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Frequently Asked Questions

A. General Information
01 What is a Credit Union?
A Credit Union is a not for profit financial co-operative, owned and run by its members.

02 Who runs the Highland Communities Credit Union?
Highland Communities Credit Union is run by the Board of Directors - volunteers who are elected by the membership at the AGM. The Board of Directors sets all policies and procedures of Highland Communities Credit Union, and decides how money is spent, and how Highland Communities Credit Union should proceed.

Members also elect the Supervisory Committee, whose job it is to ensure that all officers of the Credit Union are acting within the law, the Rulebook and the agreed Policies and Procedures. The Supervisory Committee also ensures that officers are acting in the best interest of the members.

The Credit Committee is also elected at the AGM. The Credit Committee meet to decide whether to pass or reject a loan.

The Collection Points are also staffed by volunteers.

Highland Communities Credit Union is run by its members. Although we currently have one part time paid employee, we rely heavily on volunteers. There are various opportunities for members to get involved, and the more volunteers that we have, the less onerous the work becomes for everybody.

03 Who can join Highland Communities Credit Union?
All members must have a common bond. In Highland Communities Credit Union’s case this is living or working with the Highland region. All residents within the Highland region can join Highland Communities Credit Union provided they agree to abide by Highland Communities Credit Union's rules.

People who stay outside the Highland region cannot become members. However, members who move outside the common bond may retain their membership at the discretion of the Board, and provided such members do not exceed 10% of the total membership.

04 Does Highland Communities Credit Union have any connection with other Credit Unions?
Credit Unions are owned and run by their own membership. In this respect they are independently run.

However, Highland Communities Credit Union is affiliated with the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL) in order to benefit from co-operation, including:

  • To influence government etc.
  • Insurance benefits.
  • Credit Union paperwork and promotions.
  • Training.
  • Exchange of ideas with other Credit Unions.
  • Participation in the ABCUL AGM.

05 What are Highland Communities Credit Union's aims?
Our Mission Statement is:  Highland Communities Credit Union aims to provide a local savings and borrowing facility responsive to the needs of the members and to strengthen our community by working together.

  • Highland Communities Credit Union provides local accessible saving and loan facilities for members, helping them to manage their finances.
  • Highland Communities Credit Union provides loans, which must be for provident and productive purpose, at low rates of interest (0.5% up to 2% per month on a reducing balance).
  • Highland Communities Credit Union protects members and their families by providing life insurance cover on both shares and loans at no extra cost.
  • Highland Communities Credit Union collection points are manned by members, trained and supported by the Board of Directors.

06 Is Highland Communities Credit Union regulated?

Highland Communities Credit Union is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). We are also a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Our Firm Reference Number (FRN) is 213955.

Information on your data is also fully regulated

General Data Protection Regulation

We are committed to protecting our members’ privacy. The credit union requires any information marked as mandatory for membership to either meet legal obligations or to enable us to perform our contract with you. Where you are not able to provide us with this information, we may not be able to open an account for you. Where we request further information about you not required for these reasons, we will ask you for your consent.

How we use your personal information

Highland Communities credit union may process, transfer and/or share personal information in the following ways:

For legal reasons

•    confirm your identity
•    perform activity for the prevention of financial crime
•    carry out internal and external auditing
•    record basic information  about you on a register of members

For performance of our contract with you

•    deal with your account(s) or run any other services we provide to you;
•    consider any applications made by you;
•    carry out credit checks and to obtain and provide credit references
•    undertake statistical analysis, to help evaluate the future needs of our members and to help manage our business
•    To send you statements, new terms & conditions (including changes to this privacy statement), information about changes to the way your account(s) operate and notification of our annual general meeting.

For our legitimate interests

•    recover any debts owed to us

With your consent

•    maintain our relationship with you including marketing and market research (if you agree to them)

Sharing your personal information

We will disclose information outside the credit union:
•    to third parties to help us confirm your identity to comply with money laundering legislation
•    to credit reference agencies and debt recovery agents who may check the information against other databases – private and public – to which they have access to to any authorities if compelled to do so by law (e.g. to HM Revenue & Customs to fulfil tax compliance obligations)
•    to fraud prevention agencies to help prevent crime or where we suspect fraud;
•    to any persons, including, but not limited to, insurers, who provide a service or benefits to you or for us in connection with your account(s)
•    To our suppliers in order for them to provide services to us and/or to you on our behalf
•    to anyone in connection with a reorganisation or merger of the credit union’s business
•    other parties for marketing purposes (if you agree to this)
Where we send your information

While countries in the European Economic Area all ensure rigorous data protection laws, there are parts of the world that may not be quite so rigorous and do not provide the same quality of legal protection and rights when it comes to your personal information.

The credit union does not directly send information to any country outside of the European Economic Area, however, any party receiving personal data may also process, transfer and share it for the purposes set out above and in limited circumstances this may involve sending your information to countries where data protection laws do not provide the same level of data protection as the UK.

For example, when complying with international tax regulations we may be required to report personal information to the HM Revenue and Customs which may transfer than information to tax authorities in countries where you or a connected person may be tax resident.

Retaining your information

The credit union will need to hold your information for various lengths of time depending on what we use your data for. In many cases we will hold this information for a period of time after you have left the credit union.

To read our policy for retaining members data please or contact us at: An Drochaid, Claggan PH33 6PH
Credit rating agencies

In order to process credit applications you make we will supply your personal information to credit reference agencies (CRAs) and they will give us information about you, such as about your financial history. We do this to assess creditworthiness and product suitability, check your identity, manage your account, trace and recover debts and prevent criminal activity.

We will also continue to exchange information about you with CRAs on an ongoing basis, including about your settled accounts and any debts not fully repaid on time. CRAs will share your information with other organisations. Your data will also be linked to the data of your spouse, any joint applicants or other financial associates. This may affect your ability to get credit. 

The identities of the CRAs, and the ways in which they use and share personal information, are explained in more detail on:
•    CallCredit at www.callcredit.co.uk/crain
•    Equifax at www.equifax.co.uk/crain
•    Experian at www.experian.co.uk/crain

Your Rights

Your rights under data protection regulations are:

(a)    The right to access
(b)    The right of rectification
(c)    The right to erasure
(d)    The right to restrict processing
(e)    The right to data portability
(f)    The right to object to data processing
(g)    Rights related to automating decision-making and profiling
(h)    Right to withdraw consent
(i)    The right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office

Your rights explained

Right to Access
You have the right to access your personal data and details of the purposes of the processing, the categories of personal data concerned and the recipients of the personal data. Providing the rights and freedoms of others are not affected, we will supply to you a copy of your personal data. [You can access your personal data by visiting https://www.cusecureserver.co.uk when logged into our website.]

The right to rectification

You have the right to have any inaccurate personal data about you corrected and, taking into account the purposes of the processing, to have any incomplete personal data about you completed.

The right to erasure

In some circumstances you have the right to the erasure of your personal data without undue delay.
Those circumstances include:

•    the personal data is no longer needed for the purpose it was originally processed
•    you withdraw consent you previously provided to process the information
•    you object to the processing under certain rules of data protection law
•    the processing is for marketing purposes
•    the personal data was unlawfully processed
However, you may not erase this data where we need it to meet a legal obligation or where it necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

The right to restrict processing

In some circumstances you have the right to restrict the processing of your personal data. Those circumstances are:

•    you contest the accuracy of the personal data;
•    processing is unlawful but you oppose erasure;
•    we no longer need the personal data for the purposes of our processing, but you require personal data for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims; and
•    you have objected to processing, pending the verification of that objection. Where processing has been restricted on this basis, we may continue to store your personal data.

We will only otherwise process it:

•    with your consent;
•    for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims; or
•    for the protection of the rights of another natural or legal person;

The right to object to processing

You have the right to object to our processing of your personal data on grounds relating to your particular situation, but only to the extent that the legal basis for the processing is that the data is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by us or by a third party.

If you make such an objection, we will cease to process the personal information unless we can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for the processing which override your interests, rights and freedoms, or the processing is for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

You have the right to object to our processing of your personal data for direct marketing purposes (including profiling for direct marketing purposes). If you make such an objection, we will cease to process your personal data for this purpose.

The right to data portability

To the extent that the legal basis for our processing of your personal data is:

(a)    consent; or

(b)    that the processing is necessary for the performance of our contract with you

You have the right to receive your personal data from us in a commonly used and machine-readable format or instruct us to send this data to another organisation. This right does not apply where it would adversely affect the rights and freedoms of others.

Right to withdraw consent

To the extent that the legal basis for our processing of your personal information is your consent, you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time. Withdrawal will not affect the lawfulness of processing before the withdrawal.

The right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office
If you consider that our processing of your personal information infringes data protection laws, you have a legal right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office which is responsible for data protection in the UK. You can contact them by:

1.    Going to their website at: https://ico.org.uk
2.    Phone on 0303 123 1113
3.    Post to Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF

Contact us about your rights

For more information about how your rights apply to your membership of the credit union or to make a request under your rights you can contact us info@highlandcommunitiescu.org.uk We will aim to respond to your request or query within one month or provide an explanation of the reason for our delay.

Contact details of credit union

Highland Communities Credit Union Ltd
An Drochaid, Claggan, Fort William PH33 6PH
01397 700746

Changes to this privacy policy

We can update this Privacy Policy at any time and ideally you should check it regularly www.highlandcommunitiescu.org.uk for updates. We won’t alert you for every small change, but if there are any important changes to the Policy or how we use your information we will let you know and where appropriate ask for your consent.

B. How does it work?
01 Are members expected to save regularly?
Yes. Credit Unions encourage members to save regularly, even if you can only afford a small amount. By saving regularly, you can show the Credit Committee that you can put away a regular sum of money, and so are likely to afford to repay a loan.

02 How can I save?
You can pay in at any collection point, or by standing order mandate direct from your bank account. (Standing Order mandates are available from Collection Points or to download from here)

03 How much should I save?
Members can save as much or as little as they can afford. The more that you can save, the stronger your financial position will become.

Shares keep you prepared for an emergency, put a break on spending, and provide a safety margin above your loan repayments.

04 Can I withdraw my shares at any time?
Normally it will take a couple of days to process a share withdrawal but in some circumstances it may take longer so it is best to plan ahead when you are wanting to make a share withdrawal.

Highland Communities Credit Union provides life savings insurance on your shares. It is also worth remembering that shares take time to build up, and Highland Communities Credit Union relies on people saving so that we can provide loans. The size of loan that you can get is dependent on the amount of shares that you have (see Loans section). Also, if you have a loan, then you will be required to retain a certain value of shares.

C. Loans
01 Can anyone get a loan from Highland Communities Credit Union?
All members over the age of 18 can apply for a loan. You cannot get a loan if you are not a member, or if you are under the age of 18.

02 How soon can I borrow?
You must save regularly for 10 weeks, or 3 months if paying by Standing Order, before you can apply for a loan.

03 How much can I borrow?
You can apply for a loan of up to 3 times the value of your shares  (to a maximum of £10,000).

04 What can I get a loan for?
Loans must be for a “provident and productive” purpose. This can include:

TVs; cookers; fridge freezers; furniture; car tax / insurance; carpets; footwear; holidays; cars; electricity bills; telephone bills; car repairs; fuel; garden sheds; decorating; house repairs; TV licences; Christmas; school expenses; tools; washing machines; dental / medical bills.

Each member has their own priorities and the list above is not exhaustive.

05 How much will it cost me and how is interest calculated?
Highland Communities Credit Union charges interest each month on the decreasing balance of the loan.

For loans under £5,000 interest is charged at 1.75% per month (23.1% APR).

For loans over £5,000 interest is charged at 1% per month (12.7% APR).

For secured loans see 09 What is a secured loan. Interest is charged at 0.5% per month (6.7% APR).

On the last day of each month, we calculate the interest to be charged based on your loan balance at that date. The interest is then added onto your loan balance.

When the Credit Committee calculates your repayment amount, they take into account the interest that will be added on. This way, you make the same repayment throughout the whole period of your loan. This repayment covers the amount of money that you borrowed, and also the interest that is due.

This table shows what repayments you would make for various sizes of loans over 1 year.

Amount Borrowed Weekly (52 Weeks) Total Repayable APR Monthly (12 Months) Total Repayable APR
£300 6.41 333.19 23.10% 27.94 335.20 23.10%
£500 10.68 555.34 23.10% 46.56 558.68 23.10%
£700 14.96 777.43 23.10% 65.18 782.16 23.10%
£1,000 21.36 1110.68 23.10% 91.69 1117.36 23.10%
£1,250 26.70 1388.35 23.10% 116.40 1396.70 23.10%
£1,750 37.38 193.69 23.10% 162.94 1955.39 23.10%
£2,000 42.64 2221.36 23.10% 186.23 2234.73 23.10%

If you want to pay off your loan balance in full, then you can do so at any time. You will NOT be charged an early repayment fee, and your loan will cost you less, as you will only have been charged interest on your balances up to the date of repayment.

06 When do I start paying interest on my loan?
The first interest will be added onto your loan balance on the last day of the month your loan was granted. This interest is the interest due for the following month.

07 What will the Credit Committee do?
The Credit Committee is composed of volunteers who meet once a week to consider loan applications.

When the Credit Committee receive your application, they will verify that you have completed the application form correctly. If we need to contact you to clarify any details, then we will do so.

The Credit Committee will look at how much available income you have to see whether or not you can afford the repayments. This helps to ensure that members do no get into debt that they cannot afford to repay, and by doing so, it safeguards members savings. Remember: you are borrowing the savings of other members!

The Credit Committee will also consider whether the length of the loan is acceptable. To decide this, they will look at how regularly you will have this expense. For example:

  • A loan to pay an electricity bill should be paid back within 3 months, as you will receive another one in 3 months’ time.
  • A holiday should be paid back within one year, as it is likely that you will want another holiday again next year.

These are guidelines – you will not necessarily be refused a loan for a holiday just because you want to pay it back over 2 years. However, you might be asked to consider how you will pay for a holiday next year.

08 How long will it take to get a loan?
Normally loan applications are processed and paid out to you within one week of applying. However, there are circumstances where this may take longer so please try to plan ahead when applying for loans.

09 What is a secured loan?
A secured loan is where you borrow an amount less than the value of your shares.

Some benefits of taking a secured loan are:

  • You keep your savings intact. You will still have this money in an emergency.
  • Your savings are insured, as is your loan. If you had shares of £1000, and you withdrew £500, then if you were to die, your nominee would receive approximately £1000 (your £500 savings plus a like amount in insurance). However, if you had borrowed the £500, your savings of £1000 would be doubled to £2000, and your loan would be paid off.
  • You are never borrowing above your capabilities – you will always have enough savings to cover your loan if you needed to pay it off immediately.

10 Is it best to borrow for one item at a time?
Yes, this is the best way to borrow if it is possible. You can clear one item more quickly than two or three and you will be charged less interest, as interest is calculated on the reducing balance of your loan.

11 If I have an outstanding loan balance, can I borrow more money?
Yes, this is known as a “top up” loan. When a “top up” loan application is considered, the Credit Committee will take into account the outstanding loan balance plus the amount that you want to “top up”. So if you have a balance of £200, and you want to borrow another £500, the Credit Committee will treat the application as a new application for a loan of £700.

As a general rule, the Credit Committee would like you to have repaid a substantial amount of your old loan before they consider a top up loan.

12 What is a loan agreement?
A loan agreement is the legal document which outlines the terms of your loan. It contains details of the amount borrowed, the date of the first repayment, and the estimated finish date (assuming that you make each repayment as agreed).

By signing this document, you agree to the terms set out in the agreement, including the repayment amount and frequency (eg. you agree to repay £10.00 every week).

Two signed copies of the agreement are printed and signed – one for you to keep for your own records and one for Highland Communities Credit Union to keep.

13 What happens if I fall behind with my repayments?
If you fall behind, then we will send you a reminder, in case you have overlooked your repayments.

If you fall behind with your repayments, then you should try to catch up as soon as possible, otherwise you will be paying interest on a balance that is higher than was expected.

Highland Communities Credit Union recognises that, in some situations, falling behind with your repayments is unavoidable. You may be on holiday and so miss a week or two at the collection point. The best thing to do in this circumstance is to pay extra money before or after your holiday to you bring you back in line.

If you fall into difficulty, then it is important that you contact Highland Communities Credit Union as soon as possible. We may be able to renegotiate your loan so that you do not need to repay as much each week or month.

If you become unemployed, then Highland Communities Credit Union may be a great benefit to you. If you have the money to clear your loan, then it might be a good idea to do so, which would enable you to get new, smaller loans as the need arises. These smaller loans will be more affordable if you have a reduced income.

It is important to keep your repayment record up to date, as if you fall behind then future loans may be restricted.

The Credit Control Officer is the volunteer who keeps track of members loan repayment records. If you fall behind, the the Credit Control Officer will send you a reminder, and ask you to contact Highland Communities Credit Union to see if we can help in any way.

Life Savings Insurance
This is paid on all savings held by members aged 16-79. If a member dies, their nominee receives any shares held in Highland Communities Credit Union. In addition to this, they may receive an insurance payment. The table below shows how much insurance will be paid out:

Age on the date of the deposit Amount of insurance
16-65 100%
65-69 25%
80+ 0%

Loan Protection Insurance:
Paid for all members aged 18-69 who have outstanding loans.

If a member dies while they have a loan outstanding, then the insurance will pay off the loan in full.

Summary of important exclusions for both Life Savings and Loan Protection Insurance (full policy available from the office?)

Pre-existing condition limitation:
Insurance will not be paid out where death results from an illness or injury for which medical advice, consultation or treatment was received within the 6 month period prior to the deposit of shares or receiving a loan.

Insurance will not be paid where death is as a result of:

  • War or service in the armed forces.
  • Suicide within 6 months of deposit or granting a loan.

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