MADISON, Wis. (10/13/11)--Requests for information about credit unions and where consumers can locate a credit union to join increased dramatically since news of big banks' debit card fees broke in late September. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reported that the volume of visits to its aSmarterChoice.org consumer site more than doubled during the period between Sept. 29 and Oct. 9. The site received 36,000 visits during the period, compared with 16,500 visits on average per month in the previous seven months, said Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications and media outreach. "We had two months' worth of visitors in two weeks," Keefe told News Now. Also, the aSmarterChoice.org Facebook page added 2,500 friends during the period, bringing the total friends to 3,500, Keefe said. The announcement about Bank of America's plans to charge $5 a month for debit card use was made public Sept. 28. That announcement was followed by other banks' announcements they were testing similar fees in an effort to recoup loss of revenue from debit card interchange fees under the Dodd-Frank Act. The news brought outrage from consumers and a constant barrage of press reports about ways consumers could avoid the fees--including switching to credit unions. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported that the number of visitors to its iBelong.org during the first week of October increased fivefold, with more than 1,500 consumers logging into the campaign website to help locate a credit union to join (Life is a Highway Oct. 12. The traffic was the highest amount of weekly traffic this year, said PCUA. "We believe the strong press credit unions are receiving since the Bank of America's debit card fee announcement, along with similar announcements from other banks, is resulting in a significant increase in inquiries from consumers and the press on how consumers can switch to a credit union," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, in discussing the response of consumers to the fees and the deluge of positive stories in the media about credit unions as a fees alternative, said, "Consumer frustration with the banking sector creates an ideal opportunity for credit unions to capture more members. "Those of us in the movement already know that credit unions are the smarter choice; however, as these fed-up customers say goodbye to their banks, it’s up to us to ensure they look toward credit unions as their next financial partner,” continued Ensweiler. “Through tools like the asmarterchoice.org, we are able to provide consumers with information they need to make an informed choice.” He urged credit unions to not miss out on the opportunity to educate the public about the credit union difference.