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, June 4, 2013

Edition #715


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

May 28, 2013 Edition #714

May 21, 2013 Edition #713

May 14, 2013 Edition #712

May 7, 2013 Edition #711


Weekly Spotlight:

Traveling abroad this vacation? Don't leave home without first learning how to use your VISA card overseas.


Our Current Rates:

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

Today's National Market Rates
June 4, 2013 6 Mo Ago
12/03/12
1 Yr Ago
05/04/12
5 Yrs Ago
05/03/08
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 1,790.18 or 13.37% since 12/31/12)
15,1747.54 (-0.50%) 12,965.50 12,101.46 12,402.85
S&P 500
(Up 205.19 or 14.39% since 12/31/12)
1,631.38 (-0.55%) 1,409.46 1,278.18 1,377.65
NASDAQ
(Up 425.75 or 14.10% since 12/31/12)
3,445.26 (-0.58%) 3,002.20 2,760.01 2,480.48
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 2.15% 1.63% 1.53% 3.90%
British Sterling 1.5314 1.6009 1.5357 1.9682
Euro 1.3083 1.2983 1.2414 1.5540

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1st Flash

Give Yourself Some Credit

If there is one thing we all want in common, besides peace on earth, it's a high credit score. It impacts whether or not we can own a home and what interest rate we'll pay to replace our old clunker when we need a new car. And it's much easier to attain than world peace.

Insurance companies use a slightly different formula to evaluate your risk potential. It's based on your credit score but factors in other criteria as well. They've learned that the lower a person's credit score, the more likely they are to file claims.

Landlords will use a credit score in screening applicants for a vacancy. Their interest here is obvious. If you don't pay your bills, you're not likely to pay your rent on time, either.

Have you ever been promised 10% off your day's purchase by opening a store's credit card? Just answer a few quick questions to earn instant savings. The merchant runs a quick check of your credit score to determine credit worthiness.

Employers are likely to check an applicant's credit score during the hiring process. The higher your credit score, the more conscientious you have proven to be. That's a trait every employer values.

Your credit score is based on your history as reported by creditors to the three major credit reporting bureaus. And it isn't just one score. Each credit bureau maintains their own system as well as the most commonly recognized FICO score by Fair Isaac Corp.

Other entities have introduced their own versions over time, but none have gained popularity. We covered some of the basics here.

Maintaining a pristine credit score is not always easy, despite our vigilance. Life throws too many bumps and curves in the road. Medical bills, job loss and unplanned costly home repairs can make the best laid plans go astray.

Any one of us can find ourselves with a less-than-stellar credit score. But the good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way.

First, assure that all of the information in your credit reports is accurate. You'll need to check all three reporting bureaus separately since they can contain different information, particularly in the case of human error. We discussed how to fix any errors you find here.

If the negative information is accurate, start working quickly towards a fix. Focus on past-due accounts that have not yet been charged off. These are easier to payoff first. Once they're up-to-date, they'll start reporting current and generate the quickest results. The negative data will still appear, but it won't reflect as poorly as had it remained that way.

Next, tackle balances in collection or already charged-off. It won't change your credit score as quickly, but future creditors will look at this more favorably than had you simply ignored them.

Pay down balances on any open credit cards nearing their limit. Keeping your balances at 30% of your credit limit displays good credit responsibility habits.

Once your good credit rating is restored, rebuild positive history by opening new accounts in various categories. An installment loan, such as for a car or furniture, shows you can handle fixed payments as well as manage debt responsibly.

But only apply for new credit if you can afford new payments. Doing it solely for the sake of rebuilding your history can put you right back in the trouble you so painstakingly worked your way out of.

Positive credit information remains on your file for up to ten years from the date of last activity.

Negative information has different limits. Late payment and collection history remain on your file for seven years from the date the account first became past due.

Judgments appear for seven years from the date filed, whether paid nor unpaid. If you pay a tax lien, it disappears seven years from the date the lien was released. Unpaid tax leans will haunt you indefinitely.

Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcies, or a non-discharged or dismissed chapter 13 bankruptcy, follow you for ten years from the date filed. A discharged chapter 13 bankruptcy disappears in seven years from the date filed.

Inquiries are usually shown for one or two years, depending on the reason your credit file was accessed.

Good credit is synonymous with your good name. Without it, you have nothing.


On The World Wide Web

The FACT Act of 2003 requires each consumer receive one free copy of their credit report each year. Get yours at this site.

Each credit reporting bureau offers their own credit score based on differing scales. Learn the one most commonly used by creditors.

The Federal Reseve Bank of Philadelphia offers valuable tips on Understanding and Improving Your Credit Score. Find it on their website.

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2nd Flash

What Is A Security Freeze?

A security freeze is a tool to help protect your privacy and prevent identity theft by stopping credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent or knowledge. Most businesses these days will not open a credit account without first checking a customer's credit history. A security freeze prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing information in your credit report file without your express authorization or approval. By placing a security freeze on your credit file, chances are slim that someone with your name and Social Security Number will be able to open an account in your name.

If you want to place a security freeze on your credit file, you must contact all three credit reporting agencies individually. Contact information for the three credit reporting agencies is listed at the end of this article. Credit reporting agencies must place the freeze on your file no later than five business days after receiving your request.

Fees for placing a security freeze vary by state and circumstances. It is free for all New Jersey consumers to place a security freeze on their credit file. For Pennsylvania consumers, it is free if you are a victim of identity theft or are 65 years of age or older. For all other Pennsylvania consumers, the fee to place a security freeze is $10.00 per credit reporting agency. A list of fees by state is available on all three credit reporting agency websites.

It is important to note that there are still some entities that will be able to access your credit file, even with a security freeze in place. Existing creditors, or collection agencies working on behalf of existing creditors, will still have access to your file. Other creditors may also use your credit file to make pre-approved offers of credit (sometimes called pre-screened offers) unless you have opted-out of receiving such offers. In addition, government agencies may have access for purposes of collecting child support, taxes, or investigating fraud; or by court order, subpoena, or search warrant.

Once a security freeze is in place, a potential creditor attempting to access your file will receive a message that the file is frozen. The potential creditor will usually contact the consumer and ask them to lift the freeze. It is at this point that an identity thief will be stopped. Each credit reporting agency will provide you with a 10-digit personal identification number (PIN) that will be required to lift the security freeze. It is important to keep your PIN secure. An identity thief will be stopped in their tracks because they will not be able to lift the freeze.

You can temporarily lift a credit freeze in two ways. You can temporarily lift a credit freeze for a specified period of time or for a specified creditor. If you know that you will be shopping around for a new mortgage, you may want to lift the freeze for a specified period of time, such as six months. Conversely, if you are applying for a department store credit card, you may want to lift the freeze for that creditor only. You also have the option of removing a security freeze permanently. Please note that it may take up to three business days for a credit reporting agency to lift or remove a security freeze.

Fees for lifting or removing a security freeze vary by state and circumstances. In New Jersey, the fee for temporarily lifting or permanently removing a security freeze is $5. In Pennsylvania, the fee for temporarily lifting a security freeze is free if you are a victim of identity theft or $10.00 if you are not a victim of identity theft. The fee for permanently removing a security freeze is free in all circumstances in Pennsylvania. Again, a list of fees by state is available on all three credit reporting agency websites. The procedure for lifting or removing a security freeze varies by credit-reporting agency and is outlined on all three websites as well.

Another consumer tool that helps prevent identity theft is a fraud alert. There is a big difference between the two, so it is important not to confuse a security freeze with a fraud alert. A security freeze prevents your credit file from being shared with potential creditors, insurance companies, or employers doing background checks. A fraud alert adds a message to the file that there may be fraud involved, but it still allows potential creditors to view your credit file.

It is entirely up to you whether or not to place a security freeze on your credit report. One thing to consider is the increasing number of victims of identity theft every year. These days, it is a major concern for everyone and it is increasingly harder and harder to adequately protect oneself. Placing a security freeze on your credit report can help shield you from such fraudsters and thieves.

Contact information for the three credit reporting agencies is:

  • Experian Security Freeze
    PO Box 9554
    Allen, TX 75013
    phone: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
    website: www.experian.com
  • Equifax Security Freeze
    PO Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA 30348
    phone: 800-685-1111
    website: www.equifax.com
  • Trans Union Security Freeze
    PO Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834
    phone: 888-909-8872
    website: www.transunion.com


Tip of the Week

A high credit score comes naturally to those who build a sound financial foundation. Pay attention to the basics and the results will follow. The U.S. government has a website dedicated to teaching all Americans the fundamentals of financial education. Point your browser here.


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Quotable

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Milton Berle


Today in History

1917 - The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.


Flash Fact

There are normally 21 Pulitzer Prizes in various categories awarded each year. Online-only news organizations became eligible for 14 of them for the first time in 2009.

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.

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, click this link to send us an email to unsubscribe. 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