in this issue Vote For Your Board of Directors

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1 in this issue Vote For Your Board of Directors... Pages 1-2 Apply for a $2,000 Scholarship... Page 2 Northgate Branch Moving to Thornton Place... Page Annual Meeting... Page 3 Transfer Your Balance, Get Rewarded... Page 3 Securing Your Digital Life: Personal Identifying Information... Page 4 SMCU Financial Counseling Guides You on the Road to Being Debt-Free.. Page 5 Vote For Your Board of Directors You are the reason SMCU exists. Your opinions matter. That s why, as member-owners of the credit union, you get to exercise your voice by voting in SMCU s 80th Annual Volunteer Board and Supervisory Committee Elections, between Februrary 11 and March 8, Every member gets one vote to help guide the credit union s course. Ballots can be submitted by mail, or you can vote online for instant confirmation that your vote was received and accurately counted. You will receive a letter and, if SMCU has your address on file, an with detailed information about the election, candidates, and voting process. What Does the Board Do? 100% democratically elected by the membership, the Board is made up of nine members, each holding a three-year term. Board members meet each month to review and evaluate all aspects of the credit union including: Setting the vision for the credit union Building a strategic plan Approving the annual operating budget Overseeing the credit union s financial soundness and service levels Additional responsibilities include serving on special SMCU Committees, such as the Corporate Citizenship Committee, the Finance and Budget Committee, and the Technology Committee. Board members also represent the credit union at community events. Continued on the next page... 1

2 Vote For Your Board of Directors continued... What is the Supervisory Committee? The Committee ensures adherence to state, federal and internal policies and procedures; supervises the completion of an annual audit, as well as supplemental audits; and reports the findings to the Board, management, members and/or regulatory agencies as required. Each of the five positions on the Supervisory Committee carries a staggered three-year term. Let Your Voice Be Heard To cast your vote in this year s Annual Elections, mail your ballot or vote online between February 11 and March 8, More information about the election and our Board and Supervisory Committee Members can be found at smcu.com. To be eligible to vote, as of December 31, 2012 you must have been a member in good standing at least 18 years of age who is a natural person (no trusts, organizations or businesses). Individuals who hold a joint status on any account without their own Primary Share account are not eligible to vote. If you are a joint account holder who opened an individual account before December 31, 2012, you are eligible to vote. Apply for a $2,000 Scholarship Starting February 1, we will be accepting applications for the A.G. Tony Marino Scholarship Program. SMCU will award ten $2,000 scholarships to qualified students for the academic school year. The application deadline is March 31, We will announce scholarship recipients in early May. About the Scholarships This scholarship program honors Mr. Marino, SMCU s founder, and his many contributions to the credit union. All SMCU members or dependent children of members are eligible for the scholarship program with the exception of Board of Directors, children of either Board Directors or Scholarship Committee Members, and previous scholarship winners. Scholarships are awarded based on academic standing, financial need, and extracurricular activities and/or employment Applications must be postmarked no later than March 31, To be considered, each applicant must include all required documents with the scholarship application, which includes the following: 1. School transcript or equivalent 2. A minimum of 2 current letters of recommendation 3. Responses to all 3 essay questions on the application (max of 2 sheets of paper) Applications can be downloaded at or you can pick one up at any of our branches. Please submit completed applications to any SMCU branch location or by mail. Northgate Branch Moving to Thornton Place SMCU s Northgate Branch will be relocating to 337 NE 103rd Street, Suite 12 at Thornton Place Shopping Center, adjacent to Northgate Mall. The existing branch will close when the Thornton Place location opens in June of this year. At our brand new location, SMCU members will find the same high level of personalized service from the same great staff, more free parking, and the convenience of many restaurants, shops, and amenities nearby. We expect no downtime for the Northgate Branch during the move. Stay tuned for more details as we approach the moving date. 2

3 2013 Annual Meeting As a financial cooperative, SMCU is 100% owned by you, our members. As owners, it is your right to participate in decisions related to SMCU s operations. The idea that members call the shots is one of the seven principles that guide everything we do at SMCU. This annual meeting is an opportunity to let your voice be heard and exercise your rights as a member. Admission is free. Refreshments will be provided. 6:00pm - 7:30pm Downtown Branch Thursday, March 28, 2013 Transfer Your Balance, Get Rewarded Are you overwhelmed by your holiday credit card bills? Are you paying too many finance charges every month by carrying balances on multiple cards? SMCU can help. There has never been a better time to transfer your balances to an SMCU VISA. With rates as low as 6.99% APR, you could save hundreds of dollars every year, while enjoying all of the great benefits of an SMCU VISA. Plus, if you act before March 31, 2013, you could earn up to 20,000 CU Rewards points* - redeemable for name-brand products and travel to the best destinations. (One CU Rewards point earned for each dollar transferred.) To get started, log into Online Banking and fill out the Balance Transfer form (under the Secure Forms tab) or, if you don t have an SMCU VISA, apply at smcu.com or in any branch. VISA Debt Consolidation If your primary credit card is from a financial institution other than SMCU and you carry a balance, there s a good chance you re overpaying for a card with a high interest rate. As a financial co-op, SMCU returns profits to our members in the form of lower interest rates and fewer fees. This means that consolidating your balances to an SMCU VISA credit card could lower your interest, saving you hundreds of dollars a year. Whether your credit is spotless or has a few blemishes, SMCU offers rates that are lower than most other credit-card providers. No annual fee No balance-transfer fees Enrollment in CU Rewards The ability to design your own card Verified by VISA to help prevent credit card fraud when shopping online Account management via Online Banking A 25-day grace period on purchases *EARN CU REWARDS POINTS - TRANSFERRING BALANCES: Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union does not charge a balance transfer fee. Please allow 2-3 weeks to process your balance transfer. Continue to make your payment on these accounts until the payment for the transferred amount appears on your other issuer s statement. Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union is not responsible for late payments on your other issuer s account. We are not able to close your other accounts, even if you transfer the entire balance. If you want to close the account, you will need to contact the issuer directly. Balances can be transferred up to your established limit. Equity Platinum and Savings-Secured VISA cards are not eligible for the CU Rewards program. RIGHT TO DECLINE: Under certain circumstances (as described in the Cardholder Agreement), we may decline to process your transaction, in which case you will be notified. Reward points will appear on next statement after the balance transfer. RATE: APR is Annual Percentage Rate. Rates range from 6.99% to 17.99% as of January 17, APR reflects any prepaid finance charges and is subject to change without notice. Rates/financing are offered based on applicant s credit qualifications and other underwriting criteria. CARDHOLDER AGREEMENT: For further details about terms and conditions on your account, please refer to your Cardholder Agreement. 3

4 Securing Your Digital Life: Personal Identifying Information What is Personal Identifying Information? Personal Identifying Information (PII) is any information you use in your daily life that identifies you. The most common source of identification is the last four digits of your Social Security number. When the Social Security Administration decided to issue numbers, they never intended them to be used as a universal form of identification. Fast forward a few decades and now everyone is using this form of identification. The problem is that having only the last four digits is enough for criminals to figure out your whole SSN. In 2009, Wired Magazine posted an article on how to extract a full social security number from publicly available data. Other forms of PII include your name, birth date, birth city, address, phone number, account numbers, member number, mother s maiden name, and more. This list grows each time challenge questions are used with information such as your favorite color or first pet s name. With the rise of social media, PII is becoming increasingly easy to find, which increases the risk of identity theft. Because of this, we have removed challenge questions from Online Banking in favor of a more secure authentication process. SMCU has you covered when it comes to Online Banking, but there are still preventative measures you should take to protect your PII. Here s SMCU s tech expert, Tyler, to tell you more. How to protect your PII Remember that your SSN is not the only piece of information that you should protect anymore. Your birth date and birth city should be closely guarded. This means that if you have these on Facebook or other social networking sites, consider removing them or increasing your privacy settings to display them only to your closest friends. Consider using free online tools such as Credit Karma and Google Alerts to track your credit report and online information. If you haven t Googled yourself in awhile, now is a good time. When asked to use your SSN, ask the vendor if they have another method for identification. For example, utilities companies often use your SSN for a credit check when you re getting new service, but having a separate password will make sure that the last four is always protected. Don t give personal information over the phone, internet, or by mail unless you are sure of the requestor s identity. Remember that your financial institution will never call you to ask you for this information. Make sure you choose strong passwords for all of your accounts (see below). Now that you know all about PII and steps you can take to prevent identity theft, your digital life is much more secure. Read more Securing Your Digital Life articles by Tyler at How to choose a strong password Your password should be six or more characters long. Generally, the longer it is, the better. Use a random string of 3 or 4 words with a mixture of upper and lowercase letters. Purposely misspelling these words, or using made up words, will increase security. Add numbers and/or special characters to the end. One-word passwords that have certain letters replaced with numbers (such as passw0rd ) should be avoided. It is now extremely easy for hackers to figure out passwords with this format. Never use your username, real name, spouse s name, phone number, or any other easily-identifiable piece of information in your password. 4

5 SMCU Financial Counseling Guides You on the Road to Being Debt-Free Do you feel like you re at a dead end because of money issues? Are you worried that your paycheck won t be enough to cover the bills each month? Is credit card debt preventing you from saving money and starting to build the life you dream of? Do you need financial counseling but don t know who to trust? Sometimes what you need is someone to guide you onto the right track, someone who s been through the processes of getting out of debt and rebuilding a credit report, and someone who knows what to expect and which pitfalls to watch out for. The right tool or a word of encouragement can go a long way toward setting you on the path toward financial success. For nearly 80 years, SMCU has been providing financial counseling and support to our members who are going through difficult situations. Making our members financial dreams come true is part of our mission. Free Financial Counseling from SMCU and BALANCE As part of our commitment to providing free financial education, we ve partnered with BALANCE, a financial assistance company, to provide SMCU members free financial counseling. BALANCE has a team of highly trained experts and counselors who know how to help you get out of debt and rebuild your credit, so you can start living your dreams. BALANCE offers a suite of free financial counseling tools through their website (www.balancepro.net) that can help you start building a budget and paying off credit card debt. They provide free publications and toolkits that help you develop habits that create the foundation for future financial success. When you have a quick question, you can call their Infoline ( ) and get an answer fast. If you need more help, BALANCE financial counselors are available for personal appointments. Their counselors will schedule a phone consultation to review your personal situation and offer a plan to help you progress toward your goals. Your Road Map to Financial Success BALANCE can help you with: avoiding foreclosure paying past-due bills building a budget saving for emergencies rebuilding your credit using credit wisely creating a retirement plan financing an education for you or your children paying off credit cards and high-interest loans saving money on your next vehicle preparing for home ownership The first step is to visit the BALANCE website or talk to a representative. SMCU and BALANCE will help you get all the financial counseling you need to take the next step and will be with you for every stage of your journey. After all, we ve been walking this road since We know the way. 5

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