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CU System Archive

CU System

Corporate One has 3.5M OTTI loss in December

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/1/10)--Corporate One FCU reported its unaudited financials for December, noting that it had a $3.5 million loss on its other-than-temporary-impairment (OTTI) charges in its securities portfolio. However, it has no further capital exposure in U.S. Central, and its total capital position is $167.7 million. December's losses bring the total losses for 2009 to $42.3 million, according to the corporate's financial statements. That compares to last year's losses of $72.6 million. Corporate One continues to have strong core earnings (earnings exclusive of write-downs on its securities and U.S. Central capital accounts). For the 12 months ended Dec. 31, core earnings totaled $14.9 million. "Corporate One remains unique in that our members' capital accounts have not been depleted, thanks to our positive RUDE [reserves and undivided earnings] position," said President/CEO Lee C. Butke in the report's executive summary. And, he emphasized, "we continue to believe that we will not have to ask members to impair their capital with us in the future..." The report cited several reasons. In addition to the lack of further capital exposure in U.S. Central, and its strong core earnings, the corporate still receives strong support from its members, with nearly $5 billion in assets under management, and it has added eight new members during fourth quarter. Also, the corporate's accumulated other comprehensive loss was reduced to $255.7 million as of Dec. 31--from $504.2 million on that date in 2008. Corporate One has budgeted more than $9 million in core earnings (35 basis points) for 2010. "Our total capital position includes our RUDE at $23.6 million, paid-in-capital at $25.7 million and Membership Capital Shares at $118.4 million, bringing the total capital to $167.7 million," the report said. To access the full report, use the resource link.

CEO tells Pa. state lawmakers panel how CUs help economy

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/1/10)--The CEO of a credit union in Pennsylvania told how credit unions help the economy during a panel discussion with the state's Appropriations Committee at an Economic Outlook and Jobs Summit Thursday, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). Kent Hartzler, CEO of Mennonite Financial FCU, Lancaster, Pa., represented credit unions in the meeting (Life is a Highway Jan. 29). "A large part of the reason why credit unions continue to service and lend to their members is because of our philosophy and structure," he said in his opening statement. He gave a personal story of how Mennonite Financial FCU helped members in the Punxsutawney area. Eight Amish community leaders partnered with the credit union to open two new sawmills. As a result, 14 families are now back to work and have incomes, he reported, adding, "This is just one example of how credit unions are helping the economy within the state." After the summit, PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack said, "We're proud that credit unions are being recognized by our elected officials as financial institutions who are helping the economy and improving the lives of Pennsylvanians." Other panelists included representatives from Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, Pennsylvania Bankers Association, and Enterprise Bank.

Sen. Gillibrand backs MBLs in IL.I. Business NewsI

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LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (12/1/10)--In an op-ed piece Friday in the Long Island Business News, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) explained why she backs member business lending (MBL) at credit unions and co-sponsors a bill that would raise credit unions' MBL cap and increase the loan amount that would trigger the cap. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act "would spur small-business growth and create jobs by increasing access to loans from credit unions," Gillibrand wrote, noting it would raise the MBL cap to 25% from 12.25% and would increase the minimum business loan subject to the cap to $250,000 from $50,000. "With so many large banks in bad shape, credit unions are becoming increasingly important, especially with regard to small businesses that need relatively small lines of credit," Gillibrand said, adding that "credit unions have not been exposed to the same losses that major banks have seen in their lending and investment operations." Of New York's 461 credit unions, 36 are located on Long Island, the senator wrote, citing statistics from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) that the legislation would help create more than 7,000 jobs in New York without government expenditures. "According to CUNA, these reforms would increase small-business lending by $10 billion within the first year of their enactment, producing more than 100,000 jobs," Gillibrand wrote. Gillibrand also noted credit unions' "long track record of scrutinizing borrowers" and the "low delinquencies" and wrotes that "credit unions have cash on hand to loan to small business." She noted the bill's potential impact on local credit union, Bethpage FCU. Bethpage assisted 30 local small businesses in the past year, "a number that could be greatly increased under this legislation." Under this legislation, the credit union could grant an additional $461 million in business loans, she wrote. "This common-sense legislation would free up lending at credit unions in every corner of America to small businesses. This would give small businesses more of the capital they need to survive the recession or get off the ground, grow, and get hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work," Gillibrand concluded. To read the entire article, use the link.

National CU Youth Week to focus on saving

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/10)--Now is the time for credit unions to plan activities with staff and the community for a successful National Credit Union Youth Week, which will take place April 18-24, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). This year’s theme is “Get in the Savings Game.” Credit unions can use the sports theme in lobby events, marketing and to support local sports teams of all ages while encouraging youth to save money. Youth Week aims to inspire youth to open savings accounts and deposit their money at credit unions. This year’s celebration will take place during the Jump$tart Coalition’s Financial Literacy for Youth month. Also during Youth Week, credit unions can participate in CUNA’s National Youth Saving Challenge. The challenge encourages the habit of saving at an early age, builds member loyalty and helps lower the average age of members. Last year, nearly 140,000 young members deposited $26.5 million into their saving accounts during the challenge--more than double the amount deposited in 2008. A total of 10,006 new accounts were opened. “Have youth learned the importance of saving for their goals?” asked Lin Standke, Youth Week program manager. “Those participating in the saving challenge did ... our goal is to help credit unions continually increase that number. “The staff and members of credit unions are ideally positioned to respond because of their belief in the power of education--put to practical use--to improve the lives of their neighbors and their communities,” she added. A new item available this year for Youth Week is the quarter saver folder, which can be distributed to youth when they visit the credit union. The folders also work well at adult seminars or presentations as a take-home item for adults to give to their children, or they can be mailed to young members with a flyer about Youth Week. Free coloring pages, Savings Game jerseys and other promotional materials and products are available on the Youth Week home page (use the link). Credit unions also can register for the National Saving Challenge on the website and sign up for Youth Week e-News to receive newsletters with Youth Week ideas and updates. For more information, use the links.

NuUnion CU launches K-12 education loans

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LANSING, Mich. (2/1/10)--NuUnion CU in Lansing, Mich., has launched a tuition loan program for families with children who attend private kindergarten, elementary and high school. The credit union cited research that indicates the average annual cost of tuition to attend a private elementary school is $2,500, and average tuition for a private high school is $6,000 and continues to rise (PRWeb Jan. 29). Providing for a child’s private education is one of the biggest financial commitments a family can make. NuUnion’s new K-12 Education Loan offers a tuition loan program that covers both tuition and books, and comes with no fees, no prepayment penalty, and competitive interest rates. “Private school costs really add up, especially when you have more than one child, and a short-term tuition loan can make all the difference for our members,” said Teresa Mayer, NuUnion’s vice president of lending. Mayer said the K-12 Education Loan complements the credit union’s student financial aid program, Credit Union Student Choice. In 2009, NuUnion established the position of college outreach specialist to build relationships with high schools and colleges in Michigan, provide educational support in the classroom and provide financial assistance to the more than 10,000 student members helped by the Credit Union Student Choice student loan program. “We’ve been at the forefront of offering financial education to our members and communities for many years,” said Steve Winninger, NuUnion president/CEO. “Our in-class financial education, free seminars, and website resources are some examples of NuUnion’s commitment to empowering our members to be informed consumers. It’s a commitment that runs from our board of directors all the way through our organization. This is a cause we’re passionate about.” NuUnion has $807.6 million in assets.

CUNA seeks nominations for committees

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MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Executive Committee is seeking recommendations for appointments to CUNA's committees for 2010. The executive committee will begin considering nominations at a meeting in early March. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 26. Anyone interested in providing recommendations to the committee can use the resource links to access a list of current committees, their purpose statements and their members, and a form to submit information. Committee members appointed last year will continue to serve until new members are announced. Generally, CUNA considers replacing members who have served on a same committee for more than three or four years; however, there are exceptions. For more information or to submit recommendations, use the links.

New Mexico CUs exceed 1M goal for hospital

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (2/1/10)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) received official notification from the Children’s Miracle Network that the association exceeded its five-year goal to raise $1 million for the pediatric emergency unit at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. In 2004, CUANM was approached by the hospital to help with its major capital fund-raising program. The association’s board voted to support the campaign, and its staff agreed to spearhead the campaign for credit unions (CUANM Network January 2010). “It is extremely gratifying over the years to see the unique and creative ways our participating credit unions have raised money,” said Sylvia Lyon, CUANM CEO. “We have seen cookbook sales, Frito pie sales, revenue from coin-counting machines, golf tournaments, raffles and plenty of other methods. “These ideas really demonstrated that, when given an opportunity to make a difference, credit unions will rise to the challenge every time to help their communities,” she added. “And I think they particularly liked the idea that they would be helping New Mexico children who really needed the extra help.” The hospital helps thousands of New Mexico children annually, and the pediatric emergency unit is in full operation, the association said. Children’s Miracle Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals.

CUs banks wooing new members with merchandise

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MADISON, Wis. (2/1/10)--A growing number of credit unions and banks are attempting to attract and retain new members by offering marketing merchandise--such as toasters, iPods and luggage--instead of offering cash and gift cards. “Cash, it seems, is no longer king,” said Alan Yarbrough, director of sales for River Rock Marketing Services, a company that specializes in developing incentive-based acquisition and retention programs that use merchandise as incentive gifts (Business Wire Jan. 28). “With $50 offers regularly being topped by $250 offers, our clients are telling us that they are giving up on a cash ‘arms race’ that has become prohibitively expensive and questionable in value,” Yarbrough added. Research conducted in December by AlixPartners LLP indicated that consumers want to switch from big banks to credit unions and local banks. The research also showed that 75% of banking customers were unhappy with banks in general, said River Rock. “Now more than ever, consumers want a transparent relationship built on old-fashioned values like honesty, integrity and respect,” Yarbrough said. “Small- and mid-sized banks and credit unions are turning to branded bank marketing gifts as an inducement to earn their business and help build that relationship.” Branded merchandise motivates consumers to take immediate action, he added. It has a long-term “trophy value.” Once cash or a gift card is spent, it’s gone, Yarborough said.

N.Y. foundation grants total 100000 in 2009

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ALBANY, N.Y. (2/1/10)--The New York Credit Union Foundation awarded 90 grants for a combined total of $99,922 last year. The majority of the grants, 57 totaling $34,148, were Professional Development grants awarded to credit unions for participating in education and training programs.
Click to view larger image Kathy Getz, manager and chief operating officer of Sweet Home FCU, Buffalo, N.Y., is pictured with the credit union’s new security system. Sweet Home purchased the system with a grant from the New York Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the New York Credit Union Foundation)
Seventeen Financial Fitness grants totaling $26,774 went to credit unions to improve their member services through the purchase of items such as computer equipment and software, security systems and loan processing modules. Underwriting support for the national Biz Kid$ television series and a REAL Solutions initiative to educate credit unions about youth outreach, coordinated by the Credit Union Association of New York in partnership with the Filene Institute, was provided by two of five Organizational grants awarded to entities. They totaled $24,250. The remaining $14,750 in Smart Money grants were awarded to 11 credit unions for financial education programs that increased or improved access to financial services. Some of the programs include: Financial Literacy Training, Money $marts in East Harlem Workshop Series, Moneywise for Life Program, High School Finance Forum, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Inner City Outreach and Rural Outreach.

CU System briefs (01/29/2010)

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* CHICAGO (2/1/10)--The Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of three individuals responsible for the Oct. 7 armed robbery of the Sherwin-Williams CU, Harvey, Ill., and abduction of an employee. Two armed men confronted a credit union employee outside her home in the early morning hours as she left for work. They handcuffed her and forced her to accompany them to the credit union. A third robber served as a lookout while the original two demanded she unlock the credit union and de-activate the alarm. They forced her to open the vault, then locked the employee in the basement and fled in her vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash (Targeted News Service Jan. 27) ... * GREENBELT, Md. (2/1/10)--A former loan supervisor pleaded guilty Thursday to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft related to the theft of $171,033 at Educational Systems FCU, Greenbelt, Md. According to a plea agreement, Felicia Douglas, 41, of Upper Marlboro, Md., created fraudulent checking and share accounts, loans, lines of credit and credit card accounts in the names of at least five members without their authorization. She also manipulated existing credit lines and card accounts without members' knowledge and used the accounts to obtain at least $171,033. She concealed the thefts by using some of the funds to repay some of the loans, lines of credit and card accounts. She backdated transactions and changed terms such as due dates, and altered mailing instructions so the members would not receive statements and notifications about the accounts. Douglas faces a maximum 30 years in prison on bank fraud and two years more for the ID theft charge. Sentencing will be April 19 (Targeted News Service Jan. 28) ... * GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (2/1/10)--Gerald Coulombe, 25, was sentenced Monday to four and a half years in prison for a July 13 robbery at the Rockford, Mich., branch of Lake Michigan CU (The Grand Rapids Press Jan. 26). In addition to the prison term, Coulombe must repay $5,879 spent on gambling and drugs. The robber used a BB gun to threaten employees at the branch during the heist and fled on a motorcycle to his roommate's waiting van ... * ALBANY, N.Y. (2/1/10)--The Credit Union Association of New York met with State Senate Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson (D-Metropolitan) to discuss credit union issues and priorities, including the role credit unions in the state's economic recovery. "Much of our dialogue centered on gaining Sen. Sampson's support for credit union access to municipal deposits. I'm pleased to report that he has vowed to do all he can to get this legislation passed," said association President/CEO William J. Mellin. He noted that it is "clear that Sen. Sampson understands the value and commitment credit unions provide to millions of New Yorkers and is ready to work with us to build a better New York." ... * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (2/1/10)--Tim Kramer, CEO of KeyPoint CU in Santa Clara, Calif., for the past 22 years, received an "Unsung Hero" award from the California Credit Union League. The award honors credit union industry individuals with at least 20 years of experience who have made significant contributions in the community. Kramer has more than 35 years of credit union experience. He also has served on the board of directors and as chairman of Financial Services Centers Cooperative and with the California Applied Research Institute. Kramer also was a member of the Filene Research Institute advisory board and Richard Myles Johnson Foundation board. In 1995, he traveled to Russia to provide technical assistance to credit unions there ... * JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (2/1/10)--Arkansas FCU has donated nearly $89,635 to Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation in Little Rock (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Jan. 28). The money will help fund a clinic waiting room in the hospital's South Wing, expected to open in 2012. Employees and members of the $730.1 million asset credit union raised more than $44,817 the past year in several events, and the credit union's board matched the amount, dollar for dollar. Arkansas FCU participates in Credit Unions for Kids, a national sponsor of the Children's Miracle Network, which raises funds for 170 member hospitals across the nation ... * RIVERSIDE, Calif. (2/1/10)--The Altura Foundation, affiliated with Altura CU, announced an expansion of its college scholarship
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
program. The credit union is increasing the total scholarships awarded to 60, up from 46 in 2009. The estimated $60,000 in scholarships will be awarded graduating seniors from Riverside County area high schools, said Ricki McManuis, senior vice president and a member of the foundation board. The expansion includes the addition of 10 $1,000 scholarships for local students who attend the University of California at Riverside (UCR). Five scholarships were added for students participating in an Advancement Via Individual Determination program. From left are UCR Chancellor Tim White; Jesse Melgar, a 2005 Altura Foundation scholarship recipient who graduated last year from UCLA with a dual degree in political science and Chicano studies; and Altura CU CEO Mark Hawkins. (Photo provided by Altura CU) ... * ABERDEEN, Md. (2/1/10)--Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU (APGFCU) presented a $1,000 48-month savings certificate "scholarship" to
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Mikayla Hornedo, Edgewood, Md., for her role as a reporter for six episodes of Kids Cents!, a five minute segment on KidsTV News that introduces money and savings to kids and pre-teens. Hornedo interviewed an APGFUC "money expert" for each segment. Topics included: What is a credit union; where does money go when it is deposited; making smart money choices; using credit wisely; budgeting and savings basics; and online resources to help manage money. KidsTV News is a locally produced weekly magazine for kids. From left are APGFCU Chairman David Gilbert, Hornedo, and APGFCU President/CEO Don Lewis. (Photo provided by APGFCU) ...

Consumers look to CUs on CARD Act counseling

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SILVER SPRINGS, Md., and WASHINGTON (1/29/10)--Credit unions have teamed up with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), which has enhanced its National Locator Line (NLL) to support new requirements, effective Feb. 22, of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. As of Feb. 22, credit unions and other card issuers will be required to prominently display on their statements a toll-free number providing cardholders information about accessing credit counseling with nonprofit credit counseling agencies, said NFCC in a press release Tuesday. "Not only will this information help make consumers aware that help is available, but it will add a layer of protection by directing them to government-approved nonprofit counseling agencies for assistance," NFCC said. The Silver Springs, Md.-based organization said more than 200 lenders--many of them credit unions--had signed up with its network to assist consumers in need of financial counseling and education. Others signing up included representatives of the top 10 creditors accounting for tens of millions of monthly statements, said NFCC. The NLL line is up now, and credit partners began issuing statements with the NFCC's NLL this week. On Tuesday, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will conduct an audio conference call on the recent final rule implementing the CARD Act provisions effective on Feb. 22. The audio conference will be 1 p.m. -2:30 p.m. CT (2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET, 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. MT, 11a.m.-12:30 p.m. PT). Among the issues it will address are:
* Minimum payment warnings on credit card statements; * Prohibition of an increase in interest rates during the first year an account is opened; * Requirement of co-signers for consumers who are under the age of 21; * Requirement that payments above the minimum be applied to balances with the highest interest rate; and * The restrictions on increasing the annual percentage rate on credit cards.
For more information about the audio conference, use the link.

CUs pass half-million mark in funds raised for Haiti

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--Credit unions and other organizations in the movement have surpassed the half-million-dollar mark in their fund-raising for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund for credit unions, staff and members affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake. "A wire from a Polish credit union and a $10,000 gift from Korea's national federation (National Credit Union Federation of Korea) just pushed us to a $500,431 grand total," said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the international charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). "I would say it's an amazing response ... but the credit union movement consistently supports people and credit unions, especially during times of crisis," Breunig told News Now. The total includes $94,889 just in online donations from the U.S. credit union movement via the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) CUAid disaster relief system, said Jill Stevenson, marketing and communications coordinator at NCUF. That doesn't include wire transfer information or checks, she said. The latest tally on those was not available by News Now's press deadline. Haiti has 175 credit unions serving 404,090 members. WOCCU has a staff there with its Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program, a microfinancing project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Staff are safe and will be moving into a new building next month. (See related story in News Now's System section, "Haiti staff: outdoor offices, remittances a struggle." To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's 175 credit unions and their 404,090 members, make payments via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at www.CUAID.coop. (See related story in News Now: "CUs pass half million mark in funds raised for Haiti").

Search committee formed for new NCUF exec director

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WASHINGTON (1/29/10)--A national search is officially underway for a new executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The search is emphasizing candidates with particular experience and stature within the credit union movement. The foundation's board of directors aims to hire an executive director this spring, said board Chairman Allan Kemp McMorris, president/CEO of Oakland County CU, Waterford, Mich. The board appointed a search committee at a recent meeting. Chairman of the search committee is Gary J. Oakland, president/CEO of BECU, Tukwila, Wash. The vacant position stems from Steve Delfin's resignation from the foundation late last year to take a position at another organization. Oakland said that among the key requirements for the foundation leader is that the appointee enjoy a deep background in credit unions and is recognized as a leader in the movement. "Since this individual will be working with credit unions to solicit and maintain their support for the foundation, we hope that included in his or her career profile will be a deep understanding of credit unions, as well as a strong network of contacts among them," Oakland said. Candidates should send resumes to resumes@NCUF.coop or to:

National Credit Union Foundation

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53701

Attn: Human Resources

Oakland added that resumes should not be sent directly to the NCUF board or search committee members.

Ohio public funds bill in first hearing Wednesday

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/29/10)--Legislation that would allow Ohio credit unions to receive public funds from schools, townships, cities and other entities will have its first hearing Wednesday before a state legislative committee. The hearing on House Bill 317 will be conducted before the Ohio House of Representatives Financial Institutions Real Estate & Securities Committee, according to the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Jan. 27). Testimony will be presented by State Rep. and Majority Floor Leader Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D-Toledo), who are joint sponsors of the bill. The league said it is encouraging Ohio credit union leaders to attend any hearings on the bill to demonstrate widespread support for it. The bill also would allow credit unions 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 to linked deposit programs from state entities through their credit unions, the league said.

Haiti staff outdoor offices remittances a struggle

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (1/29/10)--Intermittent remittance services and operating from open-air offices have been added to the challenges faced by credit unions, members and staff while Haiti tries to recover from the Jan. 12 earthquake that leveled its capital city.
Click to view larger image Haitians seeking remittances line up outside Fonkoze's open-air office. Fonkoze is a partner of credit unions' IRnet remittance program.
Click to view larger image Fonkoze staff process remittances for Haitian earthquake victims in an open-air office after the firm's headquarters building was destroyed.
Click to view larger image The World Council of Credit Unions' Petitionville headquarters was destroyed by tremors during Haiti's earthquake on Jan. 12. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
In a country where remittance income comprises nearly 25% of the gross domestic product, the loss of facilities and availability of only intermittent power and Internet services are making it difficult for family and friends to send much-needed cash home to Haiti. Before the earthquake, Haiti had received nearly US$1 billion in remittance income annually, according to Saul Wolf, remittance manager for IRnet, part of the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) for-profit subsidiary, WOCCU Services Group. Logistical issues caused by the disaster have made getting cash to Haiti an enormous challenge at a time when it is needed most, he said. "The earthquake, which has driven an increased need for liquidity, has also made cash delivery extremely difficult, especially to people in rural areas," Wolf said. "Remittance programs require an IT (information technology) infrastructure, and any that were located in Port-au-Prince were probably destroyed," he said. Remittance delivery organizations such as Fonkoze, a partner with WOCCU in the Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program, have found ways around the problem, most likely using a back-up server located elsewhere and relying on intermittent Internet access, Wolf said. Fonkoze is Haiti's largest microfinance organization and serves roughly 200,000 people, primarily in rural areas. With its building destroyed in the earthquake, Fonkoze was forced to set up operations in an open-air courtyard near the rubble of its headquarters, according to Greta Greathouse, WOCCU chief of party for the HIFIVE program. "Many of us have had 'outdoor' offices this week," she said. WOCCU's Haiti program recently moved to temporary office space since the earthquake destroyed its Petionville facilities. Greathouse has signed a lease agreement enabling WOCCU to move into new permanent office space within 30 days. Logistics aren't the only problem Haiti's recipients face, Wolf said. Individuals carrying cash in any amount become targets for thieves in a disaster environment. The fact that many such recipients no longer have homes and are forced to sleep outside simply compounds the problem, he added. "Prior to the earthquake, we planned to work with local partners like Fonkoze to help increase market competition and lower prices for remittance senders and recipients in Haiti," Wolf said. "Now we will simply have to wait and see." To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's 175 credit unions and their 404,090 members, make payments via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at www.CUAID.coop. (See related story in News Now: "CUs pass half million mark in funds raised for Haiti").

Toyotas sales halt shouldnt affect CU

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HAWTHORNE, Calif. (1/28/10)--Toyota’s production and sales halt of recalled 2010 models should not affect Toyota workers who are members of Western FCU, in Hawthorne, Calif., CEO John Bommarito said Thursday. In November 2007, Toyota FCU, Torrance Calif., merged into Western FCU. “Toyota doesn’t lay anybody off,” Bommarito told News Now. “They all go into maintenance and training [if production jobs were cut]. Toyota goes to full cost to keep them employed. That’s very much part of the Toyota culture. Production could be interrupted. We’re just monitoring the situation. “We value the relationship with the Toyota members who came across after the merger,” he added. Western cannot reveal the percentage of its membership who works for Toyota because of confidentiality guidelines, Bommarito said. Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it would temporarily halt building and selling eight 2010 models because it is struggling to fix a problem with accelerator pads. The moves come in the aftermath of two company recalls in the past two months of millions of vehicles that have a problem with a gap deal that can stick and cause a vehicle to speed up unintentionally, Toyota said (The New York Times Jan. 27). Toyota said it would immediately cease selling the Camry, Corolla and Avalon sedans, Matrix wagon, RAV4 crossover, Tundra pickup, and Highlander and Sequoia sport utility vehicles. The recall of the eight models affects about 55% of its new-car inventory. The production halt will last until the company finds a remedy for the stuck-throttle problem. Previously the company said that could take weeks, but it provided no time line Tuesday (USA Today Jan. 27). Western FCU has more than $1.95 billion in assets.

AACUL issues call for Pro Blockbuster award entries

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MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--The American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) is issuing a call for entries for Pro and Blockbuster awards. The deadline for entries is April 23. Pro Awards honor the best in public relations and publications, and the Blockbuster Awards pay tribute to excellence in marketing and advertising. These awards are the highest communications awards bestowed on leagues and league state communicators. This year marks the 32nd year that the Pro and Blockbuster Awards have recognized outstanding league and league state communicator communications efforts. To enter, participants should follow the entry guidelines outlined in the resource link. Those not submitted as directed may be disqualified. Entries can be in the following areas: radio, television, online, print and multiple--more than one category. The fee for each submission is $50. Entrants must complete an entry fee payment form and include a share draft or check payable to AACUL. Send Pro and Blockbuster entries to the following shipping address:

PRO/BLOCKBUSTER ENTRIES

Attn: Shellee Mitchell

American Association of Credit Union Leagues,

601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., South Building

Suite 600,

Washington, DC 20004-2601

All entries will be displayed during the 2010 AACUL Communicators/GAPS Conference on June 21-23 in Washington, D.C. Entries will not be returned. However, conference attendees can pick up their entries at the end of the conference. Award winners will be announced at the conference. For more information, use the link.

WOCCU calls for Distinguished Service Award nominations

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MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has issued a call for nominations for the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the international credit union system. Nominations are due by April 5. The award honors outstanding achievements in the global credit union movement. Awards will be presented at The 1 Credit Union Conference, a one-year-only event sponsored by WOCCU and the Credit Union National Association that combines the World Credit Union Conference and America’s Credit Union Conference and Expo. The 1 Credit Union Conference will be July 11-14 in Las Vegas. Individual recipients can be WOCCU and its member organization officers, directors or representatives, international credit union pioneers, field technicians with a long and outstanding service record, or persons whose actions have benefited global credit union development. WOCCU presents no more than three individual awards per year. Institutional recipients can be organizations or agencies that have provided financial and technical assistance to develop international credit union movements and their service infrastructures over an extended period. WOCCU presents a maximum of one institutional award per year. Nominations must be made by a WOCCU member organization. For more information, use the link.

CUNA seeking recommendations for committees

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MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Executive Committee is seeking recommendations for appointments to CUNA's committees for 2010. The executive committee will begin considering nominations at a meeting in early March. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 26. Any one interested in providing recommendations to the committee can use the resource links to access a list of current committees, their purpose statements and their members, and a form to submit information. Committee members appointed last year will continue to serve until new members are announced. Generally, CUNA considers replacing members who have served on a same committee for more than three or four years; however, there are exceptions. For more information or to submit recommendations, use the links.

CUs assisting taxpayers with seasonal filing

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MADISON, Wis. (1/29/10)--The deadline to file taxes this year without penalty is April 15, and credit unions nationwide are ready to help their members with free tax preparation programs. Many credit unions--like Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C.--will offer services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Last year, Truliant helped more than 180 people garner $300,000 in tax refunds (dBusiness News Jan. 20). Truliant staff are working with the Forsyth Working Families Partnership to offer free services through VITA to working families who make $48,000 or less in annual income. VITA started a partnership with local communities to help families receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the newspaper said. AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., has partnered with the Community Action Commission to provide free tax assistance to low-income families in Harrisburg, Pa. Starting Feb. 5 and running through April, the credit union will offer services every Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Life is a Highway Jan. 27). State Employees’ CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C. is working to ensure North Carolinians take advantage of the EITC. One in four qualifying taxpayers don’t claim the EITC, the credit union said. SECU has distributed more than 70,000 fliers in 226 branch locations about the EITC. It also has educated members at state agencies and in schools through educational materials and presentations to increase EITC awareness. Credit union member newsletters and SECU’s website also contain information about EITC. In the last two years, SECU has helped taxpayers claim $47 million in tax refunds and $24 million in tax credits like EITC. In early February, several Wisconsin credit unions, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service, American Association of Retired Persons and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, will offer free tax preparation assistance program sites statewide, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Wisconsin credit unions also will participate in a pilot project that connects the REAL Progress and Pathways to Prosperity (RP3) program that will use employee graduates of the RP3 program to encourage tax filers to save their refund money. The graduates will provide assistance to the filers at Free Tax Preparation Assistance sites. RP3 is part of the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program, which aims to help low-income individuals build wealth. GHS FCU, Binghamton, N.Y., also will offer a VITA site. The volunteer tax preparers are students from a local community college. Free tax preparation will be offered Feb. 1 through March 31. So far, 126 credit unions have signed up for the “Just File It!” tax preparation program, said the Michigan Credit Union League. The “I Can E-File” Web-based tax software used through “Just File It!” is free and helps ensure credit union members receive tax credits and refunds that often are overlooked (Michigan Monitor Jan. 18).

Arizona league backs two state CU modernization bills

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PHOENIX (1/28/10)--Two bills introduced in state legislature earlier this week and backed by the Arizona Credit Union League would modernize and streamline current systems and relieve ongoing potential setbacks for credit unions and their members, said the league. Rep. Nancy McLain (R-Lake Havasu) introduced H.B. 2616, titled "credit unions; branches; ATMs," Tuesday. If passed, the bill would amend the state credit union act by removing a requirement for state-chartered credit unions to have ATMs approved by the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Instead, a credit union would be required to send a notification letter and any required fees 30 days before opening an ATM. The bill also would repeal an unnecessary statute that requires all state and federal financial institutions to submit credit card interest rates to the DFI. Austin De Bey, league vice president of governmental affairs, noted that McLain is chair of the House Banking and Insurance Committee and said, "we are thankful for Rep. McLain's support of our issues, and are both appreciative and excited for the opportunity to work with her." The introduction of H.B. 2616 came one day after a bipartisan bill backed by the league was introduced. That bill, H.B. 2607 "Auto Loans; Late Payments," would modernize late charges on indirect auto loans and make them more consistent with statutes that regulate direct auto lending, said the league.

Pro athletes join Texas CUs in Haiti fundraising

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/28/10)--Professional athletes will join credit unions Friday in Fort Worth, Texas, to raise funds to donate to the credit union movement's Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund, according to the Texas Credit Union League. Meanwhile nationwide credit union efforts are nearing the half-million dollar mark. Proceeds from the Texas event, sponsored by CO-OP Member Center and CUNA Mutual in Fort Worth, will go to the fund, through the U.S. credit union movement's CUAid Disaster Relief System sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation. Signing autographs will be:
* Dallas Cowboys: Larry Brown, Billy Joe Dupree, Eugene Lockhart, Tony Casillas, Reginald Barns and Michael Kiselak; * New England Patriots: Jun Anderson; * Texas Rangers: Jose Guzman; and * Phoenix Suns: Ira Terrell.
The athletes will autograph personal items for $15 or attendees can get a collage photo autographed by all players for $25, said the league (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 27). Also, two autographed footballs with signatures from representatives of Super Bowl teams will be raffled off. That's one example of the activities credit unions are engaging in to lend a hand to the massive relief effort, which will assist Haiti's credit unions, staff and members affected by the 7.0 magnitude Jan. 12 earthquake. Haiti has 175 credit unions and 404,090 credit union members. Meanwhile, funds raised as of Wednesday afternoon by credit unions nationwide totaled $480,584, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions. That includes $203,589 raised through NCUF's CUAid.coop. So far, NCUF has received $17,725 in checks, $93,324 in online donations via CUAid.coop, and $92,540 in wire transfers, said Jill Stevenson, NCUF marketing and communications coordinator. Breunig predicted that the fundraising would break the half million dollar mark today. The foundation is slowly adding a list of donors to the woccu.org/Haiti_relief website at the bottom of the page, Breunig told News Now. To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at www.CUAID.coop.

Former ViewPoint CU goes to stock offering

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PLANO, Texas (1/28/10)--ViewPoint Financial Group--parent company of ViewPoint Bank, a former credit union in Plano, Texas--announced Tuesday it will reorganize from a two-tier mutual holding company to a full stock holding company and will undertake a "second-step" offering of additional shares of common stock. It expects the conversion and offering, subject to regulatory, shareholder and depositor approval, to be completed this summer (PRNewswire Jan. 26). ViewPoint Bank was formerly the $1.4 billion asset Community CU, which converted to a mutual savings bank on Jan. 1, 2006. It was the largest credit union ever to convert to a bank. On July 13, 2006, it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a mutual holding company so it could trade stock on the NASDAQ market (News Now Oct. 4, 2006). However, it did not get enough ballots to approve the reorganization and extended its voting deadline. It eventually had five million votes cast, with 83% favoring the conversion. As part of the new reorganization, ViewPoint Bank will become a wholly owned subsidiary of a still-to-be-formed stock corporation--ViewPoint Financial Group Inc. ViewPoint Bank President/CEO Gary Base noted that "while we're already well-capitalized and have grown tremendously since we first became a public company in 2006, the additional capital we can raise from this offering will allow us greater flexibility and increase our opportunities for future strategic growth."

Report CUs well ahead of banks in consumer trust

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WASHINGTON (1/28/10)--Credit unions have a higher approval rating on trust than banks, according to the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 28). Credit unions had a 58% approval rating, compared with a 31% approval rating of national banks and 53% of local banks. Banks in which the government has a stake were trusted the least, with a 21% approval rating, the report said. The study was based on phone surveys to consumers in the U.S. Data was collected in late December by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “The Trust Index reveals that what has made credit unions successful--service to members, transparency in operation, a real feeling of ‘ownership’ in the institution--are values that are honored by the American public,” said Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica. “The fact is, credit unions did not start the fire leading to the financial meltdown--but they can play a significant role in helping Americans recover from it.” Paola Sapienza, one of the study’s authors, noted that trust in credit unions and community banks is much higher than in national banks, “consistent with academic evidence that local [institutions] have more transparency, fewer hidden fees and better customer service compared to national banks.” Other findings from the study:
* About 61% of respondents support regulating financial institutions, compared to 65% of those surveyed in June; * Roughly 58% support executive pay caps, down from 65% in June; * Nearly 66% of respondents want to see homeowners get help, compared with 68% saying so in June; and * About 51% of respondents said they were angry at the current economic situation, compared with 60% in December 2008.

Wounded robbery suspect IDd teller hailed as hero

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CENTRALIA, Wash. (1/28/10)--A wounded suspect in an attempted credit union robbery of TwinStar CU Monday has been identified and arrested, according to media reports. A police officer and credit union employee who were involved in the incident also have been hailed as heroes. Michael Anthony Lar was arrested Monday night and taken to an Olympia, Wash. hospital for two gunshot wounds after a motel worker in Olympia reported to police that a suspicious man with an injured arm had entered into a cab. Lar refused to give police or medical staff his name. Police identified Lar by his fingerprints when he was transferred to another medical center for surgery (KIROTV.com Jan. 27). Police suspect that Lar was shot twice by a police officer who confronted him at TwinStar CU’s Centralia, Wash., branch Monday. The shooting occurred after police responded to a call that a gunman had taken a credit union employee hostage. The gunman held a gun to her head and a knife to her throat. An officer approached the credit union near an employee entrance and saw the woman being held hostage. She mouthed to the officer: “He has a gun.” The officer responded by pulling the employee out of the credit union and firing two shots. The gunman fled the scene. No money was taken. The employee and the officer are heroes, Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg told The News Tribune (Jan. 27). If the employee had not alerted the officer about the gun, the suspect may have taken a different action, Berg told the newspaper. Lar will be booked into Lewis County Jail upon his release from the hospital.

CU System briefs (01/27/2010)

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* BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (1/28/10)--A Knoxville, Ala. woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges she allegedly stole $39,000 from Alabama CU. Christa Anne Boler, 29, who worked at the credit union in Tuscaloosa, was charged with one count of bank fraud (Targeted News Service Jan. 25). She is accused of submitting false deposit and withdrawal slips to hide thefts from the teller drawer. The incidents allegedly occurred between July 2008 and January 2009. The maximum sentence for the bank fraud charge is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the $39,000 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity ... * WYOMING, Pa. (1/28/10)--The Wyoming (Pa.) Area School Board Tuesday night approved establishing an in-school branch of UFCW FCU in a local school. The vote was 5 to 4. Credit union President/CEO John Hayduk told the board UFCW will invest about $50,000, including $12,700 a year for the working students, and will promote financial literacy. Another credit union, Wyoming Area FCU, attended and said that credit union had not been given an opportunity to provide a similar service (timesleader.com Jan. 27) ... * VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (1/28/10)--The board of Beach Municipal FCU has named Geri Metzger as CEO, effective Dec. 21. She had been interim CEO since the beginning of December. With more than 25 years of experience, Metzger had served as chief operations officer since 2000. Prior to that, she was a consultant for the Virginia Credit Union League, a senior systems representative and auditor for the Maine Credit Union League and other key positions at several credit unions in Maine, Texas and Florida. Beach Municipal FCU is located in Virginia Beach. It has more than $100 million in assets ... * ST. LOUIS (1/28/10)--The official ribbon cutting ceremony for Vantage CU's two
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
newest locations in Des Peres and Eureka, Mo., was Jan. 20 at the Eureka location. Vantage and Spirit of St. Louis CU merged on Dec. 1. The credit union donated $500 to the Wyman Center in Eureka, a camp serving teens from the St. Louis region. The merger was a "mutually beneficial endeavor for both credit unions said CEO Hubert Hoosman. Vantage expanded its reach to serve members in West County, and Spirit members obtained more locations, mortgage and investment services, and free money-management and educational services. From left are: Weldon Tieken, former Spirit board member; Rhonda Huddleston, Eureka branch manager; Hoosman,; Dr. Jerry Eichholz, board president; Shelly Hulser, Eureka Chamber; Alesia Hanners, Wyman Center; Nancy Jaeger and Tracie Bibb, Eureka Chamber members; and Debbie Jewell-Harmon, Eureka branch. Photo provided by Vantage CU) ...

Irelands Treasury committee backs expanded CU services

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (1/28/10)--Ireland’s House of Commons Treasury select committee has supported calls for Northern Ireland credit union regulations to be managed in the same manner as other credit unions in the United Kingdom. John McFall, committee chairman, wrote to the Treasury, urging it to treat credit unions in Northern Ireland as the British government treats those in Great Britain. British credit unions are backed by financial guarantees for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (Belfast Telegraph Jan. 26). Currently, credit unions in Northern Ireland operate under their own compensation arrangements, which are not backed by the government, the newspaper said. The Assembly’s enterprise committee also has supported an amendment to a financial services bill, which would extend the services that Northern Ireland credit unions could offer. “It is essential in tackling financial exclusion that credit unions are allowed to offer all the services that their members need,” Mark Durkan, a government official, told the paper. “We have an exceptionally strong credit union movement here in [Northern Ireland] with over 400,000 members,” he added. “This is a much stronger base than in Britain, but perversely, credit unions here are much more restricted in the services they can offer.”

Mid-Atlantic Corporate outlines capital plan

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (1/28/10)--Jay Murray, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU in Middletown, Pa., outlined the corporate’s capital plan and strategy for its member credit unions during a town hall meeting and webcast Tuesday. The power of the cooperative movement still stands through economies of scale, Murray said. Although corporate rules are not finalized, Mid-Atlantic is moving forward and is confident of its future and ability to serve credit unions through liquidity, investment services, and payments services, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Jan. 27). Murray emphasized that Mid-Atlantic has $151 million in membership capital and is not seeking new money from credit unions, the association said. Rodney May, Mid-Atlantic senior vice president of member service, explained new membership materials sent recently to Mid-Atlantic Corporate members. Credit unions must determine whether to convert their membership capital accounts or correspondent membership accounts to perpetual contributed capital or nonperpetual contributed accounts, and select a membership level by June 30, he said. Murray concluded that he believes in the cooperative model, and working together, credit unions will preserve and restore capital for the future. He encouraged credit unions to provide comments to the National Credit Union Administration regarding the new corporate credit union rules by March 9. For Mid-Atlantic Corporate's comments, use the link.

U.S. Central defendants ask for PIC-test suit dismissal

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (1/27/10)--The U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., Monday gave 13 executives and former executives and volunteer board members of U.S. Central FCU 14 days to respond to the latest filing in a securities fraud lawsuit brought against the individuals and U.S. Central's accounting firm RubinBrown by Corporate America CU (CUAC). The suit centers around U.S. Central's action in December to convert $450 million of non-permanent capital to permanent paid-in-capital shares known as "PIC II." Neither U.S. Central nor the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)--the conservator of U.S. Central--is a party in this complaint filed by the Alabama-based corporate. Corporate America CU filed its response brief to the defendants' Dec. 16 motion to dismiss the case on Friday. The case is before U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson. At issue is whether the PIC II shares are securities. Unlike the other cases involving U.S. Central, the defense argues that the PIC II capital shares in U.S. Central do not qualify as "securities" under the federal securities laws. Instead, they argue that NCUA--not the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), which administers the federal securities laws on which much of CACU's complaint is premised--is the regulator responsible for federally insured credit unions such as U.S. Central. NCUA's regulations, specifically 12 CFR part 704, apply to corporate credit union capital instruments such as PIC II, and NCUA's role as the federal safety and soundness regulator of corporate credit unions means that the securities laws should not apply based on established legal precedents, according to defense filings. Attorneys for the U.S. Central executives and board argue that if the PIC II are not securities, then the CACU's federal and state securities laws claims should be dismissed because those laws only apply to the offering and/or sale of securities. The defense lawyers also argued that the claims not based on securities laws should also be dismissed because Alabama would only be the appropriate venue for the non-securities claims if those claims piggyback on securities laws claims, since U.S. Central is based in Kansas, according to the motion to dismiss. CACU's complaint alleges securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duty against the individuals, and professional negligence and state securities law violations against the accounting firm RubinBrown for its valuation of the PIC II shares. CACU's response to the motion to dismiss reiterated the complaint's theory that PIC II shares are securities, which are subject to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

MoneyGram extends Haiti wire-transfer discount

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (1/27/10)--CUNA Strategic Services provider MoneyGram International announced Tuesday it is extending its special pricing for money transfers to Haiti through Sunday. MoneyGram had announced early last week it would offer special pricing of US$1 and similar pricing in foreign currencies, for money transfers to Haiti from any of its 186,000 locations throughout the world. Forty of its money-transfer agent locations in earthquake-stricken Haiti are operational and able to receive transfers, including three in Port au Prince, Haiti's devastated capital city, and five locations in surrounding cities. Use the link to find specific information about the agent locations. Overall MoneyGram service in Haiti consists of about 130 agent locations operated by Unibank, Rapid Transfe, FONKOZE and Grace Trading. More than half the locations are within the disaster areas. "We are working as hard as we can, in concert with our core relationship banks, authorities conducting relief efforts and our functioning local agents in Haiti, to help restore the flow of funds to the Haitian people. Through our worldwide agent network, we are also providing updated information to senders on agent locations in Haiti where their loved ones can receive transactions," said Dan O'Malley, executive vice president of the Americas at MoneyGram. "As the recovery progresses and cash becomes more available for payout, more agent locations will come online again. We will provide periodic updates on agent availability as the situation develops," he said. Also, through Feb. 13, customers can visit any MoneyGram ExpressPayment U.S. agent location and use the Red Cross code 3886 to send a donation to the American Red Cross. In the credit union movement, credit unions are continuing to collect funds for disaster relief efforts for credit unions, their employees and volunteers, and members. Haiti has 175 credit unions with 404,090 members. The World Council of Credit Unions has staff in Haiti to assist credit unions and their members. Credit unions can give to the Credit Union Disaster Relief Fund by contributing to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, and, for U.S. credit unions, through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid disaster effort system at www.CUAid.coop. To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

CUs shine in several media reports

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (1/27/10)--Credit unions continue to shine in the press, with the latest round of positive stories about credit unions. Bloomberg TV featured Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel Monday evening talking about existing home sales data and what it suggests for the economy. An article entitled "Credit unions are going strong," a story on bank ratings, noted that Pensacola, Fla.-area credit unions "could teach some local banks a thing or two about effectively managing customers' deposits," said pnj.com (Jan. 24). Credit unions "have managed to shine," the publication said, citing quarterly ratings by a Coral Gables, Fla., research firm. It ranked 11 area credit unions with five-star ratings, the highest rating, and three with four-star ratings. By comparison, it awarded five-star ratings to only three local banks and four-star ratings to two other banks in the area. In Sioux Falls, S.D., "The Big Difference in Credit Cards," noted that credit union credit cards are an option to credit union companies that raise rates and fees and cut credit limits and added, "they might be what you need to help you financial deal with our tough economy" (KSFY.com Jan. 26). The article interviewed Sioux Falls FCU President Fran Sommerfeld, who said the credit union hasn't raised rates or cut credit. It also interviewed Marya Leber, who switched to a credit union credit card from a Citibank card in August. Rates weren't the only reason for the switch. "If you have a problem you can come in [to the credit union] and talk to these people; it's not like you're calling India," Leber told KSFY.com. An item on loan modifications in The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch section (Jan. 22) by Andrea Coombes, assistant personal finance editor, admitted she had never been a credit union customer, "but the more I learn about these financial institutions, the more interested I get. The interest rates they charge on credit cards and mortgages tend to be slightly lower than banks' rates, but it's their reputation for customer service that really piques my interest." She told of shopping for a home mortgage and her visit to Redwood CU. "The branch manager chatted with me for a while about my options, ran through some possible scenarios, and then put me in touch with the loan expert. Like the branch manager, he was quick to respond and helpful."

Wichita CUs Repossessions trending upward

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WICHITA, Kan. (1/27/10)--Repossessions of cars and trucks have been trending upward since the fall, creating an increase in the number of vehicles for sale in the parking lots of credit unions throughout Wichita, Kan. The rising number of repossessions are a sign that more consumers are unable to make their monthly car payments because their savings accounts have been depleted and their unemployment benefits have run out, according to some Wichita credit union executives (The Wichita Eagle Jan. 26) . “I kind of expect it to continue, maybe even go up this year,” Jim Holt, president of Mid-America CU, told the newspaper. Repossessions in 2009 were triple the amount of previous years, Larry Damm, president of Cessna Employees CU, told the paper. “It’s huge,” Damm added. “The difference here is voluntary repossessions. Folks just drove in and gave us the keys. And we believe we’re going to be there for another year.” During economic downturns, credit unions generally see an uptick in repossessions, credit union executives told the paper. “This isn’t unique to Wichita,” Bob Corwin, CEO of Meritrust CU, told the paper. “I’m hearing this [downturn] is a little bit more unique because of the uncertainty as to when the cycle might end.” Because credit unions are “taking a bath” on the resale value of repossessed cars and trucks, “we do everything we can to try and keep that car in [members’] driveways as long as we possibly can,” Chuck Bullock, CEO of TECU CU, told the paper. “During 2009, you might as well have hung a scarlet letter around an SUV or pickup,” he added, alluding to their resale value. To read the article, use the link.

Heartland settlement offer to CUs expires Friday

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WASHINGTON (1/27/10)--Credit unions have until 5 p.m. PT Friday to accept the joint Visa Inc./Heartland Payment Systems data breach settlement offer sent out Jan. 14, reminds the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). CUNA staff met Tuesday with representatives of Visa to discuss the joint settlement, which stemmed from efforts to recoup losses and costs incurred when financial institutions, including credit unions, reissued thousands of consumers' debit and credit cards compromised during Heartland's 2008 data breach. Issuing financial institutions can access the offer by using the Visa link. Credit unions with questions can call 888-847-2488, email esupport@visa.com with general questions, or contact their Visa account executive. The companies announced the maximum $60 million settlement in which Visa-branded credit and debit card issuers may recover losses earlier this month (News Now Jan. 11). The agreement is contingent on acceptance by financial institutions representing 80% of the eligible issuers' U.S. accounts that Visa considered as under risk of being comprised. The general industry buzz is that it's likely that the 80% threshold will be met. 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 liability--legal or financial--related to the Heartland intrusion. The settlement offer has brought a complaint filed against Heartland's acquiring banks by attorneys appointed by the court to represent the proposed class of Visa issuers against Heartland in a pending class action lawsuit in Houston (News Now Jan. 21). The attorneys say the proposed Visa/Heartland settlement has four weaknesses:
* It may offer little compensation to payment card issuers; * It gives credit unions and banks little time to decide whether to participate; * It releases Heartland and other parties (the acquiring banks) from liability; and * It is being touted for reasons that "are not entirely accurate."

Free CUs for Kids marketing workshop in November

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SALT LAKE CITY (1/27/10)--Children’s Miracle Network Tuesday announced a complimentary Credit Unions for Kids Cause Marketing Workshop to be held Nov. 10. The workshop is designed for credit unions in the early stages of developing a Credit Unions for Kids campaign and for those looking to re-energize their existing program. Presented by CO-OP Financial Services, the workshop will be held during the Children’s Miracle Network’s annual Celebration event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The one-day workshop will feature speakers from the nonprofit and credit union communities. Experts will share information and best practices that credit unions can use to create and execute successful campaigns. The keynote speaker will be Jennifer L. Maher, president/cause coach of The Cause Academy. Maher has more than 15 years of experience in the cause industry, having led the national corporate alliances and brand marketing initiatives for nonprofit organizations Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and the YMCA of the USA. Participants will be invited to attend all of the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration events, including a Champions children pin exchange and a medal ceremony. Travel and hotel must be covered by the participant. Credit unions have partnered with Children’s Miracle Network since 1996, when the Credit Union for Kids program was introduced nationwide. Today, credit unions nationwide collaborate with credit union chapters, leagues and business partners, including CO-OP Financial Services, raise funds for 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Since its inception, Credit Unions for Kids has generated nearly $80 million for children’s hospitals. For more information, contact Joe Dearborn at 480-614-9673 or by e-mailing jdearborn@childrensmiraclenetwork.org.

Possible suspect in CU shooting at hospital

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CENTRALIA, Wash. (1/27/10)--Police have detained a man they say matches the description of an individual who attempted to rob a TwinStar CU branch in Centralia, Wash. The attempted robbery led to a standoff with police at TwinStar Monday morning. Olympia police detained a man Monday with two gunshot wounds in his elbow and hip. The man had been dropped off in downtown Olympia by a taxi driver, who tipped off police. The police picked up the man after he knocked on the door of a home asking for help. A gunman had entered the credit union Monday around 7 a.m. as employees arrived to work. He grabbed an employee and put a gun to her head and a knife to her throat. When police arrived at the scene, an officer walked up to the employee entrance and saw the woman mouth to him, “He has a gun.” The officer pulled the employee to safety and fired two shots (The Chronicle Jan. 26). The Centralia SWAT team surrounded the building for several hours. Police then detonated four stun grenades and entered the credit union. With the help of a video feed, authorities later determined that the man likely fled minutes after the officer fired two shots. The gunman did not take any money, the newspaper said. The detained man is being treated for his injuries at a Seattle hospital. He has refused to give his name to police or emergency staff, the newspaper said. TwinStar has $742 million in assets. For more information, use the link.

Dupacos new online banking no cookie cutter

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AUSTIN, Texas and DUBUQUE, Iowa (1/27/10)--Dupaco Community CU has launched an online banking platform to provide members with new personal financial services that reach beyond the norm. The platform, MoneyTracker, has integrated personal financial management capabilities including customizable user alerts, transaction searches, budgeting, and an online safe deposit box. The platform is offered through a partnership with Jwaala, the credit union’s online banking vendor. Dupaco wanted “something that would set it apart from the cookie-cutter solutions,” said Steve Ervolino, Dupaco senior vice president of information services. “Power users love the transaction reporting features and customizable alerts, yet the straightforward design makes it easy to use for those members who simply want to balance their checkbook,” he added. Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa, has $675 million in assets.

Yahoo headline story features Mica HuffPost interview

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MADISON, Wis. (1/27/10)—Yahoo! featured Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica’s interview Friday with the Huffington Post in its Tuesday business section headlines. The story is based on an interview the editor of Huffington’s Move Your Money page conducted with Mica. In it, he again emphasizes the benefits of consumers moving their money to credit unions at a time of public anger and dissatisfaction with the large banks that caused the financial crisis. The piece includes a link to Mica’s recently posted YouTube “Mica Minute” on moving your money to a credit union (see related News Now story--“Mica YouTube video urges ‘move money’ to a CU”) and also links to CUNA’s Credit Union Locator page. Mica told Huffington he hopes “‘the cold shock-wave’ of populist fervor sweeps the financial system and leads customers to credit unions.” Consumers will find that switching won’t just be an effective protest, it will also be a change for the better, he added. “At a credit union they treat [you] like a person, not a number,” Mica said, because smaller financial institutions don't have the “dismissive arrogance” of the largest banks, Huffington added. “Mica said that over the last year credit unions have had a 2% growth rate--higher than the population rate, and the quickest pace that credit unions have seen in a decade--and searches to find local credit unions have tripled in recent weeks,” Huffington wrote. “We’ll always find a complaint here and there about a credit union, but 99.9 out of 100 people are happy to put a bumper sticker on their car that says ‘I love my credit union,’” Mica told Huffington. “That is not the case with banks.” To read the article, use the link.

N.Y. association testifies for municipal deposits

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/27/10)--Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO William Mellin testified Tuesday in support of municipal deposits for credit unions at the state’s Joint Legislative Hearings on the 2010-2011 Executive Budget Proposal in Albany, N.Y.
Click to view larger image William Mellin (bottom left), Credit Union Association of New York president/CEO, testified to support municipal deposits for credit unions at a state joint legislative hearing on Tuesday in Albany, N.Y. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
During his testimony, Mellin urged lawmakers to support New York Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to give local governments the option of placing their municipal deposits in credit unions. Currently New York credit unions cannot accept municipal deposits. “Credit unions have the potential to help state and local officials in a way that doesn’t cost state or local taxpayers a dime, but instead will save them money and increase the range of options available to elected officials throughout the state,” Mellin said. “By embracing the concept of municipal depository choice, the governor has provided to the legislature a cost-effective means of maximizing the tax dollars of New Yorkers and providing local governments’ much-needed flexibility as they seek to save resources.” Mellin also noted that:
* The Federal Credit Union Act authorizes federal credit unions to accept municipal deposits; * California, Connecticut and New Jersey already authorize their credit unions to accept the deposits; and * The banking industry claims that credit unions are undeserving of the deposits because they are tax-exempt, but credit unions do pay taxes, including property and payroll taxes.
“At a time when all taxpaying citizens have been forced to pay for the missteps of the banking industry, that same industry should not be opposing legislation that does nothing more than provide localities a further option in seeking to minimize taxpayer dollars,” he said.

CU System briefs (01/26/2010)

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* PORTLAND, Ore. (1/27/10)--OnPoint Community CU has been named one of the 10 Most Admired Companies in the Portland (Ore.) Business Journal's ranking of financial service organizations for 2009. The ranking is determined by CEOs and top managers of more than 1,800 organizations in Oregon and southwest Washington. The $2.8 billion asset credit union--the largest in Oregon--has 202,000 members. At a time when other financial institutions struggled with the economy, OnPoint's deposits rose 10% to $221 million in 2009, the credit union said. It also reinvested $425,000 during the year into community partnerships. It plans to open four to five branches a year for the next five years, including branches soon in Bend, Redmond and Oregon City ... * TREVOSE, Pa. (1/27/10)--Steven Kaplan, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, addressed the board of TruMark
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Financial CU, Trevose, on Thursday. Kaplan discussed his role at the department and shared his views about the current economic situation, the financial regulatory reform bill in Congress, and the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. From left are TruMark Financial board members Daniel L. Dillard, R. Terrance Brunt, and Joseph J. Bily; Kaplan; and board members David A. Rufibach, William A. Tollok and Richard V. Lawn. (Photo provided by TruMark Financial CU) ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/27/10)--Pennsylvania credit unions met with U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-2) in Philadelphia as part of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's (PCUA) goal to meet with all 19 congressional and two Senate district offices (Life is a Highway Jan. 26). They briefed Fattah on credit union issues such as the member business lending cap, overdraft protection, interchange, and the Community Reinvestment Act. Fattah expressed support of credit unions and MBL legislation. From left are Mick Hilling, vice president, marketing, American Heritage FCU; Fattah; Jim McCaw, member of PCUA's Governmental Affairs Committee and State Credit Union Advisory Committee; and Christina Mihalik, PCUA vice president, governmental affairs. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) ... * LANSING, Mich. (1/27/10)--Richard Lowe, long-time director of Southeast Michigan State Employees CU, Southfield, Mich., died Jan. 13. He was a past CEO of Detroit Postal CU and a past chairman of Michigan Association of Credit Unions (now Michigan Credit Union League). He also had worked as an examiner in the Credit Union Division of the Financial Institutions Bureau, according to the league (Michigan Monitor Jan. 25) ...

CU System briefs (01/25/2010)

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* FARMINGTON, N.M. (1/26/10)--Two Farmington, N.M., credit unions have merged, effective Dec. 31. Totah CU, with $5.7 million assets, merged into Animas CU, which has $94 million in assets (The Daily Times Jan. 25). Animas CEO Gary Sterton told the local newspaper it is getting difficult for small credit unions to compete. Totah served members tied to educational institutions and school districts, but it needed to provide more services, which Animas CU offers ... * FARMINGTON, N.M. (1/26/10)--Animas CU's main street branch was evacuated Friday after an employee spotted a suspicious package in the parking lot. Since no wires were protruding, the bomb squad X-rayed it and determined it contained foam wrapped in duct tape and was harmless. The $94 million asset credit union's employees returned to work (The Daily Times Jan. 23) ... * CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (1/26/10)--Commemorating more than 25 years of services to employees at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard University Employees CU (HUECU) has donated $100,000 to the MGH Fund. The check presentation was Jan. 12. The fund offers unrestricted support in patient care, research, global and community health, and education. With the donation HUECU was given the opportunity to dedicate staff lounges on floors six through nine in the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, which HUECU specified in honor of MGH employees (Targeted News Service Jan. 15) HUECU has $302 million in assets and is based in Cambridge, Mass. ... * LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (1/26/10)--Gwinnett FCU has established an annual scholarship fund for Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) students majoring in early childhood education, special education or another major leading to teacher certification. It is the first scholarship established at GGC that specifically benefits School of Education students, said Dean Cathy Moore. It also is the first scholarship at the college established by a business in the financial services sector. Marshall Boutwell, president/CEO of the $146 million asset credit union, said the credit union currently funds $58,500 in student and adult career scholarships in local school systems. The new scholarship will cover full tuition and fees and is renewable up to four years ... * HOUSTON (1/26/10)--Betty L. Bukowski, board chair of People's Trust CU, Houston, has died, according to the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 25). Bukowski was in the midst of attending the first Volunteer Certification School and becoming a certified credit union volunteer because "being a board member is serious business," she said. She had been with the credit union at least 38 years, when it gave her a car loan when "banks would not talk to me," she told the league. Services were Thursday in Darien, Ill. ...

445106 and still climbing--raised for Haiti CUs

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (1/26/10)--Credit unions around the world have contributed $445,106 to the disaster relief efforts for Haiti's credit unions and their members, and the totals are "still climbing," said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions.
Click to view larger image Staff at Cardinal Community CU, Mentor, Ohio, hosted a bake sale Friday and raised $500 to benefit Haiti earthquake victims. Employees donated baked goods and their time, and the credit union said there was an incredible response from members who purchased the treats to support a great cause. The proceeds will be donated to the National Credit Union Foundation's disaster relief fund, CUAid, for disaster relief in Haiti. From left are Jean Turner, loan officer, and Magen Corbett, marketing coordinator.(Photo provided by Cardinal Community CU)
The foundation--the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions, collected $239,410 as of Monday afternoon for the earthquake victims, said Breunig. U.S. credit unions chipped in another $205,696 via the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) online disaster relief fund system, www.CUAid.coop, and wire transfers, said Jill Stevenson, marketing and communications coordinator for NCUF. The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions sent $36,000 late Friday, Breunig told News Now. Credit unions were collecting funds from employees and members in a variety of ways --including bake sales, casual days, and jars by the teller stations--to send to USAid.coop. The funds credit unions contribute through the two credit union foundations will go to assisting some of Haiti's 175 credit unions and 404,000 credit union members. At the time of the earthquake, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) had 16 project team members working on a three-year project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Haiti. All are safe, but their building was heavily damaged. Last week WOCCU sent two staffers with supplies and met project leader Greta Greathouse at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with supplies for staff (News Now Jan. 20). Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12 that flattened its capital, Port au Prince, a city of two million people, and damaged its port. It has endured several strong aftershocks. The government says it has buried at least 150,000 quake victims and many others are still in rubble or have been buried by family. Roughly two million people are homeless, and there are not enough tents for many in the tent cities that have developed. The disaster is being billed as one of the most horrific disasters for children (USA Today Jan. 25). Many are parentless and ill or injured. To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members, credit unions can give these ways:
* Donate via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705

* Make donations online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. * For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. * U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop.

Gunman flees CU after standoff with police

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CENTRALIA, Wash. (1/26/10)--A gunman at the Centralia branch of TwinStar CU, Olympia, Wash., fled the scene after a standoff with police Monday. The gunman had entered the credit union earlier that morning and held a gun to an employee’s head. The gunman entered the credit union in a failed robbery attempt--by crawling through a window--on Monday morning around 7 a.m. PST as employees were arriving to work. The individual confronted an employee, who was on the phone with another employee. The other employee called the police (Seattle Times Jan. 25). When police arrived at the credit union, a woman was being held hostage with a gun to her head and a knife to her throat. The woman mouthed to the officer, “He has a gun.” The officer fired two shots at the gunman and missed. The gunman, however, let go of the employee. The officer pulled the employee out of the credit union. The employee saved the officer’s life by telling him the gunman was armed. The officer then saved her life, said Centralia police officer John Panco. No other employees or members were inside at the time. The police called in other units and a SWAT team cornered the area. Later that morning, police broke a window and threw a microphone device in the credit union. They realized the gunman was listening to the radio, so they sent him a message through the airwaves and asked him to pick up the phone (Seattle Times Jan. 25). The gunman did not make contact with police at the time of the message. Finally, the SWAT team stormed the credit union branch using flash bang devices, but found nobody inside. As of press time, police considered the individual to be armed and dangerous. Police dispatched search teams to search for the individual, the newspaper said. TwinStar sent updates about the standoff through Facebook and Twitter. Several of TwinStar’s friends posted comments on Facebook saying they hoped that everyone from the credit union was safe, and thanked TwinStar for keeping them updated on the situation. TwinStar also posted a message on its website notifying members that its Centralia branch was closed until further notice. TwinStar’s Chehalis branch, normally closed on Mondays, opened for business at 2:30 p.m. PST to accommodate for Centralia’s closing.

Herb Wegner awards dinner ticket sales extended

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WASHINGTON (1/26/10)--The deadline has been extended until Feb. 5 for purchasing tickets to the 22nd Annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner presented by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. EST Feb. 22 in Washington D.C., during the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). The dinner will be at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards program at 7:45 p.m. The evening will honor four 2010 Wegner Award winners who will receive the credit union movement's highest honors:
* Lifetime Achievement: Dick Heins, retired president/CEO, CUNA Mutual Group; * Individual Achievement: Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League; * Outstanding Program: Biz Kid$, National Financial Literacy program; and * Outstanding Organization: HarborOne CU, Brockton, Mass., MultiCultural Banking Center.
Use the links for more information or to register. CUNA's GAC will be Feb. 21-25 in Washington, D.C.

International body wants CUs fair value comments

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MADISON, Wis. (1/26/10)--The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is seeking clarification from credit unions and other financial services providers in emerging and transition economies on fair value measurement issues as described in the current International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) draft. The move is in response to issues raised by global financial organizations, including the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). WOCCU is asking its member organizations to share examples of situations in which the requirement to use fair value accounting may be impractical for credit unions. Last September, WOCCU submitted a comment letter to IASB supporting the board’s reassessment of fair value measurement in light of the ongoing global economic recession. WOCCU specifically raised issues on the unintended consequences the standards may have had on some financial cooperatives and their restrictive influence on institutional mergers. IASB last week contacted WOCCU and other organizations and asked for input, specifically “examples and case studies of transactions or situations ... that would make the fair value measurement guidance as proposed in the exposure draft impractical.” “We're pleased IASB is reconsidering its position and has come back to WOCCU requesting information to help it craft a better standard,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services and author of September's letter. “I am asking our entire membership for examples in which fair value standards have proven impractical for credit unions.” In its response to WOCCU, IASB cited concerns that:
* The proposed fair value measurement guidance is not detailed enough to allow IASB to develop fair value estimates on a consistent basis; * There is limited availability of practitioners with sufficient skills to apply necessary guidance, resulting in difficulties in applying critical judgments to affected entities; * There is limited access to market data to develop fair value measurements because there are few deep and active markets, few willing buyers and sellers and prices often fluctuate considerably; and * Developing fair value estimates and preparing the resulting disclosures can be expensive.
Final comments are due to IASB Sunday, after which the board will evaluate and consider amending inadequate proposals in the exposure draft and issuing educational materials covering application of the fair value measurement principles. All WOCCU member input should be submitted to Grace by e-mailing dgrace@woccu.org by Thursday. IFRS does not apply to U.S. credit unions, which use the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). For IFRS to apply to U.S. credit unions, it would take a statutory change to the Federal Credit Union Act, said the Credit Union National Association.

Financial Plus CU offers free e-check recovery service

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SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (1/26/10)--Financial Plus CU, Flint, Mich., is among three area financial institutions offering free electronic-check recovery services to local businesses. The service experienced a 50% success rate recovering 100% of the full face value of bad checks at the credit union, Financial Plus CU said (Saginaw News Jan. 24). If a business deposits a check and it is returned for nonsufficient funds, the institution can forward the check to Infinity Business Group, which converts the check to an automated clearing house payment. This allows for electronic transfers and provides one more chance to deposit the check. Checks can be presented for deposit twice, the newspaper said. Infinity calls the check writer’s financial institution daily for 60 days until there are sufficient funds in the account to cash the check. After 60 days, it can pursue the funds, but the business won’t receive the full amount. The recovery service is free. Infinity earns profits through a fee--$25 in Michigan--charged to the person writing the bad check, the newspaper added. Financial Plus FCU has $339 million in assets.

IDetroit Free PressI CUs in spotlight amid bank bust

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DETROIT (1/26/10)--In the aftermath of the financial crisis, credit unions are being viewed in a favorable light unlike anything before, the Detroit Free Press said Sunday. “The perception of credit unions is more positive than the banking industry,” David Adams, president of the Michigan Credit Union League, told the newspaper. “People are reassessing their banking relationship more than ever.” However, credit unions’ biggest shortcoming is “they don’t promote themselves enough,” Adams added. Credit unions nationwide are being buoyed by a backlash against big banks, wrote Katherine Yung, a business writer for the paper, in an article titled, “Credit unions branching out amid bank bust.” “Though year-end figures are not available, the number of credit union members in the state was expected to hit a record in 2009, surpassing the 4.4--million peak set in 2003,” Yung added. For the first nine months of 2009, lending at Michigan credit unions rose 4.6% and deposits jumped nearly 9%, the league told the paper. Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, added nearly 15,000 new members in 2009 and loans grew by 10%. “I expect the same level of growth to continue in 2010,” CEO Michael Poulos told the paper. “People are looking for the best value.” The article also was picked up internationally by Global Banking News. See the link. In a separate article, the paper told the story of a Michigan man who was rejected by four banks for a mortgage loan because of home-appraisal problems. He then tried a credit union, which ordered a new appraisal and gave him a loan, allowing him to close on the house within three weeks. See the link.

CUNA discusses howwhy of switching on IMSNI blog

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MADISON, Wis. (1/26/10)--Since the 2008 U.S. banking collapse and bailout, frustration has led consumers to turn to credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) told an MSN blog called “The Red Tape Chronicles.” “It has been developing for the last several months,” Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, told the blog. “Annual growth in credit union members had been very weak for the past several years ... but during the first 11 months of 2009, our growth rate doubled.” Credit unions added two million new consumers during that time, Hampel added. The article focused on the hows and whys of switching financial institutions. The costs of switching to a credit union from a bank engender costs associated with direct deposit of payroll checks, automated online bill payment of mortgages and auto loans, recurring debit card transactions, automatic savings plan deductions, and credit card bill payment, the blog said. Ending all these transactions, and starting the payments anew, is such a hassle that “inertia” often takes over, Hampel told the blog. “Changing where you have your checking account can be a royal pain in the neck,” he said. “It's like if you lose a credit card and have to inform all those people you have a new one, only much worse than that.” However, credit unions provide clear benefits--in the form of better interest rates on loans and deposits, Hampel added. According to Datatrac Corp., average credit union credit card rates are currently more than one full interest point lower, car loans are 1.5% lower, and one-year CD rates are 0.30% higher, the blog said. The blog article generated several positive comments from consumers about credit unions. See the link.

CU testifies fin ed outreach in Maine

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AUGUSTA, Maine (1/26/10)--Donna Steckino, president/CEO of Community CU in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, testified on behalf of Maine’s credit unions and the Maine Credit Union League before the state Insurance and Financial Services committee in Augusta. She testified in support of Legislative Document 1649, Resolve to Increase the Financial Stability of Low-Income Families in Maine. The bill would create a working group, which would include a credit union representative, and focus on:
* Developing and marketing starter accounts with features to benefit low-income families; * Educate families without accounts about the benefits of account ownership and encourage those families to open accounts; * Educate and assist families with basic money management skills; * Create coalitions of financial institutions, regulators, municipal officials and nonprofits to market the accounts to families.
The committee voted to pass the bill. Maine’s legislature will vote on it in the coming weeks, the league said. “Financial difficulties impact such a big part of our lives so anything we can do to help make the situation better for people can make a big difference, not just financially but psychologically as well,” Steckino said. “Part of our outreach has included providing opportunities to people who have little or no understanding of how to handle public finances,” she added. “Maine credit unions provide ongoing, free learning opportunities to our members and the public on topics such as how to manage a checking account, preparing a budget and the concept and importance of saving.” The committee said it was impressed by Maine credit unions’ efforts to expose high school students to financial education and praised the 15 Financial Fitness--A Money Management Experience--fairs that Maine credit unions coordinate annually, the league said. Steckino also outlined special programs offered by Maine credit unions to help low-income members. Some credit unions offer special checking accounts that require no minimum balance, assess no monthly fees, have no limitations on the number or amount of transactions, no per check fees and no cost to open the account. Lloyd LaFountain, superintendent of the Bureau of Financial Institutions--who would lead the working group the bill creates--also praised Maine’s credit unions. “Through the shared branching network, members have the ability to access and conduct financial transactions at locations across the state, which eliminates some of the access barriers that low-income families face,” he said.

CU to announce name change in Super Bowl preshow ads

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LENEXA, Kan. (1/26/10)--A Kansas credit union that is expanding and changing its name will make its first public announcement about the change in ads airing during the Super Bowl XLIV preshow on Feb. 7. Credit Union of Johnson County, a $235 million asset credit union with locations in Lenexa, Olathe and Mission, Kan., has new locations in Lawrence and Leavenworth, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. Its new name, Mainstreet CU, reflects the broadening of its membership base throughout metropolitan Kansas City, said the credit union. "We're the same, sound credit union we've always been, committed to serving people throughout Kansas City," said John Beverlin, president/CEO. "We are well-capitalized, have a strong bottom line, and we make sure our products and services keep pace with members' needs." But with its reach extending beyond Johnson County, Beverlin said it was time to change the name to represent its growing community. In addition to the Super Bowl ads, the new brand will debut in newspapers and on billboards, busses, television and radio. The new name symbolizes "the values our credit union stands for, such as trust, respect, honesty--key values of the heartland," said Beverlin. "And it reinforces to the community that we're not 'Wall Street, we're Mainstreet.'" The credit union will implement its new brand over several months, changing signage, print materials and advertising. Everything else will remain the same. "Bottom line, we're changing our name, not our culture," Berlin said.

ACCUs Brad Miller named CEO of Southeast Corporate

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/26/10)--Brad Miller has been named president/CEO of Tallahassee, Fla.-based Southeast Corporate FCU, announced the corporate's board Monday. Current President/CEO Bill Birdwell will retire on Feb. 28, and Miller's position will be effective March 1. Miller has been executive director the past three years of the Association of Corporate Credit Unions (ACCU), representing the association on Capitol Hill and with the National Credit Union Administration. "Southeast's Board of Directors feels strongly that Brad Miller is the right person at a critical time in the evolution of our corporate system," said board Chairman Tim McMurry. "He has broad industry experience and was chosen from among a field of very qualified candidates." Miller told News Now that he will be transition between ACCU and the corporate during February "to ensure an efficient and successful transition for both ACCU and Southeast Corporate, with my official capacity at Southeast Corporate beginning March 1." ACCU's "board and existing committee structure will continue to manage the strategic issues for the association," Miller said. "ACCU members will be meeting during the [Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference] GAC in February to further discuss the evolution of the ACCU, he said. Prior to his position at ACCU, Miller spent four years as CEO/President at Treasure State Corporate CU in Montana. He also has served as a principal with Carreker Corp., specializing in payments consulting, check payment technology, and other cash and logistics management service. Miller also worked more than 12 years with the Federal Reserve System, and held management positions in business development, payment systems, and planning and analysis. He received a master's of business administration degree from the University of Montana and a bachelor of technology in business degree from Montana State University. He also has held various investment securities licenses and attended the Sales Management Executive Program at the University of Minnesota.

CU System briefs (01/22/2010)

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* FORT WORTH, Texas (1/25/10)--American Airlines FCU (AA CU) announced it paid $9.6 million in dividends to member-owners on Dec. 31 after its board approved the dividend payout at its Dec. 18 meeting (Journal of Transportation Jan. 30). The dividend was attributed to active participation from both borrowers and savers, sound lending decisions and an efficient operation that kept the credit union secure, strong and solid, according to Angie Owens, AA CU president/CEO ... * REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (1/25/10)--The Westlake branch of Redwood City, Calif.-based San Mateo CU is celebrating its third anniversary with deals on mortgages, credit cards and auto loans Jan. 19-31. During that time, it will pay the lender fees and appraisal fees--up to $1,000--on new, adjustable-rate first mortgages, and members can choose whether the rate is fixed for the first three or five years. Those approved for a Visa Platinum credit card will receive 5,000 CURewards points to be redeemed for products, merchandise and travel options. And members can get a 1% rate discount on new auto loans ... * VENTURA, Calif. (1/25/10)--Ventura County CU (VCCU), based in Ventura, Calif., has installed an inside/outside ATM kiosk on Main Street. The VCCU @ccess center consists of two ATMs next to a movie theatre complex. The interior ATM is accessible to anyone with a debit or ATM card from any financial institution and will operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Its services include envelope-less deposits and two interior snack vending machines. The exterior ATM is available for cash withdrawals 24 hours a day. "We pride ourselves on being local, and this is as local as it gets," said Joe Schroeder, VCCU president/CEO. "More than ever, we are where our members are." The new @ccess center ATMs will be part of the CO-OP ATM Network. A grand opening will be Feb. 9 ...

CUs end week with 384563 donated to Haiti CUs

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/25/10)--As the U.S. Senate Friday approved a rapid tax deduction for Haiti relief contributions, credit unions and their organizations ended the week by contributing more than $384,563 to disaster relief efforts for credit unions and their members in earthquake-torn Haiti. Friday afternoon, the U.S. Senate by voice vote approved legislation to allow taxpayers who make contributions to the Haiti earthquake relief effort between Jan. 12 and Feb. 28 to take a deduction on their 2009 income tax return for those contributions. Any contribution related to the Jan. 12 7.0 magnitude earthquake's victims will be counted as if such a contribution were made on Dec. 31, 2009, under the bill. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, which is the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), activated their disaster relief fund, with U.S. credit unions contributing through NCUF's CUAid.coop fund. They're hoping that should an early deduction measure pass, this might be even more incentive for contributions. Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation, said as of Friday afternoon, it had collected $183, 042, and Jill Stevenson, marketing and communications coordinator for NCUF, announced that U.S. credit unions and related organizations and individuals had contributed $201,521 through CUAid.coop. Seychelles Credit Union, located on a set of islands off the coast of Africa, contributed $10,000 to the credit unions' effort, Breunig said. In the U.S., PSCU Financial Services, a credit union service organization serving more than 1,300 financial institutions nationwide, announced it has donated $15,000 to WOCCU's Disaster Relief fund for Haiti. In addition, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based cooperative set up a payroll deduction program that allows employees to give to the Salvation Army's Haitian Earthquake Victims Relief Fund, and it will match those contributions up to $100 per employee. It also is collecting donations for a special casual dress week in February. "We view situations like this as a responsibility to help those in need both in the U.S. and around the world," said David J. Serlo, PSCU Financial Services president. "Our employees personally feel this way as well, and we want to make it easy for them to give, so we support their efforts with matching contributions, "We sincerely believe that generosity to those less fortunate or in need is aligned with the spirit of the credit union industry, which is why we often choose to give through credit union organizations," Serlo said. On Tuesday, the Texas Credit Union League's Blog Talk Radio program, "Your Money, Your Matters," will host Breunig and Major Ward Matthews, CEO of the Salvation Army, at 11 a.m. CST to talk about Haiti relief efforts and how consumers can get involved. To tune in, use the resource link and click "play/chat." To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at www.CUAID.coop.

San Francisco CUs to market a better payday loan

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SAN FRANCISCO (1/25/10)--A payday alternative loan program offered by 13 credit unions in San Francisco was featured in an article written by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in Huffington Post Friday. Newsom describes his meeting with 13 credit unions to form a new Payday Plus SF program, an alternative small-dollar loan to counter payday lenders, with a maximum interest rate of 18% annual percentage rate. Payday Plus SF is the latest of a series of financial empowerment and financial literacy programs spearheaded by San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros and builds on the Bank on San Francisco initiative that Newsom and Cisneros launched three years ago, the mayor wrote. The credit unions in the program formed last month are already seeing results, he said. Newsom told of Mark, whose mother's unexpected death sent him to a payday lender so he could afford to travel to her funeral. When the loan came due, it spiraled into another payday loan and another. "Mark is now one of our success stories--he took out a Payday Plus SF loan, paid off his debts and is now rebuilding his credit as he makes reasonable monthly payments at his local credit union," Newsom said. The credit unions call the loan "The better small dollar loan," according to an op-ed item in latimes.com (Dec. 21). "San Francisco and the credit unions are taking an important step to solve the problem [of proliferating payday lenders]," wrote Anne Stuhldreher, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, in the Times. "The new loans will set up cash-strapped consumers to succeed, not fail."

CUs staff featured for helping bust check scam

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DULUTH, Minn. (1/25/10)--Northern Communities CU (NCCU) was featured on a Duluth, Minn., television station this week regarding its employees’ role in helping police solve a financial fraud case. NCCU staff observed suspicious behavior by individuals attempting to cash checks and alerted the Duluth Police Department. The department’s financial crimes unit discovered the individuals were attempting to cash fraudulent checks through a non-existent business, and that several other Northland financial institutions also had been approached by the scammers. The scheme has caused a reported $16,000 in losses to financial institutions. As of Friday morning, police had identified suspects, but no charges had been filed. Duluth-based WDIO-TV (ABC) picked up the story, which aired Thursday and Friday. “We are proud to assist police in helping stop financial crime, but we’re also very proud of our staff,” NCCU President Larry Champeaux said. “They did the right things at the right time and did what they were trained to do.” NCCU has about $73 million in assets.

Alabama CUs grow lend and members save

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/25/10)--Third quarter statistics indicate Alabama credit unions are outpacing the national credit union average in loans, savings and membership growth, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. Alabama credit unions experienced a 10% increase in member savings--the highest increase in five years and 2% more than the national average. Alabama credit unions also added $500 million in new mortgage loans and $160 million in auto loans during the quarter. Membership in Alabama credit unions rose 3.5%--double the national credit union average over the same period. The state’s credit unions saw their assets grow 9.1%, which is 2% higher than the national average. Alabama has 135 credit unions with $14 billion in assets. The League of Southeastern Credit Unions serves credit unions in Alabama and Florida.

Nebraska league launches awareness micro site

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OMAHA, Neb. (1/25/10)--The Nebraska Credit Union League has launched an awareness micro site, BetterYourMoney.org, which aims to drive membership growth and improve perception of and knowledge about credit unions. BetterYourMoney offers money tips, a blog, a state credit union directory, a credit union finder and other information. The site is part of the Nebraska league’s CU Awareness Campaign, which will focus on the added value consumers receive at credit unions. The underlying message is one of trust and strength, the league said. “The campaign will work mainly through viral, social media and guerilla marketing tactics,” said Scott Sullivan, league president/CEO. “It will also use traditional media to a lesser extent. This distribution strategy helps us reach more people, more often and in more ways. It also helps the campaign maintain the level of flexibility it needs to stay current and fresh.” Much of the campaign’s creative elements will be available to league-affiliated credit unions. Members also can tell their credit union story by posting videos and blogs on the micro site. For more information, use the link.

Va. CUs state loan aid boosts membership 6

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RICHMOND, Va. (1/25/10)--Virginia CU, one of the largest credit unions in the state, has seen a 6% membership boost from state workers joining the credit union to access a new state loan program. The $1.841 billion asset, Richmond, Va.-based credit union operates the Virginia State Employees Loan Program, which provides state employees access to short-term aid if they are members of the credit union (The Washington Examiner Jan. 22). The initiative, promoted as an alternative to payday lending, has provided more than $1.3 million in loans at a 25% interest rate to nearly 2,800 state employees, the newspaper said. The program is a means to meet the financial needs of state employees, not to bolster membership, the credit union told the paper. “The program is not a moneymaker at all,” credit union spokesman Glenn Birch told the paper. Most people who received the loans already are part of the credit union’s membership of 190,000, which is growing--part of an industrywide trend, Birch said.

Minn. CU4Kids donates 190000 to hospital

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/25/10)--The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation’s Credit Unions for Kids (MnCU4Kids) committee raised more than $190,000 for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in 2009.
Click to view larger image Representatives from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation presented a check Thursday for more than $190,000 to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Pictured from left are: Mark D. Cummins, foundation president; Kristi Mukomela, foundation chair; Logan Swedberg, patient at Gillette Children’s Hospital; and Katie Grindeland and Jeff Schwalen, MnCU4Kids co-chairs. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation)
Representatives from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation presented a check at the hospital Thursday for the funds raised by credit unions statewide. Gillette is Minnesota’s Children’s Miracle Network-affiliated hospital. Throughout 2009, the volunteer committee coordinated fundraisers that included a golf tournament, Bowl-O-Rama, Chain of Hearts and an inflatable obstacle course challenge. Individual credit unions also coordinated fundraisers that consisted of cook-outs, candy bar and popcorn sales, and casual days. “The generosity of credit unions and members throughout the state enabled the committee to surpass its fundraising goal by more than $40,000,” said Kristi Mukomela, chair of the foundation. MnCU4Kids also received support from several local and national companies that work with credit unions. CO-OP Financial Services matched funds raised at the committee’s Annual Meeting event, and contributions from fundraisers coordinated by credit unions. Co-Op also donated $1 million dollars nationwide to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals through its Miracle Match program. “Even though the country was facing a recession, supporters realized the hospital’s need for donations,” said Katie Grindeland, co-chair of MnCU4Kids.

Louisiana regulator re-accredited by NASCUS

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ARLINGTON, Va. (1/22/10)--The Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (OFI), which oversees credit unions in the state, has been re-accredited by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS). This is the third consecutive re-accreditation for Louisiana, which was first accredited in 1995. OFI is responsible for the examination and supervision of 45 credit unions and one state-chartered corporate credit union with combined assets of $1.28 billion. NASCUS' 28 accredited states supervise more than 85% of the nation's state-chartered credit union assets. "This recognition validates the integrity of our examination process and provides an independent and comprehensive assessment of the strengths of the credit union division," said John Ducrest, commissioner of the Louisiana OFI. "The comprehensive critique also allows us to make improvements based on current regulatory standards and best practices." NASCUS accreditation is for a five-year period, subject to annual review. The annual review enables the agency and NASCUS' Performance Standards Committee to measure progress and improvement. To earn the accreditation, a state supervisory agency must meet standards in six areas: department administration and finance, personnel, training, examination, supervision and legislative powers.

CU CUSO in servicing dispute

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TAYLOR, Mich. (1/22/10)--First Catholic FCU, based in Taylor, Mich., confirmed it has filed a suit in a federal court in Michigan seeking to terminate its mortgage servicing contract with CUSO Mortgage, a Pasadena, Calif.-based credit union service organization (CUSO). The $142 million asset credit union's complaint alleges the CUSO violated its service agreement with the credit union by, among other things, failing to file Form 1098s with the Internal Revenue Service for its borrowers. Charles Holzman with Holzman Ritter & Corkery in Southfield, Mich., the credit union's attorney in the case, said that is only one of the allegations. The credit union maintains it should not have to pay a 2% of outstanding principal balance termination fee on the contract because the company failed to live up to the contract. The fee is being held in an escrow account. "We're still trying to resolve the dispute," Angela Millis, CEO, told News Now. She confirmed the suit's claims, that CUSO Mortgage failed to:
* Pay delinquent taxes for previous tax years; * Properly enter some mortgage modifications; * Timely post payments; * Monitor the existence of hazard insurance; and * File IRS Forms 1098 for all serviced loans for 2007 and provide proof of filing From 1098s for 2008. These represent a breach of its duties under the servicing contract, the complaint says.
As a result, First Catholic FCU's employees performed the duties. It is asking the court to release the 2% payment and to order transfer of the mortgages to a new servicer hired by the credit union. The suit was filed in Michigan Eastern Federal District Court in Detroit on Dec. 23. Millis said the credit union is waiting for the CUSO to respond to the complaint. CUSO Mortgage is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wescom Central CU, Pasadena, Calif. It services as many as 100 credit unions.

Virginia league opposes CUbank merger bills

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (1/22/10)--The Virginia Credit Union League is opposing two bills in the state legislature that would allow state banks to merge or consolidate with state-chartered credit unions, according to Rick Pillow, league president/CEO. The identical companion bills, House Bill 482 and Senate Bill 440, were introduced last week by Del. Mark Sickles (D-43) and Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Richard Saslaw (D-35), Pillow told News Now. The bills, as introduced, do two things, said Pillow: They would allow a state bank to merge or consolidate with a state-chartered credit unions, and would allow a federal credit union or state-chartered credit union to merge or consolidate with a state bank. "I have never had a credit union suggest that this was a strategy that they'd like to use," Pillow said, adding that banks don't try to become credit unions. "We view it as a one-way street, an effort by banks to make it easier to consolidate with credit unions." "The league board voted to oppose both bills as introduced," he said, adding that he was in meetings Wednesday with lawmakers and bankers emphasizing several points, namely that the bills don't protect the credit unions' members.. "The bills have no protections of members or of the rights of members who own credit unions or of their equity in credit unions. In non-stock to stock conversions, or for-profit to stock corporations--none of the scenarios adequately protect members and their rights." Among the bills' shortcomings: "They don't address members' notice requirements, financial disclosure requirements, member voting requirements, the enrichment of directors and executives, and how they would appraise members' equity in the credit union. What's the rush to judgment here?" he asked. "We will continue open discussions with bankers to see if there's common ground or compromise, but the league will aggressively let them know we don't support these bills as introduced." "We're gearing up for a battle ... but will stay open to discussions," he said. The bills must go through the House Commerce and Labor Committee, chaired by Del. Terry Kilgore (R-l) and Saslaw's Senate committee. The legislative session ends March 13. "We're asking for the bills, as introduced, to be defeated or carried over for future discussion."

CU System briefs (01/21/2010)

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* MADISON, Wis. (1/22/10)--This is the official legal notice to all members of the Credit Union National Association’s 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled for Feb. 22, at 10:30 a.m., at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. It will be held in conjunction with the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. The AGM will update member credit unions and leagues on the actions of their association during the past year ... * MADISON, Wis. (1/22/10)--A burglar is suspected of taking numerous 2010 license plate stickers from the Westport branch of Madison, Wis.-based Summit CU Wednesday morning (The Capital Times Jan. 21). A credit union employee discovered early Wednesday morning that a back office door had been forced open. No money was missing. A surveillance camera at the credit union took a photo of a man at 12:50 a.m. Wednesday who is suspected of taking the stickers ... * CHICAGO (1/22/10)--A former Chicago police officer was convicted Wednesday of trying to deposit a phony $1 million check at the Chicago Patrolmen's FCU. Tiffany Brown, 38, was found guilty of forgery, attempted theft and official misconduct in a Cook County Circuit Court. She tried to deposit the check on Aug. 31, 2006, saying it was a windfall from a legal settlement involving Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill. The credit union checked with Six Flags and found out the check was fraudulent (Chicago Sun-Times Jan. 21) ... * MADISON, Wis. (1/22/10)--Vera Croner, former CUNA CU (now Summit CU) staffer, died Monday at the age of 89. Born in what is now Poland, Croner spending years in hiding during World War II in Germany. She moved to Madison, Wis., after the war and beginning in 1959, she worked with CUNA CU and became an administrator and counselor of the office at the Credit Union National Association. In 1962, she helped reorganize internal operations of credit unions in Trinidad and conducted training seminars. She retired in the 1980s from CUNA (Summit) CU. A memorial service was held Thursday (Wisconsin State Journal Jan. 20) ...

Trinidad CU Societies bill in draft form

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TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (1/22/10)--The Trindad and Tobago government will proceed with its plans to reform the financial services sector after the Cabinet approves draft legislation for credit unions. The Credit Union Societies Bill is in a draft form as is a policy document, which is the product of that level of consultation, and which has been approved by the Cabinet, according to Finance Minister Karen Nunez Tesheira (Guardian Jan 21). However, there are several steps left in the process and the document has to go to the legislative review committee, she said at the launch of the Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2010 developmental initiatives program in Port of Spain. The government’s recognition of the leading role of credit unions in the financial arena has prompted regulatory, supervisory and legislative reforms, Tesheira added. “Based on criteria developed by the Central Bank, this policy document now enables credit unions to adhere to international best practice,” she told the publication. “It also facilitates improvement in corporate governance and higher standards of oversight in the credit union movement.” For the bill to be passed, the Co-operative Societies Act of 1971 must be amended, she added. “The credit union bill will speak to the oversight and regulatory might in large part of the Central Bank,” Tesheira told Guardian.“But recognizing that, we don’t want to lose the co-operative ethics and philosophy, which really distinguishes credit unions from other financial institutions. In so doing, the intent is that both pieces of legislation will sit together and reflect that philosophy.”

Two candidates vie for CUNA Board position

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MADISON, Wis. (1/22/10)--Wednesday was the deadline to file nominations for the District 6, Class C Special Election for a position on the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) board of directors. CUNA has received two candidates:
* Steve Dahlstrom, Spokane Teachers CU, Spokane, Wash., and * Dave Rhamy, Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas.
Ballots were sent Thursday to the affiliated credit unions in that district/class. In order to have someone seated by the time of the CUNA Government Affairs Conference in February, the voting timeline has been condensed from what a regular election timeline would include. The deadline for ballots to be returned to the independent auditing firm is Feb. 12.

Keep your eyes on Haiti--plea for CUs future

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JIMANI, Dominican Republic (1/22/10)--The future of Haiti's credit unions lies not only in recovery from the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, but in the global credit union movement's ability to help Haiti's 175 financial cooperatives rise to higher levels of member service. That was the message from Greta Greathouse, head of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) operations in Haiti, during a phone interview Wednesday.
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) staffers Brian Branch, left, and Dave Richardson load critical supplies that Greta Greathouse, center, will take back to WOCCU's project staff in earthquake-devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions).
"Keep your eyes on Haiti," said Greathouse, chief of party for the Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program, a $34.4 million multipartner program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. "There will be a lot of opportunities for credit unions around the world to participate in rebuilding Haiti's financial services sectors," she said. Greathouse had driven to Jimani on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border to meet WOCCU executives and collect much-needed supplies for her staff of 16, all of whom had survived the earthquake. Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Dave Richardson, WOCCU senior manager in charge of the Haiti program, met Greathouse at COOPRENE credit union at the border, thanks to the assistance of the Asociación de Instituciones Rurales de Ahorro y Crédito (AIRAC), WOCCU's member organization in the Dominican Republic. “The images you see on TV are surreal, but they do not do justice to Haiti’s devastation,” said Virginio Rafael Gerardo, executive director of AIRAC. “Even though the Dominican Republic is a poor country, we will do all that we can to help.” AIRAC provided logistical support, transportation, security and US$1,000 worth of critical supplies to WOCCU's Haiti staff. The Credit Union National Association provided the satellite phones that Branch and Richardson brought with them to the Dominican Republic. Haiti's credit unions were already reaching out to provide financial services to the country's rural poor, said Greathouse. Those efforts will become even more critical in light of the earthquake's devastation. "Credit unions play an incredibly important role, particularly in rural areas," said Greathouse. "It's always been our goal to extend those services, and that's something that WOCCU members have been very good at supporting." To hear the entire audio interview with Greathouse, use the resource link. Also, on Thursday, WOCCU's international charitable arm, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, in conjunction with its U.S. counterpart, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), said the movement is continuing to send funds to aid credit unions in Haiti. U.S. credit unions can contribute online through NCUF's CUAid disaster relief fund at www.CUAid.coop. A total of $324,166 had been raised by 3 p.m. CT Thursday, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation. That includes $170,156 from U.S. credit unions contributing via CUAid.coop. Jill Stevenson, communications and marketing coordinator at NCUF, said U.S. credit unions can post the CUAid.coop on their own websites to facilitate donations. Members would need only to click the link. "We're getting all kinds of questions from credit unions about how they can raise money," she told News Now. To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg backs CUs depository choice

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/22/10)--New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his support for the deposit of public funds into credit unions during his State of New York City address Wednesday afternoon. Currently, only commercial banks in New York can accept municipal deposits. “With Albany’s approval, we’ll also strengthen neighborhood-friendly credit unions, which reach out to customers who may have never had a bank account,” Bloomberg said. “We’ll seek to deposit $25 million in city tax dollars in federally insured and regulated credit unions. It’s a relatively small amount of city resources, but it will have a big impact by allowing credit unions to make more loans to more low-income families.” The Credit Union Association of New York applauded the mayor’s support. “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his support of credit unions and recognize his leadership to achieve enactment of the necessary state legislation that will allow municipalities to have depository choice,” said William J. Mellin, association president/CEO. “Credit unions are well-positioned to play a more prominent role in the economic revitalization in New York City and to provide enhanced services to New Yorkers, especially low-income families,” he added. “As New York City works toward the goals and vision outlined by Mayor Bloomberg, we will explore every opportunity to partner with him to achieve those goals.” Allowing credit unions to accept municipal deposits would increase competition for the funds, and produce lower fees, better loan terms and higher deposit rates for local governments, the association said. Bloomberg also indirectly mentioned five community development credit unions that will be offering “NYC Safe Start” accounts, which aim to prevent overdrafts, according to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The credit unions are: Bethex FCU, Bronx; Lower East Side People’s FCU, Manhattan; Brooklyn Cooperative FCU; Neighborhood Trust FCU, Manhattan; and Union Settlement FCU, Manhattan. The mayor also noted a recently chartered credit union in Queens, sponsored by the East River Development Alliance--one of two new federal charters in 2009. The federation helped charter the credit union, which will serve thousands of public housing residents. National media, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, also have covered Bloomberg’s speech. The Huffington Post proclaimed that New York had “moved its money,” a reference to the Post’s campaign for consumers to move money from big banks to credit unions and community banks. Last week, New York Gov. David Paterson called for action to expand municipal depository choice as part of his mandate reform agenda. City groups, including the Association of Towns, New York State Association of Counties, New York Council of Mayors, Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, Albany Common Council and the New York City Common Council, are submitting resolutions in favor of depository choice.

Ohio league to governor Help small biz support CUs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/22/10)--The Ohio Credit Union League has asked Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to support credit unions’ inclusion in federal programs that provide funds for smaller businesses, federal legislation lifting the cap on member business lending and state legislation that would allow credit unions to be eligible depositories for public funds in Ohio. League President Paul Mercer sent a letter to Strickland Jan. 11 asking him to support the initiatives. Mercer also commended Strickland for an op-ed piece he wrote for the Columbus Dispatch Dec. 20 that said the federal government should help stimulate capital lending by giving federal funds to small and medium-sized businesses. States could serve as an intermediary, identifying lenders that want to participate and ensure that federal funds reach manufacturers who can retain and create jobs, Strickland said. “Because they would be allocating federal funds alongside their own funds, banks and credit unions could make lending decisions without the overwhelming reluctance that guides many of their decisions now,” he added. “And as businesses repay these loans, the funds would be rolled back to provide capital to other manufacturers and create even more jobs.” Ohio credit unions are seeing an increase in their small business lending, Mercer told Strickland. Business loans at credit unions in the year ending June 2009 increased 13.6%, versus an 8.4% decrease in business lending by banks during the same period. If credit unions become eligible depositories for public funds, Ohio businesses and consumers also could participate in programs such as GrowNow, SaveNow, EcoLink and AgLink through the state treasurer’s office, Mercer said. “As a state, Ohio should make more effort to provide additional options and accessibility to credit and capital, and not restrict or limit other sources of capital as is currently done today,” he added. To read Mercer’s letter and Strickland’s article, use the links.

Former OmniAmerican CU offers IPO

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FORT WORTH, Texas (1/22/10)--OmniAmerican Bancorp, a newly created holding company for Omni-American Bank in Fort Worth, Texas--and a former credit union-- opened stock trading on NASDAQ Thursday following an initial public offering (IPO) that raised more than $119 million. Members of OmniAmerican Bank approved a conversion plan Jan. 15, which allowed the bank to proceed with a conversion and stock offering. The IPO sold 11.9 million shares of common stock at $10 per share to eligible account holders--depositors as of March 31, 2008, according to Globe Newswire (via CNN Jan. 21). In 2007, OmniAmerican Bank’s board of directors voted to convert to a publicly traded, mutual holding company. OmniAmerican was formerly the second-largest credit union in Fort Worth. The credit union changed its name on Jan. 1, 2006, after members voted 3-to-1 in July 2005 to convert to a bank (News Now Feb. 13, 2007).

PIMA FCU sending 8 to The 1 CU Conference

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TUCSON, Ariz. (1/22/10)--A team of eight young credit union employees and two high school youth advisers from PIMA FCU (PFCU) will be rewarded with an all-expense-paid trip to The 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas, July 11-14.
Click to view larger image Pima FCU CEO Nathanael Tarwasokono (top left) will send eight young staff members and high school youth advisers to World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People Scholarship Program. The decision was based on Tina Slachta’s (front row, on right) experiences attending the same program in 2008. They are, from left: front row, Caroline Barragan and Rosie Ley. Back row, from left: Beatrice Vidal, Raul Munguia, Kathie Lorenz, Kristina Lopez, Gabriel Campbell and Sergio Leyva. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The team--who did everything from teaching students financial literacy to feeding needy families Thanksgiving dinner--will participate in the 2010 World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) Scholarship Program. Tina Slachta, director of risk management for PFCU, Tucson, Ariz., attended WOCCU’s 2008 World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong, and said she came away transformed. “It was life-changing,” said Slachta, who had participated in the WYCUP Scholarship Program at the international event. “It sparked a fire in my professional life for my organization and for the credit union movement.” PFCU CEO Nathanael Tarwasokono noticed WYCUP’s impact on Slachta, which inspired him to reward top performers in the credit union's Individuals Making Pima a Community Tool (IMPACT) program. WOCCU is calling for nominations for this year's WYCUP program. The deadline for all nominations is June 7. The WYCUP Scholarship Program seeks individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of their own credit unions, regional or national credit union systems and have demonstrated the potential to employ their talents at the international level. Credit unions and credit union organizations that are WOCCU members can nominate their next generation of leaders to compete for the WYCUP Scholarship. To be eligible for the scholarship, nominees must:
* Be sponsored by their credit union or credit union organization to attend The 1 Credit Union Conference--a combination of WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference and CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference--in Las Vegas, July 11-14; * Be 35 years of age or younger on Jan 1; and * Submit a completed nomination form with supporting materials to WOCCU by June 7.
The WYCUP Scholarship, which consists of an all-expense-paid trip to the 2011 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, will be awarded to five recipients at this year’s conference in Las Vegas. For more information, use the link.

Secret shopper schemes on the increase

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WASHINGTON (1/21/10)--Credit unions should warn their members there's been an increase in employment schemes pertaining to mystery/secret shopper positions, and some are asking for financial account information so the salary can be deposited in their account. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said Wednesday fraudsters have learned that many retail and service corporations--including credit unions--hire evaluators to perform secret or random checks on their service or their competitors, and the fraudsters are capitalizing on this. Victims receive e-mail or U.S. mail urging them to apply as a mystery shopper. Applicants are asked to send a resume and are subject to a background check before being hired. The fraudster sends the shoppers a check with instructions to shop at a specific retailer for a specific length of time and spend a specific amount on the store's merchandise. The shopper is to note the environment, color, payment procedures, gift items and shopping/carrier bags, and report back to the employer. The second trip evaluates the ease and accuracy of wiring money from the retail location. The money is included in a check received by the victim shopper. The remaining balance is the employee's pay for the assignment. After the merchandise is purchased and the money wired, the shopper learns the check is counterfeit, and the shopper is responsible for the money lost and fees incurred. In other versions, applicants are requested to provide bank account information to have money directly deposited into their account. This gives the fraudster access to the victim's accounts and money, making the victim an identity theft victim. The e-mails also have a pop-up that cannot be easily closed. The user clicks on the pop-up to purchase the software and must fill out a form that collects payment information. The user is charged for bogus software. Sometime malicious codes are installed on the computer. For tips to give members about avoiding becoming a victim, use the link.

Aftershock adds to Haitis woes CUs donate more

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (1/21/10)--An aftershock that measured 6.1 magnitude rattled Haiti Wednesday morning, adding to the challenges of getting relief to more than three million people, including members of the country's 175 credit unions affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake. Credit unions around the world and their affiliated organizations and service providers have rallied to contribute to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions' credit union disaster relief fund to assist the 404,090 credit union members in Haiti. In the U.S., the contributions are funneled through the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) CUAid disaster fund via CUAid.coop. Combined contributions from the movement continued to climb Wednesday to $287,121, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Of that amount, $161,031 was collected through CUAid.coop, said Jill Stevenson of NCUF's marketing and communications department. Of the funds collected through CUAid, 100% will go to credit unions and their employees, volunteers and members affected by the disaster. Those contributions are also tax-deductible. Breunig noted Wednesday she saw contributions from several credit unions and vendors such as Callahan's. National leagues from Canada, Australia and the Caribbean are coordinating fundraising campaigns in their countries as well. WOCCU did not provide a live dispatch Wednesday from its 16-person staff based in Haiti for its three-year project that began last July. WOCCU had received daily dispatches from the team leader. Communications are sporadic, and WOCCU's disaster relief team had arrived Tuesday with supplies to disburse. The statistics in Haiti are staggering. Three million Haitians--one-third of the country's population--were still needing food, water, shelter and medical assistance a week after the earthquake. At least 72,000 people were confirmed dead, and the toll was climbing. "This devastating earthquake has left the people of Haiti in dire need," said Rudy Hanley, president/CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., on announcing that the credit union had made a $25,000 donation to assist with relief efforts via NCUF's CUAid fund. Charlotte Metro FCU is donating $10,000 because, said President/CEO Bob Bruns, "The credit union philosophy is based on people helping people. And this is a time when the people of Charlotte Metro have an opportunity to reach out to the people affected by this terrible disaster." The League of Southeastern Credit Unions' Foundation, which serves Florida and Alabama credit unions, donated $10,000 toward the recovery, saying there are 350,000 Haitians living in the Southeast U.S. The need for credit unions and their members to take the lead in helping Haiti through this tragedy is imperative, said the league. "The pictures and stories coming out of the country are heartbreaking. These donations are small steps in helping the country recover and keep the flow of supplies strong," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick LaPine. Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and its service subsidiary, Pacul Services Inc., and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation (PCUF) announced they had contributed a combined $4,000 (Life is a Highway Jan. 20). Joe Wambach, executive director of the PCUF, remained in close contact with WOCCU officials during the weekend. Wambach has experience working with Care International in Haiti for several years in the past. He helped provide guidance about distributing funds related to WOCCU's three-step recovery program. No stranger to adversity caused by nature, the Louisiana Credit Union League encouraged its member credit unions to "answer this international call of action" in its newsletter (eNews Jan. 20). "As evidenced during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, this type of immediate, timely, and generous response is a natural effect of the credit union philosophy," said the league. "Credit unions around the world provided immediate support in our time of need and contributed to our rebuilding efforts. Now, we encourage you to give back to those who seek the same assistance as we once did." To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at www.CUAID.coop.

GAC promo features hot new Web technology

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WASHINGTON (1/21/10)--Credit unions thinking they notice something different about the latest video message from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) on the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) are correct. The message--in which CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica springs to life right on CUNA’s Web page--features technology from CUNA Strategic Services’ newest strategic alliance partner, SEMPartners Inc. The Tennessee-based SEMPartners has developed a proprietary product called CU-VO (Credit Union Video Overlay), which super-imposes transparent video over existing websites. On the GAC message, for example, it allows Dan Mica to appear right on CUNA’s Web page rather than through a video player. “When I first saw the CU-VO technology, I was struck by the way it commands attention, provides a personal connection, and allows for a stronger call to action,” said Mica. SEMPartners says the same qualities will appeal to credit unions using technology that the company points out will not interfere at all with a credit union’s core processing system and or even reside on its Web servers, making implementation quick and easy. There are four service offerings a credit union can use that allow credit unions to choose from a library of pre-recorded messages, submit a customized script, record their own video messages, or customize a package of services, such as coordinated video with auto dealers or local TV/radio websites. To view Dan Mica’s GAC message, use the link.

New Brunswick report outlines causes of 40M bailout

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NEW BRUNSWICK, Canada (1/21/10)--The near collapse of Caisse Populaire de Shippagan--a Canadian credit union--was due to a string of failures, ranging from shoddy accounting to mismanagement and the government’s failure to ensure adequate supervision of a credit union, according to an investigation by New Brunswick’s auditor general. In 2007, a series of events culminated in requiring a $40 million bailout by the Liberal government in power at the time (www.680news.com Jan. 19). Mike Ferguson issued a 54-page report Tuesday that identified failures in the credit union’s chain of command--and the New Brunswick province’s regulatory regime that allowed the credit union to fudge its financial data, and inflate the salaries of some senior management. However, the report also indicates some of the blame should accrue to New Brunswick’s former Conservative government for failing to ensure adequate regulation and supervision of the credit union. Among the short-comings the report found: there was only a part-time superintendent of credit unions who had been directed to focus on other priorities; and the New Brunswick Credit Union Stabilization Board--the regulatory board at the time--had inadequate powers to act, once it became aware of the of the credit union’s problems. If the government had taken action more quickly, “the total loss to New Brunswick taxpayers would probably have been about half what it eventually was,” Ferguson wrote.

Attorneys Heartland-Visa settlement has weaknesses

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HOUSTON, Texas (1/21/10)--Credit unions and banks that issued Visa payment cards compromised by the Heartland Payment Systems data breach, the largest in history, should carefully review the proposed settlement between Heartland and Visa, say three attorneys in the case. They filed a complaint Tuesday against Heartland's acquiring banks--KeyBank and Heartland Bank--in a Houston federal court that alleges they share responsibility for damages caused by the Heartland data breach. The attorneys, appointed by the court as interim co-lead counsels representing the proposed class of Visa issuers against Heartland in the pending class action lawsuit in Houston, are Mike Caddell of Caddell & Chapman, Richard Coffman of the Coffman Law Firm and Joe Sauder of Chimicles & Tikellis. They say the proposed settlement has four weaknesses:
* It may offer little compensation to payment card issuers; * It gives credit unions and banks little time to decide whether to participate; * It releases Heartland and other parties from liability; and * It is being touted for reasons that "are not entirely accurate."
Credit unions and banks received notice of the proposed settlement on Jan. 14 and have until Jan. 29--roughly 15 days--to decide whether to participate in the settlement, which "is not as generous as Heartland and Visa want you to believe," the attorneys said in a press release. "There were over 86 million Visa payment cards compromised by the data breach," said Caddell. "Once a financial institution factors in the costs it incurred to cancel and reissue the payment cards and the unauthorized charges it was forced to absorb, its share of the settlement most likely will be pennies on the dollar," he added. The settlement releases KeyBank and Heartland Bank from potential liability for breach damages "although they contributed little to the settlement," said Coffman. Most of the settlement funds are provided by Heartland. The two banks have more than $98 billion in assets combined that could be tapped as "additional sources of money to compensate the issuers for their damages," Coffman said. Sauder said that in Visa's informational webinars about the settlement, issuers were told the settlement is similar to that of the TJX Cos. data breach settlement, where roughly 97% of the financial institutions elected to participate. But the TJX settlement occurred late in the case at a "very different stage in the litigation," Sauder said. The court had issued opinions denying the issuers' motion for class certification and narrowing their legal claims, which meant "there was no viable alternative for the issuers but to accept the settlement or file individual lawsuits," Sauder said.The TJX case produced more than 500,000 pages of documents. In the Heartland case, "it is early in the case and there has been no formal discovery," and the facts of the cases are different. "In our view, the proposed Visa settlement clearly is designed to circumvent the safeguards inherent in the judicial process," Sauder said. In the end, Caddell said, each financial institution must perform its own cost/benefit analysis to determine whether to accept or reject the settlement. "While we intend to continue to vigorously pursue our cases against Heartland and its acquiring banks to maximize the recovery for financial institutions, litigation is uncertain at best, and there are risks associated with all cases," Caddell said. The three interim co-lead counsels will conduct conference calls for financial institutions on Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. EST, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. EST, and Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. EST. For more information, use the links.

CUs learn the value of media coverage

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MADISON, Wis. (1/21/10)--Credit unions nationwide are learning the value of media coverage in promoting their initiatives and accomplishments to the public. In a column about consumers obtaining car loans in an environment of tight credit, Susan Tompor, a columnist forThe Detroit Free Press, wrote about the advantages of credit unions. The article was picked up by 11 other media outlets nationwide. “For much of last year, credit unions became one port in the storm for many borrowers,” she wrote. “David Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League, said new-vehicle loans were up 36% for the fiscal year through Sept. 30, 2009, at Michigan credit unions,” Tompor added. “Nationwide, new-vehicle loans at credit unions were down 4.2%, he said.” Tompor also quoted Adams about the success of the credit unions’ “Invest in America” program with auto dealers, and Michelle Stocker, vice president of lending for Michigan Schools and Government CU, Clinton Township, Mich., about low credit union rates for new- and used-car loans. In Ohio, the Ohio Credit Union League sent out press releases with consumer information and statistics about the state’s credit unions. The media efforts have, so far, generated articles in two state newspapers, and segments on two television stations and one radio station (e-Lumination Jan. 13). In New Jersey, a Nintendo Wii charity tournament that raised money for Cure Kids Cancer and Children’s Miracle Network--sponsored in part by the New Jersey Credit Union League--garnered mention in the Sentinel, which serves South Brunswick and North Brunswick, N.J. Also, an article titled, “Screw the Bank? By All Means,” distributed by Minyanville Publishing and Multimedia LLC and picked up by MSN.com (Jan. 20) takes up the Huffington Post’s Move Your Money campaign and discusses how consumers can move their money from a bank to a credit union. The article also directs readers searching for a credit union to the Credit Union National Association’s Credit Union Locator.

CU System briefs (01/20/2010)

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* BOULDER, Colo. (1/21/10)--The $312.2 million asset Premier Members FCU, based in Boulder, and Farmers Union FCU, a $4.2 million asset credit union in Greenwood Village, Colo., announced they intend to merge operations, pending approval from the National Credit Union Administration (PR Newswire Jan. 20). They began merger discussions late last year. Premier Members' CEO Rhett Bartley Rowe noted that "executives and directors from both credit unions view this merger as very positive and anticipate having it completed by April 1," pending approval from regulators and members. Farmers Union members will vote on the merger proposal on March 18. Farmers Union FCU was established in 1949 to provide financial support to the National Farmers Union and insurance-related agencies. Its single branch serves more than 700 members. Premier Members began in 1966 as the credit union supporting the IBM facilities. IT has 11 branches and more than 41,000 members. This will be the second merger for Premier Members this year. It finalized its most recent merger with $72 million asset, Denver-based Colorado United on Jan. 1 (News Now Dec. 21) ... * DEARBORN, Mich. (1/21/10)--DFCU Financial, Michigan's largest credit union, with $2.5 billion in assets, has issued a $19 million "special patronage dividend" to about 90,000 members. The dividend was structured as a bonus to reward members for their relationship with the credit union. The dividends ranged from $50 to several thousand dollars. "I'm thankful that given today's economy, I belong to a credit union," said member Victor Baiardi of South Lyon. "It's a place that actually gives back. I don't see any other banks providing the level of service and cash back that DFCU offers, and that's why I belong. This Special Patronage Dividend will help my family with the challenges that so many others are also facing here in Michigan." President/CEO Mark Strobe referred to the dividend as "our own economic stimulus package because a large portion of the $70 million we've distributed the last four years has been put back into the local economy while also helping members." ... * MEDFORD, Ore. (1/21/10)--A California man known as the "Zombie bandit" because of his blank, mumbling demeanor during credit union and bank robberies, was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years in federal prison . David Hurwitz, 69, of Orleans, Calif., had been charged with armed bank robbery in Medford, Ore., and three additional robberies in Northern California in December 2008. Those robberies included the San Rafael branch of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood CU. He was arrested in January 2009 in Wyoming. Hurwitz previously was convicted in 1994 and 1995 for 10 bank robberies in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan (Associated Press Newswires and marinij.com Jan. 19) ...

Two CUs bring fee-free ATMs to remote Mexico

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CORDOBA, Mexico (1/21/10)--This past weekend, two credit unions in Mexico became the first rural financial cooperatives in the country to bring fee-free automatic teller machines (ATMs) and debit cards to their members.
Click to view larger image Luis Jara Pullas, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) program director for Mexico; Dolores Rivera Ramírez, general manager of Caja Zongolica; and Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, show off the credit union's new debit cards at a press conference on Friday.
It is a landmark achievement for Caja Zongolica and Caja Yanga, credit unions that serve highly marginalized areas of the country, said the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Both credit unions participate in WOCCU’s development program in Mexico, funded by the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) through its Proyecto de Asistencia Técnica al Microfinanciamiento Rural (PATMIR) project. “We've learned how necessary it is to have a well-run institution, but it's not enough,” Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, told the group gathered for Caja Yanga's ATM inauguration. “We need to bring financial services to members where they are--in their homes, businesses, rural areas--when they need it. Technology is the key to member service, and Caja Yanga and Caja Zongolica are examples for rural credit unions everywhere.” Branch was in Mexico before he traveled to Haiti Tuesday to help with earthquake relief efforts. Zongolica is an indigenous region, one of the poorest and most marginalized in Mexico, said WOCCU. It is best known for its coffee production and the beauty of its remote yet vast mountainous terrain. Despite sporadic downpours on Friday, hundreds of members gathered in Zongolica's main square to celebrate. “When the members saw the construction for the ATM installation [at the credit union], they asked me whose it was and which bank it belonged to,” said Dolores Rivera Ramírez, general manager of Caja Zongolica. “We are very proud that this credit union in the mountains was the first to employ this type of technology.”
Click to view larger image Rosa Pérez Tlaxcala, a founding member of Caja Zongolica, was the first to use the credit union’s ATM. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Today, 16-year-old Caja Zongolica’s seven branch offices have more than 20,000 members. Rivera Ramírez said the new technology complements its growing portfolio of services and, while technology can seem “cold” without face-to-face interaction, the ATMs--open 24 hours--stimulate savings and save members time. Caja Zongolica's ATMs are currently on a closed network. The credit union hopes to connect with a national banking network later this year. For founding member Rosa Pérez Tlaxcala, 63, having an ATM at Caja Zongolica means she no longer has to wait an hour to withdraw money from a teller inside the credit union. Pérez Tlaxcala was the first member to use the ATM at Zongolica's branch office, withdrawing 200 pesos (US$15) from her savings account. She said she was very proud that the credit union was modernizing, and she looked forward to accessing her account from an ATM outside of Zongolica as the network expanded. Later this year, Caja Zongolica will implement point-of-sale devices in local businesses to sell air time for cellular phones, and its field officers will begin using personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to access account information and perform financial transactions when they visit members. Forty-five miles to the north, Caja Yanga will become the first rural credit union to join a national banking network when it connects later this year to Promoción y Operación, S.A. de C.V. (PROSA), a clearinghouse for electronic bank and credit card transactions in Latin America. The move means the credit union’s 40,000 members access their money and make purchases with their Caja Yanga debit card at any ATM or business throughout the country. “[The ATM project] brings quality services to members 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Eduardo Rojas Camacho, board president of Caja Yanga. “It's very difficult to express what this means for members.” The credit union celebrated the official launch of its first ATM on Saturday and showcased how field officers use 35 PDAs to perform transactions when visiting members in 317 remote communities in Veracruz state. Field officers performed 80,960 online financial transactions on the PDAs in 2009.
Click to view larger image Caja Yanga’s new ATM machine will give members access to funds 24 hours per day.
“Caja Yanga wants to be a part of bringing financial services to people living in poverty in rural areas in a way that improves their quality of life and the economic development of our country,” Margarito Saavedra Morales, general manager of Caja Yanga, told the crowd at the inauguration. Caja Zongolica and Caja Yanga members can use the ATMs for withdrawals, balance inquiries, accessing a history of transfers and changing their personal identification numbers. Soon they will be able to purchase air time for their cellular phones and transfer money. Both credit unions worked with Enla-C, a credit union services group wholly owned by WOCCU, credit union associations and individual credit unions in Mexico, to achieve the necessary levels of compliance and security with the lowest possible commission rates. Enla-C serves financial cooperatives. It achieves economies of scale with the demands of its shareholders and thereby offers products such as debit cards at discounted rates, making the buy-in for small credit unions much more affordable. Both Caja Zongolica and Caja Yanga will have fully operational ATMs in three branch offices within several weeks. In addition to the ATM in Zongolica, Caja Zongolica has installed ATMs in Tequila and Atlahuilco, and Caja Yanga has ATMs in Yanga, Córdoba and Cuitlahuac. Another credit union, Caja Las Huastecas, will install ATMs in rural Querétaro (northern Mexico) later this year.

N.J. ad campaign capitalizes on Cinderella Jets

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (1/20/10)--The New Jersey Credit Union League's (NJCUL) "Banking You Can Trust" consumer awareness ads will air Sunday on two stations during the New York Jets AFC title game. The ads will air on 1160AM and 1310AM. Throughout the game, five commercials will broadcast on each station, four during game play and one during pre- or post-game discussion, said the league. "The Jets have been an underdog story here. They play in New Jersey and have a big New Jersey fan base so we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity," said league President/CEO Paul Gentile. The league has amped up its "Banking You Can Trust" campaign for 2010, including airing spots on cable TV and radio, publishing in The New York Times, traveling via NJ Transit and sponsoring Rutgers University sports. "There has never been a more important time to tell the credit union story. Consumers are anxious for alternatives. As member-owned cooperatives with no outside shareholders to please, credit unions are a compelling alternative," Gentile said. While some may look askance at the use of the word "banking" in a credit union message, Gentile said that "Banking You Can Trust" is the right message. "We first need to build awareness about credit unions," he said. "You can't brand something that isn't known. By using the term 'banking' we instantly tell consumers what we do. Credit unions certainly are not banks, but we offer 'banking' services. It's what we do," he said. Gentile urged credit unions to "use common language that consumers understand and not try to confuse them with terms like 'shares' and that they have to 'join.' And 'trust' of course is what credit unions are all about. For us in New Jersey, 'Banking You Can Trust' is the right message."

California CUs involved in three mergers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (1/20/10)--The California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has approved three mergers of credit unions, including one that News Now reported last month. According to the DFI's Monthly Bulletin the mergers, which were voluntary, included:
* Printing & Publishing Employees CU, Riverside, merged with and into Printing Industries CU, a $27 million asset credit union Los Angeles, effective Nov. 30. * Vernon/Commerce CU, Commerce, merged into $82 million asset Pasadena Service FCU, effective Nov. 30. * The third merger, effective Dec. 3, was El Futuro CU, Porterville, merging into $350 million asset Self-Help FCU, Durham, N.C.

CUs unite raise 206161 for quake victims

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (1/20/10)--Donations to credit unions' disaster relief fund to help colleagues and members affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti continue to stream in at a steady pace. The total contributed as of 2 p.m. CT Tuesday was $206,161, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the international charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). That total is roughly $65,000 more than the $142,000 the movement contributed as of Friday. U.S. credit unions, individuals, and organizations contributed $133,431 of that total, via the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) CUAid Disaster Relief fund through www.CUAid.coop, said Jill Stevenson, of NCUF's marketing and communications department. That compared to a $98,736 total Friday. Haiti's recovery faces almost insurmountable challenges. Its pier at Port-au-Prince, the country's capital, which was basically leveled by the 7.0 magnitude quake, has collapsed and ships can't deliver supplies the usual way. Many people are starving and without water. Most are without homes and living in tent cities. Many have lost family members as the death toll climbs. Credit unions' funds will go to food and water, and later bricks and mortar, said WOCCU, which will disburse the relief. A team from WOCCU arrived in Haiti Tuesday to assist its Haiti project team and it began delivering needed supplies. (See News Now's related story, "WOCCU delivers critical supplies to Haiti team," for WOCCU's three-step plan to evaluate needs and provide assistance.) Haiti has an active credit union movement. More than 175 credit unions serve 404,090 members. To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF's CU Aid at www.CUAid.coop. In addition to their efforts for their credit unions colleagues and members, credit unions have other efforts underway for broader relief organizations. Some are organizing fundraising for the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., said all its branches are accepting contributions to assist victims. Horizon FCU, Williamsport, Pa., also placed canisters at all its branches and sent an e-mail to all its select employee groups about its collection (Life is a Highway Jan. 19).

CU System briefs (01/19/2010)

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* PANAMA CITY, Fla. (1/20/10)--Tyndall FCU announced it reached the $1 billion assets milestone at the end of December. The credit union was founded as Tyndall Air Force Base CU in January 1956. During the past 54 years, it expanded operations and now has 10 branches across Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama. Jim Warren, president/CEO of Tyndall FCU, attributed the milestone to "hard work of our employees, prudent guidance from our board of directors, and most of all, our member-owners, who have trusted us as their financial provider." ... * FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. (1/20/10)--Teachers FCU (TFCU), based in Long Island, N.Y., has received approval from the National Credit Union Administration to become a community-chartered credit union. TFCU, which is the largest credit union in terms of members on Long Island, sought the charter so it could expand its financial services to a wider area and a larger base of residents and businesses. The charter also will help eliminate confusion about eligibility for membership, since it serves more than teachers. "The expansion of the TFCU community charter will mean much broader access of our services across both Nassau and Suffolk Counties," said Robert G. Allen, TFCU president/CEO ... * DULUTH, Ga. (1/20/10)--Cooperative Services Inc. (CSI), a credit union service organization (CUSO) founded by the six largest credit unions in Georgia and Georgia Central CU, announced it is paying a patronage refund totaling $300,000. The CUSO provides payment services to more than 140 credit unions. Its transition to branch capture in 2009, plus its collaborations with other states for image technology, significantly influenced savings, said CSI."We hope to continue returning earnings in upcoming years as a way to show our thanks and appreciation," said Mike Mercer, president/CEO of CSI ... * GREENSBORO, N.C. (1/20/10)--Two staffers are leaving the North Carolina Credit Union League, one to retire and one for a position
in Tennessee. Kim Bohannon, the league's vice president of compliance and risk management, has accepted a position with TVA Employees CU in Knoxville, Tenn., where she will serve as the risk management officer at the $745 million asset credit union. Jeanne Couchois, who joined the league in 2009 to oversee the compliance specialist program, will manage the department temporarily, beginning at the end of the month. Jim Siler, who formerly headed up the league's audit department, retired on Dec. 31. He had been with the audit team since March 19, 2001. Prior to that he was controller of Scholl America in Gibsonville ... * KENSINGTON, Md. (1/20/10)--Signal Financial FCU, based in Kensington, Md., has partnered with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association to offer the "Share the Road" Visa card program. The $271 million asset credit unions said the affinity card will promote advocacy for safer streets in the community. For each transaction made with the card, Signal Financial will contribute two cents toward advocacy for safer streets. A portion of the interest on the "Share the Road" Visa cards also will be contributed toward advocacy for safer streets, say the credit union's website ... * BURLINGTON, Vt. (1/20/10)--Cheryl Fatnassi, interim CEO, has been named CEO/president of Burlington, Vt.-based Opportunities CU, according to the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (Newslines Express Jan. 15). Fatnassi was chief operations officer for Opportunities until March 2008, when she became interim CEO after the retirement of the credit union's founder, Caryl Stewart. With more than 29 years working in financial services, Fatnassi was a former senior vice president for IT Systems at Banknorth and had previously managed all aspects of technology and retail banking, Community Reinvestment Act and compliance ...

Ohio Foundation grants totaled 213000 in 09

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/20/10)--The Ohio Credit Union Foundation said it awarded grants totaling $213,000 in 2009, with a record number designated for financial education programs and initiatives--the foundation’s primary area of focus. More than $139,000 was awarded for financial education projects, including:
* A distance learning Biz Kid$ workshop for educators; * Workshops based on the Credit Union National Association’s Home and Family Finance Radio show; * Production of a financial education board game; and * Two reality day events with more than 900 high school students participating.
Also, 39 professional development grants, totaling more than $41,000, helped credit union staff and volunteers receive training (eLumination Newsletter, Jan. 13). About $15,000 in disaster relief training helped credit union employees and members affected by brushfires in Australia and flooding in El Salvador. And $5,000 supported a modest-means outreach initiative in Northwest Ohio. The foundation board of trustees established a $195,000 fundraising goal for 2010.

PCUA asks CUs to support robbery bill

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/20/10)--Pennsylvania Senate Bill 605, commonly referred to as the “Robbery Bill,” is closer to becoming law, says the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). The bill would expand the definition of robbery of a financial institution to include verbal or written threats. The offense would be moved from a misdemeanor with no mandatory sentencing to a felony. The legislation passed the State Senate last year and is waiting for consideration by the State House Appropriations Committee, said PCUA (Life is a Highway Jan. 19). The association said it has asked key state committee and house members for a speedy passage of the legislation during a time when robberies are increasing dramatically. “The association recognizes credit unions’ grave concern of the recent and growing number of robberies in the Commonwealth,” said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. He cited the latest robberies in Western Pennsylvania and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reaching out to assist those credit unions. PCUA is “working diligently to see that this legislation is enacted quickly so credit unions and their employees will have additional protection from these traumatic experiences,” he added. The association’s appeal comes as the FBI has asked the Pittsburgh Chapter for an emergency meeting about a rash of robberies in the Pittsburgh area, the association said. A meeting will be held Jan. 27. The FBI said it believes that credit unions are prime robbery targets, the association said.

WOCCU delivers critical supplies to Haiti team

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (1/20/10)--Food and water--and later bricks and mortar--will be purchased with funds donated to the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. Meanwhile, key WOCCU staff arrived in Haiti Tuesday to deliver much-needed supplies for WOCCU's 16-member staff in Haiti.
Click to view larger image A Haitian woman is shown in better times, before the Jan. 12 earthquake that left an estimated one million people homeless. The photo was taken by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) staff during a previous visit. WOCCU has a 16-member staff in its Haitian program. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
WOCCU has begun a preliminary assessment of the devastation caused by the Jan. 12 earthquake--which registered 7.0 on the Richter Scale and was the hardest to hit Haiti in more than 200 years--and its impact on WOCCU's program in Haiti and the credit unions it serves. The evaluation will be managed by Dave Richardson, the WOCCU senior manager who oversees the Haiti program, and Greta Greathouse, the program's chief of party who manages operations on the ground in Haiti. Richardson and Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, entered Haiti Tuesday to deliver supplies to the project's staff. W
The World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU)'s plan for Haiti includes assisting staff, providing general relief for Haiti's people, and helping rebuild the country's credit union program, said Dave Richardson, who oversees WOCCU's Haiti program.
OCCU's team is in contact with field workers from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)--which financed WOCCU's three-year Haiti program launched in July--to assess the situation and address immediate staff needs. "Our first thought in disaster situations is to stabilize our staff and provide them with the basics of food, water, clothing and a place to sleep," Richardson said. "Our second step is to help the public with general relief, and we have chosen to work with Food for the Poor, based on the quick and efficient response they have demonstrated in disaster situations," he said. "Our third step is to find a temporary work space to replace our devastated building. We will be working on that this week," Richardson added. Many of WOCCU's past recovery efforts have focused on rebuilding credit unions that were destroyed in disasters. The approach not only assists credit unions with their losses, but enables the credit unions, in turn, to help their members and the communities in which they live rebound, said WOCCU. "Once WOCCU is able to assess all credit union damage, we will begin a formal rebuilding program to get credit unions back on their feet and assist them in helping as many members as possible," said Richardson. "Those efforts will include providing assistance to rebuild credit unions as necessary, training credit union staff to implement emergency loan programs and helping them implement crisis management strategies," he added. Richardson has been with WOCCU since 1987 and currently manages WOCCU programs in Haiti and the Philippines. He also was responsible in helping develop the PEARLS business management software system used by various WOCCU programs. To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members, credit unions can give these ways:
* Donate via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705

* Make donations online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. * For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. * U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop.
Haiti has 175 credit unions and more than 404,000 credit union members, according to WOCCU statistics

Wisconsin annual report notes CU growth benefits

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (1/20/10)--Wisconsin credit unions, owned by 2.2 million member-owners, saved state residents almost $200 million on a full range of financial services last year, according to the 2009 Annual Report for Wisconsin Credit Unions from the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Membership in credit unions in the state also grew by 2.39% in the 12 months ending in September 2009--an increase that’s more than double the rate of state population growth and nearly double the average rate of membership growth over the past decade, the league added. While for-profit banks’ asset and loan levels declined during the year, according to the Credit Union National Association, not-for-profit credit unions saw growth in both those areas, 9.26% and 5.3% respectively. That came as no surprise to league President/CEO Brett Thompson, who said that credit unions topped consumer trust surveys in 2009 despite rampant cynicism about the financial industry. Thompson attributes that to credit unions’ member-ownership structure with no outside investors. “Credit unions stepped up to help struggling consumers in ways other lenders wouldn’t, precisely because their role is to help people, not chase profits,” he said in the report. “Members flocked to credit unions to refinance high-cost mortgages obtained elsewhere, consolidate debt, sort out budget issues or seek help when faced with a job loss or health problem,” said League Board Chair Kevin Hauser, CEO of Westby (Wis.) Co-op CU, in the report. He added that small business owners increasingly turned to credit unions for loans as other lenders cut back. “Many [entrepreneurs] had either been turned away by for-profit banks or--despite having significant equity, assets and stellar credit histories--had bank lines of credit inexplicably withdrawn, threatening job losses and even the viability of otherwise sound enterprises,” Hauser said. The annual report details successes of credit unions’ REAL Solutions initiative, which emphasizes the delivery of services to members and communities without regard for profit. Highlights included that Wisconsin credit unions:
* Offer better deals on basic financial services. A chart in the report details the almost $200 million in annual savings. * Offer small loans at lower rates--a preferred alternative to payday lenders. * Provide business loans that for-profit lenders deem “too small” or too unprofitable. The average credit union business loan in Wisconsin is just under $140,000. Credit unions’ losses are one-seventh that of Wisconsin banks’ business loans. * Make available safe, affordable mortgages. Credit unions have refinanced other lenders’ mortgages to prevent foreclosures. They’ve also set aside $43.8 million for Home Loan Relief Program (HLPR) loans. Credit unions also outperform other lenders in mortgages to low-income and minority borrowers. In 2008--the latest year for data--credit unions approved 71.8% of mortgage requests from low-income borrowers--compared to other lenders’ 53.5%--and 73.9% of mortgage requests for minority borrowers--compared to other lenders’ 46.2%. * Conduct outreach to new Americans through services such as translations, lower-cost wire transfers and participation in community events. * Provide free financial education and counseling through workshops by providing teaching materials and teachers’ training, and by investing in n 85 in-school credit union branches, run by students. Students have saved more than $1.6 million in their school branch accounts. * Offer community support and outreach. Credit unions save Wisconsin tax filers $16 million annually with free tax preparation and filing assistance. They partner with counties to offer low-interest loans that help single parents obtain cars or childcare so they can access or maintain employment. They encourage members to use EdVest--the state’s 529 college savings plan--to save for future educational needs. And they also participate in teaching Wisconsin citizens money matters as part of Money Smart Week Wisconsin.
The 2009 report also noted that Wisconsin credit unions won their third Governor’s Financial Literacy Award in four years. For the full report, use the resource link.

Author tells why she moved to Actors FCU

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NEW YORK (1/20/10)--Amy Sohn, author of the new novel Prospect Park West, has moved all her money to Actors FCU in New York. In a blog entry to the Huffington Post, she explained why. As a member of the Writers Guild of America, she is eligible to join Actor FCU. She first heard of it five years ago when she was looking to procure a car loan. A relative told her about good loan rates at credit unions, and she went to Actors, “liked the rates, joined immediately and was approved for the loan,” she wrote. She paid off her loan and kept a savings account with the credit union but continued her other banking at two large banks. That was before she became “furious” of banks’ treatment of their customers. “Here are some of the things I love about my credit union,” she added. “Their mortgage rates beat any rates quoted to me by my mortgage broker. They offer car loans, instrument loans, education loans, even plastic surgery loans (it's for actors, after all)-- and credit cards with fair terms, one even designed to help people who need to improve their credit. The minimum balance to have an account is $100. All of the fees, for stopped checks, overdraft, etc., are lower than you'd pay at a bank. Even the checkbooks are about a third less than what I paid at Chase. “When I call up my credit union, I get a real person on the phone, who is courteous, knowledgeable and helpful,” Sohn continued. “They have an extensive network of ATMs, soon to be getting larger, and I can deposit checks by mail. I enter information from my check online, and then my credit union credits me part of the deposit immediately, before they've even seen the check. “When I went into Chase to close my account, the banker didn’t even ask why I was going or make any attempt to keep me, not that it would have worked,” she added. “But his indifference was part of the problem. The fact that no one at my CU would be indifferent about my departure is part of the reason I love it. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.” Sohn also advised readers to check the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Web locator or to call CUNA’s toll-free number to help them find a credit union. To read the blog posting, use the link.

CU movement support for Haiti totals 142000 so far

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (1/19/10)--The credit union movement began stepping up to the plate and in two days last week contributed $142,000 to disaster relief efforts for Haiti's 175 credit unions, their staff and volunteers and members affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake. As of 2 p.m. CT Friday, the total collected was at $142,000, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the international charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions. That includes more than $98,736 in donations sent via the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid Disaster Relief fund via www.CUAid.coop. "This isn't just from organizations, either," said Jill Stevenson of NCUF's marketing and communications department. "Donations from credit union employees, volunteers and members are coming in online via www.CUAid.coop in $10, $25, $50, $100 and up. The outpouring of support warms the heart," she told News Now. CUNA Mutual Group announced Friday it is contributing $20,000 and said it would match employees' donations up to $5,000. "This is a disaster of epic proportions, and CUNA Mutual wants to assist in the recovery effort," said Jeff Post, CUNA Mutual president/CEO. "In the true spirit of people helping people, we're proud to be part of the credit union industry stepping up to help residents rebuild their lives." The CO-OP Financial Services and CO-OP Shared Branching are donating $15,000 to CUAid. "The credit union movement is dedicated to uplifting communities, and it is hard to image a case where there is a greater need to financially aid a community than right now," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "We thank our member credit unions for the ability to make this contribution, and we encourage all organizations within our industry to participate." Earlier last week the Credit Union National Association and WOCCU contributed $20,000 and the NCUF $10,000. The efforts are worldwide. The Canadian Cooperative Association, The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and Credit Union Foundation of Australia are all carrying out campaigns, said Breunig. Leagues and their state foundations are also contributing. The Washington Credit Union Foundation approved $5,000. Patrick Harris, director of media relations at the Ohio Credit Union League, noted that the Ohio Credit Union Foundation granted $15,000. "I know individual credit unions in Ohio are making donations, including Wright-Patt. Ohio Catholic FCU is matching each dollar its employees and volunteers are donating," Harris told News Now. Many credit unions are also collecting funds for the American Red Cross's International Disaster Fund. Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., has donated $1,000 and said it is offering members a way to make safe donations through a quick payment link on Members' Online Bill Payer portals. UW CU, Madison, Wis., said members could donate directly from their Web Branch accounts to the fund. Some know what being in an earthquake is like. Bay FCU, Capitola, Calif., established a fund for the Red Cross fund. "The victims of this devastating earthquake are in dire need of assistance," said Bay Federal President/CEO Carrie Birkhofer. Referring to a Loma Prieta Earthquake that devastated the Bay Area in 1989, Birkhofer said she and other Bay Federal employees "recalled the fear and tragedy we experienced and knew we must help these people." Others are finding other ways to help. MoneyGram International, a CUNA Strategic Service provider based in Minneapolis, announced that it is offering special pricing of $1 and similar pricing in other currencies for money transfers to Haiti from any of its 186,000 locations throughout the world. MoneyGram said the level of disaster confronting Haiti will spark an increase in money transfers from people sending financial support to family and friends. The discount will help them maximize their funds sent. "Our priority is to ensure our agents are operational as quickly as possible and to help our customers get the most out of the funds that reach their loved ones." Even MasterCard announced it would waive its interchange fees on Haitian relief donations. WOCCU staff working on a project in Haiti say that cash is one of two priorities right now. See related story, "WOCCU's Haiti staff's priority needs: satellite phones, cash" in today's News Nowfor details on how to donate. Or use the resource links. The 175 credit unions in Haiti serve 404,000 members. The American Red Cross has estimated the death toll could be between 45,000 to 50,000, while Haiti officials estimate it could reach 100,000. Other estimates are much higher (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 15).

NY mandate reforms include CUs municipal deposits

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/19/10)--New York Gov. David Paterson Thursday introduced a mandate reform agenda that would ease the burden on taxpayers and local governments during the continuing fiscal crisis. One of the reform initiatives would allow local governments to bank at credit unions. The inclusion of municipal deposit legislation in the package, which accompanies the release of the governor's budget, represents a major step forward in the Credit Union Association of New York's advocacy efforts to ensure credit unions' ability to offer the service, the association said Friday. By amending several provisions of state law to provide depository flexibility, the state would allow credit unions to accept deposits from municipalities, which in turn would lower town operating expenses and save taxpayers money, said the association. "The law addressing municipal funds was enacted in 1909 before credit unions existed in New York," said William J. Mellin, association president/CEO. "The association and the credit unions of New York applaud and thank Governor Paterson for his leadership on this important issue and his commitment to offering localities flexibility to choose where they do their financial business." Currently, only commercial banks and trust companies can accept deposits from local and state governmental units, giving them a monopoly over the deposit of public funds, said the association. Municipal deposits would enable credit unions to further reinvest in their communities by offering more loans to members, small businesses and more. "This proposal is a clear indication of the governor's support for municipal deposit legislation," Mellin said. The association urged legislature to act on the mandate.

Chartway moves to assist more CUs

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (1/19/10)--In the aftermath of Chartway FCU’s decision to purchase and assume the $311 million asset Tooele, Utah-based HeritageWest FCU--announced Jan. 1--Chartway has been fielding questions from other credit unions with similar issues. Ron Burniske, president /CEO of the $1.22 billion asset, Virginia Beach, Va.-based Chartway, sees the merger of HeritageWest as more than an example of a failed financial institution. “We didn’t see a troubled credit union,” he said. “We saw a credit union reaching out for help. We saw an opportunity to save the culture, heritage and traditions of a great institution, made even greater through a strong partnership with Chartway. The decision to retain the HeritageWest name is a testament to our desire to maintain the legacy of the credit union.” Other credit unions are contacting Chartway because they see the benefits that partnering with a strong, well-capitalized organization such as Chartway can bring, Burniske added. “In most cases, when an organization is liquidated, everything changes,” Burniske said. “That’s not our philosophy. When we talk to credit unions that are looking for solutions, they know they’re dealing with an organization that will support them--not tear everything down they have worked so hard to build. We just want to help them continue serving their members through greater strength and opportunities.” Bruce Bryan, HeritageWest CEO, will continue as regional president of Heritage West. “Through Chartway’s help, we’ll be able to do more of what we do best: meet the financial service needs of our combined members,” he said. “Ultimately, the opportunity to integrate both credit unions will provide the financial strength that we need to offer stronger pricing and service advantages.” In the future, Burniske said he believes Chartway may be able to assist more credit unions looking for creative ways to continue serving their members.

Mica to IFox Business NewsI More Consumers seek CUs

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WASHINGTON (1/19/10)--More U.S. consumers are moving their money to credit unions from banks because credit unions are easy to join, accessible and dependable, Dan Mica, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), told Fox Business News Friday. “Anytime there is an economic problem, people tend to fly to safety, and we have had a tremendous turn toward credit unions,” Mica said. “In fact [it’s been] double the population growth over the past year--over 2% growth for credit unions and 1% with the population. People are moving with their feet. “That is the biggest growth in over a decade,” he added. Accessibility is easy because CUNA provides an online credit union locator so consumers can join a credit union near them, Mica told Fox (use the link). Also, with more than 25,000 ATMs and the widening use of electronic technology--such as making deposits by electronically scanning them--credit unions are reaching out more than ever, Mica added. As for the future viability of credit unions in troubled economic times, Mica told Fox that people don’t lose money in credit unions because their accounts are insured up to $250,000. During the past 100 years in which credit unions have been in the U.S., no one has lost money in credit unions, he said. To view the segment, use the link.

Online registration opens for The 1 CU Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (1/19/10)--Registrations and hotel reservations are now being accepted online for The 1 Credit Union Conference, a one-time event co-hosted by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). More than 2,500 attendees from 60 countries are expected to attend the conference July 11-14 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Those registering at vegas2010.org by May 20 will receive a $200 early bird discount. CUNA and WOCCU have joined forces for this year only to offer The 1 Credit Union Conference, a combination of The World Credit Union Conference and America’s Credit Union Conference. The event’s agenda will include speakers bringing attendees’ ideas from the global credit union movement and the international business world. Breakout sessions will follow six tracks so participants can customize their educational programs. Track themes include strategy and leadership, topics for developing credit union movements, lending and operations and membership growth. The conference provides attendees from the U.S. and abroad the opportunity to gain new perspectives that can help credit unions continue to serve members and gain market share, said WOCCU and CUNA. Both WOCCU and CUNA will still offer additional events that have characterized their individual conferences. The organizations encourage attendees under the age of 35 to take part in WOCCU’s Young Credit Union People Program (WYCUP). A special ceremony will recognize recipients of WOCCU’s Distinguished Service Award and WYCUP winners, and also CUNA’s Credit Union Magazine Hero of the Year Award. Rooms at the MGM Grand Hotel will cost $159 per night (single or double), with a $25 hotel voucher for additional savings. Pre- and post-tours will be offered in addition to optional day tours during the conference. For more information, use the link.

WOCCU Haiti staff priority needs satellite phones cash

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PETIONVILLE, Haiti (1/19/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions' team in Haiti, led by program chief of party Greta Greathouse, has continued its efforts to regroup in the wake of the Jan. 12 devastating earthquake.
Click to view larger imageWith financial institutions shuttered by the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haiti has become a cash-only society, making life inconvenient and dangerous for people on the street, report the World Council of Credit Unions' project team leader there. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images and provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
With all 16 HIFIVE team members safe, but an office in ruins, the effort has been difficult at best, according to Greathouse. Friday she took a "brief window of opportunity for Internet access" to report on the status there. "Right now, our priority needs are satellite phones and cash. Haiti will be a cash-only economy for some time due to the lack of communication, data security and other electronic issues," Greathouse reported. "Financial institutions are closed and will be for some time. I need to give cash to my employees to tide them over. They can't access anything in their accounts and need money to survive the next few days and to help their family members. Unfortunately, I only have about $30 in personal cash," she said. "Today (Friday) we will try to safely salvage as much as possible from the office, including the checkbooks. Our accounting office took a direct hit, and with collapsed walls and ceilings, we may not be able to get in there. We need to have a place for the things that we salvage so that they are secure and we have access to them. "I have asked a colleague organization for use of their conference room as temporary office space so we can start working again. However, it is a small space and won't give us the room we need. We will have to search for new space. Most houses on the road to our office were destroyed. We are lucky that our office didn't collapse. It is very heavily damaged, but standing. That's why everyone was able to get out unharmed." Greathouse and her team will continue with dispatches to WOCCU as long as communications work. U.S. credit unions can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop. Others can provide support to Haiti's credit unions, members, staff and volunteers by making payments via check, credit card or wire to:


Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705 USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig at the foundation at 608-395-2055 or e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Contributions should indicate that the donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

Mich. congressman CUs play major role in recovery

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FERNDALE, Mich. (1/19/10)--Credit unions are playing a major role in the U.S. economic recovery, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said at Credit Union ONE’s grand opening Tuesday of its 19th branch, in West Bloomfield Township, Mich.
Click to view larger imageAttending Credit Union ONE’s grand opening Tuesday of its 19th branch, West Bloomfield Township, Mich., were, from left: Teri Weingarden, West Bloomfield Township treasurer; Geoff Daniels, Credit Union ONE West Bloomfield branch manager; Allan Sefton, Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce president; Gary Moody, Credit Union ONE president/CEO; U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.); Michele Economou Ureste, West Bloomfield Township supervisor; and Jan Gillespie, Credit Union ONE director. (Photo provided by Credit Union ONE)
“Not only will this new Credit Union ONE create jobs, but all credit unions must play a critical role in Michigan’s economic recovery,” said Peters. “Even while big banks return to health, I continue to hear from small business owners across Michigan who want to grow and add jobs but cannot because they still do not have access to credit at reasonable terms. “I believe this is now the biggest obstacle to creating jobs in Michigan,” he added. “Smaller institutions like credit unions must play a major role in restoring liquidity to credit markets and getting our economy moving. That’s why I’m a supporter of credit unions and other lenders that are based here in our communities.” The $760.4 million asset, Ferndale, Mich.-based credit union’s new branch will offer products and services, with the help of three member service consultants, and a ONE’s Financial Services financial planner. The new 3,100 square-foot branch was designed to provide members with access to banking services in an open and inviting environment. Members also can go to a drive-through ATM available 24 hours a day and drive-through services during normal operating hours. Attending the grand opening ceremony were Peters, Oakland County Supervisor Shelly Goodman Taub, and West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Michelle Economou Ureste. “Opening a branch in these uncertain economic times is a testament to our commitment and to our mission of serving our members as well as the trust, confidence and faith our members have in Credit Union ONE,” President/CEO Gary Moody said.

Aranjo appeals fraud conviction

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BOSTON (1/19/10)--Carol Aranjo, a well-known former advocate for community development credit unions, has asked a federal appeals court to overturn her 2008 conviction on charges of fraud in connection to the failure of a credit union she led, according to court documents. Lawyers for Aranjo, former president of D. Edward Wells FCU, Springfield, Mass., presented oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston Jan. 4. Aranjo’s attorneys argued that the government exercised a peremptory challenge to strike the only African-American on the jury panel and that the lower court failed to compare the government’s treatment of the challenged juror with other similarly situated perspective jurors. The defense had challenged the strike. However, the prosecutor said she exercised the challenge because the prospective juror had worked at a federally funded job center with regulatory oversight serving juveniles who have been in trouble with the law. Aranjo and her husband, Alphonse Smith--who also was convicted of fraud in 2008--are African-American. Aranjo was convicted of 44 charges, including embezzlement, conspiracy to embezzle, bank fraud and filing false tax returns. She was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison in Arizona. Smith was convicted of 10 charges. He was released from prison after serving one year. D. Edward Wells FCU was closed by the National Credit Union Administration in 2003, with losses of about $3 million (News Now Sept. 26, 2008). Aranjo was chair of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions until she was removed in 1999. She left the federation in 2000.

CUDL to represent CUs at NADA convention

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/19/10)--CUDL, which administers an auto lending network for credit unions, will attend the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention Feb. 13-15 in Orlando, representing its 750 partner credit unions. NADA, which averages 20,000 attendees per year, represents roughly 20,000 franchised new car and truck dealers with 43,000 separate franchises. Credit unions continue to provide a reliable lending source for auto dealers, according to CUDL. Credit unions captured nine points of market share from other lenders between 2008 and third quarter 2009, reaching 23% in September. “Our goal is to increase dealers’ awareness of the market power credit unions possess-- representing 86 million potential auto buyers--and to convey the importance and viability of partnerships between credit unions and dealers,” said Tony Boutelle, CUDL president/CEO. CUDL is based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Idaho ranked fifth in NEFE fin-ed saturation

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BOISE, Idaho (1/19/10)--Idaho is ranked fifth in the nation for student saturation in the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP). The Idaho Credit Union League has been instrumental is getting the program offered to schools and other state organizations. HSFPP aims to provide high school aged students with personal finance education. The Credit Union National Association and America’s Credit Unions underwrite the costs of the program so it is free. The Idaho league partnered with the University of Idaho Extension Service to offer the program in the state. Idaho’s credit unions sponsored teacher training workshops and sent staff members to participate in training. Many credit unions served as community financial resources to teachers in classrooms. Idaho First Lady Lori Otter also promoted the program to schools, students, parents and community organizations statewide. The curriculum also has been adopted by the Idaho State Corrections Department, high schools, non profit community organizations, such as Life’s Kitchen and Boise Rescue Mission, and several Idaho colleges and universities. In 2009, roughly 7,000 program workbooks were ordered by the state, the league said.

CUNA movement support Haitian relief effort

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/15/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and others in the credit union movement have begun rallying around the relief efforts to help Haiti's 175 credit unions, their employees and volunteers, and their members impacted by Tuesday's deadly earthquake. As of Thursday afternoon, about 24 hours after the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) activated their sites for collecting donations, more than $83,570 combined had been contributed from the credit union movement. Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation noted that it had pledges/receipts for almost $40,000 by mid-afternoon Thursday. NCUF, which is collecting funds from U.S. credit unions through the CUAid.coop website, had collected $43,570. CUNA announced Thursday it had contributed $20,000 through the "CUAid.coop" program, the national online giving center for credit unions, to assist credit union employees, volunteers and members in Haiti. All CUAid.coop contributions are directed by NCUF's Disaster Relief Fund. CUNA made the contribution in conjunction with the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), which had 16 project team members working on its microfinancing project in Haiti. They are safe but struggling with lack of housing and their building was demolished (See related story, "We survived. The building has not," in today's News Now for eyewitness accounts.) "On behalf of the American credit union movement, CUNA is making this contribution to help the Haitian movement assist its members and its country to endure this catastrophe," said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. "We encourage other U.S. credit unions and organizations to link to CUAid.coop to offer their own employees and members a donation option to help their fellow credit union employees and members in the disaster area. The help is greatly needed," Mica added. Mica noted that the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) authorized a $7,500 contribution through CUAid.coop. NCUF contributed $10,000 to the efforts, said Jill Stevenson of NCUF's marketing and communciations staff. Meanwhile, leagues in various states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Louisiana for starters, were appealing to their members to assist their colleagues in Haiti. Haiti's 175 credit unions serve more than 400,000 members, according to WOCCU. The United Nations FCU (UNFCU), based in New York, has more than 500 members in Haiti and told News Now Thursday it continues to wait for information about its members there. The United Nations said Thursday hat 16 U.N. peacekeepers were killed and more than 140 U.N. employees were missing in the rubble (The New York Times Jan. 14). Its headquarters downtown in Port-au-Prince and operations at the Christopher Hotel on the mountainside were demolished. According to the International Red Cross, up to three million people have been affected, and the death toll is feared to be in the thousands. Many victims are sleeping in the streets. All donations made via CUAid.coop will be forwarded to credit union organizations in affected areas through NCUF, which is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information, U.S. credit unions should go to CUAid.coop and click on "Donate Now."

Comedian Maher on Move Your Money bandwagon

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LOS ANGELES (1/15/10)--Comedian Bill Maher, saying consumers are stuck in "an abusive relationship" with their banks, has jumped on the "Move Your Money" bandwagon started by Huffington Post last week. The campaign urges consumers to move their money from big banks to credit unions and community banks. Maher's article, "Stop the Abuse: It's Time to Break Up With Your Big Bank," on gather.com notes that the "too big to fail" banks are convinced "they can get away with anything--because they always have." But, he says, consumers "don't have to put up with this nonsense." He suggested moving money "out of these big banks and put them into smaller, local, community banks and credit unions that are more likely to see you as a person, not as an account number...and also to reinvest in the community where they are." The article and a video are also posted on the Huffington Post website. Last week the Post's "Move Your Money" campaign included an article by Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica and also a link to CUNA's credit union locator at creditunion.coop (News Now Jan. 8). To read Maher's item, use the link.

Mondays a holiday CUNA closed no INews NowI

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/15/10)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Monday, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. CUNA will re-open on Tuesday. News Now will not publish a Monday edition but will resume regular publication on Tuesday.

CUISPA alerts CUs to new-online-account loan frauds

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WASHINGTON (1/15/10)--The Credit Union Information Security Professionals Association (CUISPA) is warning credit unions to be cautious of personal loan applications from accounts opened online. A fraud ring has attempted scams at dozens of credit unions nationwide, in which persons with Eastern European names--possibly Russian immigrants from Armenia--are opening accounts through online account-opening systems to obtain personal loans, auto loans, credit cards and/or educational loans. Once the loans are obtained, they default with either no first payment or after a few minimum payments. They are also performing credit card “bust outs”--including mailing fraudulent/nonsufficient funds checks to use the additional credit immediately available when the check is received. The scam appears to be coordinated among a group of individuals in Eastern Europe. Loans are made against cars purchased, documents notarized and tax returns prepared all in various Eastern European names. CUISPA also warned that several of the identified names have had credit inquiries from known credit unions listed on their credit reports. Of note--the persons applying are true persons--their personal information checks out. They also claim to be U.S. citizens, but may not speak English or have a Social Security number issued within the past few years. They answer the “U.S. Citizen?” question on loan applications, with a “yes” to secure the loan. Usually, the person’s last name ends with a “yan” (for example: Gahzaryan, Arshakyan). Individuals may use an interpreter when calling, or respond only via e-mail. Most live in the Los Angeles area: Van Nuys, West Hollywood, Glendale or Pasadena, Calif. Some live in Las Vegas. Missouri and Colorado also are being reported as possible problem areas, said CUISPA. Some fraudsters are legitimately employed, while others may claim to work for a company that is a paper entity. The U.S. Secret Service is forming an Armenian/Russian Mob Task force. At this point, it is collecting data to determine if the task force has enough to warrant a substantial case. About two dozen credit unions have confirmed cases of similar activity incurring losses. All cases are being referred to the Secret Service. CUISPA strongly encourages credit unions to file suspicious activity reports and inform CUISPA to assist the Secret Service in developing the case. For more information, use the link.

Urge members to fill out Census questionnaires

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WASHINGTON (1/15/10)--The U.S. Census Bureau wants credit unions to know that data collected from the census and the American Community Survey will affect them because the census helps determine the distribution of federal funds. The bureau is encouraging credit unions to urge their members fill out the questionnaires. The Census 2010 questionnaires--which have 10 questions--will be mailed to households in March. A small percentage of questionnaires will be given at a different time to households in rural or remote areas. Some households also will receive the American Community Survey, which has replaced what had been known as the “long form.” Since 2005, the American Community Survey is the sample survey that has been sent out to roughly 1% of households. The American Community Survey asks for information about commuting patterns and occupations. The data can “define market areas for describing lending practices and effects of bank mergers,” said the U.S. Census Bureau. There are several ways census data are used that pertain to credit unions:
* Decision-making at all levels of government; * Attracting new businesses to state and local areas; * Forecasting future housing needs for all segments of the population; * Developing rural areas; * Planning investments and evaluating financial risk; * Publishing economic and statistical reports about the U.S. and its people; * Spotting trends in the economic well-being of the nation; * Establishing fair market rents and enforcing lending practices; * Understanding labor supply; * Making business decisions; * Understanding consumer needs; and * Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.
The census is the largest domestic undertaking for the U.S. government, and helps determine the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds annually, said the Census Bureau. State Employees’ CU (SECU), Raleigh, said it will use media outlets to educate members on the census in the coming months. It is urging its members to “stand up and be counted” in the Census. “With more than $400 billion allocated to states and communities each year based in part on census data, it is crucial that all North Carolinians understand the benefits of participation to the state and its citizens,” said SECU. SECU has 1.5 million members and $18 billion in assets. For more information, use the links.

IMSNI says build credit ... with CU loan

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NEW YORK (1/15/10)--One of the best ways for consumers to build or rebuild credit scores is to get a share-secured loan from a credit union, according to MSN.com (Jan. 14). Credit Union National Association (CUNA) staff advised MSN on why consumers should get a loan from a credit union. The article, titled, “Build Credit Without Credit Cards,” by Liz Pulliam Weston, mentions that Susan Tiffany, CUNA director of consumer publications, says credit union loans may be easier to get than bank loans because credit unions often are willing to look beyond just a consumer’s credit scores. “[Credit unions] don’t treat credit scores as the only source of information about you,” Tiffany told MSN. “They’re looking for ways to say yes. Are you responsible with your checking account? Are you demonstrating that you’re trying to be a regular saver? Those behaviors help.” To read the article, use the link.

We survived. The building has not--WOCCU Haiti staff

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PETIONVILLE, Haiti (1/15/10)--"We survived. The building has not." That's the start of a dispatch from the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU's) team leader for its project in Haiti. WOCCU last July launched a program in Haiti with funding from the U.S. Agency for
Click to view larger image Rubble inPort-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. (Photo by Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Image, provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
International Development. The Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program works across the financial sector to bring savings, credit and remittance-linked products to people living in poverty in underserved areas of the country. WOCCU's 16-member team, under the leadership of Greta Greathouse, was at work for less than six months when the devastating earthquake struck Tuesday just south of Port-au-Prince. WOCCU has begun receiving sporadic reports from the field, including this e-mail from Greathouse: "We survived. The building has not. No one was injured in its evacuation. [The building] will not be repairable. Part of [the] team was downtown with me for a meeting. We had just left when [the earthquake] happened. "Because of the streets being blocked with rubble/people/abandoned cars and downed power lines, we decided to abandon our cars and walk back to the offices. Many of the staff had worked late, fled the building and were in the parking lot. We spent the night there. "Most team members were able to contact their families last night or this morning. We have limited power, Internet and phones, so communication is difficult. "My house is probably totally destroyed, given its proximity to the [Hotel] Montana and what happened on that mountainside. We are going to try to climb up to see later today. There's no vehicular access since the road is entirely blocked with rubble and boulders from the collapse of the Montana and other buildings. I am staying with a colleague who lives in a safe area. No water, but he has limited electricity." WOCCU will provide daily dispatches from the Haiti team so long as communications work. Here's how to support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members: Make payments via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org /give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop.

Mass. league warns CUs about serial robber

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BOSTON (1/15/10)--The Massachusetts Bank Robbery Task Force asked the Massachusetts Credit Union League to alert credit unions about a series of credit union and bank robberies perpetrated by a single individual in the greater Boston area since Oct. 29. The task force comprises elements of the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police and police forces in surrounding cities, said the league (e-Weekly Jan. 13). During the past two months, nearly 20 robberies were perpetrated by the individual. On Jan. 8, he robbed a credit union in Cambridge. The league was told that a disproportionate number of the institutions robbed by the individual have been credit unions. The task force believes he may be targeting credit unions. The league sent the notice to its entire membership statewide. To date, the robber's activities appear to be limited to the area in and around greater Boston.

CU System briefs (01/14/2010)

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* SAN DIMAS, Calif. (1/15/10)--CLARIFICATION--Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC)’s main telephone line is: 888-372-2669 or 909-753-1200. Network support can be reached at 800-509-1087 or 909-753-1201. The fax number is 909-394-3521. FSCC announced that it will be relocating its headquarters today to Ontario, Calif., with a new address: 2855 East Guasti Road, Suite 202, Ontario, Calif. 91761-1249 ... * PALATINE, Ill. (1/15/10)--The $5 million asset Maine Township Schools CU (MTSCU), Park Ridge, Ill., has merged into the $128 million asset Premier CU, Palatine, Ill. The merger increases products and services available for MTSCU members and creates growth opportunities for Premier CU, the credit unions said in a press release. MTSCU was chartered in 1959 to serve local school district employees and families. It served more than 1,000 members. Premier, chartered as a schools credit union in 1961, serves more than 100 schools, plus several colleges, local municipalities and select employee groups ... * NEENAH, Wis. (1/15/10)--The marketing team at Evergreen CU in Neenah, Wis., has
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found a different way to promote the $26 million asset credit union's "Winter Fun is Financed Here" campaign: Snow writing. Armed with spritzer bottles filled with food coloring and water, the team used the snow banks around the credit union as canvasses for advertising messages. "We found a creative way to use what was right in front of us to get our marketing messages out there," said Debbie Bruley, vice president-operations. "Difficult economic times sometimes present really cool opportunities to think outside the box, and snow writing is a great team-building experience." (Photo provided by Evergreen CU) ... * NORWOOD, Ohio (1/15/10)--Derrick Kidd, 37, of Mount Auburn, Ohio, is being held under $400,000 bail by police in connection with three robberies at Wright-Patt CU's Norwood, Ohio, branch. Kidd was arrested Tuesday after a struggle with a uniformed, off-duty deputy inside and outside the credit union. The suspect entered the credit union and ignored the deputy's request to remove his cap, then tired to rob a teller, said police. The teller shouted to the deputy, "Hey, this is our guy," and the deputy and Kidd struggled in the credit union and outside, where Kidd lost his coat and his shirt and ran. He was arrested a block away. Kidd was released from prison in October for two prior bank robbery convictions and was on parole (The Cincinnati Enquirer Jan. 14) ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/15/10)--John Marisic, longtime board member of Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU), died Jan. 5 in Lebanon, Pa., according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). Marisic was a former member of PCUA's Governmental Affairs Committee and an advocate for credit union issues with elected officials. He was vice chairman of the credit union's board. A Celebration of Life service will be held Sunday at the Mt. Gretna (Pa.) Fire Co. ...

Perimeter ranks malware top of 10 info security threats

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MILFORD, Conn. (1/15/10)--Perimeter E-Security, a CUNA Strategic Service and provider of information security services, has released its Top 10 Information Security Threats for 2010. “It is vital for companies to understand what they can do to best protect their systems and information,” said Kevin Prince, Perimeter chief technology officer. Perimeter’s top 10 threats are:
* Malware, which can be installed on systems through client-side software vulnerabilities. Browsers are a top target for vulnerabilities, Perimeter said. Malware was the second-highest ranked threat last year. For the first time, cybercrime exceeded drug trafficking, reported the FBI in 2009. * Malicious insiders. Many disgruntled and desperate employees have tried to exploit their employers or former employers. There is no way to completely eliminate the threat of malicious insiders, but good security policies can reduce incidents. * Exploited vulnerabilities, which lead to worms, viruses, malware and other attacks. Organizations need to improve their patch management, Perimeter said. * Careless employees. They can be categorized as careless or untrained; employees that are duped or fall prey to social engineering attacks; or malicious employees. Organizations should provide policies, procedures, training and technology to reduce threats generated by careless employees. * Mobile devices. Worms and other malware specifically target these devices and enlist them as botnets to steal data. Laptops are main culprits. Many are stolen every year and have sensitive data that would require public disclosure if there’s a data breach. * Social networking. Sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter can be breeding grounds for SPAM, scams, scareware and other attacks. Personal safety also can be an issue, because the information individuals post on the site can be a “stalker’s dream come true,” Perimeter said. * Social engineering attacks, such as phishing. Beginning this year, domain names will be expanded to include Japanese, Arabic, Hindi and Greek characters, which will make it more difficult for users to determine if a domain is legitimate. * Zero-Day exploits, which occur when an attacker can compromise a system on a known vulnerability but no patch or fix exists. * Cloud computing Internet-based security threats. Many applications call for forced encryption to access “in the cloud” services. As cloud computing becomes more popular, security will be an issue. “Cloud” is a metaphor for the Internet. * Cyberespionage. Most incidents so far have involved government bodies and agencies, and haven’t been a threat to individual organizations. But because cyberespionage has large implications for government, it must be closely monitored.
In most cases, companies will have to implement new technology to prepare for threats. CUNA Strategic Services will offer a webinar, “Detect and Protect: Resolve to Fight Cyber Threats in 2010,” Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. CST. It features a panel of security experts, including Perimeter.

CO-OP extends EFT agreement with STAR Network

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ATLANTA and RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/15/10)--CO-OP Financial Services has extended its electronic funds transfer (EFT) agreement with First Data Corp.’s STAR Network. CO-OP provides STAR Network access to more than 600 credit unions. CO-OP has worked with STAR since 1985. STAR has more than two million retail and ATM locations. CO-OP also uses First Data for processing services for reloadable prepaid cards. Terms of the agreement remain confidential. CO-OP, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., offers 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs to participating credit union members. First Data, Atlanta, provides electronic payment solutions.

California league names two unsung heroes

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ONTARIO, Calif. (1/15/10)--The California Credit Union League
Click to view larger image Robin Lentz (left), CEO of Cabrillo CU in San Diego, received the Unsung Hero Award from Jeanine Dodman, San Diego/Imperial Valley chapter president.
Click to view larger image Vincent Rojas (center) received the Unsung Hero Award from Kern Schools FCU staffers Barbara Irle (left) and Shari Butler. Rojas served as CEO of Kern Schools FCU until his retirement last year. (Photos provided by the California Credit Union League)
honored two credit union representatives with Unsung Heroes Awards. The award honors individuals in the industry with 20 years of service. The league honored Robin Lentz, CEO of Cabrillo CU, San Diego, and Vincent Rojas Jr., former CEO of Kern Schools FCU, Bakersfield. League Historical Preservation Committee member Al George and San Diego/Imperial Valley Chapter President Jeanine Dodman presented Lentz with the award during a chapter meeting in December. Kern Schools FCU leaders and staff presented Rojas with his award. Lentz has led her credit union since 1979. Under her leadership, the credit union has added $160 million in assets and received awards. She also has been active in the San Diego Chapter, serving twice as its president, and in Credit Unions for Kids. Rojas served as CEO of Kern Schools from 1989 until his retirement last year. He also was a member of the Credit Union Executives Society and served on the board of trustees of Western CUNA Management School.

CUNA Mutual campaign nets 25650 for NCUF leagues

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MADISON, Wis. (1/15/10)--CUNA Mutual Group’s Sign of Commitment campaign made nearly 50 stops nationwide in 2009, resulting in a donations of $25,650 to the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and state credit union leagues.
Click to view larger image CUNA Mutual Group presented the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) with a $5,700 check from its “TRUE” campaign, raising the total contribution for all of 2009 to $25,650 in support of credit union industry causes. From left, are: Christopher Roe, senior vice president, Corporate/Legislative Affairs, CUNA Mutual; Tom Decker, NCUF Development Educators program; Dale Tomalin, brand strategy leader, CUNA Mutual; and Frank Beres, senior marketing strategist, CUNA Mutual. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
The campaign encouraged credit union supporters to add their signature on a display board as a public commitment to the credit union movement. CUNA Mutual contributed money for each signature. The effort attracted 9,530 signatures, including signatures from more than 1,400 CUNA Mutual employees. CUNA Mutual donated $11,400 to the NCUF and $14,250 to state league foundations. “The sign traveled to credit union events all over the nation, and it was wonderful to see the reaction and enthusiasm of credit union supporters who eagerly grabbed a pen to write their name on the sign,” said Christopher Roe, CUNA Mutual senior vice president of corporate and legislative affairs. CUNA Mutual kicked off its “TRUE Commitment” campaign at the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., in February 2009. The Sign of Commitment was featured at 50 other credit union events, including CUNA’s annual America’s Credit Union Conference, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions’ annual conference, 45 league annual meetings and CUNA Mutual’s signing day in April. The contribution will provide funding for NCUF’s Credit Union Development Educators Program.

CU System briefs (01/13/2010)

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* HARTFORD, Conn. (1/14/10)--Bookkeeper Melissa Laliberte, 39, of Wallingford, Conn., was sentenced Tuesday to 51 months in prison for embezzling more than $700,000 from the now-defunct Meriden Franco-American FCU. Laliberte also was ordered to pay restitution totaling $743,768 to the National Credit Union Administration and back taxes totaling $218,103. She pleaded guilty in September in a Hartford, Conn., federal court to embezzlement and filing a false income tax return. She admitted she took cash from members' loan payments, made unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts, drew her salary several times a month and used member checks to pay personal expenses. At the time the credit union went into liquidation on July 16, 2008, it had 206 members and about $337,968 in assets (Targeted News Service Jan. 12) ... * RALEIGH, N.C. (1/14/10)--The foundation for the State Employees' CU in Raleigh, N.C., is providing $500,000 for the North Carolina Museum of History's new SECU Education Center. With the SECU Foundation's support, the center will use cutting-edge technology, two-way video conferencing and virtual field trips to enhance permanent chronological presentation of the state's history to students throughout North Carolina. The grant will enable the museum to install technology needed to record and broadcast educational programs, lectures, seminars and meetings for dissemination across the state. It also will allow school groups that cannot visit the museum to participate in its programming ...

FBI issues Haitian relief fraud alert

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WASHINGTON (1/14/10)--Internet users who receive appeals to donate funds in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti need to perform their due diligence before responding to the requests, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Credit unions might want to warn members that past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted criminals to solicit contributions that they claim are for a charitable organization or a good cause. Before making any donation, consumers should use these guidelines, said the FBI.
* Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within the messages; * Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites; * Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using Internet-based resources to assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site; * Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show photos of the disaster areas in attached files because these files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders; * Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes; and * Do not give personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions; providing that information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
The agency said anyone receiving a suspicious e-mail or anyone who becomes a victim of such incidents should notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3. To do so, use the resource link.

United Nations FCU to assist 500 members in Haiti

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LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. (1/14/10)--United Nations FCU (UNFCU), based in Long Island City, N.Y., is awaiting word on its 530 members in Haiti after a Tuesday earthquake caused massive damage to the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The $2.97 billion asset credit union does not have an office or branch in Haiti, Elisabeth Philippe, UNFCU business development/public relations manager, told News Now. No information has been received by the credit union about individual members, Philippe said. “Haiti was rocked by a major earthquake, resulting in massive devastation,” said the UNFCU website. “UNFCU is deeply saddened by this destruction and loss of life, including some of [our] fellow colleagues at United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and other United Nations (U.N.) organizations. News reports indicate efforts are already underway to help the survivors,” said the credit union. “We are currently working with the U.N. Staff Recreation Council in New York and will provide information shortly on how [people] can help,” UNFCU continued. “Additionally, UNFCU is providing support to its members and their families in Haiti via a specially designated telephone number and e-mail address.” More than 100 employees of the U.N. mission in Haiti were unaccounted for Wednesday in the aftermath of the earthquake, which destroyed the U.N. peacekeeper compound--a five-story building where roughly 250 people worked daily (CNN.com Jan. 13). The U.N. headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake and people were still trapped inside, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told media in New York. At the time the quake struck, there were possibly 100 to 150 people inside the building, Ban added. UNFCU serves the financial needs of U.N. staff, U.N. special agencies, former international civil servants and their families globally. UNFCU has members in more than 205 countries and territories.

WOCCU announces disaster relief for Haiti quake

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (1/14/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions is attempting to contact local authorities and its own program staff working in Haiti to assess how best to help the estimated three million people who will be affected by Tuesday's devastating earthquake. Intermittant communications from Greta Greathouse, chief of party for WOCCU's Haiti HYFIVE microfinance program, indicate that WOCCU staff members are uninjured and accounted for. But Greathouse said there has been significant destruction to the island.
Click to view larger image Roughly three million men, women and children are affected by the earthquake in Haiti, said the World Council of Credit Unions. This photo was taken before the devastating earthquake. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions.)
The tiny island nation has 175 credit unions and 404,090 credit union members, according to WOCCU's statistical reports. Reverberations from the earthquake's epicenter, located 10 miles south of Port-au-Prince all but leveled Haiti's capital city. Hospitals have crumbled as have the presidential palace and the United Nations peacekeepers' headquarters (see related story on United Nations FCU's efforts). The death toll is expected to be in the thousands. It is likely credit unions are damaged. Last July, WOCCU launched a three-year program in Haiti to extend financial services to Haiti's rural poor with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The $34.4 million program is working to bring savings, credit and remittance products to underserved areas of Haiti and provide technical training to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. "The people of Haiti already had difficult lives, and it's almost impossible to imagine the devastation the earthquake has brought them," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. "I'm thankful that our staff in Haiti is safe, and we're ready to assist them in their recovery efforts." WOCCU has fostered relief and rebuilding efforts during past international disasters, including the December 2004 Asian tsunami and earthquakes, the February 2006 Philippines landslide, and earthquakes in Peru, El Salvador and Malawi. WOCCU is now accepting donations to provide similar assistance to Haiti and its people. "We are committed to helping Haiti's citizens survive this crisis," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Donations to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will help us achieve this goal." To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system, which has been activated at www.CUAID.coop.

FSCC changing address Friday

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SAN DIMAS, Calif. (1/14/10)--Financial Services Centers Cooperative (FSCC) is relocating its headquarters to the Ontario Airport Towers in Ontario, Calif., and will have a new address. Effective Friday, FSCC’s physical and mailing address will be:

2855 East Guasti Road, Suite 202

Ontario, CA 91761-1249

Phone numbers will remain the same at 888-372-2669 or 909-753-1200. Network support numbers are 800-509-1087 and 909-753-1201. The fax number is 909-394-3521. FSCC also noted that starting today through Monday, e-mails and phone calls to individual employee extensions will not reach the intended recipients. FSCC is a credit union Shared Branch network offering 5,500 deposit-taking locations in the U.S.

CEOs confidence grim--SW Corporate survey

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PLANO, Texas (1/14/10)--Credit union CEOs have never felt so grim about their current financial condition, according to Southwest Corporate FCU’s fourth quarter 2009 Credit Union CEO Confidence Survey. The corporate has conducted the survey for six years. CEOs rated their credit unions’ current condition at 17.84--the lowest in the survey’s history. The overall confidence index slid to 20.23 from 29.01 in third quarter 2009.
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Assessment of financial condition six months from now also dropped by 14 points. CEOs’ expectation for loan demand dropped 11 points and expectation for share deposit growth decreased by seven points from the third quarter. “Many CEOs continue to be shell-shocked from 2009 events, such as a 35% rise in loan delinquency, a modest 1.6% loan growth, diluted capital formation and net incomes that neared industry lows,” said Brian Turner, Southwest Corporate director of advisory services. “Most will continue to face these challenges through the first half of 2010, as cash tills overflow from rising shares the first quarter and loan demand remains weak in the summer. “Credit unions certainly have reason to be concerned about the first half of 2010, but I anticipate many will see their profiles begin to improve by the third quarter,” Turner added. “Short-term rates most likely will bounce around, but steepness in the yield will continue to provide opportunities to retain some profitability. Gaining ground, however, will require each institution to remain proactive in its share pricing and employment of cash.” The survey measured CEOs’ confidence based on region and asset size. CEOs from Midwestern states were the most confident (41.07) while New England-area CEOs were the least confident (16.67). CEOs from institutions with $2 million to $10 million in assets were the most confident (35.19) while CEOs from institutions with fewer than $2 million in assets were the least confident (25). Second-best confident was the largest asset group--more than $500 million--at 25.86. Eldon Ladd, CEO of the $12 million-asset SECU FCU, Richland, Wash., said he could understand the findings. SECU FCU closed a branch one year ago and had more in reserves than it thought it would need to weather the economy. But a write-down in investment losses, charges from the National Credit Union Administration and first-ever bankruptcies in second mortgages, caused Ladd to characterize the last two years as a “financial tsunami.” The quarterly survey, sent to 1,324 credit union CEOs had a response rate of 25.08%. It measures CEOs’ views in six categories. Other categories include members’ current financial condition, members’ financial condition six months from now, credit union loan demand in six months, and credit union share deposit growth in six months.

BBB promoting holiday clubs with CUNA stats

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DALTON, Ga., and FORT WAYNE, Ind. (1/14/10)--The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is promoting Christmas Club accounts and using Credit Union National Association (CUNA) statistics to show credit unions’ participation. Georgia and Indiana newspapers have picked up the story, also using CUNA stats. Christmas Club accounts are traditionally offered at credit unions or small banks. They allow consumers to set aside money throughout the year into a savings account. Consumers can withdraw the funds in the fall to buy items for the holidays. The Dalton Daily Citizen (Jan. 12) and the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Jan. 11) noted that about 78% of credit unions offer the clubs, according to CUNA. Interest in the clubs spiked in 2009, the newspapers said. The BBB recommends that consumers “shop around” for their Christmas Club accounts. Interest rates may vary, the News-Sentinel said. Retailers also have begun offering the clubs.

Media tout CUs for college loans co-op biz model

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BALTIMORE and NEW YORK CITY (1/14/10)--SmartMoney and the Baltimore Sun touted credit unions’ college loans and cooperative business model in two articles published this week. College students feeling the credit crunch can find student loans at credit unions, according to SmartMoney. The magazine cited three credit unions--Southern Lakes CU, Kenosha, Wis.; West Branch Valley FCU, Williamsport, Pa.; and Merck, Sharp & Dohme FCU, Chalfont, Pa.--that offer private student loans. Many credit unions are stepping up to help after banks have scaled back, said the magazine. New York State’s Higher Education Services Corp. just added SEFCU, Albany, to its list of lenders. Roughly 20 credit unions have entered the market through Fynanz and 82 more credit unions have entered through Credit Union Student Choice, which processes loans and provides regulatory compliance, the magazine added. The average rate on credit union student loans is just above 6%. Sallie Mae, a major underwriter of private student loans, has rates ranging from 4.25% to 12.75%, SmartMoney said. In other news, The Baltimore Sun explored cooperatives’ business model as a way to empower workers Tuesday. The Sun noted that many national firms, such as credit unions, operate with a cooperative model. The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and is encouraging governments to collaborate with the co-op movement to create more productive societies and reduce poverty. “In hard times like these, the co-op model makes sense,” the newspaper said. “After all, public confidence in corporations, banks and the larger financial system is at low ebb, while unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years.”

Singing River FCU acquires Coastal Waters FCU

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MOSS POINT, Miss. (1/14/10)--Singing River FCU Tuesday said it completed its acquisition of Mobile, Ala.-based Coastal Waters FCU. The $138.1 million-asset, Moss Point, Miss.-based Singing River officially opened its doors Jan. 4 to $7 million-asset Coastal Waters’ former 2,000 members (al.com Jan. 12). The merger, which was approved by the National Credit Union Administration several weeks ago, gives Singing River 19,000 members and about $145 million in deposits at four branches, including the former Coastal Waters branch in Mobile, the website said. Singing River told the publication it now has 54 full- and part-time employees. The credit union is available to anyone who lives, works, attends school or goes to church in George, Greene and Jackson counties in Mississippi, and Baldwin and Mobile counties in Alabama.

Minn. CUs learn impacting politics via caucuses

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/14/10)--Positioning Minnesota credit unions to be politically active in 2010, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) hosted a Political Caucus Workshop Tuesday.
Click to view larger image James Patrick Barone, chair of Minnesota's 4th Congressional District DFL party, Tuesday conducted a Political Caucus Workshop presented by the Minnesota Credit Union Network to teach Minnesota credit unions how to use caucuses to bring awareness to credit union issues. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Let by James Patrick Barone, chair of Minnesota's 4th Congressional District DFL party, the workshop provided credit unions an overview of how to increase their involvement in local politics. Barone summarized the precinct caucus process and explained how credit union supporters can use these political forums to bring attention to their and their community's issues. Political caucuses have two main purposes, Barone explained. They:
* Elect delegates who influence which candidates the party will support; and * Provide citizens a forum to voice their views on a range of political issues. If the concern about these issues is prevalent enough, they may be included in the party's platform.
"The issues discussed at caucuses provide those running for office insight into what people are thinking and what is important to them," Barone told attendees. Through participating in political caucuses, credit union professionals and volunteers can bring the concerns of the movement to the attention of potential politicians. "Caucuses are a powerful political advocacy venue for credit unions becasue they provide citizens the opportunity to come together and push their ideals forward," said Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president-governmental affairs. "The movement's grassroots strength naturally lends itself to credit union involvement in political caucuses, and it is important that credit union professioanls and volunteers effectively utilize this political opportunity," she said. MnCUN hosted the political training as part of its continual efforts to equip credit union supporters with the tools to influence the political process. In October, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) conducted one of its Campaign Schools, which trains candidates on how to run for office, in Minnesota. CUNA has six more upcoming Campaign Schools scheduled, according to Trey Hawkins, political director in CUNA's political affairs. Four will be in Montana during the week of Jan. 25, and two in North Carolina on Feb. 2-3. For more information about CUNA Campaign Schools, use the resource link.

Javelin reports 10 trends shaping banking in 2010

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PLEASANTON, Calif. (1/13/10)--What's in store for financial institutions, including credit unions, for 2010? Javelin Strategy and Research outlines 10 trends that will shape banking, payments and security this year. Financial institutions will struggle to cope with a hobbled economy, wrenching regulatory changes, mounting fraud threats and limited innovation budgets during 2010, said the Pleasanton, Calif.-based research group. But opportunistic financial institutions that take steps now will be on the cutting edge of person-to-person payments, embrace innovations from alternative vendors, tighten security vulnerabilities and serve up real-time data that will be in increasing demand in an era of "always-on, anytime, anywhere" banking, Javelin says in an overview to its report. The 10 trends for 2010 are:
* Regulatory backlash will force banks to re-evaluate their business model. * Financial services software platforms open up for application development. * Prioritizing investments becomes more critical as hard times hinder innovation. * Person-to-person (P2P) payments will hit it big in 2010. * Merchants will demand increased power in the transaction market. * Cloud (Internet) apps will regenerate interest in federated identity (single sign on for multiple applications). * Real-time data becomes essential as always-on integration takes hold. * Encryption, tokenization (substituting random proxy numbers or tokens for senwsitive cardholder data during a transaction) and EMV (smart cards) will offer more security for card payments. * PIN integrity will be challenged in 2010 as fraudsters' sophistication increases. * The social Web is the new frontier for fraud.

CUs Malware hits online banking Googles online apps market

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/10)--Credit unions sounded the alarm that suspicious applications downloaded from Google's Android Market for cellphones may have stolen users' online banking information. And the Credit Union Information Security Professionals Association (CUISPA) is alerting credit unions to a fraud attempt in the online banking arena. BayPort CU, a $1.1 billion credit union in Newport News, Va., and First Tech CU of Beaverton, Ore., issued warnings on Dec. 22 about a rogue Android application on Google's online market that promised members easy access to their online banking (Computerworld Jan. 12 and iPhone Central Jan. 11). "It is believed that fraudsters deployed fraudulent mobile banking applications to the Android Marketplace, using a phishing technique to attempt to gain access to mobile banking users' financial information," said BayPort's alert. The suspicious application creates mobile banking apps that members and other users can download to their phones but actually have the ability to steal information. Those who have added the apps should go to their mobile service provider to make ensure the suspicious apps are removed for good. BayPort said it notified Google, and Google removed the program plus 50 similar apps, all written by a single developer identified as "09Droid." However, security researchers have not confirmed whether the Android apps were actually malicious because before they could get copies of the suspicious apps, Google removed them from the market, according to ComputerWorld. The apps could just be someone using a shortcut app to make a quick buck, said the researchers. Google does not vet its Android applications that appear on its online store. Apple runs its App Store for the iPhone and has an approval process for mobile applications. Another kind of fraud in online banking--the Zeus or Zbot--was the topic of warning from CUISPA. The Zbot is a "particularly nasty malware that is bypassing top antivirus/Malware scanners and compromising member accounts," said CUISPA's alert. "Cases have been identified by dozens of credit unions, that we know of. One can assume it is far more widespread than we've currently seen," said Kelly Dowell, executive director at CUISPA. "The malware infects desktops the same way viruses do, but once infected it is very difficult to remove. Initial reports have come in from credit union members that logged into online banking and received a display page asking for additional authentication in the form of credit card information. The key here is the page was displayed after logging into their home banking accounts," said Dowell. "It's important to understand that if the user is seeing that page, the damage is done. The online banking credentials have been compromised and need to be changed immediately," Dowell explained. "The nasty thing about Zeus/Zbot is how it has been morphing or evolving," said Dowell, adding that it hides its presence on the member's machine. It is the same attack that is behind a recent flurry of automated clearinghouse (ACH) fraud. CUISPA has a full report available. Use the link and view the Alerts Forum. Registration for the alerts is free and required to review the report, Dowell said.

CUNA Mutual launches online risk assessment tool

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/10)--CUNA Mutual Group has introduced a new online risk assessment program for its more than 4,600 credit union Plastic Card insurance policyholders. The tool is designed to assess Plastic Card program risks and indicate whether a credit union’s program is in a good, fair, or cautionary state of security. “A credit union’s operations could be severely impacted if its card portfolio or plastic card program were fraudulently attacked, especially if it resulted in uninsured losses,” said Becky Severson, CUNA Mutual risk manager. “That’s why we felt it was critical for CUNA Mutual to help credit unions identify their plastic card program vulnerabilities and recommend actions based on risk exposure and insurance considerations.” The Plastic Card Risk Assessment functionality contains 24 multiple-choice questions that can be completed in less than 20 minutes. The credit union receives recommendations based on their responses. This is the second online risk assessment module offered by CUNA Mutual’s Credit Union Protection division. It joins the Disaster Preparedness assessment tool launched in 2009. That program allows credit unions to review their vulnerabilities to disasters and take recommended action based on risks, loss controls and credit union best practices. More online risk assessment modules will be added and announced during 2010, said CUNA Mutual. For more information, use the link.

CBS Moneywatch Suze Orman Time to join a CU

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NEW YORK (1/13/10)--It’s time to say goodbye to banks and join a credit union, according to CBS Moneywatch.com, which touted credit union’s lower fees, better rates and the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) credit union locator. Also this week on CNN, financial guru Suze Orman encouraged consumers to obtain credit cards from credit unions. Steve Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, told CBS that “credit unions charge lower fees and loan rates than banks and pay higher savings yields.” The article said credit unions pay 0.3% more on share certificates than banks do on certificates of deposit. CBS noted CUNA’s Ratedex site, and compared credit card and savings rates at credit unions and banks. Credit unions can often return more on savings and charge less on loans because “the credit union channels any excess funds back to its members,” Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president of public relations, told CBS, which links consumers looking for a credit union to the locator tool on CUNA's www.creditunion.coop site. Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa; Boeing Employees CU, Seattle; Digital FCU, Marlborough, Md.; and other credit unions also received favorable mentions in the article. The MoneyWatch story opens by recounting the story of Dupaco members Steve and Angela Olson, a police officer and high school teacher, who quickly and successfully refinanced their home equity line through the CU and saved more than $300 a month after having no luck at area banks. "I wish we checked into a credit union a while ago," Steve Olson said. In other news, Orman told CNN’s Campbell Brown that she is upset because banks continue to reap profits while charging consumers high fees and interest rates. Orman advised consumers to find a good credit union credit card. “Federally chartered credit unions can’t charge you more than 18% [in interest],” Orman said. “Credit unions care about their members; banks care about their shareholders. Credit unions are going to take better care of you.”

Proposal to include Irish CUs in FSA regulation dropped

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BELFAST (1/13/10)--A proposal that would have brought credit unions in Northern Ireland under the regulation of the Financial Services Authority (FSA)--like those in Great Britain--has been dropped from the Financial Services Bill progressing through Parliament. According to the Belfast Telegraph (Jan. 12), that would--for now--dash credit unions' hopes of offering a wider range of services. The government had indicated in its Reforming Financial Markets white paper that it would bring the credit unions within FSA regulation. The Financial Services Bill was expected to implement this so credit unions could offer additional financial services such as accounts. A Treasury spokesman said the measure would not be introduced prior to the general election. A Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) spokeswoman added that the changes need several pieces of legislation to be approved by both Parliament and the Assembly. DETI and the Treasury concluded that the bill was not a suitable legislative vehicle for such changes. DETI and Treasury would be consulting on legislative changes before summer, she said. Credit unions intend to meet with Treasury ministers to try to amend the bill in the House of Commons, said a credit union representative.

CU leaders knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/10)--British monarch Queen Elizabeth II has named two credit union leaders from Ireland and Barbados to her 2010 New Year’s Honors List, said the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Uel Adair, past president of the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) was named to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Lawrence Vernon Harcourt Lewis, a pioneer of the Barbados credit union movement, was named Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George. Adair concluded his 10-year term on ILCU's board of directors in 2009, after serving the last two years as president. Under Adair's leadership, Irish credit unions increased services to members. Adair also helped Northern Ireland's credit unions fall in line with credit unions in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Adair currently serves as a director for Waterside CU in Derry, Northern Ireland. Harcourt Lewis, a former government cabinet minister and public official, was knighted for his contributions to Barbados’ financial services industry. He was a founding member of the Bethel Circuit Cooperative CU Ltd. and instrumental in the formation of Public Workers Cooperative CU Ltd., now the Caribbean island nation's largest credit union. As president of the Barbados Cooperative Credit Union League, Harcourt Lewis supported the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, a WOCCU member organization. Queen Elizabeth announced both honorees in her Dec. 30 New Year's proclamation.

Mid-Atlantic Corporate to hold town hall meetings

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (1/13/10)--Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU will hold town hall meetings throughout the Mid-Atlantic region during January and February to discuss future plans for membership and capital. “With all that has gone on in the credit union industry in the past year, and with [the National Credit Union Administration’s] recent proposal for changes to regulation 704, we felt it was important to meet with our members to discuss Mid-Atlantic Corporate’s plan for 2010 and beyond,” said Jay R. Murray, Mid-Atlantic president/CEO (Life is a Highway Jan. 12). “These meetings will give us a great opportunity to talk face-to-face with our members to discuss how we can continue to serve their needs well into the future,” he added. Meetings will be held in the following cities:
* Jan. 13--Williamsport, Pa.; * Jan. 14--Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; * Jan. 20--Cherry Hill, N.J.; * Jan. 26--Harrisburg, Pa.; * Jan. 27--King of Prussia, Pa.; * Feb. 2--College Park, Md.; * Feb. 3--New Castle, Del.; * Feb. 9--Altoona, Pa.; * Feb. 10--Erie, Pa.; * Feb. 11--Monroeville, Pa.; and * Feb. 18--Clark, N.J.

Two men sentenced in widespread HELOC frauds

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NEWARK, N.J. (1/13/10)--Two men who admitted to participating in an international identity theft scam that targeted home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) at credit unions and banks in New Jersey and several other states were sentenced Monday in a Newark federal court to prison. Derrick Polk, 47, was arrested in 2008 with three others and charged with targeting homeowners with big HELOCs at financial institutions, including Citibank and JPMorgan Chase and credit unions in Basking Ridge, Bridgewater and Toms River, N.J. He was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison (The Star-Ledger Jan. 11). Oludola Akinmola, 39, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to four years and three month in prison. Since he is an illegal immigrant from Nigeria, he could eventually face deportations, the newspaper said. The men used stolen personal data and technological tricks to fool employees at financial institutions into transferring funds to accounts in at least seven countries, the paper said. The plot involved at least 17 people nationally. Two others were arrested with Polk and Akinmola in 2008 for siphoning off at least $2.5 million from HELOCs. It was predicated on victims’ personal information including Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names and online passwords, authorities said, according to the paper. The two other suspects also pleaded guilty. Adekunle Adejuyigbe was sentenced to 46 months in prison; Oluwajide Ogunbiyi was sentenced to 15 months in prison. From early January to March 1, 2008, credit unions reported to CUNA Mutual Group 43 incidents of losses or fraud attempts totaling $8.8 million related to HELOCs (News Now March 25, 2008). In one case, according to court records, they transferred $675,000 from Affinity CU in Basking Ridge to a bank in Tokyo. In 2008, the National Credit Union Administration issued an alert that noted some of the scams involved a high level of sophistication, which enabled the fraudsters to bypass certain authentications controls (News Now Jan. 30, 2008). For example, in one case, the imposter had the ability to fool Caller ID software by making it appear that the call initiated from the account holder’s valid phone number. In other cases, imposters were knowledgeable of recent account activity--such as deposits or withdrawal amounts--and used the information to authenticate themselves as the account holder to the credit union representative.

CU System briefs (01/12/2010)

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* TRENTON, N.J. (1/13/10)--Ruben Rosado, 32, of Rahway, N.J., was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison for 11 violent robberies committed by the "Route 35 crew" against credit unions and banks along Route 35 in Middlesex and Union counties. The holdups netted $288,000. U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton rendered the sentence for those robberies plus three other armed robberies in 2006 and 2007. Among those incidents were a home invasion in Allentown, Pa., where he bound and gagged a woman and put a gun to her child's head, and a holdup at a gift store, where he beat an elderly courier. Rosado, the gunman of the group, also assaulted employees at the banks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation considered the group so dangerous that it offered a $35,000 reward. The judge also ordered Rosado to pay $374,570 restitution to the victims and to serve five years of supervised release after leaving prison. He also was sentenced to seven years for use of a firearm during a violent crime. That sentence will run consecutively to the armed bank robbery sentence. Four other co-defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing (The Star-Ledger Jan. 11) ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/13/10)--Pennsylvania credit unions met Monday in separate meetings with U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) at a breakfast in Pittsburgh and the staff of Sen. Robert P Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) at the senator's district office in Harrisburg, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. Thirty-five credit union leaders and friends were updated by Altmire on health care initiative. He asked for input on credit union issues, including member business lending (MBL), interchange revenue and overdraft protection, and said he is a strong supporter of increased MBL for credit unions. He requested more information on the other issues. At a meeting with Casey staffers Richard Spiegelman, legislative director and chief counsel, and, via telephone, Will Hansen, financial services legislative aide, the discussion centered on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, credit card regulations, overdraft protection, MBL, and interchange (Life is a Highway Jan. 12) ... * ST. GEORGE, Utah (1/13/10)--The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) honored SouthWest Community FCU, St. George, Utah, for its member service and diversity in lending programs for 2009 (Main Street Business Journal Jan. 12). The Utah District of the SBA presented the Blaine Andrus Memorial Award, named for a late Utah SBA office leader, for the credit union's commitment to Utah small businesses. SouthWest Community funded loans such as SBA Express, Patriot Express for veterans, ARC loans for economic recovery, SBA 504 loans for commercial real estate and SBA 7A loans for working capital. The credit union also increased the amount of dollars lent out in SBA products over the same period last year, said the credit union ... * TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/13/10)--Ray Cromer, founding chairman of the Credit Union 24 board of directors and a key driver behind the credit union-owned ATM and point-of-sale (POS) network, has retired from the board. Cromer also has retired from his position as president/CEO of Envision CU, Tallahassee Cromer, who was the inaugural chairman of the board in 1997, worked with the network for 25 years and with credit unions for 43 years. Bob Fischer, president/CEO of Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla., since 1992, has been appointed to fill Cromer's remaining term on the Credit Union 24 board. Fisher also served on the network's inaugural board ... * FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/13/10)--Milt Durham, former Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) director and CUNA Mutual Group vice president, died Jan. 9, according to the league (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 12). In 1953, Durham began organizing credit unions and served as treasurer of the Fort Worth credit union. From 1969 to 1974, he was president of Hereford Texas FCU and then of Sears Employees CU. He also served as a leader in the Fort Worth, Amarillo and Dallas chapters of credit unions. He served on the TCUL Services board in 1970-1971 and was elected to the league board for a two-year term beginning in 1973. Durham also was employed by CUNA Mutual Group during 1965-1969 and 1974-1994. When he retired from CUNA Mutual, he was vice president of the Southwest district office in Dallas. He then continued as a board member of Metroplex CU, Carrollton, and served as interim president. Funeral services are today at 10 a.m at First Baptist Church Hurst, in Hurst, Texas ...

Fund set up for shooting victim suspect faces life in prison

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/13/10)--Westmoreland Community FCU has established a fund to help with family expenses for a teller who was shot Friday during a robbery at the credit union. The man suspected of the shooting faces life in prison. The teller remains in stable condition at a local hospital, but is facing another surgery after being shot in the stomach, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). The credit union opened on Monday because employees wanted to show that they were not defeated by the robbers (Life is a Highway Jan. 12). A Crafton, Pa., man accused in the shooting, David Louis Mathis, faces life in prison for shooting and robbery. Lamont Laprade, of West Virginia, is being charged with armed bank robbery and conspiracy. They appeared in federal court in Pennsylvania Monday (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Jan. 11). Robbers may have taken $10,000 during the robbery, the newspaper added. A gunman entered the credit union Friday and fired four shots--one of which hit a teller. He demanded that employees take him to the vault, but they were too nervous to do so. He managed to get cash from a teller window. Laprade was arrested Friday, and Mathis was arrested Saturday at a local mall. Westmoreland Community FCU, Greensburg, Pa., has $44 million in assets.

CU System briefs (01/11/2010)

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* EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (1/12/10)--Two men were arrested Friday morning after a car chase and foot chase, and charged with attempting to rob East Hartford (Conn.) FCU. The would-be robbers were thwarted when a clerk saw two masked men approaching the credit union and locked the door before they could get inside. Police said the credit union was especially security conscious because it had been robbed before. In custody are two Hartford men, Quincy Soyini, 35, and Kunta Soyini, 31. Kunta Soyini was also charged with reckless driving, failure to stop a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended registration. The $10.5 million asset credit union serves East Hartford police and firefighters (The Hartford Courant Jan. 11 and WFSB.com Jan. 8) ... * FORT WORTH, Texas (1/12/10)--American Airlines FCU announced that $9.6 million in dividends was paid to its member -owners on Dec. 31. The board approved the dividend payout at its meeting Dec. 18. "Our sound lending decisions and efficient operation have kept us secure, strong and solid, which enables us to once again provide our member-owners with this bonus dividend," said President/CEO Angie Owens. To recognize the most active and loyal members, an additional $50 bonus was distributed to those who participated in three or more of the eight major account categories ... * HARTFORD, Conn. (1/12/10)--Federal prosecutors said they are seeking a five-year prison sentence for Melissa Laliberte, 39, of Wallingford, Conn., for embezzling more than $700,000 from Meriden Franco-American FCU, now defunct. The former credit union bookkeeper was scheduled to be sentenced today. She pleaded guilty in September in a Hartford, Conn., federal court to embezzlement and filing a false income tax return. She admitted she took cash from members' loan payments, made unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts, drew her salary several times a month and used member checks to pay personal expenses. The credit union was placed into liquidation last year (Associated Press Newswires Jan. 10) ... * FAIRFAX, Va. (1/12/10)--Apple FCU has expanded its field of membership to include employees and students of Prince William County Public Schools and their families, announced the $1.2 billion asset Fairfax, Va.-based credit union. The expansion will give Apple more than 80,000 potential new members, according to a filing with the National Credit Union Administration. Apple has 19 branches and 99,033 members. Its field of membership also includes the City of Winchester Public/Private Schools, George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, Fairfax County Public Schools, Loudoun County Public Schools, Stafford County Public Schools and about 300 other specific groups (Washington Business Journal Jan. 8) ... * BOULDER, Colo. (1/12/10)--Elevations CU, based in Boulder, Colo., has equipped an ATM with a voice guidance system to make it easier for visually impaired individuals to have full access to an ATM. The ATM is located near Elevation's on-campus branch at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in the University Memorial Center. The ATM provides instructions to the user through a built-in audio port. Members can plug in standard headphones into the ATM's headphone jack to hear instructions in either English or Spanish. Both audio and visual instructions are provided for any transaction. Elevations has more than $900 million in assets. Its eight branches serve Boulder and Broomfield Counties ...

Kern Central now Community Trust CU says Self-Help

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (1/12/10)--Kern Central CU, the Bakersfield, Calif. credit union that was purchased Friday by Durham, N.C.-based Self-Help FCU, will be the second largest community development credit union in California and will be known as Community Trust CU. The combined credit union will have more than $150 million in assets and more than 23,000 members. The combination is the result of the National Credit Union Administration's decision to transfer Kern Central's member shares and certain assets to Self-Help in a purchase and assumption agreement (News Now Jan. 11). The decision followed more than two years of extremely challenging economic conditions in the area, said Self-Help FCU in a press release. "Self-Help is a great fit for us," said Kern Central CEO Carl Trejo. "We are extremely pleased to be continuing service from our three locations and our entire staff is eager to focus our attention on growth and expanding member services." Steve Zuckerman, managing director of Self-Help's California operations, noted that "Within this challenging economic environment, the need to preserve access to responsible financial services for underserved communities is critical." The fusion will result in a wider variety of services and products for Kern Central members and will help preserve and expand access to responsible credit for low-income communities in the Central Valley. Self-Help has merged four credit unions in California, expanding its ability to serve the Bay area and the Central Valley. It merged with People's Community Partnership FCU, West Oakland, in the fall of 2008; with Community Trust CU in June of 2009; and with El Futuro CU earlier this month. Kern Central will do business as Community Trust CU, a division of Self-Help FCU, which already includes branches in Porterville, Modesto, Riverbank, East Palo Alto and East San Jose." "We are humbled by the opportunity to carry the legacy of the former United Farm Workers CU, the first functioning credit union for farm workers, founded by the late Cesar Chavez," said Zuckerman. "We are committed to carrying forward that legacy of fair, responsible financial services to farm workers and other residents of the Central Valley."

Teller stable after shooting robbery suspects caught

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GREENSBURG, Pa. (1/12/10)--Police have taken into custody two suspects in the shooting of a teller and robbery at Westmoreland Community FCU in Hempfield, Pa. On Friday, a gunman entered the credit union and fired four shots. The first shattered a computer monitor and then hit a teller in the stomach. As of press time, the teller was in stable condition at a local hospital, President/CEO Maria LaVelle told the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). A second bullet appeared to target another teller’s head, but the teller ducked and the bullet hit the wall behind the teller. The other two shots were random, LaVelle said. Police arrested Lamont Laprade, 32, of Huntington, W. Va., Friday and David Louis Mathis, 45, Crafton, Pa. on Saturday (Life is a Highway Jan. 11). Mathis was arrested at a local mall. He allegedly coerced people to drive him to the mall, where he purchased clothing to replace the wet clothes he wore, according to PCUA. He had spent most of the night and morning outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Jan. 9). The gunman, who spent about seven minutes in the building, ordered two tellers--including the one who had been shot--to take him to the vault and open it. They were too nervous to do so. The robber managed to get cash from a teller window. Five other employees hid in LaVelle’s office and she barricaded her door with a chair. “We were scared,” she told PCUA. “I thought any moment he would discover other people were in the building.”

AVCUs indirect lending program had banner year

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (1/12/10)--Consumers turned to Vermont credit unions for help with their finances during the economic downturn in 2009, and the data from the Association of Vermont Credit Unions’ (AVCU) 2009 indirect lending partnership with CUDL proves the point, AVCU said. Association Vice President Bryan Kent said this week that, on average, a very good year would be around $18 million in loan originations for the 10 credit unions and 140 vehicle dealers in the program (Newslines Express Jan 11). “In 2009, our member credit unions booked more than $45.5 million in originations via the indirect program with an average credit score of 707,” he said. “Those are absolutely incredible numbers given the economic climate.” Kent attributed the success of the program to: participating credit unions that realize the value of the indirect channel and have embraced it; outstanding support from endorsed business partner CUDL; and the energetic professionalism of CUDL’s Area Account Representative Shelley Facos.

CUNA names 27 as CCUEs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/12/10)--Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) designations were awarded to 27 individuals from 10 states, bringing the total nationwide to 2,665, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). CCUE, instituted in 1975, is the hallmark of professional credit union achievement. Designed for managers and those aspiring to credit union leadership, the program teaches advanced credit union management and operations techniques. Also, three individuals earned the Certified Financial Services Professional (CFSP) designation. The program began in 1999 as a designation targeted at educating credit union professionals specializing in financial services. The Certified Executive Program (CEP) awarded specialty certifications to 18 credit union professionals. These certifications require in-depth courses in a specialty area, including: compliance, lending, financial management, marketing and human resources. The CEP is the overall name for the self-study program for the above designations. Recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE), the classes and materials are tailored to those working within the Credit Union System. All new designations were awarded in November. Lisa Gray, Dow Chemical Employees’ CU, Midland, Mich., was awarded high honors. Cynthia Magliocca, State Employees; CU, Raleigh, N.C., was awarded honors. For the names and the credit unions of the new CCUE, CFSP, and specialty designees, use the link.

FBI warns small bizzes about banking Trojans

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WASHINGTON (1/12/10)--So many small businesses are being targeted by cybercriminals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and banking organizations have issued warnings advising small businesses to dedicate a separate computer for online banking. Credit unions setting up online banking for their member business lending should note that FBI does not consider online banking safe if the business's computer used for the online banking tasks also performs e-mail and Web browsing tasks. According to the USA Today (Dec. 30), cybergangs have flooded the Internet with "banking Trojans," malicious software programs that enable criminals to sneak into the victim's PC and manipulate online accounts. The Trojans use two older banking technologies: Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers and wire transfers to rob small firms, local governments, school districts, churches and non-profits. The victims are mostly small to mid-sized organizations using online banking accounts supplied by local credit unions and community banks. The robberies have increased so much that the FBI, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve have all issued alerts in the past two months, said the newspaper. The FBI, which usually stays mum about what it's probing, said it has investigated more than 200 cases mostly in 2008 and 2009 where cybercriminals made fraudulent transactions of about $100 million and succeeded in stealing $40 million. Avivah Litan, banking security analyst at Gartner, a technology consulting firm, told USA Today that the firm advises anyone running small businesses to switch from commercial online accounts to individual consumer account. Consumer protection laws require banks to fully reimburse individual account holders who report fraud quickly. However, banks are invoking the Uniform Commerical Code when dealing with business account holders experiencing stolen accounts. Banks maintain the code absolves them of liability when an agreed-upon security procedure is in place and a theft is traced to a compromised PC controlled by the small business. Litan said it is not realistic for the banks to promote Internet banking as safe based on their expectation that account holders will continually secure their PCs against intrusions. Banks and others should "at least put a large disclaimer on their home Web pages advising customers that they bank online at their own risk."

Fraudsters still testing cards from Heartland breach

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MADISON, Wis. (1/12/10)--Fraudsters are still testing and successfully accessing credit and debit card numbers not blocked or canceled in last year's Heartland Payment Systems data breach. CUNA Mutual's Risk Protection Center Friday reported to its policyholder credit unions that cards not blocked or canceled during the breach continue to be hit with card fraud, reported the New Jersey Credit Union League (Daily Exchange Jan. 11). During the holidays several credit unions experienced card fraud on accounts that were compromised by the Heartland breach but not blocked or reissued. Last week two scenarios occurred:
* The fraud management system of a credit union that didn't block or reissue cards noticed a fraud trend on the monitored cards, with cards on a specific BIN targeted. Initially, the fraud was focused in the Midwest but migrated to the West and to some international locations. The fraud appeared to be concentrated at superstores, supermarkets and gas stations. The credit union is taking action to block and reissue the cards. * A credit union that did block and reissue cards from the breach noticed an increase in card "testing," with fraudsters testing cards for an authorization within seconds of each other. Because the cards were blocked, they were not authorized and the credit union did not experience any further fraud.
CUNA Mutual also alerted both Visa and MasterCard about the increase in activity and the scenarios. The insurer "strongly recommends" that credit unions that opted to monitor their members' cards instead of block and reissuing the cards after the breach go ahead and block and reissue any active cards that have not expired from Visa CAMS and MasterCard alerts. It anticipates that the "extremely active" fraud ring will continue to target the cards until they no longer provide approved authorizations. Even if a credit union has seen little or no fraud, it should stay alert to the fact that fraudsters may find a BIN of card numbers that provide an approved magnetic stripe authorization. Credit unions that blocked and reissued cards won't likely see subsequent magnetic stripe fraud from the breach because the reissued cards have new CVV/CVC values and card expiration dates.

Registration opens for Serving UnderservedLatino CU conference

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NEW YORK (1/12/10)--Early bird registration is open for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ 36th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved and its Sixth Latino Credit Union Conference. The conference, in collaboration with the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, will be held June 9-12 in Pittsburgh. Early registration offers a discount of 15% on final conference registration fees. Confirmed keynote speakers include:
* Debbie Matz, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board chairman; * Gigi Hyland, NCUA board member; * Bill Hampel, Credit Union National Association senior vice president of research and policy, and chief economist; * Jose Cisneros, treasurer, City of San Francisco; and * Bill Strickland, founder, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Jury elected to CUNA Board Dist. 6 nominations due

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MADISON, Wis. (1/12/10)--Patrick Jury, president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League, has been elected by acclamation to the District 4, Class D position on the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors. He is filling an unexpired term and will serve through the 2012 Annual General Meeting. Brett Thompson previously held the position, but stepped down shortly after he was appointed chairman of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. The deadline for nominations to be received for another board election--the District 6, Class C special election--is Jan. 20. Voting will occur from Jan. 21 through Feb. 12. Class C credit unions are those with at least 74,000 natural person credit union members. The special election was created when Dave Rhamy announced his resignation from the board in December. Questions can be directed to CUNA’s Corporate Secretary at thanson@cuna.com, or call 608-231-4010.

Social media guidelines offered by CUNA councils

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MADISON, Wis. (1/12/10)--The CUNA HR/TD Council and the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council have published a new white paper, “Social Media Guidelines and Policies,” which includes about having a credit union social media policies and what they should include. The white paper is a result of conversations by participants at the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s webinar series on social media last fall. Many participants saw the need for a social media policy, but they didn’t have a policy in place and didn’t know where to start. The two councils commissioned the white paper afterward. “A lot of credit unions used to think that having a social media policy meant having something in place that says whether employees could access social media websites on company time,” said Christopher Morris, CUNA Councils Web manager and the first speaker in the social media webinar series. “That’s not enough anymore--credit unions need to have guidelines in place to ensure that employees don’t inadvertently harm their brand online. For example, what do you do if a staff member posts negative comments about work on their personal Twitter account or blog?” he said. Social media experts counsel against having a separate social media strategy. Rather, they advise making it a subset of an overall business strategy, according to the paper. They emphasize that social media is another set of tools that serve a variety of purposes. A vibrant social media effort can help build community, engage workers, identify in-house expertise and eventually drive business. Developing guidelines and policies requires a delicate balance for an organizational culture that allows social media to flourish while protecting the credit union’s assets--its reputation in the community--the paper said.

ABC features Switch to CUs

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NEW YORK (1/12/10)--The media kudos for credit unions continues this time with ABC’s Diane Sawyer Friday noting on ABC’s World News Tonight that many consumers are trading their financial institutions on Wall Street to the ones on Main Street. The ABC news piece, “Switch to CU, Avoid Bank Fees,” featured two consumers who switched from their big banks to smaller financial institutions. It also noted the “Move Your Money project,” which was created by Arianna Huffington, owner of The Huffington Post. The project encourages consumers to take their money out of big banks and move it to smaller financial institutions such as credit unions and community banks. “When big banks see real competition from the community banks and credit unions, they will change their behavior,” Huffington told ABC’s David Muir. The project’s Facebook group, “Move Your Money,” has nearly 20,000 fans. The “Move Your Money” campaign on YouTube also has received more than 300,000 views (Newsline Express Jan. 8). Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica also wrote a column for The Huffington Post, saying that credit unions are experiencing record membership growth and that “disenchantment” with banks may be part of the reason. His column generated many reader comments, many of them about the positive experiences consumers have had with credit unions. An editorial in The Brattleboro Reformer and an audio blog that aired on WKVT in Brattleboro, Vt., identified credit unions as good local options for consumers. In other news, The Washington Post Thursday recommended that homeowners looking to refinance a mortgage talk to several lenders--including a credit union. A blog, the Red, White and Blue Press also recommended (Jan. 11) that consumers seek credit unions instead of banks to improve their finances.

CU coffee shop shield students from budget cuts

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EL SERENO, Calif. (1/12/10)--A California credit union combined forces with a coffee shop to open a branch to meet several needs of students in area schools.
Cal State L.A. FCU, Los Angeles, combined forces with a coffee shop to open a branch to meet the needs of students in area schools. (Photo provided by Cal Sate L.A. FCU)
After months of searching for the right location to open a new branch in El Sereno, Calif., Cal State L.A. FCU found the ideal location. But the site was larger than the branch required. It needed another business for the location, one with the same ideals the credit union: people helping people and a business that would also benefit the community. Meanwhile, Semillas Community Charter Schools faced state budget cutbacks and began thinking creatively about how to raise revenue and give back to the community. A coffee shop could generate additional income, and the schools use the facilities to teach students and prepare nutritious lunches. A credit line and parents’ support would be needed to open the coffee shop. Cal State L.A. FCU set out to develop a business line of credit and a charter school loan program tailored to meet the needs of the school. The credit union said it considered the venture as an investment in the community--a community that it added to its field of membership as an underserved community. The relationship between the school and credit union has been mutually beneficial, the credit union said. The coffee shop helps offset the cost of the rent for the new branch as it builds membership. Many parents, students, teachers and community members have opened accounts. Several news organizations picked up the story and gave the credit union some favorable press. See the links. “We developed a relationship with the Cal State L.A. CU, which is providing us a huge line of credit at an affordable price,” said Marcos Aguilar, executive director, Semillas Community Charter Schools. “Last year, we had to pay exorbitant amounts to borrow money to deal with the state's cash flow crisis on the academic year and its impact on us. So we've already made a huge success there.” The Xocolatl Cacao Tea and Coffeehouse provides jobs in the community; and many staff are parents or grandparents of the school’s students. In addition to shielding the school from state budget cutbacks, students can learn about supply and demand, and marketing and profit. Kitchen space is available for school lunches. The credit union also is working with the school to provide opportunities for financial education. Cal State L.A. FCU is based in Los Angeles and has $41.7 million in assets.

NASCUS continues regional regulators meeting

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ARLINGTON, Va. (1/12/10)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) continues its regional regulator meeting series this week in Atlanta and San Francisco. The series, which began in November in Northeastern states, involves small group discussion on critical issues affecting state-chartered credit unions. NASCUS met Monday in Atlanta, and will meet Wednesday in San Francisco. Regulators from 12 Southeast, West and Northwest states will attend. “Given the complexity of the regulatory and legislative landscape, providing opportunities for our members to gather in small group settings is incredibly valuable to our state regulators, but also for NASCUS as we represent state regulators’ interests in Washington, D.C.,” said NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney. The series started in 2005. State regulators also will meet at the National Credit Union Administration/NASCUS State Regulators National Meeting March 7-9 and at the NASCUS System State Summit Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

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 ...

CUs suit seeks mortgage-fraud bond coverage

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MEDFORD, N.Y., and MADISON, Wis. (1/8/10)--Suffolk FCU, a New York credit union that incurred losses when the CU National Mortgage/U.S. Mortgage Corp. fraudulently sold 189 of its mortgage loans to Fannie Mae, filed a lawsuit Monday against its insurer, seeking coverage of the losses under a bond policy. Suffolk, of Medford, N.Y., lost nearly $42.4 million when the two mortgage companies sold the loans without authorization to Fannie Mae, the credit union maintains in the complaint, filed against Madison, Wis.-based CUNA Mutual Insurance Society (CUMIS). The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. At issue is whether the fraudulent losses are covered by the credit union's bond policy with CUMIS, according to court documents obtained by News Now. It seeks damages for breach of contract and a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to coverage under a fidelity bond issued by the insurer. CU National Mortgage and U.S. Mortgage filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February last year. It listed more than $200 million in debts to Fannie Mae and to 19 credit unions, including Suffolk FCU (News Now May 4). CUNA Mutual told News Now Thursday that there are three cases currently related to the bond coverage: Suffolk's; a similar one filed in December by Educational Systems FCU of Greenbelt, Md.; and a declaratory judgment action sought by CUNA Mutual in a Wisconsin court. CUMIS filed two declaratory judgment actions in June and August in Wisconsin state court asking the court to declare that the surety bonds did not cover the losses from the fraud (News Now Dec. 23). The court served the actions, and the case was moved to federal court in mid-December. "Our desire would be to have the action we filed in Wisconsin determine the coverage issue for all affected credit unions," Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager, said. In December, Tschudy said that the company believes other entities have liability for the losses credit unions suffered but it was looking for ways to assist the credit unions in seeking compensation for the losses (News Now Dec. 8). The president of CU National Mortgage, Michael McGrath pleaded guilty in June to defrauding the credit unions and Fannie Mae. He admitted to conspiring with others to fraudulent sell credit unions loans and use the proceeds to finance U.S. Mortgage's operations and investments for himself and the company (News Now June 12 and Dec. 23).

CU System briefs (01/07/2010)

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* RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/8/10)--Patelco CU, a $3.6 billion asset San Francisco-based credit union, has taken steps to enable members to deposit checks from their home or office. It selected CO-OP My Deposit from CO-OP Financial Services to provide the service. "Now our members do not have to leave home to make deposits. We have 40 branches in Northern California, but still many of our members are not located near a branch," according to John Shields, Patelco's senior vice president/chief technical officer. The service allows depositors to use their own scanner to send check images to Patelco's online banking website. The service does not require adoption or installation of new hardware, said CO-OP Financial Services. Patelco's use of CO-OP My Deposit will be available by mid-to-late first quarter ... * RALEIGH, N.C. (1/8/10)--State Employees' CU (SECU), based in Raleigh, has introduced the SECU NSF Fee Free Days to enhance its no-cost overdraft protection program. More than 80% of SECU's 800,000 checking accountholders use the program. The new benefit will provide coverage for more than 150,000 members. SECU has one of the lowest nonsufficient fund fees (NSF) in the financial industry, charging $12 to cover handling costs and losses associated with returned checks. Now members can have the fee waived on two separate days during the year, regardless of the number of items marked as NSF. SECU will return the items to the payee but waive the member's credit union fees. SECU also is planning to launch a new controlled-spending account for use with a debit card for members who want to eliminate the possibility of overdrafts. And the $18.5 billion asset credit union is working on a program called "Another Chance," which will provide mobile alerts and an additional day for members to cover inadvertent overdrafts without fee, return or embarrassment. That program is set for introduction in the Spring ... * REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (1/8/10)--San Mateo CU (SMCU), in Redwood City, Calif.--through a special program--is offering members a way to help bring affordable financial services to developing countries. Visitors to any one of the six SMCU branch locations throughout the county have the opportunity to drop their “small change” in a special coin box. The “Small Change, Big Difference” campaign, developed by the World Council of Credit Unions, gives credit union members worldwide a chance to tangibly support international development through credit unions. Donations will be used for the Credit Union Start-up Fund, which helps new and small credit unions in developing countries provide the means by which the working poor can lift themselves from poverty ... * MADISON, Wis. (1/8/10)--UW CU in Madison, Wis., this month is launching its online Money Management Tools, which are integrated into Web Branch--the credit union’s online banking program. The free expense tracking and reporting tool is designed to help consumers better understand their spending. Users can assign categories to transactions and make notes on each transaction. The functions helps users better understand their spending habits by assigning categories to transactions such as home, groceries, utilities, income and other areas. Labels also can be assigned to add further detail--such as different family members or a particular event--to each item …

Mica on Huffington Post Consumers moving to CUs

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WASHINGTON (1/8/10)--A blog by Credit Union National Association President Dan Mica posted Thursday on the front page of The Huffington Post and responding to the Post's "Move Your Money" series, has generated hundreds of online comments, many from consumers praising their credit unions. Earlier in the week the Huffington Post' launched a campaign, telling consumers to "make a New Year's resolution to move your money out of big banks" and put it in community banks. Since then the Post has amended the advice to include credit unions. Mica's blog responded to the campaign with a "Right on!" and pointed readers to CUNA's CU locator tool at creditunion.coop, which helps visitors locate credit unions near them. "Without question, financial consumers are angry at--and have lost their loyalty to--big banks. Late-night comics routinely make fun of the banks; there's even a new iPhone app in which players try to stop 'cash-hungry' bankers from wheedling more bailout money from the U.S. Treasury," Mica wrote. He noted that "consumers are already voting with their wallets in favor of credit unions." CUNA data show credit unions are on pace to post 2% membership growth in 2009--"the fastest rate we have seen since 2001 and double the rate of U.S. population growth," he said. Moving to credit union "makes perfect sense," he wrote, citing credit unions' structure and service orientation, their better rates and lower fees, and the amount consumers have saved by using credit unions--$9.2 million, or $104 per member and $198 per family. "In today's turbulent economy, credit unions' cooperative business model has renewed relevance for American consumers," Mica wrote. He referred to a statement from Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who said that if other financial institutions behaved like credit unions and small community banks, the mortgage meltdown would never have happened. After the Post's original article, it received a number of comments saying it should add credit unions to its advice. The "updates" page of the Post's "Move Your Money" site now includes this: "CHECK OUT CREDIT UNIONS. Many folks writing us are avid advocates of credit unions. For those who want to do more research, the Credit Union National Association seems like a good resource." By Thursday afternoon, Mica's column had generated 194 comments from online readers and the article had been retweeted 76 times.

Lawrence Mich. again gets an FI--a CU

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (1/8/10)--The village of Lawrence, Mich., will get a financial institution again after being without one since Fifth Third Bank closed its doors last spring. This time it will be a credit union. The Van Buren Intermediate School District board Wednesday approved a lease agreement with Oshtemo-based Educational Community CU to open a branch in the Junior Special Services Facility on the school district's campus, south of downtown (Kalamazoo News Jan. 7). School Supt. Jeffrey Mills told the newspaper the board's goal was to have the branch open before the end of the school year. He said the credit union would not only provide the village a financial institution but it also would teach students about financial literacy.

Malawi CUs recovering after earthquake

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (1/8/10)--Credit unions in the Karonga district of Malawi are recovering from December earthquakes that have killed three, hospitalized more than 80 and left 300,000 homeless. The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO) are helping affected members and staff of the credit unions there. With WOCCU's assistance, MUSCCO will provide aid directly to the credit unions--savings and credit cooperatives, or SACCOS--and its members this weekend. No formal fundraising efforts will be undertaken, but WOCCU is accepting donations at www.woccu.org/give in support of Malawi's rebuilding efforts (Use the resource link to access the site). The Canadian Co-operative Association also will provide financial support for MUSCCO's efforts, said Sylvester Kadzola, MUSCCO chief executive and a WOCCU director.
Click to view larger image A Malawi credit union member examines the rubble of his newly built home hit by a recent earthquake.
Click to view larger image Malawi's December earthquakes left more than 300,000 homeless. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“Our plan is to give relief straight to the SACCO members,” Kadzola said. “The money will be used to provide general relief and meet the needs of SACCO members whose houses were damaged or destroyed,” he added. Malawi’s SACCOs have performed a critical role in serving the country’s people and helping stabilize families and communities, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. At least one of MUSCCO's 60 member SACCOs was affected by the earthquake, with more than half of the institution's members were left homeless because of the disaster. The main office of the SACCO, which serves Karonga district teachers, suffered structural damage that will require extensive repair. The SACCO's branch office some 20 miles closer to the earthquake's epicenter was completely destroyed. “We have had severe power disruptions, and it is extremely difficult to communicate," said Kadzola. “We are hearing unpleasant stories that earthquake victims are being asked to pay money if they want to be assisted quickly. It is disheartening that this is happening in the face of such devastation.” The most recent earthquake, which struck Dec. 20, measured 6.0 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Karonga district, on the Great Rift Valley fault line, was struck by another earthquake earlier in the month. The two seismic events indicate that the fault line may be “realigning” itself and that new fault lines may be forming, making the earthquake-prone region even more unstable, experts said. MUSCCO has been serving Malawi's SACCOs since 1980 and is a member organization of WOCCU. Kadzola has been a member of WOCCU's board of directors since 2001.

Coastal FCU to close Charlotte branch network

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RALEIGH, N.C. (1/8/10)--Coastal FCU announced that it will close a physical branch network in Charlotte, N.C., and an underperforming branch in the Cleveland, N.C., area on Feb. 26. Instead, Raleigh-based Coastal will expand its presence in the Triangle, where Coastal is headquartered and has 15 branches. The Triangle includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The branches closing are:
* 1835 West W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte; * 1605 Galleria Blvd., Charlotte; * 970 Branchview Dr., Concord; and * 5638 NC Highway 42 West, Garner, in the Cleveland area.
While Coastal has had a branch presence in the Charlotte and Triangle markets, most of Coastal’s member and best-performing locations are in the Triangle. Charlotte branches had a smaller membership base, minimal market share and limited branch network, while facing stronger competition from banks and other credit unions, Coastal said. The Cleveland branch has not met performance requirements after five years, and is being combined with Coastal’s nearby White Oak branch. The White Oak location offers extended weekday and Saturday teller hours, Coastal added. The credit union will build upon its Express Teller technology and a new branch strategy to fill gaps in consumer banking coverage in the Triangle market. In 2009, Coastal began upgrading branches to the Express Teller system, which allows tellers in a centralized center in Raleigh to interact with members remotely at branches to conduct transactions. Coastal upgraded 12 branches plus installed a standalone Express Teller unit onsite at the Lenovo campus, and a member services associate to open accounts and make loans. “We actually ended up upgrading three more locations than we had planned to do by the end of 2009, and finished two months ahead of schedule,” said Larry Wilson, Coastal president/CEO. “Because of the Express Teller system, we can now offer extended weekday and Saturday teller hours at 12 locations.” Coastal reiterated previously announced plans to create more branch coverage in the area. It will open several new branches through 2012, and replace or upgrade existing branches to provide extended hours of service. Work is underway at a new Raleigh location, which will replace Coastal's Lynnwood branch later this year. Progress is also being made to upgrade a Durham branch by year-end. Members who use the Charlotte branches are being notified of service alternatives, including Credit Union Service Centers and Coastal's online banking system. The credit union also participates in networks that give members nationwide access to 3,500 shared branches and 50,000 surcharge-free ATMs. Coastal FCU has $2.2 billion in assets.

CUs eager to participate in N.Y. revitalization

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/8/10)--New York credit unions are eager to participate in New York Gov. David Paterson’s state revitalization plan, said Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO William J. Mellin. Paterson delivered his second State of the State address as governor Wednesday, and outlined his plan to rebuild New York. The association commended Paterson on his address, and said it supports his agenda to build the state economy through fiscal and ethics reform, job development, community reinvestment and modern energy initiatives. New York credit unions will look for ways they can partner with Paterson to achieve his goals, and are ready to help fill a lending void created by commercial banks and other financial institutions because of the subprime crisis, Mellin said. Credit unions have been responsible lenders and will continue to provide capital for small businesses--which will play a larger role in economic revitalization and job creation in the state, he added. “Throughout their history, credit unions have been on the front lines of supporting New York families and communities facing hard times,” Mellin said. “They have taken it upon themselves to move into downtrodden communities that commercial banks have abandoned to make sure the community and its people have access to affordable financial services.” To read Paterson’s address, use the link.

N.Y. CUs exempt from special mortgage recording tax

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/8/10)--A bill that exempts New York state-chartered credit unions from the state’s special additional mortgage recording tax went into effect Jan. 1. “The bill levels the playing field [for state credit unions] with their federal counterparts,” Bonnie Sklar, Credit Union Association of New York public relations coordinator, told News Now. Federal credit unions in New York are exempt from the tax. The bill, Special Additional Mortgage Recording Tax (SAMRT) bill, was signed into law by New York Gov. David Paterson in September 2008.

Ohio CUs capture record auto loan market share

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (1/8/10)--Total auto lending market share at Ohio credit unions increased to a record 18.2% from September 2008 to September 2009 despite a decline in vehicle sales, said the Ohio Credit Union League. Similarly, first mortgage originations rose 51.9% during the period, totaling $1.37 billion in 2009 versus $904 million in 2008. Credit union membership also grew with more than 53,000 Ohioans joining credit unions. Capital levels at Ohio credit unions remain high at 11.9% of assets, better than capital at Ohio banks and thrifts, and overall U.S. credit unions and banks, the league said. “This is an unprecedented time for credit unions in the state of Ohio,” said Paul Mercer, league president. “Credit unions have money to lend despite the difficult economy, and the response from consumers has been positive, with growth in auto lending, mortgages, and member business lending. We look to continue these trends and be a partner to our members and the communities we serve as we all strive for economic recovery.” During the 12-month period, credit unions witnessed an overall loan growth of 6.64%, with auto loan balances increasing 11.9% and first mortgage balances up 3.9%. Total delinquencies rose to 1.37% in September, up from 1.21% the previous year. While delinquencies are on the rise, they remain below the national credit union average of 1.69% through September, the league said. Despite restrictions imposed by federal law, credit union member business lending (MBL) grew 11.2% to $333 million in outstanding loan balances. The 90 Ohio credit unions that provide MBL reported an average delinquency rate of 3.65%, which is above the national average but down from the previous June rate of 3.84%. Federal law currently caps credit unions’ business lending at 12.25% of assets; however, legislation pending in Congress would raise the cap to 25%. The Credit Union National Association reported that lifting the cap could provide $10 billion in new small business loans and at least 108,000 new jobs nationwide. The number of Ohio credit union members grew by 53,183 from September 2008 to September 2009--to more than 2.65 million. The average credit union in the state has 6,685 members, $50.15 million in assets, and $31.4 million in loans. Ohio credit unions employ more than 6,800 people or staffers and contribute nearly $140 million in compensation to employees annually, according to the league’s most recent quarterly financial report.

West CUNA Management School announces board

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ONTARIO, Calif. (1/8/10)--The newest members of the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) Board of Trustees have been announced. They are: John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming; Teresa Freeborn, CEO, Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif.; Bradley H. (Brad) Harvey, CEO, Horizons North CU, Northglenn, Colo.; and Brett Martinez, CEO, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Click to view larger image 2010 Western CUNA Management School Board of Trustees are, front row, from left, New board trustees: Horizons North CU CEO Bradley H. (Brad) Harvey, Redwood CU CEO Brett Martinez, Xceed Financial CU CEO Teresa Freeborn, and Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming President/CEO John Dill. Back row, from left, are: Rogue FCU CEO Eugene L. Pelham, Travis CU CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues Senior Vice President of Professional Development/Chief Operating Officer and WCMS Provost Mark Klinkert, USA FCU CEO and WCMS Board Chairman Mary Cunningham, WCMS President/Dean James D. Likens, and Orange County CU CEO Shruiti Miyashiro. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League)
The board--made up of nine credit union CEOs, two league presidents, the WCMS president and WCMS provost--is responsible for operating of one of four advanced regional schools for credit union management professionals. The schools are sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and leagues. Dill has served as president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Colorado since 2004. He serves on the Credit Union National Association’s Government Affairs Committee. Dill will assume the board seat of Washington Credit Union League President/CEO John Annaloro, whose term in the three-year rotating league president spot ended. Freeborn has more than 30 years experience in the credit union system. She is assuming the seat of Vince Rojas, who recently retired as CEO of Kern Schools FCU in Bakersfield, Calif. Harvey is the chairman of the Rocky Mountain CUES Council. He has also served on various committees and task forces at the state level, and is on the Government Affairs Committee. Harvey is assuming the seat of Colorado United CU CEO Branda Abbott, who is moving to a chief operating officer position at her recently merged credit union. Martinez has more than 24 years of credit union experience and has served as a senior executive for both the California Credit Union League and Arrowhead CU in San Bernardino, Calif., prior to joining Redwood CU in 2002. He replaces San Mateo CU CEO Barry Jolette, recently named the new World Council of Credit Unions board chairman. WCMS is sponsored by the leagues of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming in cooperation with Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

A-K Valley branch--a robbery magnet--closes

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PITTSBURGH (1/8/10)--A credit union branch that was robbed four times in the past two years and was burglarized on New Year's Day has closed permanently. The board of A-K Valley FCU, based in Lower Burrell, Pa., met Wednesday and decided to close permanently the Homewood branch, which served an underserved area for more than five years, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway Jan. 7). The branch had not reopened since the burglary. A-K Valley President/CEO Janet Horn told PCUA the board made the decision with "very sad hearts" because the board and staff had put much effort into the branch to provide services to members who need help. The deciding factor was the board's concern for the safety of the credit union's employees and members, she said. Police are still investigating the burglary. A surveillance camera captured the burglar rifling through file cabinets. All members' records were safety locked in cabinets, the credit union said. The four robberies involved gunmen wielding assault rifles. The credit union had hired an armed guard to be present in the lobby during branch hours. "Homewood is a dangerous place. We have tried numerous times to work with community leaders and law enforcement to address the situation, but nothing gets done, and the crime problem continues to get worse and worse," Horn said. In one robbery, a member was completing a transaction when a robber entered the credit union and grabbed the cash from her hand. "We have been so fortunate that no one was hurt or killed," Horn said, noting that the constant uneasiness took a toll on employees and it was difficult to adequately staff the branch. "It's an unfortunate situation, because there are good people in the neighborhood who need financial services. But we can't continue the high cost of security and risk the safety and security of our staff and members," she said. A bank branch two blocks from the credit union also has had problems. It allows one customer inside at a time, and several customers have been attacked while using an ATM outside, said PCUA. The A-K Valley Homewood branch was a shared branch outlet. It is advising members to use shared branching services at other locations. The credit union is working with members on an individual basis to continue meeting financial needs.

UK will stop clearing checks by 2018

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LONDON (1/7/10)--Central check clearing in the United Kingdom (UK) may become a thing of the past as of Oct. 31, 2018. The UK's Payments Council Board set the date as a target for ending check clearing, saying that check use is in a "long-term, terminal decline." Check use has declined since 1990, but has dropped 40% during the past five years, said the council, which sets strategy for UK payments. During the next nine years, the council will promote and explain existing alternatives and ensure that any required innovations and new options are in place. It noted there are "still plenty of situations where checks are used extensively," including payments between individuals and to sole traders, small businesses, clubs, charities and schools. The goal is to ensure there is no scenario by 2018 where anyone or any business needs to use a check, the council said. Its next steps are to identify targets it can measure progress against. It plans a review of its progress in 2016. At that time the council will decide whether sufficient change has occurred against agreed published criteria that would eliminate checking altogether in 2018.

Recent media roundup touts Save to Win CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/10)--Credit union leagues and credit unions did the media rounds this week, but credit unions also came up naturally in discussions on programs such as the "Today" show on MSNBC.com and in articles praising credit unions in theHuffington Post. On the "Today" Show, credit unions came up in a conversation among consumer finance experts Jean Chatzkey, David Bach and Sharon Epperson, who answered listeners' questions. In a discussion of savings account rates, Bach, author of "Finish Rich," noted that many accounts are at 1.65% and suggested getting a credit union account. "Go to Find a CU.com. (Savings) rates are high for credit union members," he said. Find a Credit Union is managed by League InfoSight--a collaborative organization made up of state credit union leagues and the Credit Union National Association. Also, Epperson noted that if one needs liquid cash, "then you want a credit union account." Use the link to watch the video. On FoxBusiness.com Live, Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams discussed the success of an eight-credit union pilot of the league's "Save to Win" program. The 12,000 participants have set aside more than $ 8 million through the prize-linked savings program, including a $100,000 grand prize, to be awarded Jan. 15, he said. He also discussed a CUcorp survey of the program's participants which found that 55% had not saved money regularly before program. The average saved is $680 per account. He noted the program will expand to 21 credit unions in the state this year. Use the link to watch the video. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) discussed how the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act would impact consumers on
Corinne Sherman, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association vice president, fee services, was interviewed Tuesday by abc27 Consumer Reporter Dennis Buterbaugh at PCUA headquarters about the Credit CARD Act and how consumers will be affected. The segment aired Tuesday night on the Harrisburg station's news program. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
abc27, a station in Harrisburg. Corinne Sherman, vice president, fee services, told consumer reporter Dennis Buterbaugh during an interview at PCUA headquarters that the new law prevents interest rate increase on a current balance and a 45-day notice before raising interest rates after the first year. Sherman particularly noted a provision in the Credit CARD Act that should prevent college students from getting too many credit cards. Sherman said the act prevents cards from being given to students under the age of 21, without the consent of a parent. The Huffington Post has published a series of articles that urge consumers to "Move Your Money." While it suggested moving your money to community banks, the site added a note that many readers wrote it to ask that credit unions be included in the effort. In another article, the Post provided "Move Your Money Success Stories," which invited readers to write of their experiences moving their money from big banks. The article said readers criticized big banks for unexplained hikes in interest rates and unruly fees charged, "sometimes, for no apparent reason." "Readers' stories from local banks--and especially local credit unions--contrasted greatly with the complaints of impersonal and unjust treatment at national banks. One reader from Western Massachusetts wrote about a "delightful experience" switching to Greylock CU. "Though not yet included in the Institutional Risk Analytics database, local credit unions received plenty of praise from HuffPost readers for having the best rates and responsiveness," said the article. Another reader transferred $5,000 from a Wells Fargo checking account to Patelco CU, where he had savings account. One reader said, "Ditch your bank for a credit union." Use the link to access the articles.

Craigs List ad targeting CUs is pulled

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/7/10)--Craig's List has pulled an advertisement that sought to recruit current credit union members to solicit others to join the credit union through them. According to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), the advertiser offered $75 to current members who answered the ad and allowed ineligible people to join credit unions through a current member (Life is a Highway Jan. 6). The ad listed specific credit unions across the country. However, the wording indicated the ad would take anyone, said PCUA. The ad appeared to be from California. PCUA alerted the California Credit Union League, which investigated the posting. When News Now went to check the link, Craig's List had posted a notice that it had pulled the ad.

CU System briefs (01/06/2010)

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* BILOXI, Miss. (1/7/10)--Three individuals were arrested Wednesday morning after breaking into a deaf man’s house and forcing him at gunpoint to visit his credit union to withdraw money (WLOX Jan. 6). Two men and a woman were arrested at Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., after the victim to alerted an employee who knew sign language. Investigators said the man had a conflict with the suspects before ... * PORTERVILLE, Calif., and DURHAM, N.C. (1/7/09)--El Futuro CU, based in Porterville, Calif., and Self-Help FCU announced a merger to strengthen their ability to serve the unbanked and working families in California. El Futuro CU will become part of Self-Help and will do business as Community Trust CU, a division of Self-Help. The merger--the third for the Durham, N.C.-based Self-Help in California-- expands its ability to serve the Bay area and Central Valley. Self-Help has $5.5 billion in assets. El Futuro has more than $8 million in assets ... * TIGARD, Ore. (1/7/10)--NW Preferred FCU has appointed Steve Canfield as its new president/CEO, after the retirement of former President/CEO Tom Edwards. Canfield served as the credit union's executive vice president since 1995. Prior to joining NW Preferred, Canfield worked for six years with the National Credit Union Administration as an examiner for the Western Region. Throughout his more than 20-year career, Canfield has held volunteer positions within the credit union industry. He is a current member of the board of the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) and CUAO's CU Services. He previously served on the Supervisory Committee of Northwest Corporate CU ...

Velocity CU members OK switch to private insurance

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AUSTIN, Texas (1/7/10)--Velocity CU members voted Dec. 29 to switch from federally backed deposit insurance to private deposit insurance offered by American Share Insurance Corp. (ASI). The $499 million Austin, Texas-based credit union’s board of directors last month said the credit union wanted to avoid an assessment imposed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to strengthen its deposit insurance fund (Statesman.com Jan. 5). For the change to occur, Velocity first needed more than 20% of its 75,000 members to vote on the matter, with the majority approving the switch, the newspaper said. NCUA is now reviewing the certification to determine if it will approve the change, John McKechnie, NCUA director of public and congressional relations, told the paper. In a statement sent to News Now, Debbie Mitchell, Velocity president/CEO, said: “The membership vote is complete and it was in favor of the board of directors’ resolution to convert to the private insurer. I feel this shows good faith from our membership and we appreciate their support of this proposal. Now we will await NCUA’s final approval.”

Series Award honors Rogue CU foreclosure plan

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MEDFORD, Ore. (1/7/10)--Using “out-of-the-box” thinking and innovative programming, Rogue FCU in Medford, Ore., is helping its members and communities overcome the economic and emotional obstacles of foreclosure. Rogue FCU won first place for the Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility in the $200 million to $500 million asset category for its Building Hope Foreclosure Prevention and Assistance Plan, which became a statewide project to help individual communities. This story is the first in a series News Now will publish on credit unions that received the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Dora Maxwell and Louise Herring awards. The series aims to take an in-depth look at credit unions’ programs and their impact on communities. Rogue’s Building Hope plan was created in January 2009 after an individual with the Home Builders Association of Jackson County approached the credit union and said families in the area were emotionally disintegrating because of foreclosures. He wanted the credit union to help. Rogue FCU began offering emotional counseling through Home Builders to affected families. Home Builders received a $6,000 grant to cover the costs. Rogue also created a manual describing the modification process and three free classes on foreclosure. “We named [the program] Building Hope, with the vision of building relationships for life,” said Kerrie Davis, Rogue FCU community and education outreach coordinator, who helped create the program. The classes--open to anyone in the community--focus on crisis budgeting, loan modifications and consumer rights during the foreclosure process. The third class, consumer rights, is taught by attorneys. The attorneys are not paid for the classes, but are passionate about their work, Davis said. “One stayed for an hour after class just helping people,” Davis added. The classes began in March in Jackson County. By May, they expanded to Josephine and Klamath counties. Rogue also created a Hispanic version of the course and translated its documents to Spanish. In July, the credit union created a turnkey program to offer the information statewide by partnering with local TV station KDRV and the home builders association. Anyone can partner with the home builders association and offer the program, Davis said. More than 700 families have attended classes, and more than 50 have sought emotional counseling at Rogue. Davis emphasized the importance of emotional counseling. When foreclosures happen, they also affect families as a whole--even children, she said. When people have financial difficulties, other problems follow--depression, substance abuse, crime and suicide. Foreclosures can split up families. “The goal is to get families stable,” Davis said. “It’s terrible to lose a home, but it’s tragic to lose a family.” More classes are set to start next week--and 40 people have already signed up. Some classes have been “standing room only,” Davis said. Many who attend also seek private financial counseling from the credit union. Rogue’s Hispanic version of the program is taught by bilingual staff to local parent groups. The groups, organized by schools or Boys and Girls Clubs, have 25 to 60 members apiece. In addition to Hope, Rogue offers Rogue Solution Loans--which received CUNA’s 2009 Excellence in Lending Award--to help members with rising interest rates, loss of jobs, reduction in hours and restructuring of debt. Rogue Solution Loans help people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck and were created after lenders began hiking rates on credit cards. Consumers were receiving negative responses from national lenders when they asked for help, and the hikes “rocked people from their budgets,” Davis said. Rogue creates personal plans--from restructuring loans to deferring payments. When Rogue can’t help, it refers individuals to community resources--like food or power assistance. Middle-class and upper middle-class families are most affected by the program, Davis said. “These people are paralyzed [by debt],” she said. “[The program] has helped tremendously.” Rogue also has reached out to small businesses. It has met with employer groups to tell them about the available programs and classes. When small businesses suffer, so does everyone else, Davis noted. “It’s like being on a hamster wheel where you can’t get off,” she said. Rogue’s impact in the community has grown as a result of its programs--and its membership has increased by about 4.65%. About 174 loans have been worked out and restructured, and 195 temporary alternate payment loans have been granted. Delinquencies decreased to 1.08% from 1.55%. “People in the community are talking about Rogue--they know we’re here to help,” Davis said. “It differentiates us from other financial institutions.” Credit unions wanting to help their communities through programs like Rogue’s need to get a pulse on their community, because national averages may not indicate how bad a problem really is. It’s also a good time to partner with other organizations--for instance, the partnership with Oregon’s local TV station, KDRV, and the Home Builders has been great, Davis said. “We’re here for our community, to keep it stable and healthy,” Davis said. “There’s nothing better than to hear back from someone that the loan modification worked out.” Rogue FCU has $446 million in assets.

Acquisition of Canadas CUMIS Group completed

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BURLINGTON, Ontario (1/7/10)--Cooperators Life Insurance Company and Central 1 CU of Vancouver, B.C., announced the acquisition of The CUMIS Group Limited Co-operators Life Insurance Company was completed Dec. 31. Prior to the transaction, the majority shareholder of CUMIS was CUNA Mutual Group of Madison, Wis. (Market News Publishing Jan. 4). CUMIS provides personal insurance, including credit and mortgage protection; life; disability and critical illness; home; auto; travel and employee benefits. It also provides business, liability and property insurance to credit unions, and wealth management services and products, including credit union group retirement plans. The pre-dividend purchase price was $254.4 million, subject to post-closing adjustments. Cooperators will own about 73%, and Central 1 will own about 27% of CUMIS. “This acquisition will provide growth opportunities by building on our relationships with credit unions,” said Don Rolfe, president/CEO of Central 1. “We believe this is a strategic investment that offers the potential to improve our members' experience and create value for them.” All existing CUMIS insurance policies remain in effect with no changes, CUMIS said.

Council seeks marketing biz development awards nominees

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/10)--Credit union marketing and business development professionals celebrating a “career year” or a lifetime of achievement may be nominated for three awards sponsored by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council for outstanding service to credit unions. Recipients of the Hall of Fame, Marketing Professional of the Year, and Business Development Professional of the Year Awards will be announced at the council’s 17th annual conference, March 21-24 in Washington, D.C. The Hall of Fame Award honors a lifetime of achievement in marketing and business development for credit union professionals. Nominations are being accepted until Jan. 15. Nominees may be current or former credit union professionals in these fields, may be alive or deceased, and will be evaluated based on these criteria:
* Number of years in the profession; * Contributions to the profession; * Contributions to the success of the candidate’s credit union; * Continuing education; * Credit union movement contributions, and * Involvement in outside organizations.
The Marketing Professional of the Year Award recognizes an industry professional in credit union marketing who consistently excels for the benefit of his or her employer, while advancing the founding principles of the movement. Nominations are being accepted until Jan. 29. Judges base this award on:
* Marketing as a factor in the credit union’s success; * Marketing as a management function; * Fostering the success of the credit union movement, and * Enhancing the community through organizational involvement/activism.
The Business Development Professional of the Year Award will be presented to an individual exemplifing excellence in credit union business development, including the growth of credit union membership and expansion of services, while maintaining the ideals of the credit union movement. Nominations are being accepted until Jan. 29. Award selection will be based on nominees’ mastery of:
* Business development as a factor in the credit union’s success; * Fostering the success of the credit union movement, and * Enhancing the community through organizational involvement/activism.
For award descriptions and entry forms, use the links. For more information on entry procedures, contact Bobbi Bischke, CUNA council administration, at 800-356-9655, ext. 4018, or by e-mail at bbischke@cuna.coop.

CUNA Coopera launch Spanish personal finance site

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union League, have launched a Spanish personal finance website for credit unions. The site, El Poder es Tuyo--The Power is Yours--offers credit unions personal finance information that is timely, and culturally relevant, and promotes the use of credit union services to the Hispanic market. The annual subscription includes expert advice in the form of articles, videos, interactive coaches, and calculators--all in Spanish--with content updated weekly. Credit unions can customize the site to drive traffic, and business, back to their websites. “Credit unions targeting the fastest-growing demographic group in the country or operating in states with a high concentration of Hispanic people should take a look at this product,” said Warren Morrow, founder and CEO of Coopera Consulting, and part of a task force from Coopera and CUNA charged with developing El Poder es Tuyo. “The use of the Internet by the Latino market has grown from 28% of households to more than 68% of households over the past five years so going after this market online makes perfect sense,” Morrow said. “It allows credit unions to provide financial education and drive business through their websites.” “This product gives credit unions an excellent resource to build membership and reduce the average age of their membership,” said Mark Condon, senior vice president of CUNA's business and consumer publishing operation. “Hispanics tend to be young--nearly 70% of Hispanic non members are between the ages of 25 and 44--and they account for about half the U.S. population growth since 2000. The fit between credit unions with their member/ownership and the strong familial bond of the Hispanic culture seems to be a perfect fit.” With El Poder es Tuyo, credit unions will have access to an outreach tool that, according to CUNA, will:
* Attract new members; * Introduce credit union products and services to Hispanic members and potential members; * Maintain a long-term relationship with Hispanic families, who will establish a credit union’s website as their “financial dashboard”; * Teach the credit union difference to underserved populations; * Improve the financial literacy of the Hispanic community; and * Position the credit union as a trusted financial partner in Spanish-dominant and bilingual markets.
For a limited time, El Poder Es Tuyo is available at half price. To learn more, use the links.

WOCCUs 2.1M project expands technology in Kenya

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/10)--The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided $2.1 million to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to help establish and test new financial data processing and product development capabilities for savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs)--or credit unions--in Kenya.
Click to view larger image Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Union (WOCCU) executive vice president and chief operating officer, greets a group of Kenyan children. WOCCU is helping establish and test new financial data processing and product development capabilities for savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs)--or credit unions--in Kenya.
Click to view larger image Many merchants in Tala, Kenya’s open-air marketplace, are now members of their local credit union. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The new two-year grant for the Kenya Data Services Bureau Project follows a November 2006 foundation grant of $6.6 million awarded to WOCCU to implement a three-year credit union growth program designed to reach the unbanked and rural poor in Kenya, Rwanda and Colombia. Technology development supported by the new funding will help WOCCU expand its reach to credit unions and communities in rural areas, to serve an increasing number of poor Kenyans with financial services to help support their economic growth and survival. “This funding from the Gates Foundation reflects favorably on the technological innovations we believe will be effective in Kenya,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Increased technical capabilities enable us to reach the rural poor in areas where no credit union branches exist. Technology enables us to increase credit union membership and provide more services to those members.” The new program focuses on technology development and deployment only in Kenya, where more than 59% of credit union members live on less than $1 per day. Grant dollars will support the development of a central data processing service bureau in WOCCU's Nairobi office so small and medium-sized rural SACCOs can reach beyond their normal service areas and meet the needs of more people. The back-office program was designed with the help of Synergent, a subsidiary of the Maine Credit Union League. Participating SACCOs will have access to back-office accounting and operations, credit and savings administration, and management information system services. Access to those services will require participating SACCOs to adopt more stringent accounting disciplines, internal controls and risk management methods to improve the transparency and overall safety and soundness of SACCO operations. The new program differs from the previous Gates foundation-funded program, which ended in October, in its primary emphasis on technology and its single-country focus. The initial program, known as the Credit Union Growth Program, was designed to grow membership and more effectively serve the poor in Rwanda, Colombia and Kenya. The program reached nearly one million new credit union members across the three countries. “The goal of our original program was to create a credit union growth toolkit to help participating institutions expand their outreach through innovative marketing plans, product designs and branding procedures,” Branch said. “Thanks to this second round of Gates Foundation funding, we are able to further explore portable technology options in Kenya that have proven so effective in reaching the rural poor elsewhere in the world.” The grant to WOCCU is part of the Gates Foundation's Financial Services for the Poor initiative. It works with public and private partners to harness technology and innovation to bring quality, affordable savings accounts and other financial services to the poor. The foundation believes that setting aside small sums in a safe place allows people to guard against risks, build assets and provide opportunities for the next generation.

N.Y. foundation elects board officers for 2010

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/7/10)--The New York Credit Union Foundation--the charitable arm of the Credit Union Association of New York--announced its slate of board officers for 2010.
Vicki O’Neill, president of ACMG FCU, Solvay, was elected chair. Bruno Sementilli, president/CEO of Quorum FCU, Purchase, is vice chair. Brian Clarke, chief financial officer of Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU will serve as secretary/treasurer. Nancy Kasprzak-Whitmore, president/CEO of Niagara County’s FCU, Lockport, is stepping down from the board after eight years. She also served as chair in 2008. Other board members include:
* Kevin A. Brauer, senior vice president, Members United Corporate FCU/Northeast Region, Warrenville, Ill.; * Linda Bourgeois, CEO, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh; * Alfred Frosolone, CEO, Niagara’s Choice FCU; * John C. Gibardi, president/CEO, Entertainment Industries FCU, New York City; * Chris Guild, account consultant manager, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis.; * Gerard Herrling, community volunteer; * Shirley Jenkins, secretary/board of directors, Municipal CU, New York City; * Michael Lotz, general manager/CEO, British Airways Employees FCU, East Elumhurst, N.Y.; * James L. Mack, business development executive, Sunmark FCU, Latham; * William J. Mellin, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New York; * Christine Peters, CEO, Family First of NY FCU, Rochester; * John Prumo, president/CEO, GPO FCU, New Hartford; and * Mike Vadala, president/CEO, The Summit FCU, Rochester.

Members United Corporate announces 08 financials

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (1/6/10)--Members United Corporate FCU Thursday announced its final audited financials for 2008, noting it had posted a $1.2 billion loss for the year after auditors required a 100% write-off of U.S. Central capital as of Dec. 31, 2008. The statement from Minneapolis-based auditors McGaldrey & Pullen set to rest the number of losses incurred by the corporate, like others, during the nation's credit crisis, and set the stage for the $8.3 billion asset,Warrenville, Ill.-based corporate's November 2009 financials, which reported no additional losses. The write-off of U.S. Central capital means that roughly $155.5 million in losses that previously were recorded in July and October 2009 have instead been recorded as a loss in December 2008. The restatement entries recorded in November 2009 had "no net impact on retained earnings--it is simply a timing issue for financial report," said the November financial report. The restated year-to-date loss for 2009 is $138 million. Members United reported a net income of $1.6 million for November. Its capital ratio at the end of November was 1.68%. Should more losses be incurred that result in a new deficit, Members United will be required to deplete more membership capital. It was performing an OTTI review as of Dec. 31 and said results should be ready by mid-February.

Bankruptcies up CUs in maintenance phase CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (1/6/10)--Personal bankruptcy filings hit 1.41 million last year--an increase of 32% over 2008. And credit unions can expect more chargeoffs during the post-recession, say Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economists.
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CUNA economist Steve Rick pointed out that the numbers will continue to go up because bankruptcies and chargeoffs lag behind a recession. "During a recession, people are existing for a while on their savings, and when that's used up they begin charging more, getting into debt." They make it through most of the recession. Then, it catches up and chargeoffs occur, he noted. According to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, which compiles and analyzes bankruptcy data, 2009's bankruptcy filings are at their highest level since 2005 (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 5). More people filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which liquidates assets to pay off some debts and absolves the filers of other debts. Chapter 7 filings were up more than 42% as of November 2009, compared with November 2008. Chapter 13 filings increased by 12% and accounted for less than one-third of the 2009 filings as of November, the latest month statistics were available. "You could see the increase coming with the last quarter's data," Mike Schenk, CUNA senior economist and vice president of economics and statistics, told News Now. "There naturally would be more bankruptcies after the recession than before."
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He noted that consumers rushed to file bankruptcies in 2005 before new bankruptcy laws took effect that October. The laws make it more difficult to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Filers are required to under go a means test to determine if the filer can pay back at least a portion of the debt after it is restructured. Rick agreed that credit unions could anticipate the losses and be prepared for them. "Credit unions for years have been in the building phase, building their allowances for loan losses (ALL) provisions in anticipation for an increase in chargeoffs. Now they're in the maintenance phase, where they will see a drop in provisions for ALL." For credit unions, chargeoffs are still a small number, said Schenk. Both delinquencies and net chargeoffs remain substantially lower than bank norms, according to the U.S. Credit Union Profile's Third Quarter 2009 results. In 2005, before the new law, credit unions experienced four bankruptcies per 1,000 members. That number tapered off to 1.4 bankruptcies per 1,000 members in 2006, followed by 1.8 in 2007, then 2.6 in 2008 and 3.7 as of September 2009. The average number of bankruptcies per credit union has increased slightly from 39.3 in 2005 to 43 as of in September 2009, according to the profile report. Half of credit unions' chargeoffs are due to bankruptcies.

Maine study CU members twice as loyal

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WESTBROOK, Maine (1/6/10)--Maine consumers rated credit unions higher than other financial institutions in rates, services and products, and are twice as likely to recommend a credit union over another financial institution, according to a report. “Perceptions of Banks and Credit Unions” by Market Decision--a Portland, Maine research firm--indicated that Maine credit union members are significantly more satisfied than customers of other financial institutions, said the Maine Credit Union League. The firm interviewed and surveyed 400 Maine consumers statewide for the report. "The study’s findings that Maine credit unions are the only segment in the financial services industry in the state that reaches the threshold considered a benchmark for a high-performing organization in the financial services industry further emphasizes [how well-positioned credit unions are]," said John Murphy, Maine league president. The study also indicated:
* Consumers said credit unions paid better interest rates (49%) than banks (25%); * Credit unions (36%) were viewed as better at giving back to the community than banks (28%); and * Consumers said credit unions (35%) offered friendlier service than banks (18%).
"The findings and results validate the important and positive role that credit unions have in providing financial services to Maine consumers,” Murphy said. “Despite the economic uncertainty and events of the past year throughout the financial services industry, credit unions in Maine are performing well and, as this study found, offer value and benefits consumers clearly recognize and appreciate."

CUNA Mutual exec outlines prefunding benefits

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NEPTUNE, N.J. (1/6/10)--CUNA Mutual Group Executive Benefits Specialist Mike Downey covered an emerging concept--credit unions prefunding benefits--at Monday’s Monmouth/Ocean County credit union chapter meeting in Neptune, N.J. With credit union health care costs increasing by 20% on average, some credit unions are using prefunding benefits to help mitigate costs, Downey said, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Jan 5). “It’s not a program to reduce benefit costs, but rather get higher investment yields to offset rising costs,” Downey added. Prefunding benefits is covered under National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Reg. 701.19 with clarification letters in February 2004 and December 2006. CUNA Mutual had an ongoing dialogue with NCUA on what investments are permissible for prefunding of benefits, Downey noted. Credit unions can fund benefit obligations using normally non-permissible investment vehicles, Downey said. Prefunding is a long-term investment strategy. The earnings from the investments can offset costs of underlying benefits. One New Jersey credit union prefunds benefits, as do about 12 on the East Coast. The concept is still new to most credit unions, Downey said.

Tax issue irrelevant to MBLs--N.Y. league

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ALBANY, N.Y. (1/6/10)--The fact that credit unions are exempt from income taxes should have no influence on federal lawmakers as they consider a bill to lift credit union member business lending to 25% of assets from 12.25%, the Credit Union Association of New York said. Whenever credit unions seek new powers, the tax issue gets raised and it is “irrelevant,” William Mellin, association CEO, told The Business Review of Albany, N.Y. (Jan. 1). “We are cooperatives,” he told the publication. “We are set up so that the profits go back to the members. And the members pay taxes.” As a whole, the credit union industry is not close to its collective cap, and for many credit unions the existence of a low cap is the problem, Mellin added. “Most credit unions in the country are small, and don’t want to gear up to get involved in commercial lending if they have to make 20 loans and then stop,” he said. Albany-based State Employees FCU (SEFCU) makes business loans ranging from $1,000 to as much as $10 million, the Review said. “What this [lifting of the cap to 25%] would do is support our future,” SEFCU CEO Michael Castellano told the publication. “We’re in sight of the limit, and demand for our business loans is stronger than ever.” Other credit union executives in the article included Bruce Beaudette, CEO, Summit FCU, Latham, and Paula Stopera, CEO, Capital Communications FCU, Colonie.

CU System briefs (01/05/2010)

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* MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (1/6/10)--Kinecta FCU board of directors announced that credit union industry veteran Steve Lumm has joined the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based credit union as interim president/CEO, effective immediately. He previously was president/CEO of the $1.8 billion asset Addison Avenue FCU (formerly HP Employees FCU) for 12 years and was instrumental in establishing its credit union service organization, Addison Avenue Financial Partners, which managed $1.7 billion in assets when he retired in early 2007. Since retiring, he has acted as a credit union consultant with Nice Enterprises Inc. Lumm also has served in leadership positions at Hewlett-Packard and was chair of the HP Employees FCU board and of the Supervisory Committee. Lumm will work with Kinecta's leadership team to continue the credit union's fourth-quarter performance momentum and deliver on its financial and operational plans while the search for a CEO is underway ... * MANCHESTER, N. H. (1/6/10)--Northeast CU has donated $10,000 to the New Hampshire Food Bank. In the photo, Northeast CU
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President/CEO Peter Kavalauskas presents the check to Melanie Gosselin, executive director of the food bank, on behalf of the credit union's employees, volunteers and board members. The food bank has seen a 30% to 40% increase in demand for meals from people struggling with the economy. "We recognize the extreme need to support our local communities, particularly during the holiday season when so many families are working hard to make ends meet and struggling to place food on their tables," said Kavalauskas. The Portsmouth, N. H.-based credit union has $656 million in assets. (Photo provided by Northeast CU) ...

CUs have great reputation Kanjorski tells Pa. CUs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/6/10)--Credit unions have a great reputation in the financial services industry, U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) told credit union leaders Monday at a town hall meeting for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. “You offer a great service, and credit unions have a great reputation,” Kanjorski said. “Stick to your mission of providing financial services at a great value,” he added (Life is a Highway Jan. 5). The meeting also focused on Kanjorski’s bill that would lift the member business lending cap from 12.25% to 25% of assets and exclude loans less than $250,000 from being defined as a “business loan.” All credit unions present at the meeting stressed how small businesses are looking for new sources of credit while banks tighten loans, the association said. Regarding the 2010 election cycle, credit unions urged Kanjorski to seek another term. Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Jim McCormack pledged support for Kanjorski’s campaign.

Pa. CUs see strong loan growth in 3Q

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/6/10)--New- and used-auto loans grew in third quarter 2009 for Pennsylvania credit unions, with new auto loans increasing 2.5%--double the growth reported in third quarter 2008, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). New-auto loans fell 0.1% nationally, according to PCUA’s Pennsylvania Profile, Third Quarter 2009. The report said state member business loan balances rose 5.2% in the third quarter and 23% over the last 12 months. Loan delinquency rates stabilized slightly above 1%, compared with the national average of 1.69% (Life is a Highway Jan. 4). Loans grew faster than savings during the third quarter, pushing the loan-to-savings ratio for Pennsylvania credit unions up to 69.4%, from its lowest point of 67.4% in the second quarter. Credit union membership also grew 2.3% over 12 months ending Sept. 30, compared to a national growth rate of 1.6%, PCUA said.

Top 10 INews NowI stories for December

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (1/6/10)--Credit unions’ media advocacy efforts continue to bring results, and News Now’s Top 10 story list for December reflects that. Two stories on media efforts were among the top five stories in News Now’s Top 10 stories for December. December’s top stories include: 10. Consumers write CUNA: Nearing point of bank revolt MADISON, Wis. (12/16/09)--Consumers are writing the Credit Union National Association to vent against banks’ actions and policies, and some are mentioning the word “revolt.” In a meeting Monday, several large banks were taken to task by President Barack Obama about their reluctance to make loans and help the economy and their opposition to regulatory reforms. That prompted several letters Tuesday to News Now. 9. NCUA seeks to intervene in WesCorp lawsuit ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/31/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which serves as conservator of Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp), announced Wednesday it has filed papers in a superior court in Los Angeles to intervene as plaintiff in a lawsuit against several current and former employees and officials of WesCorp. 8. Compliance: Statements must comply with new overdraft rules Jan. 1 WASHINGTON (12/16/09)--On Jan. 1, 2010, all credit unions that offer overdraft services will have to comply with new Truth-in-Savings requirements for disclosing aggregate overdraft fees on periodic statements. 7. Kohl’s payday loan bill means better access to CUs WASHINGTON (12/3/09)--Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) on Wednesday introduced legislation aimed at increasing access to mainstream financial institutions by encouraging credit unions and community banks to provide low-level loans to low- and moderate-income Americans. 6. Fed sets overdraft protection audio conference WASHINGTON (12/2/09)--The Federal Reserve Board will discuss its recently enacted final rules on overdraft protections during its “Outlook Live” Audio Conference, which is scheduled for Dec. 10 from 1 until 2 p.m. ET. 5. HUD issues new settlement-cost booklet WASHINGTON (12/29/09)--Starting Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, credit unions and other mortgage lenders must comply with the changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act implementing rules. These rules, finalized in November 2008 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, require the use of revised Good Faith Estimate forms and HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms. 4. CNN tells why CUs are better WASHINGTON (12/30/09)--CNN Tuesday explained some of the reasons why consumers feel as though they're “getting a better shake” by choosing credit unions over banks. 3. NCUA denies lump-sum payment to employee of defunct CU WASHINGTON (12/15/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has denied a lump sum payment of more than $265,000 to a person who had a deferred compensation agreement with the failed New London (Conn.) Security FCU. 2. “Guys, I gotta go...we’re being robbed” STOCKTON, Calif. (12/21/09)--On Dec. 15, Allied CU CEO Frank Michael participated in a conference call with the Credit Union National Association's Small Credit Union Committee. During the call, Michael suddenly needed to sign off. “Guys, I gotta go ... we're being robbed,” he told the group. 1. Suze Orman to Larry King: CUs have great rates WASHINGTON (12/14/09)--Credit unions offer better rates on credit cards, personal finance guru Suze Orman told Larry King on Larry King Live Thursday.

Ten events that changed CUs in the past decade

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (1/5/10)--A decade has ended and in the tradition of newshounds everywhere, the Credit Union National Association's News Now staff took time out to mull the impact the first decade of the 21st century presented credit unions. Staff sniffed out 10 events of the decade that changed the way credit unions operated and their strategies. The list, not ranked according to importance, includes:
* Y2K. The year 2000 was supposed to bring computer glitches that would bring computers to their knees. 1999 had credit unions scrambling with data processing service providers to shore up and protect their computer systems when the data hit. What turned out to be a nonevent--perhaps due to good preparation--also served notice to credit unions that their strategies should include preventive measures to ensure business continuity and safekeeping of the sensitive records they keep. Y2K helped usher in a new computer era with more sophisticated data processing. * Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks on the World Trade Center proved that the nation's financial system could survive when institutions take measures to back up their data and processes. Credit unions directly involved in the tragedies met members' needs because they had business continuity plans in place. 911 turned the Web and cell phones into significant instantaneous channels of communication that changed the way credit unions get their news and communicate with each other. And, years after the attacks, credit unions still are dealing with the new, more demanding regulations. In 2009, the Bank Secrecy Act's anti money laundering and other provisions remained the single most challenging compliance issue. * Bankers' attacks. Bankers stepped up their rhetoric against credit unions in state after state, in the courts, state legislatures, and Congress. They also took the battle public, often attacking credit unions' tax exemption in the media. These resulted in credit unions taking aggressive steps to educate the public and lawmakers about the credit union difference. The attacks changed the way credit unions promote their issues and brought forth a decade of advocacy that, combined with other issues, has significantly increased the visibility of credit unions in the media and in Congress. As a result, CUNA's and the leagues have become one of the most respected lobbying groups in the U.S. * Hurricane Katrina. A series of hurricanes in 2005 brought business continuity challenges of nightmare proportions to credit unions along the Gulf Coast, testing their very existence. But credit unions shone in their service. Hurricane Katrina especially gave a huge boost to the unique credit union cooperative concept of shared branching, which enabled credit unions to step in and serve others' members in trouble. Katrina directly affected more than 600 credit unions and millions of members. The disaster changed the way credit unions and their members gave to charity and helped each other, via online resources. And the Web showed what it could do as a communications medium in keeping members informed. And credit unions saw new, improved backup systems such as mobile units dispatched to help keep branches' business open. * The Web, the Internet, and online banking. These were just gathering speed when the decade began but look at them now. They have changed the way credit unions communicate with each other and their members. They have changed how transactions are made and how products and services are delivered. Today members can get a loan application approved online. Today most credit unions have integrated these into their strategic plans as well as their communications and marketing plans. * Data breaches. In the past 10 years, hackers and cybercriminals have become a fact of life. A series of sophisticated breaches in 2007, 2008 and early 2009 compromised thousands of members' credit and debit cards and hit home the message that one's system is only as good as its weakest link--which could be a merchant's computer or a third-party providers' processes. Through no fault of their own, credit unions have had to spend time and expense reissuing cards and beefing up security of their networks, dealing with fraudulent transactions and assisting upset members. Many credit unions have turned these into educational opportunities to provide education to members about protecting their data. * Electronic funds transfers (EFT). EFT has come a long way, so much so that paper checks are dwindling in favor of debit cards. EFT has changed the way basic financial services are delivered and how they are paid for. With these have brought an array of compliance rules, disclosure proposals and more regulatory burden for credit unions. * Younger members. Generation X and Y's infatuation with their iPods and cell phones and blackberries has prompted credit unions to consider innovative marketing strategies via social networking. Credit unions are tweeting on Twitter, blogging, and making friends via LinkedIn and FaceBook. Right now, many credit unions and leagues are trying to figure how best to use the new devices. * Changes in credit union leadership. Credit unions have been warned that Baby Boomer CEOs will be leaving about a third of credit unions as they reach retirement age, and it's already happening. A new wave of younger successors are taking their place and are testing the traditions taken for granted by most credit unions. *The global economic crisis. Last, but not least, the crisis triggered by banks in 2008 and the ensuing recession have tested the very nature of the credit union system with regulatory reform and corporate stabilization making significant changes that will alter the business. The impact on credit unions has been severe. Some will take years to earn back the funds they lost in shoring up the corporates and their insurance fund or through member delinquencies. But the backlash against huge banks instrumental in bringing on the credit crisis also has provided credit unions a huge opportunity to strut their stuff. Credit unions are being heralded throughout the nation for their conservative lending, and their willingness to take on more loans. As a result, they've seen strides in membership that can position them well for the next 10 years.

DuPont Fibers FCU gets community charter

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (1/5/10)--DuPont Fibers FCU, Chesterfield, Va., has received a charter expansion approval from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), DuPont Fibers President/CEO Rose Gilliam announced Monday. The new community charter enables the $180 million asset credit union to serve members who live, work, attend school, worship or volunteer in Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover Counties and the city of Richmond. "Because of our new community charter, we will be able to offer more members of our community an alternative banking relationship by providing them with affordable credit union products and services," Gilliam said in a press release. NCUA in December had approved a proposed rule that would revise the agency's community chartering policies and more clearly outline the parameters of a community chartered credit union (News Now Dec. 18). Federal credit unions applying for a community charter in the past had to provide hundreds of pages of information to demonstrate the evidence of a community. The new standards provide a defined set of objective, quantifiable criteria to determine the existence of a well-defined local community. Credit unions also would no longer have to provide a narrative statement with their application, and they would have a shorter wait for approval. In the past some applications took 18 months before approval was granted. The new proposed rule defines "community" as a single political jurisdiction or multiple political jurisdictions within a single Metropolitan Division, so long as the total population does not exceed 2.5 million. Credit unions can also apply for the new "rural district" standard. In rural districts, the area served must be a contiguous area with more than 50% of its population in "rural" census blocks. The area's population cannot exceed 100,000.

CU System briefs (01/04/2010)

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* MILWAUKEE (1/5/10)--First Service CU, a $36.6 million asset credit union based in Milwaukee, has merged into the $405 million asset Marine CU, based in Fond du Lac, Wis. First Service's two offices in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa are now operating under the Marine CU name. The combined credit union has more than 300 employees and servcs 59,000 members in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Jan. 4) ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/5/10)--Fire destroyed the home of Pennsylvania state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-12), who was the recipient of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's (PCUA) 2003 Keystone Award. The award recognized his sponsorship and efforts in the passage of the State Credit Union Parity bill. According to PCUA, Greenleaf and his family lost their Montgomery County home and all its contents. Family members were awakened by smoke detectors at 3 a.m. Sunday and fled the house in sub-freezing temperatures. More than 100 firefighters fought winds and ice to battle the blaze. The cause of the fire is being investigated (Life is a Highway Jan. 4) ... * WHEELING, W. Va. (1/5/10)--The former CEO of the now defunct Center Valley CU in Wheeling, W. Va., pleaded guilty in a federal court Monday to embezzling more than $8 million from the credit union. As part of a plea agreement, Bernie D. Metz, 56, of Valley Grove, pleaded guilty to embezzlement from a credit union and money laundering. In return, her husband and children will not be prosecuted. If the plea agreement is approved, Metz could serve 87 months in prison and forfeit property--including a restaurant and several vehicles--obtained with the embezzled funds. (WTOV9.com and The Associated Press via Phillyburbs.com Jan. 4) ... * NASHVILLE, Tenn. (1/5/10)--Susan Tant, CEO of Healthcare Services CU, Chattanooga, Tenn., has been appointed to the Volunteer Corporate CU's (VolCorp) Supervisory Committee to complete an unexpired term, VolCorp announced Monday. She has 27 years in the credit union industry. Since 2001, Tant has been a member of the Jack Henry's Symitar/Cruise Advisory Board. She previously served on the board of the Memphis and Chattanooga Chapter of Credit Unions, and participated in VolCorp's Ambassador Program. She is a recipient of Credit Union National Association's Edward A. Filene and Friedrich W. Raiffeisen Awards and other awards. VolCorp, with $1.6 billion in assets, serves 266 credit unions ...

Deputy kills teen in robbery at ATM

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (1/5/10)--An off-duty sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a teen at a State Employees’ CU (SECU) ATM in Greenville, N.C., during a robbery Wednesday. Deputy Zackary J. Odom, said he was in his car at the ATM around 10:30 p.m. when a man approached him with a handgun. The man demanded money, and Odom shot him (Reflector.com Dec. 31). The man, Antonio Zurante Lacy, 19, was taken to Pitt County Memorial Hospital where he died. Sheriff Mac Manning said at a news conference that Odom acted appropriately under the circumstances. Odom has not been placed on leave. SECU members at the Greenville branch told The Reflector that they supported Odom’s reaction to shoot Lacy as a matter of self-defense. Manning advised consumers to hide their valuables and be aware of their surroundings anytime they are in public. State Employees’ CU, Raleigh, N.C., has $18 billion in assets.

Low consumer demand CU lending in 09 slowest in the post-WWII era

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MADISON, Wis. (1/5/10)--Credit union lending activity in 2009 will be the slowest in the post-World War II era, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist’s analysis of CUNA’s monthly sample of credit unions. Credit union loans outstanding decreased 0.1% during November, but rose 1.5% during the first 11 months of 2009. That’s down from a 6.8% increase during the same period of 2008. During November, adjustable-rate mortgages led loan growth, increasing 3.6%, followed by credit card loans (1%) and unsecured personal loans (0.4%). Other loans and home equity loans each increased 0.2%. Used-auto loans decreased 0.5% followed by fixed-rate mortgages, which declined 0.6%. New-auto loans and other mortgages also dropped--1.3% and 2.5%, respectively. “For the first 11 months of this year credit union loan balances
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rose only 1.5%, below the previous nadir of 2% set in 1982,” Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist told News Now. “Loan balances actually fell 0.11% in November as compared to a 0.22% rise in November 2008. The November loan seasonal factor of -0.22% historically weighs on overall actual growth. “So the difference between the actual growth rate and seasonal growth rate determines the underlying trend loan growth rate of 0.11%, which is a 1.3% annual rate,” he continued. Falling auto loan and fixed-rate first mortgage balances pulled the overall growth number into negative territory, Rick added. Auto-loan balances fell as loan amortization exceeded originations. Fixed-rate first mortgage balances declined due to a large amount of refinance activity and sales of low-rate fixed-rate first-mortgage loans into the secondary market, he explained. “It takes two to tango and it takes two parties to originate a loan,” Rick said. “The demand for consumer loans remains weak because households are still worried about jobs, home prices and future taxes. The supply of credit union loans remains ample due to the large influx of savings funds over the past 11 months.” Credit union savings balances decreased 0.2% in November and 10.4%
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during the first 11 months of 2009. During November, money market accounts increased 1.1%, followed by individual retirement accounts, which increased 0.7%. Regular shares decreased 0.3%, followed by one-year certificates (0.7%) and share drafts (1.2%). “So far this year savings balances are up 9.8%, the fastest pace since 2002,” Rick said. Concerning asset quality, credit union 60-plus-day delinquencies remained at 1.8% in November. The loan-to-savings ratio remained constant at 76.9% for the month. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--decreased to 19%. “This combination of rapid savings growth and slow loan growth pushed down the credit union loan-to-savings ratio to 76.9% in November, down from 83.3% in November 2008,” Rick said. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10% in November. The total dollar amount of capital is $90 billion.

League responds to Mass. bankers op-ed on tax exemption

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (1/5/10)--A Monday opinion-editorial by the Massachusetts Bankers Association claiming that the national credit union tax exemptions needs rethinking was rebutted by the Massachusetts Credit Union League. “The Massachusetts Bankers Association’s predictable and self-serving response to the news that credit unions are growing is full of the usual inaccuracies and mischaracterizations that they always employ,” Rob Kimmett, Massachusetts league senior vice president of publications and marketing, told News Now. “We are in the process of finalizing our media outreach plans for 2010, which will incorporate a comprehensive approach for the ongoing banker misinformation campaign,” he added. Daniel J. Forte, president/CEO of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, was writing in Monday’s Worcester Business Journal in response to a Nov. 23 opinion piece in the Journal written by Southbridge CU CEO Jeffery Davenport titled “Credit Unions as Important as Ever” that advocated for credit union’s practices and principles. “While we too applaud the 100th anniversary of credit unions, Davenport failed to mention that so many credit unions have moved so far beyond their original membership ‘common bond’ that they resemble banks in every way, including doing commercial lending. Yet they are not required to pay taxes,” Forte wrote. To read the Massachusetts Bankers Association editorial, use the link.

Belarus Singapore new members of WOCCU

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MADISON, Wis. (1/5/10)--Belarus and Singapore are the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) newest members as of Friday. WOCCU’s board of directors approved the organizations’ applications in November. The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) is the first national-level organization from Southeast Asia to become a direct member of WOCCU. The Belarus Republic National Credit Union Association (RACCSMFA) has grown and is eligible for membership because of efforts by the Polish Credit Union Foundation, which is part of the National Association of Cooperatives Savings and Credit Unions, Poland’s credit union trade association and WOCCU member. “The Polish movement has provided critical leadership and technical assistance to support the emergence of credit unions in Belarus,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. RACCSMFA and SNCF will be introduced and given the opportunity to speak with delegates at WOCCU’s next annual general meeting, to be held with The 1 Credit Union Conference, July 11-14 in Las Vegas. RACCSMFA, which will join the Azerbaijan Credit Union Association and the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives, represents more than half of the country’s credit unions, serving about 75% of its membership. SNCF, founded in 1980, will be granted full-member status. It represents all but two of Singapore’s 38 credit unions and is the only financial cooperative organization in the country.

Readers choice Top 20 stories of 2009

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (1/5/10)--Stories about the corporate credit union system overwhelmed News Now's top 20 story list for 2009, largely because of a corporate stabilization program that garnered many of the year’s headlines. The list is based on the number of readers accessing the stories on the Credit Union National Association's website. During 2009, President Barack Obama signed S. 896--the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act--into law, which included a stabilization program for credit unions. The program was created after several corporate credit unions and U.S. Central experienced losses that impacted the rest of the credit union system. S. 896 extended the share and deposit insurance coverage ceiling to $250,000 from $10,000 through 2013. Credit unions also were allowed to spread the cost of National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund replenishment over eight years to deal with the cost of a premium assessment resulting from losses at wholesale corporate credit unions. Any impairment related to the replenishment can be booked over a seven-year period. The top 20 stories of 2009 are: 20. House, Senate pass corporate stabilization bill WASHINGTON (5/20/09)--The House and Senate on May 19 approved S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, which would extend $250,000 share and deposit insurance coverage and help credit unions manage the impact of the financial crisis on the credit union system through a corporate stabilization program. 19. Longer compliance time needed on CARD Act provision: CUNA WASHINGTON (7/8/09)--The Federal Reserve Board must give credit unions more time to comply with a provision of its expected rules to implement new credit card statutes if that provision is going to apply beyond credit cards, the Credit Union National Association urged the federal regulator Tuesday. 18. Credit CARD Act: CUNA addresses CUs’ FAQs WASHINGTON (8/18/09)--The Credit Union National Association has prepared a document to assist state leagues and credit unions with credit unions' questions regarding their compliance obligations under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act provisions--especially on the 21-day periodic statements provision. 17. NCUSIF shows preliminary accounting decisions ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/2/09)--The most recent monthly National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund report showed the fund booked both the expenses and the income associated with the corporate credit union stabilization plan in January. 16. Details to Obama loan mod plan released WASHINGTON (3/5/09)--The Obama administration released details Wednesday of its mortgage loan modification program first announced Feb. 18. 15. New Dodd bill would set overdraft rules WASHINGTON (10/20/09)--Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who heads the Senate Banking Committee, unveiled his new bill Monday that would limit the fees financial institutions can charge on overdraft protection services. 14. New NCUA bill would spread out replenishment ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/27/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced Thursday that it has drafted legislation allowing credit unions to spread the cost of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund replenishment over as many as seven years. 13. Top 10 News Now stories during December MADISON, Wis. (1/8/09)--Here are the Top 10 News Now stories most requested by readers during December. Use the link to review the entire story online. 12. NEW: CUNA concerned about costs of NCUA corporate plan WASHINGTON (1/30/09, UPDATED 10:30 a.m. ET)--The Credit Union National Association said that is does not welcome federal regulators' action to support corporate credit union liquidity by extracting a high price from credit unions, but does understand the need for the agency to act. 11. New info required in March 2009 call report WASHINGTON (2/4/09)--Credit unions will be required to supply more information on delinquencies, foreclosures, and repossessions on the quarterly form 5300 “call report”-- which is no surprise given the current market pressures. 10. President’s pen turns corporate stabilization bill into law WASHINGTON (5/21/09)--In a ceremony held at the White House on May 20, President Barack Obama signed S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, into law. 9. New corp stabilization plan implemented by NCUA ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/19/09)--The National Credit Union Administration will immediately borrow $1 billion of the total $6 billion offered by the U.S. Treasury to shore up the corporate credit union system after the board at its monthly meeting voted to implement the temporary corporate credit union stabilization fund. 8. NCUA bans 12 from financial institution work ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/24/09)--Twelve former credit union employees have been banned by the National Credit Union Administration from participating in the business of any federally insured financial institution. 7. CUs get accounting guidance for corporate plan costs WASHINGTON (3/11/09)--The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants yesterday issued guidance on how credit unions may account for costs associated with the National Credit Union Administration’s Corporate Stabilization Plan. 6. More accounting guidance sent to NCUA examiners WASHINGTON (4/10/09)--National Credit Union Administration examiners received additional clarification today regarding credit unions’ flexibility in booking the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund deposit impairment, according to NCUA 5. Card processor’s breach may be the largest yet PRINCETON, N.J. (1/21/09)--Card payments processor Heartland Payment Systems announced Tuesday that its processing system was breached last year by a malicious software program in what could be the largest data breach to date, with possibly more than 100 million credit cards compromised. 4. CUNA compiles NCUA stabilization program info WASHINGTON (2/6/09)--The Credit Union National Association has compiled information that may be useful to credit unions regarding the National Credit Union Administration's Corporate Stabilization Program. 3. NCUA approves stabilization efforts for corporates ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/29/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Wednesday took steps to “enhance and support” the corporate credit union system. 2. NEW: CORPORATE CUs: Corporate costs must be spread out, Mica says WASHINGTON (3/23/09, UPDATED 11:30 a.m. ET)--The Credit Union National Association called on the federal credit union regulator and lawmakers to mitigate the costs of its decision to place two corporate credit unions into conservatorship. 1. CUs urged: Contact NCUA before corporate action today WASHINGTON (3/26/09)--Credit unions are asked to urge each National Credit Union Administration board member to provide greater transparency regarding a report by Pacific Investment Management Company LLC on corporate credit unions.

In-school branches expand to six more states reports CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (1/5/10)--Last year saw the expansion of credit union branches in schools to six more states, bringing the total to 39 states and the District of Columbia, announced the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). As of Thursday, 232 credit unions nationwide maintained branch offices in 824 schools, CUNA said. These numbers reflect increases from 2008 of 14% (for states), 7% (for credit unions), and 10% (branches). “Legislators take notice when we present numbers like these,” said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. “We talk about the credit union difference all the time, but in-school branches are one way to show that we’re not merely bragging. They’re proof of a real difference--that credit unions go to extraordinary lengths to prepare youth to be productive adults who will contribute significantly to the U.S. economy in the 21st century.” Mica noted that these numbers are self-reported from participating credit unions and leagues, and therefore likely to be understated. He urged credit unions everywhere--especially in the 11 states with no reported in-school branches--to report this activity and update their records at least annually, using CUNA’s online report form (see resource link). Here’s how the in-school branches break down by venue for 2009:
* Elementary school, 344 branches; * Middle school, 92; * High school, 348; and * Otherr (K-12 school, youth center, college, special needs) , 40.
The top states for in-school branches are:
* Michigan, with 341 branches; * Wisconsin, 86; * Virginia, 69; * Texas, 48; and * New York, 33
The top credit unions for in-school branches are:
* CP FCU, Jackson, Mich., with 48 branches; * Apple FCU, Fairfax, Va., 34; * Community Financial FCU, Plymouth, Mich., 30; * Education First CU, Southgate, Mich., 28; and * Extra CU, Warren, Mich., 22.
For a full state-by-state in-school branch summary, visit cunapfi.org and look under the Research & Policy heading.

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 ...