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TCU Louisiana Tech to play in CUs Poinsettia Bowl

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SAN DIEGO (12/7/11)--Two college football teams from Texas and Louisiana will be the contenders in the San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21.

The Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs, in the team's third appearance at the bowl, and Louisiana Tech's Bulldogs will vie for the bowl title, with kickoff set for 5 p.m. PST in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.

The game will air on ESPN, providing nationwide visibility for the credit union.

The $5.2 billion asset San Diego County CU has sponsored the Poinsettia Bowl since 2005, the first year the bowl game was held.  Its sponsorship of the bowl made a national comic syndicate in 2008 that appeared in newspapers across the country (News Now Jan. 5, 2009).

The Horned Frogs defeated Northern Illinois in 2006 and Boise State in 2008 during the team's prior two bowl appearances (SignonSanDiego.com Dec. 6).

BofA cuts off issuing CU credit cards

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (12/7/11)--Credit unions will no longer be able to sell credit card portfolios to FIA Card Services, the Bank of America (BofA) unit that issues bank cards for other banks and credit unions under their names.

FIA Card Services had about 50 agent-bank relationships, which included banks as well as credit unions, Betty Reiss, spokesperson for BofA's consumer products division, told News Now in an e-mail.

"We decided earlier this year that the agent-bank card relationship--where we issue cards on behalf of other financial institutions and credit unions--was not core to our goal of building deep relationships, and we began the process of exiting those relationships," Riess said.

"We're doing this through a combination of portfolio sales and contract expirations," she added. "In many cases, our agent-bank card business has served predominantly single-service card customers with limited opportunity for Bank of America to do more business with them," Riess said. "Again, this is a process that started earlier this year."

FIA Card Services, based in Wilmington, Del., is the name BofA gave to the former MBNA, a card issuing bank that BofA acquired in 2006, according to the FIA Card Services and BofA websites. The current MBNA name is widely used in bank card issuing in Europe and Canada.

CU System briefs (12/06/2011)

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  • TEMPLE, Texas (12/7/11)--Consumers including members of five credit unions in Temple and Waco, Texas, have been hit by a text-messaging scam that claims their card was deactivated and urges them to provide their account information to reactivate it (12newsnow.com and KCENtv.com Dec. 5). A member of Scott and White Employees CU, Temple, told local media he knew he had a card coming and fell for the scam. The messages were sent Friday and Saturday, after the credit unions had closed for the weekend. In addition to Scott and White Employees CU, other credit unions targeted by the scam included: Texell CU, Temple, and three Waco-based credit unions: First Central CU, Genco FCU, and Educators CU. Credit unions and other financial institutions do not ask for account information in unsolicited calls, texts, or e-mails, and consumers should not click on the links or call numbers provided in these contacts …
  • EL PASO, Texas (12/7/11)--The El Paso Chapter of Credit Unions in El Paso, Texas, has
    Click to view larger image Click for larger view
    presented a check for $16,870 to the Lee & Beulah Moor Children's Home. The contribution was presented on Tuesday. Part of the proceeds will be used to purchase holiday gifts for children at the home, said a press release. The chapter raised the amount at its Annual Golf Classic on Nov. 4 (See the photo). So far, it has raised $19,270 in 2011 for the home. The home provides residential services, foster care, adoption services, tutoring, recreation, life-skills development, and individual and family counseling, said the chapter. (Photo provided by the El Paso Chapter of Credit Unions) …

CUs in Ohios in-state out-of-state parity bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/7/11)--Ohio-chartered credit unions, banks, savings banks, and savings and loan associations could assess the same interest, fees and other charges that out-of-state financial institutions assess Ohio consumers, if recently introduced legislation becomes state law.

Under the bill, Ohio-chartered financial institutions would not be subject to Ohio laws limiting interest, fees and other charges, said the Ohio Credit Union League (e-Lumination newsletter Nov. 30).

Senate Bill 218/House Bill 322, sponsored by State Sen. Bill Coley (R-Middletown), are pending in the Ohio General Assembly's Senate Financial Institutions Committee and House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee, respectively.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the past, most notably addressing credit card interest rates, the league added.

The league continues to monitor the process. It has emphasized the need for the legislation, and expressed concern that "Most Favored Lender" status only applies to each respective out-of-state institution, instead of an all-encompassing application for all lenders.

Ohio league urges choice on state bank bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/7/11)--The Ohio Credit Union League is calling for more options, including the use of credit unions, in legislation to expand depository authority for Ohio banks, approved by the state's Senate Financial Institutions Committee. The legislation awaits action on the Ohio Senate floor.

Banks and thrifts would be able to expand use of the Certificate Deposit Account Registry Service to place additional funds from public entities by participating in a short-term, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured sweep product, said the league (eLumination Newsletter Nov. 30).

Under the program, banks can fully insure large-dollar, short-term deposits and eliminate the need to collateralize uninsured amounts. Proponents say it creates a "win-win-win" for local governments, taxpayers and depositors, the Ohio league said.

In testimony before the committee, John Kozlowski, league general counsel, urged wider options for local governments, schools and political divisions. The bill should be part of a collection that uses other financial institutions, such as credit unions, to provide expanded choice for public entities, and small-business owners, Kozlowski said.

"Unfortunately, those that want to provide additional choice and resources in this bill, oppose other legislation that would also benefit local governments and small businesses," he added. "By giving our local officials and small businesses the best tools available, we can truly make this a 'win-win-win-win' for everyone."

CU4Kids efforts highlighted in iCEO Updatei

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MADISON, Wis. (12/7/11)--Credit union fundraising efforts for Credit Unions for Kids was recently highlighted in CEO Update, a newsletter for association executives.

Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners from across the country, engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

"Credit unions, their members and the associations and leagues that represent them are making a huge run at improving the health of children," begins the article. "Through Credit Unions for Kids, the industry and its partners have raised more than $100 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals since 1996--making credit unions the third-largest supporter of the charity behind Wal-Mart and Costco."

Through their unique ownership structure, credit unions are community oriented, Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), explained in the article.

"As financial cooperatives, our member credit unions aren't just in their communities, they are of their communities--owned by the very people they serve," said Cheney. "So our industry has been strongly drawn to a charitable organization like Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which prides itself on keeping contributions local."

CUNA is also one of the sponsors of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, the article said. The race, held every spring in Washington, D.C.,  is the largest single credit union fundraising event for children's hospitals.

Last year, 15,000 runners took part in the race, which raised $578,000, Sarah Turner, director of Credit Union Miracle Day, told the newsletter.

Credit Union Miracle Day is a partnership formed to sponsor the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

Also see related article, "CUNA gives planning insight in advocacy article."

N.Y.s new banking department focusing on charters

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ALBANY, N.Y. (12/7/11)--The New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Insurance, Banks, and Oversight, Analysis and Investigations conducted a public hearing regarding the status of the state's new Department of Financial Services (DFS), which said it is focusing on strengthening the state charter for credit unions.

The department was created Oct. 3 from the merger of the New York State Banking Department and the New York State Insurance Department.

The hearing's chief witness, DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, presented an update on the merger and an overview of remaining steps necessary to complete the department's transition.

In his remarks, Lawsky referred to credit unions several times--most notably when discussing the DFS' goal of attracting more federal charters to convert to the state charter and its efforts to serve the "unbanked" and "underbanked."

"Superintendent Lawsky's comments align closely with the Credit Union Association of New York's legislative agenda, which is very encouraging," said Michael Lanotte, association senior vice president and general counsel, who attended the hearing. "We will continue to communicate with the superintendent and key members of the DFS staff to make sure that New York credit unions' interests are represented and protected."

Lawsky also noted the DFS' close involvement with hydraulic fracturing, including the potential impact on property values, mineral rights leases and title insurance. Slick water hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking, is a new development in natural gas extraction. The process makes mining for natural gas in dense shale more economically possible. A "slick water" mixture is pumped into the shale to fracture the rock and release the gas.

Postal service cuts will affect CUs

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/7/11)--Credit unions looking for ways to migrate members to e-statements and online banking may have received some help Monday from the U.S. Postal Service.

With the Postal Service's announcement that it wants to move quickly to close 252 of its nearly 500 mail processing centers and slow first-class delivery next Spring, "snail" mail will likely become less timely.

The estimated $3 billion in reductions are part efforts by the Postal Service to quickly cuts costs (Huffington Post Dec. 6).

The Postal Service has already announced a one-cent increase in first-class mail to 45 cents beginning Jan. 22.

"People just need to be aware of the changes because the reality is, mail is not going to be delivered in same way we've been accustomed to," said Willie Skeins, the Texas Credit Union League's business center manager (Lone Star Leaguer Dec. 6).

For example, in the past, an item sent priority mail would arrive at its destination within two to three business days, Skeins said.  Now it could take up to five days.

"If you are mailing time-sensitive materials, you just need to go ahead and pay extra for express mail because it is the only way you can guarantee next-day delivery," Skeins said.

About 42% of first-class mail is now delivered the following day, according to Huffington Post. About 27% arrives in two days, about 31% in three days and less than 1 % in four days to five days. Following the changes next Spring, about 51% of all first-class mail is expected to arrive in two days, with most of the remainder delivered in three days.

Some credit unions may no longer be able to expect one-day delivery of statements, newsletters and marketing materials to local communities.

Mountain West CUA presents four awards

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DENVER, Colo. (12/7/11)--The Mountain West Credit Union Association (MWCUA) presented four awards as part of its Colorado and Wyoming Credit Union Foundations' 2011 fourth Annual Gala Celebration this fall. 

Each year, the state foundations honor an individual Professional of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. 

This year's awards winners are:

  • Volunteer of the Year, Colorado: Christine McClatchey, College CU, Greeley;
  • Volunteer of the Year, Wyoming: Liz Luce, First Education FCU, Cheyenne;
  • Professional of the Year, Colorado: Mike Williams, Colorado CU, Littleton; and
  • Professional of the Year, Wyoming: Steve Higgenson, Reliant FCU, Casper.
The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a volunteer board member for distinguished volunteer service in the credit unions. 

McClatchy, has been an active volunteer board member with College CU and her community for more than 10 years.

Luce was originally recruited to serve on the credit union board and has continued to serve as a board member for 12 years, including the last three years as board chair. She is a small-business owner and volunteers for two community service organizations, five professional organizations, and two other nonprofit organizations.

The Professional of the Year Award is presented to a credit union executive who demonstrates the highest standard of professionalism, service that benefits the community, and exemplifies excellence in the credit union movement. 

Williams has served the credit union movement for 25 years and has worked at Colorado CU for 19 years. He serves on numerous industry boards and is chairman of MWCUA's board of directors.

Higgenson has served the credit union industry for more than 12 years, during which time he has continued to advance credit unions through volunteering on boards and committees both locally and nationally.