Interview With SELCO Community Credit Union

Updated on: March 25, 2024
Shauli Zacks Shauli Zacks
Updated on: March 25, 2024

In an insightful dialogue with SafetyDetectives, SELCO Community Credit Union unveils the extensive range of financial services and advice aimed at enhancing the financial wellbeing of its members. As a stalwart institution rooted in the community since its inception nearly 90 years ago by forward-thinking teachers, SELCO has grown to serve over 150,000 members across Oregon and Washington, offering a comprehensive suite of financial products and services. The interview highlights SELCO’s commitment to serving as a lifetime financial partner to its members, underscored by the expertise of its diverse team, including Colleen Thompson, Stephanie Ziegler, and several other key figures. These experts share valuable tips on protecting oneself from digital financial threats, the importance of adopting strong security measures in banking apps, and strategies for achieving financial security and stability. Furthermore, the discussion delves into practical advice for budgeting and saving, emphasizing SELCO’s mission to support members in navigating their financial journeys with confidence and security.

Please tell me a little about SELCO Community Credit Union

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to SafetyDetectives! A little about SELCO Community Credit Union:

Founded nearly 90 years ago by a group of fiscally minded teachers, Oregon-based SELCO Community Credit Union today serves more than 150,000 members as one of the largest and longest-standing credit unions in the state. A not-for-profit, federally insured, member-driven financial cooperative with more than $2.7 billion in assets, SELCO provides a full range of financial products and services, including banking, mortgages, personal and business loans, investments, and insurance. Membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of the 27 Oregon or eight Washington counties SELCO serves.

To answer your questions, we’ve assembled a team of experts across SELCO to assist:

  • Colleen Thompson, Senior Product Strategist
  • Stephanie Ziegler, Senior Financial Investigations Manager
  • Chelsea Budzko, Information Security Officer
  • Sandy Wagner, Central Oregon Regional Manager
  • Jen Shefner, Director of Digital Services
  • Olivia Sorensen, Senior Community Development Specialist

Can you provide an overview of the services and offerings provided by SELCO Community Credit Union?

Colleen Thompson, Senior Product Strategist:

We’re a full-service financial institution offering all types of loans, deposit accounts, investment solutions, and insurance for both consumers and businesses. We’re truly a lifetime financial partner, meeting our members where they are today and providing the tools and resources needed to meet their future financial goals. Whether buying a home or vehicle, establishing or building savings, or preparing for a major life milestone like college, starting a family, or retirement, we have the financial products, services, education, and expertise to help.

As a federally insured credit union, there’s no better place for your money. Every SELCO account is guaranteed up to $250,000 per person by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. In fact, no American has ever lost a single penny on an insured account at any federally insured credit union in the U.S.

What advice do you have for people to protect themselves against common digital financial threats such as phishing scams, identity theft, or fraudulent transactions?

Stephanie Ziegler, Senior Financial Investigations Manager, and Chelsea Budzko, Information Security Officer:

The unfortunate reality is that our always-online world will always carry some level of risk, but there are easy—and free—steps that you can take to protect yourself and your information.

First and foremost, don’t share your personal information with unfamiliar websites. Similarly, when you receive an unsolicited email, text message, or phone call asking you to provide personal information, use caution and independently verify who is contacting you. Often, fraudsters will masquerade as agents from well-known companies, like H&R block, Visa®, or federal/state/local government agencies to lend their scam an air of legitimacy.

Another good rule of thumb when receiving unsolicited contact? Beware of communications that attempt to create a sense of urgency to compel you to take immediate action or ask you to use unconventional payments, like gift cards.

I know the following has been said before, but it’s important: Use a variety of strong passwords and don’t duplicate passwords for important accounts. In addition, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever it’s an available option—we can’t stress enough what a critical layer of additional protection MFA provides. Another technical step you can take is to ensure your personal computers and cell phones are up to date with the latest security patches. In many cases, you can even set your devices to update automatically.

Oversharing on social media is another risk, and many of us are guilty of it. It’s easy to forget just how much personal information we share in our posts and profiles. Even seemingly innocent personal posts can be gold to scammers. Where you live, when you were born, your full name—all of it can be used to social engineer other personal information.

Here’s an important one: Stay on top of your credit report. is a resource that all of us should be using. You can request three each year: one from each of the three credit-monitoring agencies. There’s no easier way to stay informed about any changes to your credit information. (Pro tip: Consider pulling one report every four months so you can be connected to your credit report on a regular basis.) You can even freeze your credit files at each of the three credit-monitoring agencies. This will prevent bad actors from fraudulently opening accounts in your name, and you can always unfreeze your credit files when it’s time for you to apply for credit.

Above all, don’t be embarrassed if you’ve fallen victim to fraud—we’re here talking about scams and fraud because they happen more often than we’d like. And every age group in every demographic is susceptible to fraud. If you think you’re the victim of fraud, contact your financial institution right away. We’re able to help, even after the fact. And the sooner you let us know the easier it is for us to help.

With the rise of banking apps, convenience often comes with concerns about security. How does SELCO Community Credit Union ensure that its app is both user-friendly and secure for members?

Jen Shefner, Director of Digital Services:

SELCO’s digital transformation has been a strategic corporate priority for the last four-plus years. A big part of that is partnering with vendors that share our vision for providing a great user journey with continual improvements to self-serve functionality. It all adds up to a secure, robust, and customizable digital banking experience that reduces friction at every possible turn.

For example, SELCO offers a range of secure and modern options to accommodate a range of authentication preferences. Options like biometric login (fingerprint or face ID), push authentication through the app, the ability to use Google Authenticator or similar apps for added security instead of other MFA, and security codes available through a variety of channels (SMS, email, phone, or even a call from one of our Member Service Representatives).

Likewise, we know members don’t always remember or have handy their member number, so we provide a digital banking registration process that accepts either a card number or a member number (in addition to other personal criteria).

For another layer of security, we make sure members have real-time visibility into their accounts and account activity, with options to self-serve whenever possible. In addition to a variety of security, account, and real-time card alerts for self-monitoring, members can use our app’s integrated card controls to turn off a misplaced card until it’s found, or they can use advanced card controls to manage card transactions by amount, location, or merchant type. If a card is lost or stolen, members can block the card immediately and request a replacement—all with a few taps in the app.

Behind the scenes, a risk-profiling engine accesses multiple factors about each attempted login, including historical user knowledge, device profiling, and more. High-risk behavior, suspicious patterns, compromised devices, unusual locations, etc., can all be pinpointed in real time. This information is collected to provide a score for each login. Depending on the score, users may be blocked from logging in or prompted for multi-factor authentication.

Each digital banking session is also scored using various rules and risk factors. That also goes for transactions like mobile deposit, external transfers, business ACH origination, and wires. All of which lets us provide fast service while pinpointing high-risk transactions or sessions that require additional research and follow-up before approval. These types of rules, coupled with additional security integrations, allow us to real-time deposit around 80% of all mobile deposits.

The safety and security of our members’ personal and financial information is our utmost priority, and the seriousness with which we take the cybersecurity of our network infrastructure can’t be overstated. While cloud-based solutions will always be attractive to bad actors, potential threats can be greatly mitigated through a combination of cybersecurity best practices and controls outside of the cloud. Our efforts to safeguard the foundation of our digital banking platform are ongoing and exhaustive, all with the aim of giving our members peace of mind.

What are some key strategies for individuals to enhance their financial security and stability?

Sandy Wagner, Central Oregon Regional Manager:

Great question—and it’s one we hear a lot from our members. I always start my response with “Pay yourself first.” It is so important to have savings for unexpected situations. You never know when your car is going to break down, or maybe you need a new water heater. The easiest way to ensure you’re saving is through payroll deductions. Most companies will allow you to split your paycheck between accounts. Sending what you can to savings before you can see it (or miss it!) is an easy way to increase your savings. And if you start earning more, make sure to bump up what you’re contributing to your savings. Your future self will thank you!

But be sure to be realistic with your savings. If you’re just starting to save, start small with transfers or payroll deductions. Limit the deductions to what you know you can live without. If you try to save too much too quickly, you’re much more likely to move that money back to your spending accounts.

It can also be helpful to have separate accounts for bills and spending to help keep you on track. Give yourself a reasonable allowance in a separate account, so when you do run out of money, you’re either done spending until payday or you are forced to think about whether you need or want to spend money before transferring from another account.

Finally, consider opening a traditional IRA. You can set up automatic transfers to IRAs, and IRA contributions are are tax deductible. It is a win-win! But make sure this is money you can live without, since you may have to pay penalties if you withdraw from your IRA before you reach retirement age. We recommend you talk to a tax advisor and financial advisor to understand your individual situation.

What tools or methods do you recommend for individuals to create and stick to a budget effectively?

Olivia Sorensen, Senior Community Development Specialist:

No two budgets are alike (just like financial goals and situations). But here are a few general methods we recommend that will help you create and maintain a budget that will grow with your needs.

  • Use zero-based budgeting. Essentially, with zero-based budgeting, you calculate your income and allocate every dollar to a specific expense or savings goal. This means your total income minus your expenses will equal zero. This method ensures every dollar has a designated purpose, prioritizes spending based on your financial goals, allows flexibility in reallocating funds, and—in time—can help you highlight financial habits, both good and bad.
  • Regularly review your budget. Ideally, you’d do this on a weekly or semi-monthly basis. This will help you track your progress, identify areas where you’re overspending, and make adjustments as needed. It’s one of the most important steps—and maybe the easiest part to put off—but it’s essential for keeping your budget top-of-mind and keeping you honest.

Track your budget in whatever way works best for you. Many financial institutions, including SELCO, include budget-tracking as part of their digital offerings. If your institution doesn’t, there are many available budget-specific apps, such as You Need a Budget (YNAB) or PocketGuard (though some may have an associated cost). If you’re just starting out or want a simpler method, you can always use a simple notebook or Excel spreadsheet. The important part is to track all aspects of your income and expenses. Through the process, you’ll gain a comprehensive and true understanding of your finances that will help you make future financial decisions with confidence

About the Author
Shauli Zacks
Updated on: March 25, 2024

About the Author

Shauli Zacks is a tech enthusiast who has reviewed and compared hundreds of programs in multiple niches, including cybersecurity, office and productivity tools, and parental control apps. He enjoys researching and understanding what features are important to the people using these tools.