News & Info

Equifax Data Breach

As part of our ongoing efforts to help keep our member’s personal information as safe and secure as possible, we want to remind you to always stay on the lookout for the many security threats making the rounds in cyberspace today.

Recently, we learned about a massive Equifax breach in which more than 143 million consumers may have had their information compromised, including:

 

  • Social security numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Addresses
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Credit card information (for approximately 209,000 consumers)

What should you do next? Due to the high potential impact of this breach, we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Determine whether you may have been affected. Through Equifax’s self-service portal, you can quickly determine whether your information may have been compromised. Enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number and you’ll find out whether Equifax believes you’ve been affected. This process takes only a couple of minutes.
  • Enroll in Equifax’s credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Equifax is now offering one free year of TrustedID Premier, its credit monitoring and identity theft protection product, to all U.S. consumers, even if you aren’t a victim.
  • Once you enter your information in Equifax’s self-service portal, you’ll be given the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. Click Enroll, and you’ll be provided with an enrollment date. Be sure to write down this date and return to the site on or after that date.
  • Be wary of e-mails that come from Equifax. Because of the high number of victims, Equifax is notifying only the 209,000 consumers whose credit card information may have been affected via postal mail. Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.
  • Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. Equifax’s free TrustedID Premier service can help you monitor your credit—but be sure to monitor your other important accounts and statements for any suspicious activity.

For more information, visit Equifax’s FAQs page regarding the incident. You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission at Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.

First Mortgage Tip: Home Financing Options

First Mortgage Tip: Home Financing Options

LEARN THE LINGO.

Pre-Qualification VS. Pre-Approval. Before beginning your house hunt, it’s a good idea to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Doing so will give you an idea how much you can afford to spend so you won’t waste your time looking at houses that are out of your price range. Keep in mind, through, that pre-qualifications and pre-approvals are two very different things:

  • Getting PRE-QUALIFIED simply means that a lender has provided you with an estimate of the mortgage amount you will likely qualify for. If you choose to purchase a home, you will still have to go through the actual mortgage application process at that time.
  • Getting PRE-APPROVED requires you to provide a lender with paperwork so they can verify your income, credit, etc. If that lender does decide to pre-approve you for a mortgage, it essentially means you are guaranteed to get a loan up to specified amount (assuming no major financial changes occur for a limited period of time.)

When it comes to mortgages, one size does not fit all.
Numerous options and programs exist with different terms, features and benefits to suit various buyers. Be a well-informed consumer by familiarizing yourself with these common mortgage types:

Conventional/Fixed Rate Mortgage:
A fixed-rate mortgage an interest rate that remain constant throughout the term of the loan. Most fixed-rate mortgages come with a term of either 15 or 30 years.
Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM):
Adjustable-rate mortgage typically start with a lower rate than fixed-rate mortgages, but after a few years the rate can begin to rise and will fluctuate periodically.
VA (Veterans Affairs) Loans:
VA Loans offer up to 100% financing for military members and their families.
FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loans:
FHA loans can help buyers receive financing even if they may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage. The FHA insures the lender for the mortgage amount - removing the risk associated with the borrower.
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Rural Development Loans:
These loans are available to rural residents who meet certain requirements, including the inability to be approved for traditional financing.
Balloon Loans:
A balloon loan is a mortgage in which a larger-than-normal outstanding balance must be paid at the end of the term.
Interest-Only Loans:
These loans offer borrowers a period of time when they pay interest only on their mortgage. (During the interest-only term, the borrower does not build any equity.) Once the interest-only term ends, the borrowers starts to pay off the principal as well.

Selecting the mortgage option that works best for you will depend on a number of factors, including how long you plan to stay in the home, if you’re comfortable not knowing what your future payment might be an more. Discuss your goals and lifestyle in relation to these different financing options with one of our Mortgage Specialists. By carefully analyzing the pros and cons of each loan type, you can determine a financing option that best meets your needs.

Speak to one of our Mortgage Specialists about home purchasing options that fit your budget. Call us at 732-225-1505 or learn more at pinnaclefcu.com/myhome. Pinnacle Federal Credit Union is an equal housing lender. NMLS# 423010

First Mortgage Tip: Know Before You Buy

First Mortgage Tip: Know Before You Buy

Overwhelming. Confusing. Frustrating. Are just a few words on how the mortgage process can be. We are here to provide you with the answers to many of your home mortgage questions.

Know Before You Buy. The mortgage lending industry has changed dramatically over the last several years. Many processes and procedures are now highly regulated and require documentation that lenders were not required to collect in the past.

Lenders are also required to inform and send you certain documents within a timeline based on the submission of your application. Lenders and their representatives must be registered with the National Mortgage Licensing System in order to speak to you about a mortgage. Their NMLS identification number is the unique identifier assigned to registered Mortgage Loan Officers should be displayed. Be sure to ask if you are speaking with an NMLS registered Loan Officer. It’s important that you have all of the information before you begin the mortgage process.

Speak to one of our Mortgage Specialists about home purchasing options that fit your budget. Call us at 732-225-1505 or learn more at pinnaclefcu.com/myhome. Pinnacle Federal Credit Union is an equal housing lender. NMLS# 423010

First Mortgage Tip: Saving for a Down Payment

First Mortgage Tip: Saving for a Down Payment

Here is the low down on the down payment.

One of the most important financial decision you’ll have to make early on in the home buying process is determining how much of a down payment you can afford. Some lenders offer low or no down payment options, but putting down 20% of the home’s purchase is ideal. If you put down less than 20%, you’ll may need to pay Private Mortgage Insurance.

So how can you save for a down payment? Well by making small changes you can start to see the dollars stack up. It doesn’t always have to mean grueling sacrifices – like staying in every Friday night and eating ramen noodles. Try some of these tips:

  • try replacing your cable service with a streaming subscription like Netflix. The average cable user pays $250 a month, which means you could save $3,000 a year.
  • Go jogging instead of paying for a gym membership
  • Packing a lunch for work could save you over $60 a month – that’s $720 a year.
  • Start a coin jar. Saving all of your loose change can have a big impact.
  • Instead of your morning routine starting with a Venti Java Chip Frapp, start making your own iced coffee at home. (Don’t worry you can still treat yourself every now and then.)

These are all tips that can help you save big in the end that you will barely notice you don’t have. Speak to one of our Mortgage Specialists about home purchasing options that fit your budget. Call us at 732-225-1505 or learn more at pinnaclefcu.com/myhome.

First Mortgage Tip: Time to Earn Some Extra Credit

First Mortgage Tip: Time to Earn Some Extra Credit

Once you decide you’re ready for home ownership, it’s a good idea to check your credit score, as it will largely determine the terms of your mortgage. If your credit score is lower than you’d like due to missed payments or maxed-out cards, it’s in your best interest to put off purchasing a home until your credit score rises.

With a few strategies and a commitment to smart money management, you can boost your score and save yourself a lot of money in the long run. Just follow these tips:

FIND YOUR SCORE. Determine your credit score by obtaining a free credit report from one of the three main credit bureaus. Just go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1.877.322.8228. Credit scores range from 300 to 850; a score around 700 is considered good, while anything above 720 is excellent. A score below 620 is generally considered poor. Once you know your starting point you can create a goal credit score and map out a plan of how you will get there.

DON’T CLOSE OLD ACCOUNTS. A part of your credit score comes from how long you’ve had credit, and the longer a card is open, the higher your score could be. Keep old accounts open; they can help boost your score and balance out newer lines of credit.

PAY DOWN YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS. Start by paying down your cards with the highest interest rate first, and aim to get all balances below 50% of your credit limit. Since 33% of your credit score is based on the amount you owe, work on relieving your debt in any way that you can.

DON’T OPEN NEW CARDS THAT YOU DON’T NEED. Avoid opening new cards at department stores or gas stations for one-time promotional discounts. New cards carry 10% of your credit score, and can bring down the average age of your credit, lowering your score even more.

Speak to one of our Mortgage Specialists about home purchasing options that fit your budget. Call us at 732-225-1505 or learn more at pinnaclefcu.com/myhome. Pinnacle Federal Credit Union is an equal housing lender. NMLS# 423010

First Mortgage: To Buy or Not to Buy

First Mortgage Tips #1

To Buy or Not to Buy….that is the question

Owning a home is often touted as the American Dream. But the truth is: Home ownership isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. For some, renting may actually be a better option, So before you venture too far down the home buying path, first take some time to decided whether or not home ownership is right for you.

Here are some things to consider:

Flexible.
General guidelines dictate that homebuyers should stay in their home for at least four or five years to break even on closing costs and other fees. For those who appreciate flexibility or plan to relocate within the next few years, renting is likely the smarter choice.
Tax Advantages.
Renters do not receive any tax breaks related to their apartment, but homeowners are able to deduct at least a portion of their mortgage interest.
Independence.
When you own a home, you are free to make whatever changes you wish (barring any exceptions from a homeowners association). Such freedoms do not exist for most renters. In addition, homeowners don't have to seek permission from a landlord if they wish to add a pet to their family.
Up-Front Costs.
Homeowners should be prepared to pay a down payment, closing costs and other fees when purchasing a home. For renters, the upfront costs are much lower - usually only consisting of a security deposit that might amount to one or two times the monthly rent charge.
Equity.
Homeowners have the opportunity to build equity in their purchase - a huge benefit when it comes time to sell or if they wish to take advantage of a home equity loan. Renters, on the other hand, will not get back any of the money they pay for the use of their apartment.
Upkeep.
Leaky roof? Failing HVAC system? Broken water heater? As a homeowner, these are your problems - not a landlord's (although a home warranty could help you cover some of these costs.) If you don't feel capable of handling these potential situations or simply wish to avoid regular upkeep such as yard work, an apartment is probably for you.

Speak to one of our Mortgage Specialists about home purchasing options that fit your budget. Call us at 732-225-1505 or learn more at pinnaclefcu.com/myhome. Pinnacle Federal Credit Union is an equal housing lender. NMLS# 423010