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Class is in session for Fin. Lit. Day on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (4/27/15)--National Financial Literacy Month was in full swing at the nation's capital Friday, as the Capitol morphed into a giant classroom for Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill, organized by the Jump$tart Coalition, Junior Achievement USA and the Council for Economic Education.

CUNA and National Credit Union Foundation representatives took part in the day's activities, which included a showcase of BizKid$ by the foundation, and presentations by CUNA's and on the work credit unions do in financial literacy.

Hover over each photo in the slideshow to read the associated captions.

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DDoS attacks shorter, intense, more expensive: VeriSign

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WASHINGTON (4/27/15)--Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can, at best, be an annoyance for a business or organization trying to run a website. At worst, they can expose weaknesses that cybercriminals can exploit.

DDoS attacks began as a method for cyber thugs to halt website activity or inflict damage by flinging heavy volumes of traffic at an organization's website, but a new report from VeriSign shows that these attacks are becoming even more difficult to handle, and subsequently more costly.

In the fourth quarter last year, the size of the attacks--measured by gigabits per second--rose by 14% on an annual basis.

Further, VeriSign found that the number of attacks jumped by 17%, with 15% of the attacks targeted at financial institutions.

"The increasing availability of DDoS-for-hire services--also known as 'booters'--presents a huge risk for security professionals, as they enable virtually anyone to hire skilled cybercriminals to launch a targeted DDoS attack for as little as $2 per hour," VeriSign said in the report.

Rik Turner, senior analyst at the research and consulting firm Ovum, told American Banker recently that DDoS attacks also have become more sophisticated.

"We're seeing lots of small attacks with intervals that allow the attackers to determine how efficiently the victims' mitigation infrastructure is, and how quickly it is kicking in," Turner said.

These attacks also can cripple network availability and productivity, and cost organizations greatly in both online revenue and in reputation and customer trust, according to VeriSign's report.

Given what's at stake, VeriSign says that awareness of the capabilities of these criminals is one key to combating the DDoS threat.

Purposeful culture fosters 'best' companies: CUNA HR/TD Council

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (4/27/15)--Creating a "best" organization requires a culture of purpose with heart and soul, said Jackie Freiberg at the opening keynote address of the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference in Hollywood, Calif., last week.

Author Jackie Freiberg defines "best" organizations at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference in Hollywood, Calif., last week. (CUNA Photo)
Freiberg, co-author of "GUTS" and "Do Something Now," said, "Culture is a strategic force, a gift you give your people, so your credit union can rise from 'sameness' and become different," she said. "Best" cultures--ones where the best people do their best work for their credit unions and their members--have heart and soul. 

Culture is the "will of the people and the will of your CEO," Freiberg said. Senior leadership has to be committed and involved in a credit union's culture--and credit union employees have to own it, every day. 

She encouraged attendees to ask questions about mindlessly accepting the status quo and if that environment negatively affects the culture.

"Leadership is everyone's job," Freiberg added. "It's not a title, it isn't a position. It's a choice. We're all POIs--People Of Impact."

See Credit Union Magazine for more coverage of the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference.

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At state GAC, Mich. CUs promote political activism

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LIVONIA, Mich. (4/27/15)--"We're all in this together" could have been the theme of last week's Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference. Credit unions must engage both employees and members to share their advocacy message, panelists and speakers told attendees.
Click to view larger image Ryan Donovan, CUNA chief advocacy officer, told Michigan Credit Union League Govermental Affairs Conference attendees that the key to credit union advocacy is involving members. (Michigan Credit Union League Photo)
Cheryl Sclater, business and community development officer for ELGA CU, Burton, Mich., said her credit union makes political activism part of its culture. Part of that is educating younger employees when they join the organization.
Steve Dedene, manager of compliance and regulatory affairs at Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, Mich., said he relies on a network of credit union employees to help combat the regulatory burden the industry faces by asking them to write comment letters on important regulatory proposals.
Ryan Donovan, CUNA chief advocacy officer, said grassroots activism is critical for the movement. He said that banks have been around in some form for about 4,000 years, but the idea of credit unions is at most 150 years old. "Wherever there's been a credit union system ... folks have had to fight for the right to maintain it," Donovan said.
He said it is the members who benefit the most from the credit union system. It's up to credit unions to educate their members and get them involved in the political process.
Also during the conference, State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Township), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, told attendees that updating the Michigan Credit Union Act would allow credit unions to better serve their members. Forlini said that while he believes some regulation is necessary, he is hoping to reduce the burden on credit unions.
Credit union representatives also had a chance to ask regulators questions in person about industry oversight. The Regulator Roundtable Session was headed by John Kolhoff, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and Jason Schultz, Naational Credit Union Administration (NCUA) consumer access analyst, and Larry Schoeberl, NCUA supervisory examiner.

NYCUA's Lanotte testifies on predatory lending before Senate Banks Committee

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/27/15)--New York credit unions provide a more consumer-friendly lending alternative to the practices of predatory lenders, a New York Credit Union Association (NYCUA)  representative said in testimony last week before a state Senate Banks Committee hearing on predatory lending practices within the sub-prime auto and title loan industry.

The hearing was to gather data from regulatory and administrative agencies as well as auto lenders and dealers on subprime auto lending to determine if legislation was needed to address some troubling trends that have been reported relating to subprime auto lending. 

Speaking on behalf of the NYCUA was Mike Lanotte, senior vice president/general counsel.
Lanotte's testimony offered credit union lending practices as a model that exemplifies a balance between sound business practices and consumer protection. He encouraged the Senate to look to credit union practices when drafting any legislation.

Lanotte drew parallels between the lending practices from the mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession and the recent trends in auto lending. "In 2008, the country entered its most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression," Lanotte said. "This downturn was the direct result of reckless underwriting standards and inadequate regulation of a segment of mortgage lenders. Credit unions can proudly state today that they did not contribute to this crisis."

The auto lending industry is experiencing many of the same negative trends that the housing industry experienced in the lead up to the financial crisis, Lanotte said. "Again, credit unions are not the cause of these trends but could be negatively impacted by any regulation designed to curb them," he said.

Lanotte expressed concerns with an "erosion of underwriting standards" at large banks and the rise in indirect lending, as well as the securitization of auto loans, which only the largest banks can profit from.

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Maine league presents foreclosure clarification testimony

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/27/15)--The Maine Credit Union League proposed an amendment to expedite foreclosures last week on a bill being considered by the state legislature's Judiciary Committee.

The league testified on seven of the eight bills heard during public hearings last week ( Weekly Update April 24).

Ben Drummond, the league's legislative counsel, presented the amendment, LD 846 An Act to Refine and Streamline the Foreclosure Process. "There are a number of Mainers that do not contest the foreclosure of their property," Drummond said. "For these people, this amendment would result in a resolution more quickly that would benefit all parties involved. 

"This amendment adopts all existing foreclosure law, including mediation and the redemption period, while speeding up the process in appropriate cases," he said. "When the foreclosure process is initiated, this amendment has safeguards in place that reasonably and responsibly ensure that the consumer's interests remain paramount and a top priority throughout the process."

League President John Murphy said the most common complaint the league hears from credit unions is about delays during the foreclosure process, even if homeowners don't contest the foreclosures.

"We have committed significant time and resources in drafting this amendment as a solution and to provide an option for consumers and lenders," Murphy said. "The reality is that for credit unions, foreclosure is the step of last resort; however, in the rare instances, when a foreclosure is initiated, it has been viewed as challenging to expedite the process even when the parties involved agree to that path. We offered this amendment to provide clarity and to streamline the process when that is the case."

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CUNA Councils unveils new website, resources

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MADISON, Wis.  (4/27/15)--CUNA Councils today launched its enhanced and upgraded website with more user-friendly features, streamlined content and a more accessible format.
"Our main focus was to seamlessly connect all six councils on one site while still maintaining their separate identities and objectives," said David Rohn, CUNA Councils vice president. "The new website was created with the membership user in mind, and we worked with member feedback to learn what was most important to them and how we could make the site more convenient and user-friendly."
The new website offers users an environment to interact with other council members and a streamlined method to find the resources they need to be successful in their credit union roles. To help users adjust to the site's new functionality, CUNA Councils will offer site tours to current members.
In addition to its updated design and integrated structure, the new website features:
  • Upgraded navigation tools;
  • Intuitive search function with filtering ability;
  • Enhanced file library which allows for cross-council document sharing;
  • Ability to search within all councils white papers; and
  • Single sign-on with user's login.
To access specific councils using the new site, CUNA Council members are required to login to their account. Their account will be the same as their account.
Users who do not know their username and password, have questions or would like a tutorial of the site should contact Jenny Jackson , 608-231-4102. Registration is available for online training sessions.

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Peach State FCU CEO donates $100K for college scholarships

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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (4/27/15)--Marshall Boutwell, president/CEO of Peach State FCU, Lawrenceville, Ga., and his wife Lee recently made a $100,000 personal donation to Georgia Gwinnett College to establish an endowment scholarship fund ( Gwinnett Daily Post April 23).

The scholarship, to be called the Lee and Marshall Boutwell Veterans Scholarship Fund, will be granted to full-time students who are military veterans.

Boutwell, a veteran himself with honors such as the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for service in Viet nam, jumped at the opportunity to support a program geared toward fellow military members.

"When I heard that Gwinnett's new college was being built by a leadership team coming from a background of military service, I knew it would be a success," Boutwell said in a press release. "I wanted to be a part of that."

Preference for the scholarship funds will be given to those military veterans who were wounded or became disabled during active military service, or veterans who served in a combat arms unit in any branch of the military. But the scholarship money is available to all veterans and their families, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post .

The Boutwells' donation also follows three individual scholarship gifts made by Peach State over the last five years. Two went to the School of Education and one went in honor of former president Dan Kaufman.

"Lee and Marshall have supported this college from day one: From understanding how our School of Education would impact one of Peach State Federal Credit Union's core constituencies--teachers--to supporting our efforts to become a top military-friendly campus and support our veterans," said Stas Preczewski, president of the college.

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CU System briefs (4/27/15)

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (4/27/15)-- Vermont FCU was one of 92 Vermont employers recognized recently by Gov. Peter Shumlin for worksite wellness . The Burlington, Vt.-based credit union received a Governor's Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award for traditional health care benefits and its nontraditional programs such as on-site chiropractic or massage services, partnerships with community supported agriculture farms, payroll deductions and discounts for gym memberships, first aid training and nutrition classes ...

WASHINGTON, Pa. (4/27/15)--Washington (Pa.) Community FCU announced its new name--one that puts a shine on its select employee group heritage. In 1971, employees of Washington Steel Corp. founded the credit union, which will now be known as Chrome FCU . "We were also getting confused with the many other banks and credit unions in the area that have the word 'Washington' in their name," Amanda Lunger, vice president and chief brand officer, said in a release. "What we're doing is special and different, and we wanted our name to reflect that while paying homage to what got us here--which is steel." Chrome is rebuilding its flagship location to include a community room and small business incubator ...

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News Now LiveWire
About 1 in 5 #CUs offer credit-building loans,@SchenkMike @CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, told @CreditCardsCom
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RT @CUNA: DDoS attacks shorter, intense, more expensive: @VERISIGN HT @newsnowlivewire
8 hours ago
RT @CUNA: .@CUNACouncils launches new website. Offering site tours to current members. Check it out!
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.@Discover to support #ApplePay by fall HT @Forbes
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.@HUDgov requires investors to delay foreclosure for a year and offers a non-profit only pool sale
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