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    What Does the Information on Your Credit Report Really Mean?

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Your credit report is a vital tool used by lenders to qualify you for a loan, apartment, and more. However, despite how crucial credit reports are, most people don’t know how to read theirs. Understanding your credit report can help you plan to do things like apply for a mortgage at your credit union and get a better rate on your credit card. There are four basic parts of a credit report. Here is what you need to know. 

    Identifying Information

    The first part of your credit report simply contains basic information about you, like your name and address. Look closely for any errors. A simple typo in your name or Social Security number could have major repercussions on your report. Alert the credit bureau that issued the report if you find any misinformation.

    Credit History

    Your credit history lists all of your credit accounts, such as credit cards and loans, as well as the total amount of each loan or maximum limit on each card, what your balance is, and what your payment history is. It also says if any of your accounts have been charged off by the creditor, meaning that you didn’t pay the account in full but the creditor has stopped collection efforts. Old accounts stay on your credit history for seven years.

    Public Records

    The public records section lists any financial issues you’ve had that were settled in court, such as a judgment against you, a tax lien, or a bankruptcy. Entries in this section are the most detrimental to your overall credit score.

    Inquiries

    The inquiry section lists everyone who has checked your credit score. These include hard inquiries—credit checks that were initiated by you when you filled out an application for something—and soft inquiries, which are made by companies trying to pre-qualify you for credit offers.

    At GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, we take our commitment to educating our members about good financial decisions seriously. Our credit union staff is always here to help you understand credit reports, savings strategies, loans, and more. Visit one of our credit union locations or call us at (618) 219-8600 for more information.

    Make the Move to GCS Credit Union with Our Switch Kit!

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Are you thinking of making the leap to GCS Credit Union, but are holding back because you’re worried that moving your accounts will be a hassle? Don’t miss out on another day of our great credit union benefits. Our Switch Kit walks you through the entire process.

    Start by moving your direct deposits. Alert everyone who gives you a direct deposit of GCS Credit Union’s routing number—available on our website—and your new account number. Next, change your automatic payments so that they will come out of your new GCS account. Make a list of outstanding payments still waiting to post on your old account and cross them off as they clear, so you can be confident no returned payments will occur while you’re transitioning. When everything is cleared, close your old accounts. That’s all there is to transitioning to a GCS Credit Union account.

    At GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon, we’re here to answer any questions you have about your new accounts. Find out more about making the switch and about all of our credit union services by calling (618) 219-8600. 

    How to Set Age-Appropriate Savings Goals for Your Kids

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Teaching kids to save is one of the most valuable lessons a parent can pass on. No child is too young to learn about savings—the trick is presenting the lesson in an age-appropriate way. GCS Credit Union has a range of savings account options for different age groups to support your efforts to teach your kids the value of saving. Here are a few of the ways you can teach your kids to save.

    Use a Piggy Bank for Young Children

    Visualizing savings is a helpful tool for very young kids, so start at the piggy bank instead of the credit union. The sound of coins dropping into the bank is satisfying for kids, and they will understand that the heavier the bank gets, the more money they have. When kids are old enough to understand, you can use some of the money to play games at home in which your kids have to make a decision about what to buy with their money. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk about smart purchasing choices. As kids get older, this money can be used to open up a credit union account.

    Introduce an Allowance

    When managed properly, an allowance can be a great learning tool for kids of all ages. Put a system in place that gives your kids a chance to earn an allowance, and then teach them to budget it effectively. Open a savings account at your credit union for your kids to put a portion of their allowance money into each time you pay them. Help them set both long-term savings goals and short-term savings goals for things they want to purchase.

    Set an Example

    Your kids learn their spending habits from you. When you make purchases, talk to them about your decision-making process, like price comparing. Also share your savings goals with them and explain how you plan for big-ticket purchases.

    Bring your kids with you to GCS Credit Union so they can learn about our youth savings accounts. They can also learn about the benefits of credit union membership by seeing you handle your financial affairs. Find out about all of the services offered in our O’Fallon credit union by calling (618) 219-8600. 

    Why Choose Direct Deposit?

    Last updated 2 months ago

    GCS Credit Union members are eligible to receive direct deposits of their paychecks. Direct deposits offer many advantages to account holders. All you need to do to set up direct deposits is give your employer our routing number, which can be found on our website. 

    The biggest benefit of direct deposit is convenience. Forget going to your credit union location to deposit a paper check. You also don’t have to wait for a check to clear. You’ll have your money in your account on payday, every time. Direct deposit also lessens the risk of stolen or misplaced checks, since your money goes directly to your account.

    Find out more about direct deposits by talking to the staff at GCS Credit Union. Our representatives are always happy to answer questions about our services. You can learn more about the products we offer to help you take more control of your financial life by calling (618) 219-8600. 

    Identity Theft 101

    Last updated 3 months ago

    Identity theft is a startlingly common crime. At GCS Credit Union, we take our responsibilities to protect our members from identity theft and help them deal with the consequences when they are victimized very seriously.  Here is what you need to know about identity theft and how you can lessen your odds of becoming a victim. 

    What Is Identity Theft?

    Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently obtains personal information about you and pretends to be you. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2012 alone, victims of identity theft lost more than $24.7 billion. That is $14 billion more than what was lost during the same period to all other types of theft, including burglary and auto theft. The statistics are scary, but you don’t have to be a victim. In the vast majority of cases, identity theft involves financial fraud. Someone gets access to your credit union account numbers, Social Security number, credit card numbers, and other financial data and uses it as their own. Some cases of identity theft involve a thief emptying credit union checking and savings accounts, while others go much further. Some identity thieves run up massive amounts of debt in another person’s name and even purchase property.

    What Happens If I Am a Victim of Identity Theft?

    If you become the victim of identity theft, your accounts could be emptied and your credit destroyed. The faster you react to the theft, the quicker you can put a stop to the activity. Notify your credit union right away if you notice suspicious charges on your account or if you lose your credit or debit card.

    How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

    Be cautious about who you give your financial information to. Your credit union will never ask for personal financial details in an email. When you buy items online, make sure the sites are secure. Don’t do banking on an unsecured public internet connection. Check all of your accounts regularly for suspicious activity.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help you protect your accounts and can react quickly if you think your financial information has been compromised. Learn more about our O’Fallon credit union’s identity theft safeguards by visiting our website or calling (618) 219-8600.

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