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DCUC sponsors video greeting cards for military families

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (11/14/12)--Operation Best Wishes, the national program that provides military families an opportunity to connect with loved ones during the holiday season, will be sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council and its members for the ninth consecutive year.

Operation Best Wishes provides the military and their families free access to a mobile, video recording studio. There they record personal greetings for animated holiday video greeting cards that are distributed over the Internet.

The studio, complete with cameras, lights and a technician, has the technology to superimpose families over animated backgrounds, giving their special holiday greetings an appeal distinct from Skype or other communication platforms used at home.

Loved ones and relatives then watch the holiday video greeting card on the Operation Best Wishes website, after entering a password that allows viewing access only to them.

"The holiday season is an opportunity for all to spend time with family and loved ones," noted Arty Arteaga ,president/CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Credit Union Council, "but, for many of our military, it's a time they'll continue to spend at their post, keeping an ever-vigilant watch as they safeguard our liberties.

"Through Operation Best Wishes, our hope is to help our members, the military and their families, spend a few moments together during the holidays, in a way they'll remember and cherish for a lifetime."

This year the national tour of Operation Best Wishes will cover eight states, serving those from Hanscom AFB and Fort Drum in the East, to Travis AFB and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the West. The tour will kick off in Southern California on Tuesday and will conclude four weeks later at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

For more information, use the links.

Council paper Team up on mobile payments strategy

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/12)--Credit unions' marketing, business development and information technology departments must work together in planning their mobile payments strategies, says a new white paper from the CUNA Councils.

The departments must work together to determine how and when mobile payments will be appropriate for their membership, to position their credit union for present-day relevance and future gains in market share, said "Mobile's Moment: Payments Breakthrough Provides Opportunities for CUs."

The paper is offered by CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council nd the CUNA Technology Council. It outlines main mobile payments players, examines credit unions' current approach to mobile payments, and provides technology and marketing strategies for making the transition to mobile payments.

Mobile payments range from recurring loan and utility payments, to point-of-sale and online purchases, to person-to-person transfers, said the councils.

Some credit unions are introducing mobile payments to members or enhancing existing mobile services to include payments by working with vendors adapting their offerings to accomplish this. There's evidence of the wisdom of this strategy for many more credit unions during a year dominated by announcements of new mobile payments ventures by credit unions' competitors, the paper said.

For example:

  • Slightly more than one-third of all U.S. adults own a smart phone, the chief device for accessing mobile services, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey.
  • Consumers who use online financial services--including credit union members and potential members--now interact with their financial institutions via the digital branch more than any other way--about 10 times per month, according to a recent internal study by Intuit Financial Services, Woodland Hills, Calif., of its clients' online customers.  When mobile access is added, users interact roughly 19 times per month.  And, those using online banking, mobile banking and tablet banking access their accounts approximately 30 times per month.
In terms of market share and new market segments, the Federal Reserve says 80% of mobile banking users are under age 45, and minorities are disproportionately more likely to use mobile banking. Meanwhile, the average age of credit union members is 47--or 10 years older than the U.S. median, according to the Credit Union National Association.

CUNA Council members are eligible to receive complimentary copies of the paper and of more than 300 other white papers. Non-council members may purchase white papers for $50 per copy. To access the paper, use the link.

CUAid donations tally at 175K says NCUF

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/12)--In the past week, the donations through CUAid to provide disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy have more than doubled, said the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Tuesday.

More than $175,000 has been raised for disaster relief by credit unions and credit union-related organizations through CUAid,  the credit union movement's Disaster Relief Fund, said NCUF.  The fund aids credit union staff, volunteers and members directly impacted by the hurricane which hit the East Coast Oct. 29 and 30.

A week ago, on Nov. 5, credit unions had already raised $82,000 as the extent of the damage, especially in New Jersey and New York, were made known. Most credit unions in the areas impacted were closed due to flooding and power outages, many for several days. More than 800 credit unions were affected.

"NCUF continues to receive online donations and checks from credit unions across the country, which is truly inspiring," said NCUF Director of Communications Christopher Morris.

Morris was interviewed late last week with CUbroadcast. In it he talks about CUAid and the range of support received.  Use the link to access the video.

Fake pop-ups injected into online banking transactions

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/12)--The latest version of the Citadel banking Trojan malware has something malware analysts have never encountered before:  a browser malware that launches fake pop-ops during online banking transactions and tricks online users into re-entering their bank and credit union account logins and passwords.

The risks for credit unions and banks, as well as their members/customers, are obvious. And it means that credit unions and others will need to offer crash courses to their members about defending themselves from the advanced Trojans (Bankinfosecurity.com Nov. 12). Otherwise, financial institutions will see even greater losses due to fraud.

The Citadel, which is an advanced mutation of the infamous Zeus Trojan malware, was discovered in "underground" forums in January. It is a keylogger that steals online banking authorization credentials by capturing the computer user's keystrokes (Bankinfosecurity.com Nov. 12). The Trojan was the topic of a number of warnings to credit unions and banks in August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The latest version uses social engineering tools to create the pop-ups, even on legitimate banking sites. And that will confuse consumers making online transactions at their credit union's site.

In the underground forums, Citadel developers are claiming they have infected computers with the new version of the Trojan. They allege they have infected computers relying on Microsoft Security Essentials, McAfee and Norton. The new development has upped the price of the Trojan on the cybercrime market. Several months ago, it went for $3,000. Now it is worth $4,000, say malware researchers (bankinfosecurity.com Aug. 21).

Malware researchers said credit unions and banks should consistently educate users about emerging online and mobile security threats. Explain the variations of the attacks, such as the new pop-up feature, so consumers know what to watch for when online.  Also, train staff to identify more quickly suspicious transactions, including withdrawals and wire transfers.

Other advice:

  • Avoid using out-of-date software versions that have vulnerabilities easy to exploit. Software companies issue patches and updates; use them. Out of date Java software in particular has been a gateway for the Trojan infection, say researchers;
  • Run  full-system virus scans at least once a week;
  • Use caution when entering user names and passwords and enter these slowly to give time to back out if something seems odd;
  • Regularly visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center for updates about Citadel;
  • Have a computer expert remove any malware. Even if you succeed in unfreezing the computer, keyloggers and other malware may still be operating in the background; and
  • Never pay money or provide personal information to a suspicious online entity.

Illinois state award winners announced

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/14/12)--The Illinois Credit Union League has announced its statewide award winners, including two credit unions that placed in the national contests.

In the Desjardins Youth Financial Education award competition, Illinois' first-place winners and their respective asset categories were:

  • 1st MidAmerica CU, Bethalto--$150 million to $500 million in assets;  and
  • Great Lakes CU, North Chicago--More than $500 million.
The Desjardins Adult Financial Education first-place winners included:

  • NuMark CU, Joliet--$150 million to $500 million in assets; and
  • Scott CU, Edwardsville--More than $500 million.
The Desjardins awards recognize leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of youth and adult financial literacy. The award is named after Alphonse Desjardins and emphasizes the movement's long-time commitment to youth and financial literacy.

Dora Maxwell Award  first-place winners are:

  • Rock Valley CU, Loves Park--$50 million to $100 million in assets. The credit union also placed first in the national competition, presented by the Credit Union National Association.
  • Streator Onized CU, Streator--$100 million to $200 million. The credit union also placed in second in nationals.
  • 1st MidAmerica CU -- $200 million to $500 million; and
  • Great Lakes CU --$500 million to $1 billion.
The Dora Maxwell Award is part of a national recognition program to honor credit unions for their outstanding efforts in community projects and activities.

The Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action first-place recipient was Great Lakes CU-- $250 million to - $1 billion in assets. The award was established in 1990 to commend credit unions that make exceptional efforts to include credit union philosophy in their daily operations and member service.

CU System briefs (11/13/2012)

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  • NAPA, Calif. (11/14/12)--Alfredo Pedroza, branch manager of Redwood CU's  (RCU) Sonoma branch, was recently elected to the Napa (Calif.) City Council. His priorities as a city councilmember will include job creation, making Napa affordable for families, promoting a healthy business environment, and improving Napa's transportation infrastructure. "We are extremely proud of Alfredo and are confident he will be a great asset as a city council member  for the people of Napa," said Brett Martinez, RCU president/CEO. "RCU is very committed to the communities we serve, and we are supportive of RCU employees taking on leadership roles in local government and on nonprofit and community boards." Pedroza has worked in financial services since 2005, and joined RCU in 2009 as assistant branch manager of the Napa branch, before becoming branch manager of the Sonoma and Glen Ellen branches ...
  • LANSING, Mich. (11/14/12)--Biz Kid$, the credit union-supported PBS program where kids learn about money and business will be highlighted at the eighth annual Michigan Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance Educators Conference Dec. 11, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Nov. 12). The conference is designed for K-12 educators who teach personal finance topics in the classroom. Danielle Brown, Biz Kid$ program coordinator for the National Credit Union Foundation, will conduct a live webinar for attendees to showcase the program and supplemental classroom materials. All attendees will receive a DVD copy of a Biz Kid$ episode along with a printed lesson plan for use in the classroom …
  • SAN ANTONIO (11/14/12)--San Antonio-based Security Service FCU donated $205,830 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's South Texas chapter recently.  SSFCU employees across Texas, Colorado and Utah collected the funds for the nonprofit's annual Light the Night Walk.  More than 400 employees walked in the event. This is the third year SSFCU has served as national partner for the society. The funds raised broke last year's record donation by more than $20,000.  Through volunteerism and employee fundraising, SSFCU has donated nearly $1 million for blood cancer research the past 11 years. Pictured are, from left, Mike Martinez, SSFCU senior vice president of member service; Michelle Mergele, SSFCU member service administrative assistant; Emma DeGoes, honored hero; and Kathy Griesenbeck, executive director of the society's South Texas chapter. (Photo provided by Security Service FCU) …

IWSJI CUs banks work with Visa on digital wallets

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TAMPA, Fla., and FOSTER CITY, Calif. (11/14/12)--Card Services for Credit Unions (CSCU) and Visa Inc. announced an agreement Tuesday to promote V.me--a new digital wallet service from Visa--to all of its member credit unions, and The Wall Street Journal has reported on the new service.

The agreement represents more than 11.5 million accounts, with more than one million included in the November roll out.

Earlier, Visa had announced the service will be made available to more than 50 credit unions and banks and that it would be available to cardholders using MasterCard, American Express and Discover Financial Services, said The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 13).

Credit union cardholders will be able to sign up for V.me to make online purchases, without repeatedly entering account number, bill-to and ship-to information, said CSCU.

CSCU is a credit union industry advocate in total payment solutions. Created by and for credit unions, it serves its nearly 3,000 member credit unions.

CSCU credit unions engaged with V.me include:

  • SECU, Linthicum, Md;
  • Directions CU, Toledo, Ohio;
  • MECU,  Schaumburg, Ill.;
  • SCE FCU, El Monte, Calif.;
  • Community First CU of Florida, Rockledge, Fla.;
  • Michigan State University FUC, East Lansing, Mich.; and
  • Credit Union of Colorado, Denver.
Cardholders at CSCU's member credit unions can enroll their existing credit union Visa cards and other payment card accounts into V.me, and make purchases online by entering a user name and password at checkout. As V.me acceptance gains momentum at more eCommerce merchants, Visa will work with CSCU to deliver the digital wallet service to consumers.

V.me can help issuing credit unions strengthen account holder relationships, said CSCU, by offering a new service that addresses the growing trend towards shopping online. Through credit union branding and Visa-backing, account holders can shop and check out knowing they're protected by layers of security within Visa's network.

Mayor advocates for MBLs honored by CUs

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/14/12)--Madison, Wis., Mayor Paul Soglin, who advocated passing a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors supporting federal legislation to ensure small businesses can access member business loans (MBL) through credit unions, has been honored by Wisconsin credit unions.

The Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill (S.B. 2231/H.R. 1418), which the resolution supported, would increase the ability of credit unions to extend additional credit to small businesses at no cost to taxpayers.

The bill would raise credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from the current 12.25%. The Credit Union National Association says that raising the MBL cap would help inject $13 billion in new small business loans and 140,000 new jobs into the economy. In Wisconsin it would provide $458 million in new credit and create almost 5,000 jobs, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League.

Soglin became aware of credit unions' desire to fill the void for small business credit through conversations with Kim Sponem, president of Summit CU, Madison, and Paul Kundert, president of University of Wisconsin CU, also of Madison.

Sponem presented Soglin with a plaque and expressed appreciation for his work to gain the bipartisan support of 187 mayors nationwide to pass the resolution.

"Mayor Soglin understands that credit unions can fill today's huge void for business credit because they have billions available to lend, a 100-year history of making business loans safely, the support of federal regulators and the support of 84% of Wisconsin voters who, like Forbes magazine, see this as an absolute no-brainer," said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the league.

The Conference of Mayors joins a bipartisan list of more than 30 organizations supporting the MBL measure, including groups representing small businesses, the self-employed and the insurance, textile, realty, construction, automotive and technology industries. Only the for-profit banking industry has opposed the bill.

First CU in N.J. obtains municipal depository eligibility

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TRENTON, N.J. (11/14/12)--Credit Union of New Jersey in Ewing is the first credit union in the state to secure eligibility as a municipal depository, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League.

The credit union filed its Governmental Unit Depository Protection Act (GUDPA) application Oct. 10 and received its official Notification of Eligibility Friday (The Daily Exchange Nov. 13).

League-backed legislation was enacted in 2011 and implementation rules were published in September to allow credit unions to enter the $15 billion market.

New Jersey credit unions can apply to be included on the list of eligible depositories for the state's more than 1,400 local government entities, including 21 counties, 566 municipalities and 611 school districts. The approval process takes about a month, said the league.

Most local government entities approve depositories for the coming year at their annual reorganization meeting in early January.

The league encouraged interested credit unions to file a GUDPA application early so that they can be included among potential public depositories.

Momentum has been building in several states to include credit unions as public depositories. States that have have been successful in recent years include Oregon, Washington and New Jersey. Minnesota and Wisconsin were successful in getting credit unions included in CDARS-type (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) programs.

Also, several cities are adopting Responsible Banking Ordinances, which would provide credit unions more opportunities to accept municipal deposits (News Now June 29). San Diego adopted an ordinance in September. The Northwest Credit Union Association helped get an ordinance passed in Portland, Ore.

States warn consumers of unlicensed online lenders

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (11/14/12)--Five states have filed a statement of charges against five unlicensed online lenders.

Washington is the latest state to file the charges against the five lenders, all owned by Martin Webb. Colorado, Maryland, Missouri and Florida have also taken legal action against the same entities for making loans without a license and for offering rates of interest that violate the various state interest rate limits, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association said (The Anthem Nov. 9).

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal action against the entities as well, alleging illegal collection practices, said the league.

The five lenders are:

  • Western Sky Financial LLC;
  • Payday Financial LLC, d/b/a Big Sky Cash and Lakota Cash;
  • Great Sky Finance LLC, d/b/a Great Sky Cash;
  • Green Billow LLC, d/b/a Four Seasons Cash; and
  • Red Stone Financial LLC, d/b/a Red Stone Cash.
The unlicensed lenders have made thousands of loans to Washington state residents online at rates between 89.68% and 1,825%--rates that would be illegal even if the entities held licenses from the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

The maximum rate of interest allowed under RCW 19.52, the state of Washington's usury statute, is 12%. The maximum rate of interest allowed for licensees under the Consumer Loan Act is 25%.

The unlicensed lenders, located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Indian Reservation in South Dakota, are owned and operated by Martin Webb as an individual tribal member rather than by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe or any of its political subdivisions, said the association.

After receiving at least 22 complaints against the entities from state residents, Washington's DFI issued a consumer alert in August 2011 warning consumers that Western Sky Financial and Lakota Cash were not licensed to make loans in Washington.

The Consumer Loan Act authorizes the DFI director to file charges against companies and individuals believed to have violated the act. The charges are not a conclusive finding or order that violations of the act have occurred. The named lenders have the right to request an administrative hearing on the charges, said the association.

Filene advises young pros on leadership careers

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MADISON, Wis. (11/14/12)--A new report from the Filene Research Institute offers advice for credit unions seeking to identify, encourage and promote future leaders.

The report, "Young Professional Leadership and Career Development in North American Credit Unions," provides a step-by-step guide for concerned leaders, human resources professionals, or young strivers to fill in the blanks they feel they are missing in their professional development. It is built on three case studies from career development networks of three credit unions and checklists that encourage action.

The report advises that to be most effective, personal goals must align with credit union goals. If they don't, then even well-intentioned projects will not likely attract the attention or support they need.

Rising leadership groups are among the ways today's young credit union leaders are aligning professional development with their credit unions' strategic goals, according to the report.

The report offers advice for forming a leadership group, including:

  • Assess what's out there. Don't reinvent the wheel if adding to, or simply joining, an ongoing initiative will do. Also, evaluate the human resources and external business environments into which the credit union wants to introduce the group.
  • Establish a goal. Clearly define, in as few statements as possible, what the group seeks to accomplish.
  • Get a few people on board. Build relationships with peers and superiors that can help sustain the initiative.
  • Find a sponsor. A current leader who is interested in the project and has the clout to sustain it is invaluable.
  • Spread the word. Formal and informal channels are key, and a small passionate group can be better than a diffuse cluster.
  • Build partnerships. Look for internal and external partnerships to help the group maintain momentum and grow.
  • Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Use initial goals as a guide, but don't be afraid to switch, narrow, or expand the group's focus.
To download the report, use the link.

NYCUFs disaster fund total at 70K

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ALBANY, N.Y. (11/14/12)--
At a fundraising lunch Friday for Hurricane Sandy victims were, from left: William J. Mellin, Credit Union Association of New York president/CEO; Lori M. Valentini, CUNA Mutual Group sales executive; Edward Kovalefsky, CUC Mortgage Corp. chief operating officer; and Marc Inger, UsNet chief operating officer.
New pledges have brought the total amount of funds raised to $70,000 for the New York Credit Union Foundation's statewide Disaster Relief Fund to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims in the state.

The Credit Union Association of New York's (CUANY) affiliate companies, CUC Mortgage Corp., Covera and Universal Sharing Network (UsNet), pledged a total of $25,000. CUNA Mutual Group is contributing $10,000, said CUANY's press release.

The funds create a pool of much-needed funds for New York credit unions, credit union employees and volunteer leaders, and members impacted by Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through the East Coast on Oct. 29 and 30.

"Helping comes naturally to credit union people. That inclination is even stronger when you know that an individual you have served on a committee with, hiked the Hill with or attended a credit union roundtable with is the one who needs your help," said Vicki O'Neill, president/CEO of ACMG FCU, Syracuse, and chairperson of the foundation's board of trustees.

"Occasions like this present us with the opportunity to remind ourselves of what it means to be part of a unique and meaningful movement," she said.

Credit Union Association of New York and Alloya Corporate FCU staff at a fundraising lunch  raised nearly $1,400 for the New York Credit Union Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund for Hurricane Sandy victims. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
CUANY hosted a lunch fundraiser last Friday for its staff and staff from Alloya Corporate FCU, raising nearly $1,400 for the fund. CUNA Mutual Group was also represented there.

CUANY has matched all funds donated by association staff through last Friday, including the lunch. Total funds raised by the association and staff reached nearly $6,000.

"Hurricane Sandy has created numerous challenges for impacted credit unions, including financial hardship among their staff and their members," said CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin. "As credit unions work to address these changes, the association is committed to providing as much support as possible."

All donations to the fund will be used to help impacted New York credit unions and their employees, volunteer leaders and members who do not receive financial assistance from CUAid, the disaster relief system headed by the National Credit Union Foundation.

See related News Now story: "CUAid donations tally at $175 for Sandy victims, says NCUF."

Ohio league 2013 board elections completed

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DUBLIN, Ohio (11/14/12)--The Ohio Credit Union League has announced results of its 2013 board of director elections. The balloting concluded Oct. 15.

Bill Burke, CEO  of Day Air CU, will continue to represent Membership Category C, credit unions with 24,000 members or more (eLuminations Newsletter Oct. 31).

Three other directors were elected by acclamation in August:

  • Jay Young of Fiberglas FCU, Newark, Membership Category B;
  • Tim Boellner of AurGroup Financial CU, Fairfield, for District II; and
  • Stan Barnes of Canton School Employees FCU, Canton, for District IV.
They will serve three-year terms, beginning in February.