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Public funds a continued priority for Ohio CUs

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DUBLIN, Ohio (1/4/10)--Passing state legislation to allow Ohio credit unions to become eligible depositories for public funds will continue to be a key priority for 2010, says the Ohio Credit Union League in its eLumination Newsletter (Dec. 30). The legislation, House Bill 317, will go before the second half of the 128th Ohio General Assembly. The bill is jointly sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D-Toledo), along with 20 co-sponsors. H.B. 317 would include credit unions as a choice of eligible depositories for the state, communities, schools and other public entities. It also would allow them to participate in the Ohio Department of Development's Minority Business Enterprise Program and Capital Access Loan Program for small businesses. If passed, members would have access through their credit unions to linked deposit programs from the Treasurer of State, including GrowNow, SaveNow, Ag Link, ECO Link, and Bid Ohio.

INY TimesI prompts gifts to WOCCUs MatchSavings

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MADISON, Wis. (1/4/10)--A New York Times article last week sparked some generous donations to the World Council of Credit Union’s MatchSavings.org program. Times op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof noted MatchSavings in, “Sparking a Savings Revolution,” which focused on some savings programs for individuals worldwide to fight poverty and save for their futures (Dec. 30). The article provided a link to matchsavings.org. Since the mention, WOCCU has received about $5,000 in donations--many from the U.S. and the United Kingdom. “[Two days after the article], we saw donations come in like crazy from all over the world,” Jenny Bernhardt, WOCCU development communications officer, told News Now. “We’ve fundraised half of our yearly goal. It’s great timing with the end of the year.” MatchSavings.org has had about $14,500 in total donations since the beginning of the program. The site launched in February. The program builds on WOCCU’s global development programs. Savers open their first savings account at one of WOCCU’s partner credit unions in a developing country--currently rural Mexico. Savers establish a six-month savings goal and commit to regular monthly deposits. Contributors go to MatchSavings.org, choose which types of savings accounts they want to match--housing, education, microbusiness or health--and make a donation. At the end of the saving period, savers receive the givers' match on their savings principal, realize their savings goal and become members of a credit union that will help them reach their financial goals in the future. This month, Bernhardt plans to travel to Mexico with WOCCU colleagues to visit the savers--140 are participating. The savers began in October. They will complete the program in March and receive their match in April. The Wisconsin State Journal, a Wisconsin daily newspaper, also was to publish a story Sunday about WOCCU’s MatchSavings.org program.

CU CDs switching to CUs topics in media

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SEATTLE and NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (1/4/10)--Consumers seeking a New Year’s resolution may want to consider putting their finances in order--by joining a credit union or choosing a credit union share certificate, according to media outlets. Komo News, Seattle, recommended that consumers looking for a better place to keep their money should find a credit union, which offers lower fees and better interest rates than banks. A one-year certificate of deposit (CD) will yield 1.45% at a credit union, compared with 1.15% at a bank, the publication said (Dec. 31). Credit union credit cards also have interest rates about 20% lower than bank cards. Overdraft fees are about $19 less than banks, the news outlet said. In another article, Bankrate.com (Dec. 31) also noted the difference between credit union CDs and those offered by banks. Bankrate’s Don Taylor answered a reader question about credit union certificates versus bank CDs. The reader wanted to know if the credit union certificates were insured like bank CDs. Credit union CDs are insured by the National Credit Union Administration’s National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which is backed by the government, he said. The limits on share insurance are the same as limits on Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance--$250,000 per individual account, Taylor said. “I wouldn’t have any second thoughts about choosing NCUSIF-insured shares,” Taylor wrote. “You shouldn’t either. Besides, credit unions often offer higher interest rates than banks.”

League of Southeastern CUs debuts new mission look

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/4/10)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), through its consolidation of the Florida and Alabama Credit Union Leagues, is debuting its new look, direction and mission. “We are excited to kick off 2010 with a new management structure, a user-friendly, interactive website, and an experienced staff ready to tackle the myriad of issues facing our credit unions,” said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of LSCU. LSCU’s mission is “to ensure an operating environment through advocacy, leadership, and services that will enable credit unions to maximize their potential as unique financial institutions.” The league created a website so its member credit unions can keep up with and comment on the latest regulatory and compliance issues, register for and access educational conferences and webinars online, and find strategic product solutions to help members. The site will offer streaming video and newsfeeds. LSCU also will continue to use its expanded resources to lobby state and federal issues. LSCU’s advocacy has brought more than 110,000 new members to affiliated credit unions in 2009. The Florida and Alabama leagues combined into LSCU in 2008. They reorganized in December with offices in Tallahassee, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala. The management team has executives from both leagues.

Student video contest winners promote saving

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (1/4/10)--MCT FCU recently honored one high school student and two middle school students as winners of its student video contest. The students created videos to promote the importance of saving. Ted Youngmin Sim won the high school category. His video focused on the importance of saving small amounts of money through life. The video showed a young girl earning money by mowing the lawn, raking leaves and selling lemonade. Then, it shows her as a college student who is able to pay her tuition bill because she had saved enough money. Rachel Hodge and Rachel Watkins won the middle school category. They created a video that focuses on the rewards of maintaining good savings habits throughout life. The film begins with two girls playing Monopoly. One girl loses because she spent all of her money. The girls are later shown as adults, with the saver able to afford a vacation during her summer break, while the spender had to stay home. The videos were judged on creativity and originality, overall impact to inspire individuals to save money, and message clarity and relevance, the credit union said. Each winning video received $500, with $250 of the amount going to the winner’s favorite school club or organization. MCT FCU, Rockville, Md., has $414 million in assets. To see the videos, use the link.

Scams were rampant in December

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MADISON, Wis. (1/4/10)--An off-shore e-mail scam targeting members and nonmembers of a Michigan-based credit union made its way to Wisconsin recently--one of several scams credit unions reported during the holiday season. The scam targeted Community Driven CU, Ypsilanti, Mich., and spread to consumers in Wisconsin and in Texas, the Kenosha News reported (Dec. 21). A reporter of that publication received a bogus e-mail purporting to be from the Michigan credit union, asking the reporter to enter in a credit card account number and personal identification number to view a Visa card statement. Mary Cole, Community Driven CU member service loan officer, said the credit union is aware of the scam and has received many phone calls about it. The credit union also was hit by a text-messaging scam in November, she told the newspaper. Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Razzi noted in a Dec. 15 column that she and her daughter received a text message saying that their ATM cards had been suspended from Treasury Department FCU, Washington, D.C. After receiving the message, Razzi visited the credit union’s website and saw that a scam warning had been posted. “What really has me intrigued is how they got my personal cell phone number and my daughter’s, and phished for both of us at the same time,” Razzi said. “The only link between the two numbers that I can think of is from our phone company itself, which would be scary, if true.” She advised readers to beware of such scams, and to educate their children about fraud. R.I.A FCU, Rock Island, Ill., warned its members to watch for scams through e-mails, text messages and phone calls. Consumers recently received phone calls from scammers offering reduced interest on loans. To receive the rates, receipients needed to send $1,000. Other members received messages that their ATM cards were suspended (Quad City Times Dec. 16). Several members of Idaho State University FCU in Pocatello, Idaho, were among consumers duped by a phishing scam that asked for personal account information. The information was then used to create fake debit cards to withdraw funds from ATMs in California and Romania. The largest reported loss was $400 (Associated Press Dec. 18). A local bank also was targeted in the scam. Perfect Circle CU, Hagerstown, Ind., also was targeted by fraudulent phone calls. Scammers asked Perfect Circle CU members and customers of another local bank to enter their card numbers or risk having them cancelled (Pal-Item.com Dec. 31). The scam phone calls are coming from the number 800-245-9655. To guard against holiday season scams, Todd Peeples, manager of Tyndall FCU, Panama City, Fla., advised consumers to look for:
* Web addresses that start with “https.” The “s” means the site is secure; * A key lock icon, which should be pictured with pop-up safety information; and * Billing and shipping questions, which should stick to the basics. “If you have to enter your Social Security number, it’s a red flag,” Peeples told WMBB News (Nov. 30).

CU System briefs (01/03/2010)

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* ALBANY, N.Y. (1/4/10)--N. Y. Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Metropolitan) (shown here) met with credit unions in New York City for the Metropolitan Chapter's legislative luncheon. Also attending was Alice Fisher, community outreach director from the office of Sen. Liz Krueger (D-N.Y.) Miller, a retired credit union manager, reaffirmed his support for credit unions and the advancement of credit union legislation such as municipal depository choice and financial literacy measures. A member of the Assembly Banks Committee, he encouraged credit unions to focus on one or two key issues for the next legislative session. Fisher discussed Krueger's support for credit unions and their work. She said Krueger has predicted lawmakers will pass only legislation that doesn't cost the state money during the next two years. Edgar Alleyne, chapter council member and volunteer at Church of the Master FCU, spoke about the bank-credit union relationship. Representing the Credit Union Association of New York, which helped coordinate the event, were Advocacy Specialist Leona Haberstro and Political Action Coordinator Cheryl Frantzen. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York) ... * SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (1/4/10)--Redwood CU received the Outstanding Business Diversity award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin, Calif., during the chamber's annual La Posada Gala celebration. Chamber President Cecilia Zamora said the credit union "is a positive role model to all financial institutions with its internal and external business practices that support a multicultural community." The credit union "plans to continue to enhance our efforts toward better serving the financial needs of the growing Latino community in the North Bay," said Redwood CU President/CEO Brett Martinez. From left are Redwood's Marin branch management team: Branch Manager Sal Medina and Assistant Branch Managers Nora Gartner and John Romero. (Photo provided by Redwood CU) ... * PORT NECHES, Texas (1/4/10)--Thad J. Angelle has been named president/CEO of MCT CU. The appointment was effective Friday. He succeeds Lee W. Robinson (The Record Live Dec. 29). Angelle previously served as executive vice president at the $178.4 million asset, Port Neches, Texas-based credit union. He has worked in the financial services industry for more than 25 years, beginning his career in 1993 in consumer and commercial lending at Bridge City State Bank. In 2004, he joined the senior management team at MCT CU, where his primary responsibility was to establish a commercial lending department, and manage the mortgage and collection departments before being promoted to executive vice president. He is a 2008 graduate of the CUNA Management School, presented by the Credit Union National Association ...