Archive for the ‘ Debit Cards ’ Category

Tips for Avoiding Debit Card Fraud


For many people, debit cards are the perfect plastic. They offer most of the conveniences of credit cards with no risk of accumulating debt.

But like credit cards, debit cards are vulnerable to rip-off artists. And debit card fraud is particularly scary because thieves can withdraw money directly from your checking account.

Here’s how debit fraud happens and how to protect yourself.

How identity thieves operate

Debit card fraud can be sophisticated or old-school. Thieves use techniques including:

  • Hacking- When you bank or shop on public Wi-Fi networks, hackers can use keylogging software to capture everything you type, including your name, debit card account number and PIN.
  • Phishing- Be wary of messages soliciting your account information. Emails can look like they’re from legitimate sources but actually be from scammers. If you click on an embedded link and enter your personal information, that data can go straight to criminals.
  • Skimming- Identity thieves can retrieve account data from your card’s magnetic strip using a device called a skimmer, which they can stash in ATMs and store card readers. They can then use that data to produce counterfeit cards.
  • Spying- Plain old spying is still going strong. Criminals can plant cameras near ATMs or simply look over your shoulder as you take out your card and enter your PIN. They can also pretend to be good Samaritans, offering to help you remove a stuck card from an ATM slot.

Smart ways to protect yourself

Adopt these simple habits to greatly reduce your odds of falling victim to debit card fraud:

  • Be careful online- Shop and bank on secure websites with private Wi-Fi. If you must shop or bank in public, download a virtual private network to protect your privacy.
  • Monitor your accounts- Review your statements and sign up for text or email alerts so you can catch debit card fraud attempts early.
  • Don’t ignore data breach notifications- The majority of identity theft victims received warnings that their accounts might have been breached but did nothing. If you get one of these messages, change your PIN and ask your provider to change your debit card number. You can also ask one of the major credit card bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.
  • Inspect card readers and ATMs- Don’t use card slots that look dirty or show evidence of tampering, such as scratches, glue or debris. And steer clear of machines with strange instructions, such as “Enter PIN twice.”
  • Cover your card- When using your debit card or typing your PIN at an ATM, block the view with your other hand. Go to a different location entirely if suspicious people are hanging around the ATM, and if your card gets stuck, notify the financial institution directly rather than accepting “help” from strangers.

Even if you’ve taken precautions, debit card fraud can still happen. If your card gets hacked, don’t panic. Tell your financial institution right away so you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


For more information on how to safeguard your financial information, visit the Members 1st Fraud & Security Center page.

To learn more about how to set up text, email, and other alerts to protect your cards, visit the Members 1st Card Control page.

Understanding Mobile Payments


What once seemed a fanciful or even silly idea — that instead of cash or a card we’d use our phones to pay for stuff — is becoming the norm. Mobile-based payments in the U.S. are projected to reach $142 billion in 2019.

While that’s a lot of growth, mobile payments still make up a tiny fraction of retail commerce. In 2015 they accounted for only 0.2% of in-store sales in the U.S. And that might be because the technology is still somewhat new and perhaps confusing.

Here’s a quick look at mobile payment: how it works, who the major players are and how secure these transactions are.

How it works

Mobile payments really took off in 2014 with the introduction of Apple Pay®. Since then, a number of competitors have popped up, including Samsung Pay® and Google Pay®.

As their names suggest, these mobile payment services are tied to specific devices. Apple Pay works only on newer iPhones and the Apple Watch, and Samsung Pay requires later Galaxy and Note models. Google Pay requires an Android device.

With mobile payments, your smartphone acts as a proxy for your credit card, debit card, loyalty card or metro card. The card info is read into the phone either by taking its picture or by manually entering the number and expiration date.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay all make use of near field communication (NFC). NFC enables two electronic devices, one of them typically mobile, to communicate via close proximity – say, by tapping the phone to a credit card/phone reader.

Samsung Pay also uses a technology called magnetic secure transmission, which makes it compatible with existing card readers that are not NFC-enabled.

What about security?

Mobile payment systems use a host of security measures to protect transactions from hackers. Each card registered on your phone is assigned a token, usually a string of numbers that represents your 16-digit credit or debit card number. This means your card number is never transmitted or revealed; the token is used to process the payment. It’s similar to how EMV or “chip” cards work, if you’ve come across those.

To complete a transaction, you will also need to input a PIN, use a fingerprint scan, or sign, depending on the particular payment service and the sophistication of the terminal at the checkout counter.

The risk with mobile payments ultimately lies with your accounts, not the payment devices. For example, some financial institutions don’t always have the best procedures to verify that the person adding a debit or credit card to a mobile payment service is the account holder. That makes it possible for thieves to use stolen account information in their own mobile payment app.

Cases of fraud have also been reported in connection with so-called peer-to-peer payment systems that were developed primarily to allow friends and family to send and receive money. In the case of Venmo, a division of eBay’s PayPal, users have reported unauthorized withdrawals that apparently took place as a result of weak authentication controls that let hackers take over accounts.

Many of us already carry our phones everywhere we go, and as more Americans embrace the technology, it’s likely more retailers will install mobile payment readers. Knowing the ins and outs is important before you jump in as well.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


The Visa® credit and debit cards offered by Members 1st Federal Credit Union are globally accepted and feature built-in chip (EMV) technology to provide you with an enhanced level of security. Our cards are also compatible with Apple Pay®Google Pay and Samsung Pay® on select smartphones, which means you don’t even have to pull out your Visa card when paying for purchases at the checkout terminal.

To learn more about the Members 1st Mobile Wallet, click here.

To learn more about the Members 1st Visa Credit Cards, click here


Think of what you spend in a day


Have you ever wondered during your daily routine if there was something you could be doing to save you money?  Every day, you make simple decisions that can cost you a good chunk of cash that could be saved and used for weekend fun.  Often times you make these decisions without even thinking of the quick and easy alternative rather than spending money.  Luckily for you there are plenty of simple and cheap swaps you can make to have more money at the end of the day.

In this quick video, you’ll see multiple ways that you can save money that are easy to change in your daily life.  You will see how simple it really can be for you to save money, which will make you and your wallet much happier!  Not only could these cheap swaps save you money each week, but they could also result in saving you time.  Begin applying these easy changes to your daily routine, and start saving some serious cash.

swaps graphic-blog

Members 1st Federal Credit Union can help you manage your money. Click here to learn more.

 

Written by guest blogger Zach Heckert, Marketing intern

We’re Getting Married: Do We Need Joint Accounts?


bride & groom

Planning a wedding? Well then, you’ve got enough on your mind. But print out this article for after the vows. It’s about something you’ll need to discuss with your brand- new spouse once housekeeping begins: Do we need joint accounts?

A financial team
You are more than just roommates now; you’re a financial team. So it makes sense to combine assets and put everything in joint accounts, right? Perhaps. At least one joint account—for shared household expenses —can make sense. Both partners can contribute to the fund, either equally or on a ratio based on their earnings. Each can also maintain a separate account for personal expenses.

Maintaining a joint account can have its challenges, though —especially if each spouse is spending from it. Sharing details of every transaction is important, and having one spouse or the other in charge of “balancing the books”is a good idea. Of course, be prepared for the occasional, “Now, what is this $67 charge for?”

Joint savings and investment accounts are also a way for a couple to feel as if they are building a future together —though IRAs will remain separate, by law. Assets gained before the partners became a couple, such as inheritances, usually remain separate as well, with beneficiary designations in wills and retirement accounts easily changed to reflect the new relationship.

Dealing with debt
Debt can be another matter. Shared debt for a new sofa to replace that ragged futon is fine, but the financial baggage from the past should continue to be held separately — including such things as student loans, car loans and credit card balances. As debt is retired, new purchases can be combined for joint benefit.

It is often assumed that credit is automatically combined after marriage, but that is not necessarily the case. Separate credit cards can be maintained and paid individually, while a joint credit card can be issued for spouses to share. This is especially important if one or the other has a checkered credit history. Keeping that scarred score quarantined will allow the other partner to maintain their buying power.

Spouses are not generally responsible for the individual debts of their partner, unless payments are for “family expenses”—in that case, in some states, both spouses can be held responsible. Spousal debt can also be transferred to a marital partner in community property states.

By the numbers
In years past, it was common for married couples to enter into a total money merger upon marriage. These days, it’s more common for couples that have joint bank accounts to also maintain individual accounts. Combining assets into a joint account can allow for a higher balance, which credit unions often reward with premium perks and fee discounts.But keeping separate accounts can allow for a bit of independence.

The question of single or joint accounts —or both —may come down to a single question: Which one of you is the most adept at handling money? For some married couples, the answer can be obvious. He can’t add single-digit numbers in his head, while she can compute the tax on a purchase while reaching in her purse for the exact change.

Usually, the fewer the accounts, the fewer the fees —and perhaps the better the interest rate on deposits. And, if both spouses work, combining paychecks into joint accounts can enable a turbo-charged savings plan: pay bills with one salary; save the other.

As newlyweds, the possibilities are endless.

Note:  Members 1st FCU has partnered with GreenPath, a financial management program to help individuals and couples who may have budgeting, debt management and trouble managing their checking accounts.  In addition, stop by any branch location to pick up a copy of our brochure, “His, Hers, Mine, Ours” that offers additional insight when couples decide to marry.

 Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

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