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TJX settles with Visa Fifth Third Bank on breach

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BOSTON (12/3/07)--Discount retailer TJX Cos. may pay up to $40.9 million in a settlement with Visa Inc. and the company's credit card payments processing bank, Fifth Third Bancorp, in a lawsuit over the largest customer data breach in U.S. history. The agreement, announced Friday, doesn't resolve an unrelated lawsuit by Ameribank, SELCO Community CU, and several other small institutions plus the bank associations of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. That lawsuit suffered a setback Thursday when a judge denied class status for plaintiffs in the case (Associated Press via Money Central/MSN.com Nov. 30). The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is looking into how the settlement would affect damage claims in the other lawsuit, said CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard. The $40.9 million settlement would help resolve potential claims and other disputes by U.S. Visa issuers, such as credit unions and banks, over the costs of replacing members' and customers' credit and debit cards compromised in the breach. To take effect, the settlement must be approved by issuers of at least 80% of U.S. Visa cards by Dec. 19. By accepting the deal, they would agree to waive their right to sue TJX and Fifth Third, in exchange for payment of their breach-related costs by Dec. 27. Analysts said $40.9 million is likely higher than the costs incurred in replacing cards. A recent Gartner Inc. survey noted that credit card networks generally reimburse banks and credit unions for fraudulent purchases, leaving the financial institutions with the costs of replacing the cards and customer service expenses. As part of the agreement Visa would rescind part of the $880,000 in fines it levied against the companies for failing to meet Visa standards for safeguarding data. TJX and Visa said the rescinsion would increase the funds available for an alternate recovery program for the financial institutions. The agreement does not include other credit card associations such as MasterCard.

Ohio CUs CUNA offer tips for holiday shoppers

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DUBLIN, Ohio (12/3/07)--Ohio credit unions are reminding shoppers to spend their money wisely during the holidays and are offering tips on how to avoid debt. Although consumers are concerned about rising expenses, such as gas, spending will increase this year compared to last year, said Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel. “This time of year, we tend to lose weight in our back pocket,” said Paul Mercer, Ohio Credit Union League president. “While we do not want to downplay the importance of giving to our loved ones and those in need, we do want to make sure consumers are not spending irresponsibly and finding themselves racking up excessive debt.” About 76% of credit unions offer Christmas Club accounts, which allow members to set aside a specified amount from their paychecks throughout the year. When the holidays arrive, funds from the Christmas Club accounts are transferred into members’ checking or savings. Some suggestions that credit unions can offer their members during the holidays include:
* Make a list of gifts and dollar amounts; * Avoid using credit cards; pay for gifts with cash; * Shop early and compare prices; * Take advantage of sales and coupons; * Don’t shop for yourself; * Pay with a credit card instead of a debit card, because credit card charges can be disputed; * Prevent identity theft by not using debit cards for online shopping; and * Create a timeline for paying off holiday bills--such as by Valentine’s Day.

CU System briefs (11/30/2007)

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* WARWICK, R.I. (12/3/07)--The Credit Union Association of Rhode Island presented a $50,000 check to the Special Olympics Rhode Island at the association's annual fundraising golf tournament. In the past decade, it has raised more than $300,000 for charity. From left are: Association Chairman Paul Archambault, Wave FCU; Association Vice Chairman Cidalia Rocha, Columbus CU; Special Olympian athlete Michael Lucca (holding the check); Association President Daniel Egan Jr.; Special Olympics Rhode Island Executive Director Michael McGovern; and Association Social Responsibility Committee Chair David Dupere, Anchor FCU. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island) … * PHOENIX, Ariz. (12/3/07)--The Arizona Credit Union League and First CU co-hosted U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-6) Thursday at the credit union's corporate office in Chandler, Ariz. Flake addressed the crowd and confirmed his support of credit unions and limiting the role of the government. He also spoke about earmarks, immigration and the 2008 presidential election. "He took the time to meet one-on-one with each member in attendance and he was well-received," said Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Arizona Credit Union System. Pictured here, from left, are First CU members Benny Goodman and Jose Carerra with Flake. First CU has $463 million in assets. (Photo provided by the Arizona Credit Union League) … * TUKWILA, Wash. (12/3/07)--Seven Federal Way, Wash., high school students are under investigation for allegedly agreeing to sell their debit cards and personal identification numbers to other students for $500 to $1,000, then reporting the cards stolen. The cards were given to two men who deposited counterfeit checks into the accounts and made withdrawals, with fraudulent transactions totaling almost $10,000, said police. The investigation began when a father reported his son agreed to sell his debit card issued by BECU (formerly known as Boeing Employees CU). John Snodgrass, security risk manager for BECU, said the ring isn't an isolated incident and that criminals have tried to recruit students for several years. People who turn over their debit cards and PINs are liable for charges that appear on their accounts, he said (The News Tribune Nov. 30) … * VINELAND, N.J. (12/3/07)--A man may have lost thousands of dollars in an e-mail scam that promised him 10% of the total on several checks totaling $500 each he received after answering a phony company's employment offer. The company claimed to be GrandQ Textiles Fabric. The victim, 47, was to keep the 10% and wire the balance to an address in North Carolina (The Daily Journal Nov. 22). He went to the Bay Atlantic FCU and cashed the checks, kept $450 and paid $189 to wire the funds. The checks were phony … * CHARLOTTE, N.C. (12/3/07)--Charlotte police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are seeking help from the public in identifying and locating the "Bluetooth bandits" responsible for eight bank robberies, including two robberies of Piedmont Aviation FCU, Greensboro, N.C. The credit union was robbed on Aug. 18, 2006, and Aug. 10, 2007. In each robbery, the bandits were armed and well-organized. In two robberies, one suspect wore a Bluetooth wireless in his ear, which authorities suspect was used to communicate with the others during the robbery (US Fed News Nov. 13) … * MEMPHIS, Tenn. (12/3/07)--Hope Community CU, a financial arm of Enterprise Corp. of the Delta, Jackson, Miss., will open its second branch in Memphis, Tenn. in January. The building is one of 10 branches closed by the former Regions Bank last month when it combined with AmSouth Bank. Hope Community opened its first branch in Memphis 18 months ago(Commercial Appeal Nov. 29) … * WASHINGTON (12/3/07)--Dwight Johnston, vice president of economic and market research at Western Corporate FCU, is the newest member of the Credit Union Economics Group (CUEG), a working group of credit union officials dedicated to the financial well-being of the credit union movement. Johnston brings more than 30 years experience in the investment business to CUEG. At WesCorp, he serves as the economic forecaster and market observer, and oversees educational commitments. He previously served as managing principal for WesCorp Investment Services LLC, the broker/dealer subsidiary of WesCorp …

YES Summit offers live blog from Austin

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AUSTIN, TEXAS (12/03/07)—The 2007 Your Essential Strategies (YES) Summit opened Sunday, and anyone who’s not there can attend through the Credit Union National Association’s live conference blog. The summit focuses on serving 18- to 30-year-old credit union members. By transmitting conference events in real-time through the blog, CUNA staff is using one of the target market’s preferred techniques to explore its financial needs. “You should be here,” said Josh Jones, YES organizer and CUNA’s manager of young adult programs. “But if you can’t be with us, this is the next best thing. The 2007 YES Summit is the first credit union conference with full-blown, live blog commentary. We have two reporters working the agenda, so that if you’re following along at home, you’ll be able to read what people are saying within minutes.” Christopher Morris, web manager for CUNA Councils, and Philip Heckman, CUNA’s director of youth and young adult programs, are responsible for YES coverage. Heckman explained: “Christopher and I are approaching all the sessions as a tag team. Besides posting the main points that speakers make, we’re recording attendees’ insights and reactions. Our goal is to bring this gathering to the credit union world as it happens.” “Look for the typos that indicate freshness,” Morris added. In preparation for this week’s event, summit organizers and speakers posted entries to the blog. Subjects include:
* Board members under 30 with Justin Ho, board member (age 20), USC CU, Los Angeles; * Peer-to-peer direct lending using Facebook, with John Donovan, chief operating officer, Lending Club; and * Gen Y staff recruiting, with Bill Humbert, CEO, The Humbert Group.
CUNA staff emphasized that the live conference blog is not merely online note-taking. “Throughout the day, we’re constantly encouraging attendees to join in the discussion, adding their immediate impressions, questions, and disagreements,” Morris said. ”Their live comments to our posts reflect the essence of serving 18-to-30s--creating a fully engaged and immediate dialogue.”

Texas attorney general warns CU members of phishing scam

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/3/07)--The Texas Attorney General’s office is warning credit union members to be on guard against an old phishing scam that features a new twist. Fake e-mails that are worded to sound like warnings are being circulated to credit union members, the attorney general’s office said (KVUE.com Nov. 29). The phish perpetrators use the same information that credit unions have previously sent to members to educate them about scams, Gary Whitcomb, president of Public Employees CU, Austin, told the station. A key indicator that the messages are fake is the misuse of one word, Whitcomb said. The phishers refer to people who use credit unions as “customers” instead of as “members.” Credit unions would never use the term “customers,” Whitcomb added. Warnings on websites and in various newsletters are advising credit union members to identify and avoid phony e-mails.

Food banks shortages would be worse without CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (12/3/07)--Food banks nationwide are reporting a depletion in their supplies, but credit unions’ efforts to feed the hungry are helping stock food pantry shelves. The food banks are reporting critical shortages that are forcing them to ration supplies, distribute staples usually earmarked for disaster relief, and even close (The Wall Street Journal Nov. 30).
FirstLight FCU, El Paso, Texas, held a press conference to kick off the 2008 FirstLight FCU Sun Bowl Food Drive Nov. 22. The drive resulted in 55,000 pounds of food. (Photo provided by FirstLight FCU)
“In Maine, the need for food has increased as a result of economic conditions, rising cost of fuel and other increasing costs,” Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the Maine Credit Union League told News Now. The league, which has shown a strong commitment to ending hunger over the years, just completed its sixth Annual Maine Credit Unions’ Ending Hunger Walking Tour. “The word from the food pantries was that more people are coming to them for assistance earlier than usual this year,” Paradise said. While on the tour, the league contributed $25,000 to purchase food and is continuing to raise money through the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. The Maine credit union campaign has raised more than $2.3 million in the state since 1990 to end hunger. Credit unions in other states are participating in similar activities and food drives:
* Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, Mich., is collecting non-perishable food items for the non-profit Forgotten Harvest, based in Oak Park; * Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H., held a food drive in all 12 of its branch locations and donated more than 1,300 pounds of food to the New Hampshire Food Bank. It also donated $30,000; * Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., is collecting non perishable food items to be distributed through local non profits and food banks; * FirstLight FCU, El Paso, Texas, partnered with the West Texas Food Bank to bring in more than 55,000 pounds of food during a recent holiday parade; * Smart Financial CU, Houston, partnered with the University of Houston Athletic Department to donate 12,000 pounds of food to Houston’s Star of Hope Mission (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 30); * Bellwether Community CU, Manchester, N.H., sponsored the Tons of Turkeys food drive with a local radio station. The drive broke a record with the collection of 32 and 1/2 tons of turkey donated.

Plaintiffs in TJX breach case denied class action status

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BOSTON (12/3/07)--Banks and financial associations suing TJX Cos. because of losses sustained from its huge data breach, which was revealed earlier this year, cannot pursue their claims as a class action, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston. Judge William G. Young’s decision in U.S. District Court to deny class certification will not end claims against TJX, which is the parent organization of stores that include TJ Maxx and Marshalls (The Boston Globe Nov. 30). However, the judge’s decision will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to proceed because they will have to pursue claims individually. Some may not believe it’s worth the expense, lawyers said. “We still are studying the court’s decision, but obviously this is not a positive development,” Eric Richard, executive vice president and general counsel for the Credit Union National Association, told News Now. “Based on an initial reading, the decision appears to leave the door open for some possibility that the court may grant class action certification at a future stage of the case. “We will continue to work closely with the law firm litigating the case to clarify this issue and protect the interests of credit unions to the maximum extent possible,” he continued. One suit was filed against TJX by the bankers’ associations for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, and four banks. The other suit is a consolidated suit by AmeriFirst Bank against Fifth Third Bancorp, the parent company of TJX card processor Fifth Third Bank. AmeriFirst Bank is also one of the four banks in the TJX suit. The suits allege that TJX improperly retained nonpublic personal information on millions of its customers and failed to protect the data in a reasonable manner. As a result, an intrusion that went undetected for about 18 months compromised at least 47.5 million credit and debit card accounts. Estimates of compromised cards doubled to 94 million in October. Banks and credit unions had to reissue a massive number of payment cards at an estimated cost of $25 each, according to court documents (News Now July 25).

CU in Boulder shares award-winning mortgage strategy

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BOULDER, Colo. (12/03/07)--Boulder Valley CU is sharing its award-winning mortgage strategy, which focuses on five areas.
Kimberley Morris, vice president of mortgage lending for Boulder Valley CU, received the First Place Award in the CUNA Mutual Group and the CUNA Lending Council's 2007 Credit Union Excellence in Lending national competition for mortgage lending. (Photo provided by Boulder Valley CU)
It recently was awarded First Place in the 2007 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Excellence in Lending competition for mortgage lending. The award was sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and CUNA Lending Council. Boulder Valley CU’s entry said its mortgage strategy focused on home buyer education to conduct responsible lending to the underserved in the community, and to promote responsible borrowing and home ownership, said Kimberley Morris, vice president of mortgage lending for Boulder Valley CU. Boulder Valley’s mortgage strategy focused on five distinct areas:
* Development of an employee-assisted housing program--targeting Boulder Valley select employee groups; * Facilitation of down payment assistance programs; * Promotion of product offerings, such as 2/1 Buy Down Loans, and My Community Mortgage; * First-time home buyer educational workshops for select employee groups and the community; and * Website mortgage center development.

Study Data breach costs continue to rise

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MADISON, Wis., and TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (11/30/07)--The costs of failing to protect their customers' private data is on the rise for companies involved with data breaches, according to new research. But it isn't known how much these breaches have cost the nation's credit unions. Data breach incidents cost companies $197 per compromised customer in 2007, compared with $182 in 2006, according to Traverse City, Mich.-based Ponemon Institute. Data loss incidents involving more than 215 million individual records have occurred since January 2005. Ponemon's survey focuses on actual data breaches in 35 U.S. organizations, including financial services, retail, healthcare and software companies. The average per-incident costs in 2007 totaled $6.3 million, compared with $4.8 million in 2006, said the institute. Lost business accounted for roughly two-thirds of the average cost per incident. The cost of lost business rose by 30% to $4.1 million on average in 2007. Breaches by third-party organizations were reported by 40% of respondents--up 29% from 2006. This type of breach was also more costly--on average $231 per record compared with in-house breaches at $171 per record. It isn't known how much these company's breaches have cost the nation's credit unions. CUNA Mutual Group tracks plastic card fraud losses for claims submitted by its policyholders.. Of submitted credit union losses reported in 2006, 76.7% were due to counterfeits, 15.5% due to stolen cards, 5.3% to lost cards and 2.5% to "other," according to CUNA Mutual's Plastic Fraud Update. CUNA Mutual's figures "do not represent fraud losses for all credit unions or take into account other costs of data breaches that were highlighted in the [Ponemon Institute] study," Phil Tschudy, media relations manager at CUNA Mutual, told News Now. In the first three quarters of 2007, plastic card fraud losses incurred by CUNA Mutual's policyholders totaled between $56 million to $57 million, according to the Plastic Fraud Update. That figure is for debit, credit and ATM cards. Debit cards account for more than half of the losses. The 2007 total is significantly less than plastic card losses submitted for the same time nine months last year: $33 million for first-quarter 2006, $24 million in second quarter, and $22 million in third quarter. Third-quarter 2007 losses submitted by policyholders were slightly over $17 million, while second quarter losses were at $20 million, and first quarter losses at slightly more than $20 million. Losses for the first three quarters for 2006 totaled $98.7 million, although estimates of losses not submitted by credit unions could bring that figure to more than $100 million. That compares with $89 million in 2005, $57 million in 2004, $40 million 2003, and $39 million in 2002, according to the CUNA Mutual figures. In the data breach study, Ponemon Institute also noted that notification costs for breaches fell 40% to $15 per customer in 2007 from $25 in 2006. That suggests a more measured, less reactive breach response by companies, Ponemon said. After the breaches, the companies implemented six technology measures, ranked in order: expanded encryption; data loss prevention solutions; identity and access management solutions; endpoint security controls; security event management solutions; and perimeter controls. Ponemon noted that the easiest way for companies to avoid the costs associated with a data breach "would be to avoid a breach in the first place." Use the resource link for more information.

8.3 million Americans were ID theft victims in 05

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WASHINGTON (11/30/07)--More than 8.3 million American adults were victims of identity theft in 2005, says a new report. That means credit unions must continue efforts in two areas: beefing up security efforts to protect members' data and educating members to guard their information and to recognize fraudulent attempts to collect the information. The number of victims accounts for 3.7% of all American adults, said the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which released the data Wednesday. Thieves misused existing credit card accounts of about 3.2 million of victims, or 1.4% of all adults. They misused noncredit card accounts of 3.3 million victims or 1.5% of adults. And they opened new accounts or committed fraud using personal information of 1.8 million people--0.8% of adults. Costs of goods or services obtained with stolen information varied widely: in at least half the cases costs were $500 or under, but in 10% of cases, thieves looted more than $6,000 of goods and services. Victims' out-of-pocket expenses also varied widely: in more than half the incidents, victims incurred no out-of-pocket expenses. However, 10% of victims saw at least $1,200 in out-of-pocket costs due to ID theft. (The survey did not count losses to institutional victims, such as credit unions who paid for replacing the cards.) The median time spent by victims in resolving problems caused by the thefts was four hours. Ten percent of victims, however, spent at least 55 hours resolving their problems and half of them spent at least 130 hours doing so. Losses were three times greater in instances where the thieves opened new accounts (a median $1,350 in losses) than with existing accounts (less than $500). Of the victims, 37% reported problems such as harassment by debt collectors, denial of new credit, inability to use existing cards, denial of loans, experiencing utilities cut off, being subjected to a criminal investigation or civil suit; being arrested; and difficulties obtaining or accessing bank accounts. When thieves opened new accounts with the information, victims were more than twice as likely to have one or more of these problems, said FTC. Credit unions looking to beef up security measures or educate members about protecting their information have many resources to assist them. Use the resource links for more information.

CU System briefs (11/29/2007)

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* MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--Madison-based Summit CU and Great Wisconsin CU have announced plans to merge, with completion expected in January 2009, pending approval from members and regulators. Summit, with $730 million in assets and 64,000 members, will merge with Great Wisconsin, which has $398 million assets and serves 51,000 members. The new credit union will be named Summit CU and adopt Great Wisconsin's expanded charter. Andy Faust, Summit CEO, will lead the new credit union as CEO, and Great Wisconsin CEO Kim Sponem will become president. Employees were told that no material changes in employment are planned. The combined credit union will have more than $1 billion in assets and serve more than 110,000 members in 20 locations throughout the state, making it the largest credit union merger in Wisconsin history, they said … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/30/07)--U.S. Rep. Chris Carney (D-10) praised credit unions at Wednesday’s Susquehanna Valley Chapter of Credit Unions meeting in Williamsport. The congressman told the 50 people attending he’s a loyal credit union member. Carney added that he had no financial worries about himself or his family while performing military service in Afghanistan because he knew his credit union was taking care of his financial obligations. He pledged his continued support for credit unions and said he would protect them from bankers (Life Is A Highway Nov. 29). From left are: Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Director Bill Lavage, Carney, and Chapter President Joanne Cowden at the meeting. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * BOULDER, Colo. (11/30/07)--Boulder Valley CU is the first financial institution in Boulder County to be awarded the Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) certification. PACE is a voluntary, non-regulatory organization that reviews businesses for their eco-friendly practices. Boulder Valley CU is the first financial institution, bank or credit union in Boulder County to meet the requirements necessary for certification. In May 2007, the credit union began working with members to help them “Go Green” by offering discounts on loans to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles and install solar panels on their homes. Pictured are, from left: Amin Delegah, pollution prevention specialist with Boulder County, awarding Jason Bauer, vice president of marketing at Boulder Valley CU, with the certification. (Photo provided by Boulder Valley CU) … * KIMBERLY, Wis. (11/30/07)--In a program to help relieve the hardships on military families from the deployment of troops for active duty, Capital CU, a $286 million asset, Kimberly, Wis.-based credit union, has begun offering a reduced loan rate and payment program for active duty Army reservists and National Guard troops (The Post-Crescent Nov. 25) ...

Coach Award at CUNAs ELLy program presented

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--Susan Dixon, assistant vice president of training and development for Columbia CU in Vancouver, Wash., received the first “Coach Award” from the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Experience Learning Live (ELLy) Training Awards program. Dixon received her award during the 2007 Experience Learning Live conference Nov. 4-7 in Las Vegas. The award honors credit union trainers who have significantly impacted a trainee’s career and life through education, mentoring and coaching. The ELLys are the only national awards presented to credit union trainers in professional staff development. First place awards and awards of merit for Training Professional of the Year were presented to:
* Lisa Schaefer, Universal 1 CU, Dayton, Ohio, first place; * Rose Halford, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., award of merit; and * Tina Hall and Justin Martin, Verity CU, Seattle, award of merit;
WOW! Awards, which recognize a credit union with the best overall training curriculum, were presented to:
* Missoula (Mont.) FCU, first place; * Educators CU, Racine, Wis., first place; * Teachers CU, Indianapolis, award of merit; and * Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore., award of merit;
Training Champion Awards, which single out senior management staff in a credit union that goes beyond the call of duty to develop training, were presented to:
* Terry Halleck, president/CEO, The Golden 1 CU, first place; and * Senior administration team, Family Trust FCU, Rock Hills, S.C., first place.
Chi Phi Delta X II Awards, which represent the best development of a credit union university using CUNA’s Center for Professional Development (CPD), were presented to:
* Training Department, A+ FCU, Austin, Texas, first place; and * Learning Center, Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, award of merit.
ELearning Awards, presented to credit unions that use technology-based training to enhance credit union training programs, were presented to:
* Teachers CU, first place; and * The Golden 1 CU, award of merit.
Four CPD Energizer Awards were presented to:
* Liberty County Teachers FCU, Liberty, Texas, scholarship market; * Central Star CU, Wichita, Kan., small market; * Navy Army FCU, Corpus Christi, Texas, medium market; and * Navy FCU, Vienna, Va., major market.
CPD Energizer Awards are given to credit unions with innovative training programs that support CUNA’s CPD products and its mission of helping individuals reach their personal and professional potential.

Filene Report What boards should do in mergers

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--Credit union boards of directors need to be proactively involved in a credit union merger or acquisition process, according to the Filene Research Institute. One-quarter of credit union boards reported proactive involvement during merger processes. The same number reported “minimal” engagement, says a study, “The Board’s Role in Credit Union Mergers,” by William A. Brown, PhD and associate professor at Texas A&M University. Two-thirds of board interviewed failed to incorporate merger and acquisition scenarios in their strategic planning, says the study. Regardless of how involved a credit union is, Brown said that its board must:
* Evaluate the potential of membership growth; * Discuss how the merger would affect growth; * Identify issues that could make or break the opportunity; * Be clear on members’ interests and solicit input from them; * Develop a succession plan for the CEO; and * Seek multiple potential partners and consider issues such as culture or synergies the two organizations would have.
Statistics suggest that it’s not a matter of whether a credit union is involved with a merger, but simply when, according to Filene.

African CUs to mark tomorrows World AIDS Day

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--Credit unions are marking World AIDS Day tomorrow, with several African savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs or credit unions) working to show that leadership and education make a difference. Saturday will recognize 33.2 million people worldwide living with
In Capetown, South Africa, Sibanye Cape SACCO's HIV/AIDS project committee meets monthly to discuss sharing HIV/AIDS information with the community. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
HIV/AIDs with the theme "Stop Aids. Keep the Promise--Leadership," which challenges people to take the lead at every level to combat and overcome the disease, according to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Some credit unions are leading the fight against the disease in their communities. "As trusted, member-owned organizations in their communities, credit unions are effective vehicles for raising awareness, sharing information and mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS through prevention," said WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear. In Kenya, Mwalimu SACCU, which serves secondary school teachers and is one of the country's largest SACCOs, launched an HIV/AIDS peer educator program in 2006, with support from the WOCCU/U.S. Agency for International Development's Cooperative Development Program, in partnership with JHPIEGO, an international health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University. Today, 27 members have become certified peer leaders. Each leader trains five peer educators, who then continue the "cascade of information."
In Kenya, a new peer educator receives her certificate for completing the Mwalimu SACCO's Stop AIDs peer educator training program.
In South Africa during February 2006, Shameem Gaffoor, a Strathmore-WOCCU African Management Institute (SWAMI) graduate and loan officer for Sibanye Cape SACCO, formed an HIV/AIDS committee comprised of one board member and three SACCO staffers. The committee established relationships with other nonprofits in Cape Town to gather information for the SACCO's members. To recognize World AIDS Day, Sibanye Cape SACCO will provide free access to a testing facility for members and distribute brochures about the difference between HIV and AIDS. World AIDS Day has been observed annually on Dec. 1 since 1988.

Report CUs can do more to serve Latinos

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--Most financial institutions do no more than a marginal job of meeting the needs of Latinos, according to a study by the Filene Research Institute. The study, “Financial Services and Product Usage by Latinos in the U.S.,” by Barbara J. Robles of Arizona State University, indicates that “Latino families want to know more about and fully utilize financial products and services that seem out of reach or unaffordable.” Credit unions can help this largely untapped market by reducing the level of complexity of their offerings and understanding the fundamentals of being culturally appealing. They also can partner with local, community-based organizations that serve as advocates for Latinos, said George Hofheimer, Filene chief research officer. Robles’ study suggests that by focusing on education, Latinos will have a means to advance economically and socially. Immigration during the past seven years is at the highest for any seven-year period in U.S. history, according to data released Thursday by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. One of eight people in the U.S. is an immigrant, totaling 37.9 million (The New York Times Nov. 29). For more information, use the link.

30 under 30 crew named by Filene Research Institute

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/07)--The Filene Research Institute has selected a team of young credit union professionals to serve in a new program to develop credit union products and services to young adults. The “30 under 30” group is a problem-solving team made up of credit union professionals under the age of 30. PSCU Financial Services provided underwriting and other support for the group. The project is part of a broader Filene program called CU Tomorrow, which works with state leagues, universities and other organizations to make credit unions more relevant-- as financial institutions and employers--to young adults. CU Tomorrow will publish open source business plans for credit unions to use to attract younger members and employees. The “30 under 30” group is made up of individuals employed full-time at a credit union. Its objective is to build financial recruiting programs to attract young adults. “Rather than cross our fingers and hope credit unions attract and retain generational talent, we are creating a place where talent can grow and ideas can flourish,” said Filene CEO Mark Meyer. “Each of these professionals is accountable for building products that will get peers through credit union doors.” Filene has researched the needs of young consumers and credit union responses to those needs, sponsoring COOL Solutions reports and working with organizations like brass/MEDIA. “The young adult demographic is critical to the continued viability of credit unions,” Meyer said. Program Coordinator Ben Rogers added: “Groups typically need a catalyst to conceive their best ideas and put them into action. The 30 under 30 participants understand the need for a youthful focus, because they’re the ones who get blank stares when they tell their friends they work at the credit union.” The inaugural group of 30 under 30 members are: Alex Alexander, Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore; Dustin Allen, Weber State FCU, Ogden, Utah; Megan Armstrong, Sunmark FCU, Schenectady, N.Y.; Avery Cashman, Service 1st FCU, Danville, Pa.; Julie Cosgrove, Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; Christopher Danvers, Delta Community CU, Atlanta; Matt Davis, Members CU, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Mike Escudero, Seattle Metropolitan CU; Christina Gaglione, Affinity FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; Erin Hamilton, NASA FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.; Kia Herd, Alliant CU, El Segundo, Calif.; Robin Hickey, Mon-Oc FCU, Toms River, N.J.; Melissa Troiano, DOT FCU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Brandon Kelly, E FCU, Baton Rouge, La.; Dustin Limburg, Wright-Patt CU, Fairborn, Ohio; Tanya Magnus, First South CU, Bartlett, Tenn.; Brie McCarthy, Coors CU, Golden, Colo.; Brandi Melo, Rocky Mountain CU, Helena, Mont.; Brandon Michaels, San Francisco Fire CU; Katherine Miller, Navy FCU, Vienna Va.; Toni Montgomery, Americhoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Rachael Parrent, Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo.; Carma Parrish, Perfect Circle CU, Hagerstown, Ind.; Jansen Perdue, Hoosier Hills CU, Bedford, Ind.; Jeremy Presta, Park Side FCU, Whitefish, Mont.; Megan Primeau, US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.; Matthew Prosneski, Travis CU, Vacaville Calif.; Matthew Schewe, UW CU, Madison, Wis.; Amy Stanton, BestSource CU, Waterford, Mich.; and Chad Warneke, Oregonians FCU, Portland, Ore. Observers from several industry groups, including PSCU Financial Services, Credit Union Direct Lending, the California Credit Union League, Credit Union House and the Credit Union National Association also will participate.

Former CUs offering receives insufficient subscriptions

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WAYCROSS, Ga. (11/29/07)--The proposed holding company for a second-step conversion and public offering of a former Georgia credit union-turned-mutual bank has extended the community portion of its second-step offering because subscriptions received to date are not sufficient for a minimum of the offering range. Atlantic Coast Financial Corp., the proposed holding company, extended the public offering to Dec. 28, as provided for in the company's prospectus in October (Business Wire Nov. 27). The recently formed Maryland corporation is the proposed holding company for Atlantic Coast Bank and a successor company to Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. The bank was organized in 1939 as Atlantic Coast FCU to serve employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. In November 2000, the credit union converted to a federal mutual savings association charter. In January 2003, Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. was formed as the holding company. Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. completed its initial public stock offering in October 2004 (News Now Oct. 19). Atlantic Coast Financial Corp. will maintain current orders received, with interest accruing on subscribers' funds. It also said it is reviewing market conditions to determine when it can commence a syndicated offering to sell shares to the general public not subscribed for in the subscription and community offerings. Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. will act as sole book-running manager, and FTN Midwest Securities Corp. will act as co-manager for the syndicated offering, which "would also be conducted on a best-efforts basis," said Atlantic Coast Financial's press release. At special meetings held Tuesday, stockholders of Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. and members of the bank's mutual holding corporation approved the conversion and reorganization plan, pending final approval from the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the sale of at least 11,475,000 shares. Atlantic Coast Federal Corp. had $915.7 million in assets as of Sept. 30. In October, the bank was offering for sale the 63.8% ownership owned by its holding company--nearly 11.5 million to more than 15.5 million shares at $10 per share. The company can increase the amount by 15% to more than 17.8 million shares (or $178.5 million) without notifying share subscribers as the result of market demand, regulatory considerations or changes in financial market conditions (News Now Oct. 19).

Bank on San Francisco program nets 11000 unbanked residents

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/29/07)--Financial institutions, including credit unions, reported that they have opened 11,110 new accounts as part of a Bank on San Francisco program designed to help the unbanked. The program was launched in September 2006 by City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, non-profit EARN and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The program’s goal was to open 10,000 accounts in two years. Because this goal was exceeded, Bank on San Francisco aims open 20,000 accounts by fall 2008 (San Francisco Sentinel Nov. 26). Through the program, families are saving hundreds of dollars per year in check cashing fees, Cisneros said. One person that the program has helped is Virginia Johnson of San Francisco. Johnson, 71, has been cashing her checks at check cashers since 1974. She learned about the Bank on San Francisco program through her care worker. She now has her income deposited into an account at Northeast Community FCU and receives free money orders each month. Johnson “didn’t know about the credit union,” she said, noting that she’d paid $200 each month to cash her checks. She is enrolled in a financial management course through Northeast Community FCU and expects to receive her first ATM card upon completion in December. Other credit unions involved with the program include Mission Area FCU, Patelco CU, San Francisco FCU, and Spectrum FCU. Because of the national attention the program has received, the National League of Cities, along with the cities of Seattle and Los Angeles, reported that they are working on similar initiatives, said the newspaper.

Guam banks oppose bill to remove tax exemptions

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AGANA, Guam (11/29/07)--A Guam bill that would remove at least nine tax exemptions for lending institutions is being opposed by the island's banks, and they're using a credit-union-like approach. Acting Speaker Eddie Baza Calvo, chairman of Guam's Legislative Committee on Finance and Taxation, heard public testimony on Bill 91, authored by Adolpho Palacios, a Democrat. Banks and other lenders have several tax exemptions under island law. Repealing the exemptions would cause higher fees for services, which would affect consumers, said Guam Banking Association President Ed Untalan, using a point familiar to credit unions defending their tax exemption in the U.S. However, the similarity ends there. Untalan added that federal credit unions can't be taxed by Guam law, and Bill 191 would place banks at an even greater disadvantage against federal credit unions and off-island lenders. He then brought up the level-playing field rhetoric.

CUs in top 10 for customer experience says research

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (11/29/07)--Credit unions were the only non-retailer brand in the top 10 spots in a new Forrester Research's 2007 Customer Experience Survey. "A credit union" clocked in as the No. 5 brand, sharing the limelight with Costco, Borders and Barnes & Noble. The Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester asked nearly 5,000 consumers about their interactions with 112 firms in nine industries. Consumers weighed in on the usefulness, usability and enjoyability of those experiences, said Forrester (ResearchRecap Nov. 28). Retailers dominated the survey's top 10 spots, while the bottom 10 included communications companies, healthcare providers--and banks. The rise of digital social media such as blogs, MySpace and Facebook means consumers are talking about brands and the quality of their services more than ever, said Forrester (Brandweek.com Nov. 28). These are good news for retailers that work at building relationships with consumers, but it's a hazard for companies that haven't, like Sprint, Charter Communications and Citibank. The Internet allows consumers to find out more about how brands treat their customers and makes it easier for consumers to switch providers, said Bruce Temkin, vice president/principal analyst at Forrester. In the past, when consumers had a bad customer experience, they told 10 people. Today, they can tell 10,000 people, he said. Retailers score high because they understand better the relationship between the customer's experience and sales, Temkin said. However, those who have low rankings either occupy a monopoly across various markets or, like banks, are too focused on a merger-and-acquisition business strategies to address consumer service-related issues. Credit unions and Borders bookstore came in first for "ease of use." Thirty-three firms received ratings of "excellent" in this category. Two organizations received "very poor" ratings: Charter Communications (in the TV and Internet category) and Medicaid. Another 10 companies were ranked as "poor." Of the 12 firms with "poor" or "very poor" ratings, eight were healthcare insurers. Costco and Sam's Club were leaders in "usefulness." Forty firms received a rating of excellent for usefulness. Although none received a "very poor" rating, three brands--Charter Communications, Medicaid and Citibank--were rated by consumers as "poor." No firm received an excellent rating in the "enjoyability" category, and 40 were rated "very poor," said Forrester. Of the 16 firms with "good" ratings, Borders, Old Navy and Citizens Bank were the highest ranked. Cablevision/Interactive Optimum and Charter Communications were the bottom feeders.

NFCDCU NCUF announce first partners in CU Development Corps

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NEW YORK (11/29/07)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) announced the first four partnerships in the Credit Union Development Corps. The Corps is an exchange program between Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) and the federation’s network of community development credit unions (CDCUs). The pairings are:
* Selfreliance FCU, Chicago, with Vernon-Commerce CU, Commerce, Calif.; * Philadelphia FCU with Lower East Side Peoples FCU, New York; * AEA FCU, Yuma, Ariz., with Triumph Baptist FCU, Philadelphia; and * Washington State Employees CU, Olympia, Wash., with NRS Community Development FCU, Birmingham, Ala.
Participating development educators will visit a CDCU for one week to learn how it serves low-income members. A representative from the CDCU will then spend one week at the CUDE’s credit union to learn about the its programs and operations. During the exchanges, representatives will aim to help their hosts and learn about the credit union’s operational strengths. “We hope that the CU Development Corps will create strong bonds between participants as well as their institutions--partnerships that will bring together large and small credit unions, foster the cooperative spirit, and create a stronger and more unified credit union movement,” said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. Exchanges will begin in early 2008 and are expected to be completed by the end of the year. The program is managed by Pamela Owens, CUDE and director of education and training for the federation; and by Tom Decker, national director for the Credit Union Center for Social Impact Management. Major support for the program is provided by the Ford Foundation and CUNA Mutual Group.

Maine CUs media bonanza results in 115 stories for month

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WESTBROOK, Maine (11/29/07)--Maine credit unions have been featured in 115 media stories this month, according to the Maine Credit Union League. Credit unions have been featured in 42 radio news stories or interviews, 61 newspaper articles and 12 television news stories. Topics have ranged from coverage of the Maine Credit Unions’ Ending Hunger Walking Tour, and a holiday CD of Christmas songs featuring Maine artists that the credit unions have partnered to offer. Maine credit unions also are receiving attention through several public service announcements that have aired on TV and radio stations. The announcements promote the “ending hunger” campaign and the league’s website. “The coverage has included every Maine media market at least twice,” said Jon Paradise, a governmental and public affairs manager. “This has been a very strong month for building and creating awareness of credit unions.” The league has scheduled coverage in December on credit union growth, what credit unions do to serve young members, efforts to support ending hunger, and youth financial education through holiday shopping. October also proved to be a successful month for credit union coverage. Media activity focused on Maine credit unions during International Credit Union Week, with coverage ranging from radio interviews to Credit Union Week supplements with editorial content supplied by the league.

Texas foundation awards 28000 to JA programs

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/29/07)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) has awarded $28,000 to Junior Achievement (JA) programs in six Texas communities. JA programs in Abilene, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Longview and Tyler will receive the grants, which are used to implement JA’s youth financial and entrepreneurship programs, using local credit union volunteers in schools (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 28). To receive the grants, local JA organizations had to have partnership with a local credit union or chapter. The grants are being used in various ways:
* In Longview, East Texas professional CU volunteers will help bring in the second grade program, “Our Community” to more than 2,750 students; * Volunteers from Texans CU, Dallas, will share their time and experience at a local high school that is 95% Hispanic, and 300 students will participate in the JA Financial Literacy five-unit program; * In Houston, Smart Financial CU employees will volunteer at the JA BizTown--a life-size replica of a city--and participate in a daylong interactive program educating students about various aspects of running a business; and * The Fort Worth Chapter of Credit Unions will offer volunteers to help administer the full JA curriculum to its two partner schools in Fort Worth.
The JA grants also will leverage Bizkid$ financial literacy series for kids, produced in partnership with Junior Achievement Worldwide and America’s Credit Unions. Ten Texas PBS stations expect to begin airing Bizkid$ in January 2008. TCUF is one of the charter sponsors of Bizkid$.

Illinois league board member named to state treasurer council

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/29/07)--A board member of the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL), Peggy Cummins, was appointed to Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ Southern Illinois Affairs Council. Cummins, who is CEO of Three Rivers Community CU in Mt. Carmel, also represents the Southern Illinois Chapter of Credit Unions on the ICUL board. The council’s mission is to strengthen the relationship between the treasurers’ office and southern Illinois communities. The council also seeks to develop new programs and services to help area residents. Earlier this month, Giannoulias convened the council’s first meeting during a two-day visit to Effingham. The council is composed of area leaders, business people and community members. Council members, such as Cummins, serve on a voluntary basis. “I look forward to working with [Peggy Cummins] and her peers to improve services to an important, and sometimes overlooked, part of the state,” Giannoulias said. “Through this council, I hope to better serve this region and its residents.”

CU System briefs (11/28/2007)

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* DES MOINES, Iowa (11/29/07)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation has hired Marybeth Foster as executive director, effective Oct. 29. The new position was created with an anonymous grant to be used to fund the position and the first Iowa credit union Individual Development Account program. Foster will help develop partnerships within the community to help the foundation fulfill its mission of eliminating poverty in the state. Prior to joining the foundation, Foster was director of development and marketing for Iowans for Social and Economic Development. She also served as director of county extension education of Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and as executive director of Grundy County Development Alliance … * ARVADA, Colo. (11/29/07)--Rick A. Cranston is the new director of product and business development for Credit Union Strategic Partners (CUSP), a wholly owned credit union service organization of the Credit Union Association of Colorado. He will be responsible for product development, cultivating relationships with credit unions, market research, overseeing the sales function and managing staff. Cranston is a former vice president of client services for The Knowledge Network. His background also includes: managing partner owner of Sensible Hire; senior director of business development for Idea Integration, regional branch manager of Sage Financials, and other executive positions with several firms … *
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (11/29/07)--Neighbors CU has named John Servos as president/CEO, replacing Larry Geising, who will retire at the end of the year. Servos has served as chief financial officer and vice president of finance at the $200 million asset credit union since 1999. He joined the credit union staff in 1998 as vice president of compliance and audit services … * TEMPLE, Texas (11/29/07)--Tony Hale been selected as president/CEO of $100 million asset Texell FCU, based in Temple, Texas. He will succeed Eldon Wulbrecht, who will retire in January. Prior to joining the credit union, Hale was chief operating officer of the Associated Credit Union of Texas, Texas City, where he helped lead the credit union to record growth. There he introduced new programs and services to strengthen the credit union's financial base and bring members improved rates and convenience … * NEW ORLEANS (11/29/07)--Prentice J. 'Jake' Jacob, former Louisiana Credit Union League board member, died Nov. 22 at the age of 92. He retired in 1975 from Naval Air Station New Orleans after 29 years as a civil employee. Jacob was president/CEO of NAS CU (now NAS JRB CU) for more than 40 years, helping it grow from a "mom and pop" operation to a full-service operation serving more than 4,000 members. He is survived by one son, a sister, and numerous nieces and nephews (Times-Picayune Nov. 27) …

Navy Fed Freddie Mac launch military homebuyer effort

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HAMPTON, Va. (11/29/07)--Get the Facts! workshops, created through a partnership with Navy FCU of Vienna, Va., and Freddie Mac, kicked off Wednesday to expand homeownership opportunities for military families. The workshops premiered at the Active Duty Home Buying Fair at Navy Federal’s Hampton, Va., branch. Participants were provided with information and advice about all aspects of homeownership. The Hampton Roads Planning District, Child and Family Services of Eastern Virginia, and Community Housing Partners Corp. will continue to offer the workshops, which are designed to break down barriers of misinformation that can keep military families from buying homes. Active Duty Choice Mortgage, which provides buyers with competitive rates, flexible credit terms and financing up to $417,000 with no additional private mortgage insurance, also debuted at the fair. “We understand the hardships that many of our active duty, reservists and their families face during a time of conflict,” said Cutler Dawson, Navy Federal president/CEO. “We wanted to offer a mortgage option that went above and beyond for those members.” Many potential homeowners at Navy Federal are first-time buyers, minorities, and low-to-moderate-income earners, according to Paul Mullings, senior vice president of Single Family Sourcing for Freddie Mac. Navy Federal, which serves military and civilian personnel and their families, has $31 billion in assets.

How Wisconsin CUs captured CUNAs Best of Show

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/29/07)--Wisconsin credit unions’ work--through their REAL Solutions initiative to meet needs in communities statewide--was the reason they captured Best of Show honors in the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Pro Award Competition. Through REAL Solutions, Wisconsin’s credit unions help Wisconsinites build financially strong self-supporting families and communities, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. For example, Wisconsin credit unions offer:
* Affordable loans--Credit unions make loans whenever possible to meet members’ needs. This is a way to establish or rebuild creditworthiness and help members make it until payday, said the league. * Alternatives to predatory financial services--Credit unions have saved Wisconsin consumers $1 million in fees by offering short-term loans for less than half of what payday lenders charge. Credit unions also offer lower cost alternatives for check-cashing. * Safe, reasonable mortgages--As part of their Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) program, credit unions make below-market-rate mortgages available to first-time homebuyers with household incomes at or below the median in their market. * Financial education--Wisconsin credit unions provide free to all Wisconsin public high schools this fall the brass student program, a personal finance initiative that promotes responsible financial management to high school students through a lifestyle money magazine produced for young adult by young adults. * Financial intervention--Credit unions refer their members to state-regulated offices of Consumer Credit Counseling Services for assistance with debt and money management. * Outreach to other cultures and immigrants--Wisconsin credit unions are creating and tailoring services to address the state’s expanding diversity. * Creative partnerships--By partnering with local businesses, non-profits, government agencies and others, credit unions are solving problems locally. Credit unions and Wisconsin counties partnered to help single parents obtain loans for affordable used cars or child care, so they can access or maintain employment, added the league.

CUNA Board election ballots due Dec. 14

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MADISON, Wis. (11/29/07)--Ballots for the election of the board of directors at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are due Dec. 14 to the outside auditing firm. In District 3, Class C, the candidates are Tom Dorety, president/CEO, Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla. and Bruce Burns, chairman, SRP FCU, North Augusta, S.C. The successful candidate will begin a full three-year term March 3, 2008. In a special election to fill the unexpired term of Mary Shipe, whose resignation from the board is effective Dec. 31, four candidates will vie for the District 5, Class A position. The winner of that race will take office Jan. 1, 2008, and the term will expire in 2009. Candidates are:
* Brian J. Barkdull, president/CEO, American Southwest CU, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; * Paul J. Brucker, president, Railway CU, Mandan, N.D.; * Winona Nava, president/CEO, Guadalupe CU, Sante Fe, N.M.; and * Marsha Tynsky, president, Trona Valley Community FCU, Green River, Wyo.
Incumbents who ran unopposed and were re-elected to the board include:
* District 1, Class D: Joseph G. Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions, South Burlington, Vt.; * District 2, Class B: William A. Herring, president/CEO, Cincinnati Central CU, Cincinnati, Ohio; * District 2, Class D: Paul L. Mercer, president, Ohio Credit Union System, Dublin, Ohio; * District 4, Class A: Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO, Point Plus CU, Stevens Point, Wis.; and * District 5, Class C: Harriet May, CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas.
New board members Mary Cunningham, president/CEO, USA FCU, San Diego, and Edwin L. Williams, president/CEO, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., will take office March 3, 2008. Cunningham represents credit unions in District 6, Class B. Williams represents District 1, Class A. Each ran unopposed in their district categories.

CUNA Mutual ranks sixth in InfoWorld 100 IT awards

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MADISON, Wis. (11/29/07)--CUNA Mutual Group has been ranked sixth in the 2007 InfoWorld 100 awards, which annually recognize 100 Information Technology (IT) organizations that have made the best use of technology in pursuit of their business goals. Other top 10 recipients include: AT&T Services, Bank of America and Capital One. CUNA Mutual was recognized for development and implementation of its Claims Express project. The claims-processing solution includes end-to-end automated workflow, resulting in a 75% decrease in claims-process payment backlogs and a 30% increase in automatic payments. Partnering with business units, the CUNA Mutual IT team conducted a closed-file audit to determine best practices and then incorporated changes to improve the claims process. A critical component of CUNA Mutual’s transformation strategy is to improve its focus and new-product development process, so it can bring new concepts to market faster and more effectively, said Tom Gosnell, CUNA Mutual chief information officer. The InfoWorld award represents the fourth time that CUNA Mutual has been nationally recognized for the Claims Express project. Earlier this year, the project received honors from CIO magazine, Insurance Networking News and InformationWeek.

Who will buy Norlarco Decision expected in December

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (11/28/07)--Three Colorado credit unions have submitted bids to acquire Norlarco CU of Fort Collins, which was placed into conservatorship by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) in May. A decision is expected next month, according to a letter to members on Norlarco’s website. Bellco CU, Greenwood Village; Ent CU, Colorado Springs; and Public Service Employees CU, Denver, have allegedly submitted bids to the NCUA (Coloradoan Nov. 27). Of the three credit unions, Ent Vice President James Moore is the only one who has confirmed his credit union's bid to News Now. The bids likely will be considered at the next closed-session NCUA board meeting in a process used in similar situations in the past. However, John McKechnie, NCUA director of public and congressional affairs, told News Now that he could not confirm the date of the bid decisions or what items would be addressed at any closed NCUA meeting. The next closed board meeting is Dec. 13, according to the NCUA’s website. Colorado state regulators placed Norlarco into conservatorship in May after a number of construction loans it issued in Lee County, Fla., became delinquent. In July, the NCUA took control of the credit union and removed its board of directors (News Now Sept. 20). Norlarco’s delinquent loans total more than $65 million, said the Colorado newspaper. Norlarco CU’s letter to members details the bidding situation and says the credit union expects the bidding process to be completed next month, with consolidation finalized in early 2008. The Norlarco case could be handled similarly to that of Huron River Area CU in Ann Arbor, Mich., which was liquidated by the NCUA Nov. 19. Detroit Edison CU purchased and assumed members’ accounts (News Now Nov. 19). NCUA took over Huron River Area CU in February when it was placed in conservatorship by the Michigan Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Investment Services. Norlarco has $334 million in assets.

Hiring Offer career opportunity over salary benefits

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NEW YORK (11/28/07)--Your credit union is recruiting college students for possible employment. Do you offer a good startup salary and benefits to woo them? If so, you might want to concentrate more on providing career opportunities and deal with quality of life issues, according to a new study. Fifty-seven percent of students surveyed said that career opportunities would be their primary consideration when choosing an employer, according to KPMG LLP, an audit, tax and advisory firm (PRNewswire Nov. 27). Another 22% said their primary consideration would be maintaining a work/life balance. Only 12% indicated salary and benefits as their primary consideration. While 53% of students surveyed said they expected to stay in their first job for three to five years, many seemed to have a "wait and see" attitude, with 74% responding "maybe" when asked if changing jobs is necessary for career opportunities. "While there is no doubt that companies need to think of quality of life issues when trying to attract new recruits, 'millenials' want jobs that help them build a career and create opportunities for the future," said Manny Fernandez, managing partner of campus recruiting at KPMG. "After accepting an offer, new recruits look at the career value proposition, and employers must offer a rewarding career path to retain new hires," Fernandez said. Other findings:
* Forty-seven percent of respondents indicated they would like to work abroad for an extended period while 40% would consider it; * Sixty-five percent of respondents expect to be more financially successful than their parents; * Thirty-nine percent said they will consult with their parents somewhat about their first jobs, 17% said they will spend significant time with their parents, and 28% said they "possibly" will consult with them. Only 16% said they would probably accept the job before telling their parents; * Forty-eight percent hope to retire between ages 51 and 60, with 27% indicating they would aim to retire between ages 61 and 70; * Forty-four percent expect to work 50-hour work weeks, on average, while 32% said they expected to work 45 hours per week; and * Sixty-six percent are concerned about social networking opportunities at their full-time employer.
KPMG surveyed 2,409 business students across the country in September and October.

Robbery suspect nabbed after 38-mile chase fiery crash

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BROWNSVILLE, Ohio (11/28/07)--An Ohio man who allegedly robbed a credit union, led police on 38-mile car chase, before he crashed into a tractor trailer and was arrested by authorities. Herman L. Hawkins, 58, was first noticed by police when he pulled into the parking lot of CME CU in Columbus. Hawkins allegedly entered the credit union, gave the teller a note that said he had a gun and then fled with an undetermined amount cash, according to Columbus Police Sgt. Rich Weiner (centralohio.com and mansfieldnewsjournal.com Nov. 27). Police had to use a Taser to subdue Hawkins, Weiner said. Hawkins also is being charged with robbing the same credit union on Nov. 7. After the robbery, Hawkins led police more than 30 miles down Interstate 70, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph, navigating through several roadblocks, before hitting the tractor trailer and rupturing the truck’s fuel tanks in Brownsville. After the collision, another car skidded into the truck. No one was injured. However, the eastbound lanes of the interstate were closed for more than five hours, while crews mopped up 75 to 100 gallons of diesel spilled from the ruptured gas tank (lancastereaglegazette.com Nov. 26).

Realtors association creates task force to form CU

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CHICAGO (11/28/07)--The National Association of Realtors (NAR) added a realtor to its 10-member task force in charge of forming a credit union for the organization’s 1.36 million members and their families. Jeff Barnett, vice president and regional manager for Alain Pinel Realtors in California, is a policy advisor in local, state and national real estate associations (RISMEDIA Nov. 26). “Creating a credit union of this scale is a huge, national initiative for the organization,” Barnett said. “Realtors and their families nationwide will benefit by having a credit union of its own.” NAR directors voted Nov. 16 to initially fund the credit union with a $10 million grant, using association money. A supplemental grant of $5 million can be used any time during the next five years if needed, said NAR. Barnett joins Pat V. Combs, NAR past-president; Dale Stinton, NAR CEO; Michael Brodie, NAR past-treasurer; Jim Helfel, NAR treasurer; and Richard Rosenthal, past-president of the California Association of Realtors on NAR’s financial policies subgroup to establish the credit union. Once the credit union is formed, a regulatory board will be established from the task force to direct and manage the credit union.

NACUSO meeting focuses on business services collaboration

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NEW ORLEANS (11/28/07)--Credit unions “definitely have room to grow” when it comes to member business lending, said National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) President/CEO Tom Davis, during NACUSO’s third annual Business Services Collaborative Nov. 7-9 in New Orleans. Business loans grew 18.6% for all credit unions from June 2006 to June 2007, with business loans accounting for 4% of outstanding loans. Only 23% of credit unions have at least one business loan outstanding, and only 11.2% have at least 10 outstanding, Davis said. Kent Moon, president/CEO of Member Business Lending LLC in South Jordan, Utah, said member business lending “is the opportunity of the future” for credit unions. “Of the top Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in the nation, the top 100 lenders do over 80% of all SBA loans,” he said. “It’s a credit union market by its very definition. We need to address it and collaborate together now to capture this market.” Moon asked what is holding credit unions back from capturing the SBA lending market. “I honestly believe we can capture over 50% of the market, but we can’t do it by sitting on our laurels and hanging back, scratching our heads.” Credit unions provide a great advantage to business owners by not charging pre-payment penalties, according to Bill Beardsley, president of Michigan Business Connection in Ann Arbor, Mich. Banks do the opposite and hurt borrowers with penalties, he said. Training is also key, said Keith Reed, president/CEO of Cooperative Business Services LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I’m asked what my credit unions are doing to get educated in business lending, so that they understand what they are looking at independently of what the credit union service organization (CUSO) is putting in front of them.” CUSOs have the ability to create a channel market, and because the percentage of credit unions involved is small, “there’s no way to go but up,” said Mike Hales, partner in The Rochdale Group in Laguna Niguel, Calif. About 71 credit union representatives and CUSO members attended the conference, which featured general sessions and roundtable discussions led by industry experts on collaboration and aggregation in member business lending and regulatory issues.

WOCCU to administer new international disaster relief fund

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MADISON, Wis. (11/28/07)--Four credit unions ravaged by floods last month in the Dominican Republic will receive grants for immediate rebuilding from CUNA Mutual Group’s Global Credit Union Disaster Relief Fund. The new fund is administered by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and was established to provide immediate financial assistance when a disaster strikes international credit unions. The first grant of $5,000 was sent to Asociación de Instituciones Rurales de Ahorro y Crédito (AIRAC), World Council’s member in the Dominican Republic. AIRAC will oversee the grant distribution to affected credit unions. “This grant will help the local credit unions and, through them, their many members, get back on their feet more quickly,” said Javier Tejeda-Vera, vice president of Latin America for CUNA Mutual Group. The region has many farm families who need to replant their crops lost in the floods. AIRAC has 14 credit unions with more than 200,000 credit union members in the Dominican Republic. They recently signed a partnership with the Wisconsin Credit Union League, and AIRAC leaders were visiting Wisconsin earlier this month when they learned of the grant. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions often carries out special appeals when a disaster strikes in countries with a credit union system. Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation executive director, said this program differs from traditional relief appeals. “The CUNA Mutual Global Credit Union Disaster Relief Fund is a permanent program, ready to allow WOCCU to respond immediately when disaster strikes, without waiting for a fundraising appeal,” Breunig explained. “This is the first of its kind for World Council.” To donate to the Worldwide Foundation for general credit union preparedness, use the resource link for WOCCU and click "Support WOCCU" or call Valerie Breunig at 608-395-2055.

ASI FCU working on Web micro-lending pilot

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NEW ORLEANS (11/28/07)--ASI FCU in New Orleans is working to create a Web-based micro-lending pilot program that will assist small businesses trying to reopen and foster growth of start-up businesses. Shannon Cian, community development specialist for ASI FCU, delivered a keynote address on disaster preparedness during the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations’ (NACUSO) third annual Business Services Collaborative Nov. 7-9 in New Orleans. She recounted the impact Hurricane Katrina had on ASI’s membership, employees and the credit union’s viability in the weeks and months following the disaster. “You always want to have a disaster plan in place,” Cian said. Cian detailed ASI’s efforts to help members, including offering “workout loans” for members with severely overdrawn accounts who wanted to re-establish their membership with the credit union and building new branches to serve the Asian-American and Latino communities. ASI also created A Shared Initiative Inc., a foundation dedicated to anti-poverty programs and the rebuilding and redevelopment of the Upper Ninth Ward, where many of its members resided when the hurricane hit.

Bank fined in TJX breach also was fined in BJs case

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BOSTON (11/27/07)--Fifth Third Bancorp, the bank that recently was fined $880,000 by Visa for its role in the historic TJX Cos. data breach, also paid more than $1.4 million in fines and compensation after the BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. data breach several years ago (Boston Globe Nov. 24). The earlier fines in the BJ's Wholesale case came to light in court filings against TJX in a U.S. District Court in Boston by banks who argue TJX didn't do enough to protect its data against hackers. The Globe said details of the BJ's fine came from litigation filed in Pennsylvania against the bank, BJ's and IBM Corp. by a Pennsylvania credit union seeking to recover costs of replacing the compromised cards. Both data breach cases cost credit unions and other financial institutions millions of dollars to replace compromised credit and debit cards and in losses from fraudulent purchases. TJX's breach, discovered in December of 2006, compromised nearly 100 million customers' data. Visa levied $880,000 in penalties against Fifth Third including an "egregious fine" of $500,000 for the TJX data breach. TJX plans to appeal the fine, which indicates the bank presented the bill to TJX, said the Globe. Visa had threatened to levy fines when merchants didn't meet a Sept. 30 deadline to upgrade their systems to meet security standards. The standards require data to be kept behind firewalls and wireless networks to be encrypted. More than one-third of merchants had not met the requirements as of October, Visa said. Visa and MasterCard can't fine merchants directly. Instead, they levy penalties against banks the merchants use to process the transactions. That Fifth Third was fined for the BJ's case suggests it should have known better than to tolerate the security issues at TJX, said Michael Gavin, strategist with Security Innovation, Wilmington. In 2006, Fifth Third, the fifth-largest processor of bank card transactions for merchants, processed 2.5 billion bank credit and debit card transactions worth $137 billion--a 19% increase from 2005 transactions, according to a Nilson Report study. Fifth Third operates more than 1,150 bank branches in the Midwest and Florida.

Delaware CUs carve out a niche counter bank rhetoric

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WILMINGTON, Del. (11/27/07)--Delaware’s credit unions, by offering lower service fees and better interest rates than banks, have carved out a niche for themselves in the financial services industry, according to a Monday article in the Delaware Business Journal. While some credit unions may not have as expansive branch networks as banks, credit unions have an advantage in offering smaller, more consumer friendly options, the article said. “It’s a different atmosphere,” said Patrick Mahaney, president/CEO of the Delaware Credit Union League, referring to the facts that unlike banks, credit unions are non-profits, have no shareholders, and have boards of directors composed of unpaid volunteers from the credit unions’ membership. The article describes examples of what attracted member Oneil Williams to the $152 million asset, Wilmington, Del.-based Dexsta FCU: personal, friendly service and being recognized by all the credit union employees. The Credit Union Membership Access Act, which allowed credit unions to apply for a charter to permit membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends schools in a designated community, is recounted in the article. Also mentioned is how the Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act (CURIA) would free up more credit union assets for business lending. The article notes the battle lines drawn between credit unions and banks over CURIA, which is pending in Congress.

Media look to CUNA experts for holiday spending advice

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MADISON, Wis. (11/27/07)--Financial experts from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are at the forefront in helping consumers at least think twice about their holiday spending this year. A number of articles have appeared this week in which CUNA experts are quoted. For example, an article on "10 ways to save on gift-giving" in a Clark County, Wash., newspaper features advice from Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA's center for personal finance, and Susan Tiffany, CUNA's director of personal finance information for adults (The Columbian, Nov. 25). "You'll temporarily feel good about yourself if you buy expensive gifts for people, but in the long term, you don't feel great about yourself or the situation you put your family in if you can't manage your debt," Hanson said. Tiffany tells consumers to: "Think quality, not quantity" and recommends scaling back. Some families implement a three-gift rule at Christmas in homage to the three wise men's gifts, she said. Or implement a secret Santa tradition; instead of buying for the entire family, the consumer buys for one name drawn. She also says clipping newspaper coupons and checking for direct-mail ads with coupons to cut costs. Hanson and Tiffany also advise consumers to protect their identity by not using debit cards for online purchases and read the fine print on refund an exchange policies. CUNA economists have also been featured in mass media coverage about a holiday spending survey sponsored by CUNA and the Consumer Federation of America. In the survey, consumers said they would be spending a little less this year, because of higher gasoline costs and heating bills(News Now Nov. 20). In addition to 30 media outlets that covered the CUNA/CFA press conference last week, the survey has been the basis for a tongue-in-cheek article in Slate.com that says nothing will stop the American holiday shopper. A version of the article also appears in the Dec. 3 issue of Newsweek. Other articles on the economy and holiday spending featuring Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, appeared in South Florida Sun Sentinel (Nov. 26) and The Kansas City Star (Nov. 19). The average American will spend $923.36 on food, gifts, greeting cards and decorations for the holiday, although spending will increase by a smaller margin than in past holidays, according to the National Retail Federation.

CU opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday

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PHOENIX, Ariz. (11/27/07)--To serve its members in midst of the holiday shopping rush, Desert Schools FCU in Phoenix opened its Wal-Mart in-store branches at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. “Many members were surprised that we were open,” said Jason Meyers, Desert Schools FCU public relations manager. “It’s not something that a traditional financial institution really does,” he told News Now. All 25 of Desert School’s Wal-Mart locations were open and staffed by about 100 employees. During the early opening, the credit union processed a number of loan applications, opened new member accounts and served existing members’ needs. There also was a “party atmosphere” with raffles and activities for young children. “It was a lot of fun,” Meyers said. Though final numbers are not yet available, the credit union brought in “many, many new members,” Meyers said. The credit union plans to have early openings on Black Friday next year. “We continue to reinforce good relationships with Wal-Mart,” Meyers said. “We work with their local managers, and they’re really open to ideas such as this.”

Website spoofs predatory lending mentions CUs as option

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MADISON, Wis. (11/27/07)--A website that spoofs predatory lenders and mentions credit unions as an alternative to predatory lending is sending out its message in cyberspace. The bogus Predatory Lending Association states on its home page that it “is dedicated to extracting maximum profits from the working poor by increasing payday loan fees and debt traps” The site continues: “The working poor are an exciting, fast-growing demographic that includes: military personnel, minorities, and most of the middle class.” Credit unions are mentioned once, in a section of the website titled “Myth vs. Reality.” It states a myth: “The working poor have other options beside payday loans.” Then the site states the reality: “The Payday Lending Associations is actively fighting credit unions that provide alternative lending options to the working poor.” The website also features a discussion site, a blog, a mailing list for people to join and keep abreast of developments in the payday lending area, a section in which users can write to their legislative representatives, and other features.

CU System briefs (11/26/2007)

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* BATON ROUGE, La. (11/27/07)--Pelican State CU distributed $300,000 in special member dividends to more than 10,000 qualified members on Nov. 1, reports the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Nov. 21). The dividend was the result of a surplus in the credit union's operating budget due to under budget expenses, increased efficiencies, and a superior team effort by the Baton Rouge-based credit union's 120 employees, said Jeff Conrad, CEO … * LATHAM, N.Y. (11/27/07)--Freshman state Assemblyman George Amedore, left, (R-Adirondack) toured Sunmark FCU's General Electric branch Nov. 21 to learn about the credit union difference and Sunmark's philanthropic initiatives. Amedore, left, met with the credit union's senior management, including President/CEO Bruce Beaudette, center, and branch Sales and Service Manager Tricia Lavoy, right. The group also discussed taxation issues related to credit unions. The event was coordinated by the New York State Credit Union League. Representing the league during the visit were Amy Kramer, vice president of governmental affairs, and Allison Doney, advocacy specialist. (Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League and Sunmark FCU) … * NORFOLK, Va. (11/27/07)--A former vice president of the former $1.9 million asset Portsmouth (Va.) Post Office CU was charged with defrauding the credit union of more than $170,000 and causing the demise of its business (The Virginian-Pilot Nov. 24). Minerva Marrero-Smith, who was also treasurer and a board member at the credit union, is scheduled to appear in federal court Dec. 11 on charges she defrauded the credit union through a series of seven loans obtained under false pretenses. She allegedly defaulted on $171,000 of the loans and also is accused of defaulting on a fraudulently obtained $42,000 loan from the Hampton Roads Postal CU. The Northern Star CU took over the Portsmouth credit union in 2003 … * MADISON, Wis. (11/27/07)--Madison police are looking for a man who robbed a branch of the University of Wisconsin CU last week. The thief entered the credit union at 7:15 a.m. Nov. 19 and said he had a gun. He then fled on a mountain bike with the money, police said (The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal Nov. 22) …

Kansas City CUs report healthy third quarter

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KANSAS CITY (11/27/07)--Despite declining revenues and an uptick in delinquent loans, Kansas City area credit unions reported a healthy third quarter. The National Credit Union Administration released financial reports that reveal the financial health of the Kansas City area’s 60 credit unions (KanasasCity.com Nov. 24). Collectively, the area credit unions earned 23% less in July August and September than they did in the previous three months. During the third quarter, delinquent loans for the credit unions went up 10.6%, but as a percentage of all loans remained relatively low at 1.03%. A Nov. 1 merger of CommunityAmerica CU with Midwest United CU resulted in CommunityAmerica garnering more than half the assets and almost 60% of the loans of all area credit unions. The $1.518 billion asset, Lenexa, Kan.-based CommunityAmerica is growing. It has three new branches and plans to build more next year. On the other end of the asset spectrum, KC Terminal Employees/Guadalupe Center FCU--despite being hit by several delinquent loans--still has a net worth equal to almost 29% of its assets, higher than any other credit union in the area. However, it is one of four area credit unions with less than $1 million in assets.

Former CU Viewpoint Bank to repurchase 580247 shares

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PLANO, Texas (11/27/07)--The holding company for former Community CU--now called ViewPoint Bank--announced last month it will repurchase up to 580,247 shares of common stock in the open market over 12 months, depending on market conditions. The holding company, ViewPoint Financial Group, represents the bank, which is based in Plano, Texas. Community CU converted to a mutual savings bank in 2006 with $1.4 billion assets, becoming the largest credit union to convert. According to Gary Base, president/CEO, the bank's board approved the latest repurchase program. "We believe that the repurchase of our shares represents an attractive investment opportunity which will benefit the company and our shareholders," he said in a press release (PRNewswire Oct. 26). In August, the holding company repurchased 420,208 shares of its outstanding common stock in the open market. That served to fund the restricted stock portion of the company's Equity Incentive Plan, which shareholders approved in May. At that time, the bank had total assets of $1.60 billion and shareholders' equity of $210.1 million (News Now Aug. 15). ViewPoint Bank began trading shares publicly on the Nasdaq Global Select Market Exchange on Oct. 2, 2006, just 10 months after Community CU converted to a bank (News Now Oct. 3, 2006). The bank is the largest bank in Collin County, with 33 branches, 14 of them in-store branches and three of them loan production offices. Also in October, the bank declared a quarterly cash dividend of five cents per share, payable on Nov. 21 to shareholders as of Nov. 8 (FinancialWire.net via COMTEX Oct. 29).

League officially launches Ohio fin lit program

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KENT, Ohio (11/27/07)--The Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) launched its financial education initiative, MoneyAndStuff, in Kent and Cleveland last week.
Area credit unions officials and school administrators joined Ohio State Sen. Lance Mason (D-25), back center, for the launch of the Ohio Credit Union League’s financial education initiative, MoneyAndStuff, at Woodland Hills Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo provided by the Ohio Credit Union League)
MoneyAndStuff will promote financial literacy among youth, emphasizing credit concepts and teaching youth how to manage borrowing. The MoneyAndStuff website will serve as a financial resource for parents, educators, public officials, credit unions and the media. The website includes a “Credit Union Section” with promotional materials, logos and newsletter statements (eLumination Nov. 20). MoneyandStuff also will help teachers meet a new state mandate that requires all Ohio public high schools to teach personal financial education starting in 2010. The Ohio General Assembly passed the legislation in 2006. A survey of Ohio adults by the league indicated that 23% of Ohioans made any effort to encourage financial literacy in their families. Only 5% reported that they were taught about personal finances when they were young. “We are stepping up our efforts as leaders and collaborators in financial education because the financial health of Ohio’s youngest citizens is at risk,” said OCUL President Paul Mercer. “Teaching personal financial responsibility has always been part of the mission of not-for-profit credit unions.” MoneyandStuff was launched at Theodore Roosevelt High School with Joe Crawfis, CEO of Kent CU; State Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron); and Kent City Schools career Technical Adviser Kathy Thomas attending. The MoneyAndStuff media tour continued throughout Ohio, with stops planned in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, Toledo and Youngstown.

Defunct CDCU CEO resigns housing position in plea bargain

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/26/07)--The former CEO of a defunct community development credit union Wednesday resigned as executive director of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Housing Authority (HHA) in a plea bargain on charges related to diverting more than $800,000 of HHA funds to bolster the credit union. Carl Payne, formerly CEO of the Greater Harrisburg Community CU, announced his resignation in a letter to Leon Feinerman, chairman of HHA's board of commissioners, according to a press release from HHA. Pending court approval, Payne was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to his attorney, Royce L. Morris. Payne "is essentially saying he improperly filled out financial interest statements after the fact rather than when he should have," Morris said. In return, the Office of U.S. Attorney will drop its May indictment charging Payne with providing false information to a federal grand jury investigating HHA's role in supporting the credit union. Payne has been on leave from the HHA position since the indictment was filed. In a prepared statement, Payne said he was proud of his service to HHA and the city. "I still believe the Greater Harrisburg Community CU was a laudable attempt to improve the economic situation of public housing residents and other disadvantaged citizens of Harrisburg," he added. The credit union, a $1.7 million asset credit union chartered in 2000, was declared insolvent on Feb. 3, 2006. It lost more than $264,000 during the first three quarters of 2005 due to delinquent loans. In 2004, it had a net profit of $3,737. (News Now Oct. 4 and Feb. 14))

CU System briefs (11/21/2007)

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* SPOKANE, Wash. (11/26/07)--Numerica CU donated $16,000 for the KREM 2 (CBS) Tom's Turkey Drive, which collects food and money donations for Second Harvest Food Bank of the Inland Northwest. The Nov. 16-17 event was named after Tom Sherry, lead meteorologist at the station. The event surpassed its goal of 5,000 turkeys/meals and $50,000 by collecting more than 8,000 meals and raising more than $62,000. From left are: Jason Clark, executive director of Second Harvest; Dennis Cutter, president/CEO of the $698 million asset Numerica CU; and Tom Sherry. (Photo provided by Numerica CU) … * WATERL00, Iowa (11/26/07)--More than 850 residents of the Cedar Valley were served a Thanksgiving meal by 100 volunteers during the 25th Annual Mike and Leona Adams' Thanksgiving Dinner Nov. 19. Veridian CU sponsored the event in Waterloo with the Retirees of the United Auto Workers Local 838 and partnered with Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging to provide meals through Meals on Wheels. This is the third year the $1.214 billion asset credit union has participated. Pictured serving a resident are, from left: David Schultz, Veridian board president; Scott Anderson, board member; and staffers Kim Fettkether, Holly Youngblut, Stacey Koontz, Janie Westhoff, and Michele Eckhoff. (Photo provided by Veridian CU) …

CU supporter to run for Oregon state office

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/26/07)--Oregon State Sen. Rick Metsger (D), a long-time credit union supporter, announced his intention Tuesday to enter the Democratic primary for Oregon Secretary of State in the 2008 election. More than 40 credit union supporters attended the announcement made in Portland, Ore. Metsger also made a stop at the Eugene branch of OnPoint Community CU to be available to area press. “Senator Metsger’s ability to find consensus on difficult issues is well-respected in the Oregon Senate,” said Pamela Leavitt, senior vice president of governmental affairs and communications for the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO). “His knowledge and support of issues important to credit unions makes him a staunch ally for our credit unions.” Metsger’s history with credit unions started when he served on the board of directors as vice chairman of OnPoint Community CU--then Portland Teachers CU. As chair of the Senate Business Committee, he was instrumental in helping pass credit union priority legislation for the past two legislative sessions, CUAO said.

Canadian CU System hits 100 billion assets

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TORONTO, Ontario (11/26/07)--Sustained growth in the Canadian credit union system has resulted in two milestones--more than $100 billion in assets, and more than five million members, as of the end of third quarter 2007. The number of credit unions in Canada declined to 472 from 501 a year ago, due to continuing consolidation in the system, said Credit Union Central of Canada. Combined assets for the system rose to $102.4 billion, a 10.8% increase year-over-year at third quarter 2007. Over the past five years, credit unions gained $32 billion in assets, a 45% increase. Deposits/savings growth has remained consistent with recent past results, with an annualized 9.5% growth rate reported by the system. Deposits /savings increased by nearly $7.8 billion to reach $89.2 million at the end of the third quarter. Loan demand remained relatively high with total system loans increasing by $8.5 billion, or an annualized 11%, to $86.1 billion at the third quarter. Loans as a percentage of total deposits are at 96.5%, compared with 95%, a year ago, and 89%, for 10 years ago.

Larger CUs can sponsor smaller CUs for GAC

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (11/26/07)--Larger credit unions can donate funds in a new sponsorship program so smaller credit unions can attend the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) CUNA 2008 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). The GAC will be held March 2-6, 2008 in Washington, D.C. CUNA is offering the program in response to large credit unions' recognition that it is critical to educate legislators about the credit union uniqueness and to demonstrate credit union strength in numbers. The program, designed to help credit unions with assets of $35 million or less, does not replace GAC scholarship efforts made by state leagues or the National Credit Union Foundation. Any amount can be donated. The average cost of airfare, four nights' lodging and the registration fee for a small credit union is $2,000. Donations are due Jan. 4. For more information about the program, use the "Sponsor a Credit Union" resource link. Small credit unions can apply for financial assistance by using the resource link for "Financial Assistance Application." Applications for assistance are due Jan. 4.

Several CUs report phish attempts

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MADISON, Wis. (11/26/07)--The holiday season isn't stopping fraudsters from trying to hook financial information from unsuspecting victims via the Web. Several credit unions were targeted the past month with phish attempts. KU CU, the Lawrence, Kan., division of Bartlesville, Okla.-based 66 FCU, reported that a phisher sent messages to University of Kansas e-mail addresses purporting to be KU CU and requesting account numbers. (U-Wire Nov. 19). The credit union's website has a notice asking recipients of the e-mails to notify it immediately, Dennis Halpin, the credit union's spokesperson, told the publication. KU CU never asks for information such as account numbers or credit card numbers in an e-mail. Phishers have used the credit union's name before, he said. The credit union traces the phishers and shuts down their web addresses, but the addresses usually are traced to different countries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which reported about past phishing attempts against MasterCard and the Credit Union National Association, received a phish posing as a message from Teachers CU and saying the credit union had deactivated the recipient's Visa Check Card due to "unusual levels of fraud." It instructed the recipient to call a toll-free number. Teachers CU is a $1.704 billion asset credit union based in South Bend, Ind. It did not send the message. The phone number is not a toll-free number but a standard area code, 641, which serves Iowa (Pittsburgh Post Gazette Nov. 18). New York Daily News' "Your Money" column reported receiving three attempts from shysters--two of them using credit unions' names--trying to phish for information (Oct. 29). One claimed to be from Scott CU and focused its spiel on an "easy five question survey." In return for filling out the survey, the fake credit union would provide a $20 credit to the recipient's account. Scott CU, with assets of more than $398 million, is headquartered in Collinsville, Ill., and is not surveying anyone via e-mail. The column also reported an e-mail addressed to "Visa cardholder." It claimed a card issued by $1.3 billion asset Washington State Employees CU, based in Olympia, Wash., had been disabled. The recipient was told to call a toll-free number to reactivate the card. The columnist called the number. An automated voice asked for the card number, expiration date and ATM security code. The columnist punched in random numbers, and the robotic voice informed, "Your card has been reactivated," even though the columnist is not a Visa cardholder. Credit unions should continue alerting members to phish attempts and emphasize that credit unions don't ask for account and personal financial information via e-mails and unsolicited phone calls. Recipients of such messages should not click the links or call the numbers provided. Instead, they should delete the message.

Paulson re-elected as Nevada league chairman

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (11/26/07)--Dan Paulson, president/CEO of WestStar CU in Las Vegas, was re-elected as the Nevada Credit Union League board chairman during the league’s annual meeting and convention in San Diego. “Among my goals is to continue the strong political advocacy for credit unions, especially in light of 2008 being an election year,” Paulson said. Other board members include:
* Vice Chairman Wallace Murray, president/CEO of Greater Nevada CU, Carson City, Nevada; * Treasurer Doug Schwartz, president/CEO of Moapa Valley FCU, Overton, Nevada; * Secretary Carol Gibson, executive vice president of Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas; * Director Dennis Flannigan, president/CEO of Great Basin FCU, Reno, Nevada; * Director Tony Mook, president/CEO of Cumorah CU, Las Vegas; and * Director Bruce Rodela, president/CEO of Frontier Financial CU, Reno, Nevada.
Paulson joined WestStar CU as president/CEO in 1997. Prior to that, he worked at North Island CU in San Diego.

CaliforniaNevada Youth Involvement Network Board named

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SAN DIEGO (11/26/07)--The California and Nevada Youth Involvement
New members of the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network (CNYIN) Board include from left, front row: Cathy Arra, CNYIN liaison; Marissa Lott, Farmers Insurance Group FCU, Los Angeles; and Mariclar Cronin, WesStar CU, Las Vegas; Back row: Michael Lee, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; Jenny Casselman, Greater Nevada CU, Reno, Nev.; Mike Jones, Educational Employees CU, Fresno, Calif.; and Maria Angelova, Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League)
Network (CNYIN) recently elected a new board of directors for 2007-2008 at its annual planning session in San Diego. Marissa Lott at Farmers Insurance Group FCU in Los Angeles was re-elected chairman for the third consecutive year. The other elected members on the board of directors are:
* Jenny Casselman, Greater Nevada CU, Reno, Nev.; * Mike Jones, Educational Employees CU, Fresno, Calif.; * Maria Angelova, Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif.; * Michael Lee, The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; * Mariclar Cronin, WestStar CU, Las Vegas; * Marlene Myers, Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif.; * Jenny Ketchepaw, Telesis Community CU, Chatsworth, Calif.; * Mike Randall, Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas; and * Richard Villareal, San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif.
Angelova was this year’s recipient of a Tomorrow’s Star Award, presented by the California Credit Union League to recognize achievements by California credit union professionals under the age of 30. In addition to electing officers, the board established it goals for 2008. “Our focus will be on the further development of current partnerships and forming new partnerships with organizations that can offer valuable resources to our members,” Lott said. Other goals include furthering Web development and exploring educational opportunities for CNYIN members.

CUs kick off holiday season with parades

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MADISON, Wis. (11/21/07)--While most of America will launch their holiday season by consuming quantities of Thanksgiving turkey and shopping on Black Friday, many credit unions will bring out their float banners and participate in or sponsor holiday parades.
Getting into the spirit, Pagoda FCU participated in the 2007 Reading (Pa.) Holiday Parade for the second consecutive year. Its float was decorated with gifts, waving elves and banners wishing the community, "Happy Holidays." Pagoda's penguin mascot debuted at the parade. Staffers distributed 2,000 goodie bags to parade attendees. (Photo provided by Pagoda FCU)
For example, the 55th annual Nashville (Tenn.) Christmas Parade will be presented again this year by Southeast Financial FCU. The parade will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 7. This is the third year the $311 million asset credit union is the presenting sponsor. "It has always been a great event for Nashville, and our experience over the past two years has been so good that we were excited to have the opportunity to be involved again this year," said John Simmons, president/ CEO (PR Newswire via CNN.Money.com. Nov. 19). Here's a sampling of other credit unions participating in holiday parades.
* Manitowoc, Wis.: In the 19th annual Thanksgiving Eve traditional parade, RiverWood Maritime CU, a $24 million asset credit union in Two Rivers, will sponsor honorary parade marshal Dick Weber riding in a Cinderella-type carriage drawn by the Clydesdales of Keyes' Gentle Giants (Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter Nov. 14). * Monroe, Mich.: In Monroe's Holiday Parade last week, 11,000 to 12,000 people saw Jon Amazeen, head teller at the $107 million asset Monroe County Community CU, marching in a mask, dressed in green and white, and carrying a round shield. He was one of five Super Savers who waved and saluted the crowd (Monroe News Nov. 19). * Royal Oak, Mich.: Our Credit Union presented the Anchor Bay Marching Band during Downtown Royal Oak's Sixth Annual Holiday Magic Parade on Saturday. The $134 million asset credit union also helped provide treats at Santa's First Stop in metro Detroit. * Fremont, Ohio: Fremont FCU, a $118 million asset credit union, has offered its parking lot to Santa and his reindeer for photo sessions with Santa this week. The community will have its 17th annual Festival of Lights Parade downtown on Saturday (News-Messenger Nov. 16). * Harrisburg, Pa.: More than 50 employees of Pennsylvania State Employees CU and their families participated in the Harrisburg Holiday Parade Saturday. The $2.8 billion asset credit union sponsored a "Joy of Giving" float dedicated to the Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families and The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Also, employees escorted Bear in the Big Blue House, a giant balloon float. The parade will be broadcast locally on Thanksgiving Day. This was the credit union's fourth year participating in the event (Life is a Highway Nov. 20). * Wilkes-Barre, Pa: Cross Valley FCU, which has $117 million assets, Saturday brought a company van, a float and a rented flatbed that carried a fictitious four-piece winter Christmas band for the city's annual parade held Saturday. "We're really excited to be part of this community and thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of such a parade as this," Colleen Phillips, vice president of marketing, told the Times Leader Nov. 18).

Magistrate R.I. embezzler unlikely to make full restitution

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (11/21/07)--The man whose $12 million embezzlement prompted the Rhode Island state banking crisis in 1990 has paid back just over $4,500 of the more than $12 million he owes since his release from prison five years ago. Joseph Mollicone Jr., former president of the defunct Heritage Loan & Investment Co., was paying $217 a month in restitutions. At that rate, it would take 4,606 years to pay back the remainder owed (The Providence Journal via Associated Press Newswires Nov. 17). Superior Court Magistrate Patricia Lynch Harwood recently increased the monthly payment to $292 a month after Mollicone married and his expenses dropped. But Harwood said it is unlikely Mollicone will ever pay back the full amount. When the bank failed, it forced the closure of 44 other financial institutions, including credit unions, insured by the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp. The state was forced to borrow more than $300 million to pay depositors who couldn't access their money for more than 18 months. Mollicone was convicted of embezzlement in 1993 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, $12 million in restitution and $420,000 in fines. He was released on parole in 2002, and began making restitution payments.

Thanks to planningtraining CU was prepared for robbery

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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (11/21/07)--Texoma Community CU experienced the first robbery in its 50-year history Friday, and it credits emergency planning and staff training for ensuring that no one was hurt. The Wichita Falls, Texas-based credit union has 32 pages of emergency planning just for a robbery, President Wayne Mansur told KAUZ-TV News (Nov. 19). He noted every employee is familiar with the credit union's policy, and said that preparation kept everyone safe. Every business should have plans in place that focus on keeping people safe, Mansur said. Looking out for people's safety is the most important thing in a catastrophe, he added. His advice: Whether at home or at work, give robbers what they want and get them to leave quickly. Material things are not worth putting anyone in danger. Stay calm and make mental notes as the robbery progresses. Once the robbers leave, lock the doors and call police. Write down everything you can remember about the robber. Most important, he said, was talking about your plan with your employees or your family.

CUNA closed INews NowI wont publish Thursday Friday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (11/21/07)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices will be closed Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. News Now will not publish on those dates but will resume its regular publication schedule on Monday, Nov. 26.

Report Latinos want to grasp use financial services

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MADISON, Wis. (11/21/07)--Latino families lag behind non-Hispanic white families in the usage of most wealth-enhancing financial instruments, but nonprofits--such as credit unions--can help change this, according to the Filene Research Institute’s latest report. The report, “Financial Services and Product Usage by Latinos in the United States,” indicated that Latinos are similar to white families in their consumption of basic financial services and products, such as primary homes, vehicles and debt instruments. Barbara Robles, associate professor in the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University, is the author. However, Latino families lag behind white families in use of wealth enhancers, such as retirement pensions, nonfinancial equity, and several stock market-linked financial instruments, Robles found. The lag is not attributed to risk aversion, Robles argues, but rather to two factors:
* Income constraints tied to educational outcomes; and * Lack of familiarity with and knowledge of financial markets and, consequently, a lack of understanding and use of financial products tied to financial market movements.
“Clearly the data tell us that Latino families want to understand and use financial services and products,” Robles said in the report. “Financial markets, services and products are often paralyzingly complex and overwhelming for nascent financial service consumers, especially those with limited exposure to financial institutions. “One way to help achieve trust and comfort is to partner with community-based nonprofit organizations that engage in financial education outreach, operate tax preparation sites, and offer International Development Association programs and basic homeownership counseling,” she continued. For low-income Latino neighborhoods, community-based nonprofit organizations that serve and are led by Latinos can have an effective, long-term role in the financial well-being of high-density, low-income neighborhoods, Robles said. “In order to best serve this booming market, basic fundamentals of marketing such as cultural appeal, knowing the educational levels of the consumer niche, and assuming rudimentary financial product understanding--such as teaching the magic of compound interest--become essential components for delivering financial services in high-density Latino communities,” Robles concluded.

Athens named California league board chairman

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SAN DIEGO (11/21/07)--Lynn Athens, president/CEO of Spectrum FCU in San Francisco, was named California Credit Union League (CCUL) board chairman during the recent CCUL Annual Meeting and Convention held in San Diego. Athens began her career in credit unions in 1975, and has worked at several San Francisco area credit unions. In 1991, she arrived at Spectrum FCU, where she served as president/CEO since 1996. She has served on the CCUL Government Relations Committee for four years, and is the past chair of the Fiscal Affairs Committee. She also has served on the CCUL Political Action Committee, as well as the Bylaws Committee, and Awards Committee. Other elected CCUL officers are:
* First Vice Chairman: Brett Martinez, president/CEO, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa; * Second Vice Chairman: Jeff York, president/CEO, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc; * Executive Committee: Darren Williams, president/CEO, Wescom CU, Pasadena; * Executive Committee: Eileen Rivera, president/CEO, FAA First FCU, Hawthorne; and * Ex Officio Committee Member: Debra Grisamer, president/CEO, Alta Vista CU, San Bernardino.

Ghana presidential candidate to promote CUs

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ANUM APAPAM, Ghana (11/21/07)--A Ghana presidential candidate says he will promote credit unions as a way of easing poverty if he is elected president. The assertion by Hackman Owusu Agyeman of the New Patriot Party was in a speech read Saturday on his behalf by James Appiah, a member of his campaign team, at the first Annual General Meeting of the Anum Apapam Community Cooperative CU (Modern Ghana News Nov. 19). In the wake of the Second World War, citizens in European countries ravished by the war were able to reorganize their economic lives using the credit union system, and today many lead more fruitful lives because of its influence, Agyeman said. Joe Boadu, training officer of the Credit Union Association (CUA) of Ghana, called on attendees to save and invest in credit unions.

Huron River has new name as division of Detroit Edison

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (11/21/07)--The liquidated Huron River Area CU, whose assets were purchased and assumed earlier this week by Detroit Edison CU, is now known as Huron River Financial, a division of the Detroit credit union. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) assumed control of Ann Arbor-based Huron River's $170 million worth of loans for Florida real estate, along with a related lawsuit. Many of the loans are delinquent (The Ann Arbor News Nov. 19). Detroit Edison CU received Huron River's members, deposits and assets and a scrubbed clean balance sheet. The acquisition will mean Detroit Edison will have more than $700 million in assets, making it the ninth-largest credit union in Michigan. According to Bill Thiess, president/CEO of Detroit Edison CU, credit union members will see no change or interruption in service. He noted that Huron River's 38,000 members are now part of one of the strongest financial institutions in the state. Detroit Edison's $160 million asset mortgage portfolio has only one home in foreclosure, with about $9,000 owed on the loan. Before the purchase and assumption, Detroit Edison's assets totaled $485.6 million and it served 28,000 members. David Adams, president of the Michigan Credit Union League, told The Ann Arbor News that Detroit Edison CU has deep relationships with its members, who have not only savings, but also auto loans, mortgage loans and retirement savings with the credit union.

CU System briefs (11/20/2007)

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* DENVER (11/21/07)--Police arrested a third individual in connection with the murder of Heather Garraus, a former employee of Colorado State Employees CU's Greeley branch. Michelle Dawn Moore, 26, was charged Tuesday with conspiracy and criminal attempt to commit murder (TheDenverChannel.com Nov. 20). Moore, a friend of Shawna Nelson, who is accused of killing Garraus outside the credit union branch in January, originally testified that Nelson told her she planned to kill Garraus. However, Moore later changed her story. Nelson was arrested in January, and later admitted to police that she was romantically involved with Garraus’ husband, Ignacio. Nelson’s husband, Ken, also was arrested and charged as an accomplice. Both Ken Nelson and Ignacio Garraus left their law-enforcement jobs and moved out of state … * BURNSVILLE, Minn. (11/21/07)--For the second year, US FCU staff surpassed the $18,000 mark for its annual drive for Combined Federal Campaign for national and local charities. This year, the month-long campaign involved stuffing a foiled "CFC: El Grande burrito" (shown here with staff) with contributions. Staff could choose a variety of individual and group "ingredients" or pledging options to bulk up the burrito. US FCU matched the funds raised and exceeded the corporate goal of more than $18,116. More than $5,600 will go to the credit union's designated charity, the Children's Miracle Network. (Photo provided by US FCU) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/21/07)--Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Joe Wambach and Maureen Mealy, compliance and operations officer with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), attended the "Little Rock Nine" 50th Anniversary symposium Nov. 12 in Lancaster, Pa. (Life is a Highway Nov. 20). Mealy's son, Todd Mealy, educator and director of the Unheralded Heroes Project providing race relations education, organized the event. There, Wambach discussed PCUA's financial literacy program with 400 students, teachers and community members. The Little Rock Nine were African-American students who defied segregationists in 1957 by enrolling at an all-white high school in Arkansas, a pivotal event in the civil rights movement. From left are Wambach, Mealy, and Dr. Terrence Roberts, speaker and member of the Little Rock Nine. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * MADISON, Wis. (11/21/07)--Youth-chartered STAR CU has launched a website that allows members to gain account access on the Web and learn more about the credit union. It also plans to provide financial education materials, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League (The League News Nov. 19). STAR CU, based in Madison, Wis., includes past or current members and staff of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, plus staff of its co-founders, Great Wisconsin and Summit CUs. It is located in a low- to moderate-income neighborhood and works to teach kids the value of saving and stresses payday lending alternatives …

Pennsylvania Senate passes anti-phish measure

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/21/07)--A bill that would help consumers and financial institutions in the battle against identity theft by making phishing illegal in Pennsylvania was unanimously passed Monday by the state Senate. Written by State Sen. Jake Corman (R-34), the legislation, SB390, would make it a felony to phish personal information. The bill would carry a fine of $10,000 for each violation, with the ability to collect damages up to three times the actual amount (Life Is A Highway Nov. 20). The bill--which gives the state attorney general sole jurisdiction to prosecute violations-- also stipulates that if an Internet user provides personal information, the individual who solicits the information could be charged with a third-degree felony. A phisher selling or distributing the information could be charged with a second-degree felony. The legislation also affords Internet service providers and other website owners with recourse to pursue civil relief, if their business is misrepresented by a phishser. Credit unions and other financial institutions are often the targets of phish attempts. The legislation now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

CUs good for members good for economy say media

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/21/07)--National and local media are picking up on the benefits that credit unions have to offer their members. Credit unions provide a “financial lifeline for people from all walks of life--from working people to small business owners to people with modest incomes,” according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League. The league released a compilation of stories Monday in the media. Among the highlights:
* Money Magazine said credit unions provide the best deals in banking, higher returns on certificates of deposit, and lower interest rates on credit cards and auto loans; * Consumer Reports conducted a survey of 21 credit card issuers that indicated credit unions’ cards ranked higher in customer satisfaction than Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, Capital One and JP Morgan Chase; * Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass., indicated that credit unions “beat banks 2-to-1--when consumers were asked what institution does ‘what’s best for me, not what’s best for the bottom line' "; * The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, suggested that credit unions should increase business lending to grow the U.S. economy. Because credit unions are not-for-profit, they make small loans banks deny as being unprofitable; * The Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy research and advocacy organization, said broadening access of low-income Americans to credit unions could cut the nation’s poverty rate in half; * USA Today reported that more than 1,000 credit unions have alternative products to high-interest payday loans; and * National Review Online reported that credit unions provide a “vital source of financial liquidity that can soften the blow in the face of a national credit crunch.” The publication noted that if credit unions were taxed, they’d have to cut back on loans that break even, drying up credit for some borrowers.

Correction Fraud investigation doesnt involve Latino CU

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--A fraud investigation regarding North Carolina State Rep. Thomas Wright (D-Wilmington) did not involve Latino Community CU, as reported by News Now on Monday. News Now regrets the error.

Pennsylvania Association to initiate green CU campaign

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/20/07)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) board of directors initiated a campaign for state credit unions to become environmentally friendly at its quarterly meeting last week in Harrisburg. “The board decided that it should be a leader with respect to going green,” Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and marketing, told News Now. “The board will develop programs to encourage credit unions to go green and then highlight their efforts in this area, as well as highlight best practices.” The board unanimously adopted a 2008 budget to:
* Provide copies of CUNA’s Small Credit Union Salary Survey to member credit unions with assets of $35 million or less; and * Place an additional 150 sample policies on InfoSight.
A budget summary will be available on the PCUA website by the end of the year. In other actions, the board:
* Approved a $10,000 contribution to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; * Approved the initiation of a task force of credit union leaders to study PCUA membership fees; and * Continued its support of the iBelong and Credit Union Better Choice programs.
“The PCUA board recognizes the importance of credit unions providing an alternative to predatory payday loans,” said Diana Roberts, PCUA board chair, and CEO of Hershey FCU. “With the support of the State Treasury, as well as the 62 credit unions that offer the Credit Union Better Choice program, Pennsylvania consumers will save more than one million dollars in fees, while beginning to build wealth and receive financial education that will improve the quality of their lives.” During the meeting, the status of the iBelong awareness campaign was reported by Mike Kaczenski, chair of the advocacy/marketing task force at PCUA. He noted the key barrier to credit union growth is lack of awareness on the part of non-credit union members. “Our iBelong campaign is raising awareness of credit unions throughout the state and has been recognized by a number of other state leagues as a model program for increasing credit union awareness,” he said. Also at the meeting, Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking Steven Kaplan discussed the financial services environment and the department’s top priorities at the meeting. David Lundgren, executive vice president/chief products officer for CUNA Mutual Group, provided insight on future directions of the company and solicited input and feedback from board members.

CU System briefs (11/19/2007)

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* ARLINGTON, Va. (11/20/07)--George Reynolds, chairman of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), has been elected chairman of the State Financial Regulators Roundtable (SFRR). Reynolds is senior deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. SFRR is a forum for state regulatory associations to promote state regulatory oversight of financial service providers. It is comprised of NASCUS, the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators, American Council of State Savings Supervisors, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Money Transmitter Regulators Association, National Association of Consumer Credit Administrators, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and North American Securities Administrators Association. Reynolds was elected to a two-year term. NASCUS will assume administrative direction of SFRR for the duration of Reynolds' term … * BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/20/07)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced its 2007 award recipients. The Distinguished Service Award in the professional category went to Shirley Cate, CEO of Providence Health System FCU, Portland. The Distinguished Service Award recipient in the volunteer category was Betty James of SELCO Community CU, Eugene. The Young Credit Union Professional Award was received by Ken Olson, CEO of Old West FCU, John Day. The Heidemann Scholar Award went to Janet Buckalew of Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls … * ATLANTA (11/20/07)--CDC FCU is partnering with the Federal Home Loan Bank to allocate up to $1 million in funds for first-time, low-to-moderate income homebuyers who can't afford all mortgage closing costs. The CDC FCU Homebuyer Grant Program is available for Georgia citizens who do not exceed 80% of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) median income, currently at $55,400 for individuals and more for larger families. The credit union's wholly owned subsidiary, Briarwood Financial Services LLC, awards up to $10,000 per household to eligible buyers. To be eligible, the borrower must complete a homeownership education program, contribute at least $500 in cash toward the down payment and occupy the home as a primary residence for five years. If the buyer fulfills the last requirement, the grant is cleared in its entirety …

Fitch affirms ratings of Southwest Central Corporates

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CHICAGO (11/20/07)--Fitch Ratings has affirmed ratings of Southwest Corporate FCU and Central Corporate CU. It affirmed Southwest Corporate FCU’s long-term issuer Default Rating (IDR) and short-term IDR at “AA-” and “F1+,” respectively. Plano, Texas-based Southwest’s ratings are indicative of the company’s low credit-risk profile and ample liquidity, Fitch said. However, the company’s investment portfolio contains some exposure to higher-risk structured products that could cause some instability in earnings and capital, Fitch added (BusinessWire Nov. 13). Southwest is conservatively managed and has well-established risk-management processes, Fitch said, while recognizing Southwest for its franchise within the corporate credit union network. The pending merger of Southwest with Northwest Corporate FCU of Portland, Ore., has been approved by Northwest members and the National Credit Union Administration. The merger becomes effective Dec. 1. Fitch also affirmed Central Corporate CU’s (CenCorp) long-term issuer IDR and short-term IDR at “AA-” and “F1+,” respectively. A liquid balance sheet and low-risk profile are reflected in Southfield, Mich.-based CenCorp’s ratings, Fitch said. A small part of CenCorp’s portfolio is invested in mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities, some of which are higher risk-structured products negatively affected by dislocation in the credit markets. Fitch found that CenCorp’s liquidity position is sound because the company maintains adequate liquidity with liquid assets and contingent funding sources. Although CenCorp recently reduced its membership capital share deposit requirements, Fitch found that its projected capital ratios remain sufficient.

NEFE cites CUNA as a partner receiving best fin ed award

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) cited its partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) regarding the “Best Financial Education Award” NEFE received from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) last week. The award was presented Friday morning to NEFE for its High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) during the AFCPE’s conference in Tampa, Fla. Janet Garkey, special materials editor for CUNA’s center for personal finance, represented CUNA during the conference and commented on CUNA’s partnership with NEFE. “The award is well-deserved,” said Phil Heckman, CUNA director of youth programs. “NEFE is a top national advocate for youth financial literacy.” The AFCPE award recognizes HSFPP’s effectiveness. The program has been evaluated twice, showing improvement in students’ knowledge and confidence about finances. Few programs are scientifically evaluated for effectiveness, Heckman said. CUNA partnered with NEFE in 2000. Under the partnership, CUNA encourages credit unions to have their local schools offer HSFPP, which is a free financial education resource for high school students. Since CUNA has gotten involved, hundreds of credit unions have actively promoted and taught the program. Five million student guides have been distributed since the program’s inception in 1984, and two-thirds of those carry the America's Credit Unions brand, Heckman said. HSFPP has been brought in line with current curriculum standards in each state. It also has online resources available. The program’s content was revised this year, with a number of credit union people serving on the task force. “Having great partners doesn’t always just show up in the number of materials ordered,” said John Parfrey, NEFE director. “It also shows up in the thought leadership that lives in our organizations, it shows up in our commitment to promote an important idea, and it shows up in the efforts of putting together a financial education program for an important segment of society--our nation’s young people.” Parfrey also acknowledged America’s Credit Unions’ contributions, along with the National Cooperative Extension System. NEFE’s HSFPP was founded with the goal of educating high school students about sound money management skills, the financial planning process and helping teens develop positive behaviors that are necessary to attaining financial maturity and achieving a secure future. For more information, use the links.

Retired exec finds balloon from CUs student project

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GLADSTONE, Mo. (11/20/07)--A retired credit union executive found a ‘drug-free’ balloon message that was launched by a student as part of Red Ribbon Week, a drug prevention school project supported by CommunityAmerica CU of Lenexa, Kan. Tyrique Bennett, of Meadowbrook Elementary School in Gladstone, Mo., sent the balloon that says “Drug Free * that’s me,*” asking “When my balloon finds you, please let me know.” The balloon was found by Bob Korthase, a retired vice president of investments at 66 FCU, in Bartlesville, Okla., and a former chairman of the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB), while driving in rural Oklahoma. He found it near some land that has been in his family for years. While Korthase was chairman of NYIB, he got credit unions involved with another youth project--the National Endowment for Financial Education. Korthase sent a one-page letter to Tyrique and her teacher, thanking them for participating in the project. Korthase commended Tyrique for being drug-free and taking part in the project. Korthase wrote in the letter: “Your balloon and your message have been in for a wild ride of about 230 miles from your school to the pasture on our 80 acres. But not nearly as wild of a ride as those people that get involved with drugs. Red Ribbon Week is a time for communities and individuals to come together for the hopes and dreams of children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug-free lives. That’s just what you did, and I am proud of you!” Korthase concluded his letter by telling Tyrique that he was sending copies of his letter to her school and others to make them aware of the good work she has done and to pass on the drug-free message, so that it gets the attention it deserves.

National Maxwell Herring award winners selected

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) awards committee has announced this year’s winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Awards. Dora Maxwell first place winners include:
* Great Horizons FCU, Hammond, Ind.; * GraCo FCU, Alma, Mich.; * Soo Line CU, Minneapolis; * Maine Family FCU, Lewiston, Maine; * Avanta FCU, Billings, Mont.; * Denver Community CU, Denver; * CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.; and * Austin Chapter of Credit Unions in Texas.
First place Louise Herring award winners include:
* Kentucky Employees CU, Frankfort, Ky.; * Elga CU, Burton, Mich.; and * US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.
Maxwell, an organizer for the credit union movement’s trade association and original signer of CUNA’s constitution, worked to organize hundreds of credit unions in the U.S., developed volunteer organizer clubs and worked with organizations to help the poor. The Maxwell award is presented to credit unions in seven asset-size categories and a chapter category for outstanding social responsibility. Herring, a supporter of credit unions, signed the original constitution for a national credit union association when she was the Ohio delegate to the 1934 national credit union conference in Estes Park, Colo. Herring saw credit unions as more than just financial institutions and believed they should work to better people’s lives. The Herring award is given to a credit union demonstrating the internal application of the credit union philosophy to help improve financial matters and increase financial education for its members. “Credit unions hold firm to their belief in social responsibility and the people-first philosophy they were founded on,” said Dan Mica, president/CEO of CUNA. “The Maxwell and Herring awards program is a chance to honor credit unions that have created and implemented innovative community involvement and financial education programs, as well as an opportunity to share these ideas with the entire credit union movement.” Winning entries will be displayed at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 2-6 in Washington, D.C. For a complete list of winners, use the link.

NCUF federation partner to implement HUD grant

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WASHINGTON and NEW YORK (11/20/07)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has contracted with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions to help implement NCUF’s $710,296 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The federation’s CU Breakthrough consulting team will provide technical assistance and training to HUD-certified credit unions. Twenty-two credit unions are using the HUD grant through NCUF to provide homeownership counseling for consumers with low incomes. “Many of the most successful counselors reaching low-income members through our HUD grant are at community development credit unions (CDCUs),” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “The foundation and federation teams will work together to bring additional housing program experience to CDCUs, and share CDCUs’ member service strategies with credit unions whose field of membership is not primarily low-income," Delfin said, adding the partnership will leverage both organizations’ expertise to serve low-income communities. Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal noted that NCUF is an important supporter of the CDCU movement. "Housing counseling is a crucial service for credit unions serving low-income communities, and this program will provide credit unions with the expertise to help their members avoid the current mortgage crisis and potential foreclosure." Rosenthal said expanding the federation's capacity in this area will enhance the impact of its CDCU Mortgage Center LLC, a secondary mortgage market to that helps credit unions free up capital for responsible, affordable mortgage lending. The CU Breakthrough consulting team will work with NCUF’s technical assistance team led by Mark Lynch. Lynch serves as a field coach for NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions.

DebtX to sell 26 million of CUs foreclosures

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BOSTON (11/20/07)--DebtX, the electronic debt exchange agency selected by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to manage the sale of foreclosed home loans from the now-liquidated Huron River Area CU, plans to sell $26 million of the loans on Dec. 13. The Boston-based commercial debt exchange announced Monday it will sell the loans, which were secured by properties near Fort Myers, Fla. The transaction involves the sale of 100 loans in single-family subdivisions in Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Northpoint near Fort Myers. NCUA had been overseeing the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based credit union's operations since February and liquidated the credit union on Saturday. Huron River's assets were purchased and assumed by Detroit Edison CU, a $485 million asset credit union based in Detroit (News Now Nov. 19). The average FICO score of the borrowers on the foreclosed homes was 692, the average loan balance is $261,000 and the average value of the home was $360,000 at funding, said DebtX. DebtX CEO Kingsley Greenland said, "This is one of the largest credit union loan sales in recent memory," and that the firm was anticipating strong demand from Florida investors and those who want to diversify their portfolios. Investors can register to make bids at www.debtx.com or by calling 617-531-3400.

Dayton area CUs bond to fight foreclosures

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DAYTON, Ohio (11/19/07)--Eleven Dayton, Ohio-area credit unions and the Ohio Credit Union Foundation have joined to provide over $65,000 to the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton, aimed at helping homeowners keep their homes amid the rising number of foreclosures in the area. As a part of the initiative, the funds have allowed the HomeOwnership Center to hire a certified foreclosure counselor to exclusively serve the local area. The Ohio Credit Union Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Ohio Credit Union System, aided the efforts with a $10,000 grant. Ohio ranked 3rd-highest in the nation with over 46,000 foreclosures during the third quarter, according to RealtyTrac. Montgomery County ranks as the second worst county in Ohio due to job loss, illness and predatory lending practices. The efforts of Dayton’s credit unions and the HomeOwnership Center expect to assist over 300 Miami Valley families in avoiding foreclosure. The initiative will help borrowers by providing them with resources, necessary steps and other tools. “Foreclosure affects more than individual families, it affects entire communities and it’s having a huge impact in the Miami Valley. The need for this partnership has never been greater,” emphasized Tim Mislansky, spokesperson for the credit unions. “This crisis needs leadership to solve,” he added. “There has been lots of talk of solutions, but credit unions are taking meaningful action to take a leadership role in stemming the rise of foreclosures. The solution for our community needs to be solved by the community in order to ensure the prevention of future foreclosures.” As member-owned cooperatives, credit unions exist solely to serve the needs of its members. One of the biggest advantages that credit unions have is the fact that they make decisions at the local level, which allows them to direct their resources to solve local problems and help members, Mislansky said. “No one wins during the foreclosure process. It causes hardship for the families, vacant properties reduce home values in neighborhoods, and the lenders lose money,” said Beth Deutscher, executive director of the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton. “I’m extremely impressed with Dayton credit unions’ willingness to step forward on this critical issue, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with them,” she continued. “Their commitment sets an important example for our community, and we need more partners like this that are willing to help us reach families before it’s too late.” The initiative is available to all homeowners in the Miami Valley area having trouble paying their mortgage. Homeowners will receive free foreclosure prevention counseling by a certified expert mortgage counselor, and in most cases will be connected to the HomeOwnership Center. Homeowners will get advice about their options, assistance in working with their lender, help in trying to refinance their loan and possible access to grant dollars to help cure their delinquency. In addition to the foreclosure counselor, the effort will also provide public service announcements developed by the Ad Council and NeighborWorks America to encourage people to act early and not ignore the problem. “For a homeowner who is experiencing trouble in paying their mortgage, the most important thing is that they act fast,” said Deutscher. “The sooner they reach out for assistance, the greater our chances of being able to identify a solution.” The eleven participating credit unions are: Affinia FCU, Kettering; Bethel Baptist FCU, Dayton; Code CU, Dayton; Day Air CU, Kettering; DayMet CU, Dayton; FirstDay Financial FCU, Dayton; Incenta FCU, Dayton; Montgomery County CU, Dayton; River Valley CU, Miamisburg; Universal 1 CU, Dayton; and Wright-Patt CU, Fairborn.

CU System briefs

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* MILWAUKEE (11/19)--Royal CU of Eau Claire, Wis., and UW CU of Madison, Wis., are teaming up with other financial institutions through a partnership to offer a toll-free hotline to help homeowners facing foreclosure. The credit unions are partnering with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Neighborworks America, Housing Resources Inc. of Milwaukee and the City of Milwaukee. The hotline is managed by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation and helps callers create budgets and work out foreclosure problems with their lenders. The hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-995-HOPE and is available 24 hours per day … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (11/19/07)--California Credit Union League (CCUL) President/CEO Bill Cheney (left) awarded Robert V. Chaffino CEO of Camino FCU in Montebello, Calif., the 2007 Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award, the CCUL’s highest honor. The award recognizes excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the California credit union movement. It is named after Leo H. Shapiro, father of the California credit union movement and founder of the league. Chaffino received the award Tuesday during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ 2007 Annual Meeting and Convention in San Diego. Chaffino has worked in the credit union movement for 35 years … (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League) * ST. LOUIS, Mo. (11/19/07)--House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D-District 52) shared insights on the political process and highlighted credit union advocacy opportunities at credit union meetings in St. Louis, Jefferson City and Kansas City Nov. 6-8. LeVota encouraged credit unions to take credit for their good works in the community and show how those efforts affect a lawmaker’s constituents. LeVota’s presentation was a part of the “You Make the Difference” Advocacy program. The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) Advocacy Committee, together with MCUA board members and Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC) members created the program. Credit union presidents, senior management and marketing staff are invited to attend regional meetings … (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association) * VACAVILLE, Calif. (11/19/07)--More than 1,000 children attended Pacific Service CU’s Child Safety Day Oct. 6. The event feature free DNA LifePrint kits, child safety journals and other safety information. The event also was the first in the county to offer free biometric fingerprinting. DNA Life Print provides parents and guardians with a sample of each child’s DNA that can be preserved up to 80 years. Pacific CU of Walnut Creek, Calif., has more than $1 billion in assets … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (11/19/07)--The 2008 Midwest Management Issues Conference will be held Jan. 13 to Jan. 16 at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah, Ga. The conference is sponsored by the Illionois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin credit union leagues. Featured speakers include Tom Glatt, president/CEO of Continental FCU in El Segundo, Calif.; Ron Galloway, filmmaker and producer of “Why Wal-Mart Works;” and Dan Mulhern, husband of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm …

Members United donates car to needy family

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (11/15/07)--Members United Corporate CU recently applied the credit union
Kevin Brauer, president, Members United Corporate FCU, Northeast Operations, (left) presents Bernard with the keys and title to the Taurus station wagon, which the credit union donated to help him and his family.
Bernard shows his appreciation for the car he received from Members United Corporate FCU in Warrenville, Ill. “I’m so grateful,” he told the credit union. (Photos provided by Members United Corporate FCU)
philosophy to reach out to a family in need. Members United had an unused company vehicle, a 1996 Ford Taurus station wagon. After a receiving a reference from a local agency, the credit union decided to donate the vehicle to a young man who is working to turn his life around. Bernard, 25, is working toward his GED and has a job manufacturing granite countertops. He's also raising three young children and doesn't have enough money to buy a vehicle. On Oct. 31, Members United presented Bernard, 25, with his first car. Because Bernard did not have a car, he was taking his younger children to daycare every morning in a taxi, and then continuing on to work. Members United also provided bags of treats for Bernard’s children to celebrate Halloween, and gave Bernard a gift card to offset gasoline and insurance costs. “I’m so grateful, I think I will smile through my sleep tonight,” Bernard said. Members United has $12.1 billion in assets.

Nelson CU murder case delayed

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GREELEY, Colo. (11/19/07)--The Shawna Nelson murder trial, resulting from a fatal shooting at a Colorado credit union, has been delayed after a request by defense attorneys and likely will not begin until 2008. The trial was set to commence Nov. 29 in Larimer County Court, but two events changed the timeframe for the case. A defense witness changed her testimony and will not testify that Nelson told her about the plan to commit murder; and an expert witness has come forward with new evidence in the case, regarding tire tracks at the murder scene (Greeley Tribune Nov. 16). In January, Nelson, 35, was arrested in the slaying of Heather Garraus, 37, outside the Greeley branch of the Denver-based Colorado State Employees CU. Garraus worked at the branch (News Now Jan. 31). Nelson, who has been charged with first-degree murder and faces life imprisonment, is accused of shooting Garraus the evening of Jan. 23 outside the credit union as Garraus was leaving work. Garraus was found in the credit union parking lot and was taken to North Colorado Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead as a result of multiple gunshot wounds (News Now July 30). After the murder, authorities learned that Shawna Nelson and Ignacio Garraus, a Greeley police officer and Garraus's husband, had been involved in an affair. Ignacio Garraus has since resigned from the police department and moved out of the state (News Now Jan. 31).

Irish CU league helps members buy computers

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DUBLIN, Ireland (11/19/07)--Irish credit unions have begun a program, which is part of the government-backed Home Computing Initiative, to help their members buy computers. About 60 credit unions who are members of the Irish Credit Union League are offering the computer deal, which makes low-cost loans and discounts on desktop and laptop computers available to participants (Irish Independent Nov. 14). “The program offers many of our members their first opportunity to own a home computer and become technologically connected to the wider world, improving skills and gaining access to all the Internet has to offer,” Liam O’Dwyer, chief executive of the league, said in a statement. Three million credit union members can take advantage of this program, which gives discounts up to 800 euros (about $1,170). Interest rates offered in the initiative compare well to in-store financing, said an Irish league spokesman.

CU steps up on universitys savings program

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (11/19/07)--K-State CU, the campus credit union of Kansas State University, is helping to give a boost to a unique savings campaign for college students. Kansas State University is one of three universities in the U.S. to offer the program. Kansas State, Utah State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute are credited with starting the Students Save Initiative, which is a part of the America Saves program. American Saves was created in 2001 to teach Americans how to save money and has helped 90,000 to date (Kansas State Collegian Nov. 1). Kansas State’s campaign is themed “Build Wealth, Not Debt.” The program educates students about finances and helps them set savings goals. About 150 students have participated in the program so far. K-State CU is the only financial institution involved with the program, but Dustin Furrey, the program’s undergraduate coordinator, said the campaign committee is looking to involve other financial institutions. K-State’s Students Save Initiative’s campaign committee members are planning to provide a progress report in May 2008. K-State CU has $3.4 million in assets.