From My Seat : A Blog Series from USAgencies’ Employees
What do I love about working at USAgencies Credit Union? The people. Before coming to the credit union I worked at Papa Murphy’s for six years. It was my first job and I was so nervous about it because I’m a bit of an introvert, but after a while you start to recognize regulars and strike up conversations while they waited for their pizza. Making the move from a laid back pizza joint to a financial institution, I thought I was going to lose that. I didn’t. Even though I have been a member here since I was five months old, I never really understood the difference between a bank and a credit union. It wasn’t until I came to work here that I realized the true difference. Our members are people, not numbers. So, I am still able to have those conversations. A lot of times, when I get a phone call it is because there is a problem. People are frustrated and embarrassed because their debit or Visa cards aren’t working, or scared because their account has been compromised. I get to be the one to help them through that and hopefully ease their worry. And while handling traveling member requests I get to talk to members about the amazing trips they are going on. We have some members who go on some incredible trips…I’m just a little bit jealous.
Oh! I also have some pretty amazing coworkers!
I’ve also learned a lot, and noticed things that maybe I wouldn’t have been aware of if I hadn’t been working here. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
- “Free” doesn’t always mean free: If you see a “free” trial for something and then it prompts you to enter in your card number or payment method there is something else going on here. You may get the initial product free but odds are you are going to be getting hit with some pretty big charges soon.
- Always read the Terms and Conditions: If you are making a purchase on a site you have never used before, especially if you are purchasing a sample or trial of a product, always read the Terms and Conditions. Most of the time there will be a clause that states unless you cancel within a certain number of days you will automatically be enrolled in a monthly subscription of that product.
- Keep Records: If you cancel a service, whether it is like the above “trial subscriptions” or just your cable bill, keep a record of your cancellation request. If you emailed the request, save those emails. If you mailed in a cancellation, make a copy before you mail it in. If you spoke with them on the phone write down when you called, who you spoke with, what they said, and a case number or cancellation number. Keep this information for a couple months while you make sure no further charges are going to clear.
- Keep it Safe: If you are going to store your card number on your phone or tablet using Android Pay, Apple Pay, Google Play, etc. make sure you keep it safe. Make sure your device has a lock screen. If you are going to give your phone to your kid to play with, think about using your phones guest mode. A lot of phones have the ability to enter a second password that will allow someone to only use the apps you allow. This will stop kids from going in to the app store and buying more games. For further safety, disable in-app purchases.
- Beware of Scams: If someone is calling you and then making you verify your information (SSN, DOB, MMN) don’t give it to them! Sometimes procedures aren’t followed correctly, and it could be totally legitimate, but 99.9% of the time it is someone trying to get your personal information. Be cautious! If something seems just a little bit off, tell them you will call them back. When you do, call them back on a number you know to be valid (one you have called before or one you were able to look up). If I am calling you to let you know your card has been compromised and you think it might be a scam, I won’t be offended if you hang up and call the credit union at our listed address and ask for me. Scams are always changing, and it helps to know the organizations that you have contact with. For example, a recent scam going around looks to be from the IRS. They call and demand you make a payment immediately, often threatening to get the police involved and have you arrested if you don’t. The IRS will NEVER demand immediate payment, require a certain payment method, ask for card info over the phone, or threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
- Keep Us Updated: It is very important to keep your financial institutions updated when you have a change of address or phone number or if you are traveling. If your card has been compromised and we need to get a new one out to you it’s important that we have the right address. Or, if there are some suspicious transactions on your account that we need to verify, we need to be able to contact you. This is especially true when you are traveling. If you live in Oregon and typically only make purchases in Oregon, but all of a sudden charges from Florida are clearing your account, it is likely that your card is going to be blocked. Those Florida transactions look like fraud and will be treated as if they are. Now, if you are still in Oregon that is a good thing, our system just stopped more fraudulent transactions from clearing your account. However, if you are on vacation in Florida it can be quite inconvenient, and if we don’t have an updated phone number on file we can’t contact you to verify the charges, we have to wait for you to contact us. It is always a good idea to contact us before your travel so we can make sure your trip is hassle free.
- Monitor your Account: It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your account. Fraud can happen fast, and if it doesn’t get caught the fraudsters can clear you out. Viewing your statement is all well and good, but if the fraud occurred at the beginning of the month you won’t get your next statement for a month. Hopefully, it would get noticed before then, but it doesn’t always. We have several ways to monitor your account to make sure all is well. One of my favorites is the alert center. I don’t typically make purchases out of my spending account for more than $60, so I set up an alert. Now I get a text message every time there is a purchase greater than $60 on my account. It can give me a slight panic attack when I get a text for a transaction I forgot about, but it prompts me to log in and double check my account.
-Victoria, Support Services
Victoria started out at USACU almost four years ago as a part-time scanner. Her work ethic was undeniable from the start and she quickly moved up the ranks to become our Support Department Clerk (which is just the formal term for her actual job– Support SuperStar). She not only assists with all aspects of Support, but she is also our Card Specialist and a member of the Community Giving Team! Outside of work, when she’s not “supporting Support,” she enjoys all that the Northwest outdoor scene has to offer- hiking, backpacking, exploring & more! Victoria also loves all aspects of “geekdom”-as she puts it-which includes comics and anime/manga (Japanese animation/comics). She and her sister go to comic conventions every year… and yes, they are awesome enough to dress up (see pic below). Well, we know that if there were a USAgencies comic book, which, you never know… it could happen! Anyway, if there were one, Victoria’s character wouldn’t change one bit- she already our Support SuperStar!
From My Seat is a series of posts written by USAgencies’ employees on a variety of topics. We hope this gives members insight into what we do, why we do it, and provides some financial education along the way. Stay tuned for additional posts in the series in the future.