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Online registration opens for World CU Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (1/18/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has opened online registration for the 2008 World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong July 13-16. It is the first time WOCCU has brought the conference to Asia. Participants can register online and reserve hotel accommodations by using the resource link. The conference--co-hosted by the Credit Union League of Hong Kong in cooperation with the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions--will be at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center overlooking Victoria Harbor. WOCCU expects a large contingent from nearby mainland China, where steps are underway to help reignite China's cooperative movement, and will offer sessions in Mandarin for the first time. China has more than 25,000 rural credit cooperatives similar to credit unions and its blossoming movement has the potential to more than double the number of credit unions worldwide. Attendees also can participate in visits to local credit unions. Educational breakout sessions will follow four professional tracks: strategy and leadership, technology issues, developing credit union movements, and marketing and business development. Several sessions will feature a new interactive format, promoting participant discussions with a wider perspective on credit union issues around the globe. The conference will also include WOCCU's Young Credit Union People Program (WYCUP), which offers events for attendees under the age of 35. Also available are an optional pre-conference tour to Beijing, China, on July 9-12 and post-conference tour to Bangkok, Thailand, July 17-20. Companion tours include day trips to Macau and Shenzhen on mainland China. The deadline for a discounted early registration rate is May 9. Use the resource links for more details.

UT FCU to serve five-county area

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (1/18/08)--UT FCU has received approval to serve the five-county Knoxville area. The $144 million asset credit union was granted a community charter by the National Credit Union Administration to serve members who live, work, regularly conduct business, worship or attend schools in Knox, Anderson, Blount, Loudon and Union counties (The Knoxville News Sentinel Jan. 17). UT FCU was chartered 38 years ago to serve employees of the University of Tennessee school system and their families. It operates three branches in the Knoxville area, and will open a fourth branch Farragut. It also has branches in Memphis and Martin.

Report CUs face ID theft challenges

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MADISON, Wis. (1/18/08)--Credit unions are unable to completely prevent leakage of personal information that can result in identity fraud because too many parts of the custody chain are beyond their control, according to a recent report commissioned by credit union industry leaders. The report, “Combating Identity Theft: Leading Practices for Credit Unions,” clarifies the nature of identity theft and classifies countermeasures in the credit union environment. Research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium (UWEBC) and sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Credit Union Information Security Professionals Association. Consumers are often concerned with identity theft and the potential fraud that follows, but financial institutions currently absorb most of the effects of fraud, the report stated. In the U.S., $56.6 billion was stolen in 2006 through identity theft, with an average fraud cost per victim of $6,278. Much of these losses are covered by businesses. In 2004, businesses reported average losses of $49,254. Because of the challenges that credit unions face in battling identity theft, the credit union consortium and UWEBC commissioned the study to:
* Define clearly identity theft and the types of identity theft; * Characterize how sensitive personal information is usually compromised; * Determine how much sensitive personal information lost via each route is actually used to commit fraud; * Describe threats and defenses using “attack tree” diagrams; and * Use these results to recommend where identity theft prevention efforts should focus.
The survey builds on a series of annual research projects conducted collaboratively by CUNA Mutual, CUNA and other credit union groups, and the UWEBC. “This type of collaboration among credit union industry leaders, in conjunction with academia, is beneficial to helping credit unions compete in today’s fast-moving business environment,” said Gary Pate, director of insurance compliance and risk management for CUNA Mutual.

Payday loan CUSO saves CU members 103000

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LENEXA, Kan. (1/18/08)--XtraCash LLC saved credit union members more than $103,000 in average fees charged in Kansas and Missouri for 14-day term loans, announced the credit union service organization (CUSO). Since its March 2007 launch, XtraCash served 13 credit union branches in Kansas and Missouri. It processed more than 2,500 loans with a volume amount of more than $920,000. “XtraCash was created to fill a void in the payday lending services available to credit unions,” said Lisa Renner, CEO of CU Holding, a parent company of XtraCash. About 15% to 30% of credit union members and employees use payday lenders, Renner said. The payday lending alternative owns the loans and assumes all risk. It also works as an alliance for credit union partners, she added. “We want to help credit union members get out of the payday lending cycle and into mainstream credit union products and services,” Renner said. CU Holding Company was founded in May 2005 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mazuma CU in Kansas City, Mo.

CU VP launches Hispanic Leadership Council

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (1/18/08)--A credit union vice president is heading up the public launch of an organization designed to bring more Hispanics into leaderships roles in California. A substantial Hispanic community exists, but does not have a voice in regional business affairs, said Maurice Calderon, vice president for minority development at the $1.072 billion asset, San Bernardino-based Arrowhead CU. The Empire Hispanic Leadership Council began meeting in May and is ready to begin operations to influence discussions of economic, education, health and transportation issues and to help mold policy (The Press Enterprise Jan. 16). The council--having already helped organize business expos and workshops--also will develop and maintain a database of Latino-owned businesses. San Bernardino and Riverside counties have a 44% Hispanic population, according to 2006 U.S. Census estimates--up from 38% in 2000. Despite being a significant segment of the population, few Latino’s are part of influential business and civic groups, Calderon said. The problem has been that leaders of business and civic groups tend to select people who most look like them, Calderon said, adding that not enough Latinos have attempted to get involved.

N. Hampshire House approves 36 payday-loan cap

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CONCORD, N.H. (1/18/08)--Supporters of a 36% cap on payday loans approved Wednesday by New Hampshire's House say consumers can turn to credit unions, among others, when they can't repay their loans. New Hampshire has no limit on payday interest rates. If passed, the cap bill may force payday loan companies out of New Hampshire, say payday lending supporters and New Hampshire's banking commissioner (Associated Press Newswires Jan. 16). The cap, which would apply to payday loans and vehicle title loans, would translate into $2.96 in interest per $100 borrowed on a 30-day title loan and $1.38 per $100, or 10 cents a day, on a $100 payday loan for 14 days. Payday lenders said the money earned at such a rate wouldn't cover staffing, rent and the bills. The bill's supporters, including New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the state's welfare administrators, said consumers caught in the payday loan debt trap could instead turn to credit unions, banks, churches, friends and town welfare officers for help. The House vote was 207 to 124 to send the bill to the state Senate, which is considering a similar bill. In 1999, the state repealed an interest cap on small loans after lenders complained about the credit card industry's entry into the market.

Reverse inquiries double says Southwest Corporate

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PLANO, Texas (1/18/08)--Credit unions’ interest in customizable certificates--also known as reverse inquiries--rose to 62 requests in 2007 from 41 in 2006 and accounted for nearly double the dollar amount invested, according to Southwest Corporate FCU. The Plano, Texas-based corporate regularly creates structured investments and advertises them through e-mail and the Internet (eFacts Jan. 15). Because not all structured certificates fit exactly into credit unions’ needs, a customizable reverse inquiry can be an attractive offer, said Cynthia Shi, Southwest Corporate director of portfolio management. Credit unions with as little as $3 million to invest can take their inquiry to Southwest Corporate. It will structure their investments to their needs, Shi said, noting that most agencies require a $25 million minimum to invest. For more information, use the link.

CUNA closed for holiday no INews NowI Monday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/18/08)--In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Credit Union National Association's Washington and Madison, Wis., offices will be closed Monday. News Now will not publish a Monday edition but will resume regular publication with Tuesday's issue.

Economists advice goes international

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MADISON, Wis. (1/18/08)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Senior Economist Mike Schenk has been featured by more than 15 national and international media outlets for his recent comments on the economy with CNBC. Schenk was interviewed by CNBC Wednesday about the likelihood of a recession. The story has been picked up by media outlets such as Reuters and Forbes. He also has been quoted in international publications, including Guardian Unlimited, based in the United Kingdom, Yahoo News Asia, The International Herald-Tribune and Terra.com, a Brazilian news site. Recent reports show that consumer prices shot up last year at the fastest rate in 17 years, which “underlines our view that we’re on the razor’s edge here, that we could be headed into a recession,” Schenk said (Reuters Jan. 17).

CU System briefs (01/17/2008)

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* PICKENS, S.C. (1/18/08)--Pickens FCU purchased 2,500 Shasta Daisy seed packets from the Credit Union National Association to hand out from its booth at the 2008 Pickens Azalea Festival. The festival takes place April 18 and 19, the weekend leading up to the National Credit Union Youth Week running April 20-26. Youth Week coincides with the annual April 22 Earth Day event in 2008. The theme, corresponding artwork, and a handful of promotional products concentrate on saving the "green" … * THORNDALE, Pa. (1/18/08)--Citadel FCU announced that it received more than 2,800 nominations for the Citadel Heart of Learning Awards. The award program was created by Citadel and the Chester County Intermediate Unit to recognize and honor teachers in the county. Fifteen finalists, one from each of the 13 public school districts, one from the intermediate unit, and one from a non-public school, will be chosen as finalists. Each will receive $500 to use in the classrooms, and three winners will receive an additional $1,500 for their classrooms. A list of all nominated teachers will be published on www.citadelheartoflearning.com ... * ST. LOUIS (1/18/08)--Dack Daugherty, 38, of St. Louis, was sentenced to 44 months in jail after pleading guilty in September 2007 to defrauding more than $500,000 from leaders and scamming 21 financial institutions, including credit unions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jan. 17). Daugherty falsified credit applications to borrow money for motorcycles, a Porsche, a grand piano and a jacuzzi. The items have been repossessed and Daugherty has been ordered to pay back the $576,390 ... * SALT LAKE CITY (1/18/08)--Four robberies, including Beehive CU in St. George and Utah First FCU in Salt Lake City, may be related, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (KCSG Jan. 16). Photographs of the suspect suggest similarities. The St. George Police Department and the FBI are working on leads. Beehive CU was robbed Monday, and Utah First was robbed Tuesday. The other two financial institutions were robbed Monday and Wednesday ... * ALBANY, N.Y. (1/18/08)--A bench warrant was issued for Robert Bove, 38, of Albany, who failed to show up for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to submitting a false mortgage loan application for $800,000 at Sunmark FCU in Colonie (CBS 6 Jan. 16). Bove allegedly said the money was for properties that he did not own. He was charged with second-degree attempted grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. He faces up to two-and-a-half years in prison for each charge ... * URBANA, Ill. (1/18/08)--A man accused of robbing Credit Union 1, Rantoul, Ill., is in jail on charges of robbery and burglary. Virgil Richmond, 19, is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing Feb. 26 (News-Gazette Jan. 11). Another man was with Richmond in a taxi before he was arrested, and was originally thought to be involved with the theft. The man has claimed innocence and has not been taken into custody. The two men were going to buy a car before Richmond was arrested ...