Archive for the ‘About PFCU’ Category

Get Ready for Tax Time

Tax-Saving Planning Tips

As tax filing season begins for 2016 we are reminded how we could have effectively lowered our taxable income. Start your 2017 tax planning with some helpful tips.

Donate to your Favorite Charity

Along with helping others, charitable donations are a great way to lower your taxable income. Take the time to sort through old clothes, and other belongings that you no longer use or need. Clean out your food pantries and find some local food drives. Make sure you keep your receipts; they will be needed for tax purposes.

Health Savings Accounts

Individuals under age 65 and covered by a high deductible health plan may establish an HSA (Health Savings Account) which allows participants to save money for the payment of health care expenses on a tax-preferred basis. HSA distributions are generally tax-free if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Distributions made for any other purposes may be taxable. Please contact your health care provider for more information about high-deductible health plans and HSA accounts.

Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

Consider gifting to reduce some tax burdens. In 2016 you could have gifted up to $14,000 to each person, and to as many individuals as you want, without triggering the gift tax. That amount stays the same in 2016. In addition to the annual exclusion amounts, you can also give charitable gifts, gifts to a spouse, gifts of educational expenses, and gifts of medical expenses without triggering the gift tax.

Retirement Savings One of the best ways to lower your tax bill is to reduce your taxable income. You could have contributed up to $18,000 to your 401k or similar retirement savings plan in 2016, which remains the same for 2017. Money contributed to the plan is not included in your taxable income. If you don’t have a retirement plan at work, you can invest in an IRA. You can contribute up to $5,500. Depending on your income, you may be able to deduct some or all of your IRA contribution.

Who Can Help Me?

With the overall objective of minimizing your taxable income, there are some great tax planning tactics that can help you for 2016.
Take this time to speak to a financial professional along with your tax advisor to help minimize your tax burden in the coming years.
You have many choices when searching for help in reaching your goals. In particular, the financial professionals here at your credit union will work closely with you to clarify your retirement goals, help you develop and implement a plan, and provide ongoing advice in pursuit of those goals.

Interested in Learning More?
Contact Tiffany Yee at (626) 441-7151 ext. 241 or explore the Retirement and Investment Services Website

* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. ‘The Credit Union’ has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

Source: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/five-simple-steps-to-start-preparing-for-tax-season/

Your Money is Safe at PFCU

5stardec16webNotice of a Change in Coverage:

Your peace of mind is important to us. Prior to 2008, an individual account was insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance (NCUSIF) and the Credit Union purchased an additional $250,000 coverage through a private insurance company, American Share Insurance (ASI). The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, signed into law on October 3, 2008, increased federal insurance coverage through NCUSIF on individual accounts to $250,000. On July 21, 2010 the coverage was made permanent. After analyzing the effects of this increase on the total membership less than 1% were not adequately covered under NCUSIF. As a nonprofit cooperative we strive to serve the needs of the membership and use funds entrusted to us wisely. The low percentage of accounts uninsured doesn’t justify the cost to continue the additional private ASI excess insurance coverage. Therefore effective January 1, 2017 this coverage will end.

The good news is there are many vesting options to add additional insurance coverage to your account that we would be happy to discuss with you. The NCUSIF fund is backed by the full faith and credit of the US government, just like the FDIC fund for banks. It is just a separate fund.

PFCU remains strong and well-capitalized. We continue to receive 5 Stars (highest rating) from Bauer Financial at www.bauerfinancial.com. Your money is safe at PFCU.

What You Need to Know About Your EMV Chip Card

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Does your Credit or Debit Card look a little different?

PFCU recently began sending out EMV Chip Cards to our members with VISA® Credit Cards, and will soon begin issuing them to our members with Debit Cards. Just what are these cards, and how do they differ from the cards we’re all used to? One big advantage is a decrease in risk from data breaches like those that occurred at Home Depot and Target recently.

 

 

Check out this helpful video.

Here is some helpful information on the cards from our Ann Davidsom, VP of Risk Consulting at our partner, Allied Solutions:

Chip Card Facts for Consumers

• For cardholder protection, the mini computerized chip on the card uses a dynamic card verification value (dCVV) that changes with each transaction. This will help prevent fraudsters from being able to perform a subsequent card authorization.
• Make your chip card the payment of choice to help reduce the risk of card fraud.
• Protect your card or card number from unauthorized activity and don’t let your card out of your possession.
Using Chip Cards
1. Check to confirm your card has chip technology.
2. If your card has a chip on it, don’t swipe the magnetic stripe if the point-of-sale device is chip enabled.
3. Look for the card insert below the PIN pad on the card reading device to insert your chip card into.
4. Once your card is inserted, do not remove it until the sales associate or the machine says it’s approved.
5. If you were assigned a PIN with your chip card, enter your PIN after you have inserted the card. Remember, do not pull your card out until the transaction is approved.
6. If a PIN is not assigned to your chip card, insert your chip card and allow the sales associated to perform an authorization.
7. Swipe the card on the card reader if the merchant’s device is not chip enabled.

As new technology is introduced, PFCU will integrate it into our products and services to keep our members safe.

We’ve been doing it since 1935.

The Truth is: ARMs Differ and Can Have Great Value.

ARMHome buyers often focus on obtaining the lowest possible rate on a 30-year loan, but most mortgage loans are used for only three. Cash out transactions for improvements, additions, repairs, weddings, tuition and major purchases occur with great frequency. If you think you might refinance for any reason anytime in the next seven years, read on. 

Lower Rates, Flexible Terms – Today, most Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are “hybrids.” They start out at a fixed rate for the first 3, 5, 7 or even 10 years. During this time, you save on interest cost, and even though your payment is less, you still pay more toward principal. 

Inside Information – Lenders give you a discounted rate up front because they know the rate will float with the market later on. If you sell your home or refinance again prior to that happening, it’s their loss. You have the advantage here because you control the timing of your next step. 

Managed Risk – One way to prepare for the possibility of a higher rate and payment later is to pay extra principal each month to reduce your balance faster. If the rate ultimately adjusts up, your balance will be lower and the payment change will be less as a result. As well, you would already be accustomed to paying more. 

The Bottom Line – A fixed rate loan provides the certainty that it will never change. A hybrid ARM provides a guaranteed savings but for a limited period of time. The best way to decide is to balance your expectations for using any particular loan with the peace of mind that can come from being assured of stability, even if your time frame changes. 

Either way, we’re here to help you explore the pros and cons and to come to a conclusion that’s uniquely right for you.

Whether you are purchasing or refinancing a home, call us now at (626) 799-0882 or 1-800-445-PFCU to get started on the best mortgage loan solution for you.

 

PFCU is a Leader in Our “Village”

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PFCU’s Veronica Reigelman helps kids at the coloring tables.

The Credit Union motto is people helping people, and PFCU has been doing just that since we were first founded by employees of the City of Pasadena back in 1935.  Over the years we have grown to serve dozens of businesses and organizations in the SGV.  Our partners include many of the key organizations that consistently make the SGV such a great place to live and work.  We serve organizations such as Union Station Homeless Services, Rosemary Children’s Services, The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, Art Center College of Design, The Los Angeles College of Music, Pasadena Museum of California Art, The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, The San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce, and many more.  We have gained a reputation for providing quality financial services to our community and have taught thousands of individuals of all ages financial literacy information such as budgeting, proper use of credit, saving strategies and much more.  In fact, we have teamed up with award-winning children’s financial literacy expert Sam Renick, creator of the lovable Sammy Rabbit character, to teach more than 7,000 girls about saving, budgeting and goal-setting. PFCU is the 2014 Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizen of the Year and winner of the “It Takes a Village” Award from the San Gabriel Chamber. We have been named “SGV’s Best Credit Union by readers of thirteen local newspapers in 2015. PFCU also volunteers to prepare and serve a meal at the Union Station Homeless Services Family Center once each quarter.  Our PFCU Paws for a Cause Wiggle Waggle Walk team has raised thousands of dollars to help the animals at Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA over the years.  We help out at Police and Fire Department events for the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Gabriel and Sierra Madre.  We participate in the Earth Day Festival, NATHA’s (Neighbors Acting Together Helping All) Lincoln Village Festival,  each year.  We are a sponsor of the San Gabriel Mission Fietsa, The Altadena Sheriffs Summer Concert Series, The Spark of Love Toy Drive, Monte Vista Grove’s annual dinner, just to name a few.  Our new Pasadena FCU and YouTube channel is helping us spread the word about Credit Unions and the way to make smart financial choices.  We educate the community through this blog, our PasadenaFCU Facebook page and our Twitter account. Enjoy this video from our participation in the recent National Night Out Festival in Kings Villages https://youtu.be/qR3Q4_0DJZk

Don’t Let a DDoS Attack Cut You Off From Your Money

DDoS attacks are mentioned more frequently in the news these days, but what are they?  The initials stand for “Distributed Denial of Service” and refer to cyber attacks which are performed by harnessing thousands of personal computers through spyware and malware and instructing them to navigate to a specific website, overloading the server and resulting in the website being inaccessible to legitimate users. 

While there may be any number of motives for such attacks, the goal is to render the targeted website useless for as long as possible.  When there are hints of a pending  attack, it is best to be proactive.  Internet rumors have indicated that a possible large-scale DDoS attack on American financial institutions might occur on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  As a precaution, anyone who transacts business on financial institution websites is encouraged to refrain from doing so on that day.  Plan ahead and schedule online transactions in advance if possible. If you need to transact on that day, consider physically going to a branch or calling the institution.

Generally, it is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to schedule an online payment or transfer.  Always look ahead and schedule transactions well in advance to give yourself a cushion in the event of unforeseen roadblocks.  You’ll also have peace of mind, which is a great benefit of thoughtful planning.  PFCU’s Online Banking and Bill Pay, for example, allow you to schedule one-time or recurring future payments and transfers and have options for all sorts of convenient reminder texts or e-mails.  The internet is a valuable tool in communication, organization, and information-gathering.  Just be careful not to rely on it to the extent that you can be affected by temporary interruptions in service.  Always have a backup plan.

There are more Safety and Security blog articles here.  To get fraud alerts as soon as we communicate them, “Like” our PasadenaFCU Facebook Page and/or follow us on Twitter @Pasadenafcu.  The Safety and Security tab of our website is a great place to read up on internet safety, too.

Multi-Factor Authentication Foils Cyber-thugs

We sometimes get complaints from members who are frustrated with the set-up and maintenance of security for their online account access.  Here are some reasons not to loathe the security questions, site keys and other safety measures in place online:

Six federal regulators governing the financial sector have combined forces to strengthen the online security of your accounts.  Together, they make up the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).  The guidelines they set forth are designed to help financial institutions like PFCU make sure the individual attempting to access your accounts electronically is actually you. 

The First Line of Defense

If you aren’t used to strong online security, it can feel a bit like jumping through a series of virtual hoops.  Keep in mind, the “hoops” are meant to be easy for you to navigate, but difficult, if not impossible, for anyone who may have tried to steal your identity to breach.  

First, there is the authentication process.  One or more of the following are used to authenticate you:

            -Something you have (ATM/Debit Card)

            -Something you know (Password, PIN, or Personal Identification Number, site key)

            -Something you are (biometric device, etc.)

The more factors are included, the stronger the defense of your accounts.  That is why PFCU combines several factors to protect you.  We include a site key, for example, which is an image specific to you accompanied by a phrase you create, which let’s you know you are at our site.  If you log in and don’t see your site key, escape right away, try to enter through our website and, if you still don’t see it, contact us promptly. 

Layers

To maximize security, the “hoops” are utilized at different points in the transaction process so that someone who may be able to overcome one obstacle may be tripped up by another.  For example, after completing one transaction, it may be necessary to re-enter a PIN or answer a security question before the next transaction.  The layers of security can help us identify suspicious activity.  They can also limit exposure to losses should someone gain unauthorized access to one transaction.  Setting up the answers to security questions and selecting a site key might seem cumbersome, but the process is much easier than filing police reports and dispute forms. 

  Read the rest of this entry »

Ramnit: A Cyber Worm that Can Really Ruin Your Day

Staying ahead of malicious computer programmers is a challenge and requires an ever more complicated combination of precautions to ensure that your financial data is not getting into the wrong hands.

In a recent article, we warned you about “spiders” on the worldwide web.  Another particularly dangerous threat is known as a “worm”.  A worm is able to spread to other computers without being transmitted through e-mails or malicious websites.  One such worm is the “Ramnit” which has surfaced in Europe but is quickly spreading throughout the world.  The Ramnit takes advantage of the viral aspect of sites like Facebook.  Programmers realize that many people use the same password for social networking sites that they use for their bank accounts.  This makes it very easy for a worm to capture data and provide access to the funds of unsuspecting victims.  In addition, it sends messages to a user’s friends disguised as an article or other link and then prompts them to click.  As many as a million people a day click on erroneous links that then infect their computers, and the results can be a real headache.  If it seems unlikely that a friend would send you particular message, they probably didn’t.  Beware. 

Pasadena Federal Credit Union constantly monitors fraud alerts and works with online services that invest millions of dollars annually in security.  Our web hosting company has received numerous awards for their attention to security and we regularly review their efforts. 

Unfortunately, even a well-constructed password by itself is not very effective these days in protecting accounts.  Our new Online Banking and Bill Pay upgrade includes some new multi-factor authentication steps.

            -A site phrase selected by the user

            -A site key, which is a picture unique to each individual that helps verify they are on the actual site they intend to log into and not an imposter site

            -Security Questions

Never use the same password for multiple accounts and do not use a password a stranger could guess, such as your birthdate, social security number, address, nickname or other information.   These can open the door to identity theft.  Keep a log of hints that would help you recall a password but which would be meaningless to anyone else.   

When answering security questions that are things others might easily discover about you, such as names of relatives, your favorite color, etc. consider purposefully choosing an alternative answer (one that you will remember).  For example, if your niece is named Susie but she has blond hair, you might consider saying her name is “Blondie”.  Remember that someone who gains access to your social network also gains access to a potentially rich mine of information about you.  They can often determine things such as the names of family members, so those answers may not be the best ones to protect you. 

We have a very helpful demo on our website that walks members through some the exciting and helpful changes effective on our Per$onal Branch Online Banking and Bill Pay beginning February 9, 2012.  Watch it to familiarize yourself with these changes.

Time to Escape Banking Fees! Time to Join PFCU!

There's no time like the present to escape bank fees and mediocre service by joining a credit union.

Why a credit union?  Why PFCU?  There are LOTS of reasons! 

Suze Orman, Jane Bryant Quinn and numerous financial websites such as CULookup, Find a Credit Union and creditcardconnection.org  to name a few, have been touting credit unions for years.  The clamor reached a fever pitch recently when big banks announced plans to begin charging people to use their debit cards.  When something has been free and suddenly isn’t, people notice.  Actually, there have been more subtle ways that bank customers have been paying more and getting less for several years.  Even as the economy worsened, many consumers saw dramatic increases in credit card rates over the past decade.  Fees of all sorts increased or appeared seemingly out of thin air.  People are feeling it more than ever and are looking for alternatives.

So why a credit union?  There are lots of very good reasons.  First, a credit union is a non-profit financial cooperative owned by members, not stockholders and run by a volunteer Board of Directors from the local community who are also members, rather than a board, which receives compensation and may not otherwise be connected to the people who bank there.  Consequently, credit union earnings which exceed operating expenses are returned to the members in the form of lower rates on loans, higher rates on savings, and fewer fees.  The difference can be quite stark.  The credit union motto is “People Helping People” and we take that very seriously.  That’s why you will see credit union employees out in the community teaching financial literacy, volunteering for community service, and offering sensible, low-cost financial services to our area, including those who under-served by other financial institutions. 

If you are thinking of joining a credit union, Pasadena Federal Credit Union is an outstanding choice!  It’s no accident PFCU was voted “2011 Best Bank/Credit Union in the San Gabriel Valley” by the readers of the Pasadena Star News, Whittier Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and LA Times.  We have outstanding loan and deposit products and exemplary service our members rave about. 

Take credit cards for example.  Suze Orman refers viewers and readers to www.creditcardconnection.org, a site that has ranked all of the credit cards for banks and credit unions nationwide.  PFCU has received five out of five stars and made the “Dean’s List”.  Our card has no annual fee, no cash advance fee, no balance transfer fee, no over-the-limit fee and no default rate.  Wait until you see our low APR, which is well-below even the low end of the national average quoted in a recent AP article

PFCU has the same low rate for new or used car loans.  We allow deposits of at least $1,000 at a time to Share Certificates.  We don’t charge you to use your debit card.  You can use our Coinstar™ machine to deposit up to $100 in coin each day for FREE as a member

PFCU is also more convenient than you might think!  Although there is one branch with our name on it, it’s like we have more than 4,000 branches nationwide because we team up with other credit unions.  Go to www.cuswirl.com to find a shared branch location near you that allows you to deposit and withdraw from PFCU accounts and make PFCU loan payments as long as you have your account number and ID with you.  There is also an iPhone or Droid app to make finding a branch even easier. 

PFCU does not charge to use ANY ATM machine.  You may incur charges at a bank ATM, but with more than 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide including 7-Eleven, Costco and Bank of the West, you won’t need to use one of those machines.  Just text an address, intersection or zip code to 692667 (MYCO-OP) or go to the locations tab of our website.  There are free phone apps and navigation apps as well. 

What are you waiting for?  The time is NOW to join a credit union.  PFCU is a smart choice you will be happy about for years to come.

Let Your Pink Slip Help You Get Out of the Red

Your pink slip could be your ticket to lower rates!

Many people have worked hard to get their cars paid off and still have plenty of miles to go before they need a new vehicle.  It’s a great feeling to have that pink slip in hand!  But, if one still has credit card payments or other unsecured debt, money may be slipping away.  If you are in that position, why not let your pink slip work for you?

While mortgage rates are at historic lows, many people with good credit can get even lower rates with a loan against their vehicle.  At PFCU, for example, our best rate can be had on new or used vehicles for up to 60 months, and there is no pre-payment penalty, so if things change you can react easily.  Consolidating higher interest debt with a car loan can help your credit score, too.   But be careful.   These loans, which are often referred to as “Car Title Loans” or “Pink Slip Loans”, are offered by a score of predatory lenders, but they are actually the same car loans your credit union has always offered!  Isn’t it great to know you can get a fantastic rate without all the fees at a credit union known and loved in the community like PFCU?  You can even apply right here, right now!

There are a few things to consider when determining if refinancing a vehicle with a clear title makes sense. 

  1. What is the value of the car?  Is it an older vehicle?  PFCU will finance up to 100% of Kelly Retail Bluebook value of cars 2003 or newer, although the rate on model years 2003-2004 is a bit higher.  
  2. How is your credit?  In most cases, your rate will be determined by your credit score.  Applying for a loan is quick and easy, and your loan officer will be able to tell you what your rate and payment will be.  A peek at your credit card statements will show how much you are paying toward interest every month, and they generally indicate how long it will take to pay off the balance if you just make the minimum payment. It can be very discouraging to make payments month after month with little reduction in the principal. An auto loan is usually amortized to pay off completely in two to seven years.  Remember how you paid off that car once?  You can do it again! 
  3. When do you plan to get a new car?  A good practice when paying off a car loan is to put the amount of the former payment into a savings account for maintenance and repairs, and ultimately for a down payment on a new car.  If you haven’t done that, you will need to make sure you can cover maintenance and have the means to get a new car when the time comes.  Chances are, by paying off your credit cards with a car loan, you will lower your payments each month.  Perhaps you can start by putting the difference away into a savings account earmarked for car expenses, whether it’s maintenance or repairs on your current vehicle, or a down payment.  
  4. Get Gap coverage and Mechanical Breakdown Insurance.  The Gap will pay off your loan if your car is stolen or totaled and you owe more than it’s worth.  Plus, with ours you even get $1,000 toward a new car! 

 Mechanical Breakdown Insurance will help you manage repair costs so there are no surprises.  It’s like the extended warranty you get at the dealer, but MUCH less expensive.

To summarize, refinancing a vehicle with a clear title is something to explore.  Call one of our friendly loan specialists and we can help you determine if it makes sense for you right over the phone.  Your pink slip might get you from red ink to black sooner than you think.