COVID-19 HEALTH CRISIS - FAQs About Finances
QUESTION: If my bank or credit union have temporarily reduced branch access or are not open, is my money still insured?
ANSWER: At a credit union, like LLCU, your money is federally insured by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration). At banks, money is federally insured by the FDIC. Deposits and savings held at NCUA-insured and FDIC-insured financial institutions will continue to be protected up to at least $250,000. At LLCU, additional Excess Share Insurance (ESI) provides additional deposit insurance up to $250,000 for member accounts.
QUESTION: Will there be enough cash available during this pandemic? Do I need to keep large amounts of cash in my possession to protect myself in case there is not enough cash available in the future?
ANSWER: The Federal Reserve System has and will continue to meet the currency needs of credit union members. Be assured that sufficient resources are available to handle member needs. The public is encouraged to continue to conduct transactions as they normally would. Credit and debit cards and other payment systems will operate as normal. The safest place for your money is inside a federally insured financial institution. Possessing cash to fund more than your normal activities might seem like a good idea, but cash is subject to loss or theft. We will continue to ensure that members have access to funds either directly or electronically.
QUESTION: Will I still be able to reach someone at my credit union during this temporary closure?
ANSWER: LLCU will continue to be staffed with Tellers, Member Service Representatives and Loan Officers, ready to assist you with any and all of your banking needs. During normal business hours, staff will be available by phone, live chat or email to assist you in any way. Additionally, there are numerous ways to access your accounts both online and through the telephone. Visit llcu.org to review the options.
QUESTION: I am not working and simply DO NOT have money to pay bills. What do I do?
ANSWER: First, take a deep breath and don't panic. Many Americans, even people globally, are experiencing the same problem. Because it is so wide-spread, many organizations and agencies are creating programs to offer relief to those affected negatively by this crisis. Here are some first steps:
- DON’T IGNORE or avoid calls from creditors and/or lendors. Talk with them about your hardship. Proactively call them before they call you. Many have already developed programs offering deferred payment options, payments plans, extended lines of credit and more.
- Track and cut any and all unnecessary expenses. You may have a lot of downtime at home with "Stay-in-Place" orders across the country. Be disciplined, avoid visiting carry-out restaurants, buying more than you need at the grocery and minimize online shopping. A good rule of thumb...when online shopping, place the item in your "online cart" and sleep on it. Come back in 24 hours and decide if you still need it. That simple pause could help you save money.
- Prioritize your bills. Mortgage or rent should come first. Keeping your place to live is typically everyone’s top priority. Auto Loan payment comes next to avoid repossession. Contact your lender if you can’t make a payment. Essential Utilities Come Next. Power, Gas, and Telephone are “essential” for living conditions. Eliminate non-essential things like cable, internet, etc. until you get back on your feet financially.
QUESTION: Even after prioritizing my bills and making a budget, I have realized I MUST find a source of cash-flow. What do you recommend?
ANSWER: If you've assessed your budget, prioritized your bills, called to make any available relief plans, you find you still don't have enough, here are some options to increase your available cash-flow:
- If you have a credit card, reach out to your credit holder and ask about either an advance on your card, or an extension of your credit line.
- Personal loans are an option. Reach out to LLCU or another credit union and ask about applying for a Personal Loan. With these loans, you can get a lower interest rate than that of a credit card o Payday Loan facility. You can set a reasonable monthly payment amount and ask to defer the payment up front.
- AVOID Payday Loan facilities entirely! They typically cost around 400% in annual interest or more. The finance charge ranges from $15 to $30 to borrow $100. For two-week loans, these finance charges result in interest rates from 390% to 780% APR.
- You could consider taking a loan from the money you have invested in your 401(k) or IRA (if you've done so). The interest rates are typically low and this type of loan won't impact your credit score. However, bear in mind that you might have to pay this loan back in a certain window of time and/or face penalties.
- Consider using the equity in your home as collateral with a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). You risk foreclosure if you don't pay the loan back so it's important to consider all the possibilities before signing. The interest rates are generally low and easy to qualify for (because they are secured by your home's value).
QUESTION: Because of the “Stay-at-Home” order in Illinois, and the fact that my business is not considered “essential,” I have had to close my doors to my business. I do not know how long I can afford to still pay bills with no revenue. What are my options to get through this time?
ANSWER: There are many options and programs being put in place to assist small and self-owned business. Programs are being drafted right now to assist with these financial hardships for business, both at the Federal and State levels. The Small Business Administration has also extended some relief in various formats. Reach out to Andrew Young today, at LLCU, where we are a SBA-certified lender. He is ready to discuss your options. Call 1-844-222-7788.
QUESTION: I keep hearing about SCAMS that are happening surrounding the Coronovirus pandemic. What types of scams should I watch for and how can I protect myself?
ANSWER: While most of the population are working together and helping one another during this global pandemic, some portions of the population have been using their power to wreak havoc. During the COVID-19 health crisis, scams revolving around the fear of the virus, have been increasing with each passing minute. At LLCU, we want you to be armed with information and measures to protect your online identity and personal financial information. PLEASE CLICK the image below for a full list of scams and tips to protect yourself.
QUESTION: I’ve relocated due to COVID-19, will local credit unions and banks cash my checks if I’m not a customer or member of that facility?
ANSWER: Many credit unions participate in a Shared Co-operative Network that allows you to fulfill transactions at their facility. Look for a posted triangular-shaped Shared Branch Co-Op logo in the window of the facility to see if they are a participating partner institution. This same rule applies to ATMs of shared branches. There are over 30,000 ATMs in the United States.
Additionally, the NCUA is encouraging credit unions to consider easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks. Ask the new financial institution you are dealing with to call your credit union to determine your account balance and to consider allowing you to complete your transactions with them, as a non-member of that institution.
QUESTION: I’m concerned about ATM fees increasing if I don’t have access to my credit union’s ATM network due to COVID-19 related issues, but I need cash. Who do I contact regarding this concern?
ANSWER: CLICK HERE to find a Shared Branching Co-op ATM near you. These ATMs that are a part of this network offer FEE-FREE access to cash, 24/7.
QUESTION: I need to withdraw money from my certificate of deposit to help pay for unexpected expenses as a result of COVID-19. Will my credit union let me withdraw my money without penalty?
ANSWER: The NCUA is encouraging credit unions to consider waiving certain fees to assist customers affected by COVID-19 related developments due to temporary business closures, slowdowns, or sickness. These fees include early withdrawal penalties on time deposits and overdraft fees on checking accounts. You should contact your credit union representative directly to confirm their current policy regarding fees on early withdrawals in connection with any planned withdrawal of funds from a time deposit account.
QUESTION: My community is currently under a “shelter-in-place” mandate and my credit union lobby is closed. I need to get cash and conduct banking transactions. What should I do?
ANSWER: Contact your credit union’s member service center to ask for assistance in meeting your banking needs. At LLCU, call 1-844-222-7788. Credit Unions and banks are likely offering expanded services through the use of drive-up teller windows, or providing assistance at ATMs located outside of the branch office. Credit union employees will also be available to help you set up or use online banking, or the credit union’s mobile app, to complete transactions such as depositing a check to your bank account, paying bills, transferring funds and more.
If you have not yet, you should consider setting up direct deposit so that a paycheck or public benefits payment goes directly into your account at the financial institution. This is a fairly quick and easy process.
QUESTION: I can't reach my bank by phone or internet. What should I do?
ANSWER: Some branches experiencing a large impact by COVID-19 may have limited personnel in place to respond to calls and some may need to temporarily close to protect their employees. During this time, you can use another credit union within the Shared Branch Co-op Network. To find one near you, CLICK HERE.
QUESTION: I would like to send money to a relative or friend affected by COVID-19. How do I wire money to or from an institution?
ANSWER: There are several options for you to execute this transaction:
Option 1: Contact the credit union to which you want to send or retrieve money and determine if the credit union can accept or send wire transfers. We are able to send and receive at LLCU. You will need to provide either your account number or the account number of the individual who will receive the money (in the middle of the check or deposit slip) and the routing number (in the lower left hand corner of your check or deposit slip). If you cannot find the routing number, it may be listed on the website of the financial institution. You will also need the address of the bank to which you are wiring money. If you are transferring the funds over the internet, ask the institution to fax or email you a confirmation so you know the person receives the money. You should understand the identification verification process at the receiving institution. Some institutions will accept incoming wires for non-members but will require proof of your identity before they release the funds. Ensure you have the identification required or explain up front what you have and ask if that is acceptable. Also, determine up front whether there are any fees associated with wiring funds.
Option 2: At LLCU, PopMoney at LLCU allows you to send and receive money quickly and easily. With PopMoney, you are able to send and receive funds from your account to anyone with an email or phone number. Setting up PopMoney is simple, contact an LLCU Member Service Representative to get started at 1-844-222-7788.
QUESTION: How can I protect against fraud or scams?
ANSWER: Protect your personal and financial information. Understand that some people may take advantage of COVID-19 by using fraudulent websites, phone calls, emails, and text messages claiming to offer “help” but may be trying to trick people into providing Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other valuable details. Do not divulge your bank or credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the conversation with the other party and you know that it is a reputable organization. In addition, you should be cautious about online solicitations. Be on guard against imposters who contact you claiming to be government employees or volunteers and who ask for personal financial information or money. Reject offers to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee, even if the financial institution makes the funds available to you right away, as it may later turn out that the check was fraudulent.
QUESTION: I didn’t receive my direct deposit. What should I do?
ANSWER: Contact your employer to ensure that payroll operations are functioning as normal and to verify that funds were sent to the correct account, and when they are scheduled to be deposited into your account.
QUESTION: I am no longer working due to COVID-19 and don't have the income to live on and meet my payments. If I miss some loan payments, how will this affect my credit? Will I be charged late fees?
ANSWER: The NCUA and FDIC are encouraging credit unions and banks to be understanding during this time and work with those seriously affected by COVID-19 related developments, including temporary business closures, slowdowns, or sickness. In certain situations, credit unions may allow members to skip loan payments with no adverse consequences for the borrower, extend loan terms, and restructure loans. However, before skipping payments or otherwise operating in a manner that differs from the terms of a loan, contact your credit union to determine its flexibility during this time. Additionally, immediately contact creditors if you do not think you can pay your bills or make credit card or loan payments on time. Paying your debts late or not at all can result in penalties, interest charges, and damage to your credit score. Your creditors should be able to work with you on a solution, but it is important to contact them as soon as possible and explain your situation.
QUESTION: I am using my credit card to fund unexpected living expenses. What if I go over my credit limit?
ANSWER: The NCUA and FDIC have encouraged credit unions and banks to consider increasing credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers. Credit unions and banks are also considering waiving late payment fees on credit cards and other loans. Contact your financial institution to see whether and how they can help you meet your financial needs.
QUESTION: What steps can I take to prevent identity theft and what can I do if someone steals my identity?
ANSWER: If you feel ID theft is a concern, or have reason to believe you may be a victim of ID theft, you may place a "fraud alert" on your credit file, by contacting the fraud department at one of the three major credit bureaus for which contact information appears below:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com/
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/
TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872; www.transunion.com/
You only need to notify one credit bureau. The one that processes your fraud alert will notify the other two. Those two then must place fraud alerts in your file. Placing a “fraud alert” on your credit file can help prevent a thief from opening new accounts or making changes to your existing accounts. Be aware, however, that placing an alert on your credit file also may prevent you from opening an account unless the financial institution can contact you and positively confirm your identity and that you are applying for credit. In addition, people who think their personal information has been misused should contact the local police.
QUESTION: I do not have access to my personal IDs or financial records due to an unexpected quarantine caused by COVID-19. How do I rebuild my financial records?
ANSWER: These tips will help you begin to re-establish your financial records: (You should call ahead to these facilities, as they may have temporarily closed or restricted lobby access due to COVID-19).
- To replace your driver’s license or state identification (ID) card. A driver’s license and a state ID card for non-drivers are the most commonly used IDs for proof of identity. These documents should be replaced as soon as possible. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the appropriate state.
- To replace your Social Security card. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) card replacement process requires another form of identification, such as a driver’s license. For more information, call 1-800-772- 1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or go to www.SSA.gov and click on “Get Or Replace A Social Security Card.” The website also provides information about Social Security benefit payments at socialsecurity.gov/emergency
- Consider replacing other documents that may serve as proof of identity, such as: Passport, Employer ID card, School ID card, Military ID card, Marriage or divorce record, Adoption record, Health insurance card, (not a Medicare card), Life insurance policy, Replace your credit cards, debit cards, and checks and inquire about your safe deposit box. Contact your financial institution.
QUESTION: There are unauthorized charges on my credit card. What should I do?
ANSWER: You should contact the credit union or bank at the address your credit card specifies and provide information regarding the disputed transactions no later than 60 days after the financial institution sent the first statement containing the disputed charges.
QUESTION: I need to access something that I have in a Safety Deposit Box, but my credit union has closed the lobby. What should I do?
ANSWER: Contact your credit union or bank where you have the items stored. Most are making arrangements to allow members to access their safety deposit boxes during normal business hours. Call ahead to be certain hours of operation have not been altered.
QUESTION: I am in need of cash or a line of credit to pay bills, but am afraid I won’t qualify or won’t find an institution processing loans. What should I do?
ANSWER: The NCUA and FDIC are encouraging credit unions and banks to loosen restrictions for lending and lines of credit to make these options more accessible to those with credit problems. Contact LLCU or a local financial institution about personal loan and credit card options available.