URGENT ALERT:  Do YOU want to pay back thousands of dollars somebody else stole?  You may find yourself on the hook with law enforcement, FBI, or the IRS.  Here’s how it typically happens:

  • A new ‘friend’ you met online or by phone or email, after getting to know you, asks you for a favor…
  • He tells you he has ‘an inheritance’ or ‘grant money’ or ‘wants to come meet you’, but is having some sort of difficulty accessing his money or getting his check cashed to get the funds.
  • He says he’ll send you the money electronically so you can actually see it in your account & can then send it to him by transfer, mail, or UPS.
  • You give him your account # so he can send the funds to you, agreeing to help him out since he’s having such a problem.
  • He may say you can keep a little of the money for ‘your concern’ (usually around $500 to $1000).
  • For example, a $5,000 direct deposit goes into your account, but the cashier checks you’re told to send him total only $4,500.
  • You think to yourself, “Where’s the harm? I’m just helping someone out who’s having a tough time. And I’ll get $500 for myself, for doing nothing!”
  • So you check your account history at the credit union a couple days later and see that the money he sent has reached your account – perhaps $thousands$!
  • When you see your new balance, you’re a little skeptic because after all, this is a person you’ve gotten to know online or by phone but have never seen in person. But, you think you can’t be held responsible if it does turn out to be something shady, right?  (WRONG!)
  • So after the money shows up in your account, you come to the credit union and withdraw a couple of cashier checks, made payable to him or to someone else – he may say it’s for a friend he’s buying something from or for an acquaintance who’s paying for supplies or fees – he may even give you a sad story to go along with his request.
  • Little did you know, he hacked an innocent victim’s account somewhere, stole the account information, and STOLE the money from the victim’s account to divert it to YOUR credit union account so that you would willingly send it to him.  This happens every day and it starts first with you falling for a stranger’s story & giving out your account information, and secondly by thinking you’d get to keep $500 for doing nothing.  IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.

FACT:  Your new friend STOLE the money he/she sent to your account by hacking an innocent victim somewhere. The rightful owner will eventually contact the police, FBI, and perhaps the IRS when the money disappears.  The paper trail will lead to YOU – after all, YOU gave him your account number and allowed the money to go into YOUR account.  YOU pulled the money out & shipped most of it by cashier check, money order, or cash to where the hacker (your new ‘friend’) instructed you to. YOU withdrew the funds and YOU are now responsible – it doesn’t matter if you kept a little of it or none of it; you are now an accomplice to the crime and your name is on those withdrawals.

The rightful owner of the funds will proceed with legal action against both you and the hacker, who you mysteriously can no longer reach after the transactions are done…now you’re on the hook alone.  Recently, one of our members, after being caught up in one of these scams and being investigated by law enforcement, provided FBI agents with his new ‘friend’s’ email address, photos, phone number, and copies of text messages. But the woman who had deposited money to his credit union account has seemingly disappeared.  Our member is now on the hook for the $18,000 stolen from the real victim & sent to his credit union account electronically. He didn’t keep the money but is being considered by law enforcement as guilty of fraud.

This is sometimes known as a type of Sweetheart Scam.  YOU are not considered the victim in this – you willingly gave someone your account information so he or she could deposit money, you willingly followed instructions to withdraw the money and mail or deliver it.  You are no longer in possession of the money, yet you are liable for the theft of thousands of dollars.  Is it worth being sued or facing jail time?  Please – ASK yourself this before giving out your account number or trusting a sad story from a stranger.

If you have questions about this or other suspicious activity, please call the NCCU Fraud Department immediately at (423) 547-1232 at our main office on 980 Jason Witten Way, Elizabethton.

Northeast Community Credit Union staff brought tokens of appreciation and Thank You cards to Carter County and Elizabethton City law enforcement personnel and office staff.

Credit union President/CEO Teresa Arnold stated, “We are blessed in this area to have courageous and caring individuals looking out for the safety of our community. We appreciate them so much. They have difficult jobs, and our Credit Union Board and Staff want to thank them for all they do to protect the people served. Our heartfelt prayers are always with them.”

Zero-percent financing offers can entice you to purchase anything from automobiles to furniture. They can even entice you to transfer balances on certain credit cards, so familiarizing yourself with the myths behind no-interest financing offers can keep you from falling for a ‘dummy deal’ – remember, something that sounds too good to be true usually is. Keep reading to learn how to avoid being the ‘dummy’ in the ‘deal’.

Myth #1: Zero-Percent Offers Are the Best Deal

A zero-percent financing doesn’t always lead to the best possible deal for the item you want to buy. Often the benefit of not paying interest comes with an associated disadvantage, such as not being able to apply a discount or rebate to the purchase. Many times, the item’s price has been raised exponentially to help the seller recover extra income and compensate for the ‘0%’ interest reduction.  Using no-interest financing may lead to paying more for the item than if you had financed it at a discounted price and a fair, conventional interest rate so trust the facts.

Myth #2: A No-Interest Loan Means Never Paying Interest

Look closely at the terms and conditions of a zero-percent financing offer. In many cases, the deal is only good if you pay off the loan within a specified time period. Late payments or not paying the loan off in time can result in added interest charges that would have accrued from the beginning of the loan. The interest on the loan is only deferred until the lender determines if you’re going to pay off the loan.

Rarely do these types of offers include leeway for unexpected financial hardships that might affect your ability to make a payment in the short term. Since no-interest loans typically span a number of years, you risk damaging your credit score and owing much more money than you expected if you fail to complete the loan as agreed.

Myth #3: Waived and Deferred Interest Are the Same

When it comes to credit, planning ahead rather than making impulse decisions gains the best deals. Calculate ahead of time the monthly payments of an item or loan to determine what type of offer to choose. While many stores offer zero-percent financing options, these can be “deferred interest” offers, meaning that for every month you make a payment, the lender is still calculating interest (it may be as much as 22.9 percent or 26.9 percent, depending upon your creditworthiness) for each month.

So, if you haven’t paid off your debt at the end of the promotional period, you’re charged interest as if you never had a promotional offer at all. On the other hand, when a major credit card offers zero-percent on purchases for a set period, it can be “waived interest.”  If you have a 12-month offer, they will waive the interest during those months and only start charging you monthly interest in month 13 going forward if you haven’t paid it off, rather than accrual from over the year.

Myth #4: It Won’t Affect Your Credit

Many people don’t realize that a zero-percent financing offer is similar to taking out a new credit card. When it comes to financing certain items, like furniture, sometimes the credit line is the exact same amount as your purchase. This can result in your credit utilization rate spiking, since the rate represents the ratio of your credit card balance relative to your available credit. Having a high credit utilization rate may lower your credit score, so always check to see what the available credit line is the store is extending with special offers.

Fact:  The best financing deals are found by borrowing from folks you trust.  NCCU wants to be your financial partner for life and we’re always here when you need us with the best rates and terms around.  Ask us if you’re considering one of those ‘sounds too good to be true’ offers – we’ll give you honest feedback every time.  Remember, zero doesn’t always mean zero so don’t fall for the 0% dummy deal.  Let NCCU lower your monthly payments, protect your assets, and raise your credit score – you can TRUST Northeast Community Credit Union to steer you in the right direction.

Northeast Community Credit Union helped to support other essential workers by providing face masks to Carter County government employees.

NCCU employees visited the Carter County Courthouse and the Carter County Courthouse Annex offices. NCCU offered county employees a reusable face mask plus newsletters with information about financial recovery. The newsletters are handy references for all individuals as our community bounces back to normal, and are free to the public. Call (423) 547-1200 for more information.

Northeast Community Credit Union awards the William L. Armstrong Scholarship annually to qualifying credit union members who are graduating from high school and will be attending college.

The scholarship was originally established to honor William L. Armstrong, one of the founding members of Northeast Community Credit Union who continues to serve on the Board of Directors. To qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled at local high schools approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and plan to enter college for the following semester. As part of the selection process, students are required to submit a 500-word, typed essay on how one person can make a difference in the world.

This year the scholarships were awarded to Stevie Barnett of Cloudland High School; Brilee Culbert of Elizabethton High School; Ashley Woodby or Hampton High School; Claire Johnson of Happy Valley High School; and Sara Grubb of Unaka High School.

Students are recommended by teachers and leaders in the community. They have exemplified good citizenship in the classrooms and are active in volunteer work in the community.

Wendy Lyons, seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Hunter Elementary, is the latest Northeast Community Credit Union Helping Teacher’s Teach grant winner.

Lyons plans use to the Helping Teacher’s Teach grant to purchase a VEX Robotics program for Hunter Elementary students and to start a competition robotics team.

“This project introduces and enhances STEM basics for students in 7th and 8th grade,” Lyons said. “It teaches scientific approaches to the engineering design model while incorporating technology and math in complex problem-solving skills.”

Northeast Community Credit Union awards $300 every month to a classroom to be utilized for classroom needs, classroom activities, and academic enrichment.  Helping Teachers Teach is open to teachers within Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, Sullivan and Washington counties who are members of Northeast Community Credit Union. Area teachers may become members at any NCCU location and can download the grant application on the credit union’s website:  www.BeMyCU.org.

Bonnie Buckles, librarian at Central Elementary, is the latest Northeast Community Credit Union Helping Teacher’s Teach grant winner.

Buckles applied for the grant to create a Literary Makerspace for Central Elementary students. The activities are set up and designed to stimulate critical thinking skills and encourage educational playfulness to follow a story plot.

“A Makerspace will allow students to become problem solvers, while working both independently and creatively,” Buckles said. “The Makerspace activities are wonderful ways to inspire interactive and engaging learning experiences.”

Northeast Community Credit Union awards $300 every month to a classroom to be utilized for classroom needs, classroom activities, and academic enrichment.  Helping Teachers Teach is open to teachers within Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, Sullivan and Washington counties who are members of Northeast Community Credit Union. Area teachers may become members at any NCCU location and can download the grant application on the credit union’s website:  www.BeMyCU.org.

Robin Gilbert, special education teacher at Little Milligan Elementary, is the latest Northeast Community Credit Union Helping Teacher’s Teach grant winner.

Gilbert applied for the Helping Teacher’s Teach grant to start a music enrichment program for the K-8 students at Little Milligan. A parent volunteer provides music instruction. The school has a small assortment of instruments for the students to use, including guitars, drums, and one flute.

Items needed for the program are music stands, recorders and left-handed guitars. Gilbert said Little Milligan will hold fundraisers to purchase items not covered by the Helping Teachers Teach grant.

“Music is a universal language,” Gilbert said. “Music has been found to improve brain function and increase learning ability. Furthermore, music will allow our students a social creative outlet for social-emotional stresses.”

Northeast Community Credit Union awards $300 every month to a classroom to be utilized for classroom needs, classroom activities, and academic enrichment.  Helping Teachers Teach is open to teachers within Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, Sullivan and Washington counties who are members of Northeast Community Credit Union. Area teachers may become members at any NCCU location and can download the grant application on the credit union’s website:  www.BeMyCU.org.

Have you heard about IRS Imposter Scams?

Here’s how they work:

You get a call from someone who says she’s from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give her the card numbers.

The caller may know some of your Social Security number. And your called ID might show a Washington, DC area code. But is it really the IRS calling?

No. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone. And caller IDs can be faked.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Stop. Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, go to irs.gov or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
  2.  Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but the chances are you know someone who has.

Please report scams.

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261
  • Go online: ftc.gov/complaint

Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

Want to know more? Sign up for scam alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe