Consumer Protection

To Shred or Not to Shred?

One the best ways you can defend yourself against identity theft or other forms of fraud is to shred important documents when you don’t need them anymore. But, what is considered an important document? The following is what we recommend you shred:

  • ATM Receipts. You don’t need them after you have compared them with your online account or paper statement.
  • Tax Returns. The IRS states that you should keep your tax returns for approximately three years. After that, it is recommended you shred them because of the personal and financial information on them.
  • Monthly Account Statements. Regardless of the account type, any type of monthly financial statement you receive should be shredded after three years.
  • Plastic Cards. If you have an expired credit or debit card, be sure to shred it. You should never just throw it away.
  • Paycheck Stubs. You really should only keep your latest paycheck stubs if you are applying for a mortgage loan. Otherwise, you can shred the ones you don’t need.
  • Insurance Policies, Claims and Payment Information. Anything about your insurance policy should be kept as long as you have your policy. You should speak to your broker to see how long you should keep claims and payment information, and anything you do not need to keep should be shredded.
  • Loan Information. Anything that has to do with a mortgage loan, auto loan or other type of loan that includes your loan number, address, Social Security Number or other personal financial information should be shredded when you do not need it any longer.

The best rule of thumb to follow is if there is personal financial information on the document or form, you should shred it. If you don’t have a shredder at home, there are local mail outlets that will shred your documents for a nominal fee.

Sources:
Southwest Strategic Marketing, LLC

What's the Benefit of GAP Insurance?

Getting a new car can be a great experience. Whether it’s your first car, or the one you were finally able to upgrade to, getting behind the wheel and smelling that “new car smell” is usually a fun and exhilarating experience. But, what happens if you have an accident two weeks later and you find out your car is totaled? Unfortunately, the car you paid $35,000 for may only be worth $28,000 to the insurance company in what is referred to as auto depreciation. So, where does the rest of the money come from to pay off the loan? You guessed it – out of your pocket!

Auto depreciation can cause a lot of stress for people as they try to decide where they will find the rest of the money to satisfy the loan. However, Guaranteed Auto Protection, or what is commonly known as GAP Insurance, will cover the difference between the value of your car (as determined by insurance companies) upon a loss due to an accident or theft, and the amount still owed on the loan.

The primary benefit of choosing GAP insurance is that you are essentially “off the hook” if there is a difference between the value an insurance company places on your car and the outstanding loan amount on that vehicle. While in many cases that difference may be small, or even non-existent, the difference could actually be quite high. Without GAP insurance you may be left paying off a car loan you no longer use. GAP insurance is most important for those who purchase or lease a car with little or no money down primarily because new autos typically depreciate rapidly within the first years of use.

The cost of GAP insurance varies depending on terms, and will typically be added into your loan or lease amount, and averaged in to the monthly payment amount.

Sources:
cfpb.gov
irmi.com

Costly Scams that Target Seniors

#3: Funeral and Cemetery Scams

There are two types of funeral and cemetery fraud affecting elderly people or families of those who are deceased:

  1. A scam artist will attend a funeral service and claim that the deceased had an outstanding debt with him/her. Then, that individual will take money from grieving families to repay a debt that never existed in the first place.
  2. Certain funeral homes will charge unnecessary fees to families of lost ones. Because most people are unfamiliar with “typical” funeral expenses, they pay them without questioning anything.

#2: Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

In most instances, the counterfeit prescription drug business is done over the internet Elderly people are known to go online to find better deals on expensive prescriptions drugs to try to stay within a fixed income. They are then tricked into purchasing something that will not help their medical condition, or even something that contains harmful substances.

#1: Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud

A scam artist will pose as a Medicare representative and ask elderly people to give them their personal information to get them into a Medicare program that will work for them. Or, the fraudster may actually provide fake services for elderly people at a “makeshift” location, and then use their personal information fraudulently in the future.

While these three types of scams may seem easy to spot, remember that scam artists are professional con men or women and make a living at deceiving others. If you are over 60 years of age, or if you have family members who fall into this age group, be sure you are aware of these types of fraud and stay alert to them. In short, never provide your personal financial or other information to someone unless you know “for sure” the company or the representative is legitimate. If you have any questions, ask to call the company or entity the individual claims to represent. And, never feel pressured to pay for something if you don’t completely understand what is being sold to you.

If you have been a victim of fraud, and your account(s) at FINANCIAL INSTITUTION has been compromised in some way, please call us as soon as possible at (

Sources:

1. https://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors
2. https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors/
3.http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/scamstagetelderly.html

Don't Be a Victim of Health Insurance Fraud

If you’re over the age of 60, you need to be cautious of health insurance or healthcare fraud. Unfortunately, some of these acts of fraud have cheated senior consumers out of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. The following tips will help you avoid being a victim of this type of fraud.

Tip #1: Get an Explanation

Prior to any appointment you may have with a doctor or other healthcare professional, be sure to find out exactly what your insurance will cover; you have that right. If you have any questions about your benefits, take the time to talk to your insurance provider.

Tip #2: Avoid Door-to-Door Sales

It is in your best interest to avoid any contact with door-to-door salespeople, especially if they tell you some type of medical equipment can be yours for free. Be sure to only purchase the medical equipment you need through a trusted source, such as a referral from your doctor or insurance provider.

Tip #3: Keep Your Medicare Information Private

You should only give your Medicare information to a medical care professional or facility. You should treat this information as you would your Social Security Number or other type of personal financial information.

Tip #4: Keep Accurate Records

One of the best ways you can make sure you are only paying for what you should is to keep record of all bills, services received and payment history. It is important that you review your "Statement of Benefits" carefully so you can make sure nothing extra was charged to your insurance provider. If you see a discrepancy, call your insurance provider immediately.

If you feel you have experienced any type of fraud, talk to your local law enforcement office and let them help you get things in order. They are happy to help you along the path to recover what is rightfully yours.

Sources:
1. http://www.ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/economic-security-Initiative/savvy-saving-seniors/top-10-scams-targeting.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
2. http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

Is Your Business Compliant with Employment Laws?

A mistake many business owners make is not understanding employment law and how it affects the business. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes made by business owners in regard to these laws.

Hire Appropriately

Even though you may be a smaller business, it is important that you comply with all rules and regulations regarding the questions you may ask candidates prior to hiring them. Steer away from those things that may be discriminatory in any way (e.g., how old are you).

No Paperwork

Be sure you have the paperwork necessary for each employee you hire. According to the law, employee paperwork should be completed within three days of hire. You need to make sure you audit this area regularly to avoid fines and other violation issues.

Be Safe

Take the time to regularly review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) compliance rules. No matter what size your business may be, OSHA requires that you provide a safe and hazard-free environment for your employees. Additionally, you should make sure you have written health and safety rules and that you regularly train your employees on those rules.

Keep Up with Regulations

It is your responsibility to keep up with the rules and regulations that direct your business. You cannot claim ignorance should something happen. Do you have the proper permits necessary for your business — and displayed appropriately? Do you have labor laws posted at your office? It would be a good idea to sign up for regulatory or legal updates for your industry and implement suggestions made when applicable. Additionally, you may consider hiring an attorney for your business to help you stay on track.

While these areas may seem simple, sometimes they are not top of mind when focused on creating profit or achieving the strategic goals of your business. But, staying updated is the best way to prevent any type of compliance-related legal issue or fine that could end up causing a loss to your business.

To learn more about how CharterBank can help you stay on top of your business needs, click here. If you prefer, give us a call at 800-763-4444

Sources:
1. http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/hr-laws-and-regulation/the-dangers-of-non-compliance-for-your-business
2. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6509-business-labor-laws.html

Is Your Business Secure?

Is your business safe from theft — whether online theft or physical theft? Take a moment to review some important ways you can protect your business from theft:

  • Use secure passwords. Make sure you and your employees use passwords that are difficult to crack. Avoid using birthdates, special anniversaries, 1-2-3-4, etc. And, make sure you change your passwords regularly.
  • Keep your keys secure. You should only give keys to those employees who must have them to open or close the business. When you are not using your keys, be sure to keep them in a secure location at all times. Be sure to have policies in place for employee use of keys and their security.
  • Use protective software. Because the use of the internet and e-mail are critical parts of business development and customer service for most businesses, it is important that you provide the protective software (e.g., anti-virus software, malware software, etc.) necessary to keep your website, e-mail accounts and servers safe from hackers.
  • Invest in an alarm system. If you have an office for your business, it is wise to invest in a good alarm system to protect your belongings and equipment when you are not there. Additionally, it may be a good idea to purchase security cameras to use during and after business hours.
  • Back up your data. One of the best ways to keep your information protected is to back up your data regularly — and many prefer to do so on an offsite server in case something happens in your local area.

The safety and security of your business is important to us at CharterBank. Using these tips will help you on the road to providing maximum security for your business. Click here to review some of the ways we can continue to support the growth and vitality of your business.

Sources:
1.http://bizsecurity.about.com/od/physicalsecurity/tp/10_ways_to_secure_your_business.htm
2.http://www.cisco.com/cisco/web/solutions/small_business/resource_center/pdf/How_to_Secure_Your_Business.pdf
3. http://eval.symantec.com/mktginfo/enterprise/other_resources/b-8_tips_protect_your_business_secure_data.en-us.pdf

Protecting Your Home While You're On Vaction

Vacation is a chance to relax and leave your cares behind. By following these tips, you can spend more time enjoying vacation instead of worrying about what’s going on at home.

Tip #1:  Make Sure You Lock Everything Up.

According to the Department of Justice, the majority of home break-ins occur during July and August; the popular vacation months. Make sure everything inside and outside of your home is locked up tight before you leave. Believe or not, 30 percent of burglars enter homes through unlocked doors and windows. Before leaving, check through your visible windows to see if you can spot any expensive items, such as jewelry and electronics, and move them out of the way if possible (or impair the vision of them in some way).

Tip #2:  Light It Up!

Put a few indoor lights on timers to create the illusion that someone is home. Set your outdoor lights on timers so your home and yard is well lit at night. Be sure to arrange with a neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers, or you can contact the post office or delivery service to suspend delivery until you return home.

Tip #3:  Don’t Advertise That You’re Gone

Don’t advertise the fact that you are leaving town by changing your voicemail messages or posting all of your plans on various social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook. What you should do is let a trusted neighbor or friend check in on your house periodically if you plan on being away for more than a few days. Your mind will be at ease knowing that your home is secure and safe.

Tip #4:  Protect Your Home Against the Weather

Seasonal storms can threaten your home while you are away. Even minor flooding can cost you thousands of dollars. Before leaving, check around your house and inspect all of your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are all clear of debris and drain water properly. Check your garage doors and make sure everything is intact, especially the weather-stripping.  You should also consider bringing in or securing any outdoor furniture that could be tossed in high winds.    

Tip #5:  Safeguard Your Infrastructure

Before leaving your home, make sure all nonessential electronics and appliances are unplugged or just shut off the power strips in which they are plugged into. In the event of a power surge, you don’t want to take any chances with causing a fire in your home. Additionally, you may want to turnoff or unplug other nonessential appliances (e.g., washing machine, dishwasher, etc.); This is also a great way to save energy while on vacation.

Not only should you protect your home while on vacation, but you should also protect your funds as you travel.  Be sure to take along your debit card, credit card, and/or traveler’s checks to ensure you have the funds you need, when you need them.  To learn more about any of these products, give us a call at 800-763-4444.

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