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by Mike Mastro, President/CEO Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union


our summer vacation is a time to relax and unwind. Yet, if you’re like most people, you probably put in ten-times

the work planning it as well. Before you finalize trip planning, be sure to consider your ATM/ debit card, credit card, and access to cash. For this month’s article, I’d like to offer a guide to convenient account access and safety tips with your ATM/debit and credit cards. These are great tips for summer travels, and even better when followed regularly.

alWayS TreaT your plaSTic cardS like caSh • Keep your cards in a secure place to prevent them from being lost or stolen.

• Keep an organized wallet or purse.

Let’s face it; your wallet is your life. Should it become lost or stolen, a lot of work is involved to protect what you could lose. And then, recover what is lost. Knowing the contents of your wallet is the best way to keep track of your plastic cards.

When cards are placed in a specific

order or card slot, it’s easier to recognize if something is missing. If you simply stick your card in your wallet among receipts, member- ship cards, cash, other credit cards, or the plas- tic wallet shift schedule, it may be hours, days, or weeks before you notice that a credit card is missing. We usually don’t discover that some- thing is missing until we need it – like when we are at the gas station or in the checkout lane. Unless you are cashing-out in Las Vegas, avoid having an over-stuffed wallet. • Keep your wallet lean when travel-

ling. Carrying only what’s necessary when you are away from home is the best way to go. Do you really need to bring your gym membership card or Macy’s card to Cancun? Clear out the receipts and stick to the necessities: proper ID (Drivers’ License, passport), credit card, ATM card, emergency phone numbers, and other travel documents. • Include LAFCU in your list of emer-

gency phone numbers. One call to (800) 231- 1626 can provide you with assistance during, or after, business hours.

• Consider buying a home safe. Stor-

ing your plastic cards, documents, photos, and other valuables in a home safe is a good way to guard against fires, flood, and theft. A safe is like insurance, though. The more features you look for, the greater the expense it can be.

proTecTing your pin • When entering your PIN at the ATM

or check-out counter, be sure to cover the key pad or screen. Your wallet can also make for an excellent shield against curious onlookers. You can also position your body to block the view of the key pad as well. Don’t compromise the safety of your personal information; get in the habit of covering up your PIN. • In the event your card is not returned

after you completed your ATM transaction or after pressing cancel, immediately contact the Credit Union and report the incident.

geTTing caSh • Should you run low on cash during

your trip, you can easily get cash back at a lo- cal grocery store or other retail store. Unlike in the past, getting cash back on purchases really wasn’t available. Today, all you have to do is press the debit button when using your ATM/ debit card and you can get the cash you need. It’ll come in handy when tipping throughout your vacation. • For convenient ATM access, just

visit one of the 28,000+ surcharge-free CO- OP ATM Network locations. Find an ATM at or download their mo- bile app from our website or from your phone’s app store.

cu Service cenTerS neTWork • LAFCU has joined together with

other credit unions to provide members with financial convenience. In the event you need to stop in to a branch, you can perform many of your financial transactions and obtain services at branches of other credit unions, as if you were at LAFCU. Personal, face-to-face, service is available when you need it.

• Today, the CU Service Centers Net-

work encompasses over 6,800 credit union branch locations and self-service kiosks world- wide! Find a branch or self-service kiosk at or download their mobile app from our website or from your phone’s app store.

addiTional card BenefiTS • Even if you don’t have an LAFCU

Visa credit card, your card may include travel benefits and emergency services. Benefits like travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, hotel/motel burglary cover- age, prescription assistance, and others, may be automatically included with your credit card. Such benefits can provide additional assistance when you’re away from home. Request a travel and emergency services Visa benefit guide at

SuBmiT a Travel noTificaTion • When you plan to travel out of town,

let us know. By offering advance notice, we can help prevent charges or authorizations from being denied or blocked for what may seem as usual or suspicious activity. To submit a travel notification, contact LAFCU or your credit card company and provide them with your travel dates, expected travel location(s), and a phone number to reach you. LAFCU members can also submit a travel notification through FIRE OnLine Home Banking. Advanced notice is also suggested when making large purchases as well.

In closing, I hope I was able to pro-

vide you with some valuable information that you can follow when using your plastic cards. I encourage you to learn about additional travel tips, including ATM safety, by visiting the Edu- cation Center of our website at www.lafirecu. org/security.

The more business we do together as a Fire Family,

the greater the financial reward will be for all LAFCU members.

June 2012 • 47

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