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Texas CU Department reports hike in complaints
AUSTIN, Texas (4/12/10)--The Texas Credit Union Department says that it saw a spike in written complaints about state-chartered credit unions in that state during the fiscal year 2009. The department handled 100 written complaints, up 30% from 77 the year before, according to the department's newsletter (March 31). The report did not say whether the complaints generated were actionable or whether consumers had misunderstood the credit unions' procedures and generally accepted practices. Although credit unions are consistently noted throughout the country for their low fees and better interest rates than banks, there is still some trickle down from the overall dissatisfaction with financial institutions in general during the financial crisis and economic recession. The nation's financial crisis and economic recession, coupled with the bombardment of consumers throughout much of 2009 with negative messages about financial institutions' fees, overdrafts, disclosures, and credit card practices, have set the stage for a more involved, angry consumer. Because of the tightening of credit, housing woes and job layoffs, many consumers spent 2009 on high alert, worried about finances and complaining more. In Texas, overdraft fees were the most common complaint, said the state regulator. Those complaints said the fees were too high, made too frequently and unfairly, and were charged when members had funds in their accounts. Some questioned the timing of deposits and withdrawals and whether that generated fees, according to the department. Another common complaint centered on the placement of collateral protection insurance, said the regulator. Members complained that insurance was added to the loan unjustifiably and that refunds were not calculated fairly. Others complained about customer service or the failure to grant or refinance a loan. Other complaints were about the use of cross-collateralization clauses. Some did not understand the effect of interest accrual when they used skip pay or made late payments. And one member questioned the rate increase on a credit card. Still, the number of complaints about credit unions is small. The department oversees 207 credit unions with state charters. It was not clear from the report whether the complaints were about a few credit unions or many.


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