September Newsletter

Financial Fraud

Scammers of all stripes have been defrauding people of their money since money was created. Nothing is new in that sense. What is new, and continues to evolve, is the means by which thieves attempt to steal money. As technology advances and we rely more on online resources, the game of chess between cyber criminals and cyber security experts is constantly changing. 

Alerts about scams and schemes are good reminders of what we should be doing to protect our identities and finances. The FBI recently submitted an alert that details a new “ATM cash out” scam, whereby cyber criminals compromise systems and networks to obtain ATM card data. That data is then used to fabricate cards that can be used at ATMs to fraudulently withdraw funds.

It’s safe to assume that someone out there wants your money and will go to great lengths to acquire it. Knowing scams exist and being aware of their methods is the best line of defense.

What You Can Do
The best line of defense is to routinely monitor your accounts. The sooner you notice fraudulent activity and report it to your financial institutions, the better. While checking monthly is often recommended, weekly and even more frequent check-ins are encouraged.

If you have not changed your account password or ATM PIN, now would be a good time to make those changes. And as always, be on the lookout for skimming devices and other signs of tampering before accessing any ATM.

Get educated. Access the Better Business Bureau’s online Scam Tracker to report fraud and scams and to research what has been going on in your area. The information gathered through this tool can be valuable to law enforcement, both in the United States as well as in overseas countries where fraudsters might be based.

Utilize the Fraud Prevention Center at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to learn about various types of fraud, scams, and how to protect your money and identity and even the identities of your children.

All of this funnels into the need to be vigilant and diligent. Checking your accounts online takes minutes. Changing passwords and PINs takes minutes. Staying educated, well, that takes a bit more time, but the time spent doing so is invaluable in preventing falling victim to a scam.

Fall Foliage in Colorado

It might be hot and still seem like summer down here, but up in the mountains, something magical is happening. Large swaths of aspens are turning from green to gold, painting the hillsides with bold streaks of yellow. If you’ve never been on a leaf-peeping tour of the Colorado mountains, you should give it a try! 

If this year is like years past, the colors in the northern mountains will peak starting around the middle of the month, in the central mountains toward the end of the month, and in the southern mountains early in October. You can take a leisurely drive to enjoy the vistas or stop and take it all in on foot on one of many gorgeous hikes. 

Here are some driving routes for you to consider: 
Drive the Peak to Peak Highway. At 55 miles long, this entire route covers gorgeous vistas. There are plenty of scenic turnouts where you’ll be able to snap a great shot. 
Check out the popular Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. You will have to pay the park entrance fee, and the road is heavily traveled, but the views are unparalleled—you’ll be glad to have taken this route. 
Drive from Grand Junction to Mesa—start on I-70, and after traveling through Palisade, head east on 65 toward Mesa. You’ll enjoy some stunning canyon views complete with colorful accompaniments. 
• Take Colorado 14 through Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins. Along this winding route, you’ll be able to see the amazing Cache la Poudre River wend its way down the mountain and might even catch a glimpse of some bighorn sheep among the changing trees. 

If you’d rather try a hike, check out one of these: 
Kenosha Pass off Highway 285 west of Denver is a popular spot for leaf viewing with many hiking trails located nearby. You’ll enjoy expansive views of the fall colors as well as classic Colorado scenery. 
Horse Ranch Park Loop near Crested Butte is a six-mile loop through aspen forest. You’ll have some elevation gain, but the views are worth the effort. 
Any trail in Rocky Mountain National Park will afford lovely leaf viewing during peak season; the Estes Park blog suggests Gem Lake, Bierstadt Lake to Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and more. 

There’s a reason people refer to Colorado as “colorful.” Now’s an opportunity to really see why.

ARMs and Combo Loans

By CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”)

As we move through different stages of life, there are new financial opportunities—and potential pitfalls—around every corner. Have you made any of these mistakes?

YOUR 20s
1. Living beyond your means. It's tempting to splurge on gadgets, entertainment, and travel, but if you can't pay for most of your wants up front, you’ll need to rein in your lifestyle, especially if you have student loans to repay.
2. Not paying yourself first. Save a portion of every paycheck first and then spend what's left over, not the other way around. Earmark a portion of your annual pay now for retirement and your 67-year-old self will thank you.
3. Being financially illiterate. Learn as much as you can about saving, budgeting, and investing now and you could benefit from it for the rest of your life.

YOUR 30s
1. Being house poor. Whether you're buying your first home or trading up, think twice about buying a house you can't afford, even if the bank says you can. Build in some wiggle room for a possible dip in household income that could result from leaving the workforce to raise a family or a job change or layoff.
2. Not saving for retirement. Maybe your 20s passed you by in a blur and retirement wasn't even on your radar. But now that you're in your 30s, it's essential to start saving for retirement. 
3. Not protecting yourself with life and disability insurance. Life is unpredictable. Consider what would happen if one day you were unable to work and earn a paycheck. Life and disability insurance can help protect you and your family. 

YOUR 40s
1. Trying to keep up with the Joneses. Appearances can be deceptive. The nice lifestyle your friends, neighbors, or colleagues enjoy might look nice on the outside, but behind the scenes, there may be a lot of debt supporting that lifestyle. Don't spend money you don't have trying to keep up with others.
2. Funding college over retirement. In your 40s, saving for your children's college costs at the expense of your own retirement may be a mistake. If you have limited funds, consider setting aside a portion for college while earmarking the majority for retirement. 
3. Not having a will or an advance medical directive. No one likes to think about death or catastrophic injury, but these documents can help your loved ones immensely if something unexpected should happen to you.

YOUR 50s AND 60s
1. Raiding your home equity or retirement funds. It goes without saying that doing so will prolong your debt and/or reduce your nest egg.
2. Not quantifying your expected retirement income. As you near retirement, you should know how much money you (and your spouse, if applicable) can expect from three sources:
Your retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and IRAs
Pension income from your employer, if any
Social Security (at age 62, at your full retirement age, and at age 70)
3. Co-signing loans for adult children. Co-signing means you're 100% on the hook if your child can't pay, a less-than-ideal situation as you're getting ready to retire.

The CFS* Financial Advisors serving Bellco, available through CUSO Financial Services, L.P., are available to assist you with your financial questions no matter what stage of life you’re in. Contact a CFS* Financial Advisor today at 303-728-3443, email cfsinvsrefs@bellco.org, or stop by any Bellco branch to schedule a personalized appointment.

 

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Bellco Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS), does not provide tax or legal advice. For such guidance, please consult your tax and/or legal advisor.

Mi Casa

In September, Bellco will collect donations for Cancer League of Colorado. This non-profit organization, comprised entirely of volunteers, raises funds to support innovative cancer research, patient care, family programs, and other cancer-related services in the state of Colorado.

For ways you can donate to this worthwhile cause, visit Bellco’s Charity of the Month page. To learn more about Cancer League of Colorado, just visit their website at cancerleague.org.