Archive Links

Consumer Archive
CU System Archive
Market Archive
Products Archive
Washington Archive
150x172_CUEffect.jpg
Contacts
LISA MCCUEVICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
MICHELLE WILLITSManaging Editor
RON JOOSSASSISTANT EDITOR
ALEX MCVEIGHSTAFF NEWSWRITER
TOM SAKASHSTAFF NEWSWRITER

CU System Archive

CU System

CU teller shot during robbery

 Permanent link
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (4/2/08)--News outlets in North Carolina reported that a teller of a Charlotte, N.C., branch of Raleigh-based State Employees CU' was shot during a robbery yesterday. The teller is in serious condition (Charlotte Observer April 1). Police are searching for four suspects who fled the credit union after the robbery. Officers found an abandoned blue Honda Accord that witnesses said a suspect was driving after the shooting, the newspaper said. Witnesses interviewed by WBTV said they saw the alleged robbers flee in the car, leaving a trail of money stained by a red dye pack. The credit union’s administrative office was closed when News Now called for information.

Mich. CUs to offer states mortgage refinancing program

 Permanent link
NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/2/08)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm today will sign into law a package of bills that would allow a state agency to provide mortgage refinancing products to homeowners via credit unions and other financial institutions. Granholm will sign the act this morning in Grand Rapids, then travel to Jackson and Detroit for ceremonial signings. She will be accompanied on the media tour by Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams. Approved credit unions and other financial institutions will be able to offer the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) programs to their members under the "Save the Dream" package of bills passed recently by the state legislature. About 70 Michigan credit unions currently can offer the new MSHDA products. More can become approved lenders, said Adams, who said the new refinancing products are another positive step in credit unions' efforts to work with federal and state programs to help Michigan homeowners. "Credit unions have not been a contributor to the current housing and mortgage crisis but have been working closely in coalition with the Michigan Bankers Association and MSHDA, as well as federal initiatives, to find solutions," Adams said. "These new MSHDA programs are an example of how the credit union partnership with state agencies is helping provide consumers with more choices when facing potential foreclosure," he added. Michigan has the nation's third-highest state foreclosures during 2007, with 1.9% of its households entering some stage of foreclosure. Roughly 136,205 foreclosure filings on 87,210 properties were reported in the state during the year, a 68% increase in total filings from 2006. Granholm emphasized the necessity for state government and financial institutions to develop helpful programs for Michigan residents. "These initiatives will protect families from losing their homes and work to stabilize Michigan's housing market," the governor said. "We appreciate the leadership and partnership of the credit union lenders on this landmark legislation."

IUSA TodayI headline on savings rates Consider a CU

 Permanent link
WASHINGTON (4/2/08)--Consumers looking to generate better savings rates should join a credit union, USA Today Tuesday advised in an article, “Shopping for decent savings rates? You might consider a credit union.” The newspaper encouraged consumers looking to join a credit union to contact the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Credit unions have fields of membership defined by region, geography, or place of employment, the newspaper stated. USA Today also interviewed CUNA CEO Dan Mica, who said credit unions offer lower interest rates than banks on credit cards, car loans and mortgages. Credit unions also often charge fewer ATM withdrawal fees. Credit unions have lower operating costs. They also are member-owned, and they don’t have to earn revenues to please shareholders, Mica told the newspaper. Credit unions also are not subject to federal income tax, the paper said. The article also recognized that some accountholders want to ensure that their deposits are safe. Credit unions are backed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). If a credit union fails, the NCUA will find another credit union to manage the accounts or liquidate it. When a credit union is liquidated, members generally receive their money in three days, Mica told USA Today. Though many credit unions are federally insured, some are insured privately. Credit unions backed by the federal government have the NCUA logo displayed in their offices, the newspaper stated.

Cybercriminals shifting back to vishing

 Permanent link
SCARBOROUGH, Maine, and SAN FRANCISCO (4/2/08)--Fraud-fighting tools that protect consumers' data and identities online have resulted in a decline of overall fraud losses. But that decline has brought a return of offline methods of fraud, usually by telephone and mail, according to recent research. Some credit unions might warn their members to be especially alert to the offline vishing methods, where callers pose as representatives of a financial institution needing personal and account information. Because consumers are more used to protecting their data online, they let their guard down over the phone or get trapped into a mail fraud. Hannaford Bros.--a grocery chain that revealed a data breach last month--warned on its website that criminals like to take advantage of such incidents to contact consumers with "follow up" calls and e-mails seeking more information or preying on their vulnerabilities about security. Overall fraud losses declined 12% in 2007 to $45 billion from the previous year (U.S. Banker March). But a recent study from Javelin, based in Pleasanton, Calif., indicates that:
* ID theft remains the third-most prevalent fraud complaint at 32%: * Vishing offline schemes grew to 40% of all fraud incidents in 2007, compared with 3% in 2006; * The number of victims of fraud losses tallied 8.1 million in 2007, a slight decline from 8.4 million in 2006, but a decrease from the 10.4 million affected in 2003; and * The ID-fraud incident rate decreased to 3.58% of the U.S. population in 2007, while the per-incident cost to consumers went up 25% to $691 per episode.
There is more ID theft in states with dense populations, more commerce and higher incomes, Javelin found. Family- or friend-related ID theft is another trend on the rise. However, many victims are reluctant to prosecute their friends or family members. New-account fraud activity also is changing. New wireless phone accounts increased in fraud to 32% from a previous 19%. The report said this type of fraud now exceeds fraud related to new credit cards, loans, and checking or savings accounts. The strongest means of consumer self-directed protection remains multifactor authentication and credit file monitoring, said Javelin.

Greylock FCU heads up Mass. Senior Citizens Insurance Watch

 Permanent link
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (4/2/08)--Greylock FCU has undertaken an initiative aimed at ensuring Massachusetts auto insurance rate reductions are not subsidized out of senior citizens’ pockets. The Pittsfield Mass.-based, $985.5 million asset credit union is undertaking this initiative, called Massachusetts Senior Citizen’s Insurance Watch, in response to the state’s new system of managed competition for auto insurance. Greylock said it wants to ensure that seniors can continue to procure affordable coverage (Values and Vision April 1). Rate structures proposed for April 2008 are expected to produce an average 7.8% decrease in rates people pay, according to preliminary estimates from the State Division of Insurance. Seniors have been receiving a 25% discount on their auto insurance, per a state statute. “Seniors living on fixed incomes in our state are already facing significant financial burdens due to the escalating costs of energy and healthcare,” said Angelo Stracuzzi, Greylock president. “The 25% discount on auto insurance is one way that the state has provided seniors with some relief from ever-increasing costs. “We urge state officials to maintain the original intent of the senior discount and help seniors benefit from any additional discounts that other drivers will be experiencing as the rates are set,” he continued. Greylock gathered more than 1,000 signatures in a few weeks after announcing the initiative, Stracuzzi said. The signatures will be delivered to State Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes and Attorney General Martha Coakley, he added.

CU System briefs (04/01/2008)

 Permanent link
* SANTA ANA, Calif. (4/2/08)--Orange County Teachers FCU, based in Santa Ana, Calif., has changed its name to SchoolsFirst FCU, according to the credit union's website. The $7.491 billion asset will start the transition to its new name on April 14. It told members the change is in name only, to honor the teachers and educational community it has served since 1934. The new name is more representative of its membership over a wider geographic area than Orange County. The credit union serves members in 10 counties, including Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties … * DUBLIN, Ohio (4/2/08)--Ohio's credit unions are preparing to march from Toledo to Columbus for the Marching Miles for Miracle Kids fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network and children's hospitals. The walk, which begins Sunday and continues through April 24, aims to raise $100,000. So far it has $35,000 contributed by credit unions, chapters and individuals. The Northwest, North Central, Western Buckeye and Central Ohio chapters are assisting the destination credit unions with their planned events (eLumination newsletter March 26) … * SAN DIEGO (4/2/08)--Two of San Diego's largest credit unions have announced they intend to merge. California Coast CU, with $907.4 million assets, and First Future CU, with 944.5 million assets, announced the plan Thursday. A merger would create a credit union with $1.8 billion in assets, about 130,000 members and 500 employees. It will adopt the California Coast name. Marla Shepherd, CEO of First Future, would become CEO of the combined credit union. Jim McPheters, current CEO of California Coast, is delaying his retirement into July to help with the integration. The merger is pending approval by regulators (The San Diego Union-Tribune March 28) … * CHARLESTON, S.C. (4/2/08)--South Carolina FCU has rolled out a new program that offers members perks for paying their bills online, according to the $1.384 billion asset credit union's website. Called "eChecking," the program allows account holders to earn reward points every time they pay a bill online. To earn the points, members must employ direct deposit, receive eStatements instead of paper statements, pay some bills online with Payment Manager, and use their MasterMoney Checking Card. Members using eChecking and who have a loan with the credit union also receive a free year of Equifax Credit Watch …

OCUF grant funds foreclosure prevention TV show

 Permanent link
COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/2/08)--Superior FCU, Lima, Ohio, is partnering with Public Broadcasting Service affiliate WBGU to develop a TV show to address foreclosure issues facing Northwest Ohio residents. An Ohio Credit Union Foundation grant is helping to fund the two-hour television program, which will air on WBGU April 14. The show will address several aspects of the mortgage foreclosure problem (eLumination March 26). The broadcast will include a live panel discussion and filmed interviews to enhance borrowers’ financial knowledge in recognizing problem indicators and avoiding common foreclosure pitfalls. Viewers with questions can call a phone bank and speak with a housing counselor during the broadcast. After the program has aired, viewers can access a website for additional assistance. DVDs also will be made available. The $262 million asset Superior FCU said it believes that community partnerships, such as this, offer Ohio credit unions unique opportunities to serve their members and communities.

Despite economy Ohio CUs hang tough

 Permanent link
DUBLIN, Ohio (4/2/08)--Ohio credit unions are weathering a storm of bad economic news, according to the Ohio Credit Union League's Fourth Quarter/Year-End 2007 Performance Report. "Everyone knows that there are direct and indirect implications for Ohio credit unions with real estate markets tanking, ballooning foreclosures and struggling auto sales," Dave Shoup, league director of regulatory advocacy, told the league's eLumination Newsletter (March 26). "Yet, overall, credit unions are hanging tough, and their basic fundamentals are sound. This is not to say, however, that a few individual credit unions are hit harder than others," he told News Now. The report indicated that Ohio credit unions' mortgage originations experienced strong growth with a 9.5% increase during 2007, despite a weak market where home sales fell 19%. Real estate delinquencies remained at a manageable 0.91%. Total auto loans outstanding fell 4.3% after a 2.5% slowdown in national auto sales. On the deposit side, cost of funds rose as members continued shifting deposits to higher-yielding accounts. Despite the economic trends, Ohio's capital levels remained a very strong 12.6%, and mergers and liquidations slowed compared with recent years (although these are expected to increase in 2008). Total income for credit unions in the state rose 7% as loans re-priced and non-interest income rose.

Blast that killed firefighter at CU deemed accidental

 Permanent link
LOS ANGELES (4/2/08)--An explosion Wednesday at an intersection near Los Angeles International Airport that killed a firefighter, critically injured another and significantly damaged a branch of the Water and Power Community CU building was ruled accidental. The explosion was a result of a “freak accident” due to series of electrical blasts in the area, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Friday (San Jose Mercury News April 1). Results of the investigations were released at a Friday press conference by the mayor and the heads of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Department of Water And Power. No credit union employees or members were hurt in the explosion. "We had two credit union members and three staff members in the building at the time of the explosion," Linda Heidtke, marketing director at the Westchester-based credit union, told News Now (March 28). "No one was hurt. However, the branch will be closed for some time.” "Our members are being directed to two of our nearby branches or to the shared branching system of the Credit Union Service Center system for their banking needs," she added. Water and Power CU and the Los Angeles Firemen's CU established a memorial fund through the Fire Family Foundation, a 501(c) 3 foundation, to honor Firefighter Brent A. Lovrien, the Los Angeles firefighter who lost his life. Injured Firefighter Anthony Guzman remains hospitalized. The Los Angeles-based, $432.8 million asset Water and Power Community CU is crediting firefighters with helping save the lives of credit union members by telling them to go back into the credit union building when they attempted to exit, right before the fatal explosion occurred, Heidtke said.

Virginia governor signs CU parity law on dormant accounts

 Permanent link
RICHMOND, Va. (4/2/08)--A Virginia bill that provides state-chartered credit unions with the same flexibility regarding inactive or dormant accounts fees and interest that federal credit unions exercise was approved by the governor. Senate Bill 136 was approved March 11 by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. The Virginia Credit Union League (VCUL) initiated legislation in the state’s 2008 General Assembly session to obtain parity for state charters on the issue of refunding dormant, or inactive, account fees. “We are very pleased with the new ruling and that our lawmakers believe this is something that state-chartered credit unions were supposed to have,” Alda Wilkinson, VCUL senior vice president, governmental affairs and public relations, told News Now. If a credit union or bank in Virginia loses contact with a member or accountholder after five years, the inactive account must be turned over to the state’s unclaimed property division. If the member turns up during those five years, and the credit union has charged dormant account fees, it may wish to refund those fees. The state unclaimed property division, in the course of its reviews or audits of credit unions, has maintained that a credit union may not refund fees on one account and not on all others. Where a credit union has already refunded fees to members who showed up, the unclaimed property division has claimed similar refunds for other similar accounts, the league said. Chris Anuswith, CEO of federally chartered Guardian FCU, Portsmouth, Va., obtained legal counsel and pursued this issue with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). NCUA ruled that federal law pre-empts state law on this issue, and that federal credit unions have the authority to refund fees as they choose. To obtain parity for state charters, the league recruited sponsors of identical legislation in both the House and the Senate (House Bill 1313 and Senate Bill 137). Both bills passed through the appropriate House and Senate committees, as well as on the floor of each house, with no dissenting votes. The governor has signed both into law, with an effective date of July 1. Virginia lawmakers recognized this as consumer friendly legislation and fully supported awarding all credit unions the opportunity to refund dormant and inactive account fees to members who are located or who turn up within the five-year holding period before dormant accounts are turned over to the state, said the league.

CUNA economists to zero in on economy at ACUCandE

 Permanent link
MADISON, Wis. (4/2/08)--Worried about how your credit union will fare in the challenging economic environment? Power sessions will address the economic challenges and opportunities during America's Credit Union Conference & Expo (ACUC&E), to be held in New York City June 29-July 2. The event is sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Bill Hampel, CUNA's senior vice president and chief economist, and Mike Schenk, vice president of CUNA's economics and statistics, will present "An Economic Outlook: The Challenges and Opportunities for Credit Unions." They will provide the outlook for both the economy and credit unions and discuss how long and deep the economic slowdown will be and how it will affect credit unions. Another power session, "From Crises and Conundrums to Survival and Success: A New Era in Financial Services," will focus on key questions facing credit unions today and how credit unions will emerge from what could be a far-reaching period of change. "In Debt We Trust: Subprime Lending Crisis, Double Financial Bubble, and U.S. Consumer-led Recession" will be presented by Robert Manning, research professor and director, Rochester Institute of Technology. He will review the impact of easy credit, changing patterns and debt levels of American households, and the subprime mortgage debacle. ACUC&E will have 22 more power sessions on a variety of topics. Keynote speakers will be Susan Packard, co-founder of HGTV, the House and Garden network; Steve Farber, author of The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership; and Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. For more information, use the link.

IDow JonesI offers CUs advice on buying foreclosures

 Permanent link
NEW YORK and TAMPA, Fla. (4/2/08)--Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa is one of the sources the Dow Jones News Service turned to for advice to consumers buying foreclosed properties. Don Charron, senior vice president of the $5.921 billion asset credit union, gave advice on purchasing a condominium in the March 26 issue of Dow Jones Newswires. When purchasing a condo, find out what the potential condo fees will be, he said, cautioning that the fees may be higher if some units are vacant because the costs are spread over fewer people. If the building has been vacant a long time, there might be deferred maintenance and additional expenses, he added. He recommended that potential buyers evaluate the neighborhood at different times of day. If other homes in the area are on the block or being foreclosed, that could hurt the home's value. The article suggested checking with the financial institution selling the property to see if it would negotiate a less expensive loan. Suncoast Schools has been active recently in advising consumers how to avoid foreclosures. In a March 6 item in Naples News, Charron encouraged borrowers to stay in touch with the lender and meet the loan officer face-to-face to work on modifying the loan (News Now March 10).