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CU System Archive

CU System

Kiplinger Notes Advantages of Using CUs

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NEW YORK (12/30/13)--Add Kiplinger.com to the growing list of consumer finance publications noting the benefits of credit unions to their members.
 
In its "Basics of Money" column, "How to Size Up Credit Unions," Kiplinger.com points out benefits of credit unions in terms of costs to the consumer, services, and safety of deposits guaranteed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.
 
"Unlike banks, credit unions are nonprofit organizations. Unconcerned with making a profit, they can often pay more interest on accounts and charge less in fees," said the column. "They offer a distinct advantage for interest-earning checking accounts, which they call share-draft accounts, because they pay more interest on average and most impose no minimum-balance requirements."
 
The column also points out that although credit unions don't have extensive branch networks, "many belong to a surcharge-free ATM network so you have access to thousands of fee-free ATMs."
 
It notes that "credit unions usually offer the best deal available" on loan rates, account fees and credit card balances.
 
"If you are eligible to join a credit union, you should certainly compare what it has to offer with what's being offered elsewhere," the publication suggests.
 
For the full article, use the link.

TMG: Card Use Inches Up During Holiday Shopping

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DES MOINES, Iowa (12/30/13)--Credit and debit holders who carry cards issued by The Members Group spent only slightly more on average during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to figures released by the card processing and payment solutions provider.
 
The average transaction amount for debit cardholders was $134 during Thanksgiving week, compared with $131.66 in 2012, the processor said. In 2011, the average debit transaction amount was $121.87, creating a 12% increase over two years.
 
"The numbers seem to indicate a trend in consumer comfort using their debit cards for larger transactions," said Georgann Smith, TMG vice president of marketing. "Financial institution issuers bracing for the impact of debit interchange regulation may be able to leverage this preference for larger production from their debit portfolios."
 
The average credit card transaction increased to $222.98 in 2013 from $222.16 a year earlier, TMG said. In 2011, the average was $208.14.

Member-owners Receive Year-end Bonus Dividends from CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (12/30/13)--When credit unions distribute dividends at year end, they highlight their success and the benefits of being a member-owner of their institutions.
 
A number of credit unions recently announced patronage payments worth millions back to their members. Many coincided with the holiday season, giving member-owners a timely bonus.
 
In Peoria, Ill., CEFCU announced a record dividend of $12 million, with $6 million going to borrowers and $6 million going to savers. "When business for a credit union is better than projected, members share in those benefits," said Mark Spenny, president/CEO of the $4.8 billion-asset credit union. Over the past 14 years, CEFCU has returned $75 million in dividends to its member-owners.
 
More than $11 million will be distributed to members of Dow Chemical Employees' CU, Midland, Mich. The $1.4 billion-asset credit union will rebate 60% of the total interest paid on eligible loans to borrowers in good standing and give an additional 60% of interest earned to depositors in good standing. The percentage is the highest in the credit union's dividend history.
 
Eastman CU, Kingsport, Tenn., notified its member-owners that its extraordinary dividend--a record-breaking $6 million--will be distributed to their savings accounts in January.  The credit union said this is the 17th year of rewarding loyal members, bringing the historical total to $61 million. "This year's extraordinary dividend is just another affirmation of ECU's commitment to members," said Olan O. Jones, president/CEO of the $2.8 billion-asset credit union.
 
Interest rebates and dividend bonuses at Guardian CU, Montgomery, Ala., were distributed to more than 20,000 members the week before Christmas. The $244 million-asset credit union said it anticipated that the $785,000 would have a significant impact on the community and local businesses as members reinvested the funds into the local economy. In three years, Guardian CU has distributed $2.3 million.
 
The board of $858 million-asset Goldenwest CU approved a 4.25% bonus for its share-savings program, resulting in $760,000 going back to members. In his blog, President/CEO Kerry Wahlen said that in the past 10 years, the Ogden, Utah-based credit union has distributed $5.875 million to members.
 
More than $1.3 million in loyalty dividends was deposited into members' accounts at Scott CU, Edwardsville, Ill. The $922 million-asset credit union gave an additional 3% on deposits and a 3% rebate on loan interest. "All of our members own the credit union, and they benefit when we are successful," said President/CEO Frank Padak (The Edwardsville Intelligencer Dec. 20). In the past five years, members have received more than $4.6 million in bonus dividends and loan interest rebates.
 
For the 17th consecutive year, member-owners of Hanscom FCU, Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, will receive a loyalty dividend. The $1 billion-asset credit union will pay 1% on earned dividends and consumer loan finance charges, over and above the regular dividends earned throughout the year.
 
Dividends are not restricted to natural person members. The board of directors of Louisiana's CU Cooperative Branching approved a 4.5% dividend to credit unions who are shareholders in the shared branching credit union service organization (eNews Dec. 18).

Social Media Helps CUs Inform Members about Breach

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MADISON, Wis. (12/30/13)--Social media had a significant role in the way some credit unions communicated with their members after Target announced that its customers' data had been breached. Those same media also played a role in members' response to credit unions' actions taken to protect their personal information after the breach.
 
In Harrisburg, Pa., for example, the $4.2 billion asset PSECU took a proactive approach when the news broke on Dec. 18 that 40 million debit and credit cards had been compromised in the breach.  It acted quickly to determine how many members were affected and discovered it had more than 28,000 debit and credit cards potentially compromised, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Dec. 27).
 
PSECU decided to reissue cards, but with the Christmas holidays, it would be difficult to get the message out to its members. "The solution was to go to electronic delivery channels in order to get the message out," said PCUA. PSECU sent an e-mail to nearly 21,000 members and posted a message on its Facebook page.
 
"The response of the membership was quick and positive," the credit union told PCUA. "To date, the Facebook post received 191 'likes,' 52 shares and 60 comments.  It also had a total reach of over 5,300 views, one of the highest since PSECU joined social media," the credit union said.
 
Many credit unions placed alerts on their websites. Richmond, Va.-based Virginia CU, for example, sent notices to 15,000 members with compromised numbers and placed an alert on its website urging members to monitor their accounts and consider changing their PINs (nbc12.com Dec. 20). Family Security CU in Decatur, Ala., also placed an alert on its site urging members to monitor their accounts closely (al.com Dec. 24). The $516 million asset credit union said 2,000 member cards were impacted.
 
Others used call centers to provide information.  Redstone FCU, a $3.5 billion asset credit union based in Huntsville, Ala., told al.com and the Decatur Daily (Dec. 26) that the call volume at the credit union spiked on Dec. 20, just after Target's announcement. The credit union received 200 calls disputing charges on their accounts within a 24-hour period. It normally has 500 to 1,000 such calls in a month.  Its staff worked through the weekend after the breach to catch up on paperwork associated with the breach.
 
Social media also was used by members responding to their credit unions' actions to protect the compromised accounts from fraud. White River CU, a $55 million asset credit union in Enumclaw, Wash., quickly alerted members that its Visa processor had placed an automatic block on the affected accounts. However, some members first learned of the action when their card was denied at stores and ATMs. Many understood, but some vented their frustrations on Facebook, the credit union told the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Recap Dec. 27).  "I'm grateful you did this," said one member's post, "but I was mortified when my card was declined..."
 
Breaches have hard costs--in terms of reissuing cards and fraud on accounts--and softer costs--the impact on the reputation of the institution issuing the cards. Retailers like Target and card processors need to be held more responsible for data breaches, Scott Burgess, president/CEO of the $571 million asset Rivermark Community CU, Beaverton, Ore., told NWCUA.
 
NWCUA said credit unions in Washington state have available a state law, RCW 19.225.020, that allows institutions to file lawsuits if a merchant is negligent in safeguarding its customers' information. Northwest credit unions led the push for the new law in 2010.  "We were literally the only group in Olympia pushing for this change in the law at first," said Mark Minickiello, NWCUA vice president for legislative affairs. "It took us three years to get consensus and change the law to allow financial institutions to recover some of the costs incurred in a data breach. It was a David vs. Goliath effort."
 
In other developments late last week related to the Target breach:
  • The Credit Union National Association announced last week it would create a website this week to collect information from credit unions about the costs they have incurred in response to the Target breach and that credit unions should already start keeping a tally of their costs related to replacing cards and monitoring for fraud on the compromised cards. See News Now story, CUNA CompBlog Provides Target Breach Response Tips in today's issue and Friday's story, CUNA Urges CUs to Collect Data on Costs of Breach. Use the links.
  • Target announced Friday that encrypted debit-card PINs were among the financial information stolen. The fact they were still encrypted during the theft reduces the risk to consumers who used those PINs at the point-of-sale terminals, Target said (FoxNews.com Dec. 27). The PIN information was fully encrypted at the keypad, remained encrypted within Target's system, and remained encrypted when the data was removed from the systems, said a Target spokeswoman. However, some are urging consumers to reset their PINs.
  • As of last week, more than a dozen Target customers had filed lawsuits in federal courts. Also, the Department of Justice said it is investigating the breach, reported Fox.

CUs Rank High in NerdWallet's Best of '13

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MADISON, Wis. (12/30/13)--Credit unions were well-represented in NerdWallet's 2013 Best in Banking Awards.
 
The personal finance and financial literacy website cited credit unions and banks in five categories: Best Savings Account, Best Checking Account, Best Student Account, Best Blog and Best for Nationwide Access.
 
Ent FCU, with $3.7 billion in assets, Colorado Springs, Colo., was named the Best Student Account Category for its free college checking and Lion One Checking. NerdWallet honored Ent FCU because it charges no monthly fees, waives ATM fees and offers interest on its student checking accounts. Ent is also a member in the CO-OP ATM and CO-OP Shared Branch networks.
 
Mountain America CU, based in West Jordan, Utah, was the winner in the Best Blog category. Published by the $3.6 billion-asset credit union, Mountain Money was praised for its variety, freshness and social engagement. "While more and more financial institutions have shared educational content on their websites and over social media in the past year, some are leading the pack by covering a big variety of topics, posting regularly and engaging with the online community," NerdWallet reported. "Mountain America CU's blog tackles this feat with ease and style."
 
Hudson Valley FCU was top-rated in the Best for Nationwide Access category for its large surcharge-free ATM network and shared branches. NerdWallet cited the strength that shared branching brings to the entire credit union industry, but highlighted Hudson Valley FCU's efforts. The $3.8 billion-asset credit union, based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., also offers access to 77,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country through the CO-OP, Allpoint, Presto! and SUM networks.
 
State Employees' CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., received an honorable mention in the Best Savings Account category for its share account. "Unlike most entry-level savings accounts, the Share Account offers an extremely competitive interest rate (0.75% annual percentage yield)," NerdWallet said of the $28.8 billion-asset credit union. "Just $25 is required to open the account and avoid a $1 monthly fee."
 
SECU also captured an honorable mention in the Best Student Account category for its Students' Choice Checking. The account has no monthly fee and offers access to the nationwide surcharge-free Allpoint ATM network. It also includes a bonus rate on certificates of deposit and a 0.25% auto loan discount.
 
Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, with $5.4 billion in assets, received an honorable mention in the Best Checking Account category for the long list of benefits it offers on its checking accounts. "Bethpage does not charge out-of-network ATM fees, and checking balances can earn 1% APY for receiving online statements, utilizing direct deposit, and making 10 debit card purchases each month," NerdWallet reported. "New members can also earn a $100 bonus for trading in their debit card or unused checks from another institution."
 
For the full article, use the link.

CU System Briefs (12/30/2013)

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  • OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (12/30/13)--Police in Oak Ridge, Tenn., are investigating an attempted Christmas Day theft from a Y-12 FCU ATM (The Oak Ridger Dec. 27). Law enforcement officers received reports of the alleged crime on Oak Ridge Turnpike at about 6 a.m. Police said that the suspects first attempted to use a stolen truck to dislodge the cash machine from its foundation, then used a Bobcat tractor to destroy the ATM at the $689 million-asset credit union. No cash was taken from the ATM, but both the truck and tractor were stolen from a nearby Waste Connections facility. The estimated damage to the cash machine and the two vehicles is more than $50,000 ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (12/30/13)--Visitors to the North Carolina Credit Union League website will be redirected to a new site at noon Tuesday. The NCCUL will redirect users to the Carolinas Credit Union League website at carolinasleague.org (The Weekly Conversation Dec. 27). The CCUL, which opens Thursday, is the result of a merger between the NCCUL and the South Carolina Credit Union League. Credit unions that list the No-Surcharge ATM network on their websites should make sure the link is updated to http://www.nosurchargeatms.com by Tuesday morning ...
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/30/13)--The Ohio Credit Union League promoted two executives, it announced Friday (eLumination Newsletter Dec. 27). Membership manager Laura Busque has been appointed as director of membership engagement, and director of public affairs Patrick Harris has been named director of legislative affairs. Busque, who joined OCUL in 2007 as its outreach manager, has helped the league foundation develop its financial education grant program. Harris, who also joined the league in 2007, will oversee lobbying in addition to his media and advocacy work ...
  • KAILUA KONA, Hawaii (12/30/13)--Hawaii Community FCU named former Iowa Credit Union League CEO Thomas Griffiths as its interim CEO/president beginning Thursday, the credit union said on Christmas Eve. Griffiths retired from the Iowa league in 2006, and he has served on the supervisory committee of the Kailua Kona-based credit union since January 2012. HCFCU board chair Dwight Manago said that Griffiths will help the credit union find a permanent replacement. Current CEO/President James Takamine announced that he was leaving the $361 million-asset credit union effective Wednesday ...

Ohio CUs to Lawmakers: Municipalities Want CUs for Deposits

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/30/13)--Local municipalities and government entities want to be able to make deposits to credit unions, Ohio credit unions told key state lawmakers recently.
 
The Ohio Credit Union League coordinated meetings between credit unions and key members of the Ohio General Assembly as part of the push to make credit unions eligible to receive public funds deposits, said the league (eLumination Newsletter Dec. 27).  The league is backing House Bill 221, which would allow credit unions to accept such deposits.
 
Dynamic FCU CEO Diane Rodriguez told House Assistant Majority Whip Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) that her credit union has been approached frequently by local government entities.  "Unfortunately, as we have had to turn them down, the phone calls are getting fewer," she said.  Rodriguez also explained that her credit union recently provided a small business loan to an unemployed member and helped another member save his home, said the league.
 
Also, Defiance-based Midwest Community CU hosted Rep. Tony Burkley (R-Payne) and asked for his support for HB 221.  Burkley is a member of the State and Local Government Committee, which is considering the bill.

Other states that have laws on the books or are considering legislation to allow credit unions to accept public deposits include California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington.

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.

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."

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.

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."
 

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.

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.

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 ...

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.

Home-Equity Loan Scammer Sentenced

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/26/13)--The mastermind behind a Nigerian home-equity loan scam that netted millions from credit unions was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison last week.
 
As the alleged leader of a Dallas-based cybercrime group, Tobechi Onwuhara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and computer fraud, all in relation to a home-equity line of credit (HELOC) fraud scheme that attempted to steal more than $38 million and caused roughly $13 million in losses, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday.
 
Onwuhara and his cohorts allegedly used many data points to wire thousands of dollars to their own accounts.
 
They began with fee-based databases to search for potential victims--people who had large balances in HELOC accounts--and match the information against commonly used security questions, the FBI said.  Once they had credit reports in hand, they impersonated the victim and authorized the transfer of available HELOC funds into an account that allowed outgoing wire transfers.
 
The group used laptops, prepaid cell phones and a "spoofing" service that disguises a caller's voice, redirected phone numbers and international wire transfers to steal, then hide, the money. They weren't limited to the Dallas area--they worked from hotel rooms in New York; Lagos, Nigeria; and Miramar, Fla. (TheDallas Morning News Dec. 20).
 
Accounts at U.S. Senate FCU and State Department CU, both in Alexandria, Va., were targeted by the cyber criminals.
 
Onwuhara was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud in 2008. He became a fugitive and was featured on "America's Most Wanted." He was arrested in Australia in December 2012 and returned to the U.S., where he pleaded guilty June 21.
 
Eight others were convicted for their participation in the conspiracy, said the FBI.

Cornerstone League Recaps 2013 Advocacy

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/26/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League, serving credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, offered a recap of its 2013 advocacy efforts (The Advocate Dec. 17).
 
The league's efforts include:
  • Fielded more than 3,000 phone calls to the InfoSight hotline;
  • During the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, reviewed the text of 6,379 bills filed, tracked more than 220 bills that could impact credit unions, and closely monitored more than 75 bills in the final weeks as they wound their way through the legislative process;
  • Ensured passage of legislation that would increase the number of advisory directors on the state's credit union board, and stopped several proposals for rules that would have been burdensome for credit unions;
  • Obtained 85 regulatory compliance comment letters from league credit unions;
  • Continued expanding credit union membership in Cornerstone's successful grassroots program, CU: ROAR, to 74 credit union members;
  • Consistently ranked as one of the top three to four leagues in the country for rallying massive responses to the national "Don't Tax My CU" campaign, generating more than 83,000 messages to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate;
  • Raised $465,000 for the Texas Cornerstone Credit Union League Political Action Committee, plus $223,000 for the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC). This was 105% of goal--Cornerstone credit unions have contributed more money to CULAC than any other entity;
  • Raised $3,340 for the Arkansas Credit Union League Political Action Committee--plus $20,140 for CULAC--212% of goal;
  • Sponsored a golf tournament Oct. 28 in Edmond, Okla., raising $9,954 for the Oklahoma Credit Union Political Action Committee (OCUPAC);
  • Raised a total of $49,878 for OCUPAC;
  • Filed more than 60 Texas Ethics Commission reports since 2001;
  • Developed the first political advocacy guidebook specifically for Cornerstone credit unions;
  • Developed customized "Don't Tax My CU" cards and banners for credit unions, expanding the grassroots effort to include credit union members; and
  • Published 18 Advocate newsletters and 16 special alerts or announcements devoted to grassroots, taxation and PAC activities.

Maine Takes Holiday Breather on 'Don't Tax' Campaign

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PORTLAND, Maine (12/26/13)--Maine credit unions--like others throughout the country--are taking a brief holiday break after four months of consistent advocacy efforts in the Credit Union National Association's and the state leagues' nationwide "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign to preserve credit unions' tax status, but they aren't letting their guard down.
 
This week, shopping, eating, and visiting with family and friends are providing a respite from the tax issues. In noting the pause, the Maine Credit Union League said that credit union members in the state have generated 39,763 contacts the past four months on behalf of the Don't Tax efforts, placing them No. 9 among the states in total contacts (Weekly Update Dec. 20).
 
A comprehensive bill probably will be released after the first of the year, according to CUNA. Then, the nation's credit unions may have a better idea of Congress' intent regarding tax reform.
 
Meanwhile, bankers across the country are keeping the pressure on, pushing toward taxing credit unions, said league Director of Governmental Affairs Quincy Hentzel. "It is clear that their strategy is to attack credit unions on as many fronts as possible," she said. "Any opening they can create in a state could have a domino effect to threaten credit unions' tax status in other states and at the federal level," she added. 
 
"We need to remain vigilant on this issue and continue to educate our members of the incredible value they receive as member-owners of their credit union," Hentzel told credit unions in the article. "However, we want to be sensitive in regard to all you have done and continue to do and are being careful as to not have our credit unions fatigued so early on in this fight."
 
In the meantime, the league said it is important that the tax status issue remains visible to members and that credit unions should keep up posters, Web banners and more.
 
"We are expecting this to be a lengthy campaign and will be prepared to resume it in the New Year," said League President John Murphy.

Latest Front Line Ties Risk to Errors

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MADISON, Wis. (12/26/13)--Splashy cybercrimes that feature devious hackers breaking through a giant bank's firewalls generally make front-page news. But that's far from the whole story about how consumers' confidential data gets into the wrong hands.
 
Research shows employee error puts sensitive data at risk far more often, Jay Isaacson, CUNA Mutual Group's credit union protection product management director, told the Credit Union National Association for the December issue of the Credit Union Front Line Newsletter.
 
The article was written well before Target announced last week that 40 million debit and credit card accounts were compromised in a breach. (See News Now story, "Breach Aftermath: CUs Rally to Help Members.")
 
Verizon data security experts analyzed more than 47,000 data "security incidents" in 2012. In these incidents, the exposure of this sensitive data didn't necessarily involve crime or result in monetary losses, but exposed gaps and oversights that could be exploited.
 
"Error" ranks as the largest threat category, making up 48% of all incidents, according to Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report. Errors included lost devices, errantly addressed emails and faxes, and publishing mistakes.
 
Threats caused by malware and "misuse"--which covers employees' violations of data-use policies--tied for second, at 20%.
 
All credit unions implement various network security measures to protect data against high-tech attacks. But, according to Issacson, employees also can protect members' sensitive data with these measures:
  • Double-check the destination of e-mails or fax numbers before hitting "send." Before sending e-mails that involves sensitive data to members or third-party vendors, first check with the credit union's information security policies to determine if they permit transmitting members' confidential data. If so, best practices recommend sending only encrypted data.
  • Avoid saving data to movable memory devices--and keep laptops secure if transporting them off-site.  Laptops are a major target for thieves. Whenever possible, don't take a laptop containing members' confidential data out of the office. If laptops are taken off-site, they should never be left in plain sight in a car or unattended in a coffee shop or library, or in other situations that invite theft.
Member data saved to thumb drives, CDs or other portable media present a huge risk. That's why some credit unions lock down the USB ports and CD/DVD drives on their workstations.
 
Don't lose track of member data saved to external memory devices. Delete the data or destroy the disk as soon as the data are transferred.
  • Properly destroy data devices. Data storage devices such as old tape drives, disks and computer hard drives should be rendered unreadable, just as old paper documents would be shredded.
  • Beware of targeted phishing attacks. Financial services employees are at greater risk than the general public for phishing schemes. A common phishing attack tricks financial institution employees into opening an infected e-mail attachment or clicking on a link to an infected website. This automatically installs malicious software (malware) on to the work computer, possibly creating a back door into the credit union's network.
Criminals search social networks such as LinkedIn to discover employers, job titles, and e-mail addresses, and generally send phishing e-mails to a specific group of employees at a credit union--a tactic called "spear phishing."
 
Be careful about any e-mail that contains a link or file, even if it appears to be from a professional organization or social network. The credit union might have an acceptable use policy prohibiting employees from using credit union-owned computers for personal purposes, including surfing the Internet and/or checking personal e-mail.

CU System Briefs (12/26/2013)

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  • ST. LOUIS (12/26/13)--Andrew Caleb Maberry--known as the "I-55 bandit"--pleaded guilty in federal court Dec. 20 to robbing 10 financial institutions in five states. The 19-year-old was charged with robbing Scott CU, Edwardsville, Ill., in May and three other banks along Interstate 55 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec. 21). During the incidents, Maberry allegedly would present a note saying he had a bomb, a gun or both. He also is accused of robbing four banks in Maryland, one in West Virginia and one in Tennessee ...
  • MOBILE, Ala. (12/26/13)--Chief financial officer and interim CEO Robert Fertitta was named president and CEO of Navigator CU, Pascagoula, Miss. (Press-Register Dec. 22). Fertitta was CFO for the $271 million-asset credit union for 17 years. He also is on the board of Corporate One FCU, Columbus, Ohio, and was a previous board member of Southeast Corporate FCU ...
  • CONYERS, Ga. (12/26/13)--Georgia United CU, Duluth, Ga., promoted Debbie Smith to CEO. Smith, who was chief operating officer at the $950 million-asset credit union, has more than 30 years of experience in operations and human resources, said Tom Dickson, board chairman (The Rockdale News  Dec. 19). Prior to her 2002 employment with the credit union, she served on the advisory board when it was known as Georgia FCU ...
  • ENTERPRISE, Ala. (12/26/13)--After a 29-year career with Army Aviation Center FCU, Jim Mitchell retired as president/CEO from the $1.11 billion-asset credit union Dec. 10.  For his "visionary leadership and unwavering commitment," the credit union dedicated its Daleville, Ala., operations center in honor of Mitchell and renamed its scholarship program (Southeast Sun Dec. 18) ...

Breach Aftermath: While CUs Rally, Others File Lawsuits

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MADISON, Wis. (12/26/13)--The data breach Target announced last week has brought in its aftermath several class action lawsuits, compromised card numbers flooding the black market, risk analysis by various industry groups, and credit unions rallying to support members who used their debit or credit cards at the retail giant during the holidays.
 
As of Monday, Minneapolis-based Target was already the bull's eye in three class-action lawsuits, and attorneys general in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and South Dakota had asked Target for information about the breach (USA TODAY Dec. 23).
 
Target's breach will cost consumers and the financial industry, said the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, which urged federal and state officials to take action to prevent the cost of such breaches from being passed on to consumers and the financial services industry.
 
"When retailers have security breaches in their credit card information, they see it merely as an inconvenience, but there's also a significant financial impact on consumers and financial institutions," said Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada leagues.
 
"Every consumer now has to keep an eye on their credit information, and there likely will be headaches for both consumers and the financial services industry, with the potential need to replace millions of cards.  It's an embarrassment for a retailer, but the breach costs fall on the shoulders of consumers and their financial institutions, like credit unions," Dykstra added.
 
The $5-$10 cost to reissue and deliver each new card is exacerbated by the cost incurred by credit unions to reimburse members who have lost funds due to fraudulent transactions. "California and Nevada credit unions have been inundated by thousands of calls from members concerned about their credit information in the wake of the Target incident," she said.
 
The breach should prompt the public and lawmakers to engage in a dialogue about the antiquated magnetic stripe technology, said the leagues. That dialogue should emphasize the need of retailers and financial institutions in the U.S. to adopt the more secure chip and pin card technology, which is widely used in other countries and is less vulnerable to breaches, the leagues said.
 
Because Target's investigation into the breach is ongoing, it has not specified publicly how the breach occurred. Several security analysts have weighed in on the issue, with most experts saying they believe the incident was from an external attack.

BankInfoSecurity.com noted that one leading card issuer affected by the attack said about 40,000 of Target's 60,000 point-of-sale terminals were likely infected with malware automatically downloaded from a hacked server. Once infected, the POS devices were instructed to store and forward the magnetic stripe data from the transactions, said the publication.
 
Meanwhile, credit unions in Target's home state--like many all over the country--were proactively working with their members to address concerns about their data privacy in the wake of the breach, reported the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).
 
"Member privacy and protection are extremely important to Minnesota credit unions," said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO.  "Minnesotans can continue to count on credit unions as their trusted financial partner as the impact of the data breach continues to unfold."
 
MnCUN noted that Star Choice CU in Bloomington, Minn., is working with its vendor and Target to determine the next steps and implement strategies to mitigate fraud on member cards. Also, SPIRE FCU, Falcon Heights, Minn., advised members to monitor credit and debit card accounts daily and directed them to contact the credit union immediately so steps can be taken to restore funds to affected accounts. SPIRE is also reviewing accounts for suspicious activity and issuing new cards as needed.
 
The breach compromised 40 million cards that were used at Target stores across the U.S. between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The Credit Union National Association is working with other organizations to keep credit unions informed. Those organizations include CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group, PSCU, Financial Services Information Sharing (FS-ISAC), Visa and MasterCard, as well as the Electronic Payments Coalition and NACHA--the Electronic Payments Association.

FS-ISAC told CUNA it sent a proprietary alert Friday to its member organizations with speaking points to help shape institutions' communications with consumers and media, NACHA's operational bulletin about automated clearing house issues related to Target's branded RedCard debit card, and speaking points about typical investigation processes and information sharing.  FS-ISAC, of which CUNA is a member, is also working to get a clear picture of the breach and impact, including tactics, techniques and procedures, which it will make available when the investigation concludes.

For specific information on what credit unions should do and CUNA Mutual Group's advice on alleviating risks from the breach, use the links to the News Now stories, CUs Impacted in Target Breach Get Risk Mitigation Tips and CUNA Working to Determine Impact of Target Breach on CUs.

CUs Impacted in Target Breach Get Risk Mitigation Tips

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MADISON, Wis. (12/23/13)--As the Credit Union National Association works with other entities in the industry to monitor new developments in the widespread Target stores data breach and provide up-to-date information to help mitigate the risks to credit unions, new information has shed light on what credit unions will need to do--both for themselves and their members.
 
Target announced Wednesday that it had suffered a breach that compromised 40 million credit  and debit cards used at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
 
Thieves already are flooding the black market with the stolen information, along with city, location and ZIP code of the store where the card was used, according to Brian Krebs, the security expert who revealed the breach Wednesday (Minneapolis Star Tribune Dec. 20 and Wisconsin State Journal Dec. 21). Krebs said in a column on his KrebsonSecurity.com website (Dec.19) that the information is being sold in batches of one million cards for $20 to $100 per card.

The city, state and ZIP code information ups the ante for credit unions and other financial institutions because it removes one of the red flags they typically use to monitor suspicious activity: out of state transactions, said Krebs.
 
Credit unions already were getting reports of fraudulent transactions and fielding questions from members who had made purchases at the stores during that period. (See related News Now story, CUs at Forefront in Advice to Consumers about Target Breach).
 
CUNA is working with CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group, PSCU, Financial Services Information Sharing (FS-ISAC), Visa and MasterCard, as well as the Electronic Payments Coalition and NACHA-the Electronic Payments Association, among others, to get information about the breach's impact on credit unions.
 
An alert from CO-OP Financial Service Wednesday said that for credit unions participating in fraud monitoring through Falcon Fraud Manager by CO-OP, heightened strategies are in place to identify signature fraud attempts for the cards potentially linked to this compromise.  "Related fraud linked to this data compromise is varied within many various states as well as other countries," said the alert. "For the U.S. fraud, we are also seeing a trend where confirmed fraud occurring locally to the cardholders within their own spending footprint."
 
CO-OP's alert said that, so far no fraud involving ATM withdrawals had been tied to the compromise. Credit unions can take many approaches upon receiving a card-compromise notice, and CO-OP recommended that credit unions review the list of suggested best practices to consider when determining what action to take.
 
MasterCard sent out to its credit and debit card issuers a list of compromised card numbers in its Account Data Compromise alerts No. 1904 and 1924 Friday. Alert 1904 indicates that the Target breach is the 1,904th breach since the beginning of 2013, to its credit and debit card issuers, said Ann Davidson, senior consultant, risk management at CUNA Mutual Group. Visa began sending its alerts Saturday and was still sending these out today, Davidson said. Its alert is US-2013-1335 and its updates have a, b, c, and so forth to added as new compromised card numbers are reported.

Discover also sent out an alert, DCA-U.S. 2013-1085. Visa's list contained more than 24 million debit and credit card numbers.
 
Davidson said she has talked to many individuals at credit unions about the breach. One credit union has blocked 19,000 Visa debit cards and 5,000 credit cards after it used its in-house system to search the dates involved and who shopped at Target.
 
Credit unions will see several challenges, including what to do during the holidays, said Davidson. Card associations have recommended blocking cards until after Dec. 25--during the key consumer spending season.
 
She pointed out a particular problem if credit unions block non-PIN-related transactions and instead require a signature on the cards. "The fraud will go away, but it would violate Visa's and MasterCard's processing rules." Credit unions should seek exceptions from the card associations if they decide to go this route, she said.
 
In merchant third-party losses, credit unions must report their fraud to Visa and MasterCard and specify that the transaction is related to "magnetic stripe fraud," not lost or stolen cards. "If the fraud is not reported properly, credit unions would miss out on the recovery," Davidson said.
 
Target's branded debit card, Target Red, is at low risk, because as a store-branded card, only the number of the card is contained on the magnetic security stripe. If someone duplicated that information, it would go through Target's processing system through the card association, not through the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network.
 
However, cautioned Davidson, branded cards can include the consumer's financial institution routing number and the checking account number, which means customers are at risk from debits from their checking account from these cards. "Credit unions need to stay on top of ACH reports and advise members to watch their statements for any [unauthorized] deductions from the checking accounts," Davidson told News Now.
 
Expect the compromised card information to also be used to buy up prepaid gift cards in bulk. "Prepaid gift cards will be a hot commodity," she said, noting that in New York, two million gift cards have already been purchased at Target stores.
 
Credit unions also can expect to see a spike in phishing attempts through texts, e-mails and phone calls as a result of the breach, and at least one credit union is worried about running out of plastic replacement cards, she added.
 
CUNA Mutual Group issued information to its bond policyholders indicating risk mitigation steps credit unions can take in response to the breach. They include:
  • Watch for phishing fraud. Educate members  not to respond to any e-mail, text message or phone calls asking for any card information including account number or PIN.
  • Report fraud.  Educate members to frequently review their activity and immediately report any unauthorized transactions.
  • Determine fraud exposure. Evaluate the card number compromise information to determine if your credit union has an increased exposure for future magnetic stripe fraud.
  • Match names for Track 1. Confirm your credit union is using name matching to help prevent future card fraud where the fraudsters could change cardholder names on Track 1, which carries the cardholder's name.
  • Alert credit bureaus. Since Track 1 carries the cardholder name, the cardholder may want to place an initial fraud alert with the credit bureaus to prevent identity fraud.
  • Review the card associations' alerts: Visa CAMs (which was to be released last week but had not been as of press time) and MasterCard's alert ADC1904.
  • Review open accounts. Determine which cards contained in the alerts are still active (open).
  • Move up card expiration dates. Accelerate the card expiration date on active cards contained in the alert if the card number will expire in the next 30 to 180 days. Credit unions could reissue these cards now.
  • Review other accounts. Determine which cards contained in the alerts have been closed due to fraud as a result of the Target breach.
  • Work with card processor/fraud monitoring system vendor to create rules and strategies to help prevent future fraud on the compromised card accounts.
  • Monitor your daily card fraud to identify any changes in fraud patterns that may be the result of the Target breach.
  • Recovery action. Confirm the card association's available dispute action on the compromised cards, as well as any timeframes.
  • Ongoing monitoring. Continue to watch for any follow-up information tied to this breach and if additional action is needed.
  • Review accounts involved in the breach. Determine which cards on the card association alerts are still active (open).
  • Review other accounts. Find out which cards on the alerts are non-active and have been closed due to fraud. Identify if the fraud pattern on the closed accounts matches the fraud pattern described in the card association's alerts.
  • Monitor or block and reissue.  Assess compromised cards to determine whether to monitor the affected cards or block and reissue the card.  If opting to monitor, contact the card association (Visa or MasterCard) to determine if the credit union's action will impact future recovery efforts.  Reissued cards will be encoded with new track information, which includes the new CVV/CVC values and card expiration dates.
  • Fraud reporting. Confirm all fraud associated with this event has been reported to the card associations and to CUNA Mutual Group. Use: Visa Fraud Reporting System (TC-40), MasterCard Safe System, or Plastic Card Customer Care Center.
CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group and the groups they are working with will continue to monitor the situation. CUNA Mutual Group said it would notify credit unions of any new information that becomes available.
 

CU System Briefs(4)

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  • RALEIGH, N.C. (12/23/13)--The North Carolina Credit Union League is teaming up with the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives in January to hold an educational seminar for political candidates.  It is part of the Credit Union National Association's campaign school program established in 2001. The North Carolina cooperative groups say they are offering the non-partisan "Campaign Academy" to potential candidates who want to learn about effective strategy. Topics discussed by the academy include fundraising, campaign finance laws, communications, cost and grassroots campaigning. The courses are scheduled to be held in Rocky Mount on Jan. 28, Fayetteville on Jan. 29 and Hickory on Jan. 30.  CUNA has said a main goal of the campaign schools is to give first-time candidates an overview of how to put together an effective campaign and ultimately to send a message to the candidates that credit unions are sophisticated when it comes to politics and elections ...
  • SEATTLE (12/23/13)--Verity CU announced last week that it has hired Mollye Taylor to be its new "Verity Mom" blogger. Taylor was picked for the job after an application process that required videos, blog posts, interviews and two rounds of online voting. Thirty-five women applied. Taylor has been given a $20,000 one-year contract for the part-time job, a MacBook Pro laptop, an iPod Touch and a video camera to reach out to other local mothers. She has been blogging at veritymom.com, a website launched in 2009, and took over from incumbent Verity Mom, Danielle Gahl, in November. Verity CU is based in Seattle, Wash., and has over $365 million in assets ...
  • ARLINGTON, Texas (12/23/13)--A man who allegedly robbed Educational Employees CU was given a taste of his own medicine just minutes later, according to police. Larry Poulos of Arlington, Texas, reportedly handed a teller a deposit slip with "bomb" written on the back. After he allegedly stole $5,000 in cash and fled to his apartment, Poulos' neighbors claimed they saw two large men walk into his dwelling and leave with the money. When police arrived on the scene, they said Poulos was wearing the same shirt seen on Education Employees' surveillance videos and noted that he was bleeding from the head. Poulos and his roommate told law enforcement that Poulos had been robbed (Huffington Post Dec. 19). The roommate also reportedly told the police that Poulos had detailed his plans to rob a bank a few days earlier. Poulos has been charged by federal prosecutors with robbery. The men who allegedly victimized him have not been caught. Poulos' roommate was detained because of an outstanding unrelated warrant for his arrest. Educational Employees CU is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and has about $1.46 billion in assets ...

'People Helping People' Have Holiday Cheer, CU Style

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MADISON, Wis. (12/23/13)--Credit unions' spirit of "people helping people" is a constant throughout the year.
 
Click for slide show U.S. Air Force troops deployed in Afghanistan will receive holiday cards thanks to Arrowhead CU. One employee--Jason Swolgaard--took the call to action to heart. He, his wife Giulia, and daughters Amelia, Caitlin and Alyssa came together with Giulia's first-grade students and family members to create 123 cards. The San Bernardino, Calif.-based credit union sent more than 300 cards to service members. (Arrowhead CU Photo)
Sometimes, it is under bleak circumstances. In 2013, they helped their staff, members and community through natural disasters: Devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and Illinois; floods in Colorado; and wildfires in Arizona and California. Budget struggles at the federal level resulted in sequestration being implemented and a government shutdown, prompting credit unions to employ programs to ease members' financial stress.
 
Around the holidays, though, that strong spirit is particularly bright. Creativity abounds to help those in need--ugly-sweater fundraisers were particularly popular this year.

Barrels and boxes were filled with thousands of toys and food items. Cash donations numbered in the thousands as well. Visits from Santa warmed hundreds of hearts.

From toys in a box to warm, fuzzy socks, credit unions brought cheer and fun to their communities.  The slideshow is a very small representation of holiday cheer--credit union style.

CUs at Forefront in Advice to Consumers about Target Breach

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MADISON, Wis. (12/23/13)--Credit unions, while fielding questions from members, are at the forefront in providing reassurance, advice and information for consumers worried that their debit and credit cards were among the 40 million cards compromised by the huge Target stores data breach announced last week.
 
A number of media approached financial institutions for input on the incident and how they were helping members whose cards were compromised. Many reported comments, advice and actions taken by credit unions on behalf of members potentially affected by the breach. The fact that credit unions are often the only financial institutions interviewed for the stories that impact all financial institutions indicates credit unions have achieved increased visibility.
 
The breach's timing was bad, said Space Coast CU, based in Melbourne, Fla.  "The breach could not have come at a worse time, with the heightened holiday purchasing. SCCU will strive to minimize the inconvenience to impacted members, but the first priority is to protect the membership from fraud," the $3.13 billion asset credit union said in a statement Thursday (FloridaToday.com Dec. 19).
 
In Dubuque, Iowa, $1.1 billion asset Dupaco Community CU urged consumers to check all their statements.  "It doesn't matter if they use the card once or 20 times," said Dupaco Senior Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Dave Klavitter on KCRG.com (Dec. 20).  "Always check your financial statements. Check your online banking. Set up e-notifiers if you notice anything that is goofy."  The article also urged consumers to check the account every day because thieves will take days, weeks or months to commit fraud on all the information stolen.
 
Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood CU assured consumers they would not be charged for any unauthorized transactions. Members should not panic at this point, said Robin McKenzie, spokesperson for the $2.2 billion asset Redwood. "It is important to stay calm and realize they are not responsible for any fraudulent activity. They are covered," McKenzie told The Press Democrat (Dec. 19). About 300 of Redwood's 230,000 members called and expressed concern but none reported losses. Redwood advised members whose cards were compromised to apply for new cards.
 
First Alliance CU, a $138 million asset credit union in Rochester, Minn., said Thursday it was expecting more than 1,000 members to be affected by the Target data breach.  At first, it was notified that 130 members' cards were compromised, but by 10 a.m. Thursday the count was up to 750 cardholders. As each hour passed, more were expected, CEO Kelly McDonough said (Kaaltv.com Dec. 19). McDonough told the station the credit union would call each member on the compromised list and explain what the credit union would do.  Members don't have to worry or be uncertain about what's going to happen with their card, McDonough said.

In a later story in  the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, McDonough said it had identified 859 members who had shopped at Target and has been contacting them to order new cards. The new cards cost the credit union about $5 each and typically take five to seven days to arrive but because of the holidays could take up to 14 days.
 
First Alliance is "taking into account that it is Christmas" and is advising members not to panic. "We'll be in touch with you. In the meantime, we know that your credit card's on that list so we will be watching out for you." McDonough advised consumers to make sure their financial institutions have their contact information.
 
Several New Mexico credit unions reported to the Albuquerque Journal Business (Dec. 20) that they have begun canceling and issuing new debit and credit cards or were planning to do so. New Mexico Educators FCU, with $1.4 billion assets in Albuquerque, said it is issuing new cards and deactivating the old ones by Jan. 4.
 
East Idaho CU in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with assets of $269 million, canceled hundreds of debit cards after seeing bogus charges after the Target breach, CEO Brad Bauges told KIFI (KTVB.com Dec. 20). Membership at the credit union totals 39,000. The credit union discovered so much fraud that it will issue new cards to all cardholders who shopped at Target during the breach window, Bauges said.
 
The $68 million asset Wichita Falls (Texas) Teachers CU identified 400 members affected by the breach. More than a dozen employees have been contacting the cardholders, said Texomas.com (Dec. 20). Jane Fitzgerald, CEO, told the publication that hackers might not use the information for six months, but credit union is disabling the cards anyway to keep thieves from using the information.
 
Knoxville (Tenn.) TVA CU, which has $1.19 billion in assets, said that members who shopped at Target should call the credit union so it can cancel the card and replace it for free. It did not want to take any risks that members would experience fraud (WBIR.com Dec. 20). Also $211 million asset UT FCU, based in Knoxville, said it is closely monitoring  the situation and will send affected cardholders a letter.
 
Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU and Teachers FCU, Smithtown, N.Y.,  sent out alerts in the wake of the breach, saying they would contact members impacted, reported DeerPark-NorthBabylonPatch.com (Dec. 20).  Bethpage, with $5.5 billion in assets, noted in a local paper that if it suspected an account had been affected, it would contact those members and issue a new card. It is telling members that in the meantime, they can use their existing cards. The $4.9 billion asset Teachers FCU said it was analyzing cardholder transactions and would contact members if necessary.
 
See related News Now story, CUs Impacted in Target Breach Get Risk Mitigation Tips.

Carolinas League Reveals New Logo, Finalizes Website Rollout

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COLUMBIA, S.C., and RALEIGH, N.C. (12/23/13)--The door opened another crack to give the credit union system a peek at the new look for the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL) when the logo for the merged league was released last week.
 
The logo--a carrick bend knot in two shades of blue representing the two leagues--stands for cohesion, expertise and strength, said Brandon Pugh, who currently is vice president of public relations and communications for the South Carolina Credit Union League.
 
CCUL is new trade association for North Carolina and South Carolina credit unions. Its new website, carolinasleague.org, will launch Jan. 1 (The Weekly Conversation Dec. 20).
 
The teaser video highlights the league's vision of being: dedicated to credit union success, credit unions' strongest advocate, a voice for many and a resource for all.
 
The website will have a community section in which credit union staff can engage peers and exchange support among groups by chapter, expertise or credit union asset size.
 
"We heard clearly that credit unions want their league to be a unifying influence and a champion of cooperation, and the community section will empower them to connect and collaborate," said Pugh.

CUNA Closed for Christmas, News Now Returns on Thursday

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (12/23/13)--The Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday in celebration of the Christmas holiday.
 
News Now will not publish Tuesday or Wednesday, but will return to regular publication Thursday.

Advice for CEO Evaluation in Latest Directors Newsletter

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MADISON, Wis. (12/23/14)--A credit union's board of directors must ask the CEO certain questions to evaluate whether the CEO is a well-rounded leader, a leadership consultant told the Credit Union National Association's Credit Union Directors Newsletter.
 
In the newsletter's December issue, Jeff Rendel, president of Rising Above Enterprises, suggested that boards pose two questions to their CEO:
  • What criteria would you use to assess a peer?
  • What standards would you want another CEO to use during your assessment?
Well-rounded CEOs possess different strengths, said Rendel. They hail from diverse credit unions with a range of asset sizes but gravitate toward similar measures to gauge effectiveness. Their thoughts can be boiled down into six components, with the understanding that leadership binds them together.
 
Consider adding these features to your credit union's models for evaluating, developing, and rewarding your CEO:
  • Focus on the future. How is the CEO deliberately positioning the credit union for the future? What strategies has the CEO developed and implemented? What patterns does the CEO notice in the broader environment, and how does the leader act on this to steer the credit union? Where does the CEO add innovative products, services, and processes?
  • Stay connected to members. How does the CEO remain connected with the members? How does the credit union stack up against the competition? What benchmarks disclose its status? How loyal are the credit union's members? What lifetime value can it expect from its members? Is the credit union growing in revenue, profits and loyalty?
  • Keep a steady focus on people. What leadership pipeline and development system does the EO have in place? How are employees engaged and growing in their jobs and career ambitions? How efficient is the credit union in using employees' talents where they best fit?
  • Achieve and sustain business results. Which financial metrics offer evidence of success? Revenue growth? Profit margins? Asset quality? Capital ratios? Efficiency ratios? All of the above? Does the CEO report on and achieve the metrics of success established by the board?
  • Develop community leadership. What does the CEO do to support the communities the credit union services? How involved is the CEO in the community? How involved are employees in the community? Does the CEO have a leadership role in professional associations? How involved is the CEO in industry advocacy efforts?
  • Lead your own life, too. How often can your CEO really get away? Has the CEO developed a solid leadership team to take the reins while absent? How is the CEO's overall health as it affects leadership of the credit union?
For more information, use the links.

CU System Briefs (12/20/2013)

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  • HOUSTON (12/20/13)--The last two of 25 convicted robbers were sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a string of 34 violent robberies in Houston. Two separate groups used similar styles of crime: they specifically targeted banks and credit unions located in grocery stores. The armed robbers would forcibly take over the in-store branches, brandishing weapons and assaulting bystanders and employees, according to court records (Federal Information and News Dispatch Dec. 18). The robberies typically occurred between 9 a.m. and noon on weekdays. Eleven defendants were linked to 16 such robberies between 2007 and 2011, and a second group of 14 men were tied to another 18 incidents, including one that resulted in a six-hour standoff with law enforcement ...
  • WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has released the winter 2013 issue of Supervisory Insights. The issue features articles of interest to examiners, bankers and supervisors. The topics range from the importance of effective interest-rate risk management, the results of the FDIC's Credit and Consumer Products/Services Survey, and the new Basel III definition of capital. And from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the just-released Semiannual Risk Perspective for fall 2013 details risks facing the banking industry. The report presents data in four areas: the operating environment; condition and performance of the banking system; funding, liquidity, and interest rate risk; and regulatory actions. The OCC says its report focuses on issues that pose threats to the safety and soundness of those financial institutions it regulates and is meant to be a resource to the industry and examiners, as well as public. The report reflects data as of June 30, 2013 ...
  • WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--The Federal Reserve has adjusted the asset-size thresholds it uses to define small banks, small savings associations, intermediate small banks, and intermediate small savings associations under Community Reinvestment Act regulations. Under the new Fed standards, small banks or small savings associations will mean institutions that have held less than $1.202 billion in assets over the past two years. Intermediate small banks or intermediate small savings associations will mean institutions that have held at least $300 million in assets over the past two years but less than $1.202 billion in assets in either of the last two years. These standards will become effective Jan. 1, according to the Fed. The Fed bases these adjustments on changes to the average of the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners. That index increased by 1.39% between November 2012 and November 2013 ...

Collaboration Successes, Struggles Noted in Filene Case Studies

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/13)--Credit unions pride themselves on their ability to work together, and the benefits of collaboration are well-documented, but collaboration is far from easy, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.
 
The report includes 11 case studies and provides checklists from both long-time and first-time collaborators that credit unions can use to develop their own initiatives.
 
Among the keys to success for credit union collaboration outlined in the report:
  • Think broadly. Collaboration isn't easy, and it won't always save money. In the end it's not just nice to have--it's critical to the survival of the credit union system. "You might say, 'Look, if I buy this system alone it costs x, but if we buy it as a group it's one quarter of X,'" said Kirk Drake, president/CEO of Ongoing Operations, a credit union service organization dedicated to disaster recovery and a CUNA Strategic Services provider. "But the reality is that you were never going to pay x. A collaboration might end up costing you money, but you have to weigh the benefits of improved performance or member service."
  • Choose the right partners. The choice of partners can make--or break--the success of a collaboration. Trust is a critical element of effective collaboration, but it will only happen with a track record. Previous relationships with potential collaborators are important, case study participants said.
  • Overcome objections. A CEO-driven mandate from each participating organization is required, according to the case study participants. That said, egos should be checked at the door. "Get over yourself," one participant said. Also, keep in mind that participants may benefit to different degrees. You have to weigh the value of what you gain in the collaboration vs. what you would have gotten without it: nothing," said Mary Beth Spuck, chief administrative officer of TwinStar CU, Lacey, Wash."
  • Get beyond the plateau. Effective collaborations will ebb and flow--but don't assume that a status quo approach is sufficient if a project seems to lose steam. "As a group, we just had a certain level of stick-to-itiveness," Drake said about Ongoing Operations. "We knew that if we maintained the status quo we weren't going to be relevant in the long term--we had to try something new."
 
To read the report, use the link.

CUNA Working to Determine Impact of Target Breach on CUs

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WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--The Credit Union National Association's regulatory staff is working with CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group and others, including PSCU, Financial Services Information Sharing (FS-ISAC), Visa and MasterCard, to determine the potential impact on credit unions and their members related to the massive data breach confirmed Thursday at retail giant Target.

The organizations are also providing information to mitigate the risks for credit unions and their members.

"We're keeping a close eye on the breach of debit and credit card information from Target stores, which exploded in headlines across the nation Thursday," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "We've already been in touch with Visa and other major card payments processors to ascertain the impact on credit unions, if any," he said.

"This latest breach--while at this point reportedly smaller than the March 2007 TJX Cos. Inc. breach--once more raises the issue of the retailers' responsibility in securing information for card transactions at their stores," Cheney said.  "Credit unions and other financials typically foot the bill for the breaches, in forms of issuing new cards and other security responses--as well as the reputational costs to member and customer trust in financial transactions using cards."

Target confirmed that roughly 40 million holiday shoppers' credit and debit cards may have been compromised in the breach. Meanwhile there are things that credit unions can do to mitigate the losses for their members.

The breach involves credit or debit purchases from Target's U.S. stores during the prime holiday shopping season--from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15, said Target's notice to consumers on its website.  The information compromised included customers' name, credit or debit card number, and the card's three-digit CVV security code.
 
The card data at risk involves the compromise of the entire magnetic stripe data, both Track 1 and Track 2," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager of CUNA Mutual Group. "We strongly recommend credit unions consider blocking and reissuing the impacted open card numbers. Credit unions electing not to block and reissue could experience magnetic stripe fraud in the future," he added.
 
He noted that CUNA Mutual will send a risk alert out today with more details of the breach as well as a number of tips on mitigating the risks and that it "will continue to monitor this situation with Visa and MasterCard and will notify our policyholders when new information becomes available."
 
CO-OP Financial Services said it was sending out an alert also. So far no PIN fraud--where cyberthieves take the information compromised and use it to withdraw cash from ATMs--has occurred, said Connie Trudgeon, vice president of CO-OP Financial Services, during a conference call with  Dennis Tsang, assistant general counsel for regulatory research at CUNA.

CO-OP Financial Services partner CardAlert monitors a wider base of points of compromise and has detected no PIN fraud associated with the breach, Trudgeon said.  These aren't at risk of online fraud because the magnetic strip information, used for counterfeit cards, is not available. "We will continue to monitor it and to get the bigger picture" of the impact, she told CUNA.
 
Before Target confirmed the breach, CO-OP sent an alert to credit unions and financial institutions Wednesday. Thursday it prepared a follow-up alert advising credit unions to tell members to pay close attention to their credit and debit card accounts. Credit unions also should use their discretion on reissuing cards, closely monitoring the impact of potential losses with the effect on service to members.  Credit unions are different in how they go about approaching breaches, she said.
 
Visa Compromised Account Management System and MasterCard Account Data Compromise services are working on creating files of compromised account numbers for processors and issuers. MasterCard started releasing compromised numbers to institutions as soon as it received word of the breach, said CO-OP.
 
Essentially credit unions have two primary options in handling potentially compromised cards:
  • Monitor transaction activity without blocking or reissuing a card, encourage members to monitor their transaction activity online and sign up for alerts; or
  • Block and reissue a new account or card. Blocking and reissuing a new account minimizes inconvenience to the member just before Christmas but potentially subjects the credit union to more fraud losses. Blocking and reissuing a new card potentially minimizes fraud loss to the credit union, but means significant inconvenience to members who would be without a card at a critical time of year for purchases. This in turn could create reputational risk and possibly cause the member to choose another card as their primary card.
"Across the board, credit unions should know whether they are in a neural network and have a monitoring system in place to support them. Some big credit unions will do this in-house," Trudgeon said.  Credit unions must determine their daily fraud limits and what their exposure is, manage that and act on best practices.
 
Bill Freer, CO-OP risk manager, noted that it will take time to go through the extensive list of compromised card numbers to determine exactly how many are impacted by fraud.  So far, the numbers involve purchases made in brick and mortar stores, not online transactions.
 
Credit unions receiving inquiries from members about the breach can share Target's press release and its Letter to Guest from the Target website. Use the links to access these.  They also can:
  • Determine if the member shopped during the Nov. 27-Dec. 15 timeframe;
  • Suggest members monitor their account online for suspicious or unusual activity. If they spot such activity, tell them to contact the credit union immediately to report the occurrences;
  • Inform members about the limitations on their liability for unauthorized activity;
  • Follow the credit union's established procedures for handling reports of unauthorized activity for either debit cards or credit cards;
  • Let the member know they may choose to change the PIN on their debit card; and
  • Follow normal procedures if the member requests a replacement card.
The Electronic Payments Coalition, of which CUNA is a member, said it has had a number of inquiries about the breach and will provide more information as it becomes available. 

"Electronic payments provide consumers and merchants with many benefits including security, convenience, speed and guaranteed payment. During a breach, our first concern is for the consumers whose information was exposed and for them to be reassured that they will not be held liable for fraudulent transactions," the coalition said in a statement. "We also appreciate the impact that breaches will have on community banks and credit unions whose top priority is the protection of their customer, which can include costs such as the reissuing of cards and covering any losses their consumers incur," the coalition added.

Target has 1,797 stores in the U.S. and 124 in Canada. No Canadian stores are involved in the breach, so far. The compromised numbers are across the entire U.S., with no specific region emphasized.

Target said it is working closely with law enforcement and financial institutions, and has identified and resolved the breach issue.

"Target's first priority is preserving the trust of our guests, and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president/CEO of Target.  "We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice."

Watch for updates from News Now with risk alert information.

TransUnion: Auto Loan Delinquency, Debt to Jump in 2014

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CHICAGO (12/20/13)--Auto loan debt and delinquency both are expected to increase in 2014, according to TransUnion's annual auto loan forecast.
 
At the national level, the auto loan delinquency rate is projected to rise to 1.19% by the end of 2014. TransUnion estimated 2013 would end with a delinquency rate of 1.1%. The ratio is based on the number of borrowers 60 or more days past due.
 
In the past six years, the auto loan delinquency rate has been as low as 0.86% in 2012 and as high as 1.59% in 2008. The average delinquency rate for the fourth quarter between 2007 and 2012 was 1.32%
 
TransUnion said the amount of auto loan debt also is expected to jump to $17,966 at the end of 2014--more than $1,000 from the 2013 year-end projection of $16,942--and cap 15 straight quarterly increases.
 
"Unless there is a real shock to the economy, we don't envision auto loan debt levels to drop for quite some time," said Peter Turek, automotive vice president, TransUnion. "This is good news for dealers, lenders and consumers, as higher demand for autos will lead to more auto loans, creating incentives for consumers as auto dealers and auto lenders compete for their business."
 
New- and used-auto loan balances at credit unions grew rapidly in October, increasing 1.2% and 0.9%, respectively, according to the latest monthly credit union estimates from the Credit Union National Association. New-auto loan balances posted the fastest year-over-year loan growth, rising 12%, followed closely by a 10.8% increase in used-auto loans.
 
Credit unions' 60-day-plus delinquency rate has remained at 1% for the past eight months and should fall to 0.8% in 2014, according to Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist (News Now Dec. 3).
 
Turek said, "One of the primary drivers for low delinquency rates is the strength of the used-car market; borrowers who cannot afford their car loan payments usually have the option of selling the car and becoming whole on the loan."

He added, "The wide availability of this exit strategy has caused the overall volume of auto loan debt to rise faster than the delinquent volume of auto loans, which leads to a lower delinquency rate--it's a denominator effect."
 
Maine, Connecticut, Indiana and South Carolina are expected to experience the largest rise in delinquency rates, with Maine topping out at 7%. The biggest declines are projected for Oregon, Utah and Alaska.

Federation Accepting Applications for Secondary Cap Loans

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NEW YORK (12/20/13)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is accepting applications for secondary capital loans and other deposits through its Community Development Investment Program (CDIP).
 
The deadline is Jan. 6 for federation members to apply for this round of investments.
 
CDIP provides capital resources to federation member community development credit unions (CDCUs) that are seeking funds to increase liquidity, boost net worth, mitigate risk and launch innovative products. Secondary capital loans are limited to low-income designated credit unions.
 
CDIP also is accepting applications for predatory relief and intervention deposits (PRIDEs) and microenterprise deposits.
 
PRIDEs partially collateralize loans that CDCUs make to combat high-cost, predatory lending in their local communities. Deposits of up to $100,000 are available for payday loan alternatives, auto title lending, assistive technology and tax anticipation lending.
 
Microenterprise deposits partially collateralize microbusiness loans to expand CDCU lending in local communities.
 
For applications and more information, use the link.

Golden 1 CU's Community Grants Total $368,400

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (12/20/13)--Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., awarded $368,400 in grants last week to 21 nonprofit organizations in the Sacramento/Central Valley region to support literacy and foster youth programs. 
 
Click to view larger image In the inaugural year of its community grant program, Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., awarded $368,400 in funding to 21 nonprofit organizations to support literacy and foster youth programs in California. Surrounded by students at Aspire Capitol Academy, Scott Ingram, back row, middle, vice president of Golden 1 CU, presents a $24,800 check to Katie McCleary, back row, third from left, executive director and principal of 916 Ink. (Photo provided by Golden 1 CU.)
"We have always been committed to helping people achieve their dreams," said Donna Bland, president/CEO of $8.2 billion-asset Golden 1 CU. "We advocate for our members by providing the services they need to get ahead, and our grants support the underserved by providing the financial assistance nonprofits need to create a positive impact in our communities."
 
The Golden 1 CU Community Grant Program, implemented this fall with funding disbursements sent this month, supports programs that provide assistance to young adults emancipated from the state's foster care system and literacy programs that help students develop reading skills.
 
To celebrate 80 years of service this year, Golden 1 CU also introduced the Golden 1 CU Scholarship program, to provide scholarships totaling $312,000 in renewable financial assistance to 33 students attending California colleges and universities.
 
Golden 1 also donated $52,500 to local food banks this holiday season and provided thousands more in donations to the United Way and Children's Miracle Network.
 
Combined, this year Golden 1 CU provided nearly $750,000 in financial support to individuals and organizations in the communities it serves.

CU System Briefs (12/19/2013)

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  • FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (12/19/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association has set Feb. 6 as its Credit Union Day in the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., where Washington's credit union advocates will "hike the hill" in small groups to share the credit union story with state lawmakers. "Our goal is to have every legislator--there are 147 of them--meet with a credit union representative in their district," said Mark Minickiello, NWCUA's vice president for legislative affairs (Anthem Dec. 17). The free event starts at 10 a.m. and will finish at 4 p.m. "Credit Union Day is a great way to educate our state legislature about credit unions and how the bills they'll be working on could impact service to members," Minickiello added ...
  • COLUMBIA, Mo. (12/19/13)--A St. Louis man on parole for second-degree murder was sentenced to 28 years in prison for holdups at two credit unions in Columbia, Mo. Hillary Miller, 41, pleaded guilty to robbery of Academic Employees CU in June 2012 and Columbia Municipal CU in July of 2012. He was sentenced to 14 years for each robbery.  At the time of the robberies, Miller was on parole from a 30-year sentence for second-degree murder, robbery and armed  criminal action at the time of the robberies (Associated Press Newswires Dec. 17) ...
  • PORTLAND, Maine (12/19/13)--Brianne Mone, 27, of Dover, N.H., pleaded guilty Dec. 12 in a Portland, Maine, U.S. District Court to participating in credit union and bank robberies in New Hampshire and Maine (New Hampshire Union Leader Dec. 13). Mone allegedly served as the getaway vehicle driver for the Oct. 26 robbery of the Sanford, Maine, branch of Biddeford-based Ocean Communities FCU and an Aug.  21 robbery of a Citizens Bank branch in Somersworth, N.H.  Daniel Barry, 38, of Pembroke, N.H., and Marvin Eugene Ansteth Jr., 40, of Somersworth, N.H., also were arrested for the credit union robbery and a robbery of Kennebunk Savings Bank (ExeterPatch.com Nov. 20) ...
  • ELMIRA, N.Y. (12/19/13)--For the sixth year, the Small Business Administration has named Corning (N.Y.) CU as the top lender among small community lenders in the Southern Tier.  The $1 billion asset Corning had the highest approved SBA 7(a) loan rate in its category, with $1.9 million in approved loans--an increase of 39.6% from 2012. "Small business owners are the engine that drives our local economy, and since 2006, CCU has helped to provide our business members with access to the capital they need," said Ted Goldwyn, Corning's director of business services, in an announcement on Corning's website. "Everyone benefits when we can take steps to support the growth and success of the community we serve" ...

Nebraska CUs' Mortgage Loans Up 7.7% in 3Q

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OMAHA, Neb. (12/19/13)--A 7.7% surge in first mortgages led Nebraska credit unions to the highest level of growth in that category since the recession, according to the Nebraska Credit Union League.
 
The league's analysis of data from the National Credit Union Administration found that credit unions added $53.5 million in first mortgages through the third quarter, resulting in a total of $752.6 million in first mortgages and a 7.7% annual growth rate.
 
The level of overall loans outstanding reached $2.41 billion.
 
Also, the number of members that have auto loans at their credit unions rose 33 basis points, or 21.2% annually, for the third quarter. That penetration is higher than the national credit union average of 16.5%.
 
Credit union shares rose to $3.17 billion--a 4.1% increase compared with a year ago. Nebraska credit unions showed positive annual growth in all core deposit categories, said the league.
 
Membership at Nebraska credit unions reached 452,798 with a 2.1% growth rate that is on par with the national average.

Northwest CUs' 3Q Loan Growth More Than Banks

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BEAVERTON, Ore., and SEATAC, Wash. (12/19/13)--Credit unions in Oregon and Washington posted higher loan and asset growth than the region's banks, according to an analysis of third-quarter numbers from the National Credit Union Administration.
 
"Northwest credit unions continued to post strong growth in the third quarter," said Dan Hein, vice president of finance at the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Dec. 17).  
 
Buoyed by autos loans and first mortgages, loans grew by 2.48% at Northwest credit unions, compared with 0.95% at banks.
 
Credit unions and banks both saw an increase in assets: Credit unions grew 1.4% to $52.4 billion, and banks had 1% growth to $87 billion.
 
Delinquent loans continued to decline for Northwest financial institutions overall. Credit union delinquency ratios of 68 basis points remain well below that of banks' 158 basis points.
 
Other states with notable third-quarter growth include Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, and Cornerstone Credit Union League's members--Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas (News Now Dec. 17).

Cordray to Texas CUs: Much to Admire in CU Model

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/18/13)--Saying "there is much to admire in the credit union not-for-profit model," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray met with a group of Texas credit union leaders last week, according to the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
Cordray said he wanted to hear concerns Texas credit unions have about the CFPB, and noted several times that the comments he heard were "fair."
 
Among the issues discussed were the new CFPB qualified mortgage rules; the new remittance rules; concerns about overregulation; the perception that CFPB lacks appreciation for the credit union "difference," especially considering credit unions did not contribute to the financial crisis; and concerns about upcoming CFPB overdraft regulations, said the Cornerstone Credit Union League (The Advocate Dec. 18).
 
During the discussion of the remittance rule, Cordray asked for a show of hands by credit unions that had discontinued offering remittances in response to new regulations. Most audience members raised their hands. Cordray then asked how many remittances, on average, each credit union previously had annually processed. The number ranged from a few hundred to a thousand per year. Cordray said he was not aware that the regulation had created such a dramatic impact.
 
In addressing the qualified mortgage rules set to take effect Jan. 10, Cordray said that in the early months examiners are will not look for perfection, but rather a good faith effort by financial institutions.
 
One audience member suggested that while finding a good faith effort may be the CFPB's goal, the reality in the field when examiners visit credit unions may be different. Cordray said he had discussed the issue with National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz, who agreed with the CFPB's approach. If credit unions have a different experience, he suggested they take the matter to their league, which could intercede with CFPB on their behalf.
 
One participant asked if the CFPB could consider not only a financial institution's asset size, but also the not-for-profit structure of credit unions in the rulemaking process. Cordray said it was not within CFPB's power to treat credit unions differently in rulemaking, since the agency was created to regulate markets as a whole and on an even-handed basis.

PSCU Magic Minute Yields Huge Haul for Members, Charity

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (12/19/13)--Ten minutes: that's how long it took 10 members of PSCU member-owner credit unions to reap nearly $100,000 worth of high-end goods in a Chicago warehouse--their prize for winning the Credit Union Magic Minute Loyalty Sweepstakes.

In a related contest for a "Best Credit Union Magic Moment" video, employees from St. Petersburg, Fla.-based PSCU, the sweepstakes sponsor, and Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based ORNL FCU, grabbed another $20,000 in goods such as flat screens, tools, PlayStations, iMacs, home appliances and toys to donate to their community charities.

Winners of the Magic Minute Loyalty Sweepstakes received an all-expense paid trip to Chicago, a stay at the historic Palmer House downtown, and a place at the starting line in the loyalty dash Dec. 5. Their objective: push an oversized shopping cart through the warehouse and load as much as possible in 60 seconds.

PSCU created the sweepstakes as a way to give its member-owner credit unions a no-cost opportunity to reward members. As sponsor, the credit union service organization provided digital and print marketing and public relations to help credit unions create awareness about the sweepstakes with their members and communities.

Names of members who registered their contact information on their credit union's CURewards loyalty program website and used their credit union's credit or debit cards at least twice a week during the eligibility period were automatically entered in eight weekly drawings.

"The Magic Minute represents the soul of the credit union/member relationship, the feeling that good things happen to good people when they have mutual trust and loyalty," said Suzanne LaProva, PSCU vice president of product development. "This is why credit unions exist, to help their members prosper. And loyalty is a two-way street. Credit unions give back to the loyal members who support them."

PSCU plans to make the Magic Minute Loyalty Sweepstakes an annual event.

PCUA Foundation OKs $36K in Grants

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/19/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation board approved eight grants valued at $36,034 in its latest board meeting, held Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said.
 
The board also approved its 2014 budget, which includes $242,200 in revenues; $92,200 in operating expenses; and $150,000 in non-operating expenses (Life is a Highway Dec. 18)
 
Board Chairman Michael Kaczenski welcomed Patrick Conway, new president/CEO of PCUA, as an ex-officio to the foundation board.
 
"The credit union philosophy and social mission of the movement were key attractions to my joining PCUA," said Conway. "As this was my first foundation board meeting, I was truly impressed with the dedication of the board and the great work the foundation does to promote financial literacy and help the underserved."
 
In other actions, the board:
  • Acknowledged 2013 contributions from PCUA ($5,000), Pacul Services Inc. ($5,000), and Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers ($1,000);
  • Agreed to hold a strategic planning session on fundraising and other related issues in 2014; and
  • Received details on a PCUA team's recent visit to Haiti to evaluate the capacity of credit unions to assist the Haitian people.

Missouri's First #TweetUpTuesday Deemed 'Smashing Success'

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (12/19/13)--A credit union professional "TweetUp" in St. Louis, Mo., was hailed as "a smashing success" by the Missouri Credit Union Association.
 
Missouri credit union professionals met at a restaurant in St. Louis on Dec. 10 to discuss social media strategy at the first "#TweetUpTuesday"--organized by Vantage CU Social Media Manager Kenny DeShields. (Photo provided by Missouri Credit Union Association)
Employees from eight credit unions--Anheuser-Busch Employees' CU, American Eagle CU, Vantage CU, Alliance CU, Arsenal CU, West Community CU, Scott CU and Purina CU--met at a restaurant on Dec. 10 to discuss holiday content and social media strategies (The Missouri Difference Dec. 18).
 
Discussions focused on the optimal time for social media posts, outreach to fans and encouraging employees to become social media advocates. Participants also discussed sources for social media strategy analysis, including a blog maintained by internet marketing consultant Jon Loomer.
 
The next "#TweetUpTuesday" will be held on Jan. 14 at the Blue Sky Tower Grill in St. Louis. The group is slated to discuss content calendars and best practices for both finding and scheduling updates.
 
Kenny DeShields, social media manager for the Bridgeton, Mo.-based Vantage CU initially proposed the idea to hold "TweetUpTuesdays" to foster collaboration (News Now Dec. 10).
 
"Tweetups are a great way for like-minded individuals to gather and share ideas on everything ranging from business to everyday life," said DeShields.

CU System Briefs (12/18/2013)

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  • CHESTERFIELD, Va. (12/ 18/13)--A man, told by a cell phone scammer his wife was being threatened, approached two credit unions in Richmond, Va., Monday to withdraw funds from accounts. Initially police stopped him because his burgundy car fit the description of someone who robbed a branch of Virginia CU.  However, the man told police he was a victim. He approached tellers at Call FCU, withdrew $1,800 from his savings account and handed tellers a note that said, "Under duress, call the police!" The man was cleared of robbery charges after telling police he had received a call on his cell phone from an insistent man who was holding his wife until he sent money to pay for a fender-bender. The phone call was traced to Puerto Rico. The man's wife returned from a shopping trip unharmed and unaware of what had happened. She had left her cell phone at home. Scammers are getting more creative, Tom Gallagher of the Better Business Bureau told WTVR.com (Dec. 16) ...
  • AUSTIN, Texas (12/18/13)--An Austin, Texas-based credit union revealed it will have a new president/CEO in the new year. Government Employees FCU announced Monday that Dee Crisp will be appointed to the role on Jan. 6. Crisp has worked for United San Antonio FCU for the past eight years, where he served as vice president of finance. "It is an honor to accept the role of president/CEO of GEFCU," he said. "The organization has such a rich history and opportunity for success, I am eager to begin my service to the credit union and its community." United San Antonio FCU is based in San Antonio, Texas, and has roughly $227 million in assets. GEFCU has about $123 million in assets ...
  • RICHLAND, Wash. (12/18/13)--The interim president/CEO of Gesa CU has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis. Don Miller, Gesa's temporary head since June, was named this week as its the next leader (Tri-City Herald Dec. 16). Miller has held several executive positions with Gesa since joining in 1987. He has most recently served as its chief sales officer. "Don's broad knowledge of the financial industry and the markets Gesa serves make him the ideal candidate to lead Gesa into the future," said Board Chairman Gregg Andrews. Gesa CU is based in Richland, Wash., and has $1.27 billion in assets ...

N.Y. CUs' Growth Exceeds National Numbers

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ALBANY, N.Y. (12/18/13)--The Credit Union Association of New York noted that the state's credit unions continue to surpass national numbers in growth of membership and shares.
 
Annual membership growth clocked in at 3.3%, compared with 2.1% on the national stage, according to the analysis of third-quarter numbers.
 
Where share balances increased an average of 4.1% nationally, New York credit unions experienced 5.3% growth. As of Sept. 30, their total shares outstanding totaled $55.8 billion, the association said.
 
The average New York credit union branch originated more loans ($13.2 million) than the national credit union average of $12.9 million, and member business lending continued to strengthen. Just over 14% of the state's loans are classified as business loans--more than double the national average of 6.2%. A September-to-September comparison showed a 13% increase in member business loans.
 
"Credit unions across New York and the nation are continuing to build on the momentum they've gained since the recession," said CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin.
 
New York's second-quarter numbers also were higher than the national averages, according to the association.
 
Other states with notable third-quarter growth include Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Idaho, and Cornerstone Credit Union League's members--Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas (News Now Dec. 17).

'Crash the GAC' Deadline Extended to Friday

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MADISON, Wis. (12/18/13)--The Crash the GAC program is just shy of its goal of 51 attendees for the 2014 Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). To reach that objective, the application deadline has been moved to Friday.
 
"The response to the 2014 Crash the GAC has been amazing," said Meghann Dawson, instructional design manager, CUNA. "We're down to just a few more states before we reach our goal of having every state represented." She noted that CUNA is partnering with The Cooperative Trust and state credit union leagues to support the system-wide initiative.
 
Now in its fifth year, Crash the GAC's goal is to have one "crasher" from each state and the District of Columbia attend CUNA's signature conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.
 
Crash the GAC is supported by The Cooperative Trust, CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, state credit union leagues and other credit union associations.
 
Use the link or email trust@trust.coop for more information about applying or about available sponsorships.
 

Filene Launches Study Examining Americans' Financial Capacity

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MADISON, Wis. (12/18/13)--Filene Research Institute and George Washington University's Global Financial Literacy Excellency Center (GFLEC) have partnered to explore Americans' financial capability.
 
The basis for the initiative, which will be guided by Filene research fellow and GFLEC Academic Director Annamaria Lusardi, will be the 2012 National Financial Capability Study.
 
Commissioned by the Financial Investor Education Investor Foundation, the study benchmarks key indicators of financial capability and evaluates how these indicators vary by demographics, behavior, attitude and financial literacy. The state-by-state results break down financial decisions and literacy by gender, age bracket and region, and highlight how a lack of financial capability has disadvantaged many Americans.
 
The Filene-GFLEC project will result in four reports that provide detailed data and insights on the financial needs of pre-retirees (ages 51-60), women, young adults and Latinos/Hispanics.
 
"Each of these groups represents an important constituency for credit unions," said George Hofheimer, chief innovation and research officer at Filene. "The young adult and pre-retiree groups face inflection points in which they need to make important financial decisions. Latinos represent almost 20% of the U.S. population and almost all of the U.S.'s net population growth. And women are key household decision makers whose priorities, and preferences need to be better understood."
 
The research project is expected to continue over an 11-month period. The first report will be released in early 2014.
 

Biometrics Topic of White Paper from TMG

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DES MOINES, Iowa. (12/18/13)--Mainstream adoption of biometrics authentication to identify people will be driven not only by the improved security the technology offers, but also by the simplicity of use it provides users, according to a new white paper from The Members Group (TMG).
 
The paper cites perhaps the most widespread example of the consumer market embracing biometrics technology: the iPhone 5s, which came equipped with fingerprint identification.
 
The iPhone's fingerprint scanning technology provides a good test of the mainstream market, said the paper's author, Nicole Reyes, TMG senior fraud prevention analyst.

"Indeed, many iPhone users have welcomed the innovation, largely because it has made life just a little bit easier for them," she wrote. "While those of us in the security profession would like to think it was the increased safekeeping of their personal data and information that intrigued iPhone fans, we know most people are just as excited about speed and simplicity as they are about security."
 
Biometrics within account-related channels, ranging from hotel room keys to amusement park passes to ATM transactions, is not passing fad, Reyes added. As with any technology innovation, however, developers must prove the tool is not only valuable, but simple. "In other words, consumers may like the idea of security, but they love the idea of simple," Reyes wrote.
 
Processors, acquirers, merchants and financial institutions in the U.S. that are working towards the migration to the Euro MasterCard Visa standard are well-advised also to monitor the development of biometric security solutions, the papers said. As biometric security on mobile devices increases, mobile commerce will change significantly. Solutions are finding their way into the mainstream with increased speed, and often without the help or even support of traditional financial industry players, the paper said.

School Board's Tax Resolution Heads Toward Public Hearing

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BISMARCK, N.D. (12/18/13)--Banks in South Dakota remain persistent in attempting to get local-level government entities to weigh in on credit unions' tax status.  However, credit unions should not be deterred by the Brookings (S.D.) School Board's action Monday to move banks' resolution to a public hearing, said the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.
 
Credit union advocates could not get on the school board's meeting agenda and therefore did not get the opportunity to rebut bankers' arguments, said CUAD (The Memo Dec. 17). A public hearing presents that opportunity. In other meetings in Brookings and several areas of the state, when credit unions were able to present their case, they have prevailed.
 
According to CUAD advocates who attended the meeting, board member Van Fishback opened the discussion and Marysz Rames, the board president, directed the board to move the bank-driven resolution forward for a public hearing.  Fishback is a third-generation banker and vice chairman of Fishback Financial Corp., the holding company for First Bank and Trust of Brookings.
 
The resolution was brought by Kevin Tetzlaff, president/CEO of First Bank and Trust in Brookings, and chairman of the South Dakota Bankers Association.

In other developments, due to a scheduling conflict, the "Taxation Equality" resolution did not go before the Yankton (S.D.) County Commission Tuesday afternoon and is likely to be rescheduled to be considered at the next meeting in January, said CUAD, whose advocates will be on hand to debate the bankers' appeal.

CUs Collaborate to Protect Members Against Fraud

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MADISON, Wis. (12/18/13)--When security breaches lead to card fraud, credit unions' No. 1 method of defense is education--of their members, other credit unions and the community at large.
 
Most recently, a payment-processing system breach in the Inland Northwest led to credit unions and other financial institutions to put restrictions and holds on card purchases. This--in addition to notifying card holders of the fraud and issuing new cards--helps reduce or even prevent fraudulent transactions from going through.
 
Credit unions in the Spokane, Wash., area began receiving increased reports of card fraud from their members in September. The common point of purchase: grocery stores that use URM Stores Inc. for their payment processing (The Spokesman-Review Dec. 15). Rosauers, Harvest Foods, Huckleberry's Natural Market, Yoke's Fresh Market and Super 1 Foods are among the grocers that use the network.
 
The exposed credit card data were sold on the black market and ended up on counterfeit cards. Fraudulent purchases have been reported globally.
 
The losses are mounting into the thousands, and it's not merchants or member/customers who cover the loss.
 
"Almost 100% of the time, it's the financial institution," said Debra Keesee, CEO, Spokane (Wash.) Media FCU.
 
Credit unions have fraud insurance, but because the losses must meet certain deductibles, the credit unions often are still on the hook for the losses.
 
A similar fraud scenario occurred in Indiana. A credit union's card company and its core processor identified a common point of purchase relating to compromised card information (Herald-Times  Dec. 3). Indiana University CU, Bloomington, had to re-issue roughly 4,000 debit cards with new numbers. To protect the members, the credit union put the cards into a fraud-monitoring program that blocks signature-based "swipes" at the point of sale. Reissuing the cards is an inconvenience, said Bryan Price, president/CEO of the $761 million-asset credit union, but it is a practical way to control the fraud.
 
Another way for credit unions to protect each other and members is to share information about other types of fraud. Internet Archive FCU, New Brunswick, N.J., said it had been presented with a fraudulent official check that had been drawn off HEB FCU. On its website, the San Antonio-based HEB FCU urged that people call the credit union to verify official checks.
 
Last week, debit-card holders in Vermont received automated telephone calls that attempted to collect account numbers (Newsline Express Dec. 13). The Association of Vermont Credit Unions advised credit unions to be alert and educate members about the calls. Credit unions should emphasize that they would never request an account number by phone, text or email because they already have that information.
 
These educational reminders--as well as collaboration with law enforcement divisions and other financial institutions--support credit unions' work to mitigate the impact of fraud.

CU System Briefs (12/17/2013)

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  • METAIRIE, La. (12/17/13)--Louisiana Corporate Credit Union announced the election of new board members at its annual meeting in November. Reggie Gremillion, CEO of Wymar FCU in Geismar, La., and Melissa Matherne, a certified public accountant for Fleur De Lis FCU in Metairie, La., were chosen to serve on the board. The meeting was also the last for board members Donald Bock, chair of the New Orleans Firemen's FCU in Metairie, and Larry Landry, board member of Dow Louisiana FCU in Plaquemine, La. Both men retired from Louisiana Corporate's board of directors. Board members returning next year include Coastland FCU CEO George Florane, Jefferson FCU CEO Mark Rosa, and CY-CO FCU CEO Joyce Taylor. Lousiana Corporate Credit Union is a wholesale lender serving more than 200 credit unions ...
  • ARLINGTON, Va. (12/17/13)--National Cooperative Bank Executive Vice President Barry Silver will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame next year. Silver, who joined NCB in 1980, will be recognized for his work promoting the cooperative model around the world. He helped launch the NCB Co-op 100, an annual list highlighting the positive impact of cooperatives in the U.S, and, twenty years ago, helped found the Purchasing Co-Op Conference, an annual gathering for CEOs in the purchasing cooperative sector. Silvers has also consulted for the World Bank in China, working with agricultural cooperatives for four years, and has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development on cooperative and capital enhancement projects in Peru. He has also assisted credit unions in the Dominican Republic and is attempting to help Spain's Mondragon Cooperative expand to the U.S. Silvers has served as an adviser and a board member for a number of non-profits, including the Advisory Board of Group Health Association, the National Grocers Association, the Sollars Fund, the National Multicultural Institute and the Cooperative Development Foundation. The Cooperative Hall of Fame is administered by the Cooperative Development Foundation, which is the charity arm of the National Cooperative Business Associations. NCB offers banking and financial services to U.S. cooperatives and their members ...

Iowa, Cornerstone League CUs Note Strong Growth

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MADISON, Wis. (12/17/13)--Analysis of the third-quarter numbers from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) continues to show strong credit union growth across the nation.
 
The Iowa Credit Union League noted that Iowa's credit unions are first in the nation in annual share and deposit growth. Iowa posted a 9% year-over-year gain in deposits to $10.1 billion. In total asset growth, Iowa had the second-fastest rate with 8.2% compared with 2012--nearly double that of the national growth rate of 4.3%.
 
"We are seeing very positive growth in credit union membership, loans and deposits, while continuing to enjoy a strong capital ratio and low delinquency," said Patrick Jury, league president/CEO.
 
The Cornerstone Credit Union League noted that area credit unions have written 2.15 million new loans worth $24.5 billion into its member states' economies (Leaguer Dec. 16). Arkansas credit unions wrote $663 million in new loans through September, Oklahoma credit unions have written $3.3 billion, and credit unions in Texas wrote more than $20.5 billion.
 
In the past 12 months ending Sept. 30, credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas saw assets grow by almost 5.6% (Leaguer Dec. 16) to $94.8 billion.  Growth was strongest in credit unions with more than $250 million in assets, but even those with less than $50 million in assets grew 1.2%.
 
NCUA's breakdown of numbers for federally chartered credit unions showed Idaho had the strongest third quarter for outstanding loans, membership and assets; Missouri's credit unions reached $11.2 billion in assets (News Now Dec. 5); and Minnesota membership reached an all-time high of 1.6 million (News Now Dec. 6).

CUs' Presence in Small-Biz Lending Grows

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MADISON, Wis. (12/17/13)--Credit union approval rates for small business loan applications improved to 44.5% in November from 43.4% in October, according Biz2Credit, a funding source for small businesses.
 
A Dec. 12 article from the Fox Business Small Business Center advising entrepreneurs on how to apply for their first business loans suggested applicants seek out credit unions as their financial institution of choice.
 
In the Coleman Report, a small business lending newsletter, columnist Charles Green suggested allowing credit unions to make more business loans is among the ways to increase small business lending. Ty Kiisel cited Green for his Dec. 16 column in the Deseret News. "All my community banker friends now want to hang me up by my toenails, but anything that provides more capital availability is a good idea in my opinion," Kiisel wrote.
 
Credit union business lending has a growing presence throughout Pennsylvania. A 2014 business lender list, compiled by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), shows 133 contacts at 32 credit unions that are active business lending institutions.
 
PCUA has provided the information to the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Credit unions are now more likely to get referrals for business loans from the state's SBDC offices, PCUA said (Life is a Highway Dec. 16).
 
Credit unions were cited throughout 2013 for the capital support they provided small businesses throughout the Great Recession, and credited with picking up the slack created as banks clamped down on credit to small business owners, for instance by Bloomberg Business Week in June. However, that same Bloomberg  article noted the statutory member business lending (MBL) cap is constraining credit unions in their ability to support their small business members.
 
The Credit Union National Association has been urging Congress to allow credit unions to play a larger role in helping small businesses through MBLs. The statutory cap on MBLs loans, as a proportion of credit union's assets, is currently 12.25%. CUNA says that raising the federal government-mandated ceiling to 27.5% would inject $13 billion into the economy, and help boost employment by 140,000 at no cost to taxpayers.

Today's the Deadline for 'Crash the GAC'

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MADISON, Wis. (12/17/13)--Time is running out for young credit union professionals to apply for Crash the GAC 2014, held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
 
Applications are due today to receive a full conference registration for the Feb. 23-27 event in Washington, D.C.
 
Now in its fifth year, Crash the GAC's goal for 2014 is to have 51 "crashers"--one from each state and the District of Columbia.
 
Crashers start their experience with a meet-and-greet session Feb. 23 then launch into a schedule packed with mentoring opportunities with key industry players, a strong focus on advocacy and a review panel to take their lessons home to their states and credit unions.
 
Crash the GAC is presented by The Cooperative Trust and CUNA--in association with state credit union leagues and other credit union associations--and sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group.
 
Use the link or email trust@trust.coop for more information about applying or about available sponsorships.

CO-OP Simplifies Giving to CMNH via ATMs

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (12/17/13)--CO-OP Financial Services and Credit Unions for Kids, the program through which credit unions raise funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, are introducing an add-on transaction that will allow credit union members to make charitable contributions during their ATM transactions.
 
"It is a very easy matter for our clients to activate this convenient charitable contribution opportunity for their members," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "We encourage them to take advantage of this program promptly to maximize giving."
 
Debit card-holding members of credit unions may contribute to the industry's charity of choice, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, while they conduct their business at participating CO-OP ATM locations.  
 
Credit Unions for Kids, a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide, raises funds for 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Credit unions are the nation's third-largest sponsor of the hospitals, and 100% of every dollar donated goes to support research and training, purchase equipment or pay for uncompensated care for children.
 
"Credit Unions for Kids is dedicated to helping sick and injured children receive the care they need regardless of their financial situations," said Joe Dearborn, CMN Hospitals senior director. "CO-OP Financial Services has been a steadfast partner for more than 15 years, and they have now come up with another wonderful way for credit union members to participate in this great cause."  
 
CO-OP Financial Services also manages the CO-OP Miracle Match program on behalf of its 3,500-client credit unions. The program grants $1 million annually in matches to Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers. CO-OP is now accepting applications for the 2014 CO-OP Miracle Match program.
 
Also, CO-OP Financial Services will provide support for the Credit Unions for Kids development manager position at the American Association of Credit Union Leagues for three additional years. CO-OP also supported the position for three previous years.
 
The Credit Unions for Kids Development Manager position supplies the Credit Union National Association and credit union league system with resources to better support their member credit unions' initiatives with Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids).
 
"It is in large part because of CO-OP's commitment, led by Stan and his entire team, the CU4Kids program has enjoyed so much success," said Dearborn. "From the million dollars pledged annually in helping the Miracle Match program to the support of the CU4Kids development manager position at ACCUL, CO-OP has been a real leader in the credit union community to support the kids and families served by CMN Hospitals."

Southeastern CU League Moves to New Offices

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/17/13)--In a move to reduce operating costs, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) and Affiliates moved its Tallahassee, Fla., office and signed a new lease for its Birmingham, Ala., location.
Click to view larger image The League of Southeastern Credit Unions moved its Tallahassee, Fla., office to the Credit Union Center building. (Photo provided by LSCU)
 
LSCU moved to Credit Union Center--the building that currently houses Member Business Solutions, a CU Members Mortgage regional office and Corporate One FCU's Florida offices.
 
The new Tallahassee address is LSCU and Affiliates, 3692 Coolidge Ct., Tallahassee, FL 32311.
 
"We signed a new lease for our Birmingham office that downsizes our existing space and provides a better rate," said Patrick La Pine, league president/CEO. "These two moves will show about $2 million in savings over seven years."
 
Lease-holder improvements at the Birmingham office also will be seen by the end of the first quarter of 2014, according to the league.
 
LSCU and Affiliates represents 285 member credit unions in Florida and Alabama.

CU System Briefs (12/16/2013)

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  • WASHINGTON (12/16/13)--Twelve staff from the Credit Union National Association's Washington, D.C., offices were on hand Dec. 12 to help man the phone lines for three hours during a WPGC Radiothon benefitting Children's National Medical Center in Washington. The telethon raised more than $85,000 for the children's hospital, which is a local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Assisting in the efforts were Angela Barnett, Jamie Bell, Adam Engelman, Felicity Guerin, Jillian Hitt, Carmen Mercado, Megan Mundt, Grace Sanchez, Alicia Schmitz, Ruth Shirley, Shane Singh, and Katie Wingo.  Pictured from left are: Wingo, executive assistant of CUNA's government affairs; Guerin, development manager of Credit Unions for Kids, and Hitt, executive assistant of legislative affairs. (Photo provided by CUNA) ...
  • ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/16/13)--Judy (Root) Greff, an Associated Healthcare CU employee, is set to be honored as a Credit Union Builder by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation before her impending retirement. An industry professional for more than 30 years, Greff has also worked for NSP Highbridge CU, MTC Employees CU, and Bluestone FCU. She worked on the successful merger between Bluestone and AHCU in 2011, and has served on the MnCUF board of directors for six years. Greff also served on the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Credit Union for Kids, awards and election committees, was a member of the Grass Roots Education and Action Team, was active in the network's River Cities chapter, and offered financial education to women in the Eagan Homeless Shelter. Greff is among 23 people awarded MnCUF's Credit Union Builder Award. AHCU is based in St. Paul, Minn., and has $43 million in assets ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (12/16/13)--Truliant FCU President/CEO Marcus Schaefer has been named to the Center for International Understanding board of directors, said the North Carolina Credit Union League (The Weekly Conversation Dec. 12). The CIU, which was founded in 1979, offers educational programs for business, policy and academic leaders. "Truliant's mission to enhance the financial lives of its member-owners ties in nicely with The Center for International Understanding's mission to globally engage our state through awareness and action, and I'm honored to be named a board member," he said. Raleigh, N.C.-based CIU is part of the University of North Carolina system. Schaefer has led Truliant since 1995. He serves on the Small Business Technology Development Center advisory board for the Triad Region, and as chair of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Credit Union Advisory Council, and on the Credit Union National Association's World Leadership Development Committee. Truliant FCU is based in Winston-Salem, N.C. and has $1.6 billion in assets ...
 
 
 
 
 

Lien Rules Unsettling, Oregon CUs Tell State Legislature

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PORTLAND, Ore. (12/16/13)--Oregon credit unions and the Northwest Credit Union Association are pressing for changes in a state law that allows mechanics to place liens on vehicles for unpaid work (Anthem Dec. 12).
 
The league, accompanied by representatives from $3.38 billion asset OnPoint Community CU, Portland, Ore., testified before the state House Consumer Protection Committee last week.
 
Under Oregon law, mechanics who work on vehicles may enforce a lien against the title holder if they are not paid for the work performed. To do so, the law requires mechanics to obtain authorization to complete the work, and notify any existing owners and lienholders of their intention to file the lien. If the lien is placed, others with interest in the vehicle--including the mechanics' customer and any lenders--are stripped of their title rights.
 
The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles processes mechanic's liens without requiring mechanics to demonstrate that they have met the legal requirements. Some mechanics have placed liens for inflated amounts--with additional fees for storage and other unsupported items--and gained possession of vehicles, then disposed of them, NWCUA said.
 
The vehicles original title holders--Oregon consumers and lenders--are left with few options, NWCUA said. Filing suit to regain the title requires posting a bond for twice the amount of the mechanic's lien and paying legal costs that are not reimbursed by the defendant, even if the plaintiff prevails in litigation. That financial burden, along with the time and documentation required to build a case, usually make such lawsuits prohibitive, NWCUA said.

Georgia Magazine Names GCUA a Top Trade Association

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ATLANTA (12/16/13)--A Georgia magazine ranked Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) as the No. 8 top trade association in the state in its latest issue.
 
Published by Insider Advantage, James Magazine is a political and news magazine for Georgia governmental and civic leaders.
 
"One of the most important aspects of working for a trade association is the ability to effectively advocate for that industry," said Cindy Connelly, GCUA senior vice president of government influence.
 
The magazine tapped Brandee Bickle, GCUA director of government affairs, as one of nine "Rising Stars" among the state's lobbyists.
 
Bickle's recognition is an example of GCUA's determination and drive to help credit unions succeed, said Stacy Tallent, CEO, Health Center CU, Augusta, and GCUA board chair.

Bill To Expand N.J. Advisory Council Passes Assembly Committee

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TRENTON, N.J. (12/16/13)--Legislation to expand New Jersey's Credit Union Advisory Council to seven members and provide for representation of federally chartered credit unions passed the state Assembly's Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee by a 7-0 vote Thursday.
 
The bill expands the CUAC from five members. It designates that no fewer than four seats be held by representatives of state-chartered credit unions, and no fewer than two seats can be held by representatives of federally chartered credit unions, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Dec. 12).
 
The legislation will now move to the full assembly for a vote. If it is approved there, it will go to Gov. Chris Christie for signature.
 
Christie's signature is not a certainty, even if the legislation passes the assembly, said Christian Abeel, league director of government affairs.
 
"The governor has had an initiative to consolidate boards like this to save taxpayer dollars," Abeel told News Now. "We argue that this board is funded by credit unions so it doesn't cost the state money."
 
Earlier in this legislative session, New Jersey credit unions persuaded legislators to squash a plan that would have replaced CUAC with a consumer finance advisory board, where only two of nine seats would be held by credit union representatives.
 
The CUAC was established through legislation enacted in 1984 as a vehicle for state-chartered credit unions to advise state government on credit union-related matters. Members are nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the state Senate.
 
"The original council was to advise was really focused on state-chartered credit unions," Abeel said. "Since 1984, there has been so much more regulation, but regulation by activity, so that a federally chartered credit union in New Jersey, while exempt from some New Jersey law and regulation, is still subject to others, particularly in the area of mortgage lending and collections. So while the state is not the primary regulator by charter, it is a regulator by activity, and not all of these activities are pre-empted."
 
Federally chartered credit unions may be exempt from some state laws and regulations, but certain activities, such as mortgage lending and collections, are subject to state regulation, Abeel said.
 
The newest CUAC bill recognizes that federally chartered credit unions, though primarily regulated by the federal government, are also subject to numerous state laws and regulations and should have a voice as well.
 
The Senate bill passed by a 38-0 vote in November.

Dakota CUs' Advocacy on Tax Status Declared a Victory in Brookings

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (12/16/13)--South Dakota credit union advocates succeeded again in stopping bankers' attempts at getting city and county municipalities to adopt resolutions challenging credit unions' tax status, this time before the Brookings, S.D., City Council.

Local press declared a clear victory for credit unions after a two-hour volley of discussion between the South Dakota bankers and advocates from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas at the council's Dec. 10 meeting, said CUAD (Brookings Register Dec. 12).

The council rejected the banks' resolution that would have urged Congress to tax credit unions and Farm Credit Services. Instead, it sided with the credit union argument, saying there were potential conflicts of interest and it wanted to avoid taking sides in choosing one business over the other, said CUAD (The Memo Dec. 13).
 
Council member John Kubal questioned whether supporting the bankers' resolution meant "the local government wasn't being turned into a lobbyist for the bankers' organization," and added, "I don't know how, if we send this forward, we can't be seen to be on the side of the banks."

Council member Tom Bezdichek said it would be "a conflict of interest for the city because the local banks hold literally tens of millions of dollars of city indebtedness."  He noted "there are places for both banks and credit unions, and I can't quite believe that the city council should be making a resolution when millions and millions of our debt is held by a bank."  The vote was a tie, 3 to 3.

Although the bankers' resolution is dead, the council substituted and passed, 4 to 2, another resolution calling for a congressional review of all federal taxation as it relates to local governments. It does not address the debate between credit unions and banks, CUAD said, noting that it is a victory for credit unions.

CUAD Vice President of Advocacy Jeff Olson, as well as Dan Cumbee, president/CEO of  Dakotaland FCU, Huron, S.D., and  Evelyn Friezen, a credit union member, spoke on behalf of credit unions at the meeting.

So far credit unions in the state have won the tax status debates before municipalities in Brookings County, Yankton City, Yankton School Board, Vermillion City, Clay County and Campbell County. Only the Brookings Economic Development Corp., where credit unions did not have the opportunity for rebuttal, has passed a resolution.

CUAD is remaining active on the issue. It will argue credit unions' position before the Brookings School Board today, the Brookings Chamber of Commerce's legislative affairs committee on Jan. 2, and the Vermillion legislative affairs committee on Jan. 14, Olson told News Now.

To access a video of the Brookings Council meeting, use the link, and scroll to item No. 18 on the agenda, where the taxation debate begins.

Councils Sponsor Eddie Money at GAC Concert

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MADISON, Wis. (12/16/13)--Known for his hits "Take Me Home Tonight" and "Two Tickets to Paradise," '80s rocker Eddie Money will open the 2014 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 23 in Washington, D.C.
 
Money's appearance during Sunday night's opening is sponsored by CUNA Councils. "His music spans genres and generations," said Rudy Pereira, president/CEO, Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., and chair of the CUNA Council Forum. "It's sure to bring this year's attendees together and get them energized for the high-impact week ahead."
 
Money's career began in the late '70s with his self-titled album and the hits "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets to Paradise." Throughout the 1980s, Money had a string of Top 40 hits. Proceeds from the sales of his 2011 single "One More Soldier Coming Home" go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund that supports U.S. military personnel wounded or injured in service.
 
For more information about CUNA's signature conference, which runs Feb. 23-27, use the link.

CUs Continue to Push Tax Status with Lawmakers

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MADISON, Wis. (12/16/13)--Credit unions continue to meet with their state's individual congressional representatives to drive home the point that credit unions' tax status centers on their cooperative, member-owned structure, not on asset size, products offered, or their growth.
 
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), second from left, met Thursday with credit union leaders from his state at an event hosted by the New Jersey Credit Union League at Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. Pictured with Holt are, from left: League Director of Governmental Affairs Chris Abeel, XCEL FCU President/CEO and NJCUL Board member Linda McFadden, and league President/CEO Greg Michlig. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
At an event hosted Thursday at the Credit Union House in Washington, D.C., by the New Jersey Credit Union League, the state's credit unions took the opportunity to meet with U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) (The Daily Exchange Dec. 13).
 
Holt is an avid supporter and has publicly announced his support of credit unions' tax exemption on corporate income tax, said the league.  In August, Holt's office responded to a league survey of the state congressional delegation and confirmed that "Rep. Rush Hold does support the continuation of the federal tax exemption for the nation's credit unions. He always has and will continue to support the credit union tax exemption because credit unions provide needed and valued services in our local communities."
 
Among those at the event were league President/CEO Greg Michlig; Secaucus-based XCEL FCU President/CEO and league board member Linda McFadden; and league Director of Governmental Affairs Chris Abeel.
 
In Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Board Director Paula Nihoff and PCUA Governmental Affairs Committee member Vic Gioiosa met with Jim Frank, district director of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's (R-Pa.) office in the Hollidaysburg district to discuss credit union priorities and concerns, including preserving credit unions' tax status.
 
Nihoff is president/CEO of  Johnstown, Pa.-based  Healthcare First CU, and Gioiosa is president/CEO of ARC FCU, Altoona.
 
In addition to implications for credit unions from tax code reform, the group discussed the complexity and cost of regulations, and charter enhancements, said PCUA (Life is a Highway Dec. 12).
 
The meeting with Shuster's office completes PCUA's goal of coordinating credit union meetings with all of Pennsylvania's 18-member congressional delegation and two U.S. senators.
 
On the state legislation level, Maine Credit Union League President/CEO John Murphy and league Director of Governmental Affairs Quincy Hentzel recently  met with state Sen. Anne Haskell (D), the new Assistant Majority Leader in the state Senate (Weekly Update Dec. 13).
 
Haskell, who visited the league office, replaces Sen. Seth Goodall, who resigned to become the new Small Business Administration Administrator for New England.
 
The league reached out to Haskell to set a meeting before the next legislative session begins Jan. 8 to discuss credit unions' issues, share information and to engage in a dialogue on her new position.
 
During the meeting, Haskell complimented credit unions for having "a strong presence in Augusta, and for being a great resource to answer questions on issues that impact financial services. The credit unions are engaged and involved with legislators."
 
The Credit Union National Association, in its national Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign and other advocacy programs, has often noted the important of grassroots credit union efforts  in making credit unions' positions on issues clear to both federal and state-level lawmakers. It and the leagues often urge making contact with new legislators to help open dialogue so credit unions have a presence when issues, such as preserving the credit union tax status, are being addressed by state legislatures and/or Congress.

N.Y. Judge Approves Credit Interchange Settlement

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NEW YORK, N.Y. (12/16/13)--A $5.7 billion class action interchange suit was approved on Friday by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn.
 
The settlement is the largest private antitrust damages recovery in U.S. history. The approved settlement follows a 2008 suit in which merchants alleged MasterCard and Visa set artificially high credit card interchange fees.
 
The settlement requires a reduced interchange rate fee (IRF) of 10 basis points for an eight month period. The reduced fee will apply to all card issuers, including credit unions.

If the total credit IRF reduction is $1.2 billion, credit unions with credit card programs would lose about $50 million in total revenues, or about 0.5 basis points on their total assets, the Credit Union National Association said. The loss would be concentrated among a relatively small number of credit unions with very active credit card programs.

The approved settlement also calls for Visa, MasterCard and the banks to create a fund to repay retailers for past fees charged and says retailers would be permitted to assess "check out" fees or surcharges on credit card purchases, which has previously been prohibited by Visa and Mastercard rules.
 
Some merchants have indicated they will opt out of the approved settlement.
 
About 216 merchants in August filed a separate antitrust lawsuit in a Marshall, Texas, U.S. District Court against Visa and MasterCard, claiming the card companies' policies force them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in excess interchange fees. That suit seeks unspecified damages, along with punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Holiday Cheer Spreads to Overseas Soldiers

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MADISON, Wis. (12/16/13)--The number of shopping days is quickly dwindling as Christmas nears, but credit unions' holiday spirit continues to swell.

  • Click to view larger image Nearly 120 employees and volunteers packed boxes for more than 5,000 soldiers deployed from North Carolina. This is the fourth year that State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., has sent holiday packages overseas. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
    More than 5,000 packages will be sent to North Carolina soldiers who are deployed overseas. State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., has been collecting items for its Support the Troops program since mid-September. Nearly 120 credit union employees and volunteers filled boxes with first aid items, games, snacks, toiletries, and cards and letters from North Carolina students.

    In 2012, Army Sgt. Odaliska Almonte received one of the care packages last year and was on hand for this year's project. "The care packages were great, especially all of the cards we received from children," she said. "They were the highlight of the box and many soldiers posted them over their bunks so they would be the first thing they would see. The cards just lifted your spirits."

  • In Idaho, employees from Pioneer FCU teamed up with the Shop with a Cop program. Across the town of Mountain Home, businesses opened their doors to children, letting them purchase gifts for their families. Law enforcement, emergency service and military employees chaperoned 130 children, watching their smiles as they picked gifts for their families (Mountain Home News Dec. 13). Once the children and their "personal shoppers" were finished, credit union volunteers took over the final stages of gift wrapping. Mary Morin, a Pioneer FCU employee, has helped organize the event for the past 11 years.

  • Andrews FCU shared its spirit of giving internationally. The credit union, which is headquartered in Suitland, Md., has seven branches in the U.S. and five overseas locations. All participated in the food drive that collected more than 2,700 items for food banks and charities in their area (The Daily Exchange Dec. 10).

  • Children in Massachusetts' Central Berkshire County will have a warmer winter thanks to Greylock CU, Pittsfield, Mass. The credit union is collecting new winter hats, scarves, mittens and coats for the ELF Holiday Warm Clothing Program. Greylock CU is working with Berkshire County Action Council to distribute items to more than 600 children (The Berkshire Eagle Dec. 9)

  • Travis CU supports a number of community charities during the holidays, including the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Opportunity House's Festival of Trees, Christmas Wish 2013 and Toys for Tots.  The Vacaville, Calif., credit union participates in Children's Miracle Network activities that help the UC Davis Medical Center and Valley Children's Hospital Central California. Proceeds from its employee craft fair go to the Heather House Homeless Shelter (The Davis Enterprise Dec. 8).

  • Twenty-five food pantries and hunger programs will receive more than $275,000 from Fox Valley, Wis., businesses and residents. The Fox Cities Chapter of Credit Unions pledged $25,000 of the initial $120,000 matching grants for the Stock the Shelves campaign (The Post-Crescent Dec. 8).

  • The 14 Southern California branches of NuVision FCU served as collection centers for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Last year, the Huntington Beach-based credit union collected more than 10 bins of toys, and Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations L.J. Tarman said they hope to exceed that amount with this year's drive.

CUs Create New Association Dedicated to Police CUs

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ORANGE, Calif. (12/13/13)--Law enforcement credit unions now have an association dedicated to helping them address the unique challenges that they face.
 
Creation of the new Police Officers' Credit Union Association (POCUA) stems from a conference launched in 2004. Since then, interest and support for an association has grown.
 
"The new normal of thin margins, increased regulatory compliance and fierce competition for business has brought about a greater need for an association," said Ken Bator of Bator Training and Consulting. He added that POCUA "will act as a conduit where members of any size will find resources and support to not just survive but to thrive."
 
To create the association, Bator Training and Consulting worked with a group of credit union executives from Chicago Patrolmen's FCU; Police FCU, Upper Marlboro, Md.; Delaware State Police FCU, Georgetown, Del.; State Highway Patrol FCU, Columbus, Ohio; and Greater Hartford (Conn.) Police FCU.
 
Member benefits include asset-liability management policy reviews, strategic planning services, training and specialized marketing materials.

PCUA Testifies at State House Aging and Older Service Committee

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/13/13)--
Frank Serina, second from right, vice president of risk management and security services at Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., represented credit unions Wednesday in testimony about combating financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly during a hearing of the Pennsylvania House Aging and Older Services Committee. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
A credit union representing the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and the state's credit unions told a state House committee Wednesday what credit unions are doing to combat financial exploitation of the elderly.

Testifying before the state House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee was Frank Serina, vice president of risk and security services of Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg, said PCUA (Life is a Highway Dec. 12).

Among the areas he focused on were current credit union financial education efforts, training and reporting standards, and the concern about a training and reporting mandate. The committee is exploring legislation to battle the growing cases of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment of older Pennsylvanians, said PCUA.

"In a collaborative effort, PCUA, Pennsylvania Bankers Association and Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers are working with key policymakers to ensure that potential legislation does not increase regulatory burdens or costs for financial institutions to comply," said PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway.

"Credit unions have been and continue to be trailblazers in financial education and targeting their efforts to protect their senior members. That's a story we're very proud to tell elected officials," Conway added.

Last month, the Credit Union National Association noted that credit unions from across the nation are working to combat financial elder abuse and exploitation. Their work includes training staff to identify and report abuse, instituting new programs to recognize irregular financial activity, and helping educate vulnerable members about avoiding fraud and theft (News Now Nov. 13).

The National Credit Union Administration has encouraged credit unions to ensure that staff are trained about potential signs that might trigger a report of elder abuse or financial exploitation.

Cornerstone Marketers Share How to Reach Young Women

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/13/13)--Women, particularly younger ones who are entering the work force, need credit union services that adapt to their busy and ever-changing lives, according to two marketers from Cornerstone Credit Union League.
 
Lorraine Howard, vice president of marketing, Diamond Lakes FCU, Hot Springs, Ark., and Rochele Drake, vice president of marketing, Fort Worth (Texas) Community CU, offered advice on how to reach Millennial females (Leaguer Dec. 12).
 
"Women, young women particularly, are holding the family wallet, paying the bills and contributing to the family bottom-line more and more," said Howard in the article. "Working with single mothers through the local community college has shown me, first hand, the determination young women have to get an education and pave the way for a better life for their family."
 
The $59 million-asset credit union focuses on mobile and Internet banking, electronic bill pay, and even person-to-person payments and transfers. Education loans for community college classes are important, as well as loans for a demographic that is currently on pace to match the wage level of men in the work force, Howard said.
 
Fort Worth Community CU engages women with its digital "spokesgal," Gabby.
 
"We know that women make 80% of all financial decisions; therefore, women are an essential demographic for our credit union," Drake said. "Women talk to one another. We share secrets and advice with one another. Gabby is that girlfriend who shares information."
 
Gabby's blog, GetYourWorthOn.com, has had about 30,000 visits. Gabby is meant to be engaging, not sales-focused. "She was never intended to push any particular product or service of the credit union," noted Drake.
 
Gabby has been so successful that the $813 million-asset credit union just launched "That's Spot On," aimed at Gen Y and defining the credit union difference.

Filene Report: Why CUs Should Be Allowed to Accept Public Deposits

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MADISON, Wis. (12/13/13)--Allowing credit unions to accept public deposits increases choice in the marketplace, provides greater competition, and in many cases, provides better convenience for trustees of the public's money, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.
 
"Credit Unions and the People's Money: Estimating the Benefits of Allowing Credit Unions to Accept Public Deposits," explains why credit unions should be allowed to accept public deposits. With many differences in state laws, the report takes a national look at the consequences.
 
Among the report's findings:
  • Credit unions routinely provide depositors and borrowers with substantially and sustainably more attractive interest rates than commercial banks.
  • If the fraction of total public deposits in credit unions increased from its current low level (0.4%) to the fraction of total domestic deposits in credit unions (10%) over a 10-year period, public entities would receive an additional $1.8 billion in interest. Borrowers in local communities would pay $2.3 billion less in interest.
  • There are many small communities in the U.S. that don't have commercial bank but but do have a credit union. For public entities in these communities, the ability to deposit funds in the local credit union is of significant value. Many communities are also low-income areas with economic challenges. Restricting credit unions from participating in the public deposit market puts the cost on those least able to afford it.

CUNA CFO Council Paper Offers 'Portrait of Modern CEO'

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MADISON, Wis. (12/13/13)--Replace "bean counter" with "guardian of financial health." Add growth strategies to the equation of math and finance. Put together, you have today's chief financial officer, according to a new white paper from the CUNA CFO Council.
 
"Portrait of a Modern CFO" paints a picture of a CFO who meets compliance challenges as well as balances financials. It provides an industry perspective of CFOs' evolving roles, at an individual and business level.

The paper cites the International Federation of Accountants, which said today's CFOs are expected to:
  • Be the guardian of the organization's financial health;
  • Participate in driving the organization toward achieving its objectives;
  • Increase support of strategic and operational decision-making in a business partnering capacity; and
  • Fulfill traditional stewardship responsibilities related to governance, compliance and control, and business ethics.
The white paper presents the typical four categories of CFOs--finance experts, performance leaders, growth champions and generalists--and offers ways for current CFOs to assess their strengths.

Three credit union CFOs are interviewed in the white paper: Robert Reh, CIO, Nassau Financial FCU, Westbury, N.Y.; Brian Hughes, vice president of finance, wealth and business solutions, Sun FCU, Maumee, Ohio; and Paul Meissner, CU of America, Wichita, Kan.

The Disclosures' Kids' Album Climbs the Amazon Charts

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MADISON, Wis, (12/13/13)--Less than 24 hours after the credit union singing duo, The Disclosures, announced the release of its financial education album for kids, the album was climbing the charts of hot new releases on Amazon, achieving the No. 2 spot Thursday on Amazon's educational category, ahead of "Sesame Street."
 
The album, "The Secret to Being Rich," was No. 14 in the top 20 hot new releases on the Amazon's general children's music chart Thursday and was even ahead of "Sesame Street," said Christopher Morris, who moonlights as a Disclosure when he's not working as director of communications for the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
"We are humbled by the response to 'The Secret to Being Rich,' both on Amazon and especially across the credit union movement," said The Disclosures. Morris and Chad Helminak, Web and member development strategist for the Wisconsin Credit Union League, make up the duo.
 
The album includes 10 original songs about financial literacy concepts such as saving, responsible spending, the importance of charity, the dangers of "too good to be true" advertising, and how loans work. It also features discussion materials for teachers and parents.
 
For more information, use the link to the News Now Dec. 11 story, The Disclosures Have New Fin Ed Album for Kids. Use the Amazon links to monitor the album's movement on the charts.

CU System Briefs (12/13/2013)

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  • DECATUR, Ala. (12/13/13)--A Harselle, Ala., man accused of forging checks was nabbed by Decatur, Ala. police after Redstone FCU tipped off a business owner (The Decatur Daily Dec. 11). Joseph Nicholas Clifton, 34, was arrested Wednesday and charged with three counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument. Clifton allegedly had used forged checks to steal money from McClary Tire and Direct Inc. The alleged victims were made aware of the situation when a Redstone FCU fraud investigator warned that checks supposedly issued by the companies had cleared, but were suspicious. Decatur Police investigators fingered Clifton as the suspect after the two companies reported the activity. A police spokesman said one of the checks, cashed against Direct Inc.'s assets, was made out for $981 to a "Joe Clifton." Redstone FCU is based in Huntsville, Ala. It has $3.54 billion in assets ...
  • BOULDER, Colo. (12/13/13)--Elevations CU won the RMPEx Peak award for 2013, a spokesperson for the credit union announced Thursday. The award, which is given for execution in business process management, is a state-level honor and a prerequisite for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Peak Awards, according to the credit union, are given to applicants able to demonstrate "role-model results, plus systematic and mature approaches, effective deployment, process learning and process integration in their operations." Elevations CU is headquartered in Boulder, Colo. and has more than $1.4 billion in assets ...
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/13/13)--A friendly competition between Credit Union of Ohio and the University of Michigan CU led to a victory for Children's Hospitals in the two states. An annual "Money War" held by the two cooperatives the week before the Ohio State University-University of Michigan football game led to $7,300 in donations. Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is set to receive $3,922, while C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., will receive $3,385--the amount raised by each credit union. The two institutions combined raised twice as much as they did last year. "The most exciting part of this year's 'Money War' was having our entire staff work together to get our members and the community involved," said Jill Gerschutz of the Credit Union of Ohio. "We had 100% participation from our staff which is how we were able to more than double the amount we raised last year." As part of the "Money War" tradition, University of Michigan CU staff will send back the winner's trophy alongside a photo of their staff wearing Ohio State University's colors--scarlet and gray. Since the competition started four years ago, both credit unions have won twice. Credit Union of Ohio is headquartered in Hilliard, Ohio, and has $133 million in assets. University of Michigan CU is located in Ann Arbor, Mich. and had $517 million in assets ...

CU System Briefs (12/12/2013)

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  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/12/13)--Credit union industry veteran Lisa Burroughs was hired as senior vice president of strategy and business operations with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates' service corporation. Burroughs' appointment was announced last week by the league. She was the chief operations officer at Michigan Schools and Government CU, based in Clinton Township, Mich., and worked there for 13 years before joining LEVERAGE, the LSCU Service Corp. Over the past two decades, Burroughs has served as vice president of marketing and president for credit unions with assets ranging from $60 million to the $1.3 billion-asset MSGCU. Burroughs also has served as president of Parkside CU, based in Livonia, Mich., and is a Certified Credit Union Executive and a Certified Financial Services Professional ...
  • WASHINGTON (12/12/13)--Federal Housing Finance Agency Deputy Director of the Office of Conservatorship Operations Jeffrey Spohn is set to retire next month. The announcement was made Wednesday by FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco. The agency will assimilate two offices that manage conservatorship-related matters into a new Division of Conservatorship. The agency said that the new combined division will be led by current Office of Strategic Initiatives Deputy Director Wanda DeLeo, who formerly oversaw strategic planning related to the future of housing finance and enterprise conservatorships. Spohn has led the Office of Conservatorship Operations since it was created in September 2008. In his role, he collaborated with FHFA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives, the agency said, "on all matters relating to the conservatorships, including the management of business settlements on pre-conservatorship matters such as representations and warranties." ...
  • WASHINGTON (12/12/13)--Emerging risks and recent regulatory changes will be two topics taken on when the Federal Reserve hosts a free one-hour webinar today. The webinar, "Consumer Compliance Hot Topics--2013 Year in Review," is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (ET). The presentation will include a question and answer segment. ...

CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Seeks Award Nominees

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/13)--Friday is the deadline to submit nominations for the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council's Marketing Professional of the Year and Business Development Professional of the Year.
 
The awards honor individuals who exemplify excellence for the benefit of their employer and who successfully perpetuate the growth of credit union membership.
 
Nominations also are due Friday for the council's Hall of Fame Award, which recognizes marketing and business development professionals who have excelled throughout their professional careers.
 
Anyone can nominate a high-performing marketer or business development professional through the online process. However, all final nominees must be from a credit union affiliated with the Credit Union National Association and must be a current member of the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council.
 
The deadline is Jan. 6 to submit entries for its Diamond Awards, and the final deadline for Excellence in Marketing and Business Development awards is Jan. 31.
 
Awards will be announced during the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference set for March 12-15 in Orlando, Fla.
 
To nominate people and submit entries, use the resource link.

Youth Membership Strategies Topic of New OpSS Council White Paper

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/13)--With 1.8 billion members, Gen Y, also known as Millennials, is the largest generation alive, representing not only significant buying power but also technological leadership and innovation. A new white paper from the CUNA Operations Sales and Service Council offers credit unions ideas for gaining Gen Y's trust and loyalty.
 
Among the tools it offers is a list of products and technologies credit unions must provide to meet Gen Y's demanding expectations, which were shaped in a time of instant downloads and one-click access. They include: 
  • Easy account opening. Millennials are twice as likely to apply for an account online, the white paper said. Opening an account is the first impression a new member will get of a credit union, so it's essential that it is an easy process that takes only a few minutes.
  • Powerful online tools. Millennials want the ability to do online all their banking, specifically payments to friends and mobile deposit, the paper said. They want the convenience and flexibility to manage their money online so they never have to enter a branch. For many, these capabilities are what constitute "good member service," because most never have the experience of working with someone directly at the branch.
  • Mobile banking. Millennials have demonstrated a paradigm shift in traditional thinking: Where older generations ask, "If my phone works, why do I need a new one?" Millennials ask," Are the new functions on the phone worth spending money on a new one, even though the one I have works perfectly well?" They are constantly looking for and demanding the new best thing. As more consumers access the Internet through their mobile devices rather than personal computers, credit unions must offer creative and effective ways to allow them to do their banking on these mobile devices.
  • New technologies. Global positioning, voice, integration across delivery channels and more intuitive mobile capabilities are among the technologies that Millennials expect to make their lives easier every day.
  • Easy loan solutions. Gen Y faces financial challenges that other generations did not. Many Millennials are un- or underemployed, burdened with student loan debt, but still anxious to become independent. Borrowing money--for a car, house or for education expenses--becomes a top concern. Credit unions must find a way to make borrowing easier, the paper concluded.
To download the paper, use the link.

In-Kind Contributions Increase CUs' Social Responsibility Image

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  (12/12/13)--This month's "Community Collaboration" column from Mazuma CU focuses on how in-kind contributions support credit unions and their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
 
Brandon Michaels, president/CEO of the Kansas City, Mo.-based credit union, has been addressing CSR and how it is an asset to credit union growth.
 
In-kind contributions are the largest segment of corporate philanthropy and include resources, services, product donations and education.
 
"The optimal in-kind contribution for a credit union is to use the knowledge and experience of its employees to teach members of the community valuable lessons in financial literacy," he wrote.
 
Specifically he used the example of teaching young adults to read their credit scores.  A credit union can share how credit scores are used, what determines the score and ways to improve a less-than-desirable score.
 
"Using a credit union's inherent in-house expertise to educate on financial matters such as credit scores creates an auto-catalytic reaction," he said. By providing financial education and advice to the public, credit unions build their brands and create good will. It also increases  the number of financially literate potential customers who are more likely to make use of a credit union's services, he noted.
 
The next article in the five-piece series is "Why Giving Your Employees Financial Education Makes Smart Business Sense."

New Coalition Addresses EMV Debit Standards

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MONTVALE, N.J. (12/12/13)--Ten U.S. PIN debit networks have formed a new company, Debit Network Alliance (DNA), to provide a structure for the governance, deployment and implementation of the Euro Mastercard Visa (EMV) debit standard.
 
The collaboration is designed to help facilitate the adoption of an interoperable EMV standard for debit payments in the U.S.
 
"Formation of the Debit Network Alliance further advances a common U.S. debit application identifier (AID) and its harmonized profiles and parameters," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of  CO-OP Financial Services, one of the alliance founders. "This is extremely important to credit unions because it preserves their routing and network choices in connection with the emerging EMV standard."
 
The group seeks to provide members equal access to EMV chip technology under terms that support competition, choice, innovation and delivery of value.
 
Members will share governance of debit application identifiers, including how the underlying technology is configured on the chip and terminal.
 
The group said it will provide support for all cardholder verification methods and access to technology that supports future developments.
 
The debit networks have a history of working collaboratively, usually on network security. The networks have worked together on chip standards under the support of the Secure Remote Payment Council's Chip and PIN Work Group since April 2012.
 
In addition to CO-OP Financial Services, the founding networks of Debit Network Alliance include:
  • AFFN;
  • ATH;
  • NETS;
  • NYCE;
  • Presto!;
  • PULSE;
  • SHAZAM; and
  • STAR.

World Council DSA Nominations Due March 3

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MADISON, Wis. (12/12/13)--Nominations for the World Council of Credit Unions' 2014 Distinguished Service Award, the international credit union system's highest honor, are due March 3.
 
The award will be presented during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference, which meets July 27-30 in Gold Coast, Australia. 
 
The DSA honors individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding service to credit union development outside their home country.
 
"Since 1986, World Council has recognized key players in advancing the international credit union movement to where it is today through the Distinguished Service Award," said World Council President/CEO Brian Branch. "The recipients each year remind us how important it is to extend financial access to people who need it most--not just at home, but around the world."
 
Those that have furthered World Council's vision of "building a global community" are eligible for nomination. Individual recipients are those whose actions benefitted global credit union development beyond their national boundaries, while institutional recipients can be organizations or agencies providing financial or technical assistance to develop international credit union movements and their service infrastructures over an extended time.
 
DSA is not an annual award, but presented on achievements and worthiness, as determined by the award committee.  World Council can present up to one institutional and three individual awards in a given year.
 
This year's award recipients will be provided complimentary conference registration and one companion registration for the 2014 World Credit Union Conference.
 
Nominations must be made by a World Council member organization. To download a brochure and nomination form, and see a list of past winners, use the link.

States Look to Feds for Advice on Marijuana Loans

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WASHINGTON (12/12/13)--With the legalization of marijuana's recreational use in Colorado and Washington, concerns are now being raised about how merchants should be integrated into the financial mainstream.
 
State governors and congressional representatives said more guidance from regulators is needed, and they hope to get some answers from today's private meeting of the federal Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group.
 
The Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the legality of the state's initiatives earlier this year. The Treasury Department now finds itself having to mitigate the risk of a currently cash-only business without watering down money-laundering protection.
 
Credit unions and other financial institutions are wary about being involved because marijuana possession is illegal at the federal level, thus subject to suspicious activity reports.
 
U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) has been pressing for a "safe harbor from liability" of being accused of money laundering (The Seattle Times Dec. 11). He and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) both are seeking a venue for financial transactions.  The two brought forth a "common sense" Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, which remains in subcommittee.
 
Perlmutter said there is a need to "provide financial institutions assurance that they can make their own business decisions related to legal, financial transactions without fear of regulatory penalties or criminal prosecution."
 
A cash-only industry is an "open invitation to organized crime and tax avoidance," Heck told The Seattle Times.
 
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also want to implement a process so marijuana producers, processors and retailers operate like any other legal business (American Banker Dec. 11). This means processing payments via automated clearing house or credit and debit cards, and making deposits.
 
"Action by federal regulators to allow state-licensed marijuana businesses to fully access the national banking system would promote public safety and provide significantly better means of meeting the state and [U.S. Department of Justice] enforcement priorities," the two wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to the Treasury Department, the National Credit Union Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Reserve, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
 
They added, "Presently, there are a host of banks and credit unions in Colorado and Washington that we understand are willing to provide normal banking relationships to state marijuana licensees and who would submit to all special [enhanced due diligence] requirements of applicable federal banking regulators under their compliance programs for AML laws."

Anti-blight Bills Clear Michigan Legislature

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LANSING, Mich. (12/12/13)--Michigan credit unions and other financial institutions are exempt from bipartisan anti-blight legislation that won final approval last week from the state Senate last week.
 
The legislation was supported by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL).
 
"We worked to secure an exemption in committee, and once we obtained the exemption we supported the package," Ken Ross, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the league, told News Now Wednesday.
 
The legislation, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, would take effect in March.
 
Credit unions and other lenders sometimes obtain blighted properties, often during the foreclosure process. Financial industry regulators strongly encourage institutions not to hold property on their books. Because of this, lenders such as credit unions are usually able to move quickly to rehab blighted property, which helps ensure those member deposits are returned back to the credit union and can be placed out into other loans.
 
If the exemption were not inserted into the package, credit unions and other lenders could have been responsible for blight violations caused by previous home owners, Ross told News Now. Additionally, if those violations were debated and potentially went unpaid, liens could have been placed against the property as a result.
 
The bills are designed to help cities clean up neighborhoods overrun with dilapidated houses, neglected lawns and abandoned cars by providing citizens and cities with stronger mechanisms for holding property owners accountable.
 
Civil and criminal penalties would be increased for owners who violate blight laws. Communities would have the power to create anti-blight bureaus to pursue criminal charges against property owners with more than $1,000 in unpaid fines. The legislation also would allow cities to deny owners permits to rezone areas or deny building permits to owners who were delinquent on blight fines.
 
If enacted by the governor, blight violators who are charged criminally could now be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 93 days in jail.
 
MCUL also encouraged lawmakers to push for additional reforms on the related issue of scrap metal. Hundreds of foreclosed homes continue to be stripped of metal during the lengthy foreclosure process. Vandals sell raw pipes, fencing, and other goods for cash to local scrap metal dealers. HB 4593-4595, a bipartisan package of bills, was introduced in the Michigan House in April to combat the theft of scrap metal from foreclosed properties.
 
Those bills are currently in committee, Ross said.

Christian to Write on CU Difference in GoBankingRates.com

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LOS ANGELES (12/11/13)--Social media strategist and cooperative activist Kristen Christian will write a monthly question-and-answer column focusing on the credit union movement.
 
The impending launch of Christian's column was announced Monday on GoBankingRates.com--the website that will publish it (GoBankingRates.com Dec. 9).
 
Christian, who lives in Los Angeles, will discuss the difference between credit unions and community banks--focusing on the fact that credit unions are, by definition, non-profit cooperatives, and that no credit union has ever been bailed out with public funds.
 
Community banks, meanwhile, are largely for-profit institutions that can be sold to big banks, said her first column. Opening savings accounts with them doesn't confer any ownership on account holders, and community banks accepted taxpayer financed bailouts during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s and the subprime crisis last decade, she wrote.
 
In 2011, Christian shot to prominence within the credit union movement when she launched National Bank Transfer Day--a movement that encouraged customers sick of big banks' fees to become credit union members. After National Bank Transfer Day occurred on Nov. 5 of that year, more than two million people joined credit unions.
 
To read the full article, use the link.

Filene Announces Seven CUs Hit Silver Benefactor Level

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MADISON, Wis. (12/11/13)--Seven credit unions increased their financial support of Filene Research Institute to achieve silver benefactor status as part of the Filene's Go Silver! membership program.
 
"These organizations share our vision of a thriving and dynamic future for credit unions dependent on active participation," said Mark Meyer, Filene Research president/CEO. "Their support of Filene enables us to drive change for the cooperative system as a whole."
 
The seven credit unions, which were previously bronze-level members, include:
  • A+ FCU, Austin, Texas.
  • American Airlines CU, Fort Worth, Texas;
  • Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C.;
  • Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass.;
  • Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif.;
  • SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.; and
  • State Department FCU, Alexandria, Va.
In recognition of its 25th anniversary in 2014, Filene invited its bronze benefactors to upgrade to silver in a special, limited-time membership program. Credit unions participating earn a credit toward an appreciation program, ranging from impact solutions and technology strategic planning to community engagement and extra membership support.
 
Filene's silver benefactors contribute $24,999 annually.
 
Go Silver! is limited to the first 25 member organizations that commit.

CUs Can Help Report Illegal Card Surcharges

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MADISON, Wis. (12/11/13)--Credit unions can be an important educational venue for consumers and merchants to learn about credit card surcharges, including what's acceptable and what's not compliant.

Since Jan. 27, 2013, merchants have been allowed to add surcharges to purchases made with a credit card. Both Visa and MasterCard have FAQs on their websites regarding merchant surcharges, and Visa has a form available to file inquiries about potential non-compliance. The Credit Union National Association is providing resources to educate consumers and merchants alike. See the links below.
 
"Letting credit unions know about these surcharges falls right under our consumer protection umbrella," said Michele Johnson, CUNA director of federal legislative affairs.
 
The 2012 settlement between the payment industry and retailers provided that merchants can surcharge card transactions but only if they follow a strict set of rules:
  • The surcharge can only be placed on a credit card transaction, not debit or prepaid;
  • The surcharge has to be relative to the amount of purchase and cannot exceed the cap of 4% of the transaction;
  • Customers must be notified of any surcharge before they make a purchase. This can include signage at the store entrance, at the point of sale or, if online, on the first page that references credit card brands; and
  • Surcharge fees must disclosed on sales receipt.
 
"We don't want members to be charged surcharges when they shouldn't be," said Rod Staatz, president/CEO, SECU, Linthicum, Md. If members have a place to report non-compliance, he added, then Visa can take care of the issue with the merchant.
 
Visa is currently the only card company providing a direct link to report non-compliance.
 
Credit card surcharges are not allowed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.

Conn. Congresswoman on 'Don't Tax': Call Lawmakers' Local Offices

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MERIDEN, Conn. (12/11/13)--In a video interview with the Credit Union League of Connecticut, a congresswoman from Connecticut shared tips for credit unions wanting to ensure their position on preserving their tax status is heard and supported in Congress.
 
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), who is a supporter of credit unions' tax status, told Kelly Fuhlbrigge, league vice president of government relations, in the short video that "it is really important to reach out to your own member of Congress. I pay the most attention to the voices from my own towns and my district."  She tracks the visits, e-mails and calls from constituents, she said.

"If you're in Washington, stop by the office; or stop by the local community office."  A special tip, she said:  "Call the local office in your own state so then we know that local folks care."

"Grassroots really do matter. Voices from home count for a lot," she said.

Esty's interview comes on the heels of another interview with U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), who told the league credit unions must maintain close contact with their legislators during the tax reform process (News Now Dec. 5).

The league aims to collect a video from each member of the Connecticut delegation, said Fuhlbrigge.

The full video can be viewed on the league's new CUBE TV page by using the link.

CUs Top of the Consumer Satisfaction Heap, Increase Triple That of Banks

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (12/11/13)--Credit unions continue to hold a high reputation in customer satisfaction, resulting in a 3.7% increase this year over last year's ranking in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
 
For 2013, credit unions have an ACSI benchmark of 85--significantly higher than the bank rating of 78. Banks may have inched upward by 1.3% from 2012, but credit unions' increase in the approval rating --at 3.7%--was triple that of banks, according to the cross-industry survey of customer satisfaction.
 
"Credit unions continue to be recognized as trusted financial providers that put member service first," said Paul Gentile, executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, Credit Union National Association. "The credit union cooperative model centers around helping consumers improve their financial lives, and these survey results reflect how important that is for consumers in today's challenging economic environment."
 
Free checking and lower interest rates are among the reasons why the credit union rating rose, ACSI reported, and the historically better member experience continues to buoy service ratings. Courteous and helpful staff notched a score of 93--higher than the bank rating at 91--followed by quick and efficient transactions at 90, where banks stood at 88.
 
"Credit unions continue to benefit from a very strong emphasis on customer service," David VanAmburg, ACSI director, told News Now. Credit unions' local feel and the ability of staff to make members feel valued and welcome also are reflected in the results, he added.
 
Credit union members do believe their current credit union offers competitive interest rates (85), compared with bank customers who ranked their institution at 73. "This is an interesting psychological area," VanAmburg said. "Bank customers must be thinking about credit unions and community banks when it comes to the comparison.
 
"Conversely, credit union members are clearly looking at big banks and finding a welcome prospect at their credit union."
 
Banks got their uptick in the satisfaction rating this year, though modest, despite it being a year filled with stories about big banks continually hiking fees and about multimillion-dollar settlements regarding allegations that some megabanks played a role in setting the financial crisis on fire by allegedly misleading investors about the quality of the home loans at the heart of mortgage-backed securities.  (See related story, Court Approves $500M MBS Settlement by BofA/Countrywide, in today's Market News section of News Now). Banks have now reached the score they had in 2007 prior to the financial crisis.
 
The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2013 is based on interviews with 5,296 customers, chosen at random and contacted via telephone and email between July 10 and Sept. 4.

aSmarterChoice November Stats Show Increasing Social Media Use

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WASHINGTON (12/11/13)--aSmarterChoice, the credit union movement's website to help consumers locate credit unions and information about credit unions, reported 18,405 visits made at the site during November, much of it from new visitors, said the Credit Union National Association.

Unique visitors to the site totaled 15,569, with 15,523 successful searches made during the month, said CUNA. Of those visitors, 81.7% were new to the site and 18.3% were return visitors, said Amaia Kirtland, CUNA social and digital media manager.

Use of the site's social media faces, in terms of Facebook "likes" and Twitter followers, rose since the aSmarterChoice's October update (News Now Oct. 18). Facebook likes totaled 7,162 and Twitter followers totaled 1,734. Kirtland reported that CUNA's Twitter reach has increased, with @asmarterchoice mentioned 165 times, up from 91 in October.

"Mentions of the site on social media generate an uptick in searches and hits, similar to mentions in the media," said the report. "Content sharing on social media will also expand the potential reach to consumers as posts that are liked, commented on, or shared--especially those with pictures or links--are placed higher on the news feed based on Facebook's algorithm," it continued.

State by state, the most visits were from California, with 2,304 visits of which 34.81% were searches; New York, with 1,339 visits and 41.22% searches; Texas, with 1,133 visits and 36.10% searches; and Florida, with 1,093 visits and 31.38% searches.

aSmarterChoice does not pay to promote any of its posts, tweets or updates. In January, watch for new developments in design and new content.

Adams Named CEO of Alloya Corporate

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (12/11/13)--Todd Adams, who has served as interim CEO of Alloya Corporate FCU since September, has been named the corporate's CEO, assuming leadership of the corporate immediately, announced Alloya Corporate's Board of Directors Tuesday.
 
"This appointment brings continuity to the corporate and best ensures that we will continue to build on the positive momentum of the past two years," said Amy Sink, Alloya's chair, who said the corporate conducted a national search and interviewed many candidates. "The corporate has a great story to tell in terms of the value it returns to members, and the corporate is now poised for even stronger success in the future," she said.
 
Adams, who joined Alloya in 2003, previously served as its senior vice president and president of Balance Sheet Solutions, Alloya's wholly owned investment and investment advisory credit union service organization. He has diverse experience within the financial services industry, is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. His bachelor's degree in business administration/accounting is from the University of Iowa.
 
"Alloya's cooperative business model is 100% focused on supporting credit union success," Adams said. "Through aggregration of resources, Alloya is able to offer over $5 billion in advised lines of credit, a full suite of cash management and investment products, access to a wide range of efficient payment services through Premier View, and free education through Connection webinars.  I believe in the future of the credit union movement and the important role that Alloya plays to support credit union members," Adams added.

Survey: New Payments Channels Top Issue Among Card, Payment Execs

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NOTTINGHAM, U.K. (12/11/13)--The proliferation of new payment channels was cited as the biggest issue for the payment and card industry in a survey by Compass Plus, an international provider of retail banking and electronic payments software to processors and financial institutions.
 
About 28% of respondents cited new payment channels as the No. 1 payments issue. A closely related area--the growth of near field communication/contactless technology--was the second-most cited issue, mentioned by 26% of respondents.
 
The annual survey--which was conducted at the international CARTES Secure Connexions Event 2013 in Paris. About 70 executives representing financial institutions, mobile operators, payment processors and other industry professions responded.
 
Credit unions monitoring mobile payments issues will be interested to learn that mobile payments offer the biggest opportunity for card providers in 2014, according to the survey. At the same time, many respondents said they hedged about the immediate prospect for mobile payments. About 40% of respondents do not expect the mass adoption of mobile payments to take place for two to three years.
 
About 28% of survey respondents said mobile would account for 20%-30% of payment channels in two to three years, and nearly a quarter thought mobile would be used for 30%-40% of payments.
 
About 32% of executives expected the mass adoption of mobile payments to take place within one to two years, according to the survey.
 
The wide range of forecasts for mobile's adoption may be explained by its quick rise on the financial industry's radar. It did not make the top five in Compass Plus' 2012 survey.
 
Card-not-present fraud was cited by 34% of respondents as posing the greatest payment fraud threat, followed by Internet banking and phishing, both at 24%.

United FCU Offers Concierge Service to Support Employees

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (12/10/13)--Time is perhaps the most valuable resource in the work place. To help his employees make the most of their work time--and as a reward for a job well done--Gary Easterling, president/CEO of $1.5 billion-asset United FCU, St. Joseph, Mich., has enlisted concierge services for his employees.
 
"In effect this gives my people the gift of time," Easterling told News Now. "I don't know how to create more time out of the day, but this is a way to make the day a little bit easier for them."
 
United FCU has branches in six states, Easterling said, and employees in all six states have access to the onsite concierge services from Best Upon Request (BEST).
 
The services reduce stress by helping employees balance the demands of their personal and professional lives, and helps them make the most of the time at work, Easterling said. BEST's concierges can offer assistance with nearly any item on an employee's to-do list. Among the services BEST will perform: running errands for employees, picking up dry cleaning, scheduling home repairs and appointments, arranging shipping and making travel arrangements.
 
"For example, I've got a couple of employees who coach teams, and just the idea that somebody can make a run to Sam's Club pick up items for their little league teams is going to be a huge benefit for them," Easterling said.
 
With the time gained, employees can deliver better service to members, Easterling said. He is already proud of what his employees have achieved. Among the honors United FCU has recently received is the Michigan Credit Union League's 2013 Outstanding Credit Union of the Year.

CUNA, CUs in the Media: Holiday Surveys, Reg Relief

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MADISON, Wis. (12/10/13)--The holiday spending survey from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Consumer Federation of America continues to be highlighted by national and regional news publications. Regulatory relief is still high on the radar, and CUNA experts provided input on the nation's economic environment.
 
The shopping season is well under way, and media outlets such as The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times and Fox Business used the survey to support their coverage of sales during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to according to CUNA's weekly In The News (Dec. 6). The report collects mentions of CUNA and credit unions in the media.
 
After the release of the November jobs report and the third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, The Washington Post called on Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics at CUNA, for his views. Regarding the GDP, which showed 2.8% annual growth rate, Schenk told The Post that "it's generally good news, but nothing that would cause us to alter our baseline forecast that much" (Dec. 5). 
 
The Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 7%--a "pretty impressive overall" number, Schenk said, given the effects of the federal government shutdown (The Washington Post Dec. 6).
 
Rose Bartolomucci, president/CEO of Towpath CU, Akron, Ohio, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on behalf of CUNA. Trade press covered the hearing on "Examining Regulatory Relief Proposals for Community Financial Institutions," which included bills that would allow privately insured credit unions to join a Federal Home Loan Bank, require federal financial regulators to assess and address regulatory duplication or inconsistency, and adjust the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rural designation to align with the definition used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (News Now Dec. 5).
 
Elsewhere, credit union financial literacy education and charitable efforts were highlighted. The Wichita Business Journal featured the Kansas Credit Union Association's call for volunteers to participate in its "Money Possible: Destroy Debt" program (Nov. 26).
 
For 12 years, Maine credit unions have held a walking tour to raise awareness and funds for food pantries. Across the state, Maine Credit Unions' Ending Hunger Walking Tour was covered by the Boothbay Register (Dec. 5) and Bangor Daily News (Dec. 9).

Overdrafts Survey Suggests More Struggling to Make Ends Meet

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LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (12/10/13)--Banks' income from overdraft fees rose 1.6% to an annualized $31.8 billion during third quarter, suggesting that Americans had a harder time making ends meet, according to a Lake Bluff, Ill.-based financial research firm.
 
The report, by Moebs Services, said the average consumer overdrew a banking account 7.1 times, compared with seven times during second quarter (American Banker Dec. 6).  The average overdraft fee remained the same--$30 for overdrawing an account.
 
During the third quarter, consumers felt the impact from the federal government shutdown and from automatic tax increases that began in January, and as a result had a harder time balancing their checkbooks, said the report.
 
Although the fees impact consumers paying them, especially those paying higher overdraft fees at banks, the increase in revenue from the overdrafts won't significantly affect lenders' bottom line, said the report.
 
While banks have come under heat for charging higher fees for overdrafts in order to generate income, often at the expense of their customers,  credit unions take a different approach. Credit unions offer overdraft services, often at a lower cost, as a convenience to assist members who occasionally may need an overdraft buffer if they make an error in calculating their account balance.

New Report: Student Loan Debt Climbs

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OAKLAND, Calif.  (12/10/13)--The average student loan debt for those graduating in 2012 rose 25% when compared with debt for students graduating in 2008, says a new study. That is consistent with the Credit Union National Association's study earlier this year that pointed out half of high school students have no idea what college will cost.

The average debt of the 2012 graduate totaled $29,400 in student loans, according to Student Debt and the Class of 2012, a report released last week by Oakland, Calif.-based The Institute for College Access and Success (Ticas). The institute said loan balances for the Class of 2008 averaged $23,450 (MainSt.com Dec. 9).
 
In CUNA's earlier study, 83% of students said they did not know the rates and 77% didn't know the duration of terms on their expected or existing college loans (News Now April 29).

Of those aspiring to go to college, 74% said they will need both federal and private loans as well as family money and jobs to support their tuition.  Twenty-five percent expected to take out two or more student loans; 13% expected one loan; and 60% had no idea how many they would need. Of those surveyed, 22% said they will owe between $11,000 and $50,000 when they graduate while 15% expected up to $10,000 in debt and 13% said their debt would total more than $50,000 at graduation.
 
CUNA met with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in April and emphasized that credit unions could do more to help debt-straddled grads if the maximum credit union student loan maturity were increased (News Now April 23).
 
Ticas' study also noted that the high student debt reflected in its findings could be the tip of the iceberg because its study was limited to college institutions that voluntarily report the information and did not include for-profit colleges. Roughly 20% of high-debt public colleges and 30% of low-debt colleges who reported data last year failed to do so this year.
 
States with the highest level of debt per student were Delaware, with $33,649, and New Hampshire, with $32,698. New Mexico had the lowest debt, at $17,994, and California balances averaged $20,269, the second-lowest debt in the nation.

CU System Briefs (12/10/2013)

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  • ST. LOUIS (12/10/13)--Tonight, St. Louis credit unions can join the first monthly #TweetUpTuesday. Kenny DeShields, social media manager for Bridgeton, Mo.-based Vantage CU, proposed the idea to help spark creativity and collaboration. "Tweetups are a great way for like-minded individuals to gather and share ideas on everything ranging from business to everyday life," said DeShields (The Missouri Difference Dec. 4). The first Tweetup, which will be held at a local restaurant, will focus on holiday-themed posts for credit union Twitter and Facebook accounts. Nora Holloway, director of public relations and online community for the Missouri Credit Union Association, also will attend ...
  • AURORA, Ill. (12/10/13)--The start of a criminal trial has been scheduled for the former president of Aurora (Ill.) Firefighters CU who is charged with misappropriating $35,000 from the credit union (The Beacon News Dec. 9). Proceedings in Kane County prosecutors' case against Anne Schaal will begin on March 10. An Aurora Firefighters CU employee from 1996 until 2011, Schaal also is charged with felony theft and unlawful credit card use. Prosecutors have not cited a possible motive, but court records from her divorce settlement indicate that Schaal struggled with a gambling addiction. Schaal, who has pleaded not guilty, will next appear in court on Feb. 14 for a status hearing. Aurora Firefighters CU has $1.9 billion in assets ...
  • MANCHESTER, N.H. (12/10/13)--A man has been charged by Manchester, N.H., police with robbing a Manchester credit union branch on Dec. 3 (The Telegraph Dec. 5). Joseph Reynolds, 31, of Goffstown, N.H., is accused of passing a Triangle CU teller a note demanding money. Manchester Police, who apprehended Reynolds at a motel without incident on Dec. 4, claim to have found Reynolds in possession of a stolen truck with a stolen rifle inside. They did not, however, accuse Reynolds of displaying a weapon during the alleged incident at the credit union branch. Reynolds has been charged with robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property. Due to prior drug and burglary convictions, Reynolds was charged with the illegal possession of a firearm. He was held on $100,000 bail. Triangle CU is based in Nashua and has $505 million in assets ...
  • ATLANTA (12/10/13)--Delta Community CU announced Monday that its charity arm will donate $70,000 to 15 organizations in the Atlanta area. The grants, which range from $500 to $10,000 will be disbursed throughout 2014, with the first allotment set to be given in January. Recipients include: the Atlanta Community Food Bank; the Brain Tumor Foundation; Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Reach Out and Read Program; the Cobb Schools Foundation; Cool Girls; Fayette Youth Protection; Georgia Health Sciences; the Georgia Center for Non-Profits; Girls, Inc.; the Joseph Sams School; North Fulton Community Charities; Rocky Mount Elementary School; Sara Harp Minter Elementary School; St. Vincent de Paul; and the YWCA of Greater Atlanta. "Out of dozens of applications, these grant winners are most closely in alignment with our goals to help families manage household finances and improve the physical and financial well-being of young people," said Jai Rogers, Delta Community CU vice president of business development. Delta Community CU is based in Atlanta and has about $3.5 billion in assets ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/10/13)--Jim Free, the former president of Southern Star CU, died on Dec. 5. Also a former board member of the credit union, Free was active in Cornerstone Credit Union League through its Houston chapter--where Southern Star is located (Leaguer Dec. 9). He served as president of the chapter. Cree, an Elvis fan, was honored by Southern Star on its website with the message: "We are sad 'our Elvis' has left the building." ...

CUs Prevail: County, School BoardsTake No Action on Tax Push, Says CUAD

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BISMARCK, N.D. (12/10/13)--South Dakota saw more victories for credit unions--the latest one last night--in their efforts to preserve credit unions' tax status. The Yankton, S.D., School Board made no motion and took no action on banks' resolution to eliminate the tax status of credit unions and farm credit system institutions at its meeting Monday night.
 
Last week, the Campbell County Board of Commissioners in Mount, S.D., did the same, as did an earlier meeting of the Vermillion, S.D., City Council.
 
"When we get to tell our story, we win," said Jeff Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. Olson and CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson were present at the school board meeting. Dave Wright, CEO of Services Center FCU, and a representative for Farm Credit Services spoke at the meeting on behalf of the preserving the tax status.
 
"One school board member said this is a political issue that a non-partisan board should not be involved in. Another agreed and noted that the board's Code of Ethics prohibited it from being involved with 'special interest,'" said Thompson after the meeting.
 
"So far the SDBA [South Dakota Bankers Association] has no victories on the resolution quest yet," Olson told News Now.
 
The presentations by bankers are among several in the state before municipal entities (Memo Dec. 9).
 
For example, earlier last week, the Vermillion, S.D., City Council also took no action on the issue. One council member noted that such a decision should be left up to Congress, while another said it isn't up to the council to decide whether or not a competitive disadvantage should be allowed.

Council member Kelsey Collier-Wise told those gathered that if the issue were about tax equality or getting more revenue in the tax stream, she was concerned the argument could be applied to any group with a tax exemption, including those offering tax-exempt municipal bonds (Vermillion Plain Talk  Dec. 9).
 
CUAD's Thompson and Olson have taken "a vigilant approach as the bankers' attacks continue."  Today they will attend a Brookings City Commission meeting to represent credit unions' interests. Today's meeting in Brookings will be "the big test," said Olson.
 
"Also we have sent a letter to every school board, courtyard and large city in South Dakota, and it appears the [Yankton] School Board has read it," said Thompson.  Monday, CUAD also started running radio spots in the Vermillion and Yankton area that feature an area teacher talking about the value of the credit union tax exemption. "We are running radio ads in the Brookings area this week as well."
 
Meanwhile, over the past weekend, an opinion-editorial written by Thompson and Olson on the issue appeared in the Rapid City Journal (Dec. 7) and in the Pierre Capitol Journal.

"The credit union tax exemption arises from our unique structure as not-for-profit, democratically controlled cooperatives--and that structure is unchanged over the past 100 years. The tax exemption has absolutely nothing to [do] with the 'environment,' size, growth or breadth of credit union products and services--a fact clearly spelled out by Congress in the 1998 Credit Union Membership Access Act," they wrote.
 
They labeled the banks' attacks as "nothing more than a desire to eliminate competition and ultimately force local governing entities to choose one business over another."
 
The article also included Credit Union National Association estimates that the state's credit unions provided nearly $15.8 million in direct financial benefits to the state's 251,140 credit union members during the 12 months ended this past July. The benefits are equivalent to $63 per member or $120 per member household.
 
To read the articles, or learn more about the nationwide Don't Tax My Credit Union efforts, use the links.

Carolina Leagues Roll Out New Face of Merger

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/9/13)--As they approach the Jan. 1 date of their official merger, the North Carolina and South Carolina Credit Union Leagues are revealing the brand identity of the Carolinas Credit Union League through various social media platforms.
 
On Dec. 2, the new CCUL Facebook and Twitter pages revealed a snippet of the league's brand story through video on YouTube, the North Carolina Credit Union League said. (Weekly Conversation Dec. 6).
 



"Staff in both states have worked hard this year to create a league that stirs pride within each of us and member credit unions," said Geoff Finken, NCCUL director of administration. "Seeing the new identity of the Carolinas Credit Union League really brought it home for me. We will be the strongest advocate and more for credit unions in the Carolinas--that message really gets at the heart of what we're all about."
 
For the past several months, a joint league team worked with 3rd Degree Advertising, Durham, N.C., on developing a logo, brand vision and communications strategy for the new league. A Nov. 21 all-staff meeting in Columbia, S.C. included an internal brand rollout and celebration.
 
The new logo and a full video will be unveiled in the coming weeks along with a new website.


SECU Brings Fin. Education To Correctional Facility

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/9/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., is helping inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institute make a successful transition back into society by offering a series of financial education sessions. 
 
Staff members at the credit union's Elizabeth City-17 North branch teamed up with the correctional facility to develop a financial program for inmates who are working in the community and due to be released soon. The program includes three workshops covering the fundamentals of money management, including an overview of account types, budgeting and understanding credit reports.
 
"The program has been well received by the inmates," said Cindy Emory, SECU vice president of the Elizabeth City-17 North branch.  "Participants were very interested in learning the basics of managing, saving and borrowing money.  Hands on exercises and references to real life stories helped encourage questions and discussions about their future plans."
 
Before their release, inmates work in the community at animal shelters, food banks and with other local programs, Emory said. "Our financial workshop coincides perfectly with their community involvement, offering support and helping them recognize the importance of planning and successfully managing their money to improve their financial future," Emory said. 
 
SECU's investment in delivering adult financial education programs within communities across North Carolina is foundational to its belief of helping others, Emory said  By seeking partnerships with local state agencies and non-profit organizations, SECU uses its financial expertise as a resource for those in need of guidance during difficult times.

CUs Play Prominent Role In NJ Fin. Lit. Coalition

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MERCERVILLE, N.J. (12/9/13)--High school requirements for personal finance courses were the highlight of a recent financial literacy symposium in New Jersey.
 
The New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education is one of the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation's partners, and it hosted the seventh annual Financial Literacy Symposium Dec. 5 (The Daily Exchange Dec. 6).
 
New Jersey credit union representatives talked about financial literacy during a symposium Dec. 5. (Photo courtesy of The Daily Exchange)
New Jersey is one of 16 states that three years ago added the personal finance course requirement for high school graduation. Nine New Jersey schools participated in the pilot, and the initial findings were discussed at the symposium.
 
The data appears to support a full year of courses--students who took the test in the spring semester had better post-test scores than those who took the test after having just the fall semester, said Candice Nigro, league director of marketing and communications. A full report will be released next year.
 
New Jersey Credit Union League President/CEO Greg Michlig moderated the panel.
 
The audience included teachers, community leaders, financial advisers, and Social Security Administration representatives. Afterward, many of the attendees thanked Michlig for being a resource for their students, Nigro told News Now, adding, "they also said it was good education for themselves."
 
Credit union representatives on the panel were:
  • Ann South, president/CEO, Novartis FCU, East Hanover, and foundation chair;
  • Lou Vetere, CEO, Garden Savings FCU, Parsippany, and league chairman;
  • Cindy Rein-Zima, president/CEO, Hamilton Horizons FCY, Hamilton, and foundation board member;
  • Bret Rigby, president/CEO, Deepwater Industries FCU, Deepwater; and
  • Jean-Albert Maisonneuve, vice president of marketing and eCommerce, Affinity FCU, Basking Ridge.

CU System Briefs (12/09/2013)

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  • ALBANY, N.Y. (12/9/13)--A mortgage servicer that works with credit unions in the Northeast announced Monday that it has donated $50,000 to the New York Credit Union Foundation. CUC Mortgage Corporation said that the gift will go toward supporting networking resources, professional development, and industry events that benefit young credit union professionals and volunteers in New York. The initiatives are organized by the Credit Union Association of New York's Young Professionals Commission, which hosts regional networking, educational sessions and conferences, publishes a quarterly newsletter and maintains an active online community. "CUC Mortgage is deeply invested in the credit union movement and in the success of the credit unions we serve. Cultivating and retaining future leaders is a goal all credit unions share, and the Foundation and Young Professionals Commission are making a real impact in that area," said CUC Mortgage Chief Operating Officer Edward Kovalefsky." The commission's events and programs are open to state credit union professionals and volunteers of the ages of 35 and younger. Elder state industry figures are often invited to mentor their younger counterparts. In 2010, CUC Mortgage donated $25,000 to the NYCUF to assist with the launching of a statewide young professionals network. CUC Mortgage is headquarted in Albany, N.Y., and licensed to serve credit unions in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont …
  • PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (12/9/13)--Service CU is pitching in $75,000 to help the town where its headquartered--Portsmouth, N.H--save its indoor pool (Portsmouth Herald Dec. 3). The credit union gave the money, as a challenge grant, to members of the Save the Indoor Portsmouth Pool group, which is dedicated to supporting the financially troubled facility. If other local residents and business respond to the challenge, pool managers will have most of the $380,000 they need to install a new roof, and will achieve five-year performance bench-marks required by the municipal government in half that time. "The Indoor Portsmouth Pool & Aquatic Fitness Center is an essential public health resource that has become a vibrant family community center, serving Seacoast residents of all ages, including many of our Service Credit Union members," Gordon Simmons, president/CEO of Service CU said. "Service Credit Union is pleased to help save the Indoor Portsmouth Pool for the next generation of Seacoast citizens." The indoor pool in Portsmouth is the only such facility on New Hampshire's Seacoast with handicap ramp access. Service CU has about $2.3 billion in assets ...
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/9/13)--The Credit Cornerstone Union League is holding a Principles and Philosophy conference this February in Dallas for its member credit unions. The symposium, run by Credit Union Development Educator certified instructors Lois Kitsch and Larry Blanchard, will explore the history and role of credit unions, the value of cooperative philosophies and why credit unions are different. Cornerstone CEO/President Dick Ensweiler has been through the program and described it as impressive. "How humbling it was during that weeklong educational excursion to realize there was so much I had not considered. So much more I could be doing. So much more to be discovered. The DE program was not only enlightening, but also inspiring," he said. "I'm confident that the knowledge credit union professionals and volunteers will gain from this two day conference will give them a strong foundation for the rest of their credit union career." The registration deadline for the Feb. 10 through Feb. 12 conference is Jan. 10. Registration costs $749, which includes a two night's stay at the DoubleTree. Cornerstone is a trade association for credit unions in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas ...
  • LENEXA, Kan. (12/9/13)--Funeral arrangements were held Friday for Kyle Van Winkle, 30, a loan operations officer for Community America CU, Lenexa, Kan. Van Winkle was found dead when police responded to a disturbance Dec. 1 during the Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos football game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Van Winkle leaves behind a wife, Jenni, and a son, William, who was born seven weeks ago (Kansas City Star Dec. 4). In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are asked to be made to The Kyle Van Winkle Memorial Fund in care of Jenni Van Winkle to benefit the William's education ...

Federation Offers Webinar of Homeownership Education, Counseling

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NEW YORK (12/9/13)--The Credit Union National Association and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions  are hosting a free webinar on homeownership education, counseling, and financing at 2 p.m. (ET) Dec. 17.
 
The federation is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved National Housing Counseling Intermediary. It helps credit unions and their local partners become HUD-approved counseling agencies.  
 
Since 2008, the federation has helped members of CDCUs become first-time homebuyers through counseling that connects the homebuyer to the right mortgage loan and provides the skills, knowledge and preparation for successful homeownership. Pre-purchase counseling is key to reducing mortgage delinquency, according to NeighorWorks America.  
 
This year, the federation has partnered with NeighborWorks America to better connect credit unions around the country to homeownership counseling and support services that will increase credit union lending for affordable homeownership.  
 
Featured presenters at the webinar include:
  • Ann Solomon, coordinator of the federation's Housing Counseling Network, will present pathways to building successful housing counseling programs.
  • Eileen Anderson, senior relationship manager in homeownership for NeighborWorks America, will highlight partnership opportunities with NeighborWorks organizations nationwide.
  • Cheryl Fatnassi, president/ CEO of $33 million-asset Opportunities CU, Winooskie, Vt., will showcase the credit union's range of affordable housing services and resources available to members in their Vermont communities.

National Journal Touts Latino Community CU For Member Support

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (12/9/13)--Through "The Next Economy" project, National Journal and The Atlantic are profiling innovative programs that build and support a strong middle class. As the year closes, the publications are focusing on the best of the year, and that includes the work done by Latino Community CU (LCCU) in Durham, N.C.
 
It's not enough for low-income consumers to start relationships with financial institutions by opening accounts and saving money, according to National Journal (Dec. 6). They need to establish good credit--a challenge for those with no history of any type of borrowing.
 
That's where a place like LCCU comes in. The $125 million-asset credit union has a mission of inclusive economic opportunity with a focus on Latino immigrants. All services are provided in both Spanish and English.
 
National Journal cited the credit union's lending success--it has a lower delinquency rate than the industry average. Members with no credit history can obtain loans at no extra cost, and many members previously were unbanked.
 
Other asset-building programs cited in the "Next Economy" are a San Francisco lending circle, an identification card that doubles as a prepaid debit card, online low-interest lending, and a fund that works to prevent mortgage delinquencies or foreclosures.

CUs Get Into Holiday Spirit Nationwide

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MADISON, Wis. (12/6/13)--Small or large, near or far, credit union efforts to spread the message of "people helping people" grow even stronger during the holidays.

Click to view larger image Larry Jackson, president/COO of CU Companies, New Brighton, Minn., shows the final total of the interstate food drive among three credit union service organizations. Houston-based CU Alliance and CU Community in Oak Ridge, Tenn., challenged CU Companies, and local food pantries were the winners. (Photo provided by CU Companies)
A Minnesota credit union service organization (CUSO) led the charge in an interstate fight against hunger. CU Companies, New Brighton, Minn., went up against the team of Houston-based CU Alliance and CU Community in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The challenge? Who could collect the most food during a month-long food drive.

This is the ninth year for the food drive challenge between CU Alliance and CU Companies. This year, CU Community joined forces with CU Alliance to even the number of employees participating. The end result was 7,661 items, distributed among the CUSOs' respective community food pantries. "Bringing our CUSOs together to help our individual communities in an extension of our intentions to help each other fill a need in the financial realm," said Adrian Dominguez, CU Alliance president/CEO.
  • In Austin, Texas, a 76-year-old widow will benefit from the connection made between a credit union employee and the community. Jenny Voigt, an employee at Amplify CU, volunteers for Family Eldercare, a program that helps elderly who have limited resources. Family Eldercare, and by extension the credit union, were selected as part of the Austin American-Statesman's Season for Caring campaign (Dec. 2). The $626 million-asset credit union has adopted families in past Seasons of Caring. Because of Voigt's relationship with Ethel Black through Eldercare, Voigt made a case for the credit union to help her specifically.  Now, the credit union is working to help make Black's home safer, with repairs to uneven flooring, ceiling and fencing.
  • A pediatric unit in Yakima, Wash.,  got a new set of wheels thanks to Solarity CU. The $499 million-asset credit union presented $22,000 and a wagon filled with toys to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. The unit will use the Radio Flyer wagon for field trips, and the toys will help make children's stays a little brighter (KIMATV.com Dec. 3).
  • Three Wisconsin credit unions are among the sponsors for the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights along the shores of Lake Winnebago. Visitors will drive through the display of twinkling lights for free on four evenings this holiday season (Oshkosh Northwestern Nov. 24). The 2013 Community Nights sponsors are Community First CU, Appleton, $1.8 billion assets; Fox Communities CU, Appleton, $947 million assets; and Winnebago Community CU, Oshkosh, $78 million assets.
  • Alabama Telco CU, Hoover, Ala., is working with the Cell Phones for Soldiers group this holiday season. Members started donating used cell phones before the program was officially launched , according to Stanton Davis, vice president of the $606 million-asset credit union (The Birmingham News Nov. 17). Proceeds from the recycling program go to the purchase of 60-minute pre-paid phone cards that go to service members.
Credit unions can share their stories about demonstrating the credit union difference on the Unite for Good website.

Filene: How Much Do 'Your People Helping People' Know

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MADISON, Wis. (12/6/13)--Credit unions measure a lot of data. Knowledge management--employee expertise--is not among the data they are particularly adept at quantifying, but that should change, according to a Filene Research Institute Report.
 
Linking employee knowledge to individual and organizational performance can improve the bottom line, according to the report: "Knowledge Transfer Review: The Case of Credit Unions."
 
Filene and Credit Union Central of Canada contracted with the Institute for Intellectual Capital Research in Ontario to conduct a research study focusing on knowledge transfer in the credit union system. The study collected data from eight credit unions in Canada and seven in the U.S. ranging from $350 million to $3.5 billion in assets.
 
Just as it's advisable to track loan delinquencies among similar credit unions, credit unions can measure knowledge management best practices and compare them with benchmarking groups, according to the study.
 
Choosing the right metrics and then measuring them over time is the only way to turn haphazard knowledge management into deliberate knowledge management, the study said.
 
While some credit unions only sporadically practice knowledge management, virtually all credit unions have sufficient information technology infrastructure in place to implement a knowledge management system.
 
Credit unions may never spend as much time on knowledge management as they do on loan portfolios, capital ratios or net income, the report acknowledges. But neglecting those measures has consequences and allows good employees to drift away and bad employees to slip by.
 
The study offers models, metrics and benchmarking reports that participating credit unions used to measure employee knowledge.
 
Use the resource link for more information on the report.

VolCorp and Kentucky Corporate FCU to Merge

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. and LOUISVILLE, Ky. (12/6/13)--Volunteer Corporate CU (VolCorp) and Kentucky Corporate FCU (Kentucky Corporate) have announced plans to merge.
 
VolCorp, based in Nashville, Tenn., will be the surviving entity and will maintain a presence in Kentucky with operations and staff at Kentucky Corporate's current base in Louisville, Ky.
 
"VolCorp is financially strong, enjoys strong member support, and is located close to Kentucky Corporate's current location in Louisville," said Kentucky Corporate Board Chairman Alan Butler. "We believe this merger will provide our members with a broad range of services to help them provide value-added services to their members."
 
The merger must be approved by members and regulators.
 
VolCorp President/CEO Rich Veach cited the benefits the merger would create for members of both corporate credit unions. "Moving forward, this merger will allow us to broaden our product offering and provide us the ability to continue paying a premium dividend on the capital investment in VolCorp," he added.

Suncoast Schools FCU Members Approve Switch To State Charter

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TAMPA, Fla. (12/6/13)--Members of $5.4 billion-asset Suncoast Schools FCU, Florida's largest credit union, approved a proposal to convert from a federal to a state charter in a preliminary vote Thursday afternoon.
 
In a special meeting held yesterday, 77% of the voting membership approved the charter change.
 
Suncoast Schools FCU President/CEO Tom Dorety told News Now a desire for a more "simplified field of membership" as the reason for the charter change.
 
The change has been approved by both the National Credit Union Administration and the state regulator, Dorety said.
 
"We are the largest community financial institution headquartered on the west coast of Florida," Dorety told News Now. "Under the federal charter, we have expanded through select employee groups, immediate family members, but the membership is not very simple. Our bylaws have about 100 pages naming our field of membership. Under the state charter, we will switch to a community charter in all of counties in which we operate today. It is a far simpler way for us to operate."
 
Suncoast serves 15 Florida counties, Dorety said. He anticipated that the credit union "will probably pick up" two additional counties, but does not have immediate plans for further expansion.
 
"We are focused on the west coast of Florida," Dorety said. "Through our foundation we give more to support public education than any other private organization in the 15 counties we serve, and we will continue to expand on that."
 
If the charter change is approved, the credit union will change its name to Suncoast CU, effective Jan. 1.
 

Minnesota CU Membership Tops 1.6M

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/6/13)--Nearly 30% of Minnesota residents are credit union members after the state's cooperative financial institutions increased membership by nearly 16,000 in the third quarter of 2013, reaching an all-time high of 1.6 million.
 
The membership growth in the third quarter--a growth rate of 1%--continues a trend that began during the financial crisis, when consumers took action and moved to credit unions in their dissatisfaction with large banks.
 
"Minnesota consumers and businesses continue to choose credit unions as their primary financial institution--much as they choose other local, community-focused businesses," said Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO. "By making the switch, consumers are demonstrating their trust for credit unions rather than banks and selecting a financial institution that is aligned with their values."
 
Bank fees ignited the grassroots movement Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, 2011, which helped prompt a gain of 2.2 million new member accounts at credit unions (News Now Sept. 30).
 
"These results show that we have been successful and that consumers are choosing credit unions more and more as their trusted financial partner," said Cummins. "As the trade association for Minnesota's credit unions, our strategy focuses on advocating for and creating an environment where credit unions can compete and grow their market share."

Missouri Gears Up for Next State Leg Session

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ST. LOUIS (12/6/13)--Although the Missouri General Assembly doesn't go into session until Jan. 8, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) already is preparing for what the new year will bring.
 
One of the biggest concerns is a potential change in legislation regarding the Financial Institution Data Match program, which tracks parents who are delinquent in child support payments, according to Amy McLard, association senior vice president of advocacy.
 
When the program was implemented in 2001, financial institutions were encouraged to participate but were not penalized if they didn't. It's anticipated that 2014 legislation will set penalties for non-compliant financial institutions, McLard said.
 
Many credit unions across the state already are working with the Division of Child Support Enforcement program, but "we want to make sure all credit unions have that process in place," she told News Now.
 
"Efforts to fully implement this program in advance of legislation will demonstrate credit unions' willingness to work towards compliance with the agency and lawmakers," said MCUA President/CEO Don Cohenour  (Missouri Difference Dec. 4).
 
Because 2014 is an election year, MCUA will monitor initiative petitions--one of which would potentially limit who could contribute to political actions committees, McLard said. "We want to make sure nothing that goes on a ballot would limit credit unions' opportunity to be part of the political process," she added.
 
There may not be any credit union-specific legislation on the horizon yet, given that legislators just started pre-filing bills Dec. 1. Whatever comes up, the association will be on the watch, McLard said, adding, "We work really hard because we work in the best interest of the consumer."

CU System Briefs (12/05/2013)

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/5/13)--Texas Trust CU entered into a seven-year partnership with the University of Texas at Arlington (Cornerstone Leaguer Dec. 4). The credit union will become the university's credit union sponsor of its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, and will gain marketing and promotional rights through the school's athletic programs. It will also open a branch on campus this spring, offer support to the UT Arlington Student Money Management Center, and market a variety of school brand debit cards that will provide a financial benefit to the university. "This partnership will strengthen UT Arlington's ability to influence and shape the lives of thousands of young adults by giving them access to financial resources and tools to help them build brighter financial futures," said Jim Minge, Texas Trust CU president. Texas Trust is headquartered in Mansfield, Texas. It has $760 million in assets ...

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/5/13)--David Reynolds, CEO of Security Service FCU, will step down on March 24, 2014, according to an announcement made by the credit union's board of directors (Cornerstone Leaguer Dec. 4). He is slated to be replaced by SSFCU President Jim Laffoon. Reynolds entered the credit union movement in August 1974, when he was hired by the National Credit Union Administration to be a field examiner and auditor. He joined Pentagon FCU in 1983, and opened its first office in San Antonio. Reynolds joined SSFCU in March 1986 as senior vice president. In August of that year, he was promoted to executive vice president. In May 1997, he was appointed president/CEO by SSFCU's board of directors. Under Reynolds' administration, the credit union has grown from a nine-branch $330 million institution to one with $7.5 billion in assets and 70 branches in Texas, Colorado and Utah. It is currently the eighth largest credit union in the country. "Under David Reynolds' leadership, Security Service has expanded the credit union's reach to serve more members and to provide enhanced products and services to meet their financial needs," said Jim O'Farrell, SSFCU board chair. "He has been committed to ensuring the continued safety and soundness of Security Service while also giving back to the members and the communities where we work and live." SSFCU is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas ...

2nd CU CEO Gets Nod to Serve on Seattle FHLB Board

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SEATTLE (12/5/13)--Credit unions have another seat at the table of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle.
 
The board announced the results of its 2013 board of director elections this week. Bob Teachworth, president/CEO, Denali Alaskan FCU, will represent Alaska for a four-year term beginning Jan. 1.
 
Teachworth, who leads a $519 million-asset credit union in Anchorage, joins another credit union professional--Benson Porter, president/CEO of BECU, a $11.5 billion-asset credit union in Tukwila, Wash.
 
In 2012, Porter became the first credit union representative on the board, which serves more than 300 financial institutions with liquidity funding. Porter represents the state of Washington and his term ends in 2016.
 
Teachworth assumes the seat currently held by Craig Dahl, president/CEO/director of Alaska Pacific Bancshares, Juneau, Alaska.
 
Every Federal Home Loan Bank has its own elected board of directors, representing areas such as banking, accounting, housing and community development. Directors serve four-year terms and may not serve more than three consecutive terms.

Missouri CUs Reach Record $11B In Assets

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ST. LOUIS (12/5/13)--Missouri's state-chartered credit unions surpassed $11 billion in assets during the first half of the year--a milestone, according to the state's regulator.
 
The Missouri Division of Credit Unions said that, as of June 30, the 118 credit unions it regulates had $11.2 billion in assets, $9.7 billion in deposits and $6.5 billion in loans.
 
"The continued growth of assets reflects the vital role of Missouri's credit unions and their contribution to the strength of our state's economy and financial sector," said Ken Bonnot, division director (Missouri Difference Dec. 4).
 
About 90% of credit unions in Missouri are state chartered, and 12 hold federal charters.
 
Just days ago, the National Credit Union Administration released its most recent credit union trend data, and the Credit Union National Association unveiled its monthly credit union estimates.  Use the resource links to access those related stories.

Jury's Leadership Brings National Acclaim To Iowa League

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DES MOINES, Iowa (12/5/13)--A Dec. 3 Des Moines Register article highlighted the national reputation of the Iowa Credit Union League and its president/CEO Patrick Jury.
 
Jury has led the league since 2006. Under his leadership, the league supports the state's 116 credit unions with services ranging from electronic transaction processing to serving the Hispanic market.
 
With more than $10 billion in deposits and $11.7 billion of assets at the end of the second quarter, Iowa credit unions are strong under Jury's leadership. Their share of the $84 billion now deposited at Iowa's financial institutions has increased to 12.4% from 8% under Jury's tenure as CEO.
 
One of Jury's significant achievements was the development of the league subsidiary Affiliate Management Co. Annual revenue at Affiliate Management Co. has doubled to more than $100 million the past five years, the Register reported. Jury's active leadership has built businesses that serve credit unions around the nation, Paul Gentile executive vice president of strategic communications for the Credit Union National Association, said in the  Register article.
 
As a for-profit provider, Affiliate Management Co. was able to be more nimble to respond to market needs and insulate the league and its member credit unions--who tend to be risk averse--from any problems that might occur, the Register reported. Also, it provided enough capital to "seed" new ventures.
 
Diana Dkystra, president/CEO of the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues, complimented Jury's ability to think outside of the box, describing him as "brilliant."
 
Jury joined the league as a lobbyist in 1989. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 1993 and has served as chief executive officer since 2006. He is also secretary of the executive committee of the World Council of Credit Unions. Jury is an at-large executive committee member of the CUNA board.
 
 
To read the full article, use the link provided.

Rep. Larson Urges CUs to Remain Vigilant in Tax Status Advocacy: Camp Says No Bill in 2013

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MERIDEN, Conn. (12/5/13)--U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) stressed that "vigilance is eternal" in credit unions' campaign to maintain their tax status, during an interview with the Kelly Fuhlbrigge, Credit Union League of Connecticut vice president of government relations.

Credit unions must maintain close contact with their legislators during the tax reform process, Larson said in his interview with the league.
 
Larson's words urging credit unions to remain vigilant in their tax status advocacy took on particular poignancy Wednesday when House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), a key player in the nation's tax-policy discussions, told reporters that he will hold off unveiling tax reform  legislation until February or March of 2014.  Camp has spent much of this year saying tax reform legislation, to reduce individual and corporate tax rates while eliminating some tax expenditures and broadening the tax base, would be ready before this year's end. 
 
Congress is running out of time and Camp has no plans to introduce the tax bill this year, he told reporters after a political luncheon (Bloomberg Government Dec. 4).  
 
The Credit Union National Association has advised credit unions that political advocacy, on issues like tax status, is a "long game."  Advocates, CUNA says,  have to be disciplined, have to work methodically to generate "support on the ground," and have to be in it for the long haul. 
 
Connecticut's Larson, in his interview with the league, also said, "It's always wise to notify your legislator and making sure you are bringing them up to date, particularly of the great value that credit unions bring." Larson told Fuhlbrigge, "As a credit union member myself, I can speak of first hand of the value that credit unions bring especially during difficult times, and the unique nature of the charter agreement."
 
Particularly important is educating new legislators who may not be familiar with credit union ideals, structure and tradition of service excellence, Larson said.
 
He stressed the importance of maintaining a public forum for discussions before any legislation is voted out of committee.
 
"That maximizes the opportunity for constituents to have voices heard on all levels, particularly if you are a credit union member or are invested in the goals of credit unions," Larson said.

Use the resource link to access the video.

Carolinas Foundation Commits $600,000 to Children's Hospital Over 2 Years

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (12/5/13)--Children's Hospital of Greenville Health System unveiled a new interactive, child-friendly space for patients and families Tuesday--the product of $300,000 gift from Carolinas Credit Union Foundation.
 
Click to view larger image A $300,000 gift from Carolinas Credit Union Foundation provided a new interactive, child-friendly space at Children's Hospital of Greenville Health System. The 1,900-square-foot lobby has been transformed into an imaginary underwater adventure, which includes a saltwater fish tank. (Photo provided by Carolinas Credit Union Foundation)
The foundation, which represents 169 credit unions in North and South Carolina, set a goal of a two-phased $600,000 Children's Hospital Project as part of the Leave Behind Project. That initiative was coordinated by the Credit Union National Association in conjunction with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The first phase of the project was a $300,000 rooftop garden area renovation at Levine Children's Hospital.
 
"Giving back is a core value of credit unions and aligns with our collective philosophy of people helping people," said foundation President/CEO John McGrail. "I am proud of the credit unions in North and South Carolina for coming together to transform this space into something warm and inviting for patients and families to enjoy during their hospital stay."
 
Children's Hospital of Greenville Hospital Systems is a Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Credit Unions for Kids, a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners nationwide, raises funds for 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
 
Credit unions are the third-largest sponsor of the hospitals, and 100% of every dollar donated goes to the credit union's local CMN Hospital to support research and training, purchase equipment or pay for uncompensated care for children.
 
The 1,900-square-foot lobby has been transformed into an imaginary underwater adventure with 200 brightly painted metal fish hanging from the ceiling. An interactive submarine wall features interactive games like bubble pop, music notes, dress up and painting. It also includes three mirrored windows that allow children to see their reflection while playing games and digitally dress themselves in underwater-themed elements.
 
The new space also includes an existing saltwater fish tank, child- and adult-sized furniture, and charging stations for electronic devices.

Ohio's Day Air CU Launches Insurance Services

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KETTERING, Ohio (12/5/13)--In order to better match products to its loan offerings, Day Air CU established a new agency to provide insurance to members and the local community.
 
Day Air Insurance LLC opened at the end of November and sells home, auto, renter and business insurance from 12 carriers (Dayton Daily News Dec. 4).
 
The credit union's president/CEO, Bill Burke, said that it was a natural fit to add the services.
 
"We make loans of all types, but we really make an awful lot of consumer automobile loans. We make an awful lot of mortgage loans," he told the Dayton Daily News. These type of loans require insurance, and the new venture provides an easy avenue for the credit union's members to acquire it.
 
Burke said the $273 million-asset credit union is on pace to end 2013 with a 12% growth in loan balances over 2012, noting "2013 is going to be yet again another record year for the credit union."

U-Haul's Parent Company Taps CUs For Part Of $100M Loan

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AUSTIN, Texas (12/5/13)--Large companies tend to look toward large financial institutions to handle their lending needs. But U-Haul, under its parent company AMERCO, recently turned to credit unions and other community financial institutions for a $100 million loan.
 
Of those 23 financial institutions, four credit unions were part of the corporate financing that was guided by BancAssets LLC, which works to bring large and middle-market corporate lending to community financial institutions.
 
U-Haul embraced the idea of using the communities they serve to finance their business instead of going to big institutions, said David Hill, CEO of the Austin, Texas-based BancAssets.
 
Hill told News Now that it is important to provide funding avenues for Fortune 1000 companies. "By going back to the communities they serve, they experience more economic empowerment and involvement," he said.
 
Of the 23 community financial institutions involved in the corporate financing, the following four credit unions were included:
  • Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, Maine, $266 million assets
  • Leaders CU, Jackson, Tenn., $208 million assets
  • Money One FCU, Largo, Md., $105 million assets
  • Sacramento (Calif.) CU, $367 million assets
 
The package put together by BancAssets gave U-Haul the opportunity to work with new lenders that they may not have known about, said U-Haul Treasurer Gary Horton in a press release.
 

CUAD's Youth Savings Program Gets a New Look

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BISMARCK, N.D. (12/4/13)--The youth savers program of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' Service Corp. is getting a new look.

Pee Wee Penguin, a program that helps kids learn smart savings habits and how to become financially savvy credit union members, has been a successful marketing tool for credit unions since 1988, said CUAD. The program advocates financial literacy and provides visibility for credit unions by helping kids learn more about what credit unions do.

The program has proved so successful that it is expanding with two additional characters, Sheldon and Kiwi.  Pee Wee, Sheldon and Kiwi are each designed to appeal to a certain youth age group.

Pee Wee appeals to grades one to three.  His profile says he loves drawing and camping, has a head for numbers and enjoys helping people and penguins learn more about money. He is full of ideas for saving and making money, but sometimes can resist splurging on a new comic book or fish milkshake.  He wants to be the first penguin astronaut when he grows up, but he's afraid of heights. He might become a math teacher instead.

Kiwi, for grades four to six, is Pee Wee's big sister. She likes playing snow soccer, reading and dancing. She can be a little bossy  at times but watches out for her little brothers and tries to keep them out of trouble.  Kiwi dreams of playing soccer in the Olympics one day.  She also wants to be a famous writer, so Pee Wee is helping her learn how to save up money for college.

Sheldon, for pre-K to kindergarten, is Pee Wee's baby brother. He may be little, but he's smart.  Sheldon takes things apart and experiments, but sometimes his contraptions and experiments get him into trouble. He wants to become a scientist and help save the environment.  Pee Wee is helping Sheldon save up for his first chemistry set.

In addition to the new characters, the Pee Wee Penguin program is sporting a new logo, new website and an online electronic shopping center.  To learn more, use the link.

CU System Briefs (12/04/2013)

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  • NAPLES, Fla. (12/4/13)--A former teller pleaded guilty Monday to a conspiracy to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from his ex-employer, Taupa Lithuanian CU. Michael Ruksenas, 33, of Naples, Fla., admitted in a federal courtroom to participating in a scheme to steal the funds from the now-shuttered credit union (The Plain Dealer Dec. 3). The embezzlement was led by CEO Alex Spirikaitis, who was arrested in October after going into hiding when the credit union was closed by regulators in July (News Now Oct. 22). The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warrant for Spirikaitis' arrest for making "false credit institution entries" after the Cleveland, Ohio-area credit union was shut down by the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions and put into liquidation by the National Credit Union Administration (News Now July 16). Ruksenas, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28 and agreed to pay restitution of $481,000, is cooperating with investigators and said he will testify against alleged co-conspirators as part of a plea deal. Six related indictments are expected, according to federal prosecutors. Spirikaitis is in federal custody. He has been charged with making false statements but has not yet been indicted. At the time of its closure, Taupa Lithuanian had $23.6 million in assets. It had served 1,154 members and was chartered in 1984 to serve the Lithuanian community of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. It was the 11th federally insured credit union to begin the liquidation process in 2013 ...
  • BURLINGTON, Vt. (12/4/13)--The former CEO of the now-defunct Border Lodge CU pleaded guilty to embezzlement at a federal court in Burlington, Vt. (Associated Press Dec. 3). Debra Kinney admitted Monday to stealing money from members' accounts, and agreed to forfeit $250,000. She faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in restitution (Burlington Free Press Dec. 2). Kinney is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. In the plea bargain, U.S. Attorney for Vermont Tristram Coffin agreed to refrain from indicting Kinney on other possible charges and agreed to seek a penalty on the low end of the sentencing guidelines. Kinney was first charged in June with a single count of embezzlement. Court records indicate that Kinney took money from the credit union and deposited it into her account at Passumpsic Savings Bank and in an account for a close friend. A preliminary investigation indicated $207,000 was taken from member accounts between April 4, 2011 and July 12, 2012. Kinney also allegedly took $79,108 from members and funneled it between June 13, 2011 and June 6, 2012 into an account maintained by her and her husband. The FBI and state regulators shut down Border Lodge CU after a court-ordered raid on Nov. 30, 2012, prompted by a tip from an unnamed employee. The credit union's offices were mainly located in the basement of Kinney's home in Derby Line, Vt.--a town that borders Canada. When Border Lodge was shut down, it had about 1,100 members and $3.1 million in assets ...
  • HIGHSTOWN, N.J. (12/4/13)--The charity arm of the New Jersey Credit Union League announced Tuesday that it is participating in AmazonSmile fundraising this year (The Daily Exchange Dec. 3). Shoppers on Amazon.com will be able to direct 0.5% of purchases on eligible products to the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation during the holiday season. The NJCUF is the second state league foundation to become a "charity of choice" through the online retailer this year. The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation became the first when it announced in early November that it joined the AmazonSmile program (News Now Nov. 7) ...
     
  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/4/13)--Tom Hodge, a Cornerstone Credit Union League executive, died of cancer on Sunday (Cornerstone Leaguer Dec. 3). Most recently senior vice president of strategic business, Hodge first joined Cornerstone in 1987 as a consultant in West Texas. He was promoted to director of consulting services in 1994, a position that saw him supervising league consultants in Dallas. In 1997, he graduated from a league school created to train aspiring executives. Cornerstone said that Hodge was recognized throughout Texas for his expertise in lending, credit union operations, marketing and strategic long range planning. "Tom had been battling cancer for the last five years. He fought hard till the end," Dick Ensweiler, league CEO, noted ...

Seven Elected By Acclamation To CUNA Board

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MADISON, Wis. (12/4/13)--Seven credit union leaders were elected by acclamation to the board of directors for the Credit Union National Association.

The elected directors, their districts and classes are below.

District 1--Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands:
  • Class A (credit unions having less than 25,000 natural person members)--Edwin L. Williams, president, Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., $132 million assets; and
  • Class D (league presidents)--William J. Mellin, president, Credit Union Association of New York, Albany, N.Y.

District 2--Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia:
  • Class B (credit unions having at least 25,000 but not more than 93,999 natural person members)--Dallas Bergl, president, INOVA FCU, Elkhart, Ind., $281 million assets; and
  • Class D--Rick Pillow, president, Virginia Credit Union League, Lynchburg, Va.

District 3--Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee:
  • Class C (credit unions having at least 94,000 natural person members)--Maurice R. Smith, president, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., $1.3 billion assets.

District 5--Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming:
  • Class C--Tony C. Budet, president, University FCU, Austin, Texas, $1.64 million assets.

District 6--Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Midway Atoll, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Atoll:
  • Class B--Jeff York, president, CoastHills FCU, Lompoc, Calif., $718 million assets.

In District 4--which covers Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin--there is one contested election for Class A. Voters will choose between Pat Drennen, CEO, 1st Gateway CU, Camanche, Iowa, $87 million, and Geraldine Burek, president/CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park, Ill., $53 million.

Ballots for the contested election were mailed Monday to all affiliated credit unions in District 4, Class A, with a voting deadline of Jan. 10. Results will be announced Jan. 15.

Directors elected will take office upon the adjournment of CUNA's Annual General Meeting during the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24.

Maryland CU's Bank Purchase Approved By Shareholders

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BALTIMORE (12/4/13)--Municipal Employees CU of Baltimore will take over operations of Advance Bank Dec. 12 after shareholders of the bank approved the sale of the bank to the $1.2 billion credit union, the credit union confirmed Tuesday.
 
The credit union-bank acquisition is the first of its kind in Maryland.
 
Letters have been sent to Advance Bank customers advising them of the transition, Dorothea Stierhoff, MECU senior public relations manager, confirmed with News Now.
 
The data processing conversion is expected to be completed by early March, Stierhoff said.
 
The purchase and assumption agreement for the acquisition was approved by Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mark Kaufman in October (News Now Nov. 1).
 
MECU's purchase of Advance is the fifth credit union acquisition of a bank since 2011.  FiveStar CU, Dothan, Ala., signed an agreement to purchase Flint River National Bank, Camilla, Ga., in September. It is subject to regulatory review. The National Credit Union Administration approved New Berlin, Wis.-based Landmark CU's request to purchase and assume Hartford Savings Bank in February (News Now March 18).
 
GFA FCU, Gardner, Mass., acquired Monadnock Community Bank in December 2012. United FCU, based in St. Joseph, Mich., purchased Griffith (Ind.) Savings Bank in December 2011 (News Now April 4).

Kansas CU Association Launches Fin Lit 'Destroy Debt' Campaign

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WICHITA, Kan. (12/4/13)--The Kansas Credit Union Association has launched a consumer financial literacy campaign loosely based on the format of "Biggest Loser" TV show, but instead of shedding unwanted pounds, participants will eliminate household debt.
 
Money Possible: Destroy Debt, is a 16-week consumer literacy campaign in partnership with Wichita area credit unions and the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. The idea stems from KCUA's new Innovation and Implementation Lab.
 
"One of the issues that came out of this summer's launch of the Innovation Lab was the need for member and consumer financial education," said Melissa Baptista, KCUA research and development director. "This pilot program satisfies the financial literacy need, as well as promotes the value of credit unions as strong financial partners."
 
Any Wichita area credit union member is eligible to apply. KCUA will choose the participants, whose stories will be told through the MoneyPossible.org blog, social media and local media outlets.
 
Weekly financial tips and weekly segments with updates from the participants will air on local TV. Four live interviews also will air throughout the campaign, and the blog will be updated as the participants progress through the program. 
 
The campaign runs from February to June. The deadline for credit union members to apply for the campaign is Dec. 20. Participants will be selected in mid-January and start their financial counseling sessions in mid-February.

CUNA Mutual's Post Shares Retrospective With CU Magazine

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MADISON, Wis. (12/4/13)--Just shy of his last day as president/CEO, Jeff Post shared what was right about his nine years heading CUNA Mutual Group.
 
For Post, the "right person, right job, right results, right now" mantra anchored him while he guided the company through a rough economy, according to an interview with Credit Union Magazine.
 
The domino effect of surrounding himself with good people, who in turn surrounded themselves with good people, served him well, he told the magazine.
 
His greatest source of pride is CUNA Mutual's designation as one of the world's most ethical companies by international think thank Ethisphere. Ethisphere recognized CUNA Mutual for its credit union advocacy, commitment to ethics and compliance, and community involvement.
 
The credit union system provides incredible opportunities for people, but it is up to the individual to maximize his contribution by building skills sets and being involved in the community, Post said, giving a nod to the Credit Union Development Education program administered by the National Credit Union Foundation.
 
"The fact that it's a cooperative group and one that's focused on people helping people makes it a very fulfilling place to work," he told Credit Union Magazine.
 
Post will continue in an advisory role until July 2014.
 
Credit Union Magazine next will feature an interview with Bob Trunzo, Post's successor as president/CEO as of Jan. 1.

Federation Applauds Decision On Funds For CDFI Certification

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NEW YORK (12/4/13)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, in its campaign to increase the number of low-income credit unions certified as community development financial institutions (CDFIs), said the idea is getting more support from throughout the credit union industry, including from regulators.
 
The federation applauded a recent decision by the National Credit Union Administration to offer technical assistance awards for credit unions that seek a CDFI certification.  The agency has made grants of up to $2,500 per credit union available.
 
Several leagues have committed to educate, inform and support their member credit unions seeking the certification, said the federation, citing the Mississippi Credit Union Association as an example.
 
MSCUA has committed to kick off a year-long initiative with the federation aimed at helping credit unions in the state understand the value of CDFI certification to their communities.
 
"In Mississippi, we have 84 credit unions and 75% qualify for low-income designation," said MSCUA President/CEO Charles Elliott.  "They represent 86% of all members, 89% of total assets and one of the highest percentages of people living in poverty," he said.
 
"We support the federation's mission of helping people achieve financial independence through credit unions and will be working with the federation on increasing the number of CDFI-certified credit unions in our state," Elliott said.
 
Credit unions comprise less than 25% of all CDFIs. As the CDFI intermediary for community development credit unions, the federation has advocated for an increase in the number of CDFI-certified credit unions. Most of the nation's 2,000 low-income credit unions are eligible. However, roughly 10% are CDFI-certified, the federation said.
 
"CDFI certification is one of the building blocks for sustainable growth in low- and moderate-income communities," said Cathie Mahon, federation president/CEO.  "The CDFI Fund is one of the most important sources of capital community development credit unions can access to scale the delivery of safe, affordable financial products and services in their communities."
 
Certification is provided by the U.S. Treasury Department's CDFI Fund, which has awarded $1.5 billion in capital grants since its inception in 1994. To be eligible, credit unions must have a primary mission of promoting community development and must direct a minimum of 60% of their financing activities to an eligible target market, including an investment area or low-income population.

For more information, contact the federation or its consulting arm, CU Breakthrough.

Georgia League Survey: Consumer Confidence On The Rise

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ATLANTA (12/4/13)--Increased demand for new- and used-car loans is leading the way for higher consumer confidence and significant loan growth in Georgia, according to a new survey.

The report, released by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, showed that the state's 139 credit unions saw a 4.7% increase in total loans during the first three quarters of the year and a 6.4% rise over the past 12 months.

New- and used-auto loans performed well with 8.8% and 6.9% growth rates, respectively. At 4.4% in the first three quarters, first mortgages were on pace with the overall loan growth of 4.7% (Paying ATTENTION Dec. 2).

Georgia's credit union members continue to add to their nest eggs with balances in regular saving accounts growing 9% over the past 12 months. Although credit card balances increased 2.1% over the past 12 months, they are 1.7% lower compared with the first nine months of 2012, said GCUA.

"As consumer confidence continues to rebound, Georgia consumers continue to spend their money wisely on sound investments," said Mike Mercer, league president/CEO. "Georgians are making a concerted effort to restore their fiscal houses to the same levels they were before the Great Recession."

This sentiment also was reflected in an earlier GCUA survey that found 52.7% of Georgia consumers plan to spend the same as last year on holiday purchases, while 38.9% plan to spend less.

Additionally, credit union membership in Georgia continues to grow, with a 2.7% increase during the past year, which the survey attributed to better rates.

CUAD: Another Victory In a Line Of Tax Battles

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VERMILLION, S.D.  (12/4/13)--South Dakota credit unions scored another victory as the Clay County Commission Tuesday voted unanimously (5-0) to indefinitely table the South Dakota Bankers Association's "Equalization in Taxation" resolution. 
 
"It's another victory in what appears to be a long line of battles with banks at the city and county level," said Robbie Thompson, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of Dakotas.
 
"They are saying that the cities and counties would derive a great deal of revenue from the bank franchise tax, when we know that is not accurate," Thompson said. "The amount that goes to each city and county is minimal. They are trying to leverage the fact that cities and counties are struggling with budgets."
 
Also, late Monday afternoon, South Dakota banks asked the Vermillion City Commission to consider its "Equalization in Taxation" resolution proposal. Following debate and a response from CUAD and credit union advocates, the city commission took no action on the request.  Official action could come at a later date.  Representing credit unions were Janet Mount, president/CEO Vermillion FCU, and Amy Klienschmit, CUAD director of compliance.   
 
South Dakota banks continued their push Tuesday with a planned presentation before the Campbell County Commissioners in Mount, S.D.
 
For the past several months, a select group of South Dakota banks, has promoted a state-wide effort to implore local lawmakers to impose taxes (local, franchises, or federal) on not-for-profit credit unions. Banks' core argument is that credit unions have grown "beyond their intended purposes in both size and scope," and changing the credit union tax status will solve local, state, and federal budget shortfalls. 
 
Banks have approached nine city or county boards with their tax proposal. Three boards have tabled the proposal indefinitely.
 
"We are going to continue to fight these battles in every city and county where it is proposed, and be prepared for whatever the bankers do next," said Thompson.
 
The South Dakota Bankers Association on Nov. 25 presented a resolution proposal to the Yankton (S.D.) City Commission in support of taxing federal credit unions and farm credit system institutions. Credit union advocates attended the meeting and successfully defended against the banks' claims, the CUAD reported (News Now Nov. 27). The city commission tabled the resolution and will consider it at a later date.
 
On a state-wide conference call for South Dakota credit union leaders last week, CUAD requested its membership to be vigilant in scanning local school board, city and county commission agendas for more bank attempts to present their "taxation" resolution proposals and requests. 

NEW: CUs Score Victory In South Dakota

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VERMILLION, S.D.  (12/4/13, UPDATED: 11 A.M. CT)-- South Dakota credit unions scored another victory as the Clay County Commission this morning voted unanimously (5-0) to indefinitely table the South Dakota Bankers Association's "Equalization in Taxation" resolution. 
 
Also, late Monday afternoon, South Dakota banks asked the Vermillion City Commission to consider its "Equalization in Taxation" resolution proposal. Following debate and a response from the Credit Union Association of Dakotas (CUAD) and credit union advocates, the city commission took no action on the request.  Official action could come at a later date.  Representing the credit unions were Janet Mount, president/CEO Vermillion FCU and Amy Klienschmit, CUAD director of compliance.   
 
South Dakota banks continue their push today with a planned presentation before the Campbell County Commissioners in Mount, S.D.
 
Over the last several months, a select group of South Dakota banks, has been promoting a state-wide effort to implore local lawmakers to impose taxes (local, franchises, or federal) on not-for-profit credit unions. Banks' core argument is that credit unions have grown "beyond their intended purposes in both size and scope," and changing the credit union tax status will solve local, state, and federal budget shortfalls. 
 
The objective with the resolution proposal is to gain support from local taxing authorities to echo their calls for repeal of the exemption. More importantly state/federal policymakers would be receptive to the voices of local governments, CUAD said.
 
The South Dakota Bankers Association on Nov. 25 presented a resolution proposal to the Yankton (S.D.) City Commission in support of taxing federal credit unions and farm credit system institutions. Credit union advocates attended the meeting and successfully defended against the banks' claims, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) reported (News Now Nov. 27). The city commission tabled the resolution and will consider it at a later date.
 
On a state-wide conference call for South Dakota credit union leaders last week, CUAD requested its membership to be vigilant in scanning local school board, city and county commission agendas for more bank attempts to their "taxation" resolution proposals and requests.

Majority of Maine CUs Help Members with Winter Energy Loans

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PORTLAND, Maine (12/3/13)--The arrival of cold weather has brought Maine credit unions another opportunity to serve the needs of their members. A survey of the state's 61 credit unions conducted by the Maine Credit Union League found that more than two-thirds of the state's credit unions are offering low- or no-interest fuel loans to help members meet the high costs of heating their homes during the winter months.
 
More than half of the state's credit unions offering fuel loans lend on average $2,000 to $4,000 per borrower at an average rate of 3.9% according to the survey (Weekly Update Nov. 29).
 
"The cost of fuel is high, and winter and the heating season in long in Maine," John Paradise, the Maine Credit Union League's assistant vice president governmental and public affairs, told News Now. "It can run anywhere from the beginning or the end of October to the end of May. During the last five years fuel prices have also increased, which creates even more of a burden for consumers."
 
Sebasticook Valley FCU, Pittsfield, is offering 12-month fuel loans at 0%. "We really offer it as a service to our members," Jim Lemieux, president/CEO of the $78 million asset credit union, told News Now. "Members have told us how much they appreciate it. It really makes a difference in spreading the costs out over 12 months."
 
Sebasticook Valley FCU has been offering the loans for about seven years, Lemieux said. He expects the credit union to make more than 100 loans this year, as it did last year.
 
"Maine's credit unions continue to work with consumers to offer creative and low-cost ways to help people stay warm during challenging times," said John Murphy, Maine Credit Union League president.

Chapter Promotes Public Deposits Bill to Ohio Legislators

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (12/3/13)-Ohio credit union leaders continue to make their case for a state bill that would enable credit unions to serve as depositories for local and state funds.

On Nov. 18, the Miami Valley Chapter of the Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) met with seven members of the Ohio General Assembly to discuss the Community Access and Local Government Choice Act (House Bill 221). Committee Chairman Terry Blair (R-Washington Township) attended the lunch in Dayton that included OCUL staff and representatives from local government agencies (eLumination Newsletter Nov. 26).

The next day, the Ohio House of Representatives' State and Local Government Committee held the first hearing on the bill, with testimony provided by co-sponsors Reps. Louis Terhar (R-Cincinnati) and Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus).

The bill supports credit unions' eligibility to participate in linked-deposit programs such as consumer-based savings (SaveNOW), small business loans (GrowNOW) and agricultural growth (Ag-Link).

House Bill 221 provides a choice for local governments and allows three million Ohio residents access to important deposit programs, said Patrick Harris, director of public affairs for the Ohio league.

For some rural Ohio counties, credit unions are the only financial institutions in their area, Harris told News Now. These counties want to deposit their funds in credit unions, he added.

The league is preparing proponent testimony, and Harris told News Now that "we have a better shot than ever to get it out of committee and out to the House floor."

Mich. CUs Continue to Testify on Card-Skimming Bill

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LANSING, Mich. (12/3/13)--Representatives from Michigan credit unions and the Michigan Credit Union League testified before the state House Criminal Justice Committee regarding a package of five bills related to ATM card skimming last week (Michigan Monitor Dec. 2).
 
Credit union representatives who testified included:
  • Steve Dudene, compliance and regulatory affairs manager, Credit Union ONE, Ferndale;
  • Michelle Matson, electronic services manager, Genisys CU, Auburn Hills; and
  • Ashley Ligon, grassroots coordinator, Michigan Credit Union League.
Financial institutions have found that skimming devices are readily available for sale and take a minimal amount of time to install on ATMs, gas pumps and more. Within minutes, criminals can install a camera or other card-reading device and PIN-capturing device onto an ATM or other financial transaction device, and collect consumer personal information.

Currently, there are conflicting penalty provisions in state law that must be resolved, and jurisdictional adjustments are needed to facilitate easier prosecution, said the league.

CUNA Monthly Estimate Show Loan, Savings Increases

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MADISON, Wis. (12/3/13)--Growth was the word of the month in October as credit union loans outstanding and savings balances both increased, according to CUNA's monthly sample of credit unions. Credit unions reported strong loan increases in October, with balances rising 0.6%, compared to 0.5% in October 2012. Adjustable-rate, first-mortgage loan balances posted the biggest increase, rising 4.5%, and are up 8.3% over the same period last year. New and used auto loan balances also grew rapidly in October, increasing 1.2% and 0.9%, respectively.  New auto loan balances posted the fastest year-over-year loan growth, rising 12%, followed closely by a 10.8% increase in used auto loans. 
 
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"Both supply and demand factors are driving the accelerated pace of lending: credit unions are lowering interest rates and loosening credit standards to increase the supply of loanable funds while stronger consumers' balance sheets are increasing the demand for loanable funds," Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, said Monday. "Rapidly rising home and stock prices are creating what economists call a strong 'wealth effect,' whereby consumers feel wealthier and therefore borrow and spend more out of current income."
 
Credit union savings balances increased 0.3% to $929 billion in October, compared to a 0.6% decrease in September. Share drafts increased 1.8% while regular shares and one-year certificates grew 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively. On the decline were money market accounts (-0.4%) and individual retirement accounts (-0.6%).
 
Credit union assets rose 5.4% during the period ending October 2013, a decrease from the 6.2% pace set for all of 2012. "Weaker deposit growth of 4.8% was the main factor slowing balance sheet growth, while borrowing, which typically makes up only 3.1% of a credit union balance sheet, grew 24% over the last 12 months," Rick said. "Only the asset side of the balance sheet, credit union loan balances rose 6.8% over the last 12 months, the fastest pace since 2008." 
 
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Regarding asset quality, credit unions' 60-day-plus delinquency rate has remained at 1% for the past eight months. "A 7.6% fall in the dollar amount of delinquent loans combined with a 6.8% rise in loans outstanding created the significant drop in the delinquency ratio," Rick said. "The delinquency rate should fall to 0.8% in 2014, back to the level reported before the onset of the Great Recession."
 
With loan growth outpacing savings growth during October, credit unions' loan-to-savings ratio increased to 70.2% in October from 70% in September. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--is 16.9%.
 
Total credit union membership grew 0.2% during October to 98.8 million.
 
The movement's overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10.4%.  The total dollar amount of capital is $113 billion.

National Credit Union Administration data released Monday showed similarly positive results. (See NCUA: CU Loans, Members, Net Worth All Up in 2013 3Q)

Minn. League President Cummins Touts CU Difference In Business Pub

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MINNEAPOLIS (12/3/13)-In a publication filled with ideas from the movers and shakers in the Twin Cities area, Minnesota Credit Union League President/CEO Mark Cummins had the chance to reinforce the credit union difference.

Cummins challenged the misperception that credit unions are less sophisticated than others in the financial services industry. A credit union may not have a national bricks-and-mortar presence, as does an entity such as Wells Fargo, he said, but credit unions have the reach of a nationwide, surcharge-free ATM network and the unique services provided by shared branching (Twin Cities Business Nov. 22).

Additionally, credit unions have deposit insurance protection for members that is equivalent to the banks and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "We're very safe," he told the magazine. "We're conservatively managed, and we take good care of people."

Cummins called the "unfair tax advantage" claims, bandied about by banks, "inter-institutional propaganda," noting that the federal income tax exemption is the only one credit unions have and it's based on the not-for-profit, cooperative structure of credit unions.

He concurred with the interviewer's comment that 2012 was a "pivotal year" for credit union growth. Cummins said that consumers are choosing credit unions because they align with the values Americans are seeking. It's a fundamentally different way of treating people-you maximize the benefit to your membership instead of maximizing the benefit to the stockholder, he said.

According to the league, Minnesota credit union membership grew by 12,000 to 1,591,000 through the second quarter of 2013, which is a 0.8% growth rate.

The special Nov. 22 edition of Twin Cities Business included one-on-one interviews with 28 of the area's business and community leaders.

News Now Top 10 Headlines for Nov.

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MADISON (12/3/13)--An article announcing that the National Credit Union Administration will not charge a Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund assessment in 2014 was the most-read News Now story in November. The corporate assessment was a hot topic much of the month, and the Credit Union National Association even produced an "Inside Exchange" video segment on the impact of the NCUA's decision to hold the assessment range at zero for 2014 (See resource link).
 
The Top 10 articles for the month:
 
10. NCUA Bans Four From CU Work
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/1/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has banned four former credit union employees from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution.
 
9. Comprehensive CUNA Letter Urges NCUA To Cut Burdens

WASHINGTON (11/19/13)--The Credit Union National Association is urging the National Credit Union Administration to do all it can to cut credit union regulatory burdens and build a regulatory environment and examination culture that enhances the ability of credit unions to serve their members. 
 
8. NCUA 2014 Budget Contains 6.7% Increase

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/21/13)--The National Credit Union Administration today approved a 2014 budget of $268.2 million. This spending plan represents an increase of 6.7% from the 2013 NCUA budget and is the sixth straight year that the agency's planned expenditures have grown.
 
7. NCUA: TCCUSF Estimates Down $2.3B

WASHINGTON (11/25/13)--The upper end of remaining Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund assessment estimates declined by $2.3 billion between December 2012 and July 2013, thanks to a $1.6 billion decrease in expected costs and a $700 million assessment that was collected in October 2013, the National Credit Union Administration announced Friday.
 
6. Gentile Named President/CEO of the Massachusetts CU League

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (11/22/13)--The Massachusetts Credit Union League (MCUL) Board of Directors has named Paul Gentile as President/CEO effective Jan. 6th.
 
5. NCUA Approves Final CUSO Rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/21/13)--The National Credit Union Administration's final rule addressing credit union service organization (CUSO) supervision, adopted today, is revised from the agency's proposal but concerns remain about the authority of the agency to exercise direct authority over CUSOs.
 
4. CUs Told What Examiners Look For On Risk Management

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/13/13/)--The National Credit Union Administration took action Tuesday to clarify its supervisory expectations regarding credit unions' risk management systems.
 
3. CUNA Sets Record Straight On CU vs. Bank Exec Compensation

WASHINGTON (11/18/13)--The Credit National Association is setting the record straight on the issue of credit union CEO vs. bank CEO compensation after the <em> American Banker</em> cited a statistic that is "misleading," said CUNA.
 
2. JP Morgan To Pay $13B Settlement

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/19/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has added another settlement to its victory pile related to lawsuits to regain costs associated with losses to the corporate credit unions brought by residential mortgage-backed securities of alleged questionable quality. The U.S. Department of Justice has just announced that JP Morgan Securities would pay $13 billion in total.
 
1. No TCCUSF Assessment In 2014

WASHINGTON (11/21/13)--The National Credit Union Administration will not charge a Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) assessment in 2014. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund assessment for 2014 will be between zero and five basis points, the agency added.
 

CU System Briefs (12/03/2013)

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  • MADISON, Wis. (12/3/13)--Effective Monday, Michelle Willits is director of online editorial for News Now, CUNA's online daily newsletter. She returns to News Now, where she began her CUNA career as a web associate editor in 2003. Her other CUNA experience includes advertising supervisor for Credit Union Magazine and, most recently, manager of new alliances for CUNA Strategic Services. Willits also supports CUNA's Creating Member Loyalty training for internal staff and was selected to be a graduate assistant for CUNA Management School in 2012. Before joining CUNA, she worked at newspapers in Illinois, Colorado, and Nevada. Willits earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Montana, Missoula. She reports to Lisa McCue, vice president of editorial communications, who is based in Washington, D.C.. Willits will succeed longtime director Leigh Gregg, who will retire in January.
  •  
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/3/13)--A Harrisburg, Pa. man was indicted last month on 399 charges of theft for allegedly defrauding Pennsylvania State Employees CU of more than $22,000 (Pennlive.com Nov. 21). Masharad Tunis Carter, 24, is accused of using the photo-sharing website Instagram to meet PESCU members and offer them money in exchange for their debit cards and account access. Dauphin County detectives and the district attorney's office alleged that Carter deposited more than $62,000 in stolen and fraudulent checks into 14 accounts, and subsequently withdrew $22,646 from them at ATM machines in Rite-Aids, Wal-Marts, Giant grocery stores and PSECU branches and at locations in New Jersey between December 2012 and November 2013. Police claim to have video evidence of Carter depositing the checks into the accounts. Some PSECU members whose accounts were involved told law enforcement officials that their cards were stolen, but couldn't explain how Carter allegedly knew their PINs. Police said that others admitted to meeting with Carter and giving him their cards in exchange for money--Yasim Khalif Carter, 22, faces 34 felony theft charges stemming from accusations that he defrauded PESCU of more than $800. PSECU officials and police in Harrisburg and Lower Paxton and Susquehanna townships provided information to Dauphin County police and prosecutors in the investigation that led to Carter's arrest and indictment. PSECU, headquartered in Harrisburg, has over $4 billion in assets …
  • SAN ANTONIO, Texas (12/3/13)--The charity arm of Security Service FCU announced last week that it gave $5,000 to Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater San Antonio. The Security Service Charitable Foundation said the funds will be used to help pay for financial education classes for low and moderate income families--to help them implement budgets, manage debt and resolve other financial problems. SSFCU President Jim Laffoon (right) and Letha Harrelson, manager of business development (left) presented the check to Gloria Delgado, President/CEO of CCCSSA (center). SSFCU, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, has about $7 billion in assets …

ABC News, PBS Feature 'Save to Win'

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NEW YORK and LANSING, Mich. (12/2/13)--Save to Win, the prize-linked savings program that encourages non-savers to get into the habit of saving, gained some exposure in national feature stories on PBS and ABC News last week.
 
ABC News, in "Here's a Lottery You Cannot Lose," (Nov. 27) reported that 68 credit unions in four states offer the program and that there is federal legislation pending that would allow banks to also offer them. It noted the accounts don't encourage risk, but rather promote saving. The number of accounts have increased to 17,000 since 2009, when 11,700 accounts were counted.
 
The program was developed by the Michigan Credit Union League, in collaboration with the Filene Research Institute and the Doorway to Dreams Fund, said the report. Doorway to Dreams promotes financial opportunity for low and moderate income consumers.
 
Sharon Hall, CEO of Seattle-based Express CU, told ABC News the credit union began offering the accounts in 2010 because it serves low-income consumers and there was a benefit to offering an "incentive win component." Winners take the money and reinvest it, in hopes of winning a larger prize.
 
PBS featured a similar story Nov. 23, said the Michigan league, and that story was trending last week on Digg.com (Michigan Monitor Nov. 25).
 
In Save to Win accounts, account holders earn entries into monthly and annual cash prize drawings for every $25 they deposit. All funds deposited into the accounts, including interest earnings, belong to the account holders.
 
The program appeals to unbanked and under-banked consumers. Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington are among the states that allow credit unions and other institutions to offer the products.

World Council Volunteer Advises Belrus CUs On Membership Strategies

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MINSK, Belarus (12/2/13)--Joe Thomas, president/CEO of Fairfax (Va.) County FCU, visited the Republican Association of Consumer Cooperatives for Mutual Financial Assistance (RACCMFA) of Belarus last month as part of a World Council of Credit Unions volunteer assignment to assist with membership growth strategies.
 
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions volunteer Joe Thomas, left, president/CEO of Fairfax (Va.) County FCU, traveled to Belarus to discuss membership growth strategies with Republican Association of Consumer Cooperatives for Mutual Financial Assistance (RACCMFA) representatives, including Alena Kaliada, right, RACCMFA chair. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
RACCMFA, the Belarus credit union trade association and World Council affiliated member, has focused on increasing membership, assets and number of credit unions while operating in an environment with an emerging legislative and regulatory framework for credit unions. Belarus credit unions must also overcome inflationary pressures discouraging investment and savings.
 
During a five-day conference in Minsk, Belarus's largest city and capital, Thomas gave a presentation to Belarusian credit union managers on identification and development of financial products and services, building the credit union brand, and organizational and management strategies to achieve membership growth.
 
"The people I've met are some of the most dedicated and hospitable I've ever come across, with a real desire to help their countrymen and women improve their financial and social well-being through credit unions," Thomas said. "It feels as if the credit union movement is ready to become a much more critical part of the local economy."
 
Thomas, and Alena Kaliada, RACCMFA chair, also met with the National Bank of Belarus to discuss the supervision of the country's 20 credit unions, which were all established within the last 10 years and represent more than 3,000 members located primarily in urban areas.

Illinois Foundation: How To Assist Tornado Victims

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/13)--At the request of the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, the National Credit Union Foundation will not activate CUAid.coop assistance in the wake of tornadoes that struck the central part of the state Nov. 17.

After consulting with Illinois credit unions, the state foundation determined the immediate needs of membership and staff are more pressing than the intermediate assistance CUAid would provide.
 
CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers, and members, as well as credit unions and credit union organizations across the U.S., to contribute directly to support other credit union people.
 
To make donations to the two primary organizations providing relief to Illinois tornado victims, the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, the Illinois foundation suggests using the links provided.
 
Meanwhile, Illinois credit unions continue to help their staffs and memberships recover from tornadoes that devastated several small towns.
 
Two Illinois credit unions maintain branches in towns where tornadoes struck: Morris Community CU in Diamond and CEFCU, with branches in Washington, Pekin and East Peoria. 
 
An F2 tornado struck Pekin Nov. 17. A second tornado, an F4, first struck in East Peoria, and then continued on the ground to the small community of Washington. Pekin and East Peoria sustained significant damage; however, the community of Washington was severely devastated. The F4 tornado was on the ground for 45 minutes. One fatality was reported. 
 
In Diamond, an EF-2 tornado with between 111 mph and 135 mph ripped up buildings, trees and power lines and scattering debris for many miles. About 220 homes and buildings were damaged 75 with major damage (WLS Nov. 20).
 
There was no permanent damage to Morris Community CU or CEFCU facilities or ATMs. However, the homes of at least 11 CEFCU staff members were damaged, and in some cases, destroyed, the Illinois Credit Union League said. Many other employees suffered losses from hail and storm damage to their properties. One staff member was injured, but is expected to fully recover.
 
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of credit unions members were impacted by the storms in central Illinois, the Illinois league said. Several credit unions reported hearing from members who experienced losses due to the storms.
 
With more than 1,000 homes damaged or destroyed in the area it serves, CEFCU estimates at least three out of four households are members of the credit union. News Now reported Nov. 21 that CEFCU donated $100,000 to the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross.
 
Members have CEFCU with varying financial needs, the Illinois league reports. Some have sought advice on handling their mortgages on homes that have been destroyed or on auto loans in which the vehicle has been totaled. Victims from the tornados lost many personal documents. In some cases, personal information was found 100 miles away. To ensure data security, many CEFCU members have closed their old accounts and opened new ones.
 
CEFCU has arranged for affected members to enroll in TransUnion Interactiv's credit monitoring service at no cost. CEFCU's debit and credit card processor, PSCU, is covering costs to expedite credit cards to members who need replacements due to the disaster. CEFCU is also waiving fees for replacement checks and stop payments for members who were affected by the storm.

Tax Fight Gets Press In California, National Police Publication

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MADISON, Wis. (12/2/13)--Credit unions' battle to preserve their tax status was featured in a Fresno, Calif., business journal and a publication for U.S. police officers.
 
The attacks spearheaded by banks aren't complicated, said the American Police Beat (Nov. 25). "Big banks and fat cat banksters say credit unions should have their not-for-profit tax status revoked because it gives credit unions an unfair competitive advantage over commercial banks," said the staff-written APB. "But that's nonsense. They just want the money so they can pay themselves more and to continue to rip off their own customers with impunity."
 
The article also featured seven points in favor of credit unions keeping their tax status made by Jason Gold in a blog on the Credit Union National Association's "Don't Tax My Credit Union" site.  Use the link to access the full article.
 
TBJNow (Nov. 27), powered by The Business Journal, Fresno Calif., also featured CUNA's Don't Tax campaign in its article, "Credit unions fighting to protect tax-exempt status," noting the campaign was launched to advocate for credit unions to remain exempt.
 
Defending the credit union tax status in the article were Jeremy Empol, vice president of governmental affairs at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, who pointed out that banks are the only group advocating that credit unions lose their exemption, and Doug Kileen, CEO of Portville-based Safe 1 CU.
 
Credit unions are a vital component in the marketplace to ensure competition, Empol said, noting that "it comes down to consumer choice. What holds banks accountable is that there is a not-for-profit competitor in the marketplace.  If credit unions are no longer tax-exempt, who is going to keep those banks accountable?"
 
A change in the tax status would threaten survival of credit unions' current not-for-profit structure, Kileen said.  The status allows credit unions to offer more competitive rates to its members. To view the full article, use the link.
 
Check in with CUNA's campaign at www.don'ttaxmycreditunion.org.

SECU Foundation Sponsors Governor's Excellence Awards

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/2/13)--
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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, front row, center, is pictured with the recipients of the 2013 Governor's Awards for Excellence for extraordinary service to the state. State Employees' CU and its members, through SECU Foundation, sponsored the awards. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
Through SECU Foundation's sponsorship of the 2013 Governor's Awards for Excellence, State Employees' CU (SECU) members helped honor 18 individuals and a state agency for their extraordinary accomplishments and dedicated service to the state and citizens of North Carolina.
 
Held at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh and hosted by the Office of State Human Resources, awards were presented to each recipient by Thomas Stith, the governor's chief of staff, and Neal Alexander, director of the Office of State Human Resources.
 
Awards were in the categories of Customer Service, Efficiency and Innovation, Human Relations, Outstanding State Government Service, Public Service, Safety and Heroism, and Spirit of North Carolina.  The award is the highest honor bestowed upon a state employee.
 
Mark Twisdale, SECU executive vice president of administrative services and the SECU Foundation executive director, welcomed guests to the Nov. 19 ceremony. He noted "the work of public employees is often behind the scenes and unrecognized, yet invaluable to the strength and vitality of our state."
 
"Nearly 90,000 state employees serve North Carolina, not only through their jobs, but through the many volunteer, community service and charitable organizations they champion," he said. "As a cooperative, we stand firmly upon the principle of 'People Helping People,' and no one knows more about helping people than the dedicated state employees who make a difference in the lives of millions of North Carolinians each and every day."

FBI To Holiday Shoppers: Beware Cybercriminals

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WASHINGTON (12/2/13)--Holiday shoppers are targets for cybercriminals out to steal money and personal information, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an announcement from the Internet Crime Complaint Center last week.
 
Credit unions can remind their members to closely monitor financial transactions and correspondence from financial institutions. Cybercrooks target banking accounts for account takeovers and for creating new accounts with stolen identities, said the FBI.
 
Warn members to never click on a link embedded in an e-mail from their financial institution. Instead tell them to open a new Web page and manually enter the URL or Web address. Phishing scams often begin with phone e-mails featuring a financial institution's name and logo.
 
Other cautionary tips credit unions can give to members: 
  • Use only reputable sites when shopping online. Avoid specials on the Web or e-mail offers that look too good to be true. These capture personal identification information such as credit card numbers, addresses and phone numbers to make fraudulent transactions.
  • Monitor credit reports every year and review account statements each month. Scrutinize credit card bills for any fraudulent activity. Unrecognizable charges listed on a card statement often are the first indication that a consumer's identity has been stolen.
  • Take precautions in using search engines to locate a company or item and scrutinize the results list before going to the website. Avoid automatically clicking on the first search result. Fraudsters' websites may appear ahead of the legitimate company's on popular search engines. Their sites will be a mirrored version of the company site with a slightly different URL. Look for misspellings or extra characters such as a period or comma in the URL. When clicking on the payment page of a website, verify the URL again and make sure it is secure by starting with "https" instead of "http."

CU System Briefs (12/02/2013)

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  • WESTBURY, N.Y. (12/2/13)--NEFCU has contributed $15,000 toward Typhoon Haiyan disaster relief, it announced Tuesday. The Long Island-based credit union donated the money to the World Council of Credit Unions, which is working with local authorities in the Philippines to assist the 4.5 million affected by the November storm. "Typhoon Haiyan is one of the worst natural disasters in recent history" said Dr. Esmeralda Lyn, second vice chair of the NEFCU board of directors. "As with other natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and most recently Super Storm Sandy, we recognize the role we can play in supporting hard-hit communities, and we are proud to continue our 75 year history of helping those in need--locally, nationally and internationally." After Super Storm Sandy devastated the northeast last year, NEFCU gave $50 million in discount loans throughout Long Island. It also was designated a Small Business Loan Expeditor by the National Credit Union Administration, allowing the credit union to offer credit to business owners seeking fast relief. The World Council has operated in the Philippines since 1996. According to a Nov. 18 Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council assessment, Typhoon Haiyan killed 3,976 people, injured 18,175 and displaced an additional 850,808. NEFCU, which is headquartered in Westbury, N.Y., has over $2 billion in assets ...
  • MADISON (12/2/13)--Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Nov. 20 that Money Smart Week in the state will be held from April 5 until April 12 next year. The proclamation was read at the closing meeting of Money Smart Week Wisconsin 2013 by state financial regulator Peter Bildsten, (center) secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions. With him at the proclamation presentation are, from left: Alejo Torrest, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago senior outreach manager; Michelle Tidemann, Fond du Lac County University of Wisconsin Extension family living educator and department co-chair; Tammy Matzdorf, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Fond du Lac credit and housing counselor; Lori Burgess, Fond du Lac Public Library support services coordinator, and David Mancl, DFI Office of Financial Literacy director. Tidemann, Matzdorf and Burgess are members of the Fond du Lac County Money Smart Week team. Many credit unions in Wisconsin participate in Money Smart Week, which is dedicated to promoting financial literacy through events and courses. It was started by the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Photo provided by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions) ...

CUs Have Much To Be Thankful For, Cheney Notes(1)

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WASHINGTON (12/2/13)--As credit union leaders celebrated Thanksgiving last week, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney in The Cheney Report noted that there is much to be thankful for in the credit union system.

"We are thankful there will be no corporate assessment scheduled for credit unions in 2014--which we had called for just this past summer--and that the likelihood of assessments in years beyond that is growing increasingly remote," he wrote. What's more, credit unions could see rebates for the funds paid into the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund within the next four to five years. "That's certainly something to be thankful for considering where we've come from," Cheney said.

"We can be thankful that credit union members value their credit unions so much that they are willing to get politically active," as millions have used traditional methods and social media to tell their legislators "Don't Tax My Credit Union!" This level of involvement is a tribute to the great job credit unions do every day in serving their members, Cheney added.

Cheney also took time to thank the more than 86,000 credit union volunteers that serve their institutions and fellow members, and, overall, gave thanks for the "great system that we are all part of...A system that puts people first." Credit unions truly do believe, "people are worth more than money," Cheney said.

Cheney also noted developments on the regulatory front, where CUNA and credit unions are making some progress towards building credit unions a better operating environment, and working with the National Credit Union Administration to build a better exam experience for credit unions.

"Let's be thankful that more Americans are choosing to do business with credit unions," as total credit union membership crests 98 million. And, he wrote, "despite our many challenges in recent years, we can all be thankful that Americans have a credit union movement that is strong, safe and sound--and continues to be dedicated to the ideals of "not for profit, not for charity--but for service."

For more of The Cheney Report, use the resource link.