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  • Coronavirus-Themed Hacking -- Relentless Cyberattacks Strike A Historic Pace

    Apr 29, 2020

    Security experts believe the world is experiencing a cyber-history event, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is giving cybercriminals a reason to get into hyper-mode. They’re responding to the present health crisis with an acceleration of attacks using a single theme (coronavirus) like never before in our digital history. Fraudulent phishing emails, text and voice messages focusing on COVID-19 are coming from all sides. They also include attacks using vital industries like critical healthcare, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals as bait for their crimes. Offers for COVID-19 cures and vaccines, the availability and sale of scarce items, and bogus news updates on social media are in high gear. Cybersecurity experts are concerned about the relentless volume of these duplicitous attacks and for the countless victims who fall prey.

    Example of coronavirus scam email

    Proofpoint security has been studying the malware outbreak and reporting on the wide range of threat vectors tied to the coronavirus. There’s a virtual explosion of credential phishing, spam, business email compromise (BEC), malicious attachments, and links, downloaders, ransomware, fake-website landing pages and way more. Proofpoint also reports some startling statistics, this one about COVID-19-themed phishing emails, “Criminals have sent waves of emails that have ranged from a dozen to over 200,000 at a time. And the number of campaigns is trending upwards…This increase underscores just how appealing global news can be for cyber criminals.”

    The report also finds “Approximately 70% of the emails Proofpoint’s threat team has uncovered deliver malware and a further 30% aim to steal the victim’s credentials. Most of these emails are trying to steal credentials using fake landing pages like Gmail or Office 365 and ask people to enter their username and password.”

    Example of coronavirus scam email

    Staying cybersafe during this pandemic is absolutely possible, but it takes a super-heightened sense of cyber awareness and a double dose of common sense to stay that way. Proofpoint is certain the cybercrime outbreak will continue as long as hackers can exploit the human condition. Below are important anti-phishing steps to use, especially at this most vulnerable time.

    Helpful Tips

    • Beware of any emails tugging on fears and emotions, over-promising, or offering news that sounds too good to be true.
    • Verify senders are legitimate, as hackers love to steal contact lists and pose as trusted sources.
    • Do not follow links or open attachments. They can be loaded with malware and can take you to a fake website that looks like the real thing. The bogus web pages are designed to steal your personally identifiable information (PII). Instead, verify and type-in the real domain name yourself.
    • Carefully check URL’s for tricky misspellings, as well as the email content for bad grammar and typos. Hackers may be a slippery bunch, but they’re not known for their writing skills.
    • Avoid using public Wi-Fi, especially when making purchases or banking. Consider using a VPN (virtual private network) for a secure connection or waiting until you get home to do sensitive tasks.

    © Copyright 2020
  • 2019 Wright Patman Scholarship: Winners Showcase

    Jul 01, 2019

    Contest ended March 31st, 2019.

    This spring, we awarded three $3,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors based on their academic standing and their responses to an essay question:   

    It's never too early to start building a sound financial foundation for college and beyond. If you were to design a financial literacy course or app for your school, what would be the most important tools and resources featured in your program?

    2019 saw a record number of entries for our annual scholarship. The Board selected the winners for their thoughtful explorations.

    We're proud to have the authors as members, and we wish them all the best in their bright academic futures and beyond. 

    Read the winning essays!

    Essay #1

    As a child, I was always interested in keeping up with my financial resources. At five, I decided to open my fjrst savings account. After saving up most of my Tooth Fairy and Christmas money, I walked into Congressional Federal with a bright green piggy bank and a determined smile on my face. By the time I was thirteen, I was ready for my first checking account and debit card. I was ecstatic when the shiny card graced my mailbox, my name engraved on the front, and the long black strip for swiping on the back. At sixteen was my first job, at seventeen, my second; I was adamant about keeping my funds steady and secure.

    During my junior year of high school, every student was required to take an online financial literacy course. Even I, a student interested in finance, found this course to be mundane and meaningless. I was faced with many terms and future responsibilities that were not explained well in the course. Luckily, I had an amazing teacher that was able to right these wrongs and re-engage me in the material. But what about those students who didn't have my teacher? How would they learn to stay out of debt, to understand ATM fees, to lease a car?

    If I were to design a new financial literacy course, I would first make it easily accessible and entertaining. In today's digital world, everything is so efficient that many students will feel uninterested in the first few minutes of an activity if it is not adequately designed. The most effective way to get students engaged: incentive. Coming from a high-schooler, students tend to pay more attention when there is a reward at the end. I know that it helped me when I went into Congressional to make a deposit as a child and I was given a token gift.

    Additionally, in the course, students would take on a virtual character and walk them through the steps of learning how to save. The students could start with their avatar at a young age, helping them grow and develop their savings accounts. These app users would choose what they want their characters' jobs to be, potentially based on what the students also want to do later in life. They can earn virtual money, then organize it into categories where they want to spend or save it. Once they reach maturity, the students could then help this character learn to effectively buy a house, car, and plan for a family. They could even walk them through simple processes like filling out a deposit ticket. Rather than treating it like a course, these students could think of it like a video game competition. At the end, whoever has the most saved for retirement, wins and gets the first place pnze.

    Furthermore, within this online course, there could be modules that teach the students key concepts. When their character hits a milestone, such as their first savings account, first job, or first credit card, they would be presented with a short video from their "advisor". This advisor will tell them the new features of the app that will be added with this milestone, and tips for doing well in this next stage of life. While the advisor might not seem like a virtual teacher, that is exactly their role in the course. They can be there for questions and directions if the student is having trouble. Also, when it comes to assessing the student's progress in this financial literacy course, a short, five-question quiz about what they have learned in the previous stage of their character will pop up at every milestone. This ensures the students are learning and engaging in the material.

    Personally, I think any task is more interesting when presented in an alternative, entertaining form. This :financial literacy app simulates what students will eventually face as they mature, and makes the content less overwhelming when presented as a friendly competition. Not only would this app allow the student to learn, it allows them to learn independently. While this app may not exist yet, thinking about its development inspires me as an eventual computer science major. With adequate programming skills, I will be able to change the financial futures of millions of students.

    Essay #2

    This semester I am taking a Personal Money Management course, and after only a few weeks, the class has enlightened me about how to build a sound financial foundation for my life in college and afterwards. If I were to design a website (that could also be downloaded as a smartphone application) for students my age, especially those who have not had an opportunity to take this class, it would be called “Loans, Taxes, and Bonds, Oh My!” and it would look something like this. The homepage would have a list of topics that are the primary categories: “Choosing a Career,” “Taxes,” “Banking,” “Investing,” “Credit,” “Insurance,” “Budgeting,” and “Retirement.” Each of these topics would lead to a page with further details that break down the what, why, and how, along with related articles and videos. Scrolling down on the main page would be a series of articles on recent news related to finances or that answer often asked questions. The articles would be from a wide range of sources, such as the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website,, and many other websites with financial advice and information. At the top of the homepage, there would be a search bar and in the bottom corner would be “Taxbot.”  

    Recently, companies such as TurboTax have started to offer the help of on-call accountants to give people tax advice. Having a person to talk to makes all the difference in understanding anything. That is why students are taught by teachers, not just handed a textbook and expected to understand everything. However, a more flexible method would be to have a machine answer certain questions. This machine, “Taxbot” or some other clever name, could automatically answer questions, and for further questions there would be contact information for a live chat with a certified accountant or financial advisor (a similar approach is used by colleges for the admission process).  

    It is one thing to read and be taught something, but there needs to be hands-on practice with simulations and games. A teacher can tell students how to do something, but the student can never really learn until they take control and utilize the knowledge given to them. There are multiple personal finance games already out there such as following a stock or simulating having a bank account, but there could be a game that combines all of these financial aspects called “Green Brick Road.” In this game the user would create their own virtual life from the beginning of high school until retirement as they go to college, choose a career, start a family, and retire. Every few times the user taps to add a year, a new financial dilemma or opportunity would arise. This could include applying for a job, starting a bank account, paying for an accident, or buying a house. The player could also choose investments for retirement that they would track. Along the way, the game would give financial tips and advice along with links to related resources. Once retirement is reached, the player would be given tips on what could have been done differently to better secure their financial standing. This game could be played again and again with different circumstances and settings, and it would be more widely used and practiced among high schoolers and college students since this generation is constantly on their phones.

    As a working young adult, entering college in a few months, it is important that I am prepared—or at least trying to prepare myself—for the next phase of my life. It is not difficult to understand one’s personal finances, but often people my age do not make the effort to learn about it because they do not know where to look or it just seems boring. With an app that is straightforward, easy, and even fun, such as “Loans, Taxes, and Bonds, Oh My!” and its life-simulation game, “Green Brick Road,” the task of learning about personal finance will be more interesting and the world of independent adulthood will seem less daunting.

    Essay #3

    If I had to create a financial literacy course, it would be based on leasing, financing, or saving to buy a car. I believe many people fall into a trap, because they don't know the necessary precautions. I would start with the basics, such as vocabulary terms everyone should know when exploring and learning the car buying world. Leasing is using a car for a fixed period of time and for an agreed upon cost and mileage.

    Financing is placing a down payment on the car and then paying monthly until it's paid in full. Taking public transportation allows a buyer to save a sum equal to all or a portion of the car.

    Each of these options has its pros and cons, and to make an informed decision a buyer would have to know each option. Leasing is better than buying if you need to have lower payments or plan on to get a different car within a few years. Once you buy a car, you are financially responsible for wear and tear, but on the other hand, you wouldn’t have an excess mileage fee as you might, if you lease. If you plan to keep the car longer than a few years then purchasing the car is more sensible. When thinking about your alternatives, you have to consider other factors,such as, your daily or monthly expenses. Once you have learned the vocabulary of the car world, then you can proceed to the next step.

    Below I have created a scenario with fictional numbers to demonstrate the types of expenses one could have to acknowledge and reconcile before deciding if buying, leasing, or saving would be best for the buyer.

    monthly expenses

    I believe this course would be important and a help to a variety of people.

    Without this knowledge, many people may end up falling into to quick and uneconomical car transactions and acquire mountains of long term debt. If people were to become more educated on topics that touched their daily financial lives, they could have less debt, more knowledge, and greater tranquility.


  • Things We’ll Never Do! & Things You Should Do!

    Jul 01, 2019

    In our ongoing quest to keep ever vigilant against threats (cyber or otherwise) to your accounts and or personal information, here are some quick reminders:

    Things We’ll Never Do!

    • We’ll never call you and ask for your personal account information including account number, online banking password, or other account information.
    • We’ll never send you an email directing you to a website to "verify" your personal or account information or any transaction.
    • We’ll never send you a text message directing you to call a phone number to "verify" your personal or account information or any transaction.
    • We’ll never ask for your password or PIN number to any service.

    Things You Should Do!

    • Protect your passwords
    • Don't share your passwords
    • Change your passwords periodically
    • Create strong passwords – mix numbers and letters, upper and lower case and various symbols
    • Read Privacy Notices
    • Keep your computer safe with anti-virus software, a firewall and spyware
    • Be on the lookout for suspicious emails
    • Be cautious of links in emails, especially if you are unsure of the sender
    • Only shop on known, trusted and secure websites
    • Be aware of security breaches at large companies you do business with – Target, Home Depot, Yahoo have all had major data security breaches
  • Tax Refund Phishing Scams Still Successful

    Jan 24, 2019
    Scam Alert


    Despite warnings, citizens are still falling for bogus tax refund scams. The most recent discovery involved hackers posing as government tax office officials. Filers were sent phishing emails promising refunds, roughly in the amount of $710.00 USD, that would be deposited directly to one’s credit card. That’s an offer many find too difficult to pass up.

    Refund scams, especially those emails claiming to be from an “official” entity, have been wildly popular among hackers for one simple reason: they work. Although this phishing scam was discovered in the UK, it continues to happen in the U.S. There’s no shortage of warnings on the IRS website about tax-related phishing scams, especially those using email and telephone.

    Not the IRS

    Although it was clearly amateur hour for the UK hackers – the email subject lines were formatted poorly, and the sender’s address had nothing to do with the government –who wouldn’t want a tax refund they didn’t expect? The hackers’ first tactic was placing a sense of urgency on the refunds, saying they would expire on the same day the phishing email was received. Those who took the bait were redirected to fake web pages. The first looked like a Microsoft Outlook page, requiring login credentials and passwords. Once that was stolen, a new page popped up with only boxes to provide some very sensitive information: full credit card details including the security code, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and more. Quite simply, everything necessary to steal your credentials and money.

    IRS Policy Update

    Vigilance toward these scams is always needed, and there are some basics to remember should you receive an email promising something too good to be true.


    First and foremost, if an offer sounds too good to be true, assume it is. Hackers preying on emotions have no shortage of success. Remember: as far as taxes are concerned, the IRS never initiates contact by email or phone. The US mail is the only way you will know the sender is legitimate.

    As this UK tax scam proved, paying attention to detail is crucial. Always look for poorly written content as well as typos, and always check the sender’s URL address. If others paid attention to these details in the UK, it may have prevented a lot of heartache. It’s certainly no different in the US, where email phishing and tax scams continue to have enormous success despite continued warnings by the IRS. Being vigilant against email phishing is the best route to staying secure, no matter whom the email claims to be from and what the subject line claims to offer.

  • Who Might Still Consider Refinancing their Mortgage?

    Nov 28, 2018

    Perhaps you’ve seen a recent headline noting that mortgage interest rates have recently risen to levels not seen in a long time. It’s true: earlier this month, the prevailing rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage crossed the 5% threshold for the first time since 2010. That being the case, you may be wondering if you’ve completely missed your last opportunity to lock in the historically low rates by refinancing. The fact is, I am reminded every day that members are always looking to borrow money to help them achieve their goals (and minimize the cost of that borrowing), and there are still many cases where refinancing may make a lot of sense.   

    The first thing to remember is that while mortgage rates have risen from the extremely low levels that we’ve seen through most of the past decade, they are still relatively low when put in a historical context. Those who remember buying a home in the early 1980’s when the prevailing rate was a whopping 17% probably chuckle when they hear someone complain about a 5% rate. The other thing to keep in mind is that mortgage rates are comparatively lower than other borrowing alternatives, namely credit cards or personal loans. So before we bemoan the state of mortgage rates in 2018-2019, let’s keep in mind that they are still very compelling. 

    At this point, you are undoubtedly thinking, “Yeah, 5% may be a low rate, but I already have a 3.75% 30 year fixed rate mortgage!” If you’re in this category, I say “Congratulations!” You timed the market well, and you now have an interest rate that is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. Yet there are still reasons why even you may want to consider refinancing. Let’s go through a few considerations below.

    You are in Need of Cash to Finance a Home Improvement or Other Large Expense


    Home improvements can be pricey. A screened-in porch, a finished basement, new furniture, even interior painting—the expenses can really add up. Maybe it’s the dream vacation you’ve been wanting to take, or an ever-growing college tuition payment. If you don’t have the money saved up, it has to come from somewhere. And as mentioned above, a loan secured by your home (whether it’s a mortgage or a home equity loan) typically carries a much lower rate than alternative loans like a credit card or a personal loan. So would it really make sense to refinance that fantastic 3.75% interest rate?sc It might! Here’s why. 

    Let’s say that you owe $400K on your first mortgage at the aforementioned rate of 3.75%, but you need $100K to finance that home improvement project. You decide to borrow against the equity in your home in order to finance it. You are quoted a rate of 5.49% on a 10 year fixed rate home equity loan, which would put your combined monthly principal & interest payment at $2,937.23. Your blended weighted average interest rate on the entire $500K would be approximately 4.1%.

    Alternately, you could simply do a cash-out refinance on the entire balance, netting you the same $100K to finance the project. You would replace your $400K loan with a new $500K fixed rate loan at 5%. Your new monthly principal and interest payment would be $2,684, over $250 per month less than the other option. Yes, your weighted average interest rate would be higher at 5%--not the optimal solution for someone who is looking to minimize their interest costs. Yet it’s certainly a viable option if monthly payment is your chief concern. You’d also get the added convenience of having a single loan payment instead of two.

    Refi blog post image

    You Want to Consolidate Debt


    Nearly 40% of Americans carry credit card debt. According to credit card comparison site, the average card APR in October, 2018 was 17.1%, with many cards exceeding 20%. If you find yourself in this category, it may be worth considering whether to consolidate all your debts into a cash-out refinance. The math is the same as in the prior section. You’ll want to look at your total combined monthly payment as well as the weighted average interest rate on your total debt balance. It may surprise you to see just how much a relatively small card balance at those extremely high rates can increase your weighted average borrowing costs.  Again, the convenience of a single payment can’t be overstated. The one thing to keep in mind here is that you are replacing unsecured credit card debt with debt secured by your home. So be sure to make those payments on time!

    You Only Plan to be in the Home for a Few More Years


    Returning to that 3.75% rate you have: pretty low, for a 30 year fixed rate loan. But are there even lower rates available? In many cases, yes! You’ve heard me sing the praises of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) before. Rates for short-term ARMs are far lower than those on 30 year fixed rate mortgages.  The reason is simple: When your rate is locked for a full 30 years, there is a cost for that long-term rate security. Lenders put a premium on the rate because they are shouldering the risk that rates may rise in the future. But with a short-term ARM, the borrower assumes that risk. 

    A 3/1 ARM carries a fixed rate for the first 3 years, then it adjusts every year thereafter. In other words, if prevailing rates rise after the fixed-rate period expires, the rate on the loan will increase as well.  However, if you don’t plan to be in the house in three years, then the rate adjustment becomes irrelevant. If you can save a few thousand dollars over the next 36 months, then a refinance is definitely worth exploring. 


    Think you might benefit from exploring a possible refinance no matter how great your interest rate is?  Contact one of our expert Mortgage Loan Consultants for a no-cost consultation.  Worst case, we’ll tell you how great your rate is and that you’re in the best possible situation.  And who doesn’t want to hear that?

  • Spotlight on Community Involvement

    Sep 28, 2018

    Monarch butterfly release hosted by the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus


    On Tuesday, September 25th, members of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus and other stakeholders hosted a monarch butterfly release on the Capitol grounds. The caucus Members spoke on the importance of bringing awareness to the declining monarch population, and the Pollinator Partnership was there to teach how all Americans can help.

    Congressional Federal staff were honored to take part. Attendees released the butterflies, which had been growing in a sanctuary in Representative Jeff Rob Woodall's (GA-07) office, from delicate paper boxes. From there the pollinators took flight against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol building and began their long migration to Mexico.

    Many thanks to the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus: U.S. Representatives Jeff Denham (CA-10, Caucus Co-chair); Alcee Hastings (FL-20, Caucus Co-Chair); Rodney Davis (IL-13); Bob Goodlatte (VA-6); Marcy Kaptur (OH-09); and Dan Newhouse (WA-04).



    Annual back-to-school donation drive for Walker-Jones Education Campus


    Every August, Congressional Federal is proud to support Walker-Jones Education Campus with a school supply drive. This year, staff donated over 400 school supplies.

    Walker-Jones Education Campus is a Pre-K - 8th grade community-based school whose mission is to provide each student a diverse education in a safe, supportive environment that promotes self-discipline, motivation and excellence in learning through the four core principles of Knowledge, Service, Leadership, and Character. We wish them a wonderful school year ahead!
    book fair20140815_110306painting

  • Glad For The Protection, 80% Of Consumers Don’t Understand The Importance Of Security

    Sep 28, 2018

    Financial institutions have long been one of the most popular targets for thieves. Whether an old-school bank robbery or the cyberattacks of today, protecting consumers and their money is very serious business. However, a recent survey by FICO shows that although consumers are happy to have cyber protection from hackers, they’re not happy about having to be part of the security process. In other words, having to jump through security hoops when opening accounts or banking online is proving annoying and frustrating to consumers in the FICO survey. It may be more crucial than ever for financial institutions to educate their account holders about cyber-smart hygiene and the importance of maintaining the security process.


    The FICO survey polled 2,000 US adults on security measures that financial institutions use to help keep consumer accounts as secure as possible on the user end.  A shocking 80% of respondents didn’t understand why security steps like two-step verification (48% of respondents) and strong passwords were necessary. 
    1536939693In fact, 64% didn’t see the need for elaborate passwords at all, and 71% found captcha codes were frustrating at best. Unfortunately, other survey findings don’t get much better, including 47% finding calling customer service and having to answer “endless security questions” tiring. The survey also finds that 78% found keeping track of their passwords troublesome for the average 34 online accounts they have. Even going into a bank branch to open an account is troublesome: 22% say they would go to another bank if it meant providing fewer security documents--or abandon opening a bank account altogether. These results show just a snapshot of the struggle financial institutions face when securing customer accounts. It’s not only getting clients to understand security measures, but also having them properly follow the process that is challenging.


    1536939018The good news is there are many services and products available to keep both financial institutions and their customers up-to-date. Effective data system protection is key to security. It's equally critical to continually educate employees and customers about hacking hazards they may face on a daily basis. As the FICO poll results show, the importance of an educated consumer who is dedicated to keeping cyber-safe is perhaps the best customer of all.

  • 2018 Wright Patman Scholarship Winning Essays

    Jun 27, 2018
    We have awarded three $3,000 scholarships to 2018 high school seniors based on their academic standing and their responses to an essay question:   

    What are some creative ways to safeguard your identity while actively engaging in social media?

    2018 saw a record number of entries for our annual scholarship. The Board selected the winners for their thoughtful explorations.

    We're proud to have the authors as members, and we wish them all the best in their bright academic futures and beyond. 

    Read the winning essays below.

    Essay 1

          Many people find it necessary to constantly maintain a social media presence, but often do not try to protect their identities in their social media accounts. Yet, there are some easy steps people can take to creatively safeguard their identity while actively participating in social media.    

          Social media account holders frequently post something about where they are or who they are with. To maintain the security of their identity, people should refrain from making these posts. According to Credit Sesame, 78% of burglars check Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare looking for properties to target. Thieves look for people's posts about when they are leaving for vacation or when they are out of town, known as oversharing. Thieves then know the opportune time to attempt to rob a house because the owner is not at home. Instead, people should not post anything about an upcoming vacation. If they still want to post vacation pictures, they should do so after they come back. By refraining to post these pictures, burglars who check social media will not know when that person is at home, decreasing the chances of that home being targeted by a robbery. Burglars will not even know who the people are since they did not post anything about not being at home. People should also not tag or talk about friends in their posts. Even if a person safeguards their identity on social media, that person’s status will be visible to anyone who looks if their friends tag the person in a vacation post or other picture. Despite all of their safeguards, they are unprotected from online or real world crimes once their friends tag them in a post. Instead, people should use services like Shutterfly, which allow users to establish a private website for photo sharing and allow specific people, not strangers or thieves, to be told that they are in the picture, eliminating the threat of a robbery due to social media. Thus, people should not post their location or tag any of their friends in their social media posts to safeguard the identities of their friends and themselves.

          In addition, many people do not pay attention to the settings when they create a social media account. In order to safeguard their identity while still maintaining their social media presence, people should ensure that they make their overall account safe. First, people should check their account settings to make sure their account is private. By doing this, the account holder can guarantee that only their real world relatives and friends, as opposed to some random stranger or friend of a friend, can see the account and its posts. All of the account’s photos and posts could only be seen by a select amount of people that the account holder can choose.Another key to safeguarding one’s identity is to avoid clicking on any pop-ups or other third-party applications while participating in social media. After a social media user visits these disreputable websites, hackers can often hack into the user’s account through viruses or malware,and learn personal information about their target. By not visiting these disreputable websites in the first place, hackers will have a more difficult time accessing a user’s personal data. Through avoiding dishonest websites and maintaining a private account, one can continue to safeguard their identity while engaging in social media.    
          Overall, a person can still actively involve themselves in social media while protecting their identity. By avoiding posts about upcoming vacations, not clicking on questionable websites and keeping the account private, a social media user will be able to keep using their account while safeguarding their identity.


    Essay 2

    "If we don't act now to safeguard our privacy, we could all become victims of identity theft" - Bill Nelson.

          Identity theft is very common in the world and could happen at any moment. Essentially, identity theft can happen while actively using social media. Social media is an avenue used to relate societal obstacles, news, and entertainment through communication that can result in not only local, but global impact. The easiest way to obtain one's identity is through social media with social engineering. Everything in the world requires and holds some sort of identity whether it is a credit card, social security, ID, passport, and of course, social media. Identity is the most important thing to protect. 

          Protecting identity should be a top priority for all people. Many attackers will use various social engineering attacks to manipulate the victim in giving up confidential information. It can all start with clicking on pop-ups, links, or pictures from any source. There are ways that people can protect themselves from identity theft while on social media. Don't click on links that are sent from strangers, especially if it looks like it is from a malicious source. Clicking on these malicious links can allow the attacker to upload a virus onto the device and infect the network. A void tagging or posting specific locations where an attacker could use these aspects as tactics to achieve one's personal identity. Knowing a person's whereabouts from posting on social media can give the attacker a physical approach to tailgate and steal that person's personal information. Also, when using social media, it is best to have two separate accounts, personal and professional. Both sides have its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to enclosing one's identity. People can create social media sites with a fake identity, which could be a way to secure one's identity. Nonetheless, there are most cases where one must use their real identity to engage in professional networking. In these cases, people have the advantage of using that identity as a form of pretexting; however, it is best to keep social media accounts private and limit the amount of personal information on it. Having internet security on devices, in which one uses their social media accounts on, will automatically protect one from identity theft. Specifically, people can invest in firewalls, pop-up blockers, and anti-virus software to avoid these incidents. Ultimately, one's mind and common sense is the most creative way to safeguard identity while actively using social media.


    Essay 3

         In today's rapidly changing world, social media is increasing in popularity, but with its meteoric rise comes hidden dangers that many users do not fully grasp. These dangers come in the form of stalkers, information stealers, hackers, solicitors, and many others with ill-intent. However, there are ways to safeguard personal information from such deviants, including ways teens can do so without peers judging for "too much caution." Of course, the most obvious way to do so is having a private account that does not share location or personal information. However, there are more creative ways to go about this, especially for the modern-day teenager.
          The first thing that people see while coming across a social media account is the username, profile picture, and bio. Using a real name in usernames can be good for finding friends, but if friends can find someone, so can unwanted others. The best way to deal with this issue is turning the username into a play on words, or making it unsearchable. For instance, if I took my name, Jane Doe, and changed it into Dane Joe, my friends would think of the changes as something amusing, but unwanted people could not find my profile. Additionally, the use of a profile picture that clearly displays one's face should be avoided, as this could be used to find other pictures, recognize an individual elsewhere, or post that picture in unwanted locations ( such as for explicit content which has happened to many unfortunate and unknowing individuals). Instead of an identifiable photograph, the profile picture could be made into a playful image by using a silly face or a funny picture of a celebrity look alike. If humor isn't a suitable option, an artistic picture from behind or a distant group shot with indistinguishable faces would do the trick.

          The other area where information could be taken or abused is through posted content. Social media users, particularly teens, should never use the location setting to show where they have been, as people can track this. In Snapchat this relates to the "snapchat" friend locator, and in many others this refers to the geotag feature. When posting a picture with a location, add one that does not offer much detail; for example, when hiking, a location such as "middle of nowhere," "Mount Everest," or "on top of a mountain," can be employed so followers get the idea, but do not !mow exact locations. Additionally, people can still find someone based on a day-to-day routine, even if exact locations are not specified. If someone routinely posts "at Starbucks again," and later makes it clear that they are at home, and then posts again while at practice, this daily pattern can be tracked. There is a notable tale of a teenager who posted her routine on social media, and a man was able to track her location based on her patterned behavior. He followed her home, but thankfully, he was a police officer who simply warned her about the danger of publicizing a daily routine. This can be avoided by mixing up the daily cycle of posts. Post fun throwbacks to mix it up, or tweet thoughts on the mind instead of locations and actions.

         Finally, teens should not post pictures with overly-informative details about their personal lives, such as a license plate, school name, house number, etc, because this information can be used to piece together an identity. When wanting to post a picture that has personal information in the background or on a shirt, use fun Snapchat stickers, filters, or emojis to cover them up, and then post the picture safely, while still being able to "look cool." For teenagers it can be difficult to stay safe through social media because there is a certain level of "coolness" in not caring, but digital safety is very important in protecting identity and reputation. If simple steps such as these can be observed, it can be a lot easier to feel confident in social media presence.
  • Blog Series: Spotlight on the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, Part 2

    Mar 30, 2018

    A Deep Dive into ARMs


    by Jeff Klein, Assistant Vice President of Mortgage Lending & Real Estate

    In Part 1 of this series, we learned about adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), how they work and the benefits they can provide. Here, we’re going to do an example comparison with between a 30 Year Fixed mortgage and a 7/1 ARM to see how much you could save with the ARM in that hypothetical.

    When you speak with one of our Mortgage Loan Consultants, one of the first questions they will ask you is how long you intend to be in the home.  A conservative yet realistic answer to this question will help us recommend which product is right for you. By matching up the fixed rate period to the length of time you expect to be there (and even adding a few extra years just in case), we can optimize your interest savings and ensure that you only pay for the rate security that you actually need.  How much savings are we actually talking about?  Let’s look at an example.

    30 Year Fixed vs. 7/1 ARM


    Let’s say you’ve recently gotten married and are purchasing a $400,000 starter home in DC.  The location is great, but you know full well that the home is a little on the small side and if you start a family in a few years, you’ll quickly outgrow it.  You conservatively estimate that you’ll be in this house for 4-5 years and are intrigued by an ARM product.  Adding in a few extra years (just in case your plans get delayed) leads you to believe that the 7/1 ARM might be a good option.  You ask your Mortgage Loan Consultant to compare the 7/1 against a 30-year fixed in order to determine the best approach.  Your Consultant prepares the following analysis: 



    The main thing that jumps out is the difference in monthly payment.  Because the rate is 1.125% less, the 7/1 ARM offers a monthly savings of $208.  But the real story is the total savings of almost $24,000 over seven years!  If you know with relative certainty that you’ll be out of that house by the end of year 7 (or at the very least out of that loan), then your analysis can end right here.  The 7/1 is a much better option.
    But try as you might, you can’t help thinking, “what if?”  What if you decide you really love this house and don’t want to move?  What if it takes longer to sell the home than you expected? Let’s explore that worst-case scenario.  On the 7/1 ARM, the rate can adjust 5% upwards during the life of the loan. Assuming rates move sharply upwards, here’s a comparison of your monthly payment in year 8.


    Definitely a different story.  Your monthly payment has increased significantly, and is now higher than it would have been if you had gone with the 30-year fixed.  But remember – you saved nearly $24,000 in the first seven years.  So while your payment is higher in year 8, overall you’re still ahead.  Same story after 9 years, and it’s not until month 117 (nearly 10 years later) that the 30-year fixed overtakes the 7/1 ARM in terms of total interest paid.


    So, what does this all mean?  Well, it probably means different things to different people.  Some people are completely risk averse, and for them there is no price too high to eliminate uncertainty.  And there is nothing wrong with that!

    Others, however, will look at the example above and consider the following: even in a scenario where the member’s initial estimate of 4-5 years in the home became 10, and even when the initial interest rate increased by 5%, the 7/1 ARM still was no worse than the 30-year fixed from the standpoint of total interest paid.  Not to mention that in 10 years, there’s a good chance the following will also be true:

    • Your home will have likely appreciated in value
    • The balance on your loan will have been paid down over ten years
    • Your annual income may also have grown substantially (depending on your life stage)

    I should also point out that none of our mortgages carry prepayment penalties.  Assuming you can qualify, you are free to refinance at any time if your situation changes.
    The example above may either scare you or interest you. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, I hope that what is evident is that there is no right or wrong answer.  Despite what you may read or hear, there are very few bad mortgage products. There are only bad fits for one’s specific situation.  What we do here every day is try to match the product to the member.  Ultimately, you are the one who needs to rest easy at night, and we would never match a member to a product that didn’t mesh with their risk tolerance and personal financial goals.

    Introducing the 5/5 ARM1


    It was with that in mind that we developed our newest product, the 5/5 ARM.  Similar to the 5/1 ARM, the 5/5 carries a fixed rate for the first five years.  But instead of adjusting annually, it adjusts only once each subsequent five years.  And to make it even more appealing, we added a 2% cap on each adjustment. The 5/5 ARM truly offers a unique blend of a low rate with additional rate security, designed for the needs of our membership in the transient DC area.  

    So contact one of our expert Mortgage Loan Consultants today for a no-cost consultation to determine if an ARM is right for you.  Whether you are looking to purchase or refinance, we would love the opportunity to help you achieve your home financing goals.

    1Sample 5/5 ARM loan terms for a purchase loan of $320,000 secured by a property located in Washington, DC with an 80% LTV based on market conditions as of March, 2018:  A 3.25% interest rate with 0 points and a 4.669% annual percentage rate (APR); payable in 360 monthly installments where the first 60 months will be at a payment of $1,392.66 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 3.25%; the next 60 months will be at a payment of $1,712.54 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.25%; the next 239 months will be at a payment of $1,748.23 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.5% and the remaining 1 month will be at a payment of $1,747.65 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.5%.  Rates subject to change.  Loans subject to credit approval.  If an escrow account is required or requested, the actual monthly payment will also include amounts for real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance premiums.Click here for full information about 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage costs and terms


  • Stop Surfing. Start Using the Database Agents Use for Your Home Search

    Mar 28, 2018

    Finding the perfect home where you will share time with family and friends--and create great memories--is very exciting. When you're starting out, browsing and bookmarking dream homes is fun.

    There are plenty of sites you can visit to browse listings. But publicly available listings can be limited in scope, outdated, or even inaccurate.

    Our HomeAdvantage® program, which we provide free to Members, offers up a more comprehensive search, including full access to MLS listings. MLS is a huge database (actually 800 listing services in one) that buying and seller's agents use to find or sell properties. There may be more data available there than what's posted to public search sites, and it's updated daily.

    Search the most current property listings based on your list of “must- haves." Research what is selling in your own neighborhood and the neighborhoods you want to live in. Or go deeper into community demographics, school zones, local amenities, and more.

    So keep having fun with your search, and make sure it's the smartest search it can be! 

    To learn more about the full benefits of the free HomeAdvantage® program, visit the HomeAdvantage® site  or call us at 800.491.2328 to get started.


  • Blog Series: Spotlight on the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

    Mar 16, 2018

    This article is the first of a two-part series looking at Adjustable Rate Mortgages--and why they might be a better fit than you think. Our expert guest author is Jeff Klein, Assistant Vice President of Mortgage Lending & Real Estate at Congressional Federal Credit Union.


    Adjustable-rate mortgages are bad, right?  Aren’t they what caused the global meltdown?”  As mortgage professionals, we hear this misconception from members on a daily basis. Over the past decade, you need only have turned on the TV, picked up a newspaper, or visited your favorite news site to learn about the evils of the adjustable rate mortgage (“ARM” in mortgage speak).
    But after a quick consultation with one of our Mortgage Loan Consultants, many of our members are pleasantly surprised—if not downright shocked—that an ARM could be an optimal solution for their specific needs. Could you be one of those members? Let’s take a deeper look at ARMs and weed through the various myths and realities to answer that question.

    30 Year Fixed: The Gold Standard?


    Let’s start out by reviewing the bedrock product of the mortgage industry.  I’d estimate that at least 80% of members looking for a home loan start out the discussion saying that they’re interested in a 30-year fixed.  After all, who doesn’t want the comfort of knowing that their interest rate will never change, whether it’s year 1 or year 30?  It’s stable and it’s secure. But it’s important to realize that security has a cost, and it’s a cost that is paid by you.
    No one knows where interest rates will go in the future. So if a lender contractually guarantees you a fixed interest rate for thirty years, they want to receive a hefty premium in return. And they do just that.  The rate on the 30-year fixed will almost always be the highest of any home loan product. 

    Whether that security is worth the cost is a question that only you can answer.  But before we even get that far, there’s another important variable we need to consider.  As noted, the added cost you pay for a 30-year fixed stems from the fact that your rate is fixed for the entire 30 years.  But how many of us actually stay in the same house for 30 years?  Furthermore, of those who have found their “forever home,” how many stay in the same mortgage for 30 years without refinancing?  

    Certainly in some parts of the country where jobs are more stable, it’s more common to find your dream home and stay there for a long time.  But here in the transient Washington DC area?  Not likely! Many of our members don’t know where they’ll be in three years, much less 30.  Jobs change; administrations turn over; commutes get longer; families grow. In other words, life happens. And if you find yourself paying off your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage a few years later because you’ve sold your house or refinanced, you’ve spent a lot of extra money for a benefit (a fixed rate) that you didn’t ultimately need.

    For Your Consideration: The ARM


    So, is there a better option?  First, let’s be clear about what we’re talking about when we discuss ARMs.  Here at Congressional Federal Credit Union, our adjustable-rate products are what we call “hybrid ARMs.” This simply means that there is an initial period where your rate is fixed, followed by a period where the rate will adjust to the prevailing market rate. 

    For example, let’s take the 7/1 ARM . The “7” in 7/1 represents the fixed period and the “1” represents the annual adjustment. So you would have an interest rate that is fixed for the first seven years. Then for each of the remaining 23 years, the rate would annually adjust to the prevailing rate. 

    It’s true that when the adjustment period comes around, the prevailing rate could be higher. But it could also be lower.  In fact, many members who took out ARMs over the past seven years have indeed seen their interest rate drop when the adjustment period arrived.  So while they are certainly adjustable rate mortgages, our ARMs really are better thought of as hybrids: part-fixed and part-adjustable, to give you the best of both. 

    Our ARM Offerings


    We currently offer a 3/1, a 5/1, a 7/1, a 10/1, and our newest product offering: a 5/5 (more on that later).  In general, the longer the fixed period, the higher the interest rate.  Remember, with each longer fixed period, the lender is giving you more rate security that comes with a cost. But even the rate on the 10/1, which has the longest fixed period, is still significantly lower than that of the 30 year fixed rate.  As I'm writing this, a quick check of our rates shows a .75% difference between the two. That can mean a significantly lower monthly payment.

    But wait.  I know what you’re thinking.
    What happens if rates shoot up drastically?
    Is there a limit on how high it can go?

    The answer is yes.

    Every ARM product at our credit union has a series of caps specifying limits on how much the rate can adjust on the first adjustment, any subsequent adjustment, and most importantly, at any point in the life of the loan.  So while you don’t know exactly what the interest rate will be when the rate adjusts, you do know the worst case scenario and can analyze accordingly. 


    Read Part 2 for a deeper dive with side-by-side comparisons of ARMs and 30-Year-Fixed mortgages.

  • Holiday Phishing Scams: "Ho, Ho, Ho: Where Did My Package Go?"

    Dec 18, 2017

    Cyber scammers don’t take any time off for the holiday season. In fact, they’re working overtime to take advantage of the spirit of giving. Most consumers know not to leave packages outside their homes. But one cyber scam exploits our fears that our packages won’t arrive by sending bogus emails reporting fake problems with delivery.

    These bogus emails are spreading malware, ransomware, and credit card theft. All the shipping giants—Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and the USPS—report that customers are falling victim to email delivery scams, especially this time of year. Skip to tips

    How it works

    Scammers send emails reporting delivery glitches to customers expecting packages in the mail. Be on the lookout for the following types of messages: 

    • "Courier was not able to deliver parcel xxx1234"
    • "Please confirm your delivery shipment"
    • "Problems delivering item xxx1234"
    • "Please confirm shipment and delivery information to receive your package"
    • "To get your shipment, you must open the attachment and verify your credit card details"

    FedEx and UPS want customers to know they never send unsolicited emails about package deliveries. All big shipping services direct consumers to visit their specific website directly and log into their account to find out if that worrisome email is a scam.

    Tips to keep you safe

    The graphics and logos in these emails may look perfectly legitimate. However, look for misspellings and bad grammar. This is often an indication that the source is less than legitimate. 

    Never click on a link before verifying the address. Hover your cursor over the link to see where it’s really taking you, and check again there for accurate spelling. When in doubt, don’t click on an unknown address at all. “Typosquatters” are out there hoping to hook you with a phishing scam. 

    Also look for the lock icon in the address bar, and always start a URL with https://

    Finally, remember this simple rule of thumb: If it looks phish-y, it probably is.
  • Online Safety and Beyond: Holiday Edition

    Nov 22, 2017

    The holidays can be a busy time of year for hackers, fraudsters, and thieves. Here are some tips and tricks from our Network Safety Engineer for staying safe online--and  around the home--during the holiday season. 

    Online Dos and Don'ts

    • Do use well known reputable sites
    • Do double-check the URL
    • Do type out the URL
    • Don't fall for spam email and phishing
      • Don't open unexpected / unknown emails  
      • Don't follow links in email
        • Yes, it is too good to be true
        • Yes, they are trying to trick you
    • Social media posts:
      • Don't over share
      • Don't let thieves online shop your house
      • Don't Save your travel posts for your return

    Accounts and Passwords

    • Do not reuse passwords
      • If one site gets hacked, you must change them all
    • Create strong passwords
      • Use mixed case, numbers, and symbols
      • Don’t forget: the “space bar” is a special key
      • Try contextual sentences or passphrases

    Gift Card Scams

    • Stolen card numbers
      • Check for tampered packaging
      • Verify the PIN is not exposed
    • Switched at checkout
      • Verify the clerk scans and enables your card
      • Compare card numbers on receipt
    • Avoid used gift cards
      • Beware of 3-way calls for balance verification

    Credit Card Services and Protections

    Check your card provider for:
    • Purchase protections
      • Theft (when there is evidence)
      • Read the fine print first
    • Extended warranty protection
      • Gifts may be covered

    Parcel Delivery

    • Immediately retrieve packages
    • Arrange for neighbor pickup
    • Delivery notification
    • Alternate address
    • Hold mail at post office
    • Use shipping lockers
      • Amazon, FedEx, UPS

    Around the Home

    • Keep a light on
      • (At the back door too)
    • Lock windows & doors
    • Pull the blinds
    • Keep gifts out of sight
      • (No window shopping at your house)
    • Be discrete with your trash
      • Fold or roll large boxes
      • Use opaque trash bags
  • Why Credit Unions are Worth Celebrating

    Oct 10, 2017
    In 1924, Roy Bergengren, one of the architects of the credit union movement, reflected on how credit unions help people achieve their dreams.

    “The credit union is, in fact, a bridge,” Bergengren wrote. “It may be the bridge over which the tenant farmer travels the wide gap that separates him from ownership. It may be the way that opens the great land of opportunity to the wage worker, who finds his savings the ‘open sesame’ to broader possibilities for himself and his family.” 

    Twenty-four years later, in 1948, credit unions began celebrating their philosophy and achievements every year on the third Thursday in October. The theme for International Credit Union Day 2017 is “Dreams Thrive Here.” It hearkens back to Bergengren’s sentiment about how effective credit unions like Congressional Federal are at helping all people chase and achieve their biggest dreams in life. Credit unions serve as catalysts to make different professions, personal choices and career paths real.

    This is because, unlike other financial institutions, credit unions are not-for-profit, so their primary purpose isn’t to score record profits in order to cut distant shareholders bigger dividends checks. Rather, the primary purpose of credit unions is—and always has been—to be of service to their members. That means you. 

    This people-first philosophy doesn’t just mean better service: It translates into a better financial deal for consumers. Credit unions, on average, offer higher rates of return on savings accounts, lower rates on loans, and fewer and lower fees than other financial institutions. 

    Data collected by the Credit Union National Association show that through the first half of 2016, credit union members saved $9.3 billion over what they would have paid at banks: $1.9 billion through higher yields on savings, $1.2 billion on lower fees, and $6.2 billion on lower loan rates. 

    As is our tradition, we will celebrate International Credit Union Day with a potluck lunch and flag display. We celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of our staff by encouraging everyone to bring in a dish to share and by decorating our café with flags representing our many heritages. 

    There is a contest for the best potluck dish, and the competition is stiff. But there’s no contest when it comes to benefits of credit union membership. Learn more about the benefits of membership at Congressional Federal, and remember: Your dreams thrive here.
  • Our Commitment to ADA Compliance

    Sep 25, 2017

    ADA Compliance Notice

    Congressional Federal is committed to accessibility. We take accessibility very seriously, and to that end we are currently working to ensure that our website fully complies with ADA standards. Thank you for your patience during this process.

    Many site-wide changes have already been made to meet these guidelines and remove barriers for users who visit us on the web. This is an ongoing effort and a constant priority as we add new content to the site and evaluate for compliance.

    The changes we are making help make our site more accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities such as blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.  

    We will continue implementing additional accessibility features as the interpretations of existing and new guidelines evolve, working to ensure that all visitors to have full access to its features and content for the best user experience possible.

    If you encounter difficulty accessing any part of our website or need assistance, please contact our Accessibility Team at 800-491-2328, option 5, then option 3.

    Our statement on ADA compliance available here. It is accessible from the "About" tab in the main navigation and from the copyright section in the footer of the website.
  • Equifax data breach

    Sep 08, 2017
    Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus, announced yesterday that a data breach within their systems may have affected 143 million Americans, potentially compromising Social Security numbers, birth dates, physical addresses, and some driver's license numbers.

    The investigation is still ongoing, but Equifax reported that the breach also jeopardized credit card numbers for roughly 209,000 consumers and dispute documents with personal identifying information--dispute information, copies of driver's licenses and other IDs--for approximately 182,000 consumers.

    Where can I find out if my information was compromised?

    Equifax has set up an incident website where consumers can can learn more and check whether they’ve been impacted by the breach. Consumers will be asked to provide their last name and last six digits of their Social Security number. Based on that information, they'll get a message indicating whether their information may have been impacted. 

    All consumers will then be given the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier, a 3-bureau credit monitoring service (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) operated by Equifax. (If you wish to enroll, please note that Equifax will not provide a reminder, so you will need to write down your enrollment date.) Note that the website may have spotty availability for a day or two as it receives a lot of traffic. If it is not working when you visit, you may wish to try again later.

    What else can I do?

    Review your free credit report from

    Consumers have a right to request one free copy of their credit report per year from each of the three major bureaus through Things to note:

    • You may get your free annual credit report from each of the bureaus at once, or stagger them throughout the year.
    • The free credit reports do not include your credit score. The credit bureaus will offer the option of including your score for a fee.
    • The credit bureaus only issue the free annual reports through or the telephone number and address below, not directly from the individual credit bureaus or through any other website claiming to offer free credit reports.

    • Web: 
      Telephone: 877-322-8228
      Mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service
      P.O. Box 105281
      Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

    From CO-OP Financial Services:

    • Reset account passwords, PIN codes and other log-in credentials on financial accounts that may be vulnerable.
    • Establish multiple-authentication protocols for financial accounts and email, when possible

    From our partners at BALANCE:

    • You may consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent charges from occurring on existing accounts.
    • Monitor existing credit card and financial institution accounts closely for charges that are not recognized.
    • You may also consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you.

    BALANCE is also offering a free Identity Theft Solutions webinar on Wednesday, September 20th from 2-3 pm PST. Register for the webinar here.

    More Resources


  • Press Release: Disaster Relief Response to Hurricane Harvey

    Aug 31, 2017


    WASHINGTON – In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Congressional Federal Credit Union is offering a variety of Disaster Relief programs and resources to members and eligible non-members who may be affected in the Gulf Coast region. These offerings have been designed to meet both immediate and long-term financial needs in the wake of a natural disaster:

          •     Payment deferment on existing loans
          •     Line-of-credit limit increases
          •     Waiving early certificate withdrawal penalties
          •     Relief line of credit
          •     Suspension of automatic payments, transfers, and DBOs
          •     Personal loans
          •     Financial coaching

    “We recognize that this storm may have caused great personal hardship and financial stress to hundreds of our members” said Mark Lobato, Vice President of Service and Solutions. “It’s very important to us to reach out with every tool at our disposal to help them get back on their feet.”

    Anyone looking to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath can consider looking into organizations providing on-the-ground assistance:

          •     Red Cross:
          •     Salvation Army:
          •     United Way:


    Congressional Federal Credit Union was founded in 1953 to serve the U.S. House of Representatives and its family members. The organization has grown to serve all employees of the U.S. House of Representatives, Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Police and over 120 select employee groups throughout the Washington area.

    #   #   #

    Hurricane Harvey Press Release 8.31.17 PDF
  • CO-OP Shared Branch Network Overtakes Big Banks

    Aug 17, 2017
    The CO-OP Shared Branch network that Congressional Federal is a part of is providing convenience that even big banks can't beat.

    "The CO-OP Shared Branch network has passed Chase in number of branch offices, making the credit union cooperative the second largest network of financial institution branches in the country," CUInsight reported in August.

    "The shared branch network enables members to enter the branch of any participating credit union and conduct their business as if they were in their own home branch," the article said. 

    “Shared branching is to credit union members what Uber is to passengers looking for a nearby ride,” said Todd Clark, President/CEO, CO-OP Financial Services. “It’s the best example there is of why credit unions are different than banks – they share! Around 1,800 of the 6,100 U.S. credit unions share their branches. In addition, more than 3,000 are part of our CO-OP ATM network. When you couple-in digital services, credit unions offer a financial ecosystem that is convenient, accessible and a positive force in communities.”

    Continue reading CO-OP Shared Branch Network Overtakes Big Banks .
  • Four Tips to Boost Your Credit Score

    Jul 05, 2017

    First thing’s first: there is no magic solution to raising your credit score overnight.


    If you have a low score due to, say, bankruptcy (which can affect your credit for up to seven years), boosting it requires a long-term plan of consistent on-time payments, and other responsible credit practices.

    However, a low score due to a lack of credit can jump much more quickly. Check it out:

    Fix errors on your credit reports

    According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four credit reports contains small errors, which can affect your score. Errors might include false information attributed to you because of identity theft or just a simple mix up, accounts that don’t belong to you, and more.

    If the mistake negatively affected your score, you can expect it to improve in approximately 60 days after correction, reportedly.

    Pay off credit cards every month

    If you pay off your debts, you’ll see your score go up. That doesn’t mean you should run out and buy things you don’t need, however. Instead, charge expenses like bills and gas (things you already pay for in cash) on your credit cards, and pay them off every month.

    If you’re struggling to cover your existing debt, create a debt management plan to free up extra cash.

    Stay away from your credit limits

    Paying down the debt will improve your creditworthiness, and help your “credit utilization” (the amount of debt you have relative to your credit card limits). When you get closer to your limits, you reduce your available credit, which is bad for your score.

    So bring down your debt to an acceptable amount as defined by the credit bureaus, and your score will improve.

    Set up automatic payments

    Your credit score takes a hit with every late payment. That’s because payment history comprises 35% of your score. If you struggle to remember when money is due, set up automatic payments with your credit cards. It’s an easy way to stay punctual and—barring other major marks against your credit—turn your score around in a relatively short amount of time.

    More Resources

    Watch our Credit Basics webinar for more advice on how to build, manage, and improve your credit.

    Article courtesy of BALANCE.
  • 2017 Congressional Baseball Game for Charity

    Jun 23, 2017

    Since 1909, the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity has been a beloved summer Hill event when Congress moves its work from the floor to the field to support local youth organizations. This year, the charitable mission of bipartisan cooperation took on an even deeper meaning. Players, spectators, and well-wishers nationwide rallied to honor the five Capitol Hill community members wounded at a team practice on Wednesday, June 14th: Senator Steve Scalise (R-La.), staffer Zach Barth, lobbyist Matt Mika, and Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner.

    Teams pray. Reuters: Joshua Roberts
    Reuters / Joshua Roberts via CBS News

    The evening was full of moving tributes to the wounded and to all everyday heroes in the Capitol Police force. Players gathered on the field before the game for a moment of silence and a group prayer. Thunderous cheers erupted when Mr. Bailey made a surprise appearance to throw out the first pitch. Staffers waved signs reading “SCALISE STRONG” and "Capitol Police M.V.P.” And after the Democrats won 11-2, Democrat manager Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) presented Republican manager Joe Barton (Texas) with the trophy to put in Rep. Scalise’s office until he returns to Congress.

    Getty photo: Crowd signs
    Getty via Politico

    Thursday’s game broke records in both attendance and donations: 24,959 fans helped raise $1.5 million dollars. The New York Times reported that ticket sales for the game “were higher than nearly every other major league game.” Proceeds went to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, Washington Literacy Center, and Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Organizers added the Capitol Police Memorial Fund after Wednesday’s events.  

    Getty photo: Stadium viewGetty via Politico

    It’s an honor to sponsor this event every year. It’s a unique Capitol Hill tradition, and more importantly, it’s one that serves kids in our local community. But the Hill community extends far beyond the bounds of the beltway, and that connection felt particularly profound—and particularly strong—this time around.

    Players lined up from 1st base to 3rd base
    The view from our seats.