Author Archive for Danielle Panchak

Things To Do Now To Make Your Accounts More Secure

Each year, Americans complete transactions more and more online. Consumers need to stay diligent to prevent becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft.

Here is a list of things you can do right now to make your accounts more secure. There are more tips outside this list but with many things in life, it’s about taking the first step!

Change your passwords so they’re unique and strong

Take the time to start changing your passwords so that each account has a different password. Begin with your most important accounts such as your financial accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a great example of a creative password, “Think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, ‘I want to see the Pacific Ocean’ could become 1W2CtPo!”.

This is an excellent example because it:

  • Has upper and lowercase letters
  • Contains special characters
  • Doesn’t contain personal information
  • Is at least six characters long (but ideally could be longer)
  • Is memorable to you but gibberish to others

Brainstorm how you can make every password memorable but different. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, consider a password manager.

Update your usernames so they’re unique too

It’s best to vary your login credentials to ensure that each financial account has a unique username and a unique password. Why? If you created a username and password that was the same as the one you had during a breach, your other financial accounts could have been compromised as well.

Sometimes apps require an email for your username. It’s not ideal because you cannot make it unique. Think about having an email for purchases and services you want to try and another email account for important communications. It can help with spam but also may limit your chances of exposure through your email.

Sign up for two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is key in securing your financial info. Here’s how it works: After logging in to your credit union’s online or mobile banking, you’ll get a code via text or email. The password and code can confirm that the member is the only one who is accessing their account.

Two-factor authentication is more secure than security questions. Your answers to security questions can sometimes be found on social media. For example, your mother’s maiden name or your favorite activity could be found if you posted about either.

Plus, it’s easy to forget how you answered a question. Two-factor authentication can make your life a little easier and safer. If you haven’t already, sign up for two-factor authentication where you can.

Opt in to automated account alerts

Sign up for automated alerts to help protect yourself from fraud. It takes just a few minutes and you can customize the alerts. With alerts set up, if you didn’t make a transaction, you can see it right away and contact your financial institution.

Install antivirus and get a VPN

Any device is vulnerable to hackers, including your smartphone. Install an antivirus that protects against malware, ransomware or trojan horses.

Also get a VPN, which encrypts your traffic, and use it anytime you’re online. Both an antivirus and VPN are worth the annual fee.

Say no to public Wi-Fi

When you’re getting work done at a coffee shop or browsing your phone at the airport, it is very tempting to hop on to the free public Wi-Fi. Don’t do it!

There are a few ways hackers can easily steal your information on public Wi-Fi:

  • Fake Wi-Fi connections are simple to create and allow fraudsters to access your private information. Should you join Joe’s Coffee or Joe’s Coffee Shop? Both could be accurate but one could be malicious.
  • Packet sniffing is when a hacker can scan everyone’s information on public Wi-Fi with easy to use, free software. Almost anyone can find your passwords.
  • Sidejacking is when a hacker can access anywhere you’re logged in at the time. From there, they can download malware among other things.

Start paying with your smartphone

Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay help keep your transactions safe by creating a unique code for each transaction. It’s more secure than swiping because the store doesn’t have your name, card number or security code. All of that information stays private.

Add your debit and credit card to your mobile device and use it for any of your in-person payments. Hundreds of thousands of stores accept digital wallets so try it on your next trip to the store.


AllCom Credit Union Announces Promotion of Erin Harvey to AVP, Member Services

Laura Ybarra, President & CEO, AllCom Credit Union announces the recent promotion of Erin Harvey to AVP, Member Services. Starting with AllCom in 2011 as a part-time teller, Harvey has moved up the ranks holding multiple branch positions such as head teller, branch supervisor, assistant branch manager and most recently, branch manager.

“For more than 10 years, Erin has been a tremendous asset to our team,” said President/CEO Laura Ybarra. “AllCom is fortunate to have her continued dedication to delivering an experience for our members.”

AllCom Credit Union Announces Promotion of Christine Alves to AVP, Operations


Laura Ybarra, President & CEO, AllCom Credit Union announces the recent promotion of Christine Alves to AVP, Operations. In addition to her promotion, Christine recently celebrated her 10th anniversary with AllCom Credit Union. Her journey with AllCom Credit Union began in 2012 as a Financial Service Representative. From her branch position, she moved to Operations as an Operations Specialist and was later promoted to an Operations Manager.

“Christine is the epitome of a team player and always helps anyone whenever and wherever it’s needed,” says Laura Ybarra. “She spearheads the most complicated projects, demonstrates an unbelievable ability to stay calm and organized, and always does so with a smile.”

Assets First-Time Homebuyers Should Have

Believe it or not, you’ll need more than just a pile of cash to make your first (or second, or third) home purchase. There are other non-monetary assets that you’ll need in order to qualify for a home loan with the lowest interest rate. Add these five assets to your list of things to have before you begin your house hunt!

Steady Income

Proof of a steady, reliable income shows a lender you are capable of affording the monthly mortgage payments and are a low risk for defaulting on the loan. Usually, lenders want to see a work history of at least two years at your current employer or in your current field. If you’re self-employed, the required work history length may be longer.

As proof, lenders may ask for a signed letter from your employer stating your position and salary or two years’ worth of paystubs. Or you may be asked to provide your last two years of income tax returns.

Low Debt-to-Income Ratio

This ratio is a non-cash asset, but it’s important in the eyes of lenders. Although a lending agent won’t ask for your entire personal budget, they will look at the ratio of your monthly debt obligations (student loans, car loan, credit card balances, personal loans, etc.) to your gross monthly income. This is your debt-to-income ratio. You want to keep this ratio as low as possible, with your estimated new mortgage payment included in the calculations. These days, lenders offer the best mortgage rates to borrowers whose total monthly debts (including the estimated mortgage payments) are no more than 43% of their total gross income.

Carrying a high debt-to-income ratio will make it harder to qualify for a mortgage. Before beginning your house hunt, work to pay off current debts and lower that ratio.

Good Credit Score

This is another non-cash asset that is an important part of every home-buyers’ mortgage application. Your FICO credit score is the primary way lenders gauge how well you’ve managed credit, loans, and debt in the past and if you pay your bills on time (a big factor when they’re considering you for a mortgage!). Scores fall on a scale of 300 to 850. While a credit score of 670–739 is considered “good,” applicants with a score of 740 or higher are the ones most likely to receive better-than-average rates from lenders.

You are allowed one free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. While you’re saving up for a hefty down payment, you can also check on your credit score and work to improve it: pay off debt (e.g. student loans, credit cards, medical debts, etc.), pay all bills on time, and don’t open or close any lines of credit (e.g. store credit card, personal loan, etc.).

Cash for a Down Payment

The money you plan to spend as your down payment on a house should be in the form of cold, hard cash in an account you can easily access (not in a CD or share savings account where you may pay a fee for the withdrawal). It can be tempting to put all or part of the down payment on a credit card, but this will affect your debt-to-income ratio, which ultimately lowers your creditworthiness.

In order to receive the best loan rate and avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on a conventional loan, you need to save up for a down payment of at least 20%. With other strong financial elements—like low debt-to-income ratio and excellent credit score—you may be able to put less money down and secure a decent mortgage rate, but you’ll still be taking out a larger loan and ultimately paying more interest on that larger principal over the life of the loan.

Cash for Closing Costs

Be sure to earmark some of the cash you’ve saved up as cash for paying closing costs, an often-overlooked home-buying expense. Closing costs include loan origination fee, title search and recording fee, appraisal fee, inspection fee, property taxes, and others. While these costs can vary, they generally fall between two percent and five percent of a home’s purchase price.

While you can sometimes roll these costs into the mortgage, it’s best to be able to pay them up front with cash, thereby avoiding a higher monthly mortgage payment and possibly a higher loan rate. You may also pay these fees with monetary gifts from relatives or by negotiating with the seller to have them pay these costs—especially if they’re eager to sell.

Your Funds Are Safe with AllCom

As a credit union member at AllCom Credit Union, you are an owner of our not-for-profit financial cooperative. Credit unions’ first priority is your financial success, and we focus on financial security. You can be assured that your money is safe and sound at our credit union. We have an experienced team to serve you and answer any questions or concerns.

As a member of AllCom Credit Union, every deposit you make is safe, secure and 100% insured. Deposits up to $250,000 are insured by NCUA and all amounts above that are insured by MSIC. Please view their websites for additional information and coverage.

If you have any questions about your deposit insurance coverage, please contact us at 888.754.9980.

Massachusetts Credit Unions 2023 College Scholarship Program


If you or someone you know plans to attend college this year after graduating from high school, you’ll be happy to know that AllCom Credit Union is offering eligible members a chance to win a $1,500 scholarship to help cover the expanding costs associated with your college education.

The Credit Union College Scholarship Program, supported by Massachusetts Credit Unions and our statewide campaign, Better Values – Better Banking, is funding six (6) $1,500 scholarships that will be awarded to six (6) high school graduates chosen as winners from across the state. 

2023 College Scholarship Application

Application deadline: April 7, 2023

Scholarship Eligibility
1. Eligibility is limited to high school seniors who will be enrolled in an undergraduate college degree program during the 2023-2024 academic year.

2. Applicant or parent/guardian must be a member of the sponsoring credit union.

3. The credit union must be a member in good standing with the Cooperative Credit Union Association.

4. Each applicant must complete a current scholarship application form and submit it with the other required material to the sponsoring credit union.

5. Each credit union will select its top 3 applications and forward them to their chapter president. They must be accompanied by a cover letter from the sponsoring credit union CEO verifying that each applicant and/or parent/guardian is a credit union member.

Each chapter will select its scholarship winner evaluating each applicant on the same criteria the credit unions will be using grades, essay and extracurricular/community activities.

Students must submit the following items with their completed applications. All items requested must be received in order for the application to qualify for consideration.

1. Completed printed application.

2. An academic transcript of grades.

3. A typewritten essay of at least 250 words describing what you career you wish to pursue when you complete your education and why.

4. A detailed list of extracurricular/community activities and/or volunteer activities.

If you have any questions, please call Erin Harvey, Branch Manager at 508.754.9980.

RMD Age Raised to 73 in 2023

Within the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill passed by Congress are a potpourri of sweeping changes to retirement plans–some of the biggest changes made in many years, including increasing the age of Required Minimum Distributions to age 73 starting for tax year 2023. 

Congress continued the trend of delaying Required Minimum Distributions. Many savers don’t like to be forced by the government to take RMDs, instead preferring to see their savings grow, especially given lifespans have increased. During the height of COVID, Congress allowed RMDs to be skipped for 2020 and later increased the RMD age to 72, and now in 2023 the age increases to 73 and will later increase to 75 in 2033. 

Another impactful change to RMDs is the steep penalty for failing to take an RMD has been reduced. Prior to the bill, if an IRA holder failed to take an RMD they were charged a 50% penalty of the RMD. That has been reduced to 25% and can be 10% if corrected in a timely manner. 

Emergency Withdrawal Option

There is a also a new relief for a retirement accountholder in need of emergency cash. Retirement account holders who withdraw funds prior to age 59 1/2 pay a 10% penalty. The bill contains a provision that waives the fee for an $1,000 emergency withdrawal if it is made for the “purpose of meeting unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to necessary personal or family emergency expenses.”

Charitable Changes

One strategy IRA holders employ to do good and reduce their tax obligation is to make Qualified Charitable Distributions from their IRAs. The bill allows IRA holders 70 1/2 and older to do a one-time $50,000 withdrawal to fund a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust. 

529 Roth Option

The government created 529 plans to help deal with the high cost of higher learning. One of the uncertainties with 529 plans for savers was the prospect of the child not going on to higher learning or having unused money in the 529. Prior to the bill, money in 529s that was not used could be designated to another family member for the purpose of higher learning or the account holder could pay a 10% penalty to withdraw the funds. The bill introduces a new option–allowing up to $35,000 of the 529 to be transferred into a Roth IRA. The 529 must be more than 15 years old under this change. 

Roth 401k Gets Roth IRA Attribute

Unlike Traditional IRAs that require RMDs, Roth IRAs do not require RMDs. Interestingly, Roth 401(k)s, which are not that widespread, did require RMDs, until now. The new law eliminates RMDs for Roth 401(k)s starting in 2024. 

Catch Up Amount Boosted for Older Workers

Prior to the new law, workers over the age of 50 could put an extra $6,500 in their 401(k)–that has been increased to $10,000. 

Tax Advisor Best to Assist

As always, members should consult with their tax advisor when assessing the impacts of any tax law changes. The new law includes a host of other changes around using 401(k)s for paying off student loans, mandating more investment options in 401(k)s, requiring small businesses to offer 401(k)s and more. 

Scam Alerts

February 25, 2023

Mail Theft Uptick Leads to Check Fraud

According to the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, mail theft complaints more than doubled from March 2020 to February 2021. The criminals rob mailboxes and mail carriers of the master keys to the blue mailbox drops to gain access to the mail. The criminals then sift through to locate checks that can be altered, counterfeited, or sold online.

In several cases, member-issued checks have been stolen from USPS mailboxes, as well as members’ mailboxes, altered, and negotiated elsewhere. The checks can also be used to open fraudulent new accounts and loans using the name and address information for stolen identities.

Mail theft and armed robberies against U.S. Postal Service carriers have increased substantially throughout the country. The criminal’s focus is to gain access to the master keys of the blue USPS mailboxes –ultimately in search for checks that can be altered, counterfeited, or sold online.

AllCom Credit Union members are encouraged to sign up for direct deposit, pay bills online or use AllCom’s bill pay service via online and mobile banking. If you need to mail a check, consider mailing them inside the Post Office lobby rather than using blue mailboxes. As always, we encourage our members to log into your accounts frequently to review transaction history – looking for unfamiliar transactions. Please report unfamiliar and unauthorized transactions immediately to AllCom.

January 26, 2023

Chick-fil-A Investigates Suspicious Activity on its Chick-fil-A One App

In a statement released by Chick-fil-A on Jan. 4, 2023, the company announced that suspicious activity has occurred on some Chick-fil-A One accounts. AllCom continues to monitor the situation. Chick-fil-A One account holders are advised to change their password and remove all payment information on the app immediately. For more information, please visit Chick-fil-A’s customer support website here

December 27, 2022

Learn the Signs of a Fake Survey

Lately, AllCom has been seeing members fall for surveys by inputting card information on fake “survey sites”.

Some key tips to remember:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We are up-to-date on all the latest scams – you can always call and ask for our opinion.
  • Free trials, free samples, surveys, social media offers and pay for shipping only transactions should always raise concern and be researched further. A quick Google search or call to the credit union can help determine if something is legitimate. There have been many members who participate in these types of transactions and later they find out they have been enrolled in a subscription they weren’t aware of (because they didn’t read fine print).
  • Even if an email, text, phone call, source, etc. says they’re a particular merchant doesn’t necessarily mean they are. Example: You get an email from Kohl’s asking you to fill out a survey and in return, you’ll receive a free item if you just pay for shipping. You give them your card number to pay for shipping and then nothing is ever delivered. Sometimes these scammers may even start charging other unauthorized amounts.

Always keep in mind:

  • Once again, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Free trials always have fine print and typically enroll you into a subscription unless you cancel before you’re charged
  • If your card info is needed for something and you’re told you won’t be charged, it should raise suspicion
  • If you’re promised goods or money in return for doing something, it should raise suspicion
  • Scammers are great at what they do. There are countless ways they can find out information and contact people. It’s important to learn all their tricks and be able to identify scams
  • When in doubt, Google is a great tool. Most of the scam situations can be Googled with results showing people who have already complained online
  • AllCom team members are available (888.754.9980) to help determine if it’s a scam


For more information on fake surveys visit:

3 Reasons Why You Should Update Your Contact Info

Keeping your details updated means maximizing your ability to take advantage of the credit unions’ available services. Aside from having a reliable means of contacting you, you could also you could be missing out on an email advisory that could prove costly.

Here are 3 reasons why you should update your contact information now.

  1. Fraud Protection: We visit a ton of websites a day, make lots of online purchases and transact with countless merchants using our debit and credit cards. Not having to present a physical credit card has opened up an opportunity for fraudsters to exploit on. Give AllCom the tools to protect you! 
  2. Current Address for Confidential Information: A change of address with USPS does not mean Account Statements and other confidential information will be forwarded. USPS does not forward financial institution  Your financial institution needs to be notified. Keeping your contact information and your online banking profile updated are the best ways to do this.
  3. Important Reminders and Updates: Not updating your contact information means missing out on important reminders and other time-sensitive prompts. Updated contact information is imperative, especially for those who don’t receive a paper statement of account.

If you need to update your contact information come by and see us or give us a call at 888-754-9980!

Important Notice That Will Affect Drive-Up Access

The City of Worcester is currently replacing sidewalks on Park Ave directly in front of our building.

The AllCom drive-up will be closed Friday, October 7th through Monday, October 10th. The branch lobby will remain open with the exception of Monday, closed in observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The branch parking lot and lobby will be accessible only via Pratt Street.

The drive-up ATM will be accessible by walk-up only. Please plan in advance for teller transactions or use remote services, if possible.

If anyone needs assistance during this time, please call us at 508.754.9980 to coordinate and we will be happy to assist.

We apologize in advance and thank you for your patience.