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2021 TAX SEASON EXTENDED: BBB WARNS PROTECT YOUR TAX RETURN & REFUND

2021 TAX SEASON EXTENDED: BBB WARNS PROTECT YOUR TAX RETURN & REFUND

April 2, 2021

Rockford, IL – March 30, 2021 – The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline from April 15th to May 17th. That extension also increases the probability of tax identity theft. I.D. Theft is a growing problem. A recent Federal Trade Commission report shows that 1.4 million identity theft complaints were filed in 2020, which is nearly double the number filed in 2019. I and included in those numbers are those for tax i.d. theft. The Better Business Bureau says this a significant issue and should be top of mind for all taxpayers.

Ready to Get Money Smart?

Ready to Get Money Smart?

March 31, 2021

Free financial information for you! Attend any or all of these valuable virtual webinars and learn from a wide range of topics, from Personal Finance to Fraud Protection and much more. Register today!

Congress Approves PPP Extension thru May 31st

Congress Approves PPP Extension thru May 31st

March 30, 2021

The Senate last week approved legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program through May 31, a week after the House approved the same extension. The PPP was reauthorized at $284 billion earlier this year and was scheduled to expire March 31.

The bill also gives the Small Business Administration until June 30 to process backlogged PPP loan applications.

BBB Warns Consumers Before Springing into Home Repairs After a Harsh Winter

BBB Warns Consumers Before Springing into Home Repairs After a Harsh Winter

March 25, 2021

Rockford, IL – March 23rd, 2021 – Spring is officially in full swing, and warmer temperatures are back. That means renovation and repair season is here. The Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners looking to freshen up their space this season to watch out for potential scammers. Spring scams and door-to-door scams run the gamut from home improvement, home repair from the snowy winter, lawn care services and more. Spring also features storms that draw storm chasers. 
 

All You Need to Know About the New Stimulus Bill

All You Need to Know About the New Stimulus Bill

March 16, 2021

On March 6, the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The coronavirus relief bill now goes back to the House of Representatives, which must approve the Senate’s changes, before the president can sign it into law. The bill promises further financial relief and assistance to millions of Americans who may still be struggling with the financial devastation of COVID-19. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most significant measures included in the bill:
 

BBB WARNING: Beware of Third Round of Stimulus Scams

BBB WARNING: Beware of Third Round of Stimulus Scams

March 16, 2021

Rockford, IL – March 4, 2021 – With another round of stimulus now passed and some deposits already made, in the coming days…the majority of economic impact payments will begin to arrive in people's bank accounts, and paper checks and debit cards will be in the mail shortly after.

Previously, BBB Scam Tracker received numerous reports from people who scammers contacted through text message, email, and phone calls about their COVID-19 stimulus checks. BBB believes many of these same tactics may be used again.
 

Gift Cards Are an Increasingly Popular Tool for Scammers, BBB Study Finds

Gift Cards Are an Increasingly Popular Tool for Scammers, BBB Study Finds

March 10, 2021

Rockford, IL - March 9, 2021 -- Gift cards have become a multibillion-dollar industry, a gift that always fits and stands up to social distancing. Worldwide, consumers spent billions on gift cards last year. However, that total comes with an asterisk -- it includes the gift cards on which scammers increasingly rely to extract payment from their victims.

CCU Awarded BBB Torch Award

CCU Awarded BBB Torch Award

March 5, 2021

Cornerstone Credit Union was very proud to receive one of five 2020 Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics, awarded by the Rockford Regional office of the Better Business Bureau. The Torch Award is the premier award the BBB presents to a company, recognizing  how they demonstrate the highest ethical standards of behavior toward customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees, and the communities in which they do business. The winners were determined by an independent panel of judges. Cornerstone received an Honorable Mention in the 20-49 employee category. In lieu of an awards ceremony this year due to the pandemic, WTVO’s Eric Wilson hosted a virtual interview with each of the winners. Lorna Cote, CCU Marketing Director, shared some thoughts about why the credit union was recognized. Watch video here: https://youtu.be/RVEhN_yhwCU
 

SBA Prioritizes Smallest of Small Businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program

SBA Prioritizes Smallest of Small Businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program

February 24, 2021

February 22, 2021 | Release Number 21-17
Learn more about PPP loans from CCU

WASHINGTON – Building on a month of strong results, the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration are taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote equitable relief for America’s mom-and-pop businesses. 

The latest round of Paycheck Protection Program funding opened one month ago and already the Biden Administration has succeeded in making major improvements to the program’s implementation:
  • For businesses with fewer than ten employees, the share of funding is up nearly 60%
  • For businesses in rural communities, the share of funding is up nearly 30%
  • The share of funding distributed through Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions is up more than 40%

February Fun Quiz

February Fun Quiz

February 22, 2021

February has many celebrations!. Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge about our shortest month:

Click on title above to begin--good luck!
 

Beware Tax Scams – 12 Lines to Know When They Call

Beware Tax Scams – 12 Lines to Know When They Call

February 19, 2021

It’s tax season, and scammers are working overtime to get your money. Tax scams are as varied as they are common, but when you know what to look for, you can beat fraudsters at their game and keep them from getting your money and your information. If you hear or see any of the following 12 lines this tax season, you know you’re dealing with a scammer:
 

28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

January 29, 2021

Since the 1970s, the month of February has been designated as the time to celebrate and commemorate Black history. Schools, television networks and private organizations use this month to increase awareness and to educate people about the rich history of Black Americans.
There are so many ways to celebrate! We challenge you to do one thing for Black History Month on each of the 28 days of February. Here are 28 ideas to help get you started:
 

Regions 1 and 2 Move to Phase 4

Regions 1 and 2 Move to Phase 4

January 26, 2021

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced Region 1 (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago) is moving to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan effective today. 
Here is the full press release: IDPH press release

Retirement Saving - Start Early & Save More

Retirement Saving - Start Early & Save More

January 13, 2021

Retirement—it’s not a word you think much about when you’re young. After all, that’s something that happens when you get old. You might think Social Security will be all you’ll need, but it was designed to supplement your retirement savings. You can’t rely on it entirely. You’ll need some other source of income to pay for your living expenses. The younger you are when you start your retirement planning, the better off you’ll be financially when you retire. So how should you start?
 

Will I Be Getting a 2nd Stimulus Check?

Will I Be Getting a 2nd Stimulus Check?

January 5, 2021

After eight months of negotiations, the Senate has finally passed a bipartisan deal on a new coronavirus stimulus plan. The $900 billion economic relief package will deliver emergency aid to a trampled economy and provide struggling Americans with desperately needed funds.
 

Rogue Access Points

Rogue Access Points

December 15, 2020

We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day of shopping at the mall, or waiting in an airport, or driving across the country, and we finally get a chance to pull out our phones or laptops and look for Wi-Fi. Good news: You’ve found one that doesn’t require a password! Free Wi-Fi saves the day. You click accept and head to your favorite place to watch videos of kittens, or whatever people normally do on the internet … we mostly watch kittens.

There’s just one problem: What if that free Wi-Fi was a trap? 

Rewire for Wealth: 3 Steps Women can take to Financial Success

Rewire for Wealth: 3 Steps Women can take to Financial Success

December 11, 2020

Who is this book for? 
  • Women who’ve gotten a harsh financial wake-up call.
  • Women who want to learn about money management to be financially independent.
  • Women who have always been intimidated by money.
  • Women who think they’re just not “wired” to handle money well.

Important 401(k) Terms to Know

Important 401(k) Terms to Know

November 27, 2020

Take a moment to review this document to help you understand important 401(k) terms.

Advantages of a HELOC

Advantages of a HELOC

November 16, 2020

Q: I’m looking to tap into my home’s equity, possibly using a Home Equity Line of Credit. What are some of the advantages of choosing the HELOC option?
 
A: A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is an open credit line that is secured by the paid value of the borrower’s home. Homeowners can generally open a HELOC with up to 85% of their home’s equity, or the difference between what’s left on their home loan and the current value of it. A HELOC provides homeowners with a convenient way to use the equity in their home.
 

10 Myths about Credit Unions

10 Myths about Credit Unions

October 15, 2020

How many of these myths about credit unions do you think are fact? Learn why your local credit union is a lot more than you think, and why it can be a much more sensible choice than a conventional bank for your saving and borrowing needs.
 

How to Use a Home Equity Loan

How to Use a Home Equity Loan

October 6, 2020

Q: With interest rates falling and home prices rising, it seems like a great time to tap into my home’s equity using a home equity loan. What’s the best way to use these funds?
 
A: A home equity loan, or a HEL, can be a fantastic way to source extra funds during a falling-rates environment. Tapping into your home’s equity, or the positive difference between what is owed on a home and its current value, will give you the funds you need for a large expense with no additional strings attached.

With interest rates on a Cornerstone CU Home Equity Loan as low as 2.25%APR*, the repayment plan is always affordable. If approved, you’ll receive the funds in one lump sum within a few days. There are no restrictions on how to use these funds, but since you’re essentially risking the loss of your home with this loan, it’s important to choose wisely when deciding how to use the funds.

Here are four forward-thinking uses for a home equity loan: 

Couples, Sync Your Retirement Plans

Couples, Sync Your Retirement Plans

September 2, 2020

One way to ensure a happy marriage well into your retirement years is to create a retirement plan with your partner that will satisfy both of you. According to the 2018 Fidelity survey, 43% of respondents say they and their partners disagree about the age at which they'll stop working and 54% disagree on how much should be saved. Economic conditions—layoffs, home-equity changes, and pension freezes—make synchronizing retirement planning even more important. Here are questions to ask:
 

Inspire your kids, and perhaps even yourself, with the use of online financial educational programs.

Inspire your kids, and perhaps even yourself, with the use of online financial educational programs.

August 7, 2020

Financial education at any age will benefit our children. Read on to learn about two programs we feel add value to help enhance their future. 

 

Illinois Department of Employment Security Issues Alert Regarding Fraud Penetrating All State Unemployment Systems

Illinois Department of Employment Security Issues Alert Regarding Fraud Penetrating All State Unemployment Systems

July 30, 2020

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has issued an alert about fraud penetrating all state unemployment systems, including steps to take to detect, mitigate, and pursue fraudsters.
 

How Can I Replenish My Savings?

How Can I Replenish My Savings?

July 9, 2020

Q: The last few months have been really tough on my finances, and I’ve been forced to use my savings for getting by. My emergency fund and savings account are basically zero. Now that my financial situation is starting to improve, I’d like to start building these up again, but it’s all so overwhelming. Where do I begin? Read more.
 

Go Green. It's Free & Easy.

Go Green. It's Free & Easy.

June 12, 2020

Effective August 31, 2020, a fee of $2.00 per paper statement will be charged to your savings account. During this unprecedented time, the credit union must address how to reduce overhead costs. We encourage our members to register for CCU online banking and receive FREE electronic statements (e-statements) via email, which can be printed from their online banking site. Members under 18 years of age are exempt from this fee.
If you're not already signed up, avoid this charge. Enroll in or go to your Online Banking page and sign up for e-Statements today.

Cornerstone Logo

Cornerstone Credit Union donates $21,000 to Community Organizations through FHLBank COVID-19 Relief Program

June 8, 2020

FREEPORT, IL Cornerstone Credit Union (CCU) was a recipient of a $20,000 grant as part of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s (FHLB) COVID-19 Relief Program, designed to support its member institutions and the communities they serve in Illinois and Wisconsin directly impacted by the current pandemic. An additional $1,000 was donated through an employee fundraiser lead by the CCU Community Relations Committee.

Scam Alert! Fraudsters Use Stolen Identities to File for Unemployment Benefits

Scam Alert! Fraudsters Use Stolen Identities to File for Unemployment Benefits

May 26, 2020

Date: May 26, 2020
An international fraud ring is taking advantage of the current pandemic by using stolen identities to file for unemployment benefits. The State of Washington unemployment program has emerged as the primary target with individuals residing out-of-state receiving ACH deposits from the State of Washington Unemployment Benefit Program. The ACH deposits contain names that don't match the accounts to which the funds are deposited. All states are at risk as this fraud network is believed to be made up of hundreds or possibly thousands of money mules with potential losses soaring in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
Several credit unions have reported that members are receiving ACH deposits representing unemployment benefits. Some members received multiple ACH deposits. Likely, members were recruited as money mules to transfer the deposited funds to the fraudsters. Fraudsters can have the unemployment benefits loaded directly to a P2P app, such as Venmo or Cash App. Then, they can transfer the funds to money mule accounts. One credit union reported receiving multiple deposits to member accounts in this manner.
 
Beware! If you receive an unexpected electronic deposit into your account, or a check in the mail that was not requested or looks suspicious, please contact your financial institution immediately to verify. We will protect our members and investigate suspicious transactions whenever possible.
 

SavvyMoney Credit Score FAQs

SavvyMoney Credit Score FAQs

May 22, 2020

SavvyMoney Credit Score FAQs
CCU Members: SavvyMoney Credit Score is available to you through online and mobile banking. This is a FREE service offered to you. Please read FAQs below for more information.

Q. What is SavvyMoney Credit Score?
A. SavvyMoney is a comprehensive Credit Score program offered by Cornerstone Credit Union, CCU,  that helps you stay on top of your credit. You get your latest credit score and report, an understanding of key factors that impact the score, and can see the most up to date offers that can help reduce your interest costs. With this program, you always know where you stand with your credit and how your financial institution can help save you money. Read more.
 

Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Checks) Information

Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Checks) Information

May 5, 2020

Have questions about the Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Checks)? As we continue to provide updates to our members, Cornerstone recommends you visit irs.gov for current valuable information; details may change at any time. Answers to some of your most common questions, along with other resources, are here:
 

CCU is Keeping your Debit Card Safe with Text Security Alerts

CCU is Keeping your Debit Card Safe with Text Security Alerts

April 21, 2020

As of April 21, 2020, Cornerstone Credit Union is providing Text Security Alerts for your CCU Debit Card usage when fraud is suspected. If there are potential suspicious debit card transactions on your account, you will be notified via text message or phone. Please be sure we have your current cell phone number on record so you will receive these important notifications, if needed.
 
Text Sample: CCU Fraud Center 800-711-3277 $125.46 on card 1234 at Macy’s. If valid reply YES, fraud NO. To Opt Out, STOP.
 
IMPORTANT: As a CCU debit card holder, you are auto-enrolled to receive Text Security Alerts, so you do not need to take any action. If you wish to opt out, you may do so when you receive a notification.
 

Take Advantage of IRA 2019 Contribution Extension

Take Advantage of IRA 2019 Contribution Extension

April 7, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which extends the tax filing deadline until July 15, 2020. Part of this extension also changes the contribution dates for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). CCU members need to remember, from January to July, to identify which tax year they want their contribution to be put toward.
 
For the 2019 tax year, you may contribute up to $6,000 to Roth and Traditional IRAs. If you are over the age of 50, you may also make an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 for 2019. 
 
In addition to the contribution extension, the CARES Act also allows those directly impacted by
COVID-19 to:
  • Withdraw up to $100,000 from an IRA without the usual 10% penalty for owners under the 59½ age threshold.
  • Withdraw up to $100,000 from an IRA without the associated income tax if it is fully repaid to the IRA within 3 years. If the money is not fully repaid to the IRA within 3 years, then the associated income tax can be spread out evenly over 3 years.

As a reminder, the SECURE Act is in effect. This means, if you were not yet 70 ½ in 2019, you can continue to make contributions as long as you still have earned income.

If you want to take advantage of this extension and make IRA transactions, please call us at 815-235-5855 or 800-711-3277 or email us at contactus@cornerstonecu.org
 

Coronavirus Scams Surface

Coronavirus Scams Surface

March 31, 2020

Fraudsters have been quick to deploy scams involving the coronavirus stimulus package that would include direct payments to individuals and married couples filing jointly. Many variations of the scam could impact you. In response to the federal stimulus package, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a web page with details of these scams, what to look out for and how to report scams. The BBB has received several reports of coronavirus scams where individuals are contacted through text messages, social media post /messages, or phone calls. Be aware and visit this site for details: https://tinyurl.com/rjgyr22

Coronavirus: 9 Precautions You Should Take For Your Personal Finances

Coronavirus: 9 Precautions You Should Take For Your Personal Finances

March 23, 2020

So, you’ve stocked your home with food and other daily essentials in preparation for being stuck at home. You even managed to fight off the hoard of desperate shoppers at your local grocery store to secure the last few rolls of toilet paper. At this point, you’re prepared to weather whatever coronavirus (COVID-19) throws your way. But is your wallet? Read more.

 

Financial Resources Available for Veterans

Financial Resources Available for Veterans

February 27, 2020

We owe the strength and security of our country to our heroic veterans. These brave men and women sacrifice the comforts of home, time with family and often their physical well-being to protect us. Unfortunately, though, many veterans are struggling to make ends meet and to support their families. Here’s a list of financial resources created especially for veterans. Having served our country, you deserve all this and more. Read more.
 

Bad Money Habits & How to Fix Them

Bad Money Habits & How to Fix Them

February 20, 2020

Bad Money Habits and How to Fix Them
Learning how to use money wisely is an essential skill that isn’t always taught to us as children. Some of us pick up bad money habits on our journey to adulthood. Often, we’re just not being mindful of where our money goes. See if you have any of the following bad money habits. Then read on to learn how to break them and replace them with good habits. Read more.

Health Savings Accounts Explained

Health Savings Accounts Explained

February 6, 2020

Health-care costs in the U.S. continue to grow. To ease this burden, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 includes a plan that allows consumers to set aside pre-tax money for current or future medical costs. Health savings accounts (HSAs) give consumers more control over their health coverage and provides tax breaks. But even though many people (including the unemployed) are eligible to sign up for an HSA, the savings program may not be the best option for everyone. Read more.
 

Tiffany Aliche, aka, The Budgetnista

Tiffany Aliche, aka, "The Budgetnista"

January 24, 2020

Meet Tiffany Aliche, aka, “The Budgetnista.”

Aliche is a powerhouse who uses her motto, “live richer,” to inspire thousands of followers to take control of their finances and build their wealth through education. In 2014, she founded the Live Richer Academy, a movement helping to educate people through free online courses and a community of thousands of people working to improve their finances. Read more.

Steps Toward Financial Improvement in 2020

Steps Toward Financial Improvement in 2020

December 27, 2019

Steps Toward Financial Improvement in 2020
Q: I’d like to focus on improving my finances in 2020, but there are so many areas that need attention. Where do I start?
A: The start of a new year is a wonderful time to make important changes in your financial life. Lucky for you, you don’t have to go it alone. Cornerstone CU will walk you through some financial improvements you can make this year and continue to guide you every step of the way. We’ve broken down some of the most popular financial resolutions into concrete steps and outlined the ways Cornerstone CU can help you implement each change into your life. Read more.
 

How to Switch your Bank Account to Cornerstone Credit Union

How to Switch your Bank Account to Cornerstone Credit Union

December 10, 2019

Perhaps you’ve heard how great credit union services are, how much lower their fees are, and how they offer much better interest rates than banks. But the idea of moving your accounts from your current bank sounds daunting. Well, it’s really not that hard. Follow these simple steps to switch to a Cornerstone Credit Union and start reaping the benefits of membership: Read more.
 

How to Recognize and Protect Yourself from Scams

How to Recognize and Protect Yourself from Scams

December 2, 2019

Scammers are always trying to con victims out of their information and money. Scammers are expert impersonators, using sophisticated technology and their best acting skills to convince you they represent a business, institution or government agency you may trust. They also tend to prey on the most susceptible victims. Here at Cornerstone CU, our biggest priority is your financial wellness, so we’ve put together this guide to aid in recognizing the signs of fraud and protecting yourself from scams.

Five red flags of scams  [Read more]

MoneyNing - Building Financial Independence

MoneyNing - Building Financial Independence

October 21, 2019

Are you ready to join an online community devoted to building financial independence? Welcome to the world of MoneyNing.com. Founded by David Ning in 2007, MoneyNing quickly gained acclaim as one of the most straightforward and informative financial blogs on the web. Read more.

6 Ways to Spot a Payday Loan Scam

6 Ways to Spot a Payday Loan Scam

October 11, 2019

Don't be a victim of payday loan scams! A "representative" of a collection agency who claims to be acting on behalf of a loan company tells victims they must pay their outstanding balance on a payday loan. Unfortunately, the caller is a scammer trying to rip them off or steal their identity. If you've applied for a payday loan, be on the lookout for these six red flags: Read more.
 

Don’t Get Caught in a Free Trial Scam!

Don’t Get Caught in a Free Trial Scam!

September 27, 2019

You know what they say: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” And yet, hundreds of people fall for scams that promise them the moon — and they don’t realize they’ve been played until it’s too late.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of an uptick in free trial scams. The scams come in several shapes and sizes, but most will look something like these examples. Read more.
 

9 Steps to Buying your First Car

9 Steps to Buying your First Car

August 20, 2019

Congrats—you’re ready to purchase your first real car!

The process can be daunting, but Cornerstone CU will walk you through it. Follow our guidelines for a stress-free ride!

1. Determine if you really need a car
It’s important to take a step back to review your actual transportation needs. Can a bus ride or a ride from a friend or family member or an occasional rental get you by? Read more.

Building Your Credit

Building Your Credit

June 20, 2019

A good credit score can lead to great opportunities, but building credit can be a mystery. Take a look at steps you can take to improve your credit score. CCU welcomes you to schedule time with one of our Financial Counselors to assist you in taking the right steps.

Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

January 28, 2019

Staying Safe Online
A compromised computer can put you at risk for money loss, phishing scams or even complete identity theft. Read on for steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.
 

How to Create & Keep Strong Passwords

How to Create & Keep Strong Passwords

September 4, 2018

Your passwords are the keys to your life. And when it feels like there's another big security breach every week, you want to be sure those passwords are strong and safe.  

Follow the 6 steps below for super-strong passwords that will keep scammers guessing.

 

CardValet

CardValet

January 24, 2018

Control debit card usage and spending on the go...and reduce fraud attempts. Click here for a Quick Reference Guide. 

CO-OP Shared Branching

CO-OP Shared Branching

November 27, 2017

Convenience wherever you are! On vacation, in the next town, at college, know that CCU is accessible for you.

Don't Miss Out on Important Information!

Don't Miss Out on Important Information!

May 24, 2017

When you move or get a new email address or phone number, it is important that you let us know.

Peace of Mind Protection

Peace of Mind Protection

February 23, 2017

Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) and Mechanical Repair Coverage (MRP) can protect you when you least expect it, but need it most. 
Cornerstone Credit Union
1-800-711-3277  •  Routing: 271184425  •  NMLS #743907
 

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Your deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), with an added safety net of private insurance (Excess Share Insurance/ESI) for an additional $250,000. This is the highest combination of federal and private insurance available to consumers.