Financial Education

3 Free Personal Finance Tools You Can Use Today

Jan 20
2023

You Can Achieve Your Personal Finance Goals Think fast: What’s your current credit score? If you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, more than 35 percent of Americans don’t. In fact, only 2 of every 5 people can confidently report that they haveRead more

You Can Achieve Your Personal Finance Goals

Think fast: What’s your current credit score?

If you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, more than 35 percent of Americans don’t. In fact, only 2 of every 5 people can confidently report that they have the credit score necessary to successfully achieve their financial goals.

But see, that presents a problem for Idaho Central Credit Union. Here at ICCU, our mission is to help our members achieve financial success — and we can’t do that if you don’t have the right tools or know-how. That’s why we’ve assembled resources that will help you with not only credit, but every stage of your financial journey.

Here are three FREE personal finance tools we’ve made exclusively for you, our members.

1. My Credit

My Credit gives you the ability to check your credit report daily — with no impact to your credit score. It can notify you when your score changes, help you predict your score in the future, and show you personalized offers.

How to find it: If you’re a member at ICCU, all these capabilities and more are in your eBranch Online Banking or Mobile App. You can locate it by clicking More (mobile) > Planning and Investments > My Credit.

Score Analysis and Credit Report

If you’re the kind of person who likes to stay on top of your credit, these features are for you. Score Analysis shows you each puzzle piece of your credit score (credit usage, inquiries, account mix, etc.) and ranks them with a letter grade. That way, you can tell which pieces you need to improve with a quick glance.

A score analysis of a credit report

The Credit Report option reports similar information but in much more depth. This is where you’ll find a full list of your accounts, inquiries, collections, and more.

Got loans? The Credit Report will show you your current balance and how much you’ve paid off. Got credit cards? It will show you the percentage of credit you’ve used for each card. (Tip: Stay below 30% credit utilization for a better credit score!)

A scaled credit report

Score Simulator

If one of your New Year’s goals is to improve your credit score, you’re in luck. My Credit’s Score Simulator quickly shows you how to reach your dream credit. Or, if you’re thinking about making a decision that might affect your credit score, you can get a glimpse of how much it will improve or decrease your score.

A score simulator of a credit report

Take Sadie*, for example. She has a 762 credit score and wants to see how her monthly payment activity affects that number. With the Score Simulator, she finds that if she misses her monthly payments on all her accounts for one month, her score will drop to 674, an 88-point drop. If she pays off all her credit card balances, however, she realizes her score will raise to nearly 800, which most lenders consider ‘Excellent’.

2. Financial Wellness

Expenditures. Bleh. The word can put you to sleep if you’re not careful. But businesses track their daily expenditures for a reason, and if you want to achieve financial stability, you may want to, too. Fortunately, the Financial Wellness widget in eBranch is here to make even the most monotonous tasks quick and easy while still giving you a complete rundown of both your spending and savings goals.

How to find it: If you’re a member at ICCU, all these capabilities and more are in your eBranch Online Banking or Mobile App. You can locate it by clicking More (mobile) > Planning and Investments > Financial Wellness.

Spending

The Spending tab shows your monthly costs, transactions, and recurring expenses. It splits your payments into several categories so you can see what area is hurting your wallet the most.

A page tracking your spending

Worried you spent too much eating out last month? We’ve been there. Look at the Categories section to see how much of your budget it’s eaten. Not sure what subscriptions you’re paying for anymore? No worries. The Recurring Expenses section shows you exactly what you pay for month after month.

Savings Goals

This is where the Financial Wellness tool shines. The Savings Goals tab lets you set different savings goals for each savings account. Just set a due date and watch your goals progress the more you save. Voila!

A savings goal sheet

3. Financial Education Center

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Why didn’t they teach me about personal finances in school?” then you’re in luck. We’re here to do just that.

Idaho Central’s Financial Education Center has a variety of playlists about specific personal finance topics. Each has 5–10 quick videos that explain the how-to’s of, say, owning a home or growing your small business.

A view of the financial education center online

Can’t find a topic that fits your own finance goals? The Financial Education Center lets you create your own customized playlist.

How to find it: You can access the Financial Education Center on iccu.com by clicking “Education” or “Financial Education” in the top menu(s).

What Are You Waiting For

Three free personal finance tools, right at your fingertips. As a member at Idaho Central, you get unlimited access to My Credit, Financial Wellness, and the Financial Education Center. These tools help individuals, like you, to take control of their financial future and provide a comprehensive approach to managing personal finances. We can’t wait to see how these tools help support you on your journey to achieving financial success!

Not a member yet? Join today!

*Sadie is a hypothetical character meant to demonstrate product features only. Results vary.

Financial Education

How to Avoid Scams this Holiday Season

Dec 07
2022

The holiday season can be a time for friends, family, food, festivities and unfortunately, fraud. Scammers ramp up their scheming during the winter months to seemingly “meet the needs” of people hoping to earn extra Christmas cash or score on great deals! Arming yourself with knowledge of the most common types of scams is theRead more

The holiday season can be a time for friends, family, food, festivities and unfortunately, fraud. Scammers ramp up their scheming during the winter months to seemingly “meet the needs” of people hoping to earn extra Christmas cash or score on great deals! Arming yourself with knowledge of the most common types of scams is the first step in protecting yourself.

Online Scams

With the increase in online shopping, many scammers will spoof websites or popular products to tempt consumers to click on links, provide personal information, or wire money. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the two most common types of holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. Non-delivery crimes consist of a person attempting to purchase goods or services but never receiving them. Non-payment crimes involve a seller shipping or providing their goods or services, but never getting paid.

Remember to double check URLs to make sure the website you’re visiting is the true destination you’re looking for. If this is the first time you’re purchasing from a company, do research to make sure it’s a reputable company and always get the tracking information so you can closely monitor when to expect your product.

Social media scams run rampant during this season so be aware of online buyers wanting your phone number or other personal information when you are selling items. Social engineering is a tactic used by scammers to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information that may be used for fraudulent purposes. Once they have your phone number, it is easy for scammers to send you fraudulent links or phishing texts.

Employment Scams

Another scam that can be particularly effective during the holidays are employment scams. While people are looking to earn more income for Christmas presents and parties, they are susceptible to falling for a “flexible job opportunity,” where employees can make money while practically doing nothing. The work offered is very basic, pays well, and almost always requires the person to send, move, or transact money for the ‘employer.’

East Idaho News recently reported on how to recognize and avoid these job scams. Make sure to research companies you are applying for and be cautious of job offers given immediately or without an interview. Never accept an overpayment scam where you need to return some of the money they’ve given you or transfer money elsewhere.

One more employment scam to be aware of is the ‘Secret Shopper Scam.’ With the increase in holiday shopping, fraudsters convince individuals that they will pay them for ‘secret shopping’ so they can report back on their experience. The ‘secret shopper’ will be sent a check to deposit into their bank account and shop with, then asked to wire some of the money back. This check is fraudulent, and the victims are assisting scammers by converting fraudulent money into cash before the check has bounced. The victim is then liable to repay the negative balance.

Charity Scams

Additionally, be cautious of fake charities. Your festive spirit and generosity can easily be taken advantage of through fraudsters impersonating legitimate charities or using a heart-wrenching story to solicit donations. Research who you are giving money to thoroughly; charities should be transparent about where your donations will be spent. Be aware of anything creating a sense of urgency or giving ultimatums.

Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is! Slow down, do your research, and make sure this holiday season isn’t ruined by a fraudster. Scammers are continuing to get savvier and use these tactics because they work!

Idaho Central can help you identify scams and assist you with the next steps needed to protect yourself. Learn more about how to spot a scam and keep yourself cyber safe at ICCU’s Security Center.

Financial Education

Staying Safe in a Cyber World

Oct 13
2022
Since 2003, October has been known as Cybersecurity Awareness month and is dedicated to ensuring that individuals stay safe and secure online. Technology moves fast, and scams are constantly evolving to keep people from catching on. In a world that relies heavily on technology, avoiding scams can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. However, youRead more

Since 2003, October has been known as Cybersecurity Awareness month and is dedicated to ensuring that individuals stay safe and secure online. Technology moves fast, and scams are constantly evolving to keep people from catching on. In a world that relies heavily on technology, avoiding scams can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. However, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to protect yourself! Educating yourself on the most common types of scams can go a long way in keeping you safe. The most prominent cybersecurity fraud attempts in today’s world are phishing, smishing, and vishing.

Phishing – Email Scams

The average person receives over 100 emails per day. Among those emails, it’s not uncommon to receive them from places like your bank, your insurance company, or even your coworker. Unfortunately, fraudsters know that, and use it as bait in their phishing attempts.

In most phishing attempts, fraudsters have bits of information about you, such as your name and date of birth. This helps validate the email you receive, since it may address you by name. Since phishing attempts often look like they’re from a company you know and trust, this combination can be tricky. This combination can be used to phish for more secure information such as your social security number, credit card number, or usernames and passwords.

For instance, this can look like receiving an email from your financial institution, with the first line addressing you by name, telling you that there is something wrong with your accounts and to click a link to resolve the error. However, slowing down and reviewing the email’s details can save you from a potentially fraudulent situation. You can review things such as the email address it was sent from, verifying that it is actually from that institution. You can also hover over any links in the email to see the true link that it is sending you to.

Smishing – Text Scams

Smishing is a form of phishing that involves text or SMS message. This has been an emerging and growing threat. By texting you directly, it creates a false sense of security because you assume the sender has your permission to contact you in this way. It can be difficult to decipher which text messages are legitimate and which are fraudulent.

Since text messages are typically viewed as an instant form of communication, this can also create a sense of urgency around the message. For example, fraudsters may send a text about a large transaction attempting to clear your account and send you a link to confirm or deny the charge. Since this is alarming, it can cause a sense of panic, making you more prone to click on the link to see what is going on. Slowing down and looking at the text closer can help you decipher whether this is legitimate or not. If you receive a text message asking you for personal information, it is best to assume that the message is fraudulent and contact the source directly.

Vishing – Phone Scams

Vishing is a form of phishing that is done using the telephone. It can be challenging to identify a vishing attack since fraudsters use trusted business or personal names to create credibility. They do this by “spoofing” or masking the real phone number they are calling from to one that is trusted.

During a vishing phone call, a scammer uses tactics to get you to share personal or financial information, such as account numbers and passwords. They might claim that your account has been compromised, claim to represent your bank or law enforcement, or even offer to help you install software.

While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the conversation and accidentally fall for a vishing scam, don’t feel obligated to carry on any phone call that seems suspicious. Take a step back and verify any information they are telling you. If they claim to be from your bank, hang up and call your financial institution directly to verify. Never use a call back number that they provide. Instead, search for the company’s official public phone number and call the organization in question. This simple step can protect you against a malicious attack, and keep your information safe.

How to Report

Remember that Idaho Central Credit Union will never send you a text or email asking for your eBranch credentials or account information. Do not hesitate to contact us if you ever have questions or concerns. Idaho Central can help you identify scams or fraud, and help you with the next steps needed to protect yourself. Learn more about how to protect yourself at our security center.

If you receive an email or text that appears to be from ICCU, do not click any links or provide any information. Immediately send a screenshot to abuse@iccu.com. The sooner these messages are reported, the sooner our team can work to get these fraudulent websites taken down. If you have questions or concerns about your accounts, please utilize our mobile app, give us a call, or go directly to iccu.com from your browser.

Financial Education

How to Open a New Account at ICCU

Apr 04
2022
Couple talking to credit union teller

For some, the thought of opening a new account at a financial institution can seem daunting.  However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help put your mind at ease. At Idaho Central Credit Union, we strive to make the process of opening an account fast and easy.  Here is all you need to know.

We are continuously humbled that so many people trust us with their daily balance and we refuse to let a single member down. If you live or work in Idaho, Washington, or eastern Oregon, chances are you can become a member of Idaho Central Credit Union. Becoming a member is simple and takes just minutes. In fact, you can join online right now. Once you’re a member, you will immediately begin enjoying the full benefits of membership with Idaho’s top credit union. It’s a small change now that can make a big difference later.

For some, the thought of opening a new account at a financial institution can seem daunting.  However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help put your mind at ease. At Idaho Central Credit Union, we strive to make the process of opening an account fast and easy.

What do I need?

To open an account at Idaho Central, you need only a few things:

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Number
  • Two years of employment and address history
  • Deposit

How much does it cost?

  • To become a member: $5 (One-time fee, at initiation only)
  • Savings account: $25 (This amount stays in your account to keep it open)
  • Checking account: $100
    • This money can be used immediately, a $100 deposit is necessary to open the account.
    • Starter accounts require only $50 deposit. That means that anyone under 18 years old can open a checking with $50.
    • Checking can be opened as young as 12 years old.
  • Credit card: $0 (No deposit necessary.)
  • Other loans: TBD
    • If you are taking out a personal, auto, RV, home, HELOC, or other type of loan, you can work out how much you pay upfront to determine your monthly payments.

How do I know if I am eligible for membership?

  • You can find more details about eligibility on our website here.

What if I have bad credit or no credit at all?

  • We have products specifically set up for those who may have had credit hiccups in the past or who have never had an account before, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to get you set up.

Where do I sign up?

At Idaho Central, it has never been easier to open your membership.

  • Click here to submit your application online.
  • Contact us through VideoChat to open your membership with a live agent, from the comfort of your own home.
  • Or come into any branch, and we’ll be happy to help!

As the premier credit union in Idaho, our members receive industry-leading products and services while also enjoying true Idahoan customer service. We’re proud to have called Idaho home since 1940.

Financial Education

Making the Most of America Saves Week

Feb 22
2022

Idaho Central is excited to be participating in America Saves week again this year! America Saves Week (February 21 – February 25, 2022) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. Each year, we encourage savers – or potential savers – just like you to set a goal, makeRead more

Idaho Central is excited to be participating in America Saves week again this year! America Saves Week (February 21 – February 25, 2022) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. Each year, we encourage savers – or potential savers – just like you to set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically. So how can you make sure that you’re taking full advantage of America Saves week?

Take a Close Look at Your Finances

The first step to any great savings journey is to determine where you are at. Take some time this week to view your current finances. Do you have a great budget that you are following, or do you need to spend some time creating or fine-tuning it? Are you making the most of your loan payments, or could you be structuring them better to help save on interest and pay them down quicker? Are you saving anything at all, or is your savings account sitting empty?

Make a Clear Plan

Now that you know what your finances look like, it’s time to determine what exactly your goal and plan is. This could be anything from just saving a few dollars each week, to paying down as much of your debt as possible. Remember, paying down debt is saving! Not sure where to start? Come by any ICCU branch for a financial review. As a bonus, each branch will enter those who complete financial reviews into a drawing for $250! Simply sit down with one of our Financial Service Officers to create your plan and you’ll be entered to win!

Take the America Saves Pledge

Did you know that those with a savings plan are more likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without one? The America Saves pledge is the framework that allows savers to set a goal and make a plan to achieve better financial stability. When you take the pledge, you can choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save towards your goals.

Automate it

The easiest way to save is automatically. Many people do this by adjusting their direct deposit to put a portion into savings. However, setting up automatic savings with Idaho Central has never been easier! You can use eBranch to set up automatic transfers or even open a Central Cents savings account. With Central Cents, every time you swipe your debit card, the transaction will round up to the next dollar and put those cents into your savings account!

Are you ready to start on your path to save? Or pick up where you left off? You can contact us or visit us at any of our branches to learn more. Whether you are opening a new account, getting a financial review, or setting up an even easier way to save, we can help!

If you or a child is not a member of ICCU, open a savings account this week and set up a recurring deposit, and receive $30 with a waived $5 membership fee.

We look forward to seeing you this week and saving together!