Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Our Christmas Loan will be available through the end of January 2012. The joys of Christmas shopping in December can often be soured by the credit card bills that arrive in January. Our Christmas Loan as well as other loan programs for higher balances could be used to greatly reduce finance charges being paid on outstanding debt.
Members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union who are interested in the Christmas Loan can review the rates and terms available on this and other loans at http://www.naecu.org/rates/loanrates.html.
Monday, November 21, 2011
People often associate North Alabama Educators Credit Union as a financial institution available only for teachers or school employees. While we do serve many school employees in the area, we also offer credit union eligibility to students and PTA members. Specifically, all students living within the Alabama counties of Madison, Morgan, and Limestone are eligible for membership. PTA groups (also PTO's and PTSA's) of our eligible school sponsors are also eligible. The eligible public school systems are Huntsville City Schools, Madison City Schools, Madison County Schools, Limestone County Schools, Athens City Schools, and Decatur City Schools. PTA's themselves can open an account with North Alabama Educators Credit Union. (Some PTA accounts have moved to North Alabama Educators Credit Union to avoid the fees being charged at their previous banking institution).
For PTA officers, membership eligibility in North Alabama Educators Credit Union is a great additional benefit to relay to current and potential PTA members. Consumers have become largely dissatisfied with the larger traditional banking institutions. North Alabama Educators Credit Union is truly locally owned and operated since the credit union is owned by the members who use the services of the credit union. Our members have not seen the rising fees and account restrictions that have been highlighted by the media stories on banking over the past few months.
North Alabama Educators Credit Union would love to provide credit union literature and information to the eligible PTA groups in the area. We have staff available, myself included, who can attend PTA meetings and briefly announce the additional benefit of credit union membership through North Alabama Educators Credit Union. In short, PTA members can save money with an account at North Alabama Educators Credit Union and we can demonstrate specific examples of those savings.
Any PTA officers interested in additional information can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our Market Coordinator at 256-534-2423.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Huntsville is reporting that there have been 241 home break-ins between September 30, 2011 to October 31, 2011. People are advised to watch their neighborhoods closely and look for suspicious activity. If you see a stranger backing into a driveway, popping a trunk, and/or wearing a backpack, please contact your local police non-emergency number. In Huntsville city limits, the number to call is 256-722-7100.
Criminals are approaching front doors, ringing door bells or knocking, and if NO answer they are going to the back of the house and kicking in a door to gain access to the home. Common items being stolen include flat screen TVs, laptop computers, and video game systems. These break-ins are occurring between 7:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
If you do see suspicious activity, contact the police and remember to note description information on the people involved (clothing, appearance, race, hair color, gender) and vehicle (color, make/model, tag) if possible.
Unfortunately the upcoming holiday season will most likely intensify criminal activity. Remember to not leave large boxes from new electronics on the street for trash pickup. An empty box from a new flat screen TV only serves as a carrot to a thief canvassing a neighborhood for likely targets.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Since October 1st, merchants and retailers have been enjoying reduced costs when consumers use their debit cards. Are we seeing lower prices with these merchants and retailers yet? An informal review of the prices of milk, bread, and cereal both before and after October 1st do not reveal that any cost savings are being passed along to the consumer. Consumers should look closely at 4th quarter earnings later this year for major retailers as there will be a significant increase in net incomes being reported as a result of the debit card interchange fee reductions.
The retail industry is the group who lobbied hard for the debit card fee reductions. They won that fight and are now enjoying the fruits of that victory. It remains to be seen however if the consumers will share any benefits of that retailer victory. Time will tell on that issue.
Those banking institutions most affected by the reduced income of the debit card interchange changes are passing along those costs to their consumers. North Alabama Educators Credit Union has not been forced to initiate new checking and debit card usage fees because our income has not been affected yet by the changes. Legislators in Congress were fully informed of probable new banking fees to consumers if the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Bill became law so it is quite disingenuous for legislators to now appear surprised by new banking fees.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
A person responds to an email or sees a job offer online to be paid for working as a mystery shopper.
The mystery shopper then receives a large check in the mail or by overnight mail service.
Included with the check is a list of small items to be purchased and instructions to send the majority of the money via Western Union or wire transfer to a named individual in the letter or by telephone instructions. The "mystery shopper" completes an evaluation form included in the mailing and rates the service level of the small purchases and money transfers. For their work and effort the "mystery shopper" is allowed to keep a portion of the funds sent to them, usually several hundred dollars or so.
The scam reveals itself when everyone finally realizes that the large check sent by the mystery shopper program is a counterfeit check. The counterfeit notification process from the Federal Reserve can take days or weeks depending upon the bookkeeping oversight of the company whose checks were counterfeited. The person who deposited the counterfeit check is responsible for any loss of funds associated with the return of the deposited check. There is also a criminal aspect as well since it is a crime to possess and negotiate a counterfeit check.
The best way to spot a fake "mystery shopper" program is this fact - no legitimate company will ever mail a check to a prospective "mystery shopper" in advance of any work completed. The average payment for a real "mystery shopper" program is also only $15-$20 and that is received only after an extensive evaluation form is completed and returned to the company. A real company would never send a valid large check to a stranger and hope that the stranger would return the money.
The poor economy of the past few years has intensified these type of scams since victims are usually unemployed or needing to increase their household income. The lure and ease of earning money from home can sometimes cloud the judgment of financial caution. We don't want anyone to become a victim. Members are encouraged to bring any suspicious checks and associated correspondence to the credit union for a review by credit union management BEFORE attempting to deposit any such items.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Check it out: http://www.naecu.org/images/Fall_2011_Newsletter.pdf
Monday, September 12, 2011
Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) is a valuable product that North Alabama Educators Credit Union offers our members to minimize a total vehicle loss situation. GAP helps to cover the difference between the actual cash value paid by the primary insurance claim settlement and the vehicle loan balance at the time of the loss. Another benefit of GAP is that any deficiency balance caused by the borrower’s deductible will be reimbursed up to $1,000, where permitted. Without GAP, borrowers may be subject to owing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars on a vehicle that they no longer have. Many primary insurance companies are now using a “local market value” analysis to determine the claim settlement amount which is sometimes lower than an average NADA price.
The best part about the credit union’s GAP product is the price. Members can purchase GAP coverage (as of September 2011) through North Alabama Educators Credit Union at a price of $195 for each loan covered. Automobile dealers routinely sell their GAP products for $400-$700 at their finance offices. The credit union helped one of members earlier this year with a vehicle refinance and that member received a prorated refund of roughly $600 from the GAP product that had been purchased at the dealership.
Members can purchase GAP coverage for their vehicle loan at the time of loan inception or anytime afterwards as long as there has not been a total loss situation prior to the date of purchase. If GAP is purchased after the loan inception date, the coverage is not retroactive but the coverage would begin on the GAP purchase date and cover the remaining term and balance. Loan Officers are available at any office to present the VisualGAP illustration to help in any GAP purchase decision. The GAP product is yet another example of how the credit union can save money for the membership.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
ATM users are cautioned to be very alert to their surroundings when using ATM's. Avoid ATM transactions at night if at all possible, especially at more remote locations where traffic or other patrons are not very visible to the ATM. Do not count your cash at the ATM itself - move away from the ATM and wait until you are safely in your vehicle away from the machine. If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands money, comply with demands and do not do anything that might provoke the criminal. If you have a debit card, remember that you can receive "cash back" at a merchant point of sale which would be safer than a late night ATM transaction.
Another ATM security threat is where criminals are watching people use ATM's from a short distance and viewing the ATM PIN used for the transaction. If the ATM user leaves the ATM and does not clear out the menu option of "do you want to perform another transaction" or something similar, the thief can go to that same ATM and enter the victim's PIN (that they just saw used) and perform a cash withdrawal from the victim's account. Video surveillance at several ATM locations in Huntsville have recorded a criminal stealing money in this fashion. Please note that ATM's of North Alabama Educators Credit Union do require that the card be swiped again before a new transaction can be performed. ATM menu's vary though so be sure that all menu options are cancelled out before leaving an ATM that has been utilized. This type of ATM fraud also reinforces the importance of paying attention to the surroundings when using an ATM.
Criminals are out there in our area looking for victims. Be smart. Be safe.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Basically, the CO-OP ATM Network is a collection of credit unions throughout the country that allow participating credit unions to access their ATM's without a surcharge fee. There are other ATM's within the network, like Publix Grocery Store ATM's, that are also surcharge free but the bulk of the ATM's are owned by credit unions.
There are currently over 28,000 ATM's nationwide where members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union can withdraw cash without a surcharge fee or internal fee. Totally free to the member. In the Tennessee Valley area, most Redstone Credit Union ATM's and Publix Grocery Store ATM's are surcharge free. Always look for the CO-OP Network Logo (shown above) on the ATM. You should also not have to click "yes" to a surcharge fee at the terminal if the ATM is part of the CO-OP Network.
Locating a surcharge free ATM can be done in several ways. Members can locate a CO-OP Surcharge Free ATM through an online ATM locator, iPhone Application, Text Messaging, or GPS. Below is a direct link to the ATM Locator page for the CO-OP ATM network. This CO-OP link is posted on our credit union home page as well.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Fear in financial markets is obviously not a good recipe for stable financial activity. Investors are understandably concerned by the possibility of debt defaults by the government and the negative impacts that would occur. Senior citizens are fearful that they will not be receiving their monthly social security checks. Fear needs to be eliminated to insure a stable financial system going forward.
The national debt problem must be addressed. The current national debt did not occur overnight and a quick fix will not be available. A reasonable plan to reduce the national debt over a period of time should be attainable. The eyes of the nation and the world will be watching Congress and our President on this debt ceiling/debt reduction issue. Hopefully our leaders in Washington will choose diplomacy and create a solution to our nation’s debt problem.
Monday, July 25, 2011
The death of a loved one is difficult enough. Nobody wants a problem with an outdated beneficiary or joint owner being listed on a deceased account. Stop by any branch office to review the existing account beneficiaries and/or joint owners on your accounts. If changes need to be made, now is the time to address these name changes for beneficiaries and joint owners on your account(s).
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
One of the water service line insurance solicitations provided a number of important exclusions that appeared in the fine print of the mailing. Some of these exclusions included: Acts of God, thawing of frozen pipes, repair of covered parts, equipment and/or systems due to reduction in performance caused by normal wear and tear, repairs when parts are obsolete, etc, etc. (These reasons alone are some of the more common reasons why a water service line would fail!).
Consumers are urged to research unknown companies with their local Better Business Bureaus before making a purchase or signing a contract. One of the water service line warranty firms had a C- rating due to 492 complaints that have been registered in the past three years, 51 of which have been determined by the BBB to be serious in nature.
Buyer Beware is the best advice here.
Friday, July 8, 2011
North Alabama Educators Credit Union is assisting the WHNT News 19 Tools for Schools program this year. The Tools for Schools program collects school supplies from the community to give back to the various school systems in the Tennessee Valley. While actual supplies are still requested by the community in the program, a new wrinkle this year is the availability of donors making a monetary donation towards the program. Financial donations made to Tools for Schools will be distributed by the WHNT News 19 fundraiser team to the school superintendents in 12 counties of north Alabama. North Alabama Educators Credit Union has established a "Tools for Schools" account to receive financial donations either online or at one of our five branch offices. North Alabama Educators Credit Union also has donation boxes at each office location for school supplies to be donated.
Here is the direct link to the "Tools for Schools" page where monetary donations can be made via PayPal. Credit and debit cards can also be used to submit a donation.
Please pass the donation link on to anyone that you think might be able to assist with a monetary donation. The educational budgets are tighter than ever so your assistance with providing school supplies would be greatly appreciated!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Key Points: Never provide personal information in response to a fraud inquiry. Our Fraud Prevention Center will just need your name and zip code. They will then provide the details of any suspicious transactions. If you receive a telephone call from 1-800-262-2024 (The Fraud Prevention Center number), inform the caller that you will call them back at the same number since incoming calls can be spoofed (fake) and not actually be the Fraud Prevention Center. The published number for the Fraud Prevention Center is listed on the bottom of our home page at www.naecu.org. Members are welcome to contact any credit union office location for assistance as well.
There are MANY fraudulent emails, text messages, phone calls, and letters circulating that are designed to steal personal information. Be careful out there!
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Senator Durbin noted in his comments that Canada retailers do not pay any interchange rates, implying that that system is superior to the system in the United States. Perhaps Senator Durbin should have compared the consumer side of the equation in Canada. A quick online search of Canadian credit unions show a considerable increase in the amount of banking fees paid by account holders as compared with credit unions in the United States. Monthly service charges range from $15 to $6, depending upon the type of checking account. Electronic transactions in Canada generally offer 5 to 10 free transactions per month and then a per transaction fee of $1 or more is charged. There were also several examples found where $500 daily electronic transaction limits were in place. This limit is most likely due to minimizing the fraud exposure on behalf of the institution.
It would be interesting to compare retail prices of products on common items sold in Canada as opposed to the United States. Given the fact that interchange rates are not being paid by retailers in Canada, they should be selling their products for a lessor price. My guess is that prices are not that much different though. Certainly not enough to cover the additional banking fees being paid by consumers in Canada.
If credit union members want a glimpse of how interchange rate changes can affect their bottom line, look online at credit unions in Canada and look over their fee schedules. It is unfortunate that Congress did not choose to perform a consumer impact study that would have been required in the interchange fee legislation that was ultimately voted down.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Our credit union staff are digitally capturing photos, photo ID’s, and signatures to help prevent errors and fraud on our membership. This information is only used for the purpose of verifying our members upon subsequent visits. Please keep in mind that identity thieves can counterfeit photo ID’s in an attempt to steal account funds if they know your account number. Having this information on file also can assist members if they have lost their own photo ID and need to perform a transaction. This exact scenario occurred at our Athens branch following the April 2011 tornadoes when a member’s identification was lost but we were able to verify the member’s photo and signature on file.
We also hear from longer term members who do not want to have to show their photo ID when performing a transaction. With nearly 12,000 members it is impossible for our staff to recognize every member of the credit union. This photo retention process can assist those longer term members since we will have the photo ID available on file to the credit union staff member.
Please keep in mind that we are simply trying to protect member accounts. The information is not being shared with anyone outside of the credit union. We are already seeing the information when we post member transactions now. We would appreciate your cooperation in our efforts to secure and protect your membership account(s).
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
If the credit union receives less income on our debit card program due to a reduction in interchange rates, that lost income will either have to be created somewhere else or current services will have to be altered or terminated. Either way, our members would see a distinct difference in some fashion. I doubt that our members would see any difference in the prices that they pay with their local retailer.
The last thing that consumers need right now is less money in their own pockets. The economic impact of the changes to interchange rates has not been evaluated and studied. Our fragile economy does not need laws that could curtail consumer spending. The credit union industry is simply asking Congress to delay implementation of the Durbin Act section that deals with setting a price on interchange rates to allow time for a financial impact study. We will be asking Congressman Mo Brooks for his support of HB 1081 to allow such a study. I agree that some reform is probably necessary in the card payment system but the current pricing solution is woefully inadequate since the pricing model did not address all costs associated with providing a card program.
FYI – Previous posts have addressed the interchange rate fee issue in more detail. If any members have questions or comments over the interchange rate issue, feel free to contact me.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the storms. Together, the communities will rebuild and our lives will return to a level of normalcy that we have come to expect.
We appreciate the patience of credit union members in our process of bringing offices and services back online. The credit union will be helping members in the coming weeks and months to minimize the negative financial impacts of the storms and power outages. An overview of credit union assistance plans are available on our home page now. Additional assistance steps will added as new member needs are identified.
People helping people - it's just the right thing to do.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Unlike many financial institutions in the country, North Alabama Educators Credit Union has never automatically covered a debit card transaction and charged a fee equivalent to an insufficient funds fee. If the money was not available in the checking account, the debit card transaction was declined.
Federal law was enacted in 2010 that now requires consumers to consent or "opt-in" to the availability for overdrawing their checking account with a debit card for ATM transactions or everyday debit card transactions. This was good consumer legislation since it placed the power of the available overdraft privilege access with a debit card in the hands of the credit union member. North Alabama Educators Credit Union now offers Overdraft Privilege on debit cards with a maximum overdraft privilege amount of $500 to qualified members. CLICK HERE for full details and the OPT-IN form on the NAECU program.
Percentage wise, the numbers range from 50-75% of credit union members signing up nationwide for this service. This doesn't mean that 50-75% of credit union members are routinely overdrawing their checking accounts with a debit card. A much smaller percentage of members will actually ever use overdraft privilege, period. Opting-in to Overdraft Privilege for ATM transactions and everyday debit card transactions costs nothing if the service is never utilized.
Why opt-in to Overdraft Privilege for ATM transactions and everyday debit card transactions? It provides a safety net should an emergency occur. Consider an emergency visit on a weekend where that $150 co-pay is due on the spot and you don't have $150 available in your checking account until payday. Also consider the scenario where you have a cart full of groceries and your debit card is declined at the checkout line due to an insufficient checking balance as a result of a mathematical balancing error or unrecorded transaction. An embarrassing situation can be avoided with the Overdraft Privilege service.
Overdraft Privilege is not a loan and should not be considered a line of credit. The credit union offers traditional overdraft loan protection that all checking account members should pursue to lessen the cost of an overdraft. Members are also encouraged to use our free CU-Online Home Banking and free Memberlink Audio Response services to monitor their available balances and prevent unwanted overdrafts.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Federal Reserve did not calculate the overall costs of a credit or debit card program, it just computed what the electronic cost was to receive, authorize, and settle the one-time card transaction. The problem with this approach is that the major costs of operating a card program are not being considered. Data processing, 24-hour fraud prevention and detection, personnel, licensing, compliance, and a major expense – fraud, were all costs ignored by the Federal Reserve in computing the flat rate of 12 cents per transaction.
Here’s an example of what the Fed is not taking into consideration: A $2,000 stolen debit card is used at a major retailer to buy a big screen television. Who pays the fraud? Often times the retailer never looks at the card being used. That’s because they are not responsible for the theft amount. The financial institution is left holding the bag for covering the amount of the loss once the unauthorized card transaction is reported. How many 12-cent transactions does it take to cover that $2,000 loss realized by the financial institution? Card fraud occurs every year and retailers pay very little, if any, of the cost.
If the 12-cent flat rate interchange fee is implemented, consumers can expect to see caps placed on purchase amounts to reduce the increased fraud loss exposure. Some have suggested caps of $250 or less on debit and credit card transactions. That major retailer can then enjoy the risks of accepting a $2,000 personal check for that big screen television.
House Bill H.R. 1081 and Senate Bill S. 575 have been introduced by Congress to delay the proposed changes to interchange rates and allow a study to realistically consider the impact on financial institutions and consumers. Financial institutions are hopeful that any changes are done only after a careful analysis of the impact of such legislation is completed. Consumers have shown they want to use debit cards; so let’s not rush to a set price that will ultimately hurt the consumer.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The retailers say that they will pass along the savings from the reduced interchange rates back to the consumers through lower prices of their products and services. This may or may not occur in the short term following the pricing change, but will the savings still be there 5 years down the road when no one is talking about interchange rates anymore?
Institutions will lose revenue if this Federal Reserve proposal is implemented. There is no doubt about that. Our existing card program costs (that were not considered by the Federal Reserve) such as fraud, personnel, data processing, licensing fees, compliance, and 24-hour monitoring will still be there. Additional fees would have to be implemented on checking accounts and credit cards to make up the lost revenue.
Credit unions are urging Congress to step back and conduct a compete analysis of all costs associated with maintaining a debit and credit card program. There should be an economic impact review of this Federal Reserve proposal. It may be time for changes in the interchange fee structure, but the process used to calculate the proposed $0.12 flat rate is flawed and will cause more harm than good to consumers.
Monday, February 28, 2011
The theme of the loan promotion is similar to the "Scale Back Alabama" weight loss campaign in that cutting your costs is a smart idea. We have money to lend so if you are going to borrow money make sure that your costs are minimized. Weigh your options, trim your budget, and lose high interest rates with a low cost loan from North Alabama Educators Credit Union!
As with all loans at the credit union, we are an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. Qualifications must be met on all loans. Your actual loan interest rate will be determined by your credit worthiness as well as other factors, such as the term length of your loan. For a 60-month term as referenced above, the payments would be as low as $18.00 per $1,000 borrowed. Please keep in mind that well qualified borrowers with a credit score of 748 and over can actually receive a lower loan rate than advertised above. To refinance a loan already financed with NAECU, an additional $2,500 must be added to the existing balance to qualify for the reduced rate.
Visit our web site at www.naecu.org for rates and terms available.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
North Alabama Educators Credit Union does not utilize RFID chips with our VISA Debit Cards. The VISA Credit Cards issued through our partner Elan also do not utilize RFID technology. As a result, there is no threat of data theft from electronic pickpocketing on our member cards.
It is important to note that the 3-digit security code on the back of cards cannot be obtained via electronic pickpocketing. The majority of Internet transactions with a credit or debit card would require the correct 3-digit security code to complete a transaction. For those who do possess cards with an RFID chip there are special protective card sleeves available that would block transmission of the short wave signal.
Regardless, it is still unnerving to say the least that someone could electronically steal card information from your wallet or purse just by standing close by.
Again, North Alabama Educators Credit Union does NOT utilize RFID technology for either our debit or credit cards.