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Violent acts infrequent in CU robberies

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WASHINGTON (7/8/09)--The run-of-the-mill robbery in financial institutions last year did not involve acts of violence, according to crime statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Acts of violence were committed in 293 reported incidents--roughly 4% of the 6,849 total robberies, burglaries and larcenies that credit unions and other financial institutions experienced last year. The violent acts included 78 instances involving the discharge of firearms, 171 instances with assaults, and 52 hostage situations. More than one act of violence occurred in some incidents, the FBI said. The violence resulted in 123 injuries in 99 incidents; 21 deaths in 20 incidents; and 105 persons taken hostage in 52 situations. Of those injured, employees took the brunt--60 employees of credit unions or banks were hurt during the year. That compares with injuries to 19 member/customers, 14 robbery perpetrators, and 13 guards. Seven law officers and two "other" individuals also were injured. Robbers overwhelmingly were the group most likely to die in a robbery, burglary or larceny situation. Last year, of the 21 deaths that occurred, 17 were the robbers, one was an employee, and three were "other" people. Of the 105 hostages taken during the year, 80 were credit union or bank employees and 13 were customers or members. Three guards and two "other" individuals also ended up in hostage situations. Hostage incidents were the only category that involved employees' family. Seven family members of financial institution employees were taken hostage during the year. What mode of operation did the suspects use during the incidents? Demand notes, oral demands, and threatening the use of a weapon were what most culprits chose. That was followed closely by the actual use of a weapon, be it a firearm, other weapon (including knives, cutting instruments, hypodermic needles and clubs) or explosive device. The actual breakdown for modus operandi used is:
* Demand note used, 3,833 robberies; * Firearm used, 1,734; * Handgun, 1,656; * Other firearm, 120; * Other weapon used, 100; * Weapon threatened, 2,839; * Explosive device used or threatened, 174; * Oral demand, 3,683; * Vault or safe theft, 47; * Depository trap device, 3; and * Till theft, 95.
The statistics are as of April 23. Not all financial institution crimes are reported to the FBI, so this is not a complete statistical compilation of all bank crimes in the U.S., the FBI said.

VolCorp launches educational campaign

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (7/8/09)--Volunteer Corporate CU (VolCorp) recently launched an educational campaign, “Strength. Stability. Service. Today and Beyond,” to educate its member credit unions about how the corporate has stayed financially stable amidst a struggling economy. As a part of the campaign, VolCorp has posted two articles on its website, “VolCorp--Today and Beyond,” and “It’s a Balancing Act.” Both were written by VolCorp CEO Rick Veach. “It is critical each member realizes that VolCorp has the financial resources to withstand the current economic turmoil and continue indefinitely into the future,” Veach said. “We have suffered losses, as almost all financial institutions have, primarily through our capital accounts at U.S. Central. VolCorp, however, has adequate retained earnings to absorb these losses without affecting its members’ capital accounts.” In the articles, Veach emphasized VolCorp’s conservative investment philosophy. According to Veach, VolCorp:
* Only purchases paper with a minimum 90% owner occupancy rate; * Only purchases bonds with loans originated prior to the housing crisis, with an average FICO score of at least 720 and a loan-to-value less than 70%; * Has securities classified as available-for-sale (AFS), instead of held-to-maturity. AFS provides more transparency for members, VolCorp said; * Has a marketable securities portfolio of about $300 million, with $6 million of unrealized losses.
VolCorp also has upgraded its hardware and software applications to offer members more efficient and up-to-date services, Veach said. “We are now in the process of installing a new core data processing system and should be live on Jan. 4,” he added. “More important, we have accomplished all of this without increases in member fees or reducing rates paid to members.” VolCorp, Nashville, Tenn., has more than $1.3 billion in assets and serves 266 credit unions.

CU System briefs (07/07/2009)

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* HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (7/8/09)--First Entertainment CU's Hollywood headquarters was closed Tuesday morning to accommodate traffic from the memorial service for pop icon Michael Jackson, said the credit union's website. Police closed Forest Lawn Drive, which is near the cemetery where the service was held. Credit union staff with identification were allowed through the barricades, but members weren't. The credit union's website had warned earlier that traffic would be heavy and urged members to go to its other branches. However, Tuesday morning, police closed off Forest Lawn Drive, blocking access to the credit union … * LANSING, Mich. (7/8/09)--The Jackson, Mich., chapter of credit unions hosted 21 credit union people at a candidates forum and legislative breakfast June 29 at CP FCU, Jackson. The forum included one candidate for a vacant District 19 seat, Mike Nofs, and a staffer of another candidate, State Rep. Marty Griffin (D-Jackson), who discussed several issues. Also attending were U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek), shown here addressing the chapter, and State Rep. Mike Simpson (D-Jackson) and staffers. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (7/8/09)--Credit unions from the second
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
congressional district in New Jersey met recently with U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo to thank him for his past support and brief him on how credit unions could help with the nation's economic recovery if Congress repealed credit unions' member business lending cap. They also noted the need to maintain an independent, dedicated credit union regulator (The Weekly Exchange June 29). From left are: Virginia Williams, CEO of Jersey Shore FCU; John DiNofrio, board director, Jersey Shore FCU; Ginny Fifer, CEO of Atlantic City Electric FCU; LoBiondo; Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League, and Bill Kennedy, chief financial officer of Jersey Shore FCU. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League) … * LUTHERVILLE, Md. (7/8/09)--J. Wesley Bone, director for 40 years and former chairperson for 37 years of First Financial of Maryland FCU, retired in June. He has been named chairman emeritus of the credit union, said the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA) (Focus Newsletter July 6). During Bone's tenure, the credit union grew from $2 million in assets and 4,000 members to more than $700 million in assets and 55,000 members. Bone is former treasurer and board chairman of the National Association of Credit Union Chairpersons, and helped developed a local chapter of the association in Baltimore/Washington, D.C. In 2000, he was the first volunteer appointed to the MDDCCUA board, and was elected chairman from 2007 to June 2009. He was the 2008 MDDCCUA Hall of Fame Congressman Wright Patman Memorial Award recipient …

Crime stats ID types of security used

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WASHINGTON (7/8/09)--Most of the reported crimes--robberies, burglaries and larcenies--that occurred at U.S. financial institutions in 2008 were monitored by alarm systems and surveillance cameras, according to bank crime statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The teller counter was the “hot spot”--where most robberies occurred. In 2008, of the 6,849 reported violations, 6,488 occurred at the teller counter of the financial institution. Other building areas and the number of violations that occurred included:
* Vault/safe--371; * Office area--199; * Armored vehicle--72; * Drive-in/walk-up--65; * Other--54; * Safe deposit area--22; * Night depository--9; * ATM--5; and * Courier/messenger--1.
Of the security devices maintained by the victim institutions, some 6,743--98%--had surveillance cameras, and 6,626--96%--had alarm systems. Other security devices and the number of affected institutions that maintain them included:
* Bait money--4,483; * Tear gas/dye packs--1,738; * Bullet-resistant enclosures--763; * Electronic tracking--601; and * Guards--387.
Of the security devices used during the commission of the crimes, there were 6,581 surveillance cameras activated, and 6,176 alarm systems activated. Other security devices and the number used during crimes included:
* Bait money taken--2,121; * Tear gas/dye packs taken--730; * Guards on duty--341; and * Electronic tracking activated--298.
When the crimes were committed, surveillance cameras functioned 6,477 times--95%--and the alarm systems functioned 6,110 times--89%.

CUs continue strong presence in auto lending

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ONTARIO, Calif. (7/8/09)--Credit unions continue to maintain a strong presence in the auto lending market, according to a credit union auto lending analyst. “About one in five vehicles are financed by credit unions,” said Joe James, CUDL market research analyst, who recently presented a Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) webcast, “Auto Lending Trends and Credit Union Analysis.” Credit unions have maintained about 22.4% of the auto lending share as of April. Auto loans continue to make up about one-third of credit unions’ loan portfolios, and credit union auto loan penetration has remained at about 17%, James added. Both charge-offs and delinquencies at credit unions for auto loans have leveled off, and are “still low compared with credit unions’ competitors,” James said. White new auto sales have taken a major hit--as of May, new auto sales were at -34.1%--credit unions may be interested in knowing that there is an increased interest in used car sales. As of May, used auto sales were 1.5%, James said. The most popular vehicles financed by CUDL are purchased from General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and Honda, he added. CUDL, based in Ontario, Calif., is the third largest lender in the auto market and has financed more than 270,000 auto loans on its platform year-to-date.

Nearly 500 CUs were robbed in 2008

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WASHINGTON (7/8/09)--Nearly 500 U.S. credit unions were robbed in 2008, according to bank crime statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). During last year, 483 credit unions experienced robberies, 121 had burglaries and 28 were victims of larcenies. For all U.S. financial institutions, there were 6,849 reported violations in 2008: 6,700 robberies, 121 burglaries and 26 larcenies. The total represents a slight decrease from the 6,933 reported violations in 2007, said Kevin Perkins, assistant director, FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. Loot was taken in 6,225 (91%) of the 6,849 incidents with a total amount stolen of nearly $62 million. Of that amount, more than $8.9 million was recovered. Investigations into the robberies have identified 3,342 of the 8,393 persons involved. Of those identified, 3,230 were male and 206 were female. Friday was the most popular day for crimes (1,407) followed by Monday (1,280) and Wednesday (1,206). For the community type where the crimes were committed, most occurred in metropolitan areas (3,388), followed by suburban (1,136), small city/town (2,189) and rural (136).

Credit emergency room cures members woes

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (7/8/09)--An office full of people wearing hospital scrubs, white tennis shoes and comforting smiles is not the place one would think of to apply for a loan. Flowood, Miss.-based Statewide FCU, a member of the Credit Union 24 network, used a healthcare theme for a three-month promotion to improve members' financial health.
Click to view larger image "Loan doctors" in Flowood, Miss.-based Statewide FCU's "credit emergency room" greet members visiting the local branch to apply for financial assistance. The staff donned the scrubs as part of a three-month fiscal fitness promotion that increased the credit union's loan goal by 50%. (Photo provided by Statewide FCU and Credit Union 24)
Faster than one could say "Stat!" the credit union exceeded its goals. It loaned more than $7.5 million in those three months, a 50% increase over its original goal of $5 million. Everyone from President/CEO Paul Armstrong to tellers and loan officers dressed in scrubs and asked members if they were suffering from "CARpal tunnel" or if they were experiencing "shortness of paycheck." The promotion included reduced interest rates on auto loans, credit cards and loan consolidation, and "fiscal checkups" to ensure financial health. The $69 million asset credit union solved members' financial woes by providing cash needed in a challenging economic climate. "Everyone in the country is experiencing some sort of financial ailment," said Armstrong. "Our promotion illustrated how a financial institution can contribute to members' financial health by offering promotional rates on its loans, credit counseling, and debt consolidation. We just happened to wear scrubs while doing it, which was fun and completely unique, and well-received by our members." The three-month promotion tied in with Credit Union 24's marketing campaign that featured a nurse holding a money bag to represent a newborn child, symbolizing the network's dedication to helping credit unions better care for their members' money through Credit Union 24's financial products and services. Jim Park, president/CEO of Credit Union 24 was "thrilled that Statewide FCU brought this concept further to life right in the credit union's branch. Though we are not dealing with credit union members' health, the benefits they receive through our participants' services create long-lasting financial health and well-being, transcending into a better overall quality of life."

Polish and Slavic FCU grants 350000 in scholarships

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (7/8/09)--The Polish & Slavic CU (PSFCU), Brooklyn, gave out $350,000 in scholarship grants this year to more than 315 students. The credit union announced Monday that its grant level surpassed last year’s record of college scholarships it gave to members (PR Newswire July 6). The scholarships were awarded during two separate ceremonies--one in late May for high school graduates, and one in June for college students. “We continue to buck the trend when it comes to investing in our neighborhoods and in our members' futures,” said Bogdan Chmielewski, CEO of PSFCU. “We increased the scholarship money by a hefty $50,000 while the number of students who benefited from this vital program rose by 25%. This is one of the most important projects we undertake annually. As PSFCU’s scholarship program has grown, it has expanded its geographic reach beyond New York. The program awarded grants to students in Chicago and a dozen other cities outside PSFCU’s home region. “We’re extremely excited to be able to broaden our reach to so many cities beyond the metropolitan New York area,” said Bozena Kajewska-Pielarz, a PSFCU board member who led the credit union’s scholarship committee this year. “Thanks to our online branch, which enables us to offer membership to residents of other states, and our imminent Chicago expansion, young members from areas other than our traditional New York and New Jersey footprint will be able to benefit from the program.”