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Desert Schools FCU receives 1 million housing grant

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PHOENIX (7/14/08)--Desert Schools FCU has received a $1 million Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to finance construction of a 157-unit residential development for low-income families in Phoenix. The grant is through the Affordable Housing Program and from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. Proceeds will directly benefit UMOM New Day Centers, a local non-profit agency providing food, shelter and self-sufficiency tools to homeless and low-income families. "Credit unions are a valuable resource to their members and communities," said Jim Yacenda, vice president and community investment officer at FHLBank San Francisco. "We are delighted that Desert Schools FCU is taking advantage of its bank membership and leveraging AHP funds to extend its reach to serve families most in need." According to John Wright, Desert Schools chief financial officer, the credit union "worked side by side with UMOM every step of the way to help them understand the grant application process and better their chances for receiving the funds." The credit union will implement disbursement of funds over the next few months.

CO-OP says members not affected by 7-Eleven breach

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ONTARIO, Calif. (7/14/08)--CO-OP Financial Services says its credit union members' ATM personal identification numbers (PIN) codes are safe and were not affected in a recent breach of ATMs inside 7-Elevens. "To the best of our knowledge, no CO-OP credit union members were impacted or compromised by the Citibank PIN breach," said CO-OP Financial Services CEO Stan Hollen in a statement on its website. The statement was in response to reports that hackers broke into Citibank's ATM network inside 7-Elevens between October 2007 and March 2008. They allegedly stole consumers' PIN codes. CO-Op Financial Services and its ATM network, CO-OP Network, have been partners with 7-Eleven stores and network processor Cardtronics for more than two years. In May, they announced deposit-taking ability was available in ATMs at more than 2,200 of the stores, which meant 26 million credit union members with the CO-OP Network cards could make deposits in the machines in 12 states. Hollen said CO-OP would continue to monitor the situation closely and would inform members "immediately" if any other news surfaced.

Joe Perkowski former CUNA chairman dies

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BURNSVILLE, Minn. (7/14/08)--Joseph Perkowski, former chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and former president/CEO of US FCU in Burnsville, Minn., died early Thursday morning. "Former CUNA Chairman Joe Perkowski served the national and worldwide credit union movement with commitment and dedication over four decades," said Dan Mica, president/CEO of CUNA. "His national service culminated in his chairmanship of CUNA from 1985-87, which followed a number of leadership positions with the association. "On the international front, Joe helped in the formation of the Foundation for Polish Credit Unions, served as president of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) from 1992-93, and was honored with the prestigious WOCCU Distinguished Service Award in 1997," he noted. The credit union movement around the world benefited greatly from the enduring consequences of his leadership," Mica said. Perkowski, 72, was chairman of the Minnesota League of Credit Unions from 1983 to 1985 and served on its board for a number of years. He began his career in credit unions as an employee of the Michigan Credit Union League from 1960 to 1966 and served on that league's board from 1967 to 1971, advancing to vice president. While CEO of the former Minneapolis Postal Employees FCU (now US FCU), Perkowski served as chairman of CUNA, CUNA Service Group Inc., and CUNA Mortgage Corp. from May 1985 to Oct. 23, 1987. He also was a former director and treasurer of U.S. Central CU, Lenexa, Kan. Visitation will be today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Roberts Family Funeral Home at 555 Centennial Drive SW, Forest Lake, Minn. 55025. Funeral services will be Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by a mass at 11 a.m. at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, 13060 Lake Blvd., Lindstorm, Minn.

Survey tells CU how its members are cutting back

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (7/14/08)--Members of a North Carolina credit union are cutting back on driving and using online banking more as a result of high gas prices, according to a member survey. Truliant FCU conducted a two-question survey of 850 of it members to find out how high gas prices are affecting their use of online banking and their general spending habits (Weekly Update July 11). The first question was; “Considering high gas prices, do you feel online banking and Easy pay (Truliant’s bill pay service) will allow you to cut bank on your driving?” More than two-thirds of respondents said yes. Responses in three categories were:
* You bet, every dollar counts (68.8%); * Not really, I still need to make those trips anyway (27.9%); and * Depends how high gas prices go (3.3%).
The second question was: “We are interested in hearing about changes you are making to deal with high gas prices. Check all that apply.” The majority changed their driving habits, spent less and used online banking and bill payment. Responses were:
* Cut back on driving (79%); * Drive more conservatively to save gasoline (66.7%); * Spend less money on the essentials (41.9%); * Use online banking and Easy Pay more often (43.5%); * Cut back on summer vacation plans (41%); * Carpool (13%); * Walk or ride my bicycle (10.7%); * Sell my gas guzzler and buying a fuel-efficient vehicle (9.5%); * Use public transportation (5.3%); and * No changes because it’s not a problem for me (4.8%).
Some of the more than 400 suggestions made by survey participants were:
* Cut out all non-essentials; * No longer drive to the local park to walk for exercise; instead walk in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhood, and reduce dining out expenses; * Bring lunch to work most days instead of driving out to eat; and * Plan better. Rather than going out and coming home several times a day, try to do as many errands as possible in one trip.

CU System briefs (07/11/2008)

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* KANSAS CITY, Mo. (7/14/08)--Mazuma CU's "What's the Big Idea Challenge" is helping Shila Poindexter fulfill her entrepreneurial goal to start a home health assisted-living company. Poindexter won the credit union's challenge, part of Filene Research Institute's i3 pilot program aimed at reaching those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Poindexter's reward: A $3,000 marketing package--including logo and stationery design and stationery printing costs--to help her launch her new business. "Shila's submission was well thought out and received by the judges as a feasible concept," said Ryan Reid, relationship architect at the more than $300 million asset credit union. Judges were current members who are also business owners. Erin Jones, Mazuma's vice president, business services, noted that engaging business members in the process helped strengthen the credit union's relationship with those members … * CHATSWORTH, Calif. (7/14/08)--Telesis Community CU introduced a "Hang Ten" certificate, which pays an annual percentage yield of 10% for a five-month term. The certificate is available through August for new and existing members who open their first Telesis checking account with direct deposit. It can be opened with a minimum deposit of $500 and a maximum deposit of $2,000. "In this time of high gas prices, consumers can use some good news for their finances," said Grace Y. Mayo, president/CEO of Telesis. Telesis has $600 million in assets ... * WYLIE, Texas (7/14/08)--The winner of a Texans CU 2008 Summer Send-Off Promotion received a trip for two to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game yesterday at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Susan Tarver (left), financial center manager, Texans CU's Wylie branch, presented a $1,000 check and the trip to winning member Steve Guggenbuehl and his wife Kelly. The six-week promotion encouraged members to open a new checking account and use their Texans check card for everyday purchases. Members who used their check card for a minimum of 10 signature-based transactions were automatically entered for the trip. Guggenbuehl made 22 qualifying transactions during the promotion. The prize package included roundtrip airfare for two, a two-night stay at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, a $1,000 Texans Visa Gift Card, and two tickets to the All-Star Game …

California governor signs foreclosure protection law

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (7/14/08)--California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1137 regarding residential mortgage foreclosure procedures into law Tuesday. The legislation applies to loans made from Jan. 1, 2003, to Dec. 31, 2007, secured by owner-occupied residential real property. SB 1137 requires:
* A mortgage lender or servicer to contact a borrower or satisfy due diligence requirements before filing a notice of default for assessing the borrower’s financial situation and exploring options to avoid foreclosure, according to California Department of Financial institutions (DFI); * That when a notice of sale is posted on the property for sale, the lender or servicer must mail a specific notice in English and five specific languages to the resident of a property subject to foreclosure sale; and * The legal owner must maintain vacant residential property purchased at a foreclosure sale or acquired through foreclosure. Fines of up to $1,000 per day for failure to maintain the property can be assessed.

N.C. mortgage services bill on way to governor

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (7/14/08)--A bill that would require mortgage servicers to be licensed in North Carolina was approved last week and is on its way to the governor’s desk. “The changes will have minimal impact on credit unions,” said Dan Schline, senior vice president, North Carolina Credit Union League association services. “But there were a few items added to the list of prohibited activities for lenders, including credit unions, making mortgage loans in North Carolina.” The provisions of the bill applicable to credit unions will be effective Jan. 1 (Weekly Update July 11). The bill aims to crack down on abuse by mortgage servicers by providing additional regulatory authority to the state’s banking commissioner. Prohibited activities include:
* Failing to provide notice to the borrower of force placed insurance; * Placing of insurance that exceeds the known value of the property; * Failing to refund fees for unearned premiums to borrowers; * Failing to provide borrow notice and itemized statement 45 before initiating foreclosure proceedings; and * Failing to make payments from escrow accounts in a timely manner.

Carolina budget includes two items of interest for CUs

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (7/14/08)--The North Carolina General Assembly approved a $21.4 million budget last week that includes housing-related appropriations and a fee increase to support floodplain mapping in the state, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League. The budget includes a $10 increase in the fee paid to the register of deeds when a deed of trust or mortgage is registered. Credit unions opposed the increase, the league said (Weekly Update July 11). With the increase, the assembly established a floodplain mapping fund to cover the state’s cost of providing floodplain maps to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The budget also provides more than $14 million in funding for housing-related initiatives, including:
* Counseling services to help homeowners near foreclosure, $1 million; * Affordable housing for low-income citizens, $2 million; * Independent and supportive-living apartments for the disabled, $8 million; * Counseling and mortgage assistance to citizens at risk of foreclosure because of job loss, $3 million; and * Legal assistance to low-income consumers involved in predatory lending cases, $200,000.

White papers focus One-man marketing departments

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MADISON, Wis. (7/14/08)--Credit union professionals can learn how to balance the priorities and workloads of a one-person marketing and business development department in one of two new white papers from the CUNA Councils. Sponsored by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, “Balancing Priorities in One-Person Marketing and Business Development Departments” focuses on the advice and experiences of nine credit union professionals who lead one-person departments. They discuss challenges, specialized tasks, outsourcing, technology use, personals tool and tips, and how they stay visible in the organization. The paper also addresses a common issue in one-person departments--finding help or backup in the credit union. One idea is to gain assistance from front-line staff with an interest in business development. “When work was slow at a new branch, a teller at First American CU in Beloit, Wis., asked the credit union to allow her to call small businesses to introduce the credit union and promote the value of direct deposit. That effort eventually developed into a business development position for the teller,” states the paper. The second paper, “Strengthening Member Connections: 2007 Best Practices Awards from the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service Council,” profiles the efforts and initial results of two award-winning credit unions. Ascend FCU, Tullahoma, Tenn., won in the Branch Design category for the design of a new branch that translates into brick and mortar philosophy behind its new name, brand identity, and sales and service culture. Spokane Teachers CU, Liberty Lake, Wash., won in the Sales and Service Management category for its Conversation Engine, a member relationship management tool developed internally to suggest customized “conversation starters” to help front-line staff identify products and services to serve members’ financial needs. The awards--recognizing innovative solutions that optimize credit union performance--were presented during the council’s 10th annual conference in September 2007. For more information, use the links.