How do I remove a debt collection from my credit report?

If you’ve ever let a debt go unpaid, your creditor probably sent it to a debt collector. Debt collectors are serious about getting you to pay. That’s why part of their strategy is to list the unpaid account on your credit report. This in turn damages your credit score, and appears on your report for future lenders to see. Your collection will remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

While there is no guaranteed tactic to getting it removed, here are a few things you can try:

Check for accuracy

If you’re reviewing your credit report and don’t recognize the collection account, confirm that it’s actually yours.

A study by the Federal Trade Commission concluded that about 25% of consumers had an error on their report, and 5% were stuck with higher interest rates as a result. Additionally, about 20% of people who disputed those errors received a better credit score.

File a dispute (if the debt isn’t yours)

If you discover a mistake, let the credit-reporting bureaus know as soon as possible. Send a message online or through the mail explaining the error and why it’s wrong, and provide copies of any supporting documentation if possible.

Credit bureaus typically have 30 days to respond. Even if they correct the inaccurate information, however, it might take a few months for your report to update.

Write a “goodwill letter”

What do you do if the collection account is accurate? Try writing a “goodwill letter” to your creditor.

Because if you have great credit history and pay off the collection, they may remove the negative information. Alternatively, if you missed payments because of a financial hardship, you should write a letter explaining that as well (just make sure you’ve since paid off your collection balance).

Need help reviewing your credit report? Talk to one of Balance’s Certified Financial Coaches or contact us to talk with one of our friendly member consultants today!

Happy 10th Anniversary to our Fearless Leader!

10 Years, 10 Questions with Wauna Credit Union CEO and President, Robert Blumberg…

We are all about taking care of our members and improving their financial well-being. – Robert Blumberg

Robert Blumberg

Hailing from South Africa, he has lived and worked in California, but calls Oregon home. He’s a family man. He’s a numbers man. He loves traveling, being outdoors, good food, and the Credit Union spirit. His financial background boasts top-roles with Southern Pacific Bank, First Bank of Beverly Hills, and as a matter of fact, Maps Credit Union here in Oregon.

But 2007 was the year when Mr. Robert Blumberg joined the Wauna Credit Union team, taking the helm as our President and CEO. And while it’s true that many “waun-derful” things are occurring under Robert’s guidance, here are just a few noteworthy examples from the past ten years:

  • Two branches were opened in 2010. The first, being an in-store branch at the Astoria Safeway in July, and the second, a new Scappoose Branch in November.
  • Recognizing construction in accordance with energy-efficient building materials & practices, the Scappoose Branch was awarded LEED Certification at the Silver level in August of 2011.
  • Our beautiful, new Warrenton Branch (near Costco) was opened during mid-Spring of 2013.
  • The opening of a new Branch along Hwy 30 took place in St Helens in 2014.
  • In November of 2016, a Mortgage Origination Office was opened in Long Beach, WA.
  • Wauna Credit Union was granted a charter expansion to include Washington County in June of 2016.
  • Also, our first Interactive Teller Machine was implemented in Long Beach, WA in November of 2016.

And how could we forget the numbers? Let’s take a look at a then and now:

  • In 2007 our membership was at 14,083. In contrast, we are now at 24,728 — a 75.58% growth!
  • When Robert started, our assets were at $104.6 million. Today, we are at $234.6 million — a 124.28% growth!
  • Ten years ago we had 5 financial centers and 58 employees at Wauna Credit Union. Today, we have 8 financial centers and employ 105!

Of course, these lists barely scratch the surface; however, they are valid indicators of the innovation and growth that Robert has brought to Wauna Credit Union. And while we are certainly looking forward to another awesome ten years, let’s pause for a minute, and take a closer look at Robert’s life:

1. Growing up, who was the most influential person in your life?
My father.

2. Speaking of influence, how about musically? What was your favorite album as a teenager?
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon.

3. We all start somewhere. What was your very first job?
RM Pharmaceuticals – They made Vicks and Oil of Olay products.

4. And what year did you first enter the financial industry?
I got my start in 1982.

5. 1982 is a world away from where you are today. Where exactly did you get your start?
I started working for a company called Century Thrift and Loan. When I started working there in the accounting department I did not even have a title.

6. Speaking of history, if you could meet anyone particularly, who would it be?
The person I would love to meet is Alan Greenspan.

7. All things considered, what would you like to talk about?
Having a conversation as to what he thinks went wrong during the last great recession in 2009. He believes in the free market and the free market will be self-policing.

8. What is your greatest hope for the Credit Union industry, presently?
Continuing to grow in market share. We are all about taking care of our members and improving their financial well-being. It is important that the insurance agency remains independent from the banks. It would be a big mistake to merge the NCUA and FDIC.

9. indeed. We talk a lot about “People Helping People” in Credit Union philosophy, but we certainly also aim to please. Altogether, what would you say is your definition of “happiness”?
You should ideally be taking an action every day to bring you one step closer to achieving of your goals. Of course, meeting my personal and professional goals gives me deep satisfaction.

10. Many awesome things have taken place under your leadership, but what accomplishment at Wauna Credit Union are you most proud of?
Building an amazing team that has taken Wauna to new heights. In fact, emphasizing each team member’s contribution and demonstrating how all of their jobs operate together to move the entire team closer to its goal are very important to me.

Without a doubt, Robert believes in our members. He believes in our staff. He believes in the movement.

To sum up, reaching future goals is an exciting prospect. We thank you, Robert, for bringing us this far! From all of us at Wauna Credit Union, it’s an honor and specifically a privilege to have such a waun-derful CEO.

Credit Unions Worldwide Celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day)

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” ― Booker T. Washington

Today ― together with some 68,000 credit unions, spanning 109 countries, serving 235 million members ― Wauna Credit Union celebrates ICU Day. Whether a member is rich or poor, from a village or city, credit unions are on duty 24/7, across cultures and languages, helping others realize their dreams.

We call this “The Credit Union Difference”.

When did this start? Well, in 1948 (the year when the first tape recorder was sold and fare on the NYC subway cost 10 cents) the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) established a national “Credit Union Day”. Fast forward 69 years to today’s aptly-named “Dreams Thrive Here” celebration.

“Dreams Thrive Here” spotlights how Credit Unions are transforming goals into realities. It is this community commitment that separates us from banks. Because we are different…very different…both in philosophy and structure.

And in the spirit of ICU Day, let’s recognize all credit unions for the roles they play. Think of the people who would have been unable to afford homes, businesses, or education without credit unions. Together, we are helping people overcome challenges.

Wauna Credit Union opened its doors in 1967 with a mission to help others. Our mission hasn’t changed: we are providing opportunities for our members to build their financial well-being. With your support, Wauna Credit Union has grown to over 24,000 members.

Overall, it is your recognition of the contributions that credit unions make that is beyond awesome it’s superhero status. We thank YOU for joining us in celebrating ICU Day.

One smile per member, one member at a time, Wauna Credit Union will continue working around the clock to build a stronger world.

We look forward to serving you, and we look forward to serving your family, for many dreams to come.

ICU Day

The Equifax Breach: Your Comprehensive Guide.

UPDATE: In light of the Equifax breach and the fraud attempts on our members’ Credit Cards, ACH payments over $500 will have a 6 day hold placed before the funds will be made available to the member. Unfortunately there is not a way to narrow the ACH to just Telephone Payments, so it does apply to all ACH payments (web, recurring, etc). There also is not a way to exclude our routing number, so it will also apply to payments drawn on Wauna Credit Union Accounts.

There’s been a lot of news about the Equifax breach recently. We put together a guide to help our members understand what happened, and what the steps are to protect your information.

Who is Equifax?

Equifax is a consumer reporting agency and one of the three largest credit bureaus in the nation that retain the aggregate credit information of some 800 million American and Canadian citizens, including more than 88 million businesses internationally.

Why would they have my sensitive information?

Credit card companies, banks, credit unions, retailers, auto lenders, and mortgage lenders all report this information and the details of your credit activity to the major credit reporting agencies. Every time you open an account, which extends you credit, that company or entity reports the status of your account/s to these bureaus.

What happened?

In May of 2017, hackers trolling the internet for computer systems containing an exposed security flaw, discovered an Equifax server using outdated Apache software vulnerable to such an attack.

What was stolen and how many were compromised?

Social Security numbers, birth-dates, addresses, names, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other documents, are among the data stolen in a breach that has affected more than 143 million US-based users.

Have I been breached?

Many of our members are wondering if they are affected, and if so what to do. The FTC has provided some guidance, but we have included some main steps below. If you do find that you were included, don’t worry, but protect yourself and take advantage of the Equifax services for those whose information was made available.

What do I do?

Guarding your personal information is a huge priority for Wauna Credit Union, and by using advanced fraud-monitoring technology and services, our committed staff is persistently watching your accounts for suspicious activity. In the wake of the Equifax breach, thieves may be even more prevalent in their attempts to steal your information. They might try one or many of the following in order to access your accounts:

  • Fraudsters may use spoofed phone numbers to contact the Credit Union (caller IDs may show member’s actual phone number).
  • Suspicious callers are stating they are members, having all the accurate information needed, including name, DOB, DL #s, addresses, transaction history on cards, and traditional info we might ask a person over the phone to ID them.
  • Attempts are being made to place travel notifications so fraudsters can use the cards outside of our members’ normal usage areas.

We understand how overwhelming the thought of identity theft might be, but there are ways to protect yourself against fraud, including steps you can take right now.

1. The best and first place to start is finding out if your data has been exposed. You can do this by entering your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number at Equifax’s website. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by the data breach*.
*As of 09/29/2017 this service has been listed as “temporarily unavailable”. Continue to check regularly as Equifax catches up to mass inquiries.

2. Whether or not you’ve been compromised, U.S. Equifax consumers are eligible for year of free credit monitoring and other services**. The site has provided a date when you can come back to enroll.
**Equifax has confirmed people who enroll in the credit monitoring program as a result of the breach would not waive their right to class action.

3. Use strong passwords and always be aware of the information you provide when opening an account, conducting a transaction, or anywhere you might be transferring secure information.

4. Review your free credit reports. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Get started here.

5. Take the time to monitor your accounts for unusual activity! Accounts on your credit reports that you didn’t open, inaccurate information, or credit inquiries from entities you’ve never contacted are all potential red flags that require immediate attention. If you find evidence of fraud, let us, the appropriate financial institution, and/or the credit reporting bureau know immediately.

6. Open a my Social Security account, which will prevent the bad guys from creating an account in your name, even if they’ve made off with your Social Security number.

7. Consider placing a credit freeze. Placing a credit freeze makes it more difficult for a thief to open a new account in your name. FYI, however, a credit freeze will not prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts.

8. Set a fraud alert, which requires creditors to verify your identity before issuing a credit card, opening a new account, or increasing a credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert will not stop a lender from opening credit in your name, but it does require lenders to take additional steps to verify your identity beforehand. Better to be safe than sorry.

9. If you discover your identity has been compromised, you should file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.

10. Due to the increased amount of information available, some people are theorizing that we will see an increase in tax return fraud, so if possible do your taxes as early as possible this year.

Our staff is well-trained in sniffing out potential thieves, but we also need you to be vigilant in watching any accounts you may have outside of the Credit Union. Further, don’t click on suspicious links, don’t open attachments, and don’t respond to emails, text messages, or phone calls that are soliciting your information — no matter who the caller or sender is claiming to be.

In the meantime, rest assured that Wauna Credit Union is working around the clock to safeguard your finances, and we are here to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

For a list of FAQs regarding the breach, please visit https://goo.gl/tGWzP2, and as always, we are here if you have questions or concerns you wish to discuss.

YOUTH MONTH: How to Do Allowances Right, According to the Experts

Allowance rulesOne of the best ways to ensure your children grow up financially fit is to give them practice managing money with an allowance.

But what’s the best way to do an allowance? There are many theories on that.

Ron Lieber, personal finance writer for The New York Times, says he and his wife pay their 7-year-old daughter $3 a week, no chores necessary.

Lieber’s daughter puts $1 in a “save” jar and $1 in a “give” jar for a cause of her choosing. The final $1 she can spend as she wants. Lieber’s reasoning is that an allowance is a teaching tool, and making it contingent on chores muddies the issue. What if the children decide they don’t want money? Do they still have to do the chores?

Lewis Mandell, a financial economist and professor emeritus at the State University of New York, Buffalo, however, says unconditional allowances are a “terrible idea,” citing a 2000 study that showed kids who received a regular allowance left high school knowing less about personal finances than kids who received no allowance—though the differences were slight.

One problem may be that, like many Americans, kids aren’t the most diligent about saving. While 61% of parents pay an allowance, only 1% report that their children save any of it, according to a 2012 survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

The survey found that as children age, they receive a higher allowance, but across all ages the average take is $780 a year. That’s enough to buy an iPad or a good start for a college savings plan—if they were saving.

About 90% of the parents who paid their children an allowance required them to do chores to earn it, but only 81% had spoken to their kids about money management. More parents had spoken to their kids about good manners, their grades, and healthy eating habits than how to handle their money.

So how should you handle an allowance with your own children?FB_Poster Polaroid_1200_4

Use it as a teaching tool

Regardless of how your children earn an allowance, use it as a tool to reinforce good money habits from an early age. Talk about finances early and often, and set a good example.

Consider matching their savings

To encourage savings, tell your children for every $1 they set aside for long-term goals, you’ll match it in their Wauna Credit Union Jump Start Club youth savings account. Share the statements with them so they can see their money grow.

FB_Poster Polaroid_1200_1Gradually introduce them to financial products

Deposit their allowance into a Jump Start Club youth savings account, later a share draft/checking account, and help them manage them wisely. And we can help. Bring in your children to participate in Credit Union Youth Month at any of our branches, and we’ll help them pump up their savings.

Research shows that kids who learn to manage money at an early age are better prepared to handle their finances when they leave home. And, ultimately, teaching children good money skills is a sound investment for parents, who often are the ones helping their adult children when they run into real-world problems.

Learn More about Credit Union Youth Month in this previous blog: https://waunafcu.org/blog/its-credit-union-youth-month-coloring-contests-more/