The Best New Savings Apps for Your Phone

girlphoneSeveral years ago, entrepreneur Yaron Samid noticed a fraudulent charge on his credit card. When he investigated, he found that it had actually been a recurring charge, added to his monthly bill, that he had been paying without even realizing it. He also discovered that other people posted online about the same charge, and he wasn’t the first person to be surprised by it.

His tech background inspired him to start thinking about how people could share information about such fraudulent charges to help protect each other. That concept led him to create BillGuard, an app that has been used by more than 1 million people worldwide since it launched in July 2013. “The app is helping people make sure they’re only paying for what they should be,” says BillGuard spokeswoman Marina Boykis​.

BillGuard is one of several apps to hit the market recently with the goal of ​protecting your finances and saving you money. Other popular ones reduce your parking expenses, help you track spending and help you find discounts and coupons. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular apps, which are all available for both iOS and Android, and how they work:

1. BillGuard. The BillGuard app, using bank-level security, pulls all your transactions from various accounts, and flags ones that might be erroneous, including duplicate charges that have been flagged by other users. You can flag a charge and dispute it with a company directly through the app. When a retailer faces a data breach, BillGuard alerts you if you shopped at the store during the period of the incident.

The app saves people money, Boykis says, because most people quickly skim their account statements – if they review them at all – which makes it easy to miss errors. Last year, BillGuard flagged more than $70 million in suspicious charges. “This puts you in control of your money and helps you fight back, especially given all the data breaches,” Boykis says.

2. Key Ring. This app lets you store your rewards card numbers on your phone so you don’t end up missing out on discounts because you forgot your rewards card. “It lets you throw away all of the discount cards taking up space on your physical key ring,” says Lisa Koivu,​ contributor to the U.S. News Frugal Shopper blog and founder of ShopGirlDaily.com. “Now, since I always have my phone, I always have my discount cards.”

Koivu says she uses the app most at CVS, which also lets you load coupons onto your discount card online. On a recent trip, she saved 20 percent off her entire purchase with the coupons and card discounts.

3. Retailers’ apps. If you have a store you frequent often, then check to see if it has an app, because it could save you money on products you’re buying anyway. Koivu recommends the Target Cartwheel app and Shop Your Way app for Sears and Kmart, which offer exclusive discounts to shoppers.

4. Gift card apps. These apps, including GoWallet and Gyft, help keep you from ever forgetting or losing a gift card again. You can upload your cards onto the app and use it to track and redeem them. Like the Key Ring app, it lets you save even when traveling lightly, without all your cards.

5. Retail Me Not. This app means you never have to clip coupons out of Sunday circulars again. Instead, this app collects coupon codes for you, and lets you save your favorite stores for easier tracking. The best part is you don’t have to save a paper coupon at all. At checkout, just show the code on your phone to snag the deal.

6. Ebates. This app gives shoppers cash back for purchases and recently started offering users even better deals​ one Monday every month, dubbed Mobile Monday. The app lets shoppers earn cash back at more than 1,800 retailers, compare prices and track deals. Shoppers can get as much as 20% cash back on their Mobile Monday purchases.​

7. Park Whiz. If parking is eating up a big chunk of your monthly budget, then the Park Whiz app could be what you need to cut costs. It makes it easy to search – and reserve – nearby ​off-street parking. Available in 150 cities nationwide, it also offers discounts on garage parking (as well as open-air lots) and even find spots from private homeowners who have open spots available. “We work with parking providers to offer our drivers exclusive discounts only available through the service, sometimes up to 60 percent,” says Park Whiz spokesman Mason Pain​, who uses the app to lock in a low monthly parking rate for his own commute.

Depending on your shopping and driving habits, one of these apps could probably help you save – and help meet your financial goals for the year.

Download First Financial’s mobile banking app today! Our app provides convenient, easy, and secure banking and bill payment solutions right from your iPhone or Android device. You can even pay other people with the PopMoney feature in Bill Pay. Get 24/7 instant access to your First Financial account – including bill payment, make transfers, check your balances, find branch and ATM locations, and receive account alerts.*

*You must have an account at First Financial Federal Credit Union (serving Monmouth and Ocean Counties in NJ) and be enrolled in Online Banking, to use this application.

Article source written by Kimberly Palmer of US News.

8 Online Banking Fraud Prevention Tips

  1. Choose a bank account that offers some form of multi-factor authentication Keyboard with E-Banking Button.(MFA) for online banking, such as a key code or unique image. First Financial offers this with our Online Banking!
  2. Create a strong password, avoiding common words or phrases, and change it every few months. Also, for security questions, the answer does not have to be the real answer, just one you will remember.
  3. Keep your security software (anti-virus, firewalls, etc.), operating system, and other software up-to-date to ensure that there are no security holes present when using your computer for online banking.
  4. Beware of suspicious emails and phone calls that appear to be from your financial institution asking for account information. Access your online banking account directly by typing the address into your browser, going through your financial institution’s website, and only call your financial institution back via a number that you are familiar with and you know is legitimate.
  5. Access your accounts from a secure location, using computers and networks you know are safe and secure. Avoid using public networks and always look for the padlock icon in the corner of the browser, signaling that the website is encrypted.
  6. Always log out and clear your computer’s cache at the end of each session.
  7. Set up account notifications to immediately alert you if there is any suspicious activity on the account, such as large withdrawals or a low remaining balance.
  8. Monitor your accounts regularly, paying attention to all transactions over the past few months.

If you fall victim to ID Theft, don’t panic – First Financial is here to help! Report the incident regarding any of your First Financial accounts immediately, by calling us at 866.750.0100 or emailing info@firstffcu.com

Pay Other People with Online Bill Pay

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Did you know you can now pay another person through First Financial’s Online Bill Pay service?  With Popmoney, it’s easy!  Plus, it’s fast and secure, and even allows you to interact socially with the recipient and pay them without having to deal with sending checks or cash.

How does it work? 

Simply login to your First Financial Online Banking Account, and then proceed to login to your Bill Pay Account.  If you do not have a First Financial Online Banking or Bill Pay Account, you will need to enroll before you can use Popmoney. Click here or call our Member Service Center at 866.750.0100 to enroll or if you have questions. *Please note that while Online Banking is free and you can enroll in Bill Pay separately, you must pay at least 3 bills per month using Bill Pay or a $6 per month fee applies.

Once you are a Bill Pay user and you are logged into Bill Pay – click on the Popmoney tab at the top right.  You’ll see a section for Payment Information:

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  • You will select the First Financial account you’d like the payment to be deducted from first, and then either an email address or mobile phone number of the individual you are paying.  You must enter either an email or mobile number, or this service will not work.
  • Then enter your payment amount and send date.
  • You can also make your payment a recurring one (say you want to pay monthly rent to your landlord on the 1st of every month), and one of the popular features of Popmoney – adding a note to your transaction.  On a regular check you might be able to write “Happy Birthday!” in the memo portion, but Popmoney’s personalized note feature allows the recipient to read the note like a social media comment, and then respond back and thank the sender if he or she wanted to.  The personalized notes allow the sender to choose a variety of categories for the purpose of the payment: allowance, entertainment, gifts, rent, travel, and so on.  Or – if the category you’d like isn’t listed, the program allows you to customize by adding your own.
  • Once you have entered all the payment details, you’ll be directed to another page to confirm and send your payment.

Easy enough, right?

How does the recipient know when they have a payment?

Now you know why you had to enter an email or mobile phone number – based on the method you entered, the recipient would receive either an email or text letting them know they have a payment from you (your first and last name are viewable by the recipient only – and your personal message if you left one), or vice versa if someone were sending you a payment.

If the recipient’s financial institution also offers the Popmoney service, they’ll be able to accept the payment upon logging into their Bill Pay and clicking on their Popmoney tab to direct the funds to their account.  If not, the recipient can provide their account information at Popmoney.com and the funds will be sent to the account entered.  If account information is not provided, the payment will be returned to the sender.

The sender cannot see the recipient’s account information, and vice versa – the service is completely secure.  There are also several other frequently asked questions available within the Popmoney tab for further inquiries regarding the service.

Ready to get started?  Login to your First Financial Bill Pay Account today, or contact us to enroll!

 

 

Mobile Banking and 11 Ways to Protect Yourself

Mobile Banking and 11 Ways to Protect Yourself 

These days a cell phone is so much more than a cell phone. Our days probably start with a smart phone as an alarm and when you need to know how to get to a venue, you flip to your smart phone’s navigator, and when you want to know where to find the lowest gas prices around, well, there’s an app for that too. Among all of these smart phone luxuries, one of the things that comes especially in handy is Mobile Banking. With that being said, being aware of potential risks associated with Mobile Banking are sure-fire ways to protect yourself and your bank account while still taking advantage of the convenience Mobile Banking offers.

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1. Download signed applications only from a trusted source.
2. Android users: Do not enable Android’s “install from unknown sources” features.
3. Password protect your mobile phone!
4. Never store usernames and passwords on your mobile phone.
5. Keep the mobile phone with you or secure the device when not in use.
6. Frequently delete text messages received, especially if they contain confidential information.
7. Notify the credit union or carrier immediately if your mobile phone is lost or stolen so that it can be deactivated (Call First Financial at 866.750.0100 or send a secure message through Online Banking to disable your mobile banking login).
8. Do not modify the mobile phone as it may disable important security features.
9. Install antivirus software.
10. Check account activity frequently and notify the credit union of any unauthorized transactions.
11. Adopt safe practices as you would using your personal computers, which include not opening attachments or clicking on links contained in email received from unfamiliar sources.

Article courtesy of The Credit Union National Association.