Financial Services

Information about Financial Topics

The Consortium for Worker Education and the Central Labor Council provide free financial information online at knowledge to build on.  This website contains very helpful information regarding insurance, budgeting, home ownership, and credit.  It also includes a useful glossary of financial terms.

GreenPath (see below) also provides free financial information. Click on GreenPath University and select from a number of courses on financial topics.

Banking and Buying a Home

Actors Federal Credit Union

Local 79 is a member of Actors Federal Credit Union (ActorsFCU), a not-for-profit financial institution that offers services similar to those of a commercial bank.

ActorsFCU offers a full range of financial services, including checking and savings accounts, car and personal loans and mortgages, and credit cards. It has two offices with teller services in and near Times Square that are open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm, phone hours that extend from 9:00 am-8:00 pm, and online/smartphone banking services. ActorsFCU owns nearly 300 ATMS throughout the five boroughs (this is second in NYC only to Chase), primarily in McDonalds, and belongs to Coop Network, which provides 30,000 fee-free ATMs around the country. (Note that many of the ATMs dispense cash but do not accept deposits.)

ActorsFCU has a relationship with over 40 check cashing locations in New York City, some of which are open late, on the weekends, and even 24 hours. Credit union members can deposit checks for free directly into their credit union accounts. The check takes three days to clear and then members will have access to all funds (assuming the check clears). Members who wish to have immediate access to their money benefit from a discounted check cashing fee–0.5% for checks up to $999.99 and 1.0% for checks between $1,000 and $6,000–as long as they deposit a minimum of 20% of their check into their credit union account. Check cashing stores typically charge the New York State regulated maximum rate of 1.98% for cashing checks. An example: If you are a member of the credit union and have a weekly check of $900 and you deposit $120 (20%) into your credit union account, you will receive $780 in cash, for which you will pay a fee of $4.50 (0.5% on the entire check). You will gain access to the $120 in your credit union account after the three day clearing period. If you were not a credit union member and cashed the $900 check, you would likely pay the maximum fee of $17.82. Over the course of a year, assuming you received the same check for 52 weeks, your membership in the credit union members would save you nearly $700 in check cashing fees!

Members can go directly to Actors Federal Credit Union in Times Square (165 W. 46th Street, 14th Floor, 212-869-8926) to open an account. Members will need the following documents in order to open an account: A current U.S, Government-issued photo identification (passport, driver’s license, etc.), a valid Social Security number or TIN, their union book, and proof of address (utility bill, lease etc.). Members will also need a minimum first deposit of $10.00.

Amalgamated Bank

Amalgamated Bank  is a Union-owned bank and one of the only unionized banks in the country. It provides a number of different services that may be of interest to Local 79 members.

Services

  • Free checking
  • Access to over 40,000 free ATMs
  • Savings accounts—$5 minimum to open
  • Money Market accounts—no fees, low minimum
  • Prepaid debit card as an alternative to checking
  • Debt consolidation loans
  • Residential mortgages

Buying a Home

Wells Fargo Bank is the exclusive mortgage benefit provider through the Union Plus program.

Benefits may include some or all of the following:

  • $500 gift card for members, retirees and members’ parents and children for            most closings or refinancing of first mortgages
  • $500 check for first-time homebuyers (active and retired members only)
  • Mortgage assistance during times of hardship for active members who meet criteria: Interest-free loan to cover up to six months of mortgage payments; a grant of up to $1,000 that does not need to be repaid
  • My Home Road Map (free financial counseling for those seeking to purchase homes)

Contact: Christine Dawson (516) 445-0521 or email: Christine.b.dawson@wellsfargo.com

Financial Counseling/Debt Management Services

Diminishing collection calls and creditor balances can help reduce worry and stress about your debt situation. GreenPath is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Among other things, GreenPath offers a free credit and financial counseling session of 60-90 minutes. The toll free number to set up a session is 1-800-550-1961. The counseling may lead, if you so choose and qualify, to the creation of a fee-based debt management program. GreenPath helps you pay off your credit card debt faster by working with your creditors to bring your accounts current, lower interest rates and eliminate fees. This means that more of your payment goes toward reducing your account balances.

(Beware: There are many unscrupulous for-profit companies that seek to make money from your credit problems. Debt management is different from debt consolidation. When companies advertise debt consolidation, they want to loan you money—with interest, of course—to consolidate your debts into one loan payment. This approach actually increases the amount of your debt. Debt settlement is another frequently misunderstood term.  Debt settlement refers to paying a creditor less than the principal balance.  Debt settlement companies often charge very high fees for something that you can do yourself for free.)

Financial Counseling

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment offers free one-on-one financial counseling sessions at a number of locations throughout the five boroughs.

The Financial Clinic offers free one-on-one financial counseling and tax preparation at various locations throughout the five boroughs.The Financial Clinic staff can assist individuals in addressing their immediate financial challenges and helping them set long-term goals to achieve financial mobility. To make a financial coaching appointment, call: (646) 810-4050 and press 5. To make an appointment for tax preparation help, call: (646) 587-4930.

Tax Preparation Services

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) provides free tax preparation services for qualifying individuals. If you made $51,000 or less in the previous year, you can find a free tax location near you (between the months of January and April) by calling the toll free phone number: 1-800-906-9887

The Financial Clinic also provides tax preparation services.