Equifax Data Breach: What you need to know

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. Here's what you need to know.

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If your account is hacked, you don’t have to feel like a victim twice.

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Learning that money has been stolen from your bank account is unnerving. Lots of questions flash through your mind: How did this happen? Who did it? Will I get my money back? How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again? You certainly want your bank to be on top of the situation, not make you feel even more vulnerable.

A swath of folks from Western Allegheny to Beaver County recently learned their accounts had been hacked over a weekend. Officials think the fraudulent withdrawals may have been made using a skimmer installed in the financial institution’s ATMs or at a retail location like gas stations, but they weren’t really sure. In fact, they didn’t know if 15 or 150 customers were affected.

Often, in these situations, the biggest disappointment is the way the credit union or bank treats these customers. The fraud victims usually have to go a bank branch, fill out paperwork, and jump through other hoops. Plus, it can take more than a week to get the stolen funds returned to victim’s accounts. Not good when you consider the ripple effect an unexpected empty bank account can cause. I think it’s fair to say the whole experience probably makes them think very differently about their credit union—and not in a good way!

At CHROME, we are proactive advocates for you—no matter what happens. That’s why we’ve invented CHROME Confidence—fast, responsive, unconditional support to protect your money, resolve the situation if something goes wrong, and give you peace of mind.

The first thing you should know is that we use a lot of smart, state-of-art tools to rigorously monitor fraud and stop it before it happens. But if a hacker or skimmer should breach your account, we have an action plan in place to make the situation right—fast.

We don’t leave you in a lurch. If you need to make a purchase or stop by to withdrawal money from an ATM before we deactivate your card, we’ll wait for you to complete your transaction before doing so. Other banks have no problem shutting things down right away and leaving you stranded with no funds.

We prepare the necessary forms and email them to you. While most credit unions and banks make you come to a branch office and sign lots of forms in person, we make it easy. Simply sign the forms electronically using your smartphone or tablet and email them back to us. If you don’t have access to the Internet, no worries. We’ll prepare all the forms in advance so they’re ready for your signature when you come to a CHROME store.

We credit your account right away. Once we have your signed forms, the stolen funds will be returned to your account before the end of the day. And it doesn’t matter if the theft takes place over the weekend or on a holiday—we’ll take care of it! Returning your money as quickly as possible is the most important thing to us.

We replace your debit or credit card ASAP. We will even expedite your new card at no charge if you need it sooner than the usual delivery time.

We make sure you’re completely happy. We check in with you to make sure you received your new card, and that the fraud is completely resolved to your satisfaction.

So don’t worry! CHROME on. Learn more about all the benefits of CHROME Confidence.

This Will Pique Your Interest

Higher interest rates on your savings!

Finally, after years of lackluster rates that delivered barely-there returns, interest rates are finally heading north. And experts expect the upward trend to continue so, if you’ve been parking money on the sidelines, now’s a good time to jump back in — whether you prefer savings and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), money market accounts or certificates.

Higher interest rates mean you can beef up your retirement nest egg and the kids’ college savings, or stock away cash for a wedding, vacation or down payment on a house. But, before you open a new account or add money to an existing one, it pays to shop around. Here are some tips to help you get the best deal:

Compare rates.

Yes, interest rates have gone up. That doesn’t mean all banks or credit unions are offering the same higher rate or even offering higher rates. You’ll be rewarded for shopping around — even if it means leaving the corner bank you’ve had an account with since you were a kid stocking away your babysitting or lawn-mowing money. Same goes with blind loyalty to the big banks. They rarely offer the best interest rates on savings accounts. You’re more likely to find better rates at smaller, more community-focused banks and credit unions. CHROME offers some of the highest interest rates available and is consistently ranked in the Top 3 for highest rates offered in the Pittsburgh area.

Know the lingo.

We know bank jargon can be confusing, but, with CHROME, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve broken down some rate-increase buzzwords to help break through the potentially complicated barrier:

  • What does an increased deposit rate do for you? Every dollar you deposit into your savings account earns more interest and helps your savings grow faster.
  • All CHROME accounts earn interest that are compounded and credited monthly. What does that mean? Interest is also added to the principal amount, which allows your interest to earn interest – helping you make more money over time.
  • You’ll get unlimited deposits and ATM withdrawals, but there is a limit on your additional transactions. What is considered additional? There is a federal law that limits certain types of telephone, check and electronic transfers. Those include: debit-card transactions, online and mobile transfers and more.

Read the fine print.

Those big blocks of tiny type definitely look intimidating — that’s why a lot of people don’t read them. Do yourself a favor; don’t be one of them. Make sure there aren’t any unexpected surprises tucked into the terms, conditions and disclaimers at the bottom of the bank paperwork. For example, does it cost money to open the account? Do you have to keep a minimum balance in the account to receive the higher interest rate? Is there a monthly service fee? Hidden costs like these can wipe out any monthly gains your savings is supposed to generate. Ready to make more money with your money? CHROME can help.

Cyber Criminals Want Your Personal Info

Here’s how you can lock them out.

You might be sleeping or taking your dog for a walk. You could be at work, at your kid’s soccer game or meeting friends for dinner. Life is good, right? You have no idea that hackers around the corner or half a world away are doing their darndest to steal your personal info. And, once they have it, they could clean out your bank account or go on an online shopping spree with your credit card. More than 15 million Americans had account information stolen last year.

Yes, 2016 was a very lucrative year for cyber criminals. Despite fierce security measures, they made off with $16 billion dollars — nearly a billion dollars more than their 2015 haul, according to the 2017 Identify Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research.

They’re also opening new credit accounts using stolen information (name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and Social Security number) and having a new card sent to them so they can spend away. No wonder consumers worry about the security of their personal info.

How can you protect yourself from being a victim? Here are a few tips:

Choose the right banking partner — one that will stand by you.

When you bank with CHROME, you are backed by CHROME Confidence — our unconditional guarantee that you are NEVER responsible for any unauthorized online or mobile-banking transactions. All you have to do is notify us of any unauthorized transaction within 60 days, and we’ll help you take care of the rest. It’s that simple.

Look for a bank that is up to speed on the newest security measures and threats.

Cyber criminals are persistent, but CHROME is always working, updating and implementing new ways to keep your transactions and personal data safe and secure. Our approach to protecting your account includes anti-virus and anti-malware protection, firewalls, advanced encryption and multi-factor authentication. Each step is in place to keep your account better protected and give you peace of mind.

Find a bank that is fearless when it comes to protecting your privacy.

We never share your username or password with anyone. We also keep prying eyes from seeing or gaining access to your personal information with automatic logout when a period of inactivity is detected. And we don’t just wait for the cyber criminals to show up. We monitor online account activity for potential fraud and routinely review websites, app providers, and other online resources to sniff out phishing schemes, bogus apps and malware that can put your account info and personal data at risk.

With CHROME Confidence, you can enjoy all of the convenience of online banking and shopping without the worry.

Great locations. No service fees. Yeah, that’s the way we do ATMs.

Sure, you can probably tap, swipe and wave with the best of them. Who doesn’t love the convenience of e-payments when you’re ordering a cup of joe, filling up the tank or picking up some groceries on your way home from work? With new technology and payment options like Apple Pay, Venmo and PayPal, the simplicity of digital money is pretty seductive. Plenty of people are predicting it won’t be long before cash goes the way of landlines, paper maps and VHS.

Despite all the predictions, cash hasn’t gone away … yet. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reports cash remains the most common form of payment. So, at CHROME, we’re all about providing you with choices. Choices that let you bank the way you want to bank — and pay the way you want to pay. It’s that simple.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Allpoint to provide easy access to more than 55,000 “anytime money machines” (okay, we know some people still call them ATMs) throughout Pennsylvania and across the US.

Get money when you need it, where you need it.

Who needs the hassle of driving miles and miles looking for an ATM? Whether you’re running errands in your neighborhood or driving across the country, you’ll find an Allpoint ATM near you — at convenient places you already visit. Need milk and cash? Pick up a gallon and a cool $50 at your local convenience store. Kids need new soccer shoes? Score a pair of spikes and some Benjamins at your favorite discount retailer. Traveling cross-country? Nab a hotel room and travel cash at a participating hotel. It’s easy to find a CHROME Allpoint ATM near you.

Never pay any ATM fees — not one cent.

The average out-of-network ATM fee is $4.57. That can add up to an unhappy surprise on your monthly bank statement. Banks are literally collecting money hand-over-fist for ATM and overdraft fees — about $42.3 billion a year, according to Bankrate.com’s last survey.

It’s your money, so why should someone charge you for a withdrawal? With CHROME, there is NEVER a service fee for using any of the 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs — no matter where it’s located. So, spend that money on something else. Something important. Something frivolous. Something FUN like tickets to the movies, a concert or big game. Add it to the kids’ college fund or your retirement. Treat your work buddies to a round. Spend it ANY. WAY. YOU. WANT.

Just consider it part of our quest to wow you with services and products designed to make personal banking simpler. Enjoy and CHROME on.

Got Big Ideas for Your Small Business?

Make ‘em grow with our SBA loans.

How many times have you heard “no” when you asked if a bank or credit union offers small business association (SBA) loans? Probably more than once. Many lenders in Pennsylvania don’t even offer them. Others don’t give SBAs to startups. They only lend to businesses that can demonstrate they already have a steady cash flow! That’s bad news for passionate entrepreneurs with big dreams.

At CHROME, we’re the “yes” team. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting started or are five years into your business plan. We’re ready to put smart money on you because we love to see our neighbors succeed. And success starts with finding the right partner to jump-start or expand your dream. Here are three things to consider when you’re applying for a small-business loan:

Is the lender pro small-business?

More importantly, are they really invested in helping small businesses succeed? Some banks reserve their four-star service for established businesses with big balance sheets, while short-changing small-businesses owners on time, attention, favorable interest rates and easy payment terms.

Your business isn’t small to us. We’re honored to help our neighbors grow in all kinds of financial ways! And that includes empowering your business dreams. We know small business is the heart of our community. Whether you want to open a craft brewery or yoga studio, have a cool idea for a new app or aim to wow diners with a locavore menu, CHROME has a small-business loan that’s right for you.

How long does the approval process take?

Timing is everything in business, right? You don’t want to be on the slow train when you’re trying to kick-start a dream or take advantage of a great opportunity. We understand the need for speed — that’s why we make securing a small-business loan simple and easy. When you apply for an SBA loan at CHROME, the entire process takes 60 days from start to finish. Just 60 days, not the three or four months required by other lenders. Think about it. You can apply for your SBA loan today, and have money in your account in just 60 days.

Does your lender have a small-business specialist?

Starting and expanding a new business is exciting — but sometimes it may seem scary. You’ll have questions, probably lots of them. Being able to easily connect with someone who can answer them is important. At CHROME, we’re here to offer moral support and know-how whenever you need it. Set up a time to talk with Bruce Goodman, our vice president of Small-Business Banking. With 20 years of small-business experience, Bruce is a great sounding board, advisor and champion. He’s here to listen and help you in any way he can — at no charge. Call him at 724.228.2030, ext. 821.

Got big ideas for your small business? We’ll help you make ‘em grow.

A Smarter Way to Pay for College

Wish you could find an affordable student loan that makes you say WOW, not WHOA? We can help.

At CHROME, we understand just how stressful financing your education and future can be. That’s why we offer a student loan that lets you focus on the important stuff — poring over your books, not reams of scary fine print asking you to sign your life away.

We’ve partnered with CU Student Choice to offer simple, straightforward loans with easy-to-understand terms and lower rates. Best of all, you can use your loans to pay for tuition at more than 2,000 participating four-year public and private non-profit schools across the country.

Filling the gap. Even with scholarships, grants and federal aid, many students still have to come up with additional funds. With CHROME, you don’t have to worry about where that money will come from, or if you can afford to finish your degree.

Get a great, low interest rate. CHROME offers some of the most competitive rates available. With a FICO credit score over 660, you can get a rate that won’t break your budget. Plus, when you sign up for automatic electronic payments, you’ll receive an additional .25% rate discount. Additionally, interest can be deferred for up to 60 months.

Money for this semester or next year. With a line of credit (up to $75,000) available, you only have to apply for your student loan once. Then you can tap into it whenever you need to pay for tuition, fees, books, room and board, and other approved expenses. The funds can even be sent directly to your school.

You don’t need a co-borrower. Our student loans are all about YOU. Unlike many other student providers, CHROME doesn’t require your mom or dad, wealthy grandma, rich uncle or other co-signer to guarantee your loan.

Flexible payment options. Once you’re out in the great big world pursuing your career dreams, CHROME makes it easy to manage your monthly budget and begin repaying your student loan. We offer flexible payment options, including straight repayment over a period of time or graduated payments, depending on the loan balance. And there’s no prepayment penalty for early payoff!

Want to know more? Get schooled on all the details.