Security Update: Guarding against Hacktivism

Law enforcement personnel and public officials are being warned of an increased risk in cyberattacks. But these kinds of electronic crimes can happen to anyone, at any time.

Hacking collectives effectively leverage open-source, publicly available information identifying people, then use that data to inflict harm and steal resources.

Compiling and posting an individual’s personal information without permission is known as doxing. This is gathered from social media and other Web sites includes home addresses, phone numbers, emails, and passwords.

While eliminating your exposure in the digital age is difficult, you can take steps to minimize your risk:

  • Carefully consider all your posts on social media sites and watch for unnecessary and revealing comments.
  • Routinely update your hardware and software, including antivirus applications.
  • Pay close attention to all emails, especially those containing attachments or links to other Web sites — they could have viruses.
  • Enable security measures to include two-factor authentication on your personal email.
  • Closely monitor your accounts for fraudulent activity with free Online & Mobile Banking.
  • Passwords should be changed regularly and be phrases of 15 characters or more.
  • Be aware of phising phone calls and emails from those pretending to know you.

To learn more, please visit us here.

Make the Most of your Home Equity

equity every day, 24/7.

A low-rate America First Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit can turn it into some serious green.

Which means money you can use to finance improvements, make upgrades, go on your dream vacation, consolidate debt — pretty much whatever you need.

With values going up and loan rates staying low, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of these resources.

Apply online here or visit a branch near you for additional information.

Equal Housing & Opportunity Lender.

America First Honors our Unique and Lasting Legacy

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

Each spring, America First members gather to elect a volunteer Board of Directors to guide our credit union, renew our unique & lasting bond, and honor our legacy as a not-for-profit cooperative.

Held April 14, 2015 in Ogden, Utah, the 76th Annual Meeting continued the democratic tradition of voting for fellow members to provide us with direction and oversight. We were also fortunate to have civic leaders, representatives from credit union trade associations, and other dignitaries in attendance.

Board Vice Chair Barney B. Chapman, Chairman of the Board Elections Committee, oversaw the balloting, during which America First Board members Lyle B. Adams, Joy Jex and John D. Spease were elected to serve three-year terms. They, along with Linda Carver, Mr. Chapman, Edwin G. Cline, Kenlon W. Reeve, Michael R. Roden, and James G. Wendler are exceptional individuals on our Board who are dedicated to your financial well-being.

The Board subsequently chose their leadership following the meeting, with Mr. Wendler taking the role of Chair, Mrs. Carver serving as Vice Chair, and Mr. Reeve being Secretary.

Volunteers on our Board work exceptionally hard and without compensation to direct our organization in a provident and productive manner. That we benefit from the abilities of these volunteers is one of many admirable characteristics of our structure, and we are truly fortunate to have such a remarkable team working on your behalf.

We further owe a great deal of gratitude to our volunteers on the Loan Review and Supervisory Committees. The Loan Review Committee meets to conduct appeals processes for those seeking to resolve their credit situations and find solutions to financial challenges. The Supervisory Committee offers fiscal & regulatory review to ensure the credit union has judicious and sound programs, policies, and procedures.

In her remarks at the meeting, outgoing Board Chair Carver expressed appreciation to the membership for their choice in financial institutions, and congratulated the staff, management, and volunteers for their diligence in serving your needs in a remarkable fashion, year after year.

Mrs. Carver also reflected on the credit union’s strong performance across key categories in 2014 and assured all that America First, is safe, sound, secure, and stands as one of the finest institutions in the country. She further commented on our commitment to prudent growth.

I am blessed to serve with these volunteers and our remarkable team of more than 2,300 employees, who provide you and your families with the products and tools necessary to achieve financial well-being. We realize it’s essential for you to conduct business with the credit union in the manner you find most convenient, and we are a national leader in giving you anytime, anywhere access. Delivering outstanding service through all channels is of primary importance to us.

We additionally remain steadfast in promoting financial literacy, supporting schools and the communities in which we have a presence, and we will continue to pursue opportunities that facilitate the greater good through worthwhile causes, the America First Charitable Foundation, and other partnerships.

I am proud of what America First Credit Union stands for and the service we provide. I am especially thankful for your commitment to America First. We look forward to a lifetime relationship.

America First Credit Union Gets ‘Wild About Saving’ During Nation Credit Union Youth Month

Riverdale, Utah –  In celebration of National Credit Union Youth Month and in maintaining its strong dedication to youth financial literacy, America First Credit Union gets ‘Wild About Saving’ with a savings account contest that will run through the month of April, culminating Thursday, April 30.

Members aged zero through 17 who deposit money into a Share Savings Account during the month of April will be entered into eligible drawings for a $25 deposited into their account and $1,000 Coverdell Education Savings Account. Ten winners will receive a $25 deposited into their account and four winners will receive $1,000 deposited into a Coverdell Education Savings Account at America First Credit Union. Winners will be randomly selected from the pool of entrants.

Joining in the ‘Wild About Savings’ theme determined by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), America First encourages youth members to post on their social media accounts using the dedicated hashtag #AFCUWildAboutSaving for additional entry opportunities.

“It’s so important for our youth to be engaged in a positive path towards savings goals and financial education,” said John B. Lund, president and CEO of America First. “We encourage youth to take advantage of these exciting contests and for parents to take this opportunity to teach their children the importance of saving during National Credit Union Youth Month.” 

For more information, visit www.americafirst.com, America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, @AmericaFirst on Instagram and Pinterest

Security Update: On Guard against Identity Theft

According to Reuters, millions of people find themselves victims of identity theft every year.

It can happen to anyone, but here are five easy steps you can take to help protect yourself:

  • Do not list your Social Security and driver’s license numbers on your checks.
  • Install antivirus and anti-spyware software on your home computer & mobile devices.
  • Never provide anyone who calls or emails you with your personal or account data. Your credit union will never contact you first and ask you for your information.
  • Never write your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on any card or on a piece of paper kept in your wallet or purse.
  • Shred confidential documents.
  • Choose complex passwords featuring combinations of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Review your America First accounts regularly with free Online & Mobile Banking.

And be sure to visit us here for more valuable information and tips on how we are working to protect your financial resources.

A Welcome to Spring and New Opportunities

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

After winter, it is always a welcome relief to have spring arrive. It is a pleasure to witness the tulips and daffodils breaking through the ground, the trees beginning to blossom, and the song birds returning to occupy the trees. The season is a time of renewal and rebirth, and it’s appropriate that April is National Financial Literacy Month.

If your financial literacy and that of your family is well in hand, congratulations! If your skills in this area are marginal or somewhat lacking, maybe spring marks an opportunity to dust off the cobwebs, renew, and recommit to establishing and maintaining healthy financial habits.

Financial literacy involves gaining a set of skills, knowledge, and tools that allow an individual to make informed and effective decisions regarding their fiscal resources. It has been said that the best investment you can make is in yourself. Obviously, acquiring an education and aptitude in your field of choice can increase your earning ability, which is a key component of financial stability. The wise use of resources is equally important. More money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness, comfort, piece of mind, or stability.

Jean Chatzky wrote a great little book: Money Rules. It is an easy read and full of relevant financial literacy and money-management tips. One of my favorites is “the best way to be comfortable is to be slightly uncomfortable.” This sentence speaks to the importance of spending less than you make and sacrificing current pleasures a bit to be better prepared for the future.

I am proud that our organization has a mission “to provide personal financial services of superior quality to the members/owners, our chief concern being their financial well-being.” America First works hard each day to achieve this goal, and no matter what phase of life you are in, the credit union stands ready to assist. We are proud of the financial tools, calculators, budgeting tips and information found on our Web site and within our Online and Mobile Banking systems. If you prefer face-to-face interaction, our people are the best in the business.

America First is active in the community and our schools, promoting financial literacy and sponsoring financial education events and activities. We hold financial seminars throughout the year and we invest in and distribute publications for youth, such as Be Money Smart. We established and continue to support the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation. We offer free financial counseling to members who may need it. We also provide a full array of financial planning, trust, and insurance services.

No matter the state of your financial health, it’s never too late to seek improvement. With spring comes sunshine and energy, and a good time to recommit to doing better. Thanks to each of you for your membership in and support of America First Credit Union. We continue looking forward to a lifelong relationship.

America First Credit Union Kicks Off 2015 Growth With Opening of Lehi Branch Location

Riverdale, Utah – America First Credit Union will welcome residents of Lehi City with the opening of its newest location at 1238 East Timpanogos Highway in Lehi, Utah on Monday, April 6. The new branch is the 110th location for the credit union servicing Utah and Southern Nevada.

The first branch opening of 2015, the Lehi branch signifies a strong start to the year for the credit union.

Michael Crossley will serve as branch manager of the Lehi location. Crossley began his career with America First Credit Union more than 30 years ago in 1982 when he started at the Ogden Main location as a loan officer trainee. He moved to a management intern position before becoming assistant branch manager at the Layton location. Crossley was then promoted to manager of the Cottonwood branch and also served as manager at the West Valley branch. He has served as manager/market manager of the Orem location since 1993.

With much experience in the credit union industry, Crossley boasts extensive education in many facets related to working in a credit union, including accounting, economics, management and credit union collections. An Ogden, Utah native, Crossley is married to Lu Ann Jordan Crossley and together they have seven children and 14 grandchildren.

A grand opening ribbon cutting will take place on the morning ofMonday, April 27 with celebratory events held April 27 – May 2. The branch is located at 1238 East Timpanogos Highway, Lehi, Utah 84043. Branch hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, visit www.americafirst.com, America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, @AmericaFirst on Instagram and Pinterest.

Security Update: Digital Spring Cleaning

To keep your electronic life safe & secure, you can take advantage of the following tips to remove clutter, upgrade technologies, and perform a digital spring cleaning.

1. Get rid of excess files. Go through all of your folders, including the recycle bin, and discard items no longer in use.

2. Organize all forms of media in labeled folders.

3. Streamline your desktop so it isn’t inundated with icons that slow boot-up times.

4. Uninstall programs you never or rarely initiate, reducing the potential for malware.

5. Update your passwords by making them unique, never the same, and having different characters/numbers.

6. Back up important data on a flash drive or with online storage.

7. Consider reinstalling your operating system after everything is backed up.

8. Update your Internet security software with antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and firewall applications.

9. Defragment your hard drive.

10. Don’t forget your mobile device. Double-check your smartphone and remove unneeded apps.

And be sure to visit us here for information regarding how your credit union can help you guard your resources.

A Year of Celebration and Renewal

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

To our valued members,

America First celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2014, honoring the pioneers who established what has become one of the strongest, most relevant, and highly trusted credit unions in the nation. To truly honor those who went before us, we seek not only to recognize their achievements, but continually strive to sustain and build on their legacy.

When the year began, an internal theme was established to complement our budget and strategic plan: Embracing Our Legacy. Now is Our Time. In this case, the word now stood as an acronym for no opportunity wasted. Our use of embrace implies the ability to receive gladly, to adopt, and to appreciate, a perfect choice considering our wonderful heritage. Now is our time signaled the importance of this institution’s entire team being actively engaged in making a difference in our members’ lives and meeting your evolving financial needs.

I am privileged to report that, in 2014, America First experienced an outstanding year in terms of serving the membership, achieving beneficial goals, and performing at exceptional levels.

Member satisfaction: Our loyalty, retention, and product utilization numbers are among America’s best. Our net promoter score — an industry benchmark for evaluating service quality — stood at 83.0% at the close of 2014, an extremely high figure and one few companies have attained.

Outstanding service through all delivery channels is of primary importance to America First, whether a member interacts with us at a branch, over the phone, online, with mobile devices, or by purchasing vehicles through local dealerships. We employ significant resources in training, monitoring, and feedback mechanisms to sustain and improve our service levels.

Financial stability & performance: America First is fiscally sound and rated among the best credit unions in the United States. We closed the year with $659 million in capital, up 15.85%. Our net worth ratio was 11.51%, rising from 10.05% in 2013. Our federal regulator, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), considers a net worth ratio of 7% to be well capitalized. We additionally received an unqualified opinion from our external audit firm regarding our financial statements.

Our financial performance proved to be superior in 2014. Net income totaled over $144 million. Assets surged by more than $511 million, or 8.71%, with return-on-assets (ROA) at a strong 2.32%. The ROA number was enhanced by excess allowance for loan loss dollars flowing back into the income line item.

Our membership continued to grow at a steady pace and was at 681,430 to finish the year. Deposits were up more than $384 million, or 7.37%. Our year-to-date loan growth was 10.48%, netting $421.6 million. Our loan delinquency rate fell from 2.11% to .80%, and the allowance for loan and lease loss account remains more than adequate to absorb any portfolio deficiencies.

We funded in excess of 14,000 mortgage and home equity loans, totaling more than $834 million, reinforcing our status as a premiere real estate financing institution. We take pride in helping families purchase, refinance, and upgrade their home investments.

Strategic growth & initiatives: New locations opened in Ogden, Saratoga Springs, and Tooele, Utah; and in Las Vegas, Nevada. We enhanced and upgraded our information-technology networks, as well as our free Online Banking & Mobile Banking systems. America First was the second credit union in the country to provide the Apple Pay service, and we were the first in Utah to deploy merchant-funded offers to members via our Visa® credit and debit cards. Additionally, the ability to generate vehicle loans through mobile devices was a first for financial institutions in the state. Mobile check deposits grew substantially and this is another example of our focus on convenience. With our person-to-person payment capability, you can transfer funds to whomever you choose, even if they aren’t America First members. We expanded our business lending capability, improved the business Visa credit offerings, and enhanced our mobile transaction system for business account holders. Our social media presence is robust and a valuable means of communicating and receiving suggestions. Many members have taken advantage of our outstanding financial planning, insurance, and trust services. Our commitment is to provide you with the best available products and services and give you anytime, anywhere account management.

We remain dedicated to improving our schools and the communities we serve. Examples of these efforts include supporting food drives, conducting our Warm The Soles of Kids holiday campaign, contributing to the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation, making grants through the America First Charitable Foundation, supporting children’s hospitals, and assisting so many other worthy civic and community causes. Further, our team donated countless hours of their personal time to service outreach.

Challenges and opportunities: The economy and consumer confidence, while slowly growing and improving, remain somewhat fragile. There is an uneasiness regarding monetary policy, government gridlock, high federal deficits, and world instability. There are, however, positive indicators, including improving real estate values, growth in the housing market, and strong automobile sales. Regardless of any larger economic conditions, members can be assured that your credit union is strong, vibrant, and determined to always have relevance and excellence in serving you.

Appreciation: America First Credit Union would not have achieved the strength and superior reputation we enjoy without the dedication and hard work of volunteers and staff. Our Board of Directors is elected by the membership and represents your best interests in strategic and policy decisions. The Supervisory Committee works diligently with internal and external audit firms to ensure our financial reporting is accurate, and that our fiscal position remains sound and secure. The Loan Review Committee provides an important appeals process for these decisions. Gratitude is also extended to our wonderful team of employees. They are truly passionate about this organization and serving our membership, whether directly or indirectly.

Most importantly, we express our utmost appreciation and commitment to you, the members. We thank you for your support, and we look forward to a lifetime relationship in giving you and your family financial solutions to improve your well-being.

America First CU Helps Special Needs Students Purchase Snow Boots in Financial Literacy Activity

Riverdale, Utah – A true proponent of the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ America First Credit Union donated funds for snow boots to the students of Transition Academy at Jordan Valley School on 2/3/15. In a learning activity created to teach the students about financial literacy, each student received a VISA gift card for the purchase of snow boots to be used for upcoming school field trips.

Most students in the Transition Academy at Jordan Valley School, which is Canyons District’s school for students with severe disabilities, had never before used a credit or debit card to purchase goods at a store. With a little help from teachers and aides, each student was able to approach a cashier, present the item they sought to purchase and complete the shopping transaction with pre-paid Visa cards provided by America First Credit Union, one of Canyons District’s valued community partners. 

“The learning activity was a complete success,” said Robin Collett, Canyons District’s director of special education. “The thrill of accomplishment was evident in the bright smiles of all the students who were able to participate.”  

Canyons Transition Academy provides students with disabilities the opportunity to make choices in a safe environment with person-centered planning, hands-on training, community access and inclusion in community activities that lead to greater independence for living and employment.

“Thanks to America First Credit Union, which generously sponsored the shopping trip, the students didn’t just get the gift of a new pair of boots that they can wear while learning to ride public transportation, go to the library or visit museums,” said Collett. “Through this experience, they were given a chance to learn some important financial literacy and independent-living skills that are necessary to become productive participants in the community. We can’t thank America First Credit Union enough for helping us to help our students in this way.”