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Spring 2022 Newsletter

Spring 2022 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

April is Financial Literacy Month and that makes it a great
time to talk about our vision and mission. Our vision is
to be a financial education center for our community, and
our mission is to deliver products, services and financial
literacy outreach to enable our members to make informed
and provident financial decisions. This can be seen in many
things we do. From providing free of charge financial literacy
courses to our area middle schools to our online financial
literacy learning playlists to in-house guidance provided
by our knowledgeable staff (like our Certified Credit Union
Financial Counselors), we are committed to ensuring that all
members of our community have the opportunity to increase
their financial literacy through our offerings.

A 2018 survey by Discovery Education found that 50% of
high school seniors say they wish they had learned personal
finance in school, and in 2021, a Milken Institute study found
that just 62% of American men and 52% of American women
were financially literate. That leaves a considerable number
of financially “illiterate” men, women, and children in our
nation, and Wayne and Long counties are no different.

The cost of financial illiteracy is high. In fall of 2021, the
National Financial Educators Council conducted a survey in
which they found that due to lack of financial knowledge,
the average American lost approximately $1,390 in 2021
alone, and collectively poor financial literacy cost Americans
a whopping $352 million last year.

As inflation soars and our world economies become
unpredictable, it is more imperative than ever that we take
financial literacy seriously. I urge you to take advantage of
all of our resources. Ask your middle schooler’s teacher or
school to offer our courses to your child, visit altamaha.
org and visit the “Learn” pages or follow Rocky for
important financial tips throughout our website, or have
a one-on-one conversation with one our staff to help
navigate your financial journey.

April may be Financial Literacy Month in the United States, but
we think it’s easy to see that at AFCU, every month is financial
literacy month. If you are ready to improve your financial literacy, stop by and see the good we can do for you!

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Memorial Day – Saturday, May 28th and Monday, May 30th
Juneteenth – Saturday, June 18th and Monday, June 20th

Independence Day – Saturday, July 2nd and Monday, July 4th

Credit Score Tip: Buy Now, Pay Later May Cost You

It’s easy enough to do. Maybe you are shopping intentionally for an item
online, or maybe you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of “you might also like
this item” pop-ups while on a retail website and found an item you can’t live
without. Either way, you’ve made a choice to purchase the item, and now you
are given the choice how to pay for the purchase. You can pay with your debit
card, your credit card, or you can choose an option to buy now and pay later.

Buy now, pay later options, known as BNPL, are very attractive for more expensive or big-ticket items. They often tout no-interest
options for certain time periods and alleviate you having to pay out of pocket right then or even worry about fitting the item on a
credit card you would prefer to use for something else. Sounds great, right?

Not so fast. BNPL options are great if used sparingly and when you can afford the item and the payments, but BNPL can lead to
impulse buys, which may keep you from taking time to ensure that you can truly afford the item and the payments. When you
forego actively managing your debts and add one or two or three items to your debt load on a whim, you may find yourself with
an inability to “pay later,” ultimately costing you late fees, added interest and late payment marks on your credit report – one of
the quickest ways to drive down a credit score. Add to that the impact of adding multiple debts over a short time period or having
multiple BNPL items on your credit reflecting at or near your credit limits on those items, and you are just asking for a lower score.

As with any financed item, think about your ability to repay an item you are considering purchasing with a BNPL option. Otherwise, you may pay more later than you want!

Security Tip: When to Share Account Info

Did you know? AFCU
staff, nor any of its
affiliates, will ever call,
email or text you and ask
for your account number
or other sensitive information. If you receive a request for
such information from someone claiming to be an AFCU
employee, don’t share it, and be sure to notify AFCU of the
attempted phishing along with any details of the call or
message you received.

Helpful Hint

Want an automatic loan payment reminder?
You’ve got it! Text and email alerts can be set up in your home banking or your mobile app. Look for the “Alerts” option in either platform, and follow the menu options to set up custom reminders, so you never forget a payment again!

Helping Hands, Our jeans make an impact on our communities!

This quarter, we were able to donate a combined $1,200, from our employee donations for Jeans Fridays, to our Wayne
and Long County volunteer fire departments. Thank you to the men and women who give your time to keep us safe in
every corner of our two counties. You are there when seconds count, and we are grateful for your service!

Hey, Wayne and Long County High School Seniors! Don’t Miss Your Chance!

The application period for our college scholarships ends April 15th! Visit altamaha.org/about-us/scholarships for official rules and eligibility.

Our Loan Team Has Grown!

Our loan team has grown in both size and knowledge
this past quarter. Loan Advisor Ashley Sweet and
Loan Processor Cindy Arnett each earned the Certified
Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) certification
in February after completing many hours of study and
passing tests on all facets of financial knowledge. This
knowledge empowers them to help you make the best
decisions about borrowing money. We are proud of the
time and dedication both put in to make our loan team
stronger. This makes three AFCU loan team members who
have earned the certification. Jennifer Gravley earned her
certification in July 2019.

Our loan team also grew by the addition of a newly created
Loan Advisor position. Tracy Ingram was promoted from
teller to this position. She has been with AFCU since July
2021. We are excited to have Tracy on the team, and we
are excited to be able to add an additional Loan Advisor
to better serve you.

Congratulations to all of these ladies! We are grateful each of you is on Team AFCU, and we know our members are too!

Scam Alert: All Electronic Checks are Not Created Equal

Most of us have had some experience with an electronic check. You might have written a check that was converted to an electronic image at a retailer, or your credit union may only return an electronic copy in your monthly statement of a check you wrote to someone. There are a number of other similar, valid examples.

It seems fraudsters have tried to create their own too by emailing check images to people and asking them to deposit
the checks to their accounts via the remote deposit feature
on their mobile apps. Don’t fall victim to this scam!
Emailed checks are not legitimate and cannot
be deposited to your account, via an electronic
method or otherwise. If you receive an email with
a check image – copy, replica, or picture – asking
you to deposit it, delete the email. Don’t respond
to the email. Don’t click on any link, attachment,
or picture. And certainly don’t comply with any
direction to “deposit” the check image.

While it may sound odd to hear, in today’s
digital world, ensuring you know the
difference between legitimate and
fraudulent electronic checks will help keep
you safe from scammers.

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Winter 2022 Newsletter

Winter 2022 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

As I write this, we are heading into the holidays and that has me thinking about Christmas loans, our Skip-a-Payment program, and our Christmas Club accounts. While these are all products of the credit union, each of them came about for one reason, and one reason only – to serve our members’ needs. Even though great numbers of people take advantage of these products each year, these products were first introduced to serve very specific needs for very specific people. For example:

  • Christmas Club accounts were introduced as a way to save for holiday expenses separately from your everyday savings, making it easier to budget for that often large expense and not be reliant upon taking out a loan to cover them. 
  • Skip-a-Payment was similarly created to allow for members to easily take a break from regular loan payments to cover holiday expenses without making a separate loan (and thus another payment) or without having to routinely put back extra funds to save for them. 
  • Christmas Loans were created to keep interest rates low and quickly pay off Christmas expenses. The loans may be made exclusive of other personal loans at the credit union, and they keep many from having to pay layaway fees at stores. 

At AFCU, every decision we make follows these examples. We are constantly looking to see, “What are the pressure points in our members’ lives, and how can we best assist to relieve or alleviate those?” Sometimes it’s the creation of such products, and sometimes its refining current products and services, but it is always in your best interest and for you. We hope that our products and services serve your needs, and we are constantly listening to you to make sure we do that. If you have a need that we aren’t serving, let us know, and if it’s been a while since you last visited, stop by and see the good we can do for you! I know you’ll be glad you did! 

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Saturday, January 15th and Monday, January 17th
Presidents’ Day – Saturday, February 19th and Monday, February 21st

Credit Score Tip: Start Off on the Right Foot and Stay on Track

You might think that small errors when you are young won’t count against you as you get older, but nothing can be further from the truth when speaking about your credit score. The fact is that regardless of when credit mistakes happen, they can negatively impact your credit score. In addition, if you fail to pay timely or allow collection actions to blemish your credit early in your credit journey, you may be that much more likely to be declined for future credit, causing your score to start low and stay there.

If you are new to credit, make every effort to pay back all debts and pay them back timely and continue that practice every step of the way, no matter where you are in life. Doing so will ensure your credit score reflects your history of good habits. 

Security Tip: “Hello! I’m Calling About Your Car’s Extended Warranty!”

How many times have most of us heard that phrase? So often that it is the center of countless jokes, but these calls (robocalls as they are called) are no joke. They are designed to take your information and defraud you of your money. What can you do to guard yourself against these calls then?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has these suggestions:

  • Look for tools and services from your wireless provider. These are often loaded on the phone for you to initiate service and may incur a fee for premium services, or you may ask someone at your provider’s local store. 
  • Use call-blocking apps. These may be found in your app store and again may charge a fee for the service. 
  • Look for other device features which might combat these types of calls. 

For a complete list of tips on stopping robocalls, visit the FTC’s webpage on this topic at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-stop-unwanted-calls. Utilizing these resources will reduce the number of robocalls you receive and therefore reduce the potential for you to be taken in by a fraudster. 

Helpful Hint

Did you know you can transfer money to other AFCU accountholders on which you are not an owner – without employee assistance and without charge?

Simply log in to home banking or our mobile app, choose the transfer feature, and enter that member’s account information. You’ll need the member’s account number, last name as it shows on the account, and the suffix number (for example, 000 for regular shares or 151 for Kasasa Cash Back checking) attached to the specific account. 

Once you submit the transaction, the transfer is complete, and the funds are immediately available to the recipient! 

Helping Hands: Serving Those Who Are Serving Us During COVID

The last half of this year brought about a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in Wayne County, leaving health care workers and funeral technicians stretched thin and working at maximum capacity. AFCU took time to honor these workers for all they have done for our community during this hard time by providing a meal to all workers at Wayne Memorial Hospital and gift cards to cover a meal for each and every employee of Wayne and Long Counties’ five funeral homes. These people have saved lives and comforted families, and we are so appreciative of all they have provided to our communities over the last few months. To all working in the medical field and in funeral homes, we are truly grateful for your service.

Wayne and Long County High School Seniors!

Could You Use $1,500 to Help Pay for Your College Education? Apply for one of our three $1,500 college scholarships! Our Annual Scholarship Contest begins February 14, 2022, and applications will be available through your high school and on our website. Be sure to check altamaha.org/about-us/scholarships for official rules and eligibility.

Employee Recognition: Jessica Brumitt

Jessica Brumitt, our Digital Channels Manager, recently completed the League of Southeastern Credit Union’s Leadership College. Jessica participated in both in-person and online courses and worked on a class project with the group over the course of 2021. She was chosen by the credit union to participate in the class to enhance her already present leadership qualities. Jessica has been an AFCU team member since May 2019, when she started as a teller. She has been promoted several times over her tenure here. We are very proud to have Jessica represent AFCU in this year’s graduating class, and we are even more proud to call her a team member. Congratulations, Jessica! 

Scam Alert: Scamming Minors is No Minor Matter

Providing your minor children with bank account access or a debit card can be an important part of teaching them good financial habits. They can learn how to save and to budget their spending, but perhaps the most important lesson of all is one of the most often missed. Account and debit card safety are paramount to creating good financial habits. Scammers have picked up on the influx of minors as account and cardholders and are targeting them specifically because of their lack of knowledge. If you’ve provided access for your child to an account or debit card at any institution, take a minute to share these points with them: 

  • Never provide your account or debit card information to anyone you don’t know. This includes gaming partners or anyone else you’ve met online whose credentials you haven’t fully checked out. Given the extent of our social interactions online, it is easy to form a bond with someone you never met, but if someone you have never met face-to-face asks for your banking information directly to pay for information or an item or even to help get them out of a jam, be leery. 
  • Never pay for something that you haven’t yet received, especially on payment apps. Scammers often rely on these apps for quick and easy payment, but once you realize you aren’t getting something you were promised, your money is long gone and is virtually impossible to recover.
  • Never accept deposits or checks for work you haven’t done or that seems high in comparison to actual work done. Scammers use this tactic to have you return a portion of the money that was “overpaid,” prior to you realizing the funds they originally paid you are no good, leaving you not only with the loss of the initial deposit but also the funds you “returned.” 

Help make sure your child learns all the lessons they needs to have a safe and enjoyable banking experience by providing them with the tips above. 

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Fall 2021 Newsletter

Fall 2021 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

A lot can change in three months. People can come and go, policies can change, and the world as we know it can turn on its head. Three months ago, a replay of the pandemic was certainly possible, but not many of us was prepared for the way it roared back in our communities here in Southeast Georgia over the past couple of months.

This has changed many things for AFCU, from how we deliver service to you to personnel policies. For several reasons, we made the decision early to close our lobbies to the public. This is never an easy decision, but when the safety of our members and staff is at stake and we are tasked with ensuring that our staff remains healthy to ensure that all operations of the credit union continue without fail, we must make such decisions. Through it all, we have endeavored to deliver needed services in any way we can to ensure that you are not inconvenienced and that you continue to receive the same level of service you have come to expect from AFCU.

While we look forward to the time we can re-open our lobbies, some of these changes have made positive impacts. Externally, more members have taken advantage of more services. Internally, some projects regarding remote access products have moved to the front burner. Overall, deeper and stronger relationships have been formed between our trusted staff and our members as we transition to non- contact delivery, and this is really what AFCU is all about – ensuring that we not only deliver the financial services you have come to expect but that you know you can rely on us to be by your side and to be on your side every step of your financial journey in life.

As always, if it’s been a while since you checked in with us, stop by and see the good we can do for you – even if it’s not in the traditional sense!

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Columbus Day – Saturday, October 9th and Monday, October 11th
Veterans Day – Thursday, November 11th

Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 25th and Saturday, November 27th
Christmas Eve – Close at 1pm on Friday, December 24th
Christmas Day – Saturday, December 25th
New Year’s Day – Saturday, January 1st

Credit Score Tip: Review Your Credit Report
Regularly

Under federal law, you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the above three major nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Residents of Georgia are entitled to two free reports from each of the companies. Reports may be obtained by calling 1-877-322-8228 online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Once you receive your credit reports, review them for discrepancies.

  • Identify any accounts you did not open or inquiries from creditors that you did not authorize.

  • Verify that any old accounts are showing paid in full and closed.

  • Verify that payment amounts and terms on open accounts are accurate.

  • Ensure that there are no major inaccuracies on prior names, previous addresses or work history. Misspelled names or typing errors are common, but if you see a name or address with which you have no affiliation, it may be a flag that someone has attempted to open credit using your credentials.

If discrepancies exist, via the contact method listed on the applicable report, contact the credit reporting company who shows the inaccurate information. They will provide instructions on how to resolve any errors.

As an added tip, stagger your requests so that you request only one report each couple of months. This will allow you to keep a close watch on potential erroneous or fraudulent activity without paying for a monitoring service. Reviewing your reports routinely will help you maintain accurate information, which should in turn help you keep the credit score you deserve!

Security Tip: Body Language

In previous articles, we have noted the importance of multi- factor authentication in accessing sensitive information online. There are numerous ways you can accomplish this, but one of the best is using biometrics. In the scope of something you know and something you have – two critical pieces of multi-factor authentication, biometrics is something you have. It can be your fingerprint, your face or your eye. Each of these is unique to you, and nobody else shares these traits with you.

Using biometrics in the process of logging in to a website might include you pressing a previously selected fingertip against a part of your phone or looking into the camera of your device. The process is quick and ensures that you and only you are able to access your online accounts, keeping them safe from fraudsters.

Helpful Hint: Review Your Statements

By law, you have up to 60 days from the time you receive your statement to dispute errors found on the statement. Even if you review your account activity routinely online, check your statement too, as it is the credit union’s official record of your account history.

Helping Hands: AFCU Leads the Charge in Helping Rebuild Wayne County’s Veterans Memorial Wall

AFCU has once again brought Wayne County’s three credit unions together again to support the local community. After being contacted by Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Joe Ierardi about sponsoring the new veterans wall in Wayne County, AFCU President/CEO Cheryl Spires thought this would be yet another great project to collaborate with Wayne’s other two credit unions – Interstate Credit Union and Marshland Credit Union. Together, the three credit unions joined forces to support the rebuilding of the Wayne County Veterans Memorial Wall by making a joint donation of $2,500 towards the project.

The current memorial located at Bill Morris Park, is scheduled to be taken down, and a new wall will be erected on the grounds of Wayne Memorial Hospital near the gazebo facing First Street.

Larry Brantley, chairman of the Wayne County Veterans Memorial Wall Board, is grateful for the support and said, “It is so important that we honor all of our veterans in Wayne County. No matter the service they gave, they each have had a part in ensuring our safety and our freedoms. We are so appreciative of the willingness of Wayne County’s credit unions to come together for such a needed project.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we are proud to pay homage to those who have selflessly served in our nation’s military.

To all our local veterans, we say, “Thank you!”

Member Testimonial: Covering the Gap!

Earlier this year, long-time member Rebecca White suffered a total loss on her 2017 GMC Acadia that she purchased new in 2018. After the insurance payout, she still owed a balance of over $12,000. Luckily, she had purchased GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) through us on the vehicle loan. After filing a claim on that policy, she owed less than $800, a much easier pill to swallow than $12,000.

Said Rebecca of the experience, “It was simple. The credit union handled everything, and the claim was paid before my next payment was due. I was glad I didn’t have to worry about that balance and could move on and purchase another vehicle.” She went on to say that the low cost of the product and the ability to finance it in with the vehicle made it seem as if she wasn’t even paying for it. For all these reasons, Rebecca says, “I recommend anyone financing a vehicle cover it with GAP insurance.”

It is testimonials such as this that let us know the true value of the products and services we offer, and we are glad Rebecca had such a positive experience. We strongly echo Rebecca’s advice and hope that if you’ve had a positive experience with us, you’ll let us know directly or even post your experience online. To Rebecca, we thank you for your membership and hope that we can serve you for many years to come!

Good Cents

Don’t leave money on the table! If you work for an organization that matches retirement contributions, make sure you contribute the amount necessary to receive the full match. Don’t give up free money!

Scam Alert: Watch for Online Dating Scams

Loneliness and feeling unloved can be tough to deal with. Regardless of whether someone has people surrounding them or not, the longing for a romantic relationship can drive some to overlook red flags when forming a relationship.

Online relationships by themselves are not bad and are often legitimate. Most of us know one or more people who found their true loves on some social platform, but the internet is also full of scammers whose sole purpose is steal money. Often these people use dating websites and may even rely on websites that lure in those who have a soft spot for certain types of people. Military backgrounds are a commonly used background, but perpetrators can purport all types of lifestyles.

Once the relationship is formed, scammers come on strong with filling the void the lonely feel, and then they begin to ask for money. Often, they say they are stuck overseas and need to come home or they have an outstanding debt that is standing in the way of them leaving town or purchasing air or bus fare. Once taken in, victims continue to send funds or even share online account access information for the often multiple requests by the scammer in an effort to finally meet and live happily ever after.

It is perfectly acceptable to use dating apps and social media platforms to kindle relationships, but exercise caution if the relationship builds quickly and you are suddenly asked for money. This should be your cue to end the relationship and protect your hard-earned money. Should the scammer continue to contact you, stay firm in your decision to ignore their requests and be sure to forward any information you have to authorities so that they don’t scam someone less suspecting than you.

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Summer 2021 Newsletter

Summer 2021 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

Ever thought about a world without credit unions? What would the financial services industry look like without them? How would that impact most people’s daily lives? Would credit be as easily obtainable for you as it is today with credit unions in the mix?

I think about this all the time. For the twenty-five years I have been in credit unions, credit unions have been the target of bank propaganda and even lawsuits. We often have had to fight to keep our cooperative structure alive, even though in that time we still have well below 10% of the market share in the financial services industry and we have lost many smaller credit unions to consolidation – over 250 in Georgia alone, resulting in less than 100 credit unions left in the state.

This is alarming to me, as there is always strength in numbers. This region of the state, however, and Wayne County in particular, seems to be an exception. Jesup has three credit unions represented, with AFCU being the oldest, and we will soon have a fourth. This addition will also bring us our second credit union in Long County.

As a proponent of credit unions, I believe in the option of cooperative finance, and I believe in choice. Choice makes us stronger, whether that is choice between a credit union and a bank or choice among credit unions, and the option of cooperative finance keeps the system in check by allowing lowcost access to credit and fewer and lower fees for doing business.

As your choices change and grow, we at AFCU are thankful you continue to choose us and will continue to fight for your access to credit unions and for your ability to choose. We thank you for your membership and look forward to serving your needs for many years to come.

P.S. If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in with us, stop by and see the good we can do for you!

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Labor Day – Saturday, Sept. 4th and Monday, Sept. 6th

Credit Score Tip

Most of us want to help people we care about, so when one of those people asks us to co-sign for them, it can seem like an easy “yes.” Co-signing, or guaranteeing a loan for someone, however, can have negative consequences on your credit score, if you aren’t careful.

If the person for whom you have guaranteed the loan does not pay in a timely fashion, their delinquent history will likely be reported on your credit report. Worse, if the person defaults on his payments, any repossession of collateral or charge-off of unpaid balances may be reported too.

As co-signer, you generally are only guaranteeing the loan will be repaid; you are not a joint borrower. This means that you may not receive statements on the account, and you may not be notified of the loan payment history until it has become a serious issue, when the creditor turns his attention from the borrower to you as co-signer for repayment of either multiple past due payments or the balance in full. Further, you typically will not have a vested interest in any collateral held by the creditor, which means that you may not have rights to obtain the collateral and attempt to sell it yourself.

Think carefully before you co-sign for someone. Understand the limitations you have in this position and how missteps by the borrower will affect your credit and your credit score. You’ve worked hard for your score, and you want to keep it that way. Don’t let someone else’s actions take it away from you.

Security Tip

In today’s age of digital theft, it is critical that you maintain anti-virus and anti-malware protection on all your internet-enabled devices. It is even more important that you ensure they are kept up to date. If possible, make sure you enable automatic updates on these protections, along with those on operating systems and other significant programs on your devices. When you can’t automate updates, set up notifications to alert you when they are available, so that you can perform them yourself.

These updates often fix critical security flaws or protect against new threats. Not having the most current updates on anti-virus protection, operating systems, or other important programs may leave you vulnerable to theft of your personally identifiable information or your log-in credentials for banking websites and more, leading to possible theft of actual funds. Protection is important, but it is useless if not kept up to date.

Helpful Hint

Need to stop a payment? The stop payment feature on our online banking may only be used for checks. If you have debit card or ACH transactions that you wish to stop, please contact the credit union for assistance.

Scam Alert

Looking for Work? Watch for These Scams in Job Postings. If you’ve been looking for work recently, chances are you’ve looked online quite a bit. While most job search websites and even websites such as Craiglist, which posts job ads, are legitimate, listings on them may not be.

Be cautious of listings who promise to or actually do pay you prior to working. Many of these listings will lead to the “employer” sending you a check before you begin your “job” and then requesting that you send back a portion of it that was an “overpayment.”

These scenarios are scams and are meant to defraud you of funds that you may not have to give, as the check you receive is fraudulent and will never pay you a dime. Don’t be fooled by these listings or by the hope of getting paid ahead of any promised work. Any legitimate overpayment of signing bonuses or advance payments will be corrected by re-issuing the payment, not by you sending a portion back.

Rewarding Academic Achievement and Good Financial Habits

Each year, Altamaha Federal Credit Union provides three college-bound graduating seniors in Wayne and Long Counties with $1,500 scholarships each. Students must meet certain scholastic requirements, but they must also have exemplified good financial habits with their accounts with us.

This year’s winners are Rebekah Gordon of Long County and Matthew Joel Lott and Zachary Evan Thornton of Wayne County. We are proud of our winners and of all who qualified to enter our contest. Each of you has learned and practiced traits and qualities that will help carry you through life.

Congratulations to each of you! AFCU wishes you nothing but the best as you continue your journeys in college.

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Spring 2021 Newsletter

Spring 2021 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

As the pandemic occurred and the digital age becomes more engrained in the banking culture, you have probably seen many changes in the way we do business or even in the way you interact with us. Some of these changes may take a little getting used to, but they all serve a purpose – our mission.

One thing that won’t change is our mission to ensure we deliver products, services and education to enable our members to make informed and provident financial decisions. Every decision we make – whether creating he content for this newsletter or implementing a new product or service – is based on this mission. It is not an empty promise or just a feel-good statement. It is the guidepost that informs every decision we make here at Altamaha Federal Credit Union. If a product or service can’t meet this guidepost, it likely won’t make it our offerings, and our educational outlets continue to expand as we find new needs because of the ever-growing and ever-changing financial services arena.

The new content in this newsletter and our recently added e-newsletter are two examples of those educational outlets, along with the financial education courses we sponsor in each of the Wayne and Long county middle schools, and more is on the way. As a member-owned financial services organization, we truly strive to fulfill our mission to you in everything that we do. You and your best interest are at the core of every decision. That is what our mission is all about.

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Member Shred Day (Earth Day) – April 22nd
Memorial Day – Saturday, May 29th and Monday, May 31st

Independence Day – July 5th

Credit Score Tip: Don’t Let Vehicle Repairs Cause A Credit Breakdown

One of the primary reasons for low credit scores is delinquent payments, and one of the primary reasons for delinquent payments is the need to pay for unplanned items ahead of credit obligations. Vehicle repairs can be one of the largest unplanned expenses.

So how do you get ahead of this dilemma? Of course, budgeting and saving are important, but those alone may not prepare you for the unforeseen. That leaves insurance. To ensure that you are able to pay for costly repairs to your vehicle, extended vehicle warranties are a saving grace. These warranties may be paid for alone, or they may be financed into the cost of the vehicle. When a major repair needs arises, the warranty picks up the cost, and you are able to continue life as normal.

So next time you purchase a vehicle, consider purchasing an extended vehicle warranty to protect your investment and to protect your credit score.

Security Tip: Hovering for Safety

It is easy to determine spam emails when you don’t recognize the sender or when we have no relationship with any entities listed in the email, and most people will quickly recognize when a friend’s email might have been hacked based on the contents of the email or the language used. What is harder to recognize is when an email appears to be from someone you know or do business with, because the sender address is correct and the content is consistent with typical communications from that sender.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Use the “hover test.” The hover test is easy. Simply move your mouse to point directly over the sender address to show the true origins of the sender. If this matches who you think to be the sender, you are probably safe to assume the sender is who they say they are. (If you’re still unsure, you can always contact the sender through other methods to verify they sent the email.)

Regardless, if you can’t verify the true identity of the sender, don’t open attachments on the email and don’t click on links provided within it. Attachments or links on fraudulent emails generally contain malicious material designed to steal your personal information and place your privacy and security at risk and making a habit of taking a couple extra steps, such as the hover test, to ensure the sender is who you think it is can protect you and your accounts from harm.

Helpful Hint

Want to add a bill to BillPay with Picture Pay but don’t get a paper bill? No worries. Simply take a picture of your online statement while viewing on your tablet or computer. For best results, make sure the resolution and brightness are both set high. It’s quick, easy, and there’s no paper needed!

4 Things You Need to Accomplish in 2021

2021 may be well underway, but there’s still time to accomplish several important things this year.

  1. Gid rid of paper statements and sign up for e-statements.
    If you are still receiving paper statements, you’re way behind! Opting into e-statements allows you to see your statements usually within one day of the end of the month, and you don’t have to worry about all the hassles and lack of security of a mailed statement.
  2. Open an AFCU credit card and transfer your high-interest balances to us.
    Carrying balances on high-interest rate credit cards costs you money you could be spending on more important things or even for saving!If you haven’t made the switch, it’s time for a fresh new low rate on an AFCU credit card.
  3. Reward yourself for your good behavior with a Kasasa account.
    Following a few simple practices can yield you cash back, higher dividends or other rewards when you have a fee-free Kasasa account. You can even get ATM fees refunded! How’s that for no fees? Simply opt in for e-statements, meet a minimum required number of qualifying debit card purchases, and make one or more ACH debits or credits each month, and start earning your choice in Kasasa rewards. (Did we mention no fees?!)
  4. Have AFCU perform a credit checkup for you.
    If you’ve been on auto-pilot for too long, you may be overlooking opportunities for savings. Whether it’s saving interest on credit cards or lowering your automobile and other payments, we can review your credit report for savings opportunities. We have helped our members save hundreds of dollars on monthly payments and interest, and we’d love to help you too!

Call or come see a member of the AFCU team today to get started and cross these four items off your to-do list for this year!

Last Call for Wayne and Long County High School Seniors to Apply for Our Annual Scholarship Contest

Ensure you have your application to us by April 15th! Applications can be found on our website or at your school. The winners of our three $1500 scholarships will be drawn and announced April 16th.

AFCU Team Members Continue to Grow

Two AFCU team members saw promotions this past quarter. Ken Davis has been with the credit union since 2015, when he started as a teller. After a stint in member services, he moved into the accounting department, where he previously received another promotion. In December 2020, Ken completed his Associates in Accounting at Coastal Pines Technical College and was promoted to Staff Accountant.

Also hired on as a teller, Heather Ford has been at AFCU since 2019. In January 2021, she was promoted to Member Service Representative II, where she will be assisting members with both account and loan needs. Congratulations to both these team members! We are very proud of their accomplishments.

Scam Alert: Stand Your Ground!

Scammers have existed throughout history, but the pandemic seems to have brought on a new breed of scammers and a host of new scams. With this in mind, we are kicking off a new recurring feature in our newsletters dedicated solely to scams.

This quarter we are focusing on a particularly nasty type of scammer – those who use threats to scare others into action. Most of these type scams are conducted via phone, but they can be delivered via email too. The conversation starts with the caller letting the recipient know that he has an outstanding obligation, such as a power bill or tax lien. They then escalate the call by stating that the obligation must be paid immediately. If the recipient denies the obligation or says they can’t pay, the caller resorts to aggressive and often abusive speech and begins to threaten derogatory reports to credit bureaus, seizure of bank accounts, and even jail time.

This type of call should never be taken seriously. Legitimate utility companies and government agencies won’t resort to this type of behavior and will always be willing to produce documentation of the debt owed prior to a request for payment. While it can be easy to succumb to the demands of these callers due to their convincing arguments, you should keep your cool. If the caller can’t or won’t provide adequate documentation or time to pay, you are best to hang up. There is no reason you should subject yourself to an abusive caller. Caving to these callers will only yield one thing, and that is stolen funds. Ending the call, as quickly as you can, may save you from falling victim to these scammers and their scams.

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Winter 2021 Newsletter

Winter 2021 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

Last quarter, I introduced you to Kasasa and some of the wonderful products we have rolled out to you, our members. This quarter, I am excited to announce the addition of the Kasasa loan to our offerings.

While the Kasasa savings and checking programs are all about rewards and high yields, the Kasasa loan is about flexibility and convenience. So what is a Kasasa loan? It is a loan that allows you to take back any payments made in excess of the contractually required payments on any closed-end consumer loan at any time prior to the loan’s maturity date. That’s a lot of any’s! It even comes with its own app, so that you can see the impact of making additional payments and the ability to take them back when you want without ever stepping foot in the credit union or without even having to call us. That’s a lot of flexibility!

The best part is that your payment never changes, nor does your maturity date. You keep paying the same payment you agreed to pay in your initial loan agreement. No gimmicks, and no gotcha’s. Just great flexibility and convenience when you need it.

Let’s say you finance a car with us. Normally, if you make extra payments, you wind up merely paying the loan off earlier than the maturity date. And if at some point down the road, you needed to borrow money, you would need to make an application with us, be approved for the loan, sign a new loan agreement and wait
for the funds to be disbursed.

With the Kasasa loan, you still finance the car with us as you normally would, but now
you have the freedom to take back any extra payments you make over the life of the loan simply by taking them, or any portion of them, back directly on your app or in-person at a branch, if you wish. There are no new applications, no waiting on an approval and no new documents to sign. It’s done. The “take-back,” as it’s called is deposited directly to your account, and you are free to use the funds when and how you want.

The next time you make a loan with us, you will have the choice to make a loan as normal with us or to make the loan under the Kasasa program. The choice is yours. There is no fee or extra charge to do this, and there is no obligation to make extra payments or to take back any extra payments you do make, only the option. And now that you have that flexibility, doesn’t it make sense to make all of your loans with us? It does to me!

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Closed: Saturday, January 16th and Monday, January 18th
Presidents Day – Closed: Saturday, February 13th and Monday, February 15th

Annual Meeting – Closed: Thursday, February 25th

Credit Score Tip

Paying debt obligations on time and using credit wisely certainly keep your credit score high, but what happens when someone from the outside seeks to damage that? Fraudsters who use your information to open accounts can damage everything that you have worked so hard for in a matter of minutes. Protecting yourself by placing a security freeze on your credit file is paramount to ensuring that doesn’t happen. Doing so ensures that you, and only you, can authorize a party to access your credit file, by requiring a PIN that has been provided to you when you create the freeze.

Credit bureaus operate independently of each other, so you should place a freeze with all three. You may contact each to place a freeze through the information below. Be sure to safely store your PIN, and be ready with it when you are ready to apply for credit.

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
www.freeze.equifax.com
1-800-349-9960

Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
experian.com/freeze
1-888-397-3742

TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
transunion.com/securityfreeze
1-888-909-8872

Security Tip

Passwords can be frustrating sometimes. From mis-typing to mis-remembering to website glitches, it may seem like it is more trouble than it is worth to have to enter a password to access a particular website, but the fact is passwords do offer protection of your information and they are here to stay. So what are some best practices when creating passwords? Here are a few we require at AFCU:

  • Use hard to crack phrases or groups of words.
  • Use both capital and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Don’t use passwords from your personal life at work and vice versa.
  • Don’t use passwords among multiple programs or websites.
  • Don’t store them in unsecure locations, and do not share them with others.

If you are notified that one of your passwords has been compromised, change it immediately by going directly to the website or program in question (and any others that didn’t follow bullet point 4 above). Following these rules can help keep you from an even bigger headache than merely forgetting a password.

Helpful Hint

Safeguard Your Messages to Us. Use Secure Messaging in our Mobile App and our Online Banking! You may send us messages in many ways, but the most secure is through our mobile app and our online banking. Just log in to either and look for Messages or the message symbol in the menu to begin your message. All messages are delivered to us securely and are answered in the same manner, so that you can be sure details of your conversation are not compromised in any way.

Online Banking has a New Look…and New Address

Our online banking got a facelift in December. You can still access the same great functions, but now online banking and our mobile app look and operate much more alike than in the past. If you haven’t experienced our updated online banking, be sure you have the new URL saved. You can access online banking by clicking on “Login to Account” at altamaha.org or by going directly to https://bsdc.onlinecu.com/altamahafcu/#/.

In the Spirit of Giving

The holidays are always a reminder of how much we have to be grateful for and how much we can share. This holiday season, the AFCU team found several opportunities to do both. This year, with no family Christmas party, AFCU provided the Christmas backdrop and photography team for family pictures for AFCU team members. We are so grateful for the family we have and the ones with which we can safely gather, and we wanted to create a reminder of that for our staff. We owe a special thank you to h2o Creative Group for making this happen.

AFCU team members also opened their pantries and their pocketbooks to share bags of non-perishable items for local needy families. Collectively, we donated over 150 cans and boxes of food for those who may have gone hungry otherwise.

Finally, we collected toys at the Ludowici branch for the Long County Toys for Tots toy drive. With many local families being impacted by loss of jobs due to COVID, there are a greater than normal number of families who can’t afford Christmas for their children. Thank you to our members and our employees who helped fill this box to help their own.

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Fall 2020 Newsletter

Fall 2020 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

You may have noticed a new word around AFCU. To be sure (as I have been told), it’s not exactly a “South Georgia word,” but it is one that I think you will become more and more familiar with and will even grow to love. So what’s the word? It’s Kasasa! “What’s Kasasa,” you say? Well, let me tell you.

Kasasa is a brand of innovative banking products designed exclusively for smaller financial institutions so that they may compete in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. Our first Kasasa offering is a series of savings and checking products. Each is designed to reward you for behaviors that support the financial health of the credit union. Rewards come in the form of dividends, cash back, or incentives that can be used at popular e-commerce sites such as iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. Here’s the best part. They are totally free accounts, meaning we don’t charge fees for having the account or having a low balance, and it doesn’t matter if you miss a month in meeting the requirements to earn your rewards. You get to maintain the same account type, fee-free, and try again for the rewards the next month! You even still receive a dividend.

But wait, there’s more! Kasasa is not limited to savings and checking accounts. Through Kasasa, we are also able to offer a one-of-a-kind loan product that makes borrowing flexible, fun and fast. That product will be rolling out in the 4th quarter. As excited as I am to tell you about it, I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll wait until next quarter to give you all the details.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a checking account with us, I encourage you to re-think your existing relationship and take the following steps:

  1. Open a Kasasa Cash, Kasasa Cash Back or Kasasa Tunes checking account with AFCU
  2. Maximize it with a Kasasa Saver account
  3. Start earning rewards for your good behavior!

You have nothing to lose and only rewards to gain! Won’t you come Kasasa with me?

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

International Credit Union Day – Thursday, October 15th
Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 26th and Saturday, November 28th

Christmas – Friday, December 25th and Saturday, December 26th

New Year’s Day – Friday, January 1st and Saturday, January 2nd

Credit Score Tip

Keeping your credit score high may seem like the least of you worries during a pandemic, but AFCU can help you achieve this. If you are facing job loss, reduced work hours or increased expenses due to COVID-19 or for any other reason, we have resources to help. From our Skip-a-Payment program and Community Care Loan to one-on-one guidance, we can help. Doing nothing in the face of an inability to pay can lead to damaging credit history. Talking with a member of our trusted team can yield a workable plan-of-action that can help protect the credit score you have worked hard to achieve.

If you are having difficulty meeting your credit obligations, pick up the phone and call us. Our loan team is available at (912) 559-6083, and our Special Services team may be reached at (912) 559-6084. Either will be glad to help protect your credit score!

Security Tip

Security can come in several forms. This quarter we focus on financial security. Given that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this quarter’s newsletter is a fitting time to highlight women’s financial abuse.

While financial abuse may not sound violent, it is often a means of manipulation that can be coupled with physical abuse to take control over someone else. The abuse is defined by both a lack of access to funds and to financial decision-making. Offenders take complete control of all sources of income and provide only enough to ensure victims can survive. Women in particular can be vulnerable to this type of abuse due to traditional family roles. Often women are also not allowed to work, further denying them access to money and thus the ability to decide how to use it, including funding a path out of the abuse.

Whether perpetrated alone or in conjunction with other types of abuse, financial abuse is wrong and serves only to disable one party in order to empower another at his or her expense. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or financial abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 334-2836 to report it and get help. Your or their security may depend on it.

Helpful Hint

Need to borrow money but have no time to come in? AFCU online loan applications and e-Sign make loans easy. Simply visit our website at altamaha.org and click on the “Apply for a Loan” button from any page. Once approved, you can sign for your loan and have funds deposited to your account securely and conveniently from any device where you access your email. It’s that easy!

International Credit Union Day is Inspiring Hope for a Global Community

Here in the United States, we enjoy the freedom to bank at a credit union. In fact, people in many countries enjoy access to credit unions. But there are many more who don’t have this access or even this hope. Access to credit unions is often the path out of poverty for many in underdeveloped nations, as small loans, often referred to as micro-loans, help people finance small businesses offering goods and services to their neighbors. Join us this October 15th at your AFCU branch to celebrate your membership and that of many others, whose lives have been enriched by credit unions across the globe. And let’s all hope together that credit unions continue to thrive to empower people everywhere the ability to provide for themselves and their families.

(Snacks, gifts and prizes will be available at all branches from 11am – 1pm on Thursday, October 15th at all branches.)

AFCU Supports Three College-Bound Members with Scholarships

School may look a little different for this year’s incoming college freshmen, but they still have all the same college expenses. As is tradition, AFCU awarded three academically successful graduating seniors, who had maintained their AFCU accounts in good standing, each with $1,500 scholarships in April of this year.

Rhett Dozier was our Long County High School winner. Rhett, the son of Chris and Dr. Dixie Dozier, made his way to Georgia Institute of Technology earlier this summer after graduating as Salutatorian with a 4.0 GPA from the Blue Tide. He will pursue a degree in Computer Engineering.

Kaylee Flores and Shane Bryant were our two winners from Wayne County High School. Kaylee, who also maintained a 4.0 GPA after growing up in the gifted program, chose Valdosta State University, where she hopes to earn a bachelors in Exercise Physiology. She is the daughter of Scott and Scarlett Flores.

Shane, the son of Tina and Jerry Bryant, has already designed his first video game and has ambitions of obtaining a Software Engineering degree from Kennesaw State University. He would like to continue his education by obtaining a Master of Divinity and, using funds from the company he hopes to build from his software engineering knowledge, enter the ministry.

We are very proud of all of our recipients and wish them all the best as they embark on their college careers!

Work-based Learning Programs Are a Continued Tradition at AFCU

This year, we welcome Alysa Hand from Wayne County High School, as our work-based learning student. Alysa joins us as a junior this year and can be seen working on the Jesup teller line. In this capacity, she will learn many skills that she can carry with her throughout both her life and her career.

We are also proud to welcome back Carmen Sanchez, who was our Long County High School work-based learning student last year. Carmen will continue as a part-time teller with AFCU as she begins her college studies. Carmen has been a great worker and a great learner, and we are glad she chose to spend some more time with us to continue to put those skills to use!

From ethics and service to accuracy and analytics, AFCU is a great workplace for any young person looking to build a résumé, whether they stay in the credit union or move to other professions. This is why we have been and continue to be a part of this program in both Long and Wayne Counties. It is one more way we give back to the communities we are a part of.

The Cooperative Spirit Rings True Among Area Credit Unions

As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, it is important that we uphold the cooperative principles, including the principles of “cooperatives working with other cooperatives” and “concern for community.” AFCU is proud to have pulled together two other local credit unions to make a major impact on Wayne County’s Tabitha’s Place.

The seed was planted when Tabitha’s Place founder Janice Phillips spoke at an area Kiwanis meeting about an opportunity to provide a bathhouse to the area homeless. AFCU’s VP of Finance Stephen Harvell was at that meeting, along with Supervisory Chair Bob Fox. As an aside after a meeting of the two with AFCU President Cheryl Spires, the presentation was discussed. Stephen mentioned that he would like to see AFCU pitch in to help but knew that the price tag might be too large for us to go alone. Bob mentioned that it would be nice to have the help of the other local credit unions.

Cheryl agreed and wasted no time in talking with Interstate Credit Union President Stacy Branch and Marshland Credit Union President Jeff Holcomb to get them on board. Both agreed that the project was a great way to showcase the good we can do when we, as credit unions, work together and, most importantly, to provide a much needed resource for those in our area who have no permanent residence and who often have no access to a place to change clothes and bathe.

We are thankful for Marshland’s Marketing Manager Chelsey McNicoll in seeing this project through by coordinating the check presentation of each credit union’s $2,000.00 donation. Together, Wayne County’s three credit unions showed what we can do when we embrace our cooperative spirit and show our concern for community.

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NMLS #804823 | This Credit Union is federally insured by the
National Credit Union Administration
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