Banks vs. Credit Unions

Banks

Banks

Does it really make a difference whether you conduct your financial affairs at a bank or a credit union? A lot of people seem to think it does. Believers report that credit unions offer the lowest interest rate around for banking, credit cards and loans.

What is a credit union?

A credit union differs from a bank by the fact that it is owned and directed by its members. Members of the Credit Union elect their usually volunteer Board of Directors through a one person one vote system. The definition provided by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) says credit unions are not-for-profit cooperative institutions. Credit unions are generally smaller institutions than most banks.

How do credit unions differ from banks?

Banks in the United States typically have $1.53 billion in assets as opposed to credit unions which on average have only $93 million in assets. Most credit unions do offer the same types of services offered by banks such as savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, loans, certificates of deposit and online banking. Some credit unions call these banking functions by different names such as share accounts, share draft accounts and share term certificates. In general, only members of a credit union can use their services. You must be eligible to join a credit union.

Banks are for profit shareholder owned companies that are regulated by state regulators or the federal government. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures banks. The purpose of banks is to make money for their shareholders.

Advantages of credit unions

Credit unions are not publicly traded corporations so in general they can offer lower rates on credit cards, banking, savings accounts, and loans. Though not insured by the FDIC credit unions do have a federal insurance program called the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Most credit unions are profitable but this money is used to lower loan rates, and fees when possible. Since members are also owners of the credit union, some credit unions will offer bonus checks to members when there are particularly high earnings.

Customer satisfaction

In financial surveys credit unions almost always outperform banks in terms of customer satisfaction. This may come directly from feeling a part of the institution, an owner rather than a customer. When an organization’s primary focus is not on making a profit but on making the members more financially secure this could translate into more satisfaction with the whole financial experience. If you like small financial institutions credit unions are smaller and you are more likely to get to know the employees.

Advantages of banks

The strengths of credit unions may have you rushing to open an account with your closest credit union but banks do have their strong points too. Larger banks may be able to offer the best rates around for financial products. Do some comparison shopping before opening an account anywhere. Banks in general offer more products and services than available at a small credit union. Banks may also have more online banking services and 24 hour customer service phone lines than credit unions. Again compare options when opening an account.

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The $9.84 Charge Scam

BBB

BBB

Following the widespread credit data breach that affected Target customers (as well as customers of other major retailers) over the holiday period, the Better Business Bureau has now issued a new safety warning, and there is a possibility that this warning is related to the holiday data breach.

Reports are emerging that consumers are finding unauthorized charges on their statements. In most cases this charge is $9.84, categorized on the statement as a ‘Customer Support’ charge with one of a number of fake websites.

When victims visit the website levying the charge, they are provided with a telephone support number and an email address. After getting in contact, they are told that the charge will be removed and the amount credited to the affected account. It is not certain whether this information is fake, and whether getting in contact will actually lead to the account being reimbursed.

We recommend that all affected consumers DO NOT get in contact with these fake websites. There are a number of recommendations provided by the BBB to help consumers protect themselves:

–       If you suspect fraud, get in contact with your card issuer.

–       You should destroy your current card and request a new one.

–       Place a fraud alert on your credit file (visit the Federal Trade Commission Website ftc.gov)

–       Be vigilant with all of your existing accounts

Investigators are still determining whether this scam has anything to do with the data stolen over the holiday period.

The ‘One Ring’ Return Call Scam – DON’T RETURN THE CALL!

Fraud Alert

Fraud Alert

The BBB is also warning consumers about another scam, which appears to be unrelated to the holiday-period data breach and the $9.84 charge scam. As of writing no complaints have yet been filed, however the president of the BBB Steve J. Bernas has stated that this scam is spreading across the U.S. very quickly and it is only a matter of time before complaints are filed.

In this scam, malware is used to infect personal computers, which then make thousands of calls to random telephone numbers. Each call only lasts for one ring before it disconnects, hence the name.

The purpose of the scam is to tempt people with missed calls on their phones to return the call.  When they do so, they are charged $19.95 for an international call fee. Victims have reported that the calls are coming from various international locations, mainly foreign British territories.

If you have been affected by this scam, you should immediately alert your cell phone carrier and watch your bill carefully. The earlier you report the fraud, the better chance you will have of having the charges partially or fully reimbursed.

The BBB states that the best way to protect yourself from this fraud is to not answer or return calls for any international numbers that you do not recognize.

For more help and information, visit the Better Business Bureau website bbb.org.

Be Vigilant,

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Watch Out! Target Credit Card Breach

Target

Target

If you have shopped at Target recently with a credit card then it is important that you check your credit account. The major US retailer was recently the victim of a major payment data breach, so if you are a Target shopper or have been in between certain dates, then you’ll want to pay attention and see if this affects you, no matter how many transactions you have made or how much you have spent.

The Target Breach

While the exact details of the breach are unclear, a picture is slowly emerging. Attackers managed to install malignant software onto payment desk computer systems in over 1,800 Target store locations It is not yet known how the attackers were able to successfully achieve this across so many stores.

Between November 27 and December 15, 2013, this software stole information from credit or debit cards that were used by customers to make payments at brick-and-mortar Target stores. This has allowed the attackers to gain access to customer names, credit card numbers, CVV security codes and expiration dates (with debit cards as well as credit cards).

This is proving to be a very serious and widespread security breach.  The security of up to 40 million credit/debit cards may have been compromised. Not long after the breach, credit card issuers began to report fraudulent activity across the U.S.  Target is now being sued by numerous customers for the breach, which could amount to millions in damages being paid out.

Am I At Risk?

The attack took place between November 27 and December 15, 2013, so if you paid for your purchase by credit or debit card at a U.S. brick-and-mortar Target store during this time then you should assume that you are at risk. Data gained from your card’s magnetic stripe could be used to create counterfeit payment cards. This was not a server data breach, so you are not at risk if you shopped online with Target.

If you have been a victim of this massive fraud, please comment below and share your experience to help others who may be similarly situated.

What Can I Do To Protect My Account?

Unfortunately there is not a great deal that you can do to prevent the attackers from exploiting your details if they have managed to get hold of them already. In this case your only real option is to remain highly vigilant. The best thing to do is to keep a very close eye on your credit card statements, and to get in contact with your provider immediately if you see any fraudulent activity.

Account alerts can be set up with online credit card management services, and fraud alerts can be registered with each of the major credit reporting agencies. Your credit card issuer or bank may also be helping to keep an eye on things for you. For example, JP Morgan Chase has temporarily lowered daily spending limits for vulnerable cards, while other banks are tightening security and keeping a very close eye to spot fraudulent activity.

Target has stated that they would offer free credit monitoring for any of their customers that have been affected by fraud. If you used a credit card at Target during the aforementioned period, the only fail-safe way to protect yourself would be to cancel your account and have your credit card issuer issue a new card.

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Credit Card Payment

Credit Card Payment

Credit Card Payment

Credit card holders should carefully monitor their credit card payment. Are you aware your minimum MasterCard credit card payment is rising?

A new govt. program working to get USA citizens out of credit card debts are pushing MasterCard issuers to raise minimum standard payments. If you are an American, your minimum monthly MasterCard payment may shortly be doubling.

Who’s Raising Your Monthly Minimum MasterCard Payment? Whose concept was it to extend card minimum standard payments? The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Office which has become more concerned with ruling in the abuses of MasterCard corporations.

BOA has been asking for the higher monthly minimum amount. MBNA, Citigroup (a.k.a. Citibank), Discover, and Chase (on some of its cards) have been breaking the news to their card owners . How Much Will Card Minimums Increase? For many visa cards, eg MBNA and B of A, the new rates mean that monthly lowest payments will double. At this time, the monthly minimum amount is only 2 percent of the balance on the majority of these cards. The new rate will be around 4% (the particular number may vary greatly from card provider to card company).

This indicates that if you’ve got the average American Visa card balance of approximately $10,000, your minimum regular payment will go from $200 / month to $400 / month. Why the MasterCard Minimum Amount Increase? You’re probably wondering why any person would wish to make you pay a higher minimum standard payment. The basic reason for making you pay more is: for your own good.

Credit Card Payment Tips

According to Mike Peterson, founder of American Credit Foundation, by doubling the sum you pay each month towards credit card debts, you may ease back on what you pay towards interest by much more. Look: Old monthly minimum amount of two percent of balance, $2,000 bank card arrears at 18% % interest:

  • Time to repay debt in full: about thirty years.
  • Interest paid: about $5,000 two and a half times what you first borrowed! New monthly minimum amount of 4% of balance, same debt:
  • Time to pay down debt in full: about ten years.
  • Time saved vs. Old payment: twenty years.
  • Interest paid: about $1,100slightly over half what you originally borrowed. Total saved versus. Old payment: $3,900.

Tips for Paying Double Simply How does one pay off your new, higher card balance?

Stop Charging

Yes, you will need to make major sacrifices to cease using your ATM card. If you have difficulty resisting the enticement to charge, these are some solutions that have really worked: * Give your MasterCard’s to a chum or relation to hold in safe keeping. * Freeze the cards in a block of ice. * Never carry more than one Visa card with you. Economize on the Tiny Things According to Michael Peterson of the North American Credit Foundation, even little savings truly add up when talking of debt. His favorite example is the Cola example: * If you purchase one Cola a day at $1 / day that is $365 / year. * If you instead invested that one greenback a day at ten percent interest (the average annual return on major stocks during the last half century), you’d be a millionaire inside fifty six years. * Naturally, with cards, this logic works in reverse : if you are sufficiently fortunate to be paying only ten percent interest, 50 years of charging Cola to your MasterCard will mean you have lost the same quantity, not just in interest paid, but in the lost chance to save and invest. One greenback a day is $30 / month, 15% of the average $200 increase in Visa card minimum regular payments.

So as to get that complete $200 increase out of your daily budget, you would just have to save $200 / thirty or less than $7 a day. OK, perhaps you are not drinking 7 Diet Cokes a day.

Saving weekly instead of daily, $200 / month works out to about $45 / week, or the price of an eatery meal for a tiny family–another luxury you may want to skip till you are debt-free. Larger Savings * Taxes. Most US citizens could pay tons of bucks less tax every year if they just took all of the discounts they were suitable for up front, instead of waiting to get a repayment in April. By April, you’ll have spent an enormous piece of cash on interest on debt that you would not have spent if you would had the cash to hand. * Pleading. Call the card firms and ask if they can permit you to set up a repayment schedule, or at a minimum supply a transient extension. Simply calling and informing them you have not forgotten about them can help in keeping you out of the worst difficulty. * Credit counseling. Credit advisors can talk with MasterCard issuers to help get a repayment agreement you can stay abreast of. They can also open your eyes to untouched income sources you never knew you had, like kicking the $1,000,000 Cola habit. With only a modest amount of planning, you can make the higher minimum standard payment work to your benefit, just as the policy’s writers intended.

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Con Edison Bill Pay

Con Edison

Con Edison

New York citizens needing to pay their Con Edison bill can find out more right here. Check through the payment options, learn how to close and open accounts or use the contact information to get in contact. To make ConEd payment online or manage your account, follow the link provided below on this page to the ConEd bill pay login. You will also find useful “pay my bill” information such as the customer service number, payment mailing address, and billing phone number below.

Pay My Con Edison Bill

Con Edison offers plenty of bill payment options, so your needs are met whether you want to pay online, by card, in person or in another suitable way. Don’t forget: there is always the option to pay via your bank (either in person or with the provided online banking service).

Pay Online: With e*bill you can manage your account and pay your bills online, cutting down on paper waste and helping the environment. Con Edison donates $1 to a not-for-profit tree planting initiative for every new customer that signs up for e*bill. To make your ConEd payment online click the “Pay Online” button below to login, register, view your bill or manage your account online.

Pay by Phone: With Payment Express you have a fast and simple way to pay your bill. Call 1-888-925-5016. Check payments and savings transfers are supported, as well as credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Discover) and debit cards. There is no fee for check/savings payments. There is a $4.75 processing fee for card payments.

Pay by Mail: Payments can be made by check or money order (payable to Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.) to: Con Edison, JAF Station, P.O. Box 1702, New York, NY 10116-1702. Do not send cash. Please include your ConEd account number on your check. Your account number is located on your statement. To ensure your ConEd payment is received on time it is recommended that you mail your payment at least 5 business days prior to the due date shown on your monthly billing statement.

Pay in Person: There are a number of Customer Service Walk-In Centers and Authorized Payment Agents situated across the Con Edison service area. Locations can be found at the ConEd website.

Pay Automatically: With the Con Edison Direct Payment Plan your bills are paid automatically each month. Under this program your payment will be deducted from your account 10 days after bill posting. You can register for this service through the online account service.

Opening & Closing Accounts

New Account: To open a new account with Con Edison, call customer services at 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). If you are outside of NYC/Westchester County, call 1-212-243-1900.

Close / Transfer Account: Accounts can be transferred or terminated online through the “my account” service. You can instead call customer services.

ConEd offers a number of services to help you manage your energy costs and understand what you are being charged for. If you need more time to pay your bill you can choose Payment Extensions, or if you are having more general difficulties you can negotiate a new payment arrangement.

Con Edison Contact

Customer Services / Emergencies: 1-800-752-6633

Correspondence: Con Edison, Cooper Station, P.O. Box 138, New York, NY 10276-0138

Toll Free TDD/TTY: 1-800-642-2308

About Con Edison

Con Edison (Consolidated Edison Company of New York) has provided electricity to New York City for over 180 years. Electric services are provided to almost the entire city, while natural gas services are provided to the Bronx, Manhattan and areas of Queens and Westchester. Steam services are also delivered to most of Manhattan. In recent years Con Edison has been recognized for its environmental performance and sustainability.

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Central Hudson Gas & Electric Bill Pay

Central Hudson Gas & Electric

Central Hudson Gas & Electric

Get your Central Hudson Gas & Electric bill paid on time with our easy payment guide. We have listed your major payment options right here on this page. To make a payment online or manage your account, follow the link provided below on this page to the CHG&E bill pay login. You will also find useful “pay my bill” information such as the customer service number, payment mailing address, and billing phone number below.

Pay My CHG&E Bill

Pay Online (Account Service): With Central Hudson’s online account service you can view your account information and billing and payment history, track your energy usage and make payments. This service makes it really easy to keep on top of your bills and get them paid on time. To make your CHG&E bill payment online click the “Pay Online” button below to login, register, view your bill or manage your account online.

Pay Online (No Log In): You can pay your gas and electric bills online without using the online customer account service. There is the option to pay by bank account transfer, or by credit/debit card. For card payments Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted.

Pay by Phone (Bank Account Transfer): Call the Central Hudson automated phone service at 845-452-2700 (1-800-527-2714 for outside the 845 area).

Pay by Phone (Debit/Credit): You can pay by credit/debit card over the phone. Call 1 (888) 909-4634. Payments made by debit or credit card are subject to a $3.50 service fee.

Pay by Mail: Return the bill stub along with a check in the envelope provided with your monthly billing statements to: Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, 284 South Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Please include your CHG&E account number on your check. Your account number is located on your bill. To ensure your CHG&E payment is received on time it is recommended that you mail your payment at least 5 business days prior to the due date shown on your bill.

Pay in Person: There are plenty of locations across the CHG&E service area where you can pay your bills by cash, check or debit card payment. All Price Chopper locations accept payments, as well as Walmart and Kmart locations within the service area. Visit the Central Hudson Gas & Electric website for a list of payment locations.

Payment Assistance

Central Hudson Gas & Electric offers payment assistance programs that can help reduce the cost of your energy bills. These include payment extension programs, deferred payment arrangements, extra security plans and budget billing. The utility also supports the Powerful Opportunity Program (POP) and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). For more information call the Customer Call Center (see below).

Opening & Closing Accounts

To open a new account with Central Hudson, or to transfer/stop an existing service, contact customer services. Detailed information on rates and tariffs is available online.

Central Hudson Contact

For more detailed contact information, visit the “contact us” page at the Central Hudson Gas & Electric website.

Emergencies: (845) 452-2700. For outside 845 call (800) 527-2714

Customer Call Center (for account disconnect/reconnect, payments, and more information on products and services): (845) 452-2700. For outside 845 call (800) 527-2714

Customer Call Center (TDD/TTY): (800) 635-6315

Mailing Address: Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., 284 South Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Administrative Offices: (845) 452-2000

Credit & Collections: (845) 486-5283

Theft of Service Hotline: (877) 728-3465

About Central Hudson

The history of Central Hudson Gas & Electric stretches back to 1900, when three men purchased two existing utility companies. With a view to consolidate many disparate energy providers, this was realized over the next 25 years with the amalgamation of 80+ independent utilities. The utility delivers electricity and natural gas to residential customers and business customers.

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