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CU System Briefs (11/13/2013)

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  • HERSHEY, Pa. (11/13/13)--Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's retiring President/CEO Jim McCormack was honored by 200 state credit union leaders, friends and family members on Friday night in Hershey, Pa. (Life is a Highway Nov. 12). PCUA Board Chair Maria LaVelle emceed the event, which featured remarks from: Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney; CO-OP Financial Services Chairman Bill Raker; CO-OP Financial Services CEO Stan Hollen; CUNA Mutual Group Sales Manager Paul Butler; Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers Chairman Ralph Canterbury; PCUA Director Cookie Yoder; PCUA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rick Wargo; and, from the McCormack family, Ed Coleman. Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO and Credit Union House Chairman Dick Ensweiler also announced McCormack's induction into the Credit Union House Wall of Leaders. CO-OP Financial Services also announced a $10,000 Judge/Bradley Leadership School scholarship in McCormack's name. Throughout the event, McCormack was honored for his contributions to the credit union movement at both the state and national level ...
  • HICKORY, N.C. (11/13/13)--U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) learned on Tuesday about a Local Government FCU loan that helped a volunteer fire department in his constituency. During a visit to Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department in Hickory, N.C., McHenry (at right) was told that LGFCU Commercial Lending's division provided the department the financing to buy and repurpose property that became its headquarters. The move saved taxpayers about $1 million, said the credit union. McHenry was also told about Mountain View VFD's work.  Shown with McHenry are, from left:  LGFCU Commercial Lending executives Sherrod Warwick and Bill Carter; Lt. Paul Exon; Chief Tony Holsclaw; Firefighters Sarah Loria and Mickey Lasone, and Lt. Bryan Lynch. LGFCU has a loan program that caters to non-profit emergency responders in North Carolina. It has given 35 lines of credit worth $6.5 million to 21 non-profit first responders in McHenry's district. "These are the people who put their lives on the line each day to protect lives and property in their communities, and they deserve the benefit of the equipment they need to perform their duties safely and efficiently," said Carter, LGFCU vice president of commercial lending. "Beyond being the right thing to do, these men and women who serve our communities are in our credit union's field of membership, so it makes sense for us to make these loans." LGFCU has $1.2 billion in assets and is based in Raleigh, N.C. ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Tex. (11/13/13)--CU Members Mortgage President Dave Motley was honored with the Mortgage Bankers Association's Andrew D. Woodward Distinguished Service Award--for his contributions on regulatory and legislative issues--during MBA's 100th Annual Convention & Expo, Oct. 27-30 in Washington, D.C., said the Cornerstone Credit Union League (Leaguer Nov. 12). Nominees for the annual award must be associated with an MBA member firm, and have a record of sustained service to the MBA and the mortgage industry. CU Members Mortgage, a business partner of Credit Union Resources headquartered in Addison, Texas, originates more than $3 billion in mortgage loans annually, services a portfolio greater than $14 bullion, and owns more than $1 billion in assets. It serves credit unions, credit union service organizations and league partners ...  

CUs Combat Elder Financial Abuse

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (11/13/13)--Credit unions from across the country are working to combat financial elder abuse and exploitation, said the Credit Union National Association Tuesday.

Americans over the age of 60 lost about $2.9 billion from financial abuse in 2010, up 12% from the $2.6 billion lost in 2008, according to research from insurance provider MetLife.

Credit unions are taking several steps to curb this escalating problem, including staff training to identify and report abuse, instituting new computer programs that can recognize irregular activity, and reaching out into the community to help educate vulnerable members about avoiding theft and fraud.

With the uptick in abuse, credit unions also are seeing more legislation designed to protect the vulnerable, aging population.  In the past two years, 22 states have enacted elder financial abuse legislation, which often requires financial institutions, including credit unions, to report suspected abuse. Credit union leagues have worked closely with state legislatures to ensure that these new reporting laws protect seniors while also ensuring individual privacy protection.

National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz in a letter issued in September to credit unions (Letter 13-CU-08), strongly encouraged credit unions to ensure that their staff members are "trained on the potential signs that might trigger a report of elder abuse or financial exploitation."
 
Here are examples of credit unions are fighting back against elder abuse:
  • Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Pacific Service CU was recognized by the NCUA in October for its role in fighting elder abuse. It sponsored the Elder Financial Protection Network, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that seeks to raise community awareness, and was praised for supporting state-wide forums as well as providing extensive staff and community training in abuse recognition and prevention.
  • In North Carolina, where new laws now allow credit unions to report fraud, the state league hosted a day-long summit that included panel discussions on the new reporting requirements, as well as best practices from credit unions and community banks on implementation.
  • The Montana Credit Union Network worked closely with the state legislature to create new laws to protect seniors. Its work included providing testimony in committees and working with law enforcement, interested parties and other consumer protection groups to ensure that the new legislation incorporated the perspective of financial institutions who are interested in reporting abuse. As a result, two new laws were passed this year that make it easier for prosecutors to prove a senior citizen has been the victim of fraud, and that added a penalty for violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act if the victim is over 60 years of age.
  • At Fort Smith Dixie Cup FCU, Fort Smith, Ark., fraud prevention exists on a very personal level. Vicki Newton, CEO of the credit union, recalls a situation where an elderly member she knows well came into the credit union. The member was disoriented and needed help with a Medicare issue. Recognizing that the member's state of mind put her in a vulnerable position, Newton immediately called the member's son. "We're a small shop," Newton says. "And with a closed field of membership, it's easier to get to know our members and learn their financial habits. If something doesn't look right, I'm going to catch it."
  • In St. Paul, Minnesota, Terri Maloney, president of Catholic United Financial CU, has personal experience with identity theft and has made it her mission to help seniors in Minnesota by providing awareness and education. Since conducting her first presentation on identify theft at Catholic United's convention in August, Maloney has been invited to do six more.
  • Champion CU, Canton, N.C., hosted an Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation Conference on Oct. 10. Speakers from the attorney general's office, state social services, the postal inspector (to speak about mail fraud) and the sheriff's department provided information about avoiding financial exploitation and scams.
  • In 2012, Bellco CU, Greenwood Village, Colo., partnered with the Filene Research Institute to pilot a new program called Senior Sentry, which takes proven indicators--or red flags--of elder financial abuse, and applies them in the monitoring of member account activity to generate alerts. The program, which has proven effective in preventing fraud, is exploring options for further development on a larger scale.

Irish CUs Gain Access To Provide Electronic Payments

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DUBLIN (11/13/13)--Irish credit unions recently gained access to provide electronic payment services to their members through a license granted by the Central Bank of Ireland to the Credit Union Service Organization for Payments.

Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions representatives, from left Brian McCrory, director; Grzegorz Bierecki, chair; and Brian Branch, president/CEO, met with the Irish League of Credit Unions at its headquarters in Dublin Friday to gain a better understanding of the Irish system.
The new service will allow credit union members nationwide to electronically transfer payments from a bank, employer or social welfare office directly into their credit union account.
 
"The recent exit of multiple international banks from the Irish financial services sector means that there is a greater scope for Ireland's credit unions to offer a vital link between the Irish public and accessible, community-based financial services," said World Council of Credit Unions President/CEO Brian Branch during a visit last week to the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), a World Council member. "A payments license will allow credit unions to begin to put a realistic not-for-profit alternative in place."
 
Branch and World Council's board of directors met with ILCU CEO Kieron Brennan and the ILCU board of directors to learn about challenges facing the nation's credit unions and the impact of an electronic payments service on members' ability to manage their current and future finances.
 
Click to view larger image A World Council of Credit Unions delegation visited Dundrum CU in Ireland for a presentation from its executive committee. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)   
"We believe that reforming our payments system will provide cost competitiveness, greater security and convenience for 3.1 million credit union members nationwide," Brennan said.
 
 The World Council delegation visited Dundrum CU for a presentation from its executive committee. 
 
Since the beginning of Ireland's historical recession in 2008, ILCU and Irish credit unions have faced economic difficulties, yet have remained a coherent social and economic force, said the World Council. Membership has grown steadily, which is partially due to increased access to loans.

As of 2012, Ireland had 487 credit unions serving 3.2 million members, according to World Council's most recent statistical report. A recent study by ILCU shows that consumers' confidence in credit unions is on the rise.

Pep Rally To Kick Off 2014 CU Cherry Blossom Run

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WASHINGTON (11/13/13)--Preparations for the 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run will kick off with a credit union sponsor Pep Rally Nov. 20 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
 
Credit unions have been the title sponsor of the run since 2001 when they organized participation as a means of raising funds to benefit the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through Credit Unions for Kids. To date, credit unions have donated over $6 million through their efforts.
 
The Pep Rally will focus on helping credit unions make the most of their participation in this year's run. A panel of credit union marketers will discuss ways credit unions can engage their members in fundraising and race participation while promoting credit union involvement within the community. 
 
This year, credit union sponsors will have additional opportunities to promote their credit union message directly to runners and spectators at the run, which takes place April 6.
 
The run also serves as a showcase for credit unions before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Attendees will hear updates on the annual Capitol Hill competition for lawmakers and their staff. 
 
Credit union employees who are responsible for marketing, fundraising, running and volunteer coordination should attend. 
 
The National Building Museum is at 401 F St., NW, Washington, DC, directly across from Judiciary Square Metro Stop on the Red Line.  Credit unions can register to attend by e-mailing Credit Union Miracle Day Director Sarah Turner at sturner@mddcua.org.

CU's $3M Donation Boosts University's Biz Development Hub

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M (11/13/13)--New Mexico Educators FCU helped the University of New Mexico become one multimillion-dollar step closer toward opening a high tech research and business development center in downtown Albuquerque, N.M.
 
The credit union gave $3 million to the university's "Innovate ABQ" project. It is the first private financial commitment, the largest single donation, and the credit union's largest one-time gift to date (Albuquerque Journal Nov. 11).
 
The gift "is a long-term investment" that will bring significant returns to the community and credit union members "many times over in terms of improved opportunities and lifestyles in Albuquerque," New Mexico Educators FCU President/CEO Terry Laudick said, hailing the university's attempts to bring the public and private sectors together to "redefine" the state's economic landscape. He noted that this is what the credit union is chartered to do as a nonprofit cooperative--bring community resources together for the greater good.
 
The University of New Mexico Foundation is administering the donation, and has created a dedicated fund to allow more private sector and individual donations.
 
Before the credit union's $3 million donation, the city of Albuquerque committed a $2 million bond, which was approved by voters in October. The university is also expecting to receive a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
 
The gift appears to guarantee that the project will go beyond the drawing board, said the Journal. The University is keen on purchasing a seven-acre site, currently occupied by First Baptist Church, with an appraised value of $6.6 million--which the university, by law, has to pay.

Montana FCU's Pay It Forward: Doing Good On the Fly

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (11/13/13)--With Veterans Day observed by the federal government, most financial institutions were closed on Monday. But one credit union based in Great Falls, Mont., gathered Monday for a community service seminar that resulted in a whimsical effort to improve peoples' lives with scant planning and a pocketful of cash.
 
Click to view larger image Kevin Hollingworth, left, and Martha Kennedy of Great Falls-based Montana FCU examine a child's coat with Western Ranch Supply manager Larry Kelly.  They were part of nine groups of credit union employees who were given $73 each to do some good on the fly. (Photo by Larry Beckner provided by the Great Falls Tribune)
Employees at Montana FCU, encouraged by seminar organizers to act on good intentions, were split into nine groups of six-to-eight people, and given $73 and two hours to make a positive impact on the town's residents (Great Falls Tribune Nov. 11).
 
 The two-hour time constraint and a $73 budget "is kind of a stickler," so the project needed to be along the lines of a pay-it-forward concept, said Becky Timmons, seminar organizer and Montana FCU vice president of marketing. She told the Tribune the groups had to use the money to make somebody's day "a little bit brighter."
 
Inspired by a Great Falls Chamber of Commerce project that encouraged community participation, the groups were dispatched to different parts of Great Falls and told to spend the money at neighborhood businesses.
 
One group picked up the tab for customers at a drive-through coffee house and convinced a store to donate a child's winter coat--while making purchases for an elementary school's charity winter clothing drive--before rounding out its impromptu cash mob buying sodas and coffees for people at the Veteran of Foreign Wars post.
 
Although she is not one to drop everything and do this type of thin, "this is really fun," remarked Montana FCU employee Amy Hodges remarked during the micro-spree.

Organizers decided to give each group $73 in honor of the 73rd anniversary, commemorated this year, of Montana FCU's founding. That added up to $657 in random disbursements on Monday.
 
Montana FCU, which has $196 million in assets, has given $115,000 to community organizations over the past two years.
 
The Credit Union National Association encourages credit unions to participate in such events as part of the leagues' and CUNA's Unite For Good campaign, which spreads awareness about the community-oriented focus of credit unions and their value.  For more information, use the links.

Michigan Card Skimming Bill Now In Senate

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LANSING, Mich. (11/13/13)--A five-bill, bipartisan anti-card-skimming legislation package initiated by the Michigan Credit Union League is nearing completion in the Michigan legislature.
 
Financial institutions have found that skimming devices are readily available for sale and take a minimal amount of time to install on ATMs, gas pumps and more. Within minutes, criminals can install a camera or other card reading device and PIN capturing device onto an ATM or other financial transaction device, and collect consumer personal information.
 
Currently, there are conflicting penalty provisions in state law that must be resolved, and jurisdictional adjustments are needed to facilitate easier prosecution, said the league (Michigan Monitor Nov. 11).

The legislation passed the House of Representatives unanimously last Thursday.  The Senate received the bills on Tuesday and referred them to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reported the package unanimously later that afternoon. The MCUL will continue work with the Senate, aiming for final passage before the holiday season.

MCUL will monitor the package as it moves into the Senate.  Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has indicated he will take the bills up in committee this week.
 
Also, league-supported legislation that would allow financial institutions to retain the primary homestead rate of taxation on residential property moved a step closer to passage last week.
 
The bill would allow financial institutions to pay a lower homestead tax rate for up to three years.
 
Senate Bill 532 passed out of the Senate Finance Committee with a unanimous bi-partisan vote. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber. The league said it expects the legislation to be considered by the full Senate as early as next week.
 
In other legislative news, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed two pieces of legislation last week that will require buyers of motor vehicles, recreational vehicles or titled watercraft to pay sales tax on the difference in price between price of the new vehicle and the trade-in.
 
The package, which includes Senate Bill 89 and House Bill 4234, amends the General Sales Tax Act (1933 PA 167) so sales tax eventually would be charged only on the difference between the price of a new or used motor vehicle, recreational vehicle, or titled watercraft and the agreed-upon value of any trade-in. The bills will be phased in over several years.
 
The package eliminates double taxation that took place when a vehicle, RV or titled watercraft was traded in for the purchase of a different one, said the league.

'Catch the $ave Wave' Announced As 2014 Theme For Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (11/13/13)--Credit unions nationwide selected "Catch the $ave Wave" to be the theme for the 2014 National Credit Union Youth Week, which will take place April 20-26, 2014.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
The concept was chosen from ideas submitted to the Credit Union National Association by credit union staff this fall.
 
"Catch the $ave Wave" harnesses kids' love of the beach, sand and surfing and shows younger members they can benefit from visiting--and saving at--their credit union. The goal of Youth Week is to pave the path to life-long credit union membership by encouraging kids to set up savings accounts, learn how to manage money, and be more financially literate.
 
This year's theme has connected with credit union professionals: "An effective campaign held at our credit union used beach balls throughout the lobby. The kids loved this," said Meredith Mosely, marketing director at Tomah (Wis.) Area CU. "Youth Week is a great time for kids to learn how to save at their credit union and enjoy the season with surf-themed activities."
 
Credit unions nationwide may join in the celebration throughout April, or limit it to only National Credit Union Youth Week, by encouraging youth to set up savings accounts and learn how to manage money. By focusing on potential younger members, participating credit unions can lower their age demographics, while increasing the loyalty of parents.
 
"National Credit Union Youth Week fits perfectly with the credit union cooperative principle of member education," said Jan Garkey, CUNA's Youth Week coordinator. "Expose young children to the credit union through regular deposits of their quarters, hold a Mad City Money simulation at a local high school, or hold a parent seminar on how to teach money skills to children. Use the celebration to create a new generation of financially confident consumers, and have fun in the process."
 
Official National Credit Union Youth Week art, articles, and celebration materials will be available online in January. For the latest information on Youth Week, credit union staff may sign up for the free Youth Week e-Newsletter. Use the link.