Friday, December 18, 2015

Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

With the amount of online shoppers drastically growing each year, ecommerce is here to stay. With the ease of price comparison, wider variety of products, and the ability to shop from virtually anywhere, no wonder consumers are increasingly opting to shop the web compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

While there are many benefits to shopping online, it also comes with some hassles (no we are not talking about shipping). When making online purchases, you have to give out your credit card information, shipping address, and other personal information that can be used for identity theft and credit card fraud.

When shopping online:
Look at Reviews: Shopping on a new website for the first time? Look at reviews of the website. Oftentimes by doing a simple web search, you can find out if they are a trusted online retailer. This is especially true for products you find on social media. Sometimes products advertised on social media lead to undependable offshore retailers.

Use your common sense: If the website looks out-of-date, the company is outside the United States, or something doesn’t feel right, don’t purchase anything. Find a more trusted online retailer for your purchase.

Use a Trusted Computer and Wi-fi: You can help keep your credit card numbers and other personal information protected by using a computer with up-to-date antivirus, firewalls, and antispy software. When using public computers, consider if it's an updated computer. Oftentimes, web browsers automatically save information submitted into text boxes. Make sure that the web browser does not save any of your information.

Don’t use your debit card online: Because your debit card is linked to your entire bank account, you are subject to much more vulnerability if a thief were to access your card. Credit cards offer more protection for online purchases. Credit cards also allow buyers to seek credit from the issuer if your order isn’t delivered or it wasn’t what you ordered.

Look for HTTPS: Trusted websites will have a SSL (secure socket layer) encryption installed to protect your data. You’ll know if it has an SSL if the URL starts with HTTPS:// instead of just HTTP://. A padlock image will also appear in either the browser or the bottom of the page.

Never give out your social security number or bithdate: Online retailers never should need your SSN or birthdate to complete a transaction.

How St. Cloud Federal Credit Union services can help:
Keep track of your purchases: Access your account from anywhere at any time from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Track your spending on the go.

Regularly monitor your credit score: Checking your credit score on a monthly basis will help you spot mistakes that you can address immediately. Visit our credit monitoring page for more information.

Safeguard yourself with knowledge: When spending money online, you want to take every precaution to protect your finances. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offers information on general security education to help you protect your accounts and identity when making transactions online.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Look, Same Great Credit Union

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union was founded in 1930 by St. Cloud postal employees, with the first department inside a post office. Over the years, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union has grown in members and services, but our purpose has stayed the same: “We exist for people, not for profit”.

In late September, we unveiled our new modern, streamlined logo. It features an intertwined ‘S’ and ‘C’ over a diamond in two solid versions — black and burgundy. The new and personalized look is more representative of the character and culture of a credit union’s value, and the logo has been received positively by the community.

“The challenge- and much of the fun- of writing an established future history lies in incorporating new knowledge while remaining true to what has gone before. Expanding and enriching, not contradicting.” - Edward M. Lerner

Despite the new look, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union will continue to be a premier financial institution of choice by making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. We will always advocate for people through a member-focused culture, an enthusiastic employee environment, and purposeful action within our community.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”- Abraham Lincoln”

Be on the lookout for our new St. Cloud Federal Credit Union logo. Together, our future will be amazing!

Bank on a Meaningful Difference: A Commitment to Community

On October 12th, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union participated in the first annual Community Day, a day in which St. Cloud Federal Credit Union employees volunteered their time to make a substantial and meaningful difference in the lives of the St. Cloud area community.

Looking for a project to make an impact, we reached out to St. Cloud Federal Credit Union members on how we could leverage over 50 employees’ volunteer time. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Member, Pastor Carol Jean, responded that Place of Hope Ministries had a need.

“When we heard that Place of Hope needed to update their second floor wing for women and children, we knew it would be a great match for our Community Day,” stated Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Place of Hope Ministries is a St. Cloud organization that has provided assistance, care, and shelter to the homeless population of the city for generations. They provide over 7,000 meals per month, as well as housing and shelter services to nearly 100 people each night. Place of Hope also covers services from counseling, ministry, and outreach service, and even provides an Expressions of Hope Thrift and Distribution Center.

Donning shirts emblazoned with the message of, “Bank on a Meaningful Difference,” St. Cloud Federal Credit Union volunteers were able to redesign and refresh the second wing at Place of Hope, a space designated for women and children in need. Volunteers focused on repainting gathering spaces, bathrooms, and hallways.

In addition to volunteering time and energy, the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union also donated $500 and provided lunch for the community at Place of Hope.

With service and community as core values for St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we will continue to look for volunteering and giving opportunities. Where do you think we should volunteer next?

Friday, September 18, 2015

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union Announce Merger Intention

St. Cloud, Minnesota: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union are proud to announce the intention of merging their two organizations. The merger process was pre-approved by regulators and affirmed by a vote of St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union members at a special meeting on September 16th, 2015. Final regulatory approval is anticipated in the coming months. Both organizations have a rich history in Central Minnesota dating back to the 1930s, and will continue operating “as is” until the merger is finalized later this year.

The merger was proactive with both organizations, enhancing economies of scale to better serve the needs of members. “Our board and our members are excited about this partnership. We gain more products, services, and delivery channels with a strong strategic partner to better position our member service for years to come,” stated Mel Tody, President and CEO of City and County Employees Credit Union. “Our shared values and local commitment will allow us to fulfill our mission within the cooperative model even stronger in the future,” stated Tody. Upon merger completion, Mr. Tody will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

The merged credit unions will become one organization under the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union name, with assets exceeding $140 million serving over 18,000 members with three branches. “We are excited about the nature of this merger in having two strong organizations who share common core values, positioning us to do even more for the members and the communities we serve,” stated Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. “I am very excited to work alongside Mel as our new CFO, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to the rest of the staff and members of St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union,” stated Meyer.

Celebrating its 85th year in business during 2015, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union began in 1930 serving Postal employees and expanded throughout the years to people who live or work in Stearns, Benton, or Sherburne counties. City and County Employees Credit Union began in 1934 serving employees and family members of the City of St. Cloud, Stearns County, Great River Regional Library, and School District 742. The combined organizations will now have two branch locations in St. Cloud and one in Sartell. The mutual core values and mission will remain essentially the same – to leverage their not-for-profit financial cooperative to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people and the community.

About St. Cloud Federal Credit Union: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded in 1930. Currently with over 15,000 members and over $120 million in assets, the credit union is proud to serve members in Central Minnesota with branches in St. Cloud and Sartell. The organization prides itself on making a meaningful difference for members and their local communities.

Why St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a Great Option for Your Loan Needs

So, you’re looking to apply for a loan. Where do you go? Choosing a big name bank may seem easier at first, but is it the right choice for you? Looking into St. Cloud Federal Credit Union can prove to be a better fit for your needs, and here’s why:

It’s important to trust your lender. Big Banks are for-profit organizations, and can have many hidden fees. Shareholders will ultimately do what is right for the shareholders - they care about the bottom line. At SCFCU, we are not-for-profit and our owners are our members, so our main focus is and always will be you.

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, you can be assured that we are on your side. Through big banks, customers are many times approved for large loans they might not necessarily need, which they may take out because they think it’s what's best- If you’re approved for it, why not, right? Most often, employees of big name banks are required to sell as part of their job. SCFCU takes the time to really assess your options. We do what is right for our customers, NOT the bottom line.The people who work at our credit union are local people, meaning they live in our community, and can better understand your needs.

Big banks have many employees that are constantly revolving in and out and it can be impossible to get to know your loan officer on a personal basis. At St. Cloud Federal Credit union, we will take the time to explain every part of a loan with you. You want a face to face, personal relationship with your loan officer, and you can get that at a St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. We guide you through the whole process and answer every question you may have on the way.

If you have any questions about taking out a loan from a credit union, we encourage you to stop into St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and meet with us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Matches Grant Funding for Sartell High School Financial Education and Micro-financing Initiative

St. Cloud Federal Credit is proud to announce a $2,500 grant submission to the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation on behalf of Sartell High School was awarded. The credit union also committed to matching the grant if it was awarded; the high school now has $5,000 to fund a financial education program focused on helping people in developing countries.

The social studies department of Sartell High School is now teaching Human Geography to create a lending curriculum to fund student led micro-financing to people in developing countries around the world. The 9th grade students will create development plans for different parts of the world which will be presented to a panel. Finalized plans will result in research for micro-lending opportunities in those areas of the world selected. In turn the students will partner with Kiva, a global non-profit organization that helps people around the world alleviate poverty through small loans.

Sartell High School Teacher Roy Snyder researched and launched the program. Since the project’s inception, he has seen the students gain an immediate increase in financial and world knowledge and issues surrounding poverty, “these are real life stories; the biggest thing I see is empathy and increasing understanding that helping is not about a handout but about a partnership. They are acquiring financial and world knowledge, confidence and skills to develop passion by having to present their findings that result in a real impact,” stated Snyder.

Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union submitted the grant and committed to the matching funds. The credit union created a panel of experts that the students will present to in order to help determine which countries will receive the grant money. “We are really excited about this opportunity to help kids in our community! We care about improving financial education and this program accomplishes that for these 9th grade students. In addition to the students, this program is improving the lives of people around the world and is an awesome opportunity that we are extremely proud to be a part of,” stated Meyer.

Most of the loans granted will be between $50 and $100 and will help the students with lending and collection knowledge in addition to global knowledge of developing countries. The payback of the loans will create a self-perpetuating program to be used by students in future years.

Friday, May 15, 2015

4 Fun, Inexpensive Things to Do in St. Cloud This Summer

Summer is right around the corner— as long as the typically temperamental Minnesota weather mood swings calm down. So what are your plans this summer? Lengthy road trips, summer camps for the kids, and excursions to the Mall of America can get expensive very quickly. If you’re looking for fun, inexpensive activities to do this summer while sticking to your budget, read on.

1. Parks and Rec
Whether you are interested in strolling around, people watching, dog walking, or disc golfing, St. Cloud offers a variety of parks for you to enjoy your time outdoors. In fact, with over 90 recreational parks to choose from, you have a site to suit your every need. Additionally, visit one of our specialty parks; you can learn about local history at the Stearns History Center and Nature Reserve, smell the beautiful roses at Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, canoe along the Beaver Island Trail and Park, or swim in the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in neighboring Waite Park.

2. Sports, Sports, Sports!
What better way to spend a warm summer night than catching a baseball game with the St. Cloud Rox at Joe Faber Field. St. Cloud also hosts a variety of summer league sports programs such as the Central MN Youth Soccer Association for kids or adult-league softball and volleyball. If you are more fan than athlete, visit the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. St. Cloud Standbys
Every August, the Benton County Fair arrives to the thrill of St. Cloud natives. With amusement rides, a petting zoo, numerous talent contests, fair food classics, and a beer garden, the Benton County Fair offers a mix of fun and entertainment for everybody. This year, the fair will be hosting, ‘The Wall that Heals,’ a 250 foot traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Don’t miss it!

4. New Classics
Summertime by George at Lake George hosted by the St. Cloud Rotary Club has recently become a summertime classic. Every Wednesday night, Lake George plays host to a free music concert with different local artists every week. Set out a blanket and listen to wonderful music, then visit the craft and food stands with local fare available. This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of the Downtown St. Cloud Art Crawl. With two opportunities to enjoy free art, music, and entertainment, be sure to wander about St. Germain Street on the evening of June 12th and all day August 14th. 

Bonus for Kids A family-oriented town, St. Cloud hosts a variety of kid-friendly activities to enjoy. There are many playgrounds and splash pads around town, such as the River’s Edge Splash Pad, that offer sanctuary on days pushing 100 degrees. The Great River Educational Arts Theatre hosts a children’s theater year round for kids to engage in culture and entertainment on an affordable basis. St. Cloud institutions such as Parkwood Cinema and the Municipal Athletics Complex offer kid-friendly discount days for inexpensive fun for the family.

There are many options all around St. Cloud for you to enjoy a fun, carefree, and budget-friendly summer. Now get out there and enjoy the sun while Minnesota weather allows us!