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For Ohio foundation 2008 is a record year

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DUBLIN, Ohio (8/22/08)--2008 is turning out to be a record-breaking year so far for the Ohio Credit Union Foundation (OCUF), which turns 10 years old. As of June 30, the foundation had awarded more than $120,000 through 29 grants for outreach, financial education, professional development and disaster relief, according to the Ohio Credit Union League's eLumination Newsletter (Aug. 14). In the state, 46 credit unions have invested $18.1 million in the Community Investment Fund, which has provided nearly $78,000 to the foundation year to date. Earlier this year, OCUF reached the $1 million grant mark for the year. Among its accomplishments:
* A grant application for $69,500 from the National Credit Union Foundation to help establish a new community credit union in Toledo to serve the Latino neighborhood. * A survey of credit unions about their community outreach initiatives to share with legislators, regulators, the media and consumers. * A new website, with expanding information.

No reports of CUs with flooding wind damage--yet

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MADISON, Wis. (8/22/08)--CUNA Mutual Group hasn't received reports of damage to Florida credit unions from Tropical Storm Fay, but that could change, the credit union insurer said. "Heavy flooding has resulted from Tropical Storm Fay, which has been a real slow mover," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager for CUNA Mutual. "Fortunately for Florida, the winds associated with this storm are expected to greatly diminish over the next several hours," he told News Now early Thursday afternoon. "We currently have no credit unions reporting flood- or wind-related problems; however, the longer Fay stays around, the greater the chance that may change," he said. Tschudy said CUNA Mutual has activated its Property and Casualty Disaster Team, and any storm-related losses reported will be handled on a priority basis. The CUNA Mutual Group Disaster Claim hotline is 800-637-2676. It is answered 24/7/365, said Tschudy. Fay has been stalled off Florida's northeast Atlantic coast, about 15 miles from Daytona Beach, and has produced torrential rains--up to 30 inches in Brevard County, home of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which has been closed since Tuesday. Hundreds of homes were flooded from St. Lucie to Brevard counties, and more than 10,200 homes and businesses in Brevard County were without power. Gov. Charlie Crist said the storm was "becoming a serious catastrophic flooding event," according to Associated Press (Aug. 21). And the storm isn't over. Jacksonville residents were told to expect the brunt of the storm's return to land later Thursday. The southern half of Georgia's coastline also is under a tropical storm warning. The storm first hit the Florida Keys Monday, then veered into the Gulf of Mexico before hitting land again. It would be the fourth storm in history to hit Florida three times with tropical storm intensity.

New phone scams hit CUs in Alabama and Virginia

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MADISON, Wis. (8/22/08)--Add Alabama and Virginia credit unions to the growing list of credit unions throughout the nation whose members are being hit with vishing (voice phishing). Heritage South CU, Sylacauga, Ala., warned Talladega County residents earlier this week of a phone scam in which an automated system asks for credit and debit card information (The Daily Home Aug. 20). The scam began Monday evening. The $66 million asset credit union told the newspaper it received an equal number of calls from members and nonmembers contacted by an automated system claiming to be Heritage South and saying their card had expired. The recipients were asked to call a long distance number to reactivate the card and the bogus "Heritage South Security Center" would ask for the card number, PIN and the card's expiration date. Few members gave out the information, said the credit union, whose member database was not compromised. The credit union said it would never contact members asking for information it already has. Members of Martinsville Dupont Employees CU (MDCU), Martinsville, Va., received similar calls, the credit union said Thursday in a press release. "Someone has obtained a list of phone numbers in the Martinsville and Henry County area and is calling individuals" with a similar ruse, said Darrell L. Minniear, president/CEO of MDCU. "MDCU will never contact you by phone or e-mail and ask you for personal information such as your Social Security number, account number, or credit card number," Minniear said. Meanwhile, the Ohio Credit Union League said Wednesday "thousands of Ohioans" received messages via text, e-mail and voicemail, stating that their services at their credit union had been suspended. (News Now Aug. 21). Thursday the league said five unique phishing scams purported to be from credit unions in the previous two days. "Information at credit unions has not been compromised and this is not a data theft. This is an attempt to contact people directly and prompt them to give their personal information," said Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio league in a press release. "We want to make sure Ohioans are aware of this attempt and encourage them to call their financial institution if they get a message to help us thwart future phishing attacks," he said. The league asked its member credit unions to communicate directly with their members and post notifications on their websites. It also alerted the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the FBI, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission. Special Agent Harry Trombitas of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said people receiving the messages should report the information directly to the FBI at for investigation. Anyone who provided their personal information to the fraudsters should go immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at and follow the steps provided to minimize their losses and protect their credit, he said in the league's press release. Last week, Commonwealth CU, Frankfort, Ky., reported a second round within three weeks of vishing to thousands of Kentuckians. Florida CU, Gainesville, also reported similar attacks (News Now Aug. 18). Several credit unions in Wisconsin were hit earlier, and at least one, Bull's Eye FCU, experienced two waves of the attacks. In July, credit unions in seven states--Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Illinois--reported vish attempts.

CUs take measures to ease gas prices impact

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MADISON, Wis. (8/22/08)--Credit unions continue to help members struggling with high gas prices with special deals. Aside from what News Now has already reported about high gas prices:
* Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C., is offering a fuel-efficient auto loan for any new or used vehicle that receives 29 miles a gallon or more on the highway ( Aug. 18). The loan offers a 0.5% rate discount to help individuals save on financing. Members also can finance up to 135% of the vehicle’s total value, said Joseph Whitaker, executive vice president/CEO; * Cabrillo CU, San Diego, is allowing members to skip their auto, computer or personal loan payments next month. “We recognize that high gas prices are affecting our members’ budgets,” said Robin Lentz, Cabrillo CEO. Cabrillo members will be notified of the program through online banking next week; * Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H., will match $--up to $25,000--for every $2 contributed by members to the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Community Action Agencies ( Aug. 12). The agencies help residents who can’t afford to heat their homes in winter. The credit union, which recently gave an additional $25,000, expects its contribution could total $100,000. Donations can be made through Sept. 30 ... * NationsHeritage CU, Attleboro, Mass., introduced a “free gas” campaign that brought new members into its lobby (Deposit Growth Strategies Aug. 1). The campaign offers $25 gas cards, discounted car insurance and low-fixed rates on auto loans; * Fitchburg (Mass.) FCU announced that it is offering 0% annual percentage rate loans up to $10,000 for members who install qualified energy efficiency projects. The loans, called HEAT loans, can be used for air and duct sealing; insulation; domestic hot water systems; high-efficiency heating systems; and Energy Star windows. Do-it-yourself installations are ineligible, and borrowers must occupy owners of one- to four-family homes and have an electric account with a local electrical company; and * Credit Union Service Network (CUSN) reminded its credit unions that shared branching can help cut down on the amount of gas members use to travel to credit union branch locations. CUSN offers shared branching for more than 87 credit unions at 244 locations nationwide.

Pennsylvania foundation grant to develop fin-ed program

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/22/08)--Cross Valley FCU, Wikes Barre, recently presented Luzerne Community College’s Multicultural Learning Center with a $8,175 grant, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. Funding from the grant came from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. The money will go toward financial education services to Spanish GED and English as a Second Language students taking courses at the multicultural center (Life is a Highway Aug. 21). Topics to be taught include budgeting, savings, and dealing with financial problems. “Financial literacy is an extremely important component of a strong financial future,” Leonard V. Shimko, Cross Valley CEO, told the association.

CU System briefs (08/21/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/22/08)--Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) visited three Scranton, Pa., credit unions Tuesday with Pennsylvania Credit Union Association President/CEO Jim McCormack and Governmental Affairs Specialist Christine Seitz (Life is a Highway Aug. 22). Kanjorski met with Jeff DeBree, Penn East FCU; Jim Kanaley, Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU; and Larry Bordi, NET FCU. He also met with employees, board directors and credit union members ... * GREENSBORO, N.C. (8/22/08)--State Rep. Ray Rapp (D), Sen. Joe Sam Queen (D), and John Mitchell, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s field representative, attended Champion CU’s annual member appreciation day in Canton, N.C. Mickey Fanney, the North Carolina Credit Union League grassroots/political action specialist, also traveled to Canton to visit with credit union staffers, members and dignitaries (Weekly Update Aug. 15). Sen. Joe Sam Queen (left) encourages members to register to vote at the event. (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League) ... * PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (8/22/08)--Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H., received the 2007 Army Credit Union of the Year Award at the Defense Credit Union Counsils’ meeting in Chicago. The credit union offers products and services geared toward military personnel. It also donated $130,000 for military events and programs ( Aug. 20). The credit union was recommended for the award by U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim Commander Jeffery Fletcher. Service CU has $1.194 billion in assets ... * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (8/22/08)--Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif., and CO-OP Financial Services were among the top three donors of a radio-a-thon that raised more than $762,000 for Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and Children’s Miracle Network. Wescom and CO-OP presented a check for $22,000 during the live broadcast. More than 400 Wescom CU employees donated $5 to wear jeans on Fridays during July. They raised $6,500, which was matched by WeCare, the credit union’s employee-run charitable foundation. CO-OP contributed an additional $10,000 to bring the total to $22,000. From left: Chris Riccitelli, CO-OP Financial Services National Relationship Manager, and Jane Wood, Wescom CU chief operating officer, presented the check to Louise Skosey, assistant director, Children’s Miracle Network. (Photo provided by Wescom CU) ... * HONOLULU (8/22/08)--The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Hawaii signed off on 145 loans during 10 months ending July 31 (Pacific Business News Aug. 15). Thirty-eight loans were approved through the 504 loan program for fixed-asset projects of $4 million, while 377 were given through the SBA 7(a) program, which caps commercial loans at $2 million. The SBA also added Hawaii Community FCU, Kailuakona, and Honolulu FCU as preferred loan providers ...