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CU System briefs (07/20/2012)

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  • TEMPERANCE, Mich. (7/23/12)--The DNA of a boxer from Toledo, Ohio, led to his arrest in a 2009 robbery at the Temperance, Mich., branch of Monroe County Community CU, based in Monroe, Mich. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it obtained a swab used to stop a nosebleed of Martin Tucker, 32, a light welterweight, during a boxing match in April in Toledo. The FBI alleged the DNA sample from the swab matched DNA from a mask believed to be from the robbery and DNA on the steering wheel of the getaway car. Tucker, who was 1-6 in his last seven bouts, is accused of wearing the mask and using a handgun during the robbery.  About $5,400 was stolen. Another suspect was indicted in the case in November  (The Hutchinson News July 20) …
  • LATHRUP VILLAGE, Mich. (7/23/12)--Michigan First CU will host Disney Institute seminars Sept. 18-20 at its Lathrup Village headquarters to educate metro Detroit businesses and organizations about Disney's approach customer service and leadership. It will focus on quality service on Sept. 18, and leadership excellence on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20. It also has invited local college and university faculty and staff to a free 90 minute session on Sept. 20. "As an educationally focused organization, we felt it was a great opportunity to share these critical insights with the broader community," said Michigan First President/CEO Michael Poulos …
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/23/12)--Frank Bongiorni, a long-time credit union volunteer and former secretary-treasurer of Visionary FCU, Bridgeville, Pa., died July 15 at the age of 92, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway July 18). He served on the board of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Credit Union. In January 2011, Bongiorni was honored by the credit union on his retirement after more than 50 years of volunteer service on the board.  Funeral services were Thursday …

CU Consumers credit score ignorance no surprise

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MADISON, Wis.  (7/23/12)--While many people are attuned to how much credit card debt they carry, nearly half of U.S. adults surveyed don't know what their credit score is--and that comes as no surprise to one credit union in Texas.

Mike Roark, senior vice president of lending/collection with $302 million asset, Dallas-based Neighborhood CU, told the Texas Credit Union League that he isn't surprised by the figure, because he often has to educate members about why a credit score is important.

If the credit union can't meet a member's current loan need because of credit, "we let the member know the specific reasons," he told the league (LoneStar Leaguer July 13). "The goal is to be able to meet the member's lending needs at some point in the future. In order to accomplish this, we must educate our members. It is imperative a member knows not only what their credit score is, but how to move their score in a positive direction," he added.

The online survey, conducted for Whiting, Ind.-based CouponCabin by Harris Interactive, interviewed 2,215 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. It found that U.S. adults--especially younger adults-- don't have a grasp on their credit score. Of consumers age 18-34 surveyed, 60% are significantly more likely to not know their score while 42% of those 35 and older don't know their score.

Those surveyed were much more likely to know how much credit card debt they have:  90%  with credit card debt knew their total credit card debt, 10% didn't.  Thirty eight percent reported having less than $1,000 in debt, while 21% owed $5,001 or more on their credit cards. Twelve percent said they owe $10,001 or more in card debt.

"While some credit card users report they are keeping their debt in check, others struggle with high interest payments and looming deadlines," said Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com. More than one-third of those surveyed are concerned about how long it will take to pay off their cards, Warrick said.

Roughly 56% of respondents said they have two or more credit cards, while 35% have three or more, and 7% indicated they have six or more credit cards. Nearly half (47%) said they always or often use credit cards to buy everyday items like food, gas and personal items.

Consumers' disinterest in credit scores also indicates a disinterest in checking credit reports--the information that often contributes to one's credit score.  An accurate credit report is important, and consumers have ample ability to dispute any errors on their reports, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) .

"An accurate credit report is critical to a person's financial future, and consumers need to be aware that the responsibility for reviewing their report lies with them," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for NFCC.  "Even though consumers can obtain their credit report free of charge, the recent NFCC Financial Literacy Survey revealed that 62% of respondents had not ordered their report in the past 12 months."

Financial education is at the forefront of countering these trends, especially among the younger adults. Credit unions' efforts in financial education are making a difference, said the Texas Credit Union Foundation.

"Credit unions are well aware of the financial literacy problem in this country and have taken up the cause," said Courtney Moran, executive director of the foundation. "In addition to teaching financial education classes in their local schools and communities, credit unions are also opening in-school branches," she told the Texas league. "It will take time to move the needle, but I know it will move."

iNews Nowi pushes your buttons

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON ( 7/23/12)--News Now stories are shared throughout the credit union world via email, Facebook, Twitter--even through printing them out and carrying them to a colleague's desk.  Now readers have two more options for sharing stories from the top source for credit union news.

Starting today, readers will see two new function buttons at the bottom of each story.  Inshare, to share stories with LinkedIn associates, and G+, to share stories via Google Plus, join the Facebook and Twitter share buttons.

Use the resource link below to sign up for a free subscription to News Now, the Credit Union National Association's daily online news service, to receive the top stories of interest to credit unions.

CU provides 38M in value benefits to members

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HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (7/23/12)--Teachers FCU (TFCU), based in Hauppauge, N.Y., with $4 billion in assets, announced TFCU members received more than $38.76 million in direct financial benefits during 2011.

TFCU said the statistics are from the Membership Benefits Report, recently published by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Those benefits are equivalent to $179 per member or $340 per member household. Also, CUNA estimates that TFCU provided each loyal high-use member household $1,449 in direct financial benefits during 2011.

The report compared TFCU's dividend rates, loan rates and fees to those of banking institutions in the state.  It combines those comparisons with TFCU's call report data to develop an overall estimate of the annual financial benefits TFCU provides members.

"TFCU excels in providing member benefits on many loan and savings products," the CUNA report said. "In particular, TFCU offers lower loan rates on the following accounts: new car loans, used-car loans, personal unsecured loans, first-mortgage fixed-rate loans, first-mortgage adjustable-rate loans, home equity loans and credit card loans. TFCU also pays its members higher dividends on the following accounts: regular savings, money market accounts, certificate accounts, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). "

"Across New York state and the nation, members have access to over 4,500 locations, a number greater than or equal to many of the nation's largest banks," said Robert Allen, TFCU president/CEO. "The CUNA analysis confirms TFCU's commitment to quality services in spite of the lagging economic climate of 2011."

VSECU outlines implications of banking battle

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (7/23/12)--In a message to its members,Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU) has outlined the possible implications of its battle with the state's regulator over the use of the words "banking" and "bank" in its marketing.

The state Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), which regulates state-chartered credit unions and banks, issued a notice June 18 of a cease-and-desist order from using the words, saying it was concerned that consumers and members are confused when the credit union uses the words. The $573 million asset VSECU has requested a hearing over the matter (News Now July 19 and 20).

"We have worked hard over the years to educate consumers about the difference between a bank and a credit union. We have never called ourselves a bank nor have we ever tried to fool members or consumers into thinking we are a bank," VSECU CEO Steven D. Post wrote in the message posted on the credit union's website.

In a frequently asked questions section, the credit union outlined implications for state-chartered credit unions that could develop in the DFR succeeded in the ban, which "would be very unfortunate for Vermonters and set a very bad precedent in Vermont," it said.

Federal credit unions in the state "are not subject to any Vermont ruling that comes from this enforcement action and therefore can continue using the words 'banks' and 'banking' without penalty," the credit union said.

"It would mean that VSECU and other state-chartered credit unions would not be able to simply, fairly and accurately describe who they are and what kind of services they offer such as: mobile banking, banking online, banking solutions, 'you can bank at a credit union,' 'we're redefining banking,' 'our credit union is a banking alternative,'" said the credit union.

Banning the words "would clearly put VSECU and other state-chartered credit unions at a competitive disadvantage since federally chartered credit unions can use these terms freely," it said.

"Rather than protecting the Vermont consumer against confusion, it will only create confusion, since not all types of financial institutions will be able to use the same generic vocabulary in public." It also "could make it more attractive for state-chartered credit unions to convert to a federal charter and Vermont will lose more and more local oversight of its credit union industry.

Saying that switching to a federal charter would be "the last thing" it wants, VSECU added it is "is a Vermont institution, owned and controlled and regulated by Vermonters and we want to remain state-chartered.  That said, an adverse ruling on this action would force us to reconsider all of our options."

The credit union urged members who want to help to contact the department and other state officials and lawmakers or write a letter to the editor of their newspaper.

Two Baltimore CUs to merge

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BALTIMORE (7/23/12)--Mercy Health Services Employees FCU in Baltimore is poised to merge into MECU of Baltimore.

The $2.7 million asset Mercy Health Services with its nearly 1,000 members would be absorbed by the $1.2 billion asset MECU of Baltimore, which has 99,464 members (Baltimore Business Journal July 20).

Members of both credit unions must approve the merger, which would be at least the sixth merger among Baltimore-area credit unions announced or completed in the past 18 months, the Journal said.

MECU has eight branches in Baltimore and Baltimore County. Mercy has a single branch inside a building at Mercy Medical Center's downtown Baltimore campus.

Mercy members will vote Wednesday on the merger at a meeting. MECU members have until Aug. 9 to vote. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, the Journal said.

Jolette receives WOCCU Distinguished Service Award

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GDAŃSK, Poland (7/23/12)--The closing awards ceremony of the World Credit Union Conference, hosted by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), in Gdańsk, Poland was highlighted by the presentation of several awards and scholarships.

Manuel Rabines, left, presents the global industry's top honor to Barry Jolette, a former regulator, World Council of Credit Unions chair and current president/CEO of San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif.
Former WOCCU director Barry Jolette has been given the organization's Distinguished Service Award, the global credit union industry's highest honor.

A former National Credit Union Administration regulator, Jolette serves as president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif. In 1997, he was elected to the Credit Union National Association board of directors and named its chair in 2001. He also served on the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues board as a director and chair, and has received the National Credit Union Foundation's Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement, the highest individual honor awarded by the U.S. credit union movement.

Jolette's involvement with (WOCCU) began in 1991. Jolette's experience with WOCCU changed his life, he said, and he urged audience members to increase their participation in the global trade group.

World Council of Credit Unions chair Manuel Rabines, left, congratulates WOCCU Young Credit Union People scholarship recipients, from left, Miriam De Dios, U.S.; Edyta Grzybowski, Poland; Brian Aalbers, Canada; Wesley Diniz Alves, Brazil; and Maire Doyle, Ireland. With them are WOCCU President/CEO Brian Branch and Director Ron Hance.
"I know you know someone who should be part of this wonderful organization, so please ask them to get involved," Jolette said. "That person could be the next crazy zealot to step forward and save some lives."

Conference co-hosts the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) also presented two Phoenix Awards, the highest honor given by the Polish credit union system. NACSCU Supervisory Board Chair Adam Jedlinski bestowed the awards on the late Polish president Lech Kaczyński, a former NACSCU Foundation director and longtime credit union supporter, and Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the Catholic primate of Gdańsk.

"The awards were presented to two wonderful people who supported the credit union movement and helped guide us out from under the shadow of a totalitarian regime," Jedlinski said.

WOCCU also awarded scholarships to five participants in the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program. The scholarships enable winners to attend the 2013 World Credit Union Conference next July in Ottawa, Canada. This year's winners were Miriam De Dios, U.S.; Edyta Grzybowska, Poland; Brian Aalbers, Canada; Wesley Diniz Alves, Brazil; and Maire Doyle, Ireland.

"The hallmark of any profession is to provide for and train the next generation of leaders," said World Council Director Ron Hance, president/CEO of Heritage Family FCU in Rutland, Vt., and head of World Council's awards committee.

Grzegorz Bierecki, WOCCU First Vice Chair, presents the "Let's Gdansk" conference logo and tagline to the city of Gdańsk, Poland. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
World Council First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, NACSCU president and CEO, announced that the rights to the conference logo and tagline "Let's Gdańsk!" would be presented to the city of Gdańsk for use in promoting the city in perpetuity.

"Let it stand in representation of the work Polish credit unions have done and of World Council's legacy of sustainability long after this conference has ended," Bierecki said. "'Let's Gdansk' tonight, tomorrow and for many years to come."

Bierecki also received a special award from the Russian Credit Union League and the Ukrainian National Association of Savings and Credit Unions for his work in helping guide the development of Poland's credit union system.

Randolph-Brooks FCU welcomes 400000th member

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LIVE OAK, Texas (7/23/12)--Among the credit unions making great strides in membership the past several years is Randolph-Brooks FCU (RBFCU), which hit the 400,000th-member milestone recently.

During the past year, the Live Oak, Texas-based credit union experienced a 12% increase in membership. It also has grown by nearly 150,000 new members during the past five years, said the credit union in a press release.

During first quarter of 2012, RBFCU also surpassed $5 billion in assets.

The credit union's growth was attributed to consumers looking for increased value in their financial dealings, according to RBFCU CEO Randy M. Smith.

"Credit unions are able to serve consumers by giving back more to their membership, charging lower fees and offering lower loan rates," Smith said. "We're continuing to grow, in both membership and assets, because we put our members first, focusing on products and services that meet their needs."