Why Your July 4th Barbeque Is Getting Expensive

If you’re finding that the cost of a traditional 4th of July barbeque is higher than it’s ever been, you can blame certain commodity prices.

According to the inaugural 2014 Rabobank BBQ Index, the price of a typical 10-person barbeque has risen from $51.90 in 2004 to $66.82 in 2014.

The Netherlands-based financial institution — which serves the global food, beverage and agribusiness industry — said that the increase in barbeque price comes from some rather dramatic rises in the prices paid for certain “BBQ-related” commodities.

For instance, beef prices have taken off like a 4th of July rocket, rising by 71% over the past five years. Rabobank points out that U.S. cattle herds are the smallest they’ve been in 63 years, while U.S. beef exports have grown substantially.

Using chicken as a substitute meat can bring some relief, but meat alone does not make a barbeque.

Cheese and ice cream prices are up by around 15%, on rising exports. Produce costs have also risen.

Which brings us to beverages.

According to Rabobank, beer accounts for 28% of the total cost of a typical U.S. barbecue, and beer prices are up. The Index tracked pricing on 20 different beers, and found their pricing up by around 10%, on average, over the past five years.

So, if you are doing some last-minute 4th of July barbeque shopping, consider using chicken as a meat choice, and looking for a good deal on beer. (Of course, you can always forego the beer entirely, and choose bottled water instead. Yea, we thought not.)

Or, you could just swallow the extra cost along with all that delicious barbeque. Have a great 4th!


Copyright Today’s Credit Unions



Scam Alert: Beware of Summer Vacation Fraudsters

Fraudsters are getting ready to ruin your summer vacation, warns money transfer company MoneyGram. Learn how you can spot them coming, and thwart their plans.

According to MoneyGram, two popular scams that involve money transfer are the ‘person in need scam’ and the ‘vacation rental scam.’

With the first, a scammer impersonating a friend or family member claims to need money due to an emergency, and needs for you to “wire” it to some distant locale. These scammers can often fool you using personal information they’ve found on social media sites.

Here’s how it works: a close friend or family member is off on vacation, and not easy to contact. Someone who claims to be helping your loved one contacts a bunch of email or social media contacts, claims your loved one is in need of help, and asks that you send money immediately.

As we said, the scammers often have a lot of details and information about your friend or family member, and are very good at convincing you that they actually know this person. So watch out!

In the ‘vacation rental scam,’ a fraudster posing as a property owner offers a vacation rental that seems perfect for your summer vacation. When you express a serious interest in the property, the “owner” insists that you pay for the rental up front, using money transfer.

When you arrive at the property for your dream vacation, you find out that the property was never actually for rent. The “owner,” it turns out, was nothing but a scammer who used a photo and description of someone else’s property to steal your money.

The company asks that you call their toll free number (1-800-MONEYGRAM) if you think that the MoneyGram system was used in a crime. But you should do more than that: protect your friends and family by alerting everyone you know whenever you believe you’ve come across one of these scams. You should also alert your state consumer protection authorities.

Try to shut down these scammers before they put a dismal end to anyone else’s summer vacation plans.


Copyright Today’s Credit Unions







Scam Alert: Beware of “Too Good to be True” CD Rates


A new scam is being played that involves certificates of deposits (CDs) offering unbelievably attractive yields, according to a warning issued last week by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Average 5-year CD yields have hovered in the 1-2% range for years now, frustrating savers who usually like the safety and surety of CDs as investments. Many Americans are therefore tempted when they receive promotional offers for CDs yielding as much as 15%. But these offers are nothing but scams.

FINRA says that scammers are pushing these offers while posing as legitimate banks, and using email to tout their fraudulent investments. 

In one instance, FINRA said, scammers used a pitch that seemed to come from a large U.S. bank, who was allegedly promoting a CD offered by an international banking partner. Americans received an email that in many respects appeared to be legitimate, but was anything but.

FINRA is warning Americans to be on the lookout for some “tells,” or clues that what they are receiving via email is, in fact, a scam.

The big thing to look out for are interest rate (APY) yields that seem too good to be true. Remember, average yields on 5-year CDs these days are a little more than one percent; rates on shorter-term CDs don’t even get as high as 1%. So, when someone is offering you a CD yielding 10 or 15 percent, it is surely not a legitimate offer from a U.S. bank or credit union.

Since many of these scam emails come from overseas crooks (for whom English is not a first language), they will often contain misspellings or grammatical errors.

FINRA said that that latest scams claim to be from a U.S. bank teaming with an overseas bank. Also, the promotions claim to be directed at “best customers” – often requiring a large commitment, ($100,000 is a common figure demanded).

Be on the lookout for offers containing these “tells” and act on any that you receive by notifying your friends and family, your credit union and your state consumer protection agency. It’s good to get the word out on these scams fast, so you can help to stop the crooks in their tracks.


Copyright Today’s Credit Unions