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, August 9, 2011

Edition #623


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

August 2, 2011 Edition #622

July 26, 2011 Edition #621

July 19, 2011 Edition #620

July 12, 2011 Edition #619

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:

Don't have drawers full of cash around when you need it? GCF Bank can help! Apply online for a mortgage, home equity loan or line of credit.

ALERT: This is for all of you night owls who may want to login to Online Banker overnight Sunday night. A small technical change is occurring at midnight that may cause you to see a redirect screen if you attempt to login before the update is complete. Do not be alarmed.



Our Current Rates:

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

Today's National Market Rates
August 9, 2011 6 Mo Ago
02/09/11
1 Yr Ago
08/09/10
5 Yrs Ago
08/09/06
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Down 337.74 or 2.92% since 12/31/10)
11,239.77 (+3.98%) 12,239.89 10,698.75 11,076.18
S&P 500
(Down 85.11 or 6.77% since 12/31/10)
1,172.53 (+4.74%) 1,320.88 1,127.79 1,265.95
NASDAQ
(Down 170.35 or 6.42% since 12/31/10)
2,482.52 (+5.29%) 2,789.07 2,305.69 2,060.28
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 2.27% 3.64% 2.82% 4.94%
British Sterling 1.6216 1.6108 1.5939 1.9058
Euro 1.4212 1.3624 1.3276 1.2832

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1st Flash

The Key To Recovery

When a once-in-a-lifetime crisis occurs, a writer typically scours every resource he can devour for trends, history and statistics on how the last generation weathered the storm.

So you would think my job would be easy today. I only have to look back to 2008 to report on how we recovered from the last market crash.

Yet this is an entirely different scenario, a bailout will not help this time around.

In 2008/2009, the U.S. was plunged into a recession that we're still digging our way out of. Cheap credit, both the credit card and mortgage markets, spiraled out of control. The ability to repay was not nearly as important as everyone being granted an equal opportunity.

Even the least financial savvy among us could recognize the trend could not continue. The bubble burst, giving a specific cause and cure for the market's stability.

This time, the cause is not quite as succinct. Multiple factors are at play here.

Countries in the European Union have endured their own economic crisis. Problems rooted in Greece spread quickly to Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Iceland and Belgium.

The Greek debt rating was decreased to 'junk' status, meaning the country could not refinance its debt. There were fears of default. World markets went into a decline.

Now it's our turn. Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgraded U.S. debt to AA+ status. Albeit a far cry from junk status, world markets still declined. The path was forged by our very own S&P index. Perhaps this was not by coincidence.

Unlike Greece, the U.S. was not in danger of defaulting on its debt. Despite what you may have heard on the nightly news. Our problem is much different.

The entire world watched as politicians representing the most powerful nation on the globe bickered like spoiled school children, each demanding they get their own way. Would you place your trust in anyone more interested in assigning blame than they are in the welfare of their own country?

The petty bickering was condescending to anyone with half of a brain. Republicans blamed Democrats who blamed the Tea Party who blamed everybody. The only thing learned from the debacle was that there is plenty of blame to go around.

We've yet to hear anybody offer a real solution. No wonder the world is skeptical.

Yesterday's stock market crash was not as much an indication of faith lost in American business as it was faith lost in America. And that is much harder to recoup.

Bank of America held roughly the same capital reserves on August 8th that it did the previous Friday. AOL did not lose 16 percent of their customers overnight. Neither made major changes to management structure. Yet both were among companies whose stocks slumped drastically.

We can't count on our government to bail us out of this crash, as it's the government itself that has crashed.

So what does this mean to Mr. Joe Average Citizen? Not a heck of a lot.

One writer from "The Daily Beast" compared the meltdown to "tsunami waves... (that) crash with destructive force against the shoals of investor confidence, institutional balance sheets, and collective investing psyche." And he may be more on target than his article reflects.

A tsunami wave wipes out everything in its path, requiring everything be rebuilt from the ground floor. When it comes to the way our legislators are behaving, this could be a good thing.

Stock portfolios will suffer short-term, but they will recover. Larger, stable companies remain that way. Those that have the stomach for risk will see this as an excellent time to buy on the cheap. In turn, they raise the value for all.

The downgrade in credit rating status can result in higher interest rates down the road. But remember, it was only S&P that reduced our credit status. Moody's and Fitch, the other major rating services, have maintained our AAA status while voicing concerns over our monetary policy. So we may not even face the threat of a rate hike.

If we do, the biggest impact will be on variable rate credit cards and student loans. Adjustable rate mortgages are also affected by short-term interest rate fluctuations.

As different as this crash is from 2008, it holds its similarities. Both were the result of those in power demanding personal interests be served over the ability of their respective systems to sustain it. Both saw the collapse of their respective systems.

But this time it's the American public who holds the key. We just need to use it in the election booth each November.

On The World Wide Web

Find a government-owned home for a bargain price at this site.

Fannie Mae advertises available properties, financing options and tips on closing the sale here.

Doing some household or office decluttering? Match the items you no longer need with a nonprofit that can use them at excessaccess.org.

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2nd Flash

Put It In Reverse

The commercial shows a calm, carefree older couple. Their reverse mortgage has relieved all of their financial burdens.

Never forget that these are paid actors. And the television world seldom mirrors real life.

A reverse mortgage can be a lifeline for those over the age of 62 who are "house rich but cash poor." Making timely mortgage payments over the history of your note can pay you back in your later years when you no longer have a steady income. Without having to sell your home.

Homeowners draw the equity from their home as a lump sum, monthly payments, line of credit or combination of any of these with a reverse mortgage. Monthly repayment is not required. Repayment is not due until the last borrower dies, moves or sells the home. But real estate taxes and homeowners insurance must be maintained or the home will be foreclosed upon.

These loans can be extremely popular for those facing high medical costs, home maintenance repairs or even struggling to get by day-to-day.

But there are risks involved anytime you put your house on the line. More so with a product as complicated as a reverse mortgage.

We've covered much of this in recent issues of GCFlash, so here we will only address recent changes that affect these mortgages. For a refresher on the basics, read this article or this one.

The collapse of the mortgage market has made reverse mortgages more expensive and more complicated than ever. This was done to protect consumers but can also be their downfall.

Under most circumstances, neither the borrower nor the heirs will owe more than the home is worth. But recent changes in ruling require the full mortgage balance be repaid if the borrower or heirs want to pay off the loan and keep the home, even if it exceeds the current home value. This ruling is being challenged in court.

The vast majority of these loans are now fixed-rate with the borrower required to draw the full loan limit at closing. This can be more expensive for those who don't need the full amount. Interest rates are higher since it's due on the full loan limit from the moment of closing.

To offset, this type of loan typically does not have upfront origination fees or ongoing servicing fees.

Two new consumer protection laws have been passed in response to complaints filed against reverse mortgage lenders. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 prohibits the required purchase of any financial product to secure the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) - one of the more popular products. Originators are forbidden from having any financial interest in selling another financial product. Consumers previously had to buy annuities, long-term care insurance and other investment products in order to qualify for a HECM.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 called for a study to identify any practice as unfair, deceptive, or abusive with a reverse mortgage transaction. Consumers did not really understand how the compound interest caused their loan balance to grow over time.

A married couple must include both parties on the title to the house and the mortgage. The surviving spouse could have their home taken away should the one named on the documents be the first to die.

One poster at AARP.org shared his experience with a particular reverse mortgage lender. The lender stops in for a visit every month to confirm the home is still his principal residence. They even had agents contact his neighbors asking about his whereabouts.

Before you apply for a reverse mortgage, make sure you fully understand how the loan works and all costs associated with them. There may be less costly options. This is particularly true if you end up selling the house and moving within a few short years due to the high upfront costs with most products.

Any money you take now won't be available should an emergency arise somewhere down the road. Unless you're facing a financial emergency now, consider a home equity loan or line of credit instead.

Meet with a counselor before proceeding with a reverse mortgage. They can suggest the best product for your particular situation, loan alternatives and offer tips for negotiating with a lender. Find a list of counselors and other reverse mortgage consumer information on the Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

Tip of the Week

Social Security pays a $255 lump sum benefit upon the death of a person who worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. The benefit can be paid to a surviving spouse, estranged spouse receiving benefits on the deceased's record or child eligible for benefits on the person's record in the month of death. If there is no qualifying recipient, payment is not made. It cannot go to a funeral home, for example. To apply for the benefit, contact your local Social Security Office or call 1-800-772-1213.

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Financial News

Read enhanced Financial News in today's 1st Flash.

Quotable

"Sometimes I think I'm so busy planning my life I forget I actually need to live it." - DeLana Harvick


Today in History

1930 - Betty Boop debutes in Max Fleischer's animated cartoon Dizzy Dishes.


Flash Fact

An Italian family's idea to cultivate broccoli financed the James Bond films. Albert R. Broccoli bought the initial rights to the Ian Fleming novels and produced every 007 movie from Dr. No to Golden Eye. He was an heir to the family who crossed cauliflower and rabe to create a new vegetable they named for themselves.

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