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Gunfire exchange in chase injures CU robbery suspect

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MISSOULA, Mont. (1/14/09)--A man suspected of robbing a Missoula, Mont., credit union Monday morning was shot later in an exchange of gunfire with sheriff’s deputies and taken into custody with non-life threatening injuries. The man allegedly entered the Missoula FCU branch on Brooks Street at about 10:15 a.m. with a shotgun, which he fired into the ceiling (Missoulian.com and Associated Press Newswires Jan. 12). Roughly 25 people were in the lobby area—including 20 of the credit union’s 53 employees at the branch and five or six members. No one was injured. Gary Clark, president/CEO of the $275.1 million asset credit union, told local reporters that no one was hurt and the employees followed procedures. Employees who saw the man approaching with the gun hit silent alarms to alert police and cordoned off the area after the robbery. Ironically, the credit union had scheduled a robbery planning update seminar for Tuesday to increase employees’ vigilance because of the poor economy, said the Missoulian. After the robber fled the scene, passersby saw him get into a pickup truck and remove his ski mask. One man followed the suspect. Police eventually stopped the vehicle, and the suspect exchanged gunfire. The unidentified man was in fair condition at a local hospital.

CoastHills FCU to consolidate branches

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LOMPOC, Calif. (1/14/09)--CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., announced that it will consolidate two of its 13 branches effective Feb. 2. CoastHills’ North Santa Maria branch will move 2.4 miles to the newly renovated South Broadway branch. The Arroyo Grande branch will move to the Branch Street branch one mile away. Walk-up ATM service will continue at the original branch locations. All affected credit union employees will keep their positions at CoastHills (KSBY.com Jan. 13). The credit union provided maps on its website to show members where to find the new consolidated branches. CoastHills has $626 million in assets.

CU manager killed in traffic accident

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/14/09)--Barbara-Ann Horning, treasurer/manager of Springdale P P G FCU in Export, Pa., was killed this weekend in a weather-related, three-vehicle accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Jan. 12). Horning, 51, a passenger in a pickup truck driven Saturday by her husband, Jan, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene. Jan Horning was taken to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh with a head injury. The Hornings’ truck was exiting the turnpike at the Irwin, Pa., interchange when it struck a sport utility vehicle in front of it, driven by Heath Shilling, 30, of Irwin. The impact forced Shilling’s truck off the ramp causing it to flip over. He was also injured and transported to Forbes Hospital. The Horning vehicle then struck an International box truck driven by Lanny Confer, 22, and left the highway and overturned. Police said the Horning vehicle was speeding but the accident is still under investigation ( Post-Gazette Jan. 12). Springdale P P G FCU is a $1.481 million asset credit union with one branch in Export.

CUs have own version of economic stimulus package

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/09)--Credit unions nationwide are providing their own version of an “economic stimulus package” to help consumers during challenging economic times. In addition to their usual efforts and the participation in the national Invest in America auto loan program, some credit unions are providing extra help to stressed members. Here are the efforts of a few:
* Resource One CU, a $265 million asset, Dallas-based credit union, is offering financial solutions with its “Resource One Economic Stimulus Package” that includes rates up to 4% interest on 36-month certificates of deposit; rates as low as 4.55% on auto loans; a skip-a-payment program that allows members to skip a loan payment for one month to help ease cash flow; and referral rewards in which members can earn $25 by referring a friend or colleague to open an approved checking account with direct deposit or an approved auto loan. * Neighbors CU, a $205.6 million asset, St. Louis-based credit union, began a promotion for qualified members who had a car loan, last summer when gas prices reached an all-time high. The promotion involved a drawing for eligible members in which the winner won free gas for one year. Neighbors will provide winning member Steven Kessler $400 per month for a year to pay for his gasoline (The Missouri difference Jan. 7). * Members CU, a $209 million asset, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based credit union, started offering members its Holiday Skip-a-Pay program in November. The program allows members to extend the due date on any non-mortgage loan--without fees--for one month. “These extensions not only made the holiday a little bit brighter for our membership, our records show that this huge sum of money was likely spent right here in North Carolina,” Jack V. Braswell, Jr., Members president/CEO, told the North Carolina Credit Union League (The Weekly Update Jan. 9). * Credit Union of New Jersey (CUNJ), a $240.2 million asset, Ewing, N.J.-based credit union, created a loan to help with financial burdens that come with the holidays. CUNJ’s Holiday Loan allowed members to borrow $1,000 with a low, fixed-rate loan. CUNJ also eased qualification standards to provide the loan to as many members as possible, it said. In the two-week period that the loan was available, nearly 1,900 members took advantage of the promotion at six CUNJ branch locations (The Weekly Exchange Jan. 9). * Abilene (Texas) Teachers FCU, with $215.2 million in assets, said it will distribute about $500,000 in rebates to its members in January. The credit union is returning 7.5% of the interest members paid on loans during 2008. The rebate is being applied to all member loans other than credit cards and real estate loans. The funds are distributed into members’ savings accounts through direct deposit (reporter news.com Jan. 7). * Atlanta-based CDC FCU, a $162.8 million asset credit union, announced a new Member Rewards benefits program last month for the community. The program serves as an outlet for members to receive more products and services from the credit union. In 2008, members were offered an auto loan rate of 4.4%, a six-month certificate of deposit rate of 7.5%, and grant funding for mortgage loans. Overall, more than $20 million has been loaned to members for consumer loans, and $21 million in mortgage loans. The credit union received about $22 million in deposits. “We are well-prepared to work with our members through troubled economic times, and we look forward to being a viable option for non-credit union members,” said Betsy Mercier, CDC president/CEO. * FAA CU, a $331.2 million asset, Oklahoma City-based credit union, distributed nearly $500,000 in year-end interest rebates and dividend bonuses to more than 40,000 members in 2008. The credit union has distributed profits to its members in the past eight years. It increased the percentage to 3% from 2% this year to help members through the economic crisis (The Oklahoman Dec. 11).

Scams continue targeting CUs consumers

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/09)--Jim Bishop, a member of Park View FCU, Harrisonburg, Va., was so busy preparing for the upcoming holiday season last December that he didn’t suspect anything was wrong when a scammer called him on Christmas Eve saying his account had been suspended. Bishop received the call at 3:30 p.m. Bishop was told his Visa account had been suspended, and was asked to verify his card information. Bishop, who was in the middle of wrapping gifts and preparing food, provided his personal information to the “legitimate”-sounding individual (RocktownWeekly.com Jan. 3). Shortly after hanging up, Bishop suspected that he had been duped. He quickly called Park View FCU, but received a recording that the credit union had closed at 3 p.m. for the holiday. Bishop reported his check card stolen, but worried that his accounts were at risk. He called a credit union employee, Kent Dayton, at his home. Dayton went to Park View’s head office and locked the accounts, and then called Bishop to verify that no money was taken. The day after Christmas, Bishop and his wife went to Park View to explain what had happened. The credit union assured them that they did not lose any money, and helped them apply for a new check card. The scam Bishop encountered is similar to other scams credit unions have reported across the nation. Members and nonmembers of Three Rivers FCU, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Monroe County Community CU, Monroe County, Mich.; and Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa., were called by scammers asking them to provide personal information to re-active credit cards (The Journal Gazette Jan. 7, MonroeNews.com Jan. 12, and The Public Opinion Jan. 13). Beaumont, Texas-area residents received text and voice messages from scammers pretending to be from MobilOil FCU on Jan. 6. The scammers told recipients to call a phone number, and when they did, they were asked to provide credit card numbers. Few MobilOil members responded to the calls, Gina Tweekrem, Mobiloil FCU president told The Beaumont Enterprise (Jan. 7). “Our members have really been smart,” she said. Cape Regional CU, Cape Girardeau, Mo., warned its members about an e-mail identity theft scam last week in it. Members received e-mails asking them to call a 1-800 phone number to reactivate their credit and debit cards (SEmissourian.com Jan. 4). The Maine Credit Union League also is warning credit union members to watch for suspicious e-mails asking them to re-activate ATM cards. The e-mail “looks real,” Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the league, told the Bangor Daily News (Jan. 2). “The e-mail is a scam,” he said. “It’s very scary.”

Nominations for 2009 CUNA committees due Feb. 27

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/14/09)--Nominations are now being accepted for the 2009-2010 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) committees, which will be appointed by the CUNA Executive Committee after its upcoming Annual General Meeting. Nominations are due by Feb. 27. They can be submitted through the credit union’s CUNA Board representative or league president or online by using the link. Potential committee members should be knowledgeable, dedicated and familiar with the important issues the committee will address. Although there are exceptions, the Executive Committee’s general guideline on committee term limits is to replace members who have served on the same committee for more than three or four years. At its September 2006 meeting, the CUNA Board of Directors approved a recommendation from the Renewal Review Committee that would encourage the increased engagement of volunteers in CUNA’s governance, especially in the existing structure through committee assignments. The completed nomination information should be sent to Teresa Hanson at thanson@cuna.coop. Once all recommendations are recorded, they will be forwarded to the Executive Committee.

Online registration for World CU Conference opens

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/09)—The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has launched online registration for the 2009 World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 26-29. Participants can register online and secure their hotel accommodations. Use the link to register for pre- and post-conference tours of Barcelona. WOCCU says hotel and tour space are limited. The $100 discount for early registration ends May 20. Returning to Europe for the first time in two years, the 2009 conference is being held in cooperation with the Spanish National Association for Credit Cooperatives (UNACC) and Banco Cooperativo Español, the national wholesale cooperative bank for credit cooperatives. Spain's credit unions--known as rural financial cooperatives--serve more than 10 million clients through 5,000 branches. The conference agenda will feature keynote speakers and educational breakout sessions focusing on four themes that address contemporary challenges to credit unions: relevant topics for developing credit union movements; finance and operations; strategy and leadership; and sustainability. The conference will debut a new event. The Global Women's Leadership Forum--which brings together female credit union CEOs and executives from around the world for an invitation-only peer-learning session. Donors who support the greater Global Women's Leadership Initiative at the $250 level or above will be invited to a special networking reception on July 26, before the Opening Ceremony. Other conference highlights include the Seventh Annual International Regulators' Roundtable and WOCCU's Young Credit Union People Program for attendees under the age of 35. For more information, use the link.

O.U.R. FCU granted 90000 for homeowner counseling

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EUGENE, Ore. (1/14/09)--O.U.R. FCU received grant funding for several programs that will help the Eugene, Ore.-based credit union build upon its efforts to provide personal service to residents of Lane County. A $90,000 grant from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) via the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) will allow the $4.1 million asset O.U.R. to continue offering free home ownership counseling presented in three formats: the Lifeline Financial Education peer environment program, one-on-one financial education, and HUD’s NeighborWorks Realizing the American Dream curriculum--which also includes one-on-one interaction. During 2007 and 2008, a similar grant allowed O.U.R. to provide personal assistance to more than 1,600 Lane County residents. O.U.R. is one of two Oregon credit unions that have received HUD grant funds. “I want to extend a special thanks to U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-4th) and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) for their continued support of HUD’s home ownership counseling program. Every year they come through with letters of support here locally and nationally,” said Loretta Moesta, CEO of O.U.R. FCU. In another area of financial counseling, the credit union received a $60,000 grant from the Human Services Commission of Lane County to provide financial education to individuals who participate in the county’s qualified energy assistance programs. O.U.R. FCU was also selected as an Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The VITA Program offers free tax help to people with low- to moderate incomes--generally, $42,000 and below--who cannot prepare their own tax returns. The program offers free electronic filing. O.U.R FCU is the sole credit union VITA site in Oregon. A $5,000 grant through the NFCDCU has helped the credit union offer this service. The credit union received a $15,000 grant from the National Credit Union Administration to implement a debit card program, which will provide greater convenience to the credit union’s membership. “It’s a tremendous point of pride for us to be able to offer a variety of financial assistance to our community,” Moesta said. “The feeling that we’ve lived up to our philosophy of ‘people helping people’ is never stronger than when we know that we’ve helped a family keep its home, or we’ve heard that because of the credit union, a person has been able to reestablish credit. "As a member-owned financial cooperative, we aren’t tied to a credit score--we are able to work within our regulations to meet the needs of our community,” he added.

CU System briefs (01/13/2009)

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* FERNDALE, Wash. (1/14/09)--A man who slashed a woman’s throat outside an ATM at a credit union branch July 28 was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday. Joseph Ryan Smith, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon--a box cutter. Samantha Shields, 25, of Ferndale, was withdrawing money from the Ferndale branch of Bellingham, Wash.-based Whatcom Educational CU, when the attack occurred. She suffered several cuts on her neck and jaw that required more than 50 stitches. Employees in the credit union heard Shields’ screams and chased the assailant away. Smith was arrested an hour later. Shields testified that if it had not been for the credit union’s employees, Smith would have killed her (The Bellingham Herald Jan. 12) … * VANCOUVER, Wash. (1/14/09)--Police in Vancouver say the same man may be responsible for robbing Vancouver-based IQ CU twice in six days. The robberies occurred Monday and the previous Wednesday, Jan. 7. In Monday’s robbery a gunman wearing a blue flannel shirt over two hooded sweatshirts with a hood pulled over his head robbed the credit union, then fled on foot. He put the money in a plastic bag. Last week’s robbery suspect wore blue jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt with a black hooded jacket that had a hood pulled over his head. The jacket had a Nike logo and the word “Nike” in white lettering (kptv.com Jan. 13) … * HIGHSTOWN, N.J. (1/14/09)--The New Jersey Credit Union League has announced it has teamed up with REAL Solutions for Low Wealth Households, the program from the National Credit Union Foundation (The Weekly Exchange Jan. 5). The New Jersey Credit Union Foundation provided the financial support to bring the program to the state. The league will provide staffing support and oversee the program. REAL Solutions initially will be available to about 20 credit unions, at no cost to participate … * RALEIGH, N.C. (1/14/09)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) based in Raleigh has launched Mobile Access so members can securely view and manage their accounts from a Web-enabled cell phone and more than 13,000 different types of mobile devices. Using their mobile device’s Web browser, SECU members can log in to secure Mobile Access from the credit union’s website,www.ncsecu.org, and check account balances, view transactions, transfer funds between SECU accounts and pay bills with BillPay. They can locate any of the credit union’s 223 branches and more than 1,000 Cash Points ATMs with an enhanced Google Maps feature (The Weekly Update Jan. 9) …