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.

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.

Support Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Month

What motivates you? For WCU employee Brianna it’s helping those who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes. Those sufferers include her 8-year-old daughter. “Like most people I didn’t know anything about diabetes until I was directly impacted,” said Brianna. “When we found out my daughter was impacted, we had so many emotions going through us at once. We felt bad that she had been having all these symptoms and didn’t know what was happening, worried about the future, and guilty thinking it was something we had done.”

That’s a common misconception. Type One Diabetes has nothing to do with diet, or lifestyle, or anything else a parent or kid has done, including eating a lot of candy or juice, and unfortunately there’s no current cure. Insulin doesn’t prevent Type 1 Diabetes. An insulin pump is needed to manage blood-sugar level to keep people with diabetes alive.

Just some of the insulin pumps needed

For Brianna one of the most frustrating things is how hard it can be to manage. “It’s not a one plus one equals two situation. There are so many different factors that go into blood sugar, that my daughter can do the same thing she did the day before, and still suffer from low blood sugar,” she said.

Diabetes is a worldwide problem. There are over 422 million people with diabetes according to the World Health Organization, and it contributes directly to 1.5 million deaths a year, and that number is growing. The CDC estimates that over 21 percent of adults with diabetes don’t even realize it.

With children it can be equally as difficult. Teachers are often the first to recognize the symptoms, since they see so many children every day.

So what are the indicators? There’s many, but the common signs are:

  • Sudden strange behavior (acting “drunk”)
  • Breath that smells fruity, sweet, or like wine
  • Extreme drowsiness or lack of energy
  • Ongoing, intense thirst
  • Grunting while breathing
  • Heavy breathing
  • Huge appetite
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Urinating more often (infants and toddlers may have more wet diapers than usual)
  • Difficulty breathing

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month. Visit the American Diabetes Foundation to learn more, including how you can help.

Happy International Credit Union Day

This Thursday is International Credit Union Day. From the name I bet you can figure out what that means. It’s of course the day all credit unions take the time to celebrate being a credit union, and all that it entails.

We’ve talked about how even though credit unions serve most of the same functions as a bank, however, being a not-for-profit credit union instead of a for profit bank allows us to do some pretty amazing things. Studies show people tend to get better rates and have lower fees at a credit union than at a bank (for both deposits and loans).

You know how we’re part of the community, and how our employees live local, buy local, and play local. We don’t talk about this all the time, but being a major local employer is a big deal for us.

Group of Fibre and Wauna Credit Union employees
The team of Fibre FCU and Wauna FCU teaming together to help people

One thing we don’t talk about is our partnership with other credit unions. Do you have an account at InRoads? What about Fibre/TLC? We’re glad to hear it. It’s our partnership with these organizations, as well as credit unions in Portland, Eugene, Medford, Bend, and even New York City, Tallahassee, and Madison, that allows us to shine. A 30,000-unit ATM network? We have that – which is a larger support network than most banks. Top of the line app and online banking? That too, because we partner with a 1,000 other credit unions to pool resources. The ability to collaborate with other credit unions? Absolutely! In fact, that’s really something special.

It’s completely normal for branch managers or mortgage underwriters to meet with their counterparts at another credit union to compare best practices. Our ITIN lending, we spent a lot of time with Point West Credit Union in Portland, to learn more. Before we made the decision on our new core banking system, we met with credit unions from Michigan, California, and Texas. Everybody is happy to do that, because we all have one goal: ensuring the credit union philosophy of people helping people is maximized to its fullest extent. It’s what allows a credit union of 100+ employees like WCU to have the power of 100,000 minds (and hearts). That’s the credit union philosophy, and it makes us better than any bank. We’re hiring right now, so if you want to join “people helping people,” go to our careers page.

Update on our COVID-19 Procedures

As with most things, the future can be quite unpredictable. Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen changes many of us have never experienced. Some of those changes were for our safety, others not so much. In the days and months to come, we expect precautions against the spread of COVID and its delta variant to surge as more and more cases of infection are recorded.

While your account security and access to affordable products and services continue to be our top priorities, so too is your physical safety. As such, the likelihood of business closures and even disruptions in our lobby service may occur. Though we are doing everything necessary to prepare for such instances and to avoid any disruption in how we serve you, it’s important that we forewarn of these possibilities.

Please visit waunafcu.org or give us a call at 800-773-3236 before you plan to conduct any transaction in person. Remember, we have a wide array of digital solutions for you to utilize instead of coming into a location.

Per Governor Kate Brown’s mandate, all members and staff are required to wear masks in our branch lobbies, which are open by appointment. Please stay healthy. We appreciate your patience as we all navigate these ever-uncertain times.

Robert Blumberg Signature

Robert Blumberg, CEO and President

Do You Have Enough Insurance Coverage to Rebuild Your Home?

The following post is courtesy of Cascade Crest Insurance, a subsiderary of Wauna Credit Union. CCI is a locally owned and operated independent full-service insurance agency serving all of Oregon and Washington. Whether you need insurance to cover you car, home, household, boat, business, or something else, Cascade Crest can help. Visit them at cascadecrestinsurance.com, or call 503-728-4391 to find out more.

Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home in a fire. Now imagine not being able to rebuild it completely because you didn’t have the correct amount of insurance coverage. Selecting the proper amount of insurance coverage is the single most important decision you can make with your homeowner’s policy. This is called “insurance to value.”

Understanding the insurance coverage for a rebuild:

What is insurance to value?
Insurance to value is the relationship between the amount of coverage selected and the amount required to rebuild your home. Insuring your home for anything less than 100% insurance to value could mean you wouldn’t have enough coverage to replace your home in the event of a total loss.

Hammer

Why is the cost to rebuild different from the market value?
A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions. The cost to rebuild your home is based only on the cost of materials and labor in your area. It is important that you insure home based on its reconstruction cost, NOT its current market or even tax assessment value.

Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?
New-home builders typically build many homes at once and solicit bids from various sub-contractors to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale.

Home improvement prompt updates.
The recent stay-at-home orders have prompted many of us to look closer at our homes and provided extra time to consider home improvements. Stores have reported an uptick in buying material and shortage in the supply change which have both pushed prices up. If you got caught up in the effort to take advantage of time at home, please let us know what improvements you’ve made that could impact the need to adjust your insurance to value. 

Check out our home insurance plans and get a quote!

Credit Unions: The Better Choice

How We’re Better

The core difference between a credit union and a bank is we’re set up to serve the people who use us. That means we’re here for people, not investors. When you join the credit union, either by opening up a deposit account or by getting a loan, you become a member. With that membership you become an equal owner of the credit union. Compare that with a bank. Customers have no say in how a bank is run, instead it’s investors who hold all the power.

If you think that isn’t a big deal, look at the banks in our area. According to Nasdaq, Wells Fargo is almost 70% owned by investors. Not coincidentally, Wells Fargo announced it plans to shrink the number of branches it has from 5,400 to 4,000. That’s true for US Bank, which is nearly 75% investor owned, and has shrunk it’s branch footprint by 400 in the last year. Even local Umpqua Bank isn’t exempt. Umpqua is 89% investor owned, and announced last year a plan to close 13 – 22% of its branches to save money.

As you may guess, rural areas are hit especially hard. Less people means less opportunity to make a profit, and that means less service. These branch closures, which started during the financial crisis and have picked up steam since the current pandemic are creating banking deserts throughout rural America. That means not only is it harder to talk to somebody when you need to, but there’s a lot of evidence that simply growing up in a banking desert can negatively impact people their whole life.

Contrast that with WCU. In late 2019, we opened a branch in Forest Grove and already broke ground on a new state-of-the-art building to replace our current branch in Astoria.  Being in all these cities isn’t about the building. We’ve been rapidly expanding our online and digital capabilities to meet the needs of today’s consumers. In fact, we’d stack our digital options up against any bank. We know though, that sometimes you need to talk face-to-face with somebody, and that’s always part of our roadmap.

How We’re the Same

This part is a bit easier. Can you do it at a bank? Then you can at Wauna Credit Union too. In fact, studies show people tend to get better rates and have lower fees at a credit union than at a bank. That’s for both deposits and loans.

Can we really do everything that a bank can? Most people know about our deposit accounts, including money market and certificates. We’re known for our credit cards and vehicle loans, and people are learning how awesome our local mortgage team is for home loans, construction loans, home equity lines, and even investment loans. We have a full-service commercial lending and deposit program, and through our partnership with LPL Investments and our CUSO Cascade Crest Insurance, we can offer everything you need for your financial well-being.

Just as importantly, we employee local people from entry level to CEO. We understand the community, and we’re here. That means all decisions made are made by people who live and work here. We look at the individual, not just at numbers.

Removal of Most Covid-19 Restrictions

On June 30, 2021 Governors Brown (OR) and Insley (WA) lifted all restrictions regarding COVID-19 precautions that have been in effect since last year. OSHA has still not announced any changes, however, with the guidance from the states, we too are lifting the precautions.

This means:

  • Masks are no longer required in-branch. Anyone is welcome to continue to wear a mask should they feel more comfortable doing so.
  • We are not asking members to prove they’ve been vaccinated in order to enter the branch   
  • Vaccinated staff members have provided the necessary proof to WCU Human Resources 
  • Employees may unmask if they are 2 weeks past their final dose or are fully vaccinated otherwise
  • Employees who do not provide proof of vaccination two weeks past their final does MUST continue to wear a mask at work
  • Employees who are fully vaccinated, verified, and allowed to remove their mask may still choose to wear one

For those wishing to take increased precautions. We recommend all members use our U-Banking online and app banking, which is available 24/7, and our Video Teller Units to conduct your financial transactions and keep yourself safe. If you have questions regarding your accounts, please send us a secure message within U-Banking, or call the Virtual Branch at 800-773-3236 (Monday-Thursday 9 am – 5:30 pm, and Friday 9 am – 6 pm). In addition, our Video Teller Units are available Monday-Thursday 9 am – 5:30 pm, Friday 9 am – 6 pm, and Saturday 9 am – 3 pm)