Protect Yourself – Practice Safe Internet Banking: Part II

This is the second of two posts on safe internet banking. To view Part I, click here.

As use of the Internet continues to expand, more banks, credit unions, and thrifts are using the Web to offer products and services or otherwise enhance communications with consumers. It’s very important, however, for consumers to check and confirm that any company they might do their banking with is legitimate and that their deposits are insured.

For good advice on how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at Practice Safe Internet Banking . It’s the FDIC that provides insurance for depositors at banks and thrifts.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) provides similar insurance for depositors at credit unions, such as Tri-Town Teachers FCU. Visit mycreditunion.gov for more information about credit unions.

In  Part I we covered this critical advice from the FDIC web site:

  • Confirm that an online bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured

In today’s post we will cover other important points from that web site:

  • Keep your personal information private and secure

  • Understand your rights as a consumer

  • Learn where to go for more assistance from banking regulator

Safe Internet Banking – Protect Your Privacy

Consumers have a right to know how their personal information is used by their bank and whether it is shared with affiliates of the bank or other parties.

Banks are required to give you a copy of their privacy policy once you become their customer, regardless of whether you are conducting business online or offline. You may also see a copy of it posted at the bank’s Web site. By reviewing this policy you can learn what information the bank keeps about you, and what information, if any, it shares with other companies.

 

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Protect Yourself – Practice Safe Internet Banking: Part I

The first of two posts on safe internet banking.

As use of the Internet continues to expand, more banks, credit unions, and thrifts are using the Web to offer products and services or otherwise enhance communications with consumers. It’s very important, however, for consumers to check and confirm that any company they might do their banking with is legitimate and that their deposits are insured.

For good advice on how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at Practice Safe Internet Banking . It’s the that FDIC provides insurance for depositors at banks and thrifts.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) provides similar insurance for depositors at credit unions, such as Tri-Town Teachers FCU. Visit mycreditunion.gov for more information about credit unions.

In today’s post we will cover this critical advice from the FDIC web site:

  • Confirm that an online bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured

In our next post we will cover other important points from that web site:

  • Keep your personal information private and secure

  • Understand your rights as a consumer

  • Learn where to go for more assistance from banking regulator

Tips for Safe Banking Over the Internet:

The Internet offers the potential for safe, convenient new ways to shop for financial services and conduct banking business, any day, any time. However, safe banking online involves making good choices – decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises or even scams.

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“R” You Energy Savvy?

Over the last ten years the price of residential heating oil has risen more than 150% in Connecticut (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). Judging by the “talk at the water cooler”, the cost of other heating energy has  increased as well.

No doubt this inflation in the cost of heating has affected regions beyond New England as well. While we don’t use fuel oil to cool our homes in the summer, most of us have experienced noticeable price escalation in electrical power cost as well.

So what can we do about this?

Naturally we can shop for the best value in fuel oil service and electrical power. We can be more careful about lights and TV’s being left on when there is nobody in the room. Programmable thermostats can help regulate heat when no one is around. And, of course for the more hearty, a heavier sweater in winter may allow for a lower thermostat setting.

But what about our house itself?

Have we made it as energy efficient as we can, or at least close to it? Older homes in particular can often be improved in their use of energy. This is usually achieved by improving the insulation and making the house more “weather-tight”.

Let’s talk a moment about how heat primarily leaves the house in the winter and enters the house in the summer.

  1. Heat loss takes place directly through the walls, ceilings, floors, and windows in the winter and enters the same way during the summer. This kind of heat transfer is known as Conduction
  2. There are many small openings around doors and windows, through holes in the floor for plumbing and electrical cabling, even the spaces taken by the boxes for switches and outlets. Air passing through these openings, called Air Infiltration, can cool a house in the winter, and warm it during the summer, not what we’re looking for.

Both of these likely areas for improving home heating and cooling efficiency and should be addressed in any effort to reduce heating and cooling costs. Continue reading

Tips on Dealing with College Costs

One of the major categories of the Tri-Town Apple is Life Events and Higher Education is part of this category. As with much of the content here, we use readily available information published by the government, centered around the “mymoney.gov” web site. We strongly recommend you visit that site, not only for information on higher learning, but on just about all the major events and happenings that take place over a lifetime.

The cost of sending an offspring to college can be staggering. And the bill for several children attending an institution of higher learning can strain a family’s budget to the breaking point.

There’s no getting around it. Except the few who receive sizable scholarships, there will be large bills for tuition, room, board, books and fees. But that is not to say you are helpless in the face of this heavy hit on the family finances. There are strategies that can help. As with most significant parts of life, anticipation and early planning can make a big difference when the “rubber meets the road”, or in this case, “when the student hits the road” for school.

Today we’re looking at cost of borrowing for college and what can be done to minimize these expenses. We’re using a web article published by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) under their FDIC Consumer News initiative. To read the entire article go here, and we encourage you to do that. The main points are summarized below.

Higher Education, Lower Debt: Ways to Minimize the Borrowing Costs for College

“The average annual cost of higher education has increased dramatically in the last decade. And with education debt continuing to rise along with the increase in costs, many people face a tough financial situation. FDIC Consumer News offers these tips to help students and their families …” (more)

Start saving early to reduce the amount you may need to borrow.

“In particular, Section 529 college investment plans, which are mostly offered by individual state governments, are a helpful tool for building a savings fund.” (more)

“U.S. Savings Bonds are another way to save for the future and, for qualified taxpayers, to benefit from a tax exclusion if the money is used for education expenses.”

“To learn about Savings Bonds, start at www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/indiv.htm. For information about the tax exclusion, go towww.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/planning/plan_education.htm.” (more)

Find ways to cut costs. 

“High school students who take advanced courses or pass special college-level exams can earn college credits before they set foot on campus. “It’s never too early or too late to start saving on future tuition expenses and reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow for college,” said Denise Waters, an FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist.” (more)

If you must take out a loan, understand the different options.

“Federal student loans usually have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans from non-government lenders such as banks and credit unions. Under current law, all federal student loans are obtained through the Federal Direct Loan Program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The easiest way to learn more about federal student loans, and to apply for a federal loan, as well as federal student aid and most state and college aid, is online at www.fafsa.gov.”  (more)

Choose the best repayment plan.

“For federal student loans, a monthly, fixed payment over a standard, 10-year term is the most cost-effective arrangement and minimizes the total amount of interest you’ll have to pay. However, there are alternatives… (more)

For more information for students and parents from the FDIC, the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies — on topics ranging from money tips for young adults to saving for college — start at here.”

 

For some, this advice is probably well known, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable and a quick read will reinforce the good advice that it is. For those just starting to think about college costs, the FDIC article is a good place to start and there are many embedded links that will take you additional worthwhile information.

Remember, it’s not going to cost you anything to be well prepared!

We hope this information was helpful. Let us know. Leave a comment. We will respond!