Giving Love to Michelle’s Love

We’ve pretty much wrapped up our 2022 activities, but on January 5th we had one last important thing to do. It may have been raining outside, but inside it was all sunshine, as members of the team presented a $23,522.47 to Michelle’s Love.

Michelle’s Love is a great local organization focusing on providing support to single parents who are going through cancer treatment. Michelle’s Love aims at helping make the life of cancer patients just a little bit less stressful, by doing things like making sure mortgage and car payments are made.

Big Check Donation

Every year the credit union picks a local charity to support. Employees can chose to have a portion of their salary automatically donated. In addition, we’ll have raffles, contests, and other events to drive support.

This year, our employees elected to support local foodbanks. WCU employees already volunteer to help prevent food insecurity, and know the need the food banks provide for our communities.

Thank You

Every year, our CEO Robert Blumberg composes his thoughts on where we as a credit union our heading, and what he thinks about when working to ensure Wauna Credit Union will be the local choice offering top-notch services to the people who call Columbia River communities home.

Dear Friends,

Every year, I extend a simple thank you to you, our member-owners. It’s something I look forward to a great deal, because without you, we wouldn’t be here. Wauna Credit Union is grateful that you have joined the credit union movement, and helped us keep your money local.

As some of you may know, I was born and raised in South Africa. Experiencing the new traditions of my adopted country over the last 40 years has been incredibly rewarding. Thanksgiving is one of those traditions I hold quite dear. As I gathered with my family last week, I thought about how Thanksgiving is not just expressing your thanks, but making the implicit promise to those at the table with you, that you will be in their corner no matter what. Today I make that promise to you. The future is unknown, but no matter what happens, Wauna Credit Union will continue to be here for our members.

The credit union is here to help our members with whatever they need. That means if you’re looking to take advantage of the rising dividends on deposit accounts, or if you want a loan for a purchase or to consolidate debt, we are here. We promise to always treat people as individuals, because that’s what you are.

Again, thank you for being a member-owner of Wauna Credit Union, Remember, we are here to serve our members, our friends, our communities, and our family.
 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Robert Blumberg signature
Robert Blumberg, President and CEO
Wauna Credit Union

One Simple Step to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

Financial institutions in our footprint have been experiencing increased credit card fraud over the last week. Just like most instances of fraud, the scammer isn’t doing anything unique, but they’re using their knowledge of credit cards, to trick members into divulging just enough information to take over their account.

The scam goes like this. A member receives a call purporting to be from WCU Fraud. It looks legitimate. The call is coming from our 800 number, but guess what? Spoofing a number is child’s play for an experienced scammer. The scammer then asks the member to verify three (made up) purchases. Now they have you on the hook, they ask for your full card number (never give this), the three digit number on the back of your card (that’s another one to never give out on a call you didn’t initiate), and the last four of your social security number.

Now comes the pièce de résistance, the scammer says they’ll issue you a new card number, and you get a notification on your phone confirming the exchange. It really looks real. Do you know why? It is. The entire time the scammer has been interacting with the member, they’re also on the phone with the credit card company. You’ve just given them everything they need to get a replacement card, but by the time the new card is in the mail, the scammer has loaded the card into a digital wallet and gone on a spending spree.

It’s clever isn’t it. The entire exchange isn’t much different than a normal call you might get if we want to make sure some purchases just made were legitimate. So what’s the one simple trick? If you get a call, and you aren’t sure about it. All you have to do is say you’re going to hang up and call the number on the back of your card. For a legitimate inquiry, that’s no problem, but for a scammer, it’s the end of their plan, because even though they can spoof our phone number, they can’t answer a direct call to it. That still comes to us, and we can verify whether there are real questions about your card or not.

It can be tricky to stay safe, but know we’re always here to help.

Technology With Heart

I may be dating myself with this, but my first professional job was working at a call center recharging prepaid phone cards. The company worked with Walmart, Costco, and Starbucks. It was a great idea. Instead of getting a new Starbucks card, you simply had to call, wait on hold, give us the number on the back of your card, your credit card number, and some personal information.

Man on mobile phone

Flash forward an undefined number of years, and, after placing my order at the Starbucks drive thru, I noticed I didn’t have enough money on my card. Adding money now simply took me clicking on button to bill my linked credit card, and verifying with my face. Advances in technology cut the reload time from five minutes to 30 seconds. More importantly though, I didn’t lose any in-person time with a Starbucks employee. I still received a cheerful hello as I made my order, and a smile as I was handed my drink and breakfast sandwich.

At WCU, we aim to take the same approach with our technology. Yes, using U-banking app and online banking makes things quicker, but the reason we strive to have the best technology, is it gives us more face-to-face time with our members. When you use your app to remotely deposit a check, it gives the Member Consultants in our branches more time to counsel people who want to know more about getting a loan for a new car, or learn about our investment and insurance options.

Our Video Teller Units allowed us to expand our arrows, while still being able to hire local and give people an actual person to talk to. It’s not about the technology, and all about what the technology enables.

Our Role in Stopping Human Trafficking

Many people don’t realize the essential role the financial services industry has in the fight against Human Trafficking. Often, the only time a trafficking victim talks to a person who can help is when they interact with frontline representatives at their credit union or bank. In addition, the type and location of financial transactions can indicate abuse, be it trafficking, elder abuse, forced labor, or something else. That is why at WCU one of our ongoing training topics is how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and what to if an interactions raises multiple red flags.

It’s so important to continually stay up-to-date about the signs of trafficking is the ever-changing reality of the forms it takes. COVID-19 has changed many things, and how abusers prey on vulnerable victims is one of them. With more people struggling with job loss and economic insecurity, and spending more times isolated from their support groups.

That’s why we’re staying vigilant, and continuing to educate ourselves, and work with other financial institutions to recognize the signs. We ask that our members learn the indicators that somebody they interact with may be at risk, or under the influence of an abuser or trafficker.

And if you need help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH),1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTH is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTH is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.

Fraud in the City

WCU Member consultant Jaleese could tell right away that the member walking into the Astoria branch was under a lot of stress. “Sometimes you can just tell,” she said. “Once he got to the counter, I knew immediately why.”

The member was looking to get a cashier’s check for almost $10,000 in order to post bail for his grandson in California. Something about the story didn’t sound right to Jaleese. As part of her training, she studied the different types of financial scams, and the member’s story had some of the indicators of a classic fraud. There was a ton of urgency placed on the member, after all his grandson was sitting in a jail cell, and bail can only be paid with cash or a cash substitute, that means once it’s handed over, there’s no way to get the money back.

Jaleese was suspicious. She talked with the member and he agreed to let her try to find out a bit more. He told her the name of the county in California he was told the jail was in, and Jaleese went to work. She contacted the county, as well as multiple local bail bonds services. None of the places she called were able to confirm the nephew was lodged in a local jail.

Unable to confirm any of the details the member was told, Jaleese was pretty sure it was fraud. She went over her suspicions with the member, and he agreed to contact his grandson, and the grandson’s parents before getting the cashier’s check. Later in the day, Jaleese got the call she was expecting. The grandson was fine. The member was relieved, and more importantly, he didn’t lose his hard-earned money.

“It really bothers me that people pray on other people by putting them in a stressful situation,” Jaleese said. “I was really happy to hear everything was okay. The great thing about working for a local company is we can take the time to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help people. Usually that means helping them get something they need, but saving somebody that much money really made my day.”

2022 Scholarships

There are milestones, and then there are MILESTONES. This year we awarded $12,500 in scholarships to deserving students. That means we’ve now granted more than $400,000 in scholarships to area students.

The 10 students from seven area high schools and three college recipients come from all walks of life, plan to start a variety of careers, and are unique in many different ways. They do have one thing in common though, they’ve all earned their scholarship. WCU CEO Robert Blumberg said it best “There are so many qualified and intelligent young people out there. It’s always inspiring to read through their journeys.”

WCU’s scholarship recipients are selected based on a variety of factors, including scholastic achievements, community involvement, extracurricular activities, and financial need. WCU services a large population of low-income families and so the need for financial assistance in the community is high.

The 2022 WCU Scholarship recipients are:

Andrew Miller – Astoria

Kegan Rascoe – Astoira

Alex Tapia – Warrenton

Josiah Jones – Clatskanie

Wyatt Macdonald – Astoria

Jessica Butcher – Vernonia

Grace Tallman – Clatskanie

Kaitlin Dahla – Scappoose

Caleb Bostic – Clatskanie

Delfina Acfalle – Astoria

Free Financial Education

One of the things that makes Wauna Credit Union special is our Mission to provide opportunities for our members to build their financial well-being. If you live, work, attend school or worship in Clatsop County, Columbia County, Western Washington County, or Pacific County Washington, we want to help you realize your financial goals.

That’s why providing free, easy to use, financial education is so important to us. Our partner BALANCE is offering absolutely free webinars on a different topic each month. The March webinar topic is one we get a lot, and that’s what makes up your credit report. Learn the ingredients that go into making the cake that is your credit score, and just as importantly, what you can do to get your score higher.

MARCH — SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF CREDIT REPORTS Credit reports and credit scores hold a lot of power—they can help you buy that first home or limit your financial opportunities. This session provides an overview of credit reporting agencies, credit scoring, disputing inaccuracies, improving credit scores, and dealing with identity theft and fraud.  

  Session 1: Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (PST)
Share link: bit.ly/SolvingMysteryofCreditRprt  

  Session 2: Thursday, March 17, 2022
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PST)
Share link: bit.ly/SolvingMysteryofCreditRprt    
 
APRIL — ON THE ROAD TO RICHES: THE BASICS OF SAVING AND INVESTING Investing is one of the smartest things consumers can do to secure a brighter financial future. Every investor has different goals, risk tolerance, and cash flow, which will impact savings and investment choices. Participants will learn about savings strategies and tactics, investment tools, and how to develop an investment portfolio that works with their lifestyle and budget.  

  Session 1: Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (PST)
Share link: bit.ly/OnTheRoadToRiches

  Session 2: Thursday, April 21, 2022
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PST)
Share link: bit.ly/OnTheRoadToRiches    

Thanks from Robert Blumberg

Every year, our CEO Robert Blumberg composes his thoughts on where we as a credit union our heading, and what he thinks about when working to ensure Wauna Credit Union will be the local choice offering top-notch services to the people who call Columbia River communities home.

Dear Friends,

Every December, I take the time to personally thank you, our member-owner. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Wauna Credit Union is grateful that you have joined the credit union movement, and helped us keep your money local.

We started 2021 with promise. By-and-large, 2021 indeed delivered promise, although not necessarily in the way we expected. As we work our way back to normal, we realize that ‘normal’ looks different. People are re-examining their priorities, identifying what is important to them, which is how your Credit Union has always worked

Our priority is figuring out how to make that loan, donate that money, or help the community. From funding public housing, to donating to local charities that actually do the work, I couldn’t be prouder at how Wauna Credit Union has shown its merits over the last two years.

Next year marks 55 years of serving you. And once again, the new year has promise. Our new, state-of-the-art branch is opening in Astoria, reaffirming not only our commitment to a physical presence within our footprint, but also the promise of creating living-wage professional jobs throughout the communities of the Columbia River Valley – this is only the beginning of that promise.

Again, thank you for being a member-owner of Wauna Credit Union, Remember, we are here to serve our members, our friends, our communities, and our family.

Happy holidays!

Robert Blumberg, President and CEO
Wauna Credit Union

Career of Caring

If you know anybody who’s worked at WCU for more than a year, they’ve likely had a few different roles here. Whether that’s moving from a Member Consultant I to a Member Consultant II, or moving from the frontline to the back-office. That’s a core component of who we are. Our corporate vision is to be the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives. We want our employees to do that too. Go to our careers page to see our current openings, and find out if we have the career that’s right for you.

One of our great representatives is Paige Tischer is a key member of the mortgage team, but in her (almost) 10 years at the credit union, she’s been many things to many people.