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Bay Federal Credit Union Named 2019 Best Credit Union to Work For by Credit Union Journal

Best Credit Union to Work For

September 25, 2019: We are thrilled to announce that Bay Federal has been named the nation's number one "Best Credit Union to Work For" by Credit Union Journal! This is a jump from thirteenth place in last year's listing to first place. We are humbled by this tremendous honor!

You can read more about it here!


Fraud Alert: Counterfeit Cashier's Checks

Close-up of a check being signedBay Federal Credit Union

September 17, 2019: We have heard of an increase in fraudulent Bay Federal checks making their way around the country. Did you receive a Bay Federal check, but you are unsure of its validity? Call our Member Service Center at 831.479.6000 or toll-free at 888.4BAYFED, option 3, and a Support Specialist will assist you.

As a reminder, never deposit or cash a check if you are uncertain of its source. If you have any questions about the validity or source of any check, call the financial institution that the check is drawn on to confirm it is not a fake.


Interview with Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal, Featured in Santa Cruz Tech Beat Carrie

Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union, recently sat down with Sara Isenberg, Editor-in-Chief of Santa Cruz Tech Beatto discuss Bay Federal's expanding use of technology and our growth since the 1980's. 

You can check out the full interview here! 


Alert on computer desktop

Fraud Alert: Phishing Scam Targeting Financial Aid Distributions and Refunds

Bay Federal Credit Union

The Department of Education is warning college students about a phishing scam targeting financial aid distributions and refunds. Here’s a description of how the scam occurs:

  • A student receives an email directing them to log into their school’s billing portal to view an updated billing statement. The billing portal is where students pay tuition and fees and provide checking account information for financial aid direct deposits.
  • The student clicks on a link in the email and unknowingly enters their login credentials on a fake website.
  • Scammers use the information to access the student’s account on the real billing portal site, where they change the student’s direct deposit destination to a different bank account.
  • When financial aid disbursements and fee refunds are paid, they are deposited to the scammer’s bank account, not the student’s.

This is a very serious scam that could leave students without the money they need for food, books, and other expenses for several weeks. Please warn college students and their parents about this scam and provide them with the following instructions on how to avoid becoming a victim:

If you receive an email from your school’s payment portal, do not immediately respond to it. Instead, take one of the following actions:

  • Login to your student account directly from your school’s website, not from a link in an email.
  • Contact the financial aid office at your school to make sure the email you received was actually from them.

Be extremely cautious about clicking on links in emailsIf you have any question about the authenticity of the email, you can always navigate directly to a trusted website rather than clicking a link.

Do not reply to emails, phone calls, text messages, or social media DMs that ask you for personal/identity information, such as login credentials, account numbers, your birthdate, Social Security Number, or the IP address for your computer.

For more information about this latest scam, visit the Federal Student Aid Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website.

Fraud Alert: Protect Yourself From This New Social Media Scam

Instagram Scam Example

Bay Federal Credit Union

August 24, 2018: A new scam on social media has cropped up in recent days, and it is especially deceptive because it might be coming from someone you know who hasn't realized they've been duped yet!

Instagram users are seeing a post in their Story that asks for a direct message (DM) to initiate the scam. Scams such as this can seem authentic sometimes, so it's important to know what to look out for.

That's why we've compiled important details here for our members:

Here's how the scam works:

1. Instagram users intrigued by the offer send a DM saying they're interested.

2. They are then sent a text message from the fraudster, requesting the victim send them their online banking username and password so that the fraudster can make a mobile deposit into their account.

3. The fraudster then sends the victim a screenshot of the successful mobile deposit and instructs the victim to send them a portion of the deposit via ApplePay, telling them they can keep the rest.

4. Days later, the mobile deposit then comes back as returned because the check deposited was fraudulent.Instagram Scam Message Sample

How to stay safe:

1. Protect your username and password information. This information should be kept secret, similar to how you would keep your social security number private.

2. Avoid sending money or making deals with people who you haven't met in real life.

3. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!

For more information on different types of fraud and warning signs to look for, please visit our Fraud Protection resource page.













Fraud Alert: Scams are on the Rise. Here’s what to look out for.

Bay Federal Credit Union

FraudsterJune 22, 2018: Summer is here, but fraudsters aren’t on vacation. In fact, it appears they are working overtime. Stay safe by being aware of these common ruses and keeping your account information and login credentials private.

Here Are Common Scams:

Classifieds Scam – You are selling something online and the buyer wants to pay more than your asking price. The buyer sends you a counterfeit cashier’s check (it will look like the real thing), or starts a wire transfer that will never come through. All they ask for in return is that you wire or transfer some portion of the money to them or a third party. Like ships in the night, your money flows out and their money never comes in.

Romance Scam – Online relationships can feel real, but months later, that “special someone” won’t be able to cash their own checks, will need a large sum of money, or will ask for your username and password. Before you know it, your accounts will be drained and they will be in the wind.

Employment Scam – Fake mystery shop jobs or similar gigs will sometimes send you a big check to buy goods, write a review, and then return the goods to your “employer.” Meanwhile, that big check won’t clear and you end up with a negative balance.

Lottery Scam – If you didn’t enter a lottery, you certainly shouldn’t win one, and you should never need to pay or send funds to someone else to win money. The check or wire transfer the fraudsters send to you won’t clear and the money you send to them will be gone.

Above all, trust your gut instinct. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

We Are Here to Help 

Have you encountered one of these scams recently? Are you unsure of the validity of a cashier's check? Call our Member Service Center at 831.479.6000, or toll-free at 888.4BAYFED, and a Member Service Representative will assist you.

Name Dropping: Bay Fed members, employees raise more than $14K for Second Harvest

Justine DaCosta, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Bay Federal Credit Union's Community Support Committee presents a check to Second Harvest Food Bank's Jan Kamman, at right, on January 14, 2016.

It was another successful season of giving, as Bay Federal Credit Union members and employees raised more than $14,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank’s holiday drive, held this past November and December.

The credit union, which has supported Second Harvest for 18 years, donated the equivalent of 68,250 healthy meals for local families. Additionally, more than 500 meals were made possible by donations of non-perishable food items at Bay Federal locations.

“We are proud of our history of partnering with Second Harvest,” Carrie Birkhofer, Bay Federal Credit Union President and CEO, was quoted as saying. “Second Harvest is an excellent example of an organization creating a lasting impact locally.”

Thanks to the people and businesses of Santa Cruz County, Second Harvest Food Bank was able to raise more than 4 million meals this past holiday drive. Read more.

Bay Federal alerts members about skimming

Santa Cruz Sentinel

January 7, 2016: Bay Federal Credit Union has alerted members about a weekend incident in which a skimming device was found at the Aptos branch, leading to the arrest of two juvenile suspects from Southern California.

“We have a very clear process for letting affected members know if their cards were compromised and then we can reissue cards immediately in any one of the seven branches,” said Tonee Picard, executive vice president and chief development officer. “We have announced the skimming incident on social media... Unfortunately, this has become a common thing locally.”

Picard said video cameras at each ATM record activity and are monitored daily.

“This is how we caught this one so fast,” she said.

Bay Federal Credit Union has more than 60,000 members. The credit union posted information about skimming and ID theft at the Bay Federal website.

CU Journal Best CU To Work ForBay Federal Credit Union named one of "2015 Best Credit Unions to Work For"

10/31/2015: Bay Federal Credit Union has been named one of the 2015 Best Credit Unions to Work For. Credit Union Journal has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees.

This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best credit unions. The list is made up of 45 credit unions. The full Best Credit Unions to Work For list was featured in the September issue of Credit Union Journal and is available online at CUJournal.com.

To be considered for participation, credit unions had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have at least 25 employees working in the U.S.
  • Be in business a minimum of one year
  • Be in one of the following categories based upon asset size: Over $1 billion, $500M-$1B, $200M-$500M or Under $200M

Determining the Best Credit Unions to Work For involved a two-step process. The first step consisted of evaluating each participating credit union’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of employee surveys aimed at assessing the experiences and attitudes of individual employees with respect to their workplace. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the best credit unions and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking. 

For more information on the Best Credit Unions to Work For program, visit www.BestCreditUnionstoWorkFor.com.

Gina BayerCFS* Investment Advisor Gina Bayer Achieves Twelfth in Revenue Nationwide

08/06/2015: In the month of July, CFS* Investment Advisor Gina Bayer with Bay Federal Credit Union produced the twelfth highest revenue totals of any CUSO Financial Services, LP advisor in the entire nation. Gina frequently out-performs representatives from larger and nationally reaching Credit Unions.

Learn more about our Investment Services Team.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services,
L.P. (Member FINRA/SIPC). Products are: not insured, not guaranteed and may lose value.

Auto Loans on Upswing in County

Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

June 8, 2015: In a sign the economy is picking up steam in Santa Cruz County, loans at not-for-profit credit unions are up compared to a year ago and auto loans are up dramatically.

According to the California Credit Union League, credit union loans in the first quarter in Santa Cruz County totaled $377 million, up 15 percent.

Loans to buy a used car jumped 41 percent with new car loans close behind at 39 percent.

Credit union membership grew to 72,395, up 6 percent, and deposits are up 10 percent.

“It’s driven by people wanting to bank locally and have their loans be local,” said Tonee Picard, executive vice president and chief development officer at Bay Federal Credit Union, the largest of three credit unions based in Santa Cruz County with $752 million in assets.

As cooperatives owned by their members, credit unions have a mission to provide members with affordable financial services. They offer lower interest rates on loans; fees tend to be lower than those at banks.

Picard said Bay Federal has been making $4 million to $5 million a month in auto loans, largely for used cars. The best car loan rate is 2.24 percent for those with a credit score of 730 or greater.

Year-to-date loan originations total $66 million, up 87 percent from a year ago.

Jumbo mortgages are now available and an online banking system with mobile access is coming in September.

“We’re so close to Silicon Valley, it’s a necessary thing,” Picard said.

First-quarter membership was 58,916, up 6 percent from a year ago following the merger with the Santa Cruz County Employees Credit Union, with 189 employees.

“If all the positions were filled, we would be over 200,” said Picard, citing openings for IT, loan underwriters and frontline staff.

“Auto loans have been the biggest surprise,” said Beth Carr, president and CEO at Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, which has $103 million in assets.

“We’re funding approximately $2 million a month in auto lending,” she added, with 95 percent of the auto loans for used cars. “We have always financed more used than new, again, a result of our community and our credit union’s low-income, community-development certified mission.”

First-quarter membership was 12,141, up 7 percent from a year ago.

Business loans during that quarter helped create 12 jobs and retain nine jobs, according to data Carr said will be submitted to regulators.

“We do a lot of microbusiness loans,” Carr said, noting loans to buy a bicycle were added a year ago.

The definition for microbusiness loans can vary. They can be $25,000 or less or range up to $50,000, often to buy new equipment to help a business owner expand.

Carr noticed unemployment is down in Watsonville, where the credit union has a branch at 1428 Freedom Blvd., and is looking at ways to reach out to potential members there, where people have a choice of three check-cashing outlets in a short stretch of Main Street.

“You look at the fees and what you’re paying for your money easily could be 200 percent,” Carr said, noting credit unions are owned by members who have a say in how things are run. “We have a strong ethical responsibility to our members that’s very difficult to have education on.”

Watsonville Hospital Federal Credit Union is the smallest credit union based in the county with 1,338 members, $12 million in assets and five employees.

Vehicle loans for used cars are a large part of its loan portfolio, 34 percent compared to 24 percent at Santa Cruz Community Credit Union and 26 percent at Bay Federal Credit Union. The best rate available is 2.69 percent, depending on credit history.

The credit union is open to not only hospital employees but also people working at Community Bridges, Fox Racing Shox, Westek Electronics, Salud Para La Gente and Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz County.

Link to the Santa Cruz Sentinel Article

BPTW 2015 logo

Bay Federal named 15th Best Place to Work

4/15/2015: The results are in….. Bay Federal Credit Union has earned the “Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” designation! Over 500 applicants, the largest pool of entrants ever, were considered by the nomination committee. Only 132 were selected, and Bay Federal Credit Union was among them! Even better yet, we were the ONLY business recognized from Santa Cruz County, and the only Credit Union named as a finalist!

PDF tear sheet

Here’s how the numbers stacked up:

  • Bay Federal was named the 15th Best Place to Work among mid-sized companies (100-249 employees) out of 25 businesses in the category.
  • We scored 91.56 total points out of 100. Only 5.14 points separated us from first place!
  • We outranked large regional/national banks also included in the finalists list.

Our employees are committed and dedicated in serving one another, our membership and the community. Together, we are making a real difference! Interested in joining our team? Check out our current openings!

New Automated Fraud Prevention Calling System

4/1/2015: Beginning Wednesday, April 15, CO-OP Financial Services, Bay Federal’s ATM network provider, will enhance their member notification efforts for suspected fraud cases. This service is used when fraud is suspected on a ATM or Debit card account, either by unusual transaction activity or unusual location of the transaction.

CO-OP will enhance their efforts by introducing an automated assistant, nicknamed “Jill,” which will begin making outbound calls for some suspected fraud cases to contact members directly. “Jill” will ask members to verify recent transactions on their account to confirm that the charges are not fraudulent. Remember that neither Bay Federal Credit Union nor CO-OP will ever call you and ask for complete account information or social security numbers. CO-OP’s Card Member Security team will continue to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide assistance from a live agent.

This new enhancement will contribute to reducing fraud losses for our members and the Credit Union. For more information on protecting your accounts from fraud, please visit our Fraud Prevention page.

Illustration of our Instant Issue CardsNew Technology Enables Instant Debit Card Replacement for Those Impacted by Debit Card Fraud

We are pleased to announce that instant Debit Card replacements are now available at our Capitola branch!

3/14/2015: In response to the recent fraud risk alert, your Credit Union worked around the clock to deploy new technology to instantly reissue Debit Cards. You have the opportunity to be among the first of our members to take advantage of these new cards. Not only will you have the instant satisfaction of having a new Debit Card in hand, you will also have the ability to choose your image from our local area!

This new technology has been deployed at our Capitola branch, located at 3333 Clares Street in Capitola. If you wish to receive a new Debit Card before your card replacement comes in the mail, please visit our Capitola location. We are actively working to bring this new technology to all of our branch locations in the weeks to come.

We realize that having your Debit Card deactivated as a result of the Kmart fraud risk is a significant inconvenience. We are always committed to enhancing our services to serve you, our valued member. The ability to put a new technology in place under these circumstances demonstrates the unique agility of being a local financial institution, and our focused commitment to our membership.

Thank you for choosing Bay Federal Credit Union!

Debit Card Fraud Reported

3/11/2015: We have identified a limited group of members whose Debit Card information (both card numbers and PINs) were at high risk for fraud. We have traced the point of compromise to a breach of cardholder information at Kmart that occurred in October 2014. Although the information was stolen from Kmart in October, fraudulent activity on accounts did not appear until Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

Bay Federal Credit Union takes account security very seriously. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed the affected Debit Cards to ensure our members’ protection. We feel we have the responsibility to protect our member’s account(s) from becoming subject to fraudulent activity. Letters of notification have been mailed to affected members, and new Debit Cards for these members have also been ordered. If you believe that your Debit Card may have been part of the Kmart compromise, and has been disabled as a result, you may receive additional information by visiting any of our branch locations, or calling our Member Service Contact Center at 831.479.6000, option 3.
Unfortunately, information security at retailers, such as Kmart, is out of our control. We can partner with you to protect your accounts. We recommend reviewing your accounts on a regular basis using BayFedOnline or our mobile banking app. Be sure to look for and report any suspicious or unusual activity as soon as possible. Also, keep your contact information, such as phone numbers, mailing address and email address updated so we can reach you should the need arise.
For additional information about keeping your card information safe, see our Credit and Debit Card Fraud Prevention information sheet and the Fraud Prevention page.

2014 Service Excellence Award Winners

1/26/2015: During our Annual Employee Appreciation celebration, we acknowledged the accomplishments of the following individuals who gave outstanding service on the front lines in 2014: Joseph – Capitola Branch, Jennifer – Capitola Branch, Patrick – Aptos Branch, Wimala - Capitola Branch, Nicole - Capitola Branch.

We also honored the Service Excellence winners, our most prestigious award for employees: Susan – Executive Assistant, and Felisa – Financial Service Representative. Congratulations to all of our winners!!

Service Excellence Award Winners - 2015

December 1, 2014 - Aptos Times profiles Bay Federal Credit Union for our Community Support efforts in 2014.

Aptos Times profiles Bay Federal for Community Support activities in 2014

Here is a reprint of the original article.


A heart-felt message from someone who received one of our deliveries from Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving day. We love making a real difference.

Scam Targeting Debit and Credit Card Users

December 4, 2014: There has been a recent increase in a phishing scam asking for important account information. Members have reported receiving a recorded message that states, “Hello, your VISA card has been locked, press 1 to activate.” It then proceeds to ask for PIN information. Bay Federal reminds you to never, under any circumstances, supply your name, account number, PIN number, or password. Financial Institutions will never ask for personal account data, including card and PIN information. These Phishing scams are designed to gain access to your account information and could lead to identity theft. 

As a reminder, it is always best practice to regularly monitor your accounts to look for any suspicious or unusual activity.  

Additional Q&A:

What happens if I gave my PIN information?
If you have released account information, please call Bay Federal as soon as you can at 831-479-6000. We will close your current card and  issue you a new one to avoid potential fraudulent charges.

Can I identify the number on caller ID?
These recorded messages use different numbers for each batch of calls. This makes it hard to determine a set phone number. When trying to call these numbers back, you will be sent to a disconnected number. Please be aware of answering calls from unidentified numbers.

How do I know that it wasn't Bay Federal that called me?
Bay Federal will never call with a recording asking for important account information. Should you get a suspicious call and are not sure, please hang up and dial Bay Federal Credit Union directly.

I’m doing a lot of holiday shopping, how can I be without my card?
We understand that this is an important time of year to have access to your Debit and Credit Cards. As always, we will do our best to get you a new card as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can help us by checking and monitoring your account for any unusual or suspicious activity. The best way to monitor your Debit or Credit Card account activity is through BayFedOnline (link).

Should I report these calls to the authorities?
Although these calls are quite common, you may always consider alerting local authorities. Most districts are already aware of these occurrences.

For additional information about keeping your card information safe, see our Credit and Debit Card Fraud Prevention information sheet, and the Fraud Prevention information on our website.  

Microsoft Internet Explorer Vulnerability

Protect Your Online Experience

April 30, 2014: Last week, Microsoft announced a known vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6-11. It is estimated that one in four internet users utilize Internet Explorer. Microsoft has since released a security update, which can be downloaded here. Until the security update is loaded on your computer, Bay Federal recommends using an alternative browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.

Please also update your version of Adobe Flash Player, which is required for BayFedOnline. A link to download the updated version is available at www.adobe.com.


Potential Home Depot Security Breach

September 8, 2014: The Home Depot credit and debit card breach has been all over the national news, and you may be concerned about whether or not your card has been affected. A press release put out by Home Depot on September 8, 2014 stated that cards used at  Home Depot stores in the U.S. or Canada between April 11, 2014 and September 7, 2014 may have been compromised. These were in store transactions only and do not  affect online purchases.

Bay Federal Credit Union is continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation continues. You may continue to use your Bay Federal Credit or Debit cards as usual and no further action is needed. If we identify that your card was part of this breach, we will contact you by mail regarding the replacement of your card.

The Home Depot is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on. Customers who wish to take advantage of these services can learn more at www.homedepot.com or by calling 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (800-466-3337). 

As always, we recommend that you do the following in any compromised situation:

  1. Routinely check and monitor account and credit card statements for evidence of unauthorized transactions.
  2. Consumers should alert their bank, credit union, or credit card company immediately if they identify suspicious activity on their accounts


Additional Q&A:

Will Bay Federal monitor my account for fraud?

Bay Federal Credit Union has good systems and processes in place to monitor cards for unusual activity. If we suspect that fraud has occurred on your account, we will attempt to contact you to confirm the transaction activity.  If we confirm that fraud has occurred, we will block your card from further use and replace your Credit or Debit card. Although we carefully monitor accounts for potential fraud, nobody knows your spending habits like you do. It is still important to regularly review your account activity and report any suspicious charges to the Credit Union immediately.

What happens if my card was used for fraudulent activity? How do I report that? Am I liable for these fraudulent charges?

If your Bay Federal card was used for fraudulent activity, we have a dispute process. You can either call 831.479.6000 or visit any branch and we will begin the process for you. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on their Debit or Credit card.

I just had my card replaced from another compromise. What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

Unfortunately, events like the Home Depot security breach are out of our control. As always, we suggest monitoring your accounts on a regular basis using BayFedOnline to look for any suspicious or unusual activity. 

For additional information about keeping your card information safe, see our Credit/ and Debit Card Fraud Prevention information sheet, and the Fraud Prevention information on our website.

“Heartbleed” Security Flaw – YOUR INFORMATION IS SAFE

April 10, 2014: A major bug was found last week that affects the technology used to encrypt sensitive information. The flaw is in OpenSSL, used by many sites for secure browsing. The leak in the system compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This affects the websites themselves that you visit with your browser and not your personal computer system.

Bay Federal does NOT use this technology for our online banking and website platforms. Your information is safe, as we are not affected by this flaw.

How can you protect yourself?

Service providers and users that use OpenSSL may likely be compromised unless they have installed new software to fix the problem. Changing your password will not help unless the affected services have completed the software fix. You may want to contact your service provider to determine if their site has been affected.  

For more information on the Heartbleed bug, you can visit:

Safe Online Practice:

Bay Federal reminds you to never, under any circumstances, supply your name, account number or password to anyone via email.

Bay Federal Credit Union wants to encourage all members to follow safe online practices. There are many scams designed to steal your identity and your money. Financial Institutions will never send you directly to an application form, web page, or telephone number asking for your personal account data, including credit card and PIN information.

Always make sure that the email you are being sent is from your actual service provider. Fake notifications or links can be sent from false providers asking for you to change your username and password this could open you up to cyber criminals. 

It is best practice to change online passwords every 3-6 months. Do not use the same password for every account. It is important to choose a password that cannot be easily estimated or presumed. People that use family or pet names are the most vulnerable to Internet crimes. Choose a word that no one would know and combine it with a combination of numbers as well as uppercase and lowercase letters to make it more difficult to figure out.

Additional Link:


Bay Federal Credit Union Member Account Verification

April 7, 2014: The Supervisory Committee has engaged Orth, Chakler, Murnane and Company (OCM), Certified Public Accountants, to complete the annual audit of Bay Federal Credit Union. In conjunction with the audit, the auditors will select a sample of members share and loan accounts. The auditors will verify the account balances directly with the account owner by letter. If your account has been selected as part of the auditing process, you will receive a letter from Orth, Chakler, Murnane and Company (OCM) requesting information on a designated account.

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