Find answers here to frequently asked questions about our credit union and the services we offer. If you don’t see the information you’re looking for, please contact us and let us know how we can assist you.
Credit Union Basics
What is a credit union?
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution, owned and controlled by its members. Credit unions typically serve groups who have something in common, such as where they live, work, or attend church. Becoming a member of a credit union carries power because credit unions are not-for-profit, and exist to provide members with a place to save money and get loans at reasonable rates. Credit unions, like all other financial institutions, are closely regulated. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, administered by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the federal government, insures deposits of credit union members at more than 98% of federal and state-chartered credit unions nationwide, and the remainder are insured by safe private insurers. Deposits are insured up to $250,000.
What makes a credit union different from a bank?
Like banks, credit unions accept deposits and make loans--but unlike banks, credit unions are not in business to make a profit. Banks exist to make money for their stockholders, not for their depositors. Credit unions exist solely to serve their member-owners, and benefits are returned in lower loan rates and higher deposit rates. Credit unions are the only democratically controlled financial institutions in the U.S. Members elect a volunteer board to oversee the credit union and the president reports to this board. Bank directors, however, are paid and legally bound to make decisions that benefit stockholders, not customers.
How does the credit union operate?
The annual membership meeting provides members the opportunity to be directly involved in the credit union's direction by electing the people who serve on the board of directors. The board of directors is responsible for ensuring that the credit union fulfills its key purpose. The board chooses someone to manage the credit union (a president or manager) and this person is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the credit union. The VA Desert Pacific Federal Credit Union board members are professionals serving on a volunteer basis.
Who governs credit unions?
A credit union receives its authority to operate by obtaining a federal or state charter. Federally chartered credit unions follow the regulations set by the Federal Credit Union Act, and state chartered credit unions follow those under the State Credit Union Act. Annual examinations and oversight are conducted by the supervisory agencies-the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for the federal credit.
Change of Address, Phone or Name
How do I change my address or phone number?
Please don't send address changes or other personal information or requests through regular email because it is not secure. There are three ways to change your address or phone number with the credit union:
- Complete a Change of Address form. Fax the signed Change of Address form to (562) 597-5122. This way we can verify the signature for the change and process your request immediately.
- Mail or drop off your signed Change of Address form to: VA Desert Pacific Credit Union, 5901 E. 7th Street, Building 4, Long Beach, CA 90822
- Call the credit union at (562) 498-1250, Option 2 during our business hours. Please have your share and/or loan account history available as we need to verify additional account information to ensure we properly verify and protect your identity prior to changing your address. The process to change your address by the phone will take approximately 5 minutes.
How do I change my name on my account?
A new signature card will need to be signed by all owners for all suffixes (accounts) that you own at the VA Desert Pacific Federal Credit Union. We also need a copy of your new driver's license, marriage certificate or divorce papers. We ask that you come to our offices to change your name, but the signature card can be sent out if necessary.
How do I sign up for direct deposit?
For direct deposit of your paycheck, contact your employer's payroll department for the appropriate forms and information. To arrange direct deposit of your Social Security and/or Social Security Supplemental Income payments, call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. To arrange direct deposit of your VA or pension checks, call your employer's human resources department.
Are savings deposits insured?
Yes. All savings accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the federal government.
Where can I make deposits?
Cash deposits can be made at our Long Beach branch. Non-cash deposits (checks, money orders, etc.) can be made in person in all three branches, by mail, or at many CO-OP, Accel/Exchange networks' deposit-taking ATMs.
Help with Card
How do I get help with my Visa Credit Card Account/Card?
Effective Tuesday 5/29/2012, please call our 24x7 Call Support Center at 1-866-499-3042 (in the US) or 1-605-782-3819 (outside the US).
My ATM/Visa Debit Card is lost. How do I get a new one?
To report a lost or stolen debit card and obtain a new card, please call the credit union (562) 498-1250, Option 2, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8.30 AM- 4.00 PM, Wednesday 10.00 AM- 4.00 PM, Friday 7.00 AM- 5.00 PM. After business hours, please call (800) 262-2024.
I forgot my PIN. What do I do next?
If you forgot your PIN and attempted to withdraw with an incorrect PIN, our card processor will deny all attempts after 3 tries. Thereafter, even if you remember your PIN, the PIN tries has to be reset before you may use your card again. To have the PIN tries reset, please call the credit union (562) 498-1250, Option 2. If you can't remember your PIN, you need to take your card to one of the branches and have the PIN reset.
Where can I withdraw without paying the surcharge fee?
The credit union is a member of the CO-OP and Accel/Exchange networks. Wherever you see an ATM that displays the CO-OP and/or Accel/Exchange logo, you may withdraw funds without paying the surcharge fee.
Should I refinance my home?
Refinancing can be worthwhile, but it does not make good financial sense for everyone. A general rule of thumb is that refinancing becomes worth your while if the current interest rate on your mortgage is at least 2 percentage points higher than the prevailing market rate. This figure is generally accepted as the safe margin when balancing the costs of refinancing a mortgage against the savings. There are other considerations, too, such as how long you plan to stay in the house. Most sources say that it takes at least three years to fully realize the savings from a lower interest rate, given the costs of the refinancing. (Depending on your loan amount and the particular circumstances, however, you may choose to refinance a loan that is only 1.5 percent higher than the current rates. You may even find you could recoup the refinancing costs in a shorter time.)
Refinancing can be a good idea for homeowners who:
- want to get out of a high interest rate loan to take advantage of lower rates. This is a good idea only if they intend to stay in the house long enough to make the additional fees worthwhile.
- have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and want a fixed-rate loan to have the certainty of knowing exactly what the mortgage payment will be for the life of the loan.
- want to convert to an ARM with a lower interest rate or more protective features (such as a better rate and payment caps) than the ARM they currently have.
- want to build up equity more quickly by converting to a loan with a shorter term.
- want to draw on the equity built up in their house to get cash for a major purchase or for their children's education.
How much house can I afford?
There are simply too many variables--credit history, income, debt, special mortgage programs and variations in qualifying guidelines between mortgage loan types--to answer that question. The only sure way of getting the question answered is through prequalification. The mortgage prequalification step is a relatively simple one, but is an important one. It formally begins the process of applying for a home loan and gives you a clear sense of direction of where you should be headed. By knowing what your financial parameters are, your real estate agent can spend more time looking for houses that match your qualifications and less time pursuing dead ends. Your agent can also use your prequalification to strengthen your bargaining position when making an offer on a house
What is the prequalification process?
First, you will need to provide us with some basic information so we can analyze it. You can do this by filling out and sending us one of the home loan application forms, calling, faxing, or e-mailing us, whatever you are comfortable with. We will review your information and offer suggestions about which loan option may be right for you.
What are settlement/closing costs?
A settlement may involve several people, and a variety of documents and fees. Depending upon where the property you are financing is located, the cost for items such as transfer taxes, recording fees and other title related services will vary. The following is a list of the most common settlement/closing costs; however, many of the fees described below may not necessarily apply to your type of mortgage loan.
- Appraisal Fee: This fee is paid to the lender so that they can hire an appraiser to objectively appraise the property for its fair market value. This will ensure that the house is worth at least as much as the amount you are paying for it.
- Credit Report Fee: This fee covers the cost of the credit report, which the lender uses to determine your credit worthiness. You most likely paid this fee upfront when you applied for the mortgage loan.
- Flood Certification Fee: This fee is paid for a flood certification which states whether or not the property is located in a flood zone. If so, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance.
- Loan Discount Points: Loan discount points are the dollar amount paid to the lender for making the loan. Each point equals 1 percent of the mortgage loan amount. For example, if your loan amount is $100,000, one point equals $1,000. The more points you pay at closing, the lower your interest rate should be.
- Loan Origination Fee: This fee covers the administrative costs of processing the loan. It may be expressed as a percentage of the loan (i.e. 1% of the loan amount).
- Processing Fee: The processing fee covers the cost to package the file, submit it to the lender, and help coordinate the closing of your loan.
- Tax Service Fee: This fee is charged for researching county tax records to confirm that the taxes are paid in full and up to date.
- Underwriting Fee: The underwriting fee is paid to the lender for evaluating your application to determine your ability to pay back your loan.
- Wire Transfer Fee: When you purchase or refinance, funds will be wired to fund the transaction. The receiving account charges a nominal fee for the wire transfer.
- Escrow Fee/Settlement or Closing Fee: This fee is paid to the title company for handling all financial transfers and payments associated with the transaction.
- Title Insurance: Required by your lender, this insurance guarantees that your property has no other lien or claims against the property.
- Recording Fee: This fee is paid to your county clerk's office to record the transfer of title.
- Hazard Insurance and Property Taxes / Escrow: If you are going to be paying for your property taxes and insurance in your monthly mortgage payment (required on some loans), you may be required to pay for your 1st year insurance premium and 2 months of taxes and insurance into your escrow account at closing (will vary on refinances).
- Interest: Prepaid interest is the fee you are charged for borrowing money from your lender. You will probably have to pay the interest on the mortgage from the date of settlement/closing to the beginning of the period covered by the first monthly mortgage payment. For example, suppose you settle on February 10. Your first monthly payment begins to accrue on March 1 and will be payable at the beginning of April. At closing you may be required to prepay the interest for the period from February 10 through the end of February. This means that if you settle later in the month, your closing costs will be less than if you settle early in the month.
- Mortgage Insurance: Different loan types have different guidelines for mortgage insurance. The most typical guideline is that if your mortgage is for more than 80% of your purchase price/value of your home, mortgage insurance will be required. The rate and term of insurance is dependent on the type of loan, length of loan, and loan to value.
What is HUD?
HUD, short for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, insures mortgage loans to help people buy or refinance their current homes with a low down payment. HUD doesn’t give you the loan directly. You need to go to a local HUD approved lender. VA Desert Pacific Federal Credit Union provides home loan financing through the services of Laura Lee Brown at CU Partners, a HUD approved lender. Contact Laura Lee Brown at (866) 320-1018 to find out if one of HUD’s programs is right for you.
How should I take title on my home?
Title is the term for ownership and the names listed on the deed are the legal owners of the property. How you take title of your home is crucial. If you are single, then your choice is easier because in most cases you will take title as the sole owner. However, if you are married or buying the home with a partner, your choices multiply. Each option has certain legal, ownership, and tax advantages and disadvantages.
- Sole Ownership: A sole owner owns 100% of the property and is the only name listed on the title/deed.
- Joint Tenancy: Joint tenancy provides two or more people equal undivided interest in the property with rights of survivorship. All joint tenants must agree to a sale and sign the deed to sell the home. This is a common choice for married couples because when one joint tenant is deceased, his/her share transfers to the survivor regardless of what is stated in the deceased spouse’s will. Taking title as joint tenancy may prevent the home from entering probate proceedings in the event of death. Joint tenancy is not limited to married couples, but two or more people must co-own the property.
- Community Property: A few states like California allow you to take title under community property. Community property claims are available only to married couples. Community property laws generally presume each spouse owns a 50 per cent interest in all property acquired during the marriage. Community property differs from joint tenancy because the property does not automatically pass to the surviving spouse upon death. You may will your community property to whomever you wish.
- Tenancy In Common: Unrelated partners sometimes choose Tenancy In Common. Each partner owns a portion of the property and can be equal interest or not. Unless otherwise agreed, each partner has the right to sell his/her interests in any way at any time without consent of the other partners. Unlike joint tenancy, when a partner dies, that portion of the ownership becomes part of the deceased partner’s estate and is subject to the provisions of his/her will.
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