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CUNAs media efforts spike traffic at creditunion.coop

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (1/11/10)--Traffic on the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) site for consumers, creditunion.coop, spiked more than 300% Thursday as a result of CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica's blog on Huffington Post. Mica advised readers of the Post (Jan. 7) to move their money into credit unions and provided the address for the CU Locator so readers could find a credit union near them. On that day the site received 168,990 requests for 27,356 pages, according to the site's traffic report. The article also prompted 234 comments on the Huffington Post site from consumers, many of them touting their credit union, in a 24-hour period. Roughly 251 people liked the item well enough to "share" it and 106 "tweeted" about the blog. It's not the only time a mention in the media by CUNA has spiked traffic to the site. On Dec. 29, CNN mentioned creditunion.coop and page views for that day were more than 200% above average, said Kevin Knope, CUNA's director of Web Services. On that day the site received 129,944 requests for 21,883 pages. "Both mentions led to impressive spikes in traffic," Knope told .

3Q heists drop from 3Q 2008 says FBI

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WASHINGTON (1/11/10)--During third quarter 2009, there were roughly 1,212 robberies and burglaries of financial institutions, including credit unions, reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). That's a decrease from the 1,378 reported violations in the same quarter in 2008. The figures included 1,184 robberies, including 101 credit union robberies, plus 28 burglaries, four of them at credit unions, the FBI said. More than $9.4 million in loot was taken from 90% of the incidents. Roughly $2.2 million was recovered in 22% of the incidents. Five percent of the incidents involved acts of violence that resulted in 26 injuries, mostly to employees (17) of the financial institution (17) or the suspect (five injured); five deaths, all perpetrators; and 32 persons taken hostage. Other findings:
* Crimes against financial institutions were most frequently committed on Friday. The most frequent time--regardless of the day--was between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. * Suspects used oral demands the most, followed closely by demand notes. * Most violations occurred in the South, which had 492 reported incidents.
The FBI noted that incidents could be higher because not all bank crimes are reported to the FBI. For the full report, use the link.

Heartland Visa in 60M breach settlement

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PRINCETON, N.J. (1/11/10)--Heartland Payment Systems and Visa Inc. announced a $60 million settlement in which issuers of Visa-branded credit and debit cards may recover losses incurred from the 2008 data breach of Heartland's card payments processing system. Heartland will pay up to $60 million to fund the settlement program, depending on conditions such as the level of participation by U.S. Visa issuers (PYMNTS.com Jan. 8). Visa said it would present details to eligible issuers soon. "We believe issuers will benefit by participating in this settlement program because it offers an immediate recovery with respect to losses they may have incurred from the Heartland intrusion,” said Ellen Richey, chief enterprise risk officer, Visa Inc. The agreement is contingent upon acceptance by financial institutions representing 80% of the eligible issuers’ U.S. accounts that Visa considered as under risk of compromise during the breach. It also includes mutual releases between Heartland and its sponsoring bank acquirers, on the one hand, and Visa on the other. Heartland will fund up to $59.22 million of the amounts to be made available to Visa and its issuers under the settlement program. Visa will credit the full amount of intrusion-related fines it previously imposed and collected from Heartland's sponsoring bank acquirers toward the $60 million maximum funding of the program. All U.S. card issuers who participate in the program will be eligible to receive a portion of the specified recovery. The settlement also includes recovery for international issuers of accounts Visa considered as under risk. Participation in the settlement program supplants any other recoveries that may be available to issuers through Visa and requires accepting issuers to release Heartland, its sponsoring bank acquirers and Visa from any legal and financial liability related to the Heartland intrusion. Visa will notify eligible issuers soon with details about the program and how to participate. It will send eligible issuers their formal offers to participate in the program on Thursday. To facilitate payment, eligible issuers have until 5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29 to opt-in to the program before the offer expires. Last month, Heartland entered two settlement agreements--a $3.6 million agreement with American Express and an agreement for up to $2.4 million in a consumer cardholder class action lawsuit (News Now Dec. 21 and Dec, 29). It also has disputes with MasterCard over the breach but no settlement has been announced. Breaches at Heartland and Hannaford Bros. grocery chain affected 130 million cardholders. Credit unions were among the financial institutions re-issuing cards that were compromised in the breaches and some saw fraudulent transactions on the compromised cards.

Truliant FCU closes Dec. with 32 hike in mortgages

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (1/11/10)--Truliant FCU in Winston-Salem, N.C., said it experienced a 32% increase in mortgages closed in December over the same period in 2008, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League. “We have continued to be a viable solution for members looking to purchase a home or to refinance an existing mortgage,” said Troy Martens, Truliant vice president of consumer and real estate lending. “Our mortgage department has been very busy in light of the current economy. I think that can be attributed to two factors: we have very competitive rates, and our members know that our goal is to put them in a loan they can actually afford,” he told dBusiness News (Weekly Update Jan. 8). Truliant has about $1.3 billion in assets.

Pennsylvanians increase CU use in 3Q

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/11/10)--While the financial services marketplace was turbulent in 2009, there was one bright spot--credit unions. Credit unions in Pennsylvania have not only weathered the storm, but have thrived during it, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). Throughout 2009, the state’s credit unions continued to grow in assets, loans, savings and members. Third-quarter data from the National Credit Union Administration, indicated that credit unions in Pennsylvania increased in all major areas: 13% in assets, 10% in loans, 15% in savings, and 2% in membership, according to the Pennsylvania Profile, published quarterly by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). “The fallout from Wall Street has led many consumers to seek out financial institutions locally owned and operating within their communities,” said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. “With more than 500 credit unions located throughout the state, there is truly a credit union for every Pennsylvanian.” The profile showed credit union membership in Pennsylvania grew 2.3% over a 12-month period ending Sept. 30, compared with a national credit union member growth rate of 1.6%. Pennsylvania now has 3.5 million members served by 556 credit unions. Total assets in Pennsylvania credit unions grew to nearly $31 billion, up 13% from September 2008’s figure of $28 billion. Savings totaled $27 billion, up 15% from $24 billion in third quarter 2008 despite nearly double-digit unemployment in the state. New- and used-auto loans grew in the third quarter, with new-auto loans increasing 2.5% in the state, faster than the national average, which fell 0.1%, and double the growth reported in the state during the third quarter of 2008. Loans grew faster than savings, pushing the loan-to-savings ratio up to 69.4%, from its lowest point of 67.4% in the second quarter. Certificates of deposit (CDs), individual retirement accounts, and money market shares grew significantly more than the national rate, PCUA said.

CUs auto incentive program has good 2009

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LIVONIA, Mich. (1/11/10)--The “Invest in America” program contributed to significant U.S. sales increases reported by its partners General Motors (GM) and Chrysler from November to December. The auto companies posted gains of 50% and 36% respectively. The program offers auto loan discounts to credit union members who buy new vehicles. GM reported it sold about 161,000 units last month, while Chrysler said its monthly sales volume increased to more than 86,500 vehicles. Credit unions and their members contributed to the sales surge by buying more than 14,000 GM and Chrysler vehicles in December, a jump of 40% from November. Credit union members comprised 6% of the total monthly sales for the automakers. “New- and used-car loans are the bread and butter of the credit union industry,” David Adams, CEO of CUcorp, a national credit union marketing company, told a media teleconference Friday. “So opportunities related to new-vehicle financing should be at the top of the list for credit unions in 2010. “Our vision is to continue with the program and have credit unions promote domestic-based companies--especially auto companies--and give value propositions to credit union members, while supporting the U.S. economy in the process,” he added. To date, 46 out 50 state credit union leagues support the program, with 2,125 credit unions nationwide participating, including 304 of the top 500 credit unions nationwide, Adams told the media. “In 2010, we think we can increase that. The prediction for the auto industry overall is a 20% surge in 2010. “Hundreds of thousands of credit union members drove away with great deals on new cars and trucks in 2009, which helped boost domestic vehicle sales,” Adams added. “This broad, national support for the domestic auto industry is good for America as well as the credit union brand.” In 2009, credit unions helped sell 229,344 GM and Chrysler cars and trucks through “Invest in America” for a total of $3.5 billion in new auto loans. Chrysler also announced it is expanding its credit union-preferred pricing program to include all 2010 model year vehicles. During the past year, more than 828,000 credit union members took advantage of the exclusive savings and benefits offered by “Invest in America” and its partner companies.

McGrath sentencing delayed to March 22

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NEWARK, N.J. (1/11/10)--The sentencing of the former CEO of the defunct U.S. Mortgage Corp. and CU National Mortgage for fraud has been postponed again by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey--this time until March 22. Michael J. McGrath Jr., pleaded guilty in June to one count of mail and wire fraud and one count of money laundering conspiracy in defrauding $139.6 million from 19 credit unions, Fannie Mae and others (News Now June 12). Originally McGrath was to be sentenced on Oct. 1, but that date was postponed to Nov. 30 and then to Feb. 1, according to the court docket. Under a plea bargain, McGrath is expected to be sentenced to between 12 1/2 and 20 years in prison and to pay restitution to the victims. He admitted to conspiring with others from January 2004 to January 2009 to fraudulently sell credit union loans and use the proceeds to finance U.S. Mortgage's operations plus investments for himself and his company. He also admitted to diverting funds that should have been paid to credit unions for mortgage loans sold without authorization to Fannie Mae to help offset bad investments in mortgage-backed securities, according to prosecutors (Reuters June 11). The mortgage companies, based in Pine Brook, N.J. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February in Newark.

Coastal FCU video outlines MBL success challenges

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (1/11/10)--Coastal FCU could help many more small businesses if lawmakers increase credit unions’ member business lending caps, according to a North Carolina Credit Union League video. Peter Van Graafeiland, Coastal’s vice president of mortgage and business services, spoke in a video produced by the league about the caps. Credit unions are currently capped at lending 12.25% of their assets and Coastal has bumped up against the cap since 2005. A bill pending in Congress would raise the cap to 25%. If the cap were raised, credit unions could offer another $10 billion in commercial credit, said Van Graafeiland. Many businesses have approached Coastal for credit help when their previous lenders scaled back. “People say the financial institution they’ve been with for 10 to 15 years decided not to serve them anymore,” he said. “They come here--we are interested, and we help a lot of them.” Coastal launched its member business lending department in 2001. It has four commercial loan officers with more than 100 years of combined experience in lending. Each year, Coastal makes about $10 million in business loans. It wants to make more, but it is bumping up against the cap (Weekly Update Jan. 8). “We could easily double our volume and not strain the system,” Van Graafeiland said.

Dort FCU gives away two renovated homes

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (1/11/10)--Dort FCU, Flint, Mich., recently gave away two mortgage-free homes to families in need through its “Home for the Holidays” program, said the Michigan Credit Union League.
Click to view larger image Rachel Schlanhart (center), 5, looks at the new home her mother, Candice Garner, received through Dort FCU’s “Home for the Holidays” program. (Photo provided by the Flint Journal via the Michigan Credit Union League)
The families were selected from a pool of 100 applicants to receive the homes. Dort put together an outside selection committee to review the applications and select two recipients (Michigan Monitor Jan. 4). The Mt. Morris Township home was awarded to Rockie Hartley of Flint and her two children. The newly painted home had new flooring, appliances and furnace. The house came with a dining set and household items including rugs, towels and small kitchen appliances. Candice Garner of Division and her four children received a home in Flint Township. The house had new paint, flooring, appliances and updated bathrooms. Garner also received a new sofa, dining set, and several kitchen and bathroom items. Dort FCU renovated both homes and updated them to code before giving them to the families. The families took possession of the homes Jan. 4. “Candice and Rockie are hardworking moms making a difference for their kids and we can’t wait to see how they make these homes their own in 2010,” said Jenny Ludwigsen, Dort FCU director of marketing. The giveaway received media coverage, said the league. Dort FCU has $405 million in assets.

Pa. district visits raise awareness of CU issues

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/11/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association staff and committee members have completed 12 of 21 Congressional District and Senate office meetings to update elected officials on the credit union position of key issues.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.)--second from right--meets Pennsylvania credit union leaders, from left: Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Governmental Affairs Committee member Lee MacMinn, Governmental Affairs Committee and State Credit Union Advisory member Jim McCaw, and State Credit Union Advisory Committee member John King. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
On Jan. 4, Bucks County area credit union leaders met with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-8) in his Bristol, Pa., office. The hour-long meeting focused on credit union issues, including overdraft protection, member business lending (MBL), bankruptcy “cramdowns,” and interchange (Life is a Highway Jan. 7). Association Governmental Affairs Committee member Lee MacMinn, State Credit Union Advisory Committee member John King, and Governmental Affairs Committee and State Credit Union Advisory member Jim McCaw provided Murphy with a detailed scope of how interchange regulation will hurt consumers and credit unions’ ability to house card programs in the long run. MBL also was a priority for discussion due to Murphy’s past co-sponsorship of an MBL measure. On Wednesday, credit union representatives met with U.S. Rep. Tim Holden (D-17) in his Harrisburg district office. Issues of conversation included MBL, interchange and overdraft protection. Holden has been a friend of credit unions in the past on legislation, including co-sponsoring past credit union MBL bills. Holden indicated many small businesses in his district are having difficulty accessing credit or other financial services for their business needs from their primary financial institution, the association said. Attendees said credit unions are a viable lending resource and continue to lend, but they need regulatory relief to ensure they can still assist small businesses. Attending were: Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO; Diana Roberts, association director; Ed Williams, Credit Union National Association director; Lonny Mauer and Greg Smith, members of the State Credit Union Advisory Committee; Nate Muniz, public relations manager, Pennsylvania State Employees CU, Harrisburg; and Christina Mihalik, PCUA vice president of governmental affairs. Also, U.S. Rep. Chris Carney (D-10) conducted a meeting Thursday with association Director Bill Lavage; Regulatory Review Committee member Eric Chase; Tom Rachael, CEO, PALCO FCU, Muncy; John Sharp, CEO, Horizon FCU, Williamsport; Governmental Affairs Committee member Paul Nyman; and Jim McCormack. The group discussed Carney’s co-sponsorship of interchange bills--House Resolutions 2382 and 2695, and raised objections to the legislation for the congressman to consider. Also, the group shared concerns about an overdraft protection bill, H.R. 3904, which would institute additional measures affecting the ability for credit unions to provide this service. Carney expressed his support for an increase in credit union MBL.

N.J. league ad campaign to include IN.Y. TimesI

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (1/11/10)--The New Jersey Credit Union League’s 2010 ad campaign will include advertising in the The New York Times. The Times will publish ads on seven Sundays throughout the year. The New Jersey section of the paper reaches 180,000 households via subscription, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Jan. 7). NJ Transit also will display credit union advertising, which will be seen by people commuting to and from work and other areas. The ads begin in March and will run for 26 weeks. The league expects to reach more than one million residents. The league also will branch out its Web ads, with ads on Google AdWords, NJ.com, and a local TV website. It will continue partnerships with local TV stations, newspapers, Rutgers University football and basketball, and NJ Business Magazine. Thirty-second radio commercials also will continue airing in 2010 with the addition of another station, Magic 98.3 FM.

CU System briefs (01/08/2010)

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* DALLAS (1/11/10)--Neighborhood CU surprised Esau Flores, center, a Dallas retiree, at his home by delivering an oversized check for $25,000 deposited into his Prize Savings Account. A retired employee
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service who works part-time, Flores has been a member of the credit union since 1992, primarily at its Duncanville branch. Flores expressed disbelief when he opened the door to Neighborhood senior vice presidents Mark Arnold, right, and Carolyn Jordan. The credit union drew the name of the 72-year-old from all its Prize Savings Account holders. The program is designed to promote good savings habits and offers prize drawings throughout the year, culminating in the $25,000 grand prize. "Never could any news be more pleasant than this, especially at this time of the year and at this time in our lives," Flores told the credit union. He predicted his wife would help him decide what to do with the unexpected windfall. (Photo provided by Neighborhood CU) ... * WARMINSTER, Pa. (1/11/10)--Freedom CU rang in the new year by launching its official Facebook page on Dec. 31. The launch is part of its overall social networking initiative aimed at educating and bringing value to members. Using Facebook will broaden the $400 million asset credit union's marketing reach by informing members about credit union news, community events and product offers. To become a Freedom fan on Facebook, log onto www.facebook.com and enter "Freedom Credit Union" in the search box, then look for the green and white logo representing Freedom CU in Pennsylvania ...