First Central a Community Development Financial Institution
September 2018 — First Central Credit Union has been awarded certification as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As an official CDFI, First Central's efforts to put the community first and value local, economic growth have been recognized.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CDFI
- Community Development Financial Institutions - or CDFIs - are mission-driven financial institutions that are dedicated to providing financial services to meet the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals with in underserved communities.
- CDFIs invest in local communities and the residents who live there by providing critically needed financing often unavailable from main steam financial institutions.
- CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund - known as the CDFI Fund. In order to become a certified CDFI, the financial institution must: have a primary mission of promoting community development; provide financial products and services; serve one or more defined low-income communities; maintain accountability to the community it serves; and be a legal non-governmental entity as part of a national network promoting economic growth in American's underserved communities.
Through the CDFI fund's program, First Central is able to better serve low-income individuals and communities that lack adequate access to affordable financial products and services. The path to achieving this status is a rigorous one, and the continuing review process is multi-phased and selective. "Being awarded this certification level resource, and the ability it gives us toward future initiatives, is quite an honor," stated First Central President Jo Betsy Tyler," and we will strive to maximize the community impact."
First Central Improves Your Online Banking Experience
December 2017 — First Central launches the new and improved FirstLink that incorporates all the features of our current online banking portal into a responsive design that will adapt to fit your desktop, tablet, or mobile device -- all while allowing you to more quickly see account balances and make transfers. We hope the new FirstLink will be a welcomed addition to our ever growing catalog of online services meant to save you time and ensure your experience with First Central is a safe and convenient one.
With the redesign, we will also make changes to improve the security of your online banking experience. Members will be asked to change their usernames and passwords in order to meet these new security standards: member account numbers will no longer be allowed as usernames; passwords must be a minimum of eight characters and meet complexity requirements; and you will be required to change your password at least annually. This change will be applied to member accounts incrementally over the coming months beginning mid-December 2017. Upon successfully logging in, FirstLink users will be prompted to update their username and password to meet the new security requirements.
We at First Central take the security of your account very seriously, and ask our members to brush up on their password do's and don'ts. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at (800) 780-7101 option 4 to speak with a member service representative.
First Central Hillsboro Branch "Local Business of the Year"
March 2017 — First Central Credit Union was honored as "Local Business of the Year" by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. "We would like to thank all those who made this great accolade possible," Hillsboro Branch Manager Bill Sheffield said. "It has been a pleasure working in the community together to make Hillsboro a better place to live." Celebrating this achievement added to First Central's 80th Anniversary year-long festivities.
Hillsboro Economic Development Director Art Mann submitted the nomination giving a business overview of First Central's participation in the community. Many product and service benefits come from having a branch in Hillsboro. First Central offers loan options other lending institutions may decline as a high risk or may take advantage of with payday to payday loans at high interest rates. First Central is known for hands on, one-on-one attention to member's needs and keeping up with advances -- such as the technology of remote check deposits and the availability to electronically apply for a loan and secure the loan with an electronic signature all online -- to name a few.
First Central also has the "Juntos Avanzamos" designation obtained by few credit unions. This signifies that First Central has a long-term vision and commitment to serve the needs of the Hispanic market. For many years, First Central has provided employment opportunities, been a financial resource for major area employers, and been a chamber member.
First Central Receives America Saves Designation of Savings Excellence
First Central Credit Union received a special designation from the America Saves organization that recognizes credit unions that go above and beyond to encourage members and communities to save money. "It can be hard to put aside money for savings," said First Central President JoBetsy Tyler, "but there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it: make your savings automatic. Pay yourself first."
First Central, located in Central Texas, offers more than tips to promote saving. Their motto is "Everything we do, we do for you," and their ongoing, robust saver programs are incentives to start saving since saving plays an important role in debt consolidation, credit status, and having funds for emergencies, tax time, holidays, and retirement. "Lowering interest rates charged on vehicles and credit cards is a great place to begin," Tyler added. "First Central provides free financial check-ups for members -- often those members with low to moderate incomes who may feel they can't afford a financial session."
The credit union was recognized along with other recipients at the America Saves National Savings Forum held in Washington D.C. To learn more visit online www.AmericaSaves.org.
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"Smishing" Scam Targets Credit Unions via Text Messaging
Credit unions across the country are reporting that their members are receiving unsolicited text messages. It's an attempt at Smishing, the latest form of phishing. In Smishing, an e-mail tries to lure a recipient into giving personal information via SMS, the communications protocol used to send text messages to a wireless device. The recent scam is targeting credit union and other financial institution members.
In smishing, the members receive a text message via cell phone, warning that their account has been closed due to suspicious activity. It then tells them they need to call a certain phone number to reactivate the account.
Unsuspecting callers who dial the number provided in the text message will be taken to an automated voice mail box that prompts them to key in their credit card or debit card number, expiration date, and PIN to verify their information.
If you have been a victim of this scam, take these steps immediately:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, ask for a free copy of your credit report, and review those reports for evidence of accounts you didn't open. Fraud unit contacts are:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- Close accounts — including share drafts/checks or ATM cards--that have been tampered with or used fraudulently. Contact all financial institutions and lenders, credit card issuers, utility companies, and the Social Security Administration to notify them of the fraud. Follow up each conversation with a letter.
- File a report with law enforcement and insist on getting a copy of the report or the report number.
- File a complaint with the FTC. Visit ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ for more information or call 877-IDTHEFT.
NEVER RESPOND TO THIS TYPE OF EMAIL
Dear NCUA® member,
You have recently updated your Credit Union account according to our standard security procedures. Unfortunately the update procedure failed because some of the information you provided was incorrect. We have reason to believe that your account was accessed by a third party. Because protecting the security of your account is our primary concern, we have limited access to sensitive NCUA account features.
Please understand that we cannot respond to individual messages through this email address. It is not secure and should not be used for credit card account related questions.
Please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records again.
To update your Credit Union records click on the following link:
However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension.
Accounts Management as outlined in our User Agreement, NCUA® will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.
National Credit Union Administration® Customer Security Department.
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
Identity fraud happens when someone steals personal information such as your account number or Social Security number and then uses this information illegally to make withdrawals from your accounts or apply for credit in your name.
Take these precautions to protect your information:
- Be cautious when providing personal information such as your Social Security number and account or credit card information over the telephone, in person or on the Internet. Don't give out this information unless you are sure with whom you are dealing.
- Protect your Social Security number and the Social Security numbers of your children and other family members by not carrying them in your wallet.
- Report lost or stolen checks, credit or debit cards immediately. First Central Credit Union will block payment on the check numbers or account numbers involved.
- Limit the number of credit card pre-approved offers that you receive by removing your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com to remove your name from their lists now.
- Store cancelled checks, new checks and account statements in a safe place.
- Notify the credit union of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
- Review your credit report at least once every year. Make sure all information is up-to-date and accurate.
- Memorize your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and refrain from writing it, your Social Security number or credit card number on a check.
- Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers to which you do not respond. Thieves can use these offers to assume your identity.
- Keep mail secure. Don't mail bills or sensitive information from your home or unsecured mailboxes. Retrieve and review your mail promptly. Thieves may use the personal information contained in your mail to steal your identity.
- If you do not receive your regular bills when expected, call the company to find out why.
- Review your monthly account statements thoroughly. Investigate suspicious items immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Do not carry your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate unless needed that day.
If you are a member of First Central Credit Union and you think you are victim of fraud, immediately contact us by calling 254-776-9333 so we can flag your account.
The Credit Union Difference is YOU
You Own the Place
Credit unions are owned by their members. It's just part of our structure. That means you call the shots. It means you have a say in how a major part of your life — your finances — are run. So rather than having to answer to corporate stockholders, we answer to our members. Just let us know how you'd like the furniture arranged, because after all, you own the place.
We Were Built This Way.
From day one, our bottom line has always been you. It's just how we were built. Credit unions are made up of people working together to achieve a better life for themselves and their community. They were organized to be not-for-profit cooperatives run by democratic principles - one member, one vote. It doesn't matter whether you have an account with $20 or $20,000. Your vote counts the same as every other member. And with a philosophy like that, it's really no wonder why people love their credit unions.
Go On, Discover the Difference.
The difference is you. If you're a member of a credit union, you've already discovered that. Way to go. If you're not, take a moment and check into the unique benefits we offer.
Lets Look at the Difference between Credit Unions and Banks
- Not - for profit
- Financial Cooperative
- Made up of members
- Each member is an owner
- Board of Directors are chosen by members
- For profit
- Commercial business
- Have "customers"
- Stockholders are owners
- Board of Directors are chosen by stockholders
How to Manage Your Checking Account
If you're like most people, when you write a check--share draft--it's so automatic and works so well you probably don't think much about it. And once you establish good checking habits, you don't need to think much about it. Check and share draft systems run smoothly when people follow common rules.
How to Write a Check
Direct deposit protects you from theft, but a forger still can use your stolen checks or discarded deposit slips, and "your" signature, to steal from your account. You also should develop good habits to reduce the possibility that honest errors will result in mistakes in your account. Risk management experts offer these suggestions:
1. Don't use pencil or erasable ink. Avoid ink colors other than blue or black. Some credit unions record cleared checks on microfilm, which doesn't show red ink clearly, for example.
2. Use the correct date. Even a postdated check can be deposited for payment.
3. Don't make out a draft or check to "cash." This allows anyone to cash it. Instead, write in the name of the cashing institution or your own name.
4. Draw a line after the name of the party who's supposed to get the money. This prevents a thief from becoming an alternate payee by adding the word "or" and an alias.
5. Don't use abbreviations on the payee line. A clever forger can change such terms as "Co." or "Inc." into believable names.
6. Print figures as close to the preprinted dollar sign as possible. This makes it hard to raise the amount by inserting a digit, for example, changing $25 to $125. Don't think only large, obvious amounts are at stake. One credit union teller described a fraud where a grocery clerk raised the amount on checks by $10. For example, she would insert the number 1 before the 9 in $9.32 and squeeze the word "teen" between the written "nine" and "32/100." The clerk pocketed $10 from the cash drawer several times a week.
7. Print the written amount in capital letters, which are much harder to alter than script. Print the amount beginning at the extreme left and draw a line through the rest of the amount space. Otherwise, TWENTY-FIVE could become ONE TWENTY FIVE or TWENTY-FIVE HUNDRED.
8. Develop a form of your name to use only when you sign share drafts, checks, and other documents. For example, if you're known as "Ed Miller," reserve "Edward Miller" for share drafts. With this special signature on file and on your driver's license or similar identification, anyone who presents your draft for payment with any other form of your name will be suspect. And, a forger will need more than your personal correspondence to copy your signature.
9. Sign your name rapidly, freely, and legibly. Connect all letters and avoid elegant flourishes. Play with decorative signatures on personal correspondence if you like, but keep your legal signature consistent.
10. If carbonless copies of written share drafts don't "block out" your signature, obscure your signature on used drafts. Prevent leaving an impression of your name on the following check by filling in each check except for your signature, then removing the draft from the pad and signing it on a hard surface.
11. Never presign your share drafts or checks.
12. If you make a mistake, write a correction and initial it if you can do so neatly. If not, rip up the share draft, mark it "void" in your register, and start over.
13. Deposit funds before you write the check they're supposed to cover. The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21) cut the time it takes a check to clear from days to hours. Remember that your account balance changes continually as transactions clear. So don't rely solely on your balance from an ATM (automated teller machine) receipt or from a phone call to the credit union. Ask at the credit union about overdraft protection.
How to Deposit a Check
You must endorse — sign — a check before you can deposit it. If there's an error in your name on the face of the check, you must endorse the check showing the error. Then sign your name correctly just below the first signature for verification. Often, you'll use a "blank" endorsement by simply signing your name as shown on the face of the check. The problem with a blank endorsement is that it makes the check negotiable by anyone presenting it for payment. Anyone finding a lost, endorsed check can cash it for its face value.
You can protect yourself if you specify that a check is "for deposit only" above your signature; this is called a restrictive endorsement. Another common endorsement is "special" and limits the use of the check. You can use the special endorsement "pay to the order of" and then name the person to whom you're signing over the check; remember to include your signature. When you deposit a check, you may not have access to the funds right away. The Expedited Funds Availability Act determines how long an institution may "hold" a check before crediting your account. Your credit union will inform you of its funds availability policy. Holds vary based on where you deposit your check (with a teller, by mail, or at an ATM), and where the check is from (the government, a local party, or out of state, for example). The staff at your credit union can answer your questions and help you develop good share draft habits. Ask them for help when you have questions.
How to Reconcile Your Account
1. Start with the balance in your register. __________
2. Subtract any service charges that are on the statement. - __________
3. Add any dividends your account earned. + __________
4. This is your new register balance: __________
5. Start with the end balance from the statement. __________
6. Add recent funds you've deposited not on the statement. + __________
7. Subtract the total of all drafts written but not cleared, debit card transactions, and ATM withdrawals since the statement________
8. Your new balance: __________
Your account reconciles when your register balance (line 4) matches your new balance (line 8).
Understanding Your Credit Score
Many people lack knowledge about their credit scores, arguably the single most influential number in their lives. In fact, forty-nine percent of 1,013 consumers polled do not understand that credit scores measure credit risk, according to a 2005 survey by the Consumer Federation of America and Fair Isaac Corp., the company that created the most widely used credit score formula called FICO.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number lenders use to help them decide: "If I give this person a loan or credit card, how likely is it I will get paid back on time?" A score is a snapshot of your credit risk picture at a particular point in time. The higher the score, the lower the risk to lenders. Scores are generated by statistical models using elements from your credit report, and sometimes from other sources, such as your credit application. However, scores are not stored as part of your credit history. Rather, scores are generated at the time a lender requests your credit report and then included with the report. Identity theft can also impact your score.
The five areas considered in the calculation of your credit score listed from most important to least important are:
- Payment History
- Capacity (Amount You Owe)
- Length of Credit History
- Types of Credit
- New Credit
How scores are calculated
Designers of credit scoring models review a set of consumers - often over a million. The credit profiles of the consumers are examined to identify common variables they exhibited. The designers then build statistical models that assign weights to each variable, and these variables are combined to create a credit score.
Models for specific types of loans, such as auto or mortgage, more closely consider consumer payment statistics related to these loans. Model builders strive to identify the best set of variables from a consumer's past credit history that most effectively predict future credit behavior. About 60 percent of people have credit scores of 700 and above. The best number to have is 720 or above. If your score is 720, there's really no need to try and raise it because lenders lump you in the same category as folks with a score of say 800 or 820. At 720, you are viewed as a safe risk and typically receive a loan without problem and at a low interest rate. However, if your number is below 700, it's definitely worth your time to try and pump it up.
Here is a typical credit score is determined:
- 35 percent Payment History: Details regarding payments made on credit cards, retail charge cards, installment loans and mortgages play a part here. How timely have your payments been? How much do you owe? If you've made late payments, how recently did these payments occur? If you've got few or no late payments, your score will be improved. Also, recent late payments will hurt your score more than those made years in the past. Having a long history making of payments on time and no missed payments on all credit accounts is one of the most important items lenders look for.
- 30 percent Amount Owed: About 30 percent of your score is impacted by the amounts you've got outstanding to creditors. Owing a lot on many accounts won't necessarily hurt your score. If you're at or near your limit on your credit cards and other "revolving credit" accounts, though, your score will be compromised. This measures the amount you owe relative to the total amount of credit available. Someone closer to maxing out all their credit limits is deemed to be a higher risk of late payments in the future and this can lower their credit score.
- 15 percent Length of Credit History: In general, a credit report containing a list of accounts opened for a long time will help your credit score. The score considers your oldest account and the average age of all accounts. If you're just starting to build your credit history, there's not much you can do to improve your standing in this area over the short term.
- 10 percent New Credit: Opening several new credit accounts in a short period of time can lower your credit score. Also multiple credit report inquiries can represent a greater risk, but this does NOT include any requests made by you, an employer or by a lender who does so when sending you an unsolicited, "pre-approved" credit offer. Also, to compensate for rate shopping, the score counts multiple inquiries in any 14-day period as just one inquiry.
- 10 percent Types of Credit in Use: "Your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, finance company loans and mortgage loans is considered."
If you don't pay your monthly mortgage payments over a period of time, the lender can foreclose. This means you will lose title to your property and may be evicted from your home.
A foreclosure becomes part of your credit report and may adversely affect your ability to obtain credit in the future. To avoid possible foreclosure, it is helpful to have money saved to cover several months of your housing costs in case of an unexpected emergency, like job loss, divorce or separation, serious illness, or the death of a loved one.
What if You Cannot Pay Your Mortgage?
1. Call your mortgage lender now!
As soon as you realize that you will be unable to make your payments, talk about your circumstances with the lender to which you send your monthly mortgage payment. Your options to retain your home are most effective when you work out a plan with your lender and if you are only one or two payments behind.
Too many people in financial trouble wait until the last minute to call their lender. Some hope their problems will quickly resolve themselves. Others worry the lender will rush to collection or foreclosure. The truth is: the longer you wait, the greater your chance of losing your home. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment, don't delay–call your lender immediately. In a significant number of all foreclosures, the borrowers did not return their lender's calls or written invitations to discuss payment options.
Depending upon your situation, your lender may be able to provide you with temporary financial relief. Here are a number of alternatives to discuss with your lender.
- Forbearance is an agreement to temporarily let you pay less than the full amount of your mortgage payment, or pay nothing at all, during the forbearance period. Lenders may consider forbearance when you can show that funds from a bonus, tax refund, or other source will let you bring the mortgage current at a specific time in the future.
- A reinstatement occurs when you pay your lender the total amount you are behind, in a lump sum, by a specific date. This is often combined with forbearance.
- A repayment plan is an agreement that gives you a fixed amount of time to repay the amount you are behind by combining a portion of what is past due with your regular monthly payment. At the end of the repayment period you have gradually paid back the amount of your mortgage that was delinquent.
- A loan modification is a written agreement between you and your lender that permanently changes one or more of the original terms of your note to make the payments more affordable. Common loan modifications include
- Adding missed payments to the existing loan balance
- Making an adjustable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate mortgage
- Extending the number of years you have to repay
2. Contact A Non-Profit Housing Or Credit Counseling Agency
Non-profit housing and credit counselors can help you analyze your financial situation. They also can help you organize a budget to pay your mortgage and other monthly expenses–without your lender's direct involvement. Finally, these agencies can help you find and take advantage of local services or programs that provide financial, legal, medical or other support.
You can find a credit counseling agency in your local phone book or by contacting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. You can find a list of HUD-approved agencies on their web site.
What If You Can No Longer Afford to Keep Your Home?
If you cannot or do not want to keep your home, your lender can work with you to avoid foreclosure. This can help reduce the negative effect on your credit reputation. There are several different ways this might occur depending upon your financial circumstances:
- An assumption permits a qualified buyer to take over your mortgage debt and pay the mortgage payments, even if the mortgage is non-assumable. As a result, you may be able to sell your property and avoid foreclosure.
- If you can sell your house but the sale proceeds are less than the total amount you owe on your mortgage, your lender may agree to a short payoff and write off the portion of your mortgage that exceeds the net proceeds from the sale.
- Your lender may agree to a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure if you agree to voluntarily transfer title of your property to your lender in exchange for cancellation of your mortgage debt. In most cases, you must attempt to sell your home for its fair market value for at least 90 days before a lender will consider this option. This option may be unavailable if there are other liens on your home, such as judgments from other creditors, second mortgages, or tax liens.
Beware of Scam Artists
Predatory lenders often target people in financial distress. They try to panic you into high cost mortgages, making financial problems worse and increasing your risk of losing your home. Predatory lenders usually offer loans with
- High interest rates
- Broker fees
- Unnecessary costs like pre-paid life insurance
- Unaffordable repayment terms
Here are some tips to protect you from predatory lenders:
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers you "bargain loans," whether they mail, fax or e-mail an offer to you, call you on the phone, or come to your door.
- Beware of promises of "No Credit? Bad Credit? No Problem!" and offers that are only "good for a very short time".
- Avoid lenders who encourage you to borrow more than you need or more than the value of your home.
- Beware of terms that change at the last minute or offer next-day approval based on prepayments or up-front fees.
- Do not sign anything you do not understand. It is your right and duty to ask questions.
- Beware of phony credit counseling agencies charging high fees for financial counseling services you can get for little or no charge through non-profit agencies. You can find a list of HUD-approved agencies by visiting their web site.
REMEMBER: Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is! If you suspect a predatory mortgage lender is targeting you, call your local office of consumer affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an approved credit counseling agency or your local Don't Borrow Trouble campaign.
The consumer information above is provided by Freddie Mac.