April Newsletter

Agassiz Federal Credit Union Merger Becomes Official

(photo1 here)

Last fall, FCCU members voted and approved a merger with Agassiz Federal Credit Union of Crookston, MN. Although delayed a few months, the merger is now official as of April 1, 2018.

Agassiz Federal Credit Union has 1,500 members, assets of $13 million and seven employees. They were founded in 1953 and have two locations-Crookston and Climax, MN. The community of Crookston has about 8,000 people and is located 25 miles southeast of Grand Forks. Climax is 17 miles southwest of Crookston.

There is a legal merger effective date, which was April 1, 2018 and there is an operational merger effective date, which will be several months after the legal date. This is when all of the processes will be brought together into one, instead of running separately on two different systems. Note that during the operational phase, services will be limited and you may experience slight delays while we're in transition of accounts, software and processes. This is true for new members visiting existing FCCU locations and existing FCCU members visiting new (recently merged) locations.

"This is a very exciting time to be a part of FCCU," said Steve Schmitz, President and CEO. He continued, "We do want to thank you for your patience during this transition. If only it were so easy as to turn a switch and the merger would be done! It's not that simple. There's a lot of work that's going on in the background to make the transition go smoothly and as always, you will be our highest priority as we move through the merger process."

As we look to the future, we are excited to share that with the Agassiz and Citizens Community Credit Union mergers, as well as the new Fargo 52nd location, FCCU will have 28 branch locations, 45,300 members and serve 23 communities throughout North Dakota and into Minnesota. We look forward to working and growing with you in the future.

Free Shred Events to be Held at Three FCCU Locations

(photo2 here)

First Community Credit Union is sponsoring its annual FREE Shred Day at three FCCU locations - Jamestown, Devils Lake and Grand Forks.

This event is free and open to the public. Simply drive up to the Docu Shred or MinnKota truck, deposit the items for shredding and they'll be shredded right before your eyes. Documents to be shredded should be removed from binders, but staples, paper clips, CDs and floppy discs are okay to be shredded.

With the ever growing risk of identity theft, FCCU feels that it's important to give the community an opportunity to discard confidential documents safely and securely. One way identity thieves can get your information is by picking through a person's trash and looking for things that contain identifying information. Shredding those items securely helps prevent the information from getting into the wrong hands.

Noel Schanilec, FCCU marketing specialist says, "We know how items such as bank statements, old tax filings, old checks or duplicate checks, physician statements, credit card receipts or statements, credit card offers and many other private documents can build up in homes. We want to provide the community with a safe outlet to have them securely destroyed."

"This also helps to protect the environment of our communities because all the shredded documents are then recycled," Schanilec adds. "It is a win-win for the members of our communities and the environment - saving the trees and protecting your identity."

Suicide Prevention Second Quarter Charity at FCCU

(photo3 here)

Each quarter FCCU raises money and awareness for a different organization, as voted on by the employees of the Credit Union. Beginning in April, FCCU will be supporting suicide prevention in our region. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

"The topic of suicide can be very personal for some," said Janna Bergstedt, VP of Marketing for FCCU. She continues, "Unfortunately nearly everyone has been impacted by suicide, whether directly or indirectly. Our employees chose this cause because it's one that we feel is important and we want to help make a difference in those that have been impacted or could be in the future."

To support, FCCU will be holding fundraisers for members and employees and also finding ways to raise awareness for the cause. We'll be selling pin-ups at the branches with all proceeds going to the local chapters of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Funds raised through casual Fridays and other internal events will also be donated.

About the Local AFSP Chapter

The grassroots work the local chapter does focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

As a part of AFSP's growing nationwide network of chapters, they bring together people from all backgrounds who want to prevent suicide in our communities. Families and friends who have lost someone to suicide, vulnerable individuals, mental health professionals, clergy, educators, students, community/business leaders, and many others energize the chapter.

There are dozens of resources available for those who would like more information; simply visit www.afsp.org or call 1-888-333-AFSP.

Social Media Privacy. Tips to Protect Yourself Online

(photo4 here)

Every day hackers prowl social media networks looking for victims. They use spyware to remotely access your phone, laptop, iPad or computer through downloads, emails, or instant messages in hopes of obtaining your social media passwords.

Identity thieves gather personal information about their victims from what they post on social media - birthdays, email addresses, cell phone numbers, and more. Then, they hack into email accounts and have access to all sorts of personal information. Beware, the information you post about where you are can actually invite burglars or thieves to your home or business because they know you're not there.

How can you protect your information?

Here are some ways to protect your social media accounts so you can network with friends, family, and customers with peace of mind:

  • Create strong passwords that include symbols, numbers, and capital letters. Don't use common passwords, like your child's name, spouse's name or birthday.
  • Choose enhanced privacy options on your social media sites to protect your personal information and be careful what you post. Personal information, such as your children's names or photos or your full name and address, can be used by hackers and stalkers to stalk you, cyber bully, or even steal your identity.
  • Install updated anti-virus and anti-spyware on your computer to protect you from malware, viruses, and spyware.
  • Keep your critical applications updated, such as your operating system and internet browsers (which are prone to hacker attacks).
  • Avoid using social media on public devices - if you do, log completely out after you use the device.
  • Don't click on social media links that look suspicious - even if they're from friends or family. You never know if they've been hacked. And, don't "re-friend" someone - that's usually an indicator that someone has been hacked.

Hackers are constantly looking to access your personal information, so protecting your privacy on social media is worth the effort. Do what you can to keep yourself and your family safe online and always think about what you post.

Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.




An Estate Plan is Not Just a Nice Idea

(photo5 here)

Did you know that less than half of Americans have a will? And, even less have an estate plan? Many people think they don't need an estate plan because they don't have a vast estate. But, the truth is an estate plan deals with the distribution of assets and legacy wishes, and can help you and your heirs pay less in taxes, fees and court costs should you pass away. Ask yourself the following questions to see if an estate plan is right for you.

Do you have children? How do you want finances distributed or managed for your children, when you die? An estate plan states how inherited finances will be managed for surviving children. Additionally, an estate plan can protect children from making bad financial decisions or being affected by negative financial decisions of others.

How big is the estate you will be leaving behind? If it is large and/or complicated (i.e. involves a business, stock shares, retirement funds, etc.), it may be worth your time to establish an estate plan so that the division of your assets goes smoothly.

Do you want to avoid probate? Probate can be expensive and complicated for surviving heirs. By establishing a living trust through an estate plan, your property will transfer to your surviving family members quickly and easily without probate, allowing more of the property you leave to go to the people you want to inherit it.

Would you like some money to go to charities? Your estate plan will make sure your wish to give money to charities is fulfilled appropriately.

Do you own a business? If so, you can legally declare your successor for your business (in the case of your death) in your estate plan.

Do you have any potential creditors? An estate plan can protect your assets from creditors during your lifetime and after your death.

If you feel an estate plan is a good option for you, now may be a good time to get one started.

Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.




Upcoming Member's Choice Club Events

(photo6 here)

Join us for our upcoming events:

  • Bismarck - Bingo - April 5 at 3:30pm Dakota Skies Bingo
  • Jamestown - Spring Floral Class - April 19 at 1pm - Country Gardens
  • Oakes - AARP Drivers Safety Course - April 26 from 1- 5pm at the Oakes Armory. Call 742-2376 to register
  • Valley City - AARP Drivers Safety Course May 3 from 1pm-5pm - Senior Center

We have a special package of benefits for our members 55 years and up. Member's Choice Club is exclusively designed with a wide variety of perks and benefits including special gifts, events/tours, and account specials. If you are someone with a zest for life and would like to learn more about getting involved with Member's Choice Club contact your favorite FCCU representative today.