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Hannaford judge questions Maine Supreme Court

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PORTLAND, Maine (12/2/09)--True to his word, a federal judge has asked the Maine Supreme Court to decide whether consumers affected by the Hannaford Bros. grocery chain data breach, and who have been reimbursed, are entitled to damages. U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby last week submitted questions to the state's highest court asking the court to consider whether Maine consumers reimbursed by their financial institutions and credit card companies for losses in the breach are entitled to seek damages for the time and effort they spent straightening out their accounts, according to the Bangor Daily News and WGME.com (Dec. 1). Hornby had indicated in October that he would seek input from the state Supreme Court because the question has no precedent in Maine (News Now Oct. 8) after lawyers for the plaintiffs asked him to reconsider his dismissal of the class-action lawsuit that sought compensation for consumers from Hannaford Bros. Attorneys for Hannaford argued that existing consumer protection laws and the system of contracts among merchants, banks and credit unions, and consumers are adequate protection. Millions of credit cards were exposed to fraud during the breach, which was one of the largest in history and which occurred in late 2007 and early 2008. At least 1,800 of the numbers stolen during the breach were used for fraudulent purchases.

High Deductible Health Plans HSAs subject of CU study

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CHICAGO (12/2/09)--High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) coupled with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can be a good fit for employers and employees, says a new study from Chicago-based Alliant CU. However, the credit union cautions that employers implementing these do so carefully. Alliant conducted a marketing analysis and surveyed 1,020 people employed in companies of various industries and sizes to gauge employees' knowledge and perceptions of HDHPs and HSAs. It found that companies can save 20% to 40% of their health insurance premiums and defray future premium increases by implementing an HDHP. However HDHPs have an image problem and an awareness challenge, said Alliant. Unless employees work for a company that offers the benefit, odds are they don't know what it is. The survey found 32% of employees whose companies don't offer HDHP had heard of HDHPs. When respondents were introduced to the HDHP and HSA concept during the survey, 53% said they wouldn't consider an HDHP if they had a choice. However, 32% said they would consider switching if an HDHP was offered as a company option. Employees in companies with HDHPs said they chose the option because:
* 69% preferred low premiums; * 45% liked the tax-favored HSA option; * 26% said the plan was a good catastrophic care plan/safety plan; * 36% appreciated the employer match; and * 31% enjoyed the freedom of choice for their doctors and hospitals.
Respondents declining the plan did so for these reasons:
* 44% considered the deductible too high; * 23% didn't think the price was aligned with its value; and * 20% preferred traditional coverage.
The findings are incorporated in Alliant's new white paper, "Is an HDHP/HSA the right prescription for your company?" It notes that companies have a better chance of successfully implementing HDHP if they:
* Introduce it as an option in addition to "traditional plans" such as health maintenance organizations and preferred physicians organizations; * Are transparent about employee benefit insurance costs; * Select a good HDHP, particularly a plan that covers annual checkups and preventive care before a deductible is considered; * Fund employees' HSAs (at an amount of 50% to 70% of the employees' deductible); * Do a good job of pointing out the comparative benefits among their company insurance plans, enabling employees to self-select themselves an HDHP, based on their needs and its perceived value; * Provide the HDHP within the context of other wellness programs; and * Choose the HDHP custodian wisely.
For a free copy of the white paper from Alliant Benefits Solutions, use the link.

MCUA PresidentCEO Holub to retire in 2010

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ST. LOUIS (12/2/09)--Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) President/CEO Rosie Holub announced Tuesday that she will retire at the end of December 2010. Holub began her tenure with MCUA in December 1999. She previously was CEO of the New Mexico and Wyoming Credit Union Leagues. She also has senior management experience at Kirtland FCU, Albuquerque, N.M., and Anchorage-based AlaskaUSA FCU and Denali FCU. While serving as MCUA CEO, Holub guided negotiations that led to the passing of a state bill that allowed state-chartered credit unions to realize growth after a seven-year bank lawsuit halted field-of-membership expansion. “In the 10 years that Rosie has served as the leader of MCUA--and indeed before that when she was with the New Mexico league--she has been a solid source of insight as to the partnership between the leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and how we can work together on behalf of all credit unions,” said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. “Her very practical experience as a credit union executive has been particularly of value to me personally, and I appreciate her graciousness in giving CUNA the benefit of her advice in credit union matters. We appreciate Rosie greatly, and thank her for her service,” Mica said. Under Holub’s leadership, Missouri’s credit union assets grew 57% to more than $10 billion as of June. She also instituted a patronage rebate program for core services corporate products through Credit Union Partnership, MCUA’s wholly owned subsidiary. Other accomplishments include:
* Expanding interstate item processing services; * Expanding the shared branching program to 92 outlets from nine outlets; and * Refunding $500,000 of dues income to member credit unions during the financial crisis.
Holub is chair of Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. She also served as chair of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues; chair of the Credit Union Legislative Action Council; a member of the CUNA board and executive committee; a board member of the Filene Research Institute; and in leadership positions on committees, including CUNA’s Renaissance Commission. The MCUA board has identified a selection and recruitment process for a new CEO. The board is distributing a request for proposal to search firms.

CU extends Poinsettia Bowl title sponsorship

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SAN DIEGO (12/2/09)--San Diego County CU has extended its title sponsorship of the San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl college football game through the 2010 game, with options for 2011 and 2012. The credit union has sponsored the bowl since 2005, the first year it was held (News Now Dec. 6, 2005). The Make-a-Wish Foundation of San Diego has been the game’s beneficiary. One dollar from every admission ticket sold goes directly to the foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. San Diego County CU’s sponsorship of the college football bowl made a national comic syndicate in 2008, appearing in The Washington Post, The Wisconsin State Journal, and other newspapers (News Now Jan 5). The 2009 bowl game is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT Dec. 23. Teams will be selected later this month. San Diego County CU has $4.8 billion in assets.

CUAO announces CU Services board

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (12/2/09)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced the 2010 CU Services board of directors. CU Services works to benefit member credit unions, strengthen Oregon credit unions’ affiliation with CUAO and enhance the net economic impact to the association and its initiatives. The slate of directors is:
* Chair: Bill Anderson, Mid-Oregon FCU, Bend; * Treasurer: Kevin Cole, MaPS CU, Salem; * Director: Steve Canfield, NW Preferred FCU, Tigard; * At-Large Director: Mandy Jones, Oregon Community CU, Eugene; and * At-Large Director: Scott Burgess, Rivermark Community CU, Beaverton.

IForbesI CUs best in checking credit cards

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/09)--Credit unions offer the best deals and rates for checking accounts and credit cards for college students, according to a Forbes columnist. “By best, we mean products that charge the lowest fees and require the smallest minimum balances,” wrote David K. Randall in a Monday column titled, “Five Best Choices for College Students.” When it comes to picking a checking account, the best solution may be for college students to find a credit union, Randall wrote. “Some 600 college campuses offer access to these member-owned nonprofit institutions,” Randall wrote. “Credit unions operate like banks but return profits to members in the form of lower fees and better loan rates. Students at New York University, for example, can open free checking accounts at the New York University FCU. Members receive free checks, are not charged for using other institutions’ ATMs and are not required to deposit a minimum amount or maintain a certain balance. “JPMorgan Chase, meanwhile, will charge you $2 to use another bank's ATM and requires $25 to open an account,” he added. “Some credit unions will even waive overdraft fees if a student agrees to attend a financial education seminar.” When looking for a credit card account with low interest rates, credit unions also are the best choice, Randall wrote, citing a Pew Charitable Trust study. “Banks charge customers interest rates that, on average, are 20% higher than credit unions' as well as heftier late-payment fees,” he added. To read the column, use the link.

PCUA to close PO Box address Dec. 31

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/2/09)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) announced that it will be closing its post office box address as of Dec. 31. Credit unions sending mail to PCUA should use the following address:

Pennsylvania Credit Union Association

4309 North Front St.

Harrisburg, PA 17110-1618

Landmark CU United Way campaign up 35 this year

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NEW BERLIN, Wis. (12/2/09)--Landmark CU’s 17th annual United Way campaign raised 35% more money than last year, dramatically surpassing the credit union’s goal to raise 2.9% more than last year. The campaign netted a record $91,556, exceeding the credit union’s $70,000 goal. Landmark staff pledged $45,778, which was matched by the credit union. The number of staff who pledged money also increased 16% to 253 contributors. The New Berlin, Wis.-based credit union boosted involvement in the campaign by raffling two paid days off for the pledges and giving away a Green Bay Packers football that was signed by the 2008 team and coaching staff. Landmark’s campaign was held at its 17 branches and its administrative headquarters. Landmark CU has $1.5 billion in assets.

CU System briefs (12/01/2009)

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* CINCINNATI (12/2/09)--A man threatened to use a fake bomb during a robbery Friday morning of Cincinnati Central CU (The Cincinnati Enquirer Nov. 28). The man, wearing a surgical mask and carrying a black bag, told the teller that there was a bomb in a box he placed on the counter. He fled with an undetermined amount of money. The credit union was evacuated. Officers opened the box and found it contained two books … * PHOENIX (12/2/09)--Desert Schools FCU, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., is offering $5,000 for original information leading to the conviction of what police have dubbed the "first aid bandit." The bandit has robbed four financial institutions between Oct. 1 and Nov. 17, including Desert Schools' Scottsdale branch on Nov. 17, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Phoenix Field Office (US Fed News Nov. 21) …. * WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (12/2/09)--A man who admitted to six robberies of four banks and a credit union--all in Pennsylvania--was sentenced Nov. 23 to 10 years in a federal prison. Adam Verdekal, 29, of Hanover Township, pleaded guilty to charges of robbing the banks plus the Wilkes-Barre-based Cross Valley FCU to finance a heroin addiction. The credit union's Forty Fort branch was robbed on Feb. 5. He targeted one bank, Honesdale Bank ranch in Kingston three times--on Jan. 5, Jan. 20 and Feb. 11 (The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader Nov. 24) … * FAIRBORN, Ohio (12/2/09)--The board of Wright-Patt CU announced the credit union will pay a special patronage dividend to its membership for the second consecutive year. The dividend, which is about $1 million more than last year's dividend, totals $4 million, to be paid to eligible members on Jan. 4. The funds will be distributed to more than 160,000 members. "We never forget our members are the reason for our success," said President/CEO Doug Fecher. "The past year has been a challenging one for many of our members, and the board of directors wanted to thank them for their continued credit union loyalty in these difficult times." … * INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (12/2/09)--FORUM CU announced its three SaveItUp Challenge winners for 2009. Grand prize winners are Morany and Kay Deamus, shown here with the credit union regional manager Brandon Speckman, left. They won a $2,500 Weekly 5 Club Account, a savings account that gives members a chance to win prizes each week, month, quarter and year by making regular deposits to their savings. They paid off two credit cards during the challenge and plan to put their prize toward their grandkids. Other winners included Mary Robison, in second place with a $1,500 Weekly 5 Club Account, and Tonii Martin, third place, winning a $1,000 Weekly 5 Club prize. FORUM will offer a revamped version of the SaveItUp Challenge in 2010. (Photo provided by FORUM CU) … * EL PASO, Texas (12/2/09)--El Paso Employees FCU CEO Ray Ponteri announced he will retire Jan. 4 after serving as president of the credit union for more than 22 years. Ponteri's career began as a volunteer and employee at the credit union in 1982. During his tenure, the credit union grew from $20 million to the current $275 million, with 48,000 members and eight branches. Ponteri spent 10 years as a director of the Texas Credit Union League and CU Resources Inc., serving in various positions and on committees. He was a member of the 2000 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Renaissance Commission and served in local community organizations … * KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (12/2/09)--Willam R. "Bill" Brenneman, of Knoxville, formerly of Pembroke Pines, Fla., died Sunday morning after a long battle with heart disease. He was 63. Brenneman was a former employee of the Tennessee Credit Union League and a former CEO of Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Hospital Employees CU. He was retired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a federal investigator. He is survived by his wife, one son and two grandchildren (The Oak Ridger Dec. 1) …

Top 10 INews NowI stories in November

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/09)--Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act stories again topped last month’s list of most-read News Now stories for the second consecutive month. CARD Act stories also topped News Now’s July and August most-read lists. The top 10 News Now stories for November are: 10. New Dodd bill would set overdraft rules WASHINGTON (11/20/09)--Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who heads the Senate Banking Committee, unveiled his new bill Monday that would limit the fees financial institutions can charge on overdraft protection services. 9. UIGEA compliance pushed back to June 1 WASHINGTON (11/30/09)--Just days before the compliance date rolled around—and months after urgings to delay implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act--the Federal Reserve and U.S. Department of Treasury announced they were pushing back the law's Dec. 1 compliance date. 8. Regulation is the better overdraft approach: CUNA WASHINGTON (11/13/09)--The Federal Reserve Board's final rule on overdraft protection plans, which was released on Thursday, “should give Congress pause before it proceeds further with the various legislative proposals that are now pending,” according to CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. 7. Opt-in featured in Fed overdraft rules WASHINGTON (11/13/09)--The Federal Reserve Board's final rule on overdraft protection plans, which would require the consent of consumers before they could be charged overdraft fees for ATM and one-time debit transactions, was released on Thursday. 6. New Yorkers flock to CUs in ‘bank revolt’ NEW YORK (11/17/09)--New Yorkers are leaving their banks and flocking to credit unions in what is being dubbed the "bank revolt of 2009," according to a Sunday New York Post article. 5. NCUA new CAMEL 3 reports aimed at preventing troubles WASHINGTON (11/23/09)--While the National Credit Union Administration has long monitored the status of CAMEL Code 4/5 credit unions, the agency is taking a closer look at CAMEL Code 3 credit unions with the recent addition of a CAMEL Code 3 slide to its monthly report on National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) and Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) statistics. 4. Fed rate action impacts CUs WASHINGTON (11/5/09)--Wednesday's decision by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to stay the course and keep the fed funds target interest rate between 0%-0.25% will maintain a steep yield curve for a while longer, and that will impact credit unions, says a CUNA economist. 3. Compliance questions about the 21-day CARD fix WASHINGTON (11/02/09)--Passage by the House and Senate of the CARD Act Technical Corrections Act is raising some questions by credit unions on what steps to "uncomply" with the former terms of the 21-day mailing provision. President Obama is expected to sign that bill, H.R. 3606, at any time and CUNA has urged him to act quickly. 2. Filene study finds bank fees dwarf those of credit unions WASHINGTON (11/23/09)--Bank customers pay substantially more in overdraft fees and other account fees than credit union members, with low-balance bank customers taking the brunt of that burden, a recently released Filene Research Institute study has found. 1. CARD Act 21-day fix, homebuyer tax credit are now law WASHINGTON (11/10/09)--Starting the weekend off right for credit unions, President Barack Obama on Friday signed the CARD Act Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 3606) into law. He also penned his name to the bill extending the homebuyer tax credit.

4 million grant funds museums SECU Daily Planet

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/2/09)--Members of State Employees' CU (SECU) via the SECU Foundation have announced a $4 million grant to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, funding the centerpiece--the SECU Daily Planet--of the museum's planned Nature Research Center (NRC).
Click to view larger image The SECU Daily Planet will be the centerpiece of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' planned Nature Research Center, said the SECU Foundation in announcing its $4 million grant to the museum. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
The SECU Daily Planet will be a three-story multimedia program area with cutting edge audio and visual technologies to provide the backdrop for live presentations on key environmental issues and recent scientific discoveries. Also, the SECU Daily Planet will draw on live feeds of the latest science news and provide daily outreach to audiences statewide through the North Carolina Research and Education Network, Research Channel Consortium, NASA-TV, WRAL-TV, UNC-TV, North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC), webcasts and podcasts. NRC, an 80,000 square-foot wing of the museum is under construction just west of the current museum building. The museum projects the research center will attract more than 200,000 visitors annually from all counties in the state. The museum has also partnered with Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, a non-profit organization, to use networking technologies and systems to improve learning and collaboration throughout the state's K-20 education community. Its network will connect to every elementary, middle and high school in the state to facilitate delivery of distance learning programs. Dr. Betsy Bennett, museum director, said SECU gift "is the largest private gift we've received since the NRC capital campaign was launched in fall 2008." Shirley Bell, chair of the SECU Foundation board, noted that since SECU serves employees of the state's public schools, community colleges and universities, the project is "a natural fit."

Obama campaign head keynotes CUNA Council confab

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/09)--David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, has been tapped to keynote the 2010 CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council (CMBDC) Conference, March 21-24 in Washington, D.C. Plouffe, who managed the Obama for America campaign, will address "Effective Use of Social Media." He will share his approach to overall strategy development and tactical implementation, harnessing technologies to help connect with people and engage them to act, and sticking to a game plan in the face of crisis and skepticism. President Obama called Plouffe "the unsung hero" who build the best political campaign in the history of the U.S. "Plouffe's session is essential to attend for many reasons, but particularly because credit unions everywhere are looking for ideas in implementing a social media strategy," said Anne Legg, chair of the CMBDC and vice president of marketing at Cabrillo CU, San Diego. Other sessions during the 17th annual conference will address these marketing and business development topics:
* Communication of mergers; * Effective websites and social media measurement; * Challenge marketing and the Young and Free story; * 2010 economic update; * National Credit Union Administration update from board member Gigi Hyland; and * Three pre-conference workshops, for an additional fee: a full day market research session, a full day apprentice workshop at the historic Ford's Theatre, and two half-day business development sessions.
The council also has debuted a Conference ROI Calculator, a tool individuals can use when talking with their CEO about attending the conference. Formatted as a spreadsheet, it allows individuals to input their expenses, check boxes of interest, and see their ROI (return on investment). "This proves that the conference is an investment in a credit union's future, not an expense," said Legg. Other events at the conference include a recognition dinner and award presentations for the Marketing Professional of the Year, Business Development Professional of the Year, and Diamond/Merit award winners and Best Practice Awards. For more information, use the link.