Tag Archives: tips

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Did you know there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018? According to Javelin Strategy, each case cost the victim an average of $1,050 – and that’s only the cost in dollars. When an individual’s identity is stolen, the thief wreaks major havoc on the victim’s financial health, which can take months, or even years, to recover from.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim. Here are a few ways to get started:

USACU_IdentityTheft_social
Identity theft is one of the most nefarious crimes out there. Check out these 7 ways to help protect yourself.

Download infographics here.


Be proactive about protecting your identity and keep your information and your money safe. For information about identity theft in general, please visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

8 Creative Ways to Save on Heating Costs this Winter

Q: I’ve sealed all leaky windows and doors in my home, but my heating bill is still astronomical. Is there anything else I can do to keep my heating costs down?

A: Sealing air leaks is a great first step toward lowering your heating bill. Luckily, there are many other methods for hacking your way to a lower heating bill.

Here are some creative ways to save on heating costs.

Dust your vents
This can be an easy, effective way for lowering your heating bills. Dust acts as a natural insulator and can block some of the hot air from heating your home.

Lower your thermostat 
The Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter for maximum energy savings. For every degree you crank it down over an 8-hour period throughout the month, you can shave 1 percent off your heating bill. If you can lower your thermostat by 10 degrees at night or while you’re at work, you’ll save 10 percent off your heating bill! A programmable thermostat can do the job for you so you don’t have to remember to turn it down.

Turn on your ceiling fans
Most ceiling fans are equipped with a “summer” and “winter” setting. In the wintertime, set the  blades to move in a clockwise direction so hot air, which naturally rises toward the ceiling, can be blown downward to warm up the room.

Use aluminum foil
Tape a piece of aluminum foil behind the radiator to reflect heat into the room instead of into the wall.

Use zone heating
If you live in a large home, keep the lesser-used areas just warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing. Close some of the vents in these rooms and shut the door to keep that heat in. On the flip side, open the doors of the rooms that see heavy use so hot air can flow evenly throughout the house.

Rearrange your furniture
Check if you have any furniture situated near your heating vents. You don’t want to be paying all that money just for hot air to be flowing into the underside of your living room sofa.

Let the sunshine in
The low-in-the-sky winter sun can give you hours of free solar heat each day — if you let it in. Be sure to open the curtains in the early morning hours and to close them at night to keep that warm air inside. You may also want to swap your curtains for thicker, insulated ones in the winter for further protection against the cold night air.

Humidify your air
Use humidity to your advantage by investing in a humidifier for the winter. Moisture helps to hold onto heat and will keep the air warmer longer.

So…what’s your secret heating hack? Share it with us in the comments.

School is Just Around the Corner – Plan for a Stress-Free First Day

Summertime with the kids is a time to overindulge in potato salad and hot dogs, pool parties, road trips, and staying up late to watch movies. Who was thinking about textbooks, assignments, and spelling tests? Nobody!

Then, bam! All of a sudden, it’s back to school!

With the first day right around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about how to establish some healthy routines that will stay rooted throughout the school year.

Here are a few tips to make the first day stress-free:

  • Start talking about the return to school with your children—are they nervous, excited, anxious? Are there things you can do to relive their fears, such as visit the school, or walk or bike the safest route to school together? Plan a play date with a friend they haven’t seen since the last school year to help them reconnect.
  • Professionals advise to spend some really quality family time together in the weeks leading up the big day: play games, read together, exercise, and engage in fun family activities.
  • Start establishing earlier bedtimes well before the first day—that alarm clock buzzing early is mighty shocking to the system after a relaxing summer.
  • Get organized! Shop for school supplies way in advance and let the kids help pick out their binders and folders.
  • Get the first-day outfit ready. Shopping with your children and letting them choose a few fun items will help them feel confident.
  • Be a role model and help your kids understand all of the things to look forward to—meeting new friends, starting new activities and sports, all of the interesting things they will learn, and explore.
  • Start new eating habits and choose some healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner before the school year starts.
  • If you have a childcare professional or after school care, talk to them about how your child is feeling, anything they should be aware of, and engage them in your healthier back to school routines and eating habits.
  • Pack the backpacks and lay out clothes the night before to ensure for a stress-free morning.
  • Plan a celebratory dinner the night after the first day. Eat together and talk about all of the things that happened—perhaps the kids can choose their favorite meal for the family to enjoy.
  • Stay calm, plan your own time well, and honor your needs and downtime.

Deep breaths! You got this


Connect with us to help get your child ready for their first savings or checking account to start the school year off with healthy financial habits. Call us at 503-275-0300 Option 4, or stop into our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor to get started today! Everyone deserves a better banking experience. Get it here.

Tips to Improve Your Credit Before Buying a Home

Brought to you by our friends at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

In general, the best mortgage interest rates go to borrowers with credit scores in the mid-700s or above. These borrowers also typically have the most offers available to them.

Haven’t checked your credit report recently? Now is the time to do so. You’ll have concrete information to help you make the best decisions about what to do next. And, you’ll find out if there are any errors on your credit report that may be lowering your credit scores. You’ll also see which areas you may be able to improve. Checking your own credit won’t hurt your credit scores.

It’s important to understand that you don’t have just one credit score. There are many credit scoring formulas, and the score will also depend on the data used to calculate it. Today, most mortgage lenders use FICO scores when deciding whether to offer you a loan, and in setting the rate and terms. Most mortgage lenders request and evaluate your credit scores and the scores of any co-borrowers from all three major credit reporting companies and make their decisions based on the middle score.

Check out our step-by-step guide to checking your credit reports and scores. We cover the basics on how credit reports and scores work, how to get a copy of your reports and scores, how to check for errors, and how to file a dispute if you find errors.

If you’re worried about your credit scores, rebuilding your credit (or building it for the first time) won’t happen overnight. But there are steps you can take and mortgage options you can consider if your score isn’t where you want it to be.

Questions? Connect with our Loan Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 2.


Are you up for an easy challenge to win some extra cash? Subscribe to our blog for a chance to win a $50 cash prize*.

Entering the contest is easy.  Here’s how it works:

  • Subscribe to our blog by entering your email in the box above the “Follow” button on the left menu
  • Each week in February, we will publish a blog along with the trivia question at the end of each blog
  • Email your answers to social@usacu.org by February 28, 2019

QUESTION 1:  What score does most mortgage lenders use when deciding to offer loans?

Official Contest Rules

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

Car Buying Tips

Buying a new car doesn’t need to be like a game show. No choosing the right door and winning your prize – a deal on a good car! We are here to help make the car buying experience easy by outlining a few simple steps you should consider when buying a car.

Set your budget –  Decide how much you want to spend, what your monthly payment should be, and how you will finance your purchase. Don’t forget to get insurance quotes as well and include that in your numbers.

Get Pre-Approved by your Credit Union– Getting pre-approved by your credit union before sealing the deal. It takes the hassle out of guessing what you can and cannot afford, and takes out a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty. Plus, your Loan Officer will look over the purchase order prior to funding to ensure you are getting the best deal, and aren’t paying for unnecessary fees.

Choose the right car – Narrow the fields and choose the model that best serves your needs. Think about all the ways you plan to use the car, will it accommodate your family, and keep them safe.

Check reliability and ownership costs – Choose a reliable car that you can afford to own. Look into average repair costs and make sure it will fit into your budget.

Test-drive the car – Test-drive your top choices to see which car is right for you. Find a route that has a bit of everything such as hills, rough pavement, and curves to make sure it performs to your expectations.

Find the right price – Use price guides,  to see what other people are paying for the car you like. Make sure you accurately input all the options you want because in some cases all the little factors can affect the cars price.

Negotiate – When negotiating in person it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Just go slowly, and make sure you are understand the numbers. Ask for a breakdown of the car, and any additional fees before you agree to a deal. And don’t be afraid to walk away if you can’t come to an agreement, or don’t like the way you are being treated.

Maximize trade-in value – Find out the value of your car, and get the most out of it when trading it in. Compare the numbers you find and the numbers the dealers are giving you, and try and find a fair price.


In the market for a new car? Don’t miss out on our Enterprise Fall Car Sale going on now! Connect with one of our Loan Specialists today to get pre-approved by calling 503.275-0300 Option 2, applying online, or stopping in today!

 

5 Work From Home Scams

From our friends at CUinsight.com

As the gig economy grows, the promises of making it big by working from home also multiply.

Many people are already on high alert when searching jobs on Craigslist, but online job scammers have gotten more sophisticated, and some may still slip past your radar.

According to FlexJobs’ annual Super Survey, 82% of job seekers are worried they will fall for a job scam. Thirteen percent have been a victim and 22% say they know someone who has been a victim of a job scam.

Besides heeding the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, FlexJobs suggests job seekers consider the following questions when reviewing potential opportunities:

  • Does the job listing include the hiring company’s name and/or does the recruiter or job posting match the company’s information?
  • Are there any upfront costs required to get the job? (including supplies, a minimum investment or training fees)
  • Are there any typos on the site or in any correspondence?
  • Are you being asked to provide personal information like a social security number, credit card number, bank information or driver’s license?
  • Did they offer a job on the spot without conducting an interview?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, experts say that’s a red flag, and the “dream opportunity” might become a nightmare. Scammers can be very creative in convincing you a position or company is legitimate, so do your research. Check with sites like the BetterBusinessBureau.com, FTC.com, FlexJobs.com or scam.com to learn of the latest employment scams.

Here are FlexJobs’ 5 most common work-from-home scams.

Career advancement grant: This scam claims to come from the government, promising you a grant to pursue education or certification. Scammers ask for your account information with the promise that they will deposit the bogus grant money directly into your account.

Data entry scams: There are legitimate data entry jobs that allow you to work from home, but the scammers ask for money up front and/or promise wages that are much higher than normal.

Pyramid schemes: If the only way to make money is by others losing money or paying you as they recruit others, it’s probably a scam … and, pyramid schemes are also illegal, so you could be charged with a crime.

Online reshipping: Don’t ever repack items and forward them to customers outside the United States. What you’re doing is transporting stolen goods, and not only will you never get paid, you could be charged with a crime.

Rebate processor: This scam promises you a salary based on the number of clicks your ad receives. It charges a training fee up front for which you will never be reimbursed, and you’ll never receive that salary, either


USAgencies Credit Union is committed to keeping you and your family safe, financially and beyond. Questions about your products and services? Connect with us today!

Have questions about this article or want to check out the original post? Find it HERE.

5 Travel Tips for Your Summer Vacation

It’s finally here. That magical time of year when the days are hot, the coffee is iced, and the nights are spent dreaming of upcoming vacations and travel adventures far, far away.

We know that dealing with cyber predators and unsafe travel conditions are not on your bucket list, and we also know that dealing with the fallout from identity theft is no fun.

To help keep you safe and informed, here are 5 essential travel tips for wherever your adventures take you :

  1. Make copies of important travel documents.

You should include your travel itinerary, health insurance cards, credit cards and passport. You should then give the copies to someone you trust in case of an emergency. It is also smart to email any important information about your trip to yourself before you leave so it is easily accessible if something gets lost, especially if you are traveling overseas.

  1. Use a credit card that has travel protection

Traveling can come with a lot of uncertainties, which is why it is always important to be prepared. Using a credit card that helps with emergency assistance, car rental insurance and lost luggage can bring you peace of mind while traveling. Our VISA Platinum Credit Card has all those additional benefits and more.  Connect with us before your next trip to get approved!

  1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access financial information or make online purchases.

It is very easy for hackers to steal information from public internet servers. Further, you should never leave your laptop or cell phone in a vulnerable position (i.e. at the breakfast table while you run to the bathroom, or beach chair while you take a dip); this might seem like common sense, but it is easy to let your guard down when you are on island time!

  1. Research, Research, Research.

It is important to learn the ins and outs of your destination and so some digging to find out what areas are safe and what areas you should avoid. A good place to start? Read hotel reviews online to see what neighborhoods and destinations other travelers recommend. Remember that if a place seems unsafe or makes you feel uncomfortable, you should leave right away. You can also download the State Department’s Smart Traveler app  and sign up for the State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

5. Inform the credit unions of your travel plans

To keep your money safe, we automatically block transactions clearing from countries and merchants that have a high risk of fraud occurring. If you give us a call prior to your travels, we can ensure your cards work while you are away from home, giving you peace of mind.


Thinking about your next adventure? Let us help you cruise off this summer with loans for RVs, Boats, and more. Check out our Great Outdoor promotion happening now through June 30th! Connect with us by calling 503.275.0300 Option 2 to speak with one our loan specialists today.