Archive for Finances

6 Reasons to Switch to E-Statements

Are you constantly dealing with a barrage of junk mail that clogs up your mailbox? Drowning in papers needing sifted through? Are you always afraid to throw out any paper from your financial institution, fearful that you’ll be throwing sensitive material into the trash and making it an easy steal for would-be scammers?

If this sounds familiar, you may benefit from switching to electronic account statements.

Electronic statements (E-Statements) are similar to paper statements, except for the fact that they’re delivered electronically. At the end of each statement period, which is generally monthly for checking accounts and quarterly for basic savings accounts, you’ll receive a notification from 705 Federal Credit Union informing you that your statement is ready to view through the online banking portal, app, or by downloading from a secure site. Once you access the E-Statement, you’ll find it has all the information you’re used to receiving in your paper statements. You can also access your E-Statement by logging into your online banking site or app at any time throughout the month.

Quick, convenient and clutter-free, E-Statements are the way of the future. Here are six reasons to consider switching to E-Statements.

 1. Check your accounts at a glance

With E-Statements, there’s no need to wait for your monthly statement to arrive in the mail. Just a few clicks and you get your account statement at any time, from anywhere, using the mobile device of your choice. Some financial institutions also offer members the option of signing up for financial alerts, such as a warning when your account is running low and in danger of being overdrawn. With E-Statements, managing your accounts is easy.

2. Clear out the clutter

Why bother with piles of paperwork when you can access your accounts online? It’s neater, cleaner, and helps cut down on the correspondence you have flooding your mailbox. You’ll also save time sorting through papers when you can find your last account cycle balance with just a few quick swipes.

3. Keep your information safer

No matter how careful you are with papers containing sensitive data, there’s always a chance you can miss something and it’ll end up in the wrong hands. It can also be a pain to keep track of every incoming piece of mail and to dispose of it properly. With E-Statements, you’ll never have to worry about losing a paper that contains confidential banking information, or mistakenly tossing it into the trash where it can be easily accessed by identity thieves.

Some people are wary about sending sensitive information online and are fearful that an E-Statement can easily be hacked. However, you can access your account balance online with confidence, knowing that 705 Federal Credit Union uses several layers of protection to keep your information absolutely safe.

4. Monitor your accounts frequently for fraud

When you have instant access to your accounts throughout the month, it’s a lot easier to check for signs of fraud. Plus, when you spot the fraud sooner, you can take steps to mitigate the damage earlier and have a better chance of a full recovery.

5. Eco-friendly

When you choose to receive your monthly account statements electronically, you’ll be doing the environment a favor. Less paper statements means less paper waste and fewer trees getting cut down for something that will ultimately be tossed. Go green for the environment with E-Statements!

6. Safe and secure storage

Filing cabinets are so last century. With E-Statements, you’ll never stress about misplacing your account statements again. Your online banking portal or app acts as a convenient and secure filing cabinet, storing your account statements for you to access as needed.

Ready to make the switch to E-Statements? Signing up is easy. Log into Online Banking to sign up, today!

Where is My Stimulus Check?

COVID-19 Financial Relief - Are you being negatively impacted by COVID-19 financially? Reach out to Section 705 to learn about the below specials: COVID-19 Relief Loan and the COVID-19 Skip-A-Payment.

Q: Everyone I talk to seems to have already gotten their stimulus money, but I’m still waiting for mine to arrive. Where is my stimulus check?

A: More than half of eligible Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payment, but tens of millions more are still waiting. We’ll let you in on when you can expect yours, how to help it come quicker and why you may not even be receiving a stimulus payment.

The schedule for issuing payments

The IRS is trying to get the stimulus payments out to Americans as quickly as possible, but with approximately 150 million checks that need to be issued, it will take some time.

First, the IRS is working on getting the funds to Americans via direct deposit. Most of the payments being issued to people whose account details are known by the IRS have already been distributed and the rest is scheduled to be deposited as the information is obtained.

Next, the IRS will send payments for individuals currently receiving federal benefits, such as Social Security checks, retirement or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. The stimulus payments will be issued the same way these individuals receive their regular federal benefits, whether by direct deposit, Direct Express or paper check. The Treasury has promised that all Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries will receive their benefits by early May. SSI and VA beneficiaries should get their payments by mid-May.

On April 24, the IRS began issuing paper checks to Americans who have not provided their banking details. Low-income Americans are prioritized, and individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $10,000 or less should have already received their checks. The IRS will then send out approximately 5 million paper checks each week, scheduling the mailings according to incomes in increasing $10,000 increments. For example, checks for individuals with an AGI that falls between $20,000 and $30,000 were mailed out on May 1. On May 8, the checks for people with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 will be mailed out. This schedule will continue through Sept. 4.

How can I make my stimulus money get here quicker?

As mentioned, funds being distributed via direct deposit are issued first. The IRS will use your most recently filed taxes to determine where to send your stimulus money and the amount you are eligible to receive. If your most recently filed returns have not yet been processed, or you’ve received your refund by paper check, the government does not have your checking account information, so your payment may be delayed.

You can update this information on the recently updated track your payment portal on the IRS website. You will need your Social Security number, the gross income of your most recent tax returns, your Section 705’s routing number ([XXXXXXXXX]) and your checking account information. Once you’ve shared your account information, your stimulus payment should be scheduled for deposit within the week.

If the IRS already has your account information and you still have not received the stimulus money, or you would prefer to receive your payment by paper check, you can track your payment on the same link. The site is updated once a day.

What if my information has changed since I filed my last tax return? 

If the checking account used for your most recently filed taxes has since been closed, the payment will bounce back to the IRS, which will then send a paper check to the home address it has on file from your tax returns.

To update a checking account, use the IRS payment portal to enter your current information.
If you’ve moved since filing taxes, you can choose to share your checking account information with the IRS, or to use another method which may include informing the U.S. Postal Service of a change of address.

What if I don’t file taxes?

If you are not required to file taxes and you are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment, you can still receive your check. Just enter your information here.

Why you may not qualify for a check 

The CARES Act does not promise payments for every American. Dependents older than 16, individuals who do not have a Social Security number and those with an AGI above $99,000, will not be getting a stimulus payment. The threshold is higher for individuals filing as a head of household, at $136,500, and up to $198,000 for joint filers.

Watch out for stimulus scams

While the IRS urges people to update their information on the payment portal, it’s important to note that they are not reaching out to individuals. If you receive a phone call, social media post, email or text message asking for your banking information, it is likely a scam. There is also no application fee or processing fee for the Economic Impact Payments. If you’re asked to pay one, it’s also a scam.

Paycheck Protection Program

COVID-19 Financial Relief: Are you being negatively impacted by COVID-19 financially? Reach out to Section 705 to learn about the below specials: COVID-19 Relief Loan and COVID-19 Skip-A-Payment

How Will the Paycheck Protection Program Affect You?

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an important part of the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to help small businesses continue meeting payroll and other expenses during these trying times.

Here’s all you need to know about the Paycheck Protection Program.

What does the PPP offer small businesses?

The provision creates a new category of unsecured loans guaranteed by the Small Business Association (SBA). The loans do not require a personal guarantee and are available to many businesses that were previously not eligible for an SBA loan. The loans may be entirely or partially forgiven.

Which kinds of businesses are eligible for a loan? 

Traditional SBA loans are only eligible for business entities designed to turn a profit. The company’s place of business must be located in the United States, and be primarily operated in the United States.

The Paycheck Protection Program has expanded to include all nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations and Tribal business concerns.

Does the business need to be a specific size to be eligible for the PPP? 

To be eligible for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, a business must have no more than 500 employees, including full-time, part-time and temporary workers. This rule accounts for the business applying for a loan, as well as any affiliated businesses or entities, including for profit and nonprofit, as well as domestic and foreign businesses.

What is the maximum loan amount a business can apply for under the Paycheck Protection Program?

The maximum loan amount available under the PPP is generally the lesser of $10 million, or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs incurred during the one-year period before the date of the loan. Payroll costs include all salaries, wages, commissions and cash tips; parental, family, medical or sick leave; severance pay; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums; payment of any retirement benefit; and payment of state or local tax assessed on the compensation of employees.

How may the loans be used? 

The loans from the Paycheck Protection Program can be used from Feb. 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020 for any of the following expenses:

  • Payroll costs
  • Costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical or family leave
  • Insurance premiums
  • Employee salaries, commissions or similar compensations
  • Payments of interest (but not principal) on any mortgage obligation
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before Feb. 15, 2020

Will all loans that are part of the Paycheck Protection Program be forgiven? 

A PPP loan is eligible for forgiveness in an amount equal to the sum of the following costs incurred during the 8-week period beginning on the date of origination of the loan: payroll costs; any payment of interest on any mortgage obligation that was incurred before Feb. 15, 2020; any payment on any rent obligation under a lease agreement in effect before Feb. 15, 2020; and payment for electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone or internet service, which began before Feb. 15, 2020.

The loan forgiveness amount will be prorated down if the average monthly number of full-time employees during this 8-week period is less than the average monthly number of full-time equivalent employees. The forgiveness amount will also be reduced if there is a 25% (or greater) reduction in salary for any employee during this 8-week period.

Can a small business take out a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program and still be eligible for other relief under the CARES Act?

Taking a loan under the PPP can make an employer ineligible for some other relief under the CARES Act.  For example, the employer will not be eligible for payroll tax relief if they apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.

Resources:

www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/04/07/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-paycheck-protection-program/amp/
www.sgrlaw.com/client-alerts/forgivable-coronavirus-payroll-loans-for-employers-with-fewer-than-500-employees/

Prioritizing Bills During a Financial Crunch

 

COVID-19 Financial Relief: Are you being negatively impacted by COVID-19? Section 705 is here for you with a Skip-A-Payment and COVID-19 Relief Loan. Learn more!

Paying Bills During COVID-19

Our vibrant, animated country has been put on pause. Busy thoroughfares are now empty of pedestrians and previously crowded malls are eerily vacant, as millions of Americans shelter in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Forced leave of work has left many wondering if and when they’ll receive their next paycheck.

If you are one of the millions of Americans on furlough, you may be panicking about incoming bills and wondering where you’ll find the money to pay for them all. Let’s take a look at what financial experts are advising now so you can make a responsible, informed decision about your finances going forward.

Triage your billsWomen looking at bill with a concerned facial expression

Financial expert Clark Howard urges cash-strapped Americans to look at their bills the way medical personnel view incoming patients during an emergency.

“In medicine it’s called triage,” Howard says. “It’s exactly what’s happening in the hospitals right now as they decide who to treat when or who not to treat. You have to look at your bills the same way. You’ve got to think about what you must have.”

Times of emergency call for unconventional prioritizing. Clark recommends putting your most basic needs, including food and shelter, before any other bills. It’s best to make sure you can feed your family before using your limited resources for loan payments or credit card bills. Similarly, your family needs a place to live; mortgage or rent payments should be next on your list.

Housing costs

It’s one thing to resolve to put your housing needs first and another to actually put that into practice when you’re working with a smaller or no paycheck this month. The good news is that some rules have changed in light of the financial fallout of the pandemic.

On March 18, President Donald Trump announced he’s instructing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to immediately halt “all foreclosures and evictions” for 60 days. This means you’ll have a roof over your head for the next two months, no matter what.

Also, in early March, the Federal Housing Finance Agency offered payment forbearance to homeowners affected by COVID-19, allowing them to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months. These loans, provided by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, account for approximately 66 percent of all home loans in America. The payments will eventually need to be covered. Some lenders allow delayed payments to be tacked onto the end of the home loan’s term, while others collect the sum total of the missed payments when the period of forbearance ends.

Speak to your lender about your options before making a decision. A free pass on your mortgage during the economic shutdown can be a lifesaver for your finances and help free up some of your money for essentials.

If you’re a renter, be open with your landlord.

“Consumers who are the most proactive and say, ‘Here’s where I stand,’ will get a lot better response than those who do nothing,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, CEO of AsktheMoneyCoach.com and author of “Zero Debt.”

Your landlord may be willing to work with you. That’s true whether it means paying partial rent this month and the remainder when you’re back at work, spreading this month’s payment throughout the year, or just paying April’s rent a few weeks late, after the relief funds and unemployment payments from the government begin.

Paying for transportation

When normal life resumes, many employees will need a way to get to work. Missing out on an auto loan payment can mean risking repossession of your vehicle. This should put car payments next on your list of financial priorities. If meeting that monthly payment is impossible right now, communicate with your lender and come up with a plan that is mutually agreeable to both parties.

Household bills

Utility and service bills should be paid on time each month, but for workers on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic, these expenses may not even make it to their list of priorities.

First, don’t worry about shutoffs. Most states have outlawed utility shutoffs for now.

Second, many providers are willing to work with their clients. Visit the websites of your providers and check to see what kind of relief and financial considerations they’re offering their consumers at this time.

It’s important to note that lots of households receive water service directly from their city or county, and not through a private provider. Many local governments have suspended shutoffs, but be sure to verify if yours has done so before assuming it to be true.

Finally, as with every other bill, it’s best to reach out to your provider and be honest about what you can and cannot pay for at this time.

Unsecured debt

Unsecured debt includes credit cards, personal loans and any other loan that is not tied to a large asset, like a house or vehicle. Howard urges financially struggling Americans to place these loans at the bottom of their list of financial priorities during the pandemic. At the same time, he reminds borrowers that missing out on a monthly loan payment can have a long-term negative impact on a credit score.

Here, too, consumers are advised to communicate with their lenders about their current financial realities. Credit card companies and lenders are often willing to extend payment deadlines, lower the APR on a line of credit or a loan, waive a late fee or occasionally allow consumers to skip a payment without penalty.

Are you making payments toward an unsecured loan at Section 705? We understand that you may not be able to meet your monthly payments at this time and we are willing to work with you. Please feel free to reach out to us at 337-232-8450 option 7 to learn about your options.

Resources:
https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/how-to-prioritize-bills/ 
https://nationalpost.com/category/news/canada
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/protect-yourself-financially-from-impact-of-coronavirus/
https://katu.com/news/nation-world/65-of-mortgages-protected-by-government-moratorium-on-foreclosures
https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/pause-bill-payments-if-you-lost-work-due-to-coronavirus

How to Dispute A Credit Report Error

Quick-what’s your credit score?

As a financially responsible individual, you should be checking your credit on a regular basis. You can do this by signing up for free credit monitoring on a reputable website like CreditKarma.com, requesting your annual complimentary credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com and reviewing your monthly credit card statements.

If all goes well, your report will hold no surprises and your score will be in excellent shape, or steadily increasing. Sometimes, though, you may find an error in your report. It might be a sharp decline in your score when you know you haven’t changed your spending or bill-paying habits, a large transaction you’re sure you’ve never made or an unfamiliar line of credit. While it can be disconcerting to find a mistake in your credit report, the good news is you can contest errors like these and fix your score.

Mistakes you may find on your credit report

Woman looking at bill with a concerned look on her face

Credit report errors are quite common. In fact, 26% of participants in a study by the Federal Trade Commission found at least one error on their credit reports that brought down their score. A lower score can mean getting hit with higher interest rates on loans, and can prove to be an obstacle when applying for a new line of credit or a large loan.

Most of these errors can be traced back to clerical mistakes, though some are caused by a lack of action on your part, or by criminal activity.

Credit report errors include the following:

  • You’re mistakenly identified as someone with a name similar to yours.
  • A credit account was never included in your report, weakening your perceived credit worthiness.
  • Your loan or credit card payments were applied to the wrong account.
  • A legitimate credit account or debt has been reported and recorded multiple times.
  • Your name is still linked to your ex-partner’s accounts and debts.

Identity thieves have used your name and credit file to open accounts and take out loans you knew nothing about – and it’s unlikely they have been making payments on those loans.

To avoid credit report errors, make sure to use your legal name on every line of credit you open, to remove your name from any accounts you are no longer associated with and to have all of your creditors report your open accounts to the major credit bureaus. As mentioned above, it is also crucial that you monitor your score to find mistakes as quickly as possible.

3 steps to disputing an error

If you’ve spotted an error on your credit report, don’t panic. Follow these three steps to dispute the error and fix your credit:

Step 1: File a dispute with each of the major credit bureaus.

You’ll need to inform all three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, about the error. All three bureaus allow you to file disputes online.

In your written dispute, you’ll need to clearly identify each disputed item in your report, explain why you are disputing these items and ask that the errors be deleted or corrected. Include your full contact information, as well as copies of any documents that support your claim. You can also include a copy of your credit report, highlighting the items you are disputing.

To file your dispute online, follow these links for each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, Experian.

You can also file your disputes by mail to Equifax and TransUnion; Experian currently accepts online disputes only. If filing by mail, it’s best to send your letter via certified mail with a requested return receipt. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your correspondence for your own records.

Mail your Equifax dispute to the following address:

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348

Mail your TransUnion dispute to the following address:

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Step 2: Contact the creditor

After you’ve contacted each bureau, you can also reach out to the creditor that’s linked to the error in your report. This step isn’t necessary, but it may speed up the correction process.

Most creditors will provide a link or an address for disputes. When filing your dispute, follow the guidelines above and include all relevant information and documentation. Be sure to let the creditor know you’ve also contacted the credit bureaus, as they’ll want to include this information and a copy of your dispute if they report their findings to the bureaus. You can also ask to be copied on all correspondences between the creditor and the bureaus.

Step 3: Follow up in 30 days

Expect to be contacted by the bureaus and the creditor within 30 days after filing your disputes. If all goes well, your dispute will be accepted, and your credit will be restored. In many states, you are eligible to receive a complimentary credit report following a registered dispute.

If one of the credit bureaus or a creditor refuses to accept your dispute or does not resolve the error in your favor, you can ask the bureau or creditor to include a copy of your dispute in your file and in all future credit reports. This way, a lender or creditor will be made aware of the alleged error when reviewing your credit. You may be charged a small fee for this service, but it is generally worth the price. If you feel the error is too significant to ignore, consider hiring a lawyer to help you contest the report and fix your credit.

Disputing an error on your credit report is fairly simple. Always monitor your score and be vigilant about correcting errors. The payoff can affect your financial wellness for years to come.

Speak with a 705 Financial Representative about Getting Your Credit Where You Want It To Be in 2020!

All You Need to Know about Savings Certificates

Watch your money grow! Share certificates are a great low risk investment option. See how much you could earn on your money. Learn more!

Are Savings Certificates Right for You?

If the lump under your mattress is getting uncomfortably big and you’re looking for a safer, more lucrative place to park your savings, look no further than Section 705. As an institution that’s completely devoted to your financial wellness, we offer several secure options for savings, including: Share Certificates, Traditional IRAs, Lucky Lagniappe Savings, Christmas Club, Vacation Club, Super Green, Youth Savings, and Regular Savings Accounts.

Another excellent option we offer our members to help their savings grow is our savings certificates. They are sometimes also known as share certificates, and referred to by banks as CDs. These unique accounts offer the best of both worlds when it comes to your savings. First, you’ll be giving your money a greater chance at growth than it would have in a typical savings account. Secondly, you are not subjecting your savings to the inherent risks and potential for loss that accompanies investing in the stock market.

Let’s take a closer look at the way this fantastic savings product works and why it might be the perfect choice for you.

What is a Certificate?

A savings certificate is a federally insured savings account with a fixed dividend rate and a fixed date of maturity. The dividend rates of these accounts tend to be higher than those on savings accounts and some money market accounts. Generally, there is no monthly fee to keep the certificate open.

However, unlike a savings account, your money will be tied up in a certificate. A typical certificate will not allow you to add any money to the certificate after you’ve made your initial deposit. You also won’t be able to withdraw your funds before the maturity date without paying a penalty.

Terms and conditions of Certificates

As a member of Section 705, you can open up a certificate today. However, there are some basic requirements that must be met before you can do so, including a minimum opening balance and a commitment to keep your money in the account for a set amount of time.

The minimum amount of funds you’ll need to deposit to open a certificate will vary widely from one financial institution to the next and also depends upon the term you choose. Some institutions will accept an initial deposit as low as $50 for a certificate. Others, such as a “jumbo” certificate, will demand an opening balance of $100,000. In general, the more money you invest in a certificate, the higher rate of interest it will earn. At Section 705, you can open a certificate with as little as $100 at an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of .25%.

Certificate term lengths also vary greatly among financial institutions, with most offering a choice of certificates that run from three months to five years. Typically, certificates with longer maturity terms will earn a higher rate. Here at Section 705, we offer our members certificates that can be opened for just 3 months or as long as 4 years. Our dividend rates start at .25 for short-term certificates and go up to 2.75 for our long-term options. To hear more about our certificate terms and rates, speak to a Section 705 representative today. Click for the dividends and disclosures on our share certificates.

Is a savings certificate for everyone?

While keeping your savings in a certificate can be an excellent option for your money, it is not for everyone. Before you go this route, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do I have an emergency fund set aside to help me get through unexpected events or circumstances?
  • Do I anticipate needing to access these funds during the life of the certificate?

Remember: Your money will be tied up in the certificate and you will not be able to access it without paying a penalty. A certificate works best for people who have money set aside for a rainy day and are fairly certain they will not need to access the funds in the certificate until its maturity date.

Why keep your money in a certificate?

Here are some of the most popular reasons people choose to open a certificate:

  1. Low risk. While nearly every investment carries some sort of risk, your money is always safe in a certificate. With each Section 705 certificate insured by the National Credit Union Administration up to $250,000, you can rest easy, knowing your money is completely secure.
  2. Higher dividend rates. Certificates offer all the security of savings accounts with higher yields. It’s more for your money, just for choosing to invest it in a certificate.
  3. Locked-in rates. There’s no stressing over fluctuating national interest rates with a certificate. The APY is set when you open the account and is locked in until its maturity date. Instead of playing guessing games, you can determine exactly how much interest your money will earn over the life of the certificate the day you open it.

If a certificate sounds like the perfect choice for you, stop by Section 705 today to learn more. We’re committed to giving your money its best chance at growth.

Sources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/cd-certificate-of-deposit/
https://www.thebalance.com/cd-basics-how-cds-work-315245
https://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-no-one-knows-about-cds-2012-10

8 Ways to Beat the Holiday Stress

Ho Ho Holiday Specials Make the holidays jolly and bright with our Holiday Auto and RV Loan Special, Holiday Helper Loan, or Skip-A-Pay! Learn more.

‘Tis the season to be merry-except sometimes, it’s not.

While the entertainment industry would have us think the holidays are always full of good cheer, lots of laughs and warm feelings, the reality can, unfortunately, be otherwise.

Sometimes, all that frenzied consumerism, party-hopping and crazy schedules can bring out the worst in the people we love. Other times, a challenging life situation, such as a recent divorce, death in the family or financial struggles, are painfully magnified when everyone around you seems to be in such wonderfully high spirits.

No one wants to be the Grinch on Christmas. So, if you tend to feel stressed or down when the holidays roll around, here are eight tips to help you turn that frown into a genuine smile.

1. Watch the buck

Nothing kills the holiday cheer like a mountain of debt. Stick to a budget when doing your holiday shopping and only spend what you can actually afford. Be extra careful not to overspend as the holidays draw near, and you’re experiencing pressure to finish your shopping in time. If you find yourself running low on funds, consider arranging a gift exchange, like a Secret Santa, or giving some homemade presents this year.

2. Give back

The holidays can sometimes leave us feeling down because of all that emphasis on the perfect gifts. Opening up a present is always a thrill, but giving to others creates lasting joy. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to give back to your community.
Beat the stress this season by sharing holiday cheer with those who are less fortunate. There are so many ways to spread joy! You can bring some toys to the children’s ward at the local hospital to brighten up a sick child’s holiday. Use your time off from work to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Dress up your family in their ugliest Christmas sweaters and holiday hats before visiting the closest nursing home to put a smile on the residents’ faces.

When you give, you always give most to yourself.

3. Stick to a schedule

Part of the holiday experience is enjoying late nights and/or early mornings. Sometimes, though, all that lazing around and lack of quality sleep can make stress levels soar. There’s no need to be a stickler for your regular routine on the holidays, but it’s a good idea to keep some sort of schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye, and if a physical workout is part of your daily routine, don’t neglect it over the holidays. You’ll always feel better when you’re taking care of your body. And, if you’re mindful about your habits, you may not even have those extra pounds to work off in January!

4. Party smart

Cheers! Can I pour you another glass of … soda?

If you like to party, you can end up getting sick over the holidays. All that heavy drinking and loading up on refined carbs can really do your body in. Do yourself a favor this year and watch what you imbibe. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Similarly, it’s OK to break your diet over Christmas, but it’s best not to go overboard. You don’t need to feel bloated and sick to enjoy the holidays. Keep the stress out by treating your body well.

5. Delegate

Are you hosting a crowd this Christmas? Guests can be great fun, but all the extra work can bring your stress levels through the roof. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all! There’s nothing wrong and there’s everything right with asking for help. Don’t feel bad about having your guests and family members pitch in with cooking and cleaning. They’ll feel better, too, when they’re sharing the workload. Plus, everything is easier when there are more hands on deck.

6. Take some “me” time

Whether you’re a closet introvert or you just need some time alone each day, the nonstop partying and a house full of guests can get to you after a while. It’s always a good idea to take care of yourself, and in the chaos of the holidays this need is often neglected. Consider running out to get yourself a manicure, taking a solitary half-hour walk or just locking yourself in your room after a long and loud day to savor the peace and quiet. You’re not being an antisocial snob if you need your “me” time; you’re just being human.

7. Give up the guilt

If you tend to overanalyze every interaction you have with family and friends, you can really beat yourself up over the holidays questioning everything you’ve said. Try to relax and to let go this season. So long as you’re reasonably pleasant and agreeable, you can give yourself a break.

8. Lower your expectations

A common cause for holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. It’s best not to build huge castles in the air by keeping your expectations to a minimum. There will probably be some minor, or even major, stressors this holiday, and not everything will turn out exactly as planned. All of that is OK. If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be struggling with mountains of disappointment this holiday.

Beat the blues and put the cheer back into the holidays this year!

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas from all of us here at Section 705.

Sources: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-without-anxiety/201212/10-tips-surviving-the-holidays
https://www.symptomfind.com/health/holiday-stress-management/
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/holiday-stress-tips_b_790222
https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parents-holiday

Can I Trust Credit Karma?

Q: I’m trying to increase my credit score ahead of applying for a large loan, so I’m considering signing up for Credit Karma to track my score. How accurate are the credit scores it shares? Is there anything I need to be aware of before signing up for this service?

A: Credit Karma is a legitimate company; however, for a variety of reasons, its scores may vary greatly from the number your lender will share with you when it checks your credit.

We have answers to all your questions about Credit Karma.

What is Credit Karma?

Credit Karma LogoCredit Karma is an online credit service that operates under the principle that everyone is entitled to a free and honest credit score. To that end, the site allows you to check your credit whenever you’d like without paying any fees-a privilege that can cost you about $20 a month from its competitors. You’ll need to sign up for the service and share some sensitive information, like your Social Security number and your financial goals, but you won’t be asked for any credit card numbers or account information.

Scores are updated once a week, and the company only performs a “soft inquiry” on your credit to get the necessary information.This means your score is never impacted by it checking your credit on your behalf. Credit Karma also offers lots of credit advice, customizable loan calculators and reviews on financial products of all kinds.

Credit Karma earns its profit through targeted ads. As you learn your way around the site and start to frequent it more often, you’ll see ads that are geared toward your specific financial situation. For example, if your credit is excellent and you’re looking for a home loan, you’ll probably find loads of ads from mortgage companies. While this may seem like a breach of privacy, it’s no different than the way much larger online platforms you likely use, including Google and Facebook, earn a profit.

How does Credit Karma calculate my score?

The online credit company uses information from two of the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, to give you a VantageScore 3.0. While this type of credit score is gaining popularity among lenders, you may not recognize it-and for good reason. The FICO scoring model is by far the most widely used credit score among financial institutions and lenders across the country, with 90% of lenders using this score to net potential borrowers.

The atypical scoring model used by Credit Karma, coupled with the absence of information from Experian, the third of the three major credit reporting agencies, tends to make Credit Karma scores differ from scores pulled by other companies and financial institutions. The credit service is usually within range and a good indicator of your overall credit wellness. You can also get a report with a thin credit history through this model, which is super-helpful for those seeking to build their credit from nothing.

How do other lenders calculate my score?

Most financial institutions use a FICO scoring model to measure consumers’ credit scores. As mentioned, this number will likely be lower than the score you see on Credit Karma, but will fall within the same general range.

It’s also important to note that, each time you apply for a specific kind of loan with an individualized lender, it will likely also use its own customized formula. For example, if you were applying for a mortgage with a home loan company, it would probably use a score that is specifically developed for mortgage loans. Similarly, if you were to apply for a car loan from an auto lender, it will use its own score designed to predict the likelihood of you defaulting on an auto loan. This can result in an even lower credit score from these lenders.

Is there any other way to get my credit score?

If you’re looking for a more relevant credit score, you have several options. You can ask a potential lender to pull your credit, though this might cost you both in fees and in a knock to your credit for the hard inquiry. You can order your free credit report with information from all three credit bureaus once a year, at AnnualCreditReport.com. Lastly, for more frequent monitoring, you can sign up for access to your FICO score and 3-bureau credit report on Experian.com, where packages start at $19.99 a month. There are other similar services out there, but most are not legitimate or are grossly overpriced.

How does Section 705 decide if I’m eligible for a loan?

We use the FICO model to calculate your credit score when you apply for a large loan. While this number will likely differ from your Credit Karma score, it gives us a broader picture of your credit as it includes information pulled from all three credit bureaus. We’ll also review your full financial history and trajectory to determine if you are eligible for the loan.

Here at Section 705, our goal is to help you achieve and maintain financial wellness. Consequently, we are far more likely to approve a loan for one of our members than a random lender who doesn’t know the first thing about you or your financial history.

If you’re trying to increase your credit score before applying for a large loan, we can help! Stop by Section 705 today to speak to a financial counselor about steps you can take to improve your credit.

If you’re ready to take out that loan, make Section 705 your first stop! Our stress-free application process, low interest rates and reasonable terms make us the best choice for your next large loan. We’ll help turn your dream home or car into a reality.

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/103015/are-credit-karma-scores-real-and-accurate.asp
https://www.moneyunder30.com/credit-karma
https://www.creditkarma.com/question/credit-karma-score-is-way-higher-than-experian-score-why-is-that/
https://www.thebalance.com/why-the-lender-s-credit-score-may-differ-from-yours-960525

10 HACKS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HITTING THE MALL

Holiday Shopping Hacks

family shopping for holiday gifts in a mallQ: When the holiday season rolls around, I practically take up residence at the mall. There’s so much shopping I need to do and the mall is the best place to pick up most of my gifts. And yet, the experience causes so many headaches—and it’s expensive! Is there a way to spend less at the mall and to make the entire experience more pleasant?

A: You’re not the only one who feels like skipping out on their mortgage this month and paying rent at the mall instead. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the crowds at the mall can be as dense as the foot traffic on a street in Manhattan.

There’s more than just the thick crowds you have to battle at the mall, though. There’s also heavy manipulation by retailers priming you to overspend. Kit Yarrow, PhD and professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, says the red and green décor that covers the malls this time of year urges us to splurge. Red energizes us and green is perceived as an optimistic, lucky and wealthy color. Both colors will push us into going over budget.

The crowds and the endless spending can take a toll on anyone. No worries, though; we’ve got 10 incredible mall shopping hacks to make your trip a little easier on you and a bit lighter on your budget!

  1. Map out a route

The less time you spend at the mall, the better off your budget will be. Before spending yet another afternoon roaming aimlessly until you find what you’re looking for, jot down a short list of your intended purchases before heading out and then create a route of the stores you’ll hit to look for them. Most malls offer a printable map on their websites to make this task a little easier.

Have your route pre-planned and do your budget a favor. As a bonus, you might even make it home headache-free!

  1. Turn it up

Plug into your favorite playlist while scouring your favorite stores for fantastic finds. You’ll be calmer and less stressed—and a lot less likely to overspend.

  1. Cash only

If you can’t seem to stick to a budget at the mall, leave the plastic at home and only bring along the amount of cash you plan on spending. It’s hard to feel the hole a swipe makes in your pocket, but slipping the cashier a pile of bills actually feels like you’re spending money—and you’ll spend less of it. You’ll also be forced to stick to your budget no matter how tempted you are to overspend.

If you dare, consider only bringing newer, high-denomination bills, like 50s and 100s. You’ll think three times before breaking up those crisp, large bills.

  1. Find the hidden cashier

Skip the endless lines in the bigger stores this holiday season by seeking out the cashiers set up in out-of-the-way spots of the store. You might find these quieter checkout lines near the lingerie department, in a far-off corner or near the fitting rooms. Zip in and out of the store in minutes!

  1. Box it

When a cashier offers to box your purchases for you, say yes! It might mean a bit more time for you at the checkout, but you’ll get a head start on all that gift wrapping and save money on wrapping paper, too. Ask for a box even if your purchase isn’t a gift and then use it to wrap another gift item when you get home.

  1. Shop late in the day

Skip the crazy crowds by shopping right before closing. The malls usually see the fewest shoppers during the late evening hours, so you’ll be able to shop quickly without jostling your way through the crowds.

Also, many stores stay open an extra hour after the mall closes in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Hit the mall first, and then shop the extended hours at the department stores to get a whole lot done in one stress-free trip.

  1. Shop in heels

Leave your comfortable flats at home! A Brigham Young University study found that shoppers spent a lot less money when their minds were focused on staying balanced. If you don’t like teetering through the mall, you can hit the shops after a yoga class or after riding an escalator for a similar effect.

  1. Don’t become fast friends with the checkout clerks

According to Forbes, shoppers tend to overspend when they feel a kinship with the cashier. Be cordial and be polite, but don’t get too chummy with the checkout clerks this season.

  1. Carry a snapshot of your financial goal

What’s your financial dream? An Alaskan cruise? A luxury car? Print out a photo of your dream and stick it into your wallet. Pull it out whenever you’re tempted to bust your budget on a purchase and it will help you keep your mind on your goal.

  1. Suck on a mint

Did you know that stores use scents to manipulate shoppers into spending more? Suck on a mint or chew a piece of mint-flavored gum to help you block out the store’s smells and stick to your budget.

Don’t get stressed or go broke at the mall this season! Follow our hacks for a budget-friendly and stress-free shopping trip.

For more savings tips, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

SOURCES:

https://www.seventeen.com/fashion/style-advice/tips/a37264/money-saving-shopping-hacks-that-will-you-money-at-mall-stores/
http://ourfinancialpath.com/spend-less/
https://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/psychology-tricks-spend-less-shopping/
http://www.coupons.com/thegoodstuff/shop-smart-12-mall-shopping-hacks-you-should-know/

CREDIT CARD FRAUD IN 5S

Financial Self Defense against Credit Card Fraud

An image of someone typing in credit card information into the computerWhodunnit? When we’re talking about credit card fraud, everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else. Consumers tend to blame the credit card issuer, but the vulnerability usually lies with the point-of-sale terminal.

Tampering with a credit card reader takes just a few minutes and can be done with an inexpensive device that’s available on Amazon. There are lots of other ways your information can be skimmed, too. However, none of that points to a security deficiency with your credit union or credit card company.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent and recognize credit card fraud before it happens. Read on for all you need to know about credit card fraud.  

5 ways your card can be frauded 

  1. It’s physically lifted from your wallet.
  2. A restaurant or bar server skims it while it’s in their possession.
  3. A terminal you use is compromised.
  4. An online breach puts your information on the black market.
  5. Your computer has been hacked. 

5 signs a terminal’s been compromised 

  1.    The security seal has been voided. When the pump is safe to use, the label has a red, blue or black background. A breached seal shows the words “Void Open” in white.
  2.    The card reader is too big for the machine.
  3.    The pin pad looks newer than the rest of the machine.
  4.    The pin pad looks raised.
  5.    The credit card reader is not secured in place. It should fit tightly and not be easily rattled. 

5 times you’re at high risk for credit card fraud 

  1. You lost your card.
  2. You’ve patronized a business in an area that’s unfamiliar to you.
  3. A company you use has been breached.
  4. You shared your information online with an unverifiable contact.
  5. You downloaded something from an unrecognizable source. 

5 ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud 

  1. Check all card readers for signs of tampering before paying.
  2. Never share your credit card information online unless you’re absolutely sure the website is authentic and the company is trustworthy.
  3. Check your monthly credit card statements for suspicious activity and review your credit reports on a frequent basis.
  4. Use cash when patronizing a business in an unfamiliar area.
  5. Don’t download attachments from unknown sources. 

5 steps to take if your credit card’s been frauded 

  1. Lock the compromised account.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  3. Consider a credit freeze.
  4. Alert the FTC.
  5. Open new accounts. 

At 705 Federal Credit Union, we’ve always got your back! Call, click, or stop by today to ask about steps you can take to protect your information from getting hacked. 

SOURCES:

https://www.thebalance.com/how-credit-card-skimming-works-960773

https://www.thebalance.com/more-at-risk-of-credit-card-fraud-960780

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/credit-card-fraud-works-stay-safe/

http://gizmodo.com/home-depot-was-hit-by-the-same-hack-as-target-1631865043