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Newspapers error prompts problems at two Arkansas CUs
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (5/30/08)--Two Arkansas credit unions were incorrectly listed in a local newspaper’s bankruptcy column, triggering a lot of headaches for the credit union’s employees, members and board members. On Monday morning, Linda Jeffrey, president, TruService Community FCU in Little Rock, picked up a copy of the local newspaper--and what she saw nearly gave her a heart attack. “I couldn’t believe it,” Jeffrey told News Now. “The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had listed TruService in the bankruptcy section.” After checking the national bankruptcy site, Jeffrey saw that the error was made by the newspaper. The Democrat also incorrectly listed Crossett (Ark.) Paper Mills Employees FCU in the bankruptcy section. Five minutes after seeing the bankruptcy listing, Jeffrey received a call from a board member, who said he had been receiving calls at his home from worried members. Roughly 50 members called the credit union about the error. “There were people coming into the lobby,” Jeffrey said. “It was pretty crazy.” TruService didn’t lose any deposits over the matter--but Crossett Paper Mills Employees FCU did. The credit union has identified four withdrawals directly related to the erroneous article. A total of $190,000 was withdrawn on Tuesday, and $253,000 was withdrawn Wednesday, Crossett Paper Mill Employees FCU President Ed Gilbert told News Now. About 400 members called the Crossett credit union regarding the error. On Monday alone, the credit union’s staff and board received more than 100 calls, Gilbert said. The credit union is still receiving intermittent calls. The town of Crossett has a population of about 6,000--so word spread fast, Gilbert said. “It’s a very tight community. We’re a little unique in that respect, and we suffered a lot more stress because of that,” he said. Gilbert thanked his staff members, board members, and business owners in the community for their help. The brother of a credit union employee works at a local radio station, and he aired a breaking news story on Monday regarding the erroneous article even though the station had scheduled programming, Gilbert said. He also invited Gilbert in for an early morning interview Tuesday, which was replayed throughout the day. Another area radio station disseminated information to clear up concerns. A local newspaper reporter interviewed Gilbert and published an article about the matter, he said. Local paper mills let their employees know that the credit union was not filing for bankruptcy. The local chamber of commerce also sent out an e-mail, Gilbert said. The Democrat has run two retractions, including one in the business section. The first retraction was “tiny,” Jeffrey said. “Even I missed it.” The Ashley County Ledger reported the correction, even though the newspaper did not erroneously report the bankruptcy. Jeffrey has met with the newspaper’s managing editor about the error. It is not known exactly how the error occurred, but Jeffrey thinks the Democrat should publish a story about the credit union’s long success record. “We recognize that mistakes happen,” she said. “But by one strike of a pen, they tarnished our reputation.” Gilbert also agreed the mistake was “unfortunate,” but noted the impact it had. “Anybody can make a mistake,” he said. “But there was negligence in the editing.” The Arkansas Credit Union League sent its attorney to the newspaper and at the league’s request, it printed the second retraction, said Reta Kahley, league president/CEO. The league also is disseminating information to media about the safety and soundness of credit unions in the state. (See “League: Arkansas CUs strong, well-regulated, fed-insured") The printing error occurred two weeks after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. closed a bank in Northwest Arkansas, Kahley said.
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