3 Easy Ways to Make Some Extra Holiday Cash

Black Friday has come and gone and Cyber Monday is in the past too. Did you take advantage of any big sales? Did you overspend on your holiday shopping budget? Whether or not you spent too much over Thanksgiving weekend, it’s always nice to have a few extra bucks in your pocket over the holidays. Here are three ways you can accumulate some extra money for the holiday season.

Keep the change: A piggy bank is a very simple item, and that’s what makes it so genius. You need $100 in a couple of months? Start putting away your spare change now and by the time that day arrives, you’ll be ready to go. The best part is, you can find the money without having to budget it and then cash in all your coin for dollars.

Answer some questions: Taking surveys online or at the mall may not seem like the best way to spend a couple of hours, but it can put a few extra bucks in your pocket. Check out Make Money Taking Surveys and discover some easy ways to make $25-$50 a day.

Go into sales: People love yard sales. It’s a great way to get something cool at a great price. You probably won’t get rich from having a yard sale, but you can definitely make $50-$100, depending on what you’re willing to sell. Ready to part with that drum set that’s been collecting dust? Put it on Craig’s List or use an app like Let Go, and see what happens.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

6 Scams to Watch Out For this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a joyful time for family, friends, celebrations, and gifts. And unfortunately, it can be a time for scams. Now that the holiday season has officially arrived, authorities are warning local residents to beware of scams and deceptive advertising while shopping at stores or online this year.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:

The Bait and Switch: Take retailers’ advertisements to the store with you. Unscrupulous retailers may advertise goods at low prices, but when you get to the store the price may be higher than advertised or the product might not be there at all.

Skimming Devices: Skimming devices are often placed on gas pumps or ATMs to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards. If something looks out of place or easily wiggles, use a different ATM, gas pump, or register.

“Cybersquatting” Sites: Crooks try to impersonate well-known websites by inverting characters or slightly altering the name of a well-known website. The copycat sites may look similar to the real website – and they can steal your credit information. Carefully read website addresses to ensure you are shopping on a legitimate website.

Copycat and Fraudulent Websites: Fake websites set up by scammers target online shoppers during the holiday season. Sometimes appearing as ad results in online searches, these sites may contain malware or steal credit card data. Avoid making purchases from untrustworthy sites.

Security Certificates: To ensure you are shopping on a secure website, make sure the website begins with “https” and has a small padlock icon next to the webpage address. Keep your computer, tablet or smartphone up-to-date and install security software.

Retailers Who Request Payment through Wire Transfer: Legitimate online businesses will not use wire transfer to collect payment for purchases, ever. This is a sure sign of a scam.

Some other important holiday shopping tips:

  • Sign up for transaction alerts on your credit and debit cards, or at least monitor your accounts closely online and report any suspicious activity immediately to your financial institution. Enroll in Visa Purchase Alerts for your First Financial debit card here. Sign up for Visa Credit Card alerts in Online Banking.
  • Think before you click! This doesn’t just pertain to emails, also be leary about clicking on online ads, applications and electronic greeting cards. Cybercriminals often mimic content, so be on the lookout for altered URLs.
  • Don’t trust a site or name you don’t know, and don’t fall for too good to be true prices.
  • Use payment methods that offer tokenization. This includes using a digital wallet to pay for purchases like Apple Pay, Samsung/Android Pay and the like.
  • Have unique, complex passwords for websites that store your information and change your passwords frequently.
  • Be cautious of charities you give to online, in person and over the phone. If you are going to donate, be sure to investigate the charity on the web first and make sure they are legitimate (or a well-known organization like the Salvation Army, St. Jude, etc.).
  • Ensure home computers are protected with antivirus software, anti-spyware, and a firewall.
  • Look for ATM and gas pump tampering, or skimming devices. Do not use the ATM or gas pump if you suspect anything suspicious. Watch our short video on how to spot a skimming device here.

Article Source: Kara Seymour for Patch.com and 11-28-17 CUNA Risk Alert

Caller ID Spoofing Can Also Include Equifax Data Breach Fraudsters

You recently saw our blog post about Caller ID Spoofing, a new scam where fraudsters fake a company phone number and pretend they are a representative from that organization. This scam can also include fraudsters posing to be Equifax representatives who are calling to confirm stolen information or gain your personal financial information in the wake of the scam.

Ring, ring. “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” Stop. Don’t tell them anything. They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.

That’s just one scam you might see after Equifax’s recent data breach. Other calls might try to trick you into giving your personal information. Here are some tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:

  • Don’t give personal information. Don’t provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof their numbers so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.
  • If you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

If you’ve already received a call that you think is fake, report it to the FTC.

If you gave your personal information to an imposter, it’s time to change any compromised passwords, account numbers or security questions.

Still wondering what to do if you think your personal financial information may have been compromised in the Equifax Data Breach?

Review your credit report. Once a year, you can get a credit report for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This will include information from all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Consider a Credit Freeze. If you aren’t applying for any new loans, consider freezing your credit. This prevents fraudsters from applying for new accounts in your name – while preserving access for lenders you already use. To place a freeze on your credit, you must submit to all three bureaus:

Create a fraud alert. If you opt against a credit freeze, consider putting a fraud alert on file. This will warn creditors that your information was compromised, and require them to verify your identity before establishing any new accounts. Instructions are available here.

Consider a Credit Monitoring Service. If you’re concerned about identity theft, enroll in Sherpa identity theft protection from First Financial. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

More information is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

Article Sources: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-isnt-calling?utm_source=govdelivery and https://www.menendez.senate.gov/

 

Buying New Stuff and When to Spend

Sometimes, it’s just nice to buy new stuff. But when will we get the best deals? Here’s a look at some common purchases and the best times to buy them.

TVs: It seems like a new TV is on the wish list every couple of years, and there’s no time better to make that purchase than the holiday shopping season. Your best chance would be a Black Friday sale, but decent deals usually run throughout November.

Furniture: New furniture is typically debuted in February and August, which makes January and July the best times to get a deal. Stores need room on the showroom floors, and you can take advantage of this need by helping them make some room.

Appliances: As the holidays approach, stores are eager to get old models out of the way to clear space for new arrivals. Take advantage of these savings and you get yourself some new appliances in September and October, just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Carpet: If you’re looking to outfit your home a with a new dance floor, the best time to do that is after the holiday season, usually mid-December until the end of January. Just make sure you don’t wait too late. Once the middle of February rolls around, tax returns start arriving and the sales cease.

Mattresses: As spring rolls around, the mattress industry uses Memorial Day weekend as their big push to clear out merchandise. Most holiday weekends will provide a deal, but Memorial Day weekend is the usually the best for your wallet.

A new car: So you’re tired of that old ride, huh? Sometimes you need a new car, sometimes you just want one. It’s fine to start looking – but you may want to wait until late summer to pull your wallet out. As dealerships start rolling out new models, it’s a great time to buy something from the previous year’s release. It also doesn’t hurt to shop on a less busy weekday near the end of the month to help salesmen pad their quotas.

A new home: If you’re buying a new home, you’ll want to look in the fall and winter. This is when you’ll find your best deals, especially in October, before the end of the year. Nothing would make a seller happier than unloading that property in time for the holidays.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this December 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With so many joyful and festive events happening this month, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose which ones to attend. Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this December in a town near you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at First Financial, and wishing you a prosperous 2018!

December 1: Town Tree Lighting and Candy Cane Hunt in Manasquan. From 6-8pm join Manasquan’s tree lighting, caroling, music, candy cane hunt, and a visit from Santa! The event takes place in the business district. Learn more here or call 732-223-8303.

December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16: Christmas Lantern Tours, Allaire Village in Farmingdale. The weather is cold, but the scent of Christmas is in the air! Come celebrate the holidays with a stroll through Allaire’s lantern lit village, and learn about Christmas in 1836! Music, history and a little bit of theater, the Historic Village at Allaire should be your new (or continuing) Holiday Tradition. Advance Purchase Recommended. 90 minute tours leave every 15 minutes.  For details call 732-919-3500 or click here.

December 2: Spring Lake Candlelight Christmas Inn Tour. From 3:30-7pm, tour Spring Lake’s famous inn’s and B&B’s decorated in holiday splendor.  Learn more here, or call 732-449-0577.

A Christmas Carol at Grunin Center for the Arts, OCC (Toms River). Starting at 1pm, this musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the timeless tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who hates Christmas. Shocked into action by visits from three ghosts that take him on a journey to the past, present, and the future; Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas. The music and dancing of A Christmas Carol will help put everyone in the holiday spirit! Adults are $12, kids $10. Go to http://www.grunincenter.org/ or call 732-255-0500.

December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17: Garden State Central Model Railroad Club’s InfoAge Holiday Spectacular (Wall). Come see operating train layouts and displays. Santa will be there too! Noon to 5pm, adults are $7 and kids are $3. Admit one free adult when you bring a new, unwrapped toy. Learn more at http://www.gardenstatecentral.com/ or call 732-801-8054.

December 5: Downtown Freehold Tree Lighting. From 5-7pm, join in the town tree lighting at the Hall of Records. Learn about other Freehold holiday events such as breakfast with Santa, the Santa train, and caroling here or call 732-333-0094.

December 6: Ocean County Tree Lighting at the Ocean County Administration Building (Toms River). Starting at 4:45pm, celebrate with the Ocean County Freeholders and music by the Silver Bay Elementary School chorus, light refreshments will be provided. Learn more at http://www.oceancountytourism.com or call 732-929-2000.

December 9: Free Santa Photos at all First Financial Locations (Toms River, Neptune, Howell/Freehold). Sit with Santa from 9am-12pm! Each participating child will receive a free 4×6 photo in the mail, as well as the original image file will be sent to each parent/guardian. Register at your nearest branch here, or call 732-312-1500.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus in Pt. Pleasant from 2-5pm! Free Gifts, great train display and holiday cookies and hot chocolate. The event takes place at the Pt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce at River Road and Maxson Ave. Get details at http://pointpleasantchamber.com/ or call 732-295-8850.

December 9 and 10: Ocean Grove Victorian Holiday House and Inn Tour. Visit the inns and homes of Ocean Grove with a complimentary jitney around town, see the holiday bell ringers, tree lighting and caroling too. Get more details here, or call 732-774-1391.

December 16 and 17: Visit with Santa at Longstreet Farm (Holmdel). From 12-3pm, come to Longstreet Farm and enjoy an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas. Children can visit with Santa, then take a walk to the farmhouse and have a cup of cider. Be sure to bring your camera! For information, click here or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

December 22 and 23: American Repertory Ballet presents The Nutcracker in Deal Park. At 2pm and 7pm, attend this beloved classic with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, thrilling choreography and a cast of more than 100 at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center. Buy tickets at http://www.axelrodartscenter.com/shows or call 732-531-9106.

 

 

3 Tricks to Save Money for the Holidays

If the holidays have crept up on you, then you probably haven’t started your decorating or shopping yet. If you’re in need of a few extra bucks for the holidays, here are three easy tricks to cut back for the rest of the year.

Cash only: We’re living in the world of Apple Pay and Venmo, which makes spending money easier than ever. If you’re not the cash type, just remember that it feels a lot more personal (and sad) every time you complete a transaction with paper money. It’s enough to make you second guess handing over your cash.

Bundle up: If you want to save a few bucks the “very easy” way, turn down your thermostat. It’s getting colder, but it’s an easy fix and it will save you money. Grab a blanket and some wool socks. Having a few extra bucks to spend will be satisfying when you get ready to buy your niece that karaoke machine she’s been wanting.

Keep tabs on yourself: Every single time you make a purchase, write it down. By physically jotting down every dollar you spend, you’ll quickly realize just how much money you spend on the “must-haves” in your life. This may be just the wake-up call you need to start cutting back on some of the not-so-necessary things you regularly purchase.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com