Counterfeit or Genuine? When to Check a Check
ome lessons in life are learned easily.
Others are learned the hard way. When
it comes to fraudulent checks, personal or
business, the education you might receive
is straight out of the school of hard knocks.
The following can help teach you what you
need to do to avoid the lesson all together.
There has been an unfortunate and
dramatic increase in counterfeit personal
and business checks, cashierʼs checks and
money orders in the last few years. Part of
this can be attributed to new technologies
and the tremendous growth of the internet.
But not always. In most cases, both
individual consumers and businesses alike
are losing great sums of money.
What are the ramiﬁcations you can expect
if you are a victim of counterfeit check
transactions? In most cases, the depositor
will likely be held responsible for the entire
amount of the fraudulent check. Why?
Because by depositing the check and
withdrawing money, the consumer is taking
responsibility for the funds that have been
spent or sent before the check is found to
be worthless. (continue on page 4)
New Membership Brochure,
Different Website Page 3
Who Said Rudolph has to have a
Red Nose? Page 4
Help me Rhonda! Page 6
$100. Free to a Good Home Page 6
Scholarship Winners: Good Things
Come in Threes Page 7
did not request. There could be suspicious
inquires on your credit report. Sometimes
victims stop getting bills and other mail. It
usually means a thief has ﬁled a change of
address with the post ofﬁce. So what can
you do if you ﬁnd yourself a victim? There
are three things we like to see happen.
One, close any accounts that have been
tampered with or opened fraudulently.
If you are not sure, call us and we will
help you to investigate. Two, contact the
fraud departments of each of the major
credit bureaus. Equifax 1-800-525-6285,
Experian 1-888-397-3742, TransUnion 1800-690-7289. Three, ﬁle a police report
with the local police.
ut together crisper days, colorful leaves
and cooler nights, Friends...
...and it can only mean autumn has come
back around. It is such a spectacular and
positive thing to see, especially here in
the Coulee Region. So with all that beauty
around us, why have I chosen to speak
about something not so pretty in this letter?
Because, quite frankly, our job at G.E.C.U.
is to make sure we are always looking out
for the best interest of our members. We all
will have a nicer autumn if are made aware
of some not-so-nice things and what we can
do to avoid them.
Regardless of the type of Identity Theft
involved, simple measures can save you time,
trouble and, maybe, ward off Identity Theft
altogether. As your ﬁnancial partner, never
hesitate to call us with questions or concerns.
Do not let thoughts of Identity Theft ruin
your autumn. It does not deserve it. Think of
it this way: Just as you may pack an extra
sweater for your autumn weekend get-away, it is best to be prepared. Speaking
of prepared, get ready for a new feature
we think you will really like. The “Help me
Rhonda column” on page 6 is your chance
to ask our Mortgage Business Manager,
Rhonda Britton, those tricky questions you
may have about home mortgages. I think
you will enjoy reading about Tom Kratt and
his thoughts on being a G.E.C.U. Board
Member on page 5. As you may remember
autumn is the season of International Credit
Union week. We think you will fall for some
of the things we have planned and you will
want to read up about them on the back
cover. Also, will somebody please tell me
I am talking about Identity Theft. It is sad to
say, but even with tougher measures and
procedures put in place, Identity Theft and
its many forms continue to be a concern.
I should know. At G.E.C.U. we address
this daily. Identity Theft occurs when
someone steals your personal information
to establish credit or borrow money in
your name. Our defenses against Identity
Theft have become more sophisticated, but
so too are the methods criminals use to
defraud consumers. The key is to look for
the warnings and act quickly if you become
a victim. What are some of the warning
signs of Identity Theft? You might receive
credit cards for which you never applied.
You could be mailed bills for things you
more when they are shared “Just Among
whatʼs up with you members turning down
a free $100? Are you a winner this time?
Check page 6 to see.
It was a great summer at G.E.C.U. and by
the looks of it, it is going to be a great fall.
The sights, the sounds, and the smells of
autumn are something nice to share. Even
New Membership Brochure, Different Website,
but Same Commitment to Our Members
omeone once said, “When you are
through changing, you are through.”
It is good advice. That is why we took it
to heart as we recently carried out some
changes of our own. G.E.C.U. is proud to
announce two new transformations.
First, next time your are in the lobby, check
out our new membership brochure. It is
not only attractive, it is loaded will all of
the necessary information to help get new
members settled in at G.E.C.U. It also was
designed to answer any questions existing
members may have about our services. The
new, bright ﬂorescent green brochure has
a friendly tone about it and it is certain to
grab your attention. Feel free to take one
for yourself or share it with someone you
feel would beneﬁt from our services.
that, there will be a number of helpful
elements added to the site to make your
banking experience just that much more
easier. You will even be able to download
“Just Among Friends” directly from our
homepage! So, be on the lookout for
updates at www.gecuwi.com.
In addition to our new membership
brochure, be on the lookout for our new
website. Our current site is ready for
a serious renovation and the new and
improved website should be up and running
in the next couple of weeks. But donʼt
worry, you will not have to change your
bookmark page because our address,
as well as, all of the great features you
love will remain the same. On top of
Change is good. At the fully ﬁnancial,
fully friendly credit union, we are doing
everything we can — for you, our members
and community — to make your banking
experience the best it can be with these
two valuable upgrades. æ
(Counterfeit or Genuine? When to Check a Check Continued)
But if you are careful, you can protect
yourself from this sort of activity all together.
Here are just a few things G.E.C.U. asks you
to keep in mind when receiving a check...
why wouldnʼt they just deduct that
amount from your winnings?
Youʼre pressed to send money right away.
(Theyʼre rushing you to act before you
discover that the check is bad.)
1. If you deposit a check from a stranger,
discuss the situation with the credit union
before spending that money or handing
over anything of value.
Youʼre warned to keep things quiet—not to
discuss the deal with anyone else. (Itʼs to
prevent your friends or others from warning
you about a counterfeit check.)
2. Walk away from any deal if you get a
check for more than the amount due and
youʼre instructed to return the difference.
Youʼre asked to send money outside the
United States. (Thatʼs because it is difﬁcult
to track people down in another country.)
3. Take additional precautions to make
sure a check is good.
The kind of people who run counterfeit
check operations can often come off as
professional and legitimate. They are good
at disguising themselves as something they
are not, but attention to the details can,
and will, reveal them for what they really
are. If you have any questions regarding
the validity of a check, feel free to talk to
any one of the G.E.C.U. staff members.
A simple call may save you a lot of stress
(and money) down the line.æ
4. Immediately report if you think youʼre
a victim of a check fraud or if you notice
Watch for the Red Flags of Check Fraud...
The reasons for receiving a check are
suspicious. (You just won the million
dollar lottery. How could that be? You
never entered it in the first place.) If you
really won something and owed money,
Who said Rudolph has to have a red nose?
G.E.C.U. has come up with a way for kids
to add their own artistic twist to the holiday
season and to show off their creative coloring
skills to the La Crosse community. Introducing
the G.E.C.U. Holiday Coloring Contest.
art must be submitted to G.E.C.U
by December 21st. The selected
winners will be announced by Friday,
If you are a serious artist itching to
show the community your ability or if
you are a ﬁrst-time colorer who likes
to wander a little outside of the lines,
it does not matter. Anyone can join
in on the fun and help the La Crosse
community holiday spirit come alive.
The contest will offer three different age
groups: 0-4 years, 5-8 years and 9-12 years.
And, if we forgot to mention it, each age group
winner will receive a $50 savings bond!
To enter, stop in to G.E.C.U. and pick up your
coloring sheet starting November 1st. Your
s a G.E.C.U. Board Member for tenplus years, Tom Kratt feels he has a
pretty good idea on why the credit union
is able to enjoy its pattern of growth and
success. “Hands down, it is the friendliness
of the G.E.C.U. staff,” Tom said. “We say
we are fully ﬁnancial and fully friendly and
the way the staff conducts itself really backs
it up. They know who the members are and
they know them by name. You can see it the
second you walk into the lobby.”
Tom is not only a Board Member, he is Vice
Chairman. He has also been a member
of G.E.C.U since 1987. “I joined the credit
union when I came to La Crosse to work for
the Department of Transportation,” Tom said.
“Of course, back in those days, the credit
union was still in City Hall.”
Which coincidentaly, has something to
do with what Tom considers one of the
more memorable experiences he has been
involved with as a Board Member. “Around
the time I joined the board, the new building
was going up,” Tom recalls. “That transition
was really something to be part of. I felt like I
was at the start of something lasting.”
Board Member Proﬁle
Tomʼs tireless work as a Board member
harvested additional rewards he did not
foresee. “I found my board duties involved
the study of how the credit union works in
terms of budget and spending,” Tom said.
“The experience in that process helped
me re-evaluate my personal ﬁnances and
made me more ﬁnancially aware.”
Tom feels the most rewarding part of serving
on the G.E.C.U. Board is being able to
help the members in their ﬁnancial growth
through the provision of new services.
Tomʼs life as a Board Member is full, but
rest assured it is not all numbers, bugets
and G.E.C.U. business. Tom can often be
seen aboard his boat with his wife, Lisa,
and their eight-year-old son, Tommy. “I
also enjoy a good game of golf,” Tom
said. “Note, I did not say I play a good
game, but I enjoy it. For some reason, when
you have a boat right outside your door,
the golf game tends to suffer a bit.”æ
In the 2007 Spring/Summer edition of “Just Among
Friends” the ﬁrst name of one of the G.E.C.U. scholarship
recipients was printed incorrectly. We offer our sincerest
apologies to Brian Asp for this error and congratulate
him again for his scholarship award. æ
Help me Rhonda!
s the Mortgage Business
Manager at G.E.C.U.,
Rhonda Britton knows there
are a lot of questions to be answered when
dealing with home mortgages. Rest assured,
the questions you have are often the same
ones others have asked as well. Since we are
“Just Among Friends” this makes a nice place
for questions to be raised and solutions offered.
So, feel free to say...HELP ME RHONDA!!
100% of the purchase price, so all you
will need is enough in your bank account
to cover closing costs and prepaid escrow
items. Another thing I always encourage
buyers to consider is your right to negotiate
with the seller to contribute up to 3% of
the sales price towards closing costs. This is
a common procedure and guarantees you
will have no extra money coming out of
your pocket. Hope this helps. Feel free to
call me if you have any other questions.
How much money will we need to put down
on a home purchase?
With over 20 years as a mortgage
professional, there is a good chance
Rhonda can answer the questions you
may have regarding home mortgages
and other ﬁnancial concerns. Rhonda can
be reached at 784.7896—Ext. 218 or
at [email protected] Feel free
to submit your question. Who knows,
your question may be the next one
answered in upcoming editions of HELP
Q: My wife and I are ﬁrst-time homebuyers.
First of all, congratulations on buying
your ﬁrst home. It is always an exciting time.
I have good news for you. The amount of
money you need to put down is ZERO!! At
G.E.C.U., we offer a zero money down home
loan program for ﬁrst-time homebuyers and
the same program to those who have been
a homeowner in the past. We can ﬁnance
$100. Free to a Good Home
There are plenty of reasons for reading the We apologetically inform the previous
“Just Among Friends” cover to cover. Here winning members that it is now too late for
are 100 more.
them to collect their money. However, if you
see your number listed, the time is just right
Take a look over the four numbers listed
for you. Stop in to see us before February
below. If your membership number is a
1, 2008 and we will walk you out the front
match; kick-off your shoes and begin your
door with 100 big ones—in hand, in your
much deserved victory dance because you
pocket or in your purse—whatever.
are one of the Mega Money winners and a
whopping $100 richer.
If for some reason you feel you do not want
$100, please call us. We will ﬁnd good use for it.
Someone should tell the previous winners
itʼs really that easy because for some
reason, not one of the four winners in the
last “Just Among Friends,” came forward to
9 7553 9420 10903
claim their winnings.
G.E.C.U Sponsors Area Honor Student
aybe you forgot how hard the
homework, the labs, and the tests
were in High School; however, G.E.C.U.
has not. And because of that, G.E.C.U.
celebrated the hard work of one honor
student at the 46th Annual La Crosse
Area Chamber of Commerce & Students
Education Committee Honor Student
Banquet. The commemoration was held
on, April 18, 2007 at the Cartwright
Center-Valhalla of UW-La Crosse.
Michael, who graduated in the spring, is
currently a freshman at Northland College in
There was a tremendous turn-out to honor
and celebrate the achievements of these
very special students. The fully ﬁnancial,
fully friendly credit union truly enjoyed
participating in student sponsorship this year
and hopes to be involved with the program
for many more years to come. æ
Every year the Chamber, coupled with
the support of area businesses such as
G.E.C.U., takes pride in honoring the top
5% of graduating seniors from local high
schools at the Honor Student Banquet.
This year G.E.C.U. proudly sponsored
Holmen High School graduate, Michael
Mackey, son of Tom and Pat Mackey.
Scholarship Winners: Good Things Come in Threes
At least they do in regards to this yearʼs
G.E.C.U. scholarship applicants. Each of
the candidates were equally deserving and
that is why we decided to award all three.
Generally, G.E.C.U. rewards two such
scholarships—one for a high school senior
and one for a college student. However,
this year, we awarded three area college
students with scholarships because we felt
they “made the grade!”
This year, G.E.C.U. was pleased to award
scholarships to Katie Fitzpatrick—a senior
working for a degree in Elementary
Education and Mathematics at UW-Eau
Claire, Kirsten DeJarlais—a Luther College
freshman, working on a dual degree in
Biology and Spanish and to Sarah Bahr—a
sophomore working toward a dual degree in
Biology and Pre-Medicine at UW-Madison.
Like any college student, these three women
understand the importance of each dollar
when it comes to paying for their education.
G.E.C.U. designed a scholarship program
for members who are accepted in or are
currently attending an accredited college
or technical school. This year, scholarships
are valued at $500 for each of our three
Scholarship applications will be available
at G.E.C.U. on February 1, 2008 for next
yearʼs awards! æ
International Credit Union Day is Extra Sweet
for G.E.C.U. Members!
ho says membership doesnʼt have its perks? Not at G.E.C.U. And
to prove it they are making the week of October 15th one where
you will be glad to say you are a G.E.C.U. member.
Our motto this year is “Together Weʼre Better.” In our minds,
“Together Weʼre Better”, genuinely sums up the relationship
we have with you, our members. You really do make
The International Credit Union Day is October 19th. Starting Monday, October 15th,
G.E.C.U. will be serving cookies, donuts
and coffee to all members stopping into the
building to say “hi.” With cookies and refreshments, truly “Together Weʼre Better!”
Permit No. 25
La Crosse, WI