People Helping People – The Credit Union Philosophy

 International Credit Union Day Celebrates:

The Authentic Difference

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy. Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated the principles that make credit unions the best financial partners of people all over the world. “The authentic difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions—our principles.

Credit unions all over the world have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

Why are Credit Union different than any other financial institution?

These principles are derived from the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

  1. Democratic Control – One member = One vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.
  2. Open and Voluntary Membership – Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.
  3. Non-Discrimination – Credit unions are open to all without regard for race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.
  4. Service to Members – Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys, because they exist to serve members, not profit.
  5. Distribution to Members – Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.
  6. Building Financial Stability – Credit unions are historically stable organizations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.
  7. Cooperation Among Cooperatives  redit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.
  8. Social Responsibility – Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.
  9. Ongoing Education – Credit unions prioritize financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

Where do Credit Unions come from?

For more than 160 years, credit unions have put people before profit.

In the 1850s, hard times hit Germany, and people turned to each other for help. They removed small savings from under mattresses and started making reasonably priced loans to one another. These early credit unions were the model for all the credit unions that followed: not-for-profit, democratically controlled and community oriented. The principles that guided them then, guide credit unions today.

In the 1920s, Edward Filene took cooperative finance to the next level in Boston, as a means of lifting working people out of debt and creating a better life. On January 17, 1927, the Credit Union League of Massachusetts celebrated the first official credit union holiday. January 17th is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, America’s “Apostle of Thrift,” who credit union founders believed to symbolize the purpose and spirit of credit unions.

During this time, the U.S. credit union movement was new and spreading. In response to the Great Depression, new credit unions were being formed to fill the void left by shuttered banks.

The U.S. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society initiated a new national Credit Union Day celebration in 1948. The third Thursday of October was set aside as the national day of observance. This occasion brought members together to promote the credit union philosophy nationally and reflect upon credit union achievements and history. Members raised funds for the movement and paid homage to loyal supporters and pioneers.

The World Council of Credit Unions, established in 1971, assists credit union movements and supports their development around the world. World Council observed the first International Credit Union (ICU) Day more than 30 years ago, and continues to endorse global celebrations. The credit union movement has grown to more than 217million members in 101 countries. Celebrate the credit union difference during this year’s ICU Day – October 20, 2016.

Why We Do What We Do?

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at St Francis FCU. We think ideas like people before profit, social responsibility, and financial education improve lives. It’s why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries get access to microloans, or a middle-class couple in Greenville receive an affordable mortgage for their first home.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at St Francis FCU, know that we’re thanking you for belonging to a movement that’s helping your neighbors—and people around the world—grow and thrive and follow their dreams.

Copyright 2016 Credit Union National Association Inc. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Identity Theft

You Have the Power to Stop Identity Theft

Stop identity theft

There is a type of identity theft using the Internet called “phishing.” Pronounced “fishing,” that’s exactly what thieves are doing, fishing for your personal financial information. They want your account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information so they can use your financial accounts or run up bills on your credit cards.

In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even a driver’s license in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.

How phishing works

Typically, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and may do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e- mail may appear to come from a government agency, perhaps a federal financial institution regulatory agency.

The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail may also state that unless you provide certain confidential information your account will be deactivated or closed. The e-mail will encourage you to click a link to go to the institution’s Website.

In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony Website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual Website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of collecting your financial information.

You may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to your financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself a victim of identity theft. 

How to protect yourself

  1. Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or on the E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, do not provide any information including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords.
  2. If you are unsure whether a contact is legitimate, contact the financial You can find phone numbers and Websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look up the company in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using information that you have verified yourself.
  3. Never click on the link provided in an e-mail you think is In addition to stealing your personal information, the link may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
  4. Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial
  5. Never provide your account information and/or password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information or confirm a password online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your money.
  6. Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are If your account statement is late in arriving or does not arrive, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, check your account activity online regularly to catch suspicious activity.

What to do if you fall victim

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the
  • Close accounts you think have been tampered with or opened Call the security or fraud department of each associated company or financial institution. Follow-up in writing and supply copies of supporting documents.
  • It is important to notify credit card companies and financial institutions in Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document when and what the company received. Keep copies of your correspondence and enclosures.
  • Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
  • Check with your state Attorney General’s office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number, or check for a list of state Attorneys General.
  • If possible, file a report with local police or police in the community where the identity theft took Obtain a copy of the police report or the report number. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime. If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incidents” report.
  • If you disclose sensitive information in a phishing attack, contact one of the three major credit bureaus listed below and discuss whether to place a fraud alert on your A fraud alert will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.

Equifax                                                                 Experian                                             TransUnion

800-525-6285                                                          888-397-3742                                         800-680-7289

P.O. Box 740250                                                      P.O. Box 1017                                          P.O. Box 6790

Atlanta, GA 30374                                                   Allen, TX 75013                                      Fullerton, CA 92634                                   

To learn more about keeping your money safe, visit the website

Sources: Board of Governors of the FRS, the FDIC, the NCUA, the OCC, and the OTS.

Debit/Credit Card Skimming

Debit/Credit Card Skimming


Skimming refers to one of the ways in which thieves are causing billions of dollars in losses to consumers in the recent years by illegally obtaining cardholders’ data. A small device is utilized to collect (skim) debit/credit card information while a person performs a routine transaction at an ATM, gas pump or other vendors such as restaurants and convenient stores.


The small device is installed on an ATM or other card device such as gas pump, when a person performs a transaction, all the information contained on the magnetic strip of the card are collected and stored within the device. At a later time the criminal will collect the device and access the card numbers stored within. Some devices also include a keyboard overlay to steal the PIN as its being keyed in by the cardholder; or a small camera pointed at the keyboard is utilized to record the PIN.

Skimming can also at times involve a “bad” store clerk or attendant; when the cardholder hands his/her card to the employee and he/she walks away with the card to process the payment, the employee could swipe the card through a small reader they carry and retain the card data for later extraction.


  • Choose the terminal location wisely: when possible, select a terminal that is in a trafficked and well lit area, for example, when at the pump, use one closer to the cashier’s window or front entrance of the store as it will be less likely to be chosen by a criminal. ATMs inside a store are usually safer than those on an outer wall of a building.
  • Check the terminal : check the terminal for any potential tampering activities, such as a broken seals, scratches, etc. If multiple terminals are available, such as in the case of a gas pump, compare the terminal you selected with the others. Check for items that seem loose or aren’t aligning correctly.
  • Give it a tug: wiggle and/or tug the card reader section of the terminal. Terminals are built to be sturdy and will not move when a wiggle or tug is applied. Also, when using the terminal, if the keypad doesn’t feel right, hard to press or “too thick”, this may be a sign that an overlay has been applied to the keypad to capture your PIN.
  • When in doubt: report the terminal to a store clerk or financial instution representative (in case of an ATM) or if no one is available, inform the police. If a skimming device is recovered by the police, it can help determine the owner of the device and catch the criminals associated.
  • Look over your shoulder: when performing a transaction be constantly aware of your surroundings, see if anyone is over your shoulder (even if at some distance) and check for cameras. It is best to cover the keypad with your hand as you enter your PIN.
  • Stay with your card: Make sure your card stays in sight at all times. Do not let anyone leave your presence while they have your card; ask the employee permission to meet him/her at the cashier’s station or other location in which the payment will be taken and witness the transaction as it is performed. This will minimize the chance of a bad employee skimming your card data; if this is not allowed, consider utilizing cash.
  • ATM machines are at higher risk during the weekend and holidays: criminals will install skimmers after working hours on Friday and recover them early Monday before the financial institution personnel reports to work.
  • Provide your financial institution and credit card provider with your cell#: most financial institution and credit card providers have a 24/7 fraud protection team at work. Due to the time sensitivity and security issues associated with these calls, the cardholder must answer to the call from the fraud department. A return call # is often not provided as there is no way for the fraud department to confirm the caller identity with certainty. If the call is not answered, as a preventive fraud measure, the card will likely be blocked until the cardholder can make contact with a representative during normal business hours.
  • Keep a close watch on your account activities and credit card statement: timing is essential when discovering fraud on your account. The sooner you can report fraud on your card, the sooner the dispute process can began and the least amount of fraudulent transactions will take place.


If you don’t recognize a charge, report it immediately to the institution that issued the card in question. The card issuer will immediately close that card and issue a new one to prevent any additional fraud. You will likely be asked to sign paperwork and/or report the instance to the police as this constitutes a case of identity theft; ask your financial institution to provide you an affidavit of fraud, the police usually requires this statement to open a case for you.

Vehicle Purchasing Tips – Avoid Negative Equity.

Beware of messages such as:

“We’ll pay off your loan no matter how much you owe”

Some car dealers advertise that when you trade in one vehicle to buy another, they will pay off the balance of your loan – no matter how much you owe. But some people owe more on their car than the car is worth. This is called “negative equity,” and for such individuals, the dealer’s promises to pay off their entire loan may be misleading.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that people with negative equity should pay special attention to vehicle trade-in offers. That’s because although the ad claims that they will have no further responsibility for any amount of their old loan, the ad may be untrue. Dealers may include the negative equity in consumers’ new car loan. That would increase their monthly payments by adding principal and interest.

Here’s how that might play out: Say you want to trade in your car for a newer model. Your loan payoff is $18,000, but your car is worth$15,000. You have negative equity of $3,000, which must be paid if you want to trade-in your vehicle. If the dealer promises to pay off this $3,000, it should not be included in your new loan. Nevertheless, some dealers add the $3,000 to the loan for your new car, deduct the amount from your down payment, or do both. In either case, this would increase your monthly payments: not only would the $3,000 be added to the principal, but you would be financing it, too.

The FTC says that understanding how negative equity works in a vehicle trade-in can help you make a better informed choice about purchasing and financing a car, and help you identify whether the claims in car ads that promise to pay off your loan are misleading.

Federal law requires that before you sign a contract to finance the purchase of a car, the dealer/lender must give you certain disclosures about the cost of that credit. Read them, and look for the details about the down payment and the amount financed. Make sure you understand how your negative equity is being treated before you sign the contract. Otherwise, you may wind up paying a lot more than you expect.

Dealing with Negative Automobile Equity

Here are some tips to help you avoid the snowball effect of negative equity:

  • Find out what your current vehicle is worth before you negotiate the purchase of a new car. Check the National Automobile Dealers Association’s (NADA) Guides, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book.
  • If you have negative equity, either because of your current car loan or a rollover from a previous loan:
    • think about postponing your purchase until you’re in a positive equity position. For example, consider paying down your loan faster by making additional payments or with a lump sum payment from your income tax refund.
    • think about selling your car yourself to try to get more for it than its wholesale value
    • if you decide to go ahead with a trade-in, ask how the negative equity is being treated in the trade-in. Read the contract carefully, making sure that any promises made orally are included. Don’t sign the bill of sale or contract until you understand all the terms.
    • keep the length of your new loan term as short as you can manage. If the negative equity amount is rolled into the new loan, the longer your loan, the longer you will take to reach positive equity in the vehicle.

St Francis FCU Approach

When you finance your vehicle loan with St Francis FCU, our trained loan officers will review the value of the vehicle you are purchasing through NADA guides and will inform you if the amount to be financed, as listed on the dealer’s bill of sale, is higher than the value of the vehicle. If so, you can re-negotiate the sale price with the dealer to ensure you are not overpaying for your new vehicle. We also work with you to ensure your payment is manageable while keeping the loan terms as short as possible to reduce the amount of interests you will pay over the life of the loan.

Also please keep in mind that once you enter into a loan contract in a negative equity position, St Francis FCU may not be able to refinance your loan.

To avoid being pressured into a negative equity deal, consider seeking a loan pre-approval with St Francis FCU. The pre-approval is good for 30 days to allow you to shop for your next vehicle.

For more information about this topic visit the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

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