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Robin Hood hackers video touts CUs

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AUSTIN, Texas (12/2/11)--An eight-minute YouTube video deemed a manifesto by two groups of hackers claiming to "take back our money" by stealing credit card numbers from major banks for donations to charities, protest groups and people "cheated" by the financial system also urges people to move their money to safe and secure credit unions.

The video--a manifesto of Anonymous and TeaMp0isoN (Team Poison), two groups of hackers that have claimed responsibility for high profile cyberattacks--opens with scenes from a 1991 Kevin Costner movie, "Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves," in which Robin Hood vows to take from the rich and give to the poor. It then switches to a digitized voice that reads the manifesto set to ominous operatic music.

The voice says, "When the poor steal, it's considered violence. But when the banks steal from us, it is called 'business.'" The video claims the groups have breached Chase, Bank of America and Citibank, taken card numbers and donated thousands of dollars to protests, the homeless and charities. It adds banks will be forced to reimburse consumers whose cards were used.

The video notes that people are taking their money out of big banks and "put them into credit unions."  At the end of the video, the groups threaten to "take back our money" from the banks and urges viewers to "move their accounts to secure credit unions--before it's too late."

According to CreditCards.com, the groups claim to have conducted cyberattacks on financial and political targets.  Team Poison claims a cyberattack against the United Nations, while Anonymous clams credit for attacks on police departments that cracked down on Occupy protestors and financial companies such as PayPal and MasterCard after they stopped funding WikiLeaks.

Hackers typically don't target consumers' personal information. In the past, they have been responsible for malicious denial-of-service attacks that overwhelm a website so it cannot work.   Use the link to see the video.

Nearly all Maines CUs benefitted from BTD traffic

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PORTLAND, Maine (12/2/11)--

Nearly all of Maine credit unions experienced an increase in new account openings and significant increases in inquiries from consumers interested in joining credit unions from Sept. 29 to Nov. 5, Bank Transfer Day, said the Maine Credit Union League.
Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy responds to a question about more consumers looking into credit unions from NewsCenter reporter Caroline Cornish. The story aired statewide on WCSH 6 and WLBZ  2.
"Thanks, in part, to the increased awareness of credit unions stemming from an online movement that went viral" and Bank of America's announcement of a monthly debit card fee, interest at Maine credit unions "took on a whole new meaning," the league said in News & Views (December issue).

The league said consumers' interest "had phones ringing off the hook, Web inquiries rising and lobbies bustling with traffic." Many CEOs told the league that the best part was that "awareness of credit unions has been raised significantly as a result of all the coverage."  News stories and interviews highlighted credit unions aired on nearly all of Maine's broadcast TV stations and more than 50 radio stations, while at least one article appeared in every Maine daily newspaper, said the league.

The league's survey indicated that nearly 85% of credit unions in the state experienced
Jessica Dorgai, a new member at Maine's Town & Country FCU, explains her decision to leave Bank of America because of its fees in a news story that aired statewide. (Photos provided by WCSH/WLBZ via the Maine Credit Union League).
growth in new member accounts above normal levels during October.

More than half the credit unions surveyed reported double-digit growth ranging from 12% to 55% during the period.  The state's credit unions added nearly 2,000 new member accounts, a 22% over normal account openings.

The league also reported that visits to its consumer-focused website at www.mainecreditunions.org increased 54% during October; 94% of them were new visitors.

More than 80% of new members reported joining a credit union as a result of bank fees and/or an increased awareness of the value and benefits of credit unions.

Dwolla eliminates 25-cent fee for payments under 10

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DES MOINES, Iowa (12/2/11)--Dwolla, an online, location-based, social and mobile payment platform supported by The Members Group (TMG), Thursday announced it will no longer charge its 25-cent transaction fee for payments of $10 and below.

TMG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Affiliates Management Co., which is owned by Iowa credit unions and their members.

Removal of the fee should be favorably received among merchants who conduct small-ticket transactions, and in in-app purchases found in many mobile applications, Dwolla said.

"To date, Dwolla merchants have been willing to pay the quarter, even on micropayments, because they recognized the unique value," said Brian Day, Dwolla product leader for TMG. "Not only are retailers attracted to the 'wow' factor of mobile payments acceptance, they see the buzz-generating potential of Dwolla's social media interaction. A customer buys a coffee with Dwolla and instantly 150 of his Facebook friends are exposed to the name of the coffee shop."

No changes in product or service accompany Dwolla's drop of the fee, so merchants will continue to receive the same benefits--now at no cost on small transactions.

CaliforniaNevada leagues Dykstra visits Guatemala

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ONTARIO, Calif. (12/1/11)--California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/CEO Diana Dykstra traveled to Guatemala Nov. 10-11 as part of World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program.

Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, traveled to Guatemala last month as part of World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program. Here Dykstra visits the country's MICOOPE system office. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
During the trip Dykstra learned about Guatemala's credit union system, advocated for credit unions at the Central Bank and Superintendency of Banks, and conducted two learning sessions with the Guatemalan credit union trade association, Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito  (FENACOAC), and Guatemala credit union CEOs.

Victor Miguel Corro, vice president of WOCCU's Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, accompanied Dykstra.

Dykstra said California and Nevada credit unions and their counterparts in Guatemala face similar challenges as well as the same mission--to serve their members.

"The Guatemalan credit union system is very new and challenged by an ever-changing and volatile political environment, but credit unions never waiver from doing what is right and pursuing a path for continued success," she said. "Their ability to leave their egos behind and develop a true collaborative system is inspiring."

Guatemala's MICOOPE system--implemented in 2008--comprises 25 credit unions that adopted a unified brand to help with public awareness, ease of transactions throughout the country and growing credit union membership. Membership grew by 35% in about 14 months. The campaign included many forms of media, but most important, asked every employee in the system to bring in 10 new members.

On the first day of the trip, Dykstra met with FENACOAC's management staff, including CEO Oswaldo Oliva. She talked about planning, strategy and the global financial crisis and the outlook of the credit union industry in the U.S. She also met with the vice president of the Central Bank to discuss the importance of credit unions being regulated by the government.

The MICOOPE system is essentially self-regulated, with FENACOAC acting as the monitoring agent.  The Central Bank asked for help in getting case studies for countries in which credit unions are successfully regulated and where the risk is well managed.

On the second day, Dykstra addressed the CEOs of MICOOPE credit unions, speaking on innovation in financial services, staff development and retention, risk management, cooperative principles, and how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. She visited the Superintendency of Banks again to discuss the importance of regulating and examining credit unions.

The trip provided a plan on how the two groups will move forward to benefit both systems, according to Dykstra.

"The partnership is important to both parties as we learn and advance our causes," she said. "Hopefully we will see more partnerships around the world that will only cause the world credit union system to be more visible."

Four small CUs plan to merge into Landmark CU

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NEW BERLIN, Wis. (12/2/11)--Four smaller Wisconsin credit unions are merging into Landmark CU in New Berlin, Wis., it announced Thursday.

Merging into Landmark are: American CU, Milwaukee; People's CU, Cudahy; Co-operative CU, Racine; and Burlington and Horizon CU, Racine.

The target date for all the mergers is Dec. 31, with the integration of member accounts into Landmark's computer system in the first and second quarters of 2012.

All employees of the four credit unions will be offered jobs at Landmark.

Facts about the four credit unions merging into Landmark include:

  • American CU serves 3,986 members and has assets of more than $22.5 million.
  • People's CU has 1,963 members and $13.2 million in assets.
  • Co-operative CU, with a branch in Racine and one in Burlington, serves 4,450 members and has more than $22 million in assets.
  • Horizon CU serves 3,729 members and has assets of more than $26.2 million.
Approval by the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions has been received for the Co-Operative and American mergers and is pending for the Horizon and People's mergers. Approval votes by their members have been completed at Co-Operative and American, and are pending at Horizon and People's credit unions.

Landmark has $1.7 billion in assets, with 449 employees who serve more than 173,000 members at 20 locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. The mergers will take Landmark to $1.8 billion in assets, with 25 branch locations.

Gulf Winds Wright-Patt announce member dividends

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FAIRBORN, Ohio, and PENSACOLA, Fla. (12/2/11)--Two credit unions announced this week they will be giving back to their members in the form of dividends.

Wright-Patt CU, with $2.2 billion in assets, in Fairborn, Ohio, will pay a $5 million "patronage dividend" to its 210,000 members on Jan. 4.

"Returning $5 million to members is unique in this industry because a for-profit institution would not likely give money back to the very customers who helped them make it, said Doug Fecher, Wright-Patt CU CEO.

The credit union has paid dividends to its members since 2008. This year's dividend, $1 million more than last year, brings the four-year total to more than $16 million.

Some members will receive $15 for having an active debit card, using home or mobile banking and receiving eStatements. Others will receive hundreds of dollars for having more products and services with the credit union.

Gulf Winds FCU, with $396 million in assets, Pensacola, Fla., paid a bonus dividend pool of more than $1,000,000 to its 46,000 members Nov. 30.

"Any way you look at it, putting this $1 million bonus dividend back into the community will have a very positive effect on our members and the local economy," said Chris Rutledge, Gulf Winds FCU president/CEO. "Most of this money will be spent right here and will impact the communities we serve."

Bank Transfer Day dominates iNews Nowi Top 10

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MADISON, Wis. (11/2/11)--Nine of the top ten most read News Now articles in October were related to Bank Transfer Day, the day designated for fed-up big bank customers to switch accounts to credit unions and small banks.

Here is a list of the top 10 most-visited stories for the month:

10. Two mergers announced

DEEPWATER, N.J. (11/28/11)--Two credit union mergers--one in New Jersey and one in Massachusetts--were recently announced.

9. HuffPost: Cheney says Bank Transfer Day is just a start

WASHINGTON (11/2/11)--The movement toward credit unions over the last several weeks has been nothing less than phenomenal and the oncoming Bank Transfer Day—Nov. 5--can be just the beginning for consumers who want to take steps toward financial freedom through credit union membership, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney underscores in a new Huffington Post article.

8. Banks adding in new fees to replace debit fee

MADISON, Wis. (11/23/11)--Thanks to Bank Transfer Day and other consumer backlash against bank fees, big banks have backed down from charging debit card usage fees.  Or have they? Some sources are reporting a boost in other types of fees to make up for lost revenue.

7. Social media added wow factor in movement to CUs

MADISON, Wis. (11/10/11)--While all the media coverage of consumers' exodus from banks to credit unions certainly helped get the word out about the benefits of credit unions, don't underestimate the power of social media' in what at least one media outlet called the "stampede" to credit unions.

6. CUNA's Hampel tells Fox: 'Bank Transfer Season' has begun

WASHINGTON (11/15/11)--The 700,000 in new members and $4.5 billion in new deposits that credit unions brought in the past month are "phenomenal," and this success, and the continued attention paid to credit unions, could signal a "Bank Transfer Season" that will last beyond Nov. 5's Bank Transfer Day, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel said in a recent FoxNews.com online interview.

5. CUNA's Cheney, Transfer Day Founder Christian interviewed on Fox Business

WASHINGTON (11/9/11)--Consumers and media members nationwide have continued to focus on credit unions' role before, during and after last Saturday's Bank Transfer Day, and Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney appeared alongside Bank Transfer Day organizer Kristen Christian to discuss the movement toward credit unions, and the value they provide to their members, in a Fox Business Channel interview earlier this week.

4. Early reports show Bank Transfer Day success

MADISON, Wis. (11/8/11)--For many credit unions, Saturday's Bank Transfer Day was a huge deal. Although many had seen an influx of new members throughout October after the mega-banks announced their now-rescinded debit card fees, many made record single-day strides in new accounts opened Saturday. Some reported more than 600 new members.

3. CUNA survey: 40k members, $80M in savings on BTD

WASHINGTON (11/9/11)--Credit unions brought in 40,000 in new members, and added $80 million in new savings account funds, on last Saturday's Bank Transfer Day, capping a month that resulted in nearly 700,000 new credit union members joining the movement.

2. Bank Transfer Day momentum sure to continue, CUNA says

WASHINGTON (11/7/11)--The official Bank Transfer Day came and went on Saturday, and by now the dust has settled and tallies have been taken of how many consumers switched from being bank customers to credit union members on the day that was so much ballyhooed in advance.

1. 650,000 new members ahead of Bank Transfer Day

WASHINGTON (11/4/11)--At least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions in the past four weeks, reflecting consumers' reactions to rising fees at banks, according to a survey by the Credit Union National Association.