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

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CEO Update: Kathy Elser Named New CEO of SF Fire Credit Union

Our Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Katherine “Kathy” Elser as the new President and Chief Executive Officer. “What impressed us about Kathy is that she demonstrated the ability to balance prolonged growth while maintaining safety and soundness. She has the experience to lead during a time when credit unions continue to face disruptive and competitive forces. Her robust industry network will also serve our members well.” stated John Sweeney, San Francisco Fire Credit Union’s Board Chairman.

“San Francisco Fire is a vibrant and growing credit union that is deeply committed to its members and the communities it serves. A commitment to members is a top priority and passion of mine. I’m excited to see how I can lead the credit union to new levels while never losing sight of delivering an exceptional member experience.” said Elser.

Prior to San Francisco Fire, Ms. Elser was the CFO/SVP of Finance & Administration for Boeing Employees Credit Union where she was responsible for overall strategic positioning of the credit union and served as an Executive Management Team member. Elser’s career includes 20 years with BECU, a period during which she laid the foundation for and managed the institution’s exceptional performance and growth. She earned a reputation for being a collaborative leader, a dedicated mentor and a member advocate. Earlier in her career she worked in public accounting at Deloitte & Touche, LLP, and at various other financial institutions in both financial reporting and internal audit.

In 2012, Ms. Elser was awarded the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “2012 CFO of the Year”; category- Large Private Company. She serves on various community and industry executive committees and boards of directors. She also participates as a panelist and presenter at various credit union education forums and conferences. Elser is a graduate of the CUES CEO Institute and Cardwell 360 Leadership Institute. She holds a BS in accounting from Central Washington University and a MBA from Pepperdine University.

Protecting Your Accounts from Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another person’s personal information, such as a Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, write share drafts, open share accounts, or obtain new loans.

Here are a few basic steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

STAY SECURE ONLINE AND OVER THE PHONE

  • Protect your PINs and Security Questions. Avoid using information that has been shared (or can be discovered) on social media such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your pet’s name, school mascot, etc.
  • Use Unique Passwords Reset and create passwords which are complex and unique from accounts held elsewhere (other financial institutions, email accounts, online retailers, etc).
  • Keep It Personal When resetting or creating new passwords, do so from your own personal computer, smartphone or tablet. (Do not make these changes on public or shared computers).
  • Do not share sensitive information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing. Remember, SF Fire Credit Union will never contact you to obtain your account/credit card number.

SAFEGUARD YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNTS

Many people save sensitive information and documents in their email systems, which can be used by Identity Theft Criminals to commit fraud.

  • Be Wise About Wi-Fi Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.
  • Avoid Phishing Emails Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
  • Protect yourself Use firewall software to protect computer information. Be sure to keep virus and spyware software updated and current.

CHECK THE STATUS OF YOUR TAX RETURN FILINGS

  • Make Sure Your Website is Secure To protect personal data when e-filing taxes, experts suggest users look for clues that the website you are using is encrypted. Most browsers display either green in the browser bar, or a closed lock symbol, that shows users the site is secure.
  • File Your Taxes on Time Experts suggest you file your taxes as soon as possible. This decreases the ability of cyber criminals to file in your name.

MONITOR YOUR CREDIT REPORT

  • Make it a habit to check your credit. Free annual credit reports are available from all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and Transunion. one report from each agency over the course of the year, to monitor for any unusual activity. (For example: Request Experian in February, Equifax in July and Transunion in November).

IF YOU SUSPECT FRAUD IS TAKING PLACE

  • If your accounts have been compromised, notify us as soon as possible. Our Contact Center can be reached at 1.888.499.FIRE (3473), and is available Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7AM and 8PM (Pacific).
  • Place a verbal password on your accounts to prevent thieves from calling in and finding out more about your financial transactions.
  • File a police report and maintain a copy in your file for future reference.
  • Keep an eye out for future attempts. Identity Thieves often will lay low for months and then strike again, hoping to catch you off guard.

Understanding the Surcharge-Free CO-OP ATM Network

We recently reviewed our fee schedule (to ensure that our services are appropriately priced while at the same time providing enough revenue to cover our operating expenses), and a handful of fees will be changing on March 1st. The most notable changes are related to ATM usage, with the number of monthly ATM rebates will be reduced from twelve to six. We’ll also be limiting the number of free ‘out-of-network’ (Non Credit Union CO-OP™ Network ATMs) transactions to six per month, with a $2.00 fee on each transaction performed thereafter. We expect these changes to ATM fees to impact less than five percent of our membership, and with over 30,000 surcharge-free, ‘in-network’ ATMs in the Credit Union CO-OP Network and easy-to-use ATM locator tools available, we’re confident members will continue to have easy access to cash at minimal or no cost.

Surcharge-Free CO-OP Network ATMs & Free Cash-Back at Retailers

Message from Marla: Exciting Year Ahead

Message from Marla

Having just experienced my first (and what will be my only) holiday season as the interim CEO, I’m pleased to provide an update as we begin the New Year. I continue to be impressed by the employees of SF Fire Credit Union. Their dedication to providing exceptional service is the driving force behind the organization, and why we have a loyal and engaged membership. Our membership has always been, and will always be, key to the success of the Credit Union. Whether it’s giving us the opportunity to meet your financial services needs or helping us raise funds for SF Firefighter’s Toy Program, we’re grateful for your support.

Looking Back at 2016

A year-in-review for any Credit Union should always include a review of its financials. While we’re still in the process of “closing the books” on 2016, it appears to have been another successful year. As of November 30th (and compared to year-end of 2015), the Credit Union’s assets has grown by $70 million. More importantly, our net income for the year has exceeded $7.7 million. Capital Reserves surpassed $97 million, which helps to ensure that we’ll be serving members for many years to come.
We also completed a number of significant projects to improve the level of service we provide, or to prepare us for the key initiatives we’ve got planned for the coming year. We made a significant upgrade to our core operating system to improve the performance of our current Online and Mobile Banking systems, while new replacement systems are developed. We also began production of EMV chip debit cards, which offer a higher level of security and acceptance abroad.

Key Initiatives for 2017

We have a busy year ahead, with many key initiatives planned for 2017. Highlights include several programs which have been highly anticipated by members. The re-issue of all debit cards to include EMV chip technology will begin this February, and be completed within a few months. We’ve been advised by our card processing partners to expect a Samsung and Android (Google) Pay launch this Summer. Having made the decision to work with an established Online and Mobile Banking provider (rather than utilize systems which are developed in-house), we hope to launch entirely new systems by October.

Upcoming Changes to Fees & Contact Center Hours

It’s an ongoing responsibility for us to assess and balance the needs of the membership, our employees, and the Credit Union itself. After reviewing our plans for the coming year, we decided upon several changes which will be implemented in the first quarter of 2017:

New Contact Center Hours: To better align demand (volume of calls) with the work-life balance of employees, we will be reducing our Contact Center hours effective February 1st. The Contact Center will be available Monday – Saturday from 7AM to 8PM, and closed Sundays and major holidays. As with our current ‘After Hours’ phone services, members will continue to have the ability to perform account transactions and inquires with our trusted partner, Shared Branching, when we are closed.

Changes to Fees: We reviewed our fee schedule to ensure that our services are appropriately priced, while at the same time providing enough revenue to cover our operating expenses. Just a handful of fees will be changing on March 1st, with the most notable related to ATM usage. The number of monthly ATM rebates will be reduced from twelve to six. We’ll also be limiting members to six free ‘out-of-network’ transactions per month, with a fee on each transaction performed thereafter. We expect these changes to ATM fees to impact less than five percent of our membership, and with over 30,000 surcharge-free, ‘in-network’ ATMs in the Credit Union CO-OP Network and easy-to-use ATM locator tools available, we’re confident members will continue to have easy access to cash at minimal or no cost (see “Changes to Fees” article).

In closing, I’d like to remind all that the New Year will also bring a new and permanent CEO to the Credit Union. The Board of Directors has had the privilege of reviewing a large and accomplished pool of candidates, and is confident an individual well-suited to SF Fire Credit Union will be selected in the coming months. I look forward to working with that person, and helping them assume their new position.


Marla Shepard
Interim CEO

2017 Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship

About the Scholarship

Every year, the scholarship program awards $2,500 each to two high school-level and two college-level students.

The purpose of this scholarship is to educate our members about credit unions. The essay topic explains the credit union philosophy and relating it to the individual, the community, and the country as a whole — now, and in the future.

Eligibility

  1. Student must be a member of SF Fire Credit Union in good standing.
  2. Enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited university, college, community college,
    or high school.
  3. Current grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
  4. Previous scholarship recipients must wait one year after awarding of a scholarship to apply again.

2017 Winners

The 2017 Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship Winners are:
Maeve Diepenbrock (High School)
John Salvemini (High School)
Marisa Hagan (College)
Ryann Miguel (College)

Recipients were publicly announced at our Annual Meeting on February 20th, 2017.

About Arthur F. McIntyre

Arthur retired from the San Francisco Fire Department in 1976, after 30 years of service – the majority of which were spent at Engine 17, located behind the Mint at 5th and Jessie.

In addition to his career as a Firefighter, Arthur was also a veteran of WWII, a referee for both High School and College level basketball, a supervisor of the officials for the Pac Ten Conference, and was a key advocate for the improvement of working conditions for Firefighters in San Francisco.

In 1951, at the request of then Fire Chief Edward Walsh, Arthur became the first manager of SF Fire Credit Union. Through his vision and tireless efforts, Arthur served as the spark that made the Credit Union what it is today.

Expired: Balance Transfer Promotion

Save with Our Lowest Promo Rate on Balance Transfers
This promotion expired on February 15, 2017

Do you have credit card balances with other financial institutions which charge you more than 2.99% Annual Percentage Rate? If so, our balance transfer offer could be a smart choice for you. Between January 16, 2017 through February 15, 2017, we are offering a 2.99% Promo APR for 12 statement cycles on balances transferred from other financial institutions.

After February 15, 2018, your standard interest rate will apply. There is NO BALANCE TRANSFER FEE.

Click here to learn more.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Local 798 Marching Unit

166th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Bay View Boat Club
489 Terry Francois Blvd
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, March 11, 2017
8:00AM to 12:00PM

Parking: 50 spaces available at Boat Club (Additional parking on street)

66th Annual Meeting of the Members

Join us for the 66th Annual Meeting of the Members.

We invite members to join us on February 20th for our Annual Meeting breakfast where we will present our Annual Report, announce the 2017 Arthur F. McIntyre Scholarship recipients, and get an update on the state of the Credit Union from Board Chairperson John Sweeney.

Date: Monday, February 20, 2017 (President’s Day)
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Spanish Cultural Center (Patio Espanol), 2850 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

Parking will be available, and a complimentary breakfast will be served.

This event is for SF Fire Credit Union members only. For event planning purposes, members are asked to RSVP by February 17th.

4th Annual Chili Academy: Novato Fire Foundation

Bringing Youth and Firefighter Chefs Together for a Tasty Cook Off to Benefit Youth Programs in Novato

Save the Date: Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Novato Youth Center, 680 Wilson Avenue, CA 94947

Admission is Free.
Email info@novatoyouthcenter.org for more information.

Click here to learn more.

2016- Another Great Year Working with the SF Firefighters Toy Program

As our long-time members are aware, we work with the SF Firefighters Toy Program each year to raise funds to help purchase toys for the children in need in our community. This year we raised over $17,000 in donations. We are not able to do this without the generosity of our members, and the active and retired members of the San Francisco Fire Department.

Santa Claus and Special Guests

We were lucky to again have Santa (retired SFFD firefighter Bob Cuff) at all four of our branches, ready to greet children (young and old), and take photos. Our friends from Engines 1, 10, 15, and 19 also came out to the branches to join in on the fun, and add some local SF Firefighter flare to our members’ photos, and their own.

Fundraiser and Bake Sale Results

It’s always a joy to have Santa and his firefighter friends at the branch, but our employees also love baking homemade goodies for our Bake Sale each year. This year our sale grossed close to $800! A big thanks to our employees for using their baking skills for a great cause, and to those who purchased items.