Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SOFCU welcomes New Name with Same Commitment – Community First

On October 1, 2012, SOFCU Community Credit Union will officially be known as First Community Credit Union. It has been more than two years since the Oregon First Community Credit Union and SOFCU Community Credit Union board of directors announced their decision to merge. We are unifying our name to First Community Credit Union in all 30 branches, which will help us better communicate our commitment to the many communities we serve.

October 1st, brings the merger of systems and processes together which allows for gained operational efficiencies. This will also allow for improved products and services in the future.

Please look for the positive changes in our branches knowing that with First Community, our Members and Community will always come first.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SOFCU Provides Quality Business Services



Every business owner needs to know their money is well protected, whether a sole proprietor operating out of a one-person office, an entrepreneur with an expanding client base, or one of Oregon’s largest employers. At SOFCU Community Credit Union, your business finances are safe and sound because of the many years of history as an Oregon credit unit combined with our recent affiliation with First Community Credit Union.

Our motto at SOFCU is “It’s all about you,” and we really mean it. As a member owner of our credit union, you get our complete attention, from simple transactions like making a deposit or withdrawing money, to loan processing and help with financing to expand your business.

Business owners have specific needs at different times, so SOFCU staff is there to customize services accordingly. The following are several different types of services that business owners often need, and that SOFCU provides.

Vehicle Purchases or Leases
SOFCU provides term loans for members to purchase autos, trucks and even growing fleets for businesses that are growing.

Real Estate Purchase or Rental
Every business requires an office or a facility in which to manufacture a product or provide a service. SOFCU offers real estate loans and lines of equity for the purchase or refinance of a commercial property, or for the lease or rental of a building or office.

Equipment Upgrades or New Buys
Often times, business expansion requires upgrades of equipment, or the purchase of new equipment.  With SOFCU’s term loans, a business owner can increase its capacity and efficiency to better serve customers.

Cash Flow
With a secured business equity line of credit, company owners will improve their cash flow, have the ability to make routine purchases, and have immediate access to money in case of emergency.

Business Expenses
With a SOFCU credit card, business owners can purchase supplies and pay for travel, entertainment or other expenses. Credit cards not only offer buying power, but provide a tracking method for expenses.

For more information on business lending services, contact the SOFCU branch nearest you or call at 877-266-2601 to speak with a Branch Manager. You can also visit SOFCU’s website at www.sofcu.com, or follow the Oregon credit union on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Customer Service at SOFCU

One of the key benefits of a credit union is that as a member, you are also an owner. This is not true when dealing with banks because you are a customer, not a member-owner.

As a member-owner at SOFCU Community Credit Union -- an affiliate of First Community Credit Union, you can expect the highest level of service, whether you are at the bank in person, on the phone conducting business, or doing your financial transactions online.

Great service is a value at SOFCU. If you are considering changing from your bank to a credit union, you are invited to meet our branch managers at one of our many Oregon locations. They will explain all the different programs and types of accounts, then help you choose the right one for you.

You can find SOFCU at www.sofcu.com, and find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Keep Online Banking Safe and Secure

Online banking has really taken off, with an increasing number of people taking advantage of this stay-at-home approach to managing their accounts and finances. In most cases, credit unions and banks offer this service for free because it reduces paperwork and staffing overhead. With online banking, customers can get their account balances, transfer funds, pay bills online and do a number of other transactions – all without having to go into the bank or make a call to a  branch office.

As online activity has increased, credit union and bank customers have expressed concern about the safety of online banking. This is a legitimate concern, and as a result, SOFCU Community Credit Union (an affiliate of First Community Credit Union) has provided some guidelines for online banking customers. Here are the top three:
  
1. Create the right login information.
When you create your user name and password, make sure that it is unique. Resist using your account number and don’t use general information like your child’s name or your mother’s maiden name. It’s a good idea to change your password about four times a year. Just make sure to create a private file with all your login information. 

2.  Beware of fake websites
Although it seems far-fetched, people really do go to all the trouble of making a look-alike website as a scam. To keep this from happening, you should always type in the credit union or bank’s website address directly into your browser.

3.  End your online session correctly
Never leave your online banking page open after accessing it. Make sure to close it so that no one is able to view it. Fortunately, online banking sessions through SOFCU will automatically time out after 10 minutes of inactivity.

In addition to the above three guidelines for online banking, it’s important to recognize and avoid phishing scams related to emails. Never open anything from someone you don’t know. And finally, install anti-virus software and firewalls on your computer, then keep them updated so they will recognize the newest scams on the Internet.

SOFCU Community Credit Union offers online banking. You can learn more by visiting www.sofcu.com. You can also follow SOFCU on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Plan an Awesome 'Staycation'


As the economy has dipped over the past several years, people have gotten used to living with less and many have learned how to budget better.  Some have downsized their homes, purchased fewer toys (as in boats, off-road vehicles, jet skis and the like), learned to take advantage of sales in department stores, and started using coupons in grocery stores. In addition, people have figured out how to have summer vacations at home or in nearby cities.

These kinds of economy-induced summer vacations have been dubbed “staycations.” And guess what? Vacationers who are staying in their neighborhoods, taking advantage of the natural resources, cultural opportunities and local entertainment venues are making all kinds of discoveries. They are realizing how amazing their hometowns really are and learning how to have fun without spending lots of money on gas, hotels and meals.  

Staycations are also bringing people closer to nature because it’s free to walk along the beach, to hike trails, and to fish along the banks for rivers and lakes (aside from the cost of a fishing license). Depending on the region, staycationers are finding new swimming holes and stopping at parks and historical landmarks they have heard about but never visited.

“I had no idea how much fun our family would have in our own town, and how much we would all learn about our history and culture,” says a first-time staycationer.  “We enjoyed it so much, our kids are begging us to do it again next year.” 

To plan your Staycation, you must first create a budget.  This budget should cover the cost of gasoline, food and drinks. For example, if the budget is $300 for three days, then figure out how much it will cost to pack lunches, refreshments and snacks for those three days, then subtract that amount from the total. Whatever is left is your gas money.  Since you will not be staying in a hotel, you need to estimate the cost of round-trip drives.

Make sure to map out your strategy each day of your staycation, leaving room for spur-of-the-moment stops in places of interest. And plan ahead, by starting a SOFCU savings account. 
SOFCU is an Oregon credit union and an affiliate of First Community Credit Union. You can visit us at www.sofcu.com  or on Facebook and Twitter.

The History of SOFCU Community Credit Union

People often ask what makes SOFCU Community Credit Union a great choice. We tell them it’s because we care about our members and the communities in which we do business. But there’s more to the SOFCU story. The following are a few highlights.

SOFCU was founded in 1953 as the Josephine County Teachers Credit Union before merging with Public Employees Credit Union in 1960. The name was changed to Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union three years later, then in 1973, the SOFCU charter changed to a ‘community’ charter to include anyone who lives or works in Josephine County or Western Jackson County. 

Over the next several years, SOFCU opened branches in several cities, and by 1998, the Oregon credit union’s assets increased to $100 million with its charter expanding to include all of Jackson County. By 2002, SOFCU expanded to include Douglas, Coos and Lane counties, and it merged in Umpqua FCU.
In 2004, the SOFCU charter changed from a federal to a state-chartered credit union and changed its name to SOFCU Community Credit Union. Meanwhile, the Oregon credit union merged in Highland Community FCU. 

By 2009 SOFCU’s assets had increased to $300 million, and in 2011, the not-for-profit credit union merged with Oregon First Community Union. Today, SOFCU is an affiliate of First Community Credit Union with combined assets of $700 million and a total of 30 branch locations throughout Oregon. The merger also brought membership to upwards of 70,000.

To learn more about SOFCU Community Credit Union, visit www.sofcu.com. You can also follow the Oregon credit union on Twitter and on Facebook.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Oregon Credit Unions: An Overview



There are some similarities, but also many significant differences between banks and credit unions. For example, banks are profit-generating businesses while credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that promote the value of service over profitability. Credit unions are also well known for adherence to sound financial standards, for providing employee-friendly workplaces, and for credit union leadership and staff who are involved with volunteerism within the communities they serve. 

These days, educated consumers are doing due diligence when it comes to who handles their money. They are more apt to compare one type of business with another based on economics, customer service and other factors. This is why many consumers have switched from banks to credit unions, and why many others are on the verge of making such a change. 

Did you know that credit unions operate through a board of directors made up of elected volunteers and are owned by the members? This is why customers of credit unions are so well received when they walk through the doors of these organizations. There’s a respect and a relationship between the credit union staff and the members/customers. In addition, credit union staff is accountable to shareholders who expect financial performance and proper treatment for the members who double as customers. In other words, credit unions not only have a standard, but the staff is inclined to attain or even exceed it. 

On the other hand, bank customers are just that – customers. And while many banks do a good job at establishing customer service standards and procedures, there is no guarantee that the entire staff will buy into the process.  

Not everyone can join a credit union, but these not-for-profit organizations often have a broad range of membership criteria. For example, to become a member of SOFCU Community Credit Union in Oregon (an affiliate of First Community Credit Union), all that’s necessary is to live or work in the following 22 counties:
  • Clackamas
  • Coos
  • Curry
  • Deschutes
  • Douglas
  • Gilliam
  • Hood River
  • Josephine
  • Jackson
  • Klamath
  • Lane
  • Lincoln
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Morrow
  • Multnomah
  • Polk
  • Sherman
  • Umatilla
  • Wasco
  • Washington
  • Yamhill
With this common bond, SOFCU can relate to member-owners and create services specific for this community of people.

Once a member of a credit union such as SOFCU, it’s important to learn the nuances that make that particular credit union special. It may be that they are partnered with other like-minded financial businesses and programs, or that they can provide certain types of loan, including home energy assistance loans. In addition, credit unions often offer the same or similar services as larger banks. 

To learn all about SOFCU, an affiliate of First Community Credit Union, visit www.sofcu.com or follow them on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.