Employee of the Quarter: Amber Seely

Amber and familyWe have over 100 great employees at Wauna Credit Union. Each Quarter we recognize one person who consistently goes above and beyond, and name them Employee of the Quarter. We’re kicking the year off with a bang with our Employee of the Quarter Amber Seely.

We sat down with Amber to find out more about her, and learn more about her time representing Wauna Credit Union.

Getting to Know Amber

What is your title?
I’m a Card Service Specialist based out of Clatskanie. I work behind the scenes to help make sure our credit and debit card programs are running smoothly. I also Amber talk with members and help them when there is a dispute on a purchase. Prior to that I was a member consultant in St. Helens.

What brought you to WCU?
I was a medical assistant in Portland. When my daughter was born, I stayed home for some time, and when I was ready to come back to work I started looking for a job that was closer to home, that still gave me the chance to talk to people, and had the opportunity for growth. When a job at Wauna opened up, I jumped at it.

What is your favorite thing about working here?
There are so many things I love about working here, but my favorite thing is just getting the chance to work with people, both coworkers and members. I’m a very social person, and I love helping people. The great thing about my job is I get to help people multiple times a day.

Amber at work

What project has been your favorite?
My favorite project is one that’s going on right now. Our members really love our Visa Rewards Cards, and we’re constantly looking for ways to make them better. It’s been fun to look at all the ways we can give a little back to members just for using their cards. We have some exciting things coming up.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in St. Helens, and I think it will always be my home. I love the community and knowing that my neighbors are always looking out for me, and I’m looking out for them.

What was a time you laughed really hard at work?
I laugh all the time at work, but I’ll tell you when I don’t laugh, when you manage to find bad pictures of me and turn them into memes. (Editor’s note, that’s what Amber gets for stealing my phone at TMA training and taking selfies.)Amber-Smiling

Why do you think somebody should become a Wauna Member?
I think somebody should become a member, because all the decisions are made by local people. Our mission is to help people build their financial well-being. We do that by working with people to make a loan work, help them save a little bit more money, or making it easy to do their banking 24/7.

Have you ever done anything embarrassing at work?
I don’t get embarrassed easily. Recently, at one of our In-Service days I lead a group dancing in front of the whole credit union. Some people might be embarrassed doing that, but my passion is dancing, so I wasn’t embarrassed at all. We had secret practices, and nobody was expecting it. It was great.

In a World With Identity Theft

Identity theft – the idea instantly sparks anxiety. How much money will they get? How long will it take me to discover something is wrong? Will I be able to pay my bills? How long until I get my money back? While there’s never a guarantee, there are several steps you can take to prevent a bad actor from gaining access to your money.Cartoon man committing identity theft

Types of Identity Theft:

The first step in better protecting yourself is knowing the type of identity theft you are trying to prevent. Some fraudsters gain access to existing accounts to steal the money or credit you already have. This type of fraud is easier to notice, but causes more upheaval in your life. Others simply mine enough identifying information about you to open up accounts in your name and without your knowledge. The good news here is you aren’t likely to have your daily finances affected, but the fraud can go undetected for much longer. Often, this type of activity is not discovered until you are applying for a loan or mortgage.

Safeguarding Your Existing Information:

This is the most common way people see their finances compromised. There many steps you can take, but the important thing is to limit the number of ways your information is not within your control.

  • Shred documents with personal information before discarding. Better yet, sign up for paperless billing.
  • Don’t give out personal information or account numbers unless you know who you’re dealing with.
  • This is especially true online. Make sure you trust the site before you enter your information. We recently posted a blog about holiday shopping that discussed more ways to stay safe online.
  • Speaking of being online, make sure your passwords are secure. Here’s a guide on how to create a secure password.
  • Be mindful when using your cards that nobody is looking over your shoulder, and be on the lookout for skimmers. Read our post on how to recognize skimmers.

Safeguarding Your Identity

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It can seem overwhelming. Stealing information is a fraudster’s full-time job, but as the joke about outrunning a bear goes, the trick is to be more secure than others, so you’re not the easiest target.

  • Pay attention to when and where you give out personal information. Getting enough information to steal an identity is like putting together a puzzle – information is gathered piece-by-piece.
  • Create a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. This doesn’t keep new accounts from being opened. It requires lenders to verify your information before issuing new credit. The FTC has a good primer on how to set up a fraud alert here.
  • Consider signing up for a credit and information monitoring service. This isn’t a fail-safe, but if you want to be sure, it’s a good step.

Monitor:

  • Go to annualcreditreport.com every year to make sure you know every line of credit that is tied to you.
  • If you have children, check their information as well. Every year thousands of kids have their identity stolen, and it can be years before anybody realizes it has happened.
  • Monitor your financial account statements and order history from online retailers. If you see something you don’t recognize, immediately look into it.
  • Pay attention to the news. If you hear about a breach make sure it’s not a place that might have your information.

Choose Your Partners Wisely:

This is something that often goes overlooked, but can be one of the most important ways to keep your identity safe. You should only trust your data with companies that value your information as much as you do. At WCU, for example, guarding your personal information is crucial to us. By using advanced fraud-monitoring technology, our committed staff closely monitors your accounts for suspicious or irregular activity.

If you regularly go into a branch, contact our Virtual Center, or even use our new Virtual Teller Units, we pay attention to who you are. So, it’s easier for us to notice when something seems off, or when we see activity on your accounts that is different from your normal spending behavior.

Stay Calm

This isn’t necessarily what you want to hear, but even if you do everything right, your information might still be compromised. If that happens though, rest assured there are protections in place to ensure you aren’t left holding the bag. This infographic outlines your liability.

The thing to remember is that the faster you act, the less severe the impact is going to be.

  • File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov (currently unavailable due to the government shutdown) or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
  • File a police report. Most people think it won’t make a difference, but this is an essential step.
  • Contact your financial institutions and let them know what happened.
  • Criminals often change your address with the post office so they can get your new cards automatically sent to them. Keep your eyes out for a change of address card from the USPS, or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.
  • If you didn’t do it before, place that fraud alert.
  • Consider a credit freeze. This is a drastic step, as it prevents you from getting credit as well, but can stop the issue from snowballing.

This is a lot to take in, and it’s something we all wish we didn’t have to worry about. The more care taken in preventing identity theft, the less likely it is to happen. Remember, there are a number of fraud-preventative services WCU offers, and our committed staff is here for you should you have questions, need advice, or simply want to check in on your accounts.

January Statement Insert Roll Into Rebates

January 2019 Statement Insert Page 1

Balance Presents

Webinar for the Win Contest

You might win $1,000 for organizing your finances

Attend a Balance free financial webinar to enter.

It’s the perfect time to get the guidance you need

Visit bit.ly/WebinarForTheWinRules for official rules

January 21 – April 19, 2019

Individuals Welcome

You’re not a number. You’re an individual

Roy Tuomi, Wauna Credit Union Member

Upgrade your loan and roll into rebates

Refinance

Get 1% cash back

60 days no payments

All vehicles, watercraft, off road, unsecured loans and more

Can be refinanced

Wauna Credit Union

24/7 Lending, waunafcu.org, 800-773-3236

Federally Insured by the NCUA

Upon loan approval, current and new Wauna CU members who refinance a loan currently financed elsewhere to Wauna Credit Union qualify to receive: 1. an immediate Cash Rebate equal to 1% of the approved loan value 2. 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-day period); and, 3. Wauna CU will pay the vehicle title transfer fee up to $100 (member is responsible to pay any additional amount). Qualifying Loans: Auto, Truck, SUV, Van, Motor home, trailer, boat, watercraft, motorcycles, side-by-sides, quads, and unsecured loans such as home furnishings, tuition, personal loans, etc.). Minimum loan amount to qualify for special terms: $2,000; Maximum rebate allowed is $500 per qualifying loan. These special, promotional financing terms end at close of business April 30, 2019. Rates & financing are offered based on applicant’s credit worthiness and term of the loan. Note: the promotional cash rebate paid to a member may be forfeit if the loan balance is paid in full within 180-days of the loan funding date. Membership with Wauna CU required to be eligible for this special offer.

January Statement Insert Page 2

Invest in Yourself

Open or contribute to your IRA with WCU. We’re safe and insured

 

Weighed Down by Your Credit Cards?

Transfer online or in branch

Receive 2x the rewards*

2.99% APR Intro Rate*

Transfer your balances and save!

*The special 9-month and 13-month Certificate Accounts minimum deposit requirement is $10,000 New Money only to open the account; New Money may not originate from another Wauna Credit Union deposit account. Deposits exceeding the $10,000 New Money minimum deposit are not restricted. The special 9-month Certificate Account APY is 2.019% and the Dividend Rate is 2.00%. The special 13-month Certificate Account APY is 2.29% and the Dividend Rate is 2.267%. Some fees could reduce earnings. The special 9-Month and 13-Month Certificate Accounts are also available as an IRA. Early withdrawal penalty: We may impose a penalty if you withdraw any of the principle before the maturity date, or the renewal date if it is a renewal account. This special offer is available through January 31, 2019, and may be terminated without notification. Membership with Wauna Credit Union required to be eligible for this special offer. Please contact Wauna Credit Union for membership eligibility details.

52nd Annual Meeting

Tuesday March 12, 2019

6:30 PM

Erlene Darby Learning Center

49249 Hwy 30

Westport, OR

 

January Anniversaries

January is a time for resolutions to better yourself. Wauna Credit Union got better by the hiring of all our employees celebrating anniversaries in January.

If you want to be one of the people celebrating next year, check out our careers page.  

Waunaversary Celebrants

Jen Katon – 5 years

What is your current position?
I am the Executive Assistant to the CEO. I work directly with the CEO as well the other Chiefs and the Board of Directors., and get to make a difference to local high-schoolers by chairing the Scholarship Committee. When I am not completing administrative tasks I have fun planning Wauna’s events and retreats. I have also been fortunate enough to lead our Corporate sponsored charities fundraisers for local back pack programs for the last four years. I am proud to say that we have raised $59,581 for Charity since I started here in 2014.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Before I came to work for Wauna I didn’t know the Credit Union Philosophy. I absolutely love the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” and am so honored to get to be a part of helping people in our local communities.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I have many hobbies including, crafting, photography, crocheting, reading, sign making, scrapbooking, but I have been considering taking up hiking. Both of my kids do cross country and they make it sound so fun that I would like to do it with them. If time and money wasn’t an obstacle traveling the world would be what I would choose. I love to learn new things about other cultures and places. If I could travel to other countries and get to do charity work while I was there that would be a dream come true for me.

Dave Freeman – 1 year

What is your current position?
I’m a member of our IT team. My official title is IT Support Technician, which basically means I help our staff to provide our members with excellent personal service. That’s anything from making sure all of our financial tools are online to replacing an old computer. While members almost never see me, I’m constantly working in the back office to keep our systems online and working smoothly.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
It’s the commitment to staying true to our Core Values. Many companies will tell you about how “we’re a family” and “we strive to help the community”, but here those aren’t just empty words. That really impresses me. I grew up in the area, but was living in Nevada. I was on a steam train in the middle of the desert, and one of my friends from back home let me know the credit union was hiring, and I applied immediately, and that community involvement was a big reason why.

Dave with camera
Photography has always been one of Dave’s passions.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer and history buff, and I’d like to spend more time doing that. I love the PNW and it’s rich history and amazing scenery. I left Oregon about 15 years ago, but came back home about a year and a half ago and have come to realize exactly how much I missed this part of the country.

Jeff Kratka – 1 year

What is your current position?
I’m an IT Support Technician. I’m based out of Westport, but I go from Astoria to Vernonia to support all Wauna employees with any computer and technical aspects of their daily duties to help with making their job easier and more efficient.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Wauna has taught me how working with a family can be enjoyable again. Not just being a number but a person.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I just took up SCUBA Diving. It’s something I have always enjoyed. I have been snorkeling many times but not SCUBA.

Others

  • Pam Weller
  • Randy Buholts
  • Serena Schlosser
  • Trevor Shelby
  • Amanda Heikkila

 

Member’s Stories: Cookie Laurens

When Cookie Laurens came into the Wauna Credit Union St. Helens branch on a warm Saturday morning looking for a car she wasn’t her normal optimistic self. “I knew it was going to be tough,” she said. “I love the people at Wauna, and they always do what they can, which is why I made the credit union my first choice.” Luckily Area Manager Lisa Clark was up for the challenge.

Cookie was a bit nervous to deal with a car dealer. Lisa put her in touch with Bill Scholten from Scholten Auto Sales. Lisa knew he would work with Cookie to find a car in her price range. After helping her qualify for a vehicle loan, Lisa went the extra mile, literally, driving her 25 miles to pick up the car, then helping Cookie get insurance, and making sure she had everything she needed.

“I worked in banking for years,” said Lisa “but now I work for a credit union, and it makes all the difference in the world. At a bank, we wouldn’t have given Cookie a second look based on numbers only. And I would have had to tell her we tried everything we could, even though I knew it wasn’t true. At Wauna, I’m allowed to look at the person, and figure out a way to make it work.”

“This was the way Business was done in the past and I thought I would never see again,” said Bill. “Lisa exemplifies the type of service Wauna offers, and is why we’re always glad to work with the credit union.”

Cookie, who has been a member of Wauna Credit Union ever since she returned to the area, loves all the different ways she can use the credit union. She’s especially a fan of managing her financials using WCU’s Virtual Branch in Astoria. “I call them Telephone Central,” said Cookie. “They’re always so cheery and willing to help.”

The Virtual Branch Consultants are always happy to hear from Cookie as well. “It’s always fun to hear her cheery voice when you say hello,” said VC Nichole Klopp. “We have tons of regulars, and Cookie is one of the people who is forever in a good mood.”

Lisa agrees. “Cookie’s been coming in regularly since she moved to town. She’s quick to laugh, and has even been promising to make us cookies.”

Whether she ever lives up to her nickname or not, Wauna Credit Union is always happy to have members like Cookie.

New Finances for 2019

A lot of us start off the new year with resolutions to improve our financial well-being. Since Wauna Credit Union’s Mission statement is to provide opportunities for our members to improve their financial well-being, we thought we were well suited to help you achieve your resolutions.

Keep Your Savings Safe

For most of us our new year’s resolution boils down to having more money, while we can’t help you earn more money at work, we can help you earn more money on your savings. That’s why we’re excited to offer two new savings opportunities that pay a higher dividend than you’ll get elsewhere. The 9-month certificate has a 2.019% APY and the 13-month certificate has a 2.229% APY.

A lot of people are unsure about certificates, because they really haven’t been something that’s been top of mind, but certificates are really a great way to generate a little extra while keeping your money insured by the NCUA.

For example, if you deposited $50,000 into the 9-month certificate in January you’d have an extra 762 and change at the end of September without lifting a finger. If you chose the 13-month certificate you’d have an extra 1,220.92 at the end of its term.

Maybe just as important, is the money you put into a WCU certificate stays in the community. A lot of our members who are nearing, or in retirement, have certificates since they know the benefits. A lot of those certificates are held by the big national banks, which means your money is used to pay dividends to stock holders, or make loans to big national corporations who have nothing to do with the northwest.

Spend Less and Save More

Balance Transfer 2.99% 2X rewards

The other way we can help you is by helping you give less of your money away every month. That’s why we are so happy to bring back two programs, our balance transfer special kicks off on the second of January, and our cash back/no payment special starts mid-month.

The Balance transfer gives you a break on your credit cards. We’re giving people a great introductory rate on balance transfers to a WCU credit card. You get a rate of 2.99% if you transfer a credit card or loan balance to one of our Rewards Visa. To sweeten the pot, we’re also offering 2 rewards points for every $1 you transfer.*

The Rebate promotion frees up your monthly payment for a couple of months, and puts a little bit of cash back in your pocket. Simply refinance an existing loan from another institution with Wauna and you’ll get no payments for 60 days and 1% cashback, up to $500 as a thanks.^

Disclosures

Balance Transfer
*APR-Annual Percentage Rate. The special 2.99% Introductory Rate applies to qualifying balance transfers processed through April 30, 2019. The Introductory Rate will begin on the transaction date(s) during the promotion period, and remain in effect through the 6th billing cycle, at which time the account holder’s original Credit Card Account Agreement terms will apply. VISA Rewards accounts also earn two (2) Rewards Points for each $1 of the approved total balance transferred. Balance transfers from other accounts issued by Wauna Credit Union, or any amount of debt which would cause the account holder’s credit card balance to exceed their credit limit, are prohibited. A Balance Transfer Fee of 3% of the total balance to be transferred, or a minimum fee of $20, whichever is greater, will be assessed at the time the balance transfer request is approved. This special promotional offer ends at close of business April 30, 2019. Complete promotion details available at waunafcu.org. Membership with Wauna Credit Union is required.

2019 Loan Rebate
^Special Promotional Terms: Upon loan approval, current and new Wauna CU members who refinance a loan currently financed elsewhere to Wauna Credit Union qualify to receive: 1. an immediate Cash Rebate equal to 1% of the approved loan value 2. 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-day period); and, 3. Wauna CU will pay the vehicle title transfer fee up to $100 (member is responsible to pay any additional amount). Qualifying Loans: Auto, Truck, SUV, Van, Motor home, trailer, boat, watercraft, motorcycles, side-by-sides, quads, and unsecured loans such as home furnishings, tuition, personal loans, etc.). Minimum loan amount to qualify for special terms: $2,000; Maximum rebate allowed is $500 per qualifying loan. These special, promotional financing terms end at close of business April 30, 2019. Rates & financing are offered based on applicant’s credit worthiness and term of the loan. Note: the promotional cash rebate paid to a member may be forfeit if the loan balance is paid in full within 180-days of the loan funding date. Membership with Wauna CU required to be eligible for this special offer.

Rising Rates and You

What Does the Current Rate Environment Mean?

You may have seen news about the Federal Reserve (usually referred to as the Fed) raising rates. What they’re increasing is the Federal Fund Interest Rate. In fact, they’ve done it four times this year, and nine times since December of 2015. Increasing the rate from 0.25% to 2.50% over that timeframe. Prior to that, the Federal Fund Interest Rate, which is the rate banks charge other banks for overnight lending, hadn’t changed since 2009.

Man pointing at graph of rates increasing
The Federal Fund and Prime rates have been going up for the last year

The Fed used to change the rate all the time, depending on a ton of different factors. Even with recent blips in the stock market, the Fed sees the economy doing well. Increasing the Federal Fund rate is its way to keep inflation in check.

With all that being said, the Fed Fund Rate does impact the financial landscape in a multitude of ways. Most notably it effects the interest rate for loans, either directly or indirectly, and the interest rate on share accounts.

Loans

The Federal Funds Interest Rate does not itself effect the rate people pay on consumer rates, but it does have a direct impact on how the prime rate is calculated. Prime, is the rate that most often determines the benchmark for home equity lines of credit and adjustable rate credit cards.

Not all loans use the prime rate though. Adjustable rate mortgages use the COFI or Libor indexes. Many of WCU’s loans aren’t based on any of these indexes. Instead they are based on our calculations to get the best possible rate for our members. Those loans include our vehicle, personal, and mortgage loans. Even though these rates aren’t directly related to any indexes, they do tend to go up and down with other rates. That’s why it’s a good idea to refinance your mortgage if you took advantage of a low rate on an adjustable rate mortgage, usually 5/1 or 3/1 Arms.

Saving

Rising Federal Fund and prime rates aren’t necessarily bad for people. The higher loan rates often go hand-in-hand with higher rates on savings and investment products. At the credit union, we offer dividend on share accounts. As the cost to financial institutions to borrow money increases, it makes more sense for us to use our own deposits to back our lending activity, instead of borrowing from other institutions. The dividends for certificates and money market accounts, are both increasing, and we’re going to be offering special certificate rates for IRAs in January.

 

December Anniversaries

Our halls are decked, our tinsel is strung and everybody’s ready for the holidays. There’s one thing we have to do before that, celebrate our December anniversary participants.

If you want to be one of the people celebrating anniversaries next year, check out our careers page.  

Waunaversary Celebrants

Amy Grub – 6 years

What is your current position?
I am the MSM at the Scappoose Branch. My goal is to make sure our members are getting all their financial needs met in a timely and friendly manner. I love getting to know my members and learn about their goals and dreams and celebrating with them when they reach their goals!

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me what true teamwork looks like. I have never seen a group of people come together to support and encourage each other like the people at Wauna do. The leadership truly cares about the well being of their employees.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose one hobby it would be traveling! My goal is to take my son to all 50 states by the time he graduates high school! I love exploring and seeing new places!

Amy and son
Amy only has a picture of herself if somebody else is in it. Her favorite partner is her son

 

Ashley Erickson – 3 years

What is your current position?
I am an Accountant for Wauna CU. I make sure all of the bills are paid, help with monthly financial statements, and balance member’s financial transactions daily. I’m behind the scenes making sure everything is running smoothly and in balance.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me to believe in yourself and go after your dreams! We work for a wonderful organization that is constantly growing and educating their employees. If you want to work towards something new, they are going to support you and help you achieve that goal. Completing our career development program (CADET) this year has helped me grow and achieve some big aspirations.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to own a vineyard and start making wine!

Ashley Hawaii
Ashley recently took some much deserved PTO to visit Hawaii with her boyfriend David

Rachael Eaton – 2 years

What is your current position?
I am an MC I in the Warrenton Branch. My job is to help my members with their financial well-being. Either through everyday transactions, answering questions, doing account research or loans to help them get what they need. This is important because I am one of the many faces that represent Wauna. My members trust and depend on me to help and guide them, because they know I’ve been listening to what they want to accomplish.

Rachael at the coast
Rachael is Oregon Coast through and though

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
What have I been taught? Multi-tasking struggle is real! I have to make lists ALL the time so I don’t miss anything. Most importantly I don’t want to miss reaching out to a member with follow up info as soon as I can.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to snorkel! I love the water, and if I could id spend all my free time in it. My spirit animal is a shark.

Josh Rein– 2 years

What is your current position?
I’m the Digital Media Specialist at the credit union. If you’re looking at something on a screen either in the branch or on your computer or mobile device, there’s a good chance I had something to do with it.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at the credit union has taught me to jump in full bore. I have to do a lot of back-end coding as part of my job here, which is something I only had limited experience with before. It’s been fun to learn.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I’d like to take up photography. I take pictures sometime as part of my job, and would love to explore more, especially where nature and development intersect.

Leslie Ramey– 1 year

What is your current position?
I’m a Member Consultant in our Clatskanie branch. I’m the person our members deal with the most, and I help with all sorts of things, including loans, giving them information about the different ways we have to save money, and staying on top of their finances and cred.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Being at Wauna Credit Union has showed me how financial institutions should guide their members and teach them about finances. I can see the difference between banks and credit unions and I feel Wauna stands out in our mission. It’s not just a statement, I feel we implement it on a daily basis.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
It would be rock climbing!!! Like legit rock climbing where I’m hundreds of feet in the air. I have a bit of a wild streak.