Community Focus: American Cancer Society Relay for Life

Relay for Life

The annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life will be held on May 23-24 at Maranatha High School.

 ”You have cancer.”

These have to be three of the scariest words that anyone could ever hear. Thankfully, the volunteers of the American Cancer Society (ASC) are working relentlessly to create a world where no one will ever hear those words again.

ACS is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Globally, with more than 3 million dedicated volunteers (the largest volunteer health organization in the United States) ACS is making a difference in the fight against cancer. They are helping people stay well, helping people get well, finding cures and fighting back. No cancer-fighting organization has such a comprehensive mission.

In our community, ACS is helping people through the diagnosis, treatments and survivorship of cancer. ACS is there to support patients and families in everything from lodging, to rides to the treatments and in providing community support. ACS hosts programs and services to help people with cancer and their loved ones understand cancer, manage their lives through treatment and recovery and find the emotional support they need. Best of all, it is all free. However, this can only be possible through donations and volunteers.

ACS has many fundraisers throughout the year with many ways for the community to get involved. One of the big fundraising events is Relay for Life. Relay for Life is an event that gives everyone in the community a chance to Celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, Remember loved ones lost and Fight Back against the disease. It is a 24-hour event where Relay for Life teams camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track. Relay for Life opens with a very powerful survivor walk that celebrates their victory over cancer. There is also the touching Luminaria ceremony where Luminaria bags and candles are lit to honor the loved ones who have passed or are fighting the disease. This year, Relay for Life of Pasadena will be held at Maranatha High School in Pasadena (located at 169 St. John Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105). It will begin on Friday, May 23rd at 6:00 p.m. and end the following evening on May 24th at 6:00 p.m.

Each year, more that 4 million people in over 20 countries take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds as well as awareness to save lives from cancer. If you would like to be a part of this amazing event, please consider creating/joining a team.

If you are not able to participate, please consider donating, because saving lives starts one team, one participant and one dollar at a time. www.relayforlife.org/pasadenaca 

 

ATM Robbery Reminds Us to Take Precautions

There are many ways to stay safe at an ATM

Occasionally, stories hit the news about robberies at ATMs, such as this one which occurred in Arcadia, CA.   PFCU cares about our members’ safety.  We all love the convenience the machines provide, but we urge everyone to use precaution when using any ATM.

The following suggestions may be helpful:

• Prepare your transactions before arriving at the ATM

• Protect the secrecy of your personal identification number (PIN)

• Never enter your PIN at any ATM that does not look genuine, has an unusual device attached, or is operating in a suspicious manner

• Use your body as a shield when entering your PIN

• Resist the temptation to write down your PIN or share it with a friend.   You may be liable for transactions done with a PIN you share.  Stop by our branch and select a PIN you can easily remember, but which could not be guessed-no birthdates, addresses or sequences like 1234.

• At night, be sure the ATM, walkways and parking area are well lit

• Don’t display your cash, instead stuff it into your pocket or handbag as soon as the transaction is completed

• When using a drive-up ATM, make sure all the car doors are locked and windows are closed. Keep the engine running and remain alert to your surroundings

• Be very cautious of anyone loitering around the machine, especially at night

• PFCU offers 30,000+ surcharge-free ATMs, including those located in 7-Eleven, Costco and California Walgreens Pharmacies.  By using a machine inside, you are reducing the risk of being robbed.  Many of these locations even have security guards onsite.

• Consider getting cash back from your debit card at a grocery store.  There is no fee and you are receiving the funds from a cashier.

• Choose ATMs with visible security cameras or which are in high traffic areas.

• Stay alert.  Look around you as you transact.  Criminals generally like to prey on unobservant individuals.

• If you are with friends or family, encourage them to walk to the ATM with you rather than staying in the car.

• Plan ahead.  Most merchants and restaurants take credit and debit cards, so perhaps you don’t actually need cash to begin with.

 

In addition to the stores mentioned above, you can use your PFCU Debit or ATM card at Bank of the West ATMs and more than 30,000 surcharge-free Co-Op ATMs.  You’ll see details, maps and whether or not the machine takes deposits (many do not).  You can also text an address, zip code or intersection to 692667 (MyCoOp) for ATMs near you.

You can also walk into more than 5,000 Co-Op Shared Branch locations nationwide to transact safely in a branch.  You’ll need to have your ID and PFCU account number with you.

Check out the locations tab of our website for information on convenient phone apps for finding branches and ATMs and even making deposits and transfers on some Smartphone models.

The Safety and Security tab of our website is full of great information and is updated regularly.  We also Tweet and post alerts on our Pasadenafcu Facebook page as they occur.  We’ve been standing strong for our members since 1935.  Your money is safe at PFCU.

 

Maintain a Healthy Skepticism Online

There are constant variations on how cyber thieves are trying to access and exploit the confidential information of people innocently maneuvering the web.  It makes sense to be skeptical of any e-mail, posted link, private message or inquiry.  Cyber thieves aim to gain your trust and get you to let your guard down.  This allows them to place spyware and malware onto your computer, learn important data about you that lets them access your accounts and private information, and trick you into unintentionally giving them money.  Attachments such as .zip files are notorious for acting like a Trojan horse to deliver malicious files to your computer.  Make sure you know what you are clicking on at all times.  Just because an e-mail appears to be from a well-known company, don’t assume it is.  Inspect the URL closely for variations in the name, or contact the company by typing in the correct website yourself, or calling them at the number you have on file for them.  A little diligence can go a long way. 

Be sure to “Like” our Pasadenafcu Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, check our PFCUandyou.com blog, and check the Safety and Security tab of our website for info on the latest scams.  Don’t enter personal information such as passwords, social security number, account numbers, answers to security questions and financial information into e-mails you receive.  Go to the website YOU have for the organziation or call them.  E-mails that would ask for information like that are most certainly “phishing” for ways to exploit your trust.  In this case, healthy skepticism can save you headaches and more.

Don’t Let a DDoS Attack Cut You Off From Your Money

DDoS attacks are mentioned more frequently in the news these days, but what are they?  The initials stand for “Distributed Denial of Service” and refer to cyber attacks which are performed by harnessing thousands of personal computers through spyware and malware and instructing them to navigate to a specific website, overloading the server and resulting in the website being inaccessible to legitimate users. 

While there may be any number of motives for such attacks, the goal is to render the targeted website useless for as long as possible.  When there are hints of a pending  attack, it is best to be proactive.  Internet rumors have indicated that a possible large-scale DDoS attack on American financial institutions might occur on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  As a precaution, anyone who transacts business on financial institution websites is encouraged to refrain from doing so on that day.  Plan ahead and schedule online transactions in advance if possible. If you need to transact on that day, consider physically going to a branch or calling the institution.

Generally, it is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to schedule an online payment or transfer.  Always look ahead and schedule transactions well in advance to give yourself a cushion in the event of unforeseen roadblocks.  You’ll also have peace of mind, which is a great benefit of thoughtful planning.  PFCU’s Online Banking and Bill Pay, for example, allow you to schedule one-time or recurring future payments and transfers and have options for all sorts of convenient reminder texts or e-mails.  The internet is a valuable tool in communication, organization, and information-gathering.  Just be careful not to rely on it to the extent that you can be affected by temporary interruptions in service.  Always have a backup plan.

There are more Safety and Security blog articles here.  To get fraud alerts as soon as we communicate them, “Like” our PasadenaFCU Facebook Page and/or follow us on Twitter @Pasadenafcu.  The Safety and Security tab of our website is a great place to read up on internet safety, too.

Online Fraud Can Come Wrapped in Holiday Bows

Don't let cyber Grinches steal your Christmas cheer

With the success of cyber Monday, more retailers than ever are offering great deals exclusively online.  Unfortunately, many cyber thieves are set to make Santa’s “naughty” list as they prey on unwary, bargain-hunting shoppers with a variety of scams.  Here are some ways you can keep these Grinches from stealing your Christmas:

  • Purchase and install a firewall and anti-virus software before making online purchases.  If you already have protective software, be sure to keep it updated.  You should receive notices when updates are available.
  • Don’t click on links that advertise “free” items, gift cards, holiday gifts or employment.  If interested, go to the website of the company purported to be making the offer (don’t get the web address from the e-mail) and verify the legitimacy of the offer.  If you don’t see the offer, try calling them. 
  • Free cell phone app offers can be tempting, but if you are interested in one you learn about in a text, social media or e-mail, look for it in a recognized App store.
  • Be very careful of electronic greeting cards-they may contain spyware or malware, thus installing trouble on your device in a pretty package!
  • Resist the temptation to click on “Free” offers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Follow the safety tips on online auctions like ebay and Craigslist to prevent paying for an item you never receive.
  • It’s wonderful to give to charities at the holidays, but be wary of phone or e-mail solicitations for donations.  You want to ensure that you are actually giving to the charity of your choice and not an imposter.  Look up their website and contact them on your own to arrange a donation. PFCU has dozens of non-profit community partners we work with that would be worthy recipients.  The Federal Trade Commission also has a Charity Checklist.
  • Watch your accounts online for fraudulent activity so you can shut it down quickly.  Our online banking is free and easy to initiate at www.pfcu.org.  You’ll find demos for both Online Banking and Bill Pay. You can even set up text and e-mail alerts so you know right away if specific types of items hit your accounts. 
  • Look for secured sites that have https in the web address.  The “s” stands for “secure” and represents additional security to give you peace of mind. 
  • Check out McAfee’s “Avoid the 12 Scams of the Holidays
  • Bookmark and check frequently the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) Online Security Tips

 

With these tips, your holidays should be “smooth sledding”.  The additional assurance these tips bring will make your holidays much more enjoyable.

PFCU and the Great California Shakeout

Sooner or later, Southern California will experience a major earthquake.  Disaster Preparedness is the best way to gain more peace of mind.  Just as with your finances, the more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the face of such an event. To help Californians prepare, The 2012 Great California Shake Out is occurring statewide on October 18, at 10:18 a.m. There are many ways for individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, and community groups to participate and get prepared for earthquakes as well as sharing what you are doing with others to help them prepare.  In fact, the Shake Out is now an international event with millions of participants worldwide. Pasadena and the greater San Gabriel Valley region reside in “earthquake country.” Should we experience a significant quake, most experts indicate that you and your family will likely be without governmental assistance for more than three days. Will you be prepared?

For more information on the Great California Shake Out, safety tips and advanced preparation please visit their web page at www.shakeout.org.  San Gabriel residents, please click here for an update regarding the event. You can also find preparedness information through the Pasadena City Hall at www.cityofpasadena.net/disaster.

Rest assured, Pasadena Federal Credit Union has a detailed Recovery Plan in place to ensure that our members have access to their money in the aftermath of an earthquake or other event.  (If there’s a disaster recovery page on your site you can link to it).

Now is also a great time to put a PFCU Home Equity Line of Credit, VISA Credit Card, or Overdraft Line of Credit in place to give you quick accesss to emergency funds when you need them.   Apply Now.

Whether it’s a natural disaster or a financial one, disciplined planning and communication can minimize the impact of such events on you and the lives of your loved ones.  We’re doing our best to help keep you safe and secure.  The Great California Shakeout is a powerful way to start!

Ice Cream Day by Sammy Rabbit

Hello friends! 

With summer in full swing, I have been working on a new song called Ice Cream Day. I love ice cream, especially in the summer when it is hot. Here is a rough draft of lyrics to one of the verses:

Ice cream day…ice cream day…you used to be my favorite day … chocolate chip, cookie dough, even love me some rocky road…I should have had a hunch… if I ate too much and spent too much it would hurt a bunch… ice cream day…ice cream day…you used to be my favorite day…until I got carried away!

Sometimes it is easy for me to get carried away, especially when I am having fun and enjoy something. Does that ever happen to you? Spending smart and not over doing things, just like saving money, are great habits. Here a few things smart spenders do and so can you:

1. Smart spenders have a budget. They make a list of what they are going to spend on and how much.
2. Smart spenders compare prices and do research before spending.
3. Smart spenders, when they need to spend, use coupons and buy things on sale.
4. Smart spenders talk to other smart spenders about how to get the most for their money and make their money last as long as possible.

I hope you have a great summer and continue to work toward making your dreams and goals come true. You can do it! Now, go get to it!

Your friend,

 

Learn more about Sammy and his mission to help kids get in the habit of saving money and make dreams come true at www.itsahabit.com

© 2009 The It’s a Habit Company, Inc.

Outsmart Malicious Social Media “Friends”

Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and other social media sites have profoundly impacted society in many ways.  They have facilitated reunions of old friends, helped people with similar interests find one another, allowed groups to organize more effectively and have helped businesses like PFCU grow.  Many of our new members found us online.  There has been a lot of talk about what to share and not to share online. Have you thought about that question in terms of answers to your security questions for our free Online Banking and Bill Pay services, as well as those of your other online accounts?  You should.

Multi-factor authentication, as we have discussed elsewhere, is an important way of staying a step ahead of identity thieves.  In an effort to share information with your friends on social media sites, however, you may be giving the answers to some of your security questions away.  In school, teachers punish students who get caught cheating but online if you unwittingly give the answers away you could get punished by financial loss or headaches with cleaning up the very real mess of fraudulent use of your accounts. 

Often people want to share their hometown on Facebook or other sites so that individuals they knew in childhood can find them.  That seems innocent enough, but often one of  your security questions will be “What city were you born in?”  One way around that is to determine alternative answers to those questions to use when setting up multi-factor authentication.  The trick here is not to forget those answers.  As it is, we often get phone calls from frustrated members who have forgotten the way they input the answers and find themselves locked out of their accounts.  Try to use the same combination of capital and lower case letters all the time in case-sensitive data fields, and don’t make that combination obvious.  For example, Pasadena might become pa$aDena.  Notice that we used a dollar sign instead of a letter ‘s’ and put the capital in an unusual place.  Someone born in New York might, instead, list the city that is home to their favorite sports team or the city their parent was born in.  As long as you remember, you will not tip off a criminal.  One woman who wanted to make sure her recently-divorced spouse could not access her accounts listed her mother’s maiden name as “freedom”.  A humorous answer like that may make it easier for you to remember how you answered the question. 

Often people will post their favorite foods, movies, performers or songs on social media sites because they enjoy those things.  Since many of those items may show up as security questions in the account set up process online, make sure you give different answers to ensure that you won’t hand your account over to thieves. 

While taking a few moments to review the answers to your account authentication questions may seem inconvenient, it is nothing compared to the hassle of cleaning up identity theft.  Since you’re already online, why not go through your accounts and make sure you haven’t revealed information thieves can use to steal from you?  That way you can enjoy the benefits of social media and rest easy about your online security.

Multi-Factor Authentication Foils Cyber-thugs

We sometimes get complaints from members who are frustrated with the set-up and maintenance of security for their online account access.  Here are some reasons not to loathe the security questions, site keys and other safety measures in place online:

Six federal regulators governing the financial sector have combined forces to strengthen the online security of your accounts.  Together, they make up the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).  The guidelines they set forth are designed to help financial institutions like PFCU make sure the individual attempting to access your accounts electronically is actually you. 

The First Line of Defense

If you aren’t used to strong online security, it can feel a bit like jumping through a series of virtual hoops.  Keep in mind, the “hoops” are meant to be easy for you to navigate, but difficult, if not impossible, for anyone who may have tried to steal your identity to breach.  

First, there is the authentication process.  One or more of the following are used to authenticate you:

            -Something you have (ATM/Debit Card)

            -Something you know (Password, PIN, or Personal Identification Number, site key)

            -Something you are (biometric device, etc.)

The more factors are included, the stronger the defense of your accounts.  That is why PFCU combines several factors to protect you.  We include a site key, for example, which is an image specific to you accompanied by a phrase you create, which let’s you know you are at our site.  If you log in and don’t see your site key, escape right away, try to enter through our website and, if you still don’t see it, contact us promptly. 

Layers

To maximize security, the “hoops” are utilized at different points in the transaction process so that someone who may be able to overcome one obstacle may be tripped up by another.  For example, after completing one transaction, it may be necessary to re-enter a PIN or answer a security question before the next transaction.  The layers of security can help us identify suspicious activity.  They can also limit exposure to losses should someone gain unauthorized access to one transaction.  Setting up the answers to security questions and selecting a site key might seem cumbersome, but the process is much easier than filing police reports and dispute forms. 

  Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Get Tricked into Making Expensive Phone Calls

An old scam to trick people into making costly long distance phone calls has resurfaced and can cost you time and even money.  Typically, a message is left in your voice mail system for you to call someone regarding an urgent matter, such as information about a family member or, perhaps, a contest you’ve “won”.  The number ends up routing you to a foreign country where you are then charged huge amounts of money for every minute you stay on the line. 

“809,” “284,” “876,” are a few of the area codes you need to look out for.  If you receive a message from an unfamiliar area code, do not automatically call back.  Look up the area code and verify that it is in the US.  An easy way is to go to areacode.org

You can also ask your phone company to block foreign calls if you aren’t in the habit of making them. 

You can read more on the Federal Communications Commission website.

The Safety and Security tab of our website also has some great information about scams of all kinds to avoid, and there are other fraud prevention articles here at PFCUandyou.com.

Enjoy using your phone and/or mobile phone for communication with known friends and family, but exercise caution when using it for other purposes.