Credit Management Seminar Summary

Recently we held a seminar filled with information on the importance of credit, what makes up your credit score, rates and fees and ways to improve your credit score.

Taking the information below and applying it will strengthen and increase your credit score and we promise it will make your life that much easier.

  • Importance of credit: Good credit helps you build personal financial wealth, allows you to secure goods and services now but pay for them later and also increases the confidence of lenders and creditors. Your score even affects interest rates and the fees you pay and helps you achieve short and long term goals.
  • What makes up your credit score: Your credit score is actually a mathematical equation that evaluates different information that is on your credit report in order to identify your future credit risk. Your credit report does not contain information about your income. Visit this site for additional credit score information. If you would like to see your credit report, you can go to EquifaxExperian or Trans Union Corp.
  • Ways to improve your credit score: Make sure you pay your bills on time and try to keep your credit card balances low and pay them off when possible. You want to get your bills current and stay current. You also don’t want to close unused credit cards to try and boost your score. It will actually raise your balance to limit ratio and can lower your score. So try to not open unnecessary credit card accounts if you can avoid it.

How long does information remain on your credit report?

  • Bankruptcy: 10 years
  • Judgment, Suit: 7 years
  • Tax Lien: 7 years
  • Collection, Charge-off: 7 years
  • Inquires/Late Payments: 2 years

In order to obtain loans after a derogatory credit, you will first need time. You will then need to write a letter to accompany your request to explain the discrepancies. It’s very important to be honest and provide documentation that supports settlements or credit correction.

If you still have questions, please call us at 732.312.1500 or email

Identity Theft Seminar Summary

We recently held an Identity Theft seminar where attendees were taught what identity theft is, how it happens, and how to deter, detect, and defend themselves against it.

b4_3d_pig_with_calculator_03-resized-600Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information such as your credit card or social security number, and uses it fraudulently.  Once the thieves have your information, they can charge large amounts with your credit card, open new accounts using your social security number, or even give your name to the police if they get arrested.  All of this will likely cost you time and money, as well as it can potentially ruin your credit and good name.  Identity thieves can obtain this information in many different ways, such as computer hacking, “dumpster diving” into your trash, or simply stealing your wallet or purse.

Although there is no guarantee you’ll never fall victim to identity theft, you can minimize your risk by following the “3 D’s” of identity protection:  Deter, Detect, and Defend.  By safeguarding your information, you can deter identity thieves from stealing your identity:

  • Shred financial documents
  • Protect your social security number
  • Don’t use obvious passwords
  • Avoid giving out personal information unless you’re sure who you are dealing with.

The importance of being proactive in protecting your identity was stressed, as knowing your identity makes it a lot more difficult for thieves to steal it. The next step in avoiding identity theft is to detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.  Always be alert for mail or bills that don’t arrive and denials of credit for no reason.  Also, contrary to the myth, you are not punished for inspecting your credit report.  In fact, the law entitles you to a free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  These three companies urge you to review your annual free credit report at, which is the only authorized site to view your credit report for free each year.

The final step of the “3 D’s” is to defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect a problem.  You will want to close faulty accounts, file a police report, contact the Federal Trade Commission, and even place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports by calling one of the three credit reporting bureaus.

If you’d like more tips or advice on identity theft, be sure to check the Federal Trade Commission’s website at for helpful tips, documents, and videos.  First Financial also posts important articles in protecting yourself from online fraud on our website.

Mortgage Market Seminar Summary

mon125027-resized-600Recently, First Financial hosted a free Mortgage Market Seminar. The seminar was intended for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the current state of the economy. Those in attendance were provided with detailed descriptions of the home buying and mortgage application process as well as advice on how to choose a realtor and lending institution.

The presentation began with an overview of the home buying process and emphasized that it is important not to be intimidated by the long process or be worried about credit score. By finding and choosing the right financial institution with an appropriate lending product and a realtor that one feels comfortable with, this process can be much easier. In order to choose the right financial institution, it is necessary for one to understand all the costs of owning and maintaining a home and determining how much he or she can afford. Some of the most common expenses of owning a home are the mortgage payments covering principal and interest, taxes and insurance, and upkeep. It is recommended that homeowners also set aside a reserve of cash for unforeseen expenses or emergencies.

Once a financial institution has been found, the potential home buyer needs to be approved. The difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification is that the first is a formal commitment from the lender and requires verification of income, funds on deposit, and credit report. When choosing a realtor and attorney, it’s recommended you choose someone with whom you are comfortable with and not make a decision based solely on fees.

No one should ever allow themselves to be persuaded into an agreement or contract about which they feel doubtful or uncomfortable with. It’s also encouraged to ask for closing credits and make your purchase offer contingent upon things such as affordable financing and satisfactory home inspection.

On that note, it is highly recommended that potential home owners have the house inspected. It might cost you a few hundred dollars now, but it gives peace of mind and might potentially save you from thousands of dollars in costs that could have accidentally been overlooked.

The seminar concluded with describing the differences between a fixed and an adjustable rate and closing costs. If you or anyone you know has any questions regarding a mortgage or a future seminar at First Financial, contact us.

Budgeting Seminar Summary – How to Organize Your Finances

bankinginoneplace-resized-600We recently held a seminar on How to Organize Your Finances in 4 Easy Steps. Attendees were taught about the importance of creating and sticking to a budget or spending plan that you decide upon to track what you earn, spend, and save.

The seminar began with educating attendees about the “grandparent method” of budgeting – in the past our grandparents typically budgeted by placing cash in various envelopes labeled by bill name.  For example, when money was needed for groceries, it was taken from the grocery envelope.  Today it’s a little bit different— we live in a typically cashless society where plastic cards and automatic or online bill payments are virtually the norm.  However, attendees were shown how the grandparent budgeting method can easily be applied to today’s digital world.

The seminar emphasized the significance of creating a plan of what you think you’ll spend for the month at the beginning of the month – and tracking it on your computer in an Excel spreadsheet, or by using a budgeting program such as Microsoft Money, online banking, or an app on your mobile phone.

Regardless of the method you choose to create your budget, you should enter your recurring or fixed monthly expenses first, including: mortgage/rent; monthly utilities; and any debts such as auto loans, student loans, or credit card.  Next, enter your flexible expenses, or things you have control over – such as: entertainment, food, clothing, and household expenses.  Seminar attendees were given a budgeting worksheet to use, and shown how to manage their expenses and input their income regardless of whether they were planning for just themselves, a couple, or a family budget.

While budgeting might be “scary” for some, don’t be afraid to have fun with your budget! Make a game of saving your money, and paying your bills.  People are afraid of money – especially of not having it.  By creating an organized plan for your lifestyle, you won’t ever need to be afraid of not having money again.

Stay tuned for upcoming monthly consumer seminars! Enter your email in the subscribe box — located at the top right of this blog — to subscribe to seminar previews and more from First Scoop.