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Tools, Information, Instructions, and Videos

We are dedicated to helping you realize your financial goals, which is why we are providing another benefit of your membership: Balance Track, an online personal finance education center. Balance Track allows you to explore all the essential elements of personal finance. Each of the learning modules is interactive with the links to helpful resources and has a quiz to allow you to test your knowledge of the subject. 

We recognize that money concerns may have a serious effect on our quality of life. Now, financial education is available to you free of charge as a benefit of your TCCU membership via the web or phone, 888.456.2227.

 

Protecting Your Credit During the COVID-19 Crisis

When a crisis hits, it’s important to stay on top of your finances as best you can and monitor your credit.

Due to the hardship caused by COVID-19, all U.S. consumers can get free weekly online credit reports now through April 20, 2021 from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, your credit might be the last thing on your mind. During times of emergencies though, such as global pandemics or natural disasters, you should know the state of your finances and keep your credit on your radar. Along with your physical health being a top priority, so should the state of your financial health and wellness.

Normally, your credit report is available every 12 months from all three credit bureaus–TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Given the vast number of consumers’ financial health being impacted by the current economic conditions, online access to your report is now available on a weekly basis. Visit annualcreditreport.com and follow the prompts.

Remember your credit report and credit score are two different things, and your report will not include your credit score.

A credit report is a statement of your credit activity and current credit situation. It includes a history of your loan payments and status of credit accounts.
A credit score is calculated from your credit history and behavior–information found in your credit report.
 

There are four main ways you can acquire your score, including checking your credit card or other loan statements, talking to a non-profit certified credit counselor, using a credit score service (be sure you know what you are signing up for and how much it really costs!), or buying a score directly from one of the three credit bureaus–TransUnionExperian, or Equifax.

There are additional ways you can be proactive with your credit. Follow these steps to help keep your credit on solid footing.

1. Pay your bills on time, if you can.
Even if it gets difficult, try to make at least the minimum payment by their due date. Late payments negatively affect your credit score.

2. Contact your creditors and service providers.
If you get to a point where you can’t pay all your bills, contact your creditors and any service providers such as utilities, phone company, etc.

3. Check your credit regularly.
Now is a critical time to make sure your credit reports are accurate. If you identify potential fraud, you can respond before it damages your credit.

4. Be extra protective of your identity.
Unfortunately, during times of crisis, scams and identity theft are at an all-time high. Protecting your personal information is essential. You can place a free security freeze on your credit files which prevents people from accessing your personal information and using your name to apply for credit.

5. Get financial assistance, if needed.
Certified credit counselors can offer advice on how to repay your debts in a manageable way.

6. Dispute inaccurate information.
If you find inaccurate information when reviewing your credit report, you can file a dispute with each credit bureau. Each bureau has an online dispute center, which is the quickest way to file a dispute.

How to Order Your Credit Report
Don’t contact the credit reporting agencies individually. The free reports are available only through annualcreditreport.com and 1-877-322-8228.

You’ll need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth. If you’ve moved in the last two years, you may need to provide your previous address. For security purposes and to verify your identity, you may be asked for information only you would know, like your monthly mortgage payment.

Beware of “Imposter” Websites
The only website authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are legally entitled to is annualcreditreport.com. Other sites that claim to offer “free credit report” or “free credit monitoring” aren’t part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program and in some cases have strings attached to the “free” product being advertised.

Report Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works for you–the consumer–to prevent fraud and unfair business practices in the marketplace. If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC (ftc.gov/complaint) and/or the Attorney General of your state.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)


With reports of COVID-19 dominating every media outlet, there is no doubt there is a lot on your mind. You are probably taking precautions to keep yourself and your family healthy. You may also be worrying about how to weather the financial storms that you may experience as a result of this public health crisis.

BALANCE wants to let you know that we are here to support you during this time. This is how we can help:

Firstly, we want you to know that for the last 24 months BALANCE has moved from an office-based environment to a remote nation-wide workforce. We are 95% percent remote and the other 5% is making the pivot now. We tell you this because we want you to know that having this business model in place already means we are not scrambling to work from home while trying to serve you. We made that pivot long ago and we are glad we did, we are confident that it leads to better service in times like these.

Secondly, we want to provide some helpful tips to those who are experiencing financial hardships associated with the virus:

Tips for Providing Financial Triage during a Financial Crisis:
1. Calculate your financial runway. How much money do you have? How long will that last? How much work (unpaid) will you be missing? What bills are coming up? What is the financial gap?

2. Prioritize your payments. Housing should be first. Perhaps student loans can be deferred for 6 months?

3. Look into solutions that will help you with temporary relief and an increase of cash flow during this temporary setback, (skip-a-pay, loan extensions, loan modifications, low-interest loans for disaster recovery, waived fees, etc…) Reach-out to creditors/lenders to seek temporary relief too.

4. Here is a great BALANCE tool-kit called, Surviving a Financial Crisis.

5. Here are a couple of articles that may be helpful too:
What to do if your income is reduced?

Cut these costs immediately if you are facing financial hardship.

Every time we see a crisis like government shut-downs, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, or in this case, a virus outbreak, the financial fragility of American’s is brought “out of the closet” and into discussion. Helping those we serve to get from barely surviving to financially thriving is our collective goal! If you are not prepared for this sort of financial setback, we hope this information can assist you in moving forward. As you recover, don’t forget to plan ahead for the future. Our hope is that we can keep the “Financial Health” conversation alive every day, not only in times of emergency.

 

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