News Bites


The All New

Change is good and it's coming to Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union, or at least to our website!

It's been 8 years since was overhauled, about the same time our name changed to Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union. We've strived to keep the website updated with content, products, services and features, however, we knew it was time for a change.

Technology and the world wide web have changed dramatically over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans who now have a cellphone of some kind is 95% versus 2007 when only 76% owned a cell device. With the addition of smart devices (tablets, smart phones, TVs) Americans are also changing their internet use habits, opting for mobile devices over the home PC. This change is also reflected in consumer banking habits as 81% of those who managed household finances banked online at least once in the past 12 months according to Pew.

One of the very first issues Spirit of Alaska FCU wanted to fix with the website was mobile responsiveness. We all well know the frustration of viewing a website on your mobile device that isn't mobile-friendly. Navigating anywhere on the site consists of pulling and pinching your screen until you can either view the screen legibly or move to a button to push. The new site will be mobile-friendly, meaning it will recognize the shape and size of your smart device and adjust accordingly. Online applications will also be mobile responsive for your convenience on the go.

The new website will also feature a new interactive chatbot that will make navigating the site a more engaging experience. Need to refinance a home or want to learn more about share certificates? Answering just a few short questions with "Aurora" the online virtual assistant will get you where you need to go.

Spirit of Alaska FCU will also debut a new blog feature on the improved website. In addition to news articles and event information, members can access the blog to stay informed about products and services, the latest fraud alerts and best practices to keep your account information safe and secured.

Additional changes and upgrades include a cleaner, brighter look and feel for the site, fun and beautiful local imagery, and a streamlined menu area. We've expanded our product descriptions and FAQ's will be listed on the individual products and services. Rate information has also been included on each product page. Launch of the new and improved will take place in mid-May. Website tutorials will be available following the launch.


Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union promotes Christy Waters to Chief Operating Officer

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union (SoAFCU) and its volunteer Board of Directors announces the promotion of Christy Waters to Chief Operating Officer for the credit union. In her new leadership position Waters reports directly to the President/CEO and oversees Branch Operations, Operations/Call Center and Consumer Loans. "I am excited for this new challenge," said Waters. "I look forward to continuing my many years of service with the credit union."

Waters is a born and raised, fourth generation Alaskan and attended Denali Elementary, University Park Elementary, Ryan Middle and Lathrop High before attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She began her financial industry career in 1994 as a loan officer. In late 2005, Waters joined SoAFCU as Consumer Loans Manager before being promoted to Vice President of Consumer Loans in 2010. In late 2016 Waters was promoted again, adding the Operations department to her supervision. "Christy is fantastic leader and manager who works extremely hard in everything she does," said Anthony Rizk, President/CEO, SoAFCU. "The entire credit union is excited to see her in this new role." Waters is a notary public and is licensed to sell credit insurance.

Waters continues to make Fairbanks her home with her son and daughter. Like a true Alaskan, when not at SoAFCU, Waters enjoys spending time outdoors at her family's cabins at Harding Lake and Salcha River.

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union is the largest member-owned credit union in the Interior. Established in 1960 as the Greater Fairbanks Teacher's Credit Union by four teachers, SoAFCU now operates three branches and serves approximately 10,000 members, providing banking services, mortgage lending, consumer lending and business lending products. Any person who lives, works, or worships with the Fairbanks North Star Borough is eligible to join the credit union. Employees and students of public, private and parochial schools, high schools and institutions of higher learning north of the Alaskan Range are also eligible.


That's the Spirit!

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union takes pride in lending a helping hand to those who need it in our community. For years Spirit has participated in the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, has donated Thanksgiving meals to families from our partner schools, and has coordinated the annual Youth Safety Day, a free fun day full of give-a-ways, prizes and helpful safety lessons. Giving is a part of the mission statement at Spirit of Alaska and it continues to grow!

Beginning the first quarter of 2017, Spirit of Alaska FCU will be collecting much needed items for various non-profit agencies in the Interior. Collection bins will be set up at all three branches with hope that members and the community can help with a donation. The more items collected, the greater an impact can be made.

This quarter, the charity selected is Fairbanks Youth Advocates. FYA recently opened its new youth shelter called The Door. The Door is a 24-7 shelter for homeless youth aged 12-18, located at 138 10th Avenue in Fairbanks. The shelter provides a safe place to sleep, home cooked meals, clothing, supplies, and connections to community resources to help youth find stability. The Door has specific items that are much needed this time of year:

• Canned Food

• Toilet Paper

• Deodorant

• Z Fold Paper Towels

• Whole Wheat Flour

Spirit of Alaska FCU will be collecting these specific items through the end of March. If you are able to help, Spirit of Alaska FCU would like to thank you in advance! That's the spirit!


How to Stay Safe When Shopping for Holiday Gifts Online

Want to avoid long lines and large crowds this holiday season? Shopping online lets you zip through your list with just a few clicks.

Before whipping out your plastic, however, you'll want to make sure you're shopping on a secure site. Use these tips to keep your data safe.

Look for the padlock symbol

Don't check out at a website unless you see a padlock symbol on the browser bar of whatever device you're using. This symbol means that the page has extra security to prevent others from viewing your sensitive information.

Another way to tell a website is secure is that it starts with "https" instead of just "http." The "s" means the site is secure.

Be cautious around public Wi-Fi

If you need to check your online banking account while you're away from home, avoid public WiFi networks. Many retailers provide free Wi-Fi as a convenience to customers, but you can't be sure who's able to see the data you send on the network - including private information.

Instead, consider using a virtual private network, or VPN, a service that lets you encrypt the information you send over the internet. That way, others won't be able to access your data even if they can access the network. You can also send data over your personal cellular provider's network, which bypasses Wi-Fi.

Use a credit card instead of a debit card

Credit cards offer better consumer protections than debit cards do. If someone steals your credit card and uses it to make unauthorized purchases, you'll be liable for $50 at most, depending on how quickly you report the loss.

If your debit card is stolen and you don't notify your card issuer within two business days of discovering the loss, you can be liable for up to $500 in bogus charges. Even worse, if you don't inform your card issuer for more than 60 days after receiving your next statement, you'll be on the hook for all unauthorized charges.

Also, if you're unhappy with an item you bought on a credit card - say it was damaged when you received it or it was never delivered - you don't have to pay until the dispute is resolved. But if you're unhappy with a debit card purchase, you'll need to file a dispute with the retailer and possibly your bank to try to recover the money after the fact. That's because debit card purchases automatically withdraw funds from your bank account.

Change passwords regularly

Even if you take steps to shop securely, a hacker could steal your user name, password or other sensitive information from a retailer's database. Protect yourself by changing the passwords of your online accounts every three months or so. That way, if hackers do breach a retailer's software, there's a good chance they'll have access only to an old password.

Update anti-virus software

If you shop from a home computer, keep your security software updated. Anti-virus software companies frequently release security updates to address newly discovered security loopholes.

Follow these tips and you can take advantage of the convenience of online shopping while also protecting yourself from online fraud.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved


What Everyone Should Know About EMV Cards

Americans report billions of dollars in credit card fraud each year. The technology known as EMV is designed to curb those losses.

EMV chips are microprocessors embedded in credit and debit cards that exchange information with card readers at retail checkout locations. The technology makes it nearly impossible for hackers to use card information from an in-store purchase to commit fraud.

Here's what you need to know about EMV cards.

How EMV works

When using an EMV card, you insert the chipped end into a slot on an EMV-enabled reader, rather than swiping the card. You leave the card there for a few seconds while the chip exchanges information with the payment processing system and authenticates the account, then you remove it. Depending on the account, you might also sign for the purchase or enter a personal identification number, or PIN, to verify your identity and complete the sale.

How chips protect you

Named for developers Europay, MasterCard and Visa, EMV chips encrypt your information and generate a unique code each time you use your card in a store. Each code is used only once -- so they're useless to hackers.

Traditional cards use a magnetic strip that provides the same unencrypted information every time you swipe. If someone copies the data, he or she can easily duplicate your plastic and use it to make fraudulent purchases.

Where they're used

EMV is the standard for transactions in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. In the U.S., where credit and debit card fraud losses have risen steadily over the past few years, retailers and issuers are slowly catching up. The pace of adoption picked up in October 2015, when new fraud liability standards went into effect. It used to be that credit card issuers bore the brunt of fraud losses, but responsibility now could fall to the retailer, if its system is less secure than the card used.

What it means for you

Actually using an EMV card might, at least the first few times, mean overriding muscle memory. Instead of reflexively swiping your card, you insert it into a slot and leave it there. Many readers help you along, reminding you to leave your card inserted and then telling you when it's OK to remove it. The process can take a bit longer, and different readers can require different steps, but it's a small inconvenience for the increased security.

Furthermore, EMV technology makes it easier to use your card in the countries that already have the technology. (Traditional cards can still be used most places, too.)

Although EMV technology helps you shop more safely, it doesn't thwart thieves entirely. Hackers can still pilfer your card information online or over the phone, or simply steal your card. So it's wise to exercise caution when using your credit or debit card. If your card goes missing or you spot suspicious activity, notify your financial institution immediately.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Youth Safety Day Cancelled

Regrettably, we have had to cancel Youth Safety Day on the planned date due to wind, rain and large puddles in the parking lot. We will update this area, our Facebook page and the Youth Safety Day page in case the event can be re-scheduled, pending availability from the local departments involved.


The restaurant chain Wendy's has confirmed that hackers stole customer debit card data from some of its stores, making the company the latest victim of cyber attacks against major retailers and restaurants. Wendy's first reported unusual payment card activity affecting some restaurants in February 2016. In May, they confirmed that they had found evidence of malware being installed on some restaurants' point-of-sale systems. On June 9th, they discovered additional malicious cyber activity involving other restaurants. That malware has been disabled in all franchisee restaurants where it has been discovered. On its website, the restaurant posted additional information regarding this security breach.

If you used your Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union debit card at one of these locations, you are encouraged to review your transactions carefully and contact our Customer Service Department at (907) 459-5900 if you suspect fraudulent activity.

Alaska Credit Union League donates $16,000 to Alaska Business Week

The Alaska Credit Union League donated $16,000 to Alaska Business Week to support and promote the business education of Alaska's future leaders and entrepreneurs. Spirit of Alaska FCU and the Alaska Credit Union League has supported the Alaska Business Week program since the program started in 2010. The donation supports the league's mission to improve people's financial lives through education. This year, Alaska Business Week is in Anchorage at Alaska Pacific University from July 16th - 23rd; registration is happening now. If you have a business minded teen, it might be a great opportunity for them!


Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union (SoAFCU) is pleased to announce its recent hire of Cindy Cevasco, who has entered into the top management team of the credit union. Cindy will operate out of the Gillam branch, located at 1417 Gillam Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701.

Cindy's background within the financial industry is impressive. She joins SoAFCU after five years with True North Federal Credit Union, serving as the credit union's senior manager for the Fairbanks market. Previous to that, Cevasco was the business development officer with Northrim Bank from 1997 to 2011, administrative assistant/assistant manager with First National Bank from 1988 to 1997 and began her career working for Bank of the North and Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.

Cevasco's list of accomplishments and awards are a credit to her professional work ethic. In 2012 she won the coveted Leadership ASTRI award from True North FCU for exemplifying their corporate vision of attitude, service, teamwork, resilience and initiative. She was awarded the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce's George Nehrbas award in 2011 for outstanding volunteer contributions in the community. She is Customer First Service award recipient from Northrim Bank in 2000 and as early as 1983 she was given the Community Commanders award; the highest award given to non-military personnel for work accomplishments on a military post.

Cindy enjoys spending quality time with her grandchildren, extended family and friends. She is an avid camper and enjoys being active in the summer months.

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union is the largest member-owned credit union in the Interior. Established in 1960 as the Greater Fairbanks Teacher's Credit Union by four teachers, Spirit of Alaska FCU now operates three branches and serves approximately 10,000 members, providing banking services, mortgage lending, consumer lending and business lending products.


SASSY introduces the Centsables!

SASSY is excited to introduce a new resource for parents and kids, combining education and entertainment along with an interactive website, an animated television series, comic books and activity pages.

The Centsables are six credit union employees by day and superheroes by choice. When the kids of Centsinnati are threatened by villains like Creditor and Liquidator, the Centsables leap into action, fighting evil-does with abilities that include super-speed and power over water and wind.

Check out the Centsables site, which has all 12 animated episodes, packed full of fun cartoon action and stories that explain many concepts of money, basic economics and investing without being too technical to understand.

Centsables also offers an app game for Android and Apple tablets, which you can find linked on the SASSY page.


Improved Mobile App Now Available!

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union takes great care in providing its members with products and services they want and need. Our mobile app for your smart device was launched just over a year ago and already Spirit of Alaska FCU is making improvements.

In late February 2016, an enhanced version of our mobile app was introduced to the Google Play and Apple app stores. The newly released version continues to allow users to check account balances, view recent transactions, pay bills and find ATMs and branch locations, but now the app comes with added user experience enhancements, improved workflows and latest security updates and bug fixes. The app now supports multiple user logins when you first open it, allowing access to more than one personal account. Best of all, Spirit of Alaska FCU members can download the app to their smart devices for FREE!

We hope the enhanced app will make your banking experience with Spirit of Alaska FCU easier and more convenient than ever. As always, please let us know how we are doing!


SASSY Awards Mingle at Glow Putt Alaska!

December 2015

Our January Mingle is at Glow Putt Alaska. SASSY members can play a free game on us! If you are under 18 and have a savings account at Spirit of Alaska, you are a SASSY member.

January 15th, 2016, 4:00pm - 6:00pm, at Glow Putt Alaska 610 Cushman St. Inside the Sadler's Building.

Kids who aren't members of SASSY and parents can play for a special rate of $5 per round! Come out and meet other SASSY members, and pick up any awards you have earned through Kirby Kangaroo, Money Island or Money Mission. Don't forget to bring any print-outs that show you've earned the award.

Find out more about SASSY at our Youth Services page.

We really hope to see you there!

Can't attend the Mingle? You can also arrange to pick up awards by emailing Sarah Geer at


Top Ways to Protect Your Identity and Money in the New Year

December 2015

As you set goals for the new year, consider making financial protection one of them.

In 2015, there were at least 69 data breaches in the financial industry alone, according to an Identity Theft Resource Center report. Plus, as the U.S. transitions to more secure credit cards, online shopping fraud may also rise temporarily, based on NerdWallet's study on EMV chip cards. To boost your defenses against thieves, here are some security tips.

Reset your passwords

As the locks to your online accounts, passwords work best with a complex string of characters. Make sure yours have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and change those passwords at least once a year, if not more regularly.

Check credit reports

You're entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the major credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- so take advantage of them to see if any fraudulent credit accounts were recently opened. If you see anything wrong, contact the appropriate bureau.

Be careful of public Wi-Fi

When you're traveling with your phone or laptop, avoid logging onto your financial accounts through public Wi-Fi. Although hotels, airports and cafes offer them for free, they might not be password-protected, meaning hackers can intercept your data more easily.

Stay clear of weird emails

Any message you get that seems too good to be true, such as one that says you won a sweepstakes that you didn't enter, is most likely a scam. You can tell something's not right if an email sender requests personal information. A legitimate business doesn't ask for sensitive details in an email, so avoid potential hoaxes and delete such messages immediately.

Keep anti-virus software current

Although software updates may pop up every few weeks, it's important that you download them. The latest software can address vulnerabilities in older versions, keeping you more secure.

Monitor transactions

Financial institutions such as the Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union feature custom mobile banking apps that allow you to view recent purchases and check balances wherever you are. Checking your accounts at least once a week can help you detect suspicious items and report them to your financial institution quickly.

Use credit cards online

If you end up buying something online from a seller you're not familiar with, pay with a credit card to take advantage of its fraud liability protection. In the event that fake charges come up and you don't report them immediately, the most you'll pay is $50 by law. With a debit card, though, you might pay up to $500 if you report the fraud between two days and 60 days after it occurs.

Following these steps can reduce your risk of getting hit by a storm of fraudulent charges. The sooner you make these into habits, the better protected you'll be this year.

Spencer Tierney, NerdWallet

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved


International Credit Union Day Celebrates People Helping People

On October 15, 2015, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated a simple but radical idea--that by working together, people can improve their financial well-being. "People helping people," this year's ICU Day theme, is the foundational philosophy of the credit union movement, going back to the very beginning.

In 1850s Germany, a group of weary workers formed the world's first credit union. Suffering through an economic downturn and tired of loan sharks exploiting them, they banded together to provide affordable credit to each other. Not-for-profit and governed by and for the people who created them, credit unions not only gave working-class people a way to break a cycle of debt that had bled them of any financial gains. It showed them, for the first time, a path to prosperity.

It's no wonder then that when economic times are hard, credit unions flourish. Credit union membership swelled during the Great Depression and again during the recent Great Recession. Today, there are more than 200 million credit union members worldwide--100 million of them in the United States.

The World Council of Credit Unions, supported by credit unions in the U.S., works to develop credit unions around the world because they believe that every person deserves access to affordable, reliable financial services. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions are governed by their members--one member, one vote. In many countries, credit unions offer people their first true taste of democracy.

"Credit unions must do their part. We must share our knowledge, our experience, and our dreams," World Council Board Chairman Grzegorz Bierecki said earlier this year. "It is the duty of free people to support freedom."

At its most basic level, a credit union is people pooling their money to provide each other with affordable loans--a credit union is literally people helping people. This is why we celebrate ICU Day at Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union. This simple idea empowers people, wherever they are in the world or life, to take control of their own financial future.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union, know that we're thanking you for belonging to a movement that's helping your neighbors--and people around the world--grow and thrive and follow their dreams.

If you have any questions about the credit union philosophy or how Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union can help you, stop by or contact us at (907) 459-5900 or at


Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Congratulations on graduating, from SoAFCU and SASSY.

Count on Spirit of Alaska FCU for solid support as you continue on your path to success in life, with great services like reliable online banking, rewarding checking accounts, financial help with college, purchasing a vehicle or even getting started with a safe, low rate credit card. We wish you the best.

We award a sleek pen and pencil set to our SASSY Grads! If you have graduated this spring, and have not received your pen and pencil set, please call 907-459-5977 and leave a message with your name and number.

Headed to College? We can help.

For SASSY members, our $500 SASSY Scholarship is available to help with those costs! For more information about the scholarship, see our Youth Services page. There's also information on other ways to lower your college costs and pay for tuition.

Mini Construction and Home Improvement Loans Can Fund Smaller Projects

Owning your home often means paying for repairs or home improvements -- whether it's an urgent replacement for a worn-out roof or a long-term investment, such as installing energy-conserving windows or solar panels. Maintaining and improving your home can pay off emotionally, in your family's enjoyment of the home, and financially, by raising your property's value.

If you don't have cash on hand for upgrades, financial institutions offer a variety of financing methods, depending on the type and cost of the work you need to do. Lenders such as Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union may offer financing at more affordable rates and with more flexible terms than some large banks. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions exist to serve their members, and may provide more personalized service and more flexibility in finding solutions that fit their members' situations.

If you still owe a significant amount of money on your home, you might be eligible for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Title I loan. Some credit unions offer these government-insured loans to their members in amounts of up to $25,000 for a single-family home, or $60,000 for a multi-family structure. For loans under $7,500, you seldom need any security, other than your signature, and you don't need a cosigner. Your lender determines your interest rate based on your credit history. Terms can last up to 20 years.

You can use a Title I loan to improve the livability and efficiency of your home, by, for example, installing a new heating system or replacing built-in appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. Loans can also improve your property's accessibility, by paying to lower your kitchen cabinets or install ramps or wider doors. However, these funds can't be used for luxury projects, such as installing a swimming pool or outdoor fireplace.

If you're buying a fixer-upper or a foreclosed home, or you need money to complete an unfinished residence, a mini construction loan might pay for the materials and labor. Mini construction loans typically have shorter terms and lower closing costs than a home loan. Once work is complete, you can convert the loan into a long-term mortgage, or you might be able to obtain a separate mortgage on the home and use some of those funds to pay off the construction loan.

Whatever your home renovation needs, there's probably a type of financing that will work for you. Contact your loan officer to describe your situation, and learn your options for making your house even more of a home.

Jeanne Lee, NerdWallet

© Copyright 2015 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Youth Safety Day 2015

Saturday, August 22

Fun, food and prizes to be found at our 8th annual Youth Safety Day event at the Regal Cinema Theater parking lot!

Kids will learn important safety tips and practices from the local police and fire departments, Volunteers in Policing, Midnight Sun Council Boy Scouts of America, Farthest North Girl Scouts and more! Kids can check out the fire engines, tour the Fire Safety House and zoom down the Fire Safety Slide.

This year we have over 18 exciting stations for you to visit. Kids fill out their Passport to Safety by visiting the stations and getting a stamp. Once the passport is completed, turn it in for a grand prize drawing for one of two new bikes, courtesy of R.E.I. and Goldstream Sports. Don't forget to bring your own bike and weave your way through the cones in our Bike Rodeo. If you forget your helmet, no worries! Free bike helmets will be provided by Kinross Fort Knox and on-site safety checks by Goldstream Sports.

Parents also have the opportunity to learn more out Spirit of Alaska FCU's financial education program for youth, SASSY (Spirit of Alaska Society of Smart Youth). The SASSY program is designed for our youth to travel a path toward success in the world of money, from birth to young adulthood. Kids earn prizes and cash awards as they reach various achievements along the way. Get acquainted with the fun educational programs tailored to educate kids of all ages about finances. The program incorporates age-appropriate online games, informative websites and social and education activities to explore.

Kids can also check out the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and sign up to be a part of a troop!

Thank you to our sponsors who help make Youth Safety Day possible.

  • Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union
  • Farthest North Girl Scouts Council
  • Midnight Sun Council Boy Scouts of America
  • Volunteers in Policing
  • Kinross Fort Knox
  • Goldstream Sports
  • City of Fairbanks Fire Department
  • City of Fairbanks Police Department
  • North Star Volunteer Fire Department
  • GCI
  • Tanana Valley Television
  • KTVF 11
  • Fox 7
  • CBS 13
  • KYSC FM 96.9
  • Chet FM


Tips to Prevent ID Theft and Fraud

April 7, 2015

Crafty online criminals roam the Internet with the hope of gaining access to your checking account and personal information. That's simply a reality for 21st-century consumers. Unfortunately, all too many hackers successfully cash in on occasional carelessness. To help thwart their efforts, it's important to know how to protect yourself and your money. Here are four tips to get you started.

Regularly update your passwords

Although financial institutions like the Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union have advanced security systems in place to protect customer data, you need to do your part, too. For starters, create strong passwords that consist of a mixture of upper- and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Change your passwords on a monthly basis, both on your computers and your mobile apps, and don't share them with anyone. Instead of saving your various passwords on your computer, consider writing them down and storing them in a secure place at home.

Monitor your balances

Keep a close eye on your checking and other accounts. If you spot an odd transaction that you think may be fraudulent, inform the financial institution, card issuer or service provider right away. The sooner you do that, the better your chances are of fixing the situation.

Surf wisely

Whether you're at home or work, always sign out of online financial accounts after you've finished looking at them. Furthermore, protect your home computer by installing antivirus and malware software, and run monthly scans of your system.

Use your best judgment when shopping online. If a website doesn't look legitimate, think twice before supplying your credit card information. Be particularly careful when using Wi-Fi connections in public places. Many public Internet access points are not secured and don't encrypt the traffic they carry. As a result, sensitive information that you transmit, like passwords or debit card numbers, can be easy prey for hackers lying in wait.

The same goes for emails that claim you've won an exorbitantly large cash prize and then ask for your checking account information. These types of messages are scams that should be deleted immediately.

Protect yourself against card skimming

It's equally important to stay vigilant when you're offline. That means keeping your Social Security card in a safe place at home and never carrying more cash and credit cards than you absolutely need. Try to avoid using ATMs in sketchy locations like gas stations, since these are popular among card-skimming criminals who copy your card information to make purchases of their own.

The takeaway

Preventing fraud and identity theft requires a combination of careful maintenance, planning and common sense, which you should rely on whenever surfing the Internet or withdrawing money. A proactive approach goes a long way in ensuring that your financial information doesn't fall into the hands of cybercriminals.


Spirit of Alaska FCU presents a Day at the Ice Park

March 13, 2015

Spring is right around the corner for Interior Alaska, but there is still time to catch some of the winter fun activities in Fairbanks!

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union is once again sponsoring a Day at the Ice Park, Saturday, March 21st, 2015. The ice sculpting championships have now been completed and the park is full of single block and multi-block award winners. Now is definitely the best time to enjoy these fantastic art creations. Kids will enjoy an expanded slide area and ice spinners in the Kid's Park.

While at the park, stop by the Money Island sculptures and get your picture taken with characters from the youth financial education website. Money Island is an online resource used within the SASSY (Spirit of Alaska Society of Smart Youth) program.

Spirit of Alaska FCU members are encouraged to pick up a coupon for $5.00 off normal admission prices, good for the 21st only. Coupons can be picked up at any Spirit of Alaska FCU branch.

Prestige members (55+) are invited to enjoy the park from 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm and receive free entry. Prestige members must R.S.V.P. and can call (907) 459-5907 to leave a message.

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union is proud to once again be a large sponsor of the Ice Park and the World Ice Art Championships. Come out and join us as we enjoy the last days of winter!


How Credit Unions Beat Banks for Banking

March 6, 2015

A frustrated customer's irritation with a proposed monthly account fee several years ago spurred a nationwide movement to join credit unions and ditch banks. Over the next 12 months, 2.2 million people made the move.

By last year, these member-controlled cooperatives counted more than 100 million customers, an almost 9% gain in just five years. If you still aren't sold on joining a credit union, here are three advantages over banks worth considering.

1. Lower fees

Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations. Operational surpluses go back to members, rather than investors, in the form of fewer or reduced fees and better rates. Fees that are imposed generally cost less compared with similar charges at banks.

In a national study, 70% of credit unions offered a truly fee-free checking account, whereas banks charged an average of $117 a year if customers failed to maintain a minimum balance or didn't use direct-deposit services.

2. Improved checking costs and benefits

Rather than paying to have a checking account at a big bank, you could have one at a financial institution like Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union that pays you with interest of as much as 1.25% on balances up to $10,000. Some offer rewards on accounts that don't require a minimum balance or a monthly service fee, provided customers make a certain number of debit-card transactions a month and other ordinary banking activities.

3. Better rates

Although rates vary based on credit score and location, credit unions are generally a better bet for anyone buying a car with financing. According to the latest data from the National Credit Union Administration, a federal regulatory agency, lenders it oversees offer auto loans with interest rates that average nearly half those charged by banks. A better rate can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a loan.

In fact, credit unions beat banks on rates connected to most forms of lending, including home loans and credit cards. When it comes to savings, banks trail credit unions there too, including on term certificates and regular accounts.

In the final analysis, credit unions offer significant savings compared with banks for the same services. With their member focus, many will work more readily with clients who've had their share of financial ups and downs. If you haven't made the switch yet, now might be a good time to consider doing so.

Cait Klein, NerdWallet


Mobile Banking is on the way!

May 25, 2014

We've all been there, needing to check your account balance, but nowhere near the nearest branch or ATM. Maybe you forgot to pay a bill and are out of town, or maybe you're at home, relaxing, and just don't want to leave the comforts of your surroundings. As technology becomes more and more an integral part of life, the convenience of accessing your finances when and where you need has become the norm rather than the exception. Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union understands this and has worked hard to find the right solution.

Beginning in July, SoAFCU members will experience a new level of service for their mobile devices! The new mobile banking solution is a fast, easy and secure way to stay on top of your finances anywhere. Check your balance, find ATMs, pay bills, transfer funds and more. You can even make person to person payments using Bill Pay's Popmoney!

Powered by FISERV's Mobiliti, the Spirit of Alaska FCU mobile banking solution is easy to access:

  • Apps – for your Apple or Android phones or tablets, download from our website or the app stores.
  • Mobile Web – by typing into your mobile browser.
  • Text – you text us and we will text you back. Alert texting also available.

Gone are the days of traditional 9-to-5 banking. Now, you are in control, no matter the time of day, no matter your location.


1st Time Car Buyer Program

May 25, 2014

Let's face it, buying a car can be an exciting, yet stressful life event, especially if it's your first vehicle. How much can you safely afford to spend and how much will it cost to maintain the vehicle once you have the keys? If financing, have you taken a look at your credit and the credit of your co-signor? Satisfying these questions before you start shopping around can help make the vehicle buying process much easier. Once you're ready to buy, Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union can help.

SofAFCU has recently unveiled a 1st Time Car Buyer program designed to help young members with their car ownership dreams. Member applicants can be as young as 16 to qualify*, a rarity in the financial loan industry! Proof of employment is required, but can be as little as 3 months of verification**. Unlike other institutions, there is no age limit on financed vehicles but autos must have less than 100,000 miles.

Rules, terms and conditions apply and not every member may qualify. The 1st Time Car Buyer program is offered to SoAFCU members age 16-24. If owning a vehicle is right for you, please contact Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union's Consumer Loan Department at (907) 459-5970 or stop by any branch for more information.

*Minors must have parent/guardian as co-signor in primary position.

**Paystub verification required and require additional letter from employer.


UAF Wood Center Branch Closure

May 25, 2014

Spirit of Alaska FCU has had a long and storied history with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, dating back to the credit union's founding in 1960 the "Greater Fairbanks Teachers Credit Union." Over the decades, the credit union has changed names and locations, continuing to grow within the Fairbanks area, all the while providing service to thousands of members and to the community.

Earlier this year, the decision was made to permanently close the UAF Wood Center branch location. The closure was anticipated due to the close proximity already of the Geist Road branch to the university and duplication of services between Geist and the Wood Center branches. The closure is expected to reduce operational costs without disrupting services in the west Fairbanks area.

Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union remains the largest credit union in Interior Alaska with branches located at 1417 Gillam Way, 4001 Geist Road, 495 Harold Bentley Drive and the Peger Road/Davis Road ATM/Kiosk location. ATM service is offered at all branch locations and ATMs will remain of the UAF campus at the Wood Center and the Hess Dorm Complex.


SASSY Online!

May 25, 2014

School is out for summer and kids are enjoying fun in the sun with friends and family. Though formal education is on hiatus, your child can take full advantage of our online financial education program, Spirit of Alaska Society of Smart Youth, or SASSY!

Spirit of Alaska is dedicated to helping youth learn more about money and how they can be more responsible with spending, saving, investing and sharing. Last fall, SASSY was launched in that effort and already youth members are earning rewards as they progress through the online resources available on the SASSY website.

Youth members age Kindergarten through 3rd grade are referred to as "Discoverers" and are offered a chance to learn and earn by exploring the Kirby Kangaroo Club and 5 Spot programs.

  • Kirby Kangaroo Club – Discoverers can earn awards for completing coloring pages and reading about Kirby's adventures, all designed to teach basics of spending, saving and sharing. Some of the prizes awarded for completing these levels include coloring books, crayons and a rainbow Slinky!
  • 5 Spot – The mission here is to play video games or puzzles and read stories. The more activities accomplished, the more Discoverers earn club house bucks. Spirit of Alaska FCU rewards these achievements by giving out items like a SASSY drawstring backpack.

The next age group in the SASSY program is known as the "Explorers" and is geared to kids 4th through 7th grade. Again, SASSY's online resources continue to provide fun financial education.

  • Money Island – Explorers must save Stone Broke, a kid who never learned how to manage money. There are intermediate and advanced levels of the game and Explorers must complete the game to earn prizes from the SASSY program. Sample prizes include a journal and pen set and an overnight duffle bag.
  • AJ's – This interactive resource continues the progression of learning from 5 Spot. Explorers learn though articles and stories geared more the middle school student mindset.

The last age group, 8th grade through 12th, is known as the "Soarers," as they are preparing to "launch" into the adult world.

  • Money Mission – Soarers create avatars of themselves and are tasked with a mission to balance money with real-world life experiences. They can earn money by "working" and must make spending decisions based on needs and financial resources.
  • C-Note – Explorers can read articles and blogs and even participate in peer panel discussions regarding financial topics. SASSY Achievement prizes include flashing pens, school supplies, a jump drive wrist bracelet and even Spirit of Alaska FCU gift cards.

Youth account members are automatically enrolled in the SASSY program and there is absolutely no cost associated with the online resources. Any child can participate in SASSY, but they must have a youth account at Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union to earn achievement prizes.

The days of summer are long and care-free, but that doesn't mean they can't be productive as well. To find out more information regarding SASSY and the online resources, simply log on to and click on the SASSY tab, or call Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union at (907) 459-5900 or (800) 478-1949.