Category Archives: Educational

Cooperative Spirit of Credit Unions

It is ( hopefully ) no secret that credit unions all operate under the same founding principle, “People Helping People”. By sticking to our roots, and sticking together, we strive to help all members and our communities with power in numbers. By keeping a noncompetitive nature and a cooperative spirit, credit unions are able to leverage their unified philosophy. This allows us to come together for all occasions – including serious and educational, and often celebratory and fun.

In honor today being the International Day of Friendship, we wanted to highlight some of the ways credit unions in your community have demonstrated our cooperative spirit, and come together as friends for greater good.

CO-OP Network

The CO-OP Network is resource for credit union members to complete their regular transactions at a branch, or via an ATM at participating credit unions when they are unable to get to their local branch. The CO-OP network covers all 50 states and 10 additional countries with ATM’s. With over 30,000 fee-free ATMs and 1,800 participating branches nationwide, this is an ATM network that is larger than almost any bank.

Shared Branching is the second largest branch network in the country, with more than 5,600 credit union branches and self-serve Shared Branch machines, also in all 50 states. This allows us to serve our members in diverse geographical locations – even when they move or travel! Credit unions have come together to be there for their members, no matter where they are.

Education

On a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis credit unions are consistently working together to learn and grow from and with one another. There are workshops, conferences, and training’s galore that encourage credit union professionals on all levels to come together to advance their knowledge and skills so that we can better serve our members, and better work together. We focus on everything from compliance, giving back to our community, advocacy and more.

Many of these opportunities come from local chapters and young professional groups in the area. For example, Young Credit Union Professionals of Oregon and Southwest Washington recently held an Advocacy BBQ where state legislators came out to chat and educate attendees about policy-making. What’s a better way to learn, than to hear it straight from the professionals themselves!

Education doesn’t stop at the credit union level, either.

We often band together to bring education to our communities, specifically our youth. This past spring, USAgencies hosted a Bite of Reality workshop for local high school students at Cleveland High School. This workshop allows students to practice budgeting as an adult with realistic circumstances, develop good judgement regarding spending, and more. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the 15 volunteers representing SIX different local credit unions!

Advocacy

Speaking of advocacy, another example right here in Oregon is each year we come together to advocate to lawmakers and politicians on the “credit union difference”. One of the ways this is demonstrated is in February of each year, Oregon credit unions visit the Oregon capitol for a designated Credit Union Day at the Capitol. Passionate credit union advocates spend the day dispersing across the capitol building in Salem to share the credit union difference of their impacts and services with their legislators. In 2019, the main message of the day was how the cooperative structure of credit unions delivered $1.9 Billion in economic value to Oregon in 2018, which helped drive immeasurable impact in our communities.

Giving Back

Credit Unions love giving back to their community. We often volunteer at local food banks, participate in clean up projects in our neighborhoods, partner with nonprofits and more. But perhaps the most notable way we give back together is via CU4Kids. .

CU4Kids is a nonprofit collaboration among credit unions, chapters and business partners from across the country, engaged in fundraising to support 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.  For more than 30 years, credit unions have come together to raise over $18 MILLION dollars to support OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital via the CU4Kids program. Just recently on June 22nd, over 100 local credit union professionals came together in Portland and raised $11,000 for Doernbecher at a fundraiser that was called Hops for Hope that was co-hosted by YCUP and the Cascadia Chapter of Credit Unions!

By coming together, we can move mountains and make a significant impact in the lives of our members, and our communities. With that, the credit union difference is alive and thriving.


Want to learn more about the credit union difference? Connect with us – we would love to hear from you!

 

 

Summer Vacation Safety Tips

It’s almost summer! Right now, you probably have beaches on the brain or you’re thinking about that long-planned trip abroad. Before you head out, take steps to help keep your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare:

Do some research — and then carefully read the details on travel offers.

  • Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals and agents with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
  • Look for extra costs. Resort fees (also known as destination, facility and amenity fees) can add $50 or more to your nightly cost.
  • Ask about taxes, which may be significant in many locations.
  • Review the cancellation and refund policies before you pay, and keep a copy.
  • If you’re buying travel insurance, be sure the agency is licensed.
  • Bring copies of any confirmation details that show the rate and amenities you were promised. This also helps if the hotel or host says your reservation is “lost.”

Don’t pay for “prize” vacations. No legitimate company will ask you to pay for a prize. Also, look for catches to resort or timeshare offers. They may come with taxes and fees to pay, timeshare presentations to attend, and high-pressure sales pitches to endure.

Don’t sign anything until you know the terms of the deal. Say “no thanks” to anyone who tries to rush you, without giving you time to consider the offer.

Use a credit card, if possible, for your travel spending. This gives you more protection than paying by cash or debit card — and it may be easier to dispute unauthorized charges.

Protect your identity and account information while you’re traveling.

  • Take only the IDs, credit cards and debit cards you need. Make copies so, if someone steals your bag, you’ll know exactly what was lost.
  • Make a copy of your insurance card to take with you.
  • Leave all other important documents safe at home.
  • Learn how to protect your mobile devices and personal information from hackers and malware.

And while we hope it doesn’t happen to you, report identity theft and any other fraud you experience.


Don’t forget to let us know if you are traveling this summer! Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 3 so we can ensure your accounts are ready for your travel fun. You can also visit us at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204

Mortgage Closing Scams : How to protect yourself

Closing on a new home can be one of your most memorable life moments. It’s the final and one of the most critical stages in the home-buying journey, but with the exchange of key paperwork and a sizable down payment, it can also be a stressful experience, especially for first-time home buyers.

The FBI has reported that scammers are increasingly taking advantage of home buyers during the closing process. Through a sophisticated phishing scam, they attempt to divert your closing costs and down payment into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to your wiring instructions. In fact, reports of these attempts have risen 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in 2017 alone, there was an estimated loss of nearly $1 billion in real estate transaction costs.

While it’s easy to think you may not fall for this kind of scam, these schemes are complex and often appear as legitimate conversations with your real estate or settlement agent. The ultimate cost to victims could be the loss of their life savings.

Here’s what you should know and how to avoid it happening to you.

How it works

Scammers are increasingly targeting real estate professionals, seeking to comprise their email in order to monitor email correspondences with clients and identify upcoming real estate transactions. During the closing process, scammers send spoofed emails to home buyers – posing as the real estate agent, settlement agent, legal representative or another trusted individuals – with false instructions for wiring closing funds.

How to avoid a mortgage phishing scam

  • Identify two trusted individuals to confirm the closing process and payment instructions. Ahead of your mortgage closing, discuss in person, or by phone, the closing process and money transfer protocols with these trusted individuals (realtor, settlement agent, etc.). Be cautious about exchanging any details about your closing over email. You may want to use this opportunity to also create a code phrase, known only by these trusted parties, if you need a secure way to confirm their identities in the future.
  • Write down their names and contact information. Use the Mortgage Closing Checklist created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to list these individuals and their primary phone numbers.
  • Before wiring money, always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives. Never follow instructions contained in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account name and number, with your trusted representatives either in person or by using the phone number you previously agreed to.
  • Avoid using phone numbers or links in an email. Again, scammers can closely replicate the email address, phone number and format of an exchange from your agents. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments without first confirming with your trusted representatives.
  • Do NOT email financial information. Email is never a secure way to send financial information.
  • Be mindful of phone conversations. It may be difficult to identify whether a phone call is fraudulent or legitimate. Scammers may call and ask you to verify your personal or financial information. When in doubt, always refer back to your trusted professionals to confirm whether it’s legitimate.

What to do if it happens to you

  • Contact your credit union or wire-transfer company immediately. Reporting the error as soon as possible can increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to recover your money.
  • File a complaint with the FBI. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov .

While it can be easy to think you’ll never fall for a scam of this nature, the reality is that it’s becoming more and more common, and the results can be disastrous for eager homeowners. By being mindful and taking a few important steps ahead of your closing, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Brought to you by our friends at the Consumer Financial Bureau


Buying or Refinancing? Talk to us first – we are here to help! Connect with our Lending Specialists at 503-275-0300 Option 2 or by visiting our Branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR.

Home Equity : What It Is and Why It Matters

It is often said that home ownership builds wealth. So, what is home equity, and how can it enhance your net worth?

What is home equity?

Home equity is the current market value of your home, minus what you owe. You’re looking for a positive number. Any gain comes from:

  • Paying down the principal balance on your loan.
  • An increase in market value over time.

How does home equity work?

Building home equity is a bit like investing in a long-term instrument, like bonds. Your money is, for the most part, locked up and not spendable.

There are some ways to tap it, but wealth is created over years as your share of “free and clear” ownership of the house increases.

It seems simple enough, but home equity is not guaranteed. Just ask any homeowner who went through the last housing bust. That’s when home equity fell sharply for many homeowners — and, in some cases, completely disappeared.

As a rule, building home equity is a slow climb, at best. U.S. residential year-over-year home price appreciation averaged 1.89% from 1997 to 2017, adjusted for inflation, according to CoreLogic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Urban Institute.

However, behind that average are some major year-over-year price swings during the same period, ranging from a gain of 12.6% to a drop of 18.1%, according to the Urban Institute.

When it comes to short-term home appreciation, sometimes it’s more of a bungee jump than a climb.

How do you find out how much equity is in your home?

home equity calculator can give you an idea of what your home is worth and how much equity you may have, if you’re thinking about selling your home or borrowing a chunk of your equity.

An appraisal will really nail down the value of your house.

Why is home equity important?

Home equity can be a long-term strategy for building wealth.

Mortgage payments reduce what you owe while your home gains value, so paying on a house has been called “a forced savings account.”

This is unlike virtually every other asset purchased with a loan, such as vehicles, which lose value while you pay them off.

A growing number of U.S. homeowners are amassing “impressive stockpiles” of home equity wealth, according to Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions.

At the end of the second quarter of 2017, over 14 million U.S. properties were considered “equity rich” — meaning the debt on the property was 50% or less of the home’s current market value.

That’s about 24% of all owner-occupied homes with a mortgage.

Home equity takes time to build

Another nutrient helping to grow home equity wealth is time. Homeowners who stay in their homes longer are more likely to accrue equity.

In the second quarter of 2017, people selling their homes had lived there an average of more than eight years. That was the longest ownership period since Attom began tracking homeownership tenure in 2000. Before the recession, people were staying in their homes an average of about four and a quarter years, Attom data show.

“That’s a paradigm shift — a more conservative approach to homeownership and building wealth through homeownership,” Blomquist says.

Just 10% of homes owned for less than one year are considered equity rich, according to ATTOM.

You don’t have to sell to tap the profit inside your home. Instead, you can borrow against that value with a home equity loan or line of credit. A home equity loan will provide you a lump sum; a HELOC allows you to draw on the available balance as you wish.

Home equity is not a get-rich-quick scheme

Building home equity is definitely a long-term proposition. Blomquist says wise words from one of his relatives may state it best.

“My wife’s great-grandfather — who bought property in Southern California a long time ago — his advice was, ‘You take care of a piece of real estate for 20 years, it’ll take care of you forever.’”

From our friends at Nerd Wallet


Not impressed with your kitchen or bathroom? Dream big with your space! Tackle your next home project with our Home Equity Special — rates as low as 5.21% APR*! Connect with our Loan Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 2 or apply online. We can’t wait to help make your dreams come true!

 

*Rate quoted valid for second lien loans only. Available in Oregon, Washington & Idaho. Minimum loan amount is $25,000. Maximum loan amount is $100,000. Maximum loan-to-value is 80%. Rate will vary depending on term, loan-to-value and credit qualifications. 10-year maximum term. Payments: On a $50,000 loan with a 120-month term at 4.99% interest rate (5.21% APR), your monthly payment would be approximately $531.21 or $10.64 per $1,000 financed. Payment approximation does not include taxes or insurance. Offer ends 5/31/2019