Category Archives: Educational

Introducing… GreenPath

USAgencies is pleased to announce our newest member benefit – GreenPath Financial Wellness.

As a valued member of USAgencies, we are committed to serving you.  And as a benefit to you, we are providing you with free access to money management and financial education services.

USAgencies has teamed up with GreenPath to bring you GreenPath Financial Wellness, a financial education and counseling program.  Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years.

As a member of USAgencies, you can receive assistance from GreenPath with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment (fees may apply)
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

GreenPath can give personalized answers to your individual needs.  For issues ranging from developing a proactive savings plan to preventing home foreclosure, advice is only a phone call or click away.

To learn more about this new service, simply call 1-877-337-3399 or visit USACU.org/education.

Become a SMART Reader

As you know, USAgencies has partnered with Enterprise Car Sales to help bring awareness to the SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) program with our Smart Savings Car Sale & funds drive. For all those who’ve purchased a vehicle, or donated funds, THANK YOU so much. For those of you who haven’t yet, there’s still time! Our Smart Savings Car Sale & funds drive runs through October 31st.

But perhaps you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, or funds are tight… We wanted to shed light on another way to help SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)– by volunteering! If you can’t give monetarily, you may want to consider giving some of your time by becoming a much-needed volunteer reader.

What: Volunteer one hour a week to read with children in our community!

  • Inspire a love of reading and books.
  • Read one-on-one with PreK – third-graders.
  • SMART students receive books for their home collection.
  • Training and support provided!

Where: An elementary school or Head Start program near you in the Portland Metro Area

When: Programs run during school hours—October 2017 – May 2018.

  • Time commitment varies—minimum one hour a week.

Interested in becoming a volunteer reader with SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)? Apply online at www.getsmartoregon.org/volunteer or call 971-634-1628.

5 Reasons to Start the Car Search at Your Credit Union

Before you set foot on the dealer lot, you’ll want to be informed about your options. Here are 5 reasons why starting the search at your CU is the better deal… 

Lower rates.
Maybe you’ve come across a dealership offering 0% financing on certain cars. Seems like that might be the best deal, right? If you check out the fine print, it’s usually not. Dealers often use this low rate to tempt buyers onto the lot, and into their financing office. Once you begin the purchase process, and start to fill out their paperwork, you may not qualify for that special 0% rate. Dealers count on those buyers that don’t qualify for the 0% to balance out any loss they might take, and their non-qualifying rates are usually substantially more than the 0% offer.

Better prices.
GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance protects you against having to pay out your loan balance if your car is stolen or totaled. It’s a smart thing to add to your new car purchase, however you’ll want to be careful who you purchase it from. Some dealers require you to buy GAP insurance if you finance through them, and they can be much more expensive than what you’ll find at your Credit Union. The dealer is counting on you not to ask questions or to shop for a better deal. Compare USAgencies GAP product to the dealer’s, and you’ll find it’s a great deal. And we welcome your questions! Our mission is to Improve Each Member’s Financial Life. The more informed you are, the smarter a shopper you are, and the better a deal you’ll get.

Personalized service.
Members tend to have a much more personable experience at a credit union when compared to the financing department at the dealer. At your Credit Union, there are no high-pressure sales tactics- you can openly discuss any concerns you might have about your loan, talk about repayment options and review your personal financial goals with a professional that’s dedicated to your best interests. When you know your Credit Union offers quality loan products, fair pricing, and transparent lending policies, this can help alleviate some of the pressures of securing vehicle financing.

Educational resources.
Credit Unions have a ton of educational resources available to their members (usually for free) to help you make the best possible financial choices. From learning more about financing options, to calculating your monthly payment, to understanding additional insurance options—your Credit Union wants to do everything it can to help you make the best decision for your needs and goals. USAgencies Credit Union also has a whole host of financial education tools available to members online. From webinars, to articles, to interactive modules, USACU is here to help ensure you’re making an informed purchase. Feel free to browse our online resources anywhere, anytime.

Owned by YOU.
Unlike dealerships, or banks, which often create high-pressure sales goals and give bonuses for the loans they get approved, credit unions work for our members. We’re owned by our members, so we always have your best interests at heart. We aren’t trying to sell you products or services you don’t need, just to make a profit. We’re not-for-profit, so all profits made end up being returned to you in the form of lower rates, lower and fewer fees, and better savings rates. If you don’t like the pressure of working with lenders dealer financing company or bank, consider heading to your Credit Union first. We’ll steer you in the right direction.

 


Need one more great reason? Now through Oct. 31, you can save 1.00% on your auto loan rate during our Smart Savings Car Sale!

Questions about how to begin your search? Connect with us.

Letter from the CEO: Check Scams

Great news! You just received a letter stating that you won a cash prize- and the check to cover the taxes for the prize is included. Now all you need to do is deposit the check and wire the extra funds back to the sender. When they get the payment, you get the full cash prize.

Sounds too good to be true, right?
That’s because it is.

This is an example of a fake check scam. And, unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that these types of scams are on the rise. If you were to deposit the check and wire the money, you could potentially be out hundreds of dollars–or more. Typically, the money you wired can’t be retrieved, leaving you responsible for reimbursing the funds.

Counterfeit or fake checks are being used in a growing number of schemes. My son was recently targeted in a rather creative way when he answered an online employment ad. He Skyped with someone who said they were an artist and needed an assistant. My son said he researched the person online and he appeared to be legitimate. The “artist” (con artist, maybe?) sent him a cashier’s check for $2,490 to purchase a computer/scanner/etc. and said he’d be in contact. When my son told the “artist” he was going to wait until the check cleared, he was never contacted by him again… and the check bounced two weeks later. If he’d followed through with the scammer’s instructions, he could have been liable for almost $2,500!

Although our staff are always on the lookout for fraudulent checks or unusual activity, they can’t always determine when a check isn’t legitimate. When you deposit a check, we are required by federal law to make the money available long before we can be certain the check is valid. Best advice: if you get a check from an unknown or questionable source, don’t use the funds for at least two weeks.

Here are some other steps the FTC suggests you take to avoid counterfeit check scams:

  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.
  • Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
  • Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
  • As a seller, you can suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one — or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability — don’t use the service.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

If you think you or someone you know was the victim of a fake check scam, please consider taking the following steps:

  • Contact your financial institution.
  • Contact your local law enforcement.
  • Contact your state’s attorney general.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint.
  • If you or the victim is an older adult or a person with a disability, contact your local adult protective services agency – you may find local resources via the Eldercare Locator or by calling 1-800-677-1116.

Jim Lumpkin, President/CEO, USACU
Jim Lumpkin
President/CEO
USAgencies Credit Union

Planning the Ultimate NW Summer RV Roadtrip? Start Here First.

Looking to “get out there” this summer, and experience Pacific Northwest RV camping at its finest? Not sure how to pack it all in and narrow your list down to the best-of-the best?

Here’s a list of top NW campgrounds to get you started:

If you’re looking for the perfect Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary, these adventurers have some suggestions for things to see and do along your route:

Or maybe you want to hit the open road and keep going? Here are some ideas of where to head beyond the Northwest:

Whether you’re planning a quick weekend RV getaway in the Gorge, or you’re itching to head out on a multi-week journey from Pacific to Atlantic, planning ahead can help you maximize your summer fun.

 


Planning ahead applies to your RV purchase too. It’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a loan for your RV (or ATV, boat, jet ski or other summer toys) before you shop. Getting pre-approved ensures you know what you can afford ahead of time, allows you to stick to a pre-set budget, and ensures you’re getting a rate and payment that works best for you.

Getting pre-approved is quick, easy & smart: apply online, give us a call (503.275.0300), or stop by.

Questions? Contact us.

USACU at the 2017 GAC

At the GAC‘Powerful Cause and Positive Effect’ was the theme for this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). USAgencies very own Kathy Scholes, Vice President/CFO; Kasey Rockwell, Director of CU Relations; and Jeff Griese, Board of Directors 1st Vice-Chair, all attended the conference late February in our nation’s capital, along with over 5,000 credit union professionals and advocates from around the U.S.

Every year credit union proponents descend upon Washington D.C. to connect with peers, glean best practices, trade stories, and gain insights of the political landscape for credit unions and the financial industry. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from great speakers such as the Honorable Colin L. Powell; Kat Cole, Group President of Focus Brands; CUNA President, Jim Nussle; and a lineup of Congressional lawmakers and regulators from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Scholes, Rockwell and Griese met with Oregon credit union peers to ensure the message was consistent for lawmakers before they climbed the steps of Capitol Hill. They met with Congressman Blumenauer’s (D-OR-3) Deputy Chief of Staff and Counsel, David Skillman. There were about 30 constituents in the meeting, representing nine credit unions from the Portland area. Later in the afternoon Oregon credit unions also met with Senator Ron Wyden and staff from Senator Merkley’s office to share the same message. Some of the information shared with legislators included:

  • Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives and are inherently accountable to their members, not to Wall Street stockholders.
  • Members own their cooperative credit unions. This means financial dividends, lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings are delivered to member-owners as direct benefits.
  • The Northwest Credit Union Association recently commissioned economists at ECONorthwest to perform their second independent analysis on credit unions’ impact in our Northwest economy. They found that Oregon credit unions delivered $159 million in direct financial benefit to their 2 million member-owners. That’s $81 per credit union member and $156 financial benefit per member household, delivered through lower fees and better rates as a result of that cooperative structure.
  • The importance of Common-Sense Regulatory Reform and how one-size-fits-all regulations don’t work for small credit unions.
  • The costs of merchant data breaches and how costs should ultimately be borne by the entity that occurs the breach.

They ended the day with a reception on the Hill with credit unions from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. It was a long, but productive day!

Rockwell summed up her experience at this year’s GAC, “Sharing our credit union stories with elected officials is a great honor. Being in D.C. allows you to feel like you are a part of something bigger than your credit union. You can feel the energy of all of us working together to make a difference. Twenty years ago, was my first GAC and I still have the same excitement and feeling of honor to be a part of the Credit Union Movement. We are doing great things to help improve our member’s financial lives and are staying true to the foundational credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People’.”

Griese left feeling inspired, saying “My testimony of the credit union movement has grown tremendously and seeing so many hard-working folks gathered together in an effort to improve people’s lives was inspiring and something I will not soon forget!”

Scholes shared her thoughts, saying “Attending the 2017 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference was an amazing experience! Being one of 5,000 credit union professionals converging on the Capital to meet with elected officials to tell our story and fight for credit union interests was moving. I returned to Portland with a renewed interest to advocate for the credit union movement. Credit unions are good for consumers, our member-owners. We need to work to protect our unique structure and improve awareness to our members and potential members of who and what we are that makes us different from other financial service providers. ‘People Helping People’ by looking out for the financial well-being of our members and communities – what’s not to love!”