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Keeping you updated on what’s happening at SF Fire Credit Union.

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Message from the President - Ringing in the New Year

On behalf of all of us at SF Fire Credit Union, I hope a wonderful holiday season was had by all. It can be such a busy time of year, brimming with plans to spend time with families, friends, and loved ones. But despite this, what our members continue to demonstrate year-after-year is an unwavering support of our efforts to raise funds for the SF Firefighters Toy Program. Thank you so much for your donations, which totaled over $15,000 this season and will benefit a program which is the oldest of its kind in the United States and helps over 40,000 children a year.

The year we leave behind was a good one for SF Fire Credit Union. The Bay Area’s economy is well into its recovery, certainly in regards to the jobs and real estate markets. The credit union’s financial performance remained strong, with steady growth and continued profitability. Our capital reserves now stand at $79 million, helping to ensure we’ll be here to meet your financial services needs well into the future. We’re committed to providing an exceptional service experience, and worked hard to become a better credit union. Our Real Estate program was completely revised, and now offers members a streamlined and communicative process. We believe knowledge is empowering, and expanded our educational seminar topics to include investing, healthcare, real estate, car buying, and credit scores. Protecting your accounts from fraudulent activity is a priority, so we made it possible to load travel notifications for your debit and credit cards within online and mobile banking. Time is valuable, and you should to be able to do business based on your schedule, not ours. We understand this, and expanded the appointment making tool on our website to include new membership, new accounts, consumer loans, real estate, investments, business services, and notary public. Recognizing the increasing use of mobile phones and tablet devices to browse the internet, we launched a new public website which is more informative and easier to read on screens both big and small. And finally, we completed the remodel of our California Street location. The Main Branch expanded the areas designated for real estate and business lending, which we feel was necessary to provide members with a better service experience.

Chip-enabled Credit Cards Coming in May 2015

SF Fire Credit Union will be implementing chip technology into our credit cards beginning in May 2015. Our new credit cards will feature a microchip in addition to the magnetic stripe that is currently used by merchants when you perform transactions at terminals.

Chip cards will improve the security and global usability of your card, and we will begin issuing them to replace expiring cards starting in May. By the end of 2015, all SF Fire Credit Union Visa Credit Cards will be replaced with new chip-enabled cards.

Chip cards contain encrypted information that make it difficult for the card to be counterfeited. At merchants that use chip terminals, the card and terminal work together to add an additional layer of security to the transaction.

Now Accepting Donations for SF Firefighters Toy Program

The SF Firefighters Toy Program distributes toys seasonally to over 40,000 kids in need and responds on a year-round basis to children and families in crisis. They are the oldest volunteer-run program of their kind in the nation and rely solely on donations.

Help Us Raise $20,000 for the SF Firefighters Toy Program

There are many ways you can help support the Toy Program this holiday season:

  • Donate in Online Banking, in one of our branches, or over the phone
  • Bring unwrapped toys to one of our branches, or to any San Francisco firehouse

For more information, login to Online Banking or call us at (888) 499-FIRE (3473).

Annual Employee Bake Sale on December 17th

Cookies, cupcakes and other sugary items baked by staff will be available for sale at our California Street branch on December 17th. Please drop by to pick up some goodies and support a terrific cause.

Message from the President: Autumn Update

Autumn is upon us, sending students back to their classrooms, and causing many of us to wonder how it’s possible for the year to be passing so quickly. As we enter into the final months of 2014, you should know that the year thus far has been a good one for SF Fire Credit Union. Members continue to give us the opportunity to meet their financial services needs, which has been a key factor in our sustained profitability and ability to grow capital reserves. We’re grateful for your loyalty and support, and recognize its direct correlation to the strength and prosperity of our credit union.

Looking back at summer, it’s a season that I’d describe as a busy one here at the credit union. Our seminar series was expanded, with new topics including Health Care in Retirement and Auto Buying. As these seminars are intended to help members make better informed decisions regarding their financial lives, I welcome suggestions on other topics you’d like to see us offer. We launched our new website, which was designed to be more informative and intuitive. Recognizing the increasing popularity and usage of mobile and tablet devices, we created a new www.sffirecu.org which is easier-to-read on screens both big and small. Many of you are likely aware of the Home Depot security breach, the latest incident involving debit and credit card data being compromised by a large retailer.

Free Identity Theft Resolution Services

With all the recent news surrounding data breaches at large companies, retailers, and payment processors, we want to remind you of a free benefit of membership that can help in the event that you become a victim of identity theft. SF Fire Credit Union partners with Identity Fraud, Inc. to offer free resolution services that can assist with recovery from every aspect of identity theft and help protect you from recurring fraud.

What Identity Theft Victim Resolution Can Do For You

This helpful service is free to SF Fire Credit Union members. In the event that your personal information has been compromised, simply give our Contact Center a call, and we’ll refer you to a specialist who will work on your case. (If you call our Contact Center after hours, just press #4 to be connected to Identity Fraud, Inc.)

Understanding Credit Scores

When you apply for a loan, lenders want to know your credit risk, and credit scores are a near universal criteria in a lender’s decision. There are three major credit reporting agencies that report your credit score to a lender: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These scores can differ slightly based upon the information reported to each of them by all of your creditors. One type of credit score (FICO) is provided to all three major credit bureaus, and these scores affect both how much and what loan terms (interest rate, etc.) lenders will offer you at any given time.

Your FICO Score is calculated from different types of data found in your credit report. The data is grouped into five different categories, with some categories having more impact on your FICO Score than others.

Credit Score Breakdown

Payment History (35%)
Amounts Owed (30%)
Length of Credit History (15%)
New Credit (10%)
Types of Credit Used (10%)

Knowing these percentages, you can get a better idea of how your score may be affected negatively or positively. Let’s dive deeper into each category:

Planning Your Retirement Income

Planning for retirement often involves asking some questions that can be difficult to answer. What will my retirement look like? Have I saved enough? Do I have sufficient assets to cover all of my expenses? Will I be able to maintain my desired lifestyle?

One of the first and most important steps in analyzing one’s retirement picture is creating a detailed budget where expenses can be matched to sources of income. More often than not, shortfalls in income may be uncovered. Once fixed sources of income such as social security, pensions, etc., have been exhausted, an experienced financial advisor can be extremely helpful in determining the assets that may be used to generate additional sustainable sources of income.

Next, it’s necessary to prepare for some of the major risks retirees often face. These risks include but are not limited to: longevity risk, inflation risk, market risk and health care/social security risk.

Streamline Your Next Car Purchase with SF Fire Credit Union

Looking to buy a new car but not sure where to start? Do you have your heart set on a make & model and just need financing? Whatever stage you’re in, we’d love to help. We have options that make it easy for you to finance with us right from the dealership, and we even have a concierge auto buying service if you’d like someone to do all of the research for you!

Great Rates & Flexible Terms

Our competitive rates and flexible terms could come in handy if you’re looking for a used car, or a car that might take a little longer to pay off. Some benefits of an Auto Loan with SF Fire Credit Union include:

Key Features
Rates as Low as 2.24%1
Up to 130% Financing (including tax, license and warranty)
Terms up to 84 Months
No Prepayment Penalties
Dealership or Private Party Sales
Refinancing of Non-SF Fire Credit Union Auto Loans

Budgeting Basics: How to Get Started

Establishing a path to savings is easier than it seems — but it’s the actual saving part that can get tricky. Whether you’d like to save for a big trip or purchase, or would just like to get your spending in check, here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Figure Out Where Your Money is Going

The first step to creating a sustainable budget is figuring out why your money seems to “disappear” every month. There are numerous tools that can help you track your spending. Some of the most notable ones include Mint.com, YNAB (You Need a Budget) and good ol’ Google Docs or an Excel Spreadsheet. Our Online Banking platform also allows you to track your spending by category.

When creating a budget for the first time, you might want to also document your cash purchases. This may be an eye opening experience, as small impulse purchases can really add up!

If you’d like to go the “old school” route, you can use a balance book to document your purchases and checking account balance (pick one up for free at any of our branches!).