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COVID-19 scams: Five things to look out for

While most of us like to celebrate the way people come together during times like these, there’s no denying that criminals take advantage of a crisis. COVID-19 is no different with a number of scams popping up around the country.

Being aware of these common scam tactics can help keep you, your information, and your money safe. Here are five things to watch out for:

  1. Requests for personal information like your Social Security number, date of birth, or banking or credit card information.

In the words of IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, “The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster.” So don’t give out sensitive information over the phone, email, text, or social media.

  1. Claims to help you get your refund or stimulus payment faster.

The IRS will not do this.* If someone claims they can, they’re probably lying.

So you know: Oportun will never ask for confidential information through email. If you’re suspicious about an email from us, don’t just hit reply. Send us a note about it to: Hello@Oportun.com.
  1. Email addresses you don’t recognize.

Double-check the sender on any email regarding the stimulus package, COVID-19 testing, or other messages related to the crisis. If it’s not from someone you know or a company you’ve done business with, don’t click on any links or reply to the email.

  1. Emphasis on the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.”

The official name is “economic impact payment,” and that’s how the IRS will refer to it.*

  1. Robocalls.

You know those phone calls you get from a computer with prerecorded messages? Not only can they be annoying, they’re also a popular tool for scammers.

 

Knowing these basic tactics will help you identify a scam when you encounter one. If you want to learn more, you can see what the IRS*, FBI, and FTC are saying about scams right now.

Think you’ve encountered a scam? Here’s how you can report it.

*IRS issues warning about coronavirus related scams: Watch out for schemes tied to economic impact payments

 

The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

How to financially survive during the coronavirus crisis

Whether or not your job has been impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic, we’re all figuring out how to get through this crisis. Many of us are taking a hard look at our finances—reviewing the money we have coming in and going out while trying to rethink our budgets. This can feel overwhelming, but here are a few simple things you can do now to help you get through.

  1. Reach out to lenders

If you’re having difficulty paying your debts, reach out to your lenders and credit card providers right away. Many offer hardship programs, and some even provide a short grace period if you need to skip a payment. Forbes put together this helpful list of how the (or some) banks are helping.

If you’re an Oportun customer and can’t make your payments because of COVID-19, we want to help. We offer a number of payment options, including reduced payments and deferrals. Call or text 650-419-5779, or email customercare@Oportun.com.
  1. Prioritize bills

Figure out which of your bills must be paid immediately and which can wait. Some service providers may be offering assistance or an option to temporarily skip payments.

  1. Look for relief programs

Many states are putting policies in place to help ease your financial burden. You can search for local nonprofit and government services providing emergency food assistance, financial resources, and health guidance through our partner SpringFour. Or you can use United Way’s local 211 search or just dial 211 to speak to someone.

  1. Reduce spending

Look for places you can cut nonessential and discretionary spending. This can help free up money to cover essentials or start an emergency fund.

  1. Know what Congress is doing

The United States Congress has so far passed two bills to provide COVID-19 relief: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These bills cover everything from $1,200 stimulus payments to free testing, so we pulled together a few of the points we thought you’d be most interested in.

There’s no one size fits all approach to financially surviving during this time. Doing the above will at least help you get a good look at your options. And if you need help during this time, don’t be afraid to ask. Many people and organizations are stepping up to make sure we all get through this together.

Looking for more information on getting through COVID-19? Check out our full list of resources.

 

 

The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

How the FFCRA and CARES Act can help you

Last month, we were excited to see the United States congress pass two bills to provide COVID-19 relief: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There’s a lot of information out there on these bills, so we pulled together a few points we thought you’d be most interested in. Here are the highlights:

Free testing

COVID-19 tests are free to most people covered by private health insurance, Medicare, TRICARE, and the Veterans Administration (VA).

Two weeks paid sick leave

You may be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid sick time if you’re officially quarantined and/or have been medically diagnosed with coronavirus.

Paid family leave

You might qualify for partially-paid-leave if you’re:

  • Taking care of someone in quarantine or with coronavirus, or
  • Caring for a child that can’t go to school or childcare right now

How much time off you can get depends on your situation.

Stimulus payments

The piece everyone is talking about. You may receive a $1,200 stimulus payment from the government if you have a Social Security number and earned less than $75,000 (as reported on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns). Married couples who earned up to $150,000 are eligible for a $2,400 stimulus payment.  And if you have kids, you’ll get an additional $500 per child.

A few notes here. If you filed faxes and the IRS already has your banking information, you’ll get your funds via direct deposit. You can check your payment status using this online tool from the IRS. If you didn’t file federal taxes for 2018 or 2019, you can register for the stimulus payments online. And keep an eye out for scams—the IRS has issued a warning about them  with notes about what to look out for.

Expanded unemployment benefits

Unemployment benefits are being expanded to provide an extra $600 to your weekly payment. The amount of time you can collect benefits has also been extended. Each state handles unemployment benefits differently, but CareerOneStop has made it easy to find the information for your state.

As everything changes, the government will likely be passing more bills in response to the pandemic. We’ll keep this post updated with helpful information for you.

 

 

The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

Your list of resources to get through COVID-19

When things get tough, many people, organizations, and government services step up to help the people hardest hit. These unprecedented times are no different.

We’re keeping an eye out for resources that could help you get through this difficult time and listing them here. If you’ve got any tips for us to add, please share them on our Facebook page or email us at Hola@oportun.com.

We’re in this together.


Who’s hiring

Looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic?

Californians will be matched with jobs and life services at OnwardCA, announced Governor Gavin Newsom.

LinkedIn launched a page for #CoronaVirusHiring with awesome insight into where to find your next temporary or permanent job at places like 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, Dominos, grocery chains, and others.

Also, these national companies are looking for workers: Papa John’s, CVS Health, Dollar General, Amazon, Walmart, and Trader Joe’s, according to the Skimm.

And you can find a constant stream of gig opportunities through this app called Steady, plus they’re partnering with Amazon to help fill 100,000 new positions.

Finally, LiveOps is hiring about 1,000 new agents who can work flexible hours from home for call center services—answering calls, chats, emails, and more.

Before you land that job, recent changes to unemployment compensation will help you get through. Here are the facts.


Health & wellness

Med students battle misinformation by fact checking your COVID-19 questions, like can coronavirus survive on surfaces for days?

The rules of social distancing: How to go outside safely, shop at the grocery store, order in, set up play dates for your little ones, and more.

Are you experiencing coronavirus symptoms? Use Apple’s COVID-19 screening tool to understand what to do next.

Keep loving your pets. There’s not much evidence to support transmission of the coronavirus between animals and humans. A tiger did test positive, but the likelihood of transfer seems slim.

Know someone with stress or anxiety about coronavirus? The CDC offers tips on how to help them cope.

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems, and it doesn’t help protect you against COVID-19, from the World Health Organization. See the CDC tips on healthy ways to cope, above.

The #PublicChargeRule will not affect families seeking medical care for #COVID19. If you are feeling sick, you should seek help. Read more.

Take care of yourself if you’re in quarantine by following advice from the World Health Organization.

Be prepared if you care for others who are at risk: Know what to do in case of a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, from the CDC.

Learn how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19, from the CDC.


Financial relief and economic impact payments

California is providing a one-time payment for undocumented adults: $500 per adult, capped at $1,000 per household, managed through non-profit partnerships. The following organizations are now accepting applications:

Illinois residents are getting some help from a new organization, GetMyPaymentIL.org, to make sure they get their economic impact payments.

The direct deposit deadline for economic impact payments has passed. If you are expecting one still, it will come by mail. Reminder, this payment is sent to you directly from the government as part of a coronavirus relief package. Here are the highlights. And here’s an easy-to-read, comprehensive Q&A.

You can check your payment status using this online tool from the IRS. If you didn’t file federal taxes for 2018 or 2019, you can register for the stimulus payments online.

Those without a Social Security number may not get the coronavirus stimulus payments. Learn more.

Prep and plan for government relief (see above). NerdWallet can help you get stared.


Personal finances & taxes

Protect your finances and be on alert for scams!

Credit reports are now free every week (previous is was once per year). Monitoring your credit report helps prevent identity theft and ensures your personal financial data is accurate. During this crisis, many lenders are allowing borrowers affected by COVID to skip payments without impacting credit scores if arrangement are made in advance  (Oportun allows this for qualified borrowers), and you should check your report to verify that everything is reported as expected.

Get expert grocery shopping tips and strategies to help your wallet and peace of mind during the crisis.

Here’s a super easy-to-use tool for finding food assistance, help paying bills, and other free or reduced cost programs, including new programs for the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you live in Illinois, your state has taken steps to keep your utilities running and prevent evictions and car repossessions if you can’t make your payments.

Get FREE online help filing your taxes from VITA volunteers to maximize your tax refund.

Deadlines to file your state taxes could be different than filing your federal taxes. Check your state’s deadline.

You are now allowed to delay most tax filing and payments until July 15, 2020.

If you are owed a tax refund, the IRS urges you to file as quickly as possible. File electronically for free and learn more at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

While a number of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) offices are closed, some remain open to help people who need assistance filing their taxes. Call 800-906-9887 or visit the VITA website to learn more.

If you’re looking for a bank account, nonprofit Bank On says these banks are safe and affordable, and accounts can be opened online (they’re in alphabetical order, no preference from us):

  • Bank of America, Advantage SafeBalance Banking Account
  • Chase, Secure Banking Account
  • Citi, Access Account
  • Dollar Bank, No Overdraft Checking Account
  • First Commonwealth Bank, SmartPay Card
  • KeyBank, Hassle-Free Account
  • Northwest Bank, Compass Digital Account
  • Truist Bank, Money Account (available at BB&T online)
  • S. Bank, Safe Debit Account
  • Wells Fargo, EasyPay Card

Need assistance finding food, paying household bills, or other essential services? Use United Way’s local 211 search or just dial 211 to speak to someone.

Protect your credit during the coronavirus pandemic by taking these actions, provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

 

 

The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

What we’re doing during the COVID-19 crisis

Updated March 27, 2020—We’re doing everything we can to continue helping our community. Here’s how we’re responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

These are challenging times, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Oportun is here for you and we want to help ease your financial stress so that you can focus on the health and safety of your loved ones.

While things are quickly changing, we’re adapting our business to better serve you by:

  • Making it easier to work with us from home
  • Updating our payment options to meet the moment
  • Creating a list of resources with advice and assistance (and we’re adding to it daily)

We’re here for you online and by phone

The safest place for our community right now is at home, and many of us are being asked to shelter in place. So we’re working hard to provide all of our services online. You can always reach us by calling 866-488-6090.

We’re also updating your payment options. As of this week, it’s now possible to make personal loan payments online using your debit card. We’re making online transactions easier every day, so keep checking our payments page for the latest options.

We can help if you can’t make a payment

If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and can’t make your regular payment, please call us at 866-488-6090 or email customercare@oportun.com. We have a number of flexible payment options, including deferrals, and we want to help you get through this.

And because we know how important your credit score is, we won’t report skipped payments as late to the credit bureaus if you call us to make arrangements.

 You still have options to make payments in person

Oportun is considered an essential service, so you can count on us to stay open whenever and wherever possible. Some of our locations may have shorter hours or temporarily close due to local government requests. Check our website or Google maps before you go; we’re updating hours and closures daily.

You can also pay in-person at Walmart, Kmart, 7-Eleven, CVS, and hundreds of other locations that accept CheckFree Pay MoneyGram , or PayNearMe  payments.

Here’s a list of resources that can help

When things get tough, many people, organizations, and government services step up to help the people hardest hit. We’re keeping an eye out for anything that could help you get through this and listing them on this page. If you have any tips for us to add, please share them on our Facebook page or email us at hola@oportun.com.

We’re here for you

You can continue to rely on us. Our thoughts are with anyone affected by the new coronavirus. We consider it a privilege to serve you and to do so as safely and conveniently as possible. We’re in this with you, and we’ll get through it together.