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Should You File for Bankruptcy?

Your debt feels impossible. New bills and past-due notices are showing up daily. Creditors won’t stop calling. Just as you feel like throwing your hands in the air, you come across a solution that might be the best for you: filing bankruptcy.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a reality many Americans are facing. Millions of Americans across the country have been unemployed since earlier this year. It’s incredibly easy to get behind on bills when the money isn’t coming in, but the bills are still showing up. It’s an overwhelming feeling. Seeing a new bill arrive each day, knowing you can’t cover it. Combine this with the question of, “How can I pay this bill with no job?” and it’s easy to see why the COVID-19 pandemic could be the cause of millions filing bankruptcy.

The longer this pandemic continues, the more likely it is that you’ll see some attorney in a TV commercial asking if you’re in thousands of dollars of debt, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by creditors and looking for a solution. While you’re thinking that sounds exactly like your life, this attorney is going to present the option of filing for bankruptcy because it’s the easiest way to get out of debt and the best way to get your life back.

It sounds great, right? Getting your debt forgiven and finally being out from under the stress and anxiety it carries.

To quote ESPN College GameDay analyst Lee Corso, “Not so fast.”

Filing bankruptcy might help you get rid of your debt, but it’s important to understand the serious, long-term effects it has on your credit. When you file bankruptcy, it remains on your credit report for 7-10 years as a “negative remark,” and it affects your ability to open credit card accounts or get approved for loans with favorable rates.

What exactly is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process designed to help individuals and businesses eliminate all or part of their debt or, in some cases, help them repay a portion of what they owe.

There are several types of bankruptcy, but the most common types are Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11.

Chapter 7 forgives most of your debt and allows you to keep all of your assets with a few exceptions depending on state and federal laws. During the process, you and your creditors are invited to a meeting where they are allowed to make a case as to why a federal bankruptcy court shouldn’t forgive your debt. Once your case is approved, your debt will be forgiven, and none of your creditors are allowed to hassle you over the forgiven debts.

Chapter 13 is different than Chapter 7 in that it requires you to come up with a plan to repay your creditors over a 3-5-year period. After that, your debt is forgiven.

Chapter 11 is generally for small business owners. It allows small business owners to retain their business while paying back debts according to a structured plan. With this option, business owners give up a certain amount of control to court officials, debtors, or counselors assigned to help you rebuild your credit. Despite losing some control of your business, owners are able to keep their business running while working on the financial future.

Things to consider if you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy

It’s important to note the serious impact bankruptcy has on your credit report. Bankruptcy effectively wipes out everything on your credit report – the good and bad remarks – and it stays on your credit report for 7-10 years.

Which means, any account you’ve paid off or left in good standing that could positively impact your credit score is wiped out. All the hard work you’ve put into building your credit is basically nonexistent once you file bankruptcy. True, all the negative remarks are gone, your debt is forgiven and you might even see your credit score go up, but you’ve pretty much labeled yourself high-risk when it comes to lending.

Bankruptcy seriously affects your ability to open lines of credit – credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, etc. Because you are now labeled high-risk, most – if not all – banks will likely deny any application you submit for a line of credit – even though your credit score might have gone up. There are a number of factors that determine your credit score, but payment history, access to credit and derogatory remarks have the highest impact.

When you file bankruptcy, you wipe out all of your past payment history, eliminate your access to credit and end up with a derogatory remark regarding the bankruptcy left on your credit report. If you are approved for a line of credit, you’ll likely get a much higher interest rate which will make any monthly payments higher.

Take a car loan, for instance. The average APR for a car loan for a new car for someone with excellent credit is 4.96% while the average APR for someone with bad credit is 18.21%. If you’re able to get a car loan, you’ll likely get an APR closer to the high end because of filing bankruptcy. The same will be true for credit cards (forget getting a great credit card with rewards or a good rate), personal loans or mortgages.

Should you file for bankruptcy?

When it feels like your debt is caving in on you, bankruptcy might seem like the only way to reach financial peace. Don’t jump to that as a first option. Check out other, less painful options that don’t have nearly as many negative consequences in the long run.

Here are a few steps to consider taking first:

  • While it’s easier (and let’s be real, more pleasant) to ignore your creditors, take a moment to talk to them. Negotiate and see if there are options to make your debts more manageable. Can you lower the interest rate? Is it possible to settle for less than you owe? Can you set up a payment plan?
  • Talk to us about your financial picture. Let us help you find options to dig your way out of the hole you’re in while also keeping you from getting back in a difficult situation. We might have options that will allow you to consolidate your debt into one, more affordable payment.
  • Go through your house. Do you have things you don’t use or need that you can sell? If so, sell off those items and apply that money to your debt.

Also, it’s important to note that not all debt is eligible for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy can eliminate a lot of your debt, some types of debt cannot be forgiven.

  • Most student loan debt (although some members of Congress are working to change this).
  • Court-ordered alimony.
  • Court-ordered child support.
  • Reaffirmed debt.
  • A federal tax lien for taxes owed to the U.S. government.
  • Government fines or penalties.
  • Court fines and penalties.

Ask anyone who understands finances and most of them will tell you that bankruptcy should be an absolute last option. It might sound like a really good idea and filing for bankruptcy does end up being the best option for some people. But it should be the last option you consider because of the long-term damage it does. Look through your debt, see what you owe and carefully consider all of your options. Again, come in and talk to us. Let us see if we have better options that can help you. We’re your credit union, and we’re here to help you.

10 Tactics Scammers Use to Trick You

Scammers are known for preying on victims’ vulnerabilities, such as financial hardship, fear, and confusion. Given the particularly challenging circumstances surrounding COVID-19, people who believe they are savvy enough to avoid scams may fall victim, nonetheless. Proactive education is the best way to not only protect members but also help your credit union staff be prepared to assist members who have been targeted by scammers. In fact, a recent Javelin study found 80% of people in the U.S. who are informed about a scam will disengage from it. 

 
Here are 10 common practices scammers keep in their arsenals to attempt to fool your members and commit fraud. 
  1. Faking an emergency. Scammers pretend to represent an official organization (like the IRS) and call, text, or may email you to demand immediate money for bogus issues. They use threatening phrases such as, “Your 401k plan will be frozen,” “Your passport will be seized,” or “The maximum sentence for this crime is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine,” to catch potential victims off guard and create a sense of urgency.
  2. Expressing that resistance is ineffective. Once the scammer has created the emergency and instilled panic, they reinforce there is nothing you can do to remedy the situation. In the case of an IRS scam, they may say you must cooperate or face arrest and/or fines.
  3. Rewarding cooperation with encouraging comments. Scammers sometimes try to play the part of a trusted friend, offering help and a way out of the emergency that would provide you relief. They might even tell you that you seem like a good person and offer to help you with the situation at hand.
  4. Not allowing victims to hang up until they pay up. Phone scammers say it is a one-time opportunity for the member to take action to avoid further consequences, and if you hang up the phone, you will not be offered another chance to resolve the problem.
  5. Using official-sounding titles and names for ordinary things. Scammers try to sound impressive to gain your trust. They use official-sounding titles and names for merchants and everyday items. Examples include referring to a gift card as an “electronic federal tax payment system,” or instead of using the name of a store, they call it a “government-affiliated payment processor.”
  6. Stating they are not asking for personal information up front. Scammers know asking for personal information should raise alarm bells. Instead, they may say they are not looking to obtain this information, or they are not looking for an exchange of funds over the phone, which is design to make you let down your guard. This is why scammers often use gift cards to extract payment.*Scient will never call you and ask for personal information. If a caller does, please hang up and call us so we may help monitor your account.
  7. Signaling to members they are being recorded. In an attempt to sound legitimate, scammers say the call is being recorded and monitored by the IRS.
  8. Threatening to alert the media. Scammers go to great lengths to keep suspicious or wary potential victims on the phone, and even go so far as to threaten to contact the media on behalf of the IRS if you do not comply with what is being asked. This is used as a last resort to salvage a conversation that might not be going well.
  9. Exploiting member engagement. Once scammers have members hooked, they may transfer the call to another fake agent in an attempt to further legitimize the call. Often, these scamming “call centers” employ multiple scammers who work together to make the initial call and then close the scam. Scammers are highly organized: some are responsible for getting potential victims hooked, while others focus on closing the deal by extracting payment. They may say, “Please hold on the line, I am transferring the call to my senior treasury specialist,” or “Thanks for waiting, this is senior officer Matthews from the accounting department. My badge ID is…”
  10. Insisting members keep quiet about special offers. If a scammer offers a special tax break, for instance, they will often demand that you not discuss it with anyone, as it would prevent them from getting the settlement. 
If you feel that you may have been a victim of one of these scams, please contact us immediately so we may help in protecting your funds and your peace of mind.  Please remember we are always here for our member’s benefit and safety.  
 
*Information from CUInsight.com

Is Pet Adoption for You?

You finally decided to bring home a furry friend. You’ve done your research, you’ve figured out what type of pet you want, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line.

But, have you thought about the ongoing cost(s) associated with getting a pet?

There are two main areas regarding costs to consider when it comes to owning a pet. There are initial costs (adoption fees/breeder fees, first vaccinations, training, etc.) and the general costs over your pet’s lifetime (food, toys, routine vet visits, grooming, etc.).

Of course, there are a dozen other ways pets can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to prepare for several different types of costs.

Adoption fees vs. Breeder fees

One of the first expenses pet owners experience is adoption fees or purchase price. Typically, adoption fees are going to be less expensive than breeder fees.

Most shelters and rescue organizations will provide medical care, vaccinations, and maybe even spaying or neutering animals. If you decide to go the shelter route, it’s essential to ask the volunteers what services your adoption fees include.

Did you know that according to the ASPCA, about 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters nationwide each year? Of those 6.5 million animals, only about 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year. So, if you’re thinking about adoption, you could be saving a life!

It’s also a good idea to find out what the adoption process looks like. It could be different depending on the shelter or rescue organization you choose, but usually, the basics are the same. Once you select your fur-ever friend, you’ll have to fill out paperwork to be approved. The shelter or rescue organization will want to know where you live, whether or not you have other pets, if there are kids in your home and they may even do a home visit before you’re allowed to take your new friend home. Once you pay the fee and your application is approved, then the real fun begins!

The type of breed you’re interested in determines the amount you’ll pay in breeder fees and whether you’re buying from a reputable breeder. If you are buying from a reputable breeder, you’ll likely get a fair, competitive price, and most will have official paperwork on the animal you’re purchasing. Do your homework on the breeder. Make sure you’re buying from someone who isn’t buying animals from unethical institutions.

Medical costs

Vet bills are often the most expensive aspect of owning a pet. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a relatively healthy animal that only needs a vet visit once or twice a year. On the other hand, if your pet does need additional vet care, it can be pretty costly.

The average vet visit can cost a pet owner anywhere from $50 to $400, depending on the nature of the visit. If you’re trekking to the vet once a year, it’s not as challenging to work into your budget. However, if it happens every couple of months, you could find yourself in over your head with vet bills.

Eating right for less

For every question you have about pet ownership, there are a million different answers – and that includes what to feed them! Your new furry friend has to eat, but they don’t have to eat the most expensive food.

When you’re picking out what your pet eats, think about their size (are you feeding them once a day or do they require multiple feedings), how much they eat, and what they like. You might find that your cat loves a particular brand (let’s say it costs less than $20 for a 22-pound bag) or that your dog lives for a specific brand (let’s say that a 50-pound bag is less than $25). Don’t automatically buy the most expensive food. See what works for your animal and your budget.

Toys!

You can’t have an animal without toys. Every cat needs a scratching post, and every dog needs a good rope to play tug-of-war. The great thing about toys? You can spend as much or as little as you want. You might have a cat that would rather play with bottle caps than catnip mice. Before you spend your paycheck buying toys, get a few, and see which ones your furry companion likes. You might be surprised.

Training & grooming costs

Training and grooming are additional costs that you may not have to consider. If you’re getting a cat, you won’t have to worry about training classes or grooming (unless you choose to do so). Cats pretty much take care of themselves – and let’s be real, they train their owners. With a dog, however, training classes might be something you need to consider. Depending on the breed of your dog, grooming might be a necessity, too. Do your research. Look around and find the best deals on grooming and training.

Bringing home a furry friend is a huge commitment. It’s essential to evaluate your current financial situation before deciding to purchase a pet. Let us help. While we don’t offer a pet adoption loan or a pet expense loan, we have affordable personal loans or a low-interest credit card that meets your needs for multiple parts of your life. We’re your credit union. Let us see how we can help. 

6 Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Responsibly

Have you received your COVID-19 stimulus payment or are you expecting it soon? Have you started thinking about how you would spend it?

It’s tempting to think about all of the ways you could spend an extra $1,200 or $2,400 – depending your filing status and the number of dependents you claim. Before you get that list finalized, we want to give you some tips to help your money stretch as far as possible.

1. Prioritize.

Look at your bills. What are essential – rent or mortgage, car payment, utilities – and what bills are non-essential – entertainment, streaming services, unusable memberships? Make a list of what you need and what you can live without. Focus on paying the essential bills first.

2. Save. Save. Save.

Don’t miss an opportunity to pad your savings account with some of your stimulus money. It’s a one-time payment so think of your stimulus as a mini emergency fund. You may want to set aside some of the payment as “in case” money.

3. Divide and conquer.

You only get one stimulus payment, but your bills will still come monthly. If you’re currently unemployed, it’s especially important to be strategic in how you spend your stimulus payment. Take this opportunity to divide it up into smaller chunks to help cover some of the essential bills you pay each month. Also, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender, your utility company and internet service provider if you’re having trouble meeting your monthly obligations. A lot of companies are finding ways to help their customers during this unprecedented situation.

4. Don’t hoard cash.

Hoarding cash is a bad idea in general. Your money is much safer at your credit union than it is in your home. The National Credit Union Administration insures amounts up to $250,000. So, bring it to us and let us keep an eye on it. Plus, if you have a checking account that has a cashback option, you could make money on it while it sits in your account.

5. Pay down debt.

Paying off debt is almost never a bad financial move but think about it and prioritize carefully. Even in these uncertain times, paying off your highest-interest debt isn’t a bad idea. But, don’t feel like you need to be in a hurry to spend all your stimulus money on paying off debt. Look at your options for forbearance, payment deferrals or even the option to skip a monthly payment. If you can get some relief on your debts in the coming months, let that stimulus payment sit in your savings account.

6. Splurge Smartly.

We’re all feeling the weight of stress, grief and uncertainty as we wonder when this pandemic will end, and life will return to normal. No matter how you decide to spend your stimulus check, set aside a little bit to spend on something fun for yourself. Maybe even shop at some of your local businesses to offer support. Remember: the government is hoping these stimulus payments will put some cashflow back into the economy to stimulate it.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve faced a situation no one could’ve possibly prepared for. We know that our members have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the stimulus payments will certainly help and offer some relief to most, please know that Scient Federal Credit Union is here for you. We want to help you stretch your stimulus payment as far as it will possibly go. Maybe you need to skip a monthly payment or you’re looking for a relief loan. Regardless of your needs, give us a call at 877-860-6928 and let us figure out how to help.

Stimulus Payments Are On The Way

Economic Impact payments are on their way, and most Americans have already received their money. 

But, what does it mean for you if you haven’t?

Where is my stimulus check?

The IRS began sending out stimulus payments in April. But if you haven’t received yours yet, there’s no reason to panic. Retirees, senior citizens, and taxpayers who filed income taxes in 2018 and 2019 and included direct deposit information were the first groups to receive their payments. 

If you’re not in one of those categories, you’ll still receive a payment, but it’ll arrive by mail instead of being directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Taxpayers who didn’t include direct deposit information will receive a paper check sometime in May.

 The IRS does a feature on its website that will allow taxpayers to provide direct deposit information if their check hasn’t yet been mailed. However, the feature isn’t slated to be up and running until mid-April.

What you need to know about payments

Most taxpayers are eligible to receive a stimulus payment. The payments are automatic, and no further action is needed to receive the payment. 

The amount, however, will vary based on filing status, the number of dependents and adjusted gross income (AGI). Individuals or head of household filers will receive $1,200, while married taxpayers filing jointly (if they aren’t a dependent of another taxpayer) will receive $2,400. Taxpayers will receive up to $500 per dependent claimed on their federal tax returns in 2018 and 2019.

Stimulus payments are based on the AGI claimed by the filer. Taxpayers will receive the amounts listed above if they have a work-eligible Social Security number and adjusted gross income up to: 

  • $75,000 for individuals
  • $112,500 for head of household filers
  • $150,000 for married couples filing joint tax returns

Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their AGI is:

  • $75,001 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately
  • $112,501 and $136,500 for head of household
  • $150,001 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly

Can I track my payment?

You may track the status of your payment here

The website is open to non-filers. If you didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax or you weren’t required to, you can enter your information on the IRS website and select the preferred method of payment.

We’re facing an unprecedented situation that seems to be changing daily. Please know, Scient Federal Credit Union is here for you during this time. If you’re facing an uncertain financial situation, talk to us. Let us help you find a solution that works for you while you’re waiting for your stimulus payment. We have several options available to our members because we want to help them come through this stronger. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, call us at 877-860-6928 and let us know how we can be there for you.

Coronavirus Update

UPDATED: June 25, 2020

We are pleased to announce the branch lobby at our Colver Ave corporate office will open Monday, June 29, and our Groton Pfizer campus will open on Monday, July 6.  We have always stated, our most important consideration is the health and safety of our employees and members.   With that in mind, below are the safety guidelines we will be implementing when our doors open.

Temporary New Lobby Hours

Colver Ave Branch – Starting June 29

Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Saturday: Closed

B220 Groton Pfizer Campus (Restricted Access) – Starting July 6

Monday, Wednesday & Friday   9:00am – 2:00pm

*The new hours made effective on April 20 for Colver Ave. Drive-thru and the Postal Branch will still remain in effect.

Please note all branches will be closed July 3 & 4 in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.

The following New Safety Guidelines will need to be adhered to when entering a branch lobby.

  • Face coverings must be worn at all times. Due to this requirement, we may ask that you present your ID and remove your face covering when conducting business at the Teller line and Member Service Representative workstations.
  • Member occupancy in the lobby will be limited to meet social distancing restrictions. We will be monitoring occupancy and assist you with the flow of branch traffic.
  • We will be practicing social distancing and ask that you follow the floor markers when in line. We will be monitoring occupancy and assist you with the flow of branch traffic.
  • Please limit your time in the branch. The coin machine and computer station will not be available during this phase of opening.  The coffee station has been removed and the restroom is no longer available for member use.
  • Large protective plexiglass shields have been placed at the Teller stations and Member Service Representative workstations for everyone’s safety and protection.
  • We have installed a hand sanitizer station for your use upon entry and exit.
  • Please do not enter the lobby if you have a fever, are not feeling well, have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or are unable to wear a face mask.

We are here – always committed and happy to work for you, our members. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate our new normal. 

As a reminder, below is information regarding the 24/7 access to your money and options to help relieve financial distress.

  • Use Online Banking. It’s a free and easy way to check your balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and more, from your desktop or mobile device 24 hours a day. With our mobile app, you can even electronically deposit checks. You can download our app here.
  • Use Fast Pay to make a quick, secure auto or other loan payment. To make a payment to your Scient credit card visit here.
  • Use our network ATMs. We have an ATM at both our Colver Ave. and New Haven Postal branches, where you can withdraw cash, transfer funds, and make cash or check deposits. Transactions are posted the same business day. We’re also a member of the Co-Op Network, which allows you surcharge-free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
  • Use our Colver Ave. HQ branch night drop to make your deposit. It will post the following business day.
  • Use our Audio Banking System to check balances, transfer funds, and make loan payments. Dial 877-860-6928 and select option 1 to begin. Directions on how to enroll in audio banking can be found here.
  • Some of you may have your work income disrupted by the emergency, you may want to use our Skip-a-Pay service to skip your loan payment for a month or apply for our loan assistance program. If making payments becomes very difficult, please contact us at 877 860 6928.
  • Call us at 877 860 6928. Our Contact Center can handle almost any banking need or will transfer you to someone who can.

UPDATED: May 20, 2020 

As we continue to make every effort to support our members and assist with their financial needs, we are experiencing a higher than usual call volume in our contact center.  Members may experience longer wait times. We appreciate your patience. 

If you are looking for the status of your Stimulus Payment, please visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment for an update.


While Connecticut starts Phase 1 of re-opening businesses, here at Scient, we have not yet determined a branch lobby re-opening date. Our most important consideration is the health and safety of our employees and members.  

We continue to monitor the situation and prepare for a lobby re-opening. When a re-opening date for our lobby has been decided, you will be one of the first to know! 

We are here – always committed to working for you, our members. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate our new normal. To access your account, please see the below information.

UPDATED: April 15, 2020 

New Hours effective April 20, 2020

Colver Ave. Branch Drive-up 

Monday – Thursday 9:00am – 4:00pm
Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday 9:00am – 12:00pm

New Haven Postal Branch Lobby

Monday – Thursday 9:00am – 3:00pm
Friday 7:00am – 4:00pm

 

Scient is here for our members who may be experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid -19 and are looking for temporary payment relief  from home mortgages and equities. Please review the mortgage and equity options here.  We are also offering a special low rate personal loan to assist during this time. 

The following are additional options available to assist you:

  • Effective March 30, 2020 and until further notice,  a maximum of three (3) skipped payments per loan, per year and no more than three (3) consecutive skipped payments are allowed.  Information regarding skipping a qualifying loan can be found on our Skip a Pay page.
  • Fast Pay is available to make a quick, secure auto or other loan payment. To make a payment to your Scient credit card visit here
  • Secure messaging in Online Banking is available to send a secure email message thru your online banking account to a service representative for reply. You can also check your balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and more, within online banking, from your desktop or mobile device 24 hours a day.  

 

Your financial safety is our main concern. Be aware, scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. 

  • Remember, Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.
  • Stay informed by following The Federal Trade Commission page regarding Coronavirus scams.
  • Visit our Blog page for up to date articles relating to potential scams.

 

Please note:  Delays may be experienced during the mortgage loan process.  Currently, there is limited access to the necessary resources to process these loans.  We are diligently working to process all applications and appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times. 

 

Please be assured that Scient like so many other companies, is taking extra precautions to keep our staff and members safe during this Coronavirus (COVD-19) national emergency. 

What you can do

Use our electronic services whenever possible.  We ask that if you are sick and still need to visit a branch that you use the drive up instead of the lobby.  If you are not sick, you can avoid potential contact with people who may be sick by considering alternatives to visiting our branches at this time.  Note – our Pfizer campus building 220 branch has been deemed non-essential by Pfizer, and accordingly will remain closed while the emergency continues.  Here are a few banking suggestions to consider:

  • Use Online Banking. It’s a free and easy way to check your balances, transfer funds, make loan payments, and more, from your desktop or mobile device 24 hours a day. With our mobile app, you can even electronically deposit checks. You can download our app here.
  • Use Fast Pay to make a quick, secure auto or other loan payment. To make a payment to your Scient credit card visit here.
  • Use our network ATMs. We have an ATM at both our Colver Ave. and New Haven Postal branches, where you can withdraw cash, transfer funds, and make cash or check deposits. Transactions are posted the same business day. We’re also a member of the Co-Op Network, which allows you surcharge-free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide.
  • Use our Colver Ave. HQ branch night drop to make your deposit. It will post the following business day.
  • Use our Audio Banking System to check balances, transfer funds, and make loan payments. Dial 877-860-6928 and select option 1 to begin. Directions on how to enroll in audio banking can be found here.
  • Some of you may have your work income disrupted by the emergency, you may want to use our Skip-a-Pay service to skip your loan payment for a month or apply for our loan assistance program. If making payments becomes very difficult, please contact us at 877 860 6928.
  • Call us at 877 860 6928. Our Contact Center can handle almost any banking need, or will transfer you to someone who can.

 

What we’re doing:

To start,  we’re actively monitoring the emergency and following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in term of staff hygiene at work.  In addition, we ‘re increasing our electronic channel transaction limits to give you more flexibility in remote access, and will make sure our ATMs stay up to meet your cash withdrawal needs.  For our branch users we have enhanced our daily cleaning procedures with an end-of-day disinfectant wipe-down, including our Colver ATM. 

We will of course continue to closely monitor the situation and updates will be posted on this page. We appreciate your patience and cooperation with our changes as we do our part to keep our staff, members, their families and our communities as safe and healthy as possible during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Your Scient Family

3 Keys to Keep Your Money Safe From Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission is taking extra measures to warn people of scammers that will use tactics to try and take your personal information. It’s important to remain aware of the current scams and schemes in order to protect yourself from fraudsters looking to take advantage of your vulnerability.

In order to stay vigilant and less susceptible to fraudsters, we want to share this information to help you avoid getting taken advantage of. The most current scam fraudsters are capitalizing on are the checks the U.S. might be sending American taxpayers. These scammers are looking to trap people into giving their information in order to take your money and capture your sensitive information such as social security numbers as well as card and account information.

To help combat this, we’ve put together a few tips to help you identify and fight these fraudsters should they try and take advantage of you:

  1. Any money from the government will be in the form of a check and will not be immediate. Anyone who claims this money will be made immediately available is a scammer.
  2. If you have to pay anything upfront before you receive anything, it is not legitimate. There are no fees and no hidden charges. Anyone who says otherwise is a scammer.
  3. The government won’t call and ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card information. Anyone who does is a scammer.

If you receive any communication from someone with the above claims, The Federal Trade Commission urges you to report it and provides guidelines on how to do so. The FTC is also an invaluable resource to stay informed and knowledgeable of current scams and schemes. If you stay informed, you can combat fraudsters trying to steal from you.

Your privacy and protection are important to us. Feel free to reach out to us if you receive communication from an entity claiming to be from our credit union to verify its legitimacy. Thank you for all you do to make our organization great and we wish you all physical and financial wellness. If you need assistance, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your options.

Remember: Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.

6 Reasons Your Money Is Safe

Along with the mad dash to buy all the toilet paper stores can stock, some members have asked about the need to withdraw cash from the credit union.

The fact is, the need for cash withdrawals during this crisis has no basis in fact. Unlike overextended banks that caused the Great Recession, the current financial crisis was caused by the reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak, not a systemic banking problem. 

There is a perception and rumors churning within social media that there could be an issue with the credit or debit systems, but there is no validity to that concern. Putting it under your pillow at home is not safe. It’s more prudent to take it as you need it.

During this time, please keep these things in mind when it comes to your money: 

  1. Our credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. All deposits are insured up to $250,000. This means that you will not lose a dime of money that is federally insured. 
  2. The Federal government has declared credit unions an essential business. While we’ve had to adjust our standard operations, our credit union is ready and able to assist you with whatever needs you may have. It’s our priority to ensure you receive the level of service you’ve come to expect from our credit union; even in an ever-evolving capacity.
  3. You incur more risk if you withdraw your money. Cash is much harder to recover if at all in the event of loss, theft, or any other unfortunate circumstance. Keeping your money in the credit union to withdraw as needed is much safer than keeping in your home or carrying on your person.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that frequently handled items be cleaned as a precautionary way to help ward off the virus. Cash cannot be easily washed and has passed through many hands which makes it less than optimal to have in abundance on your person.  
  5. If you do not pay your bills through automatic draft, you will have to find alternative ways to ensure your payments are satisfied. 
  6. With our online services, you are able to keep a pulse on your account and an eye on your money digitally from wherever you are. With these digital offerings, you don’t have to be tied to keeping your money on your person at all times to ensure its safety. We have many services available to you.

During this time of uncertainty, it’s natural to feel pressure to make quick decisions. We’re here to help you maintain a sense of peace regarding your money. It’s tough to know what is coming, but you can rest assured that we have your best interest in mind and will do anything we can to help you during this time. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out. We wish good health and financial wellness for you and your loved ones as we navigate this together. 

Remember: Scient Federal Credit Union will NEVER request sensitive information from you through email. And, if you’re ever concerned about the legitimacy of a request, please contact us for verification before providing any personal or account information.

COVID-19 Scams

No question – the past few weeks have been insane as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re seeing things unfold that most of us haven’t experienced before. Entire cities have shut down, people are being quarantined, and credit unions are being forced to find different ways to serve members.

While we’ve seen the best in humanity from Dollar General setting aside the first hour they’re open to serve the elderly to multiple restaurants providing meals for kids who are out of school, we’ve also seen scammers who are exploiting people’s Coronavirus fears.

Scams you should be aware of

Android malware and ransomware

Android devices in particular have been left vulnerable to malware attacks allowing scammers to spy on you through your smartphone camera, listen to you through the microphone and go through your text messages. The scammers, suspected of operating in Libya, send out text messages with a link promising an app that will allow you to track the Coronavirus. Once you click on the text message, the malware installs itself on your phone.

DomainTools, a Seattle-based security research team, has discovered that Android users are also the target of ransomware that threatens to erase their phone. Much like malware, users are promised an app with a real-time COVID-19 tracker. The app is actually poisoned with ransomware called CovidLock that denies users access to their phone by changing the locked- screen password. It requests $100 in bitcoin within 48 hours or the phone’s contacts, pictures and videos will be erased. It also threatens to publicly leak social media accounts.

Scammers impersonating organizations

The FBI, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO) are investigating multiple claims of scammers who are sending out emails impersonating these organizations and spreading incorrect information about COVID-19. The WHO is among the most-impersonated organization in the scam campaigns. Fraudsters pretend to offer important information about the virus in an attempt to get potential victims to click on malicious links. Typically, such links can install malware, steal personal information, or attempt to capture login and password credentials.

Exploiting charitable giving

Another common type of scam going around is an attempt to tug on the heart strings and attempts to get the recipient to help fund the vaccine for children in China. Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Officials at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have served cease-and-desist letters to retailers who are trying to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by selling fake or misbranded products claiming to combat the disease directly.

How to protect yourself

Even though there are lots of ways to get taken advantage of, there are also lots of ways to protect yourself.

  • Don’t click on links from any sources you don’t know. It could download viruses on your computer or device.
  • Be aware of emails claiming to be from a government organization. If you receive an email from the WHO or CDC, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, go to the website to verify the information.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be wary of giving your personal information. Legitimate organizations will not ask for any of the following:
    • Full social security number
    • Account or card numbers
    • One-time password
    • PIN information
    • Usernames or passwords
    • Payment through Bitcoin, money cards, gift cards, etc.

While it seems that this unfortunate epidemic has come upon us most unexpectedly, there are fraudsters out there quickly taking action and prepared to hustle unsuspecting, innocent people. If you aren’t sure of the legitimacy on a certain request, take extra steps to verify to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself, your sensitive information, and your money. You can also keep yourself updated by following the Federal Trade Commission’s page here.

Your privacy and protection are important to us. Feel free to reach out to us if you receive communication from an entity claiming to be from our credit union to verify its legitimacy. Thank you for all you do to make our organization great and we wish you all physical and financial wellness through this trying time.

Wedding Planning on a Budget

So, you’re engaged! Congratulations! You’re probably over the moon and full of stars in your eyes and have visions of wedded bliss. 

You’ve been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions? 

$35,329

That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, It’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford. Simply prioritizing your must-haves, creating a budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for the big day.

What’s important to you?

Before you can create a budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club wedding and reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue? 

Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc. – and decide what you’ll spend in each category. 

Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most important and the least important items on your checklist. Is there anything you can cut altogether? Sit down with your fiancé and determine what you both REALLY want and let that vision guide your budget. 

Track your spending

First things first, leave some room in your budget. No matter how down-to-the-penny it may be, unexpected expenses are going to pop up. Your budget will evolve over the planning process, so be prepared by giving yourself a little bit of a cushion. 

If you Google, “wedding budget worksheet,” you’re going to find a bunch of different options. Find what works best for you. This could look like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Sheet, or one of the thousands of templates on wedding planning websites. Regardless of your template, tracking your spending throughout the entire process will be imperative. You’ll be able to ensure you’re staying well within the lines of your budget. Plus, it serves as a great guide or list to see what you’ve paid for, how much you’ve paid, and how much you have left to cover. 

There are apps. Use them!

There are a few fantastic wedding-related apps that are free or inexpensive. Use them! Most of those sites have the option to create free websites, invitations, and save-the-dates. Get started with these suggestions:

  • ZolaZola has everything you need in one place. They have a great selection of templates for you to design your wedding website for free! Your website is crucial for keeping your loved ones informed by sharing information about travel arrangements and relaying the important details of your day. You can also build your registry, design and order invitations or save-the-dates and manage your guest list.
  • ThumbtackPhotographers, DJs, bands or florists – no matter what service you’re looking for, Thumbtack will have it. This app allows you to browse services in your geographic region to compare prices, check out reviews and even talk directly to the vendor. 
  • WeddingHappyAre you a list maker? WeddingHappy is the app for you! It is the ultimate to-do list. It’s a great app that will help you manage your wedding-related tasks, payments coming up and vendors you’re working with. 

Your wedding day will be one of the most amazing days of your life! Don’t let money and budget-related stress take that away from you and your significant other. There are a lot of options out there to make this day incredible no matter your budget.

Once you have a set budget, financing your big day might be the best option for you. Talk to us. At Scient Federal Credit Union, we have options like personal loans, lines of credit and low-rate credit cards that could be exactly what you’re looking for. Let us help you make the big day one you’ll never forget!