If you think you are immune to fraud, think again. The Federal Trade Commission reports that about one in every seven Americans falls victim to fraud each year. Your credit union does its part to protect your money and identity; there are also plenty of steps you can take to protect yourself and your hard-earned money from fraud. Here are a few top consumer problems and what you need to know.
In 2010, identify theft topped the list of complaints filed with the FTC, and it wasn’t the first year. In fact, identity crime topped the list for the eleventh year in a row. Be careful when using the internet; one safeguard is to select complicated passwords and to change them often. Always verify sources before you share information. If you did not initiate the call or contact, there is almost no reason for you to share banking information. Store personal and financial information in secure places in your home.
Donating to charities is commendable and many people open their hearts and wallets when natural disasters and other crises strike. Unfortunately, fraudsters take advantage of this trend and set up fly-by-night charities to collect money from unwitting good Samaritans. Sites such as Charity Navigator can help you sort legitimate charities from phony ones; you also can find plenty of information on the FTC’s website.
Claims you have won foreign lotteries or have unclaimed property and accounts are bogus. If you really win a prize or inherit money from a distant relative, you’ll receive word via certified mail, not an e-mail. You should never have to send money to claim a prize. The same goes for work-at-home ventures that tout big salaries for small investments. A legitimate employer will never ask you to send them money.
Imposter scams can be subtle and varied, from people who pose as friends or relatives requiring money to government agencies asking for information. Sadly, some people also lurk on dating sites, gaining trust online and then asking for money. For more information on how to protect your money, call GCS Federal Credit Union at (618) 797-7993.
Buying a car is an exciting but sometimes complicated process. Savvy car buyers put plenty of thought and research into their car purchases to ensure they get the best prices and features. Before signing on the dotted line, also put careful thought into auto financing options.
Assess Your Finances
Before heading to dealer showrooms, sit down with a calculator or spreadsheet. It’s reasonable to get an idea of the general pricing for the vehicles you like, but don’t set your heart on the convertible or the full-option model until you crunch some numbers on your monthly income and expenses. Your credit union might also ask for proof of income, such as recent pay stubs or tax returns if you’re self-employed, when you visit a lender for an auto loan.
Check Your Credit Rating
The lender will check your credit rating, which affects not only your ability to get an auto loan, but also your interest rate. The interest rate will then determine your monthly payment and the amount you pay over the life of the loan. Before applying, check your credit. This is especially important if you haven’t checked your credit in some time, have been divorced recently, or experienced some payment problems in the past. If there are any discrepancies on your score, notify the reporting agencies. Credit unions and other lenders pay reputable companies for their reports, but the only place authorized to give free reports directly to consumers is AnnualCreditReport.com .
Get Preapproved Before Shopping
Preapproval gives you a maximum price that helps you set limits on your showroom urges and a rock-solid number for negotiating a price. It also allows you to negotiate purchase price with a dealer instead of monthly payment. In essence, preapproval frees you to shop like a cash customer, because you will buy the car with the money approved by your credit union, not by financing it from the dealer.
GCS Federal Credit Union offers preapproval for members and a list of GCS Indirect Auto Dealers in the O’Fallon area that you can shop with online after receiving your preapproval. Contact us today at (618) 797-7993 to learn more about preapproval and our competitive rates on auto loans.
Quote of the Week: “Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
If you need a mortgage loan , personal financing support, a new savings account, or better banking services, join the community that chooses GCS Federal Credit Union . Call us at (618) 797-7993 or come by and see us in O’Fallon.
· BankRate.com provides five tips on how to get your first mortgage .
· Learn how to purchase your first home loan with these tips from Yahoo!
· Check out this link from USA.gov for an overview on the different types of mortgages.
· Investopedia.com provides an overview of fixed-rate mortgages.
· Visit this link from the Federal Reserve Board for more information on adjustable-rate mortgages.
Join GCS at Splash for Rescues this Saturday at Belleville Crossing. GCS will be handing out some super cool toys for your 4-legged best friend. There will be a pet parade at 11am and some extreme dock dogs competing on site all day! Bring lots of water & shade for your doggie … and look for the red GCS tent!
Individuals interested in opening up savings or checking accounts may choose to visit a bank simply because they are unaware of the many advantages a credit union offers.
In this video, a licensed stock broker takes a closer look at the benefits of credit unions. A credit union is a non-profit financial institution that allows an individual with a deposit to become a part owner; banks, on the other hand, are for-profit entities that are owned by various stockholders. However, credit unions offer the same basic services as commercial banks including checking accounts, savings accounts, and home loans. Credit unions also offer a number of benefits such as higher rates for savings, lower rates for loans, and lower general fees. Learn more in this full video.
GCS Federal Credit Union focuses on providing excellent customer service to our members. Find out what sets us apart from other financial institutions by contacting our O’Fallon, IL office at (618) 797-7993 today!
The members of GCS Federal Credit Union recently voted to adopt state chartering by-laws. This change will allow GCS to offer membership to additional metro east communities.
GCS remains federally insured and regulated by the National Credit Union Administration. Members will continue to enjoy the same service and security GCS currently offers.
To find out more information about GCS, visit myGCScu.com or call (618) 797-7993.
Founded in 1941, GCS Federal Credit Union currently has assets of more than $318 million. GCS serves more than 39,000 members throughout Madison and most of St. Clair Counties in Illinois via 7 conveniently located branches, numerous ATM locations, and 24-hour account access through a telephone audio response system and PCU online banking.
With current mortgage rates at record lows, it’s no surprise that more and more individuals are applying for home loans with their local credit unions . You can expertly navigate this process with these tips for applying for your first mortgage:
Determine if You Are Ready
It is important to make sure you are financially ready to purchase a home before you apply for a mortgage. Make sure you have enough money for the down payment as well as the closing costs, or the final costs associated with closing your loan. Fortunately, a number of down payments are now as low as five percent. Also, closely evaluate your income to determine what you can reasonably afford to spend on monthly payments.
According to the National Association of REALTORS® approximately nine out of every 10 homebuyers finance their purchase—meaning that they require a mortgage loan. It is important to get pre-approved for your loan prior to applying, as this will tell you how much you qualify for and how much house you can afford. Getting pre-approved is also crucial to many purchase forms that require prior application for financing within a given period.
Choose a Home
Once you’ve been pre-approved, it’s time to shop around for the right home. Be sure to consider the age of the home, the surrounding neighborhood, nearby businesses, and school districts to determine which home is best suited for you and your family’s needs.
Obtain a Loan
Many credit unions allow you to apply for a mortgage loan online by providing personal information and supporting documentation. This may include recent pay stubs, tax returns for the past several years, bank account statements, and information regarding your property.
At GCS Federal Credit Union of O’Fallon, we offer a number of mortgage services, including first mortgages, land loans, construction loans, balloon loans, and home equity lines of credit. Find out which one is right for you by contacting our mortgage representatives at (618) 797-7993.
GCS Federal Credit Union, in partnership with the Gateway Grizzlies and CHARACTERplus, sponsors the Home Run for Character “Service Learning” program. It recognizes public and private schools in Madison and St. Clair County for making academic connections to real community needs and have integrated student leadership and reflection into their academic programs.
• Althoff Catholic High School – Belleville
• Signal Hill School – Signal Hill School District
• Triad Middle School – Triad School District
• William Holliday School – Pontiac William Holliday School District