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The aftermath of the recent Santa Rosa fire is, needless to say, devastating. Roughly 3,000 homes were lost, causing $1.2 billion dollars in damage. Homes and money can be replaced, but the pain and suffering of the 43 families who lost their loved ones to the fires is priceless. On October 9th, the Red Cross put out an online volunteer form and they reached their immediate need of volunteers within hours of posting it. Lost and missing pets were sent to different shelters and foster homes across the Bay Area where they were cared for until their families were ready to take them home. Neighbors supplied each other with air masks once the hardware stores ran out. Despite the negative tone that seems to plague the downfall of society, genuine kindness and desire to help really shined through a difficult week.

I’d like to thank all of the First Responders, volunteers, pet shelters and foster homes, neighbors, and everyone else that truly made a difference to someone in need.

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With the holiday season quickly approaching, there’s something that comes to mind that I can’t seem to forget no matter how hard I try. Remember the 2013 Target hack and the 40 million affected people? While I was fortunate not to be effected, I want to do everything I can to minimize the chances of being the 40 millionth and 1 person to have to call my financial institution and the credit bureaus.

The two safest options when making payments are to utilize the chip on your debit/credit card or to use Mobile Wallet. They both work the same way. In short, the chip creates a unique code that the merchant receives with just enough information for that transaction to go through but not enough for a hacker to steal your information. The process is repeated with a different code the next time you use your card for a transaction.

The only downside to using the chip, as you may have noticed, is that it can take a little longer to approve the transaction. A friend of mine worked at a restaurant before and after chip cards became common practice, and their feelings toward the chip cards were mixed. They believed it was a safer option, but it also slowed down the checking out process dramatically.

Enter Mobile Wallet. This refers to Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay (and others) but it’s all the same technology. Like a chip card, a unique code is created when you go to pay at a terminal, but instead of waiting after you insert your card, the process happens quickly on your phone, therefore, avoiding those death stares from the people behind you who wait while you hold up the line.

Sounds like something you would like to test yourself? You can try it now with your 1st Nor Cal debit or credit card! 1st Nor Cal now supports Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. (We’ve created a page with all the info here).

Sure, there’s always the option to use cash to avoid your information being stolen. However, these two methods have proven themselves to be safer than the old magstripe. I personally look forward to finally being able to rock out to Android Pay this season and enjoy the 10 seconds of amusement that comes with each transaction.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union