Financial Resources – News Articles & Links
4 Ways to Spot a Skimmer:
- Use your eyes. Check out the card reader very carefully. Do the numbers on the PIN pad look raised? Do they look newer or bigger than the rest of the machine? Does anything look like it doesn’t belong?
- Use your fingers. Feel the card reader before sliding your card into the slot. Do the keys feel raised? Is it difficult to insert your card? These are both red flags that the card reader may have been fitted with a skimming device.
- Hidden cameras are used in conjunction with the skimmer to make a video of your PIN number. The camera may be placed in a number of locations: on the ATM itself (near the keypad, above the screen, etc.) or nearby. Sometimes they’re so small they can be hidden in a tiny opening on the ATM.
- Watch for discrepancies in the shape, material, color, or contours of the ATM. If you notice slashes, cracks, scratches, and other signs of mechanical damage to the ATM, find another ATM location to use.
12 Ways To Practice Safe ATM Transactions
1. Look for recent device modifications – bulky keypads, electrical tape, fresh glue, unworn plastic, etc. These can be signs of a PIN capture device being used.
2. Check for cameras – tiny pinholes provide clear views of the keypad and are a prime target for recording PINs. Security cameras designed for safety are obvious and usually mounted further away.
3. Cover the PIN pad with your other hand to keep your transaction safe from prying eyes.
4. Look for people sitting nearby who are using laptops, hand-held computers or cellphones. If they’re sitting there for more than a few minutes, they may be eavesdropping using the device.
5. Do not share your PIN with anyone you don’t want using your card (and that should be a very small circle). If you write down your PIN, keep it in a secure location away from the card. Don’t carry it in your wallet or record it in your phone.
6. Only use ATMs in well-lit, public spaces. Prefer those that offer drive-up service and don’t have buildings or heavy foot traffic nearby.
7. If you have trouble with an ATM, go to the nearest bank branch or use another ATM. Do not let strangers “help” you with the transaction.
8. Avoid ATMs in tourist hotspots like shopping malls – these high traffic areas make it easier for thieves to work.
9. Monitor your checking account statement regularly for suspicious or unknown charges.
10. Report any unusual account activity to your credit union right away.
11. Remember that POS terminals, gas station consoles and other payment locations are just as vulnerable as standalone ATMs.
12. Whenever possible, process your debit card transaction as a “credit” transaction so you will be prompted to sign for it rather than enter a PIN that can be seen by the next person in line.
Tax Bill - Some Key Changes
Despite efforts to create limitations on the availability of pre-tax contributions to 401(k) retirement plans, Congress decided to leave retirement plans largely untouched after receiving powerful pushback from taxpayers in all sectors of the economy. The Act did make some minor changes though, including changes to a rule regarding the ability to convert funds in traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. Currently, taxpayers have the ability to convert funds from a pretax IRA to a post-tax Roth IRA and pay tax on the money that is converted. Taxpayers also currently have the ability to change their minds and undo this conversion through a process called recharacterization. The Act has repealed the rule allowing recharacterization of a Roth IRA back into a traditional IRA after a conversion.
MORTGAGE INTEREST TAX DEDUCTION
The final Act will not affect current homeowners; it would allow them to continue to deduct the interest paid on up to $1 million of mortgage debt. New homebuyers will only be able to deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of their mortgage principle on home purchases scheduled to close on or after January 1, 2018. The new cap expires at the end of 2025. It is important to note that the MITD only applies to those filers who opt not to take advantage of the new standard deduction, which is $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers under the Act. Those individuals who opt to still itemize, will also be able to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes under the bill.
HOME EQUITY LOAN INTEREST DEDUCTION
The Act limits the deductibility of interest paid on some home equity loans/lines of credit for loans beginning after December 31, 2017, depending on the purpose of the loan. The Internal Revenue Code currently distinguishes between "acquisition" debt, meaning loans to buy, build or substantially improve a main or second home, and other "home equity" debt. The Act does not alter this distinction, but eliminates the deduction of "home equity" debt and limits total "acquisition" debt to $750,000. Existing home equity lines of credit may also not be "grandfathered" into receiving the deduction. Additionally, beginning in 2018, any interest accrued on certain existing home equity loans/lines of credit may not be deductible. The suspension expires at the end of 2025.
This article is for general information purposes, as we do not provide tax advice. Individuals should consult their tax advisor for specific questions.
Important Update about your EMV Chip Debit Card
When you use an EMV chip-enabled debit card to make a payment, most merchants that are equipped with EMV chip card terminals give you the option of paying as either “Debit” or “Credit.” Either option may require you to enter your PIN. Always inform the cashier "you want to choose credit.” You might encounter the two options - US MasterCard or International MasterCard, always choose International MasterCard; and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction. You may also see US MasterCard and MasterCard, choose MasterCard and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction. Please note, you may still be required to enter a PIN, but as long as you select credit, International MasterCard or MasterCard, the transaction will be processed as a credit transaction and not Point of Sale (POS). If you don't see these options, the merchant you are shopping with has decided for you; and they will only route it through US MasterCard as a POS transaction.
Many members who make purchases with their debit cards at certain retailers, no longer have the option of choosing “Credit” when making their payment. Unfortunately, some stores have made the business decision to require their customers using a debit card to use the “Debit” option and enter their PIN, thus making the “Credit” option unavailable. When your purchase, if over $50, goes through as a pin-based POS debit transaction, it will incur a nominal 50 cent fee.
If a retailer does not permit you to select “credit” at the sale terminal, you have the following options:
- Complete the transaction and pay a 50 cent fee
- Cancel out of transaction; and pay with a First Service VISA Credit Card instead
- Cancel out of the transaction and pay with a check or cash
Let your voice be heard! If a retailer tells you that you no longer have an option on how to pay for your transaction – we encourage you to call or write the store. Let them know that as a consumer, you want them to bring back your choice on how you pay for your purchases.
Additional online resources:
- MyCreditUnion.gov - Financial tools and calculators, including college savings, student loans, mortgages and retirement savings. Users also have access to a personal budgeting worksheet.
- Pocket Cents - A financial literacy tool for all age groups which provides personal finance lessons and tips for groups including youth, tweens, teens, young adults, families, seniors, parents, educators and service members.