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CUs in several states warn of automated phone scams

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/08)--Credit unions in at least six states across the U.S. have issued warnings in the past week about ongoing automated telephone phishing scams that attempt to collect personal information for possible identity theft. The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported that the Philadelphia area was targeted with an automated telephone message that states it was sent by a credit union's Fraud and Security Department and that the recipient's credit card account has been suspended. The message continues leaving instructions to dial variations of the exchange beginning as 515-414-xxx with the last four numbers constantly changing, PCUA said. Once the number is reached, an automated voice asks for the recipient's card number and PIN (Life is a Highway July 24). The calls have been received by members and nonmembers. Recipients who disclosed their information reported immediate fraudulent transaction activity in Spain and Romania, with significant monetary losses. Hudson Valley FCU, based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., alerted consumers of a similar phone scam using its name to get people to provide their account numbers and other information. The caller ID is forged and in some cases recipients are asked to call 515-414-1344 where they are asked to provide information (Poughkeepsie Journal July 21). Charter Oak FCU, Groton, Conn., said it was deluged with calls related to a call trying to collect information in its name from people in southeastern Connecticut. It issued an online alert and a phone message at its main number warns callers about the scheme (The Day July 24). Several credit unions in Wisconsin reported similar incidents, where a credit union would be targeted one day and another credit union or bank the next. Bull's Eye CU, Wisconsin Rapids, said residents in Wood and Portage counties began receiving calls this week claiming their credit union accounts are closed. Wisconsin Rapids Police and Stevens Point Police reported similar calls from a "credit union." And a credit union member received two calls pre-recorded messages at her office. A return call to the number on the message resulted in a brief advertisement for an Internet-based phone service, she said (Stevens Point Journal July 16.) Blackhawk Community CU, Janesville, Wis., became aware of a scam targeting Rock County area residents in its name on Tuesday. The credit union received a number of calls from members reporting the message from "Blackhawk Community CU Security Department." The target then shifted to a Michigan-based credit union (The Janesville Gazette July 23). Fox Communities CU, Appleton, Wis., placed a fraud alert on its website after calls began Tuesday night. Again, within hours, the target shifted to another financial institution. Both nonmembers and members received the calls. The credit union reported the phisher's phone number, which has been shut down, was hijacked from a legitimate business. A credit union in Indiana also reported its name was used in a phone spam scam (South Bend Tribune July 23). Earlier, credit unions in Texas and Illinois reported similar scams. All of the credit unions whose names were used emphasized they would not call members to ask for their personal financial information. Many credit unions posted steps on their websites for members and nonmembers to take if they provided information to the phishers.

Suspect surrenders in Bellco CU shootingrobbery

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LITTLETON, Colo. (7/25/08)--A suspect in a shooting and robbery at a Littleton, Colo. branch of Bellco CU turned himself in Wednesday afternoon, said Jefferson County Sheriff's office. Tobias Archuleta, 27, called police from the Southwest Plaza shopping center, where the credit union branch is located. He was arrested without incident, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Shires (Rocky Mountain News and MyFOXColorado.com July 24). Police recovered an undisclosed sum of money and a handgun, which Archuleta allegedly used to fire two shots when the robbery began at about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, according to the media reports. Investigators said the robber entered the building shortly after the credit union opened and fired several rounds from a handgun into the ceiling, then demanded money from a teller. He then stole keys to an employee's minivan and left. About 13 employees and members were in the credit union at the time. No one was injured in the incident (News Now July 24). The $1.646 billion asset Bellco CU is headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo.

Filene selects 13 members for new i3 Group

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MADISON, Wis. (7/25/08)--The Filene Research Institute selected 13 credit union executives to join the Institute’s i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) Group, which develops new ideas and innovations for credit unions. Each member will serve a three-year term and participate in semi-annual meetings arranged by Filene. The next meeting will be held Oct. 1-3 in Portland, Ore. “The Filene Research Institute is proud to welcome these creative and energetic professionals as new members of our i3 Group,” said Denise Gabel, Filene’s chief innovation officer. “While some might shy away from even writing the number 13, I think this is exactly what we need. We need to keep taking risks, collaborating, and asking why--or better yet, why not? “These new members will join 39 current i3 members who are working in teams to develop innovative projects ranging from an airport oasis lounge for credit union members, to ideas for products to help encourage members to save more money and make saving as easy--and fun--as spending,” she continued. The group’s most recent ideas are highlighted in the Filene i3 “Key Findings: Blueprints for Innovation,” which details recent projects available for implementation in credit unions. i³ will continue developing ideas and initiatives that: address major issues facing credit unions; identify developments in other financial institutions that can be adopted by credit unions; and provide a forum for cooperation, collaboration, professional development, and industry succession planning. Nearly 75 applications were received from Canada and the U.S. The selection process evaluated innovative aptitude, experience, and other key factors including present position, leadership abilities, motivation, geography, and type of credit union. The new i³ Group members are:
* Jenny Casselman, Greater Nevada CU, Carson City, Nev.; * Jeanne Denton, Nikkei CU, Gardena, Calif.; * Eric Dillon, Common Wealth CU, Alberta, Canada; * Linda Garboczi, AmeriCU, Rome, N.Y.; * Earl Hodgkins, Carter FCU, Springhill, La.; * CJ Meyers, Teachers FCU, Farmingville, N.Y.; * Bob Morgan, NorthCountry FCU, South Burlington, Vt.; * Kelley Parks, Call CU, Richmond, Va.; * Jason Peach, West Community CU, O’Fallon, Mo.; * Jon Reske, UMass Five College FCU, Amherst, Mass.; * Brandon Riechers, Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis.; * Charles Roberts, State Department FCU, Alexandria, Va.; and * Ginger Salt, Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Texas CUs OK after Hurricane Dolly

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas (7/25/08)--Texas credit unions remained relatively unscathed in the wake of Hurricane Dolly, which made landfall early Wednesday afternoon near Brownsville. Now downgraded to a tropical storm, Dolly heaped torrential rains on southern Texas and northeastern Mexico Thursday, damaging some buildings and resulting in flooding (CNN.com July 24). “We have received feedback from several credit unions in South Texas that were impacted by the hurricane,” Mike Delker, vice president of credit union relations for the Texas Credit Union League, told News Now. “Although there was some minor damage, the majority of it does not seem to be extensive, even though the storm intensified into a category 2 hurricane. “There are reports of some roof damage, minor flooding, and some electrical lines down. Fortunately, the credit unions were very well prepared and appear to have rebounded admirably. It appears that most are open for business today,” he said Thursday. CUNA Mutual Group said Thursday that damage reports from credit unions are minimal so far. “Hurricane Dolly made almost a direct hit on Brownsville and San Padre Island, Texas, but due to its size, it appears we'll see few, if any, losses to credit unions,” Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager, told News Now. “CUNA Mutual's Property and Casualty Claims staff has contacted the majority of credit unions in the impacted areas, and all report they are fine,” he continued. “However, we are continuing to reach out to those credit unions we've not yet contacted. We are cautiously optimistic we'll see few losses, and that those will be minor in nature.”

Forty graduate at Southwest CUNA Management School

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/25/08)--Forty Texas credit union professionals have graduated from the Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS), a three-year course of study recognized in the credit union movement for innovative, intense, hands-on professional development, the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) announced. Included in the graduating class was Guillermo Aguilar, project manager with the Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM)--the largest credit union in Mexico, based in Leon, Guanajuato (LoneStar Leaguer July 24). TCUL, along with the California Credit Union League, signed a “people to people” agreement with CPM in 2002 through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) partnership program. When Aguilar was a first-year SCMS student, he was a WOCCU project manager working with CPM. Last year, he became an employee of CPM, focusing on the implementation of ATMs and debit cards. Aguilar attended SCMS through a scholarship from the Texas Credit Union Foundation, and he is the first CPM employee to successfully complete the program. “SCMS is a superb program,” Aguilar said. “It’s given me exposure to credit unions on this side of the border, including trends, practices, challenges and opportunities. Interestingly, I have found that there are, in fact, more similarities than differences between the credit unions in Mexico and in the U.S. “We are all part of the credit union movement, thereby bounded by our mission, and we share in the desire to provide all consumers with access to affordable financial services,” he added. At the graduation ceremony, Christopher Graham, East Texas Professional CU, Longview, and Susan Tisdale, Texas Partners FCU, Killeen, received the Award of Excellence. Honors graduates were:
* Christine Marie Coulon, Texans CU, Richardson; * Carrie M. Martin, Border CU, Del Rio; * Scott Slattery, TDECU, Lake Jackson; and * Loretta Williams, TDECU.

Pennsylvania CUs uptick in deposits tied to market

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/25/08)--Credit unions in Pennsylvania reported an increase in deposits, many as a direct result of banking woes, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) said Thursday. According to an informal poll of the state’s credit unions, credit unions are actually benefiting from the troubled economy, PCUA said (Life is a Highway July 24). In summer, deposits often fluctuate as members relocate and production facilities shut down for vacation, but the state’s credit unions are reporting fewer changes than in previous years. “It appears that the marketplace understands that credit unions are local financial institutions with a strong track record that consumers can trust,” said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO.

Service CU donates 25000 for fuel assistance

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (7/25/08)--The ongoing high fuel prices have prompted Service CU to donate $25,000 to help poor New Hampshire families heat their homes this winter. The Portsmouth, N.H.-based credit union made the donation Wednesday to the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Community Action Agencies. Its donation will be spread across the six state agencies and divided into amounts based on the credit union's membership distribution in the area.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, left, accepts a $25,000 check from Service CU President/CEO Gordon Simmons for the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Community Action Agencies. The money will go to residents who don't qualify for state fuel aid. (Photo provided by Service CU)
Service CU presented the check to Gov. John Lynch at the statehouse. "It is typical of Service CU to step up. It is a model for other companies to emulate," said the governor. "Service CU is part of the solution. We can all step up and come together to help." The donation was distributed to Rockingham Community Action Inc., $8,500; Southwestern Community Services (Sullivan and Cheshire), $5,500; Southern New Hampshire Services Inc. (Hillsborough), $3,750; Strafford County Community Action, $3,500; Tri-County Community Action (Carroll, Coos and Grafton), $2,250; and Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties Inc., $1,500. The credit union also is launching its Warm Hearted Savings Program, a special low-cost financing program for fuel pre-buys or payment plans, energy efficient home improvement loans, and scooter and fuel-efficient vehicles loans.

CU System briefs (07/24/2008)

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* DES MOINES, Iowa (7/25/08)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation has awarded $500 League President's Scholarship Grants to two credit union professionals. Dana Garrett of NW Iowa CU, LeMars, will use the funds to attend the CUNA Financial Management School Part I in Denver, Colo., in August. Deborah Whittie of Village CU, Des Moines, will attend the 2008 Total Immersion Program of the World Council of Credit Unions, spending a week in Mexico with a host family and working at a credit union. The grants help defray the expense of attending a national school, education activity, or certification programs, or conducting a community education project … * BUENA PARK, Calif. (7/25/08)--California Agribusiness CU celebrated its first anniversary by giving a $300 check to each of its non-management staff. "The gesture not only directly helped employees in these turbulent economic times, it also displayed the credit union's financial strength and shows that we continue to value our employees," said President/CEO Adam Debo. The checks were presented the same day that IndyMac Bank opened under management of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Denbo visited each branch and explained the difference in situations between credit unions and IndyMac. The Buena Park-based credit union was formed as a result of a merger, effective July 2, 2007, between California's First FCU, Garden Grove, and Knudsen FCU, in the City of Industry, Calif. … * SALT LAKE CITY (7/25/08)--Mountain America CU was one of seven companies named 'best place to work' in the 500+ employees category by the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. honored the winners at a luncheon earlier this month. This is the fourth time the credit union has been named a best place to work. Nominees were judged on workplace best practices, employee questionnaires, letters from their CEOs explaining their philosophy on workplace excellence and an onsite visit by a review committee … * ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (7/25/08)--Dana Wildman, former controller of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) died July 11 after a long battle with cancer (CUANM Network July). Wildman joined the league in 1987 and oversaw its transition into the Credit Union Association of New Mexico. In 2006, her illness forced her to leave CUANM. She is survived by her husband and three children …