Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Whether in-store or online, it’s the time of year where we all need to be diligent about protecting our finances.

Here are some safety tips from the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA):

In-Store Purchases:

  • EMV chip cards provide an extra layer of security when you buy on site (not online). Not all merchants have caught up with this technology trend. Ask the merchant if they have the chip system in place. If they don’t yet support it, use your card but continue to monitor your transactions daily. Take advantage of your credit union’s online account monitoring services. Report any suspicious activity to your credit union immediately.
  • Be sure your card is returned following each purchase and that it is indeed your card.
  • Wait for the card receipt. Never leave it at the checkout counter, and keep receipts with you; not in your shopping bags.
  • Check your statements and watch for multiple or incorrect charges. Compare receipts to your account statements, and then destroy your receipts.
  • Report unauthorized transactions to your credit union immediately.
  • Keep a list of your card account numbers and telephone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen. Keep that list in a secure place.
  • Make sure you have signed your credit and debit cards. Do not write your PIN on the card!
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad from the view of the cashier or other customers.
  • Know that your PIN can be stolen in other ways. There is a heat signature left on non-metal keypads for several minutes after you use it. Infrared cameras installed on Smartphones can be used to measure this heat signature and obtain your PIN. Stop this fraud by resting your fingers on other keys while typing in your PIN.
  • Running your card as credit rather than debit is another way of protecting your PIN.

Online Shopping:

  • Use a secure Internet connection.
  • Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
  • Shop on sites with https:// in the URL, and be sure that an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with that site 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 antivirus and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
  • We recommend that you don’t store your payment information. Many websites or apps let you store your credit and debit card information for convenience, but this might also be too convenient for thieves.
  • Do not respond to pop ups, and do not share card information via email or texts.
  • Set up payment and purchase alerts via text and email. If you notice suspicious activity, notify your credit union immediately. 

The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing over 160 of Oregon and Washington’s credit unions and their 5.2 million members. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support and business solutions to credit unions. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.

Energy Saving Tips for the Holidays

From our friends at BALANCE

The holidays can be an energy guzzler.

The Christmas lights are hung and turned on 24/7. The oven is busy baking gingerbread cookies, yams, turkey, etc. The whole family is at home and turns on all of the lights…and the television…and the computer. Between driving to stores to buy gifts and attend holiday dinners and parties, the car gets double its normal use.

Not only is all of this excessive energy use bad for the planet, but it drains your wallet as well. However, there is no need to turn off the lights on holiday cheer. Here are five easy ways you can reduce your energy consumption.

Skip the Christmas lights.
Instead of using Christmas lights, why not use decorations that don’t need to be plugged in, like garland and ornaments? But, if you just can’t live without them, consider purchasing LED Christmas lights, which use about 80-90% less energy than conventional ones.

Turn off your household lights.
With people typically on vacation during the holidays and friends and family visiting, lights tend to get turned on more. However, you do not need to eat in the dark to save energy – just walk around periodically to make sure that the lights are not on in empty rooms. Also remember to unplug items that drain energy even when they are off, like computers, televisions, and cell-phone chargers (when you are not using them, of course!).

Don’t drive more than you need to.
Instead of visiting the mall multiple times, try to buy all of your gifts in one trip. Draining your gas tank shopping can be avoided if you buy on-line, but sometimes the shipping fees are more than what you would have spent on gas driving to the mall. If you need to travel a long distance for a celebration, consider carpooling. You may not want to spend an extra 45 minutes with Aunt Marie, but you can ask her to pay for half of the gas.

Turn down the thermostat.
Heating is the highest energy expense in most homes, so not having the heater at full blast could save you hundreds of dollars. Certainly, you do not want the house to feel like a freezer, but why not try lowering the temperature a few degrees and putting on a sweater? (You may have received an ever-so-stylish one in holidays past!) When guests are over is often a good time to turn the thermostat down since crowded rooms tend to be warmer than empty ones.

Avoid excessive appliance use when cooking and cleaning.
You can use the oven more efficiently by cooking multiple dishes at the same time. Wait, but what if you have a pie that bakes at 400° and bread that bakes at 350°? You may be able to get away with baking them both at 375°. Or, if you only have a small amount to cook, use a more energy-efficient toaster oven or microwave instead. When washing dishes, consider doing it by hand, or, at the very least, only turn on the dishwasher when it is full.

By being conscious of and reducing your energy consumption, you can enjoy the holidays without breaking out in a sweat when January’s energy bill comes.

Campaign Wrap Up : Feet of Fall

Final donation of $2,514.40 to JOIN

 

Through generous donations from members and staff, plus a matching gift from USAgencies AND a $1,000 gift from Enterprise Car Sales, we were proud to present a pile of socks and these monetary contributes to our friends at JOIN.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this campaign a huge success.

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