Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keep Member Card safety tips in mind when shopping

As the holidays approach, many members will soon be using their Member Cards to make purchases at a wide variety of places. The convenience and ease of use of debit cards is one of the reasons they’re so popular. In fact, the Interac Association reports that during the busiest shopping days of the year, it’s not unheard of for Manitobans to make well over half a million debit transactions in a single day.

But with all those transactions taking place, the association encourages members to keep debit card safety in mind when using your Member Card.

While the Interac network is among the safest networks in the world, debit card fraud can occur if proper precautions aren’t taken. The credit union would like to suggest the following tips to keep your Member Card safe when shopping:

1) Use your hand or body to shield your PIN during every transaction;

2) Keep your debit card in sight when conducting transactions at the checkout;

3) Check you banking statements regularly and contact the credit union immediately if you detect any unusual activity;

4) Notify the credit union immediately if your Member Card is lost, stolen or retained by an ATM;

5) Avoid telling anyone else your PIN, including friends and family. Only you should know it; and

6) Use a unique PIN that can’t be easily guessed. Avoid numbers like your date of birth, telephone number or social insurance number.

Phishing scammers posing as the tax man

It’s unfortunately quite common these days to receive e-mails purportedly from legitimate financial institutions requesting personal information for fraudulent purposes. These scams, typically referred to as “phishing” scams, use phony e-mails and websites to lure unsuspecting victims into handing over critical personal information, such as social insurance numbers, credit card information, bank account details and passport numbers.
Members should keep in mind that the credit union — and any legitimate financial institution — will never request personal information by e-mail. If you receive a questionable e-mail, the best advice is always to contact the institution directly to inquire about the validity of the request.
However, members may not be aware of a similar phishing scam currently making the rounds which involves fraudulent communications purportedly from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). As with other instances of phishing, the phony e-mail requests personal information. In this case, however, the request is made so that the taxpayer can supposedly receive a refund or benefit payment.
The CRA has advised that taxpayers should not respond to these fraudulent communications. The agency says it will not request personal information of any kind from a taxpayer by e-mail and that it will not divulge taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer. The CRA also says it will not leave personal information on an answering machine.
If you have concerns about an e-mail you’ve received, you’re encouraged to visit the CRA website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

Rising bankruptcy levels underscore need for good money management

Recent studies on the level of consumer bankruptcies in Canada have underscored the importance of good savings habits, avoiding unnecessary debt and overall sound money management.
Data released earlier this year by Equifax Canada revealed that Canadians across the country are filing for bankruptcy in increasing numbers. The study found that consumer bankruptcies in November 2008 increased nine per cent over the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, a subsequent report released by BMO Capital Markets said that consumer bankruptcies in May 2009 were 33.3 per cent higher than a year earlier. The BMO report noted that consumer bankruptcies have been increasing since the end of 2005.
Bankruptcy is something no one wants to face. It carries with it a significant financial cost and also puts undue strain on relationships and families. Unfortunately, with a weakened economy and high personal debt levels, many Canadians find themselves in exactly that situation.
The key to avoiding bankruptcy is a proper understanding of what you’re getting into before signing on for more debt, as well as establishing consistent, reliable savings habits.
If you’re concerned about the level or type of debt you’ve assumed, or if you need advice on products that might make saving easier, stop by or call the credit union and speak to a member service representative. We have many products and services that may be quite useful to you, and we’d be happy to help.

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