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CU System Briefs (12/27/2013)

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  • SALT LAKE CITY (12/27/13)--A bogus Santa Claus is being sought by police for robbing a credit union in Salt Lake City on Christmas Eve. The man, clad in a red- and white- St. Nick cap and sporting a beard fashioned out of cotton balls, entered the Redwood Road branch of University CU at 9:40 a.m. and demanded money. The clerk provided an undisclosed amount and the fake Santa fled--on foot. He was described as a black man, 35-40 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-11, wearing jeans, white shoes and a dark sweatshirt.  (The Salt Lake Tribune Dec. 24) ...
  • LILBURN, Ga. (12/27/13)--A fire Sunday evening heavily damaged the drive-thru at Lilburn, Ga.-based Platinum FCU (Patch.com Dec. 23). No one was hurt. Firefighters were called to the credit union after 6 p.m. and found smoke billowing from the drive-thru's roof. They stopped the fire before it could spread to the branch building.  Investigators told local media that the fire began in a faulty electrical lighting fixture in the ceiling of the drive-thru ...
  • BERLIN, N.H. (12/27/13)--A former Berlin, N.H., man about to be evicted from his apartment when he allegedly robbed Berlin-based Guardian Angel CU two years ago was convicted recently in a U.S. District Court on a charge of armed robbery (New Hampshire Union Leader Dec. 18). Sentencing for Daniel Ray Hufstetler is scheduled for April 1. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the robbery. During the Nov. 14 incident, a man wearing sunglasses, white gloves and a black hat entered the credit union just before 3 p.m., went up to a teller, pulled a pistol and demanded money. He fled with $3,450. Witnesses identified the getaway vehicle driven by a woman. Hufstetler and Sheena Craig were in custody two days later.  Police said the robbery motive was likely to get money to pay rent on the apartment Hufstetler and Craig shared with two children. Just 17 minutes after the robbery occurred, $925 in back rent was deposited in the landlord's account.  Hufstetler had recently been laid off from his job at a steel company at the time of the robbery. Charges against Craig were dismissed without prejudice after the county attorney's office failed to indict her within 90 days ...
  • TOPEKA, Kan. (12/27/13)--Topeka-based Educational CU presented TARC Inc., a charity that supports children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with a  $3,162 check Monday, the result of a challenge issued by Educational CU President/CEO Greg Winkler.  Winkler told employees if they raised $2,500 for TARC, he would shave his head.  Employees crushed the goal by raising the $3,162 within three days.  TARC is one of the $185 million asset credit union's charities of choice. The contribution will increase the credit union's total contribution for the year to more than $18,000. The amount includes all money raised through the credit union's TARC debit card, which when swiped automatically generates a 10-cent donation. That donation continues to grow and for the second consecutive year, the amount has risen by $3,000 ...
  • WENTZVILLE, Mo. (12/27/13)--Carol Minges has been named CEO, effective immediately, of the 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, Mo., announced the $203 million asset credit union's board of directors (Missouri Difference Dec. 26).  She has served as interim CEO since June and succeeds the outgoing Frank Nelson. Board Chairman Jim Combs noted the decision was unanimous. "Her dedication to the membership, the employees and the credit union movement are unparalleled," Combs said. During her six months as interim CEO, 1st Financial FCU earned "Winning Workplace" status from Small Business Monthly. Minges was formerly chief information officer of the credit union. Her 22-year career in the credit union industry includes 11 years with Indianapolis-based Forum CU and St. Louis-based Arsenal CU ...

CUNA Urges CUs to Collect Data on Costs of Breach

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (12/27/13)--Credit unions should keep a tally of the costs incurred from fraud and replacement of the debit and credit cards compromised in the recent Target data breach so they can report it later, said the Credit Union National Association. CUNA plans to open a data collection website next week and will provide further details as soon as it becomes available.
 
The breach involved 40 million debit and credit cards holiday shoppers used at Target stores from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15.
 
"As we all know, the Target breach--which has apparently compromised millions of credit and debit cards, many of them held by credit union members--has the potential for creating substantial expense for credit unions and other financial institutions," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "CUNA is on the case, looking out for credit union interests, and will continue to do so. We have been in close contact with the payments processors, getting their take on what has happened and the impact on financial services providers, especially credit unions.
 
"We have initiated discussion with key congressional contacts about our on-going concerns of the responsibility of merchants to protect data, and be accountable for the consequences of data breaches when they occur," Cheney said. "In the meantime, we are setting up a website to collect data on costs incurred by credit unions in response to the Target breach."
 
Until the data collection website is live, credit unions should consider keeping a tally of costs as they incur them so they can report as soon as CUNA has the website up and running, Cheney said. "Overall, our top priority has been to make sure that credit unions and banks have the information they need to service their members in the short term." CUNA will keep credit unions "closely informed as our work on this matter develops, particularly when Congress returns to work," he said.
 
When the breach was announced last week, the Missouri Credit Union Association immediately contacted Missouri's U.S. senators and representatives about the need for legislative solutions (Missouri Difference Dec. 23). MCUA staff also briefed the state's credit unions on the breach and strategies during its regular legislative call Dec. 19. Like other state leagues, it is consulting with credit union experts and CUNA on how to best to address the issue.
 
"We have communicated with the entire Missouri delegation about the need for a legislative solution to this situation," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy. "We hope that the nationwide aspect of the Target data breach will provide an impetus for congressional action."  MCUA will send a questionnaire to member credit unions to investigate practical reforms related to the breach.
 
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission, in a blog, said that scammers claiming to be Target are sending out phony Target e-mails pretending to help those with compromised cards.  Instead, the scammers "actually want to trick you into giving them your personal information. And they are skilled at making the e-mails look real," said FTC (OnGuardOnline.gov Dec. 23). FTC advised anyone getting an e-mail claiming to be from Target to do two things:
  1. If the e-mail asks for personal or financial information, assume it is a scam. Don't reply. No legitimate business will ask for personal information through unsecure methods like e-mail.
  1. If there are links in the e-mail, don't click on them, even if they seem legitimate. Scammers can use links to install viruses that direct you to spoof sites that aim to steal information. Hovering over a link can reveal a deliberately misspelled Web address or a completely different destination.  "Your best bet is to type the URL directly into your browser," FTC said.
In other developments, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged the FTC to investigate Target's security practices to see if the retailer failed to adequately and appropriately protect its members' data. He said he would push to give the agency more authority to penalize companies with large data breaches. Currently, the FTC doesn't have authority to impose fines for data breaches (IDG News Service via ComputerWorld Dec. 23).
 
Credit unions across the country are reporting thousands of their members' debit and credit cards were among those compromised and are assisting members impacted.
 
For example, Sacramento, Calif.-based Golden 1 CU--the nation's seventh largest credit union with $8 billion in assets, said Tuesday that 67,000 of its members were affected by the breach.
 
"Golden 1 is proactively replacing all potentially impacted cards," said Donna Bland, Golden 1 president/CEO. "The safety and security of our members' accounts is a top priority for us. It's important for our members to know they can rely on Golden 1 to protect their accounts."
 
Golden 1 notified members via e-mail and letters, telling them they can continue using existing cards until the new cards are activated. It did not change daily purchase or cash withdrawal limits "as this could negatively impact members during the busy holiday shopping season."  It told members to monitor their account activity regularly and report anything suspicious immediately. Bland also noted that "as a first line of defense, our mobile and text alerts can be set up to let you know when transactions occur."
 
In Eau Claire, Wis., Royal CU said Monday in an e-mail to members that 6,458 member cards--1,219 credit cards and 5,239 debit cards--were among those compromised and there might be more. The $1.33 billion asset credit union is replacing all the cards, which will take 18-21 days. Members can use their current card until the new card is reactivated.
 
Target's breach will not alter two fundamental reasons cyberattacks have become almost routine, said USA TODAY Tuesday:
  • The U.S. is the weak link in the migration to chip-embedded payment cards. It still relies on magnetic stripes, which are easier to counterfeit than European MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip-embedded cards.
  • American corporations and consumers have become accustomed to public disclosures of massive data breaches, and retailers and financial institutions have added media specialists and lawyers to absorb associated losses as an "extraordinary cost of doing business."

SECU Renews Commitment to N.C. Green Energy Program

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/27/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., will provide North Carolina residents with more than 7.2 million hours of renewable energy through a partnership with the nonprofit cooperative NC GreenPower.
 
In the next four years, SECU, through its charitable arm, the SECU Foundation, will provide funding for one kilowatt hour of renewable energy production annually for each of the NC GreenPower's 1.8 million members.
 
"As proactive stewards of our land and resources, SECU members are demonstrating their commitment toward building a sustainable energy future for our state and citizens of North Carolina," said McKinley Wooten, SECU Foundation board chair. "Creating renewable electricity from sources that are naturally replenished and in abundance is 'the right thing to do' for our environment and for North Carolinians."
 
The SECU Foundation began supporting NC GreenPower's renewable energy program in 2007.  The production of clean electricity through green sources such as solar energy, wind power, small-scale hydro-power and biomass energy from areas across North Carolina helps preserve the state's environment, said the foundation.
 
Through investments such as SECU Foundation's, NC GreenPower's program includes more than 2,200 registered solar photovoltaic installations, about 35 wind turbines, nearly 90 hydroelectric facilities and close to 30 landfill energy projects.

MCUA's Bank On MOre Campaign Successful in Year One

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ST. LOUIS (12/27/13)--Credit unions gained name recognition and reputation in key demographics during the Missouri Credit Union Association's Bank On MOre campaign..
 
"Preliminary testing of the Bank On MOre campaign shows that we successfully moved the needle on consumer awareness among our target markets," said Don Cohenour, MCUA president/CEO (The Missouri Difference Dec. 26).
 
The statewide campaign used traditional tactics such as print, radio and billboards, and added flash mobs and social media to target non-member young adults, African Americans and women. Bank On MOre started in March and wrapped up in October with "Make the Switch Week."
 
The greatest increase in favorability and familiarity ratings for the state's credit unions was with African-American respondents. Prior to the campaign, 26% said they were "very familiar" and 22% said they had seen, heard or read about credit unions recently. During the October post-campaign survey, those numbers jumped to 40% and 61% respectively.
 
Young adults' familiarity with credit unions grew to 24% from 9%, and 37% remembered seeing or hearing about credit unions--up from 16%.
 
The percentage of women who said they were "very familiar" with credit unions increased by 5% to 20%, and 39% noted they had heard about credit unions. That number was up from 19%.
 
Two-thirds of non-members said what they heard made them more likely to consider joining a credit union. Overall, Missouri residents are feeling good about credit unions, with 55% reporting positive thoughts.
 
"We're on the right track toward educating consumers and showing them they have a wonderful financial resource in credit unions," Cohenour said.
 
The Bank On MOre website, where people could search for credit unions to join and learn more about the credit union difference, notched more than 49,000 visits. The most views came through desktop computers, but tablets had the longest amount of time spent on the site at just under one minute, 40 seconds.
 
Bank On MOre had an estimated 295 million impressions through digital, outdoor, Facebook, print, radio and search engine marketing.

U.S. Volunteers Help Build Orphanage, SACCO in Kenya

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BUSIA, Kenya (12/27/13)--Credit union employees from the U.S. recently traveled to Africa to help a foundling credit union and the community it serves--an orphanage in western Kenya.
 
Click to view larger image Volunteers from American Heritage FCU, Communicating Arts CU, Frankenmuth CU and Numerica CU discussed credit union operations with Busia (Kenya) Compassionate Savings and Credit Cooperative.
The World Council of Credit Unions and some U.S. credit unions support Busia Compassionate Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) by teaching governance, operations, loans, savings and the credit union difference to board members, volunteers and orphanage students.
 
The orphanage--Busia Compassionate Centre--houses more than 120 children who lost parents to HIV/AIDS and who are infected with the virus themselves.
 
It most recently benefited from a new playground built by the U.S. volunteers, who included Carla Altepeter, CEO, Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash.; Sierra Chiesa, member services representative, Frankenmuth (Mich.) CU; Bruce Foulke, president/CEO, American Heritage FCU, Philadelphia, and World Council board member; and Hank Hubbard, president/CEO, Communicating Arts CU, Detroit.
 
Sponsored by the World Council, the project is building stability and self-sustainability for Busia Compassionate Centre. With basic needs such as food, water, education and shelter being met, the orphanage can then offer access to financial services through its SACCO.
 
Click to view larger image Hank Hubbard, president/CEO, Communicating Arts CU, helped construct the playground for an orphanage in Busia, Kenya. (Photos provided by World Council of CUs)
Busia's SACCO is one of the first in Kenya to use e-SACCO for account deposits and withdrawals through M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer service, and World Council cell-phone technology.
 
International support includes food stipends, scholarships, donations of school supplies and first aid items, and funding for the construction of new facilities at the orphanage.
 
Foulke added holiday spirit during the two-week trip by dressing as Santa Claus and distributing presents to the orphans. It was his second trip to the orphanage in three years, said the newsletter from the Philadelphia-based credit union. American Heritage FCU raises funds for Busia Compassionate Care through the year.

Chiesa was selected randomly from nine candidates at Frankenmuth CU. She graduated from Frankenmuth High School in 2012 (Frankenmuth News Dec. 20).

Nearly 20 U.S. credit unions are active supporters of the orphanage.

H&FF Radio Signs off the Air, Final Show Sunday

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON, D.C. (12/27/13)--The Credit Union National Association's popular Home & Family Finance Radio show, which provided personal finance information to consumers around the world, will make its final broadcast Sunday.
 
H&FF Radio has been on the air for more than seven years. It was established under CUNA's former president/CEO Dan Mica, as a regular weekly consumer finance show to help educate people of all ages, levels of income and from all walks of life, said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "This show responded to a growing need for guidance on a variety of topics," Cheney added.
 
Topics included:
  • Mortgages;
  • Savings options;
  • Retirement plans;
  • Car buying and financing;
  • Student loans;
  • Teens and money;
  • Identity theft; and
  • Debt management.
The one-hour program aired Sunday afternoons on Radio America Network and was carried on American Forces Radio Network. Paul Berry, journalist and broadcaster from Washington, D.C., has hosted the program throughout its seven years. Among those who sponsored the show were the CO-OP Network and the Defense Credit Union Council, and in past years, Cabot Creamery Cooperative. H&FF Radio was brought to consumers by America's credit unions and their 97 million members and was presented by CO-OP Network.
 
"H&FF Radio shared its name and mission with CUNA's longstanding personal finance information source, Home & Family Finance Resource Center," said Susan Tiffany, director of consumer periodicals at CUNA. She noted the radio show "is the latest manifestation of CUNA's and credit unions' longstanding commitment to member education, dating formally from the 1961 launch of Everybody's Money quarterly magazine."
 
CUNA and Radio America podcast the show through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.
 
For a sneak peek at what will be discussed in this Sunday's final show, see related News Now story in today's consumer news section, H&FF Radio Looks at Financial Success in 2014.

Holiday Fortune Cookie: Yes, Join a CU

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MADISON, Wis. (12/27/13)--Credit unions are so mainstream now they are appearing in the oddest books. One book Santa presented as a stocking stuff on Christmas morning for a family member of a Credit Union National Association employee featured credit unions in--of all things--a fortune cookie.
 
The book, "A Year of  Fortunes (Without the Cookies)" by Knock Knock Who's There Inc.,  has tongue-in-cheek fortunes for each day of the year.  For example, Jan. 25's fortune is "Money doesn't buy happiness, but does happiness buy movie tickets?" Or Dec. 31: "Send in the clowns. It's time."
 
But one fortune--the entry for Jan. 27--caught News Now's notice.  It said: "Yes, you should probably switch to a credit union."
 

Illinois League Looks Back at Giving Back in 2013

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (12/27/13)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) wrapped up its 2013 community service year by providing toys for the Humanitarian Service Project (HSP).
 
HSP provides 150 impoverished families with three weeks' worth of groceries, frozen meats, fresh produce and gifts for children. The toy drive was one of many charitable contributions made by the league this year.
 
"This continued to be a year of great need for many people, said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/ chief executive director. "Rather than sending out holiday greetings, the Illinois Credit Union System, for the fifth year in a row chose on behalf of its member credit unions to coordinate, organize, and participate in these activities. We feel blessed to have been able to give back to our communities."
 
This summer, the league conducted its fifth annual summer food drive, which benefited the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Naperville, Ill.
 
Also this year, ICUL staff provided 36 units of blood for Heartland Blood Centers, an independent not-for-profit blood center serving 38 hospitals in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. Under a volunteer donor system, Heartland works toward collecting more than 200,000 units of blood annually from the community.
 
ICUL staff also raised funds through monthly "Jeans Days." More than $3,200 was donated to local and national social service organizations, including Down Syndrome Awareness/Chicagoland Buddy Walk, a cancer-fighting fund for a local first-grade student, the American Red Cross, autism, Chromosome 18 Registry, ALS Association, Habitat for Humanity, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer.
 
The league also provided financial support to food pantries, soup kitchens, disaster relief and other community organizations throughout the state with donations totaling $5,000.