Protect yourself this holiday shopping season

As your credit union, we want to help you make the most of your time and money during the holidays while keeping your financial information safe and secure. Smart shopping strategies can also keep your finances from going “into the red” on Black Friday.

This, the busiest shopping day of the year, signals the start of the holiday shopping season — and it promises to be robust. With low unemployment and increased consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation reports that Americans are expected to increase spending by 4.5 percent over last year, shelling out an average of $1,007 this holiday season.

Even if you don’t plan to spend thousands of those hard-earned dollars, the following tips will help you find the best bang for your buck, encourage safe shopping habits, and keep your finances going from black to red when shopping for deals and holiday steals.

 

Preparation is key:

  • Use a budget—and stick to it. Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on your Black Friday shopping spree and do your best to resist impulse buying — especially if you’re not sure how good a specific deal is. Black Friday sales, including door-buster specials, are designed to get you into a store so that the retailer can sell you something else.
  • Make a list. The holidays are an exciting time, and it can be easy to get carried away. Making a list might keep you from buying something that’s beyond your budget.
  • Start early. You can no longer count on checking the ads in the Sunday paper to get the best deals. To judge how good a sale may be, you’ll need to track the deals leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too.
  • Know before you go. Study the ads — in print and online — the weekend before Thanksgiving.
  • Check one of the Black Friday websites. You’ll find tons of leaked Black Friday ads like net and blackfriday.gottadeal.com.

 Gather your tools:

  • Use tech to comparison shop. You don’t have to go retailer-by-retailer to compare prices. Try Google Shopping and services like NexTag. Apps such as ShopSavvy and Shopkick let you scan bar codes or QR codes to compare prices, get discounts, and score coupons.
  • Check the retailers’ apps. Many Black Friday sites have their own apps but so do the big guys like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Amazon’s app, for example, lets you use a smartphone camera to scan products and price-shop online.
  • Use loyalty programs. Stores with loyalty programs may offer sales and promotions to their members first, then let them earn rewards on what they buy. Black Friday shopping alerts can get you first dibs on promotions, coupons, and discounts.
  • Get social. The Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Retailers will often reward customers who like or follow them with special alerts to Black Friday discounts and incentives.
  • Check the store’s policies. Almost all of the major retailers have some form of price-match policy, but some stores might suspend their price-match guarantees during the Black Friday weekend on certain items, so read the fine print.

Other money-saving options:

  • Try an older model. When buying electronics, consider older versions that may have been the latest and greatest just a few months ago.
  • Track your spending. Review your account statements, pay bills regularly, and monitor your accounts through online banking.
  • Use your talents. Give a homemade gift of baked goods, mason jar mixes, or art. Homemade gifts can cost a fraction of a similar item from a store.
  • Use Credit Card Reward Programs. Consider a WCU VISA Rewards card and earn big, big points. You’re spending money regardless, so give yourself something in return and save $$ on a lower interest rate over the big banks.

Strategies to safeguard your credit and debit card purchases:

At the store…

  • At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from the view of cashiers or other customers.
  • Some non-metal keypads have heat sensors that are active for several minutes. Infrared cameras on smartphones can be used to obtain your PIN. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN. May seem silly, but better safe than sorry.

When shopping online…

  • Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
  • Shop on trusted sites with https:// in the URL. Be sure an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with a site that is encrypted.
  • Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
  • Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper- and lower-case numbers.
  • Keep the operating system, antivirus, and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.

Set yourself up for success:

  • Use our online account monitoring service through U-Banking and report any suspicious activity to us right away.
  • Keep a list of all card account numbers in a safe place, so you can report it immediately if they are lost or stolen.
  • We recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
  • Increase your account security by linking your debit card to a secondary account rather than your main account. Or, opt to use credit cards exclusively for purchases.

The gift of a brighter financial future

Give yourself the gift of a brighter financial future this holiday season. Take education classes or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams in the coming year. Stop by a branch or visit us online for possibilities. With the safety and security of Wauna Credit Union at your back, this is sure to be a wonderful holiday season!

Warrenton ATM Skimmer

On Sunday 07/22 at 1:05 pm, a member of the public discovered a suspicious device on the outermost WCU ATM at our Warrenton Branch. Warrenton Police were notified and established the device to be a card reader (ATM skimmer). It is estimated the card reader was placed on the ATM at approximately 10:00 pm on Saturday 7/21.

Police are in possession of the reader. At this time, we believe the reader did not have the capability to transfer data wirelessly and was never retrieved by the culprit, and therefore no member information was compromised.

Members should closely monitor their accounts and statements for any suspicious activities and immediately call 1-800-773-3236 if there are unauthorized charges, withdrawals, or even deposits.

If it is determined that any member’s information has been compromised, we will immediately take action to ensure card/s are replaced and any other potential issues are secured.

It is our practice to audit all WCU ATMs multiple times daily for card readers. This is the first incident of an ATM skimmer found on a WCU ATM, but it does happen with regular frequency throughout the country.

For more information on skimmers and other fraudulent activity, we recently posted a blog about skimmers https://waunafcu.org/blog/fraudsters-and-skimmers-oh-my/.

A picture of the actual card reader is below.

Warrenton ATM Skimmer
A picture of the actual device

 

The Equifax Breach: Your Comprehensive Guide.

UPDATE 11.17.17: 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.

UPDATE 9.26.18: Starting 9.21.18, a new federal law allows people to freeze and unfreeze their credit at the three major credit bureaus without being charged. Before, it cost consumers in almost half the states $3 to $12 per bureau to freeze or unfreeze their credit reports. For more information read the article found at https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/09/21/equifax-free-credit-freeze-new-law/1377815002/

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.

SEPTEMBER STATEMENT INSERT – If you missed our informational insert

September Statement Insert 2016

SEPT.2016SI-Proof-Final_Page_1

SEPT.2016SI-Proof-Final_Page_2

Save the paper, reduce the clutter, & be more secure with E-Statements!

  • E-Statements protect your identity better than paper statements.
  • Just click “E-Statements” in Online Banking* to sign up, it’s so easy!

Want to stay up to the minute with Wauna CU’s Updates, Events, Alerts & Occasional Giveaways?

Enjoy great tips on saving, borrowing, and investing?
Do you like to see our staff being wacky, praised, & even promoted?

That’s what’s on our Social Media Channels – Check us out!

Alert: Brief Disruption Possible for Wauna CU Debit Card Service

EMV card(This notice was sent via email to all Debit & ATM Card users)

Wauna Credit Union has scheduled an important upgrade to the system that supports our Debit & ATM Card program.

Debit card users may experience a brief disruption of service Monday, April 18th, between Midnight and 6:00 a.m. (Pacific time).

Once completed, this system upgrade will enable Wauna Credit Union to provide its Debit card users with greater security when making transactions (using new EMV chip-secured Debit cards). Learn more about EMV chip-secured card technology at our website: https://waunafcu.org/accounts/emv-cards.shtml.

If you experience any problems with your Debit or ATM Card during the upgrade period or afterwards, please call 800-773-3236 and select the appropriate prompts to be connected with our 24/7 Debit Card Support service.

unnamed[1]ATTN: CardNav app users: If you use our CardNav app to protect your Debit card, this service will be discontinued at Midnight, Sunday, April 17th. The exact same service under the name CardValet will take its place.

Please visit our website to learn about the download and required set-up procedures so CardValet can provide you with the same level of personally controlled security for your Debit Card.

Watch the CardValet video

Thank You,

Wauna Credit Union