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Ohio CUs offer five financial resolutions

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DUBLIN, Ohio (1/7/08)--Ohio's credit unions and the Ohio Credit Union League are offering five financial resolutions to consumers for 2008. "Reviewing your finances and looking at ways to improve your financial stability should be at least an every year occurrence," said Paul Mercer, league president, in a press release. He advised consumers to take their time reviewing their financial goals "both long and short-term. Credit unions are here to serve you, and they offer financial counseling, budgeting, financial education and numerous other services and programs to help you achieve your financial goals," he added. Among the resolutions offered:
* Pay off a credit card. * Have a monthly budget and stick to it. * Know your credit score so you know what you can afford. * Review your mortgage and refinance your home if you have adjustable rates. * Save each week or month and talk to a credit union about saving for both short-term and long-term.
A recent Experian/Gallup poll indicates that most U.S. adults will begin the year planning to attack their debt burden and about half plan to check their credit scores and cut back on entertainment expenses (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 4). However, other personal finance goals such as consolidating loans and managing credit cards aren't on the to-do list for 2008.

News Nows top stories for 2007

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/08)--Data breaches, phishing and security; the Bank Secrecy Act; the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) and other tax regulations; and the economy's effect on credit unions--including conservatorships--dominated the list of stories requested the most during 2007 by News Now's readers. The list is based on the number of viewers requesting each item, according to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) web services department. Overall, data breaches and phishing attempts appeared most often on the top 10 list. That isn't a surprise, since 2007 brought to light the largest data breach in history affecting credit unions and their members. Phishing attempts have been steady against financial institutions and their organizations throughout the year, as cybercriminals employed more sophisticated methods to capture consumers' personal data. Three stories on the list involved the Bank Secrecy Act. The economy, with the subprime industry's worries, was of prime interest, as were stories about credit unions taken into conservatorship, such as Cal State 9 and Norlarco CU, both in the top 20 news stories of 2007. In 2006, the top stories were phish tales and conversions of credit unions. Conversions were largely absent from the 2007 list. Here are highlights of the different topics on the upper part of the list. 15. NCUA confirms control of large Colo. CU WASHINGTON (8/24/07)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Thursday confirmed that it has placed Colorado's eighth largest credit union, Norlarco CU, of Fort Collins, into conservatorship and taken control of its operations. 14. Suspicious Activity Report guidance issued by FinCEN WASHINGTON (6/15/07)—The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) this week issued, in apparent response to questions fielded by its Financial Institutions Hotline, two sets of guidance: one addressing Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filings, the other law enforcement requests to maintain an account. 13. Former Nationwide FCU CEO: 'I did the only thing I could do' UNCASVILLE, Conn. (10/19/07)—In 2005, Paula Edwards, the former CEO of the now-defunct Nationwide FCU in Columbus, Ohio, received a phone call from her board chairman to meet her in the park of Nationwide's business complex for a chat. 12. Records retention guidelines approved for CUs ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/27/07)—Credit unions will have some flexibility under new guidelines to the National Credit Union Administration 's (NCUA) rule on catastrophic act reporting and records preservation, according to Mary Dunn, deputy general counsel for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 11. Debit cards too risky for online shopping MADISON, Wis. (12/10/07)--Use the wrong payment method or the wrong piece of plastic when shopping online and someone you don't know could zero out your checking account balance in a matter of minutes. Remember some simple cyber rules to avoid becoming a statistic (Credit Union National Association center for personal finance). 10. NCUA becomes conservator of $388 million asset CU WASHINGTON (11/5/07)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said on Friday it assumed control of the operations of Cal State 9 CU, a state-chartered, federally insured, community-based credit union in Concord, Calif. 9. Overdraft protection bill heads for vote WASHINGTON (9/25/07)—The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to vote this week on a bill aimed at adding consumer protections to overdraft protection plans, but which could have the unintended effect of shredding credit unions' ability to offer the service to members. 8. CUNA shuts down new card-activation phish attempt MADISON, Wis. (10/29/07)--A new phishing-scam attempt using the Credit Union National Association's name informs recipients about "irregular check card activity" and advises them to call a toll-free number to get any restrictions removed. 7. IRS releases UBIT guidance for two CUs WASHINGTON (3/6/07)--In Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs) made public this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said several financial products sold by two unidentified state-chartered credit unions should be subject to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT). 6. BSA 'problems' result in NCUA cease and desist ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/4/07)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) yesterday issued a cease and desist order against Dover N.J. Spanish American FCU to correct what the agency called "substantial Bank Secrecy Act compliance problems." 5. Call-forwarding scheme latest ruse by phishes MADISON, Wis. (4/26/07)--A new phishing scheme that uses a "call forwarding" component enables phishers to portray themselves as the victim when a financial institution calls to verify a bank transaction. 4. What the Fed rate cut means for CUs MADISON, Wis. (9/19/07)--Credit unions can expect the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to cut the target for the federal funds rate another 0.50% again in 2007 and another 0.50% in the first half of 2008--bringing the interest rate down to 3.75% by next summer, say economists for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 3. CUNA looks into new data breach WASHINGTON (1/18/07)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said Wednesday that a recent breach of credit card information reported by TJX Companies, Inc. underscores the need for Congress to act quickly and reasonably on data security issues. 2. Worker steals 2.3 million account records from Certegy JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (7/5/07)--A senior-level database administrator was fired after taking data for 2.3 million consumer accounts from Certegy Check Services--a company with credit union ties--and selling the information to a data broker, announced Fidelity National Information Services Inc.. 1. 2006 IRA contribution deadline extended WASHINGTON (1/26/07)--Taxpayers throughout the country now have an extra day, until April 17, 2007, to file their 2006 returns and pay any taxes due.

SECU tellers aid kidnap victim suspect caught

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (1/7/08)--State Employees CU tellers helped police rescue a woman who said she was kidnapped by a man who robbed her. The woman escaped and told tellers she was robbed and then kidnapped by a man who forced her to go inside the credit union to get money (Charlotte Observer Jan. 4). Credit union staff called the police, who confronted the man as he waited in the woman’s car in the credit union parking lot. The suspect, James Smith, 51, would not surrender to police, so they shocked him with a Taser. He was later taken into custody and charged with first-degree kidnapping ( Jan. 4). The woman was not injured during the kidnapping, which lasted 30 hours. State Employees CU, based in Raleigh, has $14.9 billion in assets.

Matz named interim CEO of Andrews FCU

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SUITLAND, Md. (1/7/08)--Deborah Matz, former National Credit Union Administration board member, has been named interim CEO of Andrews FCU in Suitland, Md. Matz replaces Michael Hale, who resigned from his position as president/CEO. Matz served as chief operating officer at Andrews FCU since April 2006. Hale had been CEO since 1996. Andrews FCU, based on the Andrews Air Force Base, has $810 million in assets.

Subprime woes wont cut FIs tech spending

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MILWAUKEE (1/7/08)--Problems in the subprime market will not affect how much credit unions spend on technology this year, a Robert W. Baird and Co. survey indicated. Survey respondents indicated that they would continue spending on core processing because many of them are under five-to-seven year contracts, David Koning, an analyst with Robert W. Baird, said (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Dec. 30). And as small financial institutions compete with big banks, they’ll need to invest in new products like security, bill pay, online banking and compliance, Koning told the newspaper. Robert W. Baird surveyed 153 small financial institutions, including credit unions. Another survey by RingCentral Inc., a communications provider, indicated that about 60% of small businesses plan to increase their technology spending this year. News Now reported only 6% planned to decrease their spending, while 31% planned to maintain current spending (Dec. 26). The spending would focus on personal computers (57%), e-mail (81%), mobile phones (77%), business phones (69%), and websites (61%), according to the survey. Financial institutions were looking at a 3% annual growth rate for technology spending in 2007, according to the 2007-2008 Credit Union Environmental Scan (E-scan) Report. Regulatory compliance and market forces were expected to drive most spending.

N.H. editorial notes CUs payday loan efforts

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CONCORD, N.H. (1/7/08)--A Friday editorial in the Concord Monitor notes that New Hampshire credit unions offer alternatives for consumers to standard payday loans. The editorial said that the New Hampshire banking department has urged credit unions and other lenders to do more to meet the needs of consumers by offering alternatives to payday lenders. Payday lenders charge high interest rates that can plunge people into long-term or even permanent debt. Credit unions and others lender have responded, although there are not enough alternatives to meet the demand for easy-to-get unsecured credit, the editorial stated. Credit unions in the state tend to set minimum loan amounts of about $1,000, and some limit membership to select employee groups such as government workers or employees of participating companies. However, other credit unions can serve any New Hampshire resident, the editorial pointed out. It directed readers to the New Hampshire Credit Union League’s website for a list of credit unions. The editorial also urges quick passage of New Hampshire House Bill 267, which would cap the interest charged on payday and auto title loans at 36%.

CU Fleet Auto changing name to Donald Driver Motors

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (1/7/08)--CU Fleet Auto, the largest U.S. credit-union owned leasing company, announced Thursday that it will change its name to Donald Driver Motors. The West Allis, Wis.-based dealership, a division of Central States Mortgage, reached an agreement on the name change with Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver, who opened his new Chevrolet Buick Dealership in Campbellsport, Wis. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Jan. 3). Driver’s Campbellsport dealership was acquired by a partnership of Driver, Central States Mortgage CEO Richard Jungen, and CU Fleet Auto President Tom Burns. Burns will manage both dealerships. Donald Driver Motors will feature more than 200 certified use vehicles for sale, along with new Buick and Chevrolet cars and trucks. CU Fleet Auto partners with 14 Wisconsin-based credit unions.

Pennsylvania court to rule within 90 days on FOM case

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/7/08)--A federal judge in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Friday she will render a decision within 90 days on the banking industry’s challenge to the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) field-of-membership decision involving three Pennsylvania credit unions. Several credit union entities, including the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), were in Harrisburg, Pa., for the federal court hearing. The arguments on the credit union side of the case were made by the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of NCUA, and by Paul Lambert, counsel from the Bingham McCutcheon law firm. Lambert is representing CUNA, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), the three affected credit unions and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. Chief Judge Yvette Kane said there is the possibility that she may call for more briefs, Eric Richard, CUNA general counsel who attended the hearing, told News Now. The proceedings lasted about 90 minutes with the bankers, who are the plaintiffs, presenting their argument first, which is standard procedure, Richard said. Eric Womack, from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division, representing the NCUA, followed with his remarks. Finally, Lambert argued on behalf of CUNA, PCUA, the three credit unions, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. “Lambert argued that the U.S. Congress wants NCUA to grant community charters big enough for credit unions to be viable,” Richard said. “The bankers tried to challenge the validity of NCUA’s regulations on community charters. Our counsel said that, in a previous case in Washington D.C, the NCUA regulations were already upheld. So it was not appropriate to bring that issue up here.” A recent motion by banking plaintiffs seeks a summary judgment against the NCUA. Such a judgment would invalidate the agency's decision to grant community charters to the three Pennsylvania credit unions: Members 1st FCU, New Cumberland FCU, and Americhoice FCU (News Now Dec. 5). The first of the community charters was approved by the NCUA on April 24, 2003, Richard said. The bankers' case was filed in 2007 by the American Bankers Association and a group calling itself the Credit Union Task Force of Pennsylvania. The litigation challenges NCUA's determination that a six-county area in south central Pennsylvania constitutes a "well-defined local community" under the Federal Credit Union Act. A key issue to be decided in the case is whether the record shows sufficient interaction among people in the field-of-membership area to justify NCUA’s finding that there is a well-defined community in this area in Pennsylvania, Richard said. One other salient issue brought up was whether the court would disregard additional factual information that the bankers wanted to submit that is not in the NCUA record, Richard added, saying the bankers abandoned that argument.

Pennsylvania CUs membership climbs to 3.4 million

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/7/08)--Pennsylvania credit union membership grew to more than 3.4 million during the third quarter of 2007, according to the Pennsylvania Profile Third Quarter Economic Summary. The summary indicates that membership is at 3,410,000, up from 3,387,000 in September 2006 (Life is a Highway Jan. 4). Pennsylvania credit union savings balances fell $257 million in the third quarter of 2007, nearly 1% more than for credit unions nationwide. However, for the 12-month period ending September 2007, savings balances overall increased 7.4%, faster than the national average of 5.8%. Pennsylvania credit union loan delinquencies were 0.84%, nearly equal to the 0.82% national average and down from 0.88% in 2006. This compares with an American Bankers Association study that indicates the percentage of loans at least 30 days past due at banks rose to 2.44% in the July-to-September period, from 2.27% in the previous quarter, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.

CU System briefs (01/04/2008)

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* HARTFORD, Conn. (1/7/08)--Connecticut State Employees’ CU in Hartford has reported to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that counterfeit teller checks bearing the credit union’s name are circulating. The checks are associated with a secret shopper scam. The counterfeit items have a routing number of 011900445, which is assigned to Bank of America. The checks have red and blue borders and change from red to blue in color. A rounded rectangle is displayed across the top of the checks containing the bank’s name, location, slogan and check number. Anyone who has information about the counterfeit checks is encouraged to contact the credit union ... * ST. LOUIS (1/7/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) has completed transferring the ownership of the South and West St. Louis County shared branches to Electro Savings CU, St. Louis, effective Jan. 1. The branches operated as stand-alone locations since 1994 and 1999, respectively, and are now credit union-owned and operated outlets, said MCUA (CourierNet Jan. 4). Electro Savings retained all staff and the branches kept the same hours as before, and changes will be transparent for members. Mark Hohenstein, vice president of the Credit Union Shared Branch Network, is now based out of MCUA's St. Louis office … * DAYTON, Ohio (1/7/08)--Universal 1 CU member Kippie Reichelderfer happily took the wheel of the 2007 Ford Mustang GT Convertible she won during Universal 1 CU's 70th anniversary celebration. When she received the credit union's call at her workplace, she worried it was a scam. A visit to her local Chillicothe branch confirmed that her name had been drawn from 17,262 entries gathered during the credit union's year-long "Win With Us" campaign. Shown with the winner is her husband, Tim Reichelderfer. (Photo provided by Universal 1 CU) … * RALEIGH, N.C. (1/7/08)--State Employees' CU (SECU) announced the final round of winners in its year-long Million Dollar Sweepstakes to encourage use of electronic statements. Eleven drawings from February through December resulted in $1 million awarded to members, with 20 members winning $25,000 each and 100 members winning $5,000 each. Pictured are $25,000 winner Donna Tennyson of Charlotte and her daughter. Tennyson said she chose e-statements because she was concerned about fraud and believed e-statements was a more secure way to get her information. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU) … * ST. LOUIS (1/7/08)--Doug Macias has joined the staff of the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) as a field representative, effective Jan. 2. Macias will work primarily with smaller credit unions on the eastern side of the state. He most recently served as CEO of the $11 million asset Atlas Community CU, Wood River, Ill. He also has worked in state, federal, select employee group-based and community-chartered credit unions, said MCUA (CourierNet Jan. 4) …