News from the Reference Desk Category: Consumer

DIY Research: Financial Information

April is Financial Literacy Month and a great time to get your financial affairs in order. Clear, accurate information is of utmost importance when making financial decisions such as working to improve your credit score, taking out a loan, investing your savings, planning for college or selecting a bank to open a checking account. Be sure to find recommendations and ratings from trusted sources. 

The library offers online access to some key financial resources. Access to these resources is available in the library or at home with your library card number and PIN: 

magnifying glass showing the word research
  • Weiss Financial Ratings – Find ratings for banks, credit unions, insurance companies, or even Medigap plans. Get help with topics such as managing debt, creating a budget, buying a car, calculating the cost of college and more with Weiss Financial Literacy Basics eBooks (click on “Financial Literacy Basics.”) 
     
  • Morningstar – Morningstar provides information on stocks and mutual funds for potential investors and researchers, including access to popular investor newsletters 
     
  • Value Line – Used by financial professionals and individual investors, this investment research service offers detailed reports on individual stocks and mutual funds. 
     

There are also some great freely available sources for financial information. With these non-library sites, be on the look-out for embedded advertising, also called “sponsored content” or “native advertising.” Clicking through those links will bring you to a commercial site whose purpose is not to inform but to sell products. 

  • Investopedia – Investopedia is a great general resource for news and background information, including helpful dictionary of financial terms. To get started with creating a following a budget, check out their picks for best budgeting apps for 2022
     
  • FINRA – As the regulating body for the financial industry, FINRA offers resources to educate investors and advocate for market integrity. Get help with calculating retirement savings or estimated loan payments with tools and calculators or find background information about a financial professional or firm through Broker Check.  
     
  • Nerdwallet– This popular personal finance site offers articles, “best of” lists and guides to assist in navigating financial decisions. On commercial sites like this that offer recommendations for specific products, it’s a good idea to check the editorial guidelines to learn more about how they arrive at their suggestions and ratings. 

Find more sources for financial information on the Business and Financial Research Guide. With questions about accessing any of these resources, please contact the Research Desk to request a reference appointment. 

Money Smart Week 2022 webinar series

money smart week, April 9 through 16, 2022

Money Smart Week 2022 will be held Saturday, April 9 – Saturday, April 16. This week-long free virtual campaign aims to help people better manage their personal finances with a focus on those hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s line-up includes:

  • Monday, April 11 @ 1:00 p.m. CT | Spend Smart. Eat Smart.
    • Presented by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
  • Tuesday, April 12 @ 1:00 p.m. CT | Credit: Build & Improve It!
    • Presented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Wednesday, April 13 @ 1:00 p.m. CT | Buying or Refinancing a Home: Options & Tools
    • Presented by North West Housing Partnership
  • Thursday, April 14 @ 1:00 p.m. CT | Understanding Social Security Benefits
    • Presented by the Social Security Administration

View more details at www.moneysmartweek.org. Events are free and open to the public, but registration is advised. Questions for the panelists can be submitted during the registration process.

Federal discount available to assist with internet bill

Get connected with a federal discount on internet service at home. To find out if you qualify, go to getemergencybroadband.org or call 833-511-0311The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a temporary program from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that provides eligible households discounts of up to $50 a month on their internet bill. 

Who qualifies? Any household with a member that: 

  • *Has income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or participates in other government assistance programs; 
  • *Receives free or reduced school lunch or breakfast; 
  • *Received a Federal Pell Grant this year; 
  • *Lost significant income due to job loss or furlough since February 19, 2020; or 
  • *Meets low-income criteria for a COVID-19 program or a participating provider’s program. 

There are three ways for eligible households to apply: 

  1. Contact a participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. If you are unable to apply through them directly, you will have to apply using option 2 or 3 below, and then contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan. 
  1. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you. After you apply, you will have to contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan. 
  1. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application or print a copy, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to: 

Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742

For more information, visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org 

Illinois agencies warn of phishing scams

phishing text message exampleThe Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the Illinois Secretary of State DMV are aware of text and email messages being sent fraudulently on their behalf, asking for personal information.  

While the messages might look official, a government agency will never request personal information, such as Social Security numbers or banking information, via text or email. If you receive such a message, delete it. Do not provide any information or click any links. Doing so could install malware on your device or computer.

To protect your personal information, take the following precautions:  

  • *Delete unsolicited emails and texts requesting personal information or promising state driver’s licenses or IDs. Do not click on any links contained in such emails or texts, as they may place malware on your computer or devices.

*Hang up on any calls, including robocalls, that ask you to take immediate action or provide personally identifiable information. Consider blocking the number.

*Ask to use other types of identifiers besides your Social Security number.

*Keep your software up to date, including operating systems and antivirus protection programs on your computer, phone and other devices. Most can be set to update automatically.

If you have questions about phishing scams or identity theft, please call the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline in Chicago at 800-386-5438 (TTY: 800-964-3013). Spanish speakers may call 866-310-8398. 

For more information about how to avoid phishing scams, visit the FTC website. 

Money Smart Week goes virtual, April 10-17

Virtual Money Smart Week, April 10 through 17, 2021Virtual Money Smart Week 2021 will be held Saturday, April 10 – Saturday, April 17 . This week-long free virtual campaign aims to help people better manage their personal finances with a focus on those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s line-up includes: 

Saturday, April 10 @ 10 a.m. 
Talking Cents (The University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative)

  • Sunday, April 11 @ 10 a.m. 
    Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference (FINRA Investor Education Foundation)
  • Monday, April 12 @ noon
    Bank On It: Finding Safe + Affordable Bank Accounts (The Economic Awareness Council)
  • Tuesday, April 13 @ 12:30 p.m.
  • Understanding the Basics of Federal Student Loans (U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid)
  • Wednesday, April 14 @ 1 p.m. 
    Tax-Related Fraud + Identity Theft (Internal Revenue Service)
  • Thursday, April 15 @ 1 p.m.
    Managing Personal Finances During Covid-19  (Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center)
  • Friday, April 16 @ noon
    Housing Protections + Resources (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
  • Saturday, April 17 @ 10:30 a.m.
    Tips for Managing Money Ups and Downs (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension)

View more details at www.moneysmartweek.org. Events are free and open to the public, but registration is advised. Questions for the panelists can be submitted during the registration process.