Coastal Community and Teachers Credit Union changes lives by helping members reclaim their freedom.
By: Jessica Dusek
Photos by: Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography
“There is no bad credit score,” explains Gina Prince, CEO of Coastal Community and Teachers Credit Union (CCATCU). “Bad things can happen to good people,” she explains of major life changes, such as divorce, bankruptcy, income loss and falling victim to predatory lending – a sincere reminder that credit score building is nothing to be ashamed of. “People shouldn’t be embarrassed to get the rate they deserve.”
A classic Einstein quote puts it best: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Through CCATCU’s customized programs, they are helping their members rethink their financial strategy, helping them reclaim their financial freedom. They are making life goals, such as of owning a new vehicle, purchasing a new home or getting out of the vicious cycle of predatory lending, attainable goals for members.
With the proper guidance, CCATCU stands on their four pillars, representing their promise and dedication to their members:
1. Raise your credit score.
2. Lower monthly payments.
3. Eliminate high-interest credit card balances.
4. Protect from predatory lending.
Specializing in credit score management, CCATCU has struck a chord across South Texas markets. Serving 37,000 members, the credit union celebrated 80 years in business in December. CCATCU transitioned to a community credit union 2002, allowing the not-for-profit to serve in a way they hadn’t previously: They help members sift through granular levels of their finances to provide viable solutions. “With access to employer groups,” Prince says, “we are able to offer the programs in six counties.”
CCATCU has gained popularity due to their credit score management programs. Corpus Christi, as one example, remains to be a targeted market of payday loans and predatory lending. Shifting and working with programs, such as CCATCU, goes to the root of the issue, providing education and new ways to correct financial pathways.
Specifically, the organization focuses on long-term success. “It’s about partnering with the member, for the member,” Prince explains. New members seek the credit union as a means to rebuild their credit, and for many, success stories remain to be living testimonials.
“Giving them a game plan for their future helps,” adds Solomon Lopez, business development officer. “Members have a right to have their financial partners partner with them and be transparent.” Lopez’s passion guides the “grassroots” project created by the organization’s business development team. His regional team of 15 hosts and educates the community at local events, conducting workshops and Lunch-and-Learn programs.
“What makes us different? We don’t have a collections department; we have a members solutions department” Lopez describes. “We looked at our culture and decided ways we could help the individual, to educate them.”
The consumer has access to a credit score assessment. Through the credit union, they are provided the resources and coaching to rebuild their financial lens. For Prince and Lopez, their member-centric focus allows them to help individuals who need to restructure their financial decisions to positively develop and raise their credit score.
One goal of the credit score management program is to guide the younger generation by reaching out to millennials. “We have been able to help this demographic by educating the millennial on what score is necessary to purchase a home,” Lopez explains. “We have helped a millennial to raise their score 60 points in 90 days. This, in turn, puts them in a better position to buy that home – an important goal.”
Prince recalls a case where she had a member who had multiple payday loans. The member was unable to get out of the payment cycle. By changing some of the variables, CCATCU was able help turn this member’s financial strain around. “We were able to save her $36,000 in three years, plus she will be debt-free,” says Prince, who advocates and reinforces practices that most of the public may not be aware of in repairing their credit. She outlines the following to consider:
Things not to do:
• Do not keep your credit card balances at their limit.
• Do not dispute everything – you lose points.
• Do not close out old credit limits – you lose history by doing that.
Connecting with local businesses is part of the credit union’s strategy to get the word out about their services and lending support. With the guidance of their experts, they equally require the dedication of the member. Prince and Lopez describe their approach as, “relational versus transactional.” CCATCU continues to make a most notable impact by educating consumers in the community – changing lives!
For more information on Coastal Community and Teachers Credit Union, visit www.myccatcu.com.