Security Bulletin: Equifax Data Breach

Credit reporting agency Equifax reported on Thursday, September 7 that they experienced a data breach – one of the most significant in history, potentially including Social Security numbers of 143 million consumers.

Equifax said its breach includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers for nearly 209,000 U.S. consumers were also potentially accessed, along with some dispute documents that contained personal identifying information for roughly 182,000 U.S. consumers.

The breach happened mid-May through July and was discovered July 29. Equifax said it has seen no evidence of unauthorized activity on its core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

Equifax is offering a free one-year subscription to their Premier credit monitoring package (TrustedID Premier).   You can find more information about this cyberattack and how to enroll in credit monitoring at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

What You Can Do

  1. Find Out If Your Information Is Possibly at Risk

Equifax set up a website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) where you can see if your information is believed to be compromised. Click on the tab labeled “Potential Impact” in the center of the webpage. Enter your name and the last six digits of your Social Security number where indicated.

  1. Sign Up for the complimentary Credit Monitoring package

Equifax is providing free credit monitoring to all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether their information was identified as being compromised. The complimentary credit monitoring package called “TrustedID Premier” includes:

  • Equifax Credit Report: Copies of your Equifax Credit Report as needed.
  • Three (3) Bureau Credit File Monitoring: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  • Equifax Credit Report Lock: Equifax will allow you to go a step further and freeze your credit. This prevents anyone from taking out a loan or a credit card in your name. It’s worth noting that this includes you, which means when you need to apply for credit— a UCCU mortgage, a home equity line, auto loan or even a credit card— you’ll need to go to Equifax first and unfreeze your credit before you apply.
  • Social Security Number Monitoring: Searches suspicious web sites for your Social Security number.
  • $1M Identity Theft Insurance: Helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.
  1. Visit Your Accounts Online – Regularly

UCCU Online and Mobile banking make it easier than ever to check your account balances and activity online. Many members do so daily and we recommend doing so at least weekly. To make it even easier you can establish alerts on your UCCU transaction accounts and credit card, triggered by parameters like your balance going up or the size of the transaction.

At UCCU, the security of your data is a top priority. We constantly monitor threats, like the Equifax data breach, and work to protect our members in the ever-evolving world of digital security.

If you have any questions please call 800-453-8188. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturdays from 9:00am to 2:00pm. You can also send us a secure message from within online or mobile banking, or visit your local branch.

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Q&A: Risking It When Investing

Each month we will post an answer to a question we’ve received recently in order to help others who might have the same question. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered, please message UCCU on Facebook.

Q: My wife is a risk taker and wants to invest in things that aren’t really in my comfort zone. I know it’s generally considered better to invest where returns are higher, but that also means a higher risk! Is there some sort of middle ground?

A: It’s great that you’re thinking this through. Many couples face the same question, and while the simplest solution might be to split your funds down the middle and invest as you each see fit, that’s not likely to bring peace or wealth into the relationship. In a marriage, for one thing, whether accounts are titled separately or jointly, they are considered marital assets (even 401Ks). And a healthy relationship depends on working jointly toward financial goals, not going it alone.

One of the most difficult issues for couples to resolve is how much risk they’re willing to take with their investments. According to Fidelity’s 2015 Couples Retirement Study, 47 percent of couples disagree about how much money they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle in their later years. Even more troubling, a Harris survey found that 33 percent of couples weren’t saving anything for their retirement years. And, of those who were, one in five said they were clueless about how much their partner was contributing to their accounts.

Some tips if you’re starting down the investment road together:

  • As in so many areas of a relationship, communication is key. Let your spouse or partner know you’re willing to research options together and come up with a plan. Erica Coogan, partner at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, recommends that each partner complete a risk assessment questionnaire and then compare answers. “It makes a subjective conversation a little more objective,” she says.
  • Remember that planning needs to cover both spouses, not just a breadwinner. Experts advise couples to be mindful of the “It’s my money because I worked for it” syndrome. Couples need to work together on a plan for investing (and spending) their money, no matter who earns it. Apart from any resentment, an uneven divide in the ownership of assets can make a mess of cash flow, estate planning and taxes.
  • Consider transparency. Wherever you stand on risk, consider selecting some investments that are, by nature, transparent. This includes individual stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds. You can also reduce risk by diversifying your portfolio across asset classes. Ask a financial advisor at your credit union for help in untangling the strands of modern-day investing.
  • Think about your time horizon. Allowing an investment to compound leads to much better returns. So, if you’re the more risk-averse half of a couple, and you’ll need your money within 10 years, say with confidence to your partner: Slow down. Remember that it doesn’t make intuitive sense (but is nevertheless true) that your money doubles in seven years if you earn a compounded annual return of 10%. Don’t let a little fumbled math lead to a rash or risky decision.
  • Keep the goalposts in sight. Your mutual goals will determine how, and how much, the two of you should invest. For instance, when do you want to retire? Do you plan to pay for your kid’s college expenses? Purchase a home (or a second home)? Start a business?

Finances are one of the leading causes of separation. The more ownership and open communication a couple has over this potentially rocky topic, the less likely it is that they’ll panic when there’s a ripple in their plans or something happens in the markets.

Your Turn: Do you and your spouse or partner disagree about investments? Let us know how you’ve smoothed that potentially rocky road and headed for a secure sunset.

SOURCES:
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Nest: save on utility bills right from your pocket

The skinny:

Nest is a smart thermostat. It allows you to control the temperature of your home right from your smartphone. Within about a week, Nest learns your habits and adjusts to your preferred temperatures.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Nest automatically lowers the temperature when you go to bed and shuts off when no one is home. The average user saves 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

Nest is also great for people who own vacation homes. If you see a big temperature drop coming, but you’re at your full-time residence, you can turn the heat on at your second home so your pipes don’t freeze.

What platforms? iOS and Android

Cost? The app is free. The device itself costs about $250, depending on the retailer. If you need professional installation, it costs between $99-250.

We seem to run our lives from our smartphones, and now we can run our thermostats that way, too. Nest is connected to your Wi-Fi, which allows you to control it from your smartphone.

But the best thing about the Nest thermostat is its intuitiveness. You don’t have to use the app to turn the heat on before you get home from work. You can skip having that moment of panic while on vacation when you realize you left your air conditioner running. Nest knows the rhythms of your life and adjusts accordingly. It knows what time you come home from work and knows if nobody’s home so it makes appropriate changes for you. Plus, you can make adjustments using the app if you need to do that.

Nest comes with some great additional features. You can look at your energy history to see how much you are using. Daily reports show how much energy you’re saving and give tips on how to use less to save even more on your bill. When you’re choosing temperature settings, you’ll see a leaf symbol when you’ve chosen one that saves energy.

You got a great rate on your mortgage with Utah Community Credit Union. Save even more money by installing Nest!

Your Turn: What energy-saving methods do you use in your home? Let us know!

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Full Focus Planner: The Ultimate in Planning and Organization

In a world that is constantly becoming more digitized, the Full Focus Planner stands out like a snowman on a beach. After all, it’s not an app or a website – it’s an analog tool. No touchscreens, automatic uploads or complicated algorithms here!

What made self-proclaimed techie, Michael Hyatt, design and create a physical planner? And why does he think his product will change people’s lives?

“I love paper,” Hyatt asserts. “It’s the best reading app around.”

Hyatt explains that, despite their incredible efficiency, technology can also be incredibly distracting. Multiple screens, apps and pop-ups can divide your focus and inhibit your productivity.

In contrast, research shows that, when people write something down instead of inputting it into a computer, they retain more of the information. Writing by hand engages several parts of the brain and creates stronger memory cues. Writing out your yearly, monthly and weekly goals will make them stick in your mind.

The Planner offers a lot more than just a paper trail for your activities. It’s designed to help you achieve the goals you have for yourself and your business.

In a brilliant innovation that combines Hyatt’s goal-setting strategy with proven productivity methodology, The Full Focus Planner will connect your long-term goals with your daily tasks. And, best of all, it goes with you everywhere – the office, the airport, the coffee shop — so you can review your goals wherever you are.

Here’s what you can expect from the Full Focus Planner:

1.) Goal achievement strategy

The Full Focus Planner’s scientific method for planning and achieving goals will be your guide toward personal and professional achievement.

2.) Task tracking

Utilizing a personalized chart, you can track the tasks you complete on a daily basis, marking down your estimated time and actual completion time to facilitate better planning and goal-reaching.

3.) Finance tracking

Keeping your finances in order by frequently reviewing your accounts and spending habits will help you stick to your budget and reach your financial goals sooner.

4.) Habit tracker

Easily track your older and newer habits. This will help you evaluate which actions are holding you back from achieving and which ones are helping you move forward.

5.) Life visualize

Create a picture of your future and your career dreams to help you focus on your long-term goals.

6.) Monthly goal setting

Visualize your monthly goal. Create appropriate to-do lists and a plan for upcoming tasks that will enable you to reach your goal.

7.) Weekly planner

Planning and reviewing a weekly schedule will help keep your days focused and productive.

8.) 30-day challenge

Sometimes it’s good to take on more than you think you can handle. Challenge yourself each month with a goal that takes a bit more effort and watch your dreams turn into reality.

9.) Self-reflection

It’s important to be tuned into your inner self as you work toward your goals. Are you happy with the direction your life is taking? How can you improve your character? Self-reflection will help you listen to your inner voice.

10.) Failure mode analysis

Everyone messes up at times. Learn from your mistakes by using the planner’s systematic method for identifying where you went wrong.

11.) Stay motivated

An empty cup can’t pour. Keep your cup full with inspirational quotes and by tracking your progress and taking pride in all you’ve accomplished.

Your Turn: What keeps you from actually reaching your dreams? Share your biggest productivity pitfalls in the comments so we can all learn what does and doesn’t work!

SOURCES:
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Glassdoor Names Jeff Sermon a Highest-Rated CEO

Our employees are to thank today as Jeff Sermon is named one of the Highest Rated CEOs on Glassdoor, according to the company’s most recent report. Glassdoor®, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing job sites, released its annual report highlighting the Highest Rated CEOs in several countries throughout North America and Europe.

Jeff Sermon appears on the U.S. Small & Medium Companies list with an impressive Glassdoor rating of 97%, due in part to recent efforts around the UCCU 60 Years celebration and the successful implementation of a new and upgraded banking system.

CEO approval ratings are gathered through Glassdoor’s online company review survey, which gathers current and former employee sentiment about job and company satisfaction, the work environment and the culture. Employees are asked to rate a number of workplace factors like compensation and benefits as well as work-life balance, and asked whether they approve, disapprove or are neutral about the job their CEO is doing. In addition, employees are asked to describe some of the upsides and downsides of working for the company and provide any advice for senior management.

Check out the complete list of Highest Rated CEOs in 2017 on the U.S. SMB list here: https://www.glassdoor.com/Award/Highest-Rated-CEOs-at-SMBs-LST_KQ0,26.htm

 

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4 Tips for Using Your Summer Auto Loan Sale

Congratulations! You’ve locked in the Summer Loan Sale rate, but now you’re wondering what you can do with it. Here are four tips for using your low rate before August 31, 2017.

Buy a New Car

With Auto Loan rates on the rise, use this low rate and our 10 Essential Car-Buying Tips to find the best deal for you and your family. New cars are a great purchase because you can have peace of mind, knowing any potential repairs will most likely be covered by the warranty.

Remember, there are typically three separate transactions or negotiations involved in buying a car.

  1. The price for the new car
  2. The price for your trade-in
  3. The financing

With this locked in rate, we’ve taken care of one-third of the purchase process! So now you can relax and focus on the other negotiations.

Refinance a Higher-Rate Auto Loan

Rates go up and down with time, and depending on the institution you financed your last car through, you might have a higher rate than you would prefer. With your low rate locked in, you may be able to refinance any auto loans you might have with other institutions any time before August 31, 2017. Any one of our auto loan experts available in every branch can help you gather all the correct information and get you the lowest rate possible!

Buy a Used Car

Buying a used car is often a smart financial choice for many reasons (just like your low auto loan rate with UCCU). A used car often reduces your insurance costs and registrations fees. Since your low rate is good for cars that are 2010 or newer, take the time you need to shop around and find the best deal! That’s the beauty of locking in your rate; you can make deliberate, smart financial decisions instead of rushing.

Share with Your Family

Family is there to support and help each other, so what better way to help someone than giving them the gift of a low auto loan rate? Your immediate family members can use the low rate you locked in and you can be the hero at the next family dinner party!

If you haven’t already, be sure to go to uccu.com/summer to lock in your Summer Auto Loan Sale base rate as low as 2.99%!*

*Any person who completes the lock-in request form at uccu.com/summer prior to 11:59 pm on July 31st, 2017 receives an auto loan interest rate lock as low as 2.99% APR (base rate). 60-month term or less, on 2010 models or newer. The 2.99% base rate redemption period will expire at 5:30 pm Thursday, August 31st, 2017. Immediate family members of those who successfully lock-in the 2.99% base rate can also use the rate. Can be used to refinance auto loans from other institutions or to purchase a new or used auto. Annual percentage rate (APR). Subject to membership eligibility. Some restrictions may apply. Limited time offer. Available on approved credit only. Federally insured by NCUA.

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How is a Credit Score Measured?

A credit score provides access to financing for major life purchases such as a car, a home, and even tuition. Credit scores also unlock household utility services, including mobile phone and internet services.

But how is credit scored? Since higher scores can result in lower fees, it’s vital to understand what makes up a credit score. Here are the five components that make up a credit score, in order importance:

Payment History – 35%: Paying back debts on time has a positive impact while late payments, judgments, and charge-offs have a negative impact. Key factors include how late a payment was, how much was owed, how recently the late payment occurred, and how many late payments a person has.

Amounts Owed – 30%: This factor marks the ratio between used versus available credit. Credit card users should make an effort to keep balances as close to zero as possible. Paying off balances each month rather than only making minimum payments also has a positive impact.

Credit History – 15%: This marks when a credit line was established. A long credit history is stronger than new or little to no credit history. If you have older credit cards with no balance (and no annual fee), keep them open. This will preserve the longevity of your credit history.

Mix of Credit – 10%: This includes credit cards, retail accounts, auto loans, and mortgage loans you have. Credit mix isn’t typically a key factor in determining a credit score unless there is not a lot of information on your credit report to use as a basis for your score.

New Credit Inquiries – 10%: This quantifies the number of inquiries or requests for new credit within a 12-month period. While some individual inquiries can impact your credit score, multiple inquiries from mortgage lenders within a short period of time are usually treated as a single inquiry with little impact on a credit score.

Have more questions? Contact one of our UCCU Mortgage Loan Officers and they can help you get answers!

Source: myFICO.com

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We Love Our Members

Thank you for being a member of Utah Community Credit Union. Our mission is simple: to inspire smart financial decisions, to work together to support each other, and to help you make your money go further.

UCCU began over 60 years ago as BYU Federal Credit Union. What better way to thank our members than with free ice cream from the BYU Creamery?

Stop by any UCCU branch during the month of June to get a voucher for a half gallon of BYU Creamery Ice Cream.*

*Limited time offer. One voucher per member age 18 and older.

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Cash for Schools

We’re proud to work together with our members to support important causes in our community. Through UCCU’s 60th Anniversary Cash for Schools program, we paid cash rebates to our members for every loan they transferred to UCCU while matching those rebates with donations to local schools of our members’ choosing. Here’s a quick breakdown of how our local schools were benefited:

Provo School District: $4,161

Nebo School District: $4,591

Alpine School District: $3,922

Other schools throughout Utah: $6,249

Total: $18,923

Thank you for helping us help our local schools during our 60th Anniversary Celebration.

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Store in Your Garage

For many of us, the garage is a catchall for stuff that refuses to fit neatly inside our houses. The problem is most garages are neither climate controlled nor dust- or pest-free. Here are five items you should think twice about before keeping them in the garage:

  1. Paint cans left on cement flooring will rust faster, and the extreme temperature fluctuations can ruin the color. Store unused cans in a temperature-neutral room, donate to charity, recycle at a transfer station, or safely dispose of them in regular garbage with paint hardener additive from the hardware store.
  1. Refrigerators operate efficiently at surrounding temperatures between 67 to 77 degrees. In warmer or cooler temperatures, refrigerators need to work harder, wasting energy and increasing costs. And, if temps reach below 30 degrees they may not work at all. Place extra fridges and freezers in the basement or insulate your garage, so temperatures stay consistent.
  1. Canned goods have a shorter shelf life when subjected to temps above 70 degrees, costing you money, and potentially making you ill if consumed. More efficiently organizing your pantry can help eliminate the need for outside storage.
  1. Electronics are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Repeated expansion and contraction can loosen contacts, glues and soldering. Humidity can also be a problem.
  1. Propane tanks should never be stored in inside spaces where they can leak, accumulate gas and cause a fire. Always keep propane outdoors where gas can safely ventilate.

The garage isn’t the most ideal place to store many items. After all, isn’t the garage designed to keep your cars safe and clean? The bright side is, this knowledge can encourage you to be more organized elsewhere in the house.

If you’re ready for a new garage but don’t know where to start, contact our UCCU Mortgage Experts and they will help you find the home with the perfect garage for you. Call 801-223-7640, email homeloan@uccu.com, or visit uccu.com/mortgages to find your neighborhood Mortgage Expert.

Sources: Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping

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