Equifax Data Breach Incident

Credit reporting agency Equifax has announced a cybersecurity incident that involves a data breach of confidential information such as birthdates and social security numbers that could impact 143 million U.S. consumers. Please be cautious of which sites you visit to determine if your personal information is impacted as scammers may see this as an opportunity to obtain your confidential information.

Equifax has established a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, including a simple way to check if your information is part of the breach by entering your name and last six digits of your social security number.

As always, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your accounts and report any unusual account activity to our Member Information Center.  And remember Members First will never contact you by phone or email requesting your personal information.

We will post any additional updates as we receive them.

Message from Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax

Written By: Bluespire

You’re probably aware of how important your credit score is when you’re applying for a loan or line of credit. But what do you know beyond that? Learn what your credit score means, how you can improve it, and why your credit score may differ depending on where you get it.

 

 

 

 

 

What your credit score means

Your credit score represents your credit risk, or how likely you are to pay your debts on time. All of the biggest consumer credit scoring companies use a credit score scale of 300 to 850. In general, the higher your score, the less of a risk you are to lenders. This means there’s incentive for you to raise your credit score as much as possible. However, every lender weighs credit scores differently, meaning there are no hard-set rules for what makes a “good” or “bad” score.

How to improve your credit score

In order to improve your credit score, you should first know how it’s calculated. Your credit score is derived from looking at five factors: your payment history, the amounts you owe, the length of your credit history, your mix of credit in use and the number of new accounts you’ve opened. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help improve your score:

Request a copy of your credit report. Check for any errors and get them corrected.

• Pay your bills on time. Consistently making timely payments can help improve your score over time.

• Only apply for new credit when you need it. Unless you have no credit history at all, be careful about opening new accounts. Each new account makes it harder for you to keep track of debts and harms the length of your credit history.

• Don’t spend too much on credit. Having too much outstanding debt can negatively impact your score.

Why you’re getting different credit scores

You may notice your credit score is different from one credit bureau to another. This is because each bureau uses a different credit scoring model and iteration of that model when calculating your score. To get a better idea of how lenders may perceive your score, you can request your credit report and score from all three of the major credit bureaus and compare them.

Are you still establishing a credit history? Start building it now with a low-interest credit card  or a Credit Builder loan from Members First.

http://www.membersfirstflcreditunion.org/?p=781

Busting the myths of online and mobile banking

Written By: Bluespire

Over half of all U.S. adults use online banking services.* Are your concerns about banking online stopping you from joining in? You may be surprised to learn it’s more secure than ever and virtually anything that can be done in-person can now be done, well, virtually. Take a moment to assuage your fears and dispel some myths of digital banking:

Myth: My banking information is at risk when it’s sent over the internet.

Reality: Federal laws and regulations require financial institutions to keep customer information secure and confidential. On your end, as long as you’re on a secure internet connection (such as a home or work network), have anti-virus software and are on your financial institution’s website or app, then your information shouldn’t be at risk. To be sure you’re on an official and secure website, manually type in the web address instead of clicking a link. You should also look for an “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”) or a small lock icon next to the web address. To ensure your app is safe, always keep it updated to the latest version.

Myth: I’ll be charged extra fees for banking online.

Reality: It doesn’t cost banks and credit unions as much to maintain online services as it does to operate and staff physical branches. We don’t charge any extra fees for basic online services.

Myth: I still need to go to a branch or ATM to deposit checks.

Reality: Members First Credit Union of Florida offers mobile check deposit for smartphones and tablets. Using our mobile app, you can snap a photo of a check’s front and back and have it deposited into your account without ever leaving home.

Myth: I can’t communicate with an actual person when I bank online.

Reality: True, you don’t get face-to-face interaction unless you visit a branch. However, phone support is available so you can get assistance outside of normal business hours — something a physical location can’t offer. Plus, Members First Credit Union of Florida, now offers online chat when you need help that only a person can provide. Ready to try online banking? Visit www.membersfirstfl.org for more information on Members First Credit Union of Florida’s online services and get started today.

Bluespire Complimentary Financial Article
* Source: Pew Research Center.

Drop Overview – What You Need to Know

 
Chad Stacy | Financial Adivsor
Rodney Rich & Company

In Florida, if you are employed in Education, or work for a State or County Department, you are probably familiar with the DROP program. But in case you are not, what exactly is DROP? DROP stands for Deferred Retirement Option Program.This program was designed to build credits based on the length of an employee’s career, and those credits are then turned into a pre-tax benefit at the time of retirement. There is one credit earned for each month worked.

Participation in the DROP program can last up to 60 months, and the balance of an employee’s account is fixed. There is no vesting schedule.

So, What Can I Do With My Drop Balance?
There are normally four options available at the end of DROP:

1. FRS Investment Plan – You can roll your balance into a tax-deferred account.
Pros – Low cost investment options.
Cons – No personal advisor (800 hotline); fewer distribution options.

2. Lump Sum Payment – You can take a full distribution of your balance.
Pros – Physical receipt of your money.
Cons – Mandatory 20% Federal Withholding; possible 10% IRS penalty if under 59 1/2 yrs old (certain exemptions apply); possible higher taxes on ordinary income.

3. Direct Rollover – You roll over your balance to a tax-deferred account with any Investment Company or institution of your choice.
Pros – You maintain control of your assets and your taxes; working with a local advisor to create a predictable sustainable income.

4. Combination Partial Lump Sum & Direct Rollover – You can take part of your balance for immediate cash and roll the remaining portion into a tax-deferred account.
Pros – Immediate cash to pay down debt or for personal discretion; control of remaining balance with the help of a local advisor to create a plan for predictable, sustainable income; working with the Investment Company or institution of your choice.
Cons – Partial Lump Sum has mandatory 20% Federal Tax Withholding.

When considering rolling over assets from an employer plan, factors that should be considered and compared between the various options include fees & expenses, services offered, investment options, when penalty fee withdrawals are available, when required minimum distribution may be required, and protection of assets from creditors & legal judgments. You should consult the plan administrator and a professional tax advisor before making any decisions regarding your retirement assets. Need help deciding the right option for you? Let Rodney Rich & Company help! Contact Chad Stacy at 850-434-5321 to schedule an appointment.

Retirement Income Strategies | Trusts & Estate Planning | Investment Ideas | Insurance Needs
Email: investments@mfcufl.org to set up your individual appointments with Chad today!

* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co. Inc, a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through, Cadaret, Grant & Co. are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through Cadaret, Grant & Co. The Credit Union has contracted with Rodney Rich & Co. to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

5-Star Members First Credit Union of Florida, A Relationship You Can Depend On

Members First Credit Union of Florida has once again received a 5-Star Superior rating. Below is the media release from BauerFinancial.

April 2015: BAUERFINANCIAL, Inc., Coral Gables, FL is pleased to announce that Members First Credit Union of Florida, Pensacola, Florida has once again earned its coveted 5-Star Superior rating. BauerFinancial, the nation’s premier bank and credit union rating firm, has been evaluating and rating financial institutions since 1983. A 5-Star Superior rating indicates that Members First Credit Union of Florida is one of the strongest credit unions in the nation, excelling in areas of capital, loan quality, profitability and more.

Members First Credit Union of Florida has earned Bauer’s 5-Star Superior rating, an indication of strength and security, for the most recent 81 consecutive quarters. That has earned Members First Credit Union of Florida the added title of “Sustained Superiority Credit Union”. Fewer than 10% of the nation’s credit unions can claim this title.

Karen L. Dorway, president of BauerFinancial notes that, “for the first time, we see even the Big Banks acknowledging the value in relationship banking. That’s something credit unions, like Members First Credit Union of Florida, have always known. In fact”, she continues, “because of their inherent focus on relationships, credit unions are uniquely positioned to serve their membership in ways no one else can. Those relationships pay off for both Members First Credit Union of Florida and the members it serves.”

Established in 1954, today Members First Credit Union of Florida operates through five conveniently located branch offices, one in Pace and the rest throughout Pensacola. Visit www.membersfirstfl.org for more information.

Members First Credit Union of Florida: “Grow With Us.”

Member of the NCUA and an Equal Housing Lender.

BAUERFINANCIAL, Inc., Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank and credit union rating and research firm, has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983. No institution can pay for or opt out of a BauerFinancial rating. Consumers may obtain free star-ratings by visiting www.bauerfinancial.com.

The Top 10 Ingredients to a Healthier Financial Future

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Consolidate Debt:  If you are carrying high-interest debt from credit cards and store credit accounts, think about consolidating them with a balance transfer on your Members First Credit Union of Florida credit card. In March, we will be launching our special of 5.95% interest on the life of the balance for any balance transfers on your card with no balance transfer fees. Pay off your high-interest cards and make your debt manageable with this special, limited time offer.

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Refinance Your Home Mortgage: If you’re currently paying over 5% on your mortgage, it’s time to seriously consider the option of refinancing. In the current market, mortgage rates are hanging at or near historic lows. As unpredictable as the market is, it is hard to tell how long these current rates will last. Be an early bird and take action sooner than later. At Members First Credit Union of Florida, we offer a 7-year fixed mortgage at 3.49% and a 10-year fixed mortgage at 3.99% with no closing costs. Depending on your current rate, think of the money you could save over the term of your loan.

*Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.
** To qualify for the no closing cost option, member must meet all loan approval guidelines and must agree to not prepay within the first six months. Also, member must have checking, credit card, and direct deposit to qualify for loan special.

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Make Your Credit Cards Work For You: If you’re going to charge it, why not charge it knowing that you’ll be getting something back in return? With a rewards card at Members First Credit Union of Florida, you earn cash back on purchases you make with your card, including balance transfers. Rewards will be applied to your account annually. Not to mention, everyday banking is even sweeter when you’re part of the club. Being a member of the Rewards Club gives you a discount on checks and safe deposit boxes. You also get one free money order and one free cashier’s check per day. Members must have a checking account, direct deposit, and credit card with Members First Credit Union of Florida to be eligible for rewards.

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Build Your Credit: In today’s world, you can’t go very far with bad credit or no credit at all. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we believe in giving chances and second chances. If your credit is looking a little puny, why not beef it up by applying for a Credit Builder loan? Come see one of our member service representatives today at any of our branches or call (850) 434-2211 for details.

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Refinance Your Auto Loan: Rates rise and fall, and it may be time to see how much you are paying in interest on your current auto loan. If you feel like you should be getting a better rate, it might be time to look into refinancing. Here’s a little secret, if you refinance your auto loan from another institution with Members First Credit Union of Florida, we could save you up to 2% off your current rate.

*Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.

 

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Download the MFCU App: Your time is valuable, and we know it. Downloading the MFCU App on your smart phone or mobile device gives you a key to 24/7 Internet Banking. Keep track of all your finances, make payments, pay bills, and transfer funds with ease. Also located in the app is a map listing our branch locations and fee free ATMS.

App_Apple App_Android App_Download

 

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Take Advantage of CU Membership Perks: Being a member of a credit union is a beautiful thing. We are here to serve you in the best way we can, and we strive daily to meet this goal. Being a member of Members First Credit Union of Florida gives you access to discounts on lovemycreditunion.org. Here you will receive deals and special offers that will allow you to save on brands, such as Sprint, Directv, GMC, Chevy, Cadillac, and more. You can also purchase discount movie tickets for the Carmike and Ridge at all of our branch locations. It pays to be a member at Members First Credit Union. Through our Refer-A-Friend program, you can receive $10.00 when a friend, family member, or neighbor opens up a new account, along with $50.00 if they apply for a loan of $5,000.00 or more.

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Invest in Your Financial Future: Let’s face it, million-dollar sports contracts and lottery winnings don’t happen to most of us in our lifetime. Your long-term financial success depends on choices you make today. Most of us, however, don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources it takes to make our finances reach its full potential. That’s why Members First Credit Union of Florida has partnered with Rodney Rich & Company. Through this partnership, we are able to provide you with consultation on Retirement Income Strategies, Trusts and Estate Planning, Investment Ideas, and Insurance Needs. Take hold of your financial future and make an appointment with Chad Stacy, Financial Advisor with Rodney Rich & Company, today. To set up your individual appointments with Chad, call (850) 434-2211 ext. 11105 or email joshua.henderson@mfcufl.org.

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Protect Your Identity: Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we work hard to protect your finances from malicious activities; but, you can also take steps to make sure that your identity and finances are safe.

a. When using online banking, create a password containing a mixture of letters and numbers. Have a password that contains both upper and lower case letters and include special characters such as a # sign if you can. Never write down or give your password to anyone and try to change your password at least every month.

b. Pins for your credit or debit card should be something easy for you to remember. However, you should stay away from using your birth year or the last four digits of your social security number as a pin number. Never give away your pin to anyone. Your pin is for you alone, and it allows you to access your finances. Giving your pin to someone leaves you open and liable for charges that are made on your account.

c. Stray away from giving sensitive personal and account information over the telephone or through email. The growth of technology with all its many advantages has unfortunately opened new ways for criminals to target you and your finances. Scams have become more sophisticated and are made less easy to spot.

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i. Beware of Phishing. Don’t click on links in emails that ask you for your personal information and don’t open unexpected attachments. Look for errors in spelling or grammar and delete suspicious emails.

ii. Beware of suspicious, unsolicited text messages. For example, you may receive a text message that provides you with a number to call for account discrepancies. Once the number is called, it may then prompt you to give your account information and pin numbers. You should always be wary of such messages and delete them as soon as possible, because spyware may be attached to the text messages. Contact Members First Credit Union of Florida directly at (850) 434-2211 or toll free at (877) 434-6328 to verify the validity of the message.

 

d. Monitor your account(s). It is good practice to log into your account(s) daily or at least once a week, through online banking or our mobile app, to make sure transactions have processed correctly and that they are transactions that you have made. To view real time information about your credit card with Members First Credit Union of Florida, you can enroll at ezcardinfo.com. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can take advantage of the credit union’s 24-hour Phone Teller or opt in for text alerts.

e. If you feel like your account(s) may have been compromised or you’ve lost your debit/credit card, don’t delay. Take action right away by calling the lost/stolen numbers for your card(s) and/or call or visit your financial institution. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we are always happy to help and keeping you and your finances safe is important to us.

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Be Informed: Knowledge is power and knowledge empowers you to be a financially-fit and smart person. Stay abreast of credit union specials and updates. Here at Members First Credit Union of Florida, we work hard to provide resources to better serve you. Power Your Life With A Credit Union You Can Trust.

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Named One of the Healthiest Credit Unions in America

Recently, Members First Credit Union was designated one of the “Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America” by the financial institution research website DepositAccounts.com. This looks at financial institutions’ health today vs. before the financial crisis of 2008 and the financial institution’s current risk of failure. The report mentions, “The global financial crisis of 2008 has prompted many to take a second look at the health of their financial institutions. Many banks and credit unions were not as financially healthy as many believed.”

As you view the list of banks and credit unions, you will notice Members First is the only financial institution from Pensacola to make the list. Members First takes great pride in offering our members a very secure, very healthy financial experience.

https://www.depositaccounts.com/banks/health.aspx

 

It’s Tax Free Weekend!

Back to School Shopping Tips

Shop with the help of the Lifestyle Loan

Where has the summer gone? It’s the beginning of a new school year, and now you are getting ready for your first day. Take advantage with this weekend’s Tax Free Holiday and enjoy the perks of not paying taxes. But, before you go break the bank, here are a few tips to help you save money and be a smart shopper.
Have a plan. All stores are competing for your attention and your money. If you don’t have a plan, list, or budget, you are going to find yourself overwhelmed and over spent. When you are prepared and shopping with a purpose, you are less likely to buy items you may not need or spend more than you really can afford. Check with your child’s school to make sure you have their supply list. Most teachers have a supply list at local stores; or, you can pick up a copy at the school. Don’t waste the opportunity to buy while you can without paying taxes on it now.

Do some research. Know what items are and are not included in the Tax-Free Holiday Weekend. You can find a list at the Florida Department of Revenue’s website http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/tips/pdf/tip14a01-04.pdf). Hopefully, you can match the items on your shopping list to the items in their inclusion list of tax free items.

Shop smart. Many retailers post or announce their sales on their websites or Facebook. By looking at these sites ahead of time and knowing items availability, you can cut down on the number of places you actually need to go to. This saves you on gas and time. Once you are at the store, use your smart phone to comparison shop with apps like RedLaser or use your browser to compare store prices with online prices.

The Lifestyle Loan. Sometimes we need a little help getting all those back to school supplies. Don’t worry that’s what Members First’s Lifestyle Loan is here to do. So stop by any branch, or call us at 434-2211, to get more information on how we can help you get your shopping done TODAY!

Be Part of The New Credit Union Movement

See what 100 Million Looks Like!

We want to show America what 100 million membership looks like. Since America’s first credit union opened its doors in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1908, millions of people have made the smart choice to become members.

Today, many Americans are choosing our not-for-profit alternative over big banks. That means that 1 in every 3 Americans will be members of credit unions. We invite you to submit a selfie and add your presence to the growing credit union movement as we celebrate the power of 100 million membership. Post it with the #100MM, and let your community know you are part of something bigger that focuses on your best financial interest!

Why are millions so excited? Because this milestone is too exciting not to celebrate and they can’t wait to share the credit union difference!

Want to know what 100MM looks like? Check out selfies, ussies, and the latest news on the

Finding the Right Financial Partner

Members First Wants To Be Your Financial Partner

We are all looking for the right one… the right person, the right job, the right shoes; but, what about the right financial institution? Finding your financial partner can be easier than you think. Here are a few things to consider when you decide to start looking for the right banking institution for you.

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Start by determining exactly what products and services you need. Do you need free checking? No-cost debit cards? High-interest CDs? Is Mobile Banking a must? By knowing exactly what you are looking for, you can help eliminate institutions that can’t offer you those services.

Once you are aware of your needs, think about your location. Do you need an institution that is close to home, close to work, on the way to “somewhere,” or all of the above? Would you rather stop by a branch, or use Internet Banking and an ATM? Pay attention the next time you take a drive or do an internet search of those areas. It may surprise you to “see” or not “see” ATMs or branches that you have not noticed before. Depending on your preferences, you can further include or eliminate institutions.

Lastly, think about what kind of relationship you want with your institution. Do you want someone you see every once in a while or only when you have a problem? Or, do you want a relationship with your financial institution? Is it important for them to know you when you walk in the door by name, or is it their lobby atmosphere? Do their ideals match yours? You can learn a lot about the institutions by checking their websites, Facebook pages, or even blogs. Do a little research, see what intuitions were ranked highest by BauerFinancial, Inc.; and, don’t forget your friends can sometimes give you the best recommendations.

Members First wants to be your Financial Partner. Stop by and see us at any branch to talk to our Member Service Representatives to see how well we can be the right fit for you!