IMPORTANT!!

We are keeping a close eye on the "Heartbleed" bug you may have heard about. The vendor we use for Online Banking has completed a preliminary assessment and has not discovered any vulnerability. We will be sure to keep you updated should anything to the contrary be discovered. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to help ensure that your information is safe.

It is always a good practice to use unique passwords for all of the online services you access. If your GCF Online Banking password has also been used with a different service, we do recommend that you change your Online Banking password at this time.





If you currently utilize GCF’s online banking EXPRESS TRANSFER function to make your loan payments, this service will be temporarily unavailable from April 25, 2014 through June 9, 2014. As an alternative to this temporary inconvenience, you can do one of the following:

  • Contact 1-877-589-6600 ext. 320 or 368 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to manually complete the transaction.
  • Mail a check to Investors Bank, 101 Wood Avenue South, Iselin, NJ 08830.
  • Sign up for GCF’s online bill payment system and set up a monthly payment to be sent to Investors Bank.


Fast Access




GCF Bank is now part of the Investors Bank family!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Edition #613


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

May 24, 2011 Edition #612

May 17, 2011 Edition #611

May 10, 2011 Edition #610

May 3, 2011 Edition #609

Looking for articles from a past issue of GCFlash not listed above? Enter keywords into our Site Search! Find archived articles prior to August 2009 in our Knowledge Base.


Weekly Spotlight:

Traveling abroad? The increase in debit card fraud has caused us to block all debit card transactions originating outside the U.S. You'll need to make arrangements if you plan to use your debit card while traveling. Learn how.



Our Current Rates:

For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.

Today's National Market Rates
May 31, 2011 6 Mo Ago
12/01/10
1 Yr Ago
05/31/10
5 Yrs Ago
05/31/06
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 992.28 or 8.57% since 12/31/10)
12,569.79 (+1.03%) 11,255.75 10,136.63 11,168.31
S&P 500
(Up 87.56 or 6.96% since 12/31/10)
1,345.20 (+1.06%) 1,206.07 1,089.41 1,270.09
NASDAQ
(Up 182.43 or 6.88% since 12/31/10)
2,835.30 (+1.37%) 2,549.43 2,257.04 2,178.88
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 3.05% 2.96% 3.30% 5.11%
British Sterling 1.6452 1.5550 1.4440 1.8718
Euro 1.4382 1.3063 1.2266 1.2824

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1st Flash

Personal Financial Record Retention

Working at a bank, I have often heard and discussed record retention. What records do we have to keep and how long do we have to keep them? It is something that I have also considered in my personal life. How long do I have to keep my tax returns? How long do I have to keep my cancelled checks?

One of my relatives has often mentioned that he has every bank statement he ever received since he first opened a bank account back in the 1940's. Is that really necessary? I did a little research online and here is what I discovered.

First off, let me say that I am not a financial advisor or consultant. Retention periods may be longer or shorter based on your own personal financial situation. If you are unsure about throwing something away, ask your financial advisor or attorney. One further clarification, when I say "throw away" what I really mean is "shred." In this day and age, one cannot be too careful. If it contains an account number, social security number, date of birth, maiden name, or other personal financial information, shred it!

Federal tax laws require you to retain records that support items on a tax return for as long as the IRS can assess additional tax based on that return. This time frame is generally six years, if you underreported your income by more than 25%. However, if the IRS suspects fraud, the time frame is unlimited.

Keeping the previous two paragraphs in mind, the following are some general guidelines for retaining important financial information.

Tax Returns
Hold onto your tax returns and any supporting documentation for a period of seven years. This includes the tax returns themselves, W-2's, bank statements showing proof of items entered on your return, receipts, social security statements, and dividend and interest statements, to name just a few.

Home-Related Records: Purchase, Sale, Renovation, Improvement
It is a good idea to keep records relating to your home for as long as you own your home and generally for a period of seven years or more after it is sold. This would include records pertaining to any renovations or improvements you have made to the property (invoices/bills, cancelled checks, insurance claims, etc.) as well as the records pertaining to the initial purchase and/or final sale of the home.

Credit Card Receipts and Statements
Save your credit card receipts until the transactions appear on your statement. Be sure to reconcile the receipts with your statements each month. Once you have reconciled the items, you can generally shred the receipts. You may want to make an exception for more expensive items and/or items under warranty. If you need to have warranty repairs completed or if you need to file an insurance claim, a receipt may be helpful. You can generally shred the credit card statement after a year, unless you used the statement for tax purposes. In that case, save the statements for seven years.

Deposit /ATM /Debit Card Receipts and Bank Statements
Guidelines for deposit, ATM and debit card receipts and bank statements are generally the same as for credit card receipts and statements. Save your receipts until the transactions appear on your statement, reconcile monthly, then shred the receipts. Again, you may want to make an exception for more expensive items and/or items under warranty. You can generally shred the bank statement after a year, unless you used the statement for tax purposes. In that case, save the statements for seven years.

Canceled Checks
These days, many financial institutions do not send you back your cancelled checks or they may just send copies of the checks instead. In any case, as long as a check is not needed to support your tax returns, you can generally shred it once you have verified your bank statement is correct. If you need the check for tax purposes (evidence of charitable contributions or tax payments), hold it for seven years. If you do not receive your cancelled checks back, you may want to contact your bank in order to obtain copies of your tax-related checks just in case you need them in the future. Try to do this as soon as you receive your bank statement, so you don't forget.

These are just some general guidelines for retaining your personal financial information. Again, your needs may be different based on your individual financial circumstances. More information on tax regulations is available on the IRS web site. For specific warranty or insurance information, review the information provided with the product and/or your policy.

On The World Wide Web

Want to find the world's largest beetle? Looking for weird spy weapons? Visit the online guide to offbeat tourist attractions here.

Why stay at a pricey hotel? Find short-term rentals in private homes at this site.

Find last minute deals on lodgings at vacationrentals.com.

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2nd Flash

Vacation Off the Beaten Track

While the solstice doesn't occur until June 21st, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season. The school year is winding to a close. These signs can only point to one thing.

It's time to plan the family vacation.

The economic downturn of the past few years gave rise to a new version of the traditional vacation. More and more families opted for a staycation. With money tight, they opted to enjoy whatever treasures their locale had to offer. And keep whatever cash they spent in their own community.

With a rosier economic outlook this year, vacations are back on the summer agenda.

But unless you've already booked your airline ticket, the cost of travel may still be out of reach for a lot of people. Airfare is predicted to rise anywhere from 15 to 25 percent according to forecasters. Staggering fuel costs are to blame. Factor in fuel surcharges, baggage fees and whatever miscellaneous charge a particular airline may assess and the price continues to grow.

It may be a good time to discover some unique attractions that the good ole' U.S.A. has to offer.

Mysterious creatures roam the corridors of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Find Bigfoot, mermaids and more within their walls. You may even encounter the Jersey Devil!

Museum buffs may also want to catch the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in Alexandria, Virginia. Or travel a bit further for a taste of the old west at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

While you're out west, stop in Roswell, New Mexico's UFO Museum and Research Center. Or celebrate the history of firefighting at the Hall of Flame in Phoenix, Arizona.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Pez Museum in Burlingame, California.

Plan your route to coincide with food festivals for a taste of regional delicacies you won't find in your neighborhood. This can be one instance where you want to leave home hungry!

Start with Newport, Rhode Island's Great Chowder Cook-Off. Venture west to the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Top it off with the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, or the Ice Cream Festival in Toms River.

If you're traveling through the Midwest, you can opt for the World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. Or the Taste of Chicago, said to be the world's largest food festival.

The National Hamburger Festival in Akron, Ohio might be a good stop after touring the National Football League Hall of Fame in nearby Canton. Schedule your trip to Kansas City, Missouri around the American Royal Barbecue, considered the World Series of Barbecue.

Scarf down a few tacos in Scottsdale, Arizona with a side of all the corn you can eat in Olathe, Colorado and sweet potatoes in Darlington, South Carolina. Top it off with a little Kentucky bourbon.

For those with a taste for the wilder side, don't miss Marlinton, West Virginia's Roadkill Cook-Off.

A quick web search will give you the details on each of these attractions and festivals.

Tip of the Week

Dread the thought of navigating a company's voice mail system? You're not alone. Most of us yearn for the days when we could tell a human why we were calling, and get directed to the proper party to resolve our issue. Without having to select options from seven layers of voice mail prompts to get there. Before dialing, visit DialAHuman.com for tricks to bypass voice mail systems for hundreds of major companies. Or try gethuman.com for average hold time, tips, reviews and consumer feedback.

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Financial News

As usual, the economic indicators and reports are not giving a clear signal of economic change. The Wall Street Journal reported today that "Economists Downgrade Prospects for Growth," noting that the economy was projected by the Federal Reserve "to grow between 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent in 2011 and 3.5 percent and 4.2 percent in 2012." GDP (gross domestic product) was only 1.8 percent at the end of the first quarter. Economic growth is, of course, needed to fuel job growth - which in turn fuels the economy. Indeed, this prediction continues the mantra of slow growth.

Supporting this, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that personal income continued to grow in April by .4 percent and 4.4 percent over the last twelve months. Consumer spending kept pace growing .4 percent for the month and 4.8 percent year over year. However, inflation kept this growth in check as real disposable income, which is adjusted for price changes, dropped by less than .1 percent.

On a positive note, an annual survey by American Express revealed that Chief Financial Officers worldwide foresee economic growth over the next 12 months. Therefore, many project more hiring as well as merger activity. Borrowing is not seen as a problem this year, allowing that growth to happen if possible. This spending will indeed fuel the economy should it come to pass!


Quotable

"An age is called Dark, not because light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it." - James Michener


Today in History

1907 - Taxis begin running in New York City.


Flash Fact

An ear of corn will always have an even number of rows, with 16 being the average. There is one piece of silk for each kernel.

Have a comment about something you read in GCFlash? Suggestions for future articles? Drop us an email!

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PURPOSE:

GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.

For more comprehensive information, visit our Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com or call (856) 589-6600 Ext: 337 (Timothy P. Hand)

GCFLASH PRIVACY STATEMENT

For a copy of our Privacy Policy, visit www.gcfbank.com/gcflash_privacy.aspx

GCF maintains your e-mail address in a confidential and secure database along with much of your other account information, such as mailing address and telephone number, etc. Before aggregating our e-mailing list each week, we filter out any duplicates. In most cases, this inhibits the unintended e-mailing of multiple copies of GCFlash to a single e-mail address. However, because these account records are kept by both individual and account, there is a chance members of the same household could each receive a copy of GCFlash or any other transmission at the same e- mail address - resulting in multiple copies. For example, a husband and wife that both have accounts with GCF may both receive a copy because the names are different but listed at the same e-mail address. This is similar to the manner in which each individual may share a common telephone number. To handle this situation, GCF recommends you simply delete any extra copies of GCFlash as this will ensure that ALL individuals receive any future promotional mailings, which might only be targeted or offered to specific accountholders meeting certain criteria. GCF has the capability to suppress customer e-mail addresses so they are omitted from our transmission list. If you would rather have a specific household member’s e-mail address suppressed in our electronic database, simply send us a reply, as stated below, and indicate the accountholder for which you would like to have e-mail suppressed. Please keep in mind that this suppression will mean that NO future e-mails are sent, including special promotional offers. If you have any questions about this process or need additional information, please contact us at netaccess@gcfbank.com.

If you would like to be removed from this electronic mailing list, please hit reply and place the word REMOVE in the subject line. Please note, removing your name from our electronic mailing list means GCF will send NO FUTURE NEWS or SPECIAL OFFERS.


GCF Bank
381 Egg Harbor Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
(856) 589-6600
www.gcfbank.com