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Counterfeit checks bear CUs name

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WASHINGTON (8/3/11)--An Oregon credit union is one of four financial institutions reporting that counterfeit checks are circulating with their names this week. OnPoint Community CU, a $2.8 billion asset credit union headquartered in Portland, Ore., has reported to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) that counterfeit cashier's checks are displaying a routing number, 323075880, that is assigned to the credit union, said FDIC in a special alert. The items are similar to authentic cashier's checks but have a dark green top border and a teal waterfall design background. Authentic cashier's checks have a dark green border and a light green background. Checks when copied have a "VOID" background. Also experiencing counterfeit checks with their names on them were PBI Bank, Louisville, Ky.; Heritage Bank of Nevada, Reno, Nev.; and St. Johns Bank and Trust Co., St. Louis, Mo.

Georgia CU survey Members living on less

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DULUTH, Ga. (8/3/11)--More than 58% of Georgians are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than 90% say they are reducing their spending, according to a survey conducted by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). With every penny needed to make ends meet, more people are making an effort to live frugally, reported GCUA's Mid-Year 2011 Saving and Purchasing Survey. The survey was featured in GCUA's monthly news tips and topics column, Consider This…, for August. More than a third of those surveyed are eliminating vacations, the survey found. "Because frugal living has become a widespread necessity, many Americans are searching for ways to live simply and cut expenses without sacrificing quality of life," said GCUA. "For example, more than 63% of those who responded to the GCUA survey say they have started using coupons." Suwanee resident Mark Myers indicated how he saved by comparison shopping. "We saved $500 a year just by switching insurance companies, and we received more coverage," he told GCUA. "We were also able to save by switching satellite providers. These were changes that didn't have any effect on our quality of life. I can't believe how much we were paying before." Cheryl Spires, CEO of Combined Employees CU, a $9 million asset credit union in Warner Robins, said many of her members are making an effort to live prudently. "Specialty savings like Christmas Club accounts have increased, and loan requests have decreased in both number and amount," she told GCUA. Frugal living doesn't have to mean doing without, she said. "Opportunities are everywhere." Her No. 1 rule for frugal living: skip the impulse purchases. Spires advised consumers to compare fees at financial institutions to find the best value. "The real expense comes from not actively managing accounts," she said. "Avoid out-of-network ATM fees by withdrawing cash only at surcharge-free ATMs or during purchases at many stores. If your account has minimums and maximums to avoid fees for different types of usage, such as debit card transactions or withdrawals per period, abide by them." The league's column also has links to various articles related to saving money. Use the link.

Wis. league Economy would gain speed with MBL cap lift

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (8/3/11)--If Congress were to raise credit unions’ member business lending (MBL) cap, that would hasten the U.S economic recovery, the Wisconsin Credit Union League told Corporate Report Wisconsin magazine (August). Economic recovery--at least in business lending--could gain some speed if credit unions were allowed a larger share of the business loan market, Tom Liebe, league vice president of government affairs, told the publication. “The real losers today are Main Street businesses, not because credit unions can’t make the loans, but because Congress established that cap in 1990,” Liebe told the magazine. “Credit unions have money to lend, and our commercial lending has increased each of the last three years. But Wisconsin credit unions are turning small businesses away when they’d otherwise make the loan because of that arbitrary cap.” To read the article, use the link. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

IUSA TODAYI CUs help students find free checking

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MADISON, Wis. (8/3/11)--Credit unions are a good place for cash-strapped college students to find free checking, according to a Tuesday USA TODAY article. “Most big colleges and universities, along with many smaller ones, have their own credit unions,” wrote Sandra Block, USA TODAY personal finance reporter, in an article about free checking for students. “Most offer free checking with low minimum-balance requirements.” College students can withdraw their cash from more than 28,000 ATMs, including 5,500 ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores, if their credit union belongs to the CO-OP Network, the article said. “If you can find a 7-Eleven, you find a free credit union ATM,” Gary Perez, CEO of USC CU in Los Angeles, told the newspaper. The Credit Union National Association put Block in touch with Perez for the article. To read the article, use the link.

Younger set receives extra attention from Maine CUs

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PORTLAND, Maine (8/3/11)--Maine credit unions used some creative ideas to connect with students during the past year, said the Maine Credit Union League.
Maine credit unions have made special efforts to reach the youth market. Students prepare to do some research as part of Winslow-based Taconnet FCU’s Trek for Success.
Proving it pays to use a credit union, Brewer (Maine) FCU awarded $300 to the winners of its student videographer contest. Pictured are, second from left, Dave DeFroscia, Brewer FCU vice president, and, second from right, Rick Kaul, Brewer FCU president/CEO, and with the winners and their teacher.
Gene Ardito (back row center), president/CEO of cPort CU, Portland, joins elementary school students who received College Aspirations scholarships from the credit union. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Maine credit unions have made special efforts to reach the youth market. Students prepare to do some research as part of Winslow-based Taconnet FCU’s Trek for Success. Taconnet FCU in Winslow held its second annual Trek to Success, in which students compete in mental and physical challenges (News & Views August). A panel of judges selected 16 participants who applied for the competition by writing essays. The trek took place on three consecutive weekends, with four finalists competing for $9,000 in scholarships. “The goal is to encourage students about the importance of education, and to reward those efforts,” Karen Denis, Taconnet president/CEO, told the Maine league. “The credit union has really created positive goodwill with participants and with the community. It’s been all that we had hoped for and much more.” Brewer (Maine) FCU partnered with a media class at Brewer High School to hold a student videographer contest. Each participating team created a video commercial about the credit union. The credit union awarded $600 in cash prizes, with the winning team collecting $300. “It was interesting to see what students felt was important to highlight about the credit union,” Rick Kaul, Brewer FCU president/CEO, told the Maine league. “It gave us better insight into that demographic.” Gene Ardito (back row center), president/CEO of cPort CU, Portland, joins elementary school students who received College Aspirations scholarships from the credit union. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League) For the fourth consecutive year, cPort CU, Portland, sponsored the College Aspirations program for elementary school students. More than 500 students from two elementary schools in Portland and four in Augusta wrote about their future plans, and identified a college or colleges they may attend. The top essays were selected, and $100 scholarships were awarded during special ceremonies at each school. Fifty scholarships were awarded this past school year. The program has created “a unique opportunity for the credit union to make a difference and to connect with students at a young age,” said cPort CU President/CEO Gene Ardito.

Slow consumer spending brings lower CU loan growth

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MADISON, Wis. (8/3/11)--Consumers continue to show a great reluctance to spend, and that is showing up in the lack of loan growth at credit unions, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist’s analysis of June’s monthly estimates of credit unions.
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“This is consistent with the Commerce Department’s announcement yesterday that consumer spending fell in June,” Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, told News Now Tuesday. “The 0.4% decline in loans outstanding through June is almost as weak as last year’s 1.1% fall. The only good thing about this is that members’ balance sheets are improving as they pay down their debt, but they are unlikely to be willing to substantially increase borrowing for some time.” Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.3% during June, compared with a 0.4% rise in May, according to CUNA’s monthly estimate of credit unions. Home equity loans led loan growth with a 3.2% increase, followed by fixed-rate mortgages (3.1%) and used-auto loans (0.9%). Unsecured personal loans climbed 0.7% and credit card loans rose 0.6%, while new-auto loans and adjustable-rate mortgages declined 0.3% and 3.4%, respectively. Credit union loans totaled $578 billion, compared with $581 billion in June 2010, said the monthly estimates.
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Credit union savings balances increased 0.1% in June compared to a 0.7% decrease during May. Regular shares led savings growth, rising 1.2%, followed by individual retirement accounts (0.6%) and money market accounts (0.3%). One-year certificates and share drafts fell 0.6% and 2.1%, respectively. Credit union savings in June totaled $830.6 billion--or $35.6 billion more than the $795 billion in June 2010. “Savings growth is also quite weak, rising only 3.3% in the year to June, about the same as last year’s growth,” Hampel said. “Members are reluctant to commit funds to accounts paying current very low market rates.” Regarding asset quality, credit unions’ 60-plus-day delinquency rate remained at roughly 1.6%. “Despite the very weak loan growth, the delinquency rate continued to edge down during June, falling to 1.57% from 1.6% in May,” Hampel said. “The delinquency rate has been steadily but slowly declining from its peak of 1.85% in January of last year.” The loan-to-savings ratio increased slightly to 70%. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--increased slightly to 19%. The movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remained at 10%. The total dollar amount of capital is $97 billion. “Our monthly sample does not collect net income information; however, the growth of net worth at sample credit unions suggests a return on assets of about 90 basis points in the first half of the year” Hampel said. “That is welcome news following the very low credit union earnings of the past few years.”

iOrlando Sentineli reports CUs pursuit of auto loans

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ORLANDO, Fla. (8/3/11)--Financing for vehicle loans is rebounding, and credit unions are among the financial institutions seeking loans, according to a July 31 Orlando Sentinel article. Credit unions are becoming more aggressive in pursuing loans outside of their existing memberships, according to the article. Several credit unions have reached out and asked to be considered as a finance source, said Chad Rogers, general manager of Classic Mazda and Holler Hyundai in Orlando. The article also says “credit unions should not be overlooked” and cites a Datatrac survey from March that said the average interest rate on a 60-month new car loan from U.S. credit unions was 4.12% compared to 5.46% from banks. Overall, loan approval rates have increased since the height of financial crisis. In June, the approval rate for new auto loans was 74.7%, up from 46.3% in December 2008. To read the article, use the link.

Top 10 iNews Nowi stories for July (08/02/2011)

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MADISON, Wis. (8/3/11)--Three articles on interchange were among the top 10 News Now stories in July. Here is a list of the top 10 most-visited stories for the month. 10. CUNA releases interchange rule analysis WASHINGTON (7/5/11)--The Credit Union National Association has released a final rule analysis of the Federal Reserve's final debit interchange fee and routing regulations. 9. Prepay plan deadline ‘hard and fast,’ reminds Matz in webinar ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/12/11)--National Credit Union Association (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz and some of her senior staff fielded questions from credit unions regarding the agency's plan to allow credit unions to prepay some of their Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (TCCUSF) assessments in a webinar Monday. 8. CUNA: Proposal could shut down internt'l fund transfers WASHINGTON (7/26/11)--Many credit unions could cease offering international electronic fund transfer services to their members if a rule intended to protect consumers who use "remittance" services is put into effect without significant revisions, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). 7. White paper: CUs must replace aging memberships EMERYVILLE, Calif. (7/21/11)--A nationwide survey of credit union members indicates that credit unions must replace their aging members and increase loyalty among younger members. 6. NCUA considering TDR proposal ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/18/11)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Member Gigi Hyland has hinted that the agency could soon release an Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement (IRPS) addressing Troubled Debt Restructurings (TDR). 5. Fed, FTC finalize credit disclosure changes WASHINGTON (7/7/11)--The Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission have issued a final version of rules that require creditors to add new details to the risk-based pricing (RBP) notices that are distributed to their members. 4. CUs, banks will cease Savings Bond sales Dec. 31 WASHINGTON (7/14/11)--After 75 years of regular sales, savings bonds will no longer be sold at credit unions and other financial institutions as of Jan. 1, 2012, the U.S. Treasury has reported. 3. Five more CU mergers in the works MADISON, Wis. (7/8/11)--Consolidation in the credit union industry continues nationwide, including a merger between two of the largest credit union trust companies. 2. Visa CEO notes interchange rule's impact on CUs NEW YORK (7/8/11)--As it made its first filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since the Federal Reserve's final ruling on restricting debit card interchange fees, Visa Inc. said in a conference call Wednesday that it expects credit unions and small banks and other programs to see "unintended consequences" from the rule. 1. Fed issues interchange 'exempt/not exempt' lists WASHINGTON (7/13/11)--In its first step to facilitate a two-tiered debit card interchange fee structure since adoption of its final rule, the Federal Reserve Tuesday issued two lists--one with the names of each institution considered to be covered by the new cap on debit interchange fees and another with the names of those that are exempt.

CU System briefs (08/02/2011)

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* BELLEVUE, Neb. (8/3/11)--Nebraska's largest credit union, SAC FCU, has been granted approval from the National Credit Union Administration to expand its market area to eight counties from four, doubling its service area. The expansion will continue to strengthen the Bellevue, Neb.-based , more than $500 million in assets credit union in the Metro area. The expansion includes Washington and Saunders Counties in Nebraska, and Mills and Harrison Counties in Iowa--areas that have an estimated 71,000 residents. It will serve people living, worshipping, working (or regularly conducting business in) or attending school in the area. Its existing service area had included Douglas, Sarpy and Cass Counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie County in Iowa. The credit union is celebrating its 65th anniversary as a credit union … * ONTARIO, Calif. (8/3/11)--CUDL, which administers the nation's largest auto lending network for credit unions, announced the grand
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prize winner in its SMART Giveaway Contest for credit union members. Eric Franklin, a member of Oklahoma Employees CU, Lexington, Okla., won the sweepstakes grand prize, with CUDL paying off the balance of his credit union auto loan. The year-long contest gave credit union members the opportunity to win 12 monthly prizes, consisting of $500 American Express gift cards, and a chance at the sweepstakes grand prize. Members were entered into the contest by requesting an online auto quote from a CUDL dealer through the CUDL AutoSMART vehicle research and shopping website or by applying for an instant pre-approved auto loan through their credit union's SMART Approval program. From left are Ryan Kilman, indirect lending director at Oklahoma Employees CU; Josh Amaton, regional credit union manager for CUDL; Franklin: and Linda Csaba, loan officer at the credit union. (Photo provided by CUDL) … * RIEGELWOOD, N.C. (8/3/11)--Riegelwood (N.C.) FCU and Cell Phones for Soldiers have teamed up to collect unused cell phones for troops in the Cell Phones for Soldiers campaign. The $96 million asset credit union plans to work with local businesses to serve as collection points. Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to collect more than 50,000 cell phones this year to help connect troops with their families. RFCU's Elaine Williams noted "the need for support keeps growing as more soldiers are sent to the Middle East or are asked to serve extended tours of duty." The donated phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each phone--enough to provide an hour of talk time for soldiers abroad. Half the phones are reconditioned and sold to wholesale companies in 40 countries. Phones and components that cannot be refurbished are dismantled and the materials recycled … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (8/3/11)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have promoted Director of Grassroots Advocacy
Jeremy Empol as their new director of federal government affairs and hired David Creager to replace Empol in the grassroots position, the leagues said. Empol, who joined the leagues in 2007, assumed his new role on June 2. He will focus on connecting California and Nevada credit unions to their congressional delegation members. Before joining the leagues, Creager managed political campaigns for Meridian Pacific Inc., a Sacramento-based political consulting firm. He will be responsible for the leagues' Web-based advocacy network, Connect for the Cause, and will spearhead new advocacy initiatives such as the 1-2 Punch Campaign, which educates and encourages credit union employees about political giving and participation in legislative action. Both Empol and Creager will be based out of the league's Sacramento offices …