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Washington Archive

Washington

Capitol Hill urged to support Little Guy in 08

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WASHINGTON (2/8/08)--Urging Capitol Hill pedestrians to “Look out for the Little Guy in ’08,” among other slogans, a group of credit union representatives reintroduced the Little Guy to congressional staffers during a “standout” here yesterday.
Click for slide show (CLICK TO VIEW SLIDESHOW) Throngs of people encounter credit union activists standing up for the “Little Guy” on Capitol Hill Thursday morning. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Waving signs and holding placards amid a colorful background of “Little Guy in ‘08” balloons, the 30 credit union representatives distributed about 3,000 buttons to passers-by. The buttons featured the Little Guy, the slogan “Little Guy in ‘08” and the Little Guy’s website-- www.lookoutforthelittleguy.org. Buttons were also distributed to nearly all offices of senators and representatives. According to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Patrick Keefe, the purpose of the event was three-fold to:
* Direct congressional staffers and others to the “lookoutforthelittleguy.org” website, * Reintroduce them to the “Little Guy” in 2008; and * Remind them that credit unions serve the “Little Guy.”
“Political campaigns use ‘stand outs’ to demonstrate support for a particular candidate or cause by gathering a group of supporters equipped with signs to distribute literature or buttons or other campaign paraphernalia,” Keefe said. “We felt congressional staff, in this historic political year when they are paying close attention to the elections, would be drawn to an election event look and feel when reintroducing the Little Guy for the year,” he noted. The credit union representatives positioned themselves at locations close to the commuter entry points on the House and Senate sides of Capitol Hill. Commuters were offered buttons while the credit union representatives waved the signs and placards and chanted the slogans. Among the other slogans recited during the “standout”:
* “There’s no debate, Little Guy in ’08!” * “Show the Little Guy some big love in ’08.” * “Careful! Don’t step on the Little Guy.” * “You cannot deny the Little Guy!” * “How ‘bout some big props for the Little Guy.”
“Once again in 2008, we will be using alternative means that typified our campaign in ’07 for sending the message that Congress should ‘look out for the Little Guy,’ by supporting credit unions and their issues,” Keefe said. “Look for other events and activities in months to come.” Watch clips from yesterdays event by clicking on the video below.

BSA compliance Where is the Sect 326 list

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WASHINGTON (2/8/08)— Credit union personnel keeping track of compliance requirements associated with the USA Patriot Act probably wonder what ever became of an elusive list named by the act., according to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA’s) Compliance Challenge. Section 326 of the USA Patriot Act requires institutions to check “a list of known or suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations issued by any Federal government agency and designated as such by Treasury in consultation with the Federal functional regulators.” But did the federal government ever issue a “Section 326 List”? “To date, no such list has been issued,” says Valerie Moss CUNA’s director of compliance information “For the time being, credit unions need to check any lists issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and respond to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) 314(a) requests for information.” CUNA will let credit unions know if the elusive 326 List ever appears, she adds. Use the resource link below for more on this and other compliance topics.

Lawmakers ask OCC for credit card perspective

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WASHINGTON (2/8/08)—In another indication that the topic of credit card reform is reigniting on Capitol Hill, five members of the House Financial Services Committee recently asked the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for its recommendations for improved practices. In a letter signed by three Democrats and two Republicans, the panel members outlined reform proposals currently circulating and requested that Comptroller John Dugan supply his agency’s analysis of the broader impact of each plan of action. “Our primary goal is to ensure that legitimate consumer concerns are aggressively addressed while minimizing the potential negative unintended consequences that may arise thought overly broad legislative solutions,” the letter said. The lawmakers said that given the “ongoing and growing concerns” about the state of the nation’s economy and in light of the 2.5 billion cards in circulation worldwide, the issues involved in reform considerations are “too important .to consumers and financial institutions to “act imprudently.” The letter is signed by Reps. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.), Michael Castle (R-De.), and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and dated Feb. 1. Also on the Hill this week, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who heads that panel's financial institutions subcommittee, circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter asking fellow House members for support for credit card reforms. (See News Now, Feb. 7) Specifically, the letter to Comptroller Dugan requests analysis of proposals, including:
* Prohibiting issuers from determining pricing of credit card rates based on reasons unrelated to whether cardholders have paid their bills on time; * Setting limits on the maximum interest rate that can be applied to credit cards; * Improving the timing and adequacy and clarity of credit card disclosures; and * Requiring allocation of payments to higher rate balances first, or to apply payments on a pro-rata basis to outstanding balances subject to different interest rates, such as promotional rate balances vs. new balances or cash advances.

Inside Washington (02/07/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (2/8/08)—Credit union shared branching networks banded together last year to dispel confusion caused by separate networks requiring different procedures for fulfilling Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements. The networks designed a single rule to apply nationwide in an effort to promote consistency and increase clarity for credit unions who join the networks. However, despite the policy action, confusion lingers among credit unions regarding requirements within networks for such things as filing of Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and performing Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) checks. FSCC Network is offering free BSA Shared Branching Rules Trainings on March 25 and April 9 to help credit unions gain clarity … * WASHINGTON (2/8/08)--Congress Thursday approved a $168 billion economic stimulus package that would give low- and middle-income Americans, retirees and disabled veterans government rebate checks (The Los Angeles Times Feb. 8). Individuals would receive checks up to $600. Couples would receive checks up to $1,200 and $300 for each child. Disabled veterans, low-income and retirees on Social Security would receive $300. The checks should arrive in May ... * WASHINGTON (2/8/08)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said he will schedule a panel vote next week regarding commercial ownership of industrial loan companies (ILCs). Dodd said Wednesday that he plans to move forward with his bill to ban ILCs despite opposition from Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), a strong ILC supporter (American Banker Feb. 7). Dodd’s efforts come after a moratorium on ILC applications, imposed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., expired Jan. 31 ... * WASHINGTON (2/8/08)--The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published a Community Developments Insights report describing how the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program is used to develop affordable rental housing. It also addresses the considerations facing bank investors who invest in the credits ...

NCUA warns vishing attacks are increasing

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/8/08)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUIA) has warned credit unions that “vishing” attacks are on the rise—scams that use telephone systems to garner confidential identification information. As with “phishing” which uses electronic contacts, in vishing attacks crooks claim to be with legitimate financial institutions or other entities. They ask consumers to “verify” or “re-submit” personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, passwords, and personal identification numbers The NCUA fraud alert explains that vishing scams use of social engineering and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to exploits the public's trust in landline telephone services. “The victim is often unaware that VoIP allows for caller ID spoofing thus providing anonymity for the criminal caller,” the alert noted. The NCUA said vishing is attractive to criminals because VoIP service is fairly inexpensive, especially for long distance, making it cheap to make fake calls. Also, because it’s Web-based, criminals can use software programs to create phony automated customer call center service lines. The NCUA advised that, for their protections, consumers should be” highly suspicious” when receiving messages—via telephone, email, or otherwise--directing them to call and provide personal, confidential, and/or account related information For their part, credit union managers must, where appropriate file a Suspicious Activity Report in accordance with established regulation. As specified by NCUA Rules & Regulations Part 748, management must provide notice to the appropriate NCUA Regional Director, and in the case of state-chartered credit unions, to their state supervisory authority. Management is advised also to contact and file a report with local law enforcement authorities. The NCUA said it will continue to follow the issue and provide information as the situation warrants. Late last month, the agency sounded the alarm about a new scam in which fraudulent wire transfers have been performed on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) at several financial institutions, including credit unions.