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INPRI media barrage highlights pro-CU efforts
WASHINGTON (11/3/11)--National media were busy Wednesday, debunking myths and highlighting the benefit of credit unions as Bank Transfer Day drew closer and as consumers saw success in forcing big banks' hand on debit card fees. National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Baltimore Sun and AOL were among those contacting the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) for help in explaining that consumers are switching to credit unions to avoid the fees.

In more than one report Wednesday, National Public Radio spoke with Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications and media outreach, who told NPR that consumers have been turning to credit unions in an attempt to escape debit card fees that big banks had announced in late September.

In the report, Norma Garcia of Consumers Union said consumers' reaction taught banks that consumers will have little tolerance for fees.  The segment also reported that social networking efforts, including a Facebook page on the upcoming Bank Transfer Day, are urging consumers to switch their deposits to credit unions before Saturday.  These efforts will live on even though the major banks have now turned their backs on the debit fees, the segment said.

While the banks' debit fees were transparent, consumers may now have to comb their through their statements to determine whether the fees will be reincarnated, the segment said.

WESH-ORD (NBC) in Orlando, Fla., reported that customer feedback led the banks to reverse the charges. In that report, CUNA said that members are reporting "tens of thousands" of new members in the past month.

In a Bloomberg News earlier this week, Bankrate.com reported that three out of four large credit unions offer free checking and an additional 20% waive a fee in certain conditions, and CUNA's Keefe  noted that about 90% of credit unions don't impose debit-card fees (Bloomberg.com Nov. 1)

AOL's DailyFinance.com, in an article entitled "5 Credit Union Myths Debunked, " and written by The Motley Fool columnist Matt Cropp, acknowledged the public outcry on fees and the fact that "normally low-profile credit unions have been receiving a great deal of attention as an alternative to the big banks." It cleared up five misconceptions about credit unions. Instead it reported that:

  •  Many credit unions have community charters and are easy to join (readers were referred to aSmarterChoice.org to locate a credit union);
  • Credit unions offer a full range of competitive products and services;
  • Credit unions through ATMs and shared service centers offer nationwide convenience;
  • Savings at credit unions are safe and sound and backed by the government; and
  • Members buy a share and "own" the credit union.
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