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Welcome To The Insighter!

Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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All Posts > Credit


If you’re in debt and have been contacted by your lender or even by third-party debt collection agencies, there are two things to keep in mind. First, you aren’t alone. A 2018 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that roughly 28% of those with a credit history have a debt reported by a third-party debt collection. At least nine percent had at least a 60-day delinquency on a credit card. The second thing to keep in mind is that you have options.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an upheaval in the economy unlike any event in recent history, with millions of Americans unemployed and struggling. Despite government attempts to help, many families are facing unexpected economic pressure.
If you’re at risk of falling behind on payments:


Wait until you’ve missed payments to fix the problem.


Contact your lenders if you’re at risk of missing payments. If you’re having trouble finding the money to make this month’s mortgage, credit card, auto, student loan, or other debt payment, contact your lender right away. They may help, but your options will be limited if you wait to be contacted or call your creditors after the fact.
Many lenders have “accommodations”—hardship programs that can delay or adjust some payments. And if you’re enrolled before you fall behind on your payments, you may be able to avoid negatively impacting your credit score. Be sure to ask for details of any such program before enrolling. Will it affect how much you pay overall? Will your credit limits be impacted? Will your credit score take a hit? And what are your options when the program is over if you’re still facing financial trouble. Be proactive!


Be intimidated by a debt collection call.


Verify your debts and know your rights.  There are rules governing how a third-party collector can approach you to collect a debt. These collectors can help you identify a realistic repayment plan. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says that a debt collector is not allowed to use unfair practices to collect a debt. They may not
  • Try to collect charges in addition to the debt unless they are allowed by the contract or state law
  • Deposit a post-dated check early
  • Communicate with you about a debt by postcard
  • Use any language or symbol on an envelope for correspondence with you (other than its address) that indicates it is a debt collector
  • Misrepresent the debt, including the amount owed.
  • Claim to be an attorney
  • Make threats to have your arrested
  • Make any threats to do things that cannot legally be done or thing that the collector has no intention of doing.
A debt collector is not allowed to harass you. Keep good record of all communications with a debt collector: keep copies of any correspondence, write down dates and times of calls, and notes of what was discussed.
If you believe you’re dealing with an unscrupulous debt collector, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FTC or your state attorney general.
If you’ve been contacted by a debt collector and aren’t sure how to handle it, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has information and documents that can help.


Be afraid to work with a credit counselor. If you’re dealing with a financial crisis, your options can be confusing and the task of managing the situation, daunting. Credit counseling agencies are generally non-profit and can advise you on your financial worries. Be prepared to discuss your financial situation, your employment status, financial goals, and detailed records of your income and expenses. A good credit counselor can help you assess how to best manage all your debits, and many offer initial budgeting sessions at no cost.


Be careful when looking into debt relief. Debt consolidation isn’t for everyone and it won’t erase your debt. You could end up paying even more! Before you enroll in any program, understand how the program works. There are many different types of programs, and you should know and understand the positives and negatives of any one program. Understand, before signing up, if the company is offering a consolidation loan, credit counseling, debt settlement, or some other type of program.
If a debt settlement company required you to save up funds in an account, know that the money still belongs to you. You are entitled to withdraw money from that account at any time without penalty and the account must be administered by an independent third party.
And lastly, watch out for scams. Some thieves will attempt to take advantage of those struggling with debts. Be wary of any company that charges fees before it settles your debts. Upfront fees are a big red flag. Also, companies claiming to help you take advantage of a “new government program” should be avoided. And avoid any company that claims it can make your debts disappear. Your debts will need to be managed, and that will take time and effort on your part. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.


You’ve certainly heard the term before. But what IS a balance transfer, and why should you consider taking advantage of one to help you manage your debt? Well, settle in—welcome to Credit Card Balance Transfer 101.

Let’s start by defining terms. A credit card balance transfer is a simple concept: moving balance of a credit card to another credit card. Usually, the new credit card is offering a promotional rate on the transferred balance, make it an attractive move for those with high balances on higher interest rate cards.
We’ve just wrapped up (haha!) the holiday season. If you signed up for a store-only credit card during your shopping in order to take advantage of that shiny promo rate, you will want to pay that balance off or transfer the balance to another card before the promotional rate ends. The average interest rate on a store-only card is a whopping 27.52% APR! Carrying a balance on a card with that kind of interest rate is bad news for your monthly budget.


A lower initial rate
Most credit card companies offering balance transfers will have a lower promotional rate for the transferred balance for a period of time. But these rates DO expire, so keep in mind how long you’ll be making payments based on that rate, and what your rate will be after the period is over.

Consolidation of payments
Transferring more than one balance to a single card can make it a lot easier to keep track of your credit card bills. Or should we say bill—singular—since you’ll have one balance and one payment to think about.
Long-term savings
The true benefits of a lower rate lay in the long-term reduction of interest fees. Take a look at the chart below. The credit card on the left—we’ll call it the ‘old card’—has a higher interest rate that equates to higher minimum payments and a much higher cost over the life of the balance when compared to the newer, lower interest rate card on the right. You can see that on a store card with a $1,000 balance, you’ll end up paying back $1,353.37! With a rate like the one you could get on the Independence Credit Card, you pay back only $1,069.02. And if you transfer the balance to a card below that is offering a promotional rate on the balance transfer, your costs are lowered even further.
  Old Credit Card Independence
Credit Card
Balance $1,000 $1,000
Interest Rate 27.52% APR 7.25% APR
Monthly Payment $50 $50
Time to Payoff 28 months 22 months
Interest Payments $353.37 $69.02
Interest Payment Savings $284.35


Many credit card companies offering balance transfers will charge fees for the transfer, usually a percentage of the transferred balance, so that needs to be taken into account when considering a balance transfer. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance, a 3% fee would add $150 to your balance right off the top. (The Independence Credit Card has ZERO balance transfer fees!)

The non-promotional rate
There is a lot more to consider about your new card than just the interest rate. How long does the promotional rate last and what is the interest rate after the promotional period ends? If you plan to pay off your balance before the promotional period ends, that would maximize your savings. But if you don’t, you risk being hit with a much higher interest rate again.
More fees
Many credit cards charge an annual fee, so be sure to read the fine print of any credit card before initiating a balance transfer. A few cards do have no annual fee (including the Independence Credit Card!) If your fees and new interest rate are going to cost you more money than you’ll save in a balance transfer, it’s probably not the right card for you.


Any new purchases you make on your new card will not be subject to the low promotional rate. And the rate you DO get will be based on your credit worthiness.

Think a balance transfer may be right for you? Consider the Independence Credit Card from Kirtland FCU! There are NO balance transfer fees, NO annual fees, and you can qualify for an interest rate as low as 2.99% APR on the transferred balance through December 31, 2020!
Apply before March 31, 2020, to get started! Unstuff your wallet and take control of your debt with a balance transfer!

Get started now!
*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Annual percentage rate and balance transfer rate is based on credit history and other factors. If you do not qualify for the type of card for which you have applied, you may be offered credit under different terms and conditions. The special balance transfer promotion is valid on transferred balances conducted between January 15–March 31, 2020. Balances transferred to your credit card by March 31, 2020 and will remain at the introductory promotional rate until your December statement cycle. On your January statement, all remaining transferred balances will convert to your current Annual Percentage Rate. Membership eligibility required. See a representative for complete details. Chart above is for illustration purposes only.

Security Credit Fraud

Do you know your credit score? And what’s the difference between your credit score and your credit report? Taking control of your credit starts with knowing the answer to these questions. 

How do I check my credit score?

Actually, you have more than one credit score! Your credit score is a simplified view of your credit, calculated by each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

Credit score service sites like can show you your score from all three bureaus at the same time. Many of these sites are free to you (funded by advertising) and others may charge a subscription fee. Be sure to read the details before signing up. 

Your credit score can also be found on your detailed credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

Your credit score is a good way to quickly gauge your credit worthiness and track improvements. 

Take a look at this chart from to see where your credit score would fall. 
Credit Score Rating % of People Impact
300-579 Very Poor 17.0% Credit Applicants may be required to pay a fee or deposit, and applicants with this rating may not be approved for credit at all.
580-669 Fair 20.2% Applicants with scores in this range are considered to be subprime borrowers.
670-739 Good 21.5% Only 8% of applicants in this score range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.
740-799 Very Good 18.2% Applicants with scores here are likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.
800-850 Exceptional 19.9% Applicants with scores in this range are at the top of the list for the best rates from lenders.


What the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

Your credit score is derived from many different aspects of your credit report, the detailed history and culmination of your credit activities. Your report includes open lines of credit, mortgages, auto loans, payment history, bankruptcies, total debt utilization, and other details. 

Monitoring your credit report at least yearly can help you catch fraud and identity theft before it can do significant damage to your credit. See a line of credit that’s unfamiliar? You can contact the company and the credit bureau to protect yourself from further damage. 

You can get a FREE copy of your credit report annually at

Security Credit Fraud

Originally posted 2/1/19 - updated

Identity theft and fraud are on the rise. In fact, a study from Javelin Strategy and Research found an estimated record-high 15.4 million people were victims of fraud in 2016—at a staggering cost of around $16 billion. More fall victim every year.

Visa works hard to detect and prevent fraud using a variety of methods. Kirtland FCU also has safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. But fraud still may occur.

Here are steps YOU can take to prevent and limit fraud.

A variety of text and e-mail alerts are available to you through your Online Banking account or by giving us a call. The earlier you discover fraud, the faster the thief can be cut off.

A code word is a special password you will need to give over the phone before any sensitive account information is discussed. This simple line of defense makes sure that no matter what kind of other information a fraudster may possess, he cannot access your accounts over the phone or in person without the word.

Call 1-800-880-5329 or stop by a branch to set up your code word with Kirtland FCU.

Professional identity thieves aren't the only threat. Fraud is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t give your credit card information or bank account information to anyone who isn’t an authorized signer, even those you may trust. Just like a secret isn’t a secret once someone else knows, once the information is out of your hands, you have no control over where it is shared.
The more in tune you are to your spending, the faster you’ll notice something amiss. Check in with your accounts daily, and alert Kirtland FCU if you notice anything unusual.

It’s tempting to set one password for multiple sites: bank login, Netflix, Amazon, credit card account, etc. But, if your password is compromised on one site, every site you’ve used it on is now vulnerable.
Instead, choose a different password for each website. Many browsers can also generate and save tough auto-passwords for you (note: do NOT take advantage of this feature on public computers or public Wi-Fi). In addition, consider taking advantage of two-factor authentication wherever it is offered. This type of login will text or e-mail a one-time login to you each time you enter your password, ensuring that your password alone cannot give a thief access.

Bottom line: keeping tabs on your accounts and safeguarding your important information are the biggest keys to preventing or limiting fraud and identity theft.

Stay savvy out there!

Credit Personal Finance

Six ways to improve your credit score real quick

If you find that your credit card and loans are not getting approved then you need to make sure that you improve your credit score if the reason for rejection is a low credit score. Credit score is the first thing that is checked when a financial institution approves a loan for a new car, land, new home or even a personal loan. In case you want to improve your credit score, it is not going to happen overnight. Improving the credit score is a long process which involves a lot of smart work from your end. Experienced Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Lawyer Mr. Brian Linnekens share some important tips which will help you to improve your credit score quickly and start afresh in terms of your credit health.

Study your dispute errors–
When you start working to improve your credit score, your first step is to study your dispute credit errors. You need to ask for a copy of your credit report from credit bureaus, be sure to look it over for errors. After knowing your credit errors you need to clear them. Seek help from professionals who will work with you on your dispute and help you correct the errors on your credit report.

Credit score generally look like this:
  • Excellent Credit Score – 750+
  • Good Credit Score – 700-749
  • Fair Credit Score – 650-699
  • Poor Credit Score – 600-649
  • Bad Credit Score – below 600

Don’t close your old credit accounts –
It is important to know, don’t close your old credit accounts even if you don’t use them anymore. If you already have credit cards, it will help you to improve your credit score. Try to pay your debts so that your score can be improved.

Get a new credit card –
If you want an improvement in your credit score try and get a new credit card. After getting a new card, if you are planning for a major purchase with your card go for it however make sure that you pay your bills on time. If you pay your bills and loan timely it will help you to increase your credit score.

Don’t make old mistakes and pay bills on time –
Do not make the same mistakes when you start new. Try not to be days past due the due date of clearing your credit card, loan or mortgage installment. Your small mistakes can damage your credit and hurt your credit score. So it is important to pay your loans and bills timely.

Contact an experienced Debt Relief Lawyer –
If you’re trying everything to improve your credit score but you still are not able to improve and you don’t know the way to improve your credit score then you need to consider consulting an experienced debt relief lawyer. A debt relief lawyer will provide you the best advice which is will help you improve your credit score.

Make a plan to improve your credit score –
Planning to do anything is pertinent. You need to plan to improve your credit score. To improve your credit score make a plan, ideally after consulting your debt relief attorney. Your plan needs to involve paying your debts and not closing your unused credit cards because this is a quick fix strategy to improve your credit score.

Security Credit Fraud

The Equifax breach of 2017 taught us all a valuable lesson—even the most secure repository of online information can be vulnerable to attack. And when it happens, anyone can be a victim.

Thieves and fraudsters are constantly changing tactics to gain access to your information. Valuable personal information including social security numbers, names, birth dates—all can be used to fraudulently open accounts, to abuse your credit.

A credit freeze can stop identity thieves in their tracks, no matter what information they obtain.

What is a credit freeze?

Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, open a bank account, apply for a job or even apply housing you may have your credit pulled. Each of three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) collect financial information about you into a credit report. During a credit pull, a business requests this report from one of the bureaus in order to gauge the risk involved in extending you credit or evaluating your suitability for a job or housing.
5 Facts To Consider
  1. A credit freeze restricts access to your report. Without a credit report, opening accounts or using your credit becomes very difficult. It is the most potent protection available for preventing fraudsters from opening new accounts and credit in your name. A freeze does not restrict your own access to your free annual credit report.
  2. A credit freeze has the same effect on you. You will not be able to open legitimate accounts or apply for credit once you place a credit freeze. Freezes have the same effect on you as they do on potential thieves. 
  3. If you do need to access your credit, you can temporarily lift the freeze to conduct your business. Each bureau will issue a unique PIN when you freeze your credit. You will not be able to lift the freeze without this PIN, so be sure to keep it in a safe place.
  4. Credit freezes are FREE. Following the breach of Equifax in 2017, the three major bureaus rushed to make it easier for people to secure their own credit. In the past, a fee was charged to place and remove freezes, but that is no longer the case.
  5. Certain entities will still be able to see your report. Government entities may have access due to court or administrative orders, subpoenas or search warrants. Your existing creditors (or debt collectors acting on their behalf) will also have access.
  6. You will need to place freezes individually at each of the three major credit bureaus. There is no way to simultaneously set freezes. Visit each website or give them a call to process a credit freeze.
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)


It’s important to note that a credit freeze will not protect you if a thief obtains access to accounts or credit you’ve already established, so be sure to keep such information and passwords/PINs private, and monitor your accounts frequently with Online and Mobile Banking.

If setting a credit freeze is a little too much for you, consider at least setting a free fraud alert. A fraud alert allows access to your credit report to remain as long as businesses take steps to verify your identity before issuing credit or opening accounts. You may call any one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert—that bureau is legally obligated to tell the other two bureaus, and all three will place the fraud alert.

Bottom line: there is no magic bullet for preventing fraud. But placing a credit freeze is one of the most effective way to prevent thieves from establishing new accounts in your name. And it’s free!

Credit Personal Finance

A $2,000 balance on your credit card—how did that happen? (Oh yes, dinner at Chez Fifi, new tires, school clothes for the kids…) Thankfully the minimum payment is only $35. You can afford that!

Stop! Before you write that check or make the payment online, consider this: if you make only the requested payments on that debt, your toddler will be entering high school before the balance is zero. At an annual percentage rate of 17.00% APR (the current average according to, it would take almost 10 years to pay off, with an ultimate payout of a whopping $4,125.

Instead, disregard the requested payment on your statement and use the “consistent payment method” steps.
  1. Determine a realistic and fixed amount you can pay each month.
  2. Declare a moratorium on using the card until the balance is repaid.
  3. Pay more when you can—but never pay less than your preset amount.
If you can manage $80 every month, you will repay the debt in less than 3 years with a final payout of $2,486. Increase the payment to $100 and the payoff time drops to 2 years with a final payout of $2,368.

Also, consider a balance transfer to a lower interest rate credit card like the Independence Credit Card from Kirtland FCU. The Independence Credit Card offers low rates and no balance transfer or annual fees. 


*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates effective the first of each month and are subject to change at any time without notice. Annual percentage rate is based on credit history and other factors. The Kirtland FCU Visa Platinum Credit Card has a variable interest rate which is indexed to the Prime Rate and tiered based on credit-worthiness criteria.