May Anniversaries

Working at WCU is a privileged all of us take seriously. It’s great to come in and help out the community and make a difference – while still remembering to have fun. This month we’re recognizing our anniversary celebrants a little differently. Each person shared one question

What is something the credit union does that makes you proud to say you work here?

Debi Smiley – 32 Years

I heard a story today where we were able to assist with a single mom’s financial well-being by reviewing her current mortgage loan and found we could refinance it.  Doing such we were able to reduce the rate and the payment by $400 a month.  This is a big monthly savings.  It is the people helping people that fits my core beliefs.  That is the ‘purpose’ of credit unions.

I give back to the community whenever I can.  It is important to me.  If the community thrives, we all thrive which leads to a better quality of life. 

Loren Ames – 11 Years

They promote from within and invest in their people. I have held about five positions in my 11 years of working for Wauna. With each position I was given support and an opportunity to direct my own career path.

Devyn Osborne – 3 Years

What makes me proud to work at Wauna is that it’s one big family. Across the organization, everybody pitches in to help each other serve our member-owners, and help out our communities.

Kat McFarland – 1 Year

I am proud to work for a company that prides itself on being there for people, realizing that they are not just a number or dollar in our pocket, but real live individuals, such as ourselves who have faults and need help.

Enter Phase 1

With Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s decision to allow parts of the state to enter Phase 1 of the COVID-19 recovery, effective Monday, May 18, we are happy to reopen all our lobbies and welcome back our favorite people, our member owners.

We’re excited to enter a new, new normal. We’re taking precautions to keep you and our employees safe, and there are still some limitations to follow the guidelines set by the state, but rest assured, we’re doing this the WCU way, which means the first thing you’ll notice is an employee at the door to greet you.

Branch Access

Members will no longer need to schedule an appointment to enter the lobby. The Governor’s order puts certain restrictions in place. During Phase 1, the number of members allowed in the branch is limited. In addition, everybody who enters the branch, including employees, will be required to wear an approved mask. Exceptions will be made for those medically unable or under the age of 2.

  • The number of members allowed in branch at one time follows:
    • Clatskanie: 4 members (maximum in lobby area is 3)
    • Scappoose: 4 members (maximum in lobby area is 3)
    • St. Helens: 5 members (maximum in lobby area is 4)
    • Warrenton: 5 members (maximum in lobby area is 4)
    • Astoria: 5 members (maximum in lobby area is 4)
    • Forest Grove: 5 members (maximum in lobby area is 4)
    • Safeway: 4 members (maximum in lobby area is 4)
    • Vernonia: 4 members (maximum in lobby area is 3)
  • Members and guests will social distance by following directional markings
    • Where to enter, exit and stand in lines
    • Where to stand while being helped on the teller line
  • Members and guests will wear masks while visiting our branches; masks will be provided to those who do not have one
    • Exceptions: medically unable or under age 2
  • Portable plexiglass barriers will be used when members or guests are visiting an employee in an office setting or at a desk
  • Public areas will regularly be wiped down with disinfectant wipes

Employee Percautions

To help prevent infection, all credit union employees will have their temperature taken prior to reporting for work each day. In addition, the credit union will prevent congregation, and stagger working hours to increase social distance.

Alert: Unemployment Fraud

The NW Credit Union Association has alerted us to a significant increase in unemployment fraud hitting or footprint. Please be aware if you, your friends, or family are asked for your account information and then see a deposit from a state unemployment division. Scammers are using this new method to conduct fake check scams https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-fake-check-scams

Washington state law enforcement has recently reported investigating a widespread fraud campaign in which victims’ identities are being used to file false unemployment claims. While similar reports have not be issued for Idaho and Oregon, other states across the country are reporting the latest in fraud trends. Victims, who have not filed unemployment claims, have received notification from their employer’s Human Resources department, or the State Employment Securities Department, indicating an unemployment claim has been filed on their behalf.

The Seattle Police Department’s cyber-crime investigators have recommended the following steps for anyone who knows, or believes, they are a victim of unemployment fraud. Credit unions may wish to share this information with their members who may be potential victims of this fraud.

Steps to Protect Your Financial Identity & Credit History

  • Step One – Contact Human Resources
    • Contact your organization’s HR staff to coordinate and report the incident to your employer.
  • Step Two – Contact Your State’s ESD
    • Call the State Employment Security Department (ESD) (Idaho: 877-540-8638 or Fraud@labor.idaho.gov; Oregon: 877-668-3204; Washington: 800-246-9763 to report the fraud or contact the ESD via an online form: https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/webform/ContactUS/)
    • You will need the following information for identity verification:
      • Last 4 of your SSN
      • Date of birth, address
      • Current phone number
      • Information on how you learned a claim was filed on your behalf
  • Step Three – Police Report
    • File an online or non-emergency report with the agency whose jurisdiction you live in.
    • Start keeping a file folder or journal with the information from this incident, including any case numbers. Some government services and accommodations are available to victims of identity theft that are not available to the general public, such as getting certain public records sealed.
  • Step Four – The Three Major Credit Bureaus
    • Obtain your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228
    • Report to the credit bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using your identity and provide them with the case number from your police report. You can have a fraud alert put on your identity or freeze your credit. Doing either is free by law.
      • A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
      • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
      • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
      • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
    • Check your credit activity at least once a year. As a victim of identity-theft you have the right to check it monthly if you choose.
    • Credit Freeze – If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, you may want to freeze your credit for more protection. It is free and you can do it yourself. More information about freezing your credit can be found here.
  • Step Five – FTC & IRS
    • File a short report with the FTC and give them the case number for your local police report. The FTC offers more information here.
    • Consider setting up an IRS account. If you create an account with your social security number, it will prevent criminals from creating an account using your identity.
    • Another option is to lock your social security number, which can be done here. (The next wave of this cyber-attack may be IRS tax fraud.)
    • All of this reporting seems redundant, but we want to make sure you are recognized as a victim by the local, state, and federal government. Also, the more people who report it, the more support law enforcement agents will receive to pursue the perpetrators.
  • Step Six – Keep Your Notes
    • Hang on to any notes, copies of emails, etc regarding the issue. This is the paper trail that you can reference if you face any identity issues or locate inaccuracies on your credit history sometime in the future.

Protecting Your Data and Identity
You are done dealing with the fallout from this unemployment fraud incident, but may choose to further protect yourself from cyber-crime. Below are some steps and resources that the cyber-crime detectives recommend for anyone wanting additional protections for themselves and their families.

  • Control Your Own Information

Protecting Your Credit During COVID-19

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, your credit might be the last thing on your mind. During emergencies, however, you should know the state of your finances and keep credit on your radar.

Normally, your credit report is available every 12 months from all three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Given the vast number of consumers’ financial health being impacted by the current economic conditions, online access to your report is now available on a weekly basis. Visit annualcreditreport.com and follow the prompts.

There are four main ways you can acquire your score, including checking your credit card or other loan statements, talking to a non-profit certified credit counselor, using a credit score service (be sure you know what you are signing up for and how much it really costs!), or buying a score directly from one of the three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax.

There are additional ways you can be proactive with your credit. Follow these steps to help keep your credit on solid footing.

  1. Pay your bills on time, if you can.
    Even if it gets difficult, try to make at least the minimum payment by their due date. Late payments negatively affect your credit score.
  2. Contact your creditors and service providers.
    If you get to a point where you can’t pay all your bills, contact your creditors and any service providers such as utilities, phone company, etc.
  3. Check your credit regularly.
    Now is a critical time to make sure your credit reports are accurate. If you identify potential fraud, you can respond before it damages your credit.
  4. Be extra protective of your identity.
    Unfortunately, during times of crisis, scams and identity theft are at an all-time high. Protecting your personal information is essential. You can place a free security freeze on your credit files which prevents people from accessing your personal information and using your name to apply for credit.
  5. Get financial assistance, if needed.
    Certified credit counselors can offer advice on how to repay your debts in a manageable way.
  6. Dispute inaccurate information.
    If you find inaccurate information when reviewing your credit report, you can file a dispute with each credit bureau. Each bureau has an online dispute center, which is the quickest way to file a dispute.

How to Order Your Credit Report
Don’t contact the credit reporting agencies individually. The free reports are available only through annualcreditreport.com and 1-877-322-8228.

You’ll need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth. If you’ve moved in the last two years, you may need to provide your previous address. For security purposes and to verify your identity, you may be asked for information only you would know, like your monthly mortgage payment.

Beware of “Imposter” Websites
The only website authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are legally entitled to is annualcreditreport.com. Other sites that claim to offer “free credit report” or “free credit monitoring” aren’t part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program and in some cases have strings attached to the “free” product being advertised.

Report Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works for you–the consumer–to prevent fraud and unfair business practices in the marketplace. If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC (ftc.gov/complaint) and/or the Attorney General of your state.

No matter what, alongside your physical health, the state of your financial health and wellness should be a top priority. Of course, you can always visit waunafcu.org for more information or to meet directly with a member of our friendly and knowledgeable team.

Easing Children’s Anxiety During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and all areas of our lives. It has changed the way we do things in ways most of us never would have imagined. Schools, businesses, sports events, concerts, and movie theaters are closed or operating remotely. It’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious, and our kids, too, are feeling the effects–especially children with an existing anxiety disorder.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help kids cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them. If you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Experts say that dealing with your own anxiety can be the most powerful way to make sure your kids feel secure.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.

Establish a routine.
Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep–especially for the teens in your household. It will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.

Stay connected.
To keep kids from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Let them play a game or eat together.

This holds true for the adults in the home as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy. Don’t let it keep you away from your social support networks.

Get the facts.
Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported, so consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.

Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness.
Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.

If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Take time to focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially now when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.

Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:

Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on
your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors & designs.
Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.

What to do if you need help

The health and safety impact of the COVID-19 outbreak can not be understated, but neither can the economic impact. Last week Oregon and Washington reported record new unemployment claims, and our footprint has been affected. If you run into trouble paying bills or loans, or paying on time, there may be a number of options to help, especially if you reach out to us, as well as your other creditors. Even though our branch lobbies have temporary restricted lobbies, you can still talk to us face-to-face through our video teller units and WaunaCU Now. More information about how to reach us can be found on our COVID-19 resource page.

Reach out!

This is the most important step at all. We’re always here to help, and right now companies are doing everything they can to lessen the impact of the financial hardships many people are facing. Being behind on your payments can have a lasting impact on your credit but making your lender aware of your situation may not only provide peace of mind, it can also help you create a plan.

WCU, Credit card companies, and other lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like Overdraft, ATM, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.

When contacting your lenders, be prepared to explain:

  • Your situation
  • How much you can afford to pay
  • When you’re likely to be able to restart regular payments
  • In the case of mortgages, be prepared to discuss your income, expenses and assets


Also, if you have student loans,
you may qualify for a delayed or reduced payment program. Just remember, even though you don’t need to make payments now, interest will continue to accrue, and you will have to make up these amounts eventually. Contact your student loan servicer to find out more about your options.

Help is on the way

The federal government just passed its emergency stimulus package that provides a wealth of resources for almost every American. The $1,200 payment to each tax payer (or at least those who make under $75,000), and $500 credit for each dependent child are getting the headlines, but there are many more benefits to individuals and small businesses.

The Oregon Health Authority and benefitscheckup.org are amazing resources, that not only are a repository of COVID-19 stimulus items, but provide links to regular government programs as well.

March Anniversaries

With everything going on right now, it’s even more important to acknowledge our employees. Today we give thanks to our March Anniversary celebrants.

Michael Swanson – 2 Years

What is your current position?
I am a Lending Support Specialist. I work behind the scenes to do whatever is needed to support our loan officers so that they can serve you. I help manage our lending computer systems, work on projects to roll out new loan products, and I am always working to make borrowing from Wauna a simpler, smoother process.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working in this role, I have learned the value of being persistent when I have an idea or solution that I am passionate about. Similarly, I have learned to trust my colleagues when they have an idea that they feel passionately about. Passion for our members is what the job is all about, after all!

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I recently took up photography as a hobby, but haven’t had much opportunity to get out and take pictures yet, since we are just coming out of the winter. So I would choose to put more time into that, for sure!

The Dangers of Large Cash Withdrawal

As our valued member we want you to know we care about your financial well-being and protecting you. Some things we would like you to consider before withdrawing large sums of cash:

  • Your funds are safer at Wauna Credit Union. Wauna Credit Union is an NCUA insured institution and therefore your funds on deposit are also insured under the NCUA rules and regulations.
  • Wauna Credit Union can do nothing to protect your money once you withdraw the cash. Should cash be lost, you are robbed, or it gets destroyed you are accepting all of the risk and it cannot be replaced.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends contactless payments. Paying with other means than handling paper currency eliminates the potential spread of COVID-19. Wauna Credit Union offers debit and credit cards, mobile payment, online bill-pay, and person to person payments through the mobile app.

We ask you to please be safe and consider other methods of conducting your business to protect yourself, loved ones, and your hard-earned cash.

February Anniversaries

Wauna Credit Union has been serving members of the towns and cities surrounding the Columbia River for 52 years. Our February anniversary celebrants bring love to the credit union. We’re continuing to grow (if you want to join us check out our careers page). 

Rebekah Ausmus – 2 years

What is your current position?
I am a Real Estate Support Specialist- I’m the one that sends the money when people get a mortgage, and the one that handles the paperwork when they pay them off. It’s fun to be part of such huge moments in people’s lives, even if they never see me. I have been in my current position for two months, but have worked at Wauna for two years.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
While working for Wauna I have learned that being part of a team that is there to support you is key to being successful. I enjoy working with such an incredible group of people who are willingly to take on any task to help their team.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would like to start a card club where friends can meet up once a month and play different card games. My favorite is Shanghai Rummy.

Rebekah and her kids

How Do I Get a Mortgage

Do you want to buy a home, or maybe fix up the one you have, but have questions about getting a mortgage? Luckily, two of the best loan officer in Clatsop County are hear to answer your question.

Paige Tischer and Heather Dixson sat down with WaunaTalk recently. Both Paige and Heather have worked with our members for years. They talk through the steps it takes to get a mortgage, and the types of loans the credit union offers. Also, Paige and Heather chat about how a credit union is different than a bank or broker.

If you’re looking to purchase or refinance learn more on our Mortgage page. Wauna Credit Union offers primary, investment, vacation, and bare land loans. We also let you use the equity in your home to get a HELOC.

Whatever mortgage you need Wauna Credit Union has the solution for you. Our friendly RELOs, Mark, Jen, Paige, and Heather are here to answer any question you have.

Tell them Veyda sent you.

Veyda the Mortgage Dog
Veyda the Mortgage Dog takes a break after helping our members get their home loan

If you want to listen to past episodes of WaunaTalk check out this page. Employees discuss credit, working at the credit union, an even what makes a credit union special. If you have suggestions for future editions let us know.