The Maine Immigrant Prosperity Network and ProsperityME support immigrants during COVID-19 outbreak

Updated: Apr 8

March 26, 2020 – PORTLAND, ME

Members of the Maine Immigrant Prosperity Network (MIPN) and ProsperityME met via zoom on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 to discuss how to best support the immigrant community during the health crisis presented by coronavirus.


ProsperityME and MIPN members consider the health and well-being of the community our highest priority. We also recognize in this time of uncertainty that the financial and economic well-being of our students, clients, and members is also of critical importance. The temporary closure of “nonessential” businesses and adoption of “social distancing” – essential public health measures taken to slow the spread of the virus – have already begun to impact our economy. We want to help lessen the financial impact of the virus on our immigrant members any way we can.

In that spirit of support, MIPN is committed to helping the immigrant community conduct “business as usual” as much as possible. Please know that banks, credit unions and insurance companies are considered essential services and will remain open for the duration of the health crisis. Please call ahead if you plan to travel to your institution to conduct business, as “drive thru” financial services may be different from what you are used to.

The safest place for your money in a personal savings or checking account in a financial institution. Money deposited in an FDIC insured or NCUA insured credit union is protected by the federal government up to $250,000. The United States financial system is very stable and, as a nation, we have not experienced a serious bank panic in over 80 years. Using a debit card – which can be cleaned after transactions – or a touch-free digital wallet like apple or google pay – is the lowest health-risk payment method. We encourage the community to adopt online or mobile banking where possible to protect your assets and your physical health with added benefit of having access to your accounts 24/7.

MIPN and ProsperityME will continue to meet in April as the situation is ever-evolving. We understand the need to be responsive and to provide accurate and useful information to the community as soon as we can. We attached to this message practical information to help you conduct business safely and protect your financial well-being during this time. While we cannot be certain what will happen during the coming weeks, we are committed to serving and guiding our community though this crisis. It is our hope that we can help all our members, clients, and students emerge into a stronger and more inclusive Maine economy in the coming months.

Thank you for being part of our community.

Be well,

The Maine Immigrants Prosperity Network Founding Members and ProsperityME


Download the Press Release (English)

Download the Resource Guide (English)


Download the Resource Guide (Arabic)


INFOGRAPHICS:

Safe Banking Practices, (English)

Safe Banking Practices, (Arabic)

Safe Banking Practices, (French)

Safe Banking Practices (Portuguese)


How to work with your bank or credit union while practicing social distancing:

ProsperityME and MIPN members consider the health and well-being of the community our highest priority. We have created this document to help community members safeguard their financial well-being while minimizing their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

We have also included state-supported and nonprofit financial resources to help you in the event of a job loss, temporary layoff, or business closure.

We hope this list of resources helps you take care of your financial health as well as your physical health during this time. If you have any questions about the resources listed here, please contact your financial services provider or ProsperityME. We are here to help you!

1. Your money is safe! There is no need to withdraw cash.

  • Money you have put in a personal savings or checking account is insured by the federal government up to $250,000.

  • Most savings and checking accounts are covered up to $250,000 though FDIC and NCUA.

  • The US hasn’t had a true “banking panic” in over 80 years because we insure consumer deposits.

You can feel confident leaving your money in your bank account and only withdrawing funds when necessary. Your money will be there when you need it!

2. If you need to make a deposit, transfer money, sign paperwork, or ask about financial relief programs, call ahead and ask for assistance from your institution.

  • MOST branch lobbies are closed for at least the next two weeks (3/25/2020 – 4/8/2020) and essential business is being conducted via drive-thru windows. Calling ahead will help you prepare and ensure that you can complete your transactions.

  • Minimize your travel time by asking for the nearest operable branch. Credit union members can ask for the nearest shared branch location.

  • Ask about any translation services available. Many banks and credit unions have multilingual employees and members of the immigrant community on staff.

  • Use online banking services to avoid in-person transactions. Online banking is convenient and secure. Call your institution if you need help setting up your online banking account. Customer service staff can walk you through the process.

  • Enable direct deposit, electronic transfers, and mobile check deposits though your bank or credit unions’ online banking and mobile app. Your institution can help you set up these services quickly.

  • Each institution has different financial relief programs available to members. Please check the resources in the “resources” section. The Maine Banker’s Association and the Maine Credit Union League websites can help you find institutions participating in specific relief programs.

3. Bring the following items with you when you visit your branch drive-thru:

  • Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. Use the sanitizer on your hands BEFORE and AFTER handling money. Wipe down any items (like a checkbook cover, driver’s license or other ID) that can be cleaned BEFORE and AFTER delivering it to the teller.

  • Gloves you can throw away or wash in hot water. Wear the gloves during transactions. Afterward, keep them in a sealed plastic bag until you can throw away or wash them.

  • Your own pen. You may need to sign documents, checks or other items during your visit. If you forget your pen, you may be provided with a free one!

4. Paper money and checks cannot be disinfected! When shopping for essentials (grocery store, pharmacy, gas, etc.) use electronic payments to minimize your risk of exposure.

  • Carry hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you at all times. Please DO use disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer BEFORE and AFTER touching any self-service terminals. This includes gas pumps, self-checkout stations, shopping carts, etc.

  • Wipe down your debit card BEFORE and AFTER transactions. Terminals can be very dirty!

  • Enable touch-free payments though your smartphone by uploading your debit card information to apple or google wallet. Touch-free transactions are encrypted, safer than using your pin, and limit your exposure to infected surfaces. If you are unsure how to enable this feature, reach out to your financial institution. They will walk you through the setup process.

Resources to help you in the event of a job loss, temporary business closure, or other financial hardship.

The Maine Banker’s Association:

COVID-19 critical information – Scroll to the bottom for a list of Maine banks (with links) instating coronavirus preparedness measures: https://www.mainebankers.com/events-education/banker-topics/

The Maine Credit Union League:

Maine Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates page: https://mainecul.org/community-outreach/coronavirus/

Consumer Protection Financial Bureau:

Protect yourself financially: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/protect-yourself-financially-from-impact-of-coronavirus/

Information and Resources: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/cfpb-helps-consumers-make-informed-financial-decisions-with-up-to-date-information-and-resources/

Protecting your credit: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/protecting-your-credit-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

Coronavirus and debt: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/coronavirus-and-dealing-debt-tips-help-ease-impact/

Tips for financial caregivers: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/tips-for-financial-caregivers-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

FAME Maine:

About the COVID-19 relief loan programs: https://www.famemaine.com/business/programs/covid-19-relief-loan-programs/

COVID-19 Relief Consumer Loan Program: https://www.famemaine.com/business/programs/covid-19-relief-loan-programs/covid-19-relief-consumer-loan-program/

COVID-19 Relief Lender Insurance Program: https://www.famemaine.com/business/programs/covid-19-relief-loan-programs/covid-19-relief-lender-insurance-program/

COVID-19 Relief Interim SBA Finance Loan Program: https://www.famemaine.com/business/programs/covid-19-relief-loan-programs/covid-19-relief-interim-sba-finance-loan-program/

COVID-19 Relief Business Direct Loan Program: https://www.famemaine.com/business/programs/covid-19-relief-loan-programs/covid-19-relief-business-direct-loan-program/

Small Business Administration (SBA):

General information on coronavirus disaster assistance programs: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

Maine Unemployment:

If you have lost your job, you can file for unemployment here. The one week waiting period has been waived. Contact ProsperityME if you need help.

File here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/

Unemployment insurance FAQ for COVID-19: http://www.maine.gov/labor/docs/2020/covid19/covidfaqandui.pdf

Federal Tax Filing:

The deadline to file for 2019 has been extended to July 15. Those filing a simple return can file for FREE online though the United Way and H&R Block.

Deadline extension press release: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-day-now-july-15-treasury-irs-extend-filing-deadline-and-federal-tax-payments-regardless-of-amount-owed

File your 2019 return for free: https://www.myfreetaxes.com/

Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC):

COVID-19 Resources – translated flyers, audio and video and other materials: https://maineimmigrantrights.org/covid-19-resources-for-new-mainers/

Partner and members list: https://maineimmigrantrights.org/partners-members/

Last Updated on 03/277/2020

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Founded in 2008, ProsperityME is a growing 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Portland, Maine. ProsperityME offers financial services, including financial literacy courses, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching, counseling for higher education, small business support, and partnering with other organizations in the area of workforce development. Our services are open to all refugees, immigrants, asylees, and low-income individuals in Greater Portland and Lewiston/Auburn, Maine.

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