Coronavirus Stimulus Payments Now Arriving on Prepaid Debit Cards

Don’t throw it away by mistake!

Did you recently receive an unmarked envelope in the mail that looked like junk mail or just another credit card offer? Be sure to read and open carefully, because it may actually be your economic impact payment!

The government is now issuing Coronavirus stimulus payments via prepaid debit cards instead of paper checks in the mail, if they were unable to directly deposit the funds into your bank account. These Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Cards are sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC and issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. If you receive an Economic Impact Payment Card, it will arrive in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services. The VISA name/logo will appear on the front of the card, and the back of the card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. These are legitimate prepaid cards and are not a scam, so be careful not to toss them by accident!

I received an EIP Card in the mail – what do I do with it?

  • The first thing you will need to do is activate your card, either on the phone by calling 1-800-240-8100 or online here.
  • Each household will only receive 1 card and it must be activated by the primary cardholder listed on the mailing envelope (and the first name appearing on the actual card).
  • You will need to provide your name, address, and social security number to validate your identity at the time of activation.
  • You will then be asked to create a 4-digit PIN, should you choose to withdrawal cash from the card at a participating ATM.
  • Once this is all set up, you’ll be able to find out how much is on the card and start using it.
  • There is no monthly or inactivity fee associated with the prepaid card. You will not need to pay this money back and will not have to pay taxes on this money.
  • Please note that this is a government issued card, and you will not be able to load money onto the card. Once your balance runs out, the card will not be able to be used further.

How can I check my card balance?

  • Visit https://www.eipcard.com/ and login to your account
  • Call 1-800-240-8100 and use the automated phone system
  • Download the Money Network® Mobile App
  • You may also be able to check the balance by inserting the card at an ATM, but be advised that depending upon the ATM/financial institution – there may be a fee associated with the ATM balance inquiry. The above 3 methods for checking your balance are free.

How can I use my EIP card to get cash without paying any fees?

  • Use one of the in-network Allpoint Surcharge Free ATMs listed on the EIP card website or from within the mobile app ATM locator.
  • Choose the cash back option at participating merchants when used as a debit card.
  • Request a Money Network Check and cash it at select participating check cashing locations listed on the EIP card site locator when you enter your zip code.

Can I transfer the money on my card to my bank account?

Yes. To transfer to a personal bank or credit union account, you will need to provide your routing and account number for your personal account at EIPcard.com.

What should I do if my card gets lost or stolen?

Call 1.800.240.8100 right away to lock your card to prevent anyone else from using it. You can also lock your card online on the EIP card website. If you need a replacement card, there is a $7.50 fee.

For a list of other Frequently Asked Questions associated with EIP prepaid debit cards, click here.

To view the cardholder agreement online, click here.

Article Sources:

https://whnt.com/taking-action/bbb-consumer-alerts/dont-throw-it-away-irs-stimulus-card-payments-arriving-in-unmarked-envelopes/

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/economic-impact-payment-prepaid-card/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eipcard#balance

Spring 2020 Newsletter

We know it’s been an unusual Spring, but we hope all our members and their families are safe and healthy. Here is a copy of our Spring 2020 Quarterly Member Newsletter!

In a continued effort to go greenwe’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will be available in our branches.

The Spring Newsletter features the following articles:

 To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

We hope you enjoy a long Memorial Day Weekend and we remember all those who have served our great nation!

*Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on creditworthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Current First Financial members are eligible to close on a cash out auto loan electronically. New members will need to make an appointment at their nearest branch location to open their membership prior to closing electronically, and should call 732.312.1500. 

Smart Reasons to Live Below Your Means Right Now

Having things and buying items is great, but life can still be amazing even when it’s simple. Cooking meals at home more often will definitely help you save money, and many are probably realizing that due to the recent pandemic. When was the last time you used your credit card just to shop? You are most likely not doing it as often as you used to. Living a modest lifestyle can actually be very satisfying. Even if you haven’t missed a single day of work due to COVID-19, here are a few reasons to live below your means anyway.

You’ll pay off debt faster: Debt is not cheap, which you probably know. If you’ve ever had to swipe your credit card for an unexpected bill you know it can sometimes take years to pay it back. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s probably even worse. These days during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re spending has probably slowed down – but if you focus on cutting back even more, it will provide you with an opportunity to pay down your debt even faster.

You can still have amazing experiences: Sometimes we remember the items we spent our money on years ago, and may regret those purchases thinking that we actually wasted our hard earned dollars on them. However if you really think about it, what most individuals remember are the people and experiences in our lives. Once things start to return to normal, most will want to have those experiences with the people that they’re unable to spend time with right now.

You’ll teach your children: Don’t let your kids see you trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” it only teaches them that material things and spending money are important. You want your children to learn to appreciate the little things in life. Recently staying at home and spending time together as a family and playing outside has probably shown them exactly that. Plus, this may also teach them to be a lot more frugal when they’re spending their own money one day.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

How to Avoid Phishing Scams Especially During These Times

In the current environment amidst a worldwide pandemic, fraudsters know most people are frequently using technology to do anything and everything right now. These cybercriminals are counting on society being distracted and letting guards down. One of their favorite tactics to do this is through phishing. Criminals are using email, phone call, text message, website and social media to deploy phishing scams these days.

Here are some common forms of phishing that you might encounter and the warning signs to look out for, so that you don’t become a victim:

1. Phone Call Phishing. Cybercriminals know how to mask phone numbers and change them to make it look like your bank or credit card company is calling you. Usually on this type of call the fraudster tells you they are from the Security and Fraud Department. They will often tell you that your card has been flagged for suspicious activity and you need to prove the card is in your possession. You’ll be asked to give them the 3-digit security code on the back of the card, your PIN, or a one-time passcode they email to you.

2. Email Phishing. There are several warning signs you’ll often see on a phishing email. The most common are spelling and grammar errors, including in the email subject. Also always take note of the sender’s email address. You’ll often see that it doesn’t match up, for example IRS.net (instead of IRS.gov) or using zero’s and other numbers in place of letters in the middle of a sender’s email address (j0hnsm1th@gmail and so forth). Email phishing attempts also often include deadlines, threatening language, doesn’t address you by name, often doesn’t include contact information like a legitimate company email would, and includes suspicious hyperlinks that you should NEVER click on. You should also know that a financial institution will never ask you for any financial information via email.

3. Text Message Phishing. Similar to the phone phishing scam, you would receive a text phishing attempt where the message tells you it’s your bank and they send you a link to click on instead of including a phone number for you to contact them. The message will state that the link in the text is to verify your banking information, a recent transaction, provide your PIN or your 3-digit credit card CVV code. A financial institution will never ask you to click on a link to verify any sensitive information.

4. Website Phishing. A spoofed website will often look strange. Either the web address is off (amaz0n1.com), words will be misspelled, and logos will look blurry or distorted. Sometimes on a site like this you’ll also see a pop up that asks you to enter your personal information. This is another item you should NEVER do. Another thing to note on a phony website, is when you hover over a link – a different address will show. Do not click on these links either.

5. Social Media Phishing. Often you’ll receive a friend request from someone you don’t know or a post asking you to click on a link that requests personal information. If you ever receive any requests like this, ignore them.

For more information on phishing and other computer-based scams, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance at https://staysafeonline.org/

Stay safe and Think First because There’s Harm INot Knowing!

Article Source: usa.Visa.com

Why Haven’t I Received a Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Yet?

Does everyone you talk to seem to have received their stimulus money already, but you’re still waiting for your payment to arrive?

More than half of eligible Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payment, but tens of millions more are still waiting. Here’s when you can expect yours, how to help it arrive quicker, or why you may not be receiving a stimulus payment.

The Schedule for Issuing Payments

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

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

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

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

How Can My Stimulus Money Get Here Quicker?

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

You can update this information on the track my payment portal on the IRS website. You will need your Social Security Number, the gross income of your most recent tax returns, your bank routing number and your checking account information. Once you’ve shared your account information, your stimulus payment should be scheduled for deposit within the week.

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

What if my Information has Changed Since I Filed my Last Tax Return? 

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

To update a checking account, use the IRS payment portal to enter your current information.

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

What if I Don’t File Taxes?

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

Why You May Not Qualify for a Check 

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

Watch Out for Stimulus Scams

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

Article Source: CUcontent.com

Costs You Can Cut to Save Money During the Pandemic

If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 due to unemployment or reduced hours (or even if you haven’t been affected in this way), it’s extremely important to focus on saving money and not spending money on items that are not absolutely necessary during this time.

Here is a list of suggested items you may want to consider cutting out during the Coronavirus pandemic:

  • Subscriptions – You might be stuck at home, but if paying for a multitude of subscription services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and the like are strapping your monthly budget, it’s time to temporarily suspend them. Or, if there’s one you use more so than some others in particular – keep one subscription service you are actually using.
  • Gym membership – More than likely your gym has been closed for the past two months, are you still paying for a facility you haven’t been able to use and may not be able to use for some time? See if you can have a hold placed on your membership, or if you can cancel and take advantage of exercising outdoors in the nice weather or utilizing free online workouts instead.
  • Services you can DIY – If you’re home on a daily basis, are you still paying for a lawn mowing service or yard maintenance? If so, this might be something you want to consider tackling yourself to save on monthly bills. Plus – you’ll get to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air.
  • Expensive cable packages – If you are paying for extra sports channels that aren’t even showing any sports right now because they’re cancelled, or premium channels like HBO and Showtime – call your cable company and temporarily suspend them. Anything you can do to make your bill less during this time is advisable. If you can cut out cable TV altogether and just pay for one streaming service, even better. Also, try not to order on-demand movies either during this time. That will continually make your monthly bill increase. Instead, see what free movies might be available.
  • Non-essential food expenses – Cooking at home is a big money saver. If you are continually having food delivered or buying takeout for your meals, costs can really add up. If you can, try to cook your meals at home and only order takeout once in awhile for a special treat on a weekend.
  • Shopping – While retail stores and malls are closed, you may instead be doing a lot of online shopping these days. Even if an online retailer is having a sale, is the item something you really need? Really evaluate all your expenses before you click “add to cart.”
  • Driving around – You might be itching to get out of the house, but driving around and burning through gas is going to eventually add up. Unless you have to get in your car to go to work or to an essential business, walking or jogging outside on a nice day is a much cheaper option.
  • Vacation fund contributions – If you’ve been saving money toward planning a trip, pause it for now. Since traveling is out of the question for the near future, put these contributions into an emergency savings account instead.
  • Seasonal memberships – Take a look at what might be coming up that you won’t be able to participate in like usual (swim club, sports season, theme park, etc). Make sure you aren’t being automatically billed for events you won’t be able to partake in this spring and summer.
  • Gifts – Since celebrations have been put on hold, take the funds you would have spent on them and put it in your emergency savings account.
  • Bottled water – This is a nice to have, but definitely not a necessity. You’ll save a great deal more money by making a one-time purchase on a refillable filtered water pitcher.

By reducing expenses of non-essential items, you can increase the amount you save to make sure you’re still able to pay your bills or have some money in savings if you need it. The last thing you want to do in a financial environment like the current one we are in, is to put yourself in debt. Stay financially safe and healthy!

Article Source: Gabrielle Olya for Gobankingrates.com