Archive for August, 2012

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

© 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. 


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. 

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