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Cyber Security Q&A


As these challenging times force our world to operate more digitally, you may find yourself wondering about cyber security. In effort to help our members stay safe online, we reached out to our VP of IT Information Security Officer, Garth, to answer a few questions. Keep reading to learn Garth’s tips to stay safe and secure.  

What are the different types of fraud? 

While fraudsters are constantly applying slight new coats of paint, the goals for their scams remain relatively the same. They ultimately boil down to either obtaining your credentials, coaxing you into installing something harmful, paying them for something you would not normally buy, or outright sending them money.  

Although some of these objectives are obtained in fairly straightforward ways, like calling you and asking you for your online banking password to ‘confirm your identity’ before telling you about the alleged fraud on your account, others can be very intricate. They are also savvy enough to take advantage of current events, so things like fake COVID-19 charities, hacked COVID-19 mapping sites, and other sorts of pandemic-themed frauds are common right now. 

Attackers are trying to take advantage of consumers during these difficult times. What advice do you have for them? 

We all know to be skeptical of junk mail and can recognize it when we see it. Applying that same scrutiny to unsolicited emails, calls, and pop-up ads can save us all a great deal of heartache. Question authenticity. Practice pausing before acting rashly on unsolicited information. Take advantage of fraud protection features where available. If two-factor authentication is offered for online services, make use of it. Be sure to leverage card alerts and locking features. Finally, never, under any circumstances, provide your password to anyone. Only you should ever know your password.  

What suggestions do you have for people who are working from home? 

Hackers discover new vulnerabilities constantly, and while some exploit those discoveries for personal gain, others notify publishers and manufacturers of these defects so they can be addressed with patches. Make sure that your operating system and antivirus software are up-to-date and working properly.  Keeping up with these updates is critically important. Adding password protection to your Wi-Fi network and monitoring devices on your network are easy and simple precautions. Doing these things will keep you safe. 

Do you have any additional advice?  

It can be challenging to juggle all of the complex and unique passwords experts tell you to use for each different website. You may want to consider investing in a password management solution. Even when two-factor authentication is not available on a particular website, a good password management tool can be protected with two-factor authentication and help you easily keep track of your passwords.  

Finally, do not be afraid to slow things down. Fraudsters generally want to rush you as much as possible in order to increase the likelihood you’ll be rattled and make a mistake. Take your time to work through any uncertainty you may feel. Consult with friends. It is much easier to stop fraud before the money has left your account than it is to try and get it back afterwards. 


For additional fraud and cyber security information, visit our website. Still have questions? Contact our Fraud and Security team.

Make the Most of Your Home’s Equity.


BEST WAYS TO USE A HOME EQUITY LOAN OR LINE OF CREDIT

As you continue to navigate through these unusual times, it could be the perfect time to tap into your home’s equity. You start building equity in your home with your down payment and your first mortgage payment.  Over time, you continue to build your home’s equity, which you can use to finance a variety of needs during these tough times. These funds can be used to finance several different things, such as home improvement projects, college and school expenses, debt consolidation, significant events like weddings and more. 

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Spring is finally here and it’s the perfect time to tackle those spring projects!  Have you been wanting to spruce up your back yard or put in a pool?  Many of us now have extra time at home, so tap into your home’s equity and turn those dreams into reality.   Home equity loans and lines of credit are great ways to finance outdoor projects, kitchen remodels, renovations and other home improvements. 

COLLEGE AND SCHOOL EXPENSES

Do you have a child or family member headed off to college?  Are you worried about how to pay for it?  Home equity loans and lines of credit can be great alternatives to student loans.  Student loans can sometimes have higher interest rates than home equity loans and lines of credit.  These uncertain times may have you worried about your finances, but don’t stress.  Take a look at where your home’s equity could take your education funding.

DEBT CONSOLIDATION

Another great use for a home equity loan or line of credit is consolidating any high-interest debt you may have.  This will allow you to condense many monthly payments into one simple payment.  A home equity loan or line of credit may also have a lower interest rate than that of your credit cards and other loan options.  Tackling debt can be overwhelming but consolidating debt with a home equity loan may be the right solution for you.

LIFE EVENTS

Planning a major life event like a wedding or expecting a new baby?  Home equity loans and lines of credit are great ways to fund these sorts of milestones.  Take advantage of the equity you have built up in your home and use it to finance the wedding or nursery of your dreams!

Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words


What credit scores are: Three-digit numbers expressing the likelihood you’ll repay someone who lets you use their money (like a loan or credit card).

Who has a credit score: People who have been listed on an account that was reported to any of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. An account can be a student loan, car loan, credit card, credit-builder loan or maybe rent. It represents something you are obligated to pay.

Where the number comes from: Data is collected by the credit bureaus, which get the information from lenders, credit card issuers and public records. Then it is weighted to produce a score, typically on a 300 to 850 range. Higher is better. There are hundreds of scoring models, so most consumers have many credit scores.

How do I get started?

  • If someone with good credit makes you an authorized user on an account that’s reported, that can help.
  • Student loans and sometimes car loans can be relatively easy to qualify for.
  • Credit-builder loans and secured credit cards are made for people building credit or re-establishing credit.

What should I do to boost my credit?

  • Pay all bills on time, every time.
  • Use your credit cards lightly — that is, don’t use more than 30% of your credit limit on any card.
  • Keep old accounts open unless you have a good reason to close them (like high fees).
  • Apply for credit sparingly.
  • Consider having both installment (level monthly payments for a set period) and credit cards.

The article Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Understanding your credit score doesn’t have to be difficult. For additional information regarding credit scores, click here.

Members 1st is here to help you to achieve your financial goals and assist you through all of life’s moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

How to Plan a Vacation Without Getting Into Debt


Whether you’re planning a trip to a country across the globe or packing the car for a weekend road trip to a local campground, you can have a debt-free vacation with some careful planning.

It’s easy to see how a vacation can blow up even the most carefully planned budget: In NerdWallet’s 2018 Summer Spending Report, parents surveyed by Harris Poll planned to charge an average of $1,019 to credit cards for summer vacations.

To ease the stress of a vacation on your budget, start with a clear idea of your trip’s scope — identifying expenses from the time you leave your home to the moment you return — and create a realistic spending limit. Then get creative to trim costs along the way.

1. Save over time

Play the long game when planning and saving for a vacation. Put a portion of every paycheck aside to build up a reserve of cash for your trip.

Even saving $25 or $50 a month will help make your trip more affordable. Make sure the amount you’re setting aside will provide you with enough vacation cash, too.

Consider opening a separate savings account and automating regular transfers to help you save without thinking about it.

If you’re more of an impulsive traveler, work to contribute to this travel fund regularly so you can have that weekend getaway without having to pull out your credit card.

2. Make a friendly budget

Think of your budget as another companion on your trip.

Just as with any travel buddy, make sure you and your budget set good expectations for each other. Make a spending plan. Account for everything from flights and lodging to entertainment and shopping. Your budget might not take you to every museum or restaurant you want; work to find a compromise that makes both of you happy.

If you run the numbers and find you can’t swing that vacation without overspending, think about shelving the trip for a few months and saving more money in the meantime.

3. Make the most of your credit cards

Have a travel credit card or a cash-back card sitting in your wallet? You can take advantage of it before and during your trip. If you don’t have one yet and your trip is six months or more away, consider looking into cards with a sign-up bonus that could cover flights or lodging.

Card in hand, spend smart. Say you have a card that gives you cash back on groceries; determine what you spend on groceries annually and earmark those rewards points for your vacation budget.

The key is having a plan to pay off your charges every month, advises Joe Cheung, a travel hacker and blogger at As the Joe Flies.

“Everything starts out with a commitment to not having any credit card debt,” says Cheung. “With that principle in place, that opens up the possibility to earn credit card rewards without going into debt or paying interest.”

You can also use a rewards card to cut your travel costs. Your card may get you free rental car insurance, or baggage fees or foreign transaction fees waived.

4. Watch hotels like a hawk

Lodging is one of the most costly parts of a vacation. Shop strategically to lower your hotel costs, including monitoring prices and booking rooms during off-peak periods.

Cheung recommends booking your reservation, but waiting to pay. That way you can continue to monitor hotel prices and change your booking accordingly.

“Sometimes prices will drop by just $10 or $20, but sometimes it’s pretty drastic,” Cheung says. “I once had a hotel for $250 a night, then it dropped to $160 a night.”

You also can check prices at the hotel where you’ve made your initial reservation and price-compare with hotel price aggregator sites to see if you’re getting the best deal.

5. Use apps to find cheap flights

Price-tracking apps and websites can do the work of price hunting for you.

With the smartphone app Hopper, for example, you can enter the general parameters of your itinerary, and it will track prices over time and alert you when the cheapest flight is available. The more flexible your travel dates, the easier it will be for you to find a low price. Google Flights provides a similar service.

One drawback to these services: They don’t include prices for every airline. So monitor a few sources to get the best price.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press. 

The article How to Plan a Vacation Without Getting Into Debt originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Ready to plan the vacation of your dreams? We’re here to help! Check out our Vacation Club or Goal Savings accounts. These accounts allow you to designate savings specifically for the trip of a lifetime!

Want to get more out of your vacation? We also offer multiple credit card options with features you will love!

Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

6 Tips for Holiday Shopping


The holidays can be an extremely stressful time, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Consider our 6 simple tips to ensure that you make the most of your money this holiday season.

1. Make a list

Be sure to make a list of each person you will need to have a gift for. Once you have finalized your list of gift recipients, go through the list and add what you think you will give each person. You may already know what you want to get someone, or they may have asked for something specific. Either way, add some sort of gift idea next to each recipient’s name on your list.

2. Set a budget

The term “budget” can be intimidating, but it’s easy to start with something simple. Your budget for holiday gifts should come from either disposable income, savings that you already have set aside, or a combination of both. If you’re worried that your holiday shopping budget won’t be enough, try to cut back on extra expenses such as takeout food, movies, or specialty coffee drinks.

3. Plan for other expenses

Holiday shopping doesn’t necessarily mean just shopping for gifts. There are many other expenses associated with the holiday season that are important to keep in mind. Consider costs such as gas for transportation, food for gatherings and parties, and shipping costs for items you purchase online. These costs can add up quickly, so be sure to factor them into your budget.

4. Take advantage of sales

Everybody loves a good deal, right? Keep an eye on specific items that you’re planning to purchase, as they will likely go on sale at some point. Many people wait until Black Friday for sales, but often better deals are available early in the holiday season. Comparison shop for your gifts from different stores and on their websites as this ensures that you get the best deal possible.

5. Get an early start

An early start to holiday shopping sets the tone for the season. The earlier you start your shopping, the better you’re able to stretch your money. If you wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping, you’ll be faced with overwhelming expenses all at once. If you establish a plan to shop a little bit at a time, it will save you from too much stress in the long-run.

6. Use a mobile wallet

Using a mobile wallet will simplify your holiday shopping. Mobile wallets allow you to access your debit and credit cards digitally and make purchases without using a physical card. Mobile wallets are extremely secure and unique tokens are assigned to each card, which means that your actual card number is never exposed. Mobile wallets can be used in stores or online and can make your holiday shopping a whole lot easier!

Pro Tip: Don’t be fooled by store credit cards

Most shops and stores these days offer their own credit card. Opening one of these cards can be tempting, as there is often an initial discount on your purchase if you choose to open one. However, these are usually one-time discounts, and cannot be taken advantage of again. Store credit cards generally have high interest rates, which can end up being costly if you don’t pay off your balance immediately or fall behind on payments.

Instead, consider a credit card with options like rewards points, cash back, or a low rate. These types of benefits will be better in the long-run, and will help you be less stressed post-holiday season. Compare our Visa® credit card options here, and find the best fit for you.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

Defending Yourself Against Identity Theft


As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyber-thieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Phishing/vishing

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam. Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that seem to come from familiar businesses. These messages contain links to phony websites designed to steal personal information either directly or through malware and key-loggers. Often you’ll see a problem referenced with a request to click on the link provided to correct it. Once you’ve entered your information, ID thieves can access your accounts.

Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Callers are sometimes bold enough to suggest the victim call back to verify authenticity. But the vishers don’t actually hang up; instead they play a recorded dial tone to make the victim believe he’s making a call.

Debit and credit card fraud

Most shoppers love the convenience of plastic, and identity thieves use this to their advantage whether it involves skimming, phishing, vishing, malware, mail theft or just looking over a victim’s shoulder to steal account numbers. Someone running up debt in your name can ruin your credit score. When debit cards are compromised, it’s particularly alarming because fraudulent purchases drain your checking account instantly.

BEC scams

Business email compromise, or BEC, scams have cost companies more than $1.2 billion. A phony email from a CEO requesting that funds be transferred per attached instructions is sent to an employee. Because the email appears to come from the employee’s superiors, and because the message so closely resembles requests this employee receives regularly, the transfer is often made without question. The money then ends up in overseas accounts that are almost impossible to trace.

Tips to protect yourself

To even further reduce fraud risk:

  • Install the latest editions of anti-spyware, antivirus, firewalls and browsers to all devices, and password-protect them.
  • Use strong passwords for all accounts and change them frequently.
  • Monitor accounts and credit reports to detect fraud early
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions.
  • Keep cards away from public view, and shred personal documents before discarding.
  • Opt in for two-factor authentication on accounts.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and near-field communication when not in use.
  • Don’t click on email links. Type full web addresses to access business websites.
  • Never share sensitive information in response to an unsolicited call or email.
  • To verify calls, hang up for at least one minute to ensure the first call is disconnected. Call the customer service number listed on your bank’s website or the back of your credit card, not a number provided by an unsolicited contact.
  • To protect your business from BEC scams, use a two-step verification process for all money transfers. Verbal confirmation is also wise.

Staying informed and adopting smart fraud prevention practices will go a long way toward protecting your identity. Between your efforts and your bank’s security, you should be able to stay a step ahead of identity thieves.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Set up Members 1st Mobile Card Controls to control how, when and where your payment cards are used. Real-time transaction alerts and controls will provide you with a method to protect your payment information.

Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call customer service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

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