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

It’s officially fall – and October is one of the best and most beautiful weather months in New Jersey. Get the family ready for an action-packed month filled with fun fall and Halloween activities. Check out these free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you!

October 1: Pier Fest, Long Branch. From 12-4pm, this outdoor festival will feature sidewalk sales, vendors, live music, crafters, delicious food and kids’ activities! Festival Plaza at Pier Village, 1 Chelsea Avenue. For details call 732-245-0412 or go to http://www.pierfestnj.com/

October 6, 7, & 8: Italian Street Festival in Seaside Heights. Friday through Sunday, featuring performances from Italy. Friday  4 to 10pm, Saturday 10am to 10pm, Sunday 10am to 8pm. Savor a weekend of Italian specialties, arts and crafts, outstanding entertainment and a parade that is bound to delight young and old alike. 26th Annual Ocean County Columbus Day Parade at 1:00 pm Sunday on the Boulevard. Free admission. Go to http://www.exit82.com/ or call 732-830-3700.

October 7: Fall Craft Market and Art in the Park at Allaire Village (Farmingdale). From 10am-4pm the Historic Village at Allaire showcases local artists as they sell and demonstrate their crafts.  The craft market includes handmade items of all varieties from paintings and photography to pottery, woodworking, textiles, and beyond.  Admission to the craft market is $2 Adults, Children under 12 years old and members are free. For more information call 732-919-3500 or click here.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Allaire Village (Farmingdale). Interactive adaptation of the classic ghost story from 7:30-9pm; advance tickets recommended. The performance takes place at the Allaire Chapel beginning at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 per person. Click here for information and to purchase your tickets online.

Asbury Park Zombie Walk at 4pm. The Annual Asbury Park Zombie Walk holds the record for the world’s largest gathering of zombies! Enjoy festivities & music taking place through downtown & along the boardwalk, and end your day with a “blood red” fireworks show along the ocean front. Walk starts at Convention Hall to Cookman and Main Asbury Park. Rain or shine event. For more details, click here.

October 8: Belmar Oktoberfest from 11:30am to 5pm. Join the fun for German food, stein hoisting, pumpkin decorating, performers and much more! Main Street (between 8th & 10th Aves.) Call 732-681-3700 ext. 214 or go to http://www.visitbelmarnj.com/

Manasquan Wine and Beer Festival from 12-4pm. Prepare to get busy with your inner wine (or beer) connoisseur. The Chamber is hosting their annual Wine and Beer Festival in downtown Manasquan at Squan Plaza. There will be plenty of great music and food and sample tastings and a keepsake Manasquan wine glass. Admission is $30, or $25 if you pre-order online at http://www.manasquanchamber.org/

October 13 & 14: Annual Waretown Haunted Hayride. 19th Annual Waretown Haunted Hayride sponsored by the Township of Ocean and Waretown Vol. Fire Company. 20 minute tractor ride around the “Haunted” Waretown Lake. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Adults $10 admission, children $8. Call 609-693-5407 or visit http://www.twpoceannj.gov/

October 14: Classic Car Show in the Atlantic Highlands. From 10am-4pm, come see the annual car show along First Avenue. Rain date is October 15th. Call 732-872-8711 or visit http://www.atlantichighlands.org/

October 15: Thompson Park Day in Lincroft. From 11am to 5pm, take place in a fun filled fall day! “Strutt your mutt” dog costume contest, scarecrow contest, pumpkin painting, wagon rides, food, crafts, and live entertainment. Newman Springs Road, Lincroft. Call 732-842-4000 or go to https://www.monmouthcountyparks.com/

October 20, 21, 27, and 28: Haunted Hay Rides at Allaire Village (Farmingdale). In the dark of the night, the ghosts, ghouls, and monsters fill the haunted village. From woods to historic homes the Historic Village at Allaire takes on a dark twist for the Halloween season. Admission includes: Haunted Hayride, Mr. Allaire’s Home, and the Haunted Village itself.  Enter if you dare! Tickets can be purchased online, for a group rate of 25 or more, call the office at 732-919-3500. Adult tickets are $15, children tickets, ages under 12, are $10. Tickets can be purchased at the door starting at 5:45 pm.

October 21: Bradley Beach Howl-o-Ween Festival and Parade. 12-3pm at Riley Park, free admission and live music. Learn more at http://www.bradleybeachnj.gov/ or call 732-776-2999.

October 21 & 22: Food Trucks and Firepits at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Food Trucks, Fire Pits and Fireworks (Saturday evening). Visit LauritaWinery.com for more details or call 609-758-8000. Cost $8 per person/ Kids 12 and under FREE. Discounted tickets online.

October 28: Ocean Grove Halloween Parade for children and pets. Begins at noon at Fireman’s Park on Main Avenue. For more details go to http://oceangrovenj.com/ or call 732-774-1391.

Trunk or Treat, Lake Shenandoah Park (Lakewood).  Individuals, businesses and non-profit groups decorate car trunks, vans or pickup beds and hand out treats. If you are interested in collecting treats, just come out in costume. All are welcome. Prizes will be awarded for the best decorated trunk and for the best costumes. Free admission, 7 to 8:30pm. For more details call 732-506-5122 or go to http://www.oceancountyparks.org/

October 29: Annual Point Pleasant Halloween Parade at 1pm. Marching down Bridge Avenue to Point Pleasant’s Community Park since 1980 – this fun filled day has been a tradition among families of all ages. Featuring live bands, 10 + motorized and pull floats, categories for marching, judged costume contest. Trophies awarded at Community Park immediately following the parade. Ice cream for sale, free admission. Call 732-295-8850 or go to http://pointpleasantchamber.com/

How to Protect Your Money After the Equifax Data Breach

If you haven’t already, the first, best, and fastest way to protect yourself from the Equifax data breach is to place a security freeze on your credit files at the big three credit reporting bureaus.

Consumers should apply the freeze to Equifax, and also to Experian, and TransUnion. For extra security, you can apply a freeze to a fourth, lesser-known consumer reporting agency, Innovis.

You can do this by contacting each bureau either through their website or through the customer service number. There may be a fee for placing the freeze.

Equifax stated it would not charge for credit freezes for those affected by the breach.

The massive data breach involves the potential compromise of the personal data of 143 million consumers, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and birth dates.

Equifax said in a news release that it was fixing its website so customers could more easily determine if their information had been compromised. The release also specified that the binding arbitration clause and class-action waiver were only applicable to the credit monitoring services, and did not apply to the data breach. Equifax later dropped the restrictions for the free credit-monitoring service as well, claiming that customers who sign up because of the data breach are not subject to the clause and would not be prevented from joining class action suits.

Many details about the data breach are still unclear, but the potential consequences for consumers are severe.

In addition to the credit freeze, there are four more steps to put an iron wall around your money.

Activate Two-Factor Authentication

In today’s world of digital crime and internet fraud, two-factor authentication is an important extra layer of safety. It requires not just a password but a second element, such as a code texted to your smart phone, which you have but a crook can’t easily get. Set up and activate two-factor authentication on all of your existing mobile banking, savings, credit card, home equity line of credit, and other financial accounts that offer it.

Maximize Your Mutual Fund Security

Although the Securities and Exchange Commission requires mutual funds companies to identify, detect, and respond to red flags of identity theft, unlike FDIC-insured banks and NCUA-insured credit unions, these investment firms aren’t required to restore assets stolen by hackers.

You should call your 401(k) plan provider and other investment managers to learn their fraud protection policies, as they can vary from company to company. If your investment company doesn’t explicitly reimburse stolen funds, consider moving your money elsewhere.

Place a Fraud Alert on Credit Reports

A fraud alert is different from a credit freeze. The fraud alert is a notice on your credit report that warns both current and prospective lenders that they must take reasonable steps to verify your identity before granting credit, such as a new credit card or loan, or extending credit on an existing account.

You need to request a fraud alert at one of the big three credit bureaus, which will then pass it on to the other two, and separately place another alert with Innovis. An alert lasts 90 days. If you’re an ID-theft victim, you can get a fraud alert that stays in place for seven years. But you may be better off with the 90-day alert, because that allows you to get a free credit report from each of the four credit bureaus each time you renew the alert, which means you can get up to 16 free reports per year.

Secure Your Smartphone + Email

How you manage your smartphone and email accounts can be critical to your online security. Your phone is where all your second-factor text message codes are sent and where your mobile banking and other money apps live. Email is where your financial institutions send alerts and password reset links.

Here’s how you can make your phone and email harder targets:

  • Activate two-factor authentication on your email account. When you log into your email on an unfamiliar computer or phone, you’ll get a text with the necessary code to complete login. A hacker would need that code, too, but can’t get it without your phone. Better yet, download an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator, which generates these codes without the need for texts, which can be intercepted.
  • Use a password management app such as LastPass on your computer’s browser and on your phone. LastPass creates and plugs different passwords into each of your accounts when you log in, so you don’t have to invent and keep track of dozens of passwords. This eliminates the temptation of using the same password for multiple accounts, which can provide a master key for hackers.
  • Never click unsolicited, unexpected, or suspicious-looking links sent to you by email or text. They could download malware capable of spying on your phone or personal computer activity.
  • Follow other security tips for your phone’s specific operating system using the FCC Smartphone Security Checker, a customizable interactive tool.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from SherpaThe 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! Learn more about safeguarding your identity with our consumer identity theft protection guide.

Article Source:  Jeff Blyskal for Consumer Reports

Important Member Alert: Tech Support Scams

Recently, we have learned that some of our First Financial members have fallen victim to a new line of scams – where fraudsters claim to be Microsoft or Apple tech support employees. Please read the following important details about this latest scam from the Federal Trade Commission.

How the Scam Works

Scammers may call, place alarming pop-up messages on your computer, offer free “security” scans, or set up fake websites – all to convince you that your computer is infected. The scammers try to get you on the phone, and then work to convince you there’s a problem. Finally, they ask you to pay them to fix that non-existent problem.

To convince you that both the scammers and the problems are real, the scammers may:

  • Pretend to be from a well-known company – like Microsoft or Apple.
  • Use technical terms.
  • Ask you to get on your computer and open some files – and then tell you those files show a problem (when they don’t).

Then, once they’ve convinced you that your computer has a problem, the scammers might:

  • Ask you to give them remote access to your computer – which lets them change your computer settings so your computer is vulnerable to attack.
  • Trick you into installing malware that gives them access to your computer and sensitive data, like user names and passwords.
  • Try to sell you software that’s worthless, or that you could get elsewhere for free.
  • Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program.
  • Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services, or services you could get elsewhere for free.
  • Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information.

These scammers want to get your money, access to your computer, or both. But here’s what you can do to stop them.

If You Get a Call or Pop-Up

  • If you get an unexpected or urgent call from someone who claims to be tech support, hang up. It’s not a real call. And don’t rely on caller ID to prove who a caller is. Criminals can make caller ID seem like they’re calling from a legitimate company or a local number.
  • If you get a pop-up message that tells you to call tech support, ignore it. There are legitimate pop-ups from your security software to do things like update your operating system. But do not call a number that pops up on your screen in a warning about a computer problem.
  • If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly – but don’t use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Instead, look for the company’s contact information online, or on a software package or your receipt.
  • Never share passwords or give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you.

If You Were Scammed

  • Get rid of the malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything the software says is a problem.
  • Change any passwords that you shared with someone. Change the passwords on every account that uses passwords you shared.
  • If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card company and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too. Report it to ftc.gov/complaint.

Refund Scams

If you paid for tech support services, and you later get a call about a refund, that call is probably also a scam. Don’t give out any personal or financial information.

The refund scam works like this: Several months after a purchase, someone calls to ask if you were happy with the service. If you say no, the scammer offers a refund. Or, the caller says the company is going out of business and giving refunds. The scammer eventually asks for your credit card number, or asks for access to your bank account to make a deposit. But instead of putting money in your account, the scammer takes money from your account.

If you get any calls like this, hang up, and report it immediately: ftc.gov/complaint.

If at anytime you feel any of your First Financial accounts may have been compromised in this or a similar scam, contact our Member Relationship Center right away at 732.312.1500. If your First Financial credit or debit cards were compromised in a scam, call the 24/7 toll-free number on the back of your card to report the incident and replace your card. All important phone numbers for members can be found on our website: https://www.firstffcu.com/contact-us.htm

Article Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams

3 Easy Ways to Save Money this Fall

You probably spent a decent amount of money this summer on vacations and just having fun in general. Then you had to spend money on all kinds of things so your kids were ready to go back to school. The sad part? The holidays aren’t too far off. If you need a few easy ways to save money this fall, here’s 3 ideas for you.

Keep your systems off: You’ve probably been keeping your house frosty during these hot summer months. Now that it’s starting to cool down slightly it’s a good time to think about shutting it off before the cold weather arrives. If you can wait until closer to November to turn your heater on, you can probably save a few hundred bucks. That’ll come in handy on Black Friday!

Stop going out so much: In the summer, it’s fun to spend time and money doing fun things around town. Now that it’s cooling off, take advantage. Instead of dining out, break out that Crock-Pot, make a big batch of chili, and enjoy a hot bowl on a cool evening on your back porch. Haven’t been using that gym membership you bought back in January? Cancel it, and go for a run or a bike ride in the great outdoors.

Unsubscribe: Is your inbox full of promotional emails? As the holidays are right around the corner, it may be a good idea to unsubscribe to some of those. Sure, you might need some gift ideas for family, but you also may be tempted to buy a few discounted items for yourself. If you need help with unsubscribes, check out Unroll.Me.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

4 Ideas for “Me Time” Under $25

Whether or not you’re a parent, it’s important you take time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself once in awhile. Parents often call this “me” time and although some may not want to admit it, everyone needs a little time to themselves for rest and relaxation. Here are four budget-friendly tips for getting that much needed “me” time for under $25.

Pick out a Pinterest project.

Whether it’s a new recipe, a home décor idea, or a creative craft, go back to your Pinterest boards and tackle that project you’ve been longing to get to. Having a small project to do on your own, will get you feeling creative and also productive.

Have your car cleaned.

Sometimes having someone do your chores makes all the difference in the world. Cleaning out your car is not something most of us look forward to, so do some research and find auto-detailing shops in your area on the cheap. In most cases, you can usually get a great interior and exterior wash for around $20. Check out Groupon for deals near where you live or work.

Take a nap.

Who doesn’t love a good nap? Many of us are lucky if this is ever an option. On the next weekend that rolls around, make it part of your day, even if it’s just 30 minutes. If you have children – arrange in advance for them to be looked after. Just getting that extra time in to rest can really help recharge your batteries, even if you just lie down and don’t go all the way to sleep.

Go out for a solo coffee date.

Those fancy coffees can really put a dent in your budget, but grabbing one every so often can be a nice treat. Make a plan to hit up your neighborhood coffee shop with a good book or magazine and sit and enjoy your favorite beverage. The coffee will give you an energy boost and the alone time will help you feel happy and rejuvenated.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

Important Member Notice: Same Day Electronic Payments

On September 15, 2017 Same Day ACH payments will be coming to merchants and billing companies. This means that if you agree to make an electronic payment, funds might be debited from your account as soon as the very same day. Previously, it may have taken a couple of days for payments to post. Starting on September 15th, this may no longer be the case.

When making a payment or paying a bill through ACH, available funds must be in your account. If the funds are not immediately available, we recommend you wait until funds are available before making the payment. If funds are not available and are debited from your account, we may charge you a fee. If you do not have overdraft protection, you will also incur an additional fee from the merchant or billing company.

FAQs:

1. What is an ACH payment/debit?

These are electronic debits that are commonly known as Direct Payment, Direct Debit, ACH Debit, Electronic Check or e-check, and similar terms.

2. Why is this changing?

As part of an effort to improve and modernize U.S. payments systems, electronic debit payments can now be processed same day. It is a nation wide regulation intended to provide faster access to funds.

3. What are the benefits?

Many merchants and billing companies may offer you the option to make a same day electronic payment, such as to pay a bill or to transfer funds. If you agree, then the funds might be debited from your account that same day. For example, if you have a bill due on the 20th of the month, the billing company might allow you to call or use its website on the morning of the 20th to make an on time payment, and also have the funds debited from your account on the 20th. While these types of payments won’t be reflected on your account balance as quickly as your debit card and ATM transactions, you will have access to more accurate information about your actual available account balance more frequently throughout the business day.

4. Who offers same day payments?

Merchants and billing companies may have an option for same day payment. As soon as that same day, funds may be debited from your account. We recommend that you do not make a payment unless sufficient funds are in your account.

5. What will happen if I make a payment and it is processed before sufficient funds are available in my account?

If you have overdraft protection the payment will go through, but you will incur an overdraft fee. If you do not have overdraft protection – the payment will be returned and you will incur a return fee, plus you may also incur another fee from the merchant or billing company. If you are interested in overdraft protection please contact our Member Relationship Center during business hours at 732-312-1500.

6. Will this affect me if I use Bill Pay or have a scheduled recurring payment?

If a payment is scheduled to be made on a certain day, the electronic payment will be processed and funds may be debited from your account that day. For example, if a bill/automatic payment is scheduled for the 20th of every month, please make sure those funds are available before the 20th.

7. What can I do to prevent my account from being overdrawn?

We offer account alerts via email and text message so that you can stay up-to-date on your account status. To set up these alerts, please click here and follow the enrollment steps.

We also offer overdraft lines of credit. To apply for an overdraft line of credit, please call our Member Relationship Center at 732-312-1500.

If you have any questions about same day ACH, please do not hesitate to contact us.

-First Financial Federal Credit Union