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IN.Y. TimesI 117 media outlets spotlight CUs no fees

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MADISON, Wis. (10/11/11)--The groundswell of attention to credit unions as the no-fee choice for debit cards continues, with Associated Press spotlighting their efforts. As of Friday afternoon, the AP item had been repeated in 117 publications and websites--including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 7). The article, which appeared as "Mad at bank fees? Credit unions get another look" in The New York Times, notes that "credit unions are basking in the spotlight again." "Whenever a big bank rolls out a controversial fee, customers start fuming about taking their business elsewhere and the attention often falls on credit unions," the article says. "That happened again …when Bank of America said it would soon start charging customers a $5 monthly fee to make debit card purchases. This time around, it seems some customers have finally had it." The article says several credit unions saw higher percentages of new account openings since the news. It notes that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is reporting an uptick in inquiries and account openings and cites locate credit union websites such as www.ASmarterChoice.org. The article also offers a rundown on what credit unions can and can't offer, and it quotes CUNA on joining a credit union and on why credit unions can offer better rates. For the full article, use the link. That wasn't the only article circulating. A number of media outlets had opinions on the debit card fees topic and discussed credit unions as alternatives. "Just when it seemed American consumers couldn’t get more nickel and dimed, the larger financial institutions decide to pile on yet another reminder that they couldn't give two cents about the little folks they call customers," wrote Michelle Durand in her "Off the Beat" column on the The Daily Journal in San Mateo, Calif. Thursday. "The beauty of this newest financial kick is that now smaller institutions, both banks and credit unions, have a greater opportunity to throw the net wide for consumers with promises of free services that actually have interest attached. Who would have thought those are still options?" Durand wrote. Another blog, "Be pro-active about banking fees," written by guest columnist Rick Bloom on the Observer & Eccentric, told readers, "don't be afraid to look at credit unions and internet banks...Credit unions, for example, have become very easy to deal with. It used to be they didn't offer some of the same services as banks; that is no longer the case. Credit unions have become very user friendly and save consumers a substantial amount of money." A guest editorial inThe Modesto Bee (Oct. 6) from Andrew Ogilvie of Modesto, Calif., urged consumers upset with fees toward "a simple solution: Don't do business with the big banks. Close your accounts and go to a credit union or community bank...It's so easy; the credit union will help you. Move your money now." Leagues and credit unions also stepped up their outreach to media and consumers on the topic. On Wednesday, Philadelphia's NBC 10 "Consumer Watch" segment focused on how consumers are getting around rising bank fees and switching to credit unions. Consumer reporter Tracy Davidson interviewed Mike Wishnow, senior vice president, communications & marketing at the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, via Skype (Life is a Highway

National radio host Ramsey Leave the bank go to CU

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ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (10/11/11)--Best selling author and national radio talk show host Dave Ramsey is telling his more than one million listeners to leave their bank and head to Eagle Community CU, Lake Forest, Calif.
Click to view larger image Best selling author and national radio talk show host Dave Ramsey is endorsing Eagle Community CU exclusively in the Los Angeles area, said the Orange County, Calif.-based credit union. He tells listeners to leave their bank and head to the Eagle. Ramsey is shown here with Eagle staffers: , from left: David Ward, CEO Bill Birnie, Doug Nigbor, Emily Friesen, Ramsey, Andrea Alcala, Dana Holden, Lindsey Rarey and Nguyen Dao. (Photo provided by Eagle Community CU)
Earning his endorsement doesn't come easily. His team, working with CBS Radio, visited multiple Eagle branches to make sure the service standards met his own, and did due diligence to make sure the credit union was a worthy brand partner. "Dave is a big supporter of credit unions, and when the opportunity came up to partner with him, we jumped on it," said Emily Friesen, vice president of marketing for the $190 million asset Eagle. "As a Dave Ramsey fan, I know how loyal his listeners are. Those are the kind of people we want to work with--those are the people credit unions were created for." In the radio ad, Ramsey says, "the folks at Eagle Community CU are who I would recommend to my friends and family." The endorsement has driven hundreds of unique visitors to www.EagleCu.org/Dave in the past three months. Since the launch of the campaign, there has been a noticeable shift in member perception of the credit union. "While we certainly see new members coming in, what's especially interesting is the shift of low-participating members moving multiple relationships to Eagle after hearing Dave talk about us," Friesen said. The credit union is also one of the sponsors of the sold-out Dave Ramsey "Total Money Makeover" event at Long Beach Convention Center in September. Eagle Community CU CEO Bill Birnie noted that during the event the credit union "had a steady stream of traffic to our table all day long--how great that all of those people were excited to learn more about credit unions."

Facebook Bank Transfer Day generates pro-CU comments

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MADISON, Wis. (10/11/11)--The FaceBook page for Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, is garnering many comments that are favorable to credit unions. Some protestors--who seem to be associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement--have organized the event to remove all funds from banks and into credit unions (www.cnbc.com Oct. 7). At issue is an amendment to the Dodd-Frank and Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that caps debt interchange fees banks charge merchants. The protestors say they oppose the amendment because banks will start charging customers $3 to $5 to offset cash the institutions will lose because of the interchange fee cap, CNBC said. Also, the Burlington Free Press reported Thursday on Burlington, Vt., resident Matt Cropp's participation in the ongoing "occupation" of Wall Street. Cropp, 24, noted the low-key activism is to continue every Sunday so long as the Wall Street protests remain in effect. "Cropp said he believes the demonstrations are as much about finding sustainable economic options, as they are against the excesses of Wall Street," said the article. "He favors locally managed credit unions over banks that received stimulus bailouts and that dole out huge bonuses," the article continued. Some of the comments posted on the Bank Transfer Day website include:
* “I’ve been with my credit union since I was about six years old. Never leaving. They treat me like a person and they actually help.” * “Already transferred to a credit union. I got tired of all the fees for the bank to hold my money.” * “I’ve been with credit unions since opening my first account at age 14. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” * “Credit unions are the only way to go.”

CU System briefs (10/10/2011)

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* PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (10/11/11)--New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch sang the praises of $1.9 billion Service CU, based in Portsmouth, N.H., for its unwavering support for its members and community during a ceremony to celebrate a milestone in the construction of the credit union’s headquarters. The event marked fastening of the final beam to the 100,000-square-foot structure (seacoastonline.com Oct. 7). As the keynote speaker for the event, Lynch signed the 800-pound beam and watched as workers placed it on the top of the building’s skeleton. Service CU President Gordon Simmons said the credit union is long-overdue for new headquarters, but it had previously invested in branches, products and member services. The new facility is expected to bring 100 jobs to the city during the next five years … * MACON, Ga. (10/11/11)--A man who was denied a loan by a credit union is in custody after allegedly threatening to return and shoot employees at the branch. Joseph Anthony Fields, 21, of Macon, Ga., was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, participation in a criminal street gang and criminal trespassing. The incident occurred at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Macon branch of Warner Robbins, Ga.-based Robins FCU. When denied the loan, Fields allegedly said he would return and "pick off" several employees with a .45-caliber Glock handgun, police said, adding that Fields allegedly repeated the threat while in police custody. There was no disruption to business at the credit union. An off-duty police officer will be stationed at the branch during business hours for several days, police said (Macon Telegraph Oct. 7 … * SOLEDAD, Calif. (10/11/11)--Christopher Alcaraz, formerly employed by the Unified Correctional FCU in Soledad, Calif., for three and one-half years, was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days in county jail and five years of probation for embezzling more than $135,384, Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo announced Thursday (Targeted News Service Oct. 6). On July 27, Alcaraz pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement. The missing funds were discovered during a teller drawer audit drew suspicious behavior and a probe of daily ATM deposits, for which Alcaraz was responsible. The judge made a home confinement program available to Alcaraz upon immediate payment of $50,000 in restitution …

Alliant CU paper Need fin lit training in workplace

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CHICAGO (10/11/11)--Alliant CU in Chicago has issued a white paper on the need for financial literacy training in the workplace, after researching the topic, interviewing company human resources managers and conducting surveys of employers and employees. In a period of economic stress and company benefit cutting, companies nationwide are offering financial literacy courses to help employees gain greater skill and confidence in handling their finances, said the $7.86 billion asset credit union. It is providing findings to help employers get a sense of whether financial literacy training is appropriate for their company and how to go about implementing it, Alliant said. Fifty-seven percent of employers have seen an increase in demand for financial literacy training during the past two years, yet only 36% of U.S. companies offer financial education, according to Alliant CU’s surveys. Other findings include:
* Financial literacy, plus today’s economic hard times, can lead to financial stress, which diminishes employee productivity; * There are indications that financial literacy training can help in building employee confidence and skill in money matters; and * Some companies have experienced a substantial return on investment by providing the training, even with a limited budget.
For more information, use the link.

Ireland to recapitalize CUs with bank funds

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DUBLIN, Ireland (10/11/11)--Ireland will provide up to one billion euros (about $1.376 billion) to recapitalize the country’s credit unions and save some from collapsing. Although some Irish credit unions are not having any difficulties, “others are on the brink of falling down a hole,” said Michael Noonan, Ireland’s finance minister (irish.examiner.com Oct. 7). The money is available in funds that were set aside for banks, but were not used, Noonan added. Therefore, the government would have to ask Ireland’s Exchequer for more recapitalization money for credit unions, the newspaper said. The recapitalizations would be done in phases, Noonan told the paper. Many of Ireland’s credit unions are expecting to be negatively impacted this year because the country’s financial regulator is pressing community lenders to value all of their assets-- including property--at market levels, credit union sources told the paper. Credit unions heavily invested in property during the country’s economic boom, the paper said.

Auto sales reports dont discourage Express-News FCU

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SAN ANTONIO (10/11/11)--Undeterred by a slow auto sales market and a sluggish economy that resulted in layoffs at its primary select-employee group, $6.5 million asset Express-News CU in San Antonio saw an opportunity to launch multiple campaigns to generate more auto loans. Nationwide, vehicle loans outstanding have increased a modest 0.2 % through August with a 9.4% decline in new-vehicle loans offset by a 6.1% increase in used vehicle loans, according to the Credit Union National Association. “The economic recession resulted in massive lay-offs at our primary select employee group,” Linda Tudyk, Express-News FCU president, told the Texas Credit Union League (Loan Star Leaguer Oct. 7). “Those fortunate enough to keep their jobs were reluctant to take on new debt. “However, it seems that things have stabilized now and those remaining employees are feeling much more secure in their future with the newspaper. That security is reflected in an increased number of loan applications.” Express-News CU increased its loan portfolio by $72,188 in loans in September, primarily through auto loans, Tudyk added. The credit union wrapped its summer loan program in late August and immediately launched a fall promotion. Express-News CU is using its website, social media and in-branch promotions to generate interest in the fall auto loan program. “It can be pretty hard to compete against dealer rates, but we’re doing our best,” Tudyk told the Texas league. “We’re telling our members that whatever rate the dealer offers, come and see us and we’ll try and beat it.” The “meet or beat” it fall promotion has generated a significant number of loans said the credit union. The promotion will end later this month. There are signs that the auto loan market is rebounding. In the January-June period, new auto loan originations were ahead 15% over the same period in 2010, according to Equifax’ latest monthly report on automotive consumer credit trends (Automotive World Oct. 4). Although the June auto loan origination total of 1.7 million was slightly lower than the March total of 1.8 million--the highest 2011 monthly total---it still represented almost an 11% increase over the June 2010 level. As a monthly total, June 2011’s loans were greater than the 1.6 million originations from August 2009, during the heavily promoted auto manufacturers’ 'Cash for Clunkers’ incentive program. Also, there was discrepancy in percentages of subprime loans originated by banks/credit unions/savings and loans--less than 10%--versus those originated by auto finance companies--25%--with Equifax Credit Scores below 600.

CU Newtek helps caf with MBL

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NEW YORK (10/11/11)--As the owner of a café in a small town in eastern Colorado, Mike Decker runs a small business, but he would be the first to admit he needs the expertise of others to navigate waters of business lending. Decker found himself in over his head when he realized he had signed an agreement on an Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loan that made him liable for a $94,000 balloon payment in October 2010. He turned to an Ent CU branch in Falcon, Colo., to seek assistance. Ent referred Decker to the The Small Business Authority, powered by Newtek Business Services Inc. Newtek is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. Joe Chiarappa, a Newtek business service specialist, helped Decker modify his loan--and keep his business. Decker expressed his gratitude for Chiarappa’s willingness to advise him step-by-step through a labor-intensive, technical process. “I thank you for helping me keep this business alive,” Decker wrote. “I provide a service, not gourmet food, just a delicious home-cooked meal served with hospitality. Sure, someone could have picked up our cafe, but no one would run it like we do--with love.” The Credit Union National Association and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions’ member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity for credit unions to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

CDCU joins no age limit ICU Day campaign

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CHICAGO (10/11/11)--North Side Community FCU, with $11 million in assets, Chicago, will launch its “Better Directions: Financial Security Has No Age Limit” campaign on International Credit Union Day, Oct. 20. North Side Community FCU was one of eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) nationwide to receive a grant to enhance the economic security of their low income older members and the disadvantaged aging community. “Better Directions: Financial Security Has No Age Limits” is a national campaign in partnership with the National Council on Aging and National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. With the grant, North Side Community FCU is expanding its marketing and community outreach efforts to build new relationships; promote new higher-interest savings accounts; make available low-interest, affordable loan products; and develop financial education programs that focus on expense reduction, savings and budgeting for adults aged 60 and older. The Better Directions program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advancing supportive measures by effecting long-term change.