Category Archives: News

Protect Yourself: Tax Scams

It’s tax season. Unfortunately, that also means it’s tax scam season too.

It’s important that you’re aware of the various ways scammers may attempt to steal info and money, so that you can better avoid becoming a victim. The more informed you are about tax scams, the better you’ll be at spotting, and stopping, fraudsters.

What do tax scams look like?

  • The scammer usually presents themselves as an employee of the IRS or State in a call/email to the targeted individual, falsely stating they want to “help” with tax filing.
  • Typically, this type of tax scam involves an unsolicited, bogus email regarding a tax refund or bill, or threatening an audit if the bill is not paid right away.
  • Tax scam emails often look very official, and can link to a phony website – in order to appear to be more legit.

How can you protect yourself against tax scams?

If you get an email regarding federal or state taxes:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links, as they may contain malicious code or viruses.
  • For tax scams involving a state’s filing office, check the office’s website to see how they recommend reporting an attempted attack.

If you get a call regarding federal or state taxes:

  • Ask for a contact number and an employee badge number and then call back to verify its legitimacy.
  • Call the IRS or state tax authority to inquire further and verify the accuracy of the call.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission through the FTC Complaint Assistant on their website (add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments section).

In general, it’s a best practice to be extremely critical of ANY emails or phone calls you get from someone claiming to be an employee of the IRS or state tax authority, especially those that demand immediate payment. These governing bodies will NEVER:

  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text, or through social media outlets to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Require that you pay your taxes with a certain payment type, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS or State will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.


For more in depth information on how to detect or report tax scams, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.

For more online security resources from USACU, check out the Security tab on our site.

Indirect Lending: Know Before You Go

Have you ever heard the term “Indirect Lending”? If you’re shopping for a new car or truck, and heading to the dealer, it’s a good idea to understand exactly what indirect lending is, and how it can affect your purchase. Our Lending Supervisor, Callie Gibbs answers a couple of questions about this common dealer lending practice and gives some tips on what you may want to watch out for…

Q. What is Indirect Lending?
A. Indirect lending means that the dealer finds your financing for you. Your general application information is sent to several different credit unions for approval. This can mean several inquiries on your credit report, as well as your personal information in the hands of several institutions. The financial institution that ends up “buying” your loan then pays the dealer for that loan; generally, 2% or more of the loan amount.

Q. How does Indirect Lending differ from lending at USAgencies?
A. At USACU, we already know you. We will decision your loan request based on you, not just the numbers. Our loan officers can give you information about what to look for when shopping, the best rates available to you. We will also advise you on the amount to spend so that you don’t get in over your head and have buyer’s remorse. Your credit union doesn’t feel we should have to buy your loan; we want to earn your loan.

Q. What kinds of things should you watch out for with Indirect Lending?
A. The biggest concern with indirect lending is that the dealer is allowed to add on thousands in products. This can sometimes cause you to finance 130% or more of the value of the car.

Q. What’s better than Indirect Lending?
A. A USACU AutoCheck! With an AutoCheck, you’ll know how much you are approved for before you start shopping, so you won’t overspend, you’ll know the book value of the vehicle you’re looking for so you’ll be sure that you’re getting a good deal, and you’ll avoid sitting in a chair at the dealer for hours dealing with the “dealer finance guy” that your salesperson has to keep checking with. You just make the deal, complete and sign the AutoCheck, and drive off- it’s that easy! Basically, it will save you time and money… and who doesn’t want more of that?



For more Q & A with Callie, you can contact her directly:

Callie Gibbs, Lending Supervisor, USACU

Callie Gibbs
Lending Supervisor
Certified Financial Counselor
cgibbs@usacu.org
(503) 275-0312

 

Auto Solution: They Shop, You Save

The holiday season is here and with it comes the never-ending to-do list. This time of year, we know that your time is even more precious. If you’re currently shopping for a car and you’d like to save both time and money, why not try our trusted auto broker– Auto Solution?

Auto Solution is an auto-buying service available for USACU members that is dedicated to the elimination of any and all hassle in the auto-buying process. They’ll locate the vehicle you want from their dealer network and negotiate on your behalf. They can often find you vehicles at or near dealer invoice or wholesale to you save big!

Here’s a quick Q & A with Mark Loebner, owner of Auto Solution, on how they can help save you time, money… and maybe even give you a warm fuzzy feeling this holiday season.

Q. What does Auto Solution do, in a nutshell?
A.
In a “nutshell” we help members purchase new and used vehicles without hassle, and help provide them with financing from their Credit Union. With access to nearly 1,000 dealerships and a helpful staff that is here to guide you along the way, we’re happy to help with your next car purchase.

Q. How long have you been in this industry?
A. 
We have been providing new and used auto buying for Credit Unions for about 25 years in the Pacific Northwest.

Buy an Auto Solution vehicle, and donate a bike to a child in need.
Donated bike in USACU lobby.

Q. What does the auto-buying process look like?
A.
It’s a good idea to get pre-approved with USACU first, so that you know what kind of budget you’ll want to stick to. Next, you’ll work with an auto buying expert from Auto Solution who will learn all about your vehicle needs and budget. Auto Solution will then locate the vehicle you want from its dealer network and call you back frequently within a couple of hours! We’ll negotiate with the dealer to get you the best price we can (often near wholesale) and then deliver your vehicle straight to your home or credit union branch. Oh, and we take trade-ins too!

Q. Tell us about the kids bikes promo going on now.
A.
The kids bike promotion is done every year, and when a member purchases a vehicle, the Credit Union and Auto Solution purchase a new bike and it is given to a local charity prior to Christmas.

It is a great feeling to wake on Christmas morning knowing 50-60 children from under-served families are seeing their new bike for the first time!

Q. Favorite member story?
A.
As far as a member story, there are many of them, but one that stands out was a member who came all the way down from Sitka, Alaska to get his new truck drive it back home (and brought us 50 lbs. of bear meat!).

We love what we do and members love our service!

Questions?

Contact our lending department to learn more about how Auto Solution can help you:
Local: (503) 275-0300, ext. 2
Toll-free: (800) 452-0915, ext. 2
Email: loans@usacu.org

Ready to shop?
Get pre-approved with USACU first, then
Browse some of Auto Solution’s inventory (or call 503-238-2429)

ENGLISH insurance label

The Benefits of Volunteering

From our friends at Idealist.

(It really is okay to ask, “What’s in it for me?”)

Volunteering can be far more than simply doing a good deed.

In fact, volunteering can be a great way to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends, garner new professional contacts, get exercise, spend time outdoors/with animals/with kids, or even just shake up your routine.

Yet volunteers rarely speak of the benefits of volunteering to themselves — maybe it feels a bit too self-centered, or too far from the altruistic vision of the selfless volunteer.

But who says that doing good and enjoying yourself while meeting your own personal/professional goals can’t happen at the same time?

Part of finding the right volunteer opportunity is being honest about what you hope to learn and accomplish.

If in the process of meeting your personal and professional goals, you are also serving as an effective volunteer, helping to meet the goals of your particular volunteer project or role, and/or helping to move an organization’s mission forward, it’s a win-win situation.

Personal and professional benefits of volunteering

With that in mind, here are some of the personal and professional benefits one can gain from volunteering:

Skill development
Always wanted to learn about sustainability and conservation methods? Have experience creating podcasts and would like to try using them as an advocacy tool for a nonprofit? Volunteering helps you learn new skills, keep skills sharp, or use existing skills in new ways.

Career exploration
Regardless of your age or career level, volunteering will introduce you to new professional paths.

Volunteering can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular role or sector (particularly if you are coming from a for-profit job and hoping to switch to non-profit or government), workplace or office culture, or cause.

Also, never underestimate the power of networking; volunteering offers the opportunity to cross paths—as well as, in many cases, quickly bond—with people from across your community, including many with whom you may otherwise not have had contact.

Personal growth
Lifelong learning includes hands-on experiences as a volunteer which can teach you about issues ranging from adult literacy to public health to animal welfare.

Need a break from your day-to-day life? Recharge by walking dogs, playing basketball with kids, or taking tickets at a film festival. Need to work off some stress? Consider some of the more labor-intensive roles like helping to remove invasive species or chopping out non-native trees and bushes.

Lastly, don’t forget that sometimes it just feels good to be valued; as a volunteer you can contribute unique skills, experiences, and perspectives. For example, you might be great at using online sites like MySpace and Facebook.

Many organizations are looking to branch out into social networking to help connect with new audiences; as a volunteer, you can be the in-house expert to get them started.

Socialize
In addition to professional networking, volunteering can be a fun, meaningful way to make new friends. New to the community? Looking to branch out socially? Simply looking for something to do with new people? Volunteer and get to know others who care about the same issues that you do.

Have an impact
Last but most certainly not least, volunteering is one of the best ways we know of to make a difference in your community. Whatever your passion, however you get involved, volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact on the world.

 

Did you know you can become a volunteer at your favorite CU?

It’s true–USACU is guided by a group of Volunteers! If you’d love to join in and help set the tone at one of the best member-driven cooperative credit unions in the Pacific Northwest, click here to learn more.

Interested, but not sure you’re ready to become a full-fledged Volunteer? Check out our Associate Volunteer program.

Questions?
Call: 503.275.0300

Click: info@usacu.org

Letter from the CEO

As a Credit Union, we are a not-for-profit organization, owned by our members. As a member/owner of the Credit Union, you get a say in what happens here. That’s what’s so great about Credit Unions, and makes us so different from banks and other financial institutions. Another thing that makes Credit Unions different is that we are run by a group of volunteers, who are elected by our membership. Just who are these volunteers? They are members, just like you! Our Board of Directors is made up of a group of passionate, committed members who meet monthly to help move us in the right direction.

Not sure if you’re ready to become a full volunteer at USAgencies Credit Union, but would like to become more involved? We also have an Associate Volunteer Program, which gives you exposure to different areas of operation and prepares you for what you might expect upon becoming a regular volunteer.

If you’re interested in giving back to your community by volunteering at your Credit Union, we’d love to talk! Email us at info@usacu.org or visit usacu.org/volunteers.

Jim Lumpkin, President/CEO, USACU

Jim Lumpkin
President/CEO
USAgencies Credit Union

 

2016 Member Survey

Give Feedback and Enter to Win $250!

Survey open now – August 8th

Each year we invite members to provide feedback on what we’re doing well and what we can do better. We take your suggestions and input into consideration when planning initiatives to improve your credit union.

At the end of the survey, you can provide your name and contact information for a chance to win a $250 Visa Gift Card as our “thank you” for your participation.

The survey is open now and closes end of day on August 8th.

Begin the survey!

info@usacu.org | (503) 275-0300 or (800) 452-0915

*Please note: we will only contact the winner and your contact information will not be connected to your survey responses. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Current employees and volunteers are not eligible to win. One entry per member.