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ECCU's free e-book clarifies credit score mystery

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (9/19/14)--To help its members navigate the often murky waters of building solid credit, Educational Community CU, Kalamazoo, Mich., has produced an educational e-book called "A Comprehensive Guide to Your Credit Score."

The book illustrates how critical credit can be in everyday life, and teaches individuals what a credit score is, why it's important and what factors cause it to rise and fall.

"The public is barraged daily with messages about credit, ranging from free credit to no money down, or easy preapprovals," said Jeff DeShane, vice president of lending for the $414 million-asset credit union. "As a financial institution, it's up to us to take a responsible role to educate our members and community about the wise use of credit."

Readers also are taught why it's important to check their credit reports on a regular basis, how to correct errors, and what steps to take to ramp up poor scores.

The e-book is part of a broader array of financial literacy initiatives undertaken by Educational Community, as the credit union also has launched credit seminars in area high schools for upperclassmen to prepare them for their financial futures.

Those efforts soon will be expanded to communitywide programs for participants of all ages, according to DeShane.

"With our educational roots, it only makes sense to take this approach to serving our members," DeShane said. "While we can't always approve every member for a loan, we can offer a plan to help improve their credit score so they can hopefully secure a loan in the future."

CU employee for the day: PCUA's Conway

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DANVILLE, Pa. (9/19/14)--Members strolling into Service 1st FCU, Danville, Pa., on Wednesday may have encountered a friendly but unfamiliar face at the teller window: That of Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Pat Conway.

Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Pat Conway shadows Nicole Hoyes, assistant branch manager at Service 1st FCU, Danville, as an employee of the credit union for the day. (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Photo)
The $234 million-asset credit union offered Conway an opportunity to experience a day as an employee of the credit union, and Conway took advantage by dabbling in a number of different roles ( Life is a Highway Sept. 18).

At the outset of the day, Conway was greeted by Bill Lavage, Service 1st's president/CEO, and joined him for a meeting with the credit union's leadership team for a discussion on the important business items for the day and an overview on the progress of several upcoming and long-term projects.

After the meeting, Conway met with the credit union's branch managers to discuss operation strategies, cooperative support and meeting member needs.

When shadowing Nicole Hoyes, assistant branch manager at the Corporate Center office in Danville, Conway experienced how employees interact, educate and provide service to Service 1st members.

"One of the things I love must about credit unions is our collective passion for improving our members' financial lives," Conway said.

At the end of the day, Conway sat down with Brett Johnson, vice president of lending, to learn about what strategies, techniques and challenges credit unions face when providing member service.

Conway said the day provided first-hand experiences that allowed him to gain an even better understanding of the association's membership.

CU System briefs (09/19/2014)

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  • GRANDVILLE, Mich. (9/19/14)--Credit unions are known for going the extra mile for their members, but First United CU, Grandville, Mich., found out its message had gone even further--more than 1,000 miles . Nancy and Sanford Robinson, Foxcroft-Dover, Maine, found a First United balloon on their lawn Monday. Mark Richter, president/CEO of the $28 million-asset credit union, surmised the red balloon came from one of the events it sponsored this summer-- the Jenison Triathlon or YMCA Buck Creek Run. "Or, since we give them out daily, a child may have let the balloon go from our office," he said (First United CU Photo) ...
     
  • ALBANY, N.Y., and ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/19/14)-- Bruce Beaudette, president/CEO, Sunmark FCU, Latham, N.Y., announced he will retire from the $404 million-asset credit union at the end of the year . Beaudette has been at the helm of Sunmark for 28 years, during which he also was a member of the Filene Research Institute National Council, a co-founder of UsNet and a board member for the former Members United Corporate FCU. "Bruce was--and continues to be--a true leader both in his community and within the credit union movement," said William J. Mellin, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New York ( The Point Sept. 18). "We will certainly miss Bruce's passion and commitment here at the association, but we wish him all the best in his retirement." Executive Vice President Frank DeGraw will assume the role as interim president/CEO after Beaudette's departure. In St. Paul, Minn., Theresa Malone is now the president of $102 million-asset Associated Healthcare CU. She replaces former president Jerry Ziegler, who retired . Malone comes to Associated Healthcare after serving as president/CEO for St. Paul (Minn.) FCU, with $129 million in assets ...

Look here: Last day to submit News Now survey

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WASHINGTON (9/19/14)--"If you haven't taken the News Now survey yet, today is the day to tell us what you think," says Lisa McCue, CUNA vice president of communications and News Now editor.

Noting that the survey closes tonight, McCue says, "The News Now writers and editors really want to hear from all our readers about what works well in News Now and what changes could enhance our readers' experience.  Please let us know what you think."

News Now , the daily online news publication from the Credit Union National Association.
 
Please submit the survey only once. If you completed the survey sent by email earlier this week, thank you for your participation.
 
Respondents may enter a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. Use the link to access the survey.

Herring legacy carried forward with merger

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CINCINNATI, Ohio (9/19/14)--At the end of the day, the planned merger between Cincinnati Arts CU and Cincinnati Central CU is about what's in the best interest of the members, the CEOs of both credit unions are quick to note.
 
Click to view larger image Louise McCarren Herring helped found more than 500 cooperatives. Saturday marks her 105th birthday. (Communicating Arts CU Photo)
But the story behind the merger--and the story behind the history of the credit unions--is about family.
 
Bill Herring, president/CEO of $93.5 million-asset Cincinnati Central CU, and Catherine Herring, president/CEO of $61 million-asset Communicating Arts CU, are brother and sister. Both will retire when the credit union merger is final April 15.
 
What's more, both credit unions were founded by their mother, credit union pioneer Louise McCarren Herring, who also had a hand in establishing roughly 500 other cooperatives. Saturday, Sept. 20, marks what would have been Louise McCarren Herring's 105th birthday.
 
Despite the trail their mother blazed and the legacy she left behind, neither Bill nor Catherine set out to follow in her footsteps. Bill had applied for the Peace Corps upon graduation from college when he temporarily took over management duties of Cincinnati Central at his mother's request in 1969.
 
Catherine similarly started her career on a "temporary" assignment 40 years ago. She took over the president/CEO role of the Communicating Arts CU in 1987.
 
Discussions of the merger began as Bill and Catherine both contemplated retirement within the past couple years.
 
Click to view larger image Bill Herring, president/CEO of $93.5 million-asset Cincinnati Central CU, left, and Catherine Herring, president/CEO of $61 million-asset Communicating Arts CU, are brother and sister. Both will retire when credit unions merge April 15. The credit unions were founded by their mother, Louise McCarren Herring. (Communicating Arts CU Photo)
The two credit unions have more than a family connection. They've shared the same building since 1987.  They share the same data processing and online banking platform, operating under a credit union service organization formed in 1999. Employees of the credit unions even share lunch room and training space.
 
"More than a year ago, I started talking to the board about what the long-term future of the credit union is, recognizing that it isn't me," Catherine told News Now . "Having been here 40-some years, I've been here in the long-term past and the present, but I'm certainly not the long-term future. So we had a very conscious and deliberate conversation that progressed each month though our board meetings, brought in advisers and talked about options."

Bill was also eyeing retirement from his position has president/CEO at Cincinnati Central. Add to the mix a costly upcoming home-banking conversion, and a merger started to look like an attractive option for both credit unions.

"I draw an analogy that there were three trains going on three tracks at different speeds, and not always with an awareness of what the others were doing," Catherine told News Now . "But it was never a foregone conclusion that we would merge. As conversation evolved, here was a unique opportunity to consider."

"They talked to us first, and I think it made a lot of sense for both memberships," Bill told News Now.

The credit unions will approach the merger as a partnership of equals. While Cincinnati Central will be the surviving credit union, the new institution will take on a new brand.

"There's much more enthusiasm for the idea of being part of something new," Catherine said. "To be honest, my board didn't have a lot of enthusiasm about just being part of something bigger. This way, we're taking the history and tradition of both credit unions and forming something new. That's very exciting for everyone involved."
 
But most importantly, both say the merger will serve the best interests of the memberships going forward.
 
"The cost of business continues to increase, and there's not a lot of ways to influence that outside of scale," Catherine said.
 
And both are certain their mother would be delighted with the merger.
 
"It was always about the member," Bill said. "She believed strongly in the individual dignity of each member regardless of economic status. You need the economic resources to maintain that standard in this day and age, especially in this climate when margins are so thin."
 
"My mother believed strongly in collaboration and cooperation among cooperatives, and she believed strongly that credit unions needed to offer modern products and services," Catherine explained further. "I think she would be delighted that these credit unions will only work more closely together and continue to provide products and services that our member-owners want, need and deserve."

Smacked by 100K compromised records, Maine CUs help members

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MADISON, Wis. (9/19/14)--Credit unions nationwide are taking a proactive strategy in protecting members from any fraudulent activity resulting from the Home Depot data breach, which the retailer confirmed Thursday compromised 56 million unique payment cards.

In Maine, credit unions have issued thousands of new cards to protect members from possibly fraudulent charges. Banks have taken "a more measured approach," and not issued cards proactively, centralmaine.com reported.

Centralmaine.com also reported Thursday that a black market website is selling nearly 100,000 credit and debit card numbers stolen from Home Depot stores in Maine.
 
John Murphy, president/CEO of the Maine Credit Union League, said the situation in his state has been exacerbated by breaches at a series of local merchants in addition to Home Depot and other nationwide incidents.
 
"A combination of these large breaches as well as these breaches on small merchants have credit unions scrambling to do a couple things," Murphy told News Now . "One is to limit the fraud exposure. But more important is to be sure members continue to have access to their accounts while their cards are being reissued."
 
Visa Inc. and MasterCard have alerted thousands of card-issuing financial institutions to monitor their members' and customers' accounts for fraudulent transactions related to the Home Depot breach, The Wall Street Journal reported (Sept. 16).
 
Credit unions nationwide have already responded. Members of Westerra CU, Denver, with $1.2 billion in assets, who used their debit or credit cards at Home Depot store between April 1 and Sept. 7, will receive reissued cards, according to the credit union's website.
 
Our Community CU, Shelton, Wash., with $288 million in assets, also informed its membership that it has obtained a list of members' card numbers that have been affected by the Home Depot breach. Those members will be contacted and reissued new cards within 15 business days, according to a message on the Our Community CU website.
 
University FCU, Austin, Texas, with $1.7 billion in assets, is alerting members about card replacements on its website and in a recorded phone message, The Wall Street Journal reported. Debit cards used at Home Depot "during the compromised time frame" will be deactivated on Sept. 25. Credit cards used at the retailer will be deactivated on Sept. 30, the credit union said.
 
While its members have not experienced any fraudulent activity, Evansville (Ind.) Teachers FCU, with $993 million in assets, also is issuing new debit cards to its members proactively, WFIE-TV reported. Home Depot provided the credit union with a list of members who may be affected.

The Credit Union National Association is urging credit unions to record breach-related activity and costs as they receive and process breach notifications in the upcoming weeks. CUNA's upcoming survey will collect data to inform lawmakers, regulators, media and others about the effects of the data breach on credit unions.
 
The home improvement retailer confirmed Thursday that 56 million cards had been compromised, making it the largest data breach to date. Last year's Target breach affected 40 million cardholders.

Among the information CUNA will collect on the Home Depot breach:
  • Number of debit and credit cards affected;
  • Costs incurred for card reissuance;
  • Costs related to additional staffing, member notification, account monitoring, etc.;
  • Changes in call volume;
  • Changes in staffing; and
  • Any specifically identifiable fraud-related losses.
CUNA strongly advocates on behalf of legislation that would protect financial institutions and consumers from the harm such breaches caused by subjecting merchants to the same federal data protection standards to which credit unions and other financial institutions are already subject.

League-backed data protection bill on N.J. docket

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TRENTON, N.J. (9/18/14)--Data breach protection and electronic lien/titling (ELT) bills, two legislative priorities for the New Jersey Credit Union League, were introduced in the state Senate this week.
 
Thursday, the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee considered league-supported legislation (A1239), sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Seacaucus), that would prohibit a retail sales establishment from retaining or storing magnetic-stripe data obtained from a credit or debit card after a sales authorization request has been answered ( The Daily Exchange Sept. 18).
 
The bill also provides that a business or public entity responsible for a security breach will be liable to a card issuer for the costs incurred in protecting customers' personal information or providing on-going financial services to impacted customers.
 
A companion bill (S965), sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), is pending committee consideration in the upper house.
 
On Monday, Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Cranbury) introduced a Senate companion bill (S2423) to league-supported Assembly legislation (A3211) that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to establish an ELT system to replace the state's paper-based system.
 
Introduced in May, the Assembly bill is sponsored by Assemblymen Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge), chairman of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
 
This legislation requires the MVC to complete a study that will determine whether it has the resources and capability to establish and implement ELT within one year of the bill's enactment. If the chief administrator determines that the commission does not have the necessary resources and capabilities, the commission must contract with a qualified private-sector ELT provider.
 
The bill also mandates that within one year of the date that ELT becomes operational, all lien holders must participate in the system, except individuals and those lien holders who are not normally engaged in the business of financing motor vehicles and are administratively exempted by the MVC.