Education & Resources Content
Education & Resources
Get Your Free Credit Report
To get your FREE Credit Report* go online to www.annualcreditreport.com, click on Minnesota and follow the instructions.
If you prefer not to use the web and you don't mind waiting, you can call 877-322-8228 or stop by one of our offices and ask for an Annual Credit Report Request Form. It may take up to two weeks to receive your credit report if you use either of these methods. Once you get your credit report review it for accuracy. It will help detect reporting errors and may help protect you from a case of identity theft. The new amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
*Your credit score is not included so if you want to buy your credit score you will be charged.
If you receive a suspicious e-mail message claiming to be from Home Town Credit Union, please let us know and we will act on it promptly.
Equifax® was attacked by a cybersecurity breach that resulted in the exposure of an estimated 143 million consumers’ private information.
On September 7th it was announced that Equifax® was attacked by a cybersecurity breach that resulted in the exposure of an estimated 143 million consumers’ private information. The data stolen in this horrific attack includes consumers’ names, SSNs, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers, as well as 209,000 stolen card numbers and private data from 182,000 stolen dispute documents.
The consumer information put at risk by the Equifax breach is separate from your Credit Union data, and we assure you that your Credit Union remains ever-vigilant in securing Credit Union data.
The most pressing and immediate threat with this breach is identity theft. To prevent and identify identity theft, use the products available through your Credit Union, including online and audio banking, to monitor your Credit Union accounts on a regular basis and report any suspicious activity immediately. You should also monitor account activity at all financial institutions you utilize and report any suspicious activity to those financial institutions immediately. Do not respond to email, text or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information.
- Visit Equifax’s data breach response site, which contains up-to-date information about this data breach. It also includes information on how to enroll in complimentary identity protection and credit file monitoring services, along with how to find out if your personal information may have been impacted.
- Visit the FTC’s page on the Equifax breach to learn about what happened and what to do.
- Visit the FTC’s identity theft website to learn what steps to take in response to proven identity theft.
ATM card skimming fraud involves the attachment of electronic devices on or around an ATM to illegally collect data from the magnetic strip of the card, while hidden cameras are also installed to capture the personal identification number entered by the customer. These electronic devices used to capture the information vary in design, size and shape, and look similar to legitimate devices. In some cases, criminals situate themselves near a compromised ATM and capture card data using a wireless device that is sometimes plugged into the network cables of the ATM's phone or internet connection. Often the criminals install the deice for only a short period of time to avoid detection. Card skimming is an industry-wide issue and not unique to one type of ATM. Therefore, consumers should monitor their accounts and report suspicious activity.
How to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of ATM card skimming:
- Check all ATMs and other card-reading devices before use. Signs of card skimmers include:
- The ATM cover looks loose.
- Scratches or sticky tape residue which might indicate a false ATM front.
- A pinhole on the machine which could indicate a camera has been installed.
- An extra keypad layered over the ATM's keypad.
- Try jiggling the card reader - if it moves, it could be a card skimmer.
- Cover the keys when entering your pin.
- If you have a choice, opt for credit (or using your debit card as credit) to prevent criminals from gaining access to your pin.
- Be more aware on weekends because criminals are more likely to install skimmers after a bank or credit union has closed, making it harder for consumers to report a problem.
- If an ATM looks suspicious in any way, don't use it. Report it to the financial institution or police.
- Check your statement as soon as you receive it and report any suspicious entries to your financial institution or credit card company.
If you become a victim of ATM card skimming, you should:
- Contact your financial institution immediately to report any suspicious activity on your account.
- Continue to monitor your credit report - criminals may continue to use your information.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a "fraud alert" on your credit reports:
- Tax Identity Theft
- FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center
- FTC Identity Theft Website
- Minnesota Fraud Enforcement Partnership
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system's screen or by locking the users' files unless a ransom is paid. More modern ransomware families, collectively categorized as crypto-ransomware, encrypt certain file types on infected systems and forces users to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods to get a decrypt key.
To prevent ransomware here are a few tips:
- Avoid opening unverified emails or clicking links embedded in them.
- Back up important files using the 3-2-1 rule—create 3 backup copies on 2 different media with 1 backup in a separate location.
- Regularly update software, programs, and applications to protect against the latest vulnerabilities.
Same Day ACH
Effective September 15, 2017, your payments will be moving faster, thanks to same day ACH payments.
You will no longer have funds tied up or be watching your account, wondering when a transaction will post. With the new system, “pending” ACH transaction time could be shortened to just a few hours—so you can always be clear on what you have available to spend. It is important to note that this also means the cushion of time between an ACH originating and processing will be gone, and you’ll want to carefully monitor your balances to ensure sufficient funds to cover transactions at all times.
ACH stands for Automated Clearing House—it’s another way to move money paperlessly, and operates independently of credit and debit cards. Essentially, anytime you move money by providing your account number, and financial institution’s routing and transit number, you are probably making an ACH transaction.
Some examples are:
- A payment that you make at a biller’s website that is deducted automatically from your checking account.
- A transfer that you initiate between your accounts at different financial institutions.
- Any transactions that require a voided check to initiate payment.
While the speed of Same Day ACH transactions will help you maintain a clearer picture of your finances, the change may take some getting used to. We recommend getting in the habit of checking your balances daily. For more information on the change to Same Day ACH, please contact us today.
Buy Smart! Tips for Car Buying
- Before you start shopping, call HomeTown Credit Union to get pre-approved for financing.
- If you plan on buying a pre-owned vehicle, consider whether to buy from a dealership or private party.
- Dealerships typically do a mechanical inspection, service and detailing on the vehicle before it goes on their lot. A dealership can take care of the title transfer for your new purchase, and sometimes they will offer a free basic warranty.
- Buying from a private party may get you a lower purchase price. You can talk to the past owner about the vehicle and any service they may have done to it in the past.
- When you find a vehicle you are interested in, consider running a CarFax report. A CarFax report will show you if previous damage had been reports on the vehicle, how many past owners the car has had, and if the vehicle had ever been listed as a lemon, flood, salvage title or total loss. HomeTown Credit Union offers discounted CarFax reports to its members. All we need to run a report for you is the vehicle’s VIN number.
- Check out Consumer Reports for information on the vehicles that you are interested in. Since Consumer Reports does not have advertisers, they are able to offer a non-biased review on vehicles along with reliability reports.
- Establish a value for the vehicle you are buying. You can check your vehicle’s value for free at www.nadaguides.com
- Keep your emotions in check! When you find a vehicle that you love, it can be easy to overlook flaws that may bother you down the road. Consider bringing a friend along to ensure that you do not overlook any details on the vehicle.
- If you choose to finance your purchase, HomeTown Credit Union has multiple products available to protect your new purchase and your loan! Protect Your Loans
- Be cautious about buying more vehicle than you need. You may be able to afford that large car payment now, but will it have an effect on your ability to do things in the future such as buy a house, save for retirement or take a vacation?
Member Education Seminars
HomeTown Credit Union is pleased to host various seminars throughout the year for our members through Owatonna and Faribault Community Education. Upcoming seminars include:
Budgeting to Win—Tuesday, January 16 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Owatonna Community Education)
Understanding Credit—Thursday, January 18 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Owatonna Community Education)
Stay Safe! Fraud Prevention—Tuesday, January 23 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Owatonna Community Education)
Budgeting to Win—Tuesday, January 30 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Faribault Community Education)
Understanding Credit—Thursday, February 1 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Faribault Community Education)
Stay Safe! Fraud Prevention—Tuesday, February 6 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm (Faribault Community Education)
Planning for your future is as simple as a click away. There are many options to help maximize your investments and prepare for your future.
Click here to learn how our financial advisor can assist you. Appointments can be scheduled at any of our offices for your convenience.