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Killer in armored car robbery gets life

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DETROIT (2/10/11)--A man who faced the death penalty for the murder of an armored truck guard at a Detroit-area credit union was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday in federal court. Timothy O’Reilly was convicted of murder in August for fatally shooting Norman “Anthony” Stephens, 30, during a 2001 robbery while the armored truck was at the Dearborn FCU, now DFCU Financial CU (The Detroit News Feb. 8). A 10-woman, two-man jury took less than an hour to convict O’Reilly, 37, on Aug. 3, but could not reach a unanimous verdict in sentencing him to death, prompting the life sentence. O’Reilly’s trial was a rare death penalty case in the state--Michigan was the first state to abolish capital punishment in 1846, the News said. The penalty can still be imposed in federal trials. The last time someone was executed in the state was 1938, when convicted bank robber Anthony Chebatoris was hanged in Milan. Stephens was shot twice while restocking ATMs at the credit union on Dec. 14, 2001. Six people were involved in the $204,000 heist. Three testified against O’Reilly. Two others faced the death penalty in trials. A sixth suspect is deceased (News Now Aug. 27).

City council goes forward on CUs tax rebate

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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (2/10/11)--The University of Iowa Community CU has received approval for a controversial tax-rebate agreement that will allow the credit union to build its headquarters in North Liberty, Iowa. But a group of residents question the tax implications of the project and are threatening further legal action (Iowa City Press Citizen Feb. 9). The North Liberty City Council passed a resolution Tuesday evening authorizing the credit union to build its new headquarters in the city. North Liberty will provide up to $5.4 million in incremental tax rebates on the property. In December, the Concerned Taxpayers for North Liberty received a temporary injunction to prevent the project from moving forward. On Tuesday, city attorney Scott Peterson said he had received a letter from the group’s attorney, who said he will investigate whether the most recent proposal by the city violates that injunction. In the latest proposal, the city will not provide the initial capital to pay for the land as it would have in the original proposal. Originally, the city would have issued $11 million in bonds to fund the land purchase. The University of Iowa Community CU has $1.1 billion assets and is currently headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa.

Louisiana CUs fewer assets doubled in decade

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HARAHAN, La. (2/10/11)--In the past decade, the number of Louisiana credit unions decreased, while assets nearly doubled, based on data reported to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) by credit unions for the period of June 30, 2000 through June 30, 2010. For that time period:
* The number of Louisiana credit unions decreased 21.13% to 224 from 284; * Assets nearly doubled, increasing 94.95% to $8.35 billion, from nearly $4.3 billion; and * Current members increased 14.85% to 1,181,795, from 1,029,026.
The Louisiana Credit Union League compared the population of Louisiana as it related to the total number of current members in credit unions. Nearly 26.07% of the population were members in 2010, up from 23.03% in 2000 (eNews Feb. 9). This is based on the number of current members reported by all credit unions in Louisiana and does not take into account the possibility of one individual having membership in multiple credit unions.

Huizenga meets with Mich. CUs on interchange

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LANSING, Mich. (2/10/11)--Freshman U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) thanked Michigan credit union leaders Monday for their input on how the new debit interchange law and proposed regulations would affect small issuers and how the changes could lead to increased costs on consumers. More than a dozen Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and local credit union leaders met with Huizenga, who was appointed to serve on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee and the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit subcommittee that will hold a hearing on Feb. 17 to discuss the Federal Reserve’s interchange proposal (Michigan Monitor Feb. 7). “He expressed concern about the effects of this provision increasing fees on consumers,” said Jordan Kingdon, MCUL’s director of governmental affairs. Huizenga told the group that he was looking forward to learning more about the interchange process. The Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act would cap interchange fees for card issuers with more than $10 billion in assets. But there is no provision in the law that allows the Federal Reserve to enforce a two-tier system that would protect small issuers such as credit unions. “Credit union leaders encouraged Congressman Huizenga to urge his colleagues on the panel to slow down the Fed's action on this issue to ensure proper time is taken in committee to study the effects of current language on credit unions,” Kingdon said. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has urged the Federal Reserve to stop and study the new interchange law, rather than forging ahead with a two-tier system. CUNA has asked the Fed to take the time needed to consider all interchange related costs, and set a reasonable interchange rate to avoid unintended consequences. These unintended consequences could include the elimination of debit card programs by credit unions or the addition of new fees that would be imposed on credit union members in order to keep the programs, CUNA has said.

CUs for Kids new campaign begins March 1

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SALT LAKE CITY (2/10/11)--Credit unions will have an opportunity beginning March 1 to participate in the Credit Unions for Kids “Change A Child’s Life” campaign, a new fundraising effort for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a charity that raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals. Credit unions nationwide will invite members from March 1 through April 30 to donate their spare change at coin canisters displayed at teller windows. All funds raised will benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Sponsoring this year’s “Change a Child’s Life” campaign is a longtime Credit Unions for Kids supporter, CO-OP Financial Services. CO-OP also underwrites the “Miracle Match” program, which provides $1 million annually in matching funds to credit unions conducting fundraisers to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through the Credit Unions for Kids program. This year, Credit Unions for Kids and the credit union community celebrate 15 years as a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partner. During that time, credit unions have raised more than $80 million to support children’s hospitals. For more information use the link, or e-mail jdearborn@CMNHospitals.org.

Filene testing new green tool

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MADISON, Wis. (2/10/11)--The Filene Research Institute has told News Now it is currently fully subscribed for the first round of testing on its new social media tool to help credit unions celebrate Earth Day (April 22), join the green movement, and show their commitment to social responsibility. The Leap, created by Filene’s i3 team, is an interactive Web-based tool that shows credit union members how they can save some green in their wallets by making good choices and taking advantage of money-saving and eco-friendly options offered by a credit union. Filene is seeking credit unions to test The Leap. Participation is free. Testing credit unions will receive a marketing kit, a customizable Web tool and graphics.[EDITOR's NOTE: Filene contacted News Now Thursday afternoon to say it has been overwhelmed with credit unions volunteering to participate for the first round of testing. It doesn't need more volunteers at this time.] Filene’s i3 is a work group of young professionals who seek to create innovative products, services and resources that benefit the credit union industry.

Maine CUs offer loans to closed oil co. customers

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AUGUSTA, Maine (2/10/11)--Five credit unions with branches in the Midcoast region of Maine joined Maine Gov. Paul LePage and the State Energy Office at the State House in Augusta to announce a new credit union program to assist consumers impacted by the recent closure of a well-known energy company in Brunswick. The program, which the Maine Credit Union League helped facilitate and coordinate, will offer consumers who had prepaid for heating oil zero interest, no-fee loans to purchase fuel.
Maine State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-10), from left, who, coincidentally, is a member of Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, Maine; Maine Gov. Paul LePage, and Roger Sirois, president/CEO of Atlantic Regional FCU, announced a program created by credit unions to help consumers impacted by the Thibeault Energy closure. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
At a press conference held Tuesday, LePage congratulated Maine’s credit unions “for taking action to help others. I commend the Maine Credit Union League for helping to coordinate a quick response and to the credit unions for being willing to help.” John Murphy, league president, said: “Maine credit unions have once again shown a willingness to assist consumers and communities. This is an example of the cooperative spirit of credit unions coming together to demonstrate leadership during a crisis that has impacted a number of consumers in the Midcoast region.” All five credit unions with branches in the Midcoast region are participating: Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick; Down East CU, Baileyville; Five County CU, Bath; Lisbon (Maine) Community FCU,; and Midcoast FCU, Bath. Speaking on behalf of the credit unions, Roger Sirois, president/CEO of Atlantic Regional FCU, said: “The recent and sudden closure of Thibeault Energy has impacted a number of area residents. This action has caused financial hardship for many residents and, with a good three months of the heating season remaining, left them wondering how they are going to come up with the funds to heat their homes. Indeed, this is one of those times when credit unions can make a difference in our communities. “In the spirit of cooperation, the five Midcoast area credit unions are providing zero interest, no fee loans of up to $2,000 to customers directly impacted by the closure of Thibeault Energy,” he added. “We are offering these special loans not only because there is an immediate need, but because it is the right thing to do.” Other features and requirements of the program are:
* A 12-month term; * No credit check; * Proof of loss must be provided; and * Disbursement will be made via check directly to the oil company.
Loans are available at the five credit unions on a first come-first serve basis through April 1.

Now not the time to let up on ID fraud says study

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SAN FRANCISCO (2/10/11)--Before the nation's financial crisis hit, Congress had as a top priority about a dozen data security bills prompted by high profile data breaches. Today, identity theft fraud is down in numbers, losses are lower, and out-of-pocket costs to consumers more than doubled. However, "now is not the time to let up," say analysts of new ID theft research. The research by Javelin Strategy & Research, reported in Wednesday's News Now, noted that ID theft had dropped 28% during 2010, with fewer victims, and the year saw the smallest amount--$37 billion--in losses in eight years. It also pointed out that consumers were paying more out of pocket expenses. The study was sponsored by Fiserv, Intersections Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. Intersections is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. "The financial services industry, businesses and law enforcement have been working harder than ever to crack down on fraud and to educate consumers about how they can protect themselves," said Steve Cox, president/CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "This year's study clearly indicates these efforts are having a positive impact, he said. "In order to retain consumer trust and confidence, businesses must continue to take all steps necessary to safeguard data and educate customers about how to protect themselves and respond to incidents," Cox added. "Now is not the time to let up." Before the nation's financial crisis state and federal government tried to legislate data security. In addition to data security bills in several states, about a dozen rival data security bills wound their way through the House and Senate and the six committees with jurisdiction over the issues involved. Although federal lawmakers repeatedly marked the issue as a legislative priority, no consensus was reached and the matter was left pending when the 109th session adjourned. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports legislation that would impose similar but separate data security requirements and enforcement on commercial companies as is currently required of credit unions and other financial institutions under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. That law requires merchants and other businesses to provide notice of a security breach as early as possible to financial institutions and consumers. It also prohibits the retention by merchants and certain non-financial companies of sensitive, identifying information from plastic card magnetic strips that could be obtained in connection with financial transactions. CUNA also supports requiring that the identity of the merchant or other company responsible for maintaining a database that experiences a data breach be disclosed to credit unions and other financial institutions so they can pass this information on to consumers. New information from the Javelin study indicates that account takeover is one of the most common forms of identity fraud. The two most popular tactics fraudsters use are: adding their name as a registered user on an account, or changing the physical address of the account. In 2010, changing the physical address became the most popular method, with 44% of account takeover incidents conducted this way. Although the study doesn't mention specifically fraud caused by data breaches, information stolen during breaches can be used to set up new fraudulent accounts. New account fraud is the most damaging to consumers, said the study, which found that fraudsters are changing their patterns to make it harder to detect. During 2010, fraud shifted from banking and card accounts to opening of non-bank and non-card accounts--such as health club memberships, and home phone and cable subscriptions--that don't show up on a credit report. The study advised consumers to carefully examine financial statements and consider using a service that monitors public records. New account fraud was also the type of fraud most likely to be perpetrated by "friendly fraudsters" or those known to the victim such as a relative or roommate. This type of fraud accounted for about 30% of new account fraud for which the cause was known, said Javelin. While existing card information would seem to be easy to get from acquaintances, existing card fraud was less than half as common as new account fraud. Cox noted that consumers should "remain vigilant and be careful not to expose personally identifiable information over social networks and to acquaintances."

CU System briefs (02/09/2011)

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* ALBANY, N.Y. (2/10/11)--Credit Union Association of New York
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(CUANY) staff and credit union representatives visited the Utica office of new U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) this week. The group discussed the role of credit unions in the financial services industry and the benefits they provide members and their communities. Also discussed: key federal issues such as member business lending, capital reform and interchange, and how each issue impacts their credit unions and members. Hanna has been appointed to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Education and the Workforce Committee. From left are: Patrick Gallagher, CEO/manager, Utica District Telephone Employees FCU; Hanna; Larry Hitchcock, Rome Teachers FCU; John Prumo, CEO/president, GPO FCU; Mark Pfisterer, president/CEO, AmeriCU CU; Michael Parsons, president/CEO, First Source FCU; and John Deecher, president/CEO, Utica Gas & Electric FCU. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York) … * ORLANDO, Fla. (2/10/11)--A suspect in an attempted holdup of Orlando-based Fairwinds CU Monday gave the Orange County Sheriff's deputies quite a surprise. Suspect Matthew Meguiar, 26, who was arrested as he left the credit union, struggled briefly with Deputy Christopher Thomas, and Meguiar's arm popped off. Deputies managed to handcuff him anyway and placed the prosthetic arm on the roof of a patrol car while they interviewed witnesses. Mequiar allegedly walked into the credit union's lobby at about 1:45 p.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money. After filling the bag with cash, the teller tried to push it through a slot in the teller's cage. It was too big and the robber left without the cash. A teller and other witnesses recognized Meguiar, said the sheriff's office (Orlando Sentinel Feb. 9) … * LENEXA, Kan. (2/10/11)--Kansas City-based CommunityAmerica CU paid a $1 million dividend to its members Tuesday. The 2011 Owner Participation Dividend brings the total payout to members for the past decade to more than $14 million and doubles the amount paid in 2009, despite the struggling economy, said the credit union. In addition to the program, the credit union gives back to its members "year-round in the form of lower rates, low to sometimes no fees, and a long-term partnership to help them set and achieve their personal financial goals," said Dennis Pierce, CEO of the $1.7 billion asset credit union … * SAN ANTONIO (2/10/11)--San Antonio FCU (SACU) announced that Stephen S. Hennigan has assumed the title of president, effective Feb. 1, and also will continue as chief operating officer. Jeffrey H. Farver, former president, will continue to serve as CEO until his retirement Jan. 2, 2012. Hennigan began his career with SCU in 1993 as the director of treasury management. He was involved in creating Credit Union Factory Built Lending (CUBLF), a credit union service organization that is now a division of SACU and provides financing for members choosing manufactured housing. SACU is a $2.9 billion asset credit union serving more than 253,000 members with 18 locations in San Antonio, one in Houston, and in communities through the nation through its manufactured housing division … * ITHACA, N.Y. (2/10/11)--Lisa Whitaker has been named president/CEO of CFCU Community CU, a $730 million asset credit union based in Ithaca. She succeeds Robert O. Witty, who retired in December after 40 years with the credit union. Whitaker is former president/CEO of COMSTAR FCU, Frederick, Md. The board cited her strengths as collaborative leadership, communication, strategic planning, staff and product development, and strong credit union background. CFCU Community CU was established in 1953 and has more than nine locations and serves more than 57,000 members (Ithaca Journal Feb. 7) … * TICONDEROGA, N.Y. (2/10/11)--Ticonderoga (N.Y.) FCU President/CEO Gregory D. Johnson announced his retirement, which will be effective April 5. He has served in financial service management for more than 40 years, the past nine as the credit union's president/CEO. He also is an elected director and serves as treasurer of the credit union. TFCU's board also announced it has selected Shawn M. Hayes to succeed Johnson as president/CEO. Hayes has 15 years' experience, the past 11 at TFCU serving as chief financial officer, human resource director and member of its management team. He is a Certified Credit Union Executive through the Credit Union National Association and is a Certified Credit Union Compliance Expert …