4 Signs That a Charity is Probably a Scam

Many of us donate to a worthy cause year round. Unfortunately, just as there are good people trying to help others, there are also plenty of scammers out there. You want to feel good about where your money is going, and you want to make sure that you aren’t just lining the pockets of some fraudster. As you field phone calls and receive information from those purporting to help the less fortunate, watch out for the following red flags that might indicate you are dealing with a scam:

1. High-Pressure Phone Tactics

Someone insisting that you give money now, over the phone, is a huge red flag that you are probably dealing with a scam. Most legitimate charities don’t employ high-pressure sales tactics that make you feel like you need to donate immediately.

In some cases, scammers insist that you have to just donate, and they tell you time is too short to send you literature or let you look at a website. If a caller gets frustrated and tries to tell you that you need to donate immediately, hang up the phone.

Legit charities usually have no problem with you saying no. The caller might tell you they are under a deadline for a match, but they won’t pressure you, and once you say you need time to think about it, most legit charities will thank you and move on.

2. No Website

Who doesn’t have a website these days? Scammers, that’s who. If you get a phone call from an organization, and you can’t find a website, that’s a red flag. Most legit charities have websites that describe their mission, who they help, and even include success stories. Even local charities usually have a basic website that allows you to see where they are located and what their needs are.

If an organization doesn’t have a website, that’s an immediate red flag. That’s not to say that every worthy cause would have a website, but it simply means you need to investigate further. Legit charities want people to know they are out there and accept donations.

3. They Won’t Provide You with Their Tax ID

Charities have to apply to be tax-exempt organizations and you can call IRS to verify their legitimacy. If someone over the phone just cannot provide their Tax ID or there’s no way to find that out before you send money, then this is a major red flag. And it’s not totally safe just because they gave you a bunch of numbers either. Call 877-829-5500 to see if the charity is claiming to be who they are. This is also the definitive source for making sure your donation is tax deductible.

4. No One Wants to See You

Watch out if a caller doesn’t want to let you know where they are located. Ask to stop by if they claim to be local. Or, you can ask for a mailing address to send a donation. Legitimate charities are happy to let you have a tour or send them a donation through the mail.

Scammers, though, don’t usually have a mailing address. And they certainly don’t want you anywhere near their base of operations. When an organization comes up with an excuse as to why you can’t visit or send a donation to an address, you should watch out. There’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.

If you are still unsure, you can check Charity Navigator or GuideStar for information about charities and how effective they are, including how much of their resources go toward actually helping others.

There are many worthy causes that deserve your dollar’s attention, but you need to pay attention in order for the real charities to benefit the world. Do your part by taking time to vet out the details and you won’t be sorry to hear that your donations only enriched someone without really helping those in need.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com

Important Member Alert: Kmart Data Breach

First Financial has been notified that some of our members’ Debit and Credit Cards used at Kmart between September 3, 2016 and April 30, 2017 may be at risk.

Gareth Glynne, Senior Vice President of Kmart – released the following statement about the data breach: “We recently became aware Kmart was a victim of a security incident involving unauthorized credit card activity after certain customer purchases at some of our stores. We immediately launched a thorough investigation and engaged leading IT security experts to review our systems and secure the affected part of our network. Our investigation to date indicates our Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malicious code (similar to a computer virus) that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems. Once aware of the new malicious code, we quickly removed it and contained the event. We are confident that our customers can safely use their credit and debit cards in our retail stores. Based on the forensic investigation, NO PERSONAL identifying information – including names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates and email addresses – was obtained by those criminally responsible. However, we believe certain credit card numbers have been compromised. All Kmart stores were EMV “Chip and Pin” technology enabled during the time that the breach occurred, and we believe the exposure to cardholder data that can be used to create counterfeit cards is limited. There is no evidence that kmart.com or Sears customers were impacted nor that debit PIN numbers were compromised.

  • View the entire alert message from Kmart here.

If you visited Kmart during this time period and used a First Financial card, we urge you to monitor your First Financial account.  If you would like, please visit a branch location to replace your debit card, or contact our Member Relationship Center at 732.312.1500 to have a new Debit Card ordered.  If you used a First Financial credit card, please call 866.820.3808 to receive a replacement card.

Enroll your First Financial Debit/Credit Cards in Visa Purchase Alerts – you’ll get an email each time your Debit Card is used over an amount you set, when your card is used outside the country, or when your card is used to make a purchase online or over the phone. Credit Cardholders also have the additional option of adding a text alert, this can be set-up in Online Banking under your Credit Card account (select the Communications tab and then Visa Transaction Alerts).

As always, First Financial continues to monitor our member accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 732.312.1500 or email us at info@firstffcu.com.

 

4 Tips to Make Car Buying Easier

If you want to save yourself time, money, and a few headaches when purchasing a vehicle – be sure to follow these steps.

Do your homework.

The last thing you want to do is show up unprepared. Sure, you may find a car you like by walking around the lot, but that can backfire. Study up, look at as many different makes and models as you can online first, and try to be sure you’re getting the car that satisfies your heart and your wallet.

Know before you go: Check out our YouTube video on buying a car in 5 easy steps.

Use your credit union.

Once you know which car you want to purchase, head to your local credit union and find out what kind interest rate you can get on a loan. With this knowledge, you’re now ready to go to the dealership and make a deal.

If you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, stop by First Financial and apply for an Auto Loan with us! We have the same great low rates whether you plan on purchasing a new or used vehicle.* To apply, click here for our online application or stop into any branch location.

Shop on a Tuesday.

Car dealerships are usually busier on the weekends. By shopping in the middle of the week, you’re going to get more attention and better service. This may not necessarily translate to a lower price, but it will definitely speed up the process and make it easier to get done.

Remember you’re not buying a cheeseburger.

When you have a craving for a Five Guys cheeseburger, you go to your nearest Five Guys and you eat a cheeseburger. It wouldn’t make sense to drive one town over for the same cheeseburger at roughly the same price. With a car, things are different. There are a lot of factors (including the salesperson you deal with) that can determine the price you’re going to pay, so driving 20 minutes to a neighboring dealership may be worth your time and money.

If you are a First Financial member, be sure to visit our Preferred Dealerships. The right car and offer is out there for you!

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

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

You can smell the freshness in the air, the warmth of the sun, and the grass between your toes – it’s almost summer! This is best time of year to indulge in fun activities and take local day trips with family and friends. Check out these free or inexpensive activities and events below to start your next adventure this June.

June 3: Point Pleasant Summerfest in the Park from 11am to 7pm. Fun festival For all ages, specialty foods, food trucks, wristband rides, market vendors, expo vendors and live music all day. Free admission, and the event takes place on the corner of Bridge Avenue and Beaver Dam Road. For more information call 732.295.8850 or go to http://www.pointpleasantchamber.com

June 3 & 4: Keyport Garden Walk from 11am to 3pm. Enjoy a free self-guided walking and biking tour of the public and private gardens in historic Keyport at Keyport Waterfront Park on American Legion Drive. For more information call 732.687.9519 or visit http://www.keyportgardenwalk.org/

June 8: Bayshore Greek Festival begins at 6pm in Holmdel at 20 Hillcrest Road. Free shuttles will be available from St. Benedict’s parking lot as well. For details call 732.739.1515 or go to http://greekfestivalholmdel.com/

June 10: Early Summer Flea Market at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Hunt for hidden treasures amid furniture, books, art work, bottles, knick knacks, and so much more! $5 admission per vehicle. Click here for details or call 732.919.3500.

National Marina Day at Leonardo State Marina on Concord Avenue from 10am-3pm. Craft vendors, food trucks, face painting, cake, & more! Details at http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/ or call 732.291.1333.

June 11: Irish Festival at Monmouth Park (Oceanport) from 11:30am-5pm. Start your day with a traditional Irish mass at 11am in the first floor of the grandstand.  Follow that with a fun-filled day of live thoroughbred racing, Irish step dancing, crafters, food, a pipe and drum competition, two human horse races and so much more! Music from the Emerald Isle and authentic Irish step dancing will be performed at three different stages all afternoon long. Click here for details or call 732.222.5100.

June 17 & 18: Food Trucks & Fire Pits at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Food trucks, fire pits and fireworks (on Saturday evening)! Visit LauritaWinery.com for all details or call 609.758.8000. Cost is $8 per person and kids 12 and under are free.

June 18: Father’s Day at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach, 800 Ocean Terrace (Seaside Heights). Bring your Dad to Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach for Father’s Day! Dads Ride or Slide FREE with a paying child. Call 732.793.6488 or go to http://www.casinopiernj.com to learn more.

June 21: Free Summer Film Series – Jaws at Count Basie Theater (Red Bank) 7pm. For details call 732.224.8778, ext.132 or go to http://www.countbasietheatre.org/

June 24: Summer Craft Market, Ice Cream and Art in the Park at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-5pm. Craft shows at the Historic Village at Allaire showcase 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 $5 per vehicle. For more information click here or call 732.919.3500.

June 24 & 25: Bradley Beach Lobster Festival at 11am. Come enjoy great food, crafts, and vendors. Enjoy the beach, boardwalk and businesses too! Saturday 11am – 8pm and Sunday 11am – 6pm. For details call 732.869.1020 or go to http://www.bradleybeachnj.org/

We hope everyone has an enjoyable summer!

 

3 Bad Habits to Break if You Want More Money in the Bank

Even if you’re doing a good job of saving money, you probably didn’t start as early as you wish you had. If you’re still overspending your budget, there are probably some bad habits you need to break. Here are a few things you should stop doing to save more money.

Waiting for a bigger paycheck before you start investing.

We’ve all probably thought about the things we would be able to do if we made more money. Some of these things make sense, but others are just plain wrong. Investing in your future is something you should never put on hold. Thanks to compound interest, you have a great way to prepare for retirement, and the earlier you start – the better.

Questions about retirement savings or investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1564, email samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

Not paying attention to spending habits.

If you don’t know where your money is going, you definitely have a spending problem. You should keep track of every dime you spend, so you can find out ways to cut back on unnecessary items and save.

Dipping into savings.

Whether it’s a retirement account or an emergency fund, leave it alone. If you take money from your IRA, you’ll suffer penalties and taxes and it’ll damage the progress you’ve made with your compound interest. If you take from your emergency fund, you’ll be hurting when that emergency arises. Keep this in mind before you spend all that you’ve put away.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

First Financial Foundation 2017 Call for Scholarship Entries

This year, our non-profit organization — the First Financial Foundation — will be awarding (4) $500 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarships to high school seniors within Monmouth and Ocean Counties attending a 2 or 4 year college or university in the Fall of 2017. Applicants must apply on or before 11:59pm on Friday, June 23, 2017.*

This year, the First Financial Foundation has decided to provide two different topics for students to choose from, to apply for a scholarship in the form of a written essay or a short video. You may choose to apply by submitting either the essay OR the video.

 

Essay Topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

 
Please note: Essays should be no longer than three pages, 11 point font, typed and double spaced.
 
Video Topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

 

Please note: Video clips should be recorded and uploaded to YouTube prior to applying, and no more than 60 seconds in length. 

 

 Qualifications and other important information:
  • Four $500 scholarships will be awarded to four graduating high school seniors from any high school within Monmouth or Ocean Counties who will attend (Fall 2017 Semester) a 2 or 4 year college anywhere within the country. The student must be a graduating high school senior from the class of 2017. The student must be a First Financial member as of 12/31/16 in order to receive the $500 scholarship. The scholarship will be directly deposited into the student’s First Financial account only. No printed checks will be awarded, and deposits will not be made into a relative, parent or guardian’s account.
  • Students accepted to trade or technical schools will not qualify for this scholarship.
  • A valid copy of either a college acceptance letter, student schedule, or registration confirmation must accompany all applications.
  • To apply, please email the essay or the link to your YouTube video to the First Financial Foundation at foundation@firstffcu.com, or you may send a printed copy of your essay or flash drive (these will not be returned to you), and supporting documentation to the First Financial Foundation at PO Box 1172, Toms River NJ 08754.  Please be sure to list your contact information on your entry including your full name, address, phone, email, name & location of high school you graduated from in 2017, membership number and date of membership, where you will be attending college in the Fall 2017 Semester, and any volunteer work you participate in.
Winners will be announced and notified via email by 5pm on June 30, 2017
Deadline for entry submission is 11:59pm on Friday, June 23rd.

 

Good Luck – creativity is encouraged!

 

Please note: Children or relatives of First Financial employees or members of the Board of Directors, or those living within the same household as a First Financial employee are not eligible to apply for the Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.