and re-issuing cards as needed. When fraud occurs, they work with members to remove the fraudulent charges and help members keep their hard-earned money. When the merchants cause a data breach, they pass along the costs of their poor security to credit unions and banks. Expenses like this are making it harder for credit unions to offer credit cards with low interest rates and free debit cards with checking accounts. With more and more merchant data breaches occurring each year consumer identity fraud will only continue to increase, placing your private information into the hands of criminals.

So, what do you do if your identity is compromised? Here are some tips and resources to help:

  • Verify fraud. If unauthorized account transactions occur, contact your financial institution or company where fraud has occurred to report unknown charges.
  • Update your passwords. Once fraud is confirmed, change account logins and passwords. Passwords should be robust with multiple types of characters (upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols).
  • Take control. To avoid additional compromises place an initial fraud alert by calling one of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; TransUnion: 800-680-7289).
  • Report theft. To begin an identity recovery plan report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.

To learn more about how merchant data breaches are affecting your credit union visit www.stopthedatabreaches.com.

DoverPhila Wins Times-Reporter 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce that it has won first place in the Best Bank, Best Mortgage Lender, Best Financial Services, and Best Financial Institution categories for the Times-Reporter 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

There roughly 3,000 registered voters and over 170,000 total votes during the Readers’ Choice Awards’ voting process. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union would like to thank everyone who voted in these categories.

“We are truly grateful and excited to be a part of the Times-Reporter Readers’ Choice Awards. There are some excellent financial institutions serving this area so receiving the titles of Best Bank, Best Financial Institution, Best Mortgage Lender, and Best Financial Services of 2017 means a lot to us,” said Jack Dooling, Chief Executive Officer and President of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union.  “This credit union was formed over 60 years ago and our mission has always been to build community while providing the best financial services and products to our members. Knowing that our members believe that we are doing exactly that, gives us a sense of pride in the work we do.”

The annual Readers' Choice Awards celebrates the best businesses, organizations, people, and more through votes of area residents. The awards are put on by The Times-Reporter, a GateHouse Media Inc. publication that is published daily in New Philadelphia, Ohio. For more information, visit www.timesreporter.com.

DoverPhila has been proudly serving the financial needs of members who live, work, and attend church or school in Tuscarawas County since 1953. It has offices in Dover, New Philadelphia, Newcomerstown, and Uhrichsville.

Do You Know the Credit Union Difference?

Credit unions help consumers reach their financial dreams through its people helping people philosophy. Respondents in a 2017 Consumer Survey don by the Ohio Credit Union League were asked what they found to be the most significant difference between credit unions and other financial institutions. Here were the results:

  • 35% of respondents: lower interest rates on loans
  • 34% of respondents: fewer and lower fees compared to other financial institutions
  • 24% of respondents: credit unions are member-owned, with profits going back to benefit members

Credit unions are known for their service-centric model, and 90 percent of the respondents to the League’s survey rated the service they received from credit unions as “outstanding.” The American Customer Satisfaction Index consistently shows credit unions deliver excellent service to members. The most recent report, on its 100-point scale, ACSI said credit unions received an overall score of 82, up from 81 the previous year.

The World Council of Credit Unions data indicates there are 231.2 million credit union members worldwide who belong to 68,880 credit unions in 109 countries. According to the Credit Union National Association there were 110.6 million members of 5,812 credit unions in the United States as of June 2017.

In Ohio, the state’s 284 credit unions serve 2.9 million members. According to a CUNA’s Member Benefits Index, by choosing a credit union as their financial institution, those members received more than $206 million in direct financial benefits in the past year.

Credit unions serve a common field of membership based on characteristics such as a geographical area, employee groups, or membership in an organization. Every resident of Ohio is eligible to join a credit union, and deposits are protected by the federal government’s National Credit Union Administration insurance or the private American Share Insurance. So, if you’re trying to decide on a financial institution, keep the following in mind:

  • Do your research: Online reviews, consumer surveys, and regulatory agency reports are all good resources to find out how financial institutions treat consumers and how business is conducted. The FDIC (banks) and NCUA (credit unions) each have searchable databases on the size, financial health, and insurance status of the financial institutions they regulate
  • Compare your needs with their strengths: If you primarily conduct your financial transactions online, then you will want an institution that offers online or mobile banking. If ATM fees are an issue, then look for surcharge-free networks or institutions that reimburse you for fees. If you need advice on planning for the future, choose an institution with a strong financial wellness program. If you need a car loan or a mortgage, look for the lowest interest rates on loans
  • Choose to be involved: If you have an account with a credit union, you are both a member and an owner. This process guarantees you a voice and ensures that your credit union is looking out for your best financial interests and not that of a small group of stockholders.

Whether you are looking for your first loan, would like to start a small business, or just want to get rid of debt, a credit union can help. They offer many of the same services as other financial institutions, but are not-for-profit. They treat you like a person, not a dollar sign.

Six Rules for Managing Credit Card Debt

If 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 is more than you thought or can afford, then it is time to cut down.

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

3. Get one low-fee or lower-interest card and use it wisely. Make DoverPhila Federal 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 will see that after six months or so the issuer may double the low introductory rate. 

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

Contact Fred Weingarth at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. He can help you get your finances back on track.

Avoid the Payday Lending Trap

Here is the scenario: you are in a financial bind and need some quick cash. You saw payday loan stores all over town and think “maybe I should try that…” 

Do not fall into that trap! Getting a loan with a payday lender could send you down a deep hole that may take years to get out of.

Here is how payday lenders catch and hold consumers:
To receive cash, you write a check to them for the amount plus the finance charge – which the lender will cash the next time you get a paycheck. They will tell you finance charges range from $15 to $50 per $100, but they will not tell you exactly what the interest rate (or APR) is charged. Interest rates can run from 390 to 780%, and if your state does not cap the maximum cost then the rates can be even higher.

Here is the math to figure out what you end up paying by borrowing $400 from a payday lending store with a $50 finance charge and a 14-day term:

  • Divide the finance charge by the amount you are borrowing: $50/$400 = .125
  • Multiply the answer by the number of days in a year: .125 x 365 = 45.625
  • Divide the answer by the number of days in the term:  45.625/ 14 = 3.2589
  • Move the decimal point to the right two places. This is your APR: 325.89%

At the end of your 14-day term, you have to pay them $450. But if you cannot pay it off entirely then you will have to roll the balance over and pay another $50 fee, as well as interest charges. At the end of your second term, your balance is almost $600 and if you cannot pay that off entirely then you roll it over again. See how quickly your $400 loan can cost you thousands of dollars?

So what are some alternatives?

  • Ask your employer for an advance on your next paycheck.
  • Consider asking family members or friends for a short-term loan. 
  • If you were a military service member, then you may be eligible for short-term lending or emergency relief assistance. Contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647, or visit www.militaryonesource.mil for information.
  • A personal loan through DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. We offer loans with low rates and flexible terms.
  • Open a low-cost, low-interest credit card through DoverPhila and use it only for emergencies.

No one wants to find themselves in a financial emergency, but there are much better options than turning to a payday lender. To find out more about payday lending and learn about safer ways to get quick cash, visit the Consumer Federation of America webpage www.paydayloaninfo.org/consumer-help.

If you want help getting control of your finances then visit DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. We are committed to helping our members gain financial well-being and offer one-on-one financial counseling as well as additional resources to help you take control of your finances. Contact Fred Weingarth at 330-364-8874 for more information.

Shop Smart and Save This Back-to-School Season

It is getting to be that time of year when most families are thinking about purchasing school supplies for the upcoming year. Back-to-school shopping is the second-largest consumer spending category after holiday shopping, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation and Research Now. An additional survey conducted by Deloitte found that 32 percent of families expected to spend more on school supplies this coming year because either their children needed more items, because materials were increasing in price, or because students needed more expensive supplies.

An increase in back-to-school expenses can be a strain on family budgets. In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending climbed to 55 percent over the past 10 years with the average family spending $107.76. A family could end up spending an estimate of $674 on back-to-school shopping when including other expenses such as clothing, shoes, and electronics,

Despite rising costs, back-to-school shopping does not have to be a budget-buster. A little pre-planning and early shopping can help avoid extra spending. Nationally, 73 percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop a month to three weeks before the start of school.

Here are some ways to shop smart during the back-to-school season:

  • Timing Matters: Look for end-of-summer sales and tax-free holidays, especially on big ticket items. In Ohio, the tax-free holiday starts on Friday, August 4, 2017, at 12:00 a.m. and ends on Sunday, August 6, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. To learn more about this tax-free holiday weekend, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation website.
  • Plan Ahead: Before making new purchases, take an inventory of supplies already available around the house. From there, make a list of items still needed. Two-thirds of consumers are likely to buy more than what is on their list, so be sure to stick to a shopping plan.
  • Avoid Fancy Supplies: Instead of spending money on the brightest, shiniest, and glitteriest supplies with a licensed logo – which adds cost – create do-it-yourself art projects for kids to decorate their own supplies.
  • Use Technology to Find Deals: Let technology help save money by doing an online coupon search, monitor favorite stores’ website and social media accounts to get advance notice of sales, and sign up for coupon links.
  • Stock Up: If there are good deals for certain supplies that have an on-going need then stock up on those items in case something runs out, gets lost, or breaks.

To learn about credit unions and how they can help plan for the back-to-school season, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.

DoverPhila to Host Annual Kids’ Club Day

Mark your calendars for DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s annual DP’s Kids Club Day. The family-fun event is scheduled for Saturday, August 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the credit union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover.

This year, the credit union is partnering with area organizations such as 5th Day Aqua, Tuscarawas County YMCA, Tuscarawas County Public Library, and STEAM Centers to provide even more family fun. Area youth ages 12 and under will have the opportunity to interact with a 20-gallon marine touch tank that features aquatic life from American beaches; to stay active with agility ladders, hula hoops, and 9 Square in the Air; to read and check out books, sign up for programs, receive a library card, and play games with a mobile library; to tap into their creative juices with activities focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and math from a pop-up museum; to bounce their way through inflatables; and much, much more. This free event will also include take-home, goody bags and pizza along with half-hour drawings of prizes donated by local businesses and organizations.

Check out the DoverPhila Federal Credit Union Facebook page for more event information, updates, and sneak peeks of what else the credit union has planned.

The Best Time to Buy a Car

Did you know that shopping at the right time can boost your chances of getting a really good car deal? Dealerships and individual salespeople have quotas to meet, so purchasing a vehicle during the last few days of a month, in late summer and early fall, or even around a major holiday like Christmas can often be the best time to make deals. Potential buyers should even consider shopping after very bad weather—when the roads clear just after a snowstorm, for instance. Any time when few people are out and about is a good time to be shopping for a car.

As auto companies get ready for their annual new-model introduction, dealers are eager to get rid of the old models. Usually this type of model-year shopping works best in July, August, and early September ahead of the traditional Oct. 1 start of the model year. Also consider late December when almost everyone is at the mall rushing to finish holiday shopping.

Although picking the right time of year to go car shopping can potentially help you get the best deal, you should still be prepared with research and a pragmatic target price so you can make the most of your good timing.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to find once-elusive cost data that will tell you how ready a dealer is to deal on a given model. Websites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com), Edmunds.com, and MSN Autos (autos.msn.com) show the dealer cost or invoice price in addition to the list price or manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP). Whenever you are shopping, always start negotiating from the invoice price, not the MSRP. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds also show what typical consumers actually paid for a given model in your region based on your zip code. If you are shopping for a slow-selling model, you can aim for a deal near invoice price and sometimes even lower. Make sure you do not let the sales person bring the rebate into the negotiations. You are entitled to that from the manufacturer no matter what price you negotiate. 

Even if you get a great deal, do not forget the cardinal rule of car buying: Plan ahead for your financing. Get pre-approved auto financing from DoverPhila Federal Credit Union before you ever go car shopping.