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More states CUs inundated with phone scams

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MADISON, Wis. (8/29/08)--Credit unions in more states are reporting they've been targeted in this month's waves of voice phishing or vishing attacks, which are occurring at credit unions and other institutions throughout the U.S. The robo-attacks involve automated telephone calls to members and nonmembers claiming to be from the credit union. The message, which goes to thousands of people, warns that the member's credit or debit card has been suspended. To reactivate it, the member must call a phone number. At the number, the member is asked for the credit number and personal identification number or other personal financial information. In all cases, credit unions are warning members and the public that they would never contact members in such a way and ask for information they already had. Two Pennsylvania credit unions--Members 1st FCU and New Cumberland FCU--posted scam alerts on their websites after members reported calls, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Aug. 28). In Oneida, N.Y.,GPO FCU was targeted. "Fraudsters are blanketing the area with automated phone calls, as well as sending out e-mails requesting personal account information," John Prumo, president/CEO of GPO FCU told the Oneida Dispatch (Aug. 26). He advised consumers not to respond. "These criminals can't touch your account if you don't give out information." Sarasota Coastal CU, Sarasota, Fla., e-mailed warnings to 10,000 members on its e-alert system after it received several dozen calls from people who were contacted by phone and told to call a number in Quebec. Some received calls on their unlisted cell phones (Sarasota Herald-Tribune Aug. 25). In Great Falls, Mont., several credit unions were targeted, according to one of the credit unions, lst Liberty CU (Great Falls Tribune Aug. 27). Montana Credit Union Network President Tracie Kenyon noted that the incidents aren't data breaches. "This is a coordinated attempt to contact people directly and entice them to give out their personal information," Kenyon told the Tribune. The network advised people receiving the calls to hang up. According to Gartner Inc., a technology research firm, $3.2 billion was lost by Americans 3.6 millions, up from 2.3 million victims in 2006. Of those who received phishing e-mails last year, 3.3% lost money, up from 2.3% in 2006 and 2.9% in 2005. The average loss per incident in 2007 was $866, which is less than the $1,244 in average losses in 2006. However, 2007 had more victims. Roughly 1.6 million victims recovered about 64% of their losses last year, compared with 1.5 million recovering 54% in 2006, said Gartner.

Economy impacts online spending especially among women

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WILMINGTON, Del. (8/29/08)--The economy and credit crunch are affecting consumer buying online this quarter--especially among women, reports the eBillme Online Spending Index. The eBillme Online Spending Index, conducted quarterly by Javelin Strategy and Research, polled 1,600 consumers about their projected online spending for the quarter. It also measured influential factors such as the economy, available payment options, security and financial control. This quarter's index also polled consumers about their online spending for back-to-school shopping. Among the findings:
* Consumers surveyed plan to spend on average $100 to $250 online during the next 90 days; * 18%--mostly female and 18-24 years old--said they would make back-to-school purchases online; * 48% of consumers polled are delaying their purchases due to uncertainty in the economy; * 32% said they would spend more if they could purchase online with cash--revealing a general shift towards cash preferences; * Female consumers indicated a 5% decrease in using credit cards, further indicating a shift toward cash, said eBillme.
"The index results show a significant shift in consumer behavior, especially among female consumers," said Marwan Forzley, president/CEO of eBillme. Compared with men, "a higher percentage of women are concerned with fraud, identity theft and the economy. In fact, 38% of women said that they would purchase more online if they could control their finances and pay using cash."

College students view debt as normal

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WASHINGTON (8/29/08)--Nearly one-fourth of college students surveyed recently don't consider long-term ramifications when they use a credit card. Instead they will go into debt for months, simply to enjoy the moment, according to a new study. However, despite the "bad behavior," the students said they knew they must act responsibly or risk ruining their financial future. The survey underlines the importance of financial literacy programs. Credit unions involved in financial education need to educate students before they develop those bad habits. The online poll of 500 college students was sponsored by the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA). In its report released earlier this week, NARCA said the study revealed "alarming data" indicating that many young people aren't concerned about debt (PRNewswire Aug. 25). "Our poll suggests that too many young people are living for the moment and are not preparing for their financial future," said Robert Markoff, NARCA president. "Having good credit probably has more impact on your life than having a minor criminal record," Markoff said. "The type of impulsive behavior our data demonstrated can have significant and lasting effects on students' lives." Key findings:
* More than 25% of students polled said it is reasonable to run up a debt to splurge on a special celebration with friends at a restaurant or to use a credit card as a way to "raise cash." * Roughly 31% of the students said they do not worry about debt, because they can pay it back after they are out of school and earning a regular paycheck; * An average of 23% chooses to ignore overdraft penalties and the prospect of months or years of paying off a debt incurred for a moment of fun. * 92% agree that bad debt will significantly impact a person's ability to get credit in the future. Bad debt was defined as failure to pay bills for so long that a debt collector must contact the customer. * 46% said they always keep records of their spending and receipts. * 42% of those who had been contacted by a debt collector said they would develop a payment plan to repay the debt over time.

CU System briefs (08/28/2008)

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* DES MOINES, Iowa (8/29/09)--The Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) announced a staff promotion and new hire Wednesday. Emily Oliver was promoted to director of public affairs and marketing of ICUL. She oversees media relations, marketing, member outreach, legislative advocacy and technology, and provides support for community outreach and general communications. Oliver was previously public affairs specialist at ICUL. Olivia Maiers has been hired as marketing specialist. She will develop and implement marketing plans and materials for the league and its subsidiaries, and ensure the league's brand identity is supported in all communications and marketing vehicles. Maiers previously was employed at Chandler Chicco Agency, Santa Monica, Calif. … * MADISON, Wis. (8/29/09)--UW CU began issuing flat, instant-issue debit cards Monday, the first financial institution in Dane County, Wis., to do so, said the credit union. The flat cards function like traditional debit cards but have no embossed characters. They are ready to use immediately upon issue and eliminate the waiting period for mailing a card and PIN. UW CU installed Dynamic Card Solutions' CardWizard software application and flat card printer in three branches in Madison and Milwaukee. In addition to attracting new members, the cards can save existing members time if they lose or damage their cards, said the credit union. Paul Kundert, president/CEO of the Madison-based credit union, said, "Flat cards are the standard in Europe and Canada." … * SACRAMENTO, Calif. (8/29/08)--Michael Edward Osgood, 47, of Sacramento, Calif., pleaded guilty to three counts of bank robbery before U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, announced the U.S. Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California Tuesday. The case results from an investigation by the Sacramento Violent Crimes Task Force, which dubbed the robber as the “straw hat bandit” because he wore large straw hats during robberies. He admitted to seven robberies of banks and credit unions. For each of his three bank robbery convictions, Osgood could face up to 20 years in prison, a three-year term of federal supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and an order of restitution (US Fed News Aug. 26) … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (8/29/08)--The eighth-annual Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation/WesCorp Golf Classic Aug. 25 raised more than $30,000 for the foundation, which is the state foundation for California and Nevada credit unions. The tournament winners were Bob Siravo, president/CEO, WesCorp; Tony Boutelle, president/CEO, CUDL; Bill Cheney, president/CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union League; and Bill Birnie, CEO Eagle Community CU. The event drew 92 players and 30 sponsors. Pictured are: Cheney (left) and Boutelle. (Photo provided by the California Credit Union League) …

Two CUs win California Desjardins award

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (8/29/08)--Educational Employees CU and Sonoma County Grange CU both received first-place honors in the California statewide Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards. The Desjardins awards recognize leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of youth financial literacy. Educational Employees won the asset category of $250 million and above, while Sonoma County Grange won the less than $35 million asset category, announced the California Credit Union League. As first-place winners, the Fresno, Calif.-based Educational Employees CU and Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Sonoma County Grange CU advance to the national Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards competition. The national award competition is overseen by the Credit Union National Association. Educational Employees CU was honored for its well-rounded series of programs, it’s depth of knowledge of its community, and the use of various avenues to provide youth financial literacy programs. The credit union partnered with eight libraries to offer workshops during the summer while children were out of school. Sonoma County Grange CU offered programs to reach out to a unique demographic for credit unions--young people involved in the agricultural field. This past year, young credit union members took out $50,000 in loans as part of its 4-H/FFA Agriculture Loan Program. As part of the program, the credit union gives up to $1,500 for initiation or expansion of a project. This teaches young people how to complete a loan application, and make timely loan repayments. The loan is reported to the credit bureau so that youths receive a credit score. L.A. Financial CU, Pasadena, Calif., received an honorable mention.

CUs on the Tube MCUL Mayes talk economy election CUs

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (8/29/08)--Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) President/CEO David Adams recently discussed the state economy, elections, and credit unions with State Rep. Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City) in a league podcast. Mayes began the podcast by thanking Adams for the league’s work. Mayes, who is a member of the state House Banking and Financial Services Committee, also talked about how credit unions can help the state’s economy recover. Financial institutions have the money to allow people to buy things and create business investment, Mayes said. “Credit unions are stable and doing well,” he added. Adams and Mayes also touched on financial literacy as well as the need to provide youth with financial literacy experiences and educate parents. “I commend credit unions for leading that charge,” Mayes said. To listen to the podcast, use the link.

CUNA closed Monday for holiday (08/28/2008)

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (8/29/08)--The Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wis., offices of the Credit Union National Association will be closed on Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday. News Now will not publish on Monday but will resume regular publication Tuesday.

NCUF WOCCU launch international DE program

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WASHINGTON (8/29/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), in partnership with World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), has launched a new international designation in NCUF’s Development Education (DE) program. The new program, first announced at WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong, will certify its first class at WOCCU's 2009 World Credit Union Conference, scheduled for July 26-29 in Barcelona, Spain.
Charles Sim, a director for Scotwest CU, Glasgow, Scotland, distributed school supplies to needy children near Nabon, Ecuador, during a 2007 World Council of Credit Unions educational initiative. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Charles Sim, a director with Scotwest CU in Glasgow, Scotland, plans to be among the first to receive the DE designation. The retired firefighter and longtime credit union volunteer views the new program as a way to promote and enhance global credit union development, and further extend the DE program's reach to other countries. “After seeing WOCCU's field work ‘at coal face,' as we say in Scotland, I value the importance of WOCCU's programs to the developing world,” Sim said. “I am looking forward to being in the first group to receive this certification, and I've already begun work on my independent study project.” The DE program, which links U.S. credit union advocates with the movement's philosophical roots through interactive group presentations and experiential learning, supports credit unions' global initiatives through volunteer projects and international exchanges. “It's a logical extension to where the DE program has been. We greatly appreciate WOCCU's continued support in helping direct the program's future on the international front,” said Tom Decker, NCUF's director of social impact management. International candidates must complete four steps to achieve an international DE designation:
* Complete their local DE program to build a solid foundation; * Attend WOCCU's Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program; * Attend either WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference or participate in another country's DE program. In addition to the U.S. DE program, other affiliated programs operate in the United Kingdom, in the Philippines and through the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions, WOCCU's Asian affiliate organization headquartered in Thailand; and * Complete an independent studies project appropriate to the learning objectives of the same programs.
WOCCU expects the relationship to foster greater awareness of the impact of credit unions worldwide, explained Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. Greater exposure of DE students to the global credit union movement also will enhance their educational opportunities and foster international credit union support and growth, he said. “Our goal has always been to build bridges among global credit union movements and we're pleased to have so many enthusiastic emissaries to help us in our mission going forward,” Crear said. WOCCU has been a long-time supporter of NCUF and its DE program. The program has received additional support from the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group.

Pa. Family Savings Account introduced for underserved

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/29/08)--Pennsylvania’s Family Savings Account program (FSA) was introduced to the underserved of Lebanon County at a press conference Tuesday by PROBE Inc. in Lebanon, Pa. The presentation described how private enterprise and Pennsylvania can work together to help underserved consumers.
From left: Glenn Rambler, Lebanon (Pa.) FCU; Joe Wambach, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; Kathy Verna and Theresa Trainer, PROBE; and State Rep. Mauree Gingrich attend a press conference announcing Pennsylvania’s Family Savings Account Program. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Thirty-nine underserved consumers will benefit from FSA. Through this program, Pennsylvania provides money to community-based, nonprofit organizations to help individuals and families set up accounts and offers a match--of up to $2,000 over two years. FSAs can be used to buy a home, repair a home, purchase a vehicle, pay for education or daycare, and train for or start a business. Attending the ceremonies were: Joe Wambach, executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; Glenn Rambler, executive vice president, Lebanon (Pa.) FCU; Holly Chase, community-based financial education specialist for the Pennsylvania Office of Financial Education; Teresa Trainer, counselor, PROBE Inc.; and Kathy Verna, executive director of PROBE Inc. Also participating in the program was State Rep. Mauree A. Gingrich (R-101). The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation and Lebanon FCU support PROBE Inc. and Lebanon County’s local Financial Literacy Project, a collaborative effort between more than 20 Lebanon County health and human service agencies, government agencies, local financial institutions, businesses, and the Lebanon County Commission for Women. The total foundation grant over a three-and-a-half-year period of the project is $36,000. To date, the foundation and Lebanon FCU have contributed $20,000 to PROBE Inc.