Archive for May, 2012

Don’t Get Tricked into Making Expensive Phone Calls

An old scam to trick people into making costly long distance phone calls has resurfaced and can cost you time and even money.  Typically, a message is left in your voice mail system for you to call someone regarding an urgent matter, such as information about a family member or, perhaps, a contest you’ve “won”.  The number ends up routing you to a foreign country where you are then charged huge amounts of money for every minute you stay on the line. 

“809,” “284,” “876,” are a few of the area codes you need to look out for.  If you receive a message from an unfamiliar area code, do not automatically call back.  Look up the area code and verify that it is in the US.  An easy way is to go to areacode.org

You can also ask your phone company to block foreign calls if you aren’t in the habit of making them. 

You can read more on the Federal Communications Commission website.

The Safety and Security tab of our website also has some great information about scams of all kinds to avoid, and there are other fraud prevention articles here at PFCUandyou.com.

Enjoy using your phone and/or mobile phone for communication with known friends and family, but exercise caution when using it for other purposes.

Protecting Your Group or Organization Accounts

Every day there are thousands of organizations across the country putting enormous time and effort into fundraising. From bake sales to candy bars, from cookies to popcorn, people are always coming up with creative ways to raise money for a good cause. Now, imagine that an unscrupulous leader in the organization who steals hard-earned money raised by the group destroys all of that effort. It has happened to church groups, schools, scouting organizations and sporting clubs. A few clear, simple rules can keep it from happening to your group.

One of the reasons we all participate in such organizations is that we want to have fun and build community. There is a general feeling of good will generated and it’s easy to let our guard down. Unfortunately, many otherwise honest people may succumb to temptation if they fall on hard times. One way to look at it is for all members of the group to be mindful not to put one another in a position where they could become suspect if money went missing. Care of the organization’s funds should be a constant collaborative effort.

• Elect trustworthy individuals as officers, but don’t put anyone in a situation where they are easily tempted to defraud the group
• Keep a system of checks and balances that the group agrees upon
• No one should be offended if anyone in the group wants to look at bank statements, ledgers or other records-books should be open at all times
• Frequent, transparent reporting should be made to the group and verified independently by different group members
• We encourage groups to sign up for online banking and e-Statements so that different members can easily go online any time to review accounts
• Rotating officers frequently can prevent any one individual from getting too comfortable
• When large sums of money are brought in, the group should determine specific actions for use of the funds and initiate procedures for follow-up
• Officers should take care to avoid even the appearance of impropriety
• Use mobile apps like our new Sprig Mobile Banking as a way of quickly checking account activity

Young or old, the members of an organization work hard to raise money for specific purposes. Use the administration of those funds as a way to teach kids about cooperation, money and planning and keep the experience pleasant for everyone. In conjunction with our Free Girl Scout Troop Accounts, for example, PFCU offers extensive financial literacy training with the help of children’s author Sam Renick. After he and his Sammy Rabbit character delight and educate the kids, their parents often tell us they learned a lot, too! Don’t let money ruin friendships, familial relationships and the integrity of your group or organization. Encourage one another to be vigilant in a collaborative way and applaud each other for being cautious.