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  • Learn About Credit Unions
    • Historical Timeline of Credit Unions

      As not-for-profit depository institutions, credit unions were created to serve members as credit cooperatives.

    • How is a Credit Union Different than a Bank?

      In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.

    • How to Find a Credit Union in Your Area

      Once you select a specific credit union, you can view more details about that credit union, including contact information, branch locations, services offered, and recent financial statements.

    • How to Join a Credit Union

      Anybody can join a credit union. Each credit union serves what�s called their �field of membership� � that�s the commonality between the members.

    • How to Start a Credit Union

      If your group is eligible, NCUA's staff will assist you with preparing an application for a charter and see that your group receives guidance in getting your federal credit union started.

    • Is a Credit Union Right for Me?

      Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, their focus is serving the financial needs of their members and not making a profit.

    • Credit Union and Bank Interest Rate Comparison

      In general, credit unions offer higher savings rates, meaning that your money grows faster, and lower rates on loans, meaning that you will owe less over the lifetime of the loan.

    • Learn More About Your Credit Union

      NCUA makes financial information about credit unions available to the public through Financial Performance Reports (FPRs).

    • Low Income Credit Unions

      Credit unions provide valuable access to financial services for people underserved and unserved by traditional financial institutions.

    • Understanding Differences in Federal vs. Privately Insured Credit Unions

      Federally-chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    • What is a Credit Union?

      A federal credit union is a cooperative financial institution chartered by the federal government and owned by individual members.

  • Protect Your Finances
    • Credit Reports and Credit Scores

      It�s a good idea to monitor your credit report on a regular basis to make sure that the information is accurate. You can also verify that no one has stolen your identity to make fraudulent charges.

    • Share Insurance Coverage

      Federally insured credit unions offer a safe place for you to save your money, with deposits insured up to $250,000, per individual depositor.

    • Online Financial Safety Tips

      When performing transactions on your credit union's website, it's wise to make sure that the website is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured.

    • Prevent Identity Theft

      If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you should contact any credit union, bank or creditor where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft.

    • Frauds and Scams

      NCUA reports on frauds and scams aimed at credit union members. In this section, we provide an overview of recent activity.

    • Tips for Young Adults

      Credit unions offer young adults desirable, affordable financial services, as well as the advantage of personal service developed to help them grow their savings. Many credit unions offer services within schools or have student-run branches.

    • Pocket Cents

      Learn about the history of money, different currencies used around the world, the power of dividends and how to be smart about preparing for your financial future with Pocket Cents from NCUA.

    • Understand Your Privacy Rights

      Federal privacy laws give you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. The law permits your financial companies to share certain information about you without giving you the right to opt out.

  • Financial Tools and Resources
    • College Savings Calculator

      Grants, scholarships and loans will likely be part of how you will pay for college. With tens of billions of dollars of financial aid available every year, some of that aid could be yours. It�s important to know what�s available to you.

    • Consumer Loan Calculator

      You can adjust variables, including number of payments, principal, and interest rate, to determine your monthly payment.

    • Consumer Resources

      The following links to government websites may be helpful as you investigate the financial tools available to you.

    • Mortgage Loan Calculators

      Compare the monthly payments and the amount of equity you will build in your home for several kinds of fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

    • Personal Budgeting Worksheet

      This worksheet will help you understand where you can be flexible each month.

    • Savings & Retirement Calculator

      The Social Security Administration�s Retirement Estimator calculator will provide estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record.

    • Share Insurance Estimator

      The Electronic Share Insurance Estimator helps credit union members calculate their coverage under National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

  • Credit Unions and You
    • Dealing with Debt

      Bill payer services, or debt consolidation services, can help consumers preserve their credit scores by merging debts and establishing a workable schedule to pay down money owed to creditors through a single monthly payment.

    • Buying A Car

      It's important to know how to make a smart deal. Your credit union can discuss car loan options with you.

    • Paying off Credit Cards

      Read your statement carefully for information about how long it would take to pay off your account balance if you only pay the minimum payment. It can take years, even decades, to pay it off.

    • Home Ownership and Mortgage Options

      Once you are ready to buy a home, consult your credit union about competitive interest rates and to find out about your mortgage options, including the term of the loan and the conditions.

    • Mortgage Modifications

      NCUA encourages credit unions to work constructively with residential mortgage borrowers who may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations.

    • Preparing for Retirement

      Between longer life expectancies and fewer employers offering traditional pension plans, it�s a good idea to take an active role in planning for retirement.

    • Saving for College

      Whether you are saving for your own education or for your children�s, it�s wise to start planning for college as soon as possible.

    • Short Term Loans

      Payday loans (a.k.a. deferred advance loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans) are loans borrowers promise to repay from their next paycheck or salary deposit.

Pocket Cents
  • Youth

    Have you ever thought about why money is worth anything? It's just paper and ink, or a small piece of stamped metal. To do a lot of things we need to use money. Money can give you choices and independence. Have you ever thought about how you could earn your own money? Or, how much money you should you save? The way you manage your money could determine if are able to buy food, a movie ticket, a pair of jeans, just about everything. Learn about the history of money, why we use it, how to save it, and how to protect it.

  • Teens and Tweens

    You may be thinking about your first checking or savings account, your first job, or even your first car. Soon, you will have the opportunity to pursue your dreams. You could go to college, launch your career, or start a business. No matter what you decide, you will need money to make it happen. It's never too early to learn smart financial habits. Whether saving a portion of a weekly allowance or understanding the deductions on the pay stub from a first job, good money management skills can last a lifetime. In this section, you will not only learn how to prepare financially for life after high school, but also how to avoid scams and common money mistakes.

  • Young Adults

    Are you prepared to make wise and informed financial decisions? Do you know how to recognize predatory credit offers? Can you balance a checkbook? Do you have a savings plan? Smart financial choices you make today could help you can achieve that new car purchase, or sail through an apartment lease or mortgage application. However, money mistakes when you're just starting out can leave you in debt and ruin your credit score. Learn how to live within a budget, handle credit and debt, and build a solid financial foundation for your future.

  • Parents And Educators

    How do you teach kids about money? It may be as simple as talking about your job, taking a trip to the grocery store, or opening a savings account at a credit union to deposit allowance and birthday money. The bottom line is that it�s never too early to start teaching children smart financial habits and the value of money. Educating, motivating, and empowering kids to become regular savers will enable them to keep more of the money they earn. Whether at home or in the classroom, this section will provide you with the tools and resources to teach kids how to grow into financially responsible adults. The reward could mean a life free from the anxieties of debt.

  • Seniors

    Did you know that seniors account for almost 30% of all fraud victims? Whether you are looking for information for yourself or for a loved one, in this section you will learn how to defend against these scams, as well as, find information on reverse mortgages, prepaid funerals, emergency savings, and long-term care. Additionally, you will find articles that will help with money management, post-retirement planning, and maximizing government benefits.

  • Marriage and Family

    You may have a retirement account. But, do you really know how much you should be saving? Do you budget to save, and not just when you have extra money left over in your paycheck? Have you thought about saving for college? Does your family have an emergency fund? Anyone can learn how to save money and invest in their future. In this section, you will learn how to take control of your financial future, including how to defend against fraud and scams, tips on buying a car or home, how to handle credit and debt, and information about credit reports.

  • Servicemembers

    Are you financially ready? Servicemembers and military families face unique financial challenges, whether on active duty, returning to civilian life, or living as a veteran. In recent years, servicemembers have joined the ranks of those who are considered most vulnerable to predatory lenders and identity theft. Most military families today are not saving adequately for retirement, and many do not have an emergency fund. In this section, you will learn how to protect yourself from financial vulnerabilities, as well as, how to budget, save, and handle debt and credit. Additionally, learn about free financial resources, benefits, and special protections offered by the U.S. government for servicemembers and their families.

Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base contains references, created by the NCUA, for consumers. It is constantly updated, expanded, and refined to ensure that you have access to the very latest information. Begin by browsing folders on the left side of this site.

The following questions address a variety of consumer issues and concerns, many of which are governed by state law. As laws vary from state to state, NCUA does not accept responsibility for differences between the answers provided and the actual law in the state in which you live. These questions and answers are for general informational purposes only and are not in any way intended to replace legal advice from an attorney familiar with the state law applicable to your situation. If you have a specific state-law issue or concern, you should contact an attorney for advice or assistance.

National Credit Union Administration

  1. ATMs and Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs)
  2. My ATM/debit card has been lost/stolen. What should I do?
  3. The credit union captured (took) my ATM/debit card and stated that it would be destroyed. Can the credit union do this?
  4. Where can I find an ATM for my credit union?
  1. Business Accounts
  2. Can the credit union change the terms of a business share draft account?
  1. Consumer Loans
  2. Loan Interest Rates Can a credit union charge any interest rate it wants on loans?
  3. Consumer Loans Can a credit union located in one State make a loan to someone living in a different State?
  4. Consumer Loans Can I cancel the credit protection on my credit union loan?
  5. Consumer Loans Can the credit union change my payment due date—say, from the 1st of the month to the 15th of the month?
  6. Consumer Loans Can the credit union close my credit card / line of credit account?
  7. More...
  1. Credit
  2. Credit Reports Can the credit union report information on a debt of my ex-spouse on my credit report?
  3. Credit Reports Can the NCUA help me with my credit report?
  4. Credit Scores Can the NCUA help me with my credit score?
  5. Credit Disputes Does a furnisher have to investigate all direct disputes?
  6. Credit Disputes Does the furnisher have to notify me if it decides that my dispute is frivolous or irrelevant?
  7. More...
  1. Credit Cards
  2. Credit Card Payments and Late Payments After a payment is made, when does the credit union make the additional credit available?
  3. Changes to Credit Card Terms/Other Forms of Credit After I made a late payment on my credit card, the credit union notified me that it intends to raise my interest rate. Can the credit union do that?
  4. Credit Card Payments and Late Payments Can I make special payment arrangements on my credit card account?
  5. Changes to Credit Card Terms/Other Forms of Credit Can I reject a change to my line of credit?
  6. Changes to Credit Card Terms/Other Forms of Credit Can I reject changes to my credit card account?
  7. More...
  1. Credit Union Accounts
  2. Credit Union Account Errors A deposit was credited to my account by mistake. Can the credit union freeze the account?
  3. Credit Union Account Errors A deposit was credited to my account by mistake. Does the credit union have to receive my permission before removing the funds?
  4. Credit Union Account Disclosures A local credit union advertised a free share draft account. I signed up. Now the credit union is charging me for checks/share drafts and for overdrafts. Isn't this misleading?
  5. General Credit Union Account Issues Am I entitled to receive my cancelled checks/share drafts with my credit union statement?
  6. General Credit Union Account Issues Can my credit union change my deposit account statement cycle date?
  7. More...
  1. Credit Union Fees
  2. Overdraft Fees and Protection Can the credit union charge a fee if my check/share draft overdraws my account?
  3. General Credit Union Fee Issues Can the credit union charge for transferring my IRA to another financial institution?
  4. Overdraft Fees and Protection How can my account be overdrawn when I just made a deposit?
  5. Overdraft Fees and Protection How many times will a credit union allow an insufficient funds check to be redeposited/resubmitted?
  6. General Credit Union Fee Issues I asked the credit union to lower the fees on my account. It refused. Can it do that?
  7. More...
  1. Credit Union Record Keeping
  2. How long must credit unions keep deposit account records?
  1. Filing a Complaint Against A Federal Credit Union
  2. How Do I File A Complaint Against My Federal Credit Union?
  3. How long does it take?
  4. What Should I Expect During the Complaint Process?
  1. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
  2. How do I make a FOIA request to the NCUA?
  3. How long will it take to get the records I requested?
  4. What are the fees associated with a FOIA request?
  5. What is FOIA?
  6. Where do I send a FOIA request?
  1. Funds Availability
  2. A friend says that her credit union never places a hold on her deposited checks. My credit union always puts a hold on my checks. Aren't all credit unions supposed to use the same availability schedule?
  3. A friend wrote me a check to repay a small debt. The financial institution that the check is drawn on has released the funds, but my credit union is still holding the funds. Can it do this?
  4. Are there exceptions to the funds availability (hold) schedule?
  5. Can the credit union place a hold on a payroll check?
  6. Can the credit union place a hold on deposits made in cash?
  7. More...
  1. Garnishments
  2. After my credit union froze my account, some of my checks were returned unpaid. May the credit union impose an insufficient funds or “NSF” fee for these returned checks? What about a fee to freeze the account?
  3. Does my credit union have to tell me it has received a garnishment order for my deposit account?
  4. Does my credit union have to tell the court or my creditors if my deposit account contains Social Security, Veteran’s, or other federal benefits that may not be garnished? Is my credit union required to freeze my account?
  5. Due to a garnishment order, my credit union froze my credit union account and paid money from the account to my creditor, including my Social Security benefit. May the credit union do this?
  6. How do I find out if money in my credit union account is about to be garnished and what should I do next?
  7. More...
  1. Home Ownership and Mortgages
  2. Mortgages Are there different types of reverse mortgage products?
  3. Mortgages Do reverse mortgages carry risks for consumers?
  4. Mortgages How can I receive payments on a reverse mortgage?
  5. Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) I agree that the value of my home has declined but I do not think that it was a significant decline. Does the law define what constitutes a significant decline?
  6. Mortgages I am thinking about a Reverse Mortgage, what are the risks and what should I consider?
  7. More...
  1. Identification
  2. An unsolicited credit union contacted me (by phone or e-mail) and asked for personal information to open an account. I had not inquired about opening an account.
  3. Can a credit union require a beneficiary to provide a Social Security number?
  4. Can the credit union require me to provide my Social Security Number?
  5. I want to open a new account. What type of identification do I have to present to the credit union?
  6. Is it legal for the credit union to request my fingerprint to cash a check?
  7. More...
  1. Identity Theft
  2. How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?
  1. Inactive Accounts / Escheats / Unclaimed Property
  2. I recently found some old credit union records (i.e., account statements, share certificate receipts, passbooks). The credit union does not exist anymore and the new credit union cannot locate any record of the account. What should I do?
  3. What can you tell me about state unclaimed property programs?
  4. When is an account considered inactive or unclaimed?
  5. Why would a credit union send me a notice stating that my account may be turned over to the State treasurer as abandoned property?
  1. Insurance
  2. Credit Insurance Can my credit union force me to buy credit insurance?
  3. Flood Insurance How much can a credit union charge for flood insurance?
  4. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) I applied for a mortgage loan and the credit union is forcing me to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI). Can it do this?
  5. Flood Insurance I applied for a mortgage loan, and the credit union is forcing me to buy flood insurance. Can it do this?
  6. General Property Insurance I let my home insurance lapse. The credit union went out and secured a new policy, and then notified me that I'm responsible for paying the premium. The new insurance is a lot more expensive. Can the credit union do this?
  7. More...
  1. Interest-Bearing Accounts
  2. How can I calculate the APY on my account?
  3. I closed my interest-bearing account, but the credit union did not pay me all the accrued interest.
  4. The credit union no longer pays interest on my money market deposit account because I wrote too many checks. Can it do this?
  5. Who sets the interest rates on share accounts?
  1. Phishing
  2. What is Phishing?
  1. Pre-authorized Payments and Automatic Withdrawals
  2. How can I stop a pre-authorized debit from being paid from my share draft account?
  3. I canceled a service after the free trial period, but the merchant continues to charge my share draft account every month. How can I stop this?
  4. I closed my share draft account, but the credit union continued to accept the recurring charges from my insurance company. Why doesn't the credit union reject these charges?
  5. I just noticed a charge on my statement that I did not authorize. That same charge appeared on my prior statement as well. What should I do?
  6. Last year I gave a vendor/merchant authorization to make a monthly automatic withdrawal from my share draft account. Now I have canceled the service, but my credit union won't stop the withdrawals. What can I do?
  7. More...
  1. Right of Offset
  2. May a credit union take money from my deposit account to make a payment on a loan that I owe to the credit union?
  3. My Social Security check was deposited into my credit union account. Before my check was deposited I wrote a check for an amount larger than what I had in my account, and the credit union used some of the money from my Social Security check to pay the extra amount of the check that was not in my account plus the fee I was charged for making this mistake. May the credit union do this?
  4. What can I do if my credit union took Social Security money from my share draft account to pay on a loan that I owe to the credit union?
  1. Share Certificates
  2. Dividend rates have gone up, but the credit union refuses to raise the rate on my time share certificate. Why?
  3. Does the credit union have to continue to pay dividends on my share certificate after it matures?
  4. I cashed my share certificate before it matured, and the credit union charged me an early withdrawal penalty. Can it do this?
  5. My share certificate matured, but I didn't redeem it. What happened to my funds?
  6. What are the penalties for withdrawing money early from a share certificate?
  1. Timeframe to Report Missing Funds
  2. The credit union paid a share draft from my account that was for the wrong amount. The credit union stated that I waited too long to report the loss. How long is too long?
  1. Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) / UTMA
  2. What is Uniform Gift to Minors Account (UGMA) / Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)?
  1. Wire Transfers
  2. How much can a credit union charge for a wire transfer?
  3. Money was wired from my account to another party, but that party did not receive the money. What can I do?
  4. Money was wired to me, but it isn't in my account. What can I do?
  1. Other Credit Union Topics
  2. Savings Bonds How do I redeem my savings bonds?
  3. Safe Deposit Boxes I am missing items from my safe deposit box. The credit union has stated that it is not at fault. What can I do?
  4. Safe Deposit Boxes I rented a safe deposit box in 1982, but lost track of it. Now the credit union cannot locate the records or contents. How can I find out what happened to my property?
  5. Safe Deposit Boxes I want to find property that I left in a safe deposit box. Whom should I contact?
  6. Safe Deposit Boxes The credit union advised me of an increase to my annual safe deposit fee. They indicated that I could avoid the increase by opening an account with them. Is this a legal practice?