Skimmers & PIN Based Fraud

Melanie Ortiz

Melanie Ortiz

With technology playing a big role in fraud, it is the credit union’s duty to try to combat fraud to the best of our ability. With Fraud Prevention, Breach Alerts, and EMV Chip Cards, specific types of fraud trends have decreased. However, technology is ever evolving and thieves are continuously finding ways around the security measures that financial institutions and merchants have put in place.

The most recent increase of fraud seems to be the outcome of skimmers.

Skimmers are devices that can be placed both inside and outside a terminal (card machine) to collect data once a card is swiped. Basically how it works is, the skimmer is placed on/inside a terminal for a period of time collecting data as it is being used. Once the information is obtained, a counterfeit card is made, and used to make purchases.

Skimmers are most commonly founds at gas pump terminals, and ATM machines; two of the most used machines, that are also usually isolated enough to tamper with without being noticed.

The use of PIN numbers being entered during gas pump purchases is increasing the loss per cardholder, and increasing the gain for thieves. If your PIN is entered at the time of the skimmed transaction, that information has also been obtained. Because your PIN (PERSONAL Identification Number) is supposed to be known to you only, thieves are able to move around more discretely making purchases. The PIN number also allows thieves to check your account balance at an ATM, as well at withdraw funds. This is where the effects of skimming are becoming catastrophic.

Fraud patterns show that fraud activity with counterfeit cards typically occur on the weekends while financial institutions are closed. This gives thieves an extra day or two to go undetected and continue to conduct transactions. While you may be able to close the card once fraud is discovered, you are left waiting for the next open business day to try to recover your funds. Electronic payments, checks, loan payments are all affected at that point, causing NSF or return check fees.

In order to protect your account, it is highly recommended that during gas pump transactions, to avoid using your PIN. Instead, opt for credit and use your zip code only, or go inside and pay with the cashier. Be observant while using ATM machines. Look around at it to see if anything looks tampered with. A wiggle to the card insert can help detect outside skimmers, but will not be able to detect one placed inside the terminal.

Because skimmers are becoming more sophisticated, it is becoming more difficult to identify them. If you do use an outside pump terminal, it is better to give out as little information off your transaction as possible. This can help decrease the impact of fraud in the event that it takes place.

We are here to help you as well. We understand the severity of the situation when funds are taken out of your account without your authorization. Provisional credit is given to help you while your claim is being investigated. We do reach out to law enforcement in these cases, so filing a report of ATM fraud can be very helpful in pin pointing where a skimmer was placed or putting a face to a fraudulent withdrawal.

Month of May one of the best times to buy new vehicles

Leading automotive sites tout three day weekends as one of the best times to buy a new car. 

Trusted sources such as Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book list three day holiday weekends such as Memorial Day weekend as one of the best times to buy a new car or truck. If you have been thinking about a new car, truck or SUV, this may be the best time for you to do so. Dealers will be offering special incentives and rates are still at an all time low but on the verge of rising. If you are considering taking advantage of these favorable factors, we recommend the following:

  • Apply ahead of time and get preapproved so you know what your credit score is and you don’t have to spend more time at the dealership than needed during their busy sale.
  • Do your research and possibly test drive in the weeks prior to the sale. Again, this will save you time when the dealership is at its busiest during the sales event.
  • Set a budget on how much you plan to spend.

We hope you have a happy Memorial Day weekend.

Teacher Appreciation Discounts & Freebies

Teachers work hard all year long, and they should feel appreciated all year long, too! Below is a list of all the freebies and discounts different businesses offer teachers all year long. Know of another freebie that should be added to the list? Let us know by sending an email to


Year Long Discounts & Freebies

The Container Store – Sign up for their “Organized Teacher” program to receive special discounts throughout the year to help organize your classroom.

Michaels – 15% off your entire purchase by showing school ID.

Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store – 15% off your entire purchase.

Barnes & Noble – 20% off your purchase.

Apple – Up to $200 off a new Mac, and up to $30 off a new iPad.

Ann Taylor LOFT – Teachers get 15% off all full-priced items.

Banana Republic – Teachers get 15% off all full-priced items purchased in store.

Champion – Current and retired teachers get 10% off.

Costco – Teachers save $60 when they purchase a Costco membership.

Hewlett Packard – Teachers get 20% off HP Academy.

J. Crew – 15% off your entire purchase.

TOMS – 10% off your entire purchase.

Half Price Books – 10% off your entire purchase.

Lakeshore Learning – 15% off when you join their Teacher’s Club.

GMC Vehicles – The GM Educator Discount gives current employees of a public school, private school, college, or university special pricing below MSRP on the purchase or lease of eligible new Chevrolet, Buick, or GMC vehicles.

Microsoft 365 – Educators can get Microsoft Office 365 for free by using a valid school email address to fill out an online form. Teachers can also get 10% off Windows devices when shopping online.

Dress Barn – 15% off your entire purchase with school ID.

Teacher Appreciation Week

We are showing our appreciation to teachers all week long! Stop by any of our branches between 3:30 – 5:00 pm to receive a special treat. We will also have a Teacher Survival Basket at each branch, that you can enter to win every day during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Monday, May 7

MondayPasadena – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
League City – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Pearland East – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Pearland West – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Summerwood – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A


Tuesday, May 8

TuesdayPasadena – Pasadena ISD Culinary
League City – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Pearland East – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Pearland West – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Summerwood – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes


Wednesday, May 9

WednesdayPasadena – Pizza & Chair Massages
League City – Cookies
Pearland East – Cookies
Pearland West – Cookies
Summerwood – Cookies


Thursday, May 10

ThursdayPasadena – Chicken Nuggets
League City – Candy
Pearland East – Candy
Pearland West – Candy
Summerwood – Candy


Friday, May 11

FridayPasadena – Rita’s Italian Ice
League City – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland East – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland West – Gourmet Popcorn
Summerwood – Gourmet Popcorn

2018 Scholarship Recipients

2018 Scholarship Recipients

2018 Scholarship Recipients from left to right: Gabriella Hastings, Landon Watson, Ty Bruysschaard, Laura Williams

Pasadena, TX: On April 25, 2018, Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union held their annual luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club, where they honored four graduating seniors with four-year scholarships. The credit union received 53 scholarship applications from schools all over the greater Houston area. Lisa Nixon, GCEFCU Scholarship Chairman, presented the scholarship awards to the following students:

Gabriella Hastings – Manvel High School, Alvin ISD
Landon Watson – Summer Creek High School, Humble ISD
Ty Bruysschaard – Dickinson High School, Dickinson ISD
Laura Williams – Pearland High School, Pearland ISD

The credit union’s Board of Directors, management team, and staff would like to wish the 2018 scholarship recipients all the best in their academic pursuits.

Since 1992, Gulf Coast Educators FCU has given out more than $322,000 in scholarships to deserving graduating seniors. To learn more about the credit union’s scholarship program, please visit

New Overdraft Fee Schedule

Fees assessed to Regular and Advantage Checking account holders: (effective July 1st, 2018)

Overdraft Fee, NSF fee for check or ACH item – within a one year period from January 1st to December 31st.

Occurrence – An occurrence is defined as anytime your account is taken negative to pay an item or an item is returned due to insufficient funds in your account. VISA debit transactions count as occurrences but are subject to different fees (if applicable) than the tiered structure below.


Tier 1 – first and second occurrence
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$10.00 each

Tier 2 – third and fourth occurrence
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$20.00 each

Tier 3 – fifth occurrence and beyond
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$30.00 each

Teaching Your Child About Money

Girl with money

By helping your children form good savings behaviors at a young age, habits will form that will last them a lifetime. Knowing how to save wisely is just as (if not more) important than tying their shoes or riding a bike. This is a skill set that if learned early, can help them tremendously in their adult life. See what you can do to help by reviewing the resources below.


Pre-Elementary School

Age: 3 – 5 years old
At this age, it may be too soon for them to comprehend how much something is worth. However, it is always a good idea to get them comfortable with what money is and what it is used for.


  • Start a “Savings Jar” and teach your child to place a coin in the jar every day. Once the jar reaches a certain amount, allow them to purchase a toy or special item.
  • Pretend Play – Cut out pretend money for your child to play with. You can download a copy by clicking here.


Elementary to Middle School

Age: 6 – 12 years old
At this age, your child will begin to absorb habits and attitudes about what their parents do and say. In fact, parents are the most important influence on a child’s financial world.


  • Start giving your child an allowance, or give them to opportunity to earn money by doing extra chores around the house.
  • Take them to the credit union to make deposits in their account. With our Sandy Savers Kids Club, for every $10 deposit, the member gets a stamp. After 5 stamps, they get a cool prize.
  • When planning your child’s birthday party, give them a budget and allow them to help decide what they would like to have. This will not only teach your child the cost of their party, but will help you to stay in budget as well.
  • Consider a “matching plan” for your child’s savings. For every dollar or two they save, you deposit 25 cents. Use this example to explain to them how dividends work, and the more they save, the more free money they earn.
  • Make a shopping list with your child before heading to the grocery store. Talk about how difficult it can be to keep to just your list. If you happen to go over, add up how much money you spent buying extra items.
  • Show your child what information is included on a receipt, and how sales tax works. You can download this helpful worksheet here.


High School & Young Adulthood

Age: 13 – 21 years old
At this age, teens and young adults start making financial decisions on their own. Teach them how to spend wisely, and then monitor their shopping before setting them free on their own.


  • Show them what a paycheck looks like. You can download a worksheet here. If they already have a job, point out all the different parts of their check to show them where it all goes – gross pay, social security, health insurance, etc.
  • As a general rule, it is always good to save at least 10% of what you earn. Help your child set up an automatic withdrawal online, or through direct deposit, so their money is automatically saved each paycheck.
  • Help your child create a budget. Teach them how it is important to make more than you spend, otherwise you will go into debt.
  • Once your teen has their own checking account, they can begin using their own debit card as well. Show them the fees associated with overdrawing their account, and how they can add up if they aren’t keeping track of what all they have spent.
  • Once your child turns 18, the credit card offers will start rolling in. It is important that they know this money has to be paid back, and the expensive consequences of revolving debt. To teach them a safe way to earn credit, open a small $500 credit card, and have them pay off the balance each month. If your teen isn’t ready for that, they can always open a shared secured card instead.

Free Credit Score & Report

Your credit score is important. A good score can save you money on loans and insurance. For example, let’s say your score is 700 and your mortgage rate is 4% APR for 30 years on $150,000 loan. The total interest you would pay would be $107,804. Now consider you had a score of 600 and your rate was 6% APR on the same loan. You would end up paying $173,757 in interest. That’s a difference of about $66,000. Now this example is for illustration purposes but you get the point. The better your score, the more you save.

Since your score is so important, we will give it to you for free. Just stop by one of our full service locations and we will provide you with a free credit report with your score. Our team members can discuss your report and help you find ways to improve your score.

GCEFCU 8th Healthiest Credit Union

top 200 healthiest credit, a subsidiary of LendingTree, has released its list of the 2018 Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America.

Gulf Coast Educators is number 8 on the list and the credit union’s management team and board are very proud to be so highly ranked out of the 5,743 federally insured credit unions in the US. evaluates the financial health of over 11,000 banks and credit unions in the United States once per quarter. To determine bank ranking and recognition, grades each institution on a number of factors, including capitalization, deposit growth, and loan-to-reserve ratios.

“We believe it is important to give consumers a way to evaluate the financial health of their institutions,” said Ken Tumin, founder of “Our list empowers consumers to make informed decisions when selecting a financial institution.”

For a complete listing of the 2018 Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America, visit

The Science of Saving

Saving your money isn’t always easy, especially when you don’t have a lot to spare. After paying all your usual expenses, there may be very little “fun” money at the end of the month. When we do find ourselves with some extra cash, like a tax refund, many of us rush out to buy those shoes or that electronic gadget we’ve been eying for months instead of putting it into our savings.

Why do we do that? Why do we spend the money we planned on using for our future?

We can blame it on our brains. Behavioral science has shown that humans are hard-wired to act on impulse and that it takes conscious thought to delay gratification. It’s also much easier to focus on the present than our future.

To help you save for your future, behavioral science suggests visualizing yourself as you might look when you’re older. For instance, if you want to save for retirement, imagine yourself at age 67, living comfortably, maybe travelling the country, or having the time and the means to do something you’ve always wanted to do. According to a study done in 2014, this technique works. The researchers took photos of 50 college students and digitally altered each person’s photo to make them look 70 years old. The participants were instructed to study the photos. Then they were told to imagine receiving $1,000 and were asked how they’d like to use the money: buy something now for a special person or for extravagant night out, or put that money into a retirement fund. After seeing a photo of themselves at 70 years old, the majority allocated more of the money to their retirement fund than to the other options.

Another way to help you save for your future is by making it a habit. Start with small goals. For instance, commit to putting a certain amount, say $10, into a savings account every week. If you have direct deposit, you might want to consider setting up an automatic transfer of $10 into your savings account every time your paycheck is deposited. Over time, you can gradually increase the amount by a dollar or two.

Teach Your Children How to Save
To help your children get into the savings habit, start by having them cut out pictures of something they’d like to have someday and post the images where they’ll see them often. Then help them open a savings account at your credit union. You can open an account with as little as $10. Encourage your child to make regular small deposits each week. Tell them their money will earn interest while it’s in their account. If they keep this routine going, they’ll quickly see their savings grow.

Source: Credit Union National Association