Tuesday, August 23, 2011
For over 100 years, GCF Bank has been providing the means for thousands of South Jersey homeowners to realize the American Dream. Learn more about the history of GCF Bank. We're proud to be your community bank.
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Know The Score
Three little numbers have a huge impact on your life. They determine if you can buy a home or a car, even what insurance premium you will pay.
Those numbers are your credit score. And the game changes nearly everyday.
Before the economy dumped, a FICO score of 660 was considered good. During the recession, that number jumped to 720. Some lenders now consider 760 the standard.
The FICO score is the most widely used, but it's not the only player in the game. There are literally dozens of credit score models in use. VantageScore was designed by the three major credit reporting agencies to offer a more accurate and consistent approach of credit worthiness than did FICO. Each of the major agencies uses their own model as well. You'll find certain lenders that have a system of their own.
Each type of credit score uses its own numerical range to designate credit risk.
So how do you keep them all stellar? How do you know which is more accurate? How do you know where your score falls in each? And how can you win a game where the rules keep changing?
The answer is that none of those questions really matter. As any professional athlete knows, pay attention to the basics and the numbers will follow.
In this case, focus on your debt, number of open accounts and credit use patterns. Establish strong money management skills and all of your scores will reflect your habits.
There is no score more accurate than another. Each is geared towards its own scale. All recognize good money handling skills.
Check all three of your credit bureau reports months before making a major purchase. This will give you time to resolve any errors they may contain.
Better yet, make it a habit to check them individually timed throughout the year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three major credit bureaus to provide a consumer with one free report annually. By spacing them out throughout the year, you can catch any pattern of misuse before it spirals out of control. A married couple may stagger each one's report, allowing you to pull one report every other month.
The only government authorized website to provide this free report is annualcreditreport.com. The ones you hear about on TV commercials require you to enroll in their credit monitoring service.
Your payment history plays a major role in determining your credit score. It accounts for 35 percent of your score calculation. Not only your mortgage, loans and credit cards, but even if you fail to pay a library fine it can end up on your credit report. Paying a delinquent account will not immediately remove it from your report. It stays on your record for seven years.
Managing credit properly gives a good indication of risk. The higher your credit card balances, the worse your credit score will be. The amount you owe contributes 30 percent to your score's calculation. Ideal utilization is less than 30 percent of your credit card limits.
Don't close old credit cards. Scoring methods place less weight on inactive accounts so keeping it open won't hurt your overall score. More likely it will help as it increases the length of time you've had credit established.
Limit your applications for new credit. Each time you apply for a credit card or a loan, your credit score takes a small hit. Open new credit sparingly.
No matter how diligent we may be, we all have those little bumps in the road. Health issues, job loss or unexpected home expenditures can leave our credit less than stellar. You can bolster your credit score by using a few of these tricks.
Transfer the balance from a card that's close to being maxed out to other cards to even your usage. Or spread your charges between a few cards to keep them all well below their limit.
If you're having a financial problem, contact your lenders. They may be able to work out an arrangement that will keep your account current.
Errors on credit reports are quite common. This point bears repeating. Check your report with all three bureaus often. Not only will it enable you to catch errors quickly, but also detect evidence of identity theft before too much harm is done.
Most public items remain on your credit report for seven years. Bankruptcies may remain for 10 years and unpaid tax liens for 15 years.
There's no quick fix for bad credit. Like excess weight, it builds over time. Only proper management over time can keep you playing your A game.
Did you book a vacation getaway that only vaguely resembled the brochures? Your dishwasher quit just one month after the warranty expired? Have you been the victim of poor customer service?
There's an art to complaining effectively. Here's how to assure you get results.
The customer service agent manning the desk or phones does not have the authority to offer any type of concession. Ask to speak to their supervisor, save your energy and wits for this confrontation.
Keep your expectations realistic. It's not likely that you'll get a full refund. A hotel might comp one night or an airline might offer food vouchers. A manufacturer may extend your warranty for a month or two for a known issue with their product. Any longer and they may cover the part only with you responsible for the labor to perform the repair. You're more likely to be granted a request they deem reasonable.
If the supervisor can't offer resolution, keep climbing the ladder until you find someone willing to address your concern. Keep a log of everyone you speak with, including the date and notes on the discussion.
If you've climbed a few rungs and still haven't found what you're seeking, go straight to the top. Write a letter to the executive most appropriate for your complaint. If it's a quality issue, contact the Vice President of Quality Control. Should your problem be with customer service, refer it to the marketing group. Names and the address of a company's headquarters are easy to find online.
Don't be concerned about bothering a busy executive. Your letter won't likely reach their desk. A staff member will intercept it and act on their behalf. This staff member is charged with deflecting as much noise as possible from their boss. Here you're most likely to find a willing ear with the authority to offer resolution.
You don't want to set off your reader immediately by jumping into angry allegations. Rather, craft your letter in a way that lets them know the incident is uncharacteristic of their good reputation which they strive so hard to maintain.
Begin with a compliment. Tell them you're a long time user of their product and what you like about it or why you use it. Now you're an injured customer rather than an irate consumer. You've got their attention.
Next, briefly tell them about your problem and what steps you took to resolve it. Include the names, dates and notes you took while climbing their ladder. Explain why your problem remains unresolved.
Last, tell them what you want. Don't demand - write something to the effect of 'I'm certain you'll agree that a refund of one night's stay is a fair restitution for my troubles.' Short, simple and direct will earn you the best results.
Don't forget to include contact information in your signature. They have to know how to reach you to offer your compensation.
While email is quicker, a busy executive is deluged with so many messages each day that it's easy to get missed. A formal letter will get noticed, particularly in this day when they are so rare.
Should you still not get the results you believe fair, hit the Internet. Post a comment on the company's Facebook page or tweet their Twitter account. Company representatives monitor these pages closely to maintain their online reputation. And they're quick to react to negative comments to show they're truly interested in maintaining customer loyalty.
Problems are a natural part of life. It's how they're resolved that makes all the difference.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is proposing that U.S. multinationals be allowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to have the option to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). If you invest your money, IFRS is expected to impact how you look at the financial statements of companies you invest in. The rest of the world reports under IFRS while U.S. companies report using Generally Accepted Accounting Pronouncements, or GAAP. For U.S. investors, the presentation you have been used to (GAAP financial statements) may continue which would allow comparison. However, IFRS statements would allow U.S. companies to be compared to foreign companies.
The SEC continues to be urged by the International Accounting Standards Board to help promote the "convergence" of the two types of reporting. The AICPA does not expect this to impact many companies, affecting only a relatively small number of multinational companies. Those of you that give a look at those financials of the companies you are investing in should be on the lookout for a change in the way they are presented.
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
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 memberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 email@example.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.
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