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Survey Security pros restrict social media use

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (3/9/11)--More than half of Fortune 100 companies surveyed use Facebook and other social media to market and develop their business, but many also place restrictions on these tools because of security concerns, productivity concerns related to excessive use of bandwidth, and concern for data loss. These are concerns for credit unions, too, as more and more move deeper into social channels for outreach and marketing to attract younger members and market their services. A survey of 275 security professionals was conducted by Websense, a San Diego-based unified Web and e-mail security and data loss prevention solutions provider. Although 50% of those surveyed use social media, more than 45% said they restricted the tools out of security concerns, more than 40% did so out of productivity concerns, and more than 30% indicated concern for loss of data. More than 70% of today's threats occur on legitimate and popular websites and social Web properties, and more than 52% of malware is targeted at stealing confidential data, said the company. Malicious links are found often on popular Facebook pages, and cyber criminals can access easy kits for as little as $25 to add create malicious Facebook applications that can infect users and result in data theft. Nearly 40% of Facebook status updates have links and 10% of those links contain either spam or malware, according to other recent research by Websense. Part of the problem is that legacy solutions do not understand the actual content and data found on social media sites and cannot stop the threats such as malware, the company said. Legacy solutions like antivirus and firewalls manage social Web properties by making social networking sites static and unable to accept dynamic content. But taking away the dynamic nature of social media removes the core benefits of collaboration and networking, and turns information technology into a disabler of business potential, said the company. The company is working with its customers on technology to deal with threats and real-time content, including data in the social Web. Most other solutions turn off the social Web, remove its collaboration benefits and try to manage it in nonpractical and nonscalable ways, said Websense. Addison Avenue FCU, Palo Alto, Calif., is one credit union working with the solution. The credit union allows access to the social Web (SaaS and social networks) in a limited capacity. "Our marketing and e-commerce groups see dynamic social networking sites as a critical business function," said Phil Romero, senior security architect at the $2.4 billion asset credit union. "The Websense gateway is the kind of key component that gives us that visibility as to whether the activity being done is productive or a hindrance. My biggest security concern, being a financial institution, is the loss of data." Its alliance helps make sure "that the information that needs to stay within the organization stays within the organization and doesn't get out there by accident or exploit."

Filene CU among CFSI innovation fund grantees

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CHICAGO (3/9/11)--The Filene Research Institute and Grow Brooklyn/Brooklyn FCU are among the five recipients of grants from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI).
Click to view larger image Through a grant from the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the Filene Research Institute will test Lift, a Filene i3 idea to determine if rewarding consistent timely loan payments with interest rate reductions will lead to better payment behavior. The Lift team, are front row, from left: Jackie Edwards, Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis.; and Lisa Randall, Vermont FCU, Burlington, Vt.; back row, from left: Mike Kenzie, Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa.; Shelly Berryman, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif.; and Matt Henry, Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo. (Photo provided by The Filene Research Institute)
The CFSI’s Financial Capability Innovation Fund is providing $1.5 million in grants to five nonprofit-led projects designed to help low-income, underserved consumers better manage their finances. The grantees and their projects are:
* Filene Research Institute, which will test Lift, a Filene i3 idea to determine if rewarding consistent timely loan payments with interest rate reductions will leader to better payment behavior; * Grow Brooklyn/Brooklyn Cooperative FCU and online personal financial management software firm Piggymojo, which will use goal visualization, social dynamics and mobile technology to help low-income savers turn impulse buys into impulse saves; * Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley, which will test whether social commitments and text alerts can help consumers reduce debt; * Co-opportunity Inc., which will leverage technology via a new online platform to enhance the effectiveness and scale of its volunteer budget coaching program; and * Mission Asset Fund, which will franchise its Cestas Populares program, a peer loan coupled with product-specific peer-led education, to help immigrants build credit and manage credit wisely;
Filene’s Lift is a loan feature that provides incentives for healthy financial habits, according to the Filene. As users make timely payments on their loans, they are rewarded with a lower interest rate. The pioneering concept allows users to pay off their loans faster and reduce the amount of interest paid. It also helps them establish healthy financial behaviors and lower their interest rates. CFSI selected the five projects from among 246 applicants totaling more than $67 million in requests. Organizations from 44 states responded to the request for proposals CFSI released in September. CFSI said it will release a white paper soon and host a webinar about the innovation trends presented in the proposals. Researchers will evaluate each of these programs to measure their impact. In addition to the financial award, grantees will receive strategic guidance, technical assistance, visibility and a network of resources within the financial services industry.

Calif. DFI emphasizes corporate governance guidance

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/9/11)--The California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) re-emphasized the importance of corporate governance guidance--the relationship of the board of directors and management--for credit unions in its February monthly bulletin. “It is the responsibility of the board to oversee the general operations of the credit union, to set policy with regard to the major aspects of the credit union’s business, and to act in good faith and exercise due care in making proper business decisions that are first and foremost in the best interests of the credit union and its members,” the DFI said. Key elements of board responsibilities are oversight of management performance and setting management compensation levels. The DFI said it expects boards to establish levels of compensation that are appropriate for the size, complexity and attributable performance of a credit union, and to document those factors. The agency said it will be looking more closely at these board processes. Several state regulators are following the lead of the National Credit Union Administration in emphasizing board governance and board financial literacy in an increasingly complex financial environment.

Michigans new CU to serve Chippewa tribe

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MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (3/9/11)--Michigan's newest credit union--the Chippewa Eagle FCU--officially opened Monday in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The new credit union will serve members and employees of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe and their families--about 7,800 people (The Morning Sun March 8). Ron Douglas, chairman of the Chippewa Eagle Board, told the Sun that the tribe had worked toward establishing a credit union for about seven years. So far, 300 and 500 members have joined the credit union. The credit union will offer multiple share accounts including regular shares, club accounts, money market shares, share certificates, and share draft (checking) accounts. It also plans to offer personal loans, and after a year in business, will aim for authorization to make business loans. After two years, it will offer mortgage loans. Credit cards, unsecured lines of credit, individual retirement accounts and member business accounts are planned down the line. The tribe noted that residential mortgage loans would be especially needed. Commercial lenders often are reluctant to finance on-reservation housing because the land on which the homes are built is held in trust by the federal government. Homes may be sold only to tribal members, which would limit a traditional financial institution's options if a borrower defaulted on a loan. The National Credit Union Administration granted the credit union's charter last year.

Rehash the Crash webinar March 15

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/11)--After a whirlwind week at the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington D.C. last week,16 newly inaugurated and energized crashers will “Rehash the Crash” with a free webinar outlining their plans for improving credit unions nationwide. The Crash Network is a group of under-30 professionals looking for deeper involvement in the credit union industry. The “crash” concept is the group’s way of gently elbowing its way into mainstream credit union meetings to rub shoulders with system leaders and create networking and educational opportunities. As part of the application to “Crash the GAC,” the crashers were asked to submit a project idea they wanted to pursue after attending the conference. During the webinar, crasher will share their projects, what they learned through the GAC, and their progress made to take their idea to next level. Projects range from developing localized meet-up groups, to expanding financial literacy efforts, to reaching out to other young adult credit union employees. CUNA’s Center for Professional Development offered full scholarships for crashers to attend the GAC.

CUs topic of first thrift rock album

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/11)--Introducing a new genre of music called “thrift rock,” two Madison, Wis.-based musicians, called The Disclosures, have created an album featuring songs and lyrics that deal with credit union history, financial education and cooperative structure.
Click to view larger image Introducing a new genre of music called “thrift rock,” two Madison, Wis.-based musicians, called The Disclosures--Christopher Morris and Chad Helminak, who both work in the credit union movement--have created an album featuring songs and lyrics that deal with credit union history, financial education and cooperative structure. (Submitted photo)
The album, titled “(Hey, We’re) The Disclosures,” was released Tuesday and is the band’s first attempt at combining their musical abilities with their passion for democratically controlled, not-for-profit credit unions. “Credit unions have long been thought of as a best-kept secret in the financial industry,” said Disclosure band member Christopher Morris, director of communications for the National Credit Union Foundation. “We wanted to spread that ‘secret’ in our own unique way and help people gain a better understanding of what credit unions are and how they differ from other institutions.” The all-acoustic album is comprised of seven songs written and recorded by Morris and Chad Helminak, who is the web and member development strategist at the Wisconsin Credit Union league. They completed their songwriting project outside of normal business hours. “We focused on making quality rock songs first and foremost, while still delivering on that message of thrift and cooperativeness,” Helminak said. “We had a blast writing and recording our songs and hope that comes through on our album and live performances.” In addition to the album, The Disclosures have scheduled performances at credit union events, including education break-out sessions on credit union history and philosophy--infused, of course, with their original songs. The album is available for download on major digital music stores such as iTunes, and others. Physical copies of the CD along with speaker and live performance information are available online through the The Disclosures’ website. The concept for the album was borne out of the success of their first credit union-themed song, “Movin’ on with my Money,” recorded for the Young & Free “Looking like a fool with your money in a bank” music video contest. Their music video came in third place in the contest, receiving thousands of views on YouTube and attention from almost every major credit union publication, as well as the Huffington Post’s “Move Your Money” campaign. In October, the band released its first single from the album, “The Ballad of Friedrich Raiffeisen,” for International Credit Union Day. An example of the lyrics to the single include: “Ich heisse Friedrich Raiffeisen, And I stand before you now, Father of a modern movement grown by leaps and bounds, We grew up right and wrote the book, On how to lend and save, While putting people before profit each and every day.”

Just File it sets records in Michigan

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LIVONIA, Mich. (3/9/11)--Just file it! tax e-filing continues to grow among Michigan credit unions. Just file it!, a partnership between the Michigan Credit Union League and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (Mich.), allows low- to moderate-income Michigan residents to e-file their state and federal income taxes for free using the I-Can E-File program (Michigan Monitor March 7). Organizations nationwide partner with I-Can E-File to provide free e-filing to their communities. The number and amount of returns nationwide is the largest since the program’s launch. Michigan ranks second nationwide in the number of returns and total refunds initiated through Just File it! with 10,596 total returns for a total of more than $21.4 million. Nationwide there have been 46,322 filers.

Egan to IWalletpopI CUs services on cutting edge

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MADISON, Wis. (3/9/11)--Credit unions have expanded their products and services offerings to the extent that they are more on the cutting edge than most people realize, Dan Egan, president of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rode Island credit union leagues, told Walletpop Monday. In an article titled “Credit Unions Offering More Services,” author Martha C. White wrote: “Credit unions, which as a group weathered the financial crisis better than banks, have been expanding their range of products and offerings recently. Today, credit unions offer much more than just ordinary deposit accounts and loans. A growing number are rolling out student and small business loans, mobile banking and even reward programs. This trend is happening even as banks are curtailing perks like debit rewards, and tightening standards for lending.” As an example of cutting-edge services, Egan told Walletpop that a service that’s been popularized by some large U.S. banks--in which a photo of a check is taken to electronically deposit it--was introduced by a credit union more than a year-and-a-half ago. Another area credit unions are expanding into is student loans, the article said. Many credit unions are switching to student loan programs because there’s pent up demand for them, Egan said. The cost of education is creating growing demand for student loans. Credit unions also are re-establishing their commitment to free checking, he added. Egan told Walletpop that credit unions are moving further into small-business lending to not only to help companies, but also to assist the economy as a whole. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are trying to get Congress to increase credit unions’ member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said. To read the article, use the link.

Georgia Corporates town meetings begin

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DULUTH, Ga. (3/9/11)--Georgia Corporate FCU kicked off Monday the first of its 11 town hall meetings to discuss its corporate structure plans and proposed consolidation with Southwest Bridge Corporate FCU. Georgia Corporate is based in Duluth, Ga., while Southwest Bridge Corporate is based in Plano, Texas. Both corporates are conducting town hall meetings this month. Georgia's 11 webinars in the state will proceed through March 17. Southwest Bridge will hold 26 meetings in eight states--Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington--plus two online town halls on March 31 and April 1. The two corporates plan to combine into Catalyst Corporate FCU, pending Georgia's purchase and acquisition of Southwest Bridge. A purchase and acquisition proposal will be submitted to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) at about mid-year. The new entity's business plan calls for lower capital requirements than previously required by either corporate. Because of new NCUA regulations, it will maintain a smaller balance sheet to minimize risk. The new corporate would need approval from NCUA and capitalization from members (News Now Feb. 4). For more information about Georgia's meetings, use the Georgia link. For more information about Southwest Bridge's meetings use the second link.

CU System briefs (03/08/2011)

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* GREEN BAY, Wis. (3/9/11)--Two employees of Pioneer CU, Green Bay, Wis., suffered minor injuries Tuesday morning after a car plowed into the credit union's building on city's east side. One was taken to a hospital and the other was treated on site. The driver of the car, who was alone and not hurt, told police she accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes. The two women injured were working when the impact of the crash caused objects on the wall to fly through the air. The impact also knocked out a section of bricks on the front of the building. The car was not seriously damaged. The incident happened at about 10:20 a.m. (Green Bay Press Gazette and March 8) … * BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (3/9/11)--Joy Service has been hired as director of education and training by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), effective March 21. She will be based in LSCU's Birmingham, Ala., office. Service has 14 years of education experience in the financial, academic and corporate sectors. Her background includes working for financial institutions in training and instructional design plus nine years in strategy and method training at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Service's most recent position was with Virginia College, where she directed the Learning and Leadership Department. She created and developed the college's New Management Success program, which trained new staff managers, deans and faculty. Service also has experience developing curriculum for computer and online learning. LSCU's Education and Training department offers more than 20 conferences and workshop, plus 84 webinars …