Don’t let Amazon become Scam-azon

person delivering brown box package on doorstep
person delivering brown box package on doorstep

Don’t let Amazon become Scam-azon

“There’s something wrong with your Amazon account.” It could be a suspicious purchase, a lost package, or an order they can’t fulfill. If you’ve received one of these calls and hung up, you did the right thing.

 

Spam calls are running rampant right now from scammers pretending to be companies like Amazon and Apple trying to convince you that there’s an issue with your account and they just need a little information from you. The problem is, that little bit of information they are requesting could cost you big time. In fact, one credit union member who encountered this kind of call unknowingly gave up their information to the scammer and lost $7,000!

 

“While some departments at Amazon will make outbound calls to customers, Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information or offer you a refund you do not expect,” Amazon said in a recent response to these bogus calls. Amazon advises that you report any suspicious or fraudulent correspondence by visiting Report Suspicious Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages, or Webpages for more information

 

In most of these scenarios, callers are being directed to push certain numbers for assistance.

If you get an unexpected call or message about a problem with any of your accounts, hang up.

  • Do not press 1 to speak with customer support.
  • Do not call the phone number they gave you.
  • Do not give out your personal information.

If you feel you have fallen victim to one of these scams, please contact the credit union immediately. We can assist you in proactively securing your accounts to try and avoid any losses.

 

Contact us today!

Online Services Conversion Preparation

young woman looking excitedly at her phone slightly blurry
young woman looking excitedly at her phone slightly blurry

Online Services Conversion Preparation

You Asked, We Listened

At UCCU, we want to make your banking experience easy, and that includes online banking. That’s why we are making exciting upgrades to our online services. With enhanced applications for mobile and online banking come greater flexibility and convenience for our members. What does this mean for you? A better online experience! How can you prepare for this upgrade? We’re glad you asked! We’ll be updating this page with important information to help you prepare. For now, we encourage all of our members to: document and note any automatic transfer you have set up between your own accounts via online banking. (Ex. $50 weekly transfer from checking to savings). Transfers that the UCCU team has set up for you (for example, automatic loan payments, etc.) will be unaffected. Note any current BillPay payments you have scheduled on a weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule. (Ex. Monthly bill paid on the 3rd to Comcast). These transfers and payments will need to be reactivated once the online conversion takes place. We’re sure you have more questions about the exciting upgrade. Feel free to email or call us to learn more!

Federally insured by NCUA.

Five ways you can spring clean and make money

vases and glassware on a table with price stickers at a yard sale
vases and glassware on a table with price stickers at a yard sale

Five ways you can spring clean and make money

While your idea of fun probably isn’t cleaning out the garage, closets, and kitchen all weekend spring cleaning, as the weather warms up, can be shockingly refreshing. Not to mention, you could also make some money in the process and find some cool stuff.

 

Did you know 78% of people get into spring cleaning every single year while 7% have admitted to never doing spring cleaning? Closets, bedrooms, and kitchens were some of the most popular rooms to start in according to that survey, with the home office following closely behind.

 

“It’s hard to get motivated and get started,” said one expert. If it’s been on your to-do list you would probably agree with that statement, but what if you could get paid for getting up and starting that spring cleaning ritual?

 

Here are five tips to help you get motivated, and could help you make a little extra money for the effort:

 

  1. Make a “yard sale” pile: It is officially yard sale season. There is no better time than now to pop open your foldable table and start throwing all the stuff you don’t want onto it for your neighborhood’s annual yard sale. Others will find value in your old glasses, video games, and decorations. You may not rake in $1,000, but even an extra $100 is a win. Here are some of the most popular yard sale items: kitchenware and dishes, gently used clothes (the trendier the better), tools, old furniture, games, DVDs and books, exercise equipment, and televisions.
  2. Donate what’s left: Whatever you don’t sell at your yard sale, load up the car and head to Goodwill or other local charitable organization and donate whatever is left over. You’ll not only donate to a good cause, but there may also be tax benefits to donating used goods. Spring cleaning does wonders for clearing your mind and your space but can also help someone else out! The tax write-off won’t be a game-changer, but every little bit adds up in the end!
  3. Sell your textbooks: If you’re a recent college grad, think about selling your used textbooks on Amazon or websites like Book Scouter. It may be tough to just get rid of a book that you recently paid $300 for, but what are the chances you’ll be using that book again? Be sure to analyze if the hassle is worth the money as some textbooks are worth more than others. Remember, like the yard sale a few extra bucks for spending or saving is better than nothing!
  4. Set aside items of value: Things like electronics, rare collectibles, jewelry, and nice clothes can go into separate piles aside from your yard sale pile. These higher-value items might be worth selling online instead of the yard sale. If you have an old Apple Watch, iPhone, or collector’s items that you don’t want, see how much they go for online!
  5. Hunt for coins and gift cards: If you added up all the nickels, dimes, and quarters you found around the house during spring cleaning you may be rich! The average person finds $8 in coins and cash during spring cleaning. Check those pockets and cushions! It may not be much but that $8 is good for at least one Chipotle chicken bowl. And don’t forget about gift cards. Check the balances before you toss them, so you don’t lose out on the value.

Thinking about spring cleaning can be overwhelming. If you start with just one room, you’ll feel some accomplishment and might even move on to a second, third, or fourth room when you’re done!

The Smart Choice

young couple being shown a house
young couple being shown a house

The Smart Choice

If you’re looking to purchase a home, you know there are a lot of questions you have to answer. Which realtor should we use? What features are “must-haves?” What school district is this house in? Luckily, there’s one question that’s easy to answer. Where should you finance your home? The answer: United Community. It’s the smart choice in more ways than one. Not only do we give you options, but we also have low rates to ensure the best payment possible. Prequalify today to see how much you can afford towards your dream home. As an added bonus, one member will win a grand prize package featuring a Ring Video Doorbell as a welcome home gift and as a reminder of how “smart” you were for choosing United Community. 

*No purchase necessary. See credit union for details. Not all members may qualify. To win a Ring Video Doorbell grand prize package ($200 est. value) members must apply and close on a new home mortgage between 03.01.2021-05.31.2021 for automatic entry. One prize will be awarded. Alternate entry method: Send a postcard to PO Box 3543 Quincy, IL 62301. Equity loans do not qualify for entry. New home financing only. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.

Shred Day

strips of shredded white paper tangled and mismatched
strips of shredded white paper tangled and mismatched

Shred Day

Come get your shred on! 

 

Join us on Saturday, April 10th for our Shred Day! We’ll be at UCCU’s North Branch, 1426 North 26th Quincy, Illinois, from 9 am until 11 am. 

 

Bring any sensitive documents and dispose of them safely. We’re offering no contact drop-off. Just place all your shred items in your trunk. All items must be in bags or boxes.

 

Jump on your spring cleaning and keep your information secure! 

 

*Please limit yourself to five boxes per person. See credit union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Why couples fight over money, and how to prevent it

young couple putting money into a piggy bank
young couple putting money into a piggy bank

Why couples fight over money, and how to prevent it

A recent survey of nearly 1,000 couples who are married, engaged, or in a relationship found nearly 75% said they had gotten mad at their partner because of a financial decision they made without talking about it first. The majority of those decisions were a big-ticket purchase made without discussing it first. Other financial decisions that irked spouses were:

 

  • Hiding debt
  •  Not saving enough for future big purchases or agreed upon financial milestones
  • Spending money from savings

 

“You can’t have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money. Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages” says author and long-time financial counselor, Larry Burkett. Many finance and relationship experts agree: money arguments aren’t really over money at all, they are about our different value systems and that translates into how we spend (or save) money.

 

 

If you find you are at odds with your partner over finances more often than you would like, here are three tips to help spark meaningful conversation and get to the bottom of the problem and find solutions:

 

  1. Discuss your lifestyle choices: Maybe you’re the one that is perfectly content shopping at Goodwill for your new spring outfits, but your significant other only goes for the name-brand items at full price. If you have an income that doesn’t support expensive taste, that’s going to be a problem. Relationships are all about compromise. If one of you has more expensive taste, you don’t have to go without. Consider shopping at an outlet mall to snag those name brands you want at more affordable prices.
  2. Understand the differences in your personality: Opposites attract, right? Chances are, one of you loves working with numbers and balancing your accounts to the penny, and the other one would rather spend until that card is declined and then figure out what to do. One of you might be the saver and the other is more inclined to spend. Sure, personality differences are the cause of some relationship problems, but it isn’t the real root of your issues. The source of the problem is whenever one person chooses not to hear the other’s input, or when one person is cut out from handling the financial decisions altogether. Remember, in the end, you’re both on the same team and you need to use your difference in personalities to meet in the middle.
  3. Keep purchases out in the open. Remember how this article started? The majority of money fights are when you surprise your significant other with a financial decision you made without their knowledge. That savings account you have on the side, the credit card you opened without their knowledge, the big tv you bought on a whim… even with the best of intentions can usually the start of a good fight. If it’s too late, you need to work toward establishing financial trust again. Recommit to your shared financial goals and remember why you’re doing it. You’re in this together!

In the end, remember why you chose this person as your significant other. In the heat of the moment, you may not realize it but you need their skills, insight, and perspective—especially the ones you don’t have (and they need yours!)

Your Credit Score and How You Can Improve It

a gauge from red to green showing credit score
a gauge from red to green showing credit score

Your Credit Score and How You Can Improve It

Maybe you’ve applied for a loan in the past and the loan officer gives you your credit score. It may be high, it may be low, but you’ve probably wondered how exactly is it measured?

 

First, credit scores are usually used to differentiate the likelihood that you will pay back a loan, or not. The main consumer credit scoring models, FICO® and VantageScore®, rank consumers using a 300-to-850 score range. The lower the number the more risk a lender sees. The higher the number the less risk there is of you defaulting.

 

Second, how is this number calculated? FICO® Scores are calculated using several different pieces of your credit history in your credit report. This data is grouped and weighted into five categories: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and credit mix (10%).

 

It’s important to know that your FICO® Score is calculated only from the information in your credit report. However, when you apply for a loan, loan officers may look at many things when making a decision, such as your income, how long you have worked at your current job, how long you have lived at your current address, and the kind of credit and amount of credit you are requesting.

 

Many members ask us “how can we improve our credit score?” Dialing that 800 number from a roadside sign promising to give you a better credit score fast is not only expensive but rarely do they work. Here are three things you can do right now that will help you earn a better score.

 

  1. Pay Your Bills on Time. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most important. You’ll want to pay all bills on time—not just credit card bills or any loans you may have, such as auto loans or student loans, but also your rent, utilities, phone bill, and so on. It’s also a good idea to use resources and tools available to you, such as automatic payments or calendar reminders, to help ensure you pay on time every month. Behind on some payments now? Bring them current as soon as possible. Although late or missed payments appear as negative information on your credit report for as long as seven years, their impact on your credit score declines over time: Older late payments have less effect than more recent ones.
  2. Dispute Any Inaccuracies on Your Credit Reports. Check your credit reports at all three credit reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) for any errors that may be unnecessarily bringing your credit score down. Verify that the accounts listed on your reports are correct. If you see errors, dispute the information and get it corrected right away. Monitoring your credit regularly can help you find the errors before they do damage.
  3. Don’t Apply for Too Much New Credit, Resulting in Multiple Inquiries. Opening a new credit card can increase your overall credit limit, but the act of applying for credit, especially with a new lender creates a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score, though this effect will fade over time. Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for two years.

 

A low credit score won’t just potentially keep you from getting a loan, it determines the rate you pay when you do get a loan. The lower the credit score the higher your rate, which means a higher payment and more paid interest over time. A low credit score can also increase your insurance premiums and potentially keep you from renting a home.

 

Want to learn more about your credit score and get tips from an expert on how to improve your credit score, and ultimately your finances?

 

United Community wants to help. Reach out and schedule a time to meet with us. We promise we won’t judge you. Our job is to give you a proper perspective and help you achieve a better financial life.

Race Away with the best payment!

car zooming through street with blurred lights
car zooming through street with blurred lights

Race Away with the best payment!

With United Community’s low rates and fast application process, you can be in the driver’s seat of a new (or new to you) vehicle in no time. With rates as low as 2.49% APR*, you will feel like a champion behind the wheel. As an added bonus, finance before April 30, 2021, and be entered to win a $200 Nascar Store gift card!** Leave the other banks behind and find yourself in the winner’s circle only at United Community. 

*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Promotion runs 02.01.21-04.30.21. Floor rate is 2.74% APR. Qualified applicants earn a rate of 2.49% with automatic payment via payroll deduction, automatic transfer, or ACH payment. **One winner will be selected on or around 04.30.2021 by drawing to receive one (1) $200 Nascar store gift card. No Purchase necessary. Members who finance a vehicle loan of minimum $5,000 during promotional dates gain immediate entry. Additional method of entry – mail a postcard including name, address, and phone number to 1001 Vermont Quincy, Illinois 62306. See credit union for complete details. Federally insured by NCUA.

What is Credit Disability Insurance? Do You Need It?

young couple signing an insurance document
young couple signing an insurance document

What is Credit Disability Insurance? Do You Need It?

If you’ve ever applied for a loan, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked about adding credit life or credit disability insurance to your loan. Your response? “No thanks.” In some cases, you don’t need it. But in some cases, it’s worth a second look.

 

Before you can decide if it’s right for you, it’s important to understand what this coverage is and how it could benefit you.

 

If you pass away and your claim is payable, credit life insurance will pay off or greatly reduce your eligible loan balance. This leaves less financial stress for survivors who may be left having to figure out how to pay off your loan balance.

 

With Credit Disability Insurance, if you’re disabled from work due to injury or illness, your monthly loan payments will be made, up to the monthly benefit maximum, until you’re no longer disabled, your loan is paid, or reach the policy maximum.

 

“That’ll never happen to me.” Perhaps not, but over the past year, we’ve seen a huge uptick in members who have been injured on the job and who have contracted COVID-19, leaving them

unable to work for some time. Many who opted in for insurance on their loan benefited from the protection during the time they were unable to work. Sadly, others did not opt-in and were left with just one more financial stress to navigate.

 

What about worker’s compensation, that should cover you, right? You’re 66% right. Keep in mind that worker’s comp only pays a portion of your paycheck. Could you cover your living expenses and pay all of your bills on just 66% of your income? You may also have short term and long-term disability coverage, but keep in mind that the waiting periods and percentages paid are similar to worker’s comp.

 

We’ve often seen members who have been told that these are required of their loan from other financial institutions. It’s important that know that you’re never required to purchase credit life insurance to obtain a loan. If a lender ever tells you that this extra protection is required or tries to include the cost of credit insurance in your loan without properly disclosing it to you, you should report the company to the Federal Trade Commission.

 

When opening a new loan, reviewing insurance products offered in conjunction with the loan you should always ask yourself “What does this product do for me?” If you have a loan and opted to not receive coverage, it may not be too late to add it. It’s only too late when you need it and don’t have it. Often you can add coverage after the loan is closed. If you still have questions about these options or if it’s right for you reach out to us at the credit union. We’ll walk you through the benefits and help determine if it’s right for you.

Expensive car repairs: Fix it or trade it?

lens flare hand with a wrench under the hood of a car

Expensive car repairs: Fix it or trade it?

Every time your dashboard lights up with a mechanical failure, your mind instantly wonders, “what’s wrong this time?” Your next thought is realizing that you have to decide — repair it or not. Depending on the age of your car, what you paid for your car versus what it’s worth now, and the type of repair, sometimes the fix is worth it. Sometimes the repair is worth more than your car. But how do you know when it’s best to just cut your losses and sell?

 

Here are some of the most common major repairs, and questions to ask yourself to help decide if the repair is worth it:

 

Major engine repair

“Engine problems” are two words that you never want to hear. If you’re still protected by your warranty, often an engine replacement is covered. If not, that means your car is most likely more than five years old and/or has more than 60,000 miles on it. In some cases, some manufacturer powertrain warranties last up to 10 years or 100,000 miles. If your warranty will cover these repairs, you should take advantage of that. If your car is out of warranty it makes repairs that cost as much as a down payment hard to justify. On average, engine replacements cost $3,000 to $4,000 in a shop and near $7,500 at a dealership.

 

Blown head gasket

Your first question might be: “What the heck is a head gasket?” A head gasket is a component that creates a seal between the engine block and cylinder head that keeps combustion gases, oil, and coolant from leaving the engine. Still confused? Here’s what you need to know: it’s usually an expensive repair that can range from $1,200 to $1,500. Before you opt to repair a blown head gasket, think about this: it’s work that usually takes place as part of an even bigger, more comprehensive, and more expensive repair. If that $1,500 is going to turn into more expansive repairs, you may want to evaluate if it’s worth it.

 

Heater core

This isn’t the time of year you want your defroster to give up on you. if you’re noticing moisture buildup and your coolant is constantly disappearing, you likely need to replace your heater core. According to Consumer Reports, this repair can cost around $1,000, depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Seems like a simple fix, but if your heater core has failed, more than likely other related systems were damaged as a result, which will send you back to the mechanic soon after the core is fixed.

 

Air conditioner compressor replacement 

When summer temps heat up and your air conditioner compressor goes, not only will you be mighty uncomfortable, but you can expect to shell out upwards of $1,000 to repair or replace it. Much like the heater core replacement, that repair usually comes as part of a larger, more expensive list of repairs. It’s also one repair you can simply put off if money is tight. It’s not unsafe to drive, just uncomfortable without one.

 

There’s no easy answer to the question “repair or trade it in” but it’s always worth getting prices on the repair and consider how much you’ve already spent on repairs, and how much more you’re willing to spend on your vehicle versus what it’s worth.

 

Whether it’s covering a repair or financing a replacement, United Community can help.

We have plenty of options to help cover unexpected car repairs that go beyond your savings and offer affordable payments to fit almost any budget. Need to talk it out? CONTACT US and we can help review your options before you make an expensive mistake.

 

Considering a vehicle purchase soon and want to protect yourself from huge future costs? United Community offers extended warranties on vehicles financed and can be included on your loan.  These warranties can prove invaluable when costly repairs are needed.  Unsure if you purchased a warranty when financing? Call us today to discuss your options!