What Can I Do About Robocalls?

Are you sick of grabbing your ringing phone five times a day only to find yet another robocaller on the other end?

If robocalls are getting to you, you’re not alone. Those super-annoying automatic calls have recently exploded, and it’s enough to make anyone go bonkers. More than 30 billion robocalls were made in the United States in 2017, and the Federal Trade Commission answered a whopping 375,000 complaints about robocalls each month.

Unfortunately, those numbers are only rising.

If you feel like your phone is ringing off the hook from robocalls and you’re just about ready to throw it against the wall, read on. We’ll give you the inside scoop on these dreaded calls and show you what you can do to put a stop to them once and for all.

How do they have my number?

Many people ask how so many businesses and scammers have their number. It’s because robocallers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and the internet is making their job easier. Scammers and telemarketers can scrape almost anyone’s phone number off the web.

They might find it on your Facebook page, another social media platform you frequent, or even drag it off your business’s website.Robocallers also buy phone numbers from popular companies or websites that require visitors to log in by submitting some basic personal information that includes their landline and cellphone numbers.

Or, robocallers may simply be dialing thousands and thousands of numbers at random, with no rhyme or reason at all.

Who’s on the other end of the line?

Robocalls come in many forms. Sometimes they’ll be trying to sell you a product or urge you into signing up for a service. Other times, they’ll try to scam you by appearing to represent a government agency, like the IRS.

You might think no one’s buying the marketed product, or that whoever actually believes the robotic voice telling them they’re about to be arrested is super naïve. Remember, though, that even if just a few people agree to buy the product or are taken in by the scam, the minimal cost of running the calls is more than worth it for the person behind the calls.

Here’s how the robocalls take a stab at appearing authentic:

  • Spoofing. Using software, the robocaller can tweak the way their number shows up on caller ID. They can make it look like the IRS is on the phone, that your electric service company is calling you or like a representative from Apple is seeking you.

   Recently, scammers have been using neighbor-spoofing, in which their caller ID looks like a local number. This throws victims off and can help robocallers gain their misplaced trust. 

  • Disguised identity. Robocallers may also choose to appear mysterious and show up on your caller ID as “private number,” “unavailable” or “unknown.”

Steps you can take

Thankfully, you don’t have to be bombarded by those irksome calls for the rest of your life. Here are several steps you can take to keep most robocalls from reaching your landline or cellphone:

  1. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers – If you don’t recognize the number on your caller ID, let it go to voicemail. If the ID shows a local number or the name of a recognized company you have no reason to believe is calling you, ignore it as well.
  2. Block unwanted numbers – It’s time to get offensive and start intercepting those numbers before they reach your phone. First, if there’s any specific number that calls you persistently, use your phone to block it and you won’t have to hear from them again.Next, check with your phone service provider about possible technologies you can download to block anonymous calls or those from specific area codes. Some systems allow you to create your own blacklist of numbers that will be blocked or sent directly to voicemail. You can also create a “white list” of numbers you allow to go through and stop every other number from reaching you.You may also want to enlist the help of a robocall-blocking app that can offer you a stronger defense against unwanted calls. Here are some apps that provide this service along with their prices:
  • Nomorobo: 14-day free trial. $1.99/month or $19.99/year
  • RoboKiller: Free 7-day trial.  $2.99/month or $24.99/year
  • Hiya: Free. Hiya partners with Samsung, AT&T and T-Mobile and also has standalone apps.
  • TrueCaller: Free
  1. Require caller input – To keep all automatic calls from reaching your phone, you can set up a call-blocking technology, such as the Sentry Active Call Blocker, that greets all callers with a message requiring them to enter a number before the call can proceed. That’s something robots can’t yet do.
  2. Don’t share your number – Never share your phone number on your social media profiles or pages. If a business asks for your number, do not give it out unless you absolutely must.
  3. Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry – Visit www.donotcall.gov to add your landline and cellphone numbers to the list of registered callers who don’t want to be bothered by telemarketers. Scammers won’t pay much attention to this list, but law-abiding companies that ignore the listed numbers risk being fined and will usually abide by the registry’s rules. This service is free and your number will never be taken off the list.
  4. File a complaint – If you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry and, after a month, you are still receiving robocalls from specific companies, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov. When the agency receives enough complaints about a number, it will take action.If you’re constantly receiving unwanted calls from a known business after signing up for the Do Not Call Registry, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

You don’t have to let those robocalls overtake your life. Take action today and reclaim your peace!

What’s your best defense against robocalls? Share your favorite tip with us in the comments.

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Rising Interest Rates Explained

If you follow the national business news, you are likely getting mixed messages about the state of the economy. While never very reassuring, pundits’ opinions on the stock market and the country’s economic state are changing as frequently as the weather. 

But there’s one area that’s been constant for some time now: rising interest rates. If you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage, or any other large loan, in the near future, you might be waiting until those rates start going down again. 

Here’s why that might not be the best idea. 

Interest rates will continue to rise throughout 2018.

Experts predict that interest rates on financial products will continue to increase throughout the year.  There are several factors triggering this rise, none of which are likely to be resolved anytime soon. Whether you’re interested in taking out a personal loan or a second mortgage, 2018 may not be a very good year for borrowers.

It’s not looking too great for those who are looking to take out short-term loans either. The U.S. central bank raised short-term interest rates a total of three times in 2017, and that trend is expected to continue. Experts claim 2018 will see an additional three interest rate hikes, each being 0.25%. If you need to borrow money from [credit union], it’s best to consider your plans sooner rather than later to ensure you can lock in before rates get higher.

The inflation factor

Unemployment rates may be down across the country, but wage growth continues to crawl at an almost nonexistent pace. This, in turn, leads to limited price growth, which keeps the inflation rate stagnant. However, the feds are expecting all of this to change in the coming year. They expect wage growth to finally kick off and then set in motion an uptick in inflation and price growth. 

The government wants to stay ahead of any surge in inflation. It does so by increasing interest rates even before there is clear evidence of an inflation peak. In fact, just last month, the feds raised interest rates on short-term loans yet again, citing an inflation scare at the beginning of February as the primary factor behind their decision. 

Financial institutions and credit card companies pattern their own interest rates after the government’s rate. For this reason, it’s best to work on aggressively paying down outstanding debt you have before you’re hit with increased interest rates.

Mortgages

Mortgage interest rates are now at an all-time high; they are currently close to 4.6% and are up more than 20% from a year ago. 

There are multiple factors driving this increase, including the administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum and the associated concerns over the U.S. trade market.

For the most part, though, mortgage interest rates are based on the 10-year Treasury yield. When bond yields rise, so do mortgage rates. The recent tax overhaul caused investors to favor stocks over bonds, and consequently mortgage rates have been climbing since the tax plan was first introduced in September.

Some experts are actually predicting a turnaround for mortgages in 2018. They are hopeful that the expected volatility in the yield curve will trigger a similar curve for mortgages, possibly even causing them to dip below 4% sometime this year. However, all agree that by year’s end, the mortgage rate will settle at a stable 4.5%.

No one can be certain of anything, though. And waiting until the rates drop might prove to be pointless. In fact, you might even end up paying a higher rate because of that delay.

The good news

Take heart; it’s not all doomsday forecasts on the economic front!

Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, predicts a great year for returns on savings. He claims that 2018 will be beneficial for all savings accounts, and especially for CD holders, with an average one-year CD yielding a 0.7% return by the end of 2018.

If you’ve been thinking about opening a share certificate or other ways to grow your savings, talk with UCCU, and start putting your plan into action!

What it means for you

Let’s review the practical steps you can take in this economic environment:

1.)   If you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage or another long-term loan, don’t wait for rates to decrease; it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

2.)   Try to pay off your debt at a quicker pace than you’ve been doing until now to avoid getting hit with rising interest rates.

3.)   2018 is a great time to increase your savings and to open a share certificate.

Volatile economy got you stressed? No worries! At UCCU, we’re always here to help you through any financial turn. Call, click, or stop by today! 

Your Turn: What steps are you taking in the current financial climate? Paying down debt? Increasing your savings? Tell us all about it in the comments! 

SOURCES:

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/business/T019-C000-S010-interest-rate-forecast.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/interest-rates-forecast.aspx/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bankrate.com/mortgages/analysis/amp/

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UCCU – Employee’s Choice for Best Place to Work

“Amazing company. I love what they stand for and how they run things.”

Utah Community Credit Union recently received national praise from career website Glassdoor, honored as one of the top 50 best small and midsize companies to work for in the nation.

Glassdoor evaluates anonymous, voluntary employee reviews to pick the winners. UCCU ranked number 44 out of 50, and was the only financial institution to make the list. In their reviews, UCCU’s employees have given a 99% approval rating for Jeff Sermon, President and CEO.

One review from an employee highlighted what he likes about his workplace. “It is a wonderful environment. They really want every one of their employees to be happy and successful. If you are a student they will work with your school schedule as best as they can without compromising service to their members.”

Another employee recently elaborated on the opportunities she’s enjoyed and lessons she has learned while worked at UCCU. “As a 20 year old, I was entrusted to start as a loan officer. Where else would I have been able to do that?” She praised UCCU for sticking to our mission. “UCCU strives to help people make smart decisions and to learn how to appropriately manager their money. This has greatly influenced me, and I have learned how to appropriately budget and save.”

As this is an employee’s choice award, it’s fitting to note that 94 percent of our employees have recommended the company to a friend.

We’re humbled by and grateful for the praise and the approval from our employees.

As one employee said, “There are so many things that I truly love about UCCU, but I don’t want to spoil everything! Come find out for yourself!”

Go browse all 65 reviews from employees on UCCU to see what else employees like. What do you like about working with UCCU?

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Rising Interest Rates: What Do They Mean For You?

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If you read financial headlines, you’ve no doubt seen the news that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. These headlines can be accompanied with all sorts of hyperbole about the end of the stock market, the boom of bonds or any of a dozen other possible predictions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s this much information and so much of it is conflicting. Let’s set the record straight on what rising prime interest rates mean for you and your:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage
  • Portfolio
  • Savings
  • Debt

The prime interest rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve charges financial institutions to borrow from it. It influences a lot of other financial prices. Many of these are only of concern to investment bankers, professional investors and other economic enthusiasts. Here are some key ways the prime rate hikes can affect you!

1.) Get out of your ARM

Many people opted for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) when interest rates were historically low. These mortgages often have much better rates for an introductory period, usually five years, before they adjust to a new rate. That new rate is determined in large part by the rate the Federal Reserve charges.

The Federal Reserve is planning to continue to increase interest rates as the economy continues to improve. This means the rate on your ARM may go up as well. Worse yet, the rising rates could make your monthly mortgage payment unpredictable, putting you in a bit of a budget bind. Fortunately, you can refinance your mortgage into a fixed-rate loan and take advantage of still-low interest rates. You may still be able to secure a low rate on a 10-, 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. As interest rates continue to rise, your fixed-rate mortgage will stay the same, meaning your savings will increase as time goes on.

2.) Balance your portfolio

The historically low interest rates over the past six years have done wonders for the stock market. Because companies could borrow at affordable rates, they could expand rapidly. That expansion fuels growth in stock prices.

As interest rates rise, that credit availability will decrease. Companies will find it more difficult to expand, and their growth will slow. This slowing of growth may lead to a decline in stock prices.

However, as interest rates rise, bond rates will also increase. That will lead to an increase in their price as more investors chase those rates. Individual investors need to ensure their portfolios are properly balanced to take advantage of changing market conditions. Speaking to a financial adviser to ensure your assets are where they need to be will help keep your investments growing at a healthy rate.

3.) Save more

The Federal Reserve interest rate also affects the rates that financial institutions are able to offer account holders. As it becomes more expensive to borrow from other institutions, it’s more profitable for those institutions to “borrow” from their members in the form of certificates and savings accounts. As interest rates continue to rise, it’ll be increasingly more profitable to sock your money away in an interest-bearing account.

If you’ve been putting off opening a certificate or increasing the deposits in your share account, now is an excellent time to consider it. With a 12- or 24-month certificate, you can take advantage of rising interest rates while still leaving yourself the flexibility to re-invest once interest rates rise again.

4.) Refinance your debt

The service charges on several kinds of debt are tied to the prime rate. Notably, credit cards and private student loan rates may increase as the prime rate continues to climb. That makes now a great time to think about refinancing.

Take advantage of currently low interest rates with several strategies. A home equity line of credit can help bundle your high-interest, unsecured debt with your low-interest mortgage. A personal loan for refinancing can also help secure a better interest rate. Other options exist, and the sooner you speak with a debt counselor or other financial professional, the better off you’ll be.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the financial terminology surrounding news events like rate hikes. That’s why it’s best to have an advocate in your corner to help you figure out what to make of a changing economic landscape. Utah community Credit Union can do just that. Call, click or stop by to speak to a member services representative about how you can take advantage of this opportunity and put yourself on the path to financial wellness.

Find your nearest UCCU location here: http://www.uccu.com/home/uccu/locations

Your Turn: Got questions about rising interest rates? Leave your questions in the comments. Or, if you’ve got a handle on all things economic, share your wisdom with others!

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2017/01/19/bit-bit-rising-interest-rates-making-impact/96560462/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/your-money/increases-in-interest-rates-on-savings-accounts-remain-slow-to-materialize.html?_r=0
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/12/28/what-2017-may-mean-your-personal-finances/95736736/

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Lehi Branch is Moving!

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UCCU Rated Among the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions 2015

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UCCU has been given an A+ rating and is numbered among the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions of 2015 by DepositAccounts.com. Each year DepositAccounts.com evaluates the financial health of each federally insured credit union in the United States – totaling more than 6,600. … Continue reading

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Mobile Banking With Mobile Deposit

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UCCU’s Personal Branch provides access to real-time account information from the convenience of your personal computer or smartphone. Now to make it even easier for you to fulfill all of your banking needs we also have our UCCU Mobile App. … Continue reading

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STEM Fest is Finally Here! Come Join Us

Copy of STEM Festival Logo gr

STEM Fest is only a week away! STEM Fest is open to the Public on March 27, from 2:00-8:00 p.m.

Utah’s major universities and STEM businesses will be on hand to engage students with science, technology, engineering and math through interactive booths and activities. There will also be bounces houses, live music, flight simulators, robots, race cars, and more! Take this opportunity to introduce your children to the amazing companies who are leading Utah’s dynamic innovation explosion.

Visit the UCCU booth and enter for a chance to win a trip for 4 to Disneyland!

For more information on Utah STEM Fest, please visit utahstemfest.com.

Disneyland - eNews

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UCCU Prepares to Offer Apple Pay

Apple recently launched Apple Pay, the ability to pay with a debit or credit card using an iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad instead of a traditional plastic card. Apple released this new payment service with a few national banks. Other banks and credit unions will be added to Apple Pay in the future and Utah Community Credit Union is in queue to provide Apple Pay to our members as soon as Apple expands its service. UCCU anticipates Apple Pay usage will increase as more businesses update their technology to accept this new payment option.

How does Apple Pay Work?

Apple Pay can be used with the following devices with iOS 8.1 or later: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3. Instead of a traditional plastic card to facilitate a purchase Apple Pay uses Touch ID with a single touch of your finger. Setup is simple. In your Passbook app take a picture of an approved debit or credit card to be used as payment.

A major hurdle in the widespread use of Apple Pay is that businesses need to have near field communication (NFC) technology to accept Apple Pay services. The credit union anticipates that more businesses will update their hardware to accept this new form of payment.

Is Apple Pay Safe? 

A benefit to Apple Pay is that your actual credit or debit card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted with payment. Instead Apple Pay passes a transaction-specific dynamic security code to process the payment. In addition, paying with Apple Pay is private, as the cashier will never see your name, card numbers or security code.

When will UCCU have Apple Pay?

UCCU is eager to allow members to use their UCCU debit and credit cards with Apple Pay. The credit union is in queue with Apple to offer Apple Pay. Get started using Apple Pay with UCCU cards when available. The credit union will notify members again as it gets closer.

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Visa Checkout – The Easier Way to Pay Online

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Shopping online can be a fun, convenient way to buy the things you need and want from the comfort of your own home. Visa has rolled out a new digital payment service called Visa Checkout, designed to simplify the checkout … Continue reading

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