5 Benefits of Being a Member of WCU

What are the benefits of being a member of a credit union?  Many people don’t understand the advantage being a member of a credit union has over being a customer at a bank.  We’ve written about the differences between banks and credit unions before, but today we are going to highlight 5 benefits of being a member of WCU.

Eager to Please

When you join a credit union, you become a member and a shareholder.  This means that you are co-owners with all the other members of the credit union.  Like any other business, credit unions want to please their shareholders.  This means they are more willing to work with you on issues you may have, and you will find that your credit union has friendlier policies than those of bank.  It’s a democracy, where you have a say.  

Branches, Branches Everywhere

Who says that your small community credit union isn’t accessible everywhere?  Co-op Shared Branching gives you nearly 5,000 branches and over 2,000 self-service locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and military bases around the globe. You are never far from your money when you need it. Whether face-to-face, over the phone, or self-service, there are full-service locations and a toll-free member service center number you can call that have you covered as an extension of your credit union. Simply have your credit union name, account number, and government ID, and you’ll have access to your accounts.  It’s that simple!

Rates and Fees That Are Different

WCU, like all credit unions, are not-for-profit.  That means whenever a profit is made, it is passed down to all the members of the credit union.  This usually takes the form of lower interest rates on loans, lower service fees, and higher deposit interest rates.  We offer some of the lowest rates you can find around our area on car loans, starting at just 2.0%!  You will notice that your checking, savings, retirement funds, and other accounts will make a little more in accrued interest than the typical bank account.  These are our profits being given back to you! We like to make life a little easier on our members if at all possible, and this is just one benefit that comes with your membership.

Free ATMS

Being a credit union member also gives you access to thousands of free ATM’s in the United States.  Through our credit union network, you can safely use any of the participating ATM’s all over the country for free.  So no matter where you go, there will be no pesky ATM fees following closely behind.  To find an ATM near you, go to the WCU homepage and click “Find an ATM” at the top of the page.  

Rewards for All

Another fun benefit for credit union members is the “I love My Credit Union Rewards Program”.  It gives you special discounts on goods and services just for being a Credit Union Member.  Log on to their site, lovemycreditunion.org, with your email and receive special promotions and coupon codes for all sorts of stores and businesses.  A little discount never hurt anyone, and you have access to a whole database full of them!

So, as you can see, being a member of WCU certainly has its benefits.  Credit unions offer a lot more than just a place to hold your money.  If you let them, they will become part of your community and a name you can trust.

5 Things Your Kids Should Know About Cyber Security

Kids today use the internet for everything, and why wouldn’t they?  There is information for every subject known to man at their fingertips!  While it’s wonderful that the younger generations now have access to so much knowledge; it doesn’t come without risks to their security.  

Most adults know that there are certain rules of the online world that need to be taken seriously, but how do you teach your kids these rules in ways they understand?  Here are just a few tips about cyber security that your kids need to know to stay safe online.

Sharing Isn’t Always Caring

The first rule of thumb about online safety kids need to know is to never share your passwords with anyone.  Kids like to talk, and if they don’t know that sharing passwords with their friends is not smart, that’s exactly what they are going to do.  It’s important to teach your kids that passwords are private and meant to be kept to yourself.  Additionally, it’s just as important to teach them how to set up a unique password that no one can guess.  Also, enforce the rule of changing passwords every few months so that it will form a habit that will hopefully stick with them for their entire lives.

Keep Your Devices Close

Most kids are notorious for leaving things behind and forgetting their belongings.  It’s crucial to teach your kids to be extra careful not to leave their phones, tablets, or other mobile devices out in public unattended.  Malicious people are always on the lookout to steal devices because when they get one, they have unlimited access to personal information.  Teach your kids the importance of keeping their mobile device in a secure place.

Keep Social Media in Check

Social Media outlets can be great for many things, but only if they can be used with responsibility.  Many social media platforms don’t let kids under the age of 13 have an account, but some parents give permission to younger children anyway.  The major social media concerns for kids usually revolve around some sort of bullying or stalking.  It’s important to teach your kids not to accept friend requests or followers if you don’t personally know them.  Also, as a parent keep a close check on all your child’s accounts by logging into them every few days.  Set their privacy settings on all of their accounts to the highest possible.  

Another tip is to turn off the locations on all their devices so people can’t track them.  Likewise, teach them not to give out their location when they are posting so people can’t follow them.  Kids don’t realize the dangers of social media, they just see it as a fun way to interact with people.  It’s a crazy world out there–help keep them safe by teaching them the dangers of social media.

Know What You Are Clicking

We’ve talked about “phishing” scams on email before, but do your kids know what that means?  Teach them not to click every link that comes through their email or social media page.  Show them the importance of knowing where and who the link came from before clicking.  Randomly clicking unknown links can open your child (and you!) up to a whole world of leaked personal information and possibly a stolen identity.  It’s best to be aware of emails that sound scam-my or too good to be true.

Being Kind Will Get You Far

As with anything in life, being a good steward, being kind, and being respectful will get you far.  The same is true for the online world.  Teach your kids to treat others with respect online by not participating in cyber bullying or any other sort of negative post.  Show them how to be very, very selective with what they post on their personal social media channels, because what they put out on the internet lasts forever.

These tips are just a few of the ways to get the online safety conversation started with your kids and teens. If you teach them these few basic tips, they will be set up to continue practicing online safety when they become adults.  

Cyber Security Tips for Your Mobile Devices

Over the past few weeks we have talked about ways to keep your computer safe from cyber attacks.  So what about your mobile devices?  In the past couple of years, cyber security threats have majorly increased in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.  Just like your computer, you have to take certain security measures to keep safe online.  Here are some ways to make sure your mobile devices stay on top of the security game.

Encrypt Everything

If someone stole your smartphone, would they be able to download all the contents?  If your answer is yes, that means you need to use your encryption features to keep your identity safe.  Encrypting the contents will ensure that your files and information can’t be opened, even if someone illegally obtained them.  Encrypting your mobile devices can be as simple as going to your settings and enabling a password that you will enter every time you power on your device.  It keeps your identity safe, and it only takes a few minutes to activate.  

Stay On Top of Your Software

Staying on top of software updates to your mobile devices can get annoying, but that minor annoyance is worth knowing you are doing all you can to stay secure online.  When you get a software update, don’t delay in installing it.  When you install it, not only are you getting up-to-date features from your installed apps, but you are getting all the newest security features that are available.  Keeping up-to-date will help keep you safe.

Put It on Lock-down

Similar to encrypting your the contents of your device, you want to make sure you have a lock screen activated.  Usually smartphones and tablets have several different ways of providing this feature such as pass-codes, pattern codes, fingerprint recognition and even facial recognition.  It’s important to enable this feature, especially if you are prone to leaving your devices out in the open where anyone could get to them.  

Download Carefully

In these times we live in there is literally an app for almost anything you can think of.  While it is enticing to want to download tons of apps, be sure you know where it comes from before you install it.  Apps from unknown sources can have viruses built in them that can harm your device and steal your information.  Be sure you read about the apps and make sure they come from a reputable source before you download.

Connect Wisely

Just as we talked about with your computers, don’t connect your mobile devices to public Wi-Fi if you can help it.  Public Wi-Fi is not secure, and if you have your phone or tablet connected, your information is easily accessible to anyone who can get it.  If you need to use public Wi-Fi, at least don’t use your email or online banking while you are connected.

It’s important to take the same precautions with your phone or tablet as you would with your computer when it comes to cyber security.  Even though it may seem like overkill sometimes, you will be better off in the long run with these safety tips.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

5 Secure Habits of Online Banking

These days it seems like there is a new data breach in the news every month.  The most recent was the Equifax breach, which, according to CBS News, exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans.  It’s a scary world out there when it comes to cyber security, but that’s why it is important to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your information.  

Financial Institutions usually keep their online banking sites super secure.  Safety is a top priority for them because a big data breach is bad for their customers and bad for their business.  But even so, it’s important to know that you are doing everything you personally can to keep yourself secure when banking online.  

Last week we talked about different ways to be secure online, but this week we are going specifically into what you can do to make sure that you are keeping your online banking as secure as possible from your end.

Monitor Closely

Keep close watch on your bank accounts.  Log into them regularly to make sure that you know all of your transactions are ones that you know about and approve.  This is especially important if you do a lot of online shopping.  Check into your account every few days just to make sure you don’t see anything suspicious, and if you do see something, report it immediately.  

Use Extra Security Features

If your credit union or bank offers extra security protection features, take advantage of them.  A lot of financial institutions use two factor authentication, which can add an extra layer of identity security.  Sites with this feature will require you go one step past putting in a password to identify yourself using information only you would know.  This usually comes in the form of answering security questions that would be hard for anyone else to answer.  Other security features to take advantage of could be pass codes or fingerprint scans on your mobile devices, if available.  Anything that is available for extra security should be taken advantage of, even if it’s a little inconvenient.  A small inconvenience now is better than the huge inconvenience of having your identity stolen.

Look for Encryption Codes

When you are on your online banking website, check to make sure the site is encrypted before logging into your account.  To do this, all you have to do is look at the web address.  Does it say “http:” or “https:?”  If it has the extra “s” you know the site is secure.  Never put your bank information into a site that doesn’t have the “s” in the address.  That means the site would be easy for a hacker to infiltrate.  

Share With Caution

Budgeting and wallet apps make our lives easier, but be careful with any apps that ask for your bank information.  The well-known apps that need to link to your bank account such as Mint.com, PayPal, Apple Pay and Android Pay are usually very secure.  However, the more you link your bank account, the more chances someone has to find it.  So be careful of how many times you put it out there.  It is advised to only link your account to one or two of these types of apps and leave the rest.  

React Quickly

Finally, if you see that something has been compromised with your accounts, act quickly.  Contact the appropriate people as soon as you realize something is wrong.  It will greatly enhance your chances of rectifying the situation – if nothing more than stopping the person before they do more damage.  

Remember, online banking safety isn’t just your credit union or bank’s responsibility.  Sure, they need to have their security measures in place, but you also need to be responsible for taking every measure possible to ensure your online safety.  This way, you can have peace of mind and bank online with confidence knowing you are well protected.

 

4 Ways to Reduce Your Security Risks Online

Not that long ago, one of the main threats to a credit union or bank was being robbed by armed gunmen demanding to get into the vault, but in the past five years or so, new threats of money-stealing activities have become more commonplace.  Sure, the bank robbers of old could still make their mark, but intelligent hackers have found a way to get a lot more than money in a vault,they have ways of getting everyone’s total online profile–including all of their bank accounts. The end result is the same, but the methods have changed.

That’s why you have to be so vigilant about how secure you are with your online bank accounts, so you won’t end up in the above scenario.  Lucky for you, we have four tips that will help you stay on top of your online security.  

Public Wifi Woes

Wi-fi can be found almost anywhere these days.  From the local coffee shop to Target and other big box retailers, you can get online anywhere.  This is great if all you are going to do is read some articles online or casually browse the internet.  However, never do any kind of online banking, bill paying, or other monetary transactions over a public wi-fi network.  Oftentimes these networks aren’t very secure, which makes a perfect and easy playground for hackers.  So, just say no to public wi-fi when it comes to money online.

Keep a Watch on Emails

Emails can be the bait in a grand hacking scheme.  That’s why luring people into a scam by sending emails is called “phishing”.  If you get a suspicious email that says you won an all expense paid vacation to Tahiti, and you know you never entered a contest for a trip, then it’s a scam.  Whatever you do, do not even click those emails open to check it out.  Once you open those emails and click on their links, they can download all your information off of your computer, track your keystrokes to get passwords, and all other kinds of horrible acts.  When they have all of that information, your bank accounts are compromised along with your entire identity.  So suspicious or “too good to be true” emails are out–just don’t do it!

Use Anti-Virus Software

To keep the online security threats at bay, make sure you have a good anti-virus software program on your computers and mobile devices.  Keep them updated regularly for the best security.  If your devices aren’t protected, you are a prime target for hackers to get your information.

Change Your Password Regularly

One of the easiest actions you can take to keep yourself more secure online is to regularly change your passwords.  Changing up your passwords on your bank accounts every once in awhile will keep a hacker guessing.  If you can’t remember to change it, set a reminder every other month or so, and it will prompt you to change them.  Of course, make sure you use a password that no one could easily guess, and never use the same exact password for multiple accounts.

So being secure doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes a little common sense.  Keep these principles in mind next time you worry about your online security.