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Social Media All A-Twitter: CUs Act Via 'Don't Tax' Virtual Rally

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WASHINGTON (10/3/13)--The call of "Don't Tax My Credit Union!" was amplified Wednesday, as the Credit Union National Association launched the newest apex of its advocacy efforts in support of the credit union tax status--featuring use of social media platforms--in a virtual rally.

Click to view larger image Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney (left) is prepped by CUNA staff before the online "Don't Tax My Credit Union" rally begins. (CUNA Photo)

Facebook and Twitter users across the country joined other credit union supporters gathered in Washington to speak up and send a united message to the U.S. Congress during CUNA's online tax status rally.

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney kicked off the rally at Credit Union House on Capitol Hill by encouraging online viewers to tweet their members of Congress. He noted that "credit unions are tax exempt because we are member-owned, return earnings to our members and exist only to provide financial services to our members. None of that has changed in more than 100 years," he said.

Reaching out to members of Congress and educating them on the credit union tax status issue was the main goal of Wednesday's online rally, and credit union members across the country responded to the call, posting messages, like the following, on Twitter:

  • @i_am_mr_davis told several Missouri members of Congress "placing a tax on my #creditunion would be like punishing my child for doing nothing wrong, that's wrong.";
  • @EntrustGary told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) "credit unions are rooted in communities with a mission to serve our members. #DontTaxMyCU;"
  • @AngelaMGervais said there are "no crazy fees" at her credit union, "just people helping people!"; and
  • "Funny that after taking bailouts, bankers want to punish Credit Unions. Please #dontTaxMyCU," @JMouzoukos wrote.
Click to view larger image A time-lapse video of a "Dont Tax" jack-o-lantern was one of many ways credit unions across the country found innovative ways to spread their message on Wednesday. 

In Oregon, Oklahoma, and Ohio, the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter. In Washington, credit unions got double the result, as both #DontTaxMyCU and #CURally trended in that state.

Elsewhere, credit unions leagues held rally viewing parties, and  others set up laptops in their lobbies to help their members share their love for their credit union with members of Congress.

The rally also highlighted the great things credit unions are doing across the country, including a video that demonstrated how North Carolina credit unions are putting people above profit.

Click to view larger image A graphic posted by Vacaville, Calif.-based Travis CU shows that even while the government is closed, credit unions are still there to help.


More than 10,000 people visited www.DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org in the hours leading up to and following the rally, and more than 1,800 email messages were sent to legislators on Wednesday.

CUNA is also working to tally the total number of tweets and impressions that were made during the rally. CUNA's tax advocacy Twitter feeds and Facebook page also gained followers during the rally. (See Friday News Now for a full report.)

CUNA's Dunn Outlines CARD Act Challenges For CUs

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CHICAGO (10/3/13)--Credit unions' cooperative structure sets them apart in the credit card industry, Credit Union National Association Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said Wednesday at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's field hearing here.

"Credit unions don't view themselves as part of the credit card industry, we
Click to view larger image Credit Union National Association Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn addresses the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's field hearing on credit cards Wednesday.  What sets credit unions apart from other credit card issuers is that they operate for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit, and providing other financial services at competitive rates, she noted in prepared remarks.
view ourselves as cooperatively owned financial institutions that provide cards and services because our members want them," Dunn told the crowd of CFPB staff, including Director Richard Cordray, consumer activists, other card issuers and more. What sets credit unions apart is that they operate for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit, and providing other financial services at competitive rates, she noted in prepared remarks. (For more on the hearing, see related story: CFPB's Cordray Reports CARD Act Progress For Consumers.)

Therefore, Dunn told the field hearing, credit unions do not see themselves as competing with banks in the credit card space. Rather, they look for ways to offer products their members will benefit from, and do so by offering lower fees and better rates to their members, Dunn said. As one example, Dunn said on a non-rewards credit card program, a credit union member will save $100 per year when compared with what they would pay for a similar card from a bank.

Dunn made her remarks during a Wednesday field hearing on credit cards and the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act). She spoke on a panel that included Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago Supervisory Attorney David Yen, U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski, Sanjay Sakhrani, equity researcher with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, and Citi Retail Services CEO Bill Johnson.

The CARD Act was enacted in 2009 to prohibit and restrict a number of credit card practices.

Remaining nimble enough to provide services members want when there are so many options out there is one of many challenges the CARD Act poses for credit unions, Dunn said. And, she added, the CFPB must work to make sure that consumers are adequately protected while at the same time allowing financial institutions to do their jobs and provide financial services.

Credit unions want to ensure that consumers continue to receive reasonable protections, and support the stated intent of the CARD Act, Dunn noted. However, she added, credit unions are adamant that regulatory requirements must not become any more cumbersome for credit unions than they are now.

Dunn in prepared remarks said the CARD act has resulted in some benefits: Borrowers are better informed on the interest rates and fees they will pay, there are adequate interest rate restrictions, and penalty fees are more "reasonable and proportional."

However, increased compliance costs have made it more expensive for credit unions and others to operate card programs, she said. The CARD Act has also had a disparate impact on the cost of credit for those with marginal credit, and there is concern that some issuers are approving fewer credit card applications as a result of the Act, Dunn noted in her prepared remarks.

CFPB's Cordray Reports CARD Act Progress For Consumers

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CHICAGO (10/3/13)--"The [Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act)] brought better consumer protections and fairness to the marketplace, but we found there is more work to be done," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said during a Wednesday agency field hearing.

The field hearing followed the release of a CFPB report on the CARD Act's impact on credit markets. (See related story: CUNA's Dunn Outlines CARD Act Challenges For CUs at CFPB Event.)

The CARD Act was enacted in 2009 to prohibit and restrict a number of credit card practices.

While the bureau highlighted some improvements that have been made as a result of the CARD Act, the CFPB said it still has areas of concern, such as optional services that are sold by credit card companies to cardholders, application fees or other fees that are charged before an account is opened and deferred interest products.

Online disclosures, disclosures concerning rewards products, and grace period disclosures are also of interest. The CFPB said it will study some of these areas, and could take future action to address these issues.

According to the CFPB report:
  • The total cost of credit, including all fees, interest, and finance charges paid to card issuers, declined by two percentage points between 2008 and 2012;
  • Overlimit fees have been effectively eliminated, as consumers have paid about $2.5 billion less in overlimit fees than they paid in 2008; and
  • The average late fee declined by $6 since 2008, resulting in a $1.5 billion decrease in late fees paid by consumers in 2012.
The CFPB also reported that the percentage of young adults ages 18-20 that have at least one credit card account has dropped by half. However, overall availability is not an issue: There is still $2 trillion of unused credit for consumers with credit cards in the marketplace, the agency noted.