Monday, February 11, 2013

Member vigilance the first line of defense in card fraud

With the introduction of chip-enabled Member cards, credit unions took a big step toward reducing the risk of card fraud. By relying on a secure chip for transactions, as opposed to the more vulnerable magnetic stripe, chip cards reduced the incidence of card skimming. However, criminals are always ready to change and adapt to any preventative measure. In recent months, tampered chip point-of-sale (POS) devices have begun to surface. The picture below provides an example of a tampered chip POS device. The ‘clean’ POS device on the right shows how far the card needs to be inserted to engage the chip. On the left, the card needs to be inserted much farther because the grey outer shell contains a mag stripe reader that skims the card information. Both devices will process the chip transaction, so members have no clue that something is amiss, unless you know what to look for. The best advice is to remain vigilant. If you insert your card in a POS device and it doesn’t seem quite right, ask to use a different device (if the business has more than one) or consider canceling the transaction altogether.

Proper retirement planning remains elusive for many Canadians

Several recent surveys have found that while saving for retirement is a high priority for most Canadians, many are not doing a good job of actually planning for their golden years. Three separate surveys released in January reached similar conclusions: Canadians need a plan for retirement saving, they need that plan sooner rather than later, and then they need to stick to that plan. The first survey, by Angus Reid, found that although 65 per cent of Canadians are worried about their financial wellbeing during retirement, 56 per cent admitted they may not have enough income to sustain a good quality of life. A second survey, by Leger Marketing, found that while 69 per cent of current retirees feel good about their finances, 28 per cent are afraid of running out of money at some point down the road. Finally, an Environics Research Group poll of current retirees found that the top piece of advice retirees have for working Canadians is to save more money by creating a budget and sticking to it. A significant portion of retirees surveyed (44 per cent) also recommended contributing the maximum amount to your RRSP each year. If you’re one of the many Canadians concerned about your retirement plans, why not speak to North Winnipeg Credit Union representative today? Contact us at (204) 954-7450. We can help you begin developing a plan that will put your retirement goals on the right track.

Financial co-operatives making a difference half a world away

There are more than half a million credit union members in Manitoba. Most join for familiar reasons: they prefer the great rates, friendly, personal service and highly competitive products credit unions have to offer. Half a world away, however, many thousands more are joining credit unions for a much more basic reason: because belonging to a financial co-operative gives them the opportunity to escape poverty and achieve successes they would otherwise never know. In countries like Uganda, fledgling Savings and Co-operative Credit Organizations, or SACCOs, often with the support of the Canadian Co-operative Association — and, by extension, credit union members like yourself — are making a dramatic difference in the lives of their members. People like Boniface Ayo, one of the founding members of Ikwera SACCO in Aduku, a town in the Central Ugandan district of Apac. Ayo, a farmer with five children aged two to 18, said that like many members of the SACCO, he joined to get access to money to pay school fees. "Money is the source of everything. With it, you can send your children to school," Ayo said. "If there is poverty, if there is nothing in your pocket, then there is nothing." The Ugandan school system consists of government-run schools and private schools. The government-run schools are more affordable, but class sizes can be as large as 500 students for one teacher. Private schools offer more reasonable class sizes and higher quality education, but they're also costlier, out of the reach of many rural Ugandans. Through school-fee loans from SACCOs, however, many Ugandans are beginning to be able to send their children to private school. For parents like Ayo, that means the opportunity to see his children reach their full potential. “I would like to struggle very hard so they each can go to school and reach the level they can reach," he said.

Beware of mystery shopper scam

Every year, hundreds of unsuspecting Canadians become victims of mystery shopper scams. The scam works when people receive a legitimate-looking cheque from a legitimate company and are asked to conduct mystery shopping excursions to specific stores to purchase specific items. Once done, they are asked to rate a money transfer company by wiring the difference, usually in the thousands of dollars, back to the fraudsters. The mystery shoppers get to keep a few hundred dollars and whatever they purchased. By the time the cheque is discovered to be fraudulent, which it will be, the criminals have their wired money and the victim is left holding the bag for the entire amount. Does it sound like a scam? Yes. Does it sound too good to be true? Yes. Do people fall for it anyway? Yes. Any proposition that includes the wiring of any amount of money to someone you’ve never met is almost certainly a scam. If you receive such a proposition, steer clear of it and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you still think it’s legitimate, thoroughly investigate the company whose name is on the cheque, starting by Googling the company and phoning it (not the mystery shopping contact) to ask about the proposition. Your due diligence will save you money and heartache.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Annual RRSP contribution deadline just around the corner

Members are reminded that the RRSP contribution deadline is just a few short months away.
Contributions to your RRSP for the 2012 tax year must be made before Friday, March 1, 2013. The maximum RRSP contribution for 2012 is $22,970, but you can also carry forward unused portions of the limit from previous years, so it’s possible the total you are allowed to contribute for 2012 may be higher.
If you’d like to make an RRSP contribution before the March 1, 2013 deadline, or if you’d like more information on setting up an automatic pre-authorized contribution, please feel free to stop by your branch or contact North Winnipeg Credit Union at 204-954-7450 (Leila branch) or 204-954-7710 (Henderson branch). We’d be happy to help.

Canadian credit unions maintain forward momentum

Buoyed by strong member support, Canadian credit unions continue to perform well in spite of aggressive competition from both traditional and non-traditional competitors, as well as a lagging economy.
According to figures released by Credit Union Central of Canada (Canadian Central), Central-affiliated credit unions and caisses populaires reached the midway point of 2012 with $145.7 billion in assets, a 7.4 per cent gain over the same period in 2011.
Canadians had $128.9 billion on deposit with credit unions and caisses populaires, an increase of $7.9 billion or 6.6 per cent over second quarter 2011.
Locally, Manitoba credit unions also continue to excel. The province’s credit union system now has nearly $21 billion in assets, with 41 credit unions, 190 branches and 175 ATM locations to serve members. Since hitting $10 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005, credit union assets have grown at an annual rate of 11.25 per cent. Manitoba credit union assets have quadrupled since September 1999.
“Every credit union in the province can be rightly proud of this achievement,” said Garth Manness, chief executive officer of Credit Union Central of Manitoba, the trade association and primary service provider for Manitoba credit unions. “In addition to their appeal as excellent financial institutions, the success of credit unions is also attributable to the fact that they are co-operatives — owned and democratically controlled by the same people, their members, who are their customers, and guided by a common set of principles that set them apart in the marketplace.”

Remember the importance of reviewing your credit report

A credit report is one of the most important pieces of information about you. Essentially a snapshot lenders look at to assess you as a credit risk, your credit history has a major impact on whether you’re able to rent or buy a home, buy a car or secure loans and credit.
Yet despite the importance of a credit report, many of us have no idea what a credit rating is, much less what our own credit report is like. Under Canadian law, you’re entitled to see the information a credit agency has about you. Basic credit reports are always available free by mail or in person from both of Canada’s two major credit bureaus (Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada) and online credit reports are also available for a small fee.
If you haven’t checked your credit report in the past year, now may be a good time to do so, just to make sure that all of the entries are correct.

Credit unions once again ranked number one in customer service

For the eighth straight year, Canadians have ranked credit unions number one in overall customer service excellence among all financial institutions, according to the 2012 Ipsos Best Banking Awards. Credit unions also topped all other financial institutions in terms of branch service excellence and valuing members’ business.
“For over a hundred years, Canadian credit unions have met the personal and business financial needs of their members by focusing on what they believe is most important — putting their members’ needs first, and treating them as individuals,” explained David Phillips, president and CEO, Credit Union Central of Canada (Canadian Central).
“While innovative ideas, products and services are an integral component of our co-operative system, Canadian credit unions and caisses populaires never lose sight of what is most important: our dedication to meeting the individual needs of our over five million members,” added Phillips.
Launched in 1987, the Ipsos (formerly Synovate) Customer Service Index (CSI) quarterly survey generates the winners of the annual Best Banking Awards. The Ipsos 2012 Best Banking Awards are based on quarterly Customer Service Index (CSI) survey results.

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