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Which Auto Finance Companies Offer The Best Car Loans?

There are many different auto finance companies you can choose to apply for a car loan with. Getting approved for a car loan is a “must” for most car buyers today, as many car buyers do not have the financial means necessary to pay cash to buy a new or used car. Even those that do have the financial means to pay cash often don’t want to hand over such a large amount of cash and would prefer to finance their purchase. Before you apply for a car loan online, however, you do want to make sure that you find the best loan possible.

How your credit score affects LTV

In most cases, the higher your credit score, the higher the maximum Loan to Value amount will be.  These amounts will vary from lender to lender, but here are some guesstimates based on a vehicles wholesale for invoice value:


Credit Score LTV Ratio
720 1.50
700 1.45
680 1.40
650 1.35
620 1.30
600 1.25
580 1.20
550 1.15
525 1.10
500 1.05
475 1.00
450 .90
Below 450 .80












What is LTV and How Does it Affect Car Loans?

What is LTV and how does is affect car loans
The acronym LTV stands for Loan to Value and is defined as follows.

LTV The ratio of the Loan Amount divided by the Collateral Value

When it comes to getting approved for a car loan this value is extremely important.  Here at we witness several times where car buyer was pre-approved online, but was unable to buy the car they wanted due to LTV restrictions set by the car loan lender.  When you get pre-approved online the lender sets two conditions on the loan, a Maximum LTV amount, and a Maximum monthly payment amount.

First Financial gets a website makeover. has launched it new website. We have gotten a very positive response from users. The website was long anticipated and we are extremely happy with the new look.

The new age of mobile banking

According to a survey of 2,001 adults released in August 2012, 49 percent of consumers own a smartphone or tablet. Of those mobile device owners, 64 percent use their device to manage their finances.

Not surprising that the survey found a majority of younger consumers (ages 18 to 34) who own mobile devices are using them for banking, it did reveal that roughly half of Americans over 50 are as well.


What are current credit card rates?

Credit Cards

  • 13.81% (all fixed)
  • 14.52% (all variable)

Credit card rates remained unchanged this week, according to Bankrate’s latest survey of interest rates. The average annual percentage rate, or APR, for variable-rate credit cards stayed steady at 14.52 percent for the sixth week in a row. The fixed APR was 13.81 percent, where it has remained since the beginning of March.

AAA, the largest travel organization in the U.S., joined the chip card revolution this week. On Monday, the organization said it is offering its co-branded Bank of America credit cards with EMV chip technology — named for the developers of the technology standard Europay, MasterCard and Visa. It is widely used around the world and better defends against counterfeit fraud. Current cardholders simply need to request a new chip card to get one.

Fraud strikes about 1 percent of credit card transactions ans skimming threatens debit card users

There are two times as many credit card fraud cases involve phone or online transactions than retail sales, according to  new data from FICO. Researchers found that sophisticated counterfeit  rings have raised the stakes for merchants over the most recent 20 month period.

There have been reported an increase in “skimming,” a technique where criminals  tamper with ATMs and payment devices to capture both card details and (PIN) personal  identification numbers. Criminals can use magnetic stripe blanks or other stolen  cards as “clones,” passing details of a stolen account to a payment device  without the victim’s knowing. ATMs, grocery stores, and gas stations  topped the list of places where criminals use stolen or cloned debit cards.

Criminals test stolen credit cards online before shopping in public places

Fraud rings usually test the stolen  cards with smaller online transactions. The online tests as a “relatively safe” way for thieves to learn whether  victims notice extra purchases on their monthly statements.

Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates, where  the results of an annual customer satisfaction survey show that nearly a quarter  of credit card problems involve fraudulent transactions.

Debit card usage grows nationally

FICO’s numbers show American consumers rely on debit cards more than  ever, driving a fifteen percent increase in authorization compared to the  previous period studied. Federal rules leave consumers responsible for only $50 of  fraudulent debit card transactions if reported within 2 days, though Visa  and MasterCard  now require member banks to follow tougher “zero liability” rules. Debit card  fraud can leave consumers on the hook for bounced check charges or  failed bill payment fees while investigators to restore the funds.

The FICO monitored millions of credit card  transactions between January 2010 and September 2011. Researchers use the data  to develop complex algorithms that protect client issuers and their cardholders  from identity theft and fraud. Analysts found fraudulent transactions in only 1  percent of their sample.

Consumer Advocates: Banks Bringing Back Payday Loans

Although North Carolina outlawed payday lending over a decade ago, the state is again seeing the short-term, high-interest loans — this time from banks. Alabama-based Regions Bank offers a product called “Regions Ready Advance,” which lets consumers borrow up to $500 by pledging their next direct deposit. “If they weren’t a bank, they wouldn’t be able to offer this product in North Carolina,” said Chris Kukla, senior vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). Kukla says the effective interest rates for Ready Advance loans could amount to 365 percent annually. However, the bank says that the product is essentially a small-dollar line of credit and does not fit the term “payday loan.” North Carolina allowed cash advance from 1997 until 2001, but lawmakers passed legislation that authorized the store-front shops to expire. The fees, though usually small, amounted to annual percentage rates that exceeded North Carolina usury laws. Regions Bank began offering its Ready Advance product 18 months ago, essentially breaking a de facto embargo on the practice. SunTrust, a much larger bank, is considering a similar product. Fees for payday products were typically $16 for every $100 borrowed, compared to Regions’ Ready Advance product, which charges $10 per $100. Although that seems like a small amount, CRL says that it amounts to an effective annual percentage rate of 365 percent. Kukla said that consumers have better options, such as a low-cost, small-dollar loan from the N.C. Employee’s Credit Union, which charges only a few dollars upfront. Across the country, regulators like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau are noticing this trend of bank products that are similar to payday loans, but most banks operate under state banking laws rather than federal regulators

Groups Drop Lawsuit to Get Payday Loan, Minimum Wage Initiatives on Missouri Ballot

Two Missouri groups confirmed that they are abandoning a legal challenge to a ruling that they did not have sufficient signatures to get a payday lending initiative and a minimum wage measure onto the November ballot. Last month, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan told Missourians for Responsible Lending and Give Missourians a Raise that they failed to collect enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. The organizations decided that legal hurdles posed by “the payday lending industry, their allies and their lawyers” were too high to overcome before the September deadline. The payday lending measure would have capped annual interest rates and fees for the loans at 36 percent, down significantly from the average of 445 percent. Rev. James Bryan — treasurer for Missourians for Responsible Lending — said supporters of the ballot measures faced harassment, dishonest ad campaigns, fake petitions in the field, and an “interminable legal process.”

California Cracks Down on Illegal Online Lending

California officials have cited at least nine Internet payday lenders for illegally offering “quick-cash” loans online and being overly aggressive in collecting on the debts. The state Department of Corporations issued a “consumer alert” warning about unlicensed online lenders, many of which advertise on Facebook or online sites like “These loans are a last resort for some people, particularly if they have unusual or unexpected expenses,” said department spokesman Mark Leyes. In California, payday loans are limited to $300, with fees up to $15 per every $100 borrowed. Unlike a storefront payday center, online lenders require borrowers to provide access to their bank account for automatic depositing of funds and debiting of repayment. Leyes said some unlicensed online lenders are dodging the law and “gouging consumers” by charging excessive interest rates and fees. “If you give out your bank account information online, they’ve got their hooks in you,” he warned. “They can get in there anytime they want.” Since the start of the year, the state Department of Corporations has issued nine complaints against online payday lenders, more so than usual. TIOR Capital LLC in particular was ordered to “desist and refrain” making loans and to return all funds to borrowers. The state gave an example of a $300 payday loan with a $90 finance fee, due in two weeks. When the consumer failed to repay the loan on time, it was automatically “refinanced” for an additional $90 fee. This amounted to an annual interest rate of 782.14 percent.

Iowa City Council Moves on Payday Lenders Ordinance

The Iowa City Council voted unanimously to approve the second consideration of an ordinance that would require payday lending institutions to be at least 1,000 feet away from churches, schools, and daycares. The first consideration of the ordinance was unanimously approved on Aug. 21, and a third favorable consideration is required for it to become law. Other Iowa cities — including Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, and Ames — recently have passed measures that restrict payday lenders’ services.

Some Payday Borrowers May Get Refunds

Residents of Central Valley, Calif., may qualify for repayment from a 2007 lawsuit settlement with payday lending company Money Mart/Loan Mart. A judge ordered the firm to compensate California customers up to $7.5 million as part of the accord. The suit was filed on behalf of the people of California, alleging that the payday lending business participated in predatory lending schemes. There is an Oct. 1, 2012, filing deadline for customers who believe they may have been victims of this alleged scheme. Customers may be eligible for a refund if they took out a “payday loan advance” between January and July 2005 or if they borrowed “installment loans” or “CustomCash loans” between July 2005 and March 2007 from a store operated by the company. Qualified recipients could receive refunds of up to $1,800 for interest, fees, and finance charges that they paid.

Central Valley Business Times (CA) 06 Sep 2012

FDIC to Release Updated Numbers on Underbanked

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is preparing to release the latest national estimates of Unbanked and underbanked consumers. Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the first National Survey of Unbanked and underbanked Households was first issued in 2009. Those findings revealed that more than one quarter of households were Unbanked and underbanked, although the phenomenon was more common in minority and low-income communities. Additionally, the trend was more severe in the South. The FDIC will release the second survey at the Sept. 12 meeting of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion. The panel also will discuss how electronic accounts, online banking, and other technology can help expand access to mainstream banking.

American Banker 06 Sep 2012


Subprime auto loans are up in 2012

Experian recently reported that loans in the non prime, subprime and deep subprime risk tiers accounted for more than 25 percent of all new auto loans during the second quarter of 2012. They also announced that loans to customers with bad credit was up 14 percent during the second quarter on a year-over-year comparison.

Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive said that although there was increase in subprime loans, there is still a strong sense of managing risk. The amount of lending can provide a customer a car with bad credit, allowing manufacturers and dealers to sell more cars.

Car financing throughout 2012 have led customers to Toyota and Ford dealers, and each is claiming that one of their models is the best selling car this year.

Ford has sold 489,616 units of the Focus while Toyota has sold 462,817 units of the Corolla. The automaker argues that its Corolla body style is seen in different names and the sales of these units are not included in Corolla sales numbers. The race is too close to call as of now.

Truck sales increase at the start of housing recovery

Auto loan applications for trucks have increased with the start of a housing recovery.

According to officials at General Motors and Ford, the start of the housing recovery has increased pickup truck sales and will continue to do so. On average, industry-wide, pickup sales increased 16 percent in August on a month-over-month comparison.

“Housing is probably along with autos the brightest spot in the economy,” Kurt McNeil, GM U.S. vice president for sales operations.

Jenny Linn, an economist, told the The Street that the housing sector plays a continual role in full size pickup sales and expects an increased amount of truck sales with the improving housing market. Truck sales are directly influenced by a housing recovery because workers need trucks to build houses, while indirectly corresponding with the housing market which puts more money in peoples pockets to buy vehicles, like trucks.

GM’s total truck sales increased to 10.9 percent in August, up from 10.4 percent a month prior. GM’s Chevy Silverado pickup truck sales increased 4 percent to 38,295 on a month-over-month comparison while Ford’s F-series truck sales were up 6 percent on a month-over-month comparison and up 19 percent on a year-over-year comparison.

August car sales shock industry

Individuals factored increasing gas prices into their car financing last month. Car sales also beat out industry estimates during August as car manufacturers were faced with fuel efficient car purchases.

Chrysler, General Motors and Ford saw double-digit sales gains in August compared to a year prior. GM reported a 10 percent sales increase from a year prior, after only predicted a 6.4 percent increase. Ford gains were up 13 percent in August 2012 compared to August 2011, after predicted only a 9.8 percent increase.

“Consumers are also choosing to buy highly-contented vehicles that are also smaller,” said Jesse Toprak, director of market intelligence at “They’re not buying cheap and small, they’re buying well-equipped and small.”

The new 2013 Honda Accord recently received its official Environmental Protection Agency ratings. Honda reported that the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower receives 24 miles per gallon city, 34 miles per gallon highway and a combined fuel rating of 28 miles per gallon. When paired with its new continuously variable transmission, the vehicle receives 36 miles per gallon highway. The Accord still trails its competition, the 2013 Nissan Altima, which received an estimated 38 miles per gallon highway.



“Phishing” is a high-tech internet scam where individuals receive emails from sources falsely claiming to be legitimate companies in an attempt to obtain personal and financial information. The scams usually begin with an email telling you that you urgently need to address/update a matter in one of your financial accounts. In a recent report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a trade association that includes law enforcement officials, showed huge growth in phishing scams. From November 2003 to April 2004, email attacks reported to the group jumped from 28 to 1,125 per month. It has been reported that 57 million Americans were exposed to phishing attacks last year.

Here are some tips to help avoid being a phishing victim:

  • Watch carefully for high-pressure emails urging you to disclose personal financial information or to start making financial transactions at a new web site page
  • Make sure you only conduct web transactions on a secure page, with “https” in the address line. The “s” means secure
  • Watch for suspicious web site addresses that are not the same ones you’ve been using. If you have any doubt, close your browser, reopen it and go to the address you’ve used before
  • Review statements from financial institutions carefully for any unauthorized activity
  • Keep your browser and operating system software up-to-date
  • Report any suspicious activity immediately

Other Phishing Fraud

PayPal and eBay phishing emails – these emails ask for account information to “verify” recent account activity, some may include legitimate looking warnings of possible fraudulent purchases

The FTC provides information on “phishing” and how it works.

Online Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns computer users about pop-up windows, phony web sites and fraudulent emails that attempt to trick you into revealing confidential personal and/or financial information. These scams usually involve a pop-up window or email link directing you to a fraudulent web site that looks legitimate. Once you’re redirected, you’re asked for personal and private financial information that is then in turn used to commit fraud.

What is a Pop-Up Window? This is generally an ad that appears in small browser windows that “pop-up” over or under the window you are viewing. Most pop-ups are simply advertisements, some may also contain “Trojan horse”* programs similar to a computer virus.

Phony Web Sites A phony, or fraudulent, web site usually resembles a legitimate financial institution or other trusted organization. These sites use an organization’s web site graphics and logos; however, they designed and set up in an attempt to steal your personal information. A common technique to tempt you to a fraudulent web site is through “spam”** email.

Here are some tips to help protect your First Financial accounts and personal information from fraudulent pop-up ads and phony web sites:

  • Purchase and install pop-up blocking software on your personal computer
  • Use an internet search engine, such as Google or Yahoo!, to search for the terms “adware” or “spyware”
  • Avoid downloading files from unknown sources
  • Research any software completely before downloading it to your personal computer
  • Use the latest security software on your personal computer
  • Avoid clicking on links provided in a suspicious email
  • Save or “bookmark” frequently visited web sites to your list of favorites and then access these sites through your saved links

*“Trojan horse” – A destructive program that masquerades as a benign application. Unlike viruses, Trojan horses do not replicate themselves but they can be just as destructive. One of the most dangerous types of a Trojan horse is a program that claims to rid your computer of viruses but instead introduces viruses onto your computer.

**“Spam” – Unsolicited “junk” email sent to large numbers of people to promote products or services.

Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

It’s likely that you have heard about it a lot lately. Recent government statistics show that more than 7 million adults were victims of identity theft last year. That equals 19,178 people a day, 700 per hour, or 13.3 a minute, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, California. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that identity theft is the number one source of consumer complaints and costs the average victim more than $1,000 to recover their identity.

Identity theft is a crime in which someone takes your personal information (such as your name or social security number) in an effort to steal from your existing accounts, open fraudulent accounts in your name, or obtain a loan using your credit history.

How to Prevent Identity Theft!

Unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone, even you. The easiest way to control identity theft is to prevent it from happening. Here are some tips to reduce the likeliness of becoming a victim:

  • Monitor all of your accounts and statements consistently and carefully
  • Review your credit report at least once a year
  • Shred or destroy any documents that contain your personal information prior to throwing them in the garbage
  • Never carry your social security card in your wallet or use your social security number on checks or identification cards, such as a driver’s license or membership card
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards, checks or other personal information immediately
  • Don’t leave your mail in an unsecured mailbox

The FTC provides an overview of identity fraud and suggestions on ways to protect your personal information.

What To Do if You Suspect You’re A Victim of Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity theft, there are three steps you should take immediately!

  1. Contact any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. Ask them to place a 90-day Fraud/Security Alert on your account, which will require any company seeking to extend credit on your account to request additional identification and/or contact you for verification. Placing an alert with any of the credit bureaus will automatically create an alert at all three bureaus, and each will send you a free copy of your credit report within 7-10 days.
  2. Contact all of your financial institutions and creditors to make them aware of the situation. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or were opened fraudulently.
  3. Call your local police or sheriff’s department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or (877) ID-THEFT.

How to Protect Your ATM/Debit Card from ATM Skimming

ATM Skimming

How to Protect Your ATM/Debit Card from ATM Skimming

In today’s fast-paced world, almost everyone is in a hurry to complete daily and weekly tasks, including getting “fast cash” from an ATM to quickly filling up their tanks at the gas station. Using an ATM/Debit Card makes these errands quick and easy.

While an ATM/Debit Card is designed to make our lives more convenient, ATMs have increasingly become a target for criminals. ATM skimming is one of the ways criminals commit fraud with your ATM/Debit Card and steal your information.

According to, theft from ATM skimming is approaching $1 billion annually. Below is more information about ATM Skimming and tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of ATM skimming.

What Is ATM Skimming?
Criminals attach devices onto ATM machines in order to copy an ATM/Debit Card number, the information encoded on the magnetic strip and even the Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Risk Reduction and Protection
Inspect the ATM Before Use
Before you use an ATM, take a moment to examine the machine. Does anything look out of place or not original? Is there anything taped to the machine? Do some parts look loose or in a different color (for example, the ATM is silver and the card slot is black)? Is there a brochure rack or other promotional materials on the ATM or near the machine that seem out of place? Are there mirrors on the ATM? If you find anything that looks suspicious, don’t use the ATM.
Recognize a Skimming Device
Many skimming devices are stuck onto the machine or near the ATM with two-sided tape or even Velcro. Some skimming devices are inserted into the ATM (in the card slots). Once it is loaded, wireless cameras are often attached to the ATM key pad. This is how criminals capture not only the ATM/Debit Card number, but the PIN as well. Once this information is obtained, criminals can reproduce a fraudulent ATM card and begin withdrawing funds from the account.
Protect your PIN, Your Card and Your Account
Don’t share your PIN with anyone. Be sure to cover the screen and the key pad when you’re using your PIN.If your card is not returned after you completed your transaction or after pressing cancel, immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card and report the incident.Always check your monthly statements to ensure there are no unusual withdrawals

What do I need to do to validate PCI DSS compliance?

PCI Compliance

For PCI support you are required to call customer service.

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First Financial

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