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CUNA seeks student reps for Googolplex editorial board

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will select 12 students from across America to serve one-year terms as youth editorial board members for Googolplex: The Credit Union Guide for Student Moneymakers, CUNA's online financial literacy toolkit.
 
Requests for applications are being accepted through March 7 for all 12 positions. The new student board members' terms will begin on June 1. 

"The insight we receive from these bright students is instrumental in helping us to design financial literacy tools that resonate with children and young adults," said Rena Crispin, Googolplex managing editor. "We believe that it's vital to start financial education at a young age."
 
Googolplex is a youth-focused element of CUNA's onlineEDGE program, which guides credit union members through financial decisions at every stage of life. Googolplex features interactive games, videos, blogs and other content dealing with money matters and real life issues to promote financial literacy for youth age six to 18.

Youth editorial board members complete two brief monthly online critiques of stories and games in age-specific sections of Googolplex's award-winning three-in-one website.

At the end of the terms, each board member writes an original story for Googolplex.

Other board-member responsibilities include:
  • Four elementary-school-aged students will serve on the Clubhouse Crew for 5-Spot;
  • Four middle-school-aged students will make up the Super Youth Team for AJ's; and
  • Four high-school-aged students will be on the Teenage Panel advising C-Note. 
"Our youth board members provide us with feedback that ensures that their peers feel welcome and validated whenever they use Googolplex on their credit union's website," said Susan Tiffany, director of consumer periodicals at CUNA.

Board members must be in grades 3-12 in the fall of 2014 or, if home-schooled, of the same grade-level ages. They will work from home.
 
Applications are available by request from Laurel Purves, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison. Please state the child's grade level or age equivalent if home-schooled and use "Googolplex Youth Board Application" in the subject line. Requests are due by March 7.

Technical issues delaying News Now publishing

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--Readers of News Now may have noticed a delay in its publication recently. Technical issues have delayed the daily production system, and the Credit Union National Association teams in the Washington and Madison, Wis., offices are working to fix the problem.
 
"We appreciate our readers' patience, but mostly appreciate their concern when News Now is unavailable," said Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications. "We're working to provide our readers the stable and consistent news delivery platform they have come to expect and deserve."

Bergeron debuts 'Executive Exchange' for Vermont CUs

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (1/21/14)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions has introduced "Executive Exchange," a video interview series hosted and produced by league President Joe Bergeron. 
 
Available through AVCU's YouTube channel, Bergeron will interview Vermont credit union chief executives and other credit union and cooperative leaders.
 

"Credit unions and cooperatives have stories that are worth telling, and the best people to share them are those who can do so in their own words," said Bergeron. "That's what I envision 'Executive Exchange' being ... no scripts, no cue cards, just straightforward dialogue with the people who believe passionately in the cooperative business model and who demonstrate the credit union difference to their members every day."
 
Jerry Cross, president/CEO of $132 million-asset One CU, Springfield, Vt., is the featured guest in the first episode of "Executive Exchange." Cross told Bergeron how he began with One CU when it was a single-sponsor credit union serving employees of Bryant Grinder Corp.
 
Cross said his greatest achievement with One CU was providing a needed service to members. For example, when Bryant Grinder employees went on strike, the credit union offered assistance to employees, Cross said. "We were the only institution in Springfield that was offering positive financial help to these people, and they did not forget it," Cross said. "That's what this industry is about: Building loyalty and building trust."

Target-like attack hitting 6 more retailers

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LOS ANGELES (1/21/14)--At least six additional U.S. retailers have been attacked with the same software used late last year to steal credit card and personal data from upward of 110 million Target Inc. customers, according to research released Thursday.
 
Dallas cybersecurity company iSight Partners Inc. and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent their findings to financial services and retail companies Thursday (The Wall Street Journal  Jan. 16). iSight released its own version of the report the same day.

"What's really unique about this one is it's the first time we've seen the attack method at this scale," said Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president at iSight (CNN Money Jan. 16). The malware infects individual point of sale devices, monitors data processed on the device, then transmits that data outside of the retailer, she said.

Also on Thursday, the cybersecurity firm IntelCrawler reported retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado and New York were among those compromised with BlackPOS/Kaptoxa, the same malicious software used in the cyberattack on Target (Reuters Jan. 17). The code has been linked to a 17-year-old in Russia, IntelCrawler said.

"Most of the victims are department stores. More BlackPOS infections, as well as new breaches can appear very soon, retailers and security community should be prepared for them," said IntelCrawler CEO Andrew Komarov in a Jan. 16 blog post.

Target initially reported the breach compromised 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15. It later added that personal data for 70 million people also had been compromised.

Federation adds 3 to CU Breakthrough team

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NEW YORK (1/21/14)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has added three credit union industry veterans to its consulting arm, CU Breakthrough.
 
CU Breakthrough helps credit unions identify and implement sustainable solutions to increase financial independence among low- and moderate-income consumers.
 
The new consultants include:
  • Steven L. Dalhstrom, retired CEO of the $1.8 billion-asset Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash.;
  • Robert Fenner, former National Credit Union Administration chief legal officer; and
  • Randy C. Thompson, commercial lending consultant and president/CEO of Thompson Consulting and Training Inc.
Dahlstrom is a former board member of the Credit Union National Association and was named Credit Union Professional of the Year by the Washington Credit Union League. He is available to CU Breakthrough clients to consult on executive coaching, strategic planning, organizational development and project planning.
 
Fenner served as the NCUA's chief legal officer for 27 years. He received the NCUA Board's Gold Medal for Meritorious Service and the Federal Bar Association's Banking Law Committee's Richard Peterson Award for contributions to financial institutions law and policy.
 
Fenner is available to consult on strategic planning, the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of directors and officers, regulatory compliance, field-of-membership expansion, low-income designation and applications to state and federal regulators.
 
Since 1987, Thompson has provided commercial lending training to credit unions.  In 2013 he received the Kim Bannon Eternal Flame award from the California Credit Union League in recognition of his service and support to credit unions. Thompson is available to consult on asset liability management, assessment of lending programs, profitability models, strategic planning, marketing and training.

CUs prepare for tax season as VITA sites

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/14)--Income tax preparation season is getting closer, and credit unions nationwide are preparing to participate in the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
 
"It's a yearlong process, actually," Carin McClain, VITA program manager for Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), told News Now. "We're concentrating on training our volunteers, making sure their certifications are completed and coordinating preparation sites."
 
The VITA program offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
 
McClain has been on the road in Montana training volunteers, but noted that "credit unions do this work all across the country."
 
In Montana, the 29 MCUCD VITA sites prepared 2,074 returns in 2012, returning more than $1.9 million in federal funds, she said. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) made up just over $627,000. MCUCD partners with Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana, the Billings and Bozeman Human Resources Development Councils, Opportunity Link Inc. and United Way of Yellowstone County. The VITA partnership sites prepared 5,517 returns at 59 locations and returned $5,597,564 in total federal refunds. The EITC made up $2,069,271.
 
"Our main focus is to let people know the advantages of filing their taxes," McClain said. "Many people we service don't have a filing requirement, but they can claim really important tax credits that they are entitled to."
 
VITA volunteers provide electronic filing of returns. Combine that with direct deposit, and people can get their return just as fast as if they filed themselves or use a paid tax preparation service, she said.
 
They also get education about the tax process and what tax credits they are eligible for, such as EITC, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.  "The clients will say, 'I had no idea that I had that credit,'" she said.
 
Last year, the MCUCD VITA Partnership garnered a $76,800 IRS grant to support tax preparation sites (News Now 10/17/13).
 
Some credit unions--$388 million-asset Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., for example--will open their doors to members and non-members for scheduled appointments. In other cities, such as Leominster, Mass., volunteers from IC FCU, Fitchburg; Leominster CU; and Workers' CU, Fitchburg, staff sessions at local libraries (Worcester Telegram & Gazette Jan. 16).
 
The National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program also provides resources for becoming a VITA site.

Friday deadline for CUs for Kids' 2013 donations

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WASHINGTON (1/21/14)--Friday is the deadline for credit unions to submit their donations to Credit Unions for Kids to count toward 2013 fundraising goals.
 
In 2012, credit unions raised more than $10.2 million for Credit Unions for Kids, a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide.
 
The program raises funds for 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) nationwide. Credit unions are the nation's third-largest sponsor of the hospitals, and 100% of every dollar donated goes to support research and training, purchase equipment or pay for uncompensated care for children.
 
Proceeds are returned to credit unions' local CMN Hospitals, which receive funds quarterly as well as a report of the donor credit unions.