Tax Reform 101: 5 Reasons You Should Start Planning for Next Year Now

Even if you didn’t owe money this past tax season it’s more important than ever to plan for next tax season now. The idea of tax planning isn’t anything new, but with so many changes under the new tax reform law, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union wanted to break down the five reasons to start planning, and the moves you can make now to help you save money on your taxes when you file.

Five Reasons to Start Planning
1. Lower tax rates, more money. One of the biggest changes under the new tax law that may impact how much you need to have withheld from your paycheck is the reduced tax rates. Tax rates were reduced about 1 – 3% for the majority of taxpayers so you may be seeing more money in your paycheck. Although the IRS adjusted the withholding tables that employers use to produce the correct amount of tax withholding for people with simpler tax situations, for instance, those who only take the standard deduction, the withholding tables don’t reflect some of the other changes that impact more involved tax returns like the reduction of some itemized deductions.

 2. Elimination of personal and dependent exemptions. Under the new tax law the personal and dependent exemptions of $4,050 were eliminated. If you are married and have a few kids, the elimination of your personal and dependent exemptions can mean a big reduction in the number of write-offs you once had.

3. Increase in the Child Tax Credit. Although you’re no longer able to take the dependent deduction, the new tax reform law increased the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. The law also adds a new, non-refundable credit of $500 for dependents other than children. Finally, it raises the income threshold at which these benefits phase out from $110,000 for a married couple to $400,000, which means more people will be eligible for the credit. The Child Tax Credit is for kids under the age of 17. You may see a change in your taxes this year if your youth celebrated a 17th birthday.

4. Changes if you’re a homeowner. If you are a homeowner or you are considering buying your dream home, some of the changes in the new tax law are very important for you. As an existing homeowner, you may see fewer tax deductions that lower your tax liability especially if you live in a state with high property taxes since the new law limits the amount of state and local property, income, and sales taxes that can be deducted to $10,000. In the past, these taxes have generally been fully tax deductible. Due to the cap on these tax deductions, you may now also have to take the standard deduction on your taxes instead of taking itemized deductions since the standard deduction has almost doubled. Don’t worry about knowing if you take the standard deduction or itemized deduction at tax time.

If you are considering purchasing a new home this year, one thing to keep in mind is the law also caps the amount of mortgage indebtedness on new home purchases on which interest can be deducted at $750,000 down from $1,000,000 in the former law if you already own a home. If you are trying to make a decision between purchasing in a high property state like California or a state with lower property prices, knowing about these changes could help you with your decision.

5. Elimination of tax deductions. The new tax reform law eliminated several popular tax breaks starting in tax year 2018 (the one you file in 2019) like miscellaneous itemized deductions. This includes deductions such as job search expenses, unreimbursed work expenses, investment expenses and tax preparation fees, exceeding 2% of adjusted gross income as well as moving expenses.


What You Can Do to Start Planning Now?
Adjust your withholding allowances. One of the best things you can do is to use the TurboTax updated W-4 calculator to boost your tax refund — or your take-home pay.

Reduce your taxable income. You can decrease your taxable income by making smart money moves throughout the year like investing in your 401K or IRA. Also, don’t forget expenses like paying student loan interest can be tax deductible and will decrease your taxable income at tax time.

As a member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you have access to TurboTax at an affordable price. TurboTax is always up to date with the latest forms and 100% accurate calculations. There is no fretting your taxes when you use TurboTax. You can file your taxes with complete confidence – and get your biggest possible refund, guaranteed. Click here to access TurboTax and your savings!

2018 Marks Another Successful Year for DoverPhila

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union continues to strive in the financial industry while giving back as it wraps up its 65th year of serving Tuscarawas County.

The credit union gave back $1.5 million to its members. DoverPhila is a community-focused, not-for-profit financial institution controlled by its members making it possible to reward those 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.

DoverPhila also gave back to its youngest members. To recognize youth members and their importance to the continued growth and success of the credit union, DoverPhila gave DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver account holders a $10 holiday bonus. To further the giving, the total holiday bonus amount of over $14,000 was matched and then donated to the local Salvation Army.

The credit union continued to establish relationships within Tuscarawas County through several sponsorships that included Union Hospital’s Run for Home, 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, and many youth athletic groups. The credit union donated to area organizations such as United Way of Tuscarawas County, Rainbow Connection, Leader’s Edge Anti-Virus Youth Character Education program, the local Salvation Army, Leadership Tuscarawas, Tuscarawas Clinic for the Working Uninsured, Kent State University Tuscarawas, Trinity Hospital Twin City, Tuscarawas County Philharmonic, Tuscarawas County Community Hospice, and many more.

This year marked considerable development and investment for the credit union. In mid-2018, the construction of an administrative building started behind the credit union’s main office located on Fillmore Avenue in Dover. The completion date is scheduled for early 2019. There was significant growth with its financial literacy initiative as it welcomed a second financial counselor, sponsored financial literacy in over 20 area high schools and elementary schools, and joined forces with OhioMeansJobs and United Way of Tuscarawas County to provide financial programs and resources to the community. The credit union also invested in new, state-of-the-art card readers with enhanced security and fraud protection at all ATMs. It’s the first financial institution in Tuscarawas County to provide this type of software.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is excited to welcome 2019 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.

Warm Up to the Bill Pay Winter Sweepstakes

Image: Bill Pay Sweepstakes

Pay bills online with DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s online bill pay in December and January for entries into the 2018 Bill Pay Sweepstakes. Two cash prizes of $5000 will be awarded EACH month during the promotion!

To enter for a chance to win, complete one of these options:

  • Add 5 new payees to DoverPhila’s bill pay. Schedule recurring payments to ensure you are entered each month.

  • Make 5 or more online bill payments.

Online bill pay is convenient, secure, and a smart way to pay your bills. Sign up today at www.dpfcu.org if you’re not already paying your bills with the credit union’s online bill pay.

More information and the official rules for the 2018 Bill Pay Sweepstakes is available here: https://tinyurl.com/ycfk7ob2.

To participate in the sweepstakes visit https://billpaysweepstakes.com/dpfcu.

DoverPhila Gives Back to Youth Members and the Community

Image: DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver members present a check to the local Salvation Army

Image: DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver members present a check to the local Salvation Army

The holidays came early for DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s youngest members and its local Salvation Army.

On December 7, the credit union gave a $10 holiday gift to its DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver members – over 1,400 youth. The $14,000 amount was matched and then donated to the Salvation Army of Tuscarawas County.

The Salvation Army is a global and local organization that consists of dedicated staff and committed volunteers that work every day within communities to provide basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Beyond those basic needs, The Salvation Army invests time in the human spirit by offering counseling, education programs, recovery/support programs, and spiritual support for those willing to accept it.

“Today’s youth is our community’s future. It is our fiscal responsibility to build a strong community and to best serve our members,” said Jack Dooling, Chief Executive Officer and President of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. “What better way to do that than by rewarding youth members for taking the initiative to be financially responsible while also giving back to an organization that is dedicated to serving that same community.”

The credit union is proud to offer specialized savings accounts that are designed for youth ages 17 and under. DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver accounts encourage members to adopt healthy financial habits at an early age. The accounts offer no annual fees, competitive interest rates, and dividends to teach youth that saving money always pays. Each DP’s Kids Club and cu$aver member also has access to newsletters, contests, saving incentives, exclusive events, and more.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union has been proudly serving the financial needs of its members and community for 65 years. It has offices in Dover, New Philadelphia, Newcomerstown, and Uhrichsville. Those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Tuscarawas County can become a member of the credit union with a simple $5 deposit. Visit www.dpfcu.org for more information.

Don't Be A Victim of Social Security Fraud

Any of the hundreds of scams around today can make you feel like we live in a world gone mad. How cruel can someone be to con a poor victim out of thousands of dollars?

But one of the most heartless scams making the rounds is the one targeting the elderly who depend on Social Security benefits for basic living needs. Victims may be left with no resources at all when they are tricked out of their benefits or their accounts are emptied. Worse yet, scammers are fully aware that the elderly make for easy victims. Many older Americans are from a bygone era in which anyone on the phone could be trusted. They haven’t grown up in a society that knows to constantly look over their shoulders and to cover their keypads when punching in a PIN. The elderly can be naïve and trusting, and it is this endearing naivety that can make them fall prey to scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a recent surge in Social Security scams which, unfortunately, are often successful.

Here’s how these scams work:
The victim receives a phone call from an alleged Social Security employee telling them their benefits have been suspended and must be reactivated. The caller claims the suspension is due to suspicious account activity or that it happened because of a computer glitch. To lift the suspension, the scammer says, the victim must share their personal information, including full legal name, phone number, Social Security number, and financial account information.

Alternatively, the victim will receive an automated voice message instructing them to call a specific number to correct a problem with their Social Security benefits. Upon calling the given phone number, the victim is asked to provide their personal information.

In yet another version of this Social Security scam, the victim receives an email that looks like it came from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The email will include a link asking the victim to update their personal information, giving a similar backstory as above.

If you receive Social Security benefits, or you know someone else who does, protect yourself and your loved ones by reviewing and educating others about these tips:

  • The Social Security Administration will never call about suspended benefits. There’s no reason to believe a caller who claims your benefits have been suspended. First, Social Security benefits don’t get suspended because of computer glitches. Second, the SSA will not call you to request your personal information out the blue. Government agencies rarely make phone calls to private citizens. When they do, the citizen will always know to expect that call.

  • Never share personal information via unsecured means. Don’t trust just anyone. It’s best not to share personal information over the phone or the internet. If you must, verify that you are interacting with the party you believe you’ve reached. The best way to do so is by contacting the SSA yourself at 1-800-772-1213. Remember, con artists are experts at looking and sounding like genuine government officials. Don’t fall for their tricks.

  • Report all scam attempts. Help combat these scams by reporting any attempts made to con you out of your personal information. If you receive a phone call or an email from an alleged SSA employee requesting information, don’t respond. Instead, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or call your local Social Security office and ask if there is actually a problem with your benefits. If, as is likely, there is no problem and you’re being scammed, the SSA will be better equipped to stop the scammers from conning more victims. You can also call the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at 1-866-501-2101 or complete a Public Fraud Reporting form at the OIG website at socialsecurity.gov. Finally, report the scam attempt to the FTC at ftc.gov.

  • Tell your friends and family. Fight back by doing your own part to stop those scammers. Tell anyone you know who receives Social Security benefits about these scams and warn them not to share their information on the phone and online.

Let’s keep our money safe and send those scammers packing! Contact DoverPhila Federal Credit Union at 330-364-8874 if you have questions regarding possible identity fraud or a scam with your account.

8 Reasons To Shop Local on Small Business Saturday

Mega e-tailers, like Amazon and Walmart, may monopolize online commerce, but it’s the small businesses across the country that keep the economy going. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the 28 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all sales in the country. Small businesses create jobs, build a demand for locally made products, and keep communities thriving. 

Your local small businesses are part of your community’s landscape. That’s where you rub shoulders with your neighbors, where you catch the latest town news, and where you’re always greeted with a warm smile. At a local small business, you’ll be guaranteed superior service and the gratification that comes from knowing you’re supporting the economy in your own community. 

Here at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, we strongly believe in supporting the community and helping local businesses flourish. Join us in our mission by shopping local on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season. 

Here are our some of our top reasons to shop local: 

HELP CREATE JOBS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
The money you spend at local retailers goes back into your community. When you support these small businesses, you enable them to grow and hire more workers, thus creating more jobs and helping the local economy thrive. 

KEEPS YOUR TAX DOLLARS IN THE COMMUNITY
Why pay to support public services in a town across the country? Let your tax dollars serve your own community by shopping local, small businesses. 

When you spend your money at local retailers, approximately $68 of every $100 spent will be reinvested in your community. That money will go toward better schools, libraries and parks—in your own neighborhood. 

SUPPORT THE AMERICAN DREAM
Keep the spirit of America alive by supporting the American Dream: Anyone can start a business and work to keep it thriving. When you shop local, you’re showing support for the entrepreneurs in your community, those folks who were brave enough to strike out on their own.   

SMALL BUSINESSES GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
According to Community Business Finance, 92% of small business owners personally donate to charities and nonprofit organizations. Whether it’s a contracting company that sponsors a little league team or a café that hosts an open mike night to raise money for the local soup kitchen, small businesses play a large part in supporting community causes and charities. 

When you shop local, you’re enabling small businesses to continue supporting community charities. 

CELEBRATE YOUR COMMUNITY
Celebrate your community on Small Business Saturday! Spend a delightful afternoon browsing the local shops and talking with customers and small business owners. Ask about their family members, chat about the weather, and revisit all your favorite local hotspots. You’ll reconnect with your community, support its businesses, and rediscover what makes it thrive. 

FIND UNIQUE GIFTS
Skip the overrated, mass-produced items at huge chain stores this holiday season, and find gifts for everyone on your list at local stores. You’ll be rewarded with an array of truly unique and durable items that will make the perfect gifts for your family and friends. 

HELP KEEP YOUR COMMUNITY INTERESTING
Imagine your community with no small businesses, only franchise stores from major retailers and restaurants. How boring would that be? Sure, we need those mainstream retailers and everyone likes a fast food chain they know well, but it’s the small businesses that keep the community vibrant and colorful. They’re the ones running quirky marketing campaigns and hosting online contests that have the entire town buzzing.

You wouldn’t want any of the charming little stores that dot your town’s landscape to be forced to close due to a lack of business.  These stores rely on your patronage! Shop local to help keep those mom-and-pop shops thriving. 

EXPLORE NEW RETAILERS AND RESTAURANTS
What better way to try out the latest haunts in town than by spending the day shopping local, small businesses? Give that new pizza place a try, sample the lattes at the small coffee joint that just opened its doors, and browse through the merchandise at the quaint costume jewelry store you’ve been wanting to check out since its grand opening. It’s a fantastically fun way to kick off your holiday shopping! 

On Small Business Saturday, and throughout the holiday season, give back to the community you love by shopping local. You’ll be glad you did!

5 Scams to Avoid on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great fun – but they can also put you at great risk. Scams abound on the weekend that heralds the holiday shopping season, and you don’t want a phishing scheme or a bogus bargain to turn you into a Grinch. 

Here are five scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving. 

1. BOGUS CRAZY DEALS 
An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of Ugg boots for $9? These deals sound insane because they are. And yet, thousands of people fall for these scams. And, of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they’ll use it for their own shopping spree – on your dime. 

Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low. 


2. GIFT CARDS FOR CHEAP 
In the weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might see an explosion of gift cards being sold at online marketplaces for a fraction of their real value. These cards are usually stolen from their real owners, who will likely report them lost. The card will be disabled and you’ll have spent your money on a worthless piece of plastic. 

Be smarter: Don’t buy any super-cheap gift cards 


3. BAIT AND SWITCH
 
Want to win a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details, and you might be the lucky winner! Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information. 

“Bait and switch” scams can happen offline. Retailers advertise deals so amazing that you’ll find yourself travelling across town to grab the bargains. Once you reach the store, though, you’ll be told those items are sold out, but you can check out what they do have in stock. You may be offered similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are a waste of your time and money. 

Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with. 


4. DELIVERY PROBLEMS
 
If you receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases, be wary. You may be asked to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date. Ignore these emails; they’re likely to be scams. If you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly. 

Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source. 


5. WIRE TRANSFERS
This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected. A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and sites you trust and frequent often. 

Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These are favorites among scammers since they are similar to paying with cash – once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back. 

Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card. 

Be an educated shopper this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and outsmart scammers!

Do You Still Need a Landline?

Your landline – should you or shouldn’t you get rid of it? If you’re feeling like your landline has got to go, you’re not alone. Landlines are quite outdated. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than half of American homes exclusively used wireless phone service during the first half of 2017.

Before you make a decision to cut the wire, read up on the main reasons people cling to their landlines, and why some of them may not matter after all. 


COMMUNICATION DURING EMERGENCIES
This is easily the most pressing reason that keeps people tied to their landlines. If a natural disaster or a power outage hits your area, your cellphones eventually run out of juice. Your landline, on the other hand, keeps you connected to the outside world even when the lights go out.

Why this may not matter:
Here’s where a huge misconception comes into play: Many newer landlines actually won’t work in a power outage. 

Older landlines, which are connected via copper wires to switch boxes and transmit calls between phones plugged into the wall, almost always work in a natural disaster. They connect through wires and don’t depend on electricity. So, your reasoning is sound if your landline is older.

It’s not so simple if your phone line is newer. Most telecommunication companies no longer use copper wires because it does a poor job transmitting signals for cable TV and internet. Most telecom companies that offer bundled services use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line instead of copper wires. These lines transmit phone service over the same cables and wires used for the home’s internet connection. A VoIP line needs to be plugged directly into the household’s internet gateway device to work. Landline and internet connected via shared VoIP line stop working when the power goes out. This includes your phone. Ironically, the primary reason people hold onto their landlines may not even be relevant at all.


LET 911 FIND YOU
Here’s where a landline really works for you during times of crisis: It helps emergency responders find you quickly. Operators instantly have your location when you call from a landline. Calls from cell phones are harder to trace.


CALL QUALITY
Call quality of a landline tops that of a cellphone. Landlines rarely make your voice sound tinny, they won’t suddenly drop your calls in middle of an important conversation, and they are hardly guilty of filling your phone line with annoying static.

What about your cellphone? You never know what your cellphone quality will be thanks to bandwidth allocation and its small receiver and microphone.

Why this may not matter: 
You can have great call quality with a cellphone if you have excellent reception at home and impeccable phone service.


MONEY SAVED
In another twist of irony, clinging to your landline might actually be saving you money each month. Here’s why: Most telecommunication companies offer special deals on service bundles like cable, internet, and a landline. If you cut the landline, but keep the other two services, you may not be eligible for that great deal any longer and you end up paying more for fewer services.

Why this may not matter:
If you don’t bundle your telecom services and you keep your phone line separate from your internet connection, this won’t apply.


CHEAPER INTERNATIONAL OPTIONS
You may have a terrific cellphone plan, but your bill can look scary if you ever use you cellphone for an out-of-country phone call. Landlines, on the other hand, often offer fantastic international plans that can make overseas calls affordable.

Why this might not matter:
This factor might not make a difference to you if you rarely make calls overseas.


SHARE A FAMILY PHONE
It can be expensive to get each family member a cellphone. It’s also annoying to have to constantly nag them about not going over their minutes or data coverage.

Why this might not matter:
This won’t concern you if each child already has a cellphone and the family is on a share plan with enough minutes and data to go around.

So, can you hang up on your landline or not? The jury is still out on this one. But, if you carefully consider your own needs and particular circumstances, you can make the decision that’s right for you.

How to Choose the Correct Credit Card for You

Choosing the best credit card for your lifestyle can have a considerable impact on your overall financial health.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2018 consumer survey, 73 percent of respondents stated they use at least one or two credit cards every month. Of those who regularly utilized credit cards, 39 percent carried up to $1,000 in credit card debt. Another 30 percent owed between $1,000 and $5,000. According to the Ohio Credit Union League’s Quarterly Performance Summary (2nd Quarter, 2018), the average credit card balance held at Ohio credit unions was $2,142.

Ohioans are right in line with national trends as 71 percent of Americans have at least one credit card, according to The Motley Fool. About 18 percent of Americans have three or four credit cards in their wallet, and those cards tend to carry debt.

With the possibility that their credit cards could carry significant debt, it’s not surprising consumers want to shop around before choosing a card.

The majority of respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League consumer survey, about 44 percent, said they look for the best interest rates and lowest fees in their credit cards. According to Experian, most Americans shop for credit cards with a similar mindset; 54 percent seek out a card with no annual fee, while 40 percent look for a low-interest rate. It’s not all business, though. Another 45 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Ohioans said perks, including points for travel, discounts, and other rewards, could influence them to apply for a card.

Americans might have clear motivations for seeking credit cards, but that doesn’t mean they’re easily finding the cards that suit their needs. Although consumers know they should shop for the best deals, according to the Experian survey, 69 percent of Americans said they feel researching the correct card is too time-consuming. Another 61 percent said they become overwhelmed by the number of options available, and 57 percent said it’s too difficult to tell which card would work best for them.

Still, the majority of respondents in the Experian survey, 64 percent, said they believe their perfect credit card is out there, they just haven’t found it, yet.

Don’t let stress over choosing the best credit card deter you from using plastic to pay. Here are tips for finding the perfect credit card:

  • Check your credit. Higher credit scores are more likely to be approved for credit cards with better perks, while those with lower scores may need to shop around more. It’s best to begin the research process knowing your score, rather than being declined for the credit card you want after searching. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com is a federal- authorized site where you can find your score.

  • Figure out what type of credit card you need. Consumers can choose between cards that help improve limited or damaged credit, cards that save money on interest, and cards that earn rewards. Additionally, some consumers choose cards to transfer a balance from an existing credit card. Be sure you’re choosing the card most beneficial to your current situation. Check out the credit cards offered at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union.

  • Decide how likely you are to carry a balance. If you know your credit card will carry debt you won’t be able to pay off right away, you should search for cards with low annual percentage rates. Otherwise, you could end up with card payments that don’t fit into your budget and that drag out longer than expected. Make sure you know how much you can realistically afford to pay in finance charges each month and shop around accordingly.

  • Read all the fine print. Thoroughly research and understand how your potential credit card will fit into your budget. You may be attracted to a card because of its 0 percent APR introductory offer, but make sure you understand how long that offer lasts and what you’ll be paying in finance charges once that rate changes. Some cards also include annual fees, late fees, and foreign transaction fees you should be aware of before you apply. Be sure you understand everything about your new card so you can use it as wisely as possible.

  • Look to a credit union. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers competitive rates on credit cards that are tailored to your spending habits, along with reward programs.

Learn more about how DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can help you make a savvy credit card choice. Visit any DoverPhila location or call 330-364-8874 to speak with a credit union member service representative.

Fake Check Scams on the Rise

In early September, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) released a report warning about a spike in fake check scams across the country. While these scams are not new, their occurrence rate has doubled over the last three years and is up 12% from 2017. 

The BBB further announced that billions of dollars in fake checks circulate each year, and that the number of victims this scam traps annually is close to 500,000. The amount of money lost from these scams is just as staggering: The FTC reported losses of approximately $40 million from fake check scams in just one year. 

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this scam is the fact that the largest pool of its victims falls between the ages of 20 and 29 – a segment of the population that is far more familiar with electronic payment methods, like PayPal and Venmo, than with a simple paper check. This makes them easy victims for the scam.

Aside from ordinary paper checks, this scam can also be pulled off with cashier’s checks and money orders. Regardless of the medium, each of these scams involves a scammer “overpaying” a victim and requesting the check be cashed with the difference being deposited into a designated account belonging to the scammer.

Here are the most common variations of the fake check scam:

  • “Buyers” send sellers a check written out for more than the asking price of an object sold on an online marketplace, such as Craigslist.

  • Lottery “winners” are rewarded with an inflated prize and given instructions to pay back a part of the check to cover taxes or fees.

  • “Employees” are granted checks for supplies, with instructions to wire back a part of it to the “company.”

In each case, the fake check or money order seems to clear in the financial institution. The scam becomes clear a few days later when the victim’s payout to the scammer is deposited and the account does not have sufficient funds to cover it.

Wondering if a check is a fake? Hold it up to this checklist:

  • Is the check’s paper stock weak and flimsy?

  • Check the company’s name and address. Are they spelled correctly?

  • Every check has an identification number printed toward its top and again at the bottom. Verify that these numbers match.

  • If you’re allegedly holding a lottery-winning check in your hands, the check should be written out from a state lottery commission. If it’s made out by a random company, it’s bogus.

  • Look for the special ink required for the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) code that’s at the bottom of the check.

  • The check should have a routing number from its bank. You can Google the bank to find out if the routing number is genuine.

Aside from knowing how to recognize a fake check, it’s important to know which kinds of transactions are likely to be scams. Contact the authorities or your financial institution if you come across any of the following:

  • You’re asked to wire money to a company you’re not familiar with.

  • You’re given a check by a “buyer” that is made out for more than the item’s sale price.

  • You’re given a check from a foreign bank you’ve never heard of.

  • You’re asked to pay a fee to claim a “prize.”

Don’t hesitate to contact DoverPhila Federal Credit Union at 330-364-8874 if you have questions regarding a suspicious check, a questionable transaction, or general fraud. It is better to be safe than sorry.

All You Need to Know About Buying a Used Car

Buying a previously owned vehicle can be a great way to save big on one of your most valuable possessions. If you’re shopping for an amazing deal on wheels, then follow the steps below for a smoother ride!

Step 1: WORK OUT A BUDGET
How are you paying for your new set of wheels?

Your purchase will be fairly simple if you’re paying with cash. You already have your spending cap and you know what you can afford. Just make sure not to spend it all on the car, or you won’t be able to cover your vehicle’s insurance, registration, repairs, and future maintenance.

An auto loan is your best option if you’re unable to use cash. Talk to a lender to determine how much car you can afford. Research a few lenders before making a decision and only take the car dealer’s financing if it beats any other offers you have (but be sure to read any fine print). You may be pushed into taking out a larger loan, but be careful not to let your total monthly auto expenses top 20% of your take-home pay.

It’s also a good idea to get pre-approved for an auto loan before stepping foot in the dealer’s lot or visiting their website. Stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union to find out about our fantastic auto loans!

Step 2: CREATE A TARGET LIST
Which make and model vehicle do you want to buy? Do you want a car, truck, SUV, or maybe a hybrid? There are many choices and options. Check out Consumer Reports or J.D. Power for reliability ratings on each type of vehicle from the most recent model years. You’ll find detailed reviews and lists of common trouble spots to note. Narrow down your choices to three or four model cars.

Step 3: RESEARCH
With just a few keystrokes, you can get the skinny on your vehicles of choice. Visit Cars.com or TrueCar.com to get started. You can also find used cars for sale in any of these locations:

  • The used-car section of new-car dealerships

  • Used-car dealerships

  • Used-car retailers like CarMax.com

  • Websites, like Craigslist.com or AutoTrader.com, where car owners list their vehicles for sale

Of the four choices, private-party sellers will likely offer the lowest price. However, these cars are not backed by dealerships, so you’re taking a bigger risk with the purchase.

Be sure to consider the vehicle’s year, make, model and mileage when doing your research. It’s also a good idea to find out what the average asking price is for the car you want to buy.

Step 4: GET THE VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT
Learn all you can about each vehicle once you’ve narrowed down your search. What kind of repairs or maintenance did it undergo? Was it ever involved in a collision? Find out with a vehicle history report.

You can get a detailed vehicle report on AutoCheck.com or Carfax.com. Ask the dealer if they have one available for review – policies vary, but many will gladly show it to your or email you a copy. If obtaining one on your own, you’ll be asked for the vehicle identification number (VIN) or for the license plate number.

Step 5: CALL THE SELLER
Contact the seller to verify the information you’ve learned about the car. If you’re using a private-party seller, then ask the owner why they’re selling the car and inquire about any possible mechanical issues. If you’re working with a dealership, then a phone call or an email is a quick way to make sure the car is still available. You can also ask for any basic information about the car that you weren’t able to find out on your own.

Set up an appointment to take the car for a test drive if everything checks out.

Step 6: TEST DRIVE
Pay attention to these details as you try out your potential new car:

  • Is there sufficient legroom and headroom?

  • Is the ride smooth?

  • How is the acceleration and power?

  • Are the seats comfortable and adjustable?

  • Is the “check engine” light illuminated after initial startup?

  • Do you have full visibility?

  • Are the brakes working well and working quietly?

  • Do all the lights (headlights, brake lights, turning signals, internal lights) work?

  • Do the automatic window mechanisms and lock-door buttons work?

If your car has passed the test drive, then ask to see the vehicle’s service records to determine if the car is current with its scheduled maintenance check-ups.

Step 7: HAVE IT PROFESSIONAL INSPECTED
Private sellers and most dealerships won’t have a problem with you taking the car to a mechanic for an inspection. Having your car professionally inspected will only cost you about $100 now, but it can save you loads of aggravation and lots of money down the line.

Step 8: NEGOTIATE
Here’s where the real fun starts! If you’ve worked out your financing, then you already know your spending cap. Otherwise, work it out now before you start bargaining.

Don’t talk about monthly payments when negotiating a price; talk about the price of the car. Make an opening offer based on the average price for your car and use all the information you’ve learned about your vehicle as bargaining chips. Be firm and don’t sound desperate and you will land up with a fairly priced vehicle.

Step 9: MAKE IT OFFICIAL
You’re ready to become the official new owner of your car.

If you’re working with a dealership, then you’ll sign the contract in their financing office. You may be offered additional products and protection here, but make sure the price is worthwhile. Check with DoverPhila Federal Credit Union first. We are able to extend similar protection to our members and have a variety of options tailored to our members’ needs.

Don’t be alarmed if you see extra charges tacked onto your documentation such as sales tax and a license fee. These are standard in most states. If you’re buying your car from a private-party seller, then make sure the title and registration are officially transferred to you.

Don’t forget to have insurance before driving off the lot. Once that is finalized, you’re all set to power up and take your new car for its first spin!

Click here for more information regarding DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s auto loans and products.

Staying Safe Online

With the average American spending 24 hours a week online, internet safety is more important than ever. A hacked or compromised computer can put you at risk for money loss, phishing scams, or even complete identity theft.

If your computer’s security has been breached, then it can be turned into a “middle man” for online theft. Criminals may remotely control a computer with weak security and use it as a patsy for large-scale crimes against hundreds or thousands of other computer users. An unprotected computer can commit awful crimes without its owner even knowing about it!

Fortunately, keeping your privacy, money, and sensitive information safe when browsing the internet is simple; all it takes is awareness, some proactive steps, and lots of common sense. Read on for steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.

AVOID FAKE SITES
The easiest way to get scammed online is to visit a fraudulent site. If you are browsing a site you do not usually use, then ask yourself these questions to make sure it is safe:

  • Does your browser warn you against visiting the site? Whether you browse with Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, your browser will warn you about certain sites based on actual data and user reports.

  • Is the web text riddled with grammar mistakes and typos? Reputable website owners are careful to present a polished, professional look. If a site looks like it was written by a small child, then leave the site.

  • Is the site secure? Only visit sites with an “https” and not just an “http” in the address bar.

  • Does the digital footprint check out? Google the company’s name to see what the internet and Better Business Bureau are saying about them.

  • Is there a legitimate “Contact us” section? There should be an authentic physical address and phone number for the business.

  • Is there an excessive amount of ads? Ads are intrinsic to the online world, but if a website seems to be covered in intrusive ads then it is likely a fake.

  • Check the shipping and return policies. If you cannot find this information, the site probably doesn’t really sell anything at all – though they are happy to take your money.

  • Is there a trust seal? Companies that deal with sensitive information make an investment to earn your trust. A trust seal, like the PayPal or Norton Secured seal, tells you the company has worked hard to deserve your trust.

  • Is the URL authentic? When redirected to another site, check the new URL to see if it matches the original company.

PRACTICE PASSWORD SAFETY
It is your key to almost every online board and gated site – do your best to keep it safe! Here is how:

  • Use a password generator. The best way to ensure that your passwords do not get hacked is to use a password generator like Sticky Password, LastPass, or 1Password. These services generate a super-secure password for every site you visit – but you will only need to remember your one master password.

  • Change your password. If you do not like the idea of using a password generator, experts recommend changing your passwords every 30-40 days.

  • Never double passwords. Using common passwords across multiple sites is easy on the memory, but hard on your safety and security.

  • Use strong passwords. For optimal security, choose passwords that include a mixture of capitalization use, numbers, letters, and symbols.

UPDATE YOUR BROWSER
Perhaps the most neglected and simplest step of internet safety is keeping your browser updated. You can increase your browser’s security and improve your computer at the same time with just one click.

Here is why you will want to keep your browser running with its newest version:

  • Increased speed. Each new version of your browser is an improvement on the old one. Why lag behind when you could be using a faster browser?

  • Improved website compatibility. Lots of websites rely on updated browsers to share all of their graphics and features.

  • A better experience. A newer browser will offer you added features, customizable extensions and sleeker graphics.

An updated browser will provide better security. Internet companies are constantly looking for ways to protect you and keep you safer. Take full advantage of their efforts by always using the latest version. Updated browsers offer stronger protection against the most recent scams, phishing attacks, viruses, Trojans, malware, and more. Newer browsers have also patched up security vulnerabilities that may be present in your older browser.

Updating your browser is super-easy and super-quick. Late model computers will update automatically as soon as new iterations are released to the public. If your computer is a little older, then you can choose the “auto-update” feature available on some browsers for the same results. Otherwise, you can update your browser manually by following the instructions on your browser. These are typically easy to follow and take just a few clicks.

Follow these tips for safe online browsing. A few small steps now can save you heaps of aggravation and money lost down the line. Do not let those hackers get to you!

Back-To-School Shopping Hacks

Between new backpacks, textbooks, a long list of supplies and a fresh autumn wardrobe, most parents are looking at a bill of close to $700 for school-related expenses this season. Be proactive and save big! Read on for our handy list of back-to-school shopping hacks that will help you keep more money in your wallet. 

Plan to shop five times
To take full advantage of sales and clearance events throughout the summer, plan on making five shopping trips this season so you can get the best prices when they are offered. 

Stock up 
While prices are low, buy enough school supplies to last through the first half of the year or more. You’ll save a ton and not have the hassle of buying more later. 

Take advantage of loss leaders
Every week this season, retailers sell one product at a super-low price. This is their loss leader: an item priced so cheaply that retailers actually lose money on sales. Make sure you catch those deals! 

Shop the dollar store
Before you hit the regular stores, shop for real bargains at dollar stores like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar General.

Buy designer backpacks online
Check out sites like 6PM and eBags for fantastic deals on designer backpacks. 

Use manufacturer coupons
Check out circulars, like RedPlum, and coupon sites, like Retailmenot.com, for manufacturer coupons from supply companies. 

Decode price tags 
Here’s how these popular stores mark their lowest prices: 

  • The Gap: Ending in $.97
  • Target: Ending in an 8
  • Old Navy: Ending in $.47
  • TJMaxx: Yellow price tag

Shop through Love to Shop (exclusive to DoverPhila members)
Do all your online shopping through Love to Shop, a fun and easy way to earn cash back when you shop online at your favorite stores. Credit union members receive cash back for every purchase at over 1,500 online retailersOpens a New Window. in Love to Shop. Get details!

Coordinate with other parents
If you’re in Walmart when they have bargain-priced pencils, offer to buy a few boxes for your friend’s kids. And, when your friend finds the super-hot deal on crayons, he’ll pick up a few boxes for your kids. 

Check out gift-card sites
Save big by buying discounted gift cards to stores like Michael’s and JCPenney on sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise. 

Use the Amazon App
Have your phone handy when shopping so you can comparison-shop when buying your supplies. If an item is cheaper on Amazon, why buy it at a store? 

Sign up for promotional mail

  • H&M: Save 20% on one item when you text your email address to 707-03
  • Kohl’s: Save 15% off your entire order by texting SAVE15 to 564-57
  • Old Navy: Sign up for a weekly text alert by texting 6046 to 653-689 and get a $5 coupon; and also sign up for promo emails on OldNavy.com to get a 30%-off coupon
  • Crazy8: Sign up for emails and receive 18% off your next order plus free shipping
  • The Children’s Place: Input your email address in the pop-up box on TheChildrensPlace.com and get a $10 coupon.

Take advantage of price-matching
Lots of stores, like Office Depot, Staples and Target, offer to match any competitor’s price.

Shop early in the week 
Weekly sales go live on Sundays and the best deals get grabbed first. Shop Sundays and Mondays, and never miss out on a great deal again. 

Save big this season with these back-to-school shopping hacks! And don’t forget to sign up for Love to Shop through Love My Credit Union Rewards!

How to Stay Safe with the Wallet of the Future

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other mobile wallets are revolutionizing the checkout experience by blending two developments in payment infrastructure to save you time: near-field communication (NFC) and token encryption.

Approximately one-third of all payment terminals nationwide have been updated to accept Apple Pay. It works on phones equipped with the necessary NFC equipment. If you have an iPhone as recent as an iPhone 6 or newer, you can use the preinstalled Passport app. There are simple, on-screen instructions for adding a debit or credit card. You can even add your DoverPhila Federal Credit Union card!

Samsung Pay is structured similarly and will work on select Samsung Android devices. However, Samsung has incorporated magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology, too. Hold a phone against a payment terminal and it emits a signal that simulates the magnetic strip on a debit or credit card. In terms of convenience, this means you can use Samsung Pay on almost any payment terminal. The only situation where Samsung Pay won’t work is when you need to insert your card into a slot.

Mobile wallets transfer money from customer to vendor via tokenization – the use of a non-secure piece of data to stand in place of a secure one. 

When you make a payment with one of these services, the app creates a token – a random series of numbers – corresponding to your account, along with a one-time security key. It transmits that data to the payment terminal, which sends that token to the “token vault,” a secure database linking these tokens to actual accounts.

If the security key is correct, the token vault transmits a charge directly to the linked cards and returns a verification of funds to the payment terminal. Since the token vault is hosted at the payment processor, the point-of-sale terminal never sees your card information. 

In an ordinary payment, the terminal reads your card information and then transmits it to the payment processor, which then transmits it to your financial institution. This means your information is stored in three different places. 

With tokenization, though, your information is seen only by the payment processor and your financial institution. That’s fewer points of vulnerability for your data. This also means that Apple and Samsung have no idea what purchases you’re making. For fans of internet privacy, this is heartening news.

There are other layers of security involved in these services, too. To use Apple Pay, you’ll need to use TouchID, FaceID or input your PIN. For Samsung Pay, you’ll have to authenticate your fingerprint, input a PIN or confirm an iris scan.

Whether you’re an Apple fan or a Samsung supporter, mobile wallets are an efficient, secure way to pay. As a valued card member of the credit union, you can make mobile payments with a compatible Apple, Android, Windows or Samsung phone, tablet or watch, without ever handing over your card. This service is available for both debit and credit card users. Click here for more information regarding this feature.

DoverPhila Partners with Area Organizations to Offer Financial Literacy Program

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is partnering with OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County and United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc. to offer a financial literacy workshop for area residents.  “Master Your Money – Simple Tips to Improve Cash Flow” is scheduled for Thursday, August 2nd from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County located at 1260 Monroe Street in New Philadelphia. 

The workshop offers easy, straightforward techniques to achieve financial goals. Topics include tackling expenses, increasing savings, and improving credit. Attendees have the option of bringing their own financial information to the workshop to create a personalized spending plan.

“Financial difficulties due to lack of employment and or other employment related issues are what many of the customers we serve face each day.  Through this collaboration with United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc. and DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, we hope to assist area residents with tools and information to help them become financially stable and achieve financial independence,” said JoAnn Breedlove, COO of the Workforce Initiative Association and OhioMeansJobs Centers in Stark and Tuscarawas Counties. 

“The United Way of Tuscarawas County is pleased to collaborate with OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County and the DoverPhila Federal Credit Union,” said Robin Waltz, President of United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc. “Bringing together organizations with common missions and goals is a win-win for the Tuscarawas County community.”

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

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union to Host Annual Kids’ 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 4th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the credit union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover.

The credit union is partnering with area organizations such as Tuscarawas County YMCA, Tuscarawas County Public Library, Dover Public Library, Twin Cities Kids Coalition, Takin’ It to the Schools program (part of Personal & Family Counseling Services), STEAM Centers, Illusions by Blathmac, and more to provide lots of family fun and entertainment.

Area youth ages 12 and under will have the opportunity to race through an agility course; 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 the defender dome and other inflatables; and much, much more. This free event will also include a goody bag (while supplies last), pizza, and a magic show that starts at 12:00PM. The first 50 children receive a DoverPhila tote with their goody bag.

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

Debit Card Safety

How do you pay for your purchases? It may be instinct for you to pull out any piece of plastic without thinking, but your random card of choice might not be the safest way to pay. Let’s explore when and how to use your debit card. 

Credit and debit: How are they different? 
Appearances aside, your credit and debit cards have very little in common. Credit cards allow you to choose your purchases now and pay for them weeks, months or even years later. A balance that grows over time will be charged interest, but if you make timely payments, you’ll have yourself a small loan that usually costs you little to nothing. Credit cards also offer rewards, purchase protection and the ability to back out of a purchase you’ve decided against. You can also contest fraudulent charges on your account, or freeze your credit on a compromised card.  

Debit card payments, on the other hand, will take the money right out of your checking account as soon as you swipe. There’s no interest here, but there also may be less purchase protection. Debit cards are great for helping you stick to your budget and steer clear of debt. However, because they may offer little recourse in case of fraud, credit cards can be the better choice in vulnerable situations. 

Here’s where you may not want to use your debit card: 

  • At the pump. Card skimmers at gas stations are on the rise. By using your credit card instead of your debit card at the pump, you’ll have an added layer of protection against fraud. You can also choose to use cash and avoid the risk of getting skimmed altogether. 
  • At an isolated ATM. Isolated ATMs in locations with very little security and sparse foot traffic are prime targets for hackers.
  • In an unfamiliar location. When on vacation, think before you swipe. You don’t know the area and you can’t be certain which clerks are to be trusted. You’re better off paying with a credit card or with cash so your purchases are protected against fraud. 
  • For large purchases. If you’re springing for a big-ticket item, use your credit card. It’ll offer you dispute rights in case the product doesn’t turn out as you expected. 
  • Restaurants. When you hand a restaurant server your debit card at the end of a meal, they have more than enough time to also swipe your card info! 

Look out for skimmers.
DoverPhila Federal Credit Union encourages its members to use their debit or credit card with caution. It is always good practice to check the payment processor for anything that looks out-of-place, such as a newer keypad on an older machine or a hard-to-use slot for cards.

Stay ahead of hackers.
The credit union offers the My Mobile Money App, a mobile app that helps you control and monitor debit card usage anywhere and at any time using your smartphone, for free! Download the app and take control for your debit card by clicking here.

Seven Ways to Spring Clean for Extra Cash

When that first delightful spring breeze starts blowing, you know it’s time to get your house in shape.

The warmer weather and the brilliant sunshine pouring through your windows can fill you with boundless energy. You’re going to banish those dust bunnies! Every piece of useless clutter must go! You are on a mission to turn your home into a sparkling palace that is completely free of junk. But there’s more than just a neat house awaiting you at the end of all that hard work. Here’s how you can spring clean your way to riches – well, almost. You won’t become a millionaire from your junk, but you’ll put some spare cash in your pocket just by taking a few extra steps while clearing out the clutter. And that’s always a good thing! 

Trade in your electronics.
Gather all those old gadgets and devices you no longer use and bring them to your local electronics store. They’ll likely offer you a gift card for your treasures. Some larger chains, like Best Buy, run a retail-collection program to help you responsibly dispose of old electronics, giving you the chance to earn a gift card. 

Get cash at the consignment store.
Your outdated clothing might be someone else’s idea of high fashion. Bring your old clothing to a consignment shop to see what they’re willing to buy from you. You can also search for consignment chains, like Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor, or look up online consignment shops like ThredUp, Tradesy or Poshmark.

Trade in your video games.
If you’ve got a serious gamer at home, consider trading in your old games at GameStop. You’ll get store credit while getting rid of that huge pile of video games!  

Sell old books.
Look up local bookstores that buy back books and bring your collection of old books to them in exchange for cash. If you’ve got a stack of textbooks lying around, sell them online on BookFinder, Cash4Books or eCampus. 

Sell your expensive electronics.
If you’ve got older smartphones or laptops that are in decent condition, they should be able to fetch you a pretty penny. Try selling your stuff on Gazelle.com. They offer free shipping, and once your item is officially logged by the company, you’ll get paid via check, gift card, or PayPal. It’s an easier, faster option than selling on Craigslist or e-Bay. 

Get cash for unused gift cards.
Do you have a pile of gift cards you’ll never use? There are loads of sites that offer a gift-card exchange. Though you may not make back the full amount, you’ll usually score a decent offer. 

Try your luck at giftcard.com, giftcardgranny.com, or tradya.com and fatten up your wallet with greenbacks instead of useless cards. 

Donate to charity.
Donating unused clothing, toys or electronics to charity might be the most worthwhile way to get rid of clutter. As an added bonus, donating goods to charity will earn you a tax deduction, so long as you keep your receipt. 

Spring cleaning is a chore that has to be tackled with lots of energy, time, and hard work. With a bit of extra planning, you can earn some cash in return for the work. 

Want more cash-saving tips? As a member of DoverPhila, you qualify for exclusive discounts and benefits on products and services that you use every day through Love My Credit Union Rewards. Credit union members have already saved nearly $2 billion with Love My Credit Union Rewards discounts. So if you are looking for more ways to save, then check out www.lovemycreditunion.org.

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.