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Summer 2024 Newsletter

Cheryl’s Corner

As a not-for-profit financial institution, AFCU adheres to the seven cooperative principles. As you have probably seen in our newsletter or our lobby before, one of those principles is concern for community. While we certainly focus our efforts each day on our most important community – our membership – we also want to make the places where our members live, work, and worship better. This is why we take part in so many local events and assist so many area organizations.

While it is important that we fulfill our mission of offering products, services, and financial literacy outreach to enable our members to make informed and provident financial decisions, we understand that our members’ lives are multi-dimensional and that supporting organizations who assist those in need in our communities makes our entire community stronger, safer, and better.

I am honored to work for an organization who makes such an impact with its time, talent, and dollars on the counties we serve and who has such a rich history of doing so. Whether it is collecting school supplies, toys, or food for those in need; or lending a hand for community events like Odum Day, the Screven Independence Day Celebration, or the Long County Chamber Spring Fling; or making monetary donations to local charities, AFCU is a vital part of our communities’ wellbeing.

It feels good to know that we make a difference. If it’s been a while since you’ve paid attention to what AFCU has to offer you and our community, stop by and see the good we can do for you! I think you’ll be proud to be a part of us, too!

Holiday Closings & Important Dates

Labor Day – Saturday, August 31st and Monday, September 2nd
Columbus Day – Saturday, October 12th and Monday, October 14th

Credit Score Tip: Review Your Credit Report for Accuracy

As we’ve written in the past, it is wise to pull copies of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year. However, if you don’t understand the content, they may not be of much help. These reports will show you the latest reported information from each of your creditors. Some items you’ll want to look for on the report are:

• What creditors are listed, and how to contact them,

• What the beginning balance of the debt was and how much you owe each creditor,

• What the payment amount on each debt is,

• Whether any delinquent amounts are owed to the creditor,

• Whether you had any late payments over the past and when those were made, and

• Whether there are any public records or collections listed and if they have been paid.

Most creditors only report once per month, so some information like account balances may not reflect what your records show. However, if information is substantially wrong or has not reported in quite some time on an active debt, you may want to investigate further by contacting the creditor directly. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you may want to file a dispute, if you think the information is negatively affecting your credit score. Instructions on how to submit these disputes are generally included with your credit report.

All in all, your credit report should be an accurate reflection of your credit obligations, present and past, and your payment history with each. Having a credit report with inaccurate information, especially derogatory information, can derail all your efforts to keep your credit score high.

Security Tip: Pack Your Bags with Good Habits for a Secure Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax and unwind, but don’t let your guard down when it comes to protecting your personal information and your money. Below are some tips to help keep your vacation stress-free.

1. Ensure that you only use Wi-Fi to connect your devices when looking at generic content. If you need to access credit union accounts or other password-protected websites, be sure to use a VPN (virtual private network) or your own password-protected hotspot.

2. Enable MFA (multi-factor authentication) on both your devices and your accounts.

3. Finally, always maintain possession of or safely store your devices, and enable the remote lock and find my device functions before you leave for vacation.

Following these tips may not help with the weather or vacation crowds, but you can rest easy knowing that you’ve made it hard for fraudsters to ruin your fun.

FinLit: Your Key to Understanding Financial Terms

What is DTI and how can it hurt me?

DTI is financial institution-lingo for debt-to-income ratio, which is simply the percentage of your monthly income that is used to make monthly payments you owe. Having a high DTI may indicate to a creditor that you do not have enough income to pay for a new obligation, and this may cause you to be denied credit.

Many creditors look for DTI to be no more than 50%, but some creditors are more stringent and may have lower thresholds. These thresholds may even vary depending on your credit score with some creditors.

Creditors may also calculate an unsecured DTI, which differs in that it calculates your total unsecured debt balance as a percentage of your annual income. Again, the higher this is, the more likely a creditor will be to charge a higher interest rate, ask for money down on a purchase, or even deny an unsecured loan or credit card request.

As we’ve noted in our Credit Score Tips in the past, ensuring you only borrow what you can repay and keeping your unsecured revolving balances low are two key tips in maintaining a healthy credit score. Knowing how DTI is calculated and used by creditors can help you make good decisions about credit usage to keep that score higher.

AFCU Aids in Food, Fun, and Freedom

AFCU has been busy this past quarter making our communities a better place to live. Recently, we donated $1,500 to the city of Screven for their yearly Independence Day festivities. Our employees made monetary and non-perishable donations to the Manna House of Long County, and we supported the Fair Haven’s annual fashion show and luncheon with our presence and our dollars. Finally, we have been active in supporting our new businesses and the Wayne and Long County Chambers by attending scheduled ribbon cuttings and by sponsoring key events such as the annual galas of each, candidate forums, and legislative luncheons.