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Mazuma CU innundated with calls in smishing attack

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KANSAS CITY (5/1/08)--Mazuma CU, Kansas City, Mo., received an overwhelming number of phone calls regarding a smishing attack April 23. Identity thieves sent fraudulent text messages to cell phone users in the Kansas City area, claiming to be Mazuma CU. The messages told recipients their accounts had been closed because of suspicious activity and asked that they call a phone number (CourierNet April 30). Mazuma is working to disable the fraud attempts, but new phone numbers and e-mails appear after old ones are shut down, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA). The credit union also has posted alerts to its website, and a local ABC affiliate has warned consumers about the attacks. Mazuma implemented a credit-card fraud detector that applies to debit transactions and saved more than $8,000 by stopping fraudulent transactions to Mexico, said Mazuma CU President/CEO Rob Givens told MCUA. “No credit union is immune to this type of attack,” said Don Cohenour, MCUA senior vice president of credit union development. “It’s important to educate your members not to reply to messages like this or provide personal information to an unsolicited phone call, text message or e-mail.” Smishing is phishing via SMS, or short message service. Smishers target users of mobile phone text messaging (News Now April 22).

Tampa chooses CU as backup dataops center

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TAMPA, Fla. (5/1/08)--The City of Tampa plans to use GTE FCU's headquarters as a backup data and operations center in case of a disaster or other disruption of municipal services. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio visited GTE FCU's headquarters in Tampa Heights April 22 to see the areas that would serve as a data center and base of operations for city officials if a widespread natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina, or a more localized event, such as a fire in a city building, occured. Iorio will present the initiative and contract for the proposed agreement to the Tampa City Council for review and approval on May 15. Discussions and planning meetings began in mid-2007 after GTE FCU management offered to act as the backup location. President/CEO Wendell "Bucky" Sebastian and GTE FCU's board saw the proposal as an opportunity to demonstrate the credit union's commitment to the city. "We basically opened our arms to them," said Stephen Foster, GTE FCU's vice president of real estate, who oversees the credit union's facilities, security and real estate operations. GTE FCU has a 12.5 acre campus just north of downtown Tampa. The technology infrastructure between the credit union and the city are compatible, the credit union said in a press release. The partnership would include completely separate but pre-staged infrastructure for emergency operations programs and exercises.

CU System briefs (04/30/2008)

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* LATHAM N.Y. (5/1/08)--New York State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, left, shown with William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the New York State Credit Union League, met for breakfast with a group of credit unions leaders and league representatives last week in New York City. The meeting was arranged by the league to further educate Smith about the credit union difference and the value credit unions bring to millions of New Yorkers. They discussed depository choice, the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program and the Banking Development District Program. Participants included: Brian Clark and Evan Gotlob, Bethpage FCU; Robert Nemeroff and Marion Smith, Melrose CU; Darlene Greene, New York Times Employees FCU; Shirley Jenkins, Municipal CU; Mark Johnson, Qside FCU; Rossana Creo, John Lewis and Liz Philippe, United Nations FCU; and Bogdan Chmielewski and Paul Sosnowski, Polish and Slavic FCU. Representing the league were Mellin; Michael Lanotte, senior vice president/general counsel; and Amy Kramer, vice president, governmental affairs. (Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League) … * PHOENIX (5/1/08)--Arizona State CU was featured in the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco's 2007 Annual Report. The $1.1 billion asset, Phoenix-based credit union was one of three members featured and the only credit union. David E. Doss, the credit union's president/CEO, was pictured and his comments were part of the feature about ways in which the Federal Home Loan Bank has reached out to assist member institutions. Doss noted that the bank "is a strategic partner that assists us in balance sheet management, liquidity management and even product development. If we have a need, we know we can go to the Federal Home Loan Bank." The credit union has received the bank's community assistance grants, including a $600,000 affordable housing grant and a $25,000 worker training grant (Business Wire April 29) …

No one hurt when robber shoots way into CU

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (5/1/08)--Nobody was physically hurt when a robber shot his way into Northwest Navigation FCU, Vancouver, Wash., Tuesday morning. Several news outlets reported that a masked man attempted to enter the credit union before it was open. When he realized the doors were locked, he fired two shots, breaking the glass on the doors (The Columbian April 30). He entered the credit union and pointed his gun at a manager. One employee dropped to the floor behind a counter when she saw the robber, and another ran to the vault after a bullet narrowly missed her (The Oregonian April 30). The man left after stealing several thousands of dollars, instructing Northwest the credit union’s staff not to call police, the newspaper said. News Now contacted the credit union but did not receive further information before press time.

KCUA honors CU individuals lawmakers

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Eric Schaefer (left), chairman, board of directors, Kansas City Credit Union Association (KCUA), and Marla Marsh (right), KCUA president/CEO, pose with three of the nine legislators honored for supporting Kansas credit unions during the four-year process leading to Senate Bill 535, (from left): State Rep. Cindy Neighbor (D-Kan.); State Rep. Mike Kiegerl, (R-Kan.); State Rep. Nile Dillmore (D-Kan.); State Rep. Clark Shultz (R-Kan.).
Lovell Frazier (left), Kansas Super Chief CU, Topeka, winner of the Hall of Fame Award for Distinguished Service to the Kansas credit union movement, is pictured with Marilyn Wells, president, Catholic Family FCU, Wichita, winner of the Henry Peterson Professional of the Year Award; and Robert Reeves, chairman, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan, winner of the John Michener Volunteer of the Year Award. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
WICHITA, Kan. (5/1/08)--The Kansas Credit Union Association honored several credit union professionals and lawmakers at its 73rd Annual Meeting and Convention held Friday and Saturday. Lovelle Frazier, retired founder of Kansas Super Chief CU, Topeka, was inducted into the Kansas Credit Union Hall of Fame. Marilyn Wells, president, Catholic Family FCU, Wichita, received the Henry Peterson Professional of the Year Award. Robert Reeves, board chair, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan, was awarded the John Michener Volunteer of the Year Award. Larry Damm, manager, Cessna Employees CU, Wichita, was awarded the Political Involvement Award for his commitment to Kansas credit unions during 2007 and in the 2008 legislative session. Nine Kansas legislators were honored for their support of Kansas credit unions in the events leading up to Senate Bill 535 and during legislative sessions. They include:
* State Rep. Clark Schultz, (R-Kan.), chair, House Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee; * State Rep. Nile Dilmore, (D-Kan.); * State Rep. Mike Kiegerl, (R-Kan.); * State Rep. Cindy Neighbor (D-Kan.); * State Sen. Jim Barone, (D-Kan.); * State Sen. Anthony Hensley (D-Kan.); * State Sen. Phil Journey, (R-Kan.); * State Sen. Roger Pine, (R-Kan.); and * State Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Kan.)

Kansas elects incumbents to board

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WICHITA, Kan. (5/1/08)--The Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) elected four incumbent board members at the 73rd Annual Meeting and Convention Friday and Saturday in Wichita.
From left: Larry Damm, president, Cessna Employees CU, Wichita; Marla Marsh, president/CEO, Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA); Erich Schaefer, president, Golden Plains CU, Garden City; and Mark Keilig, president, United Northwest FCU, Norton, are pictured following the KCUA annual business meeting held Friday and Saturday in Wichita. Damm, Schaefer and Keilig were elected to KCUA’s executive committee (Photo provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
Incumbents re-elected to serve two-year terms on the KCUA board of directors were:
* Larry Damm, manager, Cessna Employees CU, Wichita; * Don Homan, board chairman, Frontier Community CU, Leavenworth; * Erich Schaefer, member/president, Golden Plains CU, Garden City; and * Garth Strand, president, Hutchinson (Kan.) CU.
Re-elected to serve as members of the executive committee were:
* Chairman--Schaefer; * Vice Chairman--Mark Keilig, president, United Northwest FCU, Norton; and * Secretary/Treasurer--Damm.
Reappointed to serve on the Shared Financial Solutions board of directors were:
* Cheryl Smith, manager, USPLK FCU, Leavenworth; * Angie Miller, manager, Emporia State FCU, Emporia; and * Vickie Hurt, president, Credit Union 1 of Kansas, Topeka.

Faith-based CU takes over church in foreclosure

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. (5/1/08)--Evangelical Christian CU (ECCU) took over Ambassador Family Church in Oceanside at a trustee sale in April. Church membership dropping to 200 from 800 in recent years, and cost overruns and financial turmoil that arose from building a new church on the property purchased in 2000, led to the foreclosure (NCTimes.com April 29). “We’re negotiating with the church regarding a variety of month-to-month rental options to remain in the property while it is being sold,” Jac Latour, ECCU communications and public relations manager, told News Now. “This is a rare occurrence because when a ministry is in a relationship with ECCU, we try to help them navigate through any rough waters that they are in,” he added. The property fell into default in December and the $1.029 billion asset, Brea, Calif.-based credit union took back the property--valued at $5.6 million--April 17, the newspaper said.

51 designated as certified CU execs in April

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/08)--Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) designations were awarded to 51 individuals from 12 different states, bringing the nationwide total to 2,581. CCUE is designed for managers and those aspiring for credit union leadership. It teaches advanced credit union management and operations techniques. Ten individuals also earned the Certified Financial Services Professional (CFSP) designation. The CFSP program began in 1999 to educate credit union professionals specializing in financial services. The Certified Executive Program (CEP) awarded specialty certifications to 12 credit union professionals. The certifications require in-depth courses in a specialty area, including compliance, lending, financial management, marketing and human resources. The CEP is the name for the self-study program allowing for the designations. Recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE), the classes are tailored for those working in the credit union system. High CCUE honors went to Lisa L. Gray, Dow Chemical Employees CU, Midland, Mich.; and Kim A. Rooney, UnitedOne CU, Manitowoc, Wis. Honors CCUE designees include:
* Shelley K. Fick, Community Educators CU, Rockledge, Fla.; * Petra Harris, Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla.; * Jason C. Boesch, Oklahoma RE&T Employees CU, Oklahoma City, Okla.; and * Nataliya Vivcharyk, State Employees CU, Raleigh, N.C.
Honors CFSP designees were:
* Julie D. Flatt, Florida Central CU, Tampa, Fla.; and * Scott Hanna, State Employees CU, Raleigh, N.C.
For a complete list of designees, use the link.

Moodys Australian CU sector outlook rated negative

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SYDNEY (5/1/08)--Pressures from the global financial crisis are affecting the credit outlook for Australia's credit unions, according to Moody's Investors Service. The tightened credit market has pushed the credit union sector for the country into a "negative" outlook, Moody's said Wednesday (Business Spectator April 30). The outlook rating examines a broad range of areas, including the impact of the subprime crisis on the sector's funding, consolidation trends and the sector's financial performance. Australia's credit unions are more reliant on warehouse facilities than mortgage-backed securities, and warehouse funding is still available to a limited degree for certain credit unions to continue making mortgage loans, said Moody's. The number of credit unions has dropped to 144 from 833 in 1973 and mergers in the sector are set to accelerate, the firm said, adding smaller credit unions may be holding back the movement's efficiency levels because they are struggling with rising operating costs. On the positive side, credit unions' asset quality remains strong in the short term, with low impaired asset levels and loss rates. Moody's noted that Australia's credit unions benefit from the common bond concept, which provides them with stable retail depositions--a significant advantage in the current conditions in wholesale funding markets.

Michigan Chippewa tribe applies for CU charter

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MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (5/1/08)--The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan has submitted an application for the proposed Chippewa Eagle FCU to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This will be the first newly chartered credit union in Michigan in the past 21 years, according to Greg Carroll, project manager for the credit union. The field of membership for Chippewa Eagle FCU includes tribal members, their families and descendants, as well as employees of the tribe and their families. The tribe’s application for the proposed credit union is now being reviewed by an NCUA economic development specialist, Carroll told News Now. An initial letter from NUCA should be received in 30 days, and the charter should take effect 60 days after that, NCUA told Carroll. “We should be opening the credit union by the end of summer,” Carroll said. The credit union building has already been built on a strip of land next to the tribe’s casino in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., he added. The project was first discussed by the tribe in the 1980s, but started in earnest the past two years, Carroll explained. Funding for the credit union was provided in October, and Carroll has been working full-time on the project since December. The Michigan Credit Union League helped with the project, Carroll said. Why did the tribe decide to form a credit union? “It always interested the tribal members to have a financial institution on their land that was theirs--and of course their members’,” Carroll explained. “Tribal members are one of the most discriminated-against population segments with other financial institutions--which take advantage of them because of their relatively low incomes.” The tribe--which employs about 5,000 people--operates the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, and the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish, Mich.

Ohio CUs march nets 118000 for CMN

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/1/08)--Ohio's credit unions presented a check for $103,000 to Children's Miracle Network (CMN) as a result of its annual march-a-thon fundraiser, Marching Miles for Miracle Kids.
Twelve-year-old Devon Eley, Ohio's Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Champion, accepts a check for $103,000 on behalf of CMN from Steve Behler, chairman of the Ohio Credit Union League. Devon is joined by his mom and sister, and the Credit Unions for Kids mascot. (Photo provided by the Ohio Credit Union League)
Spearheaded by the Ohio Credit Union League's Credit Unions for Kids Committee, the march-a-thon raises funds to benefit Children's Hospitals. After an additional wine auction to benefit the hospitals, Ohio credit unions have raised a grand total of $118,000 during the 2008 Marching Miles for Miracle Kids event. "A fundraising event of this magnitude is a great display of the cooperative spirit embraced by Ohio's credit unions," said Paul Mercer, league president. The 190-mile relay-style march kicked off in Toledo on April 6 and concluded in Columbus on April 24 at the league's Zenith 2008 convention. On average, marchers traveled 10 miles a day during the 19-day trek. For more information, photos, and diaries of each day's march, use the Marching Miles resource link.

Early registration deadline for WOCCU conference is May 9

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MADISON, Wis. (5/1/08)--The “early bird” deadline for the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) 2008 World Credit Union Conference is May 9. The conference will be in Hong Kong on July 13-16. Those who register early can take advantage of discounted registration fees. To register online, use the link. Hosted in Asia for the first time in more than 30 years, the conference will convene at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Attendees can network with credit union peers from around the world, learn best practices from industry leaders and participate in social events and activities, including a special reception for WOCCU supporters. Visits to local credit unions will offer insights on ways financial cooperatives compete in other markets and allow participants to gain new perspectives on better serving their members, WOCCU said. The roster of speakers for this year’s conference includes: Paul Sarbanes, former U.S. senator, who will share his perspective on Sarbanes-Oxley legislation and its role in promoting good governance and corporate responsibility. Madam Wu Xiaoling, former deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, and Anna Tibaijuka, United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of UN-HABITAT, also will keynote. Space is limited but still available on the pre-conference tour to Beijing, China, and post-conference tour to Bangkok, Thailand.

CUs saved North Carolinians 529 million in one year

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (4/30/08)--Credit unions in North Carolina saved members $529 million in 2006, according to research released by the North Carolina Credit Union League. The study, “The Benefits of Credit Unions to North Carolina Consumers of Financial Services” indicated that credit union members saved more than $452 million by using a credit union rather than a bank. And because of competition from credit unions, bank customers saved $77 million. Lower loan rates from credit unions saved members $124 million; higher deposit rates saved them $168 million; and lower fees saved them $158 million, according to the research. The average rate differential in 2006 on a used car loan was 2.65%. “That means a 36-month used-car loan for $15,000 saved the member more than $400,” said John Radebaugh, league president/CEO. The average credit union money-market account paid 1.67% more than the average bank money market account in the state. Credit union members saved $123 million on checking account fees, and $34 million on mortgage closing costs, according to the research. The value of credit union competition on bank loans to individuals was $30 million, and ATM network savings for non-credit union members was $46 million. Credit union competition also lowered the commercial bank consumer loan rates by 10 basis points--a savings of more than $30 million. The study was conducted by William Jackson, University of Alabama professor of finance. The report updates a 2005 study.

CUs lead large banks on best debit-fraud measures

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HOUSTON (4/30/08)--Credit unions and community banks are leading large banks in terms of lowering debit card fraud losses, according to a study for ATM/debit network PULSE. Best-in-class debit card issuers achieved more than 55% lower fraud losses per gross dollar value than other debit card issuers in the debit card study, which was conducted by Oliver Wyman for PULSE, the network owned by Discover Financial Services. Best-in-class issuers are not always large financial institutions, said Tony Hayes, partner at Oliver Wyman. "In the area of fraud, for example, credit unions and community banks tend to lead large banks. This is likely due in part to differences in account holder profiles among the institution types," Hayes added. The study indicated that debit card issuers' fraud-loss rates were higher for 2007 than in a previous 2005 study. In the current survey, issuers lost 5.40 basis points (0.054%) per dollar spent through signature debit transactions and 1.09 basis points (0.0109%) through PIN debit transactions. Data breaches, stolen cards and phishing were the most commonly reported points of compromise for debit card fraud involving card information only. When PINs also were obtained, the most common points of compromise were ATM tampering, data breaches and "friendly fraud" (defined as unauthorized transactions made by the cardholder's family or friends). All of the 62 credit unions, community banks, and larger banks surveyed said they had debit cards potentially compromised in data breaches during 2007. More than 80% of survey respondents reported they implemented new fraud tools within the past year. "Although tools such as CVV/CVC checking and neural networks have proven effective, fraud continues to be a significant challenge for financial institutions," said Hayes. He added that "constant vigilance is required to combat increasingly sophisticated techniques." Hayes also noted that most issuers surveyed believe the next step in fraud management is "to improve collaboration among key constituencies in the industry: issuers, networks, processors and merchants."

Iowa bill signed by governor includes CUs IDAs

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/30/08)--Iowa Gov. Chet Culver Tuesday signed an economic stimulus bill that will enable Iowa's credit unions to continue serving working Iowans through the Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Account (IDA) program. The IDA program was recently launched by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, which is one of many organizations that can apply to use funds for a program. The bill signed into law was Senate File 2430. It was the result of work by the bi-partisan Successful Families Caucus and the Iowa Credit Union League, and will demonstrate to low-income Iowans the importance of saving in an effort to end poverty, said the league. The legislation updates state law on the regulation of IDAs, which are savings accounts where a low-income participant's savings are matched dollar for dollar by grant funds from matching partners. The accounts traditionally are used to purchase a first home, to start or expand a small business, or to cover education or job training costs. The legislation appropriates $150,000 to organizations implementing an IDA program. It also allows IDA accounts for purchasing assistive technology--such as wheel chairs, hearing aids or prosthetic devices--by persons with disabilities. Through the foundation's program, "Iowa credit unions are reaching out to low-income Iowans to help them save, and this legislation will further facilitate and expand our initiative," said Marybeth Foster, executive director of the foundation.

401ks are a core business service CUSOs told

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LAS VEGAS (4/30/08)--Credit unions that have adopted a formal strategy to enter the business services market should consider offering 401(k) retirement plans to select employee groups (SEGs), business members and other businesses, a panel told attendees at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) annual conference Monday.
Participating in a business services discussion at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations' annual conference Monday were (from left): Kevin Thompson, CUNA Mutual vice president, asset accumulation products; Peggy Mostowy, assistant vice president of business development, Clearview FCU, Moon Township, Pa.; and Chuck Purvis, senior vice president, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Steve Dowden, CUNA Mutual Group’s senior vice president of asset accumulation sales distribution, moderated the panel, which included Kevin Thompson, CUNA Mutual vice president, asset accumulation products; Peggy Mostowy, assistant vice president of business development, Clearview FCU, Moon Township, Pa.; and Chuck Purvis, senior vice president, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C. Credit unions are showing more interest in offering retirement programs as part of an overall business services strategy, Thompson said. “That makes sense, because offering 401(k) programs to SEGs and small businesses directly supports a business services growth strategy,” he explained. Thompson said marketing retirement services can help credit unions:
* Attract and retain members, including younger ones; * Generate ongoing fee income from plan sales; * Attract 401(k) rollovers and individual rollovers from participants; * Strengthen current business relationships; * Increase cross-selling opportunities for credit union products such as lending and checking accounts; * Increase retirement expertise awareness within the community; and * Remain relevant to baby boomers, while helping them do a better job of saving for retirement.
“For Coastal FCU, it gives us an opportunity to deepen the relationship with our 1,100 SEGs and provide valuable business services to diversify and grow our revenues,” Purvis said. Retirement services also can help the credit union meet demand from small businesses for reasonably priced services from a local, trusted and tenured institution, he added. “The average community bank in our market is less than seven years old. Our credit union has an established track record here over the last 41 years,” Purvis said. Coastal offers a full menu of business lending and business account services. Adding employee benefit plans seemed a logical extension, Purvis said. “The ability to offer 401(k) plans will better position us to capture rollover funds in our Trust and Investment Services group, and these additional services will enhance our visibility within our SEGs, particularly with human resources decision-makers,” he said. Clearview’s Mostowy echoed those sentiments, and said her credit union’s target market is small businesses--those with annual sales up to $5 million--and the mid-market--annual sales between $5 million and $10 million. “This product will assist small businesses as they grow and their needs become more complex. With mid-market clients, it will deepen the relationship and provide us the opportunity to compete with the larger financial institutions,” Mostowy concluded.

MnCUN meeting features youth focus group basics

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/30/08)--The Minnesota Family Involvement Council (FIC) taught the fundamentals of youth focus groups with a live youth focus group during an educational session at the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Annual Meeting and Convention on April 11-12.
Shannon, left, along with three other teens, talked about how she spends and manages her money during the Minnesota Family Involvement Council's session on youth focus groups, held during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Annual Meeting April 11-12. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation)
The event was part of FIC's goal to promote full-family involvement in Minnesota's credit unions. FIC is a committee of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. Rick Foy, director of marketing communications at Sight Creative, hosted the session. He outlined steps involved in conducting a successful focus group and provided tips on facilitating and recruiting youth to participate in a group. Focus groups "are a way of member input that validates what members are really about," said Foy. "Marketing cannot be conventional any more. You need to talk the language of your audience." One of the best ways to learn the language of youth is to conduct a focus group at the credit union, he said. Groups are a powerful means to evaluate the credit union's services, and receive feedback from youth on the impressions and feelings those services invoke. The information will provide direction for creating strategic goals and action steps, he said. Foy led a live focus group consisting of one high school sophomore and four high school juniors. The teens answered questions about their spending habits, how they manage money, and the factors they use in determining where they put their money. The teens continually emphasized they wanted to receive more financial education and learn about a variety of topics, including student loans and how to manage their money. "Nobody really talks to teenagers about money and how to deal with it," said Raquel, a sophomore on the panel. Other panelists agreed and expressed concern about how to successfully manage their money and make wise financial decisions. "The live youth focus group allowed the attendees to see first-hand how to facilitate a focus group and how valuable the information gained from the focus group can be," said LeAnn Achtenberg, FIC chair. "While paper surveys can give you a lot of information, they don't give you the chance to ask follow-up questions. With a focus group, you really get to know your teen members and what they want from a financial institution," Achtenberg added.

Filene debuts CU Tomorrow business briefs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/30/08)--The Filene Research Institute has initiated CU Tomorrow to help credit unions attract younger members, younger professionals and younger volunteers. One component of CU Tomorrow is the Business Briefs, a series of open-source, young adult business plans for credit unions. Business Briefs are short documents written to share innovative ideas and real-life credit union examples with the credit union community. All briefs are free and applicable to credit unions of all sizes, said Ben Rogers, who leads the CU Tomorrow project. The briefs can be downloaded from the Filene website, www.filene.org. They will be published monthly through the middle of 2009. The first three publications--Young Adult Advisors, Credit Card Consolidation Loans and Campus Recruiting: Finding and Keeping Talented Young Employees--are available in print and electronic format. Young Adult Advisors explores tools credit unions can use to establish an advisory panel of young members and ways to solicit their ideas. Credit Card Consolidation Loans discusses the features to help credit unions make products more attractive to young members. It also offers marketing recommendations. Campus Recruiting examines strategies to attract prospects for full or internahip employment at the credit union. The Wisconsin Credit Union League, and the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association have partnered with Filene to launch the briefs. For more information, use the link.

New Jersey prepares for first new CU in 11 years

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (4/30/08)--New Jersey hasn’t seen a new credit union chartered in 11 years--but that soon will change when Bergen County Community Action Partnership (BCCAP) creates a community development credit union.
At a recent meeting, individuals discussed the proposed 1st Bergen FCU, a community development credit union. From left are: Brian Gately, director of technical assistance at the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; Allan DeGuilio, board chair of the proposed 1st Bergen FCU; Robert Moore, chief financial officer of Bergen County Community Action Partnership; Jim Merrill, senior vice president of the New Jersey Credit Union League; and Robert Halsch, CEO of 1st Bergen. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
The new credit union will be called 1st Bergen FCU and will serve low-income residents. During the past year, the New Jersey Credit Union League has helped BCCAP with its charter submission to the National Credit Union Administration. It also has provided in-person board governance training and strategic planning. “Part of the core mission of the credit union movement is to serve the underserved, so we see a great opportunity for Bergen County CAP,” said Paul Gentile, New Jersey league president/CEO. Jim Merrill, league senior vice president, and Brian Gately, director of technical assistance for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, addressed the following topics with BCCAP such as: mentors, physical branch setup, league support, board member training, business planning, marketing assistance and policy development. The league board also voted to waive the credit union’s league dues for the first two years of membership.

CU System briefs (04/29/2008)

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ARVADA, Colo. (4/30/08)--The Credit Union Foundation of Colorado and Wyoming announced the addition of Bob Hoel and Jane Prancan to the foundation's board, beginning in May. They will serve a one-year term. Hoel was former executive director of the Filene Research Institute for 15 years until early 2007. He was named the Herb Wegner Memorial Award winner in 2008. Hoel now serves on the board of Public Service CU, based in Denver. Prancan ran the $26 million asset U.S. West/Quest Foundation across a 14-state region, including Colorado. She also led an $11 million fundraising and public relations department for the American Indian College Fund. Prancan is chairman of Bellco CU, Greenwood Village, Colo. Hoel and Prancan fill seats being vacated by Susan J. Brayman and Janet Meyers. Other foundation board members who were reappointed include: John Uchida, president/CEO, Space Age FCU, Aurora; Mike Williams, president/CEO, Colorado CU, Littleton; Walter Marx, president/CEO, College CU, Greeley; Marilyn James Rhoades, NEPCO branch manager, Minnequa Works CU, Pueblo; and John Dill, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of Colorado … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/30/08)--Author and consultant Alan Pariss, will be the opening keynoter at the 2008 Michigan Credit Union League Annual Convention and Exposition, to be held in Grand Rapids May 15-17 (Michigan Monitor April 28). He will speak on "Prospering through Cycles and Change." Other keynoters include: Jane Bryant Quinn, contributing editor for Newsweek and ranked by the World Almanac as one of the 25 most influential women in America, who will address "Financial Empowerment in Today's Economy," and Mary Crane of Mary Crane and Associates, speaking on "Millennials and Their Money." This year's conference theme is "Moving Michigan Forward" … * OGDEN, Utah (4/30/08)--Goldenwest CU says it will donate $50,000--raised during the credit union's eighth annual "5K for Schools"--to nine local schools. The event was held March 29. One-hundred percent of the registration fees for the race are going to the schools for needed equipment and materials. The $582.5 million asset Goldenwest kicked in an additional $5 for each entry received. The race attracted its largest crowd in its history, with 2,600 runners and walkers. Goldenwest also donated registration posters and forms, t-shirts, food, water and other items needed for the race, said its announcement on its website … * MONTREAL(4/30/08)--Desjardins Group, a Canadian cooperative financial group representing caisse populaires (credit unions), announced the results of its Desjardins Paper Challenge and the Desjardins Eco-friendly Statement Challenge on Earth Day. The campaign is committed to taking 12 initiatives in waste management, energy efficiency and responsible consumption. Desjardins aimed to reduce printer and photocopier paper by 15% between 2005 and 2008, and to increase use of recycled paper by the same percentage. Its program resulted in a 21% reduction, representing 43 million fewer paper sheets. The reduction also prevents about 227 tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions or 3,435 saved trees. The use of recycled paper went up 22% to 55% during the same period. More than 114,519 members joined its Eco-friendly Statement challenge. It will be planting 22,224 trees throughout Quebec and Ontario this spring (Canada Newswire April 15) …

Debit transactions up 14.4 but penetration slows

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HOUSTON (4/30/08)--Debit card issuers--including credit unions--saw a 14.4% growth in debit transactions last year, but the growth rate dropped four percentage points from the year before. And penetration growth has slowed, according to a study released Tuesday. The 2008 Debit Issuer Study surveyed 62 credit unions, community banks and large banks. It was commissioned by PULSE and conducted by Oliver Wyman. It includes new data and comparisons to the results of the 2007 Debit Issuer Study released in February 2007. The overall 14.4% transaction growth comprises a 15% increase in signature debit transactions and a 14% growth for PIN debit. Although transaction growth remained strong in 2007, it was lower than the 18% growth rate in 2006. "Despite having a strong year in 2007, issuers are implementing a number of programs aimed at improving the performance of their debit card programs in 2008," said Cindy Ballard, PULSE executive vice president, in a press release. "These efforts center on rewards programs, targeted cardholder promotions and expansion into new products and new merchant categories," Ballard added. Institutions surveyed issued more than 74 million debit cards--28% of the debit cards in the U.S. They represent 46,000 ATMs and are balanced across institution size, type, geography and network participation. Eighty-six percent of respondents' debit cards are signature-capable, while 14% are ATM/PIN-only cards. These results are the same as the previous survey. However, roughly 29% said they plan to convert at least a portion of their ATM/PIN-only cards to cards with capability to handle both signatures and PINs during 2008. Of the debit transactions made last year, 65% were authorized by signature and 35% by PINs. Other findings:
* The average debit card penetration rate was 73%--a 1% increase over 2006. Card activation (defined as using the card for one signature debit transaction within the past 30 days) averaged 59%, compared with 56% in 2006. * Active cardholders, on average, performed 16.6 point-of-sale transactions a month during 2007, compared with 16.1 transactions a month the year before. * The average amount transacted was $43 for PIN debit and $38 for signature debit, compared with $42 and $40, respectively, the year before. * Nine percent of PIN debit purchases included cash back. ATM cash withdrawals exceeded PIN debit cash-back withdrawals by a ratio of nine transactions to one. In dollars, ATM withdrawals exceeded PIN debits by a ratio of 30 to one. * Twenty-five percent of the issuers surveyed charged a PIN debit transaction fee at the point of sale to at least some cardholders. That compared with 28% in 2006 and 32% in 2005. Per-transaction fees averaged 53 cents but affected only 0.6% of cardholders, compared to 5% affected in the previous survey.

Southern California CU volunteers help community

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WHITTIER, Calif. (4/30/08)--With the slowing economy leaving more families in need, Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) employees and members together with other area credit unions helped distribute food April 19 to 3,000 local residents in need.
Credit union volunteers from Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) and other area credit unions helped distribute more than 50,000 pounds of free food and clothing to area residents April 19 at the CU SoCal Whittier, Calif., branch.
Southern California’s Helping Hands, working with Heart of Compassion, held its fourth annual Food Distribution Day at CU SoCal’s Whittier branch. The branch was closed for the event, and more than 2,000 people were given lunch while they waited for groceries. For children waiting with their parents, there were games and coloring sheets. More than 50,000 pounds of food--valued at $100,000--was donated to local residents during the daylong event. “This is great help,” said recipient Silvia Avila. “I work two or three days and it’s not sufficient to pay for gas, lights, telephone and all that. It’s very expensive. Life is very hard.” A CU SoCal member of nearly 25 years volunteered her time to help pass out dried foods at the event. “It was wonderful and so nice to be included,” she said. “I delight in helping others and find that when you’re around ‘givers,’ the atmosphere is wonderful. The whole day made for such a good feeling.”
More than 3,000 local residents received free groceries April 19 at the fourth annual Food Distribution Day at Credit Union of Southern California’s Whittier, Calif., branch. The branch was closed for the event, and more than 2,000 people were given lunch while they waited for groceries. (Photos provided by Credit Union of Southern California)
With this week being National Volunteer Week, Dave Gunderson, president/CEO of the $500 million asset Whittier credit union, recognized the generosity of more than 200 volunteers who participated in the food distribution day. “Putting together an event of this magnitude requires the help of many caring individuals,” he said. “It’s heart-warming to see the compassion and care of so many. A simple thank-you cannot describe the gratitude I feel for those who generously gave their time and financial support to this worthwhile cause. The volunteers were fantastic.”

NACUSO conference kicks off with CUSO 101

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LAS VEGAS (4/30/08)--The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) opened its 2008 Annual Conference Sunday in Las Vegas, marking its 23rd anniversary and offering a credit union service organization (CUSO) 101 tutorial to attendees. The 400-plus attendees also were provided a CUSO legal update and discussion of current regulatory topics presented by NACUSO General Counsel Guy Messick and Brian Lauer--both attorneys with Messick & Weber, P.C., Media, Pa. Messick and Lauer discussed the strategic uses of CUSOs, and when to use CUSOs and incidental powers. The CUSO formation process, normal organizational structure, and the relationship between the credit union-owners and the CUSO also were presented. Examples of CUSO services that are gaining popularity were highlighted. These included youth marketing, disaster recovery, business continuity and investment advisory services. “Regulators are recognizing that CUSOs are the future of credit unions,” Messick said. “In order to properly evaluate CUSOs, we have to create a new model in the credit union industry, in which credit unions not only provide services, but also monitor the services. “Credit unions can’t just hand over the keys of operational services to third parties, including CUSOs, without monitoring them,” he continued. “So NACUSO is helping credit unions and CUSOs develop a means for ensuring proper evaluations are in place and that we as an industry move forward in a new model.”

Washington State fin lit work group includes CUs

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (4/29/08)--The Washington Financial Literacy Work Group has been created and includes several representatives from the state’s credit union industry. The work group was developed in response to legislation sponsored by Gov. Chris Gregoire to assess financial literacy in the state. Group members from the credit union industry include:
* Stacy Augustine, senior vice president and general counsel, Washington Credit Union League; * Cathy Brorson, outreach coordinator, Kitsap CU, Bremerton, and chairman, Credit Union Youth Development Council of Washington; and * Linda Jekel, director, Division of Credit Unions, Washington Department of Financial Institutions.
Specifically, the group is tasked with addressing three issues presented in Senate Bill 6272, which the governor signed on Feb. 11:
* To identify current state-funded efforts to support financial literacy; * To assess whether there are opportunities to create a centralized location of information regarding the existing state efforts; and * To identify whether opportunities exist for expanding partnerships with other community entities that also provide financial literacy services.
The work group will determine the status of financial literacy in the state and define what action is necessary to increase financial literacy at all age levels. The group will provide regular interim reports on its findings and submit a final report to the governor and legislature by Dec. 1.

Wall Street Journal other national media tout CUs

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NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (4/29/08)--The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Dow Jones News Service are among the national media piling on to recommend consumers check credit unions for better deals. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) chief economist Bill Hampel and California Credit Union League economist Daniel Penrod were quoted extensively in an article carried by the Journal and MarketWatch on Sunday and by Dow Jones on Monday. "When it comes to low fees and generous rates, credit unions match banks head-to-head," it said, noting that credit unions' products " should be among the options you consider when searching for savings and checking accounts, certificates of deposit, small-business, mortgage and auto loans, and credit cards--particularly now, given that credit unions in large part sidestepped the subprime crisis." Hampel explained that credit unions' not-for-profit cooperative status means they don't charge as much. "We don't have to charge as much, we're not going for profit, and we don't have to pay taxes on the net income we do make," he said. Both Hampel and Penrod pointed out credit unions have weathered the subprime crisis better than some larger banks because credit unions didn't loosen their lending standards to boost profits. "Credit unions essentially make no subprime loans," said Hampel. "They made a few loans to borrowers who had subprime credit histories, but these were not under a subprime loan program." For the full article, use the link.

Florida CU regulator Sharon Whiddon to retire

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/29/08)--Sharon Whiddon, bureau chief of Florida's Bureau of Credit Union Regulation, has announced she will retire, effective June 30. Whiddon has been with the bureau since Sept. 11, 1972--nearly 36 years, she told News Now. She started out as an examiner I in banking, but has served in the credit union division since 1985. She has served as bureau chief for the past 20 years. The bureau, which is within the state's Office of Financial Regulation, regulates 83 state-chartered credit unions. Whiddon told News Now that her most memorable responsibility during her years of service occurred in the early 1990s, when Florida converted all of its then-150 credit unions from private share insurance to federal share insurance under the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Although she is retiring from the bureau, she says she'd like "to work for several more years and stay in the (credit union) industry."

Volunteering alive and well in Maine CU movement

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WESTBROOK, Maine (4/29/08)--The Maine credit union movement’s volunteer program--Credit Unions Share for ME--released the final results of volunteer efforts by Maine’s credit unions in 2007, in celebration of National Volunteer Week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday. The six-year-old, award-winning program documented a record-setting 23,004.5 hours volunteered by credit union staff and directors in 2007, an increase of 18% over the previous year, according to the Maine Credit Union League, which coordinates the program. The value of time volunteered by Maine’s credit unions equaled $350,000 in 2007, based on figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates the value of one hour volunteered in Maine at $15.25. The amount of volunteers participating in the program also saw an increase of 13% from the previous year with 2,304 individuals from credit unions recording time spent volunteering in their communities. In 2007, the top five credit unions contributing the most volunteer hours were:
* Rainbow FCU, Lewiston, 2,517; * Saco Valley CU, Saco, 2,501; * Five County CU, Bath, 1,920.5; * Midcoast FCU, Bath, 1,698.5; and * Franklin-Somerset FCU, Skowhegan, 1,342.25.
The top five credit unions with the most volunteers were:
* Rainbow FCU, 215. * Five County CU, 191; * Saco Valley CU, 177; * Midcoast FCU, 172; * Ocean Communities FCC, Biddeford; and NorState FCU, Madawaska, 118;
Throughout the year, credit union representatives participated in a variety of community-service initiatives from delivering meals to seniors and donating blood, to youth athletics and serving as flag bearers at military funerals. In 2007, the program averaged 1,917.04 hours volunteered per month, with an average of 192 volunteers participating. The program tracks and updates the volunteer efforts of credit unions on a monthly basis. “By their very structure, credit unions are about volunteers, with each credit union governed by a volunteer unpaid board of directors,” said Jon Paradise, league governmental and public affairs manager. “Credit unions are not just about being located in the communities they serve, but truly being a part of them through involvement, for the simple reason of it being the right thing to do. “The program began during National Volunteer Week six years ago, so we announce the previous year’s figures at this time each year,” he added. “It highlights and recognizes the hundreds of individuals who volunteer and are involved with causes and activities in their communities throughout the year.

WOCCU heads off Costa Ricas anti-CU efforts

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (4/29/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) officials last week mounted an effort to head off anti-credit union sentiments among banks and other financial institutions in Costa Rica.
World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Alabama Credit Union League officials visited Costa Rica to protect the country’s credit unions’ tax-exempt status. From left: Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO; Manual Bolanos, CEO of the Federacion de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito de Costa Rica R.L.; Oscar Arias Sanchez, Costa Rica’s president; Gary Wolter, president/CEO, Alabama Credit Union League; Jose Eduardo Alvarado, CEO Coopenae CU; Victor Corro, WOCCU international partnerships manager; and Edwin Barboza, president, Costa Rica’s National Council of Co-ops. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
They also mounted an international lobbying effort against the threat of taxation facing the Central American country’s not-for-profit financial cooperatives. WOCCU officials and the Alabama Credit Union League visited with Costa Rican government officials, including President Oscar Arias Sanchez, at the request of the Federacion de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito de Costa Rica R.L. (FEDEAC), WOCCU’s Costa Rican member organization. The Alabama league and FEDEAC are partner organizations through WOCCU’s International Partnership program. Costa Rican banks have attacked the country’s credit unions because credit unions have grown rapidly and increased their market share from 3% to 12% in assets. The country’s credit unions also are growing membership 15% per year and have evolved from small storefronts to more sophisticated and competitive financial institutions. A few credit unions exceed some Costa Rican banks’ asset sizes, and the banking industry has lobbied the country’s government and presented the cooperatives as an untapped source of tax revenue. “No matter how successful they are and no matter where they’re located, credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives and should not be taxed,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. “Our goal is to help Costa Rican lawmakers understand the differences between credit unions and banks and legislate appropriately.” Gary Wolter, Alabama league president/CEO, and Vicki Williams, league senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, met with Sanchez April 23. Sanchez spoke favorably about credit unions as a way to help the country’s rural poor. He appreciated the solidarity shown by WOCCU in support of Costa Rica’s credit unions and how external support might foster the growth of his country’s cooperatives, Sanchez added. Wolter and Williams also visited Costa Rica’s National Congress. WOCCU and FEDEAC officials pledged to monitor activities within Costa Rica’s legislature and respond to threats against the country’s credit unions. “Credit unions have been exceptionally important for the development of rural indigenous communities in this country,” said Jose Manuel Echandi, congressional representative for Costa Rica’s Independent Party. “Where communities previously were barely able to meet basic subsistence needs, they now have access to resources for building wealth and are expanding into new entrepreneurial activities.”

Papers address alternative payday loans lending excellence

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MADISON, Wis. (4/29/08)--Credit unions can learn how to develop a payday lending alternative program and about the 2007 Excellence in Lending Award winners in two new white papers from the CUNA Lending Council. “Payday Lending: The Credit Union Way” guides credit unions through the process of developing a payday-alternative loan program. The paper explains what payday loans are, who uses them, and possible alternatives to payday loans. The paper touches on options credit unions should consider when offering a short-term loan and includes an appendix to help with those decisions. The other white paper, “Building the Basics: 2007 Excellence in Lending Awards Recognize Results and Innovation,” describes the consumer lending, mortgage lending and lending to members of low-to-modest means programs of five credit unions: Sound CU, Tacoma, Wash.; 360 FCU, Windsor Locks, Conn.; Boulder Valley CU, Boulder, Colo.; Syracuse Cooperative FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.; and North Island CU, Chula Vista, Calif. CUNA Council members can receive complimentary copies of the papers; non-members can purchase the white papers for $50 per copy. For more information, use the links.

Study Use of contactless payment cards to double

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SAN FRANCISCO (4/29/08)--Contactless technology will become mainstream for payment card transactions--with 57 million consumers using chip-embedded credit cards to make payments by 2013, more than doubling the 24.8 million in 2008, according to a recent study. The report, released by Javelin Strategy and Research, notes that the promotion of non-network payment products will drive acceptance, thwart competition and pave the path for mobile payments. The products will lead to radical changes in personal finance, Javelin said. However, consumers won’t benefit from contactless payments until the primary players--card networks, financial institutions, mobile carriers, merchants and handset manufacturers--work toward a unified solution, said Javelin Founder/President James Van Dyke. Progress in the contactless payments area has been slowed because there isn’t sufficient incentive for merchants and wireless carriers to make investments that will enable contactless infrastructure development and evolution to mobile payments. Card networks must create acceptance among merchants and migration among wireless carriers with a step-by-step contactless-to-mobile conversion strategy that builds on consumers’ needs for simplicity, integrated financial management and control, the report said. “To drive the next phase of contactless payments, card networks must help merchants create competitive, desirable products: closed-loop gift cards and private label cards,” said Bruce Cundiff, Javelin director of payments research and consulting. “This will create a robust contactless infrastructure, hinder the development of products and networks from threatening powerhouses such as PayPal and Google, and spur wireless carriers to push the speed of near field communications-based (NFC) technology.” NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology used to exchange data between devices within four inches of each other.

Former teller sentenced to eight-plus years embezzled 7 million

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (4/29/08)--A former teller at Obelisk FCU was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison for embezzling $7 million from the credit union between 2003 and March 2007. The sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton at a hearing in New Albany, Ind. Patricia Helen Sherman, Louisville, Ky., pleaded guilty and received the minimum prison term under sentencing guidelines (Louisville Courier Journal April 26). The embezzlement loss led to the financial downfall of the decades-old credit union in New Albany, the newspaper said. Obelisk was taken over last summer by Central CU, a $717 million asset, Columbus, Ind.-based credit union. Hamilton also sentenced Sherman to five years of supervised release following her prison term, and ordered her to pay restitution of $7,012,900 to the credit union. Sherman hid stacks of $100 bills while inside the credit union vault and then regularly altered financial records to conceal the shortfall, authorities said. The thefts came to the attention of the credit union in March 2007 when an employee confronted Sherman about a discrepancy between the vault’s cash balance and the ledger, court records said.

CU System briefs (04/28/2008)

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* COLUMBIA, Md. (4/29/08)--For the first time, the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association's (MDDCCUA) board elections will be conducted online (Focus Newsletter April 28). In 2007, MDDCCUA's members approved bylaws to allow it to conduct its election electronically. The election will employ a secure, third-party balloting system provided by VoteNet Solutions, which will also act as tellers of election. Five candidates are running for four seats, each with a three-year term. Candidates are: are Miguel Boluda Jr., incumbent, CEO, PAHO-WHO FCU; Chris Conway, incumbent, CEO, Educational Systems FCU; Charles Mallon, incumbent, CEO, Congressional FCU; Joe Sparacino, chairman, Montgomery County Employees FCU; and Rod Staatz, incumbent, SECU CU … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/29/08)--Central Macomb Community CE has teamed up with the Clinton Township of Michigan Works to help the area's unemployed find new jobs. It is conducting an hour-long workshop on how to create a cover letter and resume, the importance of professional image and appearance, and how to answer tough interview questions. The workshop will be held the second Thursday of each month. The credit union is also organizing a clothing drive to assist job seekers inmaking a strong first impression (Michigan Monitor April 28) … * BAY CITY, Mich. (4/29/08)--For the third consecutive year, FinancialEdge Community CU has partnered with United Way of Bay County Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Bay County Division on Aging to provide low- to moderate-income individuals and families with free access to file for state and federal income tax credits and refunds. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is housed at the credit union. This year's program helped file 1,256 tax returns and brought $699,354 back to area residents. FinancialEdge also offered free tax filing online through "Just File It!" program, where taxpayers can file their return via the credit union's website … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/29/08)--A delegation of 11 CEOs and board chairman/presidents from India's cooperative banks visited credit unions nationwide this month, including Las Vegas-based Community One FCU and Los Angeles-based Water and Power Community
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
FCU. The group met with Community One FCU President/CEO Alan Pughes and his board and executive staff at the $169.5 million asset credit union. Pughes provided the credit union's history, and Vice President of Marketing Jerry Rosen presented a marketing overview. At the $432.8 million asset Water and Power Community FCU, the group met with CEO Carl Stewart (sixth from right), Orange County’s CU CEO Shruti Miyashiro, USC CU Chief Information Officer Sona Bodiwala, and WesCorp Vice President of Marketing Kevin Lytle. The delegation also visited the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in New York; Credit Union Central of Canada and Credit Union Central of Ontario; and the World Council of Credit Unions, the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Wis. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League) … * DUBLIN (4/29/08)--The Irish League of Credit Unions marked its 50th anniversary during its annual general meeting in Limerick on Saturday. Uel Adair, president, addressed the conference on its developments since its beginnings in 1958. Nearly three million people are members of 521 branches of credit unions in Ireland (Evening Herald April 26) …

Wisconsin CUs receive governors fin lit award

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MADISON, Wis. (4/28/08)--Wisconsin credit unions were presented recently with the Governor's Financial Literacy Award, the second time the state's credit unions have collectively received the award. According to the Wisconsin Credit Union League, this year's award was for providing the state's 603 high schools with financial education resources for teachers and students. Credit unions also received the award in 2006 for their REAL Solutions initiative (The League April 25). During the awards presentation by First Lady Jessica Doyle, credit unions also received a proclamation signed by Gov. Jim Doyle commemorating National Credit Union Youth Week, which was last week. Representatives from Alta FCU of LaCrosse, Community First CU of Appleton and CoVantage CU of Antigo were honored as the state's top Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award winners.

Indirect lending growth addressed during CUAC session

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (4/28/08)--Indirect lending is a key source of credit union membership growth, but it is difficult to deepen relationships with indirect borrowers, attendees at the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC)'s 74th Annual Meeting were told last week. Relationships with indirect borrowers are fragile and their profitability is questionable, said Heather Thiltgen, vice president, consumer segment programs at CUNA Mutual Group. Thiltgen stressed the importance of deepening relationships with indirect borrowers in a session on "Building Members from Indirect Borrowers, Lessons Learned." She profiled two credit unions that are successful in attracting members via indirect lending: Altra FCU in LaCrosse, Wis., and BCU in Vernon Hills, Ill. Atlra focuses on the dealer and underscores its dealer relationship to drive the business, she said. This method generated 90% of business from local dealers. Alta also sells its finance managers on the membership, and the dealer account representative is an indirect buyer. Thiltgen noted Altra works with dealers and does not deny loans based on score alone. It also practices cross-selling strategies. Dealer account reps review credit reports, cross-selling through the finance manager. The credit union follows up with a welcome letter two weeks later, then a newsletter within the month, she said. As a result, indirect borrowers took out 49% additional products from Altra, or 1.72 services per member--excluding the basic share account or indirect loan. At BCU, the focus was on outbound sales and attention to personal contact. BCU uses the consultative sales approach by emphasizing benefits, asking open-ended questions, and being sensitive to time and circumstances, Thiltgen said. The credit union has aggressive incentives and tracks results, which were an 82% contact rate for January. Also, 40% of members contacted accepted additional products and services. The average amount of loan or credit card balances per attempt was $1,761, she said. CUNA Mutual Group's Indirect Borrowers Pilot was designed using best practices to help credit unions deep relationships with new indirect borrowers, increase credit union loan balances and non-interest income, and make ongoing marketing efforts more effective, she said. The pilot indicates that members are receptive to outbound calls and the welcome/service approach has relationship-building benefits. Thiltgen advised that a credit union should:
* Dedicate resources to making its program successful; * Verify compliance with regulations surrounding use of credit data; * Obtain technology/systems support needed; * Track the results; * Keep in mind that auto loans are seasonal and consider other outbound opportunities such as new member onboarding programs; and * Price for relationship.
More than 500 credit union people, representing 62 credit unions, attended CUAC's convention, which was held in Colorado Springs Thursday and Friday.

Vote for ICU MagazineI 2008 Hero of the Year

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MADISON, Wis. (4/28/08)--Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement’s heroes by having the movement help select the 2008 Hero of the Year. Credit union leaders have nominated four CU heroes:
* Lynda Hamilton, CEO, Houston (Texas) Teamsters FCU. She has worked 41 years saving, serving and supporting small credit unions; * Bill Myers, retired CEO, Alternatives FCU, N.Y. He retires this month after 28 years as sole CEO of the $51 million asset credit union; * Larry Stapleton, president/CEO, United Southeast FCU, Bristol, Tenn. His credit union was one of the pilots for CUNA Mutual Group's Lending Plan in the early 1970s; and * Mendell Thompson, president/CEO, America’s Christian CU, Glendora, Calif. He has served as president/CEO of the $220 million asset credit union since 1986.
To read about the nominees and vote, use the link. Voting ends May 15. The winner will be posted on the Credit Union Magazine website by June 2. CU Heroes will be honored at the Credit Union National Association’s 2008 America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo, June 29-July 2 in New York City.

Oregon CUs people helping paws program benefits community

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/28/08)--Oregon credit unions presented a $1,000 donation April 3 to Lane County Animal Services as a part of their “people helping paws” program.
Click to view larger image Kylie Belachaikovsky (holding check), volunteer and outreach coordinator for Lane County Animal Services, accepted a check from Oregon credit unions. The donation was the result of a statewide contest held with Oregon’s You Belong credit union awareness campaign. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of Oregon)
The donation came from a statewide contest held in conjunction with Oregon’s You Belong credit union awareness campaign. For the contest, consumers were asked, “How would you improve your community with $1,000?” The response rate was overwhemingly in favor of animal shelter services in Lane County. Northwest Community CU and SELCO Community CU, both of Eugene, donated an additional $1,000 each to bring the total to $3,000. During the check presentation, Kylie Belachaikovsky, volunteer and outreach coordinator for the animal shelter, noted that people who rely on the shelter systems often have lower or no incomes “We have formed strong partnerships with several Lane County non profit agencies whose focus is low- or no-income pet owners and services, not only for their pets, but also for abandoned and homeless animals,” said Jan Burch, director of community involvement, SELCO Community CU. “SELCO understands the need for support from local area businesses and is proud to make a difference.” Check presentation attendees included contest entrants and Lane County residents Rita Castillo and Lori Smith, who were in favor of supporting the shelter; and staffers from the Credit Union Association of Oregon; SELCO Community CU; Northwest Community CU; Oregon Community CU, Eugene; Oregonians FCU, Portland; and O.U.R. FCU, Shelton.

Carolina CU Services elects new board members

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (4/28/08)--Two new board members were elected to serve on the Carolina Credit Union Services (CCUS) board of directors. Joy Watts, president/CEO, Carolina Postal CU, Charlotte, and Judy Tharp, president/CEO, Piedmont Aviation CU, Winston-Salem, will serve three-year terms. CCUS oversees the network of shared branching locations in North Carolina. Watts was re-elected to a second three-year term on the board. She has been CEO of Carolina Postal CU since 1997. Watts served on several committees of the North Carolina Credit Union League and the credit committee for the First Carolina Corporate CU. Tharp worked in senior leadership positions for Founders CU and South Carolina CU. She also served as an officer of CUNA Mutual Group, overseeing lending strategy and solution development. Tharp has been active in a variety of credit union leadership organizations.

Report CUs keeping key presence in auto loan market

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/28/08)--Credit unions’ performance in the auto lending marketplace mirrored the performance of banks and other financial institutions in 2007, according to CU Direct Corp. (CUDL).
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The annual report, which highlights key credit union auto lending trends and statistics during the course of the previous year, indicated that credit unions maintained a significant market presence in 2007. Of all auto loans originated last year, 16.9% were through credit unions--down slightly from 18.0% in 2006, according to the report. Likewise, banks’ market share declined to 32.6% in 2007 from 34.2% in 2006. CUDL, which administers the nation’s largest indirect and point-of-sale lending network for credit unions, has developed the Auto Lending Business Intelligence Report as a resource for credit union organizations to better understand credit unions’ role in the auto lending market, benchmark their performance and learn best practices. The network includes more than 500 credit unions and 9,000 automotive dealers nationwide. A key to credit unions’ success in 2007 was their ability to offer competitive financing to their members when compared with other lending institutions, the report said. Credit unions continued to offer low rates and flexible loan terms to grow loan volume, while other financial institutions turned to nonprime and subprime lending to boost their loan volumes. For instance, subprime loans made up nearly half of all the loans that finance companies originated in 2007. “Auto lending continues to be the one area in which credit unions hold a significant market share,” said CUDL Market Research Analyst Joe James. “In fact, there are five states in which an individual credit union is the top lender in the entire state.” The report also indicated that credit unions continue to effectively manage risk of their auto lending portfolios.

CU System briefs (04/25/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/28/08)--Two employees at York, Pa.-based First Capital FCU were credited for helping arrest a woman wanted for filling up her gas tank at a gas station, then leaving without paying, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 25). The employees, Gidget Smith and Tracey Hufnagle, saw a woman pull up her car into the credit union's parking lot and remove her license plate. The woman then drove to a nearby gas station to pump gas. Smith and Hufnagle called the store to warn of a possible drive-off. A gas station employee went outside and talked to the woman. She pulled up her car, as if to pay, and when the employee went inside, she took off. The employee followed her and got her license plate number when she stopped to put the plate back on, then called police. The woman was arrested … * DENVER (4/28/08)--Mortgage representatives from Westerra CU spent a day visiting with more than 3,500 realtors at the 2008 Realtor Rally in Denver. Attendees were drawn to the Westerra booth by an opportunity to have their picture taken sitting on a Harley Davidson motorcycle wearing biking gear provided by the credit union. "It gave our staff an opportunity to share information about the many programs we have available to assist their clients in obtaining a mortgage for their new home," said John McCloy, Westerra's chief lending officer. Pictured here is Westerra Chairman Kathy Betts, trying out the cycle. (Photo provided by Westerra CU) … * RIVERSIDE, Calif. (4/28/08)--Altura CU's marketing efforts earned 17 awards for its print ads, e-newsletters, billboards, radio and TV spots and more. Altura and its subsidiary, Auto Expert, earned the awards from the Inland Empire Ad Club at its annual ADDY Awards. The program, sponsored by the American Advertising Federal, is the first of a three-tier national competitition. Inland Empire's competition received 455 entries …

CUs offer a variety of environmental efforts

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MADISON, Wis. (4/28/08)--Credit unions have a lot to offer members and their communities through their efforts to help the environment, and they are finding a variety of ways to go green.
First graders from Klondike Elementary School water a tree they helped plant on Arbor Day in an event sponsored by Purdue Employees FCU and West Lafayette, Ind., Parks Department. (Photo provided by Purdue Employees FCU)
In West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue Employees FCU (PEFCU) partnered with the West Lafayette Parks Department and a first grade class from Klondike Elementary School to plant trees donated by the credit union in Celery Bog. The trees were planted Friday, which was Arbor Day in the community. Students received a gift bag from the credit union that contained a Colorado Blue Spruce seeding to plant at home. The $475 million asset credit union also celebrated the fact that its members saved 22 trees per month in 2007 by choosing to receive eStatements rather than traditional paper statements in the mail. In Washougal, Wash., Columbia CU made donations totaling $3,000 to two parks on April 22 to celebrate the opening of the Vancouver-based credit union's green Washougal branch.
From left: Columbia CU President/CEO Parker Cann presents the credit union's donation for Washougal, Wash., parks to Cheri Martin, Vancouver-Clark Parks Foundation; Janice Ferguson and Suzanne Bachelder, Washougal Parks Foundation board members; and Henry Gerhard, Vancouver-Clark Parks Foundation. (Photo provided by Columbia CU)
President/CEO Parker Cann presented the checks to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Washougal Parks to aid in the funding of education programs for Steigerwald and to help finance improvements at Hathaway Park. The new branch, built to LEED standards, uses natural resources. It harvests rain for plumbing and irrigation, and its natural ventilation will cool the branch during warmer months. A skylight and high-efficiency HVAC system reduce electricity needs. The branch also features local Camas stone and lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for environmentally responsible harvesting methods. Seventy-five percent of construction waste from building the branch was diverted from landfills through using sustainable products and tracking materials and waste. In Raleigh, N.C., State Employees' CU (SECU) participated in the state's first annual Planet Earth Celebration April 19. SECU's partnerships with NC GreenPower and Advanced Energy prompted the invitation to the event. SECU staff and youth mascot Fat Cat provided information on the
State Employees' CU's youth mascot, Fat Cat, and volunteers employed an interactive Wheel of Knowledge--instead of tree-eating brochures and handouts--to provide information on environmental topics at a recent Planet Earth Celebration in Raleigh, N.C. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
credit union's green products, including mortgages, auto loans and e-statements. The credit union refrained from distributing paper brochures or handouts, but chose the interactive educational format using Fat Cat's "Wheel of Knowledge," which quizzed young visitors on topics such as recycling, energy conservation and environmental awareness. The credit union's members support 1.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy generated annually, resulting in an environmental impact equal to planting more than 200,000 trees. Staff also pointed out SECU Foundation's teacher housing initiative at Herford Pointe, which has Energy Star rating and green design. "Our ultimate goals are to not only help members keep money in their pockets, but also sustain North Carolina's natural resources, " said Leigh Brady, senior vice president of SECU's education services department. She added the Planet Earth Day event fits nicely with the 'Do the Right Thing' mentality of SECU's staff.

New fin-lit resources on cunapfi.org

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WASHINGTON (4/28/08)—Does financial literacy education really work? What’s on the minds and in the wallets of Generations X and Y? What advice do you have for the President’s council of financial literacy mavens? These are some of the reasons to visit cunapfi.org, CUNA’s financial literacy resource center. “The Financial Literacy Task Force under CUNA board member and former Chair Juri Valdov recommended that CUNA develop a clearinghouse for anyone in the credit union movement who was looking for statistics, methods, and materials to improve the ability of members and potential members to manage their money wisely using credit union services,” explained Mark Condon , senior vice president of CUNA’s Research & Advisory Services. “We hope that financial literacy advocates throughout the credit union movement will use cunapfi.org as a jumping-off point for their efforts to help people of all ages and economic means make better use of their income and build wealth,” Condon added. Among the most recent additions to cunapfi.org:
* “Evidence and ideology in assessing the effectiveness of financial literacy education. (Research analysis from Lauren E. Willis, University of Pennsylvania Law School.) * “A look at the financial state of Gen X and Gen Y.” (A new study from the American Savings Education Council and AARP.) * “2008 parents and money survey.” (The views, behavior, and knowledge of spending, saving, borrowing, and earning money of American teenagers between the ages of 13-18, as seen through the eyes of their parents, from the Charles Schwab Corp.) * “Here’s your chance to tell the government what to do.” (An online soapbox for comments for the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy—requires free registration/login. * Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) statement on financial literacy and education.” (Congressional testimony from the FDIC’s Robert W. Mooney.)

CU System briefs (04/24/2008)

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* GREELEY, Colo. (4/25/08)--An accomplice in the slaying of an employee of a credit union in Greeley has been sentenced to nine years in prison. Michelle Moore, a former deputy sheriff, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to attempted first-degree murder for aiding Shawna Nelson in the execution-style murder Jan. 23, 2007, of Heather Garraus, an employee of Credit Union of Colorado (formerly Colorado State Employees CU). Nelson was convicted and sentenced to life in prison earlier this year (Fort Collins Coloradoan April 22) … * SUITLAND, Md. (/25/08)--Andrews FCU has selected Chris McDonald as president/CEO of the $810 million asset credit union, effective May 12. Board Chairperson Ruby B. DeMesme, made the announcement Thursday. McDonald has served as president/CEO of MobilOil FCU, Beaumont, Texas, for the past eight years. He has been in the financial industry since 1984 … * LEOMINSTER, Mass. (4/25/08)--James G. DiConza, former CEO/treasurer of People's Community CU (now Workers' CU) died Tuesday at the age of 62. DiConza served in the banking industry for 40 years. He was CEO/treasurer of the Leominster-based credit union until its 2006 merger with the Fitchburg, Mass.-based Workers' CU. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, two brothers and a sister (Worcester Telegram & Gazette April 23)) …

Eleven plead guilty in auto loan fraud ring

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (4/25/08)--Eleven people pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining almost $84,000 in car loans from Fort Campbell FCU’s first-time car buyer program. Attorneys with the U.S. Justice Department, Middle Tennessee District, announced the guilty pleas Tuesday (TheLeafChronicle.com April 23). The program at the $253 million asset, Clarksville, Tenn.-based credit union is designed to finance cars for soldiers and their families (NashvilleCityPaper.com April 23). Robert L. Manigo, Clarksville, and James K. Elliott, Linden, N.C., each pleaded guilty to one count of financial institution fraud in federal court. The other nine defendants each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud. Manigo, a former employee of Mathews Nissan Inc,, Clarksville, paid $100 to Elliott for each customer he brought to the dealership for the first-time buyers program to finance loans up to $10,000, according to court records. To be eligible for the program through the credit union, participants had to qualify for membership. The credit union’s field of membership includes military personnel and their families, along with select employee groups. Employing fake identification and Social Security numbers, the defendants obtained membership to the credit union. They also are accused of making false statements on loan applications and reporting incorrect amounts of down payments to the auto dealership. Sentencing will take place in about 90 days, prosecutors said. The credit union’s management was not available for comment at press time.

Centrix Chapter 11 re-org approved by court

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DENVER (4/25/08)--The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado Monday approved the Chapter 11 reorganization of Centrix Financial, a subprime auto lender whose clients included credit unions. Michael Richman, an attorney with the New York-based law firm of Foley & Lardner, confirmed to News Now that Judge Elizabeth E. Brown approved the reorganization and liquidation plans, and overruled objections to the reorganization during an oral ruling Monday. Richman represents the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which includes credit unions, in the case. "It's a tremendous success for the creditors in the case," Richman said. "They're pleased the judge has confirmed the Chapter 11 plans. The reorganization plan is the best opportunity for creditors to secure any money that might be handed out" through the liquidation process. The next step, he said, is to have the judge's confirmation order signed and entered into the court docket, and the plan consummated. He noted a liquidating trust has been formed to handle any potential claims being pursued. The trust will retain attorneys to carry on the litigation for recovering funds. Credit unions and other entities have claimed millions against the company's assets. Last year, Centrix's assets were sold to Falcon Investment Advisers, who traded more than $30 million in secured debt for control of Centrix's portfolio, which had $1.9 billion in subprime auto loans--most of them from credit unions--at the time (News Now Jan. 12, 2007).

Mass. governor awards Workers CU training grant

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FITCHBURG, Mass. (4/25/08)--Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced that the Workers' CU will receive $76,665 in Workforce Training Grant funding to train 151 employees. He made the announcement last week at a press conference at Fitchburg's City Hall. The grant is part of the administration's strategy to make investments that create a culture of opportunity focused on restrained spending and long- and short-term investment, while preparing for the effects of a softening economy, he said. Training will be in a range of areas. The state in the next 90 days will expedite the release of more than $18 million in grants to 200 companies throughout Massachusetts to train more than 16,000 workers in every region of the state. "The funds from the grant will be used to improve the skills and knowledge of our employees through programs such as innovation and team building, financial management, business lending and sales, advanced computer software and continuous quality improvement," said Workers' CU President/CEO Frederick D. Healey in a press release. "Our goal in training is to maximize the value of our internal human resources so that we can better serve our members and local businesses. The grant will go a long way in helping us reach this goal," Healey added. Workers CU has $550 million in assets and serves more than 63,000 members.

Puerto Rican CU now associate member of NY league

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LATHAM, N.Y. (4/25/08)--A meeting among Puerto Rican cooperativas, the New York State Credit Union League and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) turned into a historic event when Luis Lopez, president of Abraham Rosa Cooperativa, announced that his credit union will become the first from Puerto Rico to become an associate member of the league.
New York State Credit Union League Senior Vice President Michael Lanotte helps representatives of 23 credit unions from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix navigate through the league’s website at a recent gathering in Puerto Rico. (Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League)
An initiative for advancing the partnership, which was first announced August 2005, was on the table for all who participated in a recent gathering in Puerto Rico. “I look forward to this next step in our partnership with the New York league,” said Lopez. “I am confident that the league and our credit union will both benefit from this enhanced relationship.” It is the first partnership to experience league membership as an outcome. The new approach to associate membership was the result of the partnership program that brought the league and the credit unions of Puerto Rico together. “It is very rewarding seeing Puerto Rico and New York credit union systems cooperating,” said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU international partnerships manager. “In the end, it’s the members who we worry about and they are the focus of this partnership." “We couldn’t be happier with the growth and expansion that has occurred as a result of this unique partnership,” said Michael Lanotte, league senior vice president. “It becomes more evident as the partnership develops that both partners are learning from one another. “The league provides a level of specific credit union operational and technical support, while the credit unions, based on the manner in which they approach serving their members and working with others, provide a blueprint on how the credit union philosophy can be lived on a daily basis,” he continued. The meeting also marked another milestone--the expansion of the partnership to include credit unions in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thirty-two individuals representing 23 credit unions from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix participated in the meeting. The league, represented by Lanotte, provided education sessions on current compliance topics, such as ID theft, business continuity planning and third-party vendor due diligence. Marc Inger, chief operating officer of UsNet, presented an introduction to shared branching. Dirck Van Deusen, senior vice president of Corporate Relations for Members United Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill., provided an overview of the roles of corporate credit unions. WOCCU currently has 28 international partnerships between credit union movements in developing countries and leagues in the U.S. and Canada.

CUNA Mutual union ratify contract agreement

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/08)--CUNA Mutual Group has signed a four-year contract agreement with the Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 39. “We set our priorities early,” said Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill, chief steward for CUNA Mutual’s represented staff. “They included job security, quality improvement, improved customer relationships, an improved relationship between the company and community, and wages and benefits. The new contract addressed all of our priorities in some aspect and we look forward to a new beginning.” Key components of the contract include:
* A commitment to build a better working relationship between the company and the union; * A commitment to work jointly on continuous quality improvement; * Across-the-board pay increases for represented employees of 2% in 2008 and 3% in each of the final three years of the contract; * An increase in health-care premium cost-sharing; * Benefits including pension, 401(k); health retirement account; dental and vision coverage; vacation; sick leave and personal days; and short- and long-term disability coverage; and * A buyout program for longer-service employees.
The agreement also provides wage increases and a 12-month moratorium on reductions in the work force as a result of outsourcing, subcontracting or transfer of work involving represented staff.

SECUs tax program saved consumers 8 million in credits

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/25/08)--State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) staff helped 15,000 qualifying individuals claim more than $8 million in tax credits over a three-month span.
Mark Coburn (right), a State Employees’ Credit Union employee, helps a North Carolina consumer with income tax preparation through the credit union’s participation in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. (Photo provided by State Employees’ Credit Union)
Through participation in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA), the credits included earned income tax credits of $4.7 million and child tax credits of over $2.3 million, with a total of $14 million in tax refunds. Since VITA services are free, those who were helped by the program also saved more than $2.2 million in tax preparation fees. All 217 SECU branches served as VITA sites this year--the first year the credit union had participated, with two trained SECU employees serving as VITA representatives in each branch. SECU partnered with Local Government FCU, Raleigh, and the IRS to offer the VITA service, which assists low- to moderate-income taxpayers in claiming eligible tax credits and avoiding tax return preparation fees. “The VITA program is just one more way SECU has made a difference for North Carolinians and reaffirmed our mission,” said Shirley Bell, SECU board of directors chairman. “Keeping money in the pockets of our members is key to helping ensure their financial success, and the VITA service was instrumental in allowing SECU to assist North Carolinians in claiming their tax credits and refunds, placing millions of dollars into North Carolina’s economy,” she said.

Alabama league presents awards at symposium

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/25/08)--The Alabama Credit Union League presented its awards during its 75th Annual Membership Meeting and Education Symposium in Birmingham last week. Presented Merit Awards in their asset category were:
* TVH FCU, Tuskegee; * Alabama River Employees CU, Perdue Hill; * Riverdale CU, Selma; * Tuscaloosa Teachers CU, Tuscaloosa; * First Educators CU, Birmingham; and * Family Security CU, Decatur.
Dorothy "Dot" Martin, supervisory committee chairman of Alabama CU, accepts the Alabama Credit Union League's Volunteer of the Year award from league Chairman Steve Swofford, president of Alabama CU. (Photo provided by the Alabama Credit Union League)
The 2007 Chapter Excellence Award went to Tuscaloosa Chapter of Credit Unions for its impact on its community and the state, and for exemplifying leadership and community involvement. Alabama Credit Union Legislative Action Council (ACULAC) presented two awards: Family Security CU was named 2007 ACULAC Credit Union of the Year, and America's First FCU, Birmingham, was awarded the Deduct-a-Buck Credit Union of the Year Award. The Brother's Keeper Award, which recognizes credit unions that donate time, staff and resources to help other credit unions, went to two credit unions: Mutual Savings CU, Birmingham, and Alabama River Employees CU. Dorothy "Dot" Martin, supervisory committee chairman for Alabama CU, Tuscaloosa, was named the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. Martin has served as a credit union volunteer for 28 years.

Strategic Planning Institute to precede ACUC

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MADISON, Wis. (4/25/08)--Credit union professionals can attend a strategic planning institute before the America’s Credit Union Conference and Expo (ACUC&E), hosted by Credit Union National Association. in New York City. The institute, June 27-29, in New York City, is designed to help attendees develop and execute effective research-based strategies to meet the challenges of member expectations. Attendees will learn about today’s business environment and how to identify their credit union’s position to better direct its course. They also will discuss ways to capitalize on trends and future opportunities to help their credit unions capture a stronger position in the market. The ACUC&E, June 29 to July 2, will feature topics to educate executives, board members and key leaders in the credit union industry. HGTV co-founder Susan Packard will speak about “Now What? Innovating Ideas into Icons.” Author Dan Heath will speak on “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” Other June learning opportunities from CUNA:
* CUNA Marketing Management School: Part I, June 8-13, Seattle. It teaches the fundamentals of a well-rounded credit union marketing campaign; * CUNA Marketing Management School: Part II, June 8-13, Seattle. It explores how to get the credit union’s message out through multi-channel promotions using strategies targeted to different generations; * CUNA Marketing Management School: Part III, June 8-13, Seattle. It takes a look at credit union financials and marketing compliance; and * Financial Counseling eSchool, June 12-Aug. 7. It studies the financial counselor’s role in budget counseling.
For more information, use the links.

Maine legislature adjourns without municipal deposits bill

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AUGUSTA, Maine (4/25/08)--An amendment to a Maine bill that would have allowed state and municipal agencies to deposit funds in credit unions--already allowed in banks and thrifts--died Friday with the adjournment of the state legislature from its current session. “We let it die. It wasn’t our bill to begin with, and in fact was an amendment to the bill,” said Jon Paradise, manager of government/public affairs for the Maine Credit Union League. The bill, Legislative Document 2226, titled “An Act to Amend the Laws Governing the State’s Cash Investment Policies,” was introduced originally by a state senator. The amendment was made by the state treasurer, Paradise told News Now. It was basically a policy issue with the state treasurer and would have put some restrictions on the treasurer’s office, Paradise explained. “We let the bill die because it wasn’t worth placing our credit union friends on both sides of the aisle [in the state legislature] in an uncomfortable position of trying to help credit unions, but also being against other provisions of the bill,” Paradise said. Bankers opposed the bill because they didn’t want credit unions to obtain the enhanced deposit capabilities, Paradise said. If there is enough interest from credit unions, the league intends to introduce a stand-alone bill in the next state legislative session in January that would give credit unions the deposit capability without involving other policy issues, Paradise said.

How-to-Book includes section on How to Choose a CU

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. (4/25/08)--The Allentown Morning Call has outlined how a potential member might choose a credit union in its “How-To-Book.” It devotes a “chapter” to credit unions. Those who are looking to join a credit union should contact the Credit Union National Association through its website, www.cuna.org, or at 800-358-5710, the book recommended. Pennsylvania residents can look for a credit union using the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s website, www.iBelong.org. The book describes the difference between banks and credit unions, noting that credit unions are non profit, adhere to the pledge of “people helping people,” and work to serve their members. “Whether it’s providing a loan to help a member cover unexpected medical bills or simply offering a better deal on a used-car loan, credit unions make a difference for their members and the communities they serve,” the book said. They also offer better rates and terms than banks, the book noted. Jeff Albert, senior vice president and chief operating officer with Allentown-based People First FCU, which is a community-chartered credit union serving members in several counties, also is quoted. “We recognized that the local financial market was changing, as large banks entered the area, leaving no local financial service provider,” Albert told The Morning Call. “We wanted to be able to provide local credit union services to anyone in Lehigh Valley and requested a change to our field of membership. “A community charter was provided and now anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Lehigh or Northampton counties can join and take advantage of the low or no-cost financial services available at People First,” he said.

Study Economic downturn pressuring card issuers

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NEEDHAM, Mass. (4/25/08)--The combination of higher credit card losses and lower consumer spending in today's economy will cause credit card return on assets (ROA) for 2008 to drop at least 15% below last year's levels, according to a recent study. The 2007 levels already were lower than 2006 ROA levels, said TowerGroup, a financial services research and consulting firm based in Needham, Mass. Banks have long relied on strong ROA performance from credit cards to boost their profits.
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However, TowerGroup also found that credit card issuers can still tap revenue opportunities by focusing their business strategies on member/customer retention and expansion, rather than acquisition. The subprime mortgage crisis and a spillover of charge-offs into other areas of consumer lending forced consumers to rely more heavily on credit cards as an alternative to secured lending, said TowerGroup's report. That has sharply increased card delinquencies, which means the credit card issuers' prospects for getting new cardholder accounts is "increasingly risky," it said. Card issuers, including credit unions, can take lessons from the past economic downturns such as the 1990 recession and focus efforts on their current member/customers. "To succeed in today's economy, issuers must implement more customer-centric business models--approaches that identify ways to reward existing customers and encourage continued loyalty and card use," TowerGroup said. Such approaches will allow issuers to closely monitor macro-level portfolio metrics--such as outstanding balances, delinquency, bankruptcy and charge-off rates--which can impact earnings negatively. The study's report, "Credit Crisis: What Card Issuers Can Learn from Previous Economic Downturns," by Dennis Moroney, senior analyst of TowerGroup's bank cards research service, explains strategies for card issuers.

Virginia league Estonian co-ops sign as partners

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (4/25/08)--The Virginia Credit Union League (VCUL) signed a partnership agreement with the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives (EUCC) April 11 to provide support and expertise to the Baltic country’s growing cooperative movement.
The Virginia Credit Union League has entered into an international partnership with credit cooperatives in Estonia. Seated, from left are: league president Rick Pillow, World Council of Credit Unions International Partnerships manager Victor Corro, and Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives executive director Andrus Ristkok; and standing, Northwest FCU Senior Vice President of External Affairs Juri Valdov, who will help coordinate the partnership efforts of Virginia's credit unions. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“Our hope is that we can have a lasting impact on the Estonian movement by helping its cooperatives better prepare for both the challenges and opportunities before them,” said Rick Pillow, VCUL president. The Estonian credit union movement is small and is faced with a market dominated by Scandinavian banks. The EUCC--Estonia’s version of a credit union league--consists of 11 credit unions and 2,693 members. The credit unions have a 0% delinquency because they operate like savings clubs and in some cases, make only 100% share-secured loans. They account for less than 1% of the country’s financial services market, but want to play a larger role, said Victor Miguel Corro, World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships manager. Virginia credit unions already have experience with the Estonian credit union movement because Juri Valdov, former president and now senior vice president of external affairs for Northwest FCU, Herndon, Va., visited Estonia in August 2007. The Estonian credit union movement has tremendous growth opportunities, Valdov said. The nation’s free-market economy is being rebuilt, and the vast majority of its citizens have increasing economic opportunities and higher standards of living. “Financial cooperatives are not new to Estonia,” Valdov said. “They existed years before the Soviet occupation and now are attempting a comeback. “I view our effort as an attempt to revitalize credit cooperatives in a nation that has a proud cooperative history,” he added. The partnership brings the total number of WOCCU international partnerships between U.S. credit union leagues or Canadian credit union centrals with credit union movements in development countries to 28.

NCUF offers new grants for CU innovations

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WASHINGTON (4/24/08)--Credit unions and their partners are eligible to apply for new “Innovation Grants” from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The grants align with NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions. While participation in REAL Solutions is not required to apply for a grant, NCUF seeks applications for innovative projects in any of REAL Solutions’ five service areas:
* Education. Grants can assist credit unions participating in national financial education programs including Biz Kid$, Junior Achievement, and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), or support initiatives consistent with the education components of REAL Solutions: financial counseling, product awareness, and staff training. * Transaction Services. The grants can support credit unions with programs to provide check-cashing, money orders, remittances, fee-free checking, tax preparation, and other services to attract underserved consumers. * Savings. They can support programs that promote savings awareness, offer low membership fees, provide safe accounts for new immigrants, and help members with low wealth establish long-term savings. * Credit. The grants can support credit unions offering small loans--including payday-loan alternatives, used-car loans that help low-wealth members reach better jobs or higher education--and internal projects such as revising loan policies and building staff awareness to serve people of modest means better. * Homeownership. Grants can support credit unions offering Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) mortgages, homeownership counseling, and services that help members with lower credit scores become first-time homebuyers. Although credit unions were not the cause of the subprime mortgage crisis, Innovation Grants can support credit unions’ efforts as part of the solution. For example, grants could help fund foreclosure prevention and affordable refinancing of subprime mortgages.
Applications are due to NCUF by June 30. The amount of grant money available will depend on how much credit unions invest in the Community Investment Fund (CIF). Credit unions interested in investing can contact NCUF or their corporate credit union.

Membership growth Web survey is now online

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/08)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force has announced that its online survey designed for credit unions to share experiences related to their membership-growth efforts can now be accessed. The short survey is on CUNA's website at: http://advice.cuna.org/surveys/growthbestpractice.htm “The information provided by respondents will be analyzed and reported, and credit unions interested in sharing their membership-growth best practices and creative approaches may be featured in upcoming issues of News Now,” said Jon Haller, CUNA’s director of market and corporate research. The survey is one of three interactive applications on the Web designed to help credit unions share their growth successes. The other initiatives include the opening of an e-mail account established for the task force at CUNAMGTF@cuna.coop and the opportunity to join the CUNA Membership Growth Discussion Group. For more information, use the links.

ITheStreet.comI author CUs online banking a plus

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NEW YORK (4/24/08)--Credit unions receive attention in a personal finance guide's chapter on choosing an online bank. The excerpt from "You're So Money: Live Rich Even When You're Not" was featured Tuesday on TheStreet.com. The excerpt from the book by Farnoosh Torabi, senior correspondent for TheStreet.com, lists five things to consider in picking an Internet bank. No. 2 on the list is: "Check in with credit unions." Torabi has had saving and checking accounts with the Digital CU, a $3.9 billion asset credit union based in Marlborough, Mass., since she was 17. She notes the benefits of credit unions as not-for-profit institutions, including "they don't have to subject their banking clients to exorbitant fees, like for-profit banks do." She mentions one caveat: credit unions have fewer branches and ATMs, and since she moved to New York, it's impossible to visit a DCU branch. However, she hasn't needed to go to a branch the past 10 years because of the credit union's online presence, which she called "crucial" to her being a member. She suggested readers check out CUNA's consumer website, www.creditunion.coop, as a place to locate a credit union. For the full article, use the link.

Colorado associations annual meeting begins today

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (4/24/08)--The Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) kicks off its 74th Annual Meeting and Convention today in Colorado Springs, with more than 500 people attending. "Chart Your Future" is the theme for the 2008 annual meeting, which ends Saturday. The kickoff event today will be the Credit Union Foundation of Colorado and Wyoming's Annual Spring Golf Tournament, with more than 140 participants. Proceeds will benefit the foundation's programs. Guest speakers at Friday's annual business meeting will include Gigi Hyland, National Credit Union Administration Board member; Don Davidson, vice president of Credit Union System Relations, CUNA Mutual Group; Thomas R. Graham, President/CEO of SunCorp; and Chris Myklebust, commissioner, Colorado Division of Financial Services. Friday's keynoter will be David Goldsmith, business forecaster and management strategist, speaking on "Creating New Opportunities by Redefining the Future." A number of breakout sessions will be conducted Friday, which ends with a reception hosted by the National Credit Union Foundation and REAL Solutions to celebrate the kickoff of a new partnership among CUAC, Credit Union Strategic Partners, the state foundation and REAL Solutions. Saturday's sessions will focus on cooperative social responsibility with a panel discussion, "Leveraging Social Responsibility for Growth," and more breakout sessions. Saturday's luncheon speaker will be Ron Galloway, producer/director of "Why Wal-Mart Works," speaking on competitive threats to the credit union industry and how credit unions can respond. At a reception hosted by the Credit Union Political Action Committee, Rep. John Soper will receive the John Sheehey Award as outstanding legislator for his support of credit unions in Colorado.

Calif. league-backed data security bill passes assembly

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/24/08)--The California Credit Union League and state consumers scored a legislative victory with the passage of Assembly Bill 1779 to protect data and credit card information from identity theft. The California Assembly approved the bill on a 75-0 bipartisan vote. “With unopposed passage through two committees and the Assembly floor, it’s quite obvious the California Legislature is in agreement that AB 1779 is the ticket to further protecting Californians from future data security breaches,” said Bill Cheney, league president/CEO. “We are confident the bill will be received in similar fashion by legislators in the Senate.” The bill, introduced by Sacramento Assemblyman Dave Jones, seeks to ensure that California retailers and government agencies protect consumers’ sensitive financial data and take responsibility for any unauthorized access of that information. The bill represents a framework for discussions that began in 2007 when the league and Jones joined forces to send AB 779 to the governor’s desk. AB 779 was vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That bill was opposed by the California Retailers Association, the California Grocers Association, and the California Chamber of Commerce, said Keri Bailey, league director of state government affairs. “What the governor asked us to do is to work with the opponents of the bill to deal with their concerns,” Bailey said. The opposition’s concerns are mostly about how the data protection standards are developed, and about the liability issue--the reimbursement provisions of the bill, Bailey told News Now. “Most of the discussion with the opposition has been centered on the reimbursement part of the bill,” Bailey explained. “For instance, they want to know if a merchant is meeting all the protection standards, does it have the same liability as those merchants who are not even trying to meet them?” The California league is going through “one more round with the governor’s office” with input from the bill’s opposing parties, Bailey said. The legislation then moves on to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing, where it is slated to be considered before the fiscal deadline of Aug. 31.

Indianas newest CU marks first anniversary

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (4/24/08)--Union Baptist Church (UBC) FCU celebrated its first anniversary April 12 with an event at the church in Fort Wayne.
Click to view larger imageUnion Baptist Church FCU celebrated its one-year anniversary April 12 at the church. From left: UBC FCU President/CEO Herb Singleton; Board Chairman Rev. Al Cotton; National Credit Union Administration Region III Director Alonzo Swann; Dave Fleming, Partners 1st FCU; U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-3); Rev. Dr. Sylvester Hunter; Nancy Kline, Fire Police City County FCU; Lisa Williams, Pinnacle CU; and Indiana Credit Union League President John McKenzie. (Photo provided by the Indiana Credit Union league)
The event featured presentations and remarks from special guests representing the Indiana credit union community. The guests were joined by members from Congress and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Chartered in December 2006, UBC FCU was one of eight newly chartered credit unions in the U.S. last year. It began operations April 9, 2007, and serves the membership of the Union Baptist Church. UBC FCU President/CEO Herb Singleton opened the meeting reflecting on the credit union’s first year and expressed how gratifying it has been to see the credit union embraced so well by UBC membership. “To have completed our first year in business is a milestone we are thrilled to be celebrating,” he said. U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-3), whose district includes Fort Wayne, congratulated everyone gathered at the event, commending UBC’s leadership on forming a credit union and on its positive influence in the community. He talked about the importance of community-based groups where people come together to assist each other. In his congratulatory remarks, NCUA Region III Director Alonzo Swann said the credit union leaders are at the beginning of a journey. Right now they are crawling and soon will be taking their first steps, he said. Swann said he looks forward to the day “when they are sprinting down the credit union road.” Swann also talked about the NCUA’s Small Credit Union Program, which provides support, and he encouraged UBC FCU leadership to continue to take advantage of this program and support available from the Indiana Credit Union League and other credit unions. League President John McKenzie congratulated everyone involved with making the formation of the credit union possible, from Rev. Dr. Sylvester Hunter--who is a credit union director and senior pastor of the church--and his vision for it, to Singleton and his efforts, to the members who have embraced it, to other Fort Wayne-area credit unions that have been so supportive. He also thanked Souder for his support of credit unions. The 21 charter members who initially formed UBC FCU each received framed certificates and a group plaque. Credit union colleagues who were instrumental in the credit union’s successful start were recognized at the event. Fort Wayne-area neighbors Fire Police City County FCU, Partners 1st FCU, Pinnacle CU, PROFED CU and Three Rivers FCU played key roles in helping establish UBC FCU. Nancy Kline, president, Fire Police City County FCU; Dave Fleming, president/ CEO, Partners 1st FCU; and Lisa Williams, president, Pinnacle CU, attended the event. Members United Corporate FCU sponsored the luncheon at the event. The meeting ended with remarks from Rev. Al Cotton, the UBC FCU board chairman, and Rev. Sylvester talking about his vision for the credit union.

CU System briefs (04/23/2008)

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* DUBLIN, Ohio (4/24/08)--The Ohio Credit Union League has sold its 23,000-square-foot building based in Dublin, Ohio, and will relocate staff to downtown Columbus during third quarter this year, said the league (eLumination Newsletter April 22). The move is part of the league's focus on credit union advocacy and support. It is exploring office space adjacent to Capitol Square. "The move will make the league and Ohio's credit unions more visible than ever in all realms that affect our movement's future," said league President Paul Mercer. The sales agreement permits the league to continue leasing space in its current building for up to six months … * SOMERSET, N.J. (4/24/08)--The credit union difference was the topic Saturday when New Jersey Credit Union League President/CEO Paul Gentile and Mid-State FCU President/CEO Tracy Sussman co-hosted "Ask the Expert," a radio show on WCTC 1450 A.M. (The Weekly Exchange April 21). They covered the basics of credit unions: What credit unions are, how they benefit members, the types of products they offer, and how to join. They also answered calls about the safety of money, whether credit unions offer direct deposit, and whether a member can remain a member if moving out of state … * TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/24/08)--Florida Bureau of Credit Unions Bureau Chief Sharon Whiddon has announced she will retire, effective June 30. Whiddon, who supervised Florida's state-chartered credit unions for 36 years, has headed the department for the past 20 years. The Bureau of Credit Unions is located in the state's Office of Financial Regulation … * DETROIT (4/24/08)--Earl Johnson, 40, of Detroit was sentenced to life in a federal prison with no parole for his role in a 2001 armored car robbery that left a guard dead. Johnson was convicted of conspiracy and murder in the incident, which occurred outside Dearborn FCU (Now DFCU Financial FCU) on Dec. 14, 2001. He was one of six men charged in the robbery and killing of 30-year-old Norman Stephens. Two other guards escaped injury by locking themselves inside the armored car. The robbers netted $204,000 (Associated Press Newswires April 23) … * ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/24/08)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) announced it has promoted three employees. Mike Athens was promoted to vice president of association services. In the accounting department, Derek Wright was promoted to vice president of finance and operations, and Elisa Furlan-Young was promoted to staff accountant …
* TULSA, Okla. (4/24/08)--The Oklahoma Credit Union League has hired Gary Jones to its new position as liaison to credit unions. According to Debra J. "DJ" Morrow Ingram, interim president/CEO, the liaison will be credit unions' day to day link with the league. Jones retired in November after 20 years as president of WilServ CU, Tulsa. He is a former board member and officer (The Journal Record April 22) …

Illinois league honors individuals CUs

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/24/08)--Several awards were presented to credit unions and individuals at the Illinois Credit Union League’s 78th Annual Convention last week. State-level Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility award honorees include:
* Streator Onized CU, Streator, first place, $50 million to $100 million in asset category; * Financial Plus CU, Ottawa, first place, $100 million to $200 million in assets; * Community Trust CU, Gurnee, second place, $100 million to $200 million in assets; * Consumers Cooperative CU, Waukegan, first place, $200 million to $500 million in assets; and * GCS FCU, Granite City, second place, $200 million to $500 million in assets.
GCS FCU and Consumers Cooperative CU also received first place for the Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award. Prairie Trail CU, Joliet, received first place for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award program in the $35 million to $75 million asset category. NuMark CU, Joliet, earned first place in the $75 million to $250 million category. CEFCU, Peoria, earned first place in the $250 million or more category. Gail Clore, CEO, Cornerstone FCU, Freeport, was honored as Executive of the Year. Clore is a member of the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES) Illinois Council. David Walker, CEO, Decatur Earthmover CU, Decatur, was inducted into the Illinois Credit Union Hall of Fame. Illinois Credit Union Foundation recognized tribute scholarships established in the honor of:
* Barbara Jackson, president/manager, Holy Cross Hospital Employees CU, Chicago; * Patricia Fox Johnson, president/manager, Sun-Times Employees CU, Chicago; * Marjorie Lindberg, chairman, VAMCO CU, Des Plaines; and * Ida Miller, CEO, VA West Side FCU, Chicago.
A memorial scholarship also was established in the name of David L. Christensen, board member, Prairie Trail CU, Joliet.

Palmetto State CUs elect league board

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (4/24/08)--Palmetto State credit unions elected four new directors and four incumbents to the South Carolina Credit Union League (SCCUL) board. Election results were announced April 19 at the SCCUL and Affiliates 2008 Annual Meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. New directors are: Melynda Ciochetti, president/CEO, Santee Cooper CU, Moncks Corner; Scott Conley, CEO, May Plant CU, Lugoff; Jerry Miller, president/CEO, Carolina Trust FCU, Myrtle Beach; and Patti Seymore, vice president of administration, SC Telco FCU, Greenville. Incumbents elected include: Bill Love, president/CEO, MTC FCU, Greenville; Linda Weatherford, vice president, SPC Cooperative CU, Hartsville; Scott Woods, president/CEP, SC FCU, N. Charleston; and Ray Partain, board chairman, Anderson (S.C.) FCU. The executive committee is: Love, chairman; Weatherford, first vice chairman; Woods, second vice chairman; Faye Crocker, Greater Abbeville FCU, Abbeville, secretary; Ed Templeton, president/CEO, SRP FCU, North Augusta, treasurer. Former chairman of the board Lee C. Gardner Jr., president and CEO of Family Trust FCU, Rock Hill, is an ex officio member, as is SCCUL President/CEO Garry Parks.

Earth Day prompts CU activities

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/08)--This year’s Earth Day, celebrated Tuesday, prompted credit unions to undergo activities to promote being environmentally friendly.
A group of Tinton Falls, N.J.-based United Teletech Financial FCU volunteers picked up litter during a beach sweep with Clean Ocean Action to celebrate Earth Day (Weekly Exchange April 21). (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
Belco Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., participated in the Adopt-A-Highway initiative April 19 for the second consecutive year. Credit union employees and their families gathered 16 bags of trash along the highway. Belco has adopted a section of a nearby interstate and committed to volunteer throughout the year. Belco’s Adopt-A-Highway program is a part of the credit union’s “Promise to Give” pledge. Employees voluntarily sign an agreement committing at least five hours of non- paid volunteer time. Boulder Valley CU, Boulder, Colo., celebrated Earth Day by hosting an Eco-Expo that featured more than 30 local environmentally
WesCorp employees Christy Villa, Marv Anders and Roy Griffis each receive a canvas grocery bag and a spruce seedling from Cathy Ryan and Margaret Newberry as a part of Earth Day activities at WesCorp FCU, San Dimas, Calif. The credit union handed out 500 reusable canvas grocery bags with the organization’s logo and message “Credit unions for a Greener America.” (Photo provided by WesCorp)
friendly businesses and organizations. The credit union also offers discount financing for fuel-efficient vehicles, solar panel additions and other green home improvement products. Service 1st FCU, Danville, Pa., is offering green loans for hybrid vehicles this week. Qualifying loans will receive a 1.00% discount on the loan rate, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 22). Philadelphia FCU celebrated Earth Day by gardening at Friends Hospital. Riverfront FCU, Reading, Pa., collected more than 100 computers, monitors, printers and keyboards to be recycled for new machines (Life is a Highway April 23).

Kansas CUs annual meeting set for this weekend

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/24/08)--More than 300 credit union staff and volunteers are expected to attend the 73rd Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) Annual Meeting and Convention in Wichita. Highlights Friday and Saturday are:
* Keynoter Steven Happel, professor of economics at the Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business, will highlight key demographic trends and statistics at the national and state level; * The KCUA board of directors and membership will review the association’s 2007 activities at the annual business meeting Saturday, and will discuss the focus on its strategic initiatives moving forward, including an education plan to implement Senate Bill 535, which involves field of membership issues for credit unions; * KCUA will honor credit unions and individuals who have been actively involved in the political process and award credit unions that have been involved in their communities and promote financial education; * The association also will honor the professional of the year, Marilyn Wells, Catholic Family FCU, Wichita; volunteer of the year, Robert Reeves, Kansas State University FCU, Manhattan; and credit union Hall of Fame inductee Lovelle Frazier, Topeka, for their outstanding service to the credit union movement; and * Several members of the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate will receive honors from the association at the annual business meeting.

CUNA HRTD Council elections held

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MADISON, Wis. (4/24/08)--The executive committee and officers for the CUNA HR/TD Council were announced during the council’s 14th annual conference, which ended yesterday in Boston. The CUNA HR/TD Council is a member-led council consisting of professionals dedicated to the promotion and advancement of human resources, training, and development professions in the credit union industry. This year’s officers are:
* Chair--Kent Streuling, vice president of human resources for America First FCU, Riverdale, Utah; * Vice Chair--Jennifer Morse, vice president of human resources, training, and development for Empower FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.; and * Secretary/Treasurer--Suzanne Oliver, vice president of educational services for Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah.
During recent elections, one incumbent and two new faces were elected to the executive committee:
* Incumbent--Lee Alderman Jr., assistant vice president of employee relations and development for Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif.; * New Member--Michelle Greear, manager of corporate training for Technology CU, San Jose, Calif.; and * New Member--Jeffrey Duke, leadership development consultant for BECU, Seattle.
Tammy Trudelle, vice president of human resources at Fort Worth Community CU, Bedford, Texas, and Craig R. Cobia, vice president, chief marketing officer/human resources director at Beehive FCU, Rexford, Idaho, are stepping down from the committee. Rounding out the board are:
* Jennifer Godel, assistant vice president of human resources and training for Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix; * Diana Wozniak, human resource manager for Tampa Bay FCU, Tampa, Fla.; * Michael Nicholas, vice president of human resources for United FCU, Buchanan, Mich.; and * Tracy Conner, vice president of professional development and member services for the New York State Credit Union League.

Youth Week in full swing at CUs

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NEW YORK (4/24/08)--Community development credit unions (CDCUs) are participating in this year’s National Credit Union Youth Week, hosted by the Credit Union National Association, with a variety of activities.
Carter FCU, Springhill, La., has visited nearly 275 students at local schools to celebrate National Credit Union Youth Week. During the visits, the credit union stressed how important it is to save for the future. Pictured is one youth who visited the credit union to make a deposit this week. (Photo provided by Carter FCU)
Alternatives FCU, Ithaca, N.Y., will give out pencils made from recycled U.S. currency to youth at their headquarters. The credit union, which has five in-school branches, will hold raffles at each branch. Students who make deposits will be eligible to win a prize. Generations Community CU, Durham, N.C., will waive membership fees at nine branches for youth who open accounts this week. “We’ll be teaching our youth about the differences between credit unions and banks and how they can save for the future,” said Nathan Farrior, Generations mortgage officer. “Building on this year’s theme of ‘Got Green? Grow it at Your Credit Union,’ we’ll also be discussing why protecting the environment is an important goal and how the green ecnonomy can help our communities.”
Union Pacific of AR FCU, Little Rock, Ark., held a carnival April 19 to kick off National Credit Union Youth Week. Employees worked at carnival booths and provided materials and prizes for youth. Employees also were available to speak with parents interested in opening accounts at the credit union. Union Pacific will hold an open house today for students in first through fifth grades to deposit money or open accounts. (Photo provided by Union Pacific of AR FCU)
Mission SF FCU, San Francisco, will give $100 to one youth who makes a deposit this week. Two youth also will be given the opportunity to attend the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ Youth Network Annual Conference in Dallas June 11-14. Community Financial FCU, Springfield, Mo., welcomed third-grade students for a tour of the credit union. The students were divided into groups and visited each department, where they learned about the benefits of being a credit union member. Students also received small gifts from each department to help them remember what they learned. One of the students said the highlight of the tour was seeing the inside of an ATM and how it worked, the credit union said in a release. Other credit unions, such as Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., are celebrating Youth Week throughout the entire month of April. The credit union is offering two promotions, including the Refer-A-Youth campaign, where parents and grandparents can open an account for a young member. After the account is opened, Freedom will give youth members $20 for their account. The credit union is also offering the “Go Green” quiz to offer youth a chance to win one of three $250 savings accounts. Youth can visit the credit union’s website, www.freedomcu.org, or stop by a branch to complete the quiz. The quiz ties into the “Got Green?” Youth Week theme and the environment.
(From left) Alex LeClair, Burrillville Middle School student, assumes the role of Rhode Island CU President/CEO David Suvall for the day at Exchange City. The credit union’s exchange program coincided with National Credit Union Youth Week activities. (Photo provided by Rhode Island CU)
Rhode Island CU, Providence, R.I., is celebrating Youth Week by donating $30,000 to Exchange City and sponsoring Exchange City CU. At Exchange City, middle school students operate their own “city”--from the mayor’s office to the police department. The simulation allows students to learn about different career options, personal finance and how to be consumers. Students take on roles as politicians, credit union CEOs, newspaper owners and other leaders. Rhode Island CU staff visited schools and helped teachers interview students for their Exchange City job and staff. “Sponsoring Exchange City is not just a financial commitment for us. It is a commitment to our communities, parents, students and schools,” said Rhode Island CU President/CEO David Suvall. Guardian CU, Milwaukee, teamed up with Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Bill Hall and Radio Disney to celebrate Youth Week. All branches will give gifts and balloons to youth who visit the credit union this week, and they will host a live radio event with Radio Disney Saturday. Hall will make a special appearance and will sign autographs for youth. Youth who open a new account or make a deposit will receive a Guardian CU baseball bank. Guardian CU also will give away $500 in savings bonds to kid’s coloring contest and teen’s essay contest winners. Midwest Community FCU, Defiance, Ohio, partnered with Hilltop High School to play the Finances 101 Game of Life. Students were split into teams and asked to follow a budget. As the game progressed, students had to make decisions about services they could afford, such as insurance, utilities, haircuts and groceries. Several participants had empty bank accounts by the end of the activity despite making wise financial choices. Many discovered that having children is expensive and some said waiting to start a family is a sensible financial option they never considered, the Ohio Credit Union League said (eLumination Newsletter April 22). Gateway Regional CU, St. Louis, is encouraging youth to open accounts by giving $5 to each account opened during the week. The credit union also will give a drawing contest winner $100, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (CourierNet April 23). Sammy Rabbit and Sam Renick, author of “It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit,” told stories and sang with more than 500 students, as part of a National Credit Union Youth Week financial literacy event held by Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md.

Groundbreaking Monday for Minn. injured-vet home project

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WOODBURY, Minn. (4/24/08)--A groundbreaking ceremony marking the launch of a new Minneapolis-St. Paul area home for a wounded veteran of the Iraq war will be held Monday in Woodbury, Minn. Credit unions are involved in raising funds to pay for the home. The ceremony will be on the site of a future home, which will be presented to wounded Iraq war veteran Sgt. Marcus Kuboy sometime around the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul in early September. The ceremony is part of a “Homes for Our Troops” initiative and a project of the Republican National Convention. The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are involved in the project. Minnesota credit unions are the driving force behind the initiative to build Sgt. Kuboy’s home. They will raise funds for this service project, MnCUN said. A parallel home project will be built in Denver, the site of the Democratic National Convention in August. Credit union involvement in both states is being coordinated by CUNA. Founded in 2004, Homes For Our Troops is a national 501(c)(3)nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to providing specially adapted homes to the most severely injured veterans, and providing those homes at no cost to the veterans they serve.

Membership growth just ahead of population growth

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/23/08)--Credit union membership growth is barely staying ahead of population growth, an industry expert told the Texas Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting and Expo last week. Steve Rodgers, editorial director for the Credit Union National Association, addressed the issue of why 78 million consumers eligible for credit union membership aren’t joining (LoneStar Leaguer April 21). There are many reasons consumers aren’t joining credit unions, Rodgers said. Consumers don’t perceive credit unions to be convenient, they are not aware of their eligibility for membership, and they don’t want to hassle with switching financial institutions. Rodgers shared case studies of 15 U.S. credit unions that are growing at a significantly faster pace than other credit unions--not only in membership, but also in assets and loans. When considering growth strategies, credit unions should go for planned, controlled growth--defining why they want to grow--and don’t just grow for growth’s sake, Rodgers said. While each of the 15 credit unions approached growth uniquely--whether it be membership, loans or assets--there were many similarities in their strategies, he said. For example, in five case studies the credit unions sought to grow their assets. Each credit union maintained high community visibility; allocated resources to conduct member and nonmember research to test its assumptions; added new and profitable products; and invested heavily in training staff so the credit union could offer better member services. The five credit unions that focused on growing their loans had a higher risk tolerance, were effective in product bundling, and worked closely with members to understand their unique circumstances, Rodgers said.

Texas league representative testifies on data security bill

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FARMERS BRANCH and AUSTIN, Texas (4/23/08)--A credit union testified Tuesday on behalf of the Texas Credit Union League about data security breaches and their impact on credit unions before a Texas House committee conducting an interim hearing on identity theft. Gary Davis, president of Chocolate Bayou Community FCU, a $68 million asset credit union based in Alvin, testified before the Texas House Committee on Business and Industry. Noting that the use of plastic cards has become so integral that many people cannot conduct their normal activities without a credit or debit card, Davis called for protection of the sensitive financial data. “It is important that the State of Texas make sure that protections are in place for payment card data,” he told the committee. “Neither the consumer nor card issuers are able to require that businesses who retain consumers' sensitive personal financial information protect the data from thieves," he added. While the hearing was not on behalf of a specific bill, Committee Chairman Gary Elkins (R-Houston) noted he was interested in following up on his efforts last session to finding a solution to the issue of data security. “The question is what standard do we use and how do we enforce it?” said Elkins. The interim hearing is the first step toward the development of legislation for the Texas Legislative session in 2009. Data security remains one of several top interests for the league, Winter Prosapio, advocacy communications director for the league, told News Now.

Hannaford introduces new data security measures

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SCARBOROUGH, Maine (4/23/08)--Maine-based grocery chain Hannaford Bros. announced Tuesday it expects to spend millions to beef up its information technology (IT) security in the wake of a data breach that resulted in the theft of 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers. Hannaford announced it plans to install new intrusion-prevention systems that will monitor activities 24/7 on its network and individual systems at its stores. It also will deploy PIN pad devices featuring Triple DES encryption support in store checkout aisles (Computerword April 22). The card numbers were stolen during the authorization process after customers swiped their cards at the grocery stores in New England, New York and Florida. The cards were compromised from Dec. 7 to March 10. Credit unions in those states were among the financial institutions reissuing credit and debit cards due to the breach. Maine credit unions were especially hit, since the chain is prevalent in that state. In Tuesday's announcement, Hannaford Bros. President/CEO Ron Hodge apologized again for the breach and said the company had seen no drop in sales since the data breach was announced March 17 (Associated Press and The Boston Globe April 22). A recent survey released by the Ponemon Institute found that nearly one-third of consumers notified of a security breach terminate their relationship with the company, with frustration about the timeliness of notification of a breach (SCMagazine April 16). Roughly 83% of people surveyed said they had received at least one notification of a data breach in the past two years, while 47% received multiple notifications. More than half said it took the company involved longer than a month to contact them. Seventy-one percent said notification should be made within a week after a breach. About 63% of survey respondents said notification letters they received offered no direction on steps to take to protect their data, according to the Consumer's Report Card on Data Breach Notification, sponsored by ID Experts. That was not the case in the Hannaford Bros. breach. The company posted information on its website to aid customers affected by the breach.

Midwest Corporate election results officers announced

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BISMARCK, N.D. (4/23/08)--Midwest Corporate FCU announced the results of its 2008 elections for board of directors during its 66th Annual Meeting Friday. Elected to three-year terms were:
* Debra Gallagher of Capital CU, Bismarck; * Jay Landsiedel of Town and Country CU, Minot; and * Shirley Kondelis of City and County Employees CU, Fargo.
Other board members are Darwin Brokke, Citizens Community CU, Devils Lake; Eric Musland, LaMoure (N.D.) CU; Cheryl Malm, Med Park CU, Grand Forks; and Scott Schwindt, Western Cooperative CU, Williston. After the annual meeting, the board elected officers. Gallagher was elected chair; Msuland, vice chair; and Malm, secretary/treasurer.

Illinois league foundation elect officials

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Incoming Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) chairman, John Bratsakis (left), receives his oath of office from outgoing chairman, Carl Sorgatz, at ICUL’s annual convention last weekend.
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/23/08)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) elected its table officers for the coming year at its 78th Annual Convention in Chicago last week. Also, the Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) and the Illinois Credit Union Political Action Council (CUPAC) elected officers and directors to their respective boards. John Bratsakis, senior vice president of business development for Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, was elected league chairman for a one-year term. He also will serve as chairman for the ICUL Service Corporation (LSC). Outgoing chairman Carl Sorgatz will continue his term as ICUL director for the Aurora Chapter of Credit Unions, a position he has held since 1993. Sorgatz is CEO of Hawthorne CU, Naperville. Geraldine Burek, CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park, was elected as secretary/treasurer.
The Illinois Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) board of directors elected at the Illinois Credit Union League’s annual convention include (from left): Front row, John Fiore, CEO, Motorola ECU; Vice Chairman Greg Worthen, director of lending, Olin Community CU; Janet Francoeur, CEO, Riverside Community CU; and Peggy Cummins, CEO, Three Rivers Community CU; and back row, Steve O’Mara, US ECU; Chairman Ed Jacob, CEO, North Side Community FCU; Geraldine Burek, CEO, South Division CU; and Secretary/Treasurer David Mooney, CEO, Alliant CU. (Photos provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The ICUF held its annual meeting and elected new officers and one new director. They included: Chairman Ed Jacob, CEO, North Side Community FCU, Chicago; Vice Chairman Greg Worthen, director of lending, Olin Community CU, Bethalto; and Secretary/Treasurer David Mooney, CEO, Alliant CU, Chicago. Geraldine Burek, CEO, South Division CU, Evergreen Park, was elected to a three-year term as a new member on the board. Current board members include: Peggy Cummins, CEO, Three Rivers Community CU, Mt. Carmel; John Fiore, CEO, Motorola Employees CU, Schaumburg; Janet Francoeur, CEO, Riverside Community CU, Kankakee; Katherine Hoeper, CEO, KONE Employees CU, Moline; and Steve O’Mara, US Employees CU, Chicago. CUPAC elected its board of directors at its annual meeting. Officers elected to one-year terms included: Chairman Frank Padak, CEO Scott CU, Collinsville; Vice Chairman
Illinois Credit Union Political Action Council’s (CUPAC) board and officers include: (front row) Secretary Brenda Crane, chief operating officer, Credit Union 1; Vice Chairman Karen Woods, marketing director, Decatur Earthmover CU; Treasurer John Fiore, CEO, Motorola ECU; RaeAnn Love, CEO, Commonwealth CU; and Christine Dickover, CEO of H-F CU. Back row, Bob Schroeder, CEO, Illinois Community CU; Chairman Frank Padak, CEO, Scott CU; Mike Frye, chairman, Shell Community FCU; and Pete Fauth, vice president/chief financial officer, Financial Plus CU.
Karen Woods, marketing director, Decatur Earthmover CU, Decatur; Secretary Brenda Crane, chief operating officer, Credit Union 1, Rantoul; and Treasurer John Fiore, CEO, Motorola ECU, Schaumburg. Board members re-elected to one-year terms included: Tom Enos, business development director, First Northern CU, Chicago; Pete Fauth, vice president/ CFO, Financial Plus CU, Ottawa; Mike Frye, chairman, Shell Community FCU, East Alton; and Robert Schroeder, CEO, Illinois Community CU, Sycamore. Also, Christine Dickover, CEO of H-F CU, Country Club Hills; and RaeAnn Love, CEO, Commonwealth CU, Bourbonnais, were elected to one-year terms as a result of two directors retiring from the CUPAC board.

Speed networking a new feature at Ohio leagues ZENITH08

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DUBLIN, Ohio (4/23/08)--Speed networking will debut at the Ohio Credit Union League’s convention, ZENITH08, Thursday and Friday. Speed networking is an opportunity for credit unions of similar asset sizes to discuss issues in a facilitated, one-on-one setting. Similar to speed dating, the time-controlled format opens the door to further dialogue and promotes sharing of success stories and best practices, the league said. A new consumer focus group that analyzes what Ohioans think about credit unions also will be conducted. ZENITH08 is the final destination of the 2008 Credit Unions for Kids: Marching Miles for Miracle Kids, a fundraiser for nine children’s hospitals in Ohio. State Gov. Ted Strickland will welcome the marchers to ZENITH08 after their 19-day trip from Toledo to Columbus. Former National Wegner Memorial Award winner Carol Schillios and Paul Hazen, president/CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association, will address attendees on Friday. Convention topics include enhancing technology for member services, benefits and drawbacks of mergers, greening operations, tapping key members and capitalization. Attendees also will view a live taping of the Home and Family Finance Radio Show, which airs weekly. About 700 credit union leaders and 300 exhibitors are expected to attend.

Alabama league celebrates 75th Annual Meeting

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/23/08)--The Alabama Credit Union League hosted its 75th Annual Membership Meeting and Education Symposium April 16-18 in Birmingham.
Alabama Credit Union League Board Chairman Steve Swofford, president/CEO, Alabama CU, Tuscaloosa, addressed the league’s 75th Annual Meeting in Birmingham. (Photo provided by the Alabama Credit Union League)
About 203 credit union executives and 72 guests attended. “This meeting was a culmination of 75 years of service to the credit unions of Alabama,” said Gary B. Wolter, league president/CEO. “Over the years, we have grown the movement, sometimes swiftly and sometimes achingly slow. But by working together, we have all moved it forward.” The theme for the meeting, and for 2008, is Stronger Together. As a tribute to the 75 years of credit union growth, a wall of pictures culled from the league archives was displayed to commemorate the steps made by credit union pioneers. “We took this opportunity to showcase some of the people who made inroads for credit unions,” Wolter said. “But we didn’t have enough wall space to show pictures of every person who makes the movement special. Every one of our member credit unions and their volunteers should have been pictured. “Without their ongoing contributions and dedication to the credit union movement, we would not be able to keep moving forward and reaching out to the 1.7 million credit union members in Alabama,” he added. The league hosted Chips for Kids Casino Night Wednesday, benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) and Children’s Hospital. CO-OP Financial Services was a co-sponsor for the event and will provide matching funds. At the opening general session, Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics for the Credit Union National Association, discussed, “The Changing Economy and the Impact on Credit Unions.” Guest speakers included Tim Hornbrook, associate regional director for the National Credit Union Administration, with a regulatory update; Jim Power, senior vice president of sales with CUNA Mutual Group; and Steve Delfin, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation.

MnCUN hosts Paraguayan CU delegation

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/23/08)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) hosted three credit union professionals from Paraguay in a regulator exchange April 4-16.
The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) honors Paraguayan guests at a banquet during MnCUN’s Annual Meeting and Convention. From left are: Juan Luis Ferriera, information technology consulting firm president; CENCOPAN Vice President Pedro Elias Loblein Saucedo; MnCUN Board Chairman Dick Nesvold; cooperative institute director Maria Mercedes Ortega Martinez; and MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins.
The exchange was a part of Minnesota’s partnership with Central de Cooperatives del Area National (CENCOPAN), a Paraguayan credit union association. MnCUN is partnered with CENCOPAN through the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Partnerships program. The three visitors were: Juan Luis Ferriera, an information technology consulting firm president; Pedro Elias Loblein Saucedo, CENCOPAN vice president; and cooperative institute director Maria Mercedes Ortega Martinez. The representatives visited SouthPoint FCU branches in Sleepy Eye and New Ulm where they learned about the credit union’s drive-through technology and daily functions. “Many of the main ideas behind the regulations in the U.S. and Paraguay are the same,” Saucedo said. “The difference is in the methodology and processes.” Saucedo’s goal was to learn about the regulatory process so he could apply it to Paraguayan regulations, he added.
Paraguayan guests on the Senate floor during a tour of the Minnesota Capitol are from left: (seated) CENCOPAN Vice President Pedro Elias Loblein Saucedo; (standing) World Council of Credit Unions representative Josh Fetting; Juan Luis Ferriera, information technology consulting firm president; MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins; Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester); and cooperative institute director Maria Mercedes Ortega Martinez. (Photos provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
The visitors also attended MnCUN’s Annual Meeting and Convention, where they were recognized at an awards banquet; the state Capitol, where they met Rep. Joe Atkins (D-Inver Grove Heights) and Minority Leader Sen. Dave Senjem (R-Rochester); and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Other credit unions they toured include St. Paul FCU; Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul; and Minnesota Item Processing Corp., a credit union service organization managed by MnCUN. MnCUN President/CEO Mark D. Cummins said, “The partnership allows both associations the opportunity to learn from each other’s strengths and help each other in the areas that need improvement. More than that, the relationships formed through this partnership enable us to strengthen the credit union movement.”

Michigan GAC addresses economy foreclosures

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NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/23/08)--Mortgage foreclosures, the struggling economy and national elections were among the topics
State Rep. Darwin Booher (R-Evart), left, chats with Members CU President/CEO Dan Witkowski at the Michigan Governmental Affairs Conference Legislative Luncheon. (Photos provided by the Michigan Credit Union League).
added to credit unions' regulatory and legislative issues discussed at the 2008 Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) Governmental Affairs Conference. The event, held April 16-17 in Lansing, was attended by more than 100 credit union leaders (Michigan Monitor April 21). MCUL President/CEO David Adams opened the conference by detailing the league's work in several areas including regulatory relief, the mortgage crisis, strengthening the credit union charter, credit union cooperative advertising and the MCUL Community Reinvestment Initiative (CRI). Other speakers discussing political and economics issues were keynote speaker Matthew Cooper, former Time Washington bureau chief and now Washington editor at Conde Nast Portfolio, and Emily Kolinski Morris, Ford Motor Co. senior economist.
At the 2008 Michigan Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Conference last week, the league named State Rep. Andy Coulouris (D-Saginaw), left, as its State Lawmaker of the Year, and Teri Ambs, legislative director to State Sen. Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), as State Staffer of the Year.
Kolinski Morris said that while the state's economy is becoming more diverse, it still relies heavily on the manufacturing and auto industry. Roughly 23% of the nation's auto production occurs in Michigan. Manufacturing contributes 15% of Michigan's non-farm employment and 22% of its total payroll. She predicted manufacturing will continue to exert a strong influence over the state's near-term performance. Other speakers included Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis and Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer; State Sen. Randy Richardville (R-Monroe); Jodi Morris of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Division of Homeownership; and newly appointed Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation Commissioner Ken Ross.

SC league names Diversity Award recipients

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (4/23/08)--The South Carolina Credit Union League (SCCUL) presented its first Laura M. Fleming Diversity Awards to Family Trust FCU and South Carolina FCU during the SSCUL and Affiliates Annual Meeting Saturday. Family Trust FCU, Rock Hill, received the award for its payday loan alternative program. Family Trust also partnered with United Way to host a poverty simulation program in York County at the credit union’s training facility. South Carolina FCU, Charleston, was recognized for promoting diversity through a cross-cultural job fair. More than 55 employees were involved, and more than 600 job-seekers from surrounding communities attended. “Between them, these two credit unions embody the complex nature of diversity as it relates to financial services,” SCCUL President/CEO Garry L. Parks said. “Family Trust has taken a particular interest in recognizing South Carolinians’ diverse needs and conditions, while South Carolina FCU has emphasized the value in having an organization that reflects and identifies with the citizens it serves.” The Laura M. Fleming award was introduced by the league’s diversity committee. It was named in memory of an exemplary credit union leader and recognizes South Carolina credit unions or organizations that exemplify diversity in the workplace.

Just File It has a banner year

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (4/23/08)--Eighty-five Michigan credit unions promoted the Just File It! tax filing program this year, helping 3,733 residents claim a total of $6,511,263 in tax credits and refunds--a 240% increase from last year. More than $1.4 million of the amount represented the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), designed for low- to moderate-income families and individuals (Michigan Monitor April 22). The total between credit unions and other non-profit Just File It! partners in Michigan was $12,852,336 in returns and 7,726 filers. “To put well over $6 million back into the pockets of Michigan families during this difficult time for our state’s economy is something of which credit unions should be very proud,” said Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams. “Credit unions are here to help Michigan through challenging times and will continue to live this philosophy through programs like Just File It! that give lower-income households more money they can use to put food on the table, invest in education or save for the future.”

Ex-bank robber offers CUs advice on thwarting heists

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/23/08)--“Be aware, don’t stare,” is the best defense against robbery, former robber and now financial institution security expert Troy Evans told the Texas Credit Union League in Houston. Evans was a former robber who committed crimes at banks and credit unions in several states. At the time of the robberies, Evans was a drug addict and needed money for his next fix, he said (LoneStar Leaguer April 22). Evans lost his wife and son because of his addiction, and he was desperate. He considered himself as in a “win-win” situation where he would either receive the money he wanted, or die in “suicide by police.” Because robbers are often addicted to drugs, it’s hard to predict what they will do, Evans said. “It is imperative that you train your staff members to avoid being the hero if your credit union is robbed,” he said. Credit union staff should greet each person who walks in the door. The last thing a potential robber wants is for someone to make eye contact and start a conversation. The robber “will almost certainly walk out and find another institution to target,” Evans added. Lack of male presence also gives robbers the impression that financial institutions are vulnerable. A male should be present at all times. If that is not possible, one should be present on Friday mornings--when robberies are more likely to happen. All credit union employees should sign a nondisclosure agreement. “I got away with it for so long because I dated a teller,” he said.

CU System briefs (04/22/2008)

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* SAN DIMAS, Calif. (4/23/08)--Jim Hayes, who led the business development and marketing teams, has been appointed as WesCorp’s new chief financial officer and senior vice president. Tony Kitt, who has led the payment systems team, has been promoted to executive vice president to lead member services, announced WesCorp CEO Bob Siravo yesterday. Hayes joined WesCorp in 2003 after working for the National Credit Union Administration and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Kitt served as an U.S. Air Force officer and comptroller for the North American Aerospace Defense Command before joining WesCorp. He is the board chairman of Procura LLC and is vice chair of Pacific Processing Partners. WesCorp is the largest corporate credit union in the U.S. with $30 billion in assets and more than 1,000 member credit unions ... * RANCHO CUCAMONGA (4/23/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation recently gave a $20,000 community service grant to Community Trust CU, Modesto, Calif., to support sponsorship of a financial literacy program for low-income youth in the East Palo Alto area. Community Trust has opened a branch, known as Community Trust CU of East Palo Alto, in the underserved Bay Area city. The new branch opened in December after joining forces with the Northern California Urban Development Corp. and several area credit unions, including Stanford FCU and Addison Avenue FCU, both based in Palo Alto, and San Francisco-based Patelco FCU … * MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (4/23/08)--Visterra CU, a $466.2 million asset credit union in Moreno Valley, and $526.2 million asset Whittier, Calif.-based Credit Union of Southern California have announced their intent to merge (The Press-Enterprise April 19). The merger is pending approval from regulators and members of Credit Union of Southern California. The combined credit union will take the Visterra name and remain headquartered in Moreno Valley. It will have more than $1 billion in assets, 86,000 members, 11 branches and 260 employees. The merger is expected to be completed by early August. Credit Union of Southern California President/CEO Dave Gunderson will be CEO of the combined firm, and Visterra President/CEO Robert Cameron will serve as president …

Tellers abducted during robbery at Keesler but are safe

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BILOXI, Miss. (4/22/08)--Because Keesler FCU employees “did exactly what they are trained to do,” a robbery and hostage situation at the credit union Friday left its employees and members unharmed. On Friday, an armed man entered the credit union and took two employees hostage, Tammy Brister, Keesler vice president of branch operations, told News Now. The man had several weapons, and the credit union was “extremely busy” at the time of the robbery, she added. The man proceeded to take two tellers hostage. Because he came to the credit union on foot, he forced them into one of the teller’s cars to escape. The three left the credit union, and after a high-speed chase, the car drove into a ditch and the robber was caught by police, Brister said. “The tellers are fine,” she said. “No one was hurt physically.” Keesler closed Saturday to give employees time to relax and “work through it,” Brister added. The credit union also contracted with a trauma counseling service for its employees. “All of the employees are shocked, but fine,” she said. “Nobody quit.” Keesler also analyzed staff’s response to the robbery from a management perspective to see if anything could have been done differently. The employees did everything they were supposed to, Brister said. “We are proud of our employees at all locations,” she said. From Thursday through Saturday, five robberies occurred at area financial institutions. Only two of the robbers, including the Keesler robber, have been apprehended, Brister said.

Texas league adopts dues change elects officers

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/22/08)--Delegates unanimously adopted a dues formula to be effective for 2009 at the 74th Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) Annual Meeting April 17. The formula, which is identical to this year’s, reads: “Dues shall be based on the square root of credit union assets plus 0.52, a minimum of $500 or 6% of gross income, whichever is less, plus Credit Union National Association dues. Assets are determined as reported as of June 30 of the preceding year by the credit unions to their regulatory agency” (LoneStar Leaguer April 21). The board elected the following officers:
* Chairman--Ayn Talley, CEO Houston Police FCU; * First Vice-Chairman--Pamela Stephens, CEO, Security One FCU, Arlington; * Second Vice-Chairman--Jada Kelley, CEO/DuPont Goodrich FCU, Nederland; and * Secretary-Treasurer--Jim Minge, senior vice president, Randolph Brooks FCU, Universal City.
Elected district directors are:
* North Central District--Gary Parker; * Dallas District 2--Jim Brisendine and Sandy Smith; * East District 3--Debbie Martin; * Fort Worth District 4-- Stephens; * Houston District 5--Debbie Blackshear and Tally; * North District 6--Robert Sheppard; * Panhandle District 7--Art Hornell; * San Antonio District 8--Minge; * Southeast District 9--Kelley; * Valley District 10--Al Beltran; * Far West District 11--Robert Peterson; * South Central District 12--Paul Trylk; * South District 13--Gary Davis; and * Mid West District 14--James Boyd.
Not seeking re-election were Dean Daly from District 11 and Anne Boatright from District 12. Boatright will serve as ex-officio member on the league board as the immediate past chair.

CU Aid supporters reallocate 180000 for major disasters

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/22/08)--Responding to an appeal by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), credit union supporters from across the country have reallocated over $180,000 in California wildfire relief donations to help credit union people wherever and wherever a major disaster strikes. The appeal enabled NCUF to use CU Aid to make 17 more grants so far totaling over $87,000 for credit union employees and members who lost their homes after tornadoes ripped through Alabama. “Thanks to the generosity of CU Aid donors in 31 other states, we were able to make meaningful grants of up to $10,000 to credit union families in Alabama,” reported NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. Limited grant dollars are still available for credit union people who suffered unrecoverable losses from the Alabama tornadoes and the California wildfires. Speaking at the Alabama Credit Union League Annual Meeting last week, Delfin noted that June 1 marks the official beginning of Hurricane Season. “Now we are encouraging credit union supporters in every state to consider donating through CU Aid before the next major disaster, wherever it may hit,” Delfin emphasized. “A critical component of disaster preparedness is disaster relief fundraising,” explained Delfin, a former disaster relief fundraiser for the American Red Cross national headquarters. “While it is human nature to want to give in response to a disaster, we encourage credit unions to consider making disaster relief contributions now in advance so we can push funds out the door as soon as a disaster strikes.” Delfin said the most important aspect of disaster relief fundraising is to build the capacity to do it into the credit union’s disaster preparedness and business continuity plans. “CU Aid provides the tools to do that if your interest is helping credit unions affected by major disasters.” NCUF has restructured the CU Aid donation form so it can channel relief money efficiently to any major disaster area that impacts credit unions, employees, volunteers and members. NCUF dedicates 100% of disaster relief donations to grants. It does not use disaster relief donations to pay for the cuaid.coop Web platform, travel to disaster areas, or any of the foundation's costs to administer the national disaster relief program for credit unions. CU Aid was developed by NCUF in cooperation with state credit union foundations, state credit union leagues, and the Credit Union National Association’s Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Phishing vishing and and now smishing

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EUGENE, Ore. (4/22/08)--A type of fraud that scammers are using called “smishing” is gaining prominence as a way to fraudulently obtain consumers’ personal information. Smishing is text-message fraud that occurs when criminals, posing as financial institutions, attempt to dupe mobile-phone users into sending personal information through text messages. Financial institutions should restrict text-based messages to information such as balance updates or overdraft alerts, and should not send account numbers and transaction details through text messages, said industry expert Lisa Stanton (ATM & Debit News). Oregon Community CU (OCCU), and a $388 million asset, Eugene, Ore.-based institution, is under attack from fraudsters sending cell phone text messages that state “Your Oregon Community CU account is closed due to unusual activity.” The message then requests that recipients call a phone number in Florida. Recipients should not reply by texting, nor respond to the phone number listed, OCCU said in a press release. The credit union’s phone center and branch staff are being overwhelmed with phone calls and walk-ins. OCCU said it has received thousands of phone calls from worried people, not just members. Since the credit union is the largest in the area, scammers probably sent the text message to the entire list of Oregon phone numbers hoping to trick as many members as possible to fall for it, according to Eugene police (KVAL 13 April 19). Paragon FCU, a $374.8 million asset, Montvale, N.J.-based institution, also was beset by fraudulent text messages using its name and telling recipients their accounts are expiring. Recipients were told to call a toll-free number or visit a website (The Allentown Morning Call March 18). An alert on the credit union’s website said, “If you receive any such messages, do NOT click the links or call the numbers provided. Instead, immediately delete the message from your computer.” Universal CU, a $55.4 million asset, Huntington, W.Va.-based credit union, was hit by a bogus text messaging scam earlier this month (WSAZ 3 April 15). Other recent example of credit unions targeted in phishing, vishing or smishing attempts:
* WV University Employees FCU, a $15.4 million asset, Morgantown, W.Va.-based institution, was targeted by a scam in which members receive automated phone calls and fake e-mails, informing them that their counts were frozen due to fraud. Recipients were asked to call a telephone number to regain access to their accounts and then were asked for account, debit card and personal identification numbers (The Charleston Gazette April 19). * Members of the $305 million asset, Lihue, Hawaii-based Kauai Community CU were the target of a phishing e-mail, asking recipients to take a survey regarding its customer service. The message provided a link to another page and promised respondents $90 for filling out online questionnaire, which asked for full names, ATM card numbers, and personal identification number information (Honolulu Advertiser April 17). * The $2.270 billion asset, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based Hudson Valley FCU said that members and nonmembers received text messages pretending to be from “Hudson Valley FCU bill service.” The message asked members to call an 806 number to “renew your service.” (Poughkeepsie Journal March 19). * Members United Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill, sent out a fraud alert regarding a recent phishing e-mail that purports to be from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It warned against identity fraud and told recipients how to sign up for a program that awards $500 worth of insurance to help victims of Internet fraud. The e-mail asked recipients to click on a link to be redirected to “an online signup page for this program.”

Members write Wis. DFI to save CU car-sales operation

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RACINE, Wis. (4/22/08)--Members of Educators CU (ECU) in Racine, Wis., are stepping up to help their credit union continue its used-car sales operation after the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions ruled that the credit union could not sell used cars. “Our members are writing letters to the Wisconsin State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI),” Jim Henderson, ECU senior vice president, told News Now. ECU was ordered to cease its operation several weeks ago. The credit union plans to file an appeal and the regulator has stayed its order. “We’re still in the appeals process,” Henderson added. The office ruled against ECU’s sales operation after the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association filed a complaint, charging that ECU’s used car sales were not a part of its charter. ECU would still be allowed to lease and repossess vehicles. The credit union has placed information on its website regarding the ruling and appeals process. The website, www.ecu.com, also has information about what members can do to voice their opinions on the ruling. Members can help by writing the DFI, or by submitting letters to the editor at the Racine Journal-Times, the website said. The credit union expects a response to its appeal by summer.

Oregon CUs only FI on state Financial Ed Task Force

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/22/08)--Oregon credit unions are the only financial institutions invited to participate on the state’s Financial Education Task Force, the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) said Monday. Credit unions helped create the task force during the 2007 Oregon Legislative session. The task force will review the civics curriculum at local schools and secure funding for financial literacy efforts through the Oregon Department of Education. The task force held its first meeting March 21. Credit unions will be represented by task force member Cori Frauendiener, director of educational partnerships at MaPS CU, Salem, Ore. Oregon credit unions continue to keep financial literacy at the top of their priorities by implementing programs to teach financial education. In addition to financially supporting the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance, credit unions run workshops for youth, establish in-school branches, provide classroom presentations and create legislation, said CUAO.

CU System briefs (04/21/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/22/08)--Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) greeted supporters at a rally Saturday in the Discovery FCU gymnasium at Wilson High School in Wyomissing, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. Although the credit union did not receive mention in the local news reports, its sign is visible in a photo of Gov. Ed Rendell introducing Clinton in the Reading Eagle (April 20). Discovery has a three-year sponsorship agreement with the school district to obtain naming rights for the gymnasium. In return, the credit union can hold financial literacy classes and establish a credit union branch beginning next fall (Life is a Highway April 21) … * BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/22/08)--The Minnesota Family Involvement Council (FIC) and Minnesota's Credit Union for Kids committees honored LeAnn Achtenberg, vice president of marketing at Anoka Hennepin CU, Coon Rapids, and Jeff Schwalen (left), president of Hiway FCU, St. Paul, with outstanding volunteer awards during a banquet at the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN) 2008 Annual Meeting and Convention. Achtenberg received FIC's award and Schwalen was presented the CUs for Kids award. Presenting the awards was Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. (Photos provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network) … * RICHMOND, Va. (4/22/08)--Richmond Postal CU announced that Joseph "Joe" M. Haddon Jr. has been named as the new president/CEO of the $80 million asset credit union. Before joining the credit union, Haddon served as senior vice president for Dominion CU, also in Richmond, where he led the credit union's information technology systems for internal and external member/customers. He was instrumental in developing and implementing Dominion's debit and ATM card programs, and developed and maintained its compliance policy and procedure program. Haddon has more than 20 years experience with credit unions … * DES MOINES, Iowa (4/22/08)--Linda Zech, 53, of Spencer, Iowa, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges that she embezzled $770,000 from a credit union where she worked, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa. She pleaded guilty in Sioux City court to one count of financial institution fraud and one count of money laundering (KCCI.com April 19). Zech also was ordered to repay the money she took from Eaton Employees CU from January 2003 to January 2007. During that time she was the credit union's only full-time employee …

CUNA growth task force initiatives progress to the Web

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/08)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force initiatives now include three interactive applications on the Web to help fast-growing credit unions share their strategies. The alternatives now available include:
* E-mailing the task force's CUNA growth e-mail account established for this purpose at CUNAMGTF@cuna.coop; * Joining the CUNA Membership Growth Discussion Group at growth_tf@doig.cuna.org. See the resource link for more information; or * Filling out a short Web-based survey, which will be available Friday on CUNA's website. (News Now will inform readers when the survey is available.)
"We have been at this for the better part of a year," said Task Force Chairman Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League. "We developed a preliminary report and gave it to CUNA's board and membership at the Governmental Affairs Conference (in March)," he said. "We've identified markets and opportunities, and there seems to be a heightened awareness that there are unique opportunities for membership growth," Ensweiler told News Now. "What we need now is examples of credit unions that have been taking the initiative and growing." The task force is chiefly interested in organic, sustainable growth rather than big, one-time increases. These efforts typically don't involve mergers or indirect lending. Mike Schenk, vice president of CUNA economics and staff liaison to the task force, noted that staff used year-end National Credit Union Administration data to identify the fastest-growing credit unions. Aggregate growth was adjusted in these two cases, reducing the membership number "one-for-one" by the number of members added through mergers or indirect lending. "We want the real member growth and especially want to know about efforts focused on growth of three populations of members: young people, unserved, or immigrants," Ensweiler said, "These are where some of our richest opportunities for growth lie." The task force also wants to know how credit unions are using awareness initiatives, collaboration, and back-office consolidation in their efforts to grow and nurture memberships. Ensweiler encouraged credit unions to share their initiatives. The next task force meeting will be May 29 in Chicago. "We want to hear from the credit unions and others that have success in the growth initiative. They can come in, call in, or write a synopsis of the things that have worked and their results." That day's discussions will be incorporated into a paper and presented as a report to the CUNA Board and membership during the America's Credit Union Conference & Expo June 29-July 2 in New York City. Meanwhile, News Now will introduce its Focus on Growth weekly series of interviews with the fast growers early next week. The Membership Growth Task Force was convened at the request of CUNA's Immediate Past Board Chair Allen Kemp-McMorris to investigate, report on, and encourage credit unions to embrace opportunities, techniques and processes that will increase credit unions' membership retention and growth.

W. Va. league elects officers presents awards

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (4/22/08)--The West Virginia Credit Union League elected Ron Bragg as chairman of the board during its 72nd Annual Meeting April 19. Bragg is CEO of Hope FCU in Clarksburg, W.Va. Other elected officers are:
*
(From left) Jack Thayer, director, and Scott Winwood, CEO, both of First Choice Community America FCU, Weirton, W. Va., received the William Bryan Hawkins and Pacesetter Awards respectively at the West Virginia Credit Union League’s 72th Annual Meeting. (Photo provided by the West Virginia Credit Union League)
First vice chairman, Tom Walker, Universal FCU, Huntington; * Second vice chairman, Dave Van Middlesworth, Eastern Panhandle Community FCU, Martinsburg; * Treasurer, Doris Cunningham, Members Choice WV FCU, Charleston; and * Secretary, Donna Gordon, Mercer County WV Teachers FCU, Bluefield.
Jack R. Thayer, director, First Choice America Community FCU, Weirton, received the William Bryan Hawkins Award, which recognizes excellence among credit union volunteers. Scott Winwood, CEO, First Choice America Community FCU, received the Pacesetter Award, which recognizes excellence among professional credit union staff.

Security continuity are CUs biggest tech costs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/08)--Technology-wise, credit unions plan to spend the biggest portions of their budgets on security and business continuity planning over the next three years, according to a recent Credit Union National Association (CUNA) survey.
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In the 2008-2009 CUNA Technology and Spending Report, respondent credit unions ranked their top three technology expenditures in the next three years: information technology (IT) security (47%); business continuity (39%); risk management/compliance automation (34%); and expanding e-commerce activities (34%). Larger credit unions, with $500 million or more in assets, tended to cite expanding e-commerce activities, rather than IT security as one of their top three. The CUNA report details credit union technology spending in terms of total technology budget and its percent of overall operating expenses, average annual vendor expenses, and functions support by IT staff and vendors. It also uncovers the average dollar amount and percent of total budget allocated to specific areas such as hardware, software, security measures, data-voice communications, online banking and training. The report explores credit unions’ current use of future plans for Internet banking, electronic bill payment, online loan applications, marketing customer information files and relationship management, security and general technology services. The survey will be the topic of an “Exploring Credit Union Technology and Spending Trends” webinar May 15, CUNA said. For more information, use the links.

CUs commitment to youth spotlighted on Good Morning Texas

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/22/08)--Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) Director Courtney Nickles addressed the importance of financial education and the role credit unions play in empowering young people to make smarter financial choices Monday on ‘Good Morning Texas.’ Sharon Moore, City CU, Dallas, also appeared on the show to discuss financial education. The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) educates young people on critical money matters such as savings, budgeting and investing, Nickles told viewers (LoneStar Leaguer April 21). “Excessive spending and irresponsible management of our money is a learned behavior,” Nickles said. “If we want to break the cycle, we must change behavior. It’s really important that we educate our youth at a very young age on how to effectively manage their finances. Get them saving early and explain to them how to open a savings account at a credit union.” Nickles said more young people file for bankruptcy than graduate from college. She also stressed the growing importance of financial knowledge in the younger generation today.

Denali Alaskan FCU sues builder

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (4/21/08)--Denali Alaskan FCU is suing a builder for $12 million in outstanding loan balances the builder owes the credit union. The delinquent loans constitute only about 4% of Denali’s loans. With penalties and late fees, the total amount that Lee Baker Jr. and his Discovery Construction business associates owe the $359 million asset, Anchorage-based credit union totals about $16 million for loans related to area building projects. Denali’s suit, filed in March, asks a judge to foreclose a number of Discovery Construction’s undeveloped or unfinished condo units. The credit union sustained $4.3 million in losses last year, Keith Fernandez, Denali’s assistant vice president of marketing, told News Now . “We are a well-collateralized credit union,” Fernandez said. “This doesn’t at all affect member accounts. We made a profit in the first quarter of 2008 and expect to earn profits for the rest of 2008. We’re continuing to grow and are opening three new branches this year. “In the 10 years that I’ve been here, this is the first time we’ve experienced a loss. We’re continuing to move ahead. We believe in our members and in Alaska,” he concluded.

Alabama league CEO Wolter to retire after 42 years

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/21/08)--Gary B. Wolter has announced his plans to retire as president/CEO of the Alabama Credit Union League after serving almost 42 years in that capacity. The effective date will be around mid-year 2009. Wolter said he wanted to give the league board of directors advance notice so that it will not be rushed in defining the process to use in the selection of his successor. He has assured the board that he will continue to work enthusiastically on behalf of the league and Alabama credit unions until his last day at the league. "In a nearly 50-year career, Gary Wolter has had an immeasurable impact on the credit union movement and its service to consumers in Alabama and throughout the nation," said Dan Mica, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) CEO. "He is a true, visionary leader to whom colleagues throughout the credit union system, myself included, look for wisdom and counsel. To me personally Gary has been a resource I can always turn to for a solid measure of credit union issues and concerns. His guidance and advice have been invaluable, and his legacy will stand tall over the credit union movement for many years to come," Mica said. Susan Newton, senior vice president, league relations at CUNA, echoed the comments. "The contributions Gary has made to the credit union system are enormous. As the 'dean' of league presidents, Gary has played a leadership role in practically every system issue or initiative over the past 40-plus years. We have all looked to him for leadership, advice and guidance over the years, and have benefited greatly from it. He will be missed." “I have enjoyed my long association with Alabama’s credit unions,” Wolter said. “I was fortunate to be involved with credit unions as they began to grow and expand service to their members, and it has been a truly exciting journey. “While my passion and enthusiasm for the credit union movement is as strong as ever, I feel the time is right for me to step away and spend time doing things my wife, Jean, and I have planned for some time,” he continued. “I want to thank my many credit union friends, present and past board members, my excellent staff and most of all, my family for their continued support through the years,” Wolter said.

Delaware league elects incumbents announces awards

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (4/21/08)--The Delaware Credit Union league elected two incumbent board members and announced several awards during its 50th annual meeting April 4-6 in Dover. Incumbents Meredith Jeffries, New Castle County Delaware EFCU, New Castle; and Jerry King, Dexsta FCU, Wilmington, were re-elected for three-year terms (Together April 15). Verle “Vic” Carter of Louviers FCU, Newark, and Bob Seaberg, Del-One FCU, Dover, were awarded the league's Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer awards. Joe Sisofo, manager of Wilmington (Del.) Police and Fire FCU, was awarded the 2007 Credit Union Professional award. Bernadette Hines, league education director, also announced that 61 certificates were earned by six credit unions in 2007. Credit unions receiving awards include:
* Delaware Alliance FCU, New Castle, for attending the most seminars; * Del-One FCU, for earning the most Managers Enrichment Training Program (MERIT) certificates; and * DPL FCU, Newark, for earning the most Volunteer Achievement Program certificates.

NY foundation director a panelist on fin-lit forum

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ALBANY. N.Y. (4/21/08)--Diane LaVigna-Wixted, executive director of the New York Credit Union Foundation, was one of the experts on financial education who participated in a forum on how to better educate students about finances and their futures.
Diane LaVigna-Wixted (left), executive director, New York Credit Union Foundation, posed with Dan Iannnicola Jr., deputy assistant secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Financial Education, at the recent New York Financial Literacy Forum in Albany, N.Y. (Photo provided by the New York Credit Union Foundation)
The New York Financial Literacy Forum was the lead-in event for the National Urban Alliance’s “Believe to Achieve” conference recently held in Albany and attended by 2,000 leading educators and teachers. “Many people have never had the education they need to manage their money,” LaVigna-Wixted said during her presentation. “The results are all around us: spiraling levels of credit card debt and bankruptcy, an unsustainable personal savings rate, and the current mortgage crisis, to name just a few examples. “I believe that financial educations should be taught in the schools, practiced at home, and reinforced by credit unions,” she continued. The forum also provided an overview of pending New York legislation intended to enhance the current financial literacy knowledge of New York students. New York State Rep. Harvey Weinstein (D-Long Island), a former teacher and a member of the state Assembly Education Committee, opened the event. Sam Iaanicola Jr., deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Financial Education, gave the keynote address. A legislative resolution of behalf of April 2008 as Financial Literacy Month was presented on behalf of the state Senate. The foundation was one of the sponsors of the forum.

MnCUN opposes bill to track tax cheats via FIs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/21/08)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) is opposing a state Revenue Department plan to enlist credit unions and other financial institutions in regularly checking their electronic member records to forward data on tax debtors to the state so it can collect its money. The Minnesota Revenue Department believes that it can collect an extra $10 million per year in outstanding taxes by employing the plan (Associated Press April 17). The provision is in the budget bill recommendations of Gov. Tim Pawlenty in both houses of the Minnesota legislature--House File 1812 and Senate File 3818. “Our concern is that this provision didn’t get vetted in the legislative committee process to look at privacy issues and liability issues to make sure that due process is in place,” Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president, governmental affairs, told News Now. “Minnesota credit unions are opposed to the Minnesota Department of Revenue's Data Match proposal because it places additional requirements on credit unions without adequate reimbursement," Humphrey continued. "Because this is a Minnesota-specific requirement and not a national program like child support, there will significant start-up costs," she said. "Credit unions also have significant data privacy, due process and liability concerns in regard to the proposed program.” The timing of the bill--it is to be implemented in July--is an issue as well, she added. The governor is hoping this program will help cut into the state’s $930 million budget deficit, she said.

How to get publicity for your Youth Week activities

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MADISON, Wis. (4/21/08)--Credit unions looking to garner some publicity for their activities during National Credit Union Youth Week, which kicked off yesterday, should keep a few things in mind. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) offers this advice:
* Be timely. A story in late May has little chance of publication; * Include photos--pictures of children are great--and be sure to identify everyone in the photos; * Consider using a video such as digital clip of a child explaining why he or she loves the credit union; * Keep stories concise--focus on one or two points, and offer a title. The more work you do up front, the easier it will be on the editor; and * Include all contact information. Editors may need to follow up, so be sure to give them names, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
This year’s Youth Week, hosted by CUNA, is shaping up to be the “best year ever,” according to CUNA Youth Week Coordinator Joanne Sepich. The theme is “Got Green? Grow it at Your Credit Union.” Youth Week will continue through Saturday. So far, 517 credit unions from 49 states and the District of Columbia have registered for the National Youth Savings Challenge. “We have some of the very largest credit unions and some of the very smallest credit unions participating,” Sepich said. About 83,000 youth are expected to deposit $7.6 million during Youth Week. Credit unions can report their totals to CUNA until May 1. Youth Week coincides with National Financial Literacy Month, which is designated for April. Credit unions often underestimate their deposits, Sepich noted. “For example, last year we had 476 credit unions register, with the goal of 84,950 youth depositing $7,917,200. Only 393 reported results, which were more than $10 million,” she said. Some credit union Youth Week activities occurring this week:
* PEFCU, West Lafayette, Ind., is giving a free “green” gift to youth aged 18 or younger when they make a $5 deposit. The gifts have been distributed all month, and a seedling will be given during Youth Week; * Wright-Patt CU, Fairborn, Ohio, will elect a local high school student to be president for the day. The student will win a $1,000 scholarship to Wright State University, personal limousine service, an executive office and assistant, catered lunch and a prize package including $100 cash. Students can participate by writing an essay or submitting a YouTube video; * The Austin (Texas) Chapter of Credit Unions is hosting a Youth Financial Literacy Fair today to celebrate Financial Literacy Greater Austin Week and Youth Week; and * Synergy One FCU, Manassas, Va., planted a money tree at a local middle school to promote saving for Youth Week. Synergy One, school staff, and students also will attend a brief ceremony to remind students that money doesn’t grow on trees.

Trade publisher Telling the CU difference is key to survival

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/18/08)--Communicating the credit union difference is the key to credit union survival, a trade publisher told attendees of the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s Annual Meeting and Convention April 11-12. Frank Diekmann, publisher of the Credit Union Journal also told credit union professionals and volunteers about events occurring in the credit union industry and political arena. “Credit unions have done a poor job of talking about themselves to the public at large,” Diekmann said. “Credit unions represent a value, and it’s a value that transcends time. You need to remember that and tell people that.” While branding is important, a credit union’s brand is its members’ stories and people’s perceptions of the credit union--not a logo or color scheme, Diekmann emphasized. Members must constantly be reminded that they are members, and they should be educated on what that means, he continued. It is essential for the industry to communicate the fundamentals of credit unions not only to members, but also to consumers, elected officials and the media, Diekmann added. Larry Jacobs, political pundit at the University of Minnesota, also addressed the convention group. Before beginning his presentation about nomination politics, Jacobs complimented credit unions, saying “the ability of our communities to be economically viable requires our credit unions.”

CUs on the Tube CU tells members stories in TV ads

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ATLANTA (4/18/08)--Credit unions looking for broadcast advertising ideas may want to refer to television ads produced for Delta Community CU, Atlanta. Delta Community’s ads tell the stories of their members through testimonials. The featured members talk about why the credit union is so important to them and how it fits into their lives. The members include a cosmetic artist, twin sisters and a triathlete. Delta Community has $2.5 billion in assets. To watch the ads, use the link.

Exec Book Series a feature at Americas CU Conference

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MADISON, Wis. (4/18/08)--Credit union executives and CEOs can attend an education and networking series designed around industry issues during the America’s Credit Union Conference and Expo June 29-July 2 in New York City. The event is presented by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The Executive Book Series allows registrants to network with other credit union executives and attend sessions with industry experts. Attendees receive copies of each of the eight books feature in the three-session series. Session 1: June 30--Tuned in will uncover the extraordinary opportunities that lead to business breakthroughs. David Meerman Scott, viral-marketing strategist and author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly" will explain how getting tuned into members will help create the products and services that members want. Attendees will receive Scott’s book and “Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center” by Richard Piccioto and Daniel Paisner. Session 2: July 1--Redwoods will help attendees spread their roots and coach your team to success. They will learn to develop team/alliance strategies that drive better team performance and profitability with “Redwoods” author Mark Adams. Books attendees will receive include “Contented Cows Moove Faster: How Good Leaders Get People to Put More Oomph! Into Their Work” by Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden; CUNA’s 2007-2008 Credit Union Environmental Scan Report (E-Scan) and Adams’ book. Session 3: July 1--Creating thinking hacks will be presented by Scott Berkun, author of “The Myths of Innovation.” Based on research into history’s greatest creative thinkers, Berkun will offer a simple framework to bring out creative thinking talents. Participants receive Berkun’s book plus “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Dan and Chip Heath, and “The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership” by Steve Farber. To attend the sessions, add the Executive Book Series to conference registration. For more information, use the link.

Celebration of 100 years of Americas CUs planned

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WASHINGTON (4/18/08)--The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American credit union movement is the focus of a new team composed of Credit Union System organizations announced Thursday. The “Credit Union Action at 100” (CUAT100) team is made up of representatives of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), America’s Credit Union Museum and CUNA Mutual Group. CUAT100 is charged with focusing on a variety of measures to ensure that the 100th anniversary of the American credit union movement is properly--and respectfully--marked and recognized. The team will focus on publicity and media outreach plans, marketing materials for credit unions and state leagues, creation of a historical website, and recognition events tied into major meetings, such as the 2009 America’s Credit Union Conference and Exposition, which will be held June 21-24 in Boston, in coordination with the Massachusetts Credit Union League. Members of the CUAT 100 are:
* Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president, communications; * Jill Tomalin, CUNA senior vice president, association services; * Rob Kimmett, senior vice president, marketing and public relations for the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island credit union leagues; * Chris Roe, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president, government and industry affairs; and * Peggy Powell, executive director, America’s Credit Union Museum.
The team will tap the resources of staff within their organizations, as well as reach out to additional groups within the movement during the course of its planning. “Credit unions were a groundbreaking concept and continue to shake the earth today with outstanding service to consumers,” Wolff said. “For 100 years, people have shown how--working cooperatively--they can pool their resources to help one another and take control of their own financial futures. “Today, credit unions remain true to their original mission while pursuing innovations that will help us keep pace with the 21st century needs of our members.” CUAT100 will take measures to highlight the credit union movement’s noble past, vibrant present and promising future in celebratory events and activities, Wolff added.

CU System briefs (04/17/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (4/18/08)--Alastair Shore, senior vice president and chief underwriter for credit union insurer CUNA Mutual Group, Wednesday addressed the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, chaired by U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) On behalf of CUNA Mutual, the American Insurance Association and the American Council of Life Insurers, Shore said the groups strongly support Optional Federal Chartering (OFC) for insurance companies as the best alternative for modernizing and reforming the current state-based insurance regulatory system. OFC would complement, not replace the state model, he testified. "We strongly support a single authority for insurers that choose to be regulated at the federal level, while maintaining the state-based regulatory system for insurers that choose to remain state-regulated," said Shore. He said the current system "reflects a regulatory approach rooted in the 19th century that includes stifling regulatory regimes and has contributed to the outflow of risk-bearing capital to jurisdictions with more rational and efficient regulatory systems." (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group) … * FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/08)--Hal Thomas, retired CEO of Community Resource CU, Baytown, was inducted Wednesday into the Texas Credit Union Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Texas Credit Union League's Annual Meeting and Expo in Houston (LoneStar Leaguer April 17). Thomas began his credit union career in 1964 as CEO of Exxon Baytown CU and retired in 2007 as CEO of Community Resource CU. He is a past director of the league and of the Credit Union National Association, and past president of the Houston Chapter of Credit Unions. He also served a six-year term as a member of the Texas Credit Union Department Commission … * WICHITA, Kan. (4/18/08)--Boeing Wichita CU (BWCU) President/CEO Gary Regoli has accepted the position of president/CEO at Clearwater, Fla.-based Achieva CU. His last day at the $519 million asset BWCU--Kansas' largest credit union--will be May 15 (Wichita Business Journal April 16). Wade Bruendl, chief operations officer, has been named interim president/CEO and a search for Regoli's replacement has begun. Regoli took the position at the $618 million asset Achieva because it was an opportunity to return home, he said in a press release. He spent 20 years in Florida before joining BWCU. He will start at Achieve on June 2 … * BELLEVUE, Neb. (4/18/08)--SAC FCU has formed a task force to provide financial education to cash-based consumers in the community who may be using predatory lenders. The task force aims to help them minimize expenses by developing a basic understanding of financial services and fees, and learning the importance of protecting their identity. The task force developed a curriculum and has begun teaching classes at the NAF Multicultural Human Development Corp. with students from English as a Second Language courses. Shown here are, from left, Roberto Reyes, branch manager of the credit union's South Omaha branch; Gail DeBoer, SAC FCU president; and a student participating in the program. (Photo provided by SAC FCU) …

Iowa foundation receives 342000 grant for IDA program

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/18/08)--Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that the state Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Iowa Credit Union Foundation $342,080 to help fund the Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Account (IDA) program. The IDA program will provide lower-income Iowans an incentive to develop savings habits as they pursue homeownership, higher education, or the start-up or expansion of a small business. The goal is to help low-income families because economically self-sufficient. “We are thrilled to have received this federal grant that will help us launch the first credit union supported IDA program in the state,” said Marybeth Foster, foundation executive director. “Our program will provide members with an opportunity to acquire long-term financial stability.” Twelve credit unions were chosen by the foundation’s IDA committee in March to pilot the program, which launches this summer (See News Now April 17 for a list). “We anticipate more Iowa credit unions will participate in the future,” Foster said. “This is a flagship program of the foundation and we look forward to growing this initiative.”

Pa. Supreme Court hears Belco Community charter case

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/18/08)--Oral arguments concerning Belco Community CU’s conversion to a community charter were presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday. Belco, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, and bank parties presented arguments regarding the $277.5 million asset, Harrisburg, Pa.-based Belco’s conversion to a community charter to serve seven counties located in central Pennsylvania (Life is a Highway April 17). In November 2006, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the state’s Department of Banking committed an error when it declined to grant bank parties a hearing regarding Belco’s charter. Wednesday’s arguments were the final step in the appeal process, said the PCUA. “We asked the court to focus on Belco’s rights and privileges pursuant to the Credit Union Code,” said Rick Wargo, PCUA executive vice president and general counsel. “The banks insist they have rights to comment and intervene in credit union matters. We educated the court that credit unions have express rights and that the legislature laid out specific procedures for doing business before the department. “The court will have to examine the record before it and strike a balance between these competing interests,” he added. No timetable has been set for a decision, PCUA said. In March, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the community charter notices of Freedom CU, Warminster, and Trumark Financial CU, Trevose. The credit union community also is awaiting a decision from the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, PCUA said. The federal case challenged a series of decisions in which the National Credit Union Administration granted community charters to Members 1st FCU, Mechanicsburg; New Cumberland (Pa.) FCU, and AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg.

Filene CUs can become Gen Y-ers lifelong partner

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/18/08)--Credit unions are positioned to help younger generations achieve success and become their lifelong financial partner, George Hofheimer, chief research officer for the Filene Research Institute, told the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL). Hofheimer spoke at the TCUL’s 74th Annual Meeting and Expo in Houston this week. He led a panel discussion with Generation Y and credit union staff members who shared their ideas about attracting the younger generation (LoneStar Leaguer April 17). “Credit unions are about serving those younger generations and meeting their needs,” Hofheimer said. While people need to network, young adults “do it differently,” said Hofheimer. Trey Reeme, director of channel integration for Texas Dow Employees CU, Lake Jackson, agreed. He told how young people view information on the Web through social networking sites such as Facebook. Credit unions should adapt to these trends because they will be important in the future, Reeme said. “Mobile business is coming but branches aren’t dead,” he said. “Integration will be key.” Filene is planning a series of monthly releases, Business Briefs, that can be downloaded from www.filene.org. The briefs describe the issues young adults face and will be available soon, Hofheimer added.

Merger rates up overall liquidation rates down in 07

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/08)--Merger rates of credit unions overall rose during 2007, while liquidation rates overall dropped, according to year-end statistics from the Credit Union National Association. During the year, 15 credit unions were liquidated and 341 credit unions merged. The year also saw the formation of five new credit unions and the reactivation of a sixth credit union. Seventy-one credit unions started merger or liquidation processes during the year. Although merger rates were higher overall, despite asset size, except among two asset groups: credit unions with assets of less than $0.5 million or greater than $100 million. Liquidation rates rose or held steady among credit unions larger than $1 million in assets. Merger rates increased for both federal and state-chartered credit unions last year, with 0.1% of federal chartered credit unions merging, and 0.21% of state-chartered credit unions did so. Liquidation rates fell among state-chartered credit unions and stayed steady for federal charters.

DeltaNorthwest merger an opportunity for CUs

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ATLANTA, Ga., and APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (4/17/08)--It's too early to tell what effects--if any--the proposed merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines will have on members of the credit unions that serve those airlines' employees. Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines Monday announced their intent to merge in a $3.1 billion deal that would create the world's biggest airline. Two credit unions serve the airlines' employees: Delta Community CU, based in Atlanta, and Wings Financial CU, based in Apple Valley, Minn. The merger--far from a done deal--is not a situation that will filter into the credit unions and their members anytime soon, according to the two credit unions. Nothing will change for their members soon. However, down the line, the merger could be an opportunity to provide services to their existing and new members. Even though the future's not clear, “We stand ready to meet the financial needs of Delta’s employees now and in the future regardless of the outcome of the current proposed merger with Northwest Airlines,” Mary Olson, vice president of marketing at Delta Community CU, told News Now. "This merger creates a tremendous opportunity for Wings Financial," CEO Paul Parish wrote in a message to its members. "We'll be exposed to thousands of potential new members, each with the opportunity to bring their financial services needs to Wings Financial." Wings earlier had diversified its membership beyond serving Northwest Airlines by adding family membership and expanding its charter to include the entire air transportation industry. In 2006, it opened an office in Atlanta, which "is well-located to serve the employees of the new combined carrier," Parish said. However, "we have no intention of changing any of our office operations at the present time. While that might change as the merger process progresses," the credit union will keep members informed of its plans as they develop, the notice said. If the merger goes through and layoffs ensue, Delta Community CU already has in place a strategy for such situations. “We have a program available to all of our members whose income and/or employment status has been adversely affected as a result of an involuntary furlough, job change, voluntary leave of absence, severance or early retirement program," according to Mary Olson "These members may be eligible for deferral of loan payments through our Member Assistance Program. Once they qualify, all consumer loan (excluding Visa, and first and second mortgage loans) payments may be deferred for a specified period of time,” she added. Should the merger occur, the two credit unions likely would be competing for the same membership. Olson indicated that wouldn't be a problem. "People have choices. Many credit unions overlap (membership) with others, and many people can join more than one credit union." Regardless of the outcome, Delta Community CU will be there.

Illinois league kicks off annual meeting today

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/17/08)--Nearly 900 executives representing 150 credit unions are expected to attend the Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) 78th Annual Convention, which starts today in Chicago. The convention, themed “Blazing New Trails,” begins with a delegates’ meeting. Barry Schmidt, who will represent the Greater Decatur Chapter of Credit Unions, will be sworn in as a new ICUL director. John Bratsakis, senior vice president of business development for Baxter CU, Vernon Hills, Ill., will be sworn in Friday morning as the league’s new chairman of the board. David Walker, CEO, Decatur (Ill.) Earthmover CU, will receive the league’s Hall of Fame award. The convention wraps up Saturday.

CU System briefs (04/16/2008)

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* BURNSVILLE, Minn. (4/17/08)--US FCU collected a total of 14,094.31 dollars/pounds for the Minnesota FoodShare program, donating nearly $10,000, plus 4,182 pounds in food, in its annual USFCU Olympic challenge. The $742 million asset credit union surpassed its goal of 8,000 dollars/pounds. Staff competed in the spirit of the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics in department and branch teams. The Triathlon winners, accepting their gold, silver and bronze medals, are, from left, Doug Paulson, Ben Nikosch and Justin Dunn. (Photo provided by US FCU) … * SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (4/17/08)--The board of SaskCentral, the Saskatchewan provincial trade association for credit unions, has elected Don Blocka of Conexus CU, Prince Albert, as board president. Blocka has served on the SaskCentral board since 2002. At its annual meeting in Saskatoon, SaskCentral welcomed two new board members: Pieter McNair, CEO, Kelvington CU; and Ken Sherwin, board member of Cornerstone CU, Yorkton (Marketwire April 15) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/17/08)--Clarion University FCU, Clarion, Pa., will merge with Harrisburg-based $2.958 billion asset Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU) on July 1, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 14). Members of the $6.4 million asset Clarion credit union voted in favor of merging. The merger is a natural fit for PSECU because students, faculty and alumni of Clarion University are already within its field of membership, said PSECU President Greg Smith … * UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (4/17/08)--Two community CUs in Prince George's County, Md., have merged, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). Prince George's Community FCU, with $91.7 million in assets and 12,000 members, now serves members of the former First Combined Community FCU, with $2 million in assets and 2,300 members. The merger was effective March 31 (FOCUS Newsletter April 14) … * ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (4/17/08)--The New Mexico Information Technology and Software Association honored seven women April 3 for outstanding contributions to the technology industry. Among them was Patricia Janney of New Mexico Energy FCU, Albuquerque. They were honored at the association's first annual Women in Technology Recognition Celebration, part of a new program to promote careers for women in technology (Portfolio.com April 15) … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/17/08)--Maria Angelova, administrative assistant, wealth management at Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif., will attend the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) 2008 World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong with support from the California Credit Union League and the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation. Angelova, a recipient of the league's Tomorrow's Star Award, also is the league's nominee for a WOCCU Young Credit Union Professional (WYCUP) Scholarship. WYCUP awards five young professionals attending the world conference an all-expense paid trip to attend the next conference, WOCCU's 2009 conference in Barcelona, Spain. Last year's league nominee, Elizabeth Randall, vice president of member service at Pasadena FCU, received a WYCUP scholarship to attend this year's conference July 13-16 …

Wash. state regulators letter interprets dividend

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (4/17/08)--Credit unions need to be clear in their advertising and avoid statements that may be misleading, inaccurate or untrue when using the terms “dividends” and “interest,” according to the state of Washington Division of Credit Unions. Linda Jekel, state director of credit unions, sent Interpretive Letter 1-08-03 to state-chartered credit union CEOs April 9. “Since both interest and dividends are allowed for state-chartered credit unions, and every credit union is responsible for handling its own consumer disclosure, it is important to verify that the terms are being used correctly,” she wrote. Many credit unions use the terms interchangeably when, in fact, they are two different things, Jekel wrote. “‘Interest’ is compensation, fixed by agreement, for the use of money, with rights generally enforceable by contract,” she explained. “‘Dividends’ are discretionary payments, distributed from authorized sources, upon approval by boards of directors. Both pay investors in an amount expressed as an ‘APY’--annual percentage yield.” Jekel advised the state’s credit unions to check all forms and advertising materials, including information posted on their websites. She also suggested checking all the fine print and footnotes on all consumer disclosures and advertising, making certain that the terms “interest” and “dividend” are used accurately and consistently, not interchangeably.

Twelve CUs piloting IDA program in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/17/08)--Twelve Iowa credit unions will launch the Credit Union Family Partnership Program--the Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s Individual Development Account (IDA) initiative. Participating credit unions were selected by the foundation’s IDA Committee, composed of foundation executive committee members (ICUF April Foundation Newsletter April 2). The pilot group will include:
* ACE Community CU, Ames; * Affinity CU, Des Moines; * Ascentra CU, Bettendorf; * Cedar Falls Community CU, Cedar Falls: * Community 1st CU, Ottumwa; * Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque; * DuTrac Community CU, Dubuque; * Employees CU, Estherville; * Family Community CU, Charles City; * Linn Area CU, Cedar Rapids; * Marine CU, Decorah; and * Veridian CU, Waterloo.
The pilot credit unions will participate in a day-long training session today, led by Coopera Consulting, which is providing staff support to the foundation for the program.

First Basin incumbents re-elected to board

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ODESSA, Texas (4/17/08)--Three incumbent board members of First Basin CU, Odessa, Texas, were re-elected to their positions during a meeting Tuesday night. Board Chairman Annette Snowden, Board Member Justin Beseril and CEO Shem Culpepper retained their spots on the board. About 400 people were present at the meeting (CBS 7 April 15). A large portion of attendees were First Basin CU employees, member Danny Armstrong, who ran for a position on the board, told News Now. Armstrong received 80 votes. “I felt that [First Basin] had 100% of their employees in attendance,” he said. “Most employees had someone in tow with them, such as a spouse.” Armstrong is a member of Save First Basin, a group formed by some members who opposed First Basin’s proposal to convert to a bank earlier this year. He noted that he wasn’t aware Culpepper was a board member. “I almost fell over,” he said. Culpepper also gave an hour-long speech criticizing the activities of Save First Basin, Armstrong said. Members of Save First Basin did not know the names of candidates running for re-election prior to the meeting, Armstrong said. Save First Basin had contacted the credit union for the names, but First Basin did not release the information. First Basin attempted to convert to a mutual savings bank last month but suspended its vote on the merger. At that time, Culpepper said that “numerous false statements” were circulated about the merger (News Now Feb. 18). Save First Basin also filed for a deposition this week from Culpepper and Snowdon regarding the proposed merger (News Now April 15). Earlier the credit union had filed a motion for depositions from Save First Basin members. A call to First Basin from News Now was not returned by press time.

Pending IASB standards may hurt small CUs--WOCCU

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/08)--Certain provisions in the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) proposed accounting standards for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be detrimental to credit unions, according to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). WOCCU made its position known to IASB officials last week in a letter written by Dave Grace, vice president of WOCCU Association Services. WOCCU’s concerns focus on the draft’s failure to clearly identify to whom the standards apply and its failure to significantly simplify reporting requirements for smaller institutions, according to Grace. “Excluding credit unions from the scope of the SME standards and requiring adherence to the full International Financial Reporting Standards is both impractical and counter to the IASB's intention of making accounting requirements more accessible to smaller non-listed institutions,” Grace wrote in his letter to IASB board member Thomas E. Jones. Specific areas of concern include the draft's failure to clarify whether, as member-owned financial cooperatives, credit unions fall within the document's provisions. The draft articulates application to entities that hold public assets “for a broad group of outsiders such as a bank, insurance entity, securities broker/dealer, pension fund, mutual fund or investment banking entity.” Failure to include credit unions in the list may imply inclusion in full International Financial Reporting Standards, which could create insurmountable hurdles for many SMEs, Grace wrote. A second area of concern is IASB's required use of “fair-value accounting” methods and its usage in credit union mergers. The intent of a credit union merger is not an attempt “to bid up or receive any price beyond book value of its outstanding ownership shares,” Grace told IASB. The way mergers are accounted for on the newly combined entity's financial statement could be misleading and negatively impact the credit union's capital-to-asset ratios in some jurisdictions, Grace wrote. “We strongly recommend that the pooling-of-interest method, which does not require a fair valuation of both entities pre-combination, be allowed for SMEs or, at a minimum, for cooperatives and micro-entities with fewer than 10 employees,” Grace wrote. The average credit union worldwide to which these regulations would apply has 2,650 members, $19 million in assets and 7.5 employees. WOCCU also recommended a longer transition period for implementing the standards, given the often sluggish flow of information to small credit unions in some developing countries.

Motion filed to consolidate nine Hannaford lawsuits

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BANGOR, Maine (4/17/08)--A motion seeking to consolidate about nine lawsuits into a single federal class-action lawsuit against grocery chain Hannaford Bros. has been filed in a U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine. The motion to consolidate was filed on behalf of Greg Doherty and "all others similarly situated" against Hannaford. The Scarborough, Maine-based company announced earlier this year a breach of data in transit at its stores resulted in the exposure of 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers to potential fraud (Times Herald-Record April 16). Credit unions in New England, New York and Florida were among the financial institutions that re-issued cards for members whose accounts were compromised by the data breach. The newest motion alleges that Hannaford was negligent in not providing adequate data security and did not inform its customers quickly enough about the breach. The breach occurred between Dec. 7, 2007, and March 10. It was discovered Feb. 27, and the breach was made public March 17. The breach affected about 300 grocery stores in the Hannaford Bros. and Florida's Sweetbay chains, plus a number of independent grocers. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the various cases are still trying to determine the scope of the damages. Hannaford Bros. said during the week of its breach announcements that less than 2,000 accounts had been victims of fraudulent activity from the breach. The breach was unusual in that the thieves captured the data while they were being transmitted after the cards were swiped to authorize the transaction at the point of purchase.

Canadian CU Centrals merger hinges on 100 million buyout

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TORONTO (4/16/08)--A proposed merger of Credit Union Central of Ontario and Credit Union Central of British Columbia hinges on whether Ontario's credit unions will agree to provide up to $100 million to buy frozen asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) from the Ontario central. According to The Globe and Mail (April 15), Credit Union Central of Ontario approached its member credit unions about buying the frozen ABCP during its annual meeting the weekend of April 5. They will vote on the proposal on May 31. Art Chamberlain, spokesman for Credit Union Central of Ontario, said that if the proposal fails, the merger will be called off. If members approve the plan, the paper will move from the central's books to a trust fund for the credit unions, and the merger will take place. The association was stuck with $161 million of the short-term instruments after $35 billion of Canadian ABCP were frozen last August after buyers disappeared due to fears the investments were linked to U.S. subprime mortgages. The market turmoil forced the two centrals to postpone their merger, which had been expected to close last September. If the ABCP plan is approved, the merger will take place July 1. Roughly $32 billion of the frozen ABCP is expected to be restructure by that date, pending a vote by all ABCP investors.

DuTrac Community CU in Iowas first IDA program

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (4/16/08)--DuTrac Community CU has been asked to participate in Iowa’s first credit union individual development account program--the Credit Union Family Partnership Program. Individual development accounts (IDAs) are matched savings accounts, in which a participant’s savings are matched by a grant from another organization. Participants must meet income guidelines to qualify for an IDA account. DuTrac will open the savings accounts and match the funding, thanks to private grants the credit union received from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. Savings and matching funds are used by the individual to purchase a specific asset--such as financing a home, starting or expanding a business, paying for education or job training, or purchasing a vehicle to get to work. “Iowa credit unions are in a unique position to offer no-cost savings accounts to families and individuals who need help saving,” said Marybeth Foster, executive director of the foundation. “Our immediate goal is to offer financial education and a method of saving for a specific asset.” The $325.6 million asset, Dubuque, Iowa-based credit union will work with the foundation, the Iowa Credit Union League, the league’s subsidiary Coopera Consulting and other statewide partners to develop the IDA program. The program is expected to launch in summer 2008.

IMarketWatchI to African-Americans Consider a CU

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (4/16/08)--African-Americans who want to gain more access to credit, should consider a credit union, according to a Monday article by MarketWatch columnists. Gail Liberman and Alan Lavine cite a new report titled “Credit Card Redlining” by Ethan Cohen-Cole, financial economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, that finds African-Americans are offered less credit than their white counterparts. Obtaining credit is key to financial success, according to most economists, the columnists said. Among the five steps that can help consumers seeking credit, the columnists listed: “Before applying for a loan … contact more than one institution, and consider credit unions, which often have some of the lowest rates. “Find a credit union you can join at CUNA.org. (Credit Union National Association). Avoid loans with prepay penalties,” they continued.

Sub-Zero layoffs may impact small CU

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/08)--Layoffs at a manufacturer of high-end refrigeration and cooking appliances could have an impact on a small Wisconsin credit union that serves some if its employees. About 200 Madison area employees will be laid off from Sub/Zero Wolf of Fitchburg, Wis. Of those, about 125 belong to Members First CU, Madison, according to Nicholas Kessenich, president of the credit union. “I do not know how much of an impact it will have on our credit union,” Kessenich told News Now. The $15.5 million asset Members First serves about 15 different employer groups, Kessenich said. It has about 2,680 members. “We will work with each of the laid-off employees who are our members as much as we can to help them,” Kessenich said. “There are different ways we can work with people on this.” Some of the ways the credit union can help members is to give them loan extensions and rewrite loans to give members a lower monthly payment, Kessenich said.

MnCUN elects new directors

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (4/16/08)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network elected table officers and four incumbent representatives at its Annual Meeting and Convention April 11-12 in Bloomington, Minn. Representatives elected to three-year terms on the board are:
* Kyle Markland, Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul; * Richard Nesvold, SouthPoint FCU, Sleepy Eye; * Bill Raker, US FCU, Burnsville; and * Randy Willert, Greater Minnesota CU, Mora.
Table officers for 2008 are: Chairman Harry Carter, TopLine FCU, Maple Grove; Vice-chairman Markland; and Secretary/Treasurer Patrick Pierce, City and County CU, St. Paul. About 450 credit union professionals and volunteers representing 75 credit unions attended the meeting.

CU System briefs (04/15/2008)

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* MADISON, Wis. (4/16/08)--CORRECTION: A News Now item on federal law changes in student loans incorrectly reported Tuesday that two large student-lender credit unions had pulled out of the federal student loan program. The University of Southern California credit union and the University of Texas credit union have not dropped out of the Federal Family Education Loan and Direct Loan programs. News Now regrets the error … * MANCHESTER, N.H.--America's Credit Union Museum's board plans a Oct. 23 premier showing at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, N.H., of its 100th Anniversary Video to celebrate the founding of the U.S. credit union movement. It also encouraged submissions of memorabilia for the museum and contributions to help it retire its mortgage and begin building an endowment for future operations. Use the link for the full story.



The museum board includes, from left: Daniel F. Egan Jr., president, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union Leagues and Credit Union Association of Rhode Island; Ronald J. Rioux, president/CEO, St. Mary's Bank CU; Peter J. Lemire, Esq.; Gordon A. Simmons, museum board chairman and president/CEO, Service CU; Michael L'Ecuyer, president/CEO, Bellwether Community CU; Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League; Peggy Powell, museum executive director; Rudy Hanley, president/CEO, Orange County Teachers FCU; John Murphy, president, Maine Credit Union League; Francois G. Henriquez, senior vice president and general counsel, U.S. Central CU; and Pete Crear, president/CEO, World Council of Credit Unions. (Photo provided by the New Hampshire Credit Union League) … * DENVER, Colo. (4/16/08)--Former legendary Colorado State University football coach Sonny Lubick has been hired as vice president of community outreach and public relations at Public Service CU. He will help the credit union develop relationships and membership in Larimer County. "We will be working hard to meet the financial service needs of the people of Northern Colorado," said PSCU President/CEO David Maus. Coach Lubick said, "When I first began my teaching career, I got my first car loan from the teacher's credit union." He noted credit unions made an even greater impact on his and his wife Pat's lives when Hurricane Andrew destroyed their home in 1992. "We had nothing left, and the credit union gave us $10,000 to help us get back on our feet. It was a life-saver when we did not know where else to turn," he said. PSCU recently acquired Norlarco CU and has retained more than 90% of the previous local staff … * SACO, Maine (4/16/08)--PeoplesChoice CU has introduced a mobile banking service, where "members can securely view their account balances, transfer funds and receive customized alerts about their account status, such as low funds," said President Luke Labbe. The $133 million asset credit union has taken precautions, including multi-factor authentication, member-selected passwords and secure socket layer connection, to ensure data security … * WASHINGTON (4/16/08)--Fraudulent traveler's checks, bearing a number of financial institutions' routing numbers and variations of their names, are reportedly in circulation, said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). The fake checks include a statement, "Issued by Federal Credit Union, D.C." The items don't indicate any affiliation with a major traveler's check issuer and are referred to as "Travelers Cheques." They have been presented in $100 denominations. The front of the items include an American flag overlaid with the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol, with "Support Our Freedom" beneath the image. The back of the checks display the amount $100 in all four corners and the U.S. Capitol in the center. An image of an eagle in front of an American flag is on either side of the back …

CUNAs online youth magazine redesigns middle-school level

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MADISON, Wis. (4/16/08)--New interactive features were recently added to the middle-school level of CUNA’s three-in-one online youth magazine, Googolplex. “AJ’s” allows middle-school readers to:
* Log in with their own screen name and save favorite content; * Post notes to other users (this feature is moderated); * Create a hero icon and invite their friends to join their league of heroes; * Submit questions for possible use in an upcoming reader poll; * Request notification of new content on specific topics; and * Read the Kid Kred comic strip online and vote to determine the direction of future episodes.
AJ’s also has new, challenging games and brainteasers that keep the site interesting and relevant to the age group. Middle schoolers can still learn how to earn and manage their money through stories. Googolplex offers credit union-specific consumer stories and games designed to make youth of all ages feel welcome on credit union websites. New content is added weekly throughout Googolplex’s three reading and interest levels:
* 5-Spot--addresses basic money concepts such as saving and spending for elementary students; * AJ’s--helps middle schoolers tackle popular topics such as making friends, getting rich, and shopping; and * C-Note--contains financial and personal advice on common interests, such as cars, college, getting rich, and shopping for high school students.
For more information, use the link.

Says CUAO Oregons CUs a sound option amid market turmoil

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/16/08)--Oregon consumers can rely on credit unions for financial safety and soundness, the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) said Monday. As news about turmoil in the banking industry spreads, credit unions are being commended for the services they provide. They also tend to make more conservative business decisions and investments, which helped credit unions avoid the subprime mortgage mess, the association said. “The lure of profit margins to be had in the subprime mortgage market didn’t make a lot of business sense for credit unions,” said Pamela Leavitt, CUAO senior vice president of governmental affairs and public relations. “The underlying volatility in these types of loans put up glaring red flags to credit union decision makers. The consensus credit leaders made on subprime lending was ‘no thanks.’” Credit unions offer lower loan rates and higher savings rates than banks, the association said. “Credit unions have always been, and are today, a positive in the financial marketplace. Our hope is that consumers take this opportunity to look around and see that there is another choice available to them for all their financial transactions,” Leavitt added. Oregon credit unions have served 1.4 million members since the 1920s.

INY Daily NewsI CU only one whod lend to blind mechanic

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BRONX, N.Y. (4/15/08)--On Monday, when the New York Daily News published a story about Bronx, N.Y.-based Bethex FCU giving a business loan to a blind mechanic when no other would, two people called Bethex wanting to join. “That’s how we found out (about the article),” said Bethex CEO Joy Cousminer. Bethex gave a business loan to mechanic Fitz Octave about one year ago. Octave, who is legally blind, came to the U.S. from his native Caribbean with skills in auto repair. He wanted to open his own business, but the banks he visited turned him down. Octave had a savings account with Bethex, so he went to the credit union for help. “He had a good business plan,” said Bethex Loan Officer Maria Estrella. Bethex gave Octave a $15,000 loan, and his business is doing well, Estrella said. Octave had a $15,000 state grant and $30,000 in savings also, but he needed more. The banks he visited--Bank of America, Washington Mutual, Chase and HSBC--had all turned him away (New York Daily News April 14). Unlike a conventional bank, which gives out loans based on credit scores, Bethex looks at each situation individually. “We’re old-fashioned,” Estrella said. She calls Octave once a month. “We always call him,” she said. “We want to make sure he’s doing okay.” Bethex lends to about 42 small businesses. The credit union also helps market the businesses by sending out a list of the businesses the credit union serves with each member’s statement in the mail. “When people are looking for auto repair, they know where to go,” Estrella said. Aside from being the only credit union in the area that helps start-up businesses, according to Estrella, Bethex also provides free tax preparation for its members and remittances. “We’re the great one,” Estrella said. “There’s no other credit union like Bethex.” Bethex started as a credit union serving mothers on welfare and continued serving only those on welfare for about five years, Cousminer said. Now, members’ incomes are varied, but all borrowers must abide by the same rules. “Some people feel that trust goes along with the amount of income,” she said, but noted that it isn’t always the case. Bethex caters to the “poorest of the poor,” but all of Bethex’s employees are from the community, so they know what members need, Cousminer added. “We do wonderfully,” she said. “We’re a good credit union.”

First Basin group files to depose officials

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ODESSA, Texas (4/15/08)--On the eve of today's annual meeting of First Basin CU, members of a group formed to oppose an earlier conversion attempt petitioned the courts, seeking depositions from key officials of the credit union. Attorneys for Save First Basin and members Carol Uranga, Letty Ayaly-Moreno and Sylvia Acosta filed the petition Monday in the District Court of Ector County, Texas. It requests authority to take depositions from the Odessa, Texas-based credit union CEO Shem Culpepper and Board Chairman Annette Snowdon. The depositions relate to a potential claim of defamation and breach of fiduciary responsibilities, said the court document. However, it also says "a suit is not actually anticipated at this time." The group announced at a press conference at the Ector County Courthouse that it filed the petition because the $113 million asset credit union had spent roughly $500,000 "of member-owned funds trying to convert" the credit union to a mutual savings bank earlier this year. The group says the credit union will hold elections for the board of directors tonight at the annual meeting, but added the sitting directors have not told members the election will take place. A notice of an annual meeting does not mention a board election. Save First Basin planned to field a slate of candidates but said the credit union has not informed members when the election would be or which directors are up for re-election. Going on the assumption that a vote will be conducted tonight, the group flew an airplane trailing a banner reading "First Basin Votes Tues! SaveFirstBasin.com" over Odessa on Sunday. Monday's legal action comes just over a month after the group reported that management had announced it would sue three members. The credit union has not confirmed that report (News Now March 13). In February, the credit union announced it would suspend the membership vote and special meeting on the proposal to convert to a mutual savings bank. The credit union cited "numerous false statements" being circulated by opponents of the conversion proposal (News Now Feb. 18).

CU System briefs (04/14/2008)

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* NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/15/08)--Sixty-five representatives of credit unions attended a reception organized by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) for Ken Ross, Michigan's new commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR). The April 4 event was hosted by Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village (Michigan Monitor April 14). Ross--former vice president of regulatory and legal affairs at MCUL--was appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to head the agency in February. He told the group he appreciates "the value of a financial cooperative where people have control of their own finances. When times are hard, credit unions can play a key role in helping members keep their car so that they can get to work, or kept their homes so that they don't end up on the street." From left are MCUL President/CEO David Adams; Ross; and Michigan First CU President/CEO Mike Poulos. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * SAN ANTONIO and PLANO, Texas (4/15/08)--Southwest Corporate FCU received a trophy for the Best Network Security Program in 2007 from Digital Defense Inc. (DDI), which provides information security assessment services and Software as a Service (SaaS) security compliance solutions. Each year DDI selects one client to receive the award (Business Wire April 14). Mark Belle, DDI vice president of security and compliance operations, presented the award at the corporate's Plano, Texas, headquarters. "We place a very high priority on information security," said Jerry Delezen, vice president, information technology at Southwest Corporate … * GERMANTOWN, Md. (4/15/08)--Mid-Atlantic FCU (MAFCU) announced the funding of its first small business loan under the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 7(a) Guaranteed Loan Program. MAFCU said it was the first credit union in the Washington Metropolitan Area to receive authorization to originate loans of this type. "We sought SBA authorization in an effort to provide a full range of financing options to business owners in Montgomery County," said Frank Amantia, vice president of commercial and mortgage lending at the $200 million-plus asset credit union … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/15/08)--Catherine A. Roberts, CEO of Community Choice CU, Livonia, Mich., will retire June 30 after 32 years as a credit union CEO. Robert Bava, president of Community Choice CU, will succeed her (Michigan Monitor April 14). Upon her retirement, Roberts will become the credit union's president of legislative affairs to devote more time to educating legislators about the value of credit union membership. Roberts also will continue her position as secretary of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Since 1976, she has led several credit unions, including Trenton Resins CU; Monsanto Employees FCU; and Research FCU, which merged with Community Choice CU in 2007. She also has served as a Michigan Credit Union League director and alternate director, and as director at the Credit Union National Association and at WOCCU …

Florida league signs partnership with Brazil league

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (4/15/08)--The Florida Credit Union League and Confederacao Interesadual das Cooperativas Ligadas ao SICREDI (SICREDI), a trade association for 130 Brazilian credit unions, signed a partnership agreement last week to improve services to member credit unions in both countries.
Click to view larger image The Florida Credit Union League (FCUL) and Confederacao Interesadual das Cooperativas Ligadas ao SICREDI (SICREDI) gathered in Brazil to sign a partnership agreement. From left are: Front row, William DeMare, Bay Gulf CU president/CEO; Orlando Borges Müller, SICREDI Central RS manager; John Hirabayashi, Community First CU president/CEO and FCUL chairman; Alcenor Pagnussatt, SICREDI president; Victor Corro, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Partnerships manager; and Ademar Schardong, SICREDI Cooperative Bank president; Back row, Luiz Carlos Wanderer, SICREDI regional manager; David Brock, Community Educators CU president/CEO; Robert Beskovoyne, Martin FCU president; Cassandra Grayson, FCUL senior vice president, administration; Joshua Fetting, WOCCU program specialist; and Enio Meinen, SICREDI vice president and director. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The World Council of Credit Union (WOCCU) now has 27 international partnerships between the U.S. or Canada and developing countries. The Florida-Brazil partnership will focus on international shared branching, reducing the cost of remittances between the U.S. and Brazilm, and staff exchanges between the two regarding technology, marketing, and efficient management of investment and liquidity at central financial facilities. Florida credit unions also would provide services to Brazilian travelers through shared branching. “It will be interesting to see the interaction of two peers in advancing their respective credit unions to deliver enhanced products and services to their members,” said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships Program manager. “We are very happy to now have a direct link with the U.S. through the Florida Credit Union League,” added Alcenor Pagnussatt, SICREDI CEO and a WOCCU director. Five Florida credit union and league representatives traveled to Porto Alegre, Brazil, to meet with SICREDI executives last week to sign the agreement. During the visit, Florida representatives heard presentations on the Brazilian organization’s infrastructure and how it serves members. SICREDI’s business model differs from the U.S. league structure because the association owns a cooperative bank that provides back-office support and services to its 130 member credit unions. SICREDI credit unions also share the same branding, look and feel in each of their service centers.

Kansas governor signs FOM law

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/15/08)--Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Friday signed a bill that places geographic restrictions on the areas credit unions can serve. With support from the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA), the new field-of-membership (FOM) law grandfathers all existing credit union members and their immediate family members, all existing occupational and associational groups, current geographic fields of membership up to one million in population and all current branch counties. It also outlines geographic limitations of up to 500,000 in population using multiple contiguous political jurisdictions for credit unions not headquartered in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA). “Although this new field-of-membership statute of one million in population for MSAs and 500,000 for rural areas may be very restrictive for other states, this could equate geographically to over one-third of the state of Kansas for MSA areas and over one-half for rural credit unions,” KCUA said in a statement released to News Now. Kansas has a population of 2.6 million. Under the grandfathering provisions, a credit union is allowed to include additional territory for branches outside of their geographic area. Credit unions with geographic areas can still serve members outside of their geographic area through multiple common bonds that include associational and occupational groups. “We felt this was a critical element of any new FOM provision,” the league said. The association will hold seminars and regional workshops on the new provisions of the statute to assist credit unions with compliance under the grandfathering provisions by Jan. 1, 2009, and training on the new application and notice requirements under the expansion provisions that go into effect this July 1.

Fed law changes prompt educators CU to drop student loans

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SPOKANE, Wash. (4/15/08)--A change in a federal law has been cited by Spokane Teachers CU (STCU) as the key reason it has dropped out of the student loan business. “We are not alone,” STCU President Steve Dahlstrom told News Now. “Hundreds of credit unions and banks nationwide are dropping out of the student loan business." There are two sections in H.R. 2669 that significantly reduce the margin on student loans to the point where continued participation is unfeasible, Dahlstrom explained. Sec. 201, which phases in cuts in the interest rate charged to undergraduate student borrowers under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and Direct Loan (DL) programs, thereby reducing the rate to 3.4% in July 2011 from 6.8% in July 2006. Sec. 305 changes the formula for calculating special allowance payments (SAPs) made to FFEL lenders, to compensate them for the difference between FFEL interest rates and market rates, by reducing the lender rate: (1) by 0.40 percentage points for loans held by nonprofit lenders; and (2) by 0.55 percentage points for all other lenders. It equalizes the SAP rate for FFEL Stafford and PLUS loans. Sec. 305 also increases the loan fee charged FFEL lenders from 0.5% to 1% of the principal amount of loans first disbursed after September 2007. It also prohibits its collection from borrowers. “In 2007, our total STCU loans disbursed--including all loan types--was $339 million. Of that, student loans accounted for $9.3 million,” Dahlstrom said. “The rates of reimbursement are our gross income, but do not include our cost of funds, or our cost of origination,” he added. “While the intent is to reduce the cost to students and to the government, the result is to limit the supply and create a liquidity crunch, as lenders--such as credit unions--drop out of the program. The government cuts its costs which reduces the interest that credit unions receive.”

CU chapter op-ed One solution to economy is CUs

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EL PASO, Texas (4/15/08)--There is only one solution to today's economy woes that doesn't involve a single dollar of tax money or rebates: credit unions. So says an opinion/editorial in the El Paso Times. The op-ed item was written by Imelda Loya, president of the El Paso Chapter of Credit Unions (El Paso Times April 13). In it she notes that access to credit is getting tough, especially for small businesses needing capital. She cites the story of Graciela Frescas, whose family operated an in-home daycare that was becoming increasingly popular. When it wanted to build a full-fledged daycare center, the family sought credit and was turned away by more than a dozen banks. West Texas CU, however, came through with a loan. Grammie's Daycare now employs 30 people, takes care of 130 children, and the family is about to open a second location. The article discusses how loans for small businesses has dried up and that credit unions could help, if they weren't capped at 12.25% of assets. It urges Congress to remove the arbitrary business lending cap and let small business lending take off through credit unions. "A stimulus package is one step to help get the nation on track. But to really get our economy off the starting line and back in the running, Congress must release power of not-for-profit credit unions," wrote Loya, adding, "Especially when other lenders are taking a pass on the race."

Federation Institute for American Values form alliance

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NEW YORK (4/14/08)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has formed an alliance with a nonprofit group tackling issues of excessive debt and inadequate savings in the U.S. The alliance is with the Institute for American Values, a New York-based nonprofit group, which will honor a former federation chairperson at the institute's upcoming national conference, Confronting the Debt Culture, in Washington, D.C. May 12-13. Former federation chairperson Rita L. Haynes, CEO of the Faith Community United CU based in Cleveland, Ohio, will be honored at a luncheon on May 13 during the conference. Another federation board member, Mississippi State Sen. Robert L. Jackson, will be a featured speaker. The federation is co-sponsoring the conference, said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. He noted the institute's research "shows tremendous appreciation and support for the role of credit unions, and we're very excited about the possibilities for collaboration." David Blankenhorn, president of the institute, said it is committed to spreading the word about the role the federation and community development credit unions play in serving low-income communities. Keynote speakers at the conference will include U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas); Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council; and Ken Eiden, CEO of Prospera CU, Appleton, Wis.

CUs start decorating for Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (4/14/08)--Credit unions around the nation are preparing for the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) National Credit Union Youth Week April 20-26. Some have already undergone financial literacy activities to honor April as Financial Literacy Month. NAFT FCU, Pharr, Texas, held a Mad City Money Seminar, purchased through CUNA, at a local high school this week as a part of Financial Literacy Month. About 200 students attended, and 25 of the credit union’s 42 employees participated. “It was an eye-opening experience for the students and a great opportunity for our credit union to promote financial literacy,” Becky Palacios, NAFT marketing director told News Now. TopLine FCU, Maple Grove, Minn., created Get Smart With Your Money, an initiative to encourage youth and their parents to talk about money. The credit union will offer seminars, saving challenges and giveaways at each of its seven branches. “It’s important for kids of all ages to understand how money works and how to make informed financial decisions at some level,” said Mark Hodowanic, TopLine market manager. “Our seminars will cover spending and saving money, balancing needs and wants, using and managing credit effectively, budgeting, and paying yourself first. “We’ll help kids learn how to develop their own personal spending and savings plans by encouraging them to open a share savings account. And if they do it here, we’ll even match their first $25 in savings,” he added. Other credit unions have begun decorating their branches to align with this year’s Youth Week theme, “Got Green? Grow it at Your Credit Union.” Caswell CU, South Burlington, Vt., will allow youth to add a leaf to a large tree on the wall each time they make a deposit. The credit union also will give youth a pine tree sapling to plant in their yard. Family Financial CU, Muskegon, Mich., will give away seed packets for each deposit, piggy banks for every new account, and hold coloring contests. The credit union also will have posters of flower stems and blank dollar bills that can be colored and put on the stem. Baylands FCU, West Point, Va., decorated a teller window decorated to make children feel welcome. Youth aged 12 and younger making deposits of $15 or more will receive a prize of the day--which range from jump ropes to tree saplings. Teens making deposits of $50 or more will receive a green hackey sack. Beaver Valley FCU, Beaver Falls, Pa., is distributing Youth Week reminder slips with each member receipt. On April 25, the credit union will help children plant marigold seedlings to take home. Juice boxes and snacks will be distributed. Each youth making a deposit during Youth Week will be entered into a drawing to win one of four $100 savings bonds. Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore., is hosting five field trips for first-graders at local elementary schools. It also will host a movie night, deposit contests, and credit classes at local high schools, and will have downloadable “go green” coloring pages on its website. South Carolina FCU, Charleston, S.C., will offer a cash prize to children who report the best green practices. Children can receive a $1,000 deposit to a education savings account or a $1,000 share certificate with a five-year term (Charleston Post and Courier April 10). Thirty eighth grade students from Rogers Herr Year Round Middle School in Durham, N.C., are scheduled to tour Latino Community CU and Generations CU during Youth Week. Credit union staff will provide information about credit unions and will host a financial board game called “Cashflow for Kids” to teach them about money, said the North Carolina Credit Unions League’s Weekly Update (April 9). Credit unions can purchase marketing materials for Youth Week, such as posters, seeds, and statement stuffers, from CUNA. For more information, use the link.

N.H. league included in state payday loan study group

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CONCORD, N.H. (4/14/08)--The New Hampshire House Commerce Committee has begun hearings on a bill to study responsible options for consumer credit to replace payday loans. It would create a commission that would include a representative from the New Hampshire Credit Union League. Senate Bill 472 would form a 17-member commission that would include representatives of the league, the Attorney General's office, the Banking Department, the Consumer Credit Counseling Association, among others (NHPoliticker.com April 10). It would be charged with studying the potential for new products to provide responsible consumer credit to people without charging exorbitant interest rates or fees. S.B. 472 is a companion to an earlier bill, House Bill 267, that capped interest rates at 36%. HB 267 was passed by the House and Senate, and Gov. John Lynch plans to sign the bill into law, said Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of marketing/public relations at the league. The league testified in support of the earlier house bill, but does not plan to introduce testimony on the current bill. "This bill involves no controversy and there is no need for the league to testify on its behalf," Kimmett told News Now. S.B. 472 is dependent on H.B. 267 becoming law, he said. The commission would be required to present its findings and recommendations by Nov. 14. "The league is happy to be involved in any efforts to ensure that the people of New Hampshire have access to affordable and fairly priced and honest credit," said Kimmett.

CU System briefs (04/11/2008)

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* SEATTLE (4/14/08)--SHARE CU, a $32 million asset Seattle credit union that served primarily health care employees, will merge into Seattle-based, $500 million-plus asset Watermark CU by the end of May, the credit unions announced Friday. SHARE's members voted to approve the merger last week. Watermark, which originally served telephone company employees, now serves anyone living or working in Washington state. Watermark will retain all of SHARE's employees and its two/Seattle-based branches. SHARE said it sought proposals for a merger and chose Watermark because it will honor SHARE's links to area medical centers and provide increased access to financial products at a better price. This is Watermark's third merger in four years … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/14/08)--California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues Senior Events Manager Neil Schwartz was featured in a recent article in MiMegasite, an online publication for meeting, convention, incentive and trade show professionals, and in the April edition of Successful Meetings magazine. The article discussed how a fire at Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas in late January displaced the league's conference scheduled at the hotel. Schwartz needed to move four sets of breakouts with meals and two general sessions, plus welcome receptions for the league event. The Monte Carlo transferred the meeting to the Bellagio, which honored Monte Carlo's rates for food, beverage, audio visual services and rooms. Schwartz recommended "regular and immediate contact with your attendees when the situation is up in the air." He used blast e-mails and updates on the league's websites to communicate with attendees … * RALEIGH, N.C. (4/14/08)--State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) Foundation has partnered with the North Carolina National Guard Association Educational Foundation to provide a $10,000 scholarship to study at one of the UNC System Universities and a $5,000 scholarship to study at a community college within the North Carolina Community College System. Recipients, to be selected by the National Guard foundation, must be a child or grandchild of a North Carolina National Guard unit soldier or airman placed into any military service and who became permanently disabled or died during active duty … * FREMONT, Ohio (4/14/08)--Fremont FCU donated $125,000 to Investment in the Future, a major gift campaign at Terra Community College, according to The News-Messenger (April 8). Anthony Camilleri, CEO of the $130 million asset credit union, said education has always been a mainstay of the credit union movement. Investing in the local community college sustains the movement's ongoing philosophy of service to members and communities, he added …

CUs on the Tube Filenes 30 under 30 group targets youth

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/08)--Credit unions looking to target the younger generation can listen to a new podcast for tips from the Filene Research Institute’s “30 under 30” group. In the podcast, group members Amy Stanton, Matt Davis and Robin Hickey talk about what credit unions are doing to attract members of Generation Y as a part of Filene’s “CU Tomorrow” program. To hear the podcast, use the link.

Interview process is underway for CUAO CEO

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/14/08)--The interview process in the search for a new CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) should be completed by the end of the month. The CUAO board of directors asked HR Value Group to assist in the search for a new CEO. HR Value Group began the search in January after CUAO gave the firm its criteria for selecting the future leader of the association (Oregon Outlook April 2008). After contacting more than 400 prospects nationwide, HR Value Group narrowed the field to 43 candidates. Using phone screening, the company narrowed the field further to 19 candidates. “The individuals come from varying backgrounds: executives at credit union leagues nationwide, CEOs with league or credit union service organization involvement, and other trade association executives,” said Shirley Cate, CUAO board chair, and CEO of Providence Health System FCU, Portland. The CUAO search committee met with HR Value Group and determined to interview nine of the 19 individuals selected will move on to the next level and will be directly interviewed by HR Value Group. Once the initial interviews are completed, the CUAO board will conduct face-to-face interviews with the finalists. Former CUAO President/CEO Gene Poitras retired Nov. 30 after 32 years with the association.

Delegation from Indias co-op banks visits WOCCU

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MADISON, Wis. (4/14/08)--Ten CEOs and board chairs from India's cooperative banks visited the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) last week as part of the group's tour of North American credit unions and their associations.
Pete Crear, left, president/CEO of theWorld Council of Credit Unions, presents a welcome gift to Bhima Subrahmanyam, managing director of India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The delegation, all members of India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks (NAFSCOB), is part of a restructuring program to address nonperforming loans and governance issues in rural financial cooperatives. WOCCU has offered to technical assistance to the cooperative banks in support of the government's economic reform efforts. The two-week tour includes visits to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Lower Eastside People's FCU, New York; Credit Union Central of Canada and Credit Union Central of Ontario in Toronto; Community One FCU, Las Vegas; WesCorp; and Water & Power CU, Los Angeles. The group's interests include credit union regulatory efforts, taxation, technology, and human resource and management issues, according to Bhima Subrahmanyam, NAFSCOB's managing director. “We'd especially like to understand your regulatory mechanism and its impact on credit unions,“ Subrahmanyam said. “Competition and capital adequacy requirements are also of interest. Indian cooperatives haven't been meeting their capital requirements due to poor resources.“ India is in the process of a $3.4 billion reform and recapitalization of its financial cooperative sector, with financial support from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Those efforts are supported by a controversial plan to forgive $15 billion in non-performing loans to small Indian farmers. Of that amount, roughly $8.5 billion will go to forgive loans granted by India's cooperative financial institutions. India's cooperatives recently lost their tax-exempt status, putting additional pressures on institutions to provide services, Subrahmanyam said. The National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development is responsible for the reforms and recapitalization, a process in which WOCCU hopes to assist through the influence of NAFSCOB and its member cooperatives. WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear applauded the work of the cooperative bank federation and its members in serving members. “We hope this is the beginning of a closer relationship between our two organizations,“ he said. Now more than 100 years old, India's financial cooperative system is the largest in the world in terms of people served. Credit union pioneer Edward A. Filene's visit to India's financial cooperatives in 1906 inspired him to help launch the U.S. credit union movement. In addition to presentations from WOCCU staff, the delegation also heard from the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and Heartland CU, all located in Madison, Wis. The National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies, India's trade association for urban cooperatives, is an associate member of WOCCU.

Latino Community CU film at Chicago film festival

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CHICAGO (4/14/08)--“Los Suenos de Angelica” (“Angelica’s Dreams”), the first Latino feature-length independent film made in North Carolina, was screened Saturday at Chicago’s Latino Film Festival. “Angelica’s Dreams” is the film version of Latino Community CU’s (LCCU) three-part dramatic mini-series dedicated to financial education, with a special emphasis on home- buying education, said the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update April 7). The film is part of LCCU’s Home Buyer Education (HBE) program, which contains a guide and a companion video series. LCCU will provide 25,000 copies of the guide and 1,200 copies of the video to be used nationwide by other credit unions, community centers and other organizations. “We recognize that the overwhelming majority of our more than 50,000 members has little or no experience with financial services, and therefore, need extensive financial education to integrate into the mainstream U.S. financial system,” said Angel Romero, LCCU director of marketing and communications. “Financial literacy is a fundamental part of LCCU’s mission,” he added. “All of our products are designed to promote financial education in the community, as well as meet the unique needs of members. Using video to educate our members and the community in general is a fabulous tool to spread our message.” LCCU produced “Angelica’s Dreams” with a grant from the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, a program of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Kansas governor makes appointments to Kansas CU Council

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TOPEKA, Kan. (4/14/08)--Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed one new member and reappointed two members to the Kansas Credit Union Council. Sue Ellen Henke, Topeka, works for the Kansas Department of Labor and will serve on the council as a public member. Sebelius also reappointed Alvis Lee Williams, president, Central Star CU, Wichita, and Cheryl Bonner, manager, Wakarusa Valley CU, Lawrence. “We are pleased with the governor’s timely appointment and reappointments of the qualified candidates to the Kansas Credit Union Council,” said Marla Marsh, president/CEO, Kansas Credit Union Association. “The council is a strong sounding board for the Kansas Department of Credit Unions on regulatory issues.” The Council supervises and regulates credit unions and is an adviser of the Kansas Department of Credit Unions.

CUNA CUAC break ground in Homes for Troops project

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DENVER, Colo. (4/11/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Credit Union Associations of Colorado (CUAC) and Wyoming (CUAW) were on hand Thursday for the groundbreaking of a Denver-area home for wounded Iraq-war veteran Staff Sgt. Travis Strong and his family. The home is part of Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely wounded American troops. The home, located in Golden, is part of a joint project with the Democratic National Convention Committee, the credit union movement, and National Journal Group. The home will be presented to Strong and his family around this summer's Democratic National Convention. CUNA Chairman Tom Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., said, "Credit unions operate under a 'People Helping People' philosophy, and this project is one way we can live out that philosophy. We are honored to participate in this special effort on behalf of a very deserving soldier and his family." John Dill, president/CEO of CUAC and CUAW, added, "Credit unions here in Colorado are excited to take part in this project. We look forward to working closely with Homes for Our Troops and the convention staff to make this dream a reality." CUNA and CUAC/CUAW will work to raise funds, provide donated materials and volunteer labor, and coordinate activities closely with Homes for Our Troops. CUNA, the Minnesota Credit Union Network, and National Journal also are working with Homes for Our Troops and the Republican National Committee on a companion project in Minnesota during the Republican National Convention. Groundbreaking for that project is planned for April 28 in St. Paul, Minn.

Texas newspaper editorial Raise CUs MBL cap

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ODESSA, Texas (4/11/08)--Congress should pass HR 1537--the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act--and raise credit unions’ member business lending caps, according to an editorial in a Texas newspaper. The Odessa American (April 9) said that raising the cap for credit unions from 12.25% of total assets to 20% makes sense. “Common sense would say that caps on credit union business loans should not exist if banks are free of such restrictions,” the newspaper stated. “But raising the limit is the best option for the benefit of free enterprise at this point. “Raising the cap would, according to estimates, open up another $875 million in business lending just from the approximately 20% of Texas credit unions that offer business loans” the paper continued. “And the raised limit might encourage other credit unions to get into business lending.” The editorial concludes that it is time for Congress to relieve stifling regulations imposed on credit unions for the past 10 years, and encourage and reward business entrepreneurship, which it says has been a source of pride and accomplishment throughout the history of the U.S. This is the first time that the editorial board of the newspaper has published an editorial supporting credit unions that has not been an opinion/editorial piece from the Texas Credit Union League, said Winter Prosapio, league advocacy-communications director.

Massachusetts regulator offers CU parity amendments

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BOSTON (4/11/08)--The Massachusetts Division of Banks has proposed amendments to regulations that will give state-chartered credit unions some parity with federal charters. State regulation 209 CMR 50 was originally passed in 1998, went into effect in 1999 and is amended every few years, Joe Leonard, general counsel for the Massachusetts Division of Banks, told News Now. This is the fifth set of amendments, Leonard added. The amendments occasionally are proposed because state credit unions did not get all the capabilities the federal credit unions received when chartered in the state. “So we’re trying to take a well-reasoned and moderate approach for fairness’ sake,” Leonard explained. “Sometimes we get petitioned to make changes by the state of Massachusetts Credit Union League.” New authorities granted by the proposed amendments would include:
* Authorizing credit union service organizations (CUSOs) to engage in securities brokerage; * Increasing unsecured and secured personal loans from a maximum term of 12 years to a maximum term of 15 years; * Authorizing indirect mobile home loans; * Authorizing credit unions to enter into consumer loan participations and non-residential real estate loan participations with CUSOs; and * Authorizing additional money transfer services for nonmembers.
A public hearing will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. EDT on the parity proposals. The public comment period will end Tuesday at 5 p.m. The proposed amendments must be sent to the state legislature for 90 days of review. So the amendments likely will not go into effect until August, Leonard said.

Record rebates issued to nearly 15 of nations CUs

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/11/08)--More than $460,000 in rebates are being collectively issued to 1,226 credit unions throughout the U.S. by the Illinois Credit Union League Service Corp. (LSC). The rebates are being distributed in the largest “pool” to date, according to LSC. The corporation has been issuing more than $2.5 million in rebates since 2000. LSC has agreements with leagues in 44 states to provide products and services to their credit unions and their members.

Missouri CUs give MCUA a 94 satisfaction rating

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (4/11/08)--Missouri credit unions rated Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) products and services at 94% satisfaction, according to a recent survey. The survey, sent to credit union presidents, helps MCUA meet and exceed member expectations and identifies benefits for member credit unions. MCUA employees also are surveyed on their perceptions of service quality and value and the survey results are compared with credit unions’ results. Each department is analyzed on: satisfaction with service attributes, likelihood to recommend the service, and service quality and value compared with competitors, and MCUA market share. Half of MCUA’s credit unions responded to the survey, which was conducted by Michael Neil and Associates, an independent credit union consulting firm. The survey has been conducted five times since 2000. “Since the implementation of the survey, the organization has focused on those product and service attributes of greatest value to members,” said MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub.

Wisconsin asks league for payday loan alternative

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/11/08)--Wisconsin's State Treasurer's office has expressed an interest in working with the Wisconsin Credit Union League to set up an alternative payday lending program, the league has confirmed. Jim Drogue, vice president of league operations said he would be contacting the state to follow up on the request. "Whether it's through a low-cost payday alternative product or a basic short-term loan, Wisconsin credit unions are working to meet their members' immediate financial needs," he said. "We're looking forward to speaking with the State Treasurer's office and exploring opportunities that will further those efforts." The league has just made its Stretch Pay payday loan program available to credit unions in the state and is working on plans to promote that. The state treasurer's office also told the National Credit Union Foundation it wanted to work with the league on the product. Lois Kitsch, NCUF's program director for REAL Solutions, said Wisconsin is leading the nation in terms of REAL Solutions participants. "WCUL and the 102 Wisconsin REAL Solutions Partner credit unions are committed to reach deep into their communities to provide a variety of products and services designed to help their members move up a path to financial security," Kitsch said. "Doing so is proving to be a good business decision for the credit unions while at the same time fullfilling their rich history of social values. "Now that REAL Solutions is working in 27 states, we are proud to see the first REAL Solutions state reach such a milestone of success," Kitsch said. Credit unions in Pennsylvania also are working with that state's treasurer on a payday loan alternative.

7 CU women examine co-ops run by women in Chile Peru

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LIMA, Peru (4/11/08)--Seven women credit union leaders from the U.S. and Canada traveled throughout Peru and Chile this week to visit cooperatives managed by women and learn about credit unions' efforts to increase women's access to finance. The visit was part of a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) study trip.
Participants in the World Council of Credit Unions' Women's Leadership Engagement Program were, from left: front row: WOCCU's Mark Cifuentes, vice president of technical services, and Brian Branch, chief operating officer; (standing) Mary Cunningham; Sue Albrecht; Jo-Anne Ferguson; Val Breunig; Sylvia Lyon; Catherine Roberts; Penny Reeves; and Winona Nava. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“All around the world, WOCCU applies market-driven solutions to provide access to finance for those without access,“ said trip leader Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Assisting credit unions in providing women access to products and services matching their needs and circumstances has always been part of our strategy. This group is taking us a step further, identifying strategies that WOCCU and participating credit unions can use to develop leadership opportunities for women in the global credit union system.“ Joining Branch and other staff on WOCCU's Women's Leadership Engagement Program this week were: Susan Albrecht, senior vice president, international division, CUNA Mutual Group; Mary Cunningham, president/CEO, USA FCU; Jo-Anne Ferguson, senior director, international development, Canadian Co-operative Association; Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New Mexico; Winona Nava, president/CEO, Guadalupe CU; Penny Reeves, director, Credit Union Central of Canada and WOCCU board member; and Catherine Roberts, president/CEO, Community Choice CU and WOCCU board secretary. During their weeklong travels, the delegation visited US$4.8 million asset, 8,626-member San Francisco de Huánuco CU, which joined WOCCU's Peru program last July. The group also traveled to Santiago, Chile and visited $1.2 billion asset Coopeuch CU, one of Latin America's largest credit unions. Coopeuch serves more than 370,000 members via 73 branches throughout Chile. WOCCU is implementing and partially funding a three-year (2006-09) technical assistance program in Peru, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and contributions from the National Federation of Peruvian Credit Unions (FENACREP). The program goal is to increase income and wealth generation for poor households through improvements in financial services and greater market access for their products. Opportunities for value-chain financing, a method by which financial support is provided along a specific product's development “chain“ from manufacture or planting to final sale, is also part of WOCCU's focus in Peru. Poor women in developing countries face obstacles to economic and social advancement, including denial of access to education, healthcare, ownership rights and capital, according to the International Center for Research on Women. The WOCCU program's efforts to increase women's access to financial services by introducing targeted products that respond to market demand is one of the best ways to combat rural poverty, according to Luis Jiménez, director of WOCCU's program in Peru. Crece Mujer (Grow Woman), a group-lending initiative for poor women who are microentrepreneurs in rural areas, is being introduced in several of Peru's nine program credit unions. The “collateral“ for loans is the solidarity among the group members to cover each other's weekly repayments should anyone falter. The delinquency rate remains at 0% in two credit unions that have offered group lending since October 2007. The WOCCU program helped another of the participating credit unions launch an urban individual microcredit product for micro-entrepreneurs. The credit union has new member growth, reduced delinquency and is more profitable as a result. According to Manuel Rabines, general manager of FENACREP and second vice president of the WOCCU board, 168 FENACREP-affiliated credit unions serve 674,000 members as of December 2007. The credit unions had $758 million in assets and held a 2.3% share of Peru's national financial system's credit and 1.9% of the deposit market.

Deadline extended for Serving Underserved Latino conference

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NEW YORK (4/11/08)--The early-bird discount deadline for the 34th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved and the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference has been extended to April 18. The joint conference will take place June 11-14 in Dallas (CDCU Insight E-Newsletter April 2008). The conference is hosted by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals. Tim Sandos, CEO, National Association of Hispanic Real East Estate Professionals, Anza Solis, associated director for the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior Francisco and Victor Rico, director of democratic sustainability at the Organization of American States, have been added to the speaker lineup (LoneStar Leaguer April 10). The Texas Credit Union League and the California and Nevada Credit Union League are sponsoring the event. For more information, use the links.

RMJ Foundation sponsors California fin lit summit

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/11/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, is one of the sponsors of this year’s California Financial Literacy Summit, April 23 in Sacramento. Representatives from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues also are expected to attend. The event--hosted by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the California CPA Education Foundation, and the California Jump$tart Coalition--will seek to help Californians improve their financial skills and reduce the effects of an economic downturn. Session topics include building coalitions to improve financial literacy, the housing crisis, and nonprofit programs that provide services for low-income Californians. Letty Cordon-Hernandez, Leagues’ Manager of International Relations, will present information about the National Endowment for Financial Education’s (NEFE) high school financial literacy curriculum. Also in attendance will be Rita Fillingane, the league’s director of research and information, and California Jump$tart Coalition board member. “We’re getting interested parties together to discuss how they can share resources so that we can improve the overall financial education of Californians from school-age children to senior citizens,” said Loretta Doon, CEO, California Society of CPAs and the California CPA Education Foundation. Jean Chatzky, Money Magazine’s editor-at-large and financial editor for NBC's “Today Show,” will deliver the summit’s keynote address. Pam Krueger and Jack Gallagher, hosts of “Money Track” on PBS, will moderate three breakout sessions. Other event sponsors include: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Grant Thornton, the California Teachers Association, Visa and the AICPA Foundation.

CU System briefs (04/10/2008)

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* SUMMERFIELD, Fla. and MADISON, Wis. (4/11/08)--Susan Tiffany, director of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) personal finance information for adults, has been elected to the board of directors of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation. The Summerfield, Fla.-based foundation is a non-profit scientific organization advocating best practices in workplace financial programs that increase both employee financial health and employer profits. Tiffany has worked with CUNA for 26 years, most recently in its center for personal finance … * LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. (4/11/08)--The 2008 Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation/Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Buddy Bass Tournament reeled in a record $18,500 for CMN--the largest amount in the tournament's 12-year history. Participants raised $9,277.50 in the fishing tournament. For the first time, CO-OP Financial Services is matching the amount, dollar for dollar. CO-OP's contribution "makes a huge difference in our ability to help sick kids and their families," said Kevin Brueseke, Missouri Credit Union Association chief operating officer/chief financial officer. Roughly 119 teams competed. Credit unions in the winner's circle were fifth-place winners Bob Bellville (pictured) of First Community CU, Chesterfield, and partner Michael Ortmann; and sixth-place winners James Sherrill and Francis Asher, a team sponsored by Leadco Community CU, Park Hills. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association) … * CAPITOLA, Calif. (4/11/08)--Bay FCU recently presented checks for $5,000 each to two social service organizations--New Life Community Services and Kinship Support Services. New Life assists low-income families in Santa Cruz County who are homeless, chemically addicted or both. Kinship assists residents of Monterey and Salinas who are relatives raising foster children at risk of dependency or delinquency. The funds were raised at a silent auction during an employee holiday party in January. The $10,000 donated included $500 worth of printing services for each organization from Community Printers … * WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (4/11/08)--Purdue Employees FCU (PEFCU) CEO William "Bill" F. Connors announced his retirement, effective July 1, at PEFCU's annual meeting Tuesday. He will provide consulting services to PEFCU through Dec. 31. Succeeding Connors will be Bob Falk, a six-year PEFCU employee who has served as president/chief operating officer. Connors, who was CEO for 12 years, began his credit union career in 1970. He currently serves as CEO of Passageways LLC, a software provider partially owned by PEFCU subsidiary CU Channels, and as board member of Card Services for Credit Unions. Formerly he served as chairman of Midstates Corporate CU; member of the Credit Union National Association's Federal Credit Union Committee; and chairman of CO-OP Network. Falk joined PEFCU in 2002 as vice president of lending. He has 18 years' credit union experience and previously served in positions at CUNA Mutual Group and University of Colorado FCU (now Elevations CU), Boulder, Colo. … * ALBANY, N.Y. (4/11/08)--The New York State Credit Union League announced that 18 college-bound students will receive scholarships from its 2008 annual Scholarship Program. The league will award a total of $11,500--five scholarships of $1,000 each and 13 scholarships of $500 each. Roughly 102 credit unions participated this year, submitting a total of 1,237 applications. Click on the link for a list of the winners and their sponsoring credit unions …

Salt Lake members OK merger with Mountain America

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SALT LAKE CITY (4/11/08)--Salt Lake CU will merge with Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah. Salt Lake CU members voted Wednesday night on the merger proposal. About 82% voted in favor, Cindy Nelson, assistant to CEO Michael Moyes told News Now. The merger is scheduled to take place May 31. Salt Lake CU’s name will remain the same for at least two years, she said. The merger was proposed because it is increasingly harder to meet members demands for additional branches, services and ATMs, Salt Lake CU said (News Now April 8). Salt Lake has 10 branches, while Mountain America has more than 50 branches. Salt Lake CU has $256 million in assets. Mountain America has $2.3 billion in assets.

MCUA subsidiary awards patronage rebate

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/11/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is rewarding member credit unions--through its subsidiary--for their use of core, fee-supported services. Credit Union Partnership (CUP), an association for-profit subsidiary, distributed a rebate totaling $123,500 to participating credit unions April 2 (Courier Net April 9). The four core products that contribute revenue to CUP are check processing, the credit union shared branch network, credit and debit cards, and CUNA Mutual Group insurance. CUP maintains a standard return-on-equity (ROE) threshold of 10% annually. During years in which this amount is not practical or prudent, the CUP board of directors may determine a different rate of return. For 2007, the board decided to use a 5% ROE in determining the patronage rebate. After deducting CUP’s assigned ROE amount, the remaining earnings are determined. Credit union patronage rebates are then based on each credit union’s contribution to gross income for each core product. “We have been able to award a patronage rebate each year since initiation in 2000,” noted Rosie Holub, MCUA president/CEO. “The return to credit unions differentiates our organization from competitors and provides an incentive for credit unions to use products within the credit union system.”

Study Financial literacy down for high school seniors

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WASHINGTON (4/10/08)--High school seniors' knowledge of finance has dropped the past two years, says a new study. That doesn't mean, however, that credit unions' financial education efforts are for naught. High school seniors, on average, answered correctly less than half (48.3%) of questions about personal finance and economics in a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. The survey is conducted every two years by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, an organization that promotes financial competence for students. The score compares with 52.4% answered correctly in the 2006 study. This year's was the worst score out of the past six surveys conducted so far. While the results are disappointing, they are "not entirely a surprise because financial education is required coursework in only a handful of states," said Jim Hanson, vice president of personal finance with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Credit union financial education efforts make a difference, "but it is difficult to measure the successes we've had," Hanson said. "Credit unions in all areas of the country can point to their efforts in schools and through organizations like the NEFE (National Endowment for Financial Education) High School Financial Planning Program, knowing they reached a half million young people. But success is hard to measure." CUNA has online programs like Guides to Independence that many teachers use in schools, and these help. "But the unfortunate truth is most young people get most of their financial education at home--and their parents don't know enough about money management," Hanson told News Now. "We know from pilot studies conducted for CUNA's Googolplex products that financial education works, but the effort has to be consistent, sustainable, relevant, and experiential. People learn by doing. They also learn when the subject matter is relevant to them--most high school kids aren't thinking about investments," Hanson said. Two years ago, CUNA held its first Financial Literacy Summit. "The No. 1 issue mentioned by nearly every speaker and credit union participant was measuring success," Hanson said. "There are a ton of financial education programs, but the problem is measurement. And every two years we get reminded how much work needs to be done." Hanson noted the recent trend of consumers overspending their budgets. "That means parents aren't managing their money very well. Is it really a wonder that their children don't know enough about finances? They model what they see," he said. "Clearly we need to start at an early age to have a lasting impact." It's also a question of resources in schools and credit unions. "Royal CU in Eau Claire, Wis., just opened its ninth elementary school branch office last week," Hanson said. "Its chairman, John Sackett, told me he could open more branches tomorrow, but the credit union just doesn't have the resources. That story could be repeated at every credit union committed to financial education and community service." College students--surveyed for the first time in the Jump$tart Coalition study--did better than their high school counterparts in the study. College seniors did better than college freshmen, suggesting that experience may be a factor. The first time many people manage a budget is when they leave home, often for college. "That's where student-run college credit union programs can be helpful. And online tools like MoneyMix--programs that have young people talking to young people about shared experiences--can be very beneficial," Hanson told News Now. Are there too many financial ed programs? The confusion isn't that there are too many programs, but "the problem is that many are not relevant to the target market or they aren't used," said Hanson. "What good does it do a credit union to have a youth club that doesn't make financial education part of the program? It may generate deposits from parents and grandparents, but if it doesn't include relevant education, what good is it?" "We make young people practice and take written tests and road tests before they can drive," Hanson noted. "But for many the first time they get their credit card is after they leave home, and they have no idea how to use it responsibly." What should credit unions who want to help do? "Get involved," Hanson advised. "Stop worrying about the return on investment of helping young people because waiting to determine when it will pay off financially is not the right reason to do this. "Credit unions are about helping people help themselves. That's what financial education does, and every little bit you can do will help--even if it's only one child." Other findings in the survey:
* Only 16.8% answered correctly that stocks likely would offer the higher growth over 18 years of saving for a child's education. And 37.3% thought a U.S. savings bond, noted for its conservative investments, would offer the highest growth. * Nearly 53% said they would have no liability if a thief stole their their credit card and ran up $1,000 in debt on the card. Liability is limited to $50 after the credit-card issuer is notified. Only 13% knew they might have to be responsible for $50.
For a complete report and resources to serve youth, use the resource links.

CUNA eSchool on current economy begins today

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MADISON, Wis. (4/10/08)--Credit unions can still register for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) eSchool on credit unions' response to the current economy, which begins today and meets for six sessions. CUNA CU Response to the Current Economy eSchool meets at 1-2:30 p.m. CDT on Thursdays. In addition to today's meeting, the eSchool will continue on April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15 and May 22. CUNA developed the series of seminars to help credit unions understand the impact on their operations from the current turn in the nation's economy. Today's webinar will address the overall economic situation, its effect on credit unions and suggestions for taking action. Subsequent sessions will address specific strategies and services related to marketing, consumer lending, mortgage lending, investing/asset-liability management, and compliance. Today's webinar will provide a 30-minute overview, which can be purchased as an archive to present at the credit union's board meeting. For more information or to register use the resource link.

Philadelphia FCU offers higher deposit coverage

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PHILADELPHIA (4/10/08)--The Philadelphia FCU (PFCU) has qualified to insure regular member savings accounts up to $350,000 and retirement accounts up to $500,000. PFCU’s insurance limits are the highest combination of federal/private savings insurance available to members, announced the $541 million asset credit union’s board of directors. The coverage combines $100,000 per member for savings accounts and $250,000 or retirement accounts provided by the National Credit Union Administration with $250,000 per member provided by the Excess Share Insurance Corporation (ESI)--a licensed property and casualty insurer. Joint and certain other account relationships are insured separately and are subject to other federal guidelines. ESI accepts only credit unions that meet strict underwriting criteria. “PFCU’s acceptance into the program reflects the credit union’s commitment to safety and security,” said James McAneney, PFCU president/CEO.

PCUA monitoring five mortgage bills

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/10/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Governmental Affairs Department is monitoring five bills that address the manner in which mortgages are sold in the state (Life is a Highway April 9). The bills, which passed the Pennsylvania House, include:
* HB 1081,which would increase oversight of state-certified appraisers; * HB 1092, which would allow the banking department to release information on denial, suspension, revocation, fines, or other disciplinary orders against a licensee after a final order or adjudication by the secretary of banking. The department currently must wait until all court appeals are exhausted; * HB 1083, which would create a reporting system for lenders to inform the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency about loan delinquencies, giving the state an early warning system on state and regional trends in foreclosures; * HB 1084, which would exclude pre-payment penalties on residential mortgage loans of less than $197,000. The current threshold is $50,000; and * HB 2179, which would streamline the licensing and administrative process for mortgage brokers and bankers by creating a single license and creating a new licensing category for all mortgage originators, regardless of the type of lending involved.
A similar package of mortgage-relate bills advanced on a unanimous vote out of the state Senate last month. The House and Senate will confer with each other on versions, the PCUA said.

Australian bank to fund indigenous CU branches

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MELBOURNE (4/10/08)--National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB) will offer a $1 million interest-free loan to help fund new indigenous credit union branches in Australia's Northern Territory, the bank announced Wednesday. NAB also will provide other financial and in-kind support during the next five years to the Traditional CU (TCU), the nation's largest indigenous-owned and operated financial institution, said NAB's Australian head, Ahmed Fahour (Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire April 9). Fahour predicted the bank's support would boost TCU's presence in the Northern Territory by 40%. He made the announcement during a speech on social inclusion, financial disadvantage and the role business should play in addressing those issues.

Missouri Corporate CU elects new directors

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (4/10/08)--Missouri Corporate CU has elected two new members to its board of directors.
The Missouri Corporate Credit Union board for 2008 includes: (front row, from left) Cathy Stroud, Chris McCreary, Susie Venable, Ron Miller, and (from left, back row) Carol White, Dave Osborn, Steve Pierson, Phil Weber and Glenna Osborn. (Photo provided by Missouri Corporate CU).
Phil Weber, CEO, Central Communications CU, Kansas City and Carol White, CEO, Central Missouri CU, Warrensburg, Mo., were elected to one-year terms on the board of directors. They were elected during the annual membership meeting April 1 in Jefferson City. Re-elected to three-year terms were: Chris McCreary, CEO, United Consumers CU, Independence; J. David Osborn, CEO, Anheuser-Busch Employees’ CU, St. Louis; and Susie Venable, CEO, Saint Luke’s CU, Kansas City. McCreary was elected chairman and Venable was elected vice chairman. Secretary treasurer is Ron Miller, CEO, Edison CU, Kansas City. Other board members are: Glenna Osborn, CEO, Missouri Central CU, Kansas City; Steve Pierson, CEO, Postal Federal Community CU, Springfield; and Cathy Stroud, CEO, Community Financial CU, Springfield. Missouri Corporate has $1 billion in assets and serves more than 250 credit unions.

CUs tell of innovations in biz services

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PORTLAND, Ore. (4/10/08)--Business lending is not an area credit unions should ignore, according to speakers at the second annual CU Business Group national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.
CU Business Group held its second annual national convention, themed “Innovation in Business Services,” in Scottsdale, Ariz. Attendees heard stories from credit union speakers about maximizing business lending opportunities. (Photo provided by CU Business Group)
Speakers at the convention, themed “Innovation in Business Services,” discussed how they have maximized business lending opportunities. “We simply have to serve business in our market,” said Anna DeYoung, CEO, Sky FCU, Livingston, Mont. “We can’t let size be a deterrent.” Sky FCU maximized business opportunities through lending and deposit products, she added. Patelco CU, San Francisco, has a unique program that focuses on buying business loan participations, said Chris Oldag, Patelco senior vice president of lending. Oldag spoke about the challenges the credit union faced while building its $300 million participation portfolio, which he said is the largest in the industry. Participation in business lending increased in 2007, but so did the business loan delinquency rate, said Larry Middleman, president/CEO, CU Business Group. The rate was 1.82% in 2007, up from 0.53% in 2006. High performance compensation strategies for business lenders, branding and techniques for maintaining a mature business program also were discussed. The conference offered sessions on portfolio management and advanced deposit products. CU Business Group provides business lending, deposit and consulting services to credit unions nationwide. It has 11 corporate credit union partners.

Economy to impact card reward programs says study

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NEEDHAM, Mass. (4/10/08)--Credit card issuers with rewards and loyalty programs may need to include strategies that adapt to the economy and focus on the fundamentals of good credit management in those programs, says recent research.
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Although rewards programs have been effective for card issuers for nearly 25 years, the dramatic changes in the nation's economy means that many current programs are less relevant to consumers, said TowerGroup, a financial services research firm. The Needham, Mass.-based firm's new ViewPoint estimates that today rewards programs are a factor in nearly 70% of all transactions in the U.S. card industry. Consumers have embraced well-designed programs, and issuers have proved they can increase preference, drive purchase activity and create "top of the wallet" status for their cards through loyalty programs. However, more Americans today express less confidence in the economy, expect a reduction in household wealth, and face shakier employment status, said the report's author, Brian Riley, senior research analyst in the bank cards practice at TowerGroup. TowerGroup advises issuers to ensure that loyalty programs not only cause consumers to aspire to potential benefits such as a high-end vacation but also inspire them to keep their credit in good standing. Credit unions and other issuers should consider using card rewards to improve credit management, in lieu of rewards such as trips to Hawaii and luxury goods, said the firm. Issuers could include rewards options such as cash-based credits that can be applied to open balances, stimulating good consumer credit behavior and motivating consumers to pay down their balances. TowerGroup said rewards card issuers will be affected by four consumer trends this year: credit quality deterioration, revenue pressure; fragile economy; and vulnerable consumers.

Wisconsin regulator orders CU to stop used-car sales

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RACINE, Wis. (4/10/08)--Educators CU (ECU), Racine, Wis., has been selling used cars to its members for nearly 10 years. A few weeks ago, the credit union received a ruling from the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions ordering it to stop its used-car sales operation. “This was news to us,” Jim Henderson, ECU senior vice president, told News Now. “We fully shared information [about our sales] with the office.” ECU received a letter in December from the office saying a complaint that had been filed by the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association in November. The association stated that the credit union’s sales were not a part of its charter. ECU responded to the letter at the end of January, maintaining that it had been authorized to sell cars, Henderson said. Office of Credit Unions Director Suzanne Cowan confirmed the ruling to News Now, adding that the credit union would still be allowed to lease and repossess vehicles. The credit union plans to appeal the decision, and should hear back by summer. If ECU’s appeal is denied, the sales office could close its doors, or be sold to a third party, he said. The Office of Credit Unions Monday stayed its order. “They were kind enough to do that,” Henderson said. Closing its retail sales “would really be a burden,” and the credit union would have to lay off some of its employees and close the office, he added. ECU began selling cars with a credit union service organization in Milwaukee during the 1990s. The credit union parted with the organization in 2001, and began its own sales. About four years ago, it built a separate office for the car sales and sent the information to the Office of Credit Unions--which granted its approval, Henderson added. ECU also has a used-car dealer license and fully owns its auto business--ECU Financial Services Inc. Because ECU’s sales have grown over the years, Henderson said there may be some who wish to eliminate the competition. “We have a lot of reputable dealers in the market who are honest--we are not looking to bash them,” he said. “But the Automobile and Truck Association is definitely trying to eliminate a pro-consumer program.” ECU has a “completely different” business model than mainstream dealerships because it’s focused on serving members, Henderson said. ECU purchases vehicles wholesale, performs a flat markup, and shares the information with members. There is no haggling or negotiations, he said. ECU also provides a safety net. Members have a three day cancellation policy, which allows them to bring the car back in the same condition for a refund if they choose to back out of a sale. ECU also has a 60-day guarantee where the credit union will pick up the cost of mechanical repairs not covered under warranty. Though the sales bring in car loans, “We’re not looking to make money,” Henderson said. “We try to identify members’ needs and cars that fit those needs.” The credit union placed an item on its website last night, explaining the ruling to members. ECU is in communication with the Office of Credit Unions, and “we still enjoy working with them,” he said.

Museum to premier CU-movement history DVD

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (4/10/08)--America’s Credit Union Museum board of directors approved plans for a premier showing of a video produced to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the credit union movement in the U.S. The decision was made at the museum’s annual meeting April 3. The “red carpet” premier screening of the DVD is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, N.H., announced Board Chairman Gordon Simmons, CEO, Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H. (e-Weekly April 9). The DVD will trace the history of the U.S. credit union movement from its founding in Manchester to its present incarnation as a major force in helping families cope with many financial issues. At the meeting, the board received reports on current projects, including an update on the current filming of the DVD. The board also reviewed the continuing development of financial literacy tools called CU 4 Reality aimed at middle schools students. The educational tool provides a school curriculum and a reality fair in which children make their own financial choices, based on their chosen jobs and professions. The experience teaches children the benefits of smart financial choices, including sensible savings and borrowing alternatives.

Phisher uses CUNA Wal-Mart breach as bait

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and Wal-Mart Stores have shut down a new e-mail phish attempt purportedly from CUNA and advising of a Wal-Mart data breach. "This scam is notable for several reasons," said Kevin Knope, director of Web services at CUNA:
* "It mentions a specific incident--a Wal-Mart breach--rather than the generic 'your account has been compromised.'" * It does not state that the account has been locked. Instead it offers a benefit of "enhanced card security." "In more generic terms, it doesn't make a claim of urgency," said Knope. * It provides a link to a legitimate third-party sight, in this case an antiphishing site, http://www.nophishing.org.
The message says CUNA is aware of a recent breach at Wal-Mart and its "Customer Security Team" is taking proactive steps such as gathering information and re-issuing compromised cards if necessary. It encourages recipients to review their account and report suspicious activity, and it recommends they activate an "enhanced card security," at a phone number provided. It also warns recipients to be alert to scams and not provide any personal or account information to anyone e-mailing or calling who claim to be from Visa and MasterCard. It offers more information about fraud through a link to the legitimate www.nophishing.com site. CUNA took immediate action to stop the phish. "CUNA and Wal-Mart have been working on the problem in parallel, and the number is offline as of this morning," Knope told News Now Tuesday. To review the entire phish message, use the first resource link.

First Basin CU to hold elections

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ODESSA, Texas (4/9/08)--First Basin CU has scheduled an annual meeting to hold elections for its next board of directors on Tuesday at 7 p.m. “With the amount of dissention and struggle that have gone on, I hope people get the message that it makes a difference to show up and vote,” said member Tom McKelvey. First Basin attempted to convert to a mutual savings bank earlier this year. However, the credit union decided to suspend its Feb. 21 vote on the proposed charter change. The vote was suspended for a “number of reasons,” wrote CEO Shem Culpepper in a letter to members (News Now March 6). He cited “false statements” that had circulated about the conversion. Some members of First Basin CU opposed the charter change and formed the group “Save First Basin,” headed by Letty Moreno. She told News Now (Feb. 29) that members who opposed the conversion had planned to run candidates in the election. Moreno said in a statement Monday that the members did not know which directors were running for re-election. A call to First Basin by News Now was not returned by press time.

CU shooting suspect charged in I-64 shootings

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (4/9/08)--A 19-year-old Virginia man charged with allegedly firing gunshots into a closed credit union also has been charged in shootings that injured two people on Interstate 64 between Waynesboro and Charlottesville, Va. Slade Allen Woodson, 19, of Alton, Va., now is facing 17 felony counts, 15 in Abermarle and two in Waynesboro (C-ville.com April 8). DuPont Community CU (DCCU), Waynesboro, reported that during the night of March 27, while the office was closed, shots were fired at the building and a repossessed car on the premises (News Now March 31). No credit union employees or members were involved or affected. A surveillance tape of the credit union's parking lot helped pinpoint a suspect vehicle, an AMC Gremlin. Woodson owns an orange 1974 Gremlin. A 16-year-old male also faces 10 felony counts related to the I-64 shootings. He has not been charged in the credit union shooting.

Co-op ad campaign underway in Michigan

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (4/9/08)--The Michigan Credit Union League launched its 2008 Cooperative Advertising campaign Monday. The campaign, Michigan Credit Union Brand Campaign (MCUBC), was launched with state credit unions’ annual media campaign on television, cable and radio. Ads will run on television for 10 weeks in all major markets. In small markets where TV is not practical, cable or radio ads will run for six weeks. The campaign is voluntary. About 54% of credit unions in the state are participating--with 34 credit unions participating for the first time. About 160 of Michigan’s credit unions and five chapters financially supported the campaign, and 15 other credit unions have made commitments. “We’ve made cooperative advertising part of our high priorities,” David Adams, Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) president/CEO, told News Now. Along with advertising, the league has grassroots lobbying and community reinvestment in its three-tiered approach to growing the credit union movement. “It’s like three legs to a stool,” he said. “It’s part of getting the message out.” Michigan credit unions have participated in cooperative advertising for 20 years. “We’ve been at this for a long time,” he added. Credit union contributions to this year’s campaign total $823,484. The league approved $641,463 in matching funds--equal to the amount contributed by credit unions by Feb.1. The total media budget is nearly $1.5 million. The campaign’s television and radio ads tie into Michigan’s economy. They feature an educator and factory worker discussing how credit unions help people when other financial institutions don’t, Adams said. The league also has marketing materials--including lobby posters, statement stuffers, take ones, counter cards, direct mail and print ads--that can be used by credit unions to target membership. The theme “ties into the social mission of credit unions,” Adams said. MCUL uses pre- and post-campaign research metrics to measure the perception and awareness of credit unions as a primary financial institution and provider of products and services. “As we’ve stepped up cooperative advertising, we have very strong levels of credit union awareness,” he said. Cooperative advertising is not shared-cost marketing, Adams emphasized, even though the league’s campaign may appear to function as such. It’s an advocacy effort. “It helps with growth challenges,” he said. “We have great plans for the future.”

Michigan regulator OFIS changes name--now OFIR

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LANSING, Mich. (4/9/08)--Michigan's state credit union regulator has changed names, from the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS), to the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR). The change, plus a restructuring of the office, was part of an executive order by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm. The order went into effect Sunday. "Renaming OFIS the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation should reinforce for Michigan consumers and businesses the fact that we're in the business of financial oversight of the Michigan financial service sector--including banking, insurance and securities," said OFIR Commissioner Ken Ross. "New name, same focus--protecting Michigan consumers." The agency's website is now www.michigan.gov/ofir. Granholm's executive order also created a new position of Automobile and Home Insurance Consumer Advocate, which will be housed in OFIR. Among the institutions OFIR regulates are 233 credit unions.

MCUA elects exec committee

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/9/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) board of directors has elected its Executive Committee for 2008, and has welcomed a new member to the board. Jim Cauble, president/CEO, Cape Regional CU, Cape Girardeau, was elected to the board for the South Region. Cauble replaces Kirk Mondy, president/CEO, Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU, who retired from the board.
Betty Clark, president/CEO of United CU, Mexico, Mo., will serve her second term as chair of the MCUA board. Other members of the Executive Committee include: Stan Moeckli, president/CEO, Electro Savings CU, St. Louis, as first vice chair; and Dennis Pierce, CEO, CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, as second vice chair. Both were elected to second terms in these positions. Other MCUA board directors include:
* Tony DiGiovanni, president/CEO, CSD CU, Kansas City; * Brian Eyestone, president/CEO, Southpointe CU, St. Louis; * Judy Hadsall, president/CEO, CU Community CU, Springfield; * Janet Honse, president/CEO, Rolla FCU, Rolla; * Hubert Hoosman Jr., president/CEO, Vantage CU, Bridgeton--Ex-officio member; * Nina Pilger, president/CEO, 1st Financial FCU, St. Charles; * Carolyn Ross, president/CEO, Northland Teachers Community CU, Gladstone; and * James Spafford, president/CEO, Postal & Community CU, St. Joseph.
Executive Committee elections took place at the MCUA board meeting, held prior to the Annual Advocacy and Business Meeting in Jefferson City, March 31-April 1.

CU System briefs (04/08/2008)

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* LATHAM, N.Y. (4/9/08)--New York State Assembly Banks Committee Chair Darryl Towns (D-Metropolitan), second from left, praised credit unions during a speech at the 86th annual membership meeting of Melrose CU, based in Briarwood. Towns told of his whole-hearted support of credit unions and how the efforts they put forth in their communities have earned appreciation across the state. The more he learns about credit unions, the more impressed and supportive he is of their not-for-profit status, he said. Alan Kaufman, CEO/treasurer of the $900 million-plus asset credit union, said 900 members attended. Pictured with Towns are, from left: Melrose President Sydney Deitz, Towns, Marketing Director Robert Nemeroff; and Supervisory Committee Chairman Paul Cynamon. (Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League) … * RIVERSIDE, Calif. (4/9/08)--Three members of Altura CU have won a vacation in Hawaii in the credit union's 50th Anniversary giveaway. Every member was entered to win one of three trips to Hawaii. "We decided a trip to the 50th state was a great way to mark our anniversary," said Ricki McManus, senior vice president of marketing. Pictured are, from left, President Gerry Agnes, Hawaii trip winners Maggie Marquez-Falcon and Lorena Urzual, and board member Jerry Rivera. The third winner was Edgar Marroquin-Barrietos. The winners are all from Corona. (Photo provided by Altura CU) … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/9/08)--A donation from Jackson, Mich.-based CP FCU to Spring Arbor University will help develop a trading center facility in the new Poling Center for Global Learning and Leadership, which will train students for careers in business and finance. The trading center will have some of the same technology as used by the New York Stock Exchange, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor April 7). It will be equipped with dual monitor computers, electronic ticker tape, real-time data board for security price displaces, interactive LCD presentation screen, business news LCD screen, international clocks, a Bloomberg terminal, a specialized teaching bunker and continuous financial news feeds. "Currently, we provide financial education in over 40 schools within Jackson County, and I believe this partnership is a great step in extending our reach further into financial education," said CP FCU President/CEO John Crist …

CEO of U.K.s largest CU to resign after inquiry

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YORKSHIRE, U.K. (4/8/08)--The CEO of the largest credit union in the United Kingdom is resigning after an inquiry into lending activities at the credit union was made public. Sue Davenport, CEO of Leeds City CU (LCCU), will leave the position, effective next month. A statement issued by the credit union said she was pleased to have been part of the team who made Leeds one of the top credit unions in the country but wanted a quieter life (Yorkshire Post April 7). The newspaper reported an internal panel had been set up to investigate the credit union's management concerning loans made to a family member and to the credit union's staff. The newspaper said the loans were made on favorable terms in violation of the credit union's bylaws. A three-member panel of directors of the credit union was split on its findings but details of the majority and minority reports were unavailable.

2007 was a good year for Missouri CUs---Holub

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/8/08)--2007 was a good year for credit union membership, despite difficult economic times, noted Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) President/CEO Rosie Holub as she delivered the “State of the State” address at MCUA’s Annual Advocacy and 79th Annual Business Meeting April 1.
Steven Brooke (left), Tigers CU--on the University of Missouri Campus, Columbia-- discusses student-run credit unions with Missouri State Rep. Mike Frame (D-15) at the Missouri Credit Union Association’s (MCUA) Annual Advocacy and 79th Annual Business Meeting April 1.
Credit union assets in the state increased $379 million--or 4.6%--to $8.7 billion. Membership growth was higher than the national average and the strongest since 2003, with most growth occurring in the fourth quarter of 2007. Holub highlighted the role credit unions play in the current national economic crisis. “Credit unions were formed and filled a need during the Great Depression,” she said. “We are well-positioned now with strong capital positions to reach out to help members and our communities during these economically challenging times.” Also announced at the meeting were patronage rebates of $123,500 from the Credit Union Partnership (CUP), which is the for-profit services corporation of MCUA. The rebates were distributed April 2 to reward member credit unions for their use of core fee-supported services.
From left: Derek Gebelhardt and Diane Powell of Poplar Bluff, Mo., FCU, share information with State Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-154) at the Missouri Credit Union Association’s (MCUA) Annual Advocacy and 79th Annual Business Meeting. (Photos provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
The four core products that provide revenue for CUP are League Item Processing, credit union shared-branch network, credit and debit cards, and CUNA Mutual Group insurance. “Credit Unions Make the Difference” was the theme for the meeting, and state lawmakers learned how credit unions make the difference for Missouri consumers during the two-day event. More than 50 state legislators attended MCUA’s legislative dinner reception March 31. Credit union staff and volunteers were formally recognized on the House and Senate floors at the Missouri Capitol April 1. Attendees visited with lawmakers, delivering gifts and credit union difference message. The annual meeting also provided an opportunity to recognize credit unions statewide for extraordinary efforts at a reception. Two credit unions received the first “You Make the Difference” Advocacy Program Awards. Neighbor CU, St. Louis, achieved both the bronze and silver level recognition levels for its advocacy activities, while Community Financial CU, Springfield, achieved the bronze level. Also, Missouri credit unions unanimously approved a modification to their dues formula that reduces dues from $1.50 to $1.25 per $1,000 in assets. It takes effect in 2009 and will have the greatest impact on smaller credit unions, resulting in as much as 17% savings for some credit unions.

Retired MCUL PresidentCEO LaChapelle dies

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NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/8/08)--George R. LaChapelle, former president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League and former chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), died Feb. 14 at the age of 86. According to the Michigan league, LaChapelle had been in declining health. He died in Marquette, where he had resided since 2005 (Michigan Monitor (April 7). In 1952, LaChapelle became a charter member and treasurer of South Shore Employees FCU. He also was a charter member and volunteer at Marquette Catholic CU in 1953, and worked as a field representative in 1955 and 1956 for the Michigan league. From 1956-1974, he served as treasurer/manager of Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community FCU and on MCUL's board of directors. He was league chairman from 1967 to 1971 and CUNA chairman 1971-1973. In 1974, he became president/CEO of the league, a post he held seven years.

Parent-teen power struggle over money in school branch

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SACRAMENTO (4/8/08)--SAFE CU, Sacramento, has never received any complaints about its in-school credit union branches. In fact, its program is lauded by the city and state. But the mother of one young SAFE CU member isn’t happy--because the credit union opened an account for her that her mother doesn’t have access to. The mother contacted local media with a list of questions regarding her concerns about the credit union’s school program. “It’s very unusual,” Paul Hersek, SAFE CU vice president of marketing, told News Now. “It’s not the norm. We’ve never had something like this happen.” The young woman, a minor, opened an account at a SAFE in-school branch to save money she earned at an after-school job. The member is “really responsible,” and declined an ATM card so she wouldn’t overspend, Hersek added. The member has a joint account with her mother, but wanted her own savings account. “The daughter wants to be independent,” Hersek said. SAFE CU contacted the mother about her concerns, but she had bypassed the credit union and spoken to the media, Hersek said. Credit unions can open accounts for minors, according to the California Department of Financial Institutions. The code reads: “A credit union may issue shares or certificates for funds to a minor of any age or maintain any other account authorized for credit union members for a minor, and receive payments thereon by or for the minor. “The minor is entitled to withdraw, transfer, or pledge any shares or certificates or other moneys owned by him or her and to receive from the credit union all dividends, interest, or other money due thereon in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as an adult.” “We’re not doing anything wrong,” Hersek said, adding the state, governor and Sacramento region have applauded SAFE’s program. “I don’t see us changing anything.” SAFE started its in-school branch program in 2003. “We’ve had great results,” Hersek said. Students who have a B average or above can work in the branches and also can compete for internships at the credit union’s corporate office. They learn marketing and accounting, and the credit union provides money to the school district for financial literacy programs. The credit union doesn’t aim to make a profit off of its school programs--rather, it seeks to improve its exposure among teachers, parents and students. Six student employees also have taken jobs at the credit union after graduation. “It’s a really rewarding program,” Hersek said. Though the mother’s complaint was a first for SAFE CU, credit unions should listen to parents’ concerns in these situations, Hersek advised. He also advised credit unions to look at the products and services offered to youth and ensure they are applicable. SAFE has customized some products and services to suit youth. For instance, students can open accounts labeled by what they are saving for, such as prom or a yearbook, and deposit money in each. SAFE also waives maintenance fees until members are 21 years old. “It’s those types of things,” he said. “Does the program make sense for those individuals?” Financial institutions can offer financial direction for youth, he added. Though it’s up to the parent to talk to children about financial education, a lot of children don’t get financial training at home. The credit union takes advantage of “any opportunity” it can to reach out and help students, Hersek said.

CUs difference explained in Long Island paper

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LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (4/08/08)--Credit unions compare well with other financial institutions, according to a Friday article in the Long Island Business News. A credit union’s main objective is to return value to its members, as opposed to for-profit companies that seek to primarily create value and income for shareholders, Kirk Kordelseski, CEO of Bethpage, (N.Y.) FCU, told the newspaper. Credit unions also offer business loans and other financial services to businesses, the article said. Many of Bethpage FCU’s business clients are members who started small businesses, such as plumbing or landscaping business, Kordeleski said. Bethpage FCU’s business loans are usually less than $100,000, he added. Credit unions offer a variety of services to employees of all sizes of businesses, Kordeleski said. Employees who start out using credit unions for checking accounts and auto loans often expand their relationship with credit unions to include mortgages, home equity loans and retirement plans, he added.

Equifax Business fraud a growing problem

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ATLANTA (4/08/08)--Nearly 20% of financial institutions are unaware of their financial losses from business fraud, said a recent Equifax study. The results could be troublesome for some credit unions--who actively work to provide business lending services to their members. The study also indicated that many organizations are still in the early stages of addressing fraud. Nearly 75% of businesses rely solely on credit reports to check for fraud, Equifax said. To combat fraud, Equifax suggests that financial institutions:
* Verify the existence of a business; * Target accounts that have been flagged with suspicious fraud attributes and require further investigation; * Confirm the relationship between the business and applicant; and * Decrease potential for applicants to be flagged as fraudulent because of mis-keyed information.
Equifax has created the Business Fraud Advisor solution to help financial institutions prevent fraud. The solution uses LexisNexis and database information to validate a business’s identity and verify application data. Application fraud accounts for 65% of commercial fraud and is the most costly in terms of business impact, Equifax said. “While the prevalence of identity theft among consumers has been known for a long time, commercial fraud has only recently emerged as a major issue,” said Michael Shannon, president of Equifax Commercial Information Solutions.

CU System briefs (04/07/2008)

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* SACRAMENTO, Calif. (4/8/08)--The new commissioner of California's Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) took office Monday, according to DFI. William Haraf, Ph.D., was named commissioner last month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since 2005, Haraf has been an independent consultant with the Promontory Financial Group and served as visiting professor of economics and finance at the Graduate School of Management, the University of California, Davis. He also served in positions at Banc of America Securities, Bank of America, Citicorp, and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Haraf was special assistant to the chairman of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisors and senior staff economist to the council (Imperial Valley News March 10). One of his priorities: to appoint a deputy commissioner of credit unions … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (4/8/08)--Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams speaks during a media tour last week with Gov. Jennifer Granholm (right), who signed into law a "Save the Dream" package of bills to help homeowners in danger of losing their homes. The tour made stops in Grand Rapids, Jackson and Detroit (Michigan Monitor April 7 and News Now April 2). Credit unions and other financial institutions will be able to provide mortgage refinancing products to homeowners struggling with payments under a program with the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * SALT LAKE CITY (4/8/08)--Salt Lake CU members will vote Wednesday on whether to merge the 67-year-old $256.1 million asset credit union with $2.301 billion asset Mountain America CU (The Salt Lake Tribune April 5). The voluntary merger is being proposed because it is increasingly harder to meet members demands for additional branches, services and ATMs, said the credit union. Salt Lake has 10 branches and Mountain America has more than 50 branches … * SAN LEANDRO, Calif.(4/8/08)--Arrow CU, a $2.7 million asset credit union that for years served employees of Oakland's Mother's Cookies before the bakery shut down in 2006, plans to merger into Spectrum FCU, a $136.1 million asset credit union based in San Francisco. The closure of the bakery hurt the smaller credit union, which has 482 members. Before the bakery closed, it had $5 million in assets and 738 members (East Bay Business Times April 4). Arrow CU filed a merger application with the California Department of Financial Institutions on March 14. A merger would need approval from both DFI and the National Credit Union Administration. After regulators approve the proposal, Arrow will take the measure to members for a vote … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/8/08)--Kim Neifert, former items processing manager of Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa., died Thursday at the age of 42. Neifert had worked at Mid-Atlantic for 15 years and was one of Mid-Atlantic's first employees in its share draft processing operation. She left her position in January 2006 after being diagnosed with cancer, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 7) ...

MCUA DesjardinsMaxwellHerring awards announced

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO. (4/8/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) recognized the 2007 Missouri Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins Award winners at its Annual Advocacy and 79th annual Business Meeting April 1. The 2007 Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award winners are: First Place:
* $35 million-$75 million assets: Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU; * $75 million-$250 million assets: Arsenal CU, Arnold; and * More than $250 million assets: Vantage CU, Bridgeton.
Second Place:
Mazuma CU, Kansas City, took home three awards in the 2007 Missouri Credit Union award competition. Pictured are (from left): Mazuma’s Jose Diaz, supervisory committee member; David Kudrin, board member; Andrea Kellgren, branch manager; and John Walls, board chair; Rosie Holub, Missouri Credit Union Association president/CEO; and Mazuma’s Cynthia Little, branch manager, and Gerald Rosenblum, board treasurer. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
* $75 million-$250 million: Alliance CU, Fenton; and * More than $250 million: Mazuma CU, Kansas City.
The 2007 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award winners are: First Place:
* Chapter: Springfield Chapter of Credit Unions; * $5 million-$20 million assets: Joplin Metro CU; * $20 million-$50 million assets: Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU; * $100 milion-$200 million: Neighbors CU, St. Louis; * $200-$500 million: Mazuma CU; and * More than $500 million: American Eagle CU, St. Louis.
Second Place:
* Chapter: St. Louis Chapter of Credit Unions; * $100 million-$200million assets: Mid Missouri CU, Ft. Leonard Wood; and * More than $500 million assets: American Eagle CU.
Honorable Mention: $100 milion-$200 million assets: 1st Financial FCU, St. Charles. 2007 Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award winners are: First Place:
* Less than $50 million: Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU; and * More than $250 million: Mazuma CU.

Aloha FCU offers help for closed airlines employees

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HONOLULU (4/7/08)--Aloha Airlines FCU is not affected by the shutdown of Aloha Airlines Inc. and will continue to operate with special assistance for impacted employee-members, according to a message to members on its website. The $30.6 million asset credit union's board has approved an initial $100,000 to provide assistance to help members and their families "handle the difficult situations ahead," the credit union said. Members affected by the shutdown are eligible to receive free financial planning advice, and pre-approvals granted by the credit union before the airlines announced it was closing will still stand for 90 days for personal loans, vehicle loans, lines of credit or Visa credit cards. The credit union's Member Assistance Program includes crisis loan options to provide immediate cash relief. Members can choose from:
* Loan payment deferrals, where the member pays only interest on the loan, for any personal, vehicle or share-secured loan; or * Lifting of penalties for withdrawals on all or part of certificate share accounts or Christmas Club savings.
Aloha Airlines FCU said it will decide whether to change its name later--after "taking into account any changes in the next few days or weeks the airline makes about the remaining portions of the airlines. At that time, we will formulate any appropriate future plans, including a change to our name, logo or focus." The airlines shut down its inter-island and transpacific passenger flight operations as of March 31. Its air cargo and aviation service units continued to operate while the U.S. Bankruptcy Court sought bids from potential buyers. Saltchuk Resources Ind. announced its intention to buy the air cargo business, said Aloha Airlines' announcement of the shutdown. The shutdown of the passenger operations affects about 1,900 employees. The credit union has more than 4,595 members.

Dollar losses from Internet crime reported at all-time high

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WASHINGTON (4/7/08)--Nearly $240 million was reported lost in crimes perpetrated over the Internet last year, with a median dollar loss of $680 per complaint. The total amount--a record high--represents a $40 million increase over losses referred to law enforcement in 2006. According to the 2007 Internet Crime Report, 206,884 complaints of crimes perpetrated over the Internet were filed last year with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The total is a decrease of 0.3% from the 207,492 complaints filed in 2006. Of the 2007 complaints, more than 90,000 were referred to law enforcement around the nation. Although Internet auction fraud was the most widely reported complaint, others included fraudulent activity such as non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, and non-fraudulent activity such as computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited mail e-mail, and child pornography. The types of fraud of most interest to credit unions were in the middle of the pack in the Top 10 complaint categories and accounted for 23.2% of the frauds. A breakdown includes:
* Credit/debit card fraud, 6.3%; * Check fraud, 6%; * Computer fraud, 5.3%; * Identity theft, 2.9%; and * Financial institutions fraud, 2.7%.
Male complainants lost more money than females. Males lost $1.67 to every $1 lost per female. This may be a function of both online purchasing differences by gender and the type of fraud schemes by which they were victimized, said IC3. Electronic mail (73.6%) and Web pages (32.7%) were the two key mechanisms used in the frauds, the study found. Other findings:
* The fraudsters were mostly male (75.8%) and half resided in one of these states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Most were from the U.S., but a significant number were located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania and Italy. * More than half the victims were male (57.6%), nearly half were between 30 and 50 years old, and one-third resided in one of the four most populated states: California, Florida, Texas and New York. Most complaints came from the U.S., but IC3 also received a number of complaints from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India and Mexico.
IC3 is a division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Fifth Latino CU Conference set for Dallas

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NEW YORK (4/7/08)--Credit unions who want to reach out to a wider membership can sign up for the 34th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved and the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas. The joint conference is organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, is scheduled for June 11-14 at the Westin City Center. Featured speakers include:
* Anna Escobedo Cabral, U.S. Treasurer; * Gigi Hyland, National Credit Union Administration board member; * Donna Gambrell, newly appointed director of the community development financial institution (CDFI) Fund; * Stephen Delfin, executive director, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF); * Janie Barrera, head of Accion Texas; * Dick Ensweiler, president, Texas Credit Union League (TCUL); * Bill Cheney, president, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and * Lisa Mensa, Initiative on Financial Security executive director, Aspen Institute.
Topics for the Latino conference include: state and national Latino outreach initiatives, connecting with immigrant organizations, lending to new Americans, meeting the needs of immigrant consumers, tailoring financial education to Latino/immigrant communities, insurance needs in the Latino market, overcoming barriers to serve immigrants and funding. Serving the Underserved Conference topics include the CDFI fund, innovation, peer-to-peer lending network Zopa, asset-building, mortgage lending, subprime auto lending and housing counseling. Conference gold sponsors include the TCUL and CUNA Mutual Group. The California Credit Union League is a silver sponsor. Other support is provided by the Iowa Credit Union League and Coopera Consulting; the Credit Union National Association; NCUF; Filene Research Institute; Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C.; and the World Council of Credit Unions. For more information, use the links.

CUs on the Tube Alberta CUs host Agent4Change contest

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CALGARY, Alberta (4/7/08)--Alberta’s credit unions are seeking a cause that would have a positive impact on youth in Alberta through its Agent4Change contest. Contest entrants submitted videos of their causes, which were uploaded to the campaign site at www.agent4change.ca. Voters will have until tomorrow to pick their favorite video from the top 10. The winner will be announced April 16. The credit unions will help make the proposed change a reality by awarding the winner an Apple laptop and $20,000 for consulting fees. Agent4Change drew 80 participants, age 18 to 24, who submitted videos about what they think needs changing in their communities. The contest also resulted in the creation of a Facebook community and websites devoted to individual candidates’ causes. “The contest was a great vehicle to listen to youth and what issues are of greatest concern to them,” said Liena Kano, assistant vice president of strategy and communications at Alberta Central CU. Albertans’ votes will make up half of the popular vote to determine a winner. The other half will come from panel judges representing credit union professionals, youth and experts in corporate social responsibility programs. To view the videos, use the link.

Maine CUs fair helps students flex financial muscles

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AUBURN, Maine (4/7/08)--Maine credit unions held their fifth annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience Event Wednesday at Central Maine Community College, Auburn.
Margie Gagne (left), president/CEO of Monmouth (Maine) FCU, assists a student at the credit booth during the Annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience for high school students in the Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, area. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
The event was held last week to coincide with Maine Gov. John Baldacci’s proclamation of April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In attendance were nearly 150 students from eight area high schools. The event was created to address the growing need for increased financial literacy in Maine schools and the lack of understanding that many teens experience with regard to their personal finances, according to the Maine Credit Union League. In the half-day event, students were asked to participate in an interactive “game of life,” in which they map out what their financial future would be at age 22. A scenario packet they receive determines their occupation, income and credit history. Students then have the task of creating a “spending plan” in accordance with their income and expenses. “Financial literacy is so important, especially at this time of year, when students are nearing graduation and getting ready to get out into the real world,” said Jon Paradise, league governmental and public affairs manager, and master of ceremonies for the day. “Our goal is not only to educate participants about the Financial Fitness Money Management Experience, but also to make it enjoyable for them to learn.” Representatives from the Norm Nolette Chapter of Credit Unions, the league and Central Maine Community College organized the event.

CU System briefs (04/04/2008)

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* BOULDER, Colo. (4/7/08)--At a special meeting Thursday, the Elevations CU Board of Directors named Chief Operating Officer (COO) Evelyn Polando as interim president/CEO. Board Chair Lynn Walloch made the announcement in a press release Friday. Polando has 38 years of experience in the credit union industry. She was hired by the Boulder-based credit union as vice president of operations in 1999 and named COO in 2001. Before joining Elevations' staff, she was vice president of installation at Summit Information Systems, a Fiserv company. Elevations President/CEO Bill Sterner suffered a heart attack on March 28 and died March 31. The board has begun conducting a search for a permanent CEO of the $800 million-plus asset credit union … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/7/08)--A scam aimed at senior citizens almost snagged a member of Lesco FCU, a $44 million asset credit union in Latrobe, Pa., reported the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 4). The member received a phone call from some posing as the credit union. The caller said a $189 check was clearing her account to purchase magazines and that Lesco wanted to make sure she had written it. The caller read the credit union's routing number as if reading from the check and asked the member for the second set of digits and current check number to verify the account. The scammer gave the impression the credit union was protecting her from fraud. The next day, the member called the credit union. Alert staff caught the check, which tried to clear the account on Thursday. It was made out to Secure Account Services LLC. An internet search for the company found a site that includes complaints from other seniors who experienced similar situations …

CEOs confidence drops--Southwest Corporate survey

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PLANO, Texas (4/7/08)--Credit union leaders are expressing significant negativity about the economy, according to Southwest Corporate FCU’s most recent CU CEO Confidence Survey. The first-quarter 2008 index registered the lowest confidence level in the survey’s four-year history, down 14.22 points from December to 20.05. The low mark sits at the bottom of a 19-point decline that began in July. Survey figures were the lowest ever recorded in all areas but one. The exception was CEOs’ expectation for share deposit growth in six months, which almost doubled to 27.25 in the first quarter from 13.92 in December. Expectation for loan demand in six months dropped to 5.18 this quarter. The pessimism that registered in recent surveys over members’ financial conditions persisted, said the corporate. CEOs assessed members’ current financial conditions at 5.71 points lower this month than in the December report. CEOs were even more concerned about members’ financial conditions six months from now. Credit unions expressed uncertainty about their own financial condition as well. Credit unions’ current financial condition charted at 42.12 in the April index, down from 49.48 the previous quarter. Their expectation for six months from now also dropped more than 10 points to 35.36. “With all the attention on subprime mortgages, the resultant credit market meltdown and higher energy costs, it shouldn’t be too surprising that both credit union members and CEOs are wary,” said Brian Turner, manager, Southwest Corporate Investment Services advisory service. “Whereas, credit union loan growth is cyclically challenged during the first quarter of each year, the current economic climate certainly is not helping,” he added. “Members are carrying rather high debt loads, and as long as the economy appears weak, they will be more comfortable just maintaining what they have--no new car and no new home for the time being.” Survey responses numbered 222--the highest number of respondents since the survey’s inception--out of 829 CEOs polled, a 27% response rate. For more information, use the link.

Lutz helps St. Lucia CUs adapt to changing economy

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CASTRIES, St. Lucia (4/7/08)--When the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) pressed volunteer Steven Lutz into service in January, the senior vice president and chief financial officer for GECU, El Paso, Texas, packed his bags for Kenya. But civil strife in the African country redirected Lutz to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where he helped credit unions address their delinquency issues and adapt to changes in the island economy.
Steve Lutz, right, senior vice president and chief financial officer of GECU, El Paso, Texas, enjoys a break with Anthony Herman, treasurer of Choiseul CU in St. Lucia. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
St. Lucia has 19 credit unions serving 60,000 members, approaching half of the island’s population. Lutz worked with three credit unions, ranging in size from $3 million to $44 million in assets. “St. Lucia’s credit unions offer two products--savings accounts and loans--and these services are delivered face-to-face by employees who do what’s in the best interest of the member sitting across from them,” Lutz said. “It was inspiring to see the credit union mission alive and well.” Lutz worked with Saltibus Cooperative CU, Choiseul CU, Laborie Cooperative CU and the St. Lucia Credit Union League to help address the country’s changing economy. “Tourism has discovered St. Lucia,” he said. “Land value is increasing and developers are converting a lot of agricultural land into resort developments. Prices in general are going up.” St. Lucia credit unions offer basic savings and lending services, but there are no checking accounts, no ATMs or credit bureaus. As the economy expands, credit unions will have to adjust by putting more safeguards into place. “The credit unions here are very well-grounded philosophically and are trying to do the right thing,” Lutz said. By assisting them with the development of loan collection policies and procedures, Lutz can help them to “perform in the best interest of all members while still providing the close, personal service they are accustomed to.” Lutz also helped lay the groundwork to strengthen St. Lucia credit unions’ capabilities in agricultural lending, part of a larger initiative WOCCU is undertaking with OAS Staff FCU in Washington, D.C., the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. “Lutz displayed a consummate capacity to listen, discern and analyze varying situations in a different cultural small-island setting across several rural credit unions,” said Melvin Edwards, WOCCU chairman and representative of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions. “He was able to convince the leaders and employees to take aggressive steps to minimize loan delinquency levels and make the shift to risk-based lending.” Lutz’s visited was sponsored by WOCCU and the St. Lucia Credit Union League. The league will soon sign a partnership agreement with the Michigan Credit Union League, as a part of the WOCCU International Partnerships Program. So far, 27 U.S. states and Canadian provinces have signed reciprocal support agreements with developing credit union movements. Further development activities by WOCCU and OAS FCU are planned for this year.

Statement printer LaserTech ceases operations

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/08)--An electronic printing and mailing firm based in Madison, Wis., has unexpectedly closed its doors, leaving some credit unions who were its clients without statement-mailing services. Laser Tech of Madison Inc. posted a statement on its website, www.lasertechinc.com, saying it was ceasing operations immediately "due to a series of unexpected and unfortunate financial circumstances." It said customer service representatives would contact clients to let them know of the status of any jobs in the process. However, it noted: "LaserTech will not be able to complete any of these jobs. You must find another vendor to complete your job." The firm understood its closure puts its customers, employees and families in "very difficult circumstances," said the company's notice. "We are very sorry for this and apologize," said the statement. It was not known how many clients the firm had and how many were credit unions.

Youth network seeks schools excelling in fin lit

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/7/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation and Redwood, Calif.-based San Mateo CU have partnered with the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network (CNYIN) to award the network’s first-ever School of the Year Award in June. The winner will be chosen from schools nominated by CNYIN members. In addition, CNYIN is seeking nominations for its annual youth scholarship program. The award was developed to honor a California or Nevada school that has excelled at providing youth financial literacy to its students recently and has specific plans to continue doing so. The winning school will receive the USA Today “Choice is Power” program for the 2008-2009 school year. It also will receive 20 copies of USA Today daily for 32 weeks, a daily lesson plan, and a guide book featuring 12 financial literacy education lessons. The award is sponsored by a grant from the RMJ Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, and a contribution from San Mateo CU. “Partnering with the RMJ Foundation and San Mateo CU allows us to recognize schools for their efforts to help make young people become financially aware adults, which we hope will encourage other schools to do the same,” said Marissa Lott, CNYIN board chair and marketing specialist for Farmers Insurance Group FCU, Los Angeles. All CNYIN members are encouraged to nominate a school for the award. Nominations must be submitted by May 16. Applications can be obtained by contacting CNYIN. CNYIN also will award three $500 scholarships to network credit union members. Awards will be given based on the student’s resume of community service and/or extracurricular activities, and an essay on the topic, “What can you or your credit union do to encourage today’s youth to join and take advantage of credit union products and services?” Applications and essays must be submitted to Jenny Casselman at Greater Nevada CU, Carson City, by May 23.

BizKid participant to be honored at White House

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WASHINGTON (4/4/08)--Biz Kid Raphael Spiro, founder of Bedsidebooks, is one of 10 youngsters in America who will receive presidential recognition for his social entrepreneurship. The award will be presented at the White House on April 16th during Financial Literacy Month, according to the Washington Credit Union League. Bedsidebooks is a program of student volunteers who collect, sort and deliver recycled books to needy members of the community. BizKid$, a public television series that aims to teach youth about financial literacy, is garnering international attention (News Now Sept. 20). The show has an underwriting partnership with JA Worldwide and America's Credit Unions. About 140 organizations, including credit unions and credit union leagues, provide funding for the show. About one-third of the show's total underwriting budget was provided by the National Credit Union Foundation. BizKid$ has been positioned as family viewing in a number of markets, which encourages kids to watch the show with their parents.

Boulder Municipal Employees FCU offers free WiFi access

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BOULDER, Colo. (4/3/08)--Boulder Municipal Employees FCU (BME FCU) is helping its members and community become more connected while also marketing itself to the community by offering free WiFi access in Boulder. “It’s pretty neat to be able to offer this service,” BME CEO Ann Babiak told News Now. The network is a “great tool to attract the younger generation,” Babiak said. “Our credit union membership is getting older. We need to attract younger members.” The network covers downtown Boulder and areas around the credit union’s main office. Anyone can use the network, and because of web direction technology, users are automatically routed to a BME FCU home page. There, they can find information about local events, entertainment, restaurants--and how to become a credit union member. The credit union plans to expand the network throughout the county and in nearby Lafayette by selling ads to small business that will appear on the home page. “We don’t want to place limits on (the network),” Jeff Recker, BME vice president of information technology, told News Now. “We want to serve members and give back to the community.” The idea for the network came about one year ago. “We’d just put in our fifth ATM,” Babiak said. “Jeff and I were talking about how strategically placed our ATMs are, and Jeff said we have great locations for WiFi and should utilize that,” she said. So far, the network has received “excellent” feedback. As of yesterday, BME had secured two other small businesses that wanted to place WiFi signals on their buildings. Babiak also encouraged credit unions to “think outside the box.” BME is one of the smallest credit unions in the state, and size shouldn’t limit creativity, she said. Recker noted that the network will continue to improve. “It’s definitely a work in progress,” he said.

TJX Cos. settles with MasterCard

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (4/4/08)--TJX Cos. Inc. has entered into an agreement with MasterCard International Inc. to settle a lawsuit related to the largest data breach in history. The TJX breach compromised as many as 94 million cards, including those issued by credit unions. The agreement calls for MasterCard to make alternative recovery offers to its eligible card issuers who issued payment cards claimed as compromised in the breach. MasterCard will recommend that eligible MasterCard issuers accept such offers. TJX will fund up to a maximum $24 million (pre-tax) in alternative recovery payments, depending on the extent of acceptance by card issuers. The settlement sets one condition: Issuers of at least 90% of the accounts claimed in the breach must accept the alternative recovery offers by May 2. Accepting issuers will release and indemnify TJX and its acquiring banks on their claims, the claims of their affiliated issuers, and those of their sponsored issuers as MasterCard issuers related to the intrusion. That includes claims in putative class actions in federal and Massachusetts state courts. The Framingham, Mass., discount retailer announced the settlement Wednesday in a press release (Business Wire April 2). The funds to pay the alternative recovery payment settlement were put aside in reserves that TJX established earlier for costs related to the computer intrusion. TJX had already entered a separate settlement with Visa U.S.A. in December, where 95% of financial institutions eligible for U.S. Visa accounts potentially affected accepted an alternative recovery offer. That deal had required 80% of the institutions eligible to accept the alternative recovery offer (News Now Dec. 21). Some credit unions and banks opted not to take the settlement in the Visa case and have separate lawsuits pending. For example, SELCO Community CU in Eugene, Ore., and AmeriFirst Bank in Alabama are appealing the dismissal of their class action lawsuit against the retailer (News Now March 26).

CO-OP CUs should convert ACH to debit

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/4/08)--In a tight economy, credit unions should convert their cash, check and automated clearinghouse transactions to debit transactions to increase revenue, says James Hanisch of CO-OP Financial Services. Credit unions can earn revenues on interchange fees when a transaction is made. “Generally, there is no interchange income to credit unions on cash or check transactions,” Hanisch said. He is executive vice president of network operations and chief administration officer with CO-OP. Debit transactions, both signature and personal identification number-based, earn revenue. The amount depends on the merchant, but the range is “realistically 25 cents to 40 cents on average” per transaction, he said. “CO-OP for many years has encouraged credit unions to market to their members the benefits of using debit cards,” he said. Credit unions looking to convert their transactions to debit will have to invest in marketing and behavior change for their members. “They should encourage their members to pull cards instead of cash,” he said. Cash still accounts for roughly one-third of all transactions, Hanisch said. Any transaction with income is better than a transaction that doesn’t generate income, he concluded.

Missouri CUs OK dues schedule meet legislators

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Missouri State Sen. Norma Champion (R-30) speaks with Ralph Tate, Postal Federal Community CU, Springfield, during a legislative reception at the Missouri Credit Union Association’s 79th Annual Advocacy Business Meeting in Jefferson City, Monday and Tuesday.
St. Louis-based First Missouri CU staff and volunteers visit with Missouri State Rep. Pat Yaeger (D-96) (seated) in her Jefferson City office, as part of the Missouri Credit Union Association’s 79th Annual Advocacy and Business Meeting earlier this week. (Photos provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (4/4/08)--Missouri credit unions approved a new dues structure April 1 to celebrate the Missouri Credit Union Association’s (MCUA) 79th Annual Advocacy and Business Meeting in Jefferson City.The new dues formula takes effect in 2009 and will have the most impact on small credit unions, resulting in as much as 17% savings for some of them, MCUA said (CourierNet April 2). The main focus of the Annual Advocacy and Business Meeting was to meet with state lawmakers, who learned how credit unions make the difference for Missouri consumers during the two-day event Monday and Tuesday. More than 50 state legislators attended MCUA’s legislative dinner reception Monday. The reception featured displays highlighting credit unions’ involvement with specific financial education, consumer advocacy and charitable programs. Credit union staff and volunteers were formally recognized Tuesday on the Missouri House and Senate floors at the Missouri Capitol. Attendees visited lawmakers, and delivered gifts and the credit union difference message. The league also presented the 2007 Missouri credit union awards and recognized “You Make the Difference” advocacy award winners during another reception.

Brennan named new CEO of Irish League of CUs

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DUBLIN, Ire. (4/4/08)--The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) announced Thursday it has appointed Kieron Brennan as its new CEO. Brennan, 48, of Dublin is a manager with POBAL, a not-for-profit company focused on community development and financing. The company manages programs on behalf of the Irish government and the European Union (Business and Finance Daily News Service. He previously was manager, Ireland, at Triodos Bank, one of Europe's largest ethical banks; executive director of Clann Credo, a social investment fund; CEO of Partas, which supports the development of local enterprise and the social economy, and program evaluator with the European Social Fund Program evaluation unit. The appointment was announced by Uel Adair, president of ILCU, who said Brennan's "unique financial and community development background has equipped him well to contribute to the ongoing development of the Irish credit union movement." Brennan succeeds Liam O'Dwyer in the position.

CUs members contacted by hoaxers posing as police

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/4/08)--Several members of SEFCU, Albany, N.Y., have been contacted by scammers posing as police and claiming to be helping with the Hannaford Bros. security breach. The scammers asked members for their name, address, home phone, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Scammers told the members the information was needed to help those whose credit cards may have been compromised by the Hannaford security breach, Michael Castellana, SEFCU CEO, told News Now. Hannaford Bros. is the Maine-based grocery chain that announced March 17 that it had found customers’ card data had been pilfered while in transit during transactions from 300 grocery stores in the Northeast and Florida. It warned its customers that follow-up phishing and vishing often occur after security breaches. Several members called the $1.474 billion asset credit union, saying they had been contacted by individuals claiming to be police. “Of those who called, none had given out the information,” Castellana said. It is not known how many members were contacted by scammers, he added. The credit union placed an alert on its website and is talking to members about the scam when they come into its branches. SEFCU also reminded members that it would not contact them in the manner the scammers have, Castellana said. Castellana said it’s unfortunate that credit union resources are tapped to address issues such as scams. He expects that it will only get worse. “There are a lot of people trying to get their hands on members’ information, and it’s up to us to stand in the way of the members and the bad guys,” he said.

CU System briefs (04/03/2008)

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* ARVADA, Colo. (4/4/08)--The time and place have changed for the funeral service for Bill Sterner, president of Elevations CU, Boulder, and chairman of the Credit Union Association of Colorado and of Credit Union Strategic Partners. Visitation will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Crist Mortuary, 3395 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO 80301. The funeral service will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 1st United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder … *
PORTLAND, Ore. (4/4/08)--Michael Cline, president/CEO of Oregonians CU based in Portland, has announced his retirement, effective March 31. Chuck Garner has been named new president/CEO in accordance with the credit union's succession plan. Cline, with 39 years' experience in financial institutions, led the $220 million asset since 2005 when Oregonians was created with the merger of three credit unions: Oregon Central, Oregonian Federal, and Mt. View Federal. He had served as Oregon Central CU since 2001. Garner had been executive vice president of Oregonians CU since 2005 after serving as CEO of Oregonian Federal since 1981. He has worked in financial services since 1973. Oregonians CU has six branches in the Portland area, Eugene and Prineville. It has more than 30,000 members and serves almost 3,000 select employer groups … * HARRISBURG, Pa., and PHILADELPHIA (4/4/08)--Philadelphia FCU has been designated as a Small Business Administration (SBA) Guaranteed Lender in Eastern Pennsylvania, says the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 3). "In this type of economic climate, small business owners need access to capital to start their businesses and keep them growing," said David Dickson, SBA district director, during a visit to the credit union's Operations Center. "SBA guaranteed loan programs help keep those lifelines open and I am happy that PFCU is joining us in those efforts." Accompanying him on the visit was Michael Kane, business development specialist with SBA. They presented a plaque to credit union President/CEO James McAneney and Vice President of Lending Claire Ippoliti …

90 of small businesses see opportunity in recession

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MADISON, Wis. (4/4/08)--Despite the current U.S. economic downturn, small businesses are prepared to cope and even grow, according to Intuit Inc.’s “Get Back to Business” survey. Credit unions serving these businesses can grow along with them. The survey indicates nine out of 10 small U.S. small business owners see opportunities in the current recession, and about 75% expect to grow (BusinessWire April 3). The survey was recently conducted for Quickbooks, which makes small-business accounting software. Two-thirds of small business owners surveyed said they have experienced economic downturns in the past and will rely on their experience and passion to grow. The majority of respondents indicated that customer retention was their No. 1 priority (63%). Their second priority was focusing on finances. “Small business owners are extremely adaptable and nimble individuals. Faced with climbing gas prices and tightening credit standards, they continually prove to be the driving force of our economy,” said Rick Jensen, senior vice president of Intuit’s small business division. “It is their unrelenting passion for serving their customers that enables small businesses to innovate and ultimately succeed in the face of any challenge the market presents them.” What does this mean to credit unions? “Clearly, credit unions share the same passion for serving their members as small businesses do,” Jon Haller, Credit Union National Association director of corporate and market research, told News Now. “Therefore, we feel there are tremendous opportunities for credit unions to measure and identify their members’ satisfaction and how members feel their credit union can better serve their needs.” Contrary to what may be the common wisdom, tight economic times are really a good time for keeping a finger on the pulse of what members may want and need from credit unions, Haller said. “People will be seeking fewer loans, so there will be a smaller pie that credit unions have out there,” Haller added. “So it’s more important than ever for credit unions to identify and shore up any product- or service-related issues that may exist.”

Uzbekistan urged to end CUs tax disadvantage

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UZBEKISTAN (4/3/08)--The president of Uzbekistan urged reform of his country's Tax Code to remove disparities that put credit unions to a disadvantage. Under the current Tax Code, the interest earnings received by individuals who have deposits in credit unions are taxed, while the earnings of those with deposits in commercial banks are not, reported UzReport.com (April 2). President Islam Karimov, in his report to the Cabinet of Ministers on the results of the country's socio-economic development in 2007 and the top priorities for economic reforms for 2008, noted that simplifying and unifying the tax systems would be a main task on the way to liberalizing the economy. As of Jan. 1, credit unions accounted for 3.5% of the nation's individual deposits. Karimov noted that taxing earnings from credit union deposits while not taxing earnings from commercial bank deposits seemed unfair and contradicted the principles of fair taxation outlined in the code. The situation leads to the competitive disadvantage of deposit products of credit unions, since 98% of the resource base for credit unions is personal deposits, he said. He noted credit unions' main mission is to raise the welfare of their members and that they provide services to relatively more vulnerable groups. Taxation forces the credit unions to raise the interest rates to stay competitive, which in turn makes the financial resources more expensive for the consumer. Because the government aims to further develop the system of credit unions and micro-credit organizations, Karimov's report suggested agencies should work to amend the tax code for more unified treatment.

More real time data thefts reported

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LUDLOW, Vt. (4/3/08)--A ski resort in Vermont announced its computer system was hacked and customers' card data stolen in a "real time" heist similar to that of the Hannaford Bros. data breach last month. Okemo Mountain Resort, based in Ludlow, Vt., announced Monday the data were stolen while in transit as customers swiped their credit card. A press release on its website noted that the intruder gained potential access to cardholder names, account numbers and expiration dates during a 16-day period between Feb. 7 and Feb. 22. Up to 28,168 credit card transactions were involved, said Okemo. Also, thieves may have accessed data to 18,401 individual credit cards used at Okemo from January through March 2006. Although the data heist isn't as widespread as one announced last month by Maine grocery store chain Hannaford Bros., it is similar in that the theft was conducted in "real time." Most data thefts in the past have been stolen from databases stored in a company or processor's computers--not while the data is in transit. Bonnie MacPherson, Okemo's spokeswoman, told Computerworld (April 2) that the information was taken as the cards were being swiped. The type of theft may be wider spread than the initial Hannaford Bros. case. Law enforcement authorities investigating the Okemo case told the resort they are investigating about 50 reported incidents of the same type of breach in the Northeast alone. Okemo's security alert said the break-in did not involve credit cards customers used at two other resorts the company owns: Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire or Crested Butte in Colorado.

Texas organization applies for CDCU for Hispanics

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HOUSTON, Texas (4/3/08)--Neighborhood Centers Inc., a community economic development organization in Houston, has applied with the Texas Credit Union Department to charter a credit union in a predominantly Hispanic area in Southwest Houston. The field of membership will include the Neighborhood Centers association and three zip codes in the southwestern Houston area, James Deese, deputy commissioner of the Texas Credit Union Department, told News Now. “We received a letter from the Texas Credit Union Department that said our application is complete,” said Randy Martinez, director of credit union development with Neighborhood Centers Inc. He added his organization has committed a $500,000 equity grant to the project. “We now are working on a secondary capital plan that the National Credit Union Administration wants,” he said. “That is our last step in the process to get the charter started.” The purpose of the credit union will be to help residents looking for low-income depository services that they cannot obtain at traditional banks or credit unions, Martinez explained. The three-zip-code field of membership in Houston is about 50% Hispanic and constitutes people of 70 nationalities, Martinez said. The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions sent a letter of commitment to Neighborhood Centers, pledging $100,000 in non-member deposits to the project, Martinez said. Neighborhood Centers is meeting with Capital Bank of Dallas to try to secure a similar commitment, he added.

Funeral service scheduled for Sterner

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ARVADA, Colo. (4/3/08)--A funeral service honoring Bill Sterner, president/CEO of Elevations CU, based in Boulder, Colo., has been set for 3 p.m. Saturday in Boulder. A visitation will be held at 2 p.m., followed by a funeral service at 3 p.m. at Crist Mortuary, 3395 Penrose Place, Boulder, Colo. 80301. Sterner, chairman of the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) and its service corporation, Credit Union Strategic Partners, died Monday after suffering a heart attack on March 28 while attending CUAC's annual Legislative Forum at the State Capitol. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to: Community Trust at the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, 1123 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302

Tellers condition stable after robbery shooting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.(4/3/08)--A State Employees’ CU (SECU) teller who was shot at a Charlotte, N.C., branch during a robbery Tuesday is in stable condition. “She is doing much better today,” James Blaine, SECU CEO told News Now. The teller was shot in the abdomen and will likely remain in the hospital for about a week, he said. The teller is a 20-year-old single mother of three. SECU plans to do everything it can to help her, including paying her rent and caring for her children while she is recovering. “We’re sure going to look after our employees,” Blaine said. The teller was shot while standing next to a credit union employee who was giving the robbers the money they demanded. While the transaction was being processed, one of the robbers decided to shoot. “It was very uncalled for,” Blaine said. “It was a pure case of meanness.” SECU staff members are instructed to comply with robbers. “We handled it properly,” he said. “We have plenty of security.” However, the credit union can’t plan for “uncivilized” people, who randomly hurt others, he noted. Blaine said he was outraged that someone would randomly shoot another without reason. Usually, robbers enter the credit union, request money from an employee and leave, Blaine said. The credit union experiences about 10 robberies per year. Blaine said he expects the number to increase. “It’s a sure sign of a recession,” he said. Tuesday’s shooting was the first time someone had been injured during a robbery at a SECU branch, Blaine said. SECU is headquartered in Raleigh, N.C. with $15 billion in assets.

February loan-to-savings ratio drops to 80.7

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/08)--With savings growth overpowering loan growth, credit unions’ overall loan-to-savings ratio decreased over two percentage points, to 80.7% in February from 83.2% in January, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions for February 2008. “The drop in the loan-to-savings ratio was due to the month ending on a Friday payday, which boosted share draft accounts by 12.3%,” said Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist. “Most of these funds will be used by members for monthly living expenses and therefore leave the credit union.”
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The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year of borrowing, plus other liabilities--rose to 21% from 19% in January. Credit union savings balances grew 3.3% in February, the strongest growth since March 2001. The increase is a reflection of three paydays during February and the last payday landing on the last day of the month. Share draft accounts led savings growth, increasing 12.3%, followed by regular shares (3.7%), money market accounts (3.3%), certificates (1.1%), and individual retirement accounts (0.7%). Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.2% in February, and 0.4% for the first two months of 2008. “Other mortgage loans” led loan growth, increasing 1.3% for the month and rising 16.3% the past 12 months. “Year-over-year loan growth picked up slightly in February to 7%, from 6.7% in January, as many banks tightened their underwriting standards,” Rick explained. “Credit unions are seeing strong growth opportunities in first and second mortgages and credit card lending. With U.S. new-auto sales down 12% over the last year, credit union auto loan balances fell 3.6% over the last 12 months.”
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Adjustable-rate first mortgages, fixed-rate first mortgages, home equity, and other loans followed, increasing 1%, 0.9%, 0.7%, and 0.2%, respectively. “Home equity loan balances increased 2.2% year-to-date, as falling interest rates offset falling home prices to stimulate members' demand for this loan category,” Rick said. Declining during February were unsecured personal loans (1.5%), credit card loans (1.2%), and new-auto loans (1.1%). Regarding asset quality, credit union 60-plus day delinquencies increased to 0.98% in February from 0.97% in January. “One good news story is that delinquency rates barely changed from January to February, indicating the subprime mortgage crisis has not yet contaminated credit union loan portfolios,” Rick said. With the increase in assets, the credit union movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio decreased slightly to 11.1% in February from 11.4% in January. The total dollar amount of capital ended the year at $89.4 billion, an increase of 0.4% from last month.

CU System briefs (04/02/2008)

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* NEW BERLIN, Wis. (4/3/08)--State lawmakers cited Landmark CU's contribution to the well-being of its members, its community support and its financial education efforts in a special resolution commemorating the credit union's 75th anniversary. The resolution was presented at the grand opening of the $1.1 billion asset credit union's Germantown/Menomonee Falls branch by Wisconsin State Sen. Alberta Darling and State Assembly Rep. Sue Jeskewitz. Pictured are, from left: Jeff Knaub, branch manager; Mike Maxwell, director; Sen. Darling; Sharon Mather, senior vice president; Rep. Jeskewitz; Bob Bruemmer, executive vice president; Carol Miller, scholarship fund representative; Paul Reinbold, director; and Ron Kase, president.(Photo provided by Landmark CU) … * CARSON CITY, Nev. (4/3/08)--Greater Nevada CU is developing its services to the Latino market by hiring Jose H. Moreno as its new vice president of Latino services. Moreno, formerly market development manager at Bank of America in Southern California, will develop financial solutions tailored to Northern Nevada's Latinos. Among his responsibilities will be enhancing and developing financial literacy classes with key community partners. Greater Nevada has more than $500 million in assets … * MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (4/3/08)--Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray is scheduled to speak at the Massachusetts Credit Union League's Annual Governmental Affairs Day on April 30 in Boston. The theme for the meeting is "Massachusetts Credit Unions: Serving and Protecting Consumers." Other speakers scheduled include Commissioner of Banks Steven L. Antonakes, State Sen. Susan Tucker, State Rep. Karyn Polito and Elizabeth Whitehead, National Credit Union Administration associate regional director of programs (Values & Visions April) … * NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (4/3/08)--Langley FCU President/CEO Jean M. Yokum has received the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, says the Virginia Credit Union League's website. The award is presented to individuals demonstrating personal commitment to promoting respect and understanding among people of diverse backgrounds. Yokum, who began serving the $1.224 billion asset credit union as a teller in 1953, has been president/CEO since 1979. She works to improve financial education of young people and created a Member Education Center at the credit union to provide financial literacy seminars … * WINNIPEG (4/3/08)--Twenty Manitoba credit unions presented a check for a combined $316,453 to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Wednesday at Manitoba's Credit Unions 2008 Convention in Winnipeg. "The dual social and economic character of credit unions is driven by a series of cooperative principles that we take very seriously," said Garth Manness, CEO of Credit Union Central of Manitoba. Credit unions' "vision of social justice, which extends to our members and the larger community, aligns exceptionally well with the vision of the museum's founders," he added (ENP Newswire April 1) …

TCUF sponsors April summit on asset building

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/3/08)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) is sponsoring an asset-building summit in Houston April 29-30 for those in the financial services industry. The event is being hosted by the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, RAISE Texas, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (LoneStar Leaguer April 1). The summit will launch a series of initiatives--products, programs, legislation--to increase financial prosperity for low-income families in Texas. It is designed for credit union professionals, community organization leaders, government professionals, policymakers and others in financial services. “With REAL Solutions launching in Texas, it was natural that TCUF would sponsor an event such as this,” noted Jill Pharr, TCUF executive director. “Certainly, credit unions are at the forefront in reaching out to low-income individuals.” (See story, “Texas league adopts REAL Solutions” in News Now’s System section). Four action campaigns will be discussed at the summit, including matched savings accounts, community tax centers, alternative small-dollar consumer loan products, and home mortgage foreclosure prevention. When registering, attendees will be able to choose one action campaign to work on. The event will include plenary sessions, breakout sessions to discuss the campaigns, and invited speakers. For more information, use the link.

Members can design own creditcheck cards at Wescom

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PASADENA, Calif. (4/3/08)--Wescom Central CU announced it is adding a new “personalized image” feature to its check cards and credit cards. With the IMAGINE THAT! Picture Card Program, Wescom members can upload their own photo images of family, friends or pets to be reprinted on their cards (BusinessWire April 1). In the first 10 days of the program, the credit union received more than 1,000 photo submissions, according to Kathy Warner, Wescom director of card services. Members of the $3.787 billion asset, Pasadena, Calif.-based Wescom can design their cards by uploading a photo through eBranch, the credit union’s online banking platform. Members also can choose from a gallery of images. Once the photo is approved, the card is mailed to the member in seven to 10 days.

Texas league adopts REAL Solutions

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/3/08)--The Texas Credit Union League, through a grant from the Texas Credit Union Foundation, has adopted REAL Solutions, the National Credit Union Foundation program that helps modest-income households and the underserved build their assets. The goal of REAL (Relevant, Effective, Asset-building and Loyalty-producing) Solutions is to migrate low-wealth households and other underserved demographics toward economic empowerment. During the next three years, REAL Solutions is projected to help more than 2,000 credit unions in 33 states offer new products and services aimed at attracting more than 250,000 potential members from these markets. The Texas REAL Solutions initiative involves at least two phases, said the league (LoneStar Leaguer April 2). The first phase, with 24 Texas credit unions signing up to participate, is already underway. "This initiative is an important step as Texas credit unions seek additional ways to serve those members of modest means," said Bob Gallman, TCUL chief operating officer. Nancy Pierce, president of Tipton Research Group, Kansas City, Mo., will serve as field coach for REAL Solutions in Texas. Pierce has invested 25 years in the credit union industry, having served as past president of Mazuma CU, Kansas City, and as chairwoman of the Missouri Credit Union Association and the Credit Union National Association. She will work with the league to assist credit unions in developing or enhancing their service offerings.

CUs turn to media to help spread fin-literacy

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MADISON, Wis. (4/3/08)--April is Financial Literacy Month, and a number of credit unions and credit union leagues are spreading the message about the importance of consumers becoming financially savvy. Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams was interviewed by State Sen. Michelle McManus (R) on her monthly cable television show, “In Touch with Northern Michigan,” about credit unions and the need for financial literacy. Adams told the senator about the commitment Michigan credit unions have to financial literacy. They sponsor sessions in the community where people can learn basic financial skills, he said. Credit unions also are active in schools with student run branches. Credit unions in Michigan lead the nation in the number of classroom presentations given by volunteers in schools about finances, Adams added. To review a video of the interview, click on the photo. Other financial literacy activities that are underway:
* The Ohio Credit Union League sent financial education curricula and marketing materials to 385 Ohio credit unions as part of the MoneyAndStuff initiative. The kits provide instructions on how to implement financial education in schools; * Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell declared April Financial Education Month and acknowledged National Credit Union Youth Week April 20-26 (Life is a Highway April 1). The state’s Office of Financial Education also will create a new curriculum for use in libraries and other community settings to teach personal financial literacy; * The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and its financial literacy partners planned events throughout the month. DFI, Bellevue Community College, the Washington Society of CPAs and the Jump$tart Washington Coalition will offer college students financial education, using the National Endowment for Financial Education booklet, “Right on the Money,” and basic saving and investing principles. The group also will publish financial literacy inserts each week in the Seattle Times; * The Ohio Credit Union Foundation will fund a financial seminar for 300 high school students. Students from 12 school districts were invited to participate in the April 18 event. Local lawmakers, Junior Achievement, and Kent State University are involved in the event; and * SECU CU, Linthicum, Md., launched a Generation Y Advisory Board for young adults (Focus Newsletter March 31). The group will comprise youth trained in financial literacy to educate their peers and execute a community outreach product. The participants will provide advice to SECU on financial services for Gen Y and will help enhance the credit union’s young adult website, “The Buck Starts Here.”

N.Y. Assembly passes Excelsior Linked Deposit Program

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LATHAM, N.Y. (4/3/08)--The New York Assembly has passed legislation that would allow New York state and federal credit unions to participate in the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program. According to the New York State Credit Union League, Assembly Bill 3205/Senate Bill 4629 passed the assembly March 26 by 139 to 0. It was part of a 16-bill package announced to coincide with Small Business Day in the state and passed to help small businesses become more productive and profitable, said the league. The Excelsior Linked Deposit Program was created in 1993 to address a need to make more capital available and affordable to small businesses by leveraging state resources so eligible businesses can receive loans with rates two to three percentage points lower than the prevailing rate. Credit unions currently are excluded from the program. "We couldn’t be happier that this bill passed through the Assembly," said William J. Mellin, league president/CEO. The Senate Bill 4629, identical to the assembly bill, is in the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. The league will continue to focus its efforts on educating Senate members about the merits of the bill. "We're hopeful that the Senate will recognize that small businesses need greater access to capital through a wider range of lenders, especially in light of today's troubled economic times," Mellin said. "If credit unions are allowed to join the program, they will be able to funnel much needed help to the state's small- and medium-sized businesses."

Mich. CUs to offer states mortgage refinancing program

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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."

CU teller shot during robbery

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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.

Cybercriminals shifting back to vishing

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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.

CUNA economists to zero in on economy at ACUCandE

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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.

Despite economy Ohio CUs hang tough

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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

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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.

IUSA TodayI headline on savings rates Consider a CU

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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.

CU System briefs (04/01/2008)

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* 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 …

Virginia governor signs CU parity law on dormant accounts

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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.

IDow JonesI offers CUs advice on buying foreclosures

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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).

OCUF grant funds foreclosure prevention TV show

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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.

Greylock FCU heads up Mass. Senior Citizens Insurance Watch

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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.