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Entries in Star Choice Credit Union (31)

Tuesday
Apr052016

Dealer Financing Scams

So, you’re buying a car.  You’ve made it past the tedious comparison shopping, you’ve finished the detail-oriented research and you’ve even endured the haggling with the salesperson.  Your tongue probably tastes like that terrible coffee they use in every car dealership in America, the kids are probably getting cranky and it’s pretty likely you’re thinking about everything else you could have done with your weekend.  But, it’s almost over.

 

“I just have to go in to see the finance manager, sign some papers, and we’re on our way home.”  That feeling of relief washes over you, you let your guard down, and you don’t even realize until too late that you’re suddenly in a much higher monthly loan payment or longer term than you’d planned for. 

 

The stereotype of car dealerships usually involves a salesman with a pencil moustache and a polyester jacket who lies through his nicotine-yellowed teeth about undercoating or telling you how the used car you were looking at has only ever been driven to church on Sundays.  That guy is easy to spot.  If the salesperson lies to you, you have some legal protections.  If you Google before you go, you’ll even know most of the tricks the salesperson might roll out.  What you’re less protected against are the tricks that happen in the finance office.  Below, we’ll talk about what to look for and how to avoid dealer finance scams so you don’t spend too much on your next car.

 

1.)  Keep your wits about you.  Never let your guard down at the dealership.  Every person there wants to make money off of you and they’re very competitive.  Even if he or she says that they don’t want or receive commission on your particular sale (“I just need to hit my quota” or “One more sale puts me at my bonus, I’ll take a loss on this one”), that person is almost certainly a very competitive person who’s going to be comparing notes with his or her coworkers this afternoon.

 

The finance office is designed to put you at ease, so you’ll lower your guard.  The finance office is probably in a different part of the building, with different lighting and ambience.  The offices may be appreciably nicer, with actual walls instead of cubicles, some of which may have art hanging on them.  Clearly, the person you’re talking to is important, having been in such a nice office for so long.

 

And that’s what should scare you.  The people in the finance office are often not financial experts by trade; after all they don’t need to do your taxes or invest your money.  They only have to understand one transaction.  Therefore, many dealerships will send their best salespeople to finance classes so they can have a smooth closer at the end of each transaction.  Don’t let the gray hair fool you; the person in front of you is just as competitive and sharp as the one on the sales floor.  After all, to get this office, the finance officer had to be really fantastic at making sales.

 

2.)  Know your credit score.  There are a lot of reasons to know your credit score before you make a large purchase, including the fact that you should check your credit report for irregularities fairly often, whether or not you’re buying anything.  When you buy a car, it’s especially important.  Finance managers like to use customer ignorance against them, and if you don’t know your up-to-date credit history, then they’ll smell blood in the water.

 

While the most obvious example is to try to charge you more than you need to pay, you might not expect that another classic is to offer you a loan at a far lower rate than you deserve.  The idea is to offer you a rate so low you can’t say no, then wait a few weeks before telling you that the financing unexpectedly fell through.  Don’t worry, he or she will tell you, you can keep the car.  There’s a clause in your contract that says “subject to financing,” so he or she found a different lender.  The good news turns sour, however, because your new rate is through the roof and you’ve already signed the contract and taken delivery of the vehicle.

 

Don’t take a loan at a rate that’s too good to be true.  If you’re tempted by an offer in the finance office, ask how long it’ll be valid.  Then, take it home and show it to your lawyer, so someone you trust can tell you if it’s on the up-and-up.  If you don’t want to pay your attorney’s rate, you can also bring it to us.  We’ll take a look, let you know about any potential pitfalls, and we might even be able to beat that rate or provide a better term, saving you even more money.  Remember, if they say that the deal expires today (particularly on the weekend) or that you can’t take your contract with you, it’s almost certainly because they don’t want you to take the time to think about what you’re doing.

 

It’s never a good idea to trust someone who doesn’t want you to think.

 

3.)  Walk in with an offer.  Then, walk out with an offer.  The best way to get a fantastic rate on a loan for a new or used car [or a lease] is to finance through Star Choice Credit Union.  We aren’t looking to make a profit, we’re looking to support our members.  We’re also trustworthy – it’s why you’re here in the first place, after all – so you know our great rates aren’t scams.  So, come see us first and you can walk into the dealership with your loan financing already approved.  You’ll know how much you can spend, taking the pain out of negotiating. You’ll also know what interest rate you’ll get and have a pretty good assurance that your monthly payment will be manageable.  Plus, you’ll only need to run your credit score once, so you don’t have to worry about losing points from looking it up too often.

We are currently offering a discount on Auto Loans when you Apply Online, too! Save even more time and money by getting pre-approved online. 

Don’t let the salesperson know that you’ve already gotten financing, though.  The dealership knows how much it wants to make on the transaction, and it doesn’t care if that money comes out of the trade-in, the sale, or the financing.  If you know how much your trade-in is worth and you have your financing taken care of, then the only place they can make money is on the sales price.  If they know that, they’ll be less flexible on the sales price.  Let them think that if they give in a little on the sales price, they’ll be able to make it up in financing.

 

But you also need to be able to walk away.  Just like any other part of the sale, whomever can walk away controls the deal.  If the terms of the loan the dealer offers you sound great, thank them and take them with you and let’s compare notes.  We’re here for you and we promise to burn the midnight oil figuring out what we can do to make the best deal you can get.

 

This might all seem a little excessive.  Maybe you’re good at negotiating, you’ve looked up all the dealer scams and dirty tricks, and you can get the loan really close to what you want.  You’re only off by $50 or so, and if you just sign the papers you can take the car home tonight and be done with the whole process.

 

Remember, $50 may not sound like much, but over a 60-month loan, that’s $3,000 plus interest.  Who would you rather see pocket that $3,000:  the dealership or your family?  To put it another way:  if your child racked up $50 in extra data charges on your phone bill, how would you feel?  What if he or she did it every month for five years?  Let’s beat the finance office together.

 

 

Thursday
May142015

SCCU Membership Benefits You May Not Know About

 

Star Choice Credit Union provides personal financial care to its loyal members and community partners. We are a not-for-profit credit union that emphasizes building personal and genuine relationships and helping our members get the most out of their finances. Continue reading for some servies and benefits that even the longest Star Choice Credit Union members may not know about.



Free ATM Network

On the go and in need of cash? You should be able to have quick access to your own cash, and with a Star Choice Credit Union checking account, you can easily take advantage of a free ATM network service through the MoneyPass Network. Simply pull up our Mobile App and click "Search Surcharge Free ATMs" for an instant list of ATMs closest to you. After all, what is convenience if it isn't being able to access your money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?


Youth Savings Accounts

Help your kids develop a Strong Financial Future by opening up a savings account. We have a few different accounts that are suitable for children of all ages. They offer valuable benefits that include, but are certainly not limited to providing special incentives for deposits made by children, special gifts when a youth account is opened, a low minimum balance, and no fees. Plus, during the month of June, we will match your initial deposit into a new Youth Account, up to $50! Opening a Youth Savings Account will help your child develop healthy financial habits at a young age, and it will help you in the long run as they save for their first car or budget for college.


Free Checking and Direct Deposit

Star Choice Credit Union offers free checking accounts as well as direct deposit, meaning that on payday, your money is right where it should be, in your account! No driving, no waiting in line, no hassle. You can withdraw cash at an ATM, transfer money and make payments online instantly. Setting up Direct Deposit is easy, just contact us and request a Direct Deposit form to be sent to you!

 

 

Mobile App

Where ever you go, we go. Access your account on the go - all you have to do is pull your mobile device out of your purse or pocket! 

Our free Mobile App, Choice Mobile with Choice Deposit, allows you to perform everyday transactions on your Mobile Device. You can access your account balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and even deposit checks by simply snapping a picture. How's that for convenience? 

 

Save with Sprint

Star Choice Credit Union is pleased to offer monthly wireless discounts to our members with the Sprint Credit Union Member Discount. If you’re already enjoying the savings from this Invest in America program we want to make sure you can continue to do so. Periodically, Sprint needs participants to verify eligibility so they can receive the discount and waived activation fees. If you’re planning on signing up for the Sprint Credit Union Member Discount, you’ll need to verify eligibility as well.

 

New Sprint Customers: You need to verify membership within 30 days of activation.

Current Sprint Customers: You need to provide proof of discount eligibility (credit union membership) when you upgrade your device if it has been 20 or more months since you were last validated.

The verification process is easy and only takes few minutes to complete. Find the verification form here, or learn more about the Sprint Credit Union Member Discount at LoveMyCreditUnion.org/Sprint.

 

Wednesday
Aug062014

How 10 Seconds Of Diligence Can Keep You Safe From Fraud

  We’re all bombarded with information. Nowhere is this more true than in our mailboxes, both real and virtual. After all, everyone who wants to get in touch with us has a phone number, social media account and a million other low-cost ways to get in touch. It seems like the only people who send mail anymore are the folks who want to sell us something.

    If you treat your mail like most people, you skim through it on your way from the mailbox to the door, stuff it in a mail sorter and promise to deal with it later. Your inbox gets treated the same way. If it’s something from someone you know, you read it, chuckle, and respond. If not, it’s probably safe to ignore.

    This is the kind of behavior that identity thieves are counting on. Petr Murmylyuk, a Russian immigrant living in New York, was convicted earlier this year of breaking into a number of online brokerage accounts like Scottrade, E*Trade Financial, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab, among others. His purpose was to initiate trades that moved the price of assets in a complicated combination of identity theft and security manipulation. He cost his victims more than a million dollars in losses, and he will likely only have to pay about $500,000 in restitution. He didn’t get away with his fraud, but his victims still lost a lot of money.

    Imagine if this happens to you. You keep your retirement fund in an online brokerage account. You regularly deposit a few hundred dollars a month and you don’t want to withdraw the money any time soon. So you just log in every so often to make sure your auto payments are being made and check the balance. One day, you check the balance and discover tens of thousands of dollars are just gone.

    If you’re counting on your brokerage to reimburse you, you might be waiting a while. Scottrade, for example, “does not cover situations in which … you failed to take reasonable precautions to protect your privacy.” Fidelity, too, specifies the need to ensure that transactions were not made by someone you “allowed” to access your account. Other online brokerage firms have similar policies to protect their own interests over yours.

    What can you do to stop it? You already know how to maintain security on your online accounts. Choose strong, complex passwords. Don’t access sensitive websites from public computers. Don’t click links in emails that look suspicious. This is all the same financial personal hygiene you probably already practice.

    However, when it comes to online financial accounts, like brokerages and draft accounts, there’s an extra step you need to take. You need to read your statements carefully. Here’s how the process works:

    Pick a day each month. Making it the same time each month will help you remember as well as help you establish a reliable control. You don’t need much time, just 20 or 30 minutes. Take care of it while you’re drinking your coffee in the morning.

    Go through monthly statements and confirmations for all your accounts. Make sure you or your spouse recognize every transaction that’s been made. Keep an eye out for the following kinds of transactions:

  • Transactions originating in foreign countries or other distant places. Identity thieves will often try to throw you off the trail and avoid prosecution by committing their crimes in distant places.
  • Small transactions. It’s tempting to write off a dollar here or there, but thieves are frequently counting on that tolerance. They’ll use a small transaction to test a stolen credit card or breached account. If they get away with that, they’ll try bigger amounts.
  • If you suspect something is wrong with your security, call the company and ask for a login history. This is a document that lists the dates, times, and locations of every access that’s been made to your account. This should let you know if someone else has gained access. Obviously, if that’s the case, you should change your passwords and let your financial institutions know immediately.
  • If you notice anything else that’s amiss, call Star Choice immediately. The longer you wait, the more likely it is they’ll conclude it was something you authorized. Even if it’s off business hours, call immediately and leave a message. Starting the process as soon as possible creates a trail that will be useful in the event of a dispute about responsibility.

It's a big and scary financial world, but the price of financial security is constant vigilance. You don't have to go it alone. Star Choice Credit Union is here to help with credit monitoring services and other security assistance. If you need a little extra security in your life, call us today to speak with a representative.

Tuesday
Jun242014

Credit Union Foundation -- 80 Years

Have you ever walked into a business where everyone knows your name? If you’re a credit union member, the answer is probably yes.

For 83 years, we’ve been proud of the service we’ve been able to provide at Star Choice Credit Union. Over the years, as big Wall Street banks have grown more distant from their customers, hardworking folks have been looking for an alternative. Whether they’ve been a member since we opened our doors or just joined yesterday, our 5,825 members choose a credit union because we’ve made collaborative banking a success while offering first-rate member service and savings. None of that would be possible today if it wasn’t for the work done in 1934.

The foundation for a strong credit union movement was set 80 years ago, on June 26, 1934, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, permitting credit unions to be formed across the country. Since that day, credit unions have developed considerably. Through the years, we’ve grown in membership as we’ve broadened our services to meet the needs of our members, from mortgage lending to student loans and even a mobile app that allows you to deposit your checks simply by snapping a photo of them. Like other credit unions around the country, we practice values-based decision-making; a clear departure from the big banks.

Today, nearly 100 million people choose to be members of credit unions, and more than 6,700 independent, consumer-owned, volunteer-led, democratically controlled credit unions have the well-being of their members in mind every day.

We strive to be a not-for-profit institution that you can choose to be your best financial partner, but our impact goes far beyond our community. Credit unions return financial benefits directly to their members with higher returns on savings, lower rates on loans, and fewer, lower fees. Bank customers benefit too, as the presence of credit unions drives down loan rates, pushes up savings rates and influences fees. In fact, credit union members and non-member bank customers realized financial benefits of more than $8 billion dollars in 2013.

We believe a key reason we’re your best financial partner is because we listen to the needs and interests of our growing membership by fostering service excellence. Every day, we work to make sure our members receive helpful, personalized service when they come in, call us on the phone or reach us over the Internet. With services such as online banking, shared ATM access (the largest single ATM network in the country), and “shared branches” among credit unions -- our great rates, and our dedication to competitive loan and savings rates are our top priorities, day in and day out.

We also believe it’s important to remove the barriers that exist to service, and we encourage our members who are interested to become engaged on issues that are important to them. We’re active in legislative advocacy through our grassroots efforts. We believe it’s important that our elected officials hear from us and we help foster open-door policies at the congressional level as well as with federal and state regulators.

Most of all, we believe that a good credit union is one that gives back and creates awareness in the community. Star Choice once again partnered with Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP) this year. VEAP serves the local communities of Bloomington, Richfield, Edina and part of Minneapolis. Nearly 8,000 individuals, half of whom are children, are served each month, making it the largest food distribution center in Minnesota. They offer four service programs which work together to help alleviate the financial stress low-income individuals and families face as the result of unexpected expenses or lapses in income. The four service programs they offer are: Food Program, Children and Youth Services, Transportation, and Social Services.

Over the past year, Star Choice has assisted VEAP by both volunteering time and making contributions to their Food Program by collecting non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations from our employees as well as our membership. This year we managed to collect 480 pounds of food to donate to VEAP on behalf of the members and employees at Star Choice.

As we continue to move forward, it’s essential to look back and remember why credit unions were created. Credit unions are cooperatives that were developed to promote thrift among the American people – bound together by a common set of business principles and values. Volunteer leadership. Democratic control. Economic participation. Autonomy and independence. Member education. Cooperation among cooperatives. Concern for community.

Today, credit unions are living up to those business principles and values, and Star Choice Credit Union will continue to work to put our members and our community first.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Introducing ChoiceMobile.

Introducing ChoiceMobile.

Our new Mobile App--ChoiceMobile with Remote Check Deposit--makes banking with Star Choice Credit Union a breeze!

With ChoiceMobile, you can...

  • Check Balances
  • Make Transfers
  • Make Loan Payments
  • Find Shared Branching Locations
  • Locate ATMs
  • Deposit Checks Instantly with the Push of a Button!

How to Download ChoiceMobile on iPhone

  • On your iPhone, find the 'App Store'
  • Tap on the ‘App Store’ icon and 'Search' for Star Choice Credit Union.
  • Tap on Star Choice Credit Union Mobile.
  • Then, you are taken to a page where it shows the 'Install App'.
  • Tap on 'Install App' and enter your Apple ID Password.’
  • You will exit the page and then be taken to the app.
  • When the Download is completed, the App will be available for use!

How to Download ChoiceMobile on Android

  • On your Android, find the 'Google Play Store'
  • Tap on the ‘Google Play Store’ icon and 'Search' for Star Choice Credit Union.
  • Tap on Star Choice Credit Union Mobile.
  • Then, you are taken to a page where it shows the 'Install App'.
  • Tap on 'Install App'
  • You will exit the page and then be taken to the app.
  • When the Download is completed, the App will be available for use!