Tuesday, July 6, 2010 Edition #566

Return to GCFBank.com Home Page



Today’s Highlights:
1st Flash: DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING?
2nd Flash:  NEW OR USED?


Weekly Spotlight:

Visit GCF’s Security Center for information about protecting your identity, help for Cybercrime victims, and other valuable information!

Our Current Rates:

For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, visit www.gcfbank.com/rates.aspx.

1st Flash
DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING?

I sometimes feel like a broken record. This image is probably lost on the digital generation, who only remember hearing the same words repeat over and over on a scratched vinyl LP disc as a scene in a classic movie.

The rest of us remember jumping up to nudge the needle past the offending groove. We recall the grating screech of accidentally bumping the phonograph's arm, creating an even larger scratch in what was typically your favorite track on the record. The sound was so horrific it would raise your arm hairs.

Bet you wish that was still your image of horrific. Life's experiences have brought new meaning to the term, each of us according to what we've endured. Yet the digital age has brought its own version of horror that goes beyond hair-raising. It can disrupt your entire life.

According to a study by security firm Dasient, approximately 1.3 million malicious advertisements are viewed on the Web DAILY. You read that right. DAILY. The ads have an average lifespan of seven or eight days. They're twice as likely to be downloaded by unsuspecting victims over a weekend than during mid-week.

The attacker will buy display ad space on trusted websites. They will initially upload a legitimate advertisement, but replace it with malware a few days later. The initial ad passes inspection. But a lot of networks don't reapprove every change. Especially over a weekend. So the malicious ad gets published on a trusted site, along with any other sites they have a syndicated relationship with.

Other attackers will hack the account credentials of existing legitimate advertisers, and replace their ad with a malicious one.

The Dasient report further finds that 59 percent of these malicious ads infect users via drive-by downloads. This is a program that's automatically downloaded to your computer without your consent or even your knowledge. Unlike pop-up windows that prompt you for consent to download their offering, a drive-by will download by simply visiting a website or viewing an HTML e-mail message if you don't have your computer's security settings configured tightly.

The other 41 percent of these ads are delivered through rogue anti- virus programs. This is consistent with Google's estimates of rogue anti-virus ads being responsible for 50 percent of malware delivered through online ads.

A separate threat emerging involves spammed email messages containing nothing more than a link to an infected website. They'll sometimes have a subject line, but not always. A hijacked computer will send these messages to everyone in their address book. Appearing to come from a trusted source and containing a link to a legitimate site, the recipient follows the link. A Trojan is immediately downloaded that sends confidential data back to the hacker. The newly hijacked computer sends out more spam campaigns.

Computer viruses began as mere pranks. Many were young adults with more time on their hands than concern for common good. Their antics were fueled merely by thirst for notoriety.

Today's hackers are motivated by financial reward. Organized cybercrime rings use sophisticated methods to steal your identity using stealth methods that can be almost impossible to detect.

By now, everyone has learned to protect their computer with an anti- virus program of choice. This software, along with the threats it prevents, has become more sophisticated. Learn what options are available in your program. Terminology differs from one vendor to another. Make sure you are protected in real-time so nothing can be downloaded to your computer without your knowledge.

It's no longer enough to merely avoid questionable websites. You now have to use caution in responding to ads that appear anywhere. If the product advertised is something of interest, do further research before clicking the ad link. Find out what other options are available. Learn product details. Should the one offered in the ad be your best option, right-click the link and copy the shortcut. Open your text editor and paste the contents of your clipboard. Does the link shown match the intended destination?

You may think you know where you're going. But is that where you'll eventually land? This isn't some bad horror flick, it's reality. And that can be even crueler yet.

2nd Flash
NEW OR USED?

Economic news just doesn't seem to be getting much better. Every glimmer of hope is overshadowed by dark news of another country's troubles, which in turn sets us back another pace.

Get used to it. In this global civilization, we are truly learning what it means to be part of something bigger. In both good times and bad.

In some ways, the good and the bad are interconnected. Like regaining a sense of value over material things. And assigning proper priorities to that which we truly need versus merely want. This had become skewed for many people when credit was easily available.

Then there are those things we truly need but sometimes beyond our grasp. With budgets already constrained, how do we fill vital needs?

You don't have to go out shopping for a new item whenever need arises. Certain things are best bought used.

Cars quickly come to mind. They depreciate the moment you drive them out of the showroom. Edmunds.com reports they lose 12 percent the first year. Let someone else take that hit. Buying a pre-owned car from a reputable dealer carries many of the same guarantees as for the original purchaser. Many are still covered under the original manufacturer's warranty. Make sure you have terms of their warranty in writing, and that it covers both parts and labor for major components.

Ask for the CarFax report. It's not just a catchy commercial. This service will uncover title problems, reveal if the car had been reported as a lemon or in a flood, turn up accident or service records and ownership history.

We've bought some of our best vehicles used from private owners. My husband is a car guy, so we never worried about buying someone else's troubles. In fact, the one car we bought that was problematic was purchased new from a dealership who couldn't find the cause of the continual bucking and stalling. We've had great luck whenever we bought from an owner whose vehicle no longer fit their current needs. If your skills lie in a different area, have your mechanic take a close look before agreeing to the sale.

Unless they've been in an accident or poorly neglected, recreational vehicles, boats or jet skis are typically a better value when you buy used. Chances are they weren't used often.

Most kids outgrow sports equipment before it ages. Same with their toys or clothes. Rather than pay full price, visit resale stores, yard sales or consignment shops. Have a swap meet with other neighborhood parents who may be looking for whatever no longer holds your child's interests. They may be ready to part with something on your child's wish list.

It's not only kids. Adults tend to think they'll use exercise or sporting equipment more often than they actually do. Rather than let it collect dust, make it available to someone who may be looking for that particular item. But toss out the old bowling shoes. There isn't much of a market for something worn close to the body.

Books, CDs/DVDs and computer games offer limited appeal to the original owner. There are significant savings in buying these items used.

When your child wants to learn a musical instrument, find a used one first. You can always upgrade if they stick with it.

Your paycheck will stretch further by using these simple tips. With luck and diligence, you can stretch it far enough to buy that special new treat you've had your eye on!

Financial News
The markets looked like they were picking up steam today, showing a three-digit gain midday.

But the joy was short lived. The service sector index showed a slower-than-expected growth, leading a decline that erased half of that gain.

The ups and downs of our current economy more closely resemble an amusement park ride than scientific discipline. Learned economists worldwide chime in with their expert opinion. The worst is behind us. The worst is yet to come. We're on our way to recovery. Another recession looms over the horizon.

The upswings bring jubilation. The downturns leave your stomach weak and trembling. Those with the strongest aversion to risk find their stomach turned inside out.

The irony is that those closing numbers have very little to do with the state of our economy. They're not a precise formula reflecting market productivity or credit worthiness. They do not tell the tale of jobs lost versus created. They can't forecast recovery or downturn.

They merely represent sentiment. They reveal how investors are feeling on that particular day. When investors see their glass as half-full, massive gains follow. New indicators are released and those same investors now see their glass as half-empty. Now comes the downward spiral.

Both become self-prophesying, creating the very effect they warn against.

Today’s Market Rates
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Down 684.43 or 6.56% since 12/31/09)
9,743.62 (+0.59%)
S&P 500
(Down 87.04 or 7.81% since 12/31/09)
1,028.06 (+0.54%)
Nasdaq
(Down 175.27 or 7.72% since 12/31/09)
2,093.88 (+0.10%)
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 2.932%  
British Sterling 1.5139  
Euro 1.2623  
On The World Wide Web

Even the most technical savvy among us will face issues we can't solve on our own. Where do we turn for help? Ask the experts at techguy.org.

Want to know what's happening in your backyard? Gloucester County has a new website to help you stay connected. News, announcements and events are a click away at gcountynow.com.

Find out where to recycle hundreds of products from packing peanuts to computers. Visit your one-stop shop for recycling and reusing here.

Tip of the Week
A cloud of confusion surrounds the new credit card laws. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 requires providers to give 45-day notice in advance of rate increases. It does not prohibit increases. Those terms are often spelled out in a notice accompanying your monthly statement, that most people just toss out.

The smaller the print, the more important it is to read and understand. Consumers have the right to opt out of term changes, including rate increases. But doing so effectively closes your account, allowing you to payoff any existing balance at your current terms. Should you use your card for future credit transactions, you are accepting the provider's new terms.

Quotable

"Before trying to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they are not trying to keep up with you." - Erma Bombeck

Today in History

1785 - Congress chose the dollar as the monetary unit of the United States and adopted a decimal coinage system.

Flash Fact

In the US, more steel is used to make bottle caps than is used to make automobiles.

PURPOSE: GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.

For more comprehensive information, visit our Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com or call (856) 589-6600 Ext: 337 (Timothy P. Hand)


GCFLASH PRIVACY STATEMENT

For a copy of our Privacy Policy, visit www.gcfbank.com/gcflash_privacy.asp

GCF maintains your e-mail address in a confidential and secure database along with much of your other account information, such as mailing address and telephone number, etc. Before aggregating our e- mailing list each week, we filter out any duplicates. In most cases, this inhibits the unintended e-mailing of multiple copies of GCFlash to a single e-mail address. However, because these account records are kept by both individual and account, there is a chance members of the same household could each receive a copy of GCFlash or any other transmission at the same e-mail address - resulting in multiple copies. For example, a husband and wife that both have accounts with GCF may both receive a copy because the names are different but listed at the same e-mail address. This is similar to the manner in which each individual may share a common telephone number. To handle this situation, GCF recommends you simply delete any extra copies of GCFlash as this will ensure that ALL individuals receive any future promotional mailings, which might only be targeted or offered to specific accountholders meeting certain criteria. GCF has the capability to suppress customer e-mail addresses so they are omitted from our transmission list. If you would rather have a specific household member’s e-mail address suppressed in our electronic database, simply send us a reply, as stated below, and indicate the accountholder for which you would like to have e-mail suppressed. Please keep in mind that this suppression will mean that NO future e- mails are sent, including special promotional offers. If you have any questions about this process or need additional information, please contact us at netaccess@gcfbank.com.

If you would like to be removed from this electronic mailing list, please hit reply and place the word REMOVE in the subject line. Please note, removing your name from our electronic mailing list means GCF will send NO FUTURE NEWS or SPECIAL OFFERS.


GCF Bank
381 Egg Harbor Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
(856) 589-6600
www.gcfbank.com