COVID-19 Update – Be prepared, not scared

The health and safety of our employees, members, and communities is extremely important to us. We are paying close attention to updates about the COVID-19 coronavirus and are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization to ensure that we are taking appropriate precautions in our branches and adequately educating our staff.

Most importantly, we are prepared to be responsive to changes that could lead to disruption while ensuring access to your money and accounts at VSECU. We are prepared to continue serving your needs.



AS OF JUNE 1, BRANCH LOBBY ACCESS IS EXPANDING

We continue to follow the guidance of Governor Scott and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we cautiously expand access to serve members inside our branch lobbies. We encourage you to continue banking safely until the pandemic has passed, but we welcome you to make an appointment by calling 802-371-5162 (choose option 8) to meet with a member service consultant.

Branch lobby hours as of June 1, 2020

We are open for in-branch teller transactions. By appointment only to personally meet with a member service consultant.
We encourage you to continue to use branch drive-throughs and video teller services for basic teller transactions from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
The health and wellbeing of our members and our staff is extremely important to us. We are practicing caution, expanding access slowly and implementing procedures to ensure that you can bank safely. We ask that you support our efforts by wearing a mask when you visit a branch, and maintain a distance of six feet from other people. Please do not come to a branch if you are feeling ill.

HERE’S WHAT WE’RE DOING TO HELP KEEP YOU SAFE.

  • A greeter will meet you at the door.
  • You will have access to a single-use mask if you do not have one.
  • Signage on stands and on the floors will help you maintain a six-foot distance from others.
  • VSECU staff will be wearing masks or a face shield and/or will be behind a transparent physical barrier.
  • You will have access to hand sanitizer.
  • Branch staff and cleaning crews will clean surfaces at regular intervals throughout the day.

Please note that we may ask you to remove your mask briefly for identification purposes.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 802-371-5162 (choose option 8).



YOU CAN BANK SAFELY

Limiting in-person social interaction is the key to reducing potential spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to rely on our digital and technology services for your basic banking needs until the threat of the coronavirus has passed:

  • Online Banking—If you don’t have an account, you can create one by using the “Enroll in Online Banking” link at the top right corner of the screen. You can use Online Banking to review your accounts, transfer funds, make payments, open some accounts, and apply for a loan, and much more.
  • Mobile Banking—Consumer members can bank from the safety of their smart phone with the VSECU Mobile Banking app. You will need to enroll in Online Banking first in order to use Mobile Banking and use the same User ID and Password you created with Online Banking.
  • Mobile Deposit Capture—This feature of our Mobile Banking app allows you to deposit checks with your phone or tablet by using your camera. Just take a picture of your paycheck, Social Security check or another type of check and deposit it into your account using Mobile Deposit Capture.
  • Video Teller Services—All our branches offer either a drive-through or video teller services, which eliminate the social interaction of a traditional teller line.
  • ATM —Use an ATM at one of our branch locations or at a CO-OP Shared Branching location for simple transactions like withdrawing, depositing, or transferring funds.
  • Merchant Cash Back—Many retailers, such as grocery stores, and larger box stores, like Walmart, offer cash back from your account when you use your debit card to make a purchase. This is a quick and easy way to get cash from your account.
  • VSECU Cards App.—Monitor and control activity on all your VSECU credit and debit cards with the VSECU Cards app. This app allows you to make payments on your credit cards, set alerts, temporarily lock or permanently close your cards if you suspect fraud, and more.
  • Mobile Wallet—The safest place for your cash is your financial institution. If you are relying on your cards more than ever, keep them together and easily accessible on your phone with Mobile Wallet. With Mobile Wallet, all you need to make payments is your phone.

If you’re looking for more ways you can help protect yourself, check out these simple ways to stay healthy and prepared.



HERE FOR YOU

Credit unions were built on the philosophy of people helping people. We will continue to be here to help you as this situation unfolds. If you experience any hardship or difficulty as a result of COVID-19, rely on us to help you navigate through the challenge.

If your finances are affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus or you suspect that they will be, you have options. Please contact our member service consultants to find out how you can take advantage of our Member Emergency Loan, to cover costs during the crisis, or one of our loan modification plans, to help minimize the impact of your current loans on your cash flow.

Learn More About Our Member Emergency Loan

If you’re a business owner and COVID-19 has reduced your revenue or forced you to make tough decisions about payroll and which bills to pay in order to keep the doors open, we can help. Several options have arisen out of the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), offering business owners support to help recoup lost revenue, pay the bills, and keep as many people employed as possible.

Learn More About Our Emergency Small Business Options



COVID LOAN RELIEF PROGRAMS

If you have lost income as a result of COVID-19 and are concerned that you won’t be able to make your monthly loan payment, we offer several loan relief programs that can help.

To make it as easy as possible to help you get through this time, we have streamlined our processes, will continue to remove obstacles, and are waiving fees normally associated with some of these options.

WHERE TO START?
Every individual need is different. We’ve provided the options below but let us help you determine the best option for you. Call us at 802/800 371-5197 during business hours and we’ll help you navigate the available programs.

VERMONT COVID EMERGENCY MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
If you are a Vermonter who has missed mortgage payments due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for assistance through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The program will disburse $5 million in federal grant funds to eligible Vermonters.

The application period, which was originally scheduled to close on August 31, has been extended. Grant awards will continue to be made based on need (not on a first come first served basis). The funds are considered disaster relief funds and will be paid directly to your mortgage servicer for up to six months of mortgage liability.

NOTE: Eligibility criteria have changed during this extended application period. To be eligible, your mortgage must be a first lien on a primary residence, and you must be at least two months late, or in forbearance, on your payments. You must also certify that the person responsible for paying the mortgage (the mortgagor) has received less than $21,000 in income over the last ninety days ($24,000 if you live in Chittenden County). Those who rent or own a mobile home located in a mobile home park are now eligible for these grant funds.

Learn more and apply online at vhfa.org/map.

MORTGAGE LOAN FORBEARANCE
Your mortgage payment is likely your biggest monthly expense. Various media and government officials have encouraged people to contact their lender to ask for a forbearance on their mortgage payments. While forbearance can provide a stop gap to help increase cash flow when you’ve lost income, mortgage payment forbearance can come with some downside. It’s important to understand how a forbearance works.

Mortgage forbearance is not mortgage forgiveness. A forbearance allows you to pause or reduce your payment for a specific amount of time to help shore up your limited income to cover other necessities. At the end of the forbearance period however, the full amount of all missed and current payments is due in full as a lump-sum payment.

VSECU is a Fannie Mae (FNMA) approved lender, which requires us to follow FNMA forbearance guidelines that provide for an initial period and up to six months of forbearance. We are setting up mortgage forbearance for an initial three-month forbearance term and at the end of the term all missed payments will be due. If needed, we can extend forbearance to the full 180 days or look for other modification opportunities if appropriate.

LOAN DEFERMENT
Because of the repayment shock and potential difficulty to repay three or more months of mortgage payments in one lump sum, a standard two-month loan deferment may be a better option to help manage your mortgage payment or other consumer loan payments.

This program allows you to defer the entire monthly payment for two consecutive months, during which the interest portion of your payment will continue to accrue on the outstanding balance of the loan. When your loan payment resumes, it will be applied first to the accrued, unpaid interest before it is applied to your principal balance. The maturity date will be modified to reflect the change in terms due to the deferred payment amount.

Additional loan deferments may be considered at the end of the two-month term if appropriate.

LOAN MODIFICATION OPTIONS
One of the easiest ways to safeguard your ability to continue making payments without the worry of losing your home, vehicle, or other collateral is through a loan modification.

Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to extend the term of your current loan by adding one or more months to the term of your loan. This option is typically used at the end of a mortgage forbearance period and as a result, the full amount of all missed payments will be added to the end of the loan.

SKIP-A-PAY
This option can be used only once. It allows you to skip one monthly payment on your personal, auto, or credit card loan. We are waiving the fee on this option as part of our pandemic relief efforts. The interest on the unpaid balance will continue to accrue, which will ultimately increase the total loan amount to be repaid.



PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMMERS & POTENTIAL RISK

In times like these, a natural reaction may be to withdraw your cash and secure it somewhere in fear that you won’t be able to access your money. We cannot emphasize enough how dangerous it is to withdraw large amounts of cash to store in your home or elsewhere. The safest way for you to protect yourself and your money is to leave it securely deposited at your credit union or bank, where your funds are federally insured.

Scam artists take advantage of times like these to gain access to bank accounts. Protect yourself by being aware of suspicious emails and text messages. Keep your eyes open for medical supply scams, fraudulent donation sites, or anything else that seems fishy. If it seems like it could be fraud, it probably is, so listen to your gut and don’t provide your personal identification (usernames, passwords, Social Security number, etc.) unless you are 100% certain you are dealing with a legitimate organization—one with whom you have made the initial contact. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown email senders, and do not make purchases or donations on any unknown sites.



KEEP LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE

At VSECU, we are proud to live by our values of being real, human, brave, selfless and, yes, playful. We encourage all of you to be kind, patient, diligent, and supportive of each other. Lead by example and support others as we all work together to solve problems. Our credit union roots could not be more important than they are today.



ADDITIONAL RESOURCES