Marine Credit Union in La Crosse, Wis., has developed a specialty in individual tax identification number (ITIN) lending, approving loan applicants, primarily Hispanic, who do not meet the residency requirements needed for a Social Security number through their individual ITIN.
Because nonresidents without Social Security numbers don’t have established credit histories through the three major credit reporting bureaus, Marine and other financial institutions offering ITIN loans accept alternate forms of credit history such as utility bills and credit references such as rental history.
Marine offers not only consumer and auto loans through its ITIN program but also mortgages.
Robertta Masoud, senior mortgage officer at the $1 billion asset credit union, says education is a key part of the ITIN mortgage program.
“These members are so conditioned to save, save, save,” she says. “They have to learn there are other ways to build wealth, not just with mortgages but through CDs and investments.”
At the same time, this financial discipline means the ITIN loan portfolio performs well, Masoud says. “This segment of the population is hardworking and dependable, they’ve just been overlooked. Their entire families are invested in these loans.”
She adds that, as the program has grown, most of her business is based on referrals.
“Once we helped a few families, people were knocking on our door,” Masoud says. “Word of mouth is the best kind of marketing.”
For its efforts in working with the Hispanic community, Marine earned the Juntos Avanzamos (“Together We Advance”) designation Inclusiv provides for credit unions committed to serving and empowering Hispanic consumers.
One nuance of ITIN lending and similar credit programs is the difference it makes in how employees approach their jobs, says Jackie Blanco-Rincon, senior consumer loan officer.
“One of the reasons I came to Marine Credit Union is our ITIN lending program,” she says. “We’re helping people in the community advance their lives because they came here for the American dream.
“Whether it’s their first car or owning their home, we are here to help.”