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Pew study puts CU cards ahead of the pack

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WASHINGTON (5/18/11)--Credit union credit cards give consumers “a better deal across the board,” generally offering lower interest rates, lower penalty charges, and reduced fees, a Pew Health Group study has found. The Pew study, entitled “A New Equilibrium: After Passage of Landmark Credit Card Reform, Interest Rates and Fees Have Stabilized,” used data collected between March 2010 and January 2011 to compare credit card rates and other terms offered by the 12 largest credit unions and the 12 largest banks. A credit union card also had the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) of any in the survey, with one credit union advertising a 9.99% rate. The lowest bank-offered rate came in three points higher, totaling 12.99% APR. The study also found that credit unions had lower cash-advance charges when compared with banks, totaling as low as 10.9% at one credit union. The lowest bank cash advance rate was 24%. While the number of banks that charged a yearly account fee increased by 7 percentage points over last year, the percentage of credit unions charging fees held steady at 14%. The average fee charged by those credit unions totaled $25, which was nearly half of the $59 fee charged by banks. The Pew study, and the great credit union rates, have received widespread coverage on MSNbc.com, TIME.com, the Associated Press, Fox News and other outlets. For the full study, use the resource link.

NCUA advises CUs on security breach prevention

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (5/18/11)--Following a number of recent high profile security breaches, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has reminded credit unions of the appropriate security incident prevention and detection steps needed to protect and secure member information. The agency in a Tuesday release noted that federally-insured credit unions “should have robust enterprise risk management practices in place to maintain member data integrity and confidentiality,” including “risk assessment, risk mitigation and controls, and risk measuring and monitoring.” Credit union risk assessment activities should include reviews of information security programs. The NCUA warned of the many ways that hackers and other criminals can attack credit unions through “phishing, spear-phishing, drive-by malware injection, and other malicious techniques.” These types of attacks can be used to directly access sensitive information or set up viruses that will ease access to sensitive information. “The increasing sophistication of the tools and techniques attackers use often includes stealth or other means that make their detection more difficult,” the NCUA added. The NCUA said that credit unions could increase their preparedness for these types of attacks by reviewing recent releases by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team’s (US-CERT) Early Warning and Indicator Notice (EWIN). The advisories cover the controls needed to restrict and monitor outside access to sensitive information, systems, and control components, and cover web domains that are associated with incidences of malicious activity. For the full NCUA release, use the resource link.

CUNA in small group meeting with CFPB on mortgage disclosures

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WASHINGTON (5/18/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) was part of a small group meeting Tuesday in which financial institution representatives met with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to discuss how to combine current Truth-in-Lending/Real Estate Settlement Procedure model mortgage disclosure forms. The consolidation of the forms, which currently are considered lengthy and confusing, is ordered by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. CUNA urged Congress to include provisions in Dodd-Frank that would require streamlining and integration of these forms. Under Dodd-Frank, the revision and combination of these forms is due by July 21, 2012. Special advisor to President Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, said Tuesday that the meeting was the first step in a long process of gaining feedback from financial institutions, consumers and other interested parties on the new draft form. The agency plans to have a live link posted to its website later this week that interested parties will be able to use to review and evaluate the form. The CFPB also will host reviews for consumers in five cities, starting with Baltimore. Md. on Thursday. CUNA is organizing a group of credit union mortgage lending experts to help review the draft form and provide feedback to the CFBP. CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn and Senior Assistant General Counsel Michael Edwards represented CUNA at the CFPB meeting.

CUNA urges NCUA Allow fund prepays drop parachute ban

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WASHINGTON (5/18/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Tuesday to drop its proposed prohibition on golden parachute and indemnification payments--and to move forward to allow credit unions to prepay corporate stabilization fund assessments “without unfavorable accounting consequences.” The CUNA comments, in a letter sent to all three NCUA board members, were made in advance of a Thursday NCUA open board meeting at which both topics are set to be addressed. If adopted, the NCUA final rule on golden parachutes would implement a prohibition on certain arrangements and indemnification payments in certain circumstances. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said the “golden parachute” rule proposed by the agency should not be adopted without major changes. CUNA is concerned by “the lack of agency substantiation for the proposal” and “the latitude the rule would seem to provide for examiners to challenge a credit union’s ‘good faith’ determination that indemnification should be provided.” On the other key topic, Cheney said that allowing voluntary prepayment of Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund assessments would “smooth out the expensing of corporate stabilization assessments as much as possible over the coming several years.”

CUNA staff recognized for charitable giving

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WASHINGTON (5/17/11)--America’s Charities, a large coalition of American charitable organizations, granted the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and its National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) an award for “the highest growth in contributions” from the prior year. With a 51% increase of pledge dollars in the Fall 2010 charity drive, CUNA employees had broken their own record of charitable giving through the campaign. According to Steve Delfin, America’s Charities President/ CEO and former NCUF executive director, "CUNA employees showed what happens when a motivated, dedicated, mission-oriented workforce is united with a chance to engage in workplace giving.” “The increase in donations, and level of giving, were extraordinary--particularly in today's continued unstable economy," Delfin said. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney added, “CUNA employees have always viewed the America’s Charities campaign as a priority and, as someone who, obviously, works daily with the CUNA staff, it is no surprise to me that CUNA folks dug in even deeper when the need was greater.” Cheney offered sincere thanks to America’s Charities for recognizing the generosity of the CUNA staff. For its efforts, CUNA received the Growing Giving Award, which is presented each year to the organization that has the largest increase in pledge dollars, measured by percentage, on May 10. 2010 was the ninth year of CUNA’s involvement with the America’s Charities campaign. America’s Charities represents over 100 national and local charities in employee workplace giving campaigns throughout the country. In 2010, America’s Charities raised more than $37 million for those members, and for thousands of other charities to which employees donated through payroll giving. Use the resource link for more information on America’s Charities.

Inside Washington (05/17/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (5/18/11)--Following the financial crisis and Dodd-Frank Act’s mandate to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has launched its own Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (American Banker May 17). The agency said the division intensifies the agency’s compliance efforts while retaining its authority to enforce CFPB rules for community banks. Observers said the move enhances the perception that the agency has given its consumer protection responsibilities higher priority. Richard Riese, director of the American Bankers Association’s Center for Regulatory Compliance, said a key indicator of the new division’s priority is that consumer compliance oversight reports to the FDIC chairman without going through the safety and soundness division, as it did previously. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) launched its Office of Consumer Protection in 2010, which NCUA Chair Debbie Matz gave top priority … * WASHINGTON (5/18/11)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., (FDIC) has appointed Bret Edwards as the director of the Division of Resolutions and Receiverships (DRR). Edwards has served as acting director for DRR since January. Since 2007, he has permanently served as the director for the Division of Finance (DOF), where he oversaw the development of a $4 billion budget. He also was responsible for the collection of $71 billion in deposit insurance assessments and the implementation of upgraded financial reporting software systems. Prior to 2007, Edwards served in senior management positions in the FDIC’s executive office and DOF, and in DRR’s predecessor organization, the Division of Liquidation …