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Welcome To The Insighter!

Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!


Security Fraud


How this scam works

You’re at the ATM when a stranger pulls up, looking concerned.

“Can you do me a huge favor?” he says. “I don’t have a bank account, but my friend wrote me a check, and I gotta cash it right away. Can you deposit it in your account, and then pull out the money for me?”

What is a good Samaritan to do? You decide to deposit the check at the ATM, then withdraw the amount of the check to give to him. He walks away happy with hundreds of your dollars in his pocket.

The next afternoon, the check bounces. 

You’ve given this thief your own money and may now owe your financial institution fees associated with the bounced check. The thief is long gone. And since you properly withdrew the money, you have little to no recourse to recoup those funds. This increasingly common ATM scam plays on your urge to be helpful and kind, to look out for your fellow neighbor. But depositing checks from strangers is a risky business, even without this suspicious request to convert them into cash.
 
That is because the depositing of any check triggers a hold procedure based on the type and amount of the check; the funds will not be immediately available. At Kirtland FCU, processing occurs nightly for any check deposited before 3:30 p.m. local time. Checks deposited at night will not process until the next business day. By the time this processing occurs and the check bounces, so has the thief.
 
How you can avoid this scam

If a stranger asks you to cash a check for them, the simple answer is, “No.”
 
If this occurs while you’re at an ATM, leave the area immediately and report the incident to the institution that owns the ATM. 

NEVER deposit a check from a someone who don’t know and trust.
 
NEVER immediately withdraw money for such a check.
 
ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Thieves like this will be waiting for a potential victim.
 
ALWAYS report suspicious activity at an ATM to its associated financial institution.
 

If you need help or have a question, contact our Member Contact Center at 1-800-880-5328.


Security Fraud

It’s tax time, and prime time for fraud.

Despite warnings, citizens are still falling for bogus tax refund scams. The most recent scam involves hackers posing as government tax office officials. Filers were sent phishing e-mails promising refunds, roughly in the amount of $710.00. All they needed to do was provide is a valid credit card to refund the money to! 

That’s a tempting chunk of change for most, and an offer many find too difficult to pass up. Refund scams, especially those e-mails claiming to be from an “official” entity have been wildly popular among hackers for one simple reason–they work. Although this phishing scam was discovered in the UK, it continues to happen in the U.S. Phishing e-mails claiming to be from the IRS have supplied significant hacker bait. There’s no shortage of warnings on the IRS website about tax-related phishing scams, especially those using e-mail and telephone.

Although it was clearly amateur hour for the UK hackers–the e-mail subject lines were formatted poorly, and the sender’s address had nothing to do with the government – it shows just how easily human nature is tempted. After all, nobody’s perfect, and who wouldn't want a tax refund they didn't expect? The hackers’ first tactic was placing a sense of urgency on the refunds, saying they would expire on the same day the phishing e-mail was received. Those who took the bait were redirected to fake web pages. The first looked like a Microsoft Outlook page, requiring login credentials, including passwords. Once that was stolen, a new page popped up with only boxes to provide some very sensitive information–full credit card details including the security code, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and more. Quite simply, everything necessary to steal your credentials and money.

It may be difficult to believe someone would fall for such a poorly constructed scam, but the list of e-mail phishing victims continues to grow. In the U.S. as well as the UK, vigilance toward these scams is always needed, and there are some basics to remember should you receive an e-mail promising something too good to be true.

First and foremost, if an offer sounds too good to be true, assume it is. Hackers preying on emotions have no shortage of success. Remember, as far as taxes are concerned in the U.S., the IRS never initiates contact by e-mail or phone. 

The U.S. mail is the only way you will know the sender is legitimate

As this UK tax scam proved, paying attention to details is crucial. Always look for poorly written content as well as typos, and always check the sender’s URL address. If others paid attention to these details in the UK, it may have prevented a lot of heartache. It’s certainly no different in the US, where e-mail phishing and tax scams continue to have enormous success despite continued warnings by the IRS. Being vigilant against e-mail phishing is the best route to staying secure, no matter whom the e-mail claims to be from and what the subject line claims to offer.


Personal Finance

“Just write it off.”

“Go ahead and deduct it.”

“I think there’s a tax credit for that.”

Although you might have heard or even uttered one of the sentences above, have you ever wondered or sought to understand its true meaning? While both tax deductions and tax credits can save you a significant amount of money on your taxes, they work in significantly different ways.

What is a Tax Deduction?
A tax deduction is a result of a tax-deductible expense or exemption which reduces your taxable income. A common tax deduction on your federal income tax return is the standard deduction. An example of how this works: If your income was $50,000 your standard deduction (if single or married filing separately) would reduce your taxable income by the 2018 standard deduction of $12,000 so your taxable income would now be $38,000.

What is a Tax Credit?
Unlike tax deductions, tax credits are subtracted from your tax liability (not taxable income). A common tax credit is the child tax credit. If you have a qualifying child, you can take a credit of up to $2,000 per child against your tax liability in 2018. If besides the child tax credit, you would otherwise have a total federal income tax liability of $3,500, child tax credit for one child would reduce that tax liability to $1,500.

Is a Tax Deduction Better Than a Tax Credit? Is a Tax Credit Better Than a Tax Deduction?
If you were ever faced with a hypothetical choice between a $100 tax deduction and a $100 tax credit, you would want the credit. Unlike a tax deduction, a $100 tax credit reduces your tax dollar-for-dollar ($100). On the other hand, a tax deduction reduces your taxable income by $100. The resulting amount of tax you save depends on your marginal tax bracket (in everyday language: your tax bracket). If you are in the 24% tax bracket in 2018, a $100 tax deduction reduces your taxes by $24.

Just about everyone qualifies for the standard deduction. Although based on your filing status (e.g., single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, or head of household), all people with the same filing status receive the same standard deduction amount (the only exceptions are for the elderly, disabled, or blind – they receive a somewhat higher standard deduction).

By contrast, itemized deductions are numerous and their amounts vary by individual. Common itemized deductions include:
  • Certain medical and dental expenses above 7.5% of your adjusted gross income
  • State income taxes
  • State sales and local tax
  • Property taxes
  • Charitable contributions
  • Mortgage interest
There’s a bit of a hitch with itemized deductions, however. You can only benefit from itemized deductions to the extent they exceed your standard deduction ($12,000 if you are single and $24,000 if married filing jointly in 2018). Said another way, each taxpayer is permitted to take the higher of their standard or itemized deductions – but not both.

Say you are married and filing jointly. In such a case, your standard deduction is $24,000. Let’s further say the total of your itemized deductions is $25,000. Since your itemized deductions exceed your standard deduction by $1000, you take the itemized deduction. That’s why it pays to remember additional deductible expenses that may bump you up over the standard deduction and leave you open to additional tax deductions, like charitable contributions.

On the other hand, had your itemized deductions totaled any amount less than the standard deduction you qualify for, you wouldn't bother taking the itemized deduction – you’d just take the standard.

Whether an expense qualifies for an income tax deduction or tax credit, be sure to take maximum advantage – both lower the taxes you’ll pay. Don’t worry about trying to figure out which ones you should take or if you should itemize or take the standard deduction. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers. TurboTax will also choose the option (standard deduction or itemized deductions) that you are eligible for and gives you the biggest tax refund.

If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. A TurboTax Live CPA can even review, sign, and file your tax return.

When are you filing your taxes? Have you taken advantage of any tax deductions or credits yet?

All Kirtland FCU members get special discounts with TurboTax products, just for being members.

GET STARTED TODAY!
 

News


On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Kirtland Federal Credit Union’s newest branch opened inside the Base Exchange (BX) at Kirtland Air Force Base.

This modern full-service branch replaces the old Kirtland AFB branch, bringing better banking closer to the bustling center of base life—a convenience for members and a thrill for Kirtland FCU employees.
 
“It’s been so much fun!” said Tom Shoemaker, President and CEO of Kirtland FCU. “Seeing that small space transform into a truly beautiful, cutting-edge branch has been a thrill. And we know our base members will love it, too.”

Don’t let the size fool you; this new location is a full-service branch. You can do it all—open an account, apply for a loan, make deposits and withdrawals, and get help with all of your account needs.

You can even take care of your banking on Saturdays! And a new CU Anytime ATM is located just outside the front door.

The branch features updated décor, the latest in banking technology, and an easy and enjoyable experience for members. 

A grand opening celebration is planned for Friday, February 22, 2019 at the new branch. Everyone, members and non-members, are invited to come tour this latest branch, meet the staff, and enjoy goodies.

WHO CAN JOIN? 

Everyone with base access is eligible to join Kirtland FCU, not just military members. The base itself is a community of military families, DOD and DOE employees, base contractors, and employees of the many businesses that operate on base.

Do you have base access? Stop by and say hi! 
 

FIND OUR HOURS
 

Investments Retirement

 

New retirees sometimes worry that they are spending too much, too soon. Should they scale back? Are they at risk of outliving their money?

This concern is legitimate. Rates of spending are not uniform throughout retirement.

  1. The initial stage of retirement can be expensive. New retirees are eager to execute the plans they’ve made. As they travel, make purchases, and enjoy their new life, spending peaks.

  2. Retirees in their sixties should realize that their spending will likely decline as they age. 

  3. When retirees are well into their seventies, spending decreases further. In fact, Government Accountability Office data shows that people age 75–79 spend 41% less on average than people in their peak spending years (usually in the late 40s).

  4. Spending lowers even furthers as retirees enter their eighties. Once many retirees are into their eighties, they have traveled and pursued their goals to a great degree. Spending time with grandkids, rather than spending money, becomes the focus.

  5. One study finds that medical costs burden retirees mostly at the end of life. BlackRock’s 2017 study on retiree spending patterns found medical expenses only spiked for most retirees in the last two years of their lives. 

The Wealth Management Advisors at Kirtland Financial Services can help you plan for these shifts in spending while you’re building your retirement plan.

YOUR INITIAL CONSULTATION IS FREE!

At Kirtland Financial Services, a team of experienced Wealth Management Advisors is ready to help you bring your goals into focus and help you make a plan to work toward the financial future you want.

Your first visit is absolutely free! Sit down with your Wealth Management Advisor—they’ll get to know you and your goals, and you’ll learn about a wide variety of investing options. 


MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW!

 
Not NCUA Insured | No Credit Union Guarantee | May Lose Value
Securities and Financial Planning services offered through LPL Financial. A registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Kirtland Federal Credit Union and Kirtland Financial Services are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
 

Security Credit Fraud


The Equifax breach of 2017 taught us all a valuable lesson—even the most secure repository of online information can be vulnerable to attack. And when it happens, anyone can be a victim.

Thieves and fraudsters are constantly changing tactics to gain access to your information. Valuable personal information including social security numbers, names, birth dates—all can be used to fraudulently open accounts, to abuse your credit.

A credit freeze can stop identity thieves in their tracks, no matter what information they obtain.

What is a credit freeze?

Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, open a bank account, apply for a job or even apply housing you may have your credit pulled. Each of three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) collect financial information about you into a credit report. During a credit pull, a business requests this report from one of the bureaus in order to gauge the risk involved in extending you credit or evaluating your suitability for a job or housing.
 
5 Facts To Consider
  1. A credit freeze restricts access to your report. Without a credit report, opening accounts or using your credit becomes very difficult. It is the most potent protection available for preventing fraudsters from opening new accounts and credit in your name. A freeze does not restrict your own access to your free annual credit report.
  2. A credit freeze has the same effect on you. You will not be able to open legitimate accounts or apply for credit once you place a credit freeze. Freezes have the same effect on you as they do on potential thieves. 
  3. If you do need to access your credit, you can temporarily lift the freeze to conduct your business. Each bureau will issue a unique PIN when you freeze your credit. You will not be able to lift the freeze without this PIN, so be sure to keep it in a safe place.
  4. Credit freezes are FREE. Following the breach of Equifax in 2017, the three major bureaus rushed to make it easier for people to secure their own credit. In the past, a fee was charged to place and remove freezes, but that is no longer the case.
  5. Certain entities will still be able to see your report. Government entities may have access due to court or administrative orders, subpoenas or search warrants. Your existing creditors (or debt collectors acting on their behalf) will also have access.
  6. You will need to place freezes individually at each of the three major credit bureaus. There is no way to simultaneously set freezes. Visit each website or give them a call to process a credit freeze.
Experian
Experian.com/help
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

TransUnion
TransUnion.com/credit-help
888-909-8872

It’s important to note that a credit freeze will not protect you if a thief obtains access to accounts or credit you’ve already established, so be sure to keep such information and passwords/PINs private, and monitor your accounts frequently with Online and Mobile Banking.

If setting a credit freeze is a little too much for you, consider at least setting a free fraud alert. A fraud alert allows access to your credit report to remain as long as businesses take steps to verify your identity before issuing credit or opening accounts. You may call any one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert—that bureau is legally obligated to tell the other two bureaus, and all three will place the fraud alert.

Bottom line: there is no magic bullet for preventing fraud. But placing a credit freeze is one of the most effective way to prevent thieves from establishing new accounts in your name. And it’s free!
 

Security Credit Fraud


Identity theft and fraud are on the rise. In fact, a study from Javelin Strategy and Research found an estimated record-high 15.4 million people were victims of fraud in 2016—at a staggering cost of around $16 billion. More fall victim every year.

Visa works hard to detect and prevent fraud using a variety of methods. Kirtland FCU also has safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. But fraud still may occur.

Here are steps YOU can take to prevent and limit fraud.

SET ACCOUNT AND CREDIT CARD ALERTS
A variety of text and e-mail alerts are available to you through your Online Banking account or by giving us a call. The earlier you discover fraud, the faster the thief can be cut off.

SET A CODE WORD
A code word is a special password you will need to give over the phone before any sensitive account information is discussed. This simple line of defense makes sure that no matter what other information a fraudster may possess, he cannot access your accounts over the phone or in person without the word.

Call 1-800-880-5329 or stop by a branch to set up your code word with Kirtland FCU.

DON’T SHARE ACCOUNT INFORMATION
Professional identity thieves aren't the only threat. Fraud is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t give your credit card information or bank account information to anyone who isn’t an authorized signer, even those you may trust. Just like a secret isn’t a secret once someone else knows, once the information is out of your hands, you have no control over where it is shared.
 
USE ONLINE AND MOBILE BANKING
The more in tune you are to your spending, the faster you’ll notice something amiss. Check in with your accounts daily, and alert Kirtland FCU if you notice anything unusual.
Bottom line: keeping tabs on your accounts and safeguarding your important information are the biggest keys to preventing or limiting fraud and identity theft.

Stay savvy out there!


Credit Personal Finance


A $2,000 balance on your credit card—how did that happen? (Oh yes, dinner at Chez Fifi, new tires, school clothes for the kids…) Thankfully the minimum payment is only $35. You can afford that!

Stop! Before you write that check or make the payment online, consider this: if you make only the requested payments on that debt, your toddler will be entering high school before the balance is zero. At an annual percentage rate of 17.00% APR (the current average according to Creditcards.com), it would take almost 10 years to pay off, with an ultimate payout of a whopping $4,125.

Instead, disregard the requested payment on your statement and use the “consistent payment method” steps.
  1. Determine a realistic and fixed amount you can pay each month.
  2. Declare a moratorium on using the card until the balance is repaid.
  3. Pay more when you can—but never pay less than your preset amount.
If you can manage $80 every month, you will repay the debt in less than 3 years with a final payout of $2,486. Increase the payment to $100 and the payoff time drops to 2 years with a final payout of $2,368.

Also, consider a balance transfer to a lower interest rate credit card like the Independence Credit Card from Kirtland FCU. The Independence Credit Card offers low rates and no balance transfer or annual fees. 


SEE HOW MUCH YOU COULD SAVE

 
*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates effective the first of each month and are subject to change at any time without notice. Annual percentage rate is based on credit history and other factors. The Kirtland FCU Visa Platinum Credit Card has a variable interest rate which is indexed to the Prime Rate and tiered based on credit-worthiness criteria.
 

Investments Retirement


As Americans, we can take pride in the many things we do well. But there’s one thing that we could all do better— saving for the future. 

If you are already saving for your retirement through your employer-sponsored savings plan, each contribution you make brings you closer to your retirement goal. But are you saving as much as you can? 

Given the uncertainty surrounding the Social Security system, maybe it’s time to rethink your own saving habits. 

  1. Apply a raise or bonus to retirement savings. Boosting your contribution rate with each increase in pay you receive to move you closer to the maximum contribution allowed by your employer—$18,500 to a 401(k) plan (workers age 50 and older may add an additional $6,000 in catch-up contributions, subject to plan limits). 
  2. Cut back household expenses. Small savings can add up. Set up a monthly budget of income and expenses to help you find ways to cut back more. 
  3. Forgo a tax refund. If you typically get a tax refund, consider revising your W-4 form to reduce your withholding. Your paycheck will grow, allowing you to increase the amount you save in your employer’s retirement plan. 

It really doesn't matter how you save. The important thing is to build your retirement account in ways that work for you.
 
The team at Kirtland Financial Services is ready to help you put together a retirement plan that works for you. And your initial consultation is absolutely free!

 

MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW!

 
Not NCUA Insured | No Credit Union Guarantee | May Lose Value
Securities and Financial Planning services offered through LPL Financial. A registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Kirtland Federal Credit Union and Kirtland Financial Services are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.

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