12 Identity Protection Tips for the Holidays

As consumers step up their online shopping leading up to the holidays, it’s a prime time of the year for identity theft. While you are busy snagging hot deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, thieves are phishing for your information.

Don’t let an identity thief take the jingle out of your holiday. Follow these 12 tips to keep your financial information secure during the holiday season.


Online or at home…

1. Update your antivirus software. Make sure that your computer security software installs updates regularly. And make sure your operating system is also up to date.

2. Don’t overshare on social media. Leaving home for a holiday trip? Don’t post this information publicly—be aware of your social media privacy settings.

3. Bring packages inside. Stealing delivered packages is not uncommon during the holidays. Packages left outside might also make thieves believe you’re out of town.

4. Don’t open suspicious emails or click on links. There is an increase in phishing scams around the holidays. Remember, the IRS, banks, and credit card providers will NOT ask for personal information in an email or by calling you. If in doubt, hit delete or hang up. Go to the company’s website or call using a phone number you looked up yourself.

5. Shop with familiar companies. Fake and unscrupulous internet retailers exist. Be suspicious of unbelievably low prices compared to other vendors. If you stick with stores you know, you may avoid sending your credit card to a thief.

6. Strengthen your passwords. When doing a lot of online shopping, it can be tempting to use the same password (or an easy-to-remember password) for multiple stores. Don’t do it! Your passwords should contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols for maximum security—after all, you’re giving stores credit card and personal information. Don’t use the same passwords you use at your financial institutions.

7. Give from the heart, but be smart. The holiday season is a time when many give generously to charity. You’ll notice a big uptick in the number of emails, letters and phone calls you receive from charitable organizations. Use caution—especially with vague sounding or unfamiliar charities. Don’t give credit card information if a charity calls you. Instead, do homework, and if you wish to give, contact them directly.


When you are out shopping…

8. Watch your wallet and bags. Thieves know you’re distracted during holiday shopping. Keep track of your wallet at all times and don’t leave purses, shopping bags or your phone behind while you browse.

9. Use caution on public Wi-Fi. In the rush of Black Friday, be careful about buying items using your mobile phone or tablet in public. If you’re on your cellular network, your information should be safe (provided the retailer’s website is secure). But hackers can easily monitor your information if you use free (open) public Wi-Fi networks.

10. Keep track of your cards during check out. Lines are long and cashiers are tired. If you leave a credit card on the counter, there’s no way of knowing who may pick it up. Make certain you get your card back after every transaction. Return it to its place in your wallet—never drop it in a shopping bag or stick it in your pocket.

11. Guard your PIN. If you pay with debit cards, block the keypad while you enter your PIN.

12. Be careful what you say. Many stores ask you for personal information when you’re checking out. For example, you will typically be asked for your home address, phone number and perhaps your birthday when you sign up for a customer loyalty program. Don’t reveal too much information out loud in a crowd.

Design A Christmas Card Contest

Sandy Saver members, now is your chance to win big! Enter your drawing to win GCEFCU’s Design A Christmas Card Contest. The grand prize winner will receive $50!

You may submit your artwork by dropping it off at any GCEFCU location, or by mailing it to the address listed below. Please include the child’s name, parent’s name, child’s member number, and a good phone number. You can download and print the form here.

Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union
ATTN: Marketing Department
5953 Fairmont Pkwy
Pasadena, TX 77505



Credit union members age 12 and under are eligible. Must have a Sandy Savers account to enter. Please turn in by November 22, 2019.

Top scams that identity thieves use against senior citizens

Elderly ID Theft info-graphic

Click the info-graphic to view in new window.

Around the world, seniors are victimized by cybercrime and identity scams at higher rates than most other age groups. Each year, financial fraud and scams affect approximately 1 out of every 18 older adults.

As the Baby Boomer generation enters their retirement years, it’s important to warn seniors about the risk of identity theft and help them stay on guard against fraudulent scams.

Seniors make up 17% of the Canadian population today,[1] and by 2041, 26.5% of the UK population will be 65 or older.[2] By 2050, people aged 65 and older will represent 20% of the U.S. population.[3]

Why do seniors fall victim to identity theft at higher rates than other adults?

Criminals are drawn to seniors for a variety of reasons. Limitations in mobility may keep seniors at home more, creating a sense of loneliness and isolation from family and friends. Some may have memory or cognition difficulties that leave them more susceptible to manipulation. But mostly, identity thieves know that as a group, seniors have greater financial wealth than other generations, therefore the payoff for stealing seniors’ identities can be greater.

Nine common scams used to steal identity information and defraud seniors

Educate the seniors in your life about these common scams that identity thieves and fraudsters are using to uncover personal information:

  1. Prize scams: Fraudsters contact the senior and say they have won a sweepstakes cash prize or lottery and need to make a payment to unlock the prize.
  2. Technical support scams: A caller, claiming to be from a reputable technology company such as Microsoft or Apple, calls to tell the senior that something is very wrong with their computer. Claiming the computer has been infiltrated by hackers, the caller offers to help in exchange for a fee. People in the U.S. lost $55 million to this scam in 2018.[4]
  3. Grandchild scam: The scammer calls a senior and then says something like “Hi Grandma, can you guess who this is?” When the senior guesses with the name of one of their grandchildren, the scammer uses that identity to request financial support for anything ranging from bail money to car repairs to overdue rent.[5]
  4. Inheritance scam: Similar to the prize scams, someone calls pretending to be an attorney and informs the senior they’ve received an unexpected inheritance. Then they press them for personal information.
  5. Medicare/NHS impersonation: One thing that all seniors have in common is their national health insurance plan. That gives identity thieves one key piece of information about a senior before doing any other research. By impersonating Medicare or NHS personnel, identity thieves get seniors to give out their personal information for “verification” purposes.
  6. Bank official impersonation: This works very much the same as the Medicare/NHS scam, except the information being captured is bank account numbers in addition to personal information.
  7. Tax scam: Tax documents contain a trove of personal information, and nearly everyone has to file them. There are two ways identity thieves approach tax scams—by telephone and email. On the phone, the identity thief poses as a tax official and demands payment. Phishing emails look like official communications from the taxing authority with the goal of obtaining personal information for identity theft and possibly stealing refund checks.[6]
  8. Romance scams: Like any of us, seniors want to pursue love interests and new friendships, and many use online dating websites and social media. Seniors need to be aware that people do create fake online profiles in order to meet potential targets for fraud. Any love interest or new friend who asks for money should be blocked from further contact.[7]
  9. Caregiver or familiar fraud: Sadly, the elderly often become victims of the very people charged with their care—family members or paid caregivers. It’s important that caregivers be trustworthy people with stable financial footing. Be wary if a caregiver tries to block the families access to a senior or hides bank statements or bills.

Help the seniors you care about watch out for these identity frauds and scams. Talk to them about the dangers and offer to review suspicious emails/mail or to help them look for unusual activity on bank statements and bills. In the event that a senior loved one has recently passed, maintain extra vigilance about the decedent’s credit report and identity in order to protect their surviving spouse and estate.

We have partnered with CyberScout to offer comprehensive identity management services.  If you detect suspicious activity or would like to proactively protect your identity, contact us at 281-487-9333 or sign up for FraudScout which is CyberScout’s proactive identity management service.

[1] Statistics Canada

[2] UK Office for National Statistics

[3] U.S. Census Bureau

[4] “The awful, fast-growing tech scams fleecing the elderly out of millions,” Fast Company, May 5, 2019.

[5] “Top 10 financial scams targeting seniors,” National Council on Aging.

[6] Internal Revenue Service

[7] Federal Trade Commission

Credit Privacy Number Scam

A Credit Privacy Number, or CPN, is a 9-digit identifying number that acts like a social security number. In 1974, when the U.S. Privacy Act was passed, consumers were allowed to withhold revealing their SSN when they were not legally required to give it and instead, would give their CPN.

These days, credit repair agencies are selling CPNs as a way for consumers to have a “clean slate” on their credit. However, in most cases, many of the CPNs out there are the stolen Social Security Numbers of children or deceased individuals. Scammers use these because it could potentially be many years before the scam is ever uncovered. Because of this, the government no longer recognizes or legitimizes CPNs.

Since these CPNs are usually stolen social security numbers, using one to get a loan, credit card, or other financial product is considered identity theft. Using one on any loan application is considered a federal crime.

Some red flags associated with CPN’s would be if you are asked to do things like change your phone number, get a driver’s license with a different address, or start using a new email address. This is done so information on the new CPN will not match any of the other identifying information listed on your real SSN. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned against companies offering new credit identities, calling it a scam.

Fraudsters are also buying CPNs and creating synthetic identities to obtain credit. Consumers are frequently arrested for their involvement in synthetic identity schemes and even ordered to pay creditors back the money that they defrauded. As a reminder, falsely reporting your Social Security Number on a credit application is fraudulent and could send you to jail.

Best Teaching Apps for the Classroom

Smartphones and tablets are no longer considered taboo in the classroom. In fact, teaching apps can be effective tools for streamlining monotonous classroom tasks and helping to immerse youngsters in the learning environment.

Teaching apps also help bridge the gap between classroom and home – and between parents and teachers – and are a great way to extend the classroom and make learning fun. The apps can help with everything from expanding the classroom to organization and lesson enhancement if you know which ones to use.


Communication Teaching Apps

Many teaching apps make it easier for teachers to send out assignments, give feedback and even grades. They also allow parents to track their child’s progress more actively throughout the school year. Some of the best communication teaching apps are:

ClassDojo – Teachers can easily message and communicate with parents. Photos and videos can be shared individually and even used to show parents their child’s classroom. It captures and generates behavior data to improve classroom behavior, and the app contains teaching tools such as Group Maker and Pair Share, syncing all of it across all devices.

Teacher’s Assistant Pro – Student actions, behaviors and achievements can be tracked and recorded, and teachers can add dates, times, notes and even photos. When conference time rolls around, they can have all the information they need in a single app.

Slack – A fantastic messaging app used by professors and teachers to host text-based office hours and send out reminders. College students love it because they can stay in touch with professors and others in the class when they’re not in the classroom. The app connects with many existing tools and allows you to read documents anywhere.


Technology Enhanced Learning Teaching Apps

Technology-enhanced learning is transforming education as we know it. Many apps allow children to learn through game play and even do additional work when necessary. Most of the apps enhance the teaching and learning experience inside and outside the classroom. Such apps help teachers reach students and convey information in an understandable way.

Blackboard – A free app that is ideal for online courses. It helps everyone in the classroom stay informed and allows teachers to update content, take assignments and tests from students, video chat for tutoring sessions, and even manage homework.

Educreations – This is an interactive whiteboard app with a screen-casting tool that helps teachers create easy-to-follow tutorials and lessons. They can create animations and diagrams with supporting audio of any kind to help students with assignments. Teachers can also share videos with the help of Facebook, Twitter and email.

Kahoot! – Another free for-fun learning app that helps teachers and students. Teachers can use exciting learning games and set up live games with students. The app allows them to challenge each other to competitive learning games and makes homework loads more fun.


Streamlined Organization Teaching Apps

Classrooms are busy from early in the morning until the afternoon, and it can be hard to stay organized. Throw in 30 kids and it’s nearly impossible. Teaching is easier and far more fun when teachers and students stay organized. Here are some great apps to help them do it:

Google Classroom – A light version of the G-suite used by teachers to store class materials in Google Drive. Teachers can also use it for making announcements and holding debates. The best part is that students can have easy access to materials that have urgent requirements.

Additio – Lets teachers ditch much of the paper by acting as a digital classroom and gradebook. They can take attendance, plan time tables and calculate grades using a smartphone or tablet. For a nominal fee, they can also get additional features such as the ability to take notes and performance analytics.

Seesaw – Allows teachers to record student strengths and weaknesses throughout the year for discussion at annual parent-teacher conferences. It’s often referred to as a student portfolio app because parents can see their child’s achievements and progress. Students love storing their best work on the app.

Teaching children financial literacy at all grade levels

Financial literacy is important, and it should be integrated into modern education for all children. Students of today shoulder a lot of burden. Sending them out into the world without a financial education is an injustice that results in a lifetime of hardship. While it can be difficult to teach children and young adults about money, there are some creative lessons available that can make the job easier and help ensure that they are prepared for their future.

The key is to start with an age-appropriate lesson. Later financial lessons will build on your foundation. Financial literacy for school children can be divided up into three main categories by grade level. General money knowledge begins in elementary school. Middle school students build on their financial literacy foundation by beginning to learn how to manage money. High school students can prepare for financial independence with valuable lessons about responsible financial management skills.


Elementary School: The Basics

It’s never too early to foster financial literacy in children. Elementary school is a great place to teach children the basics of exchanging money for goods and services. Teaching elementary age school children about money can be fun. Many educators incorporate games into lesson plans about money. This leads to open discussions and demonstrations about saving, spending and sharing money.

Earning & Spending Money – These activities for the very young include simple but important lessons like recognizing different coins and understanding what they’re worth.

Money I Have Who Has Game – Download this free game for your students to learn how to recognize and count money $1 and under.

Money Booklets – Download these free printout booklets to introduce and review coins with your students.

Bank It! – Use this game to teach your students how to add and how probability works.

Peter Pig’s Money Counter – In this interactive game, kids practice identifying, counting and saving money while learning fun facts about U.S. currency.


Middle School: Money Management

As children move into middle school, they are more familiar with the concept of money management. It is time to begin molding and shaping their perception of money and responsible financial management. As youngsters become more independent in middle school, they are ready to learn how to apply some of the concepts they have learned about money. This is a good time for them to learn about banking and balancing a checkbook.

Writing Checks – Use these check print outs to teach your students how to write a check.

Financial Football – Give your brain a Financial Football workout — play the NFL-themed video game developed by Visa.

Financial Soccer – Put your financial skills to the test with Visa’s World Cup-themed Financial Soccer, a multiple choice question video game. Are you ready to play?

Money Metropolis – Navigate Money Metropolis’ multi-dimensional world while making life decisions that will affect whether virtual bank accounts shrink or grow.


High School: Real-World Lessons

High school students are preparing to embark on real-world journeys, financial and otherwise. They are starting to make choices that will affect their future, and it is critical to instill responsible money management skills. With more advanced lessons on budgeting and bill paying, high school students have a better chance of becoming financially independent.

Balancing a Checkbook – Many high school students will soon start working their first jobs, so it is important for them to learn the difference between gross and net pay. They are learning to drive and preparing for college as they move closer to independence. It is a good time for them to practice budgeting successfully with take-home pay through classroom activities that can be reinforced at home.

Making a Budget – Information provided on topics such as: What is a budget? Why do I want a budget? How do I start a budget? How do I make a budget? How do I use a budget?

How to Read a Credit Report – Teach your students what a credit score is and how they can make sure that theirs is a good one.

Building the Perfect Teacher Resume

A resume is a snapshot of your strongest characteristics. It should be clear, concise and highlight the most relevant experience that qualifies you for the job. For a soon-to-be teacher or one changing jobs, the interview begins with the resume.

It isn’t rocket science, but writing a teacher resume is different from writing any other. Every aspect of the resume should point to your goal and reinforce the impression you want to make.

Your resume reflects what you can bring to an organization. Here are tips for building the perfect teacher resume.


Strong opening

For best results, open strongly. In addition to accurate contact information, use a professional contact email. That means avoiding personal or inappropriate monikers. A simple first and last name will suffice. If necessary, create an email address specifically for job inquiries and responses.

Also, list your GPA if it’s above 3.0. Employers like to see that you have achieved academic as well as employment success. When listing credentials and accomplishments, lead with the strongest.

Consider using a template for professional formatting and overall look and feel. A good template will provide ample space for your experience, education and skills, plus a brief headliner or introduction. Go with one that conveys your enthusiasm and professionalism.


Stand out

When creating a resume, many teachers fail to consider that the competition for teacher positions can be quite fierce in some areas. That’s why it’s important that you create one that stands out favorably from all other applicants.

A strong headliner is the easiest way to get the attention of employment decision-makers. Some examples:

• Mayweather School District Teacher of the Year

• Innovative, Research-based Secondary School Educator

• Seasoned School Administrator with 25 Years Experience

Another excellent way to set you apart is to pay close attention to the wording of your bullet points. Be sure to start each bullet with action verbs and highlight your achievements rather than simply giving a historical account of your work.

For example, rather than merely recounting that you “created lesson plans,” you might point out what your particular innovations with lesson planning achieved. If your lesson plan design ensured that children with low scores had significant improvement by the end of the year, you might state, “created lesson plans that improved reading test scores by 40%.”


Properly place your education

When it comes to listing education on your resume, a good rule of thumb is to position that section after highlighting your experience.

In it, list just the facts, including the name of your school or institution, the date you started and completed your education and the particular degree or certificate received. Also, be sure to list relevant extracurricular activities. Those may include entries and prizes in writing or research contests, or success in academic clubs or volunteer organizations.


Take special care with experience

The experience section of the resume may be the most important one. Evaluators will use it to get an accurate snapshot of your skills, abilities and achievements. They’ll especially be on the lookout for ways you are particularly qualified for the job at hand.

It’s always best to organize your experience section in reverse chronological order. Starting with your most recent experience first, list and convey your abilities and completed tasks for each position. Use bullet points to summarize, starting each with an action verb.

Go beyond merely listing tasks you completed at each position, by noting the particular things you accomplished. Show decision-makers that you are more than just a doer, you’re an achiever with significant and unique accomplishments.


Relevant training and skills

Although it may be tempting to submit a teacher resume without listing relevant training and skills, it’s not always the best choice. That is particularly the case when specific certification or training is required.

List continuing education, certifications, advanced certification and even community service to show what you’ve achieved beyond basic education requirements. That’s also a great place to list unique and applicable skills that put your best foot forward.


Polish your resume to perfection

Beyond the basic sections of education, experience and relevant training, a few ways to ensure your teacher resume is polished to perfection are:

• Refrain from using abbreviations.

• Definitely triple check for spelling and grammatical errors.

• Avoid the word “I.”

• Check for bullet points that are verbose.

• Remember, keep it short and to the point.

Last, but not least, make sure there are no gaps in experience. If that is unavoidable, be prepared to give a reasonable explanation during the interview or in your cover letter.

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 during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year long. Know of another freebie that should be added to the list? Let us know by sending an email to csmith@gcefcu.org.


Year Long Discounts & Freebies

Panera Bread – Teachers get a 10% discount on all in store purchases. Must show a valid teacher ID badge. Valid only at the Panera Bread on 5855 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX.

Rothy’s – Teachers get 20% off select Rothy’s styles that are perfect for the classroom.

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.

Colgate – Get a free Bright Smiles, Bright Futures kit, which includes toothpaste samples, toothbrushes, and teaching materials.

Hot Wheels – Teachers have the opportunity to request a ton of free toys for their classrooms with Mattel’s Hot Wheels Speedometry program.

SeaWorld – Teachers can get free admission for a day at Sea World Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, and SeaWorld San Antonio. In addition, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have been developing resources for educators for over 20 years. You can download entire teacher curriculum guides and individual activities, show the ShamuTV: Saving a Species series in your classroom, or learn more about how to prepare for careers in the zoological field on this site.

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 6

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
Baytown – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A


Tuesday, May 7

TuesdayPasadena – Pizza and Chair Massages
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
Baytown – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes


Wednesday, May 8

WednesdayPasadena – Cookies
League City – Cookies
Pearland East – Cookies
Pearland West – Cookies
Summerwood – Cookies
Baytown – Cookies


Thursday, May 9

ThursdayPasadena – Gourmet Popcorn
League City – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland East – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland West – Gourmet Popcorn
Summerwood – Gourmet Popcorn
Baytown – Gourmet Popcorn


Friday, May 10

FridayPasadena – Rita’s Italian Ice
League City – Candy
Pearland East – Candy
Pearland West – Candy
Summerwood – Candy
Baytown – Candy

Teaching Your Teen How to Budget

Putting the words teen and budget in the same sentence is enough to incite fear in many parents. Teaching teens about money is often difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to start with the basics and take it one step at a time. Teens must first understand the difference between pre- and post-tax money before they can fully grasp the concept of a budget. They also should comprehend fully the importance of saving. Remember, perception is everything to young people. Start out by explaining that a budget is not a restriction, it is a plan for spending so they have the freedom to use their money within reason and without worry.


When teaching your teens to budget, listing their income is a good place to start. Talk with them about the different sources of income, including money from work and allowances. Teach them how W-2 income differs from 1099 income. You want your teens to understand that most of their income will be taxed and they will have to file taxes every year. They should also have at least a general understanding of what that means and how it will affect them. If a relative gave them stocks or bonds over the years, you should discuss the basics of the stock market, and interest and dividends. Here are the most popular sources of income for teens.
• Wages from a job (W-2 income)
• Allowance
• Tips
• Gifts
• Freelance work (1099 income)
• Interest and dividends (if applicable)
They also should know the difference between fixed and fluctuating income.


Next, talk about expenses, to help them prepare for that month and track their money. For instance, they may have an “automobile” category that includes the monthly payment, insurance, gas and maintenance. Help them set up categories that are relevant to them. It is also helpful to establish the difference between a need and a want. A new smartphone is a want, buying groceries is a need, for example. Some common teen expense categories are:
• Automobile: payment, insurance, gas, maintenance
• Savings
• School supplies
• Groceries: eating out, snacks
• Phone
• Entertainment: sports, music, friends
• Personal: clothes, toiletries, vitamins

Credit Versus Debit

Learning about credit versus debit will also teach them a great deal. Explain that expenses are debited from the account. When cash is paid out, the account is credited. In the accounting world, when one account is credited, another must be debited to maintain the balance. So, help your teens creates a budget, for the month or for a few months. Write down the total income minus each expense and see what is left at the end of the month. Creating a budget for a few months at a time allows them to see how their income and expenses may differ from month to month.

GCEFCU’s Student Checking Account

Now that your teens have a basic understanding of how a budget works, they may be ready for a Student Checking account. It is a simple checking account for students 13 to 17 years old, with a guardian as a joint owner. They will have their own debit card and online banking login so that they can review and track their purchases. The Student Checking account is designed to help them gain financial independence as they work their budget. Help your teen set savings goals along the way and explain that working with a budget constitutes a spending plan. Above all, be patient and explain that it may take a couple of tries to get it right.