November SECU & You
Top 5 Tips to Protect Yourself Against Fraud During the Holidays
The holidays are just around the corner, and so is the rush to buy the perfect gift for those on your list. With the significant increase in sales activity both online and in retail locations during the last two months of the year, there is also an increased risk of fraudulent activity and theft. Here are 5 ways to protect yourself against fraud this holiday season:
- When shopping online, stick to reputable sites. Check the reviews from previous customers. If they have a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Only carry the cards you need. It only takes seconds for a thief to steal a wallet or a purse!
- Check your receipts against your statements to ensure there have been no unauthorized charges. Set up mobile banking alerts so you are notified of unusual account activity as soon as possible.
- If you buy packages online, try to schedule delivery for when you know you will be home or have them sent to your office to avoid theft.
- When giving to charity, do your research so you know where your donations are going. There are scammers who want to take advantage of your generosity.
Don't Let the Holidays Break the Bank
With presents, parties, and holiday travel, it is easy to blow your budget during the holiday season. With credit card debt on the rise, having a budget and a plan can help you avoid taking on debt during this holiday season.
- Make a list. The best place to start when making a holiday budget is to know what your expenses will be. Include gifts for everyone on your list, entertainment, and any travel related expenses. Add a line for surprises, as they always pop up this time of year.
- With your list made, decide on spending. How much do you have available to spend during the holidays? Be realistic!
- Once you know how much you want to spend, assign a dollar amount to each item on your list. While you may want to buy a gift for all of your coworkers, the amount you have to spend may not cover everything on your list. Decide what you can – and can’t – do based on your available funds.
- Track your spending. Once you know how much you are going to spend on each item on your list, monitor your spending to make sure you aren’t going over your budget.
- Take advantage of credit card rewards programs. Cards like SECU’s cash back Visa® card offers 2% cash back on groceries and 1% on every purchase. Credit card rewards programs help you stretch your holiday budget. Be sure to pay off the balances though to avoid finance charges!
- Do your research and get creative. Look for deals and shop sales. Give handmade items instead of expensive store-bought gifts. Avoid waiting until the last minute when you may make impulse purchases that blow your budget.
If you do find yourself going over budget, the holidays are a great time to take on an extra part-time job to help cover expenses. Most retailers are looking for additional seasonal help this time of year. This is also a great way to earn some extra cash to stash in your savings.
Over 150 Students Attend Reality Fair
More than 150 students from Digital Harbor High School and National Academy Foundation High School in Baltimore got a heavy dose of financial reality at a recent Reality Fair hosted by SECU and First Financial FCU at SECU Arena on the campus of Towson University.
Reality Fairs are designed to give students first-hand experience in managing their money and making smart, informed financial decisions that will help them once they graduate and go on to college or jobs in the real-world.
Participants are assigned careers based on their interests and given a monthly salary. They then have to determine how to live within their means while paying for basic necessities, covering emergency expenses, building savings, and choosing how to spend discretionary income. After making their decisions, students meet with financial counselors from SECU to review their choices to see what they could do to improve their money management skills.
Reality Fairs give students the opportunity to understand real-world budgeting to better prepare them for life after school.
Our Reality Fairs are a key part of our financial education initiatives, and help students start on the right path to leading a secure financial future.
Keep Your Accounts Active!
Did you know that Maryland, as well as other states, have regulations requiring that accounts with no activity for more than three years must be declared “abandoned” and those funds transferred to the state? SECU makes several attempts to notify impacted members however, if no response is received, the accounts must be closed and the funds escheated to the state.
To protect your hard-earned money, keep your SECU accounts active in any of these ways:
- Log into online banking at www.secumd.org
- Check your balance on Expressline (888-643-9777) or at a SECU ATM
- Make a deposit or withdrawal at your local SECU branch or by using the mobile app
- Call SECU at (800) 879-7328 and ask to reactivate your account
Be sure to use your SECU account and take advantage of the financial services resources we have to offer.