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February 27, 2015

Tweets tell savings story during NCUA Twitter chat

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/27/15)--Credit unions and their members shared tips for building up savings in a Twitter chat Thursday. The agency held the chat as part of America Saves and Military Saves Week, which feature outreach efforts all throughout this week to encourage consumer savings.

Kenneth Worthey, National Credit Union Administration financial literacy and outreach analyst, joined staff of America and Military Saves to share the latest on national savings rates, provide tips on developing healthy savings habits and identify resources to help maximize those savings.

See the Storify below for highlights from NCUA's Twitter chat, conducted through its @MyCUGov handle.

CUNA: Cyberthreat center could be helpful, more needed to address CUs' concerns

WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--While CUNA supports the concept of information sharing as a key component to combating cyberthreats, a new White House initiative does not go far enough in addressing cybersecurity issues for credit unions.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), announced this week by the White House, will focus on "connecting the dots" regarding cyber threats affecting American interests.

"The CTIIC will provide integrated all-source intelligence analysis related to foreign cyberthreats and cyberincidents affecting U.S. national interests; support the U.S. government centers responsible for cybersecurity and network defense; and facilitate and support efforts by the government to counter foreign cyberthreats," reads the fact sheet issued by the White House.

Stopping merchant data breaches is a top regulatory and legislative priority for CUNA, which has sent numerous letters to lawmakers urging the creation of strong data breach legislation. While several data breach bills are currently circulating the halls of Congress, CUNA is pushing for more aggressive legislation.

Such legislation must include a strong data protection standard for merchants and a national consumer notification standard that would preempt the patchwork of state laws currently in place across the country.

Two major breaches alone, at Home Depot and Target, have cost credit unions more than $90 million, despite the credit unions having nothing to do with the breaches.

CUNA created and has contributed numerous op-eds to publications calling for stricter merchant data security standards.

'Patent troll' hearing furthers conversation on combating abusive demands

WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee explored the best ways to limit deceptive patent demand letters in a hearing Thursday. CUNA appreciates the continued conversation on abusive patent demand letters, and combating those types of letters remains a critical piece of CUNA's advocacy efforts.

CUNA submitted a letter for the hearing record Thursday, was encouraged by a patent reform bill introduced earlier this month and wrote in support of another bill that was introduced last year.

As spelled out in the letter sent to the committee, as well as a letter sent earlier this year to members of Congress, CUNA supports patent reform legislation that:
  • Improves the litigation process to make the cost and burdens equitable and more efficient;
  • Requires patent demand letters provide details about the patent and who is claiming to assert it; and
  • Improves the post-grant review of patents such as making the Covered Business Method (patents that claim a method or operation used in practice, administration or management of a financial product or service) permanent and more useable for smaller entities.
Witness Vince Malta, liaison for law and policy for the National Association of Realtors, said he supported the notion of increased transparency, saying such letters should be required to contain specifics on the relevant patent claim, details on how the patent was infringed upon, a description on the investigation of the infringement and disclosure of the parties behind the patent claim.

Vera Ranieri, a staff attorney from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to protect innovation and consumer interests, said any legislation submitted by Congress should not limit the ability of small businesses to turn to their state's attorney general, often the first place they turn after receiving a demand letter.

CUNA believes that state attorneys general have an important role to play for businesses combating abusive patent letters.

Amias Gerety nominated for Treasury's asst. sec. of FIs

WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--President Barack Obama has announced the nomination of Amias Gerety to the position of assistant secretary for financial institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Gerety served as acting secretary following the resignation of Cyrus Amir-Morki in April 2014 to November 2014.

The position is responsible for developing and coordinating the Treasury's policies on issues affecting financial institutions.

Gerety currently serves as a counselor in the Treasury's Office of Domestic Finance, a position he has held since June 2014. From 2011 to 2014, he was the deputy assistant secretary for Financial Stability Oversight Council at Treasury.  He also was a senior adviser in the Office of Financial Institutions at Treasury from 2009 to 2010. 

FTC files complaint against debt relief scammers

WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--A company advertising debt relief services but failing to provide them is the subject of a federal district complaint brought this week by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Payday Support Center LLC, now known as PSC Administrative LCC, is alleged to have targeted consumers to resolve outstanding payday debts but provided little to no relief.

According to the complaint , the defendants are alleged, starting in 2012, to have used the Internet, radio and telemarketing to target consumers with multiple debts on short-term, high-interest payday loans.

The FTC alleges that the defendants pushed consumers into enrolling in their "financial hardship program," claiming they would negotiate with the lenders to reduce consumers' payments and eliminate their debt. They advised consumers to stop making direct payments to their lenders and to pay money to the defendants instead, promising that the loans would be paid off within the next few months.

In reality, the FTC alleges, the defendants provide little or no debt relief services for their clients, and their limited actions do not generally eliminate or even reduce most clients' payday loans.

In filing the complaint, the FTC is seeking to permanently stop the defendants' allegedly illegal conduct, as well as a monetary judgment for refunds to return to consumers defrauded by the operation.

Inside Washington (2/27/15)

  • WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--According to a recent report presented last month to the U.S. Congress by the special inspector general (SIG) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Christy Romero, a federal program meant to help 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure has helped only a fraction of that amount. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), funded under TARP, was created in 2009 to support mortgage holders who had fallen behind on the loan payments for their homes. The report said that as of Dec. 31, one in three homeowners who received a loan modification through HAMP ultimately defaulted on the loan ( American Banker Feb. 26). The longer a borrower remained in the program, the more likely they were to redefault, according to the SIG's report. In fact, the report indicated: Of the homeowners who received loan modifications in 2009, 53% had redefaulted by the end of 2014, up from 46% at the end of 2013; and of the almost 1.4 million modifications applied to mortgages under HAMP since 2009, 31% have redefaulted ...
  • WASHINGTON (2/27/15)--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a set of rules meant to protect free expression and innovation on the internet while promoting investment in broadband networks. According to the FCC, the new rules are guided by three principles: America's broadband networks must be fast, fair and open--principles shared by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 4 million commenters who participated in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding. CUNA believes that without network neutrality, credit unions could potentially have to pay local service providers more money to maintain secure, reliable and fast online financial services connections ...

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