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CUSO adds social media tutorials to Facebook page

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (8/4/10)--Social media have gone mainstream, and a credit union service organization (CUSO) is urging credit unions to "use these vital communications tools to gain awareness" for their products and services. The CUSO, PSCU Financial Services, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., has launched the first of a series of social media tutorials to help credit unions tap into the promotional potential offered by social media formats on its Facebook page. The current video is called "Social Media 101." "Social media outlets--including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and blogs--are now being used by many corporations to create brand awareness and consumer loyalty," said Mike Yatros, interim CEO of the CUSO. "Research shows that more than 69% of consumers have read a corporate blog and 40% of consumers have 'liked' a brand on Facebook or MySpace," he added, referring to research by Razorfish in 2009. "Credit unions that use social media can create broad consumer awareness about our unique industry and ultimately influence prospects to consider making a local credit union their primary financial services provider," he said. The new "social media" tab on the CUSO's Facebook page presents information that credit unions can use to learn how to leverage current and emerging social media tools to engage with their existing and prospective members. The first lesson sets the foundation by presenting facts and figures about consumers' online and social media habits. Future postings will provide lessons for using popular social media sites and downloadable best practices and resource guides.

Next wave of ID thefts targeting kids SSNs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (8/4/10)--Identity thieves are beginning to steal Social Security numbers of children, long before they're ready for a savings or checking account or a credit score--and that could threaten the nation's credit system, said an Associated Press report ( Aug. 3). The thefts could be a problem for credit unions and other financial institutions because they rely on credit scores from FICO, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. But those scores could contain false information, planted by people who use stolen Social Security numbers to piggyback on the credit of someone else, according to Kansas City law enforcement agents. Kansas City Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Marshall and Julie Jensen, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's office in Kansas City, said that in the fraud, online businesses use computers to locate dormant Social Security numbers, usually of children or long-term prison inmates who don't use them. The companies sell the numbers under another name to people who establish phony credit and run up huge debts without intending to pay. The sellers skirt the law by referring to the Social Security numbers as "credit privacy numbers" or CPNs. They are also called "credit profile numbers" and "credit protection numbers." Jensen discovered the scheme and says it is easy to create a false credit score using the CPNs, said the article. The crooks have years to use the numbers before the child is old enough to apply for credit. That makes the fraud difficult to detect, and authorities can't estimate how prevalent the practice is. The fraud is emerging because 25.5% of consumers have credit scores of 599 or below, which means they're poor credit risks. Many credit decisions are based on the credit scores provided by FICO and the three major credit reporting bureaus. But Jensen says those credit scores could contain false information. FICO said it has tools for businesses to protect themselves, but the tools are expensive, the article said.

Wis. league to media Banks in way of more biz lending

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (8/4/10)--Banks are standing in the way of Congress' allowing credit unions to increase their lending to small businesses and help small businesses obtain credit and create jobs, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League, in an article in Milwaukee, Wis.-based (Aug. 3). The league expressed frustration because Congress has failed to attach an amendment that would raise credit unions' member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from the current 12.25% to its Small Business Lending Fund Act. "Banks have admitted they are unlikely to increase their business lending because of regulatory pressure that has forced them to restrict their lending," said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. "So, knowing full well they're not going to step up to help, it's ill-conceived that Congress would allow banks to block a credit union provision that could preserve jobs and get Wisconsin firms moving again," he said in the article. (Use the link to read the full article). In a press release, the league noted that "banks have stood in the way, threatening to oppose a bill that includes additional business authority for credit unions--although it comes at no cost to taxpayers and would help generate loans that banks are unwilling to make."

Miracle Treat Day Thursday benefits kids hospitals

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (8/4/10)--Credit unions' staff, volunteers and members have a chance to help out the Children's Miracle Network and cool off with a treat on Dairy Queen's Miracle Treat Day, which is Thursday. Those buying a Blizzard treat at a participating Dairy Queen Thursday will see $1 of the cost contributed to benefit a local Children's Miracle Network hospital, according to Joe Dearborn, senior director of Credit Unions for Kids, credit unions' fundraising arm for the Children's Miracle Network. Credit Unions for Kids has raised more than $75 million for children's hospitals since 1996. Credit unions are one of the largest contributors to the Children's Miracle Network. Dairy Queen has raised over $81 million for the network's hospitals. To find a participating location, visit

Bush press secretary to keynote Maine legislative forum

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PORTLAND, Maine (8/4/10)--Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer will be keynote speaker Sept. 15 at the Maine Credit Union League's Annual Legislative Forum in Freeport, announced the league. Fleischer served as press secretary under former President George W. Bush and was spokesman during the historical presidential race recount; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; two wars; and the anthrax attack, said the league's August newsletter, News&Views. For conference attendees, he will analyze the latest news out of Washington and discuss the obstacles and opportunities the Obama administration has in moving its agenda, as well as Hill issues that will affect the 2010 midterm elections and beyond. Prior to joining the Bush campaign, Fleischer was national spokesman and communications director for Elizabeth Dole's presidential campaign, and also served as communications director for the House Committee on Ways and Means. He is now president of Air Fleischer Communications Inc.

Candell named deputy exec director of NCUF

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WASHINGTON (8/4/10)--Tom Candell has been promoted to deputy executive director, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), announced NCUF Executive Director Wendell "Bucky" Sebastian Tuesday. Candell will be responsible for coordinating the foundation's day-to-day operations including fundraising administration, event management, REAL Solutions, innovation grants, investment management, disaster relief and communications. He had served as NCUF's managing administrative director and was interim director during the search process before Sebastian's selection as NCUF executive director. Sebastian said Candell's promotion "will allow me to place more of my emphasis on outreach to the foundation's donor base, which is my No. 1 priority." Candell will continue to be based in NCUF's Madison, Wis., office. Other changes announced include:
* Relocation of the positions of communication and marketing coordinator and the National REAL Solutions Program manager to Madison from Washington. Both positions report directly to Candell. The executive director position will remain in Washington, D.C. * Transfer of responsibilities for the program planning and strategic direction of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) program to the program's volunteer leadership. NCUF will continue to provide logistical and administrative support to the DE program.
"Taken together, these organizational changes will enable the foundation to operate more efficiently and cost effectively, which is in line with the expectations of our donor community," Sebastian said.

Corporate Central members commit 50M to PIC

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MUSKEGO, Wis. (8/4/10)--Members of Corporate Central CU have contributed more than $50 million to paid-in-capital (PIC) since it began its capital building efforts in April 2009, the corporate announced Tuesday. “It is within our ability to make value statements and provide empirical measurements to support those statements,” Robert W. Fouch, president/CEO of Corporate Central, said. “However, our true ‘worth’ can only be defined by our members. Collectively, our members have made a profound statement of commitment to their corporate credit union.” Corporate Central said it is well ahead of all initial capital measures in the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) proposed corporate credit union regulations, due to members’ PIC investments made to date and to growing retained earnings. The corporate has projected to be at least 1% in retained earnings by NCUA’s September date targeted for the new regulations. At 1%, the corporate would be more than double the 45 basis points of retained earnings required by NCUA for year three in the new regulations. Also, the $50 million of PIC moves the corporate’s core capital measurement closer to 4%, representing a strong position for the future, the Muskego, Wis.-based corporate said.

Young pros to crash Wash. league convention

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SEATAC, Wash. (8/4/10)--The Washington Crashers invites 13 credit union professionals age 30 or younger to “crash” the Washington Credit Union League Convention Sept. 14-16 in Seatac, Wash. Professionals have until Aug. 16 to apply for membership in the group. Applications can be submitted through the group’s website, The group will host an event outside the convention with networking and career-building opportunities. Due to tight budgets and a lack of opportunity, many younger credit union employees have limited-to-no access and growth opportunities such as the league convention, the Crashers said. The event follows a trend born from a 2010 Filene Research Institute project in which a group of young credit union professionals “crashed” the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)’s Governmental Affairs Conference and the CUNA/World Council of Credit Unions’ The 1 Credit Union Conference. Three crashers of those events helped create the Washington event. “We wanted to continue the momentum and bring the career-building experience to more local professionals,” said Matt Vance, marketing director, Industrial CU, Bellingham, Wash. “Expect to learn, network and be animated to propel the credit union movement,” added Kris Holechek, human resources coordinator, Lacamas Community CU, Camas, Wash. Jen Shefner, crasher and assistant vice president of e-commerce at Columbia CU, Vancouver, Wash., said her former crash experience was unparalleled with anything she’d ever done during her eight-year credit union career. “I not only came back inspired by our national movement, but [came back] a more confident leader and committed credit union employee,” she said. “Credit union veterans should encourage their future leaders to apply for our upcoming event.” For more information, use the links.

North Coast CU wins Wash. Foundation Legacy Award

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (8/4/10)--The Washington Credit Union Foundation will present its Legacy Award to North Coast CU, Bellingham, at an awards ceremony Sept. 16. North Coast is receiving the award for its support of Bite of Skagit. Bite of Skagit raises funding and awareness to support the Skagit Food Share Alliance, which facilitates the acquisition of locally grown produce to distribute to 13 area food banks through the Skagit County Community Action Agency. The event has acquired new partnerships with nine restaurants, local banks and the Latino farming community. The credit union donated volunteer hours. The project is unique, “involving many community partners, which is what made it stand out to receive this honor,” said Earlene Fantz, CEO of American Lake CU, Tacoma, Wash., and awards committee chair. Terry Belcoe, president/CEO of North Coast, said the credit union is passionate about the project. The Legacy Award was established in 2003. Last year’s winner was Harborstone CU, Tacoma, Wash.

Glatt Leading online CU challenging exciting

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BALTIMORE (8/4/10)--Leading the nation’s first online-only credit union is a lot like “being the parent of a first child,” according to Tom Glatt. “They don’t come with instruction manuals.” Glatt, who stepped down Sunday from his post as CEO of the online-only REALTORS FCU, told News Now that his experience with REALTORS was great, though sometimes challenging. “We set up something that’s never been done before,” Glatt added. “But we don’t do anything at REALTORS that isn’t done at another credit union. Every day is a new adventure. It’s very exciting, and very challenging.” Glatt, who became REALTORS’ first CEO in 2008, said he’s leaving because he has accomplished his goal--to get the credit union off the ground and operating. As the credit union changes its growth strategy, Glatt is moving on to the next chapter in his credit union career. He’s looking for other CEO jobs, hoping to relocate closer to his wife, who is in New Jersey. Jane Pannier, REALTORS FCU executive vice president and general counsel, is acting CEO. Glatt previously was CEO of Continental FCU, Tempe, Ariz. He and his wife also founded a consulting business, Counter Intelligence Associates. REALTORS FCU serves members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which has 1.2 million members. Although REALTORS received its charter in 2008, the idea for the credit union has been around for nearly a decade. Today, the credit union has 5,500 members and $80 million in assets--less than the 25,000 members and $110 million in assets predicted. Though the credit union is close to its asset goal, its growth has been dependent on the economy. “In times of uncertainty, people stick with what they have, whether they like it or not, because of fear of the unknown,” Glatt said. When the economy improves, there will be an explosion of growth, he added. Two of REALTORS’ biggest challenges were security and awareness. Unlike a traditional credit union, “we never look members in the face. So whatever security the credit union had to go through with someone to open an account, it did. We triple checked everything,” Glatt said. Though NAR does a “fantastic” job marketing to members, some still don’t realize that NAR has a credit union, Glatt said. The credit union is working to heighten awareness. Potential members’ acceptance of the virtual model also is challenging. Call center staff still receive questions about where the branches are located. “We told realtors that we understand the value of the local relationship, but that’s just not our model,” Glatt said. “We’re telling folks to give us a chance, and through the virtual model, we’ll try to get as much of their business as possible.” The positives of an online credit union are huge, especially for younger people who are less concerned about the social aspect of banking. An online-only credit union offers convenience. “If you want to join at 3 a.m., you can do that,” he said. Members can open accounts, fund accounts, and apply for loans online. “If you want to make a deposit at 3 a.m., you could go to an ATM ... but at REALTORS, you can take a picture of the front and back of the check [or use a scanner], send it to us, and [the money] is in your account.” Glatt said he expects to see more online credit unions in the future. He received several calls from CEOs asking how the credit union created its virtual model. A virtual model can especially benefit credit unions with national fields of membership, because it may be hard to serve members in areas of the country where the headquarters is not located, he added. Existing credit unions seeking to move to a virtual model should create a separate entity to transition members, Glatt suggested. He likened the process to the change several decades ago to self-service gas pumps from full-service gas pumps. Gas stations slowly introduced self-service pumps while keeping some full-service. They gave customers a price break if they used self-service. Eventually, customers transitioned to the self-service pumps. However, as happened with the gas pumps, some consumers will expect all the services of a traditional credit union branch in a virtual model. That will prove challenging for credit unions, because “we love to take care of our members,” Glatt said. “If they say they want something, we say ‘Okay.’” According to Glatt, if a credit union wants to go virtual, it should:
* Talk to a credit union with a virtual model--like REALTORS. When launching, REALTORS received some help from Pennsylvania State Employees CU, Harrisburg, Pa., which has a virtual model but is a traditionally based credit union. * Do its homework. “Don’t be in a hurry. Fixing stuff on the fly is difficult,” Glatt said. * Be selective with vendors. “You don’t want someone learning the virtual model at your or your members’ expense.”
NAR had a great idea and has a great credit union, said Glatt. “I wish them nothing but success,” he added. “We parted on good terms. They have the right idea and the right model.”

Southeast Corporates members speak out on corporate value

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (8/4/10)--Southeast Corporate members are speaking out about the value their corporate provides, and what life might be like if corporate resources were not available. A new Value of Ownership area on the corporate’s website features video testimonials from members regarding the value they perceive from Southeast Corporate. The first pair, in what will be a series of videos, features Mansel Guerry, president of Mississippi Employees FCU in Ridgeland, Miss., and Joe Pitcher, president/CEO of Coral Community FCU in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Both CEOs shared their perspective on the value they receive from the corporate and what things might be like without corporates as a resource. “The top of the list for me, for everybody I do business with, is I have to be able to trust them, and I trust the people at Southeast Corporate,” Guerry said. He added: “I feel like I have somewhat of a personal relationship with all the people I deal with. I know them on a first-name basis. I get quick personal responses.” “When a hurricane hit, [Coral Community FCU] was completely down, as was everything at the time,” Pitcher said in his video. “Southeast Corporate was really there for us.” He added: “If we didn’t use Southeast Corporate and had to go elsewhere for services, we wouldn’t get the economies of scale. We would be thrown to the wolves.” The website aims to serve as an educational resource for credit unions, their boards and other volunteers. It features a library of documents that help provide the “big picture” as to the volume and scope of services Southeast provides credit unions, and a cost comparison showing what these services would likely cost direct, without the cooperative resources and buying power of a corporate. Southeast Corporate’s also provides its evolving plan for the future. Links are included to three National Credit Union Administration videos that chronicle the history of corporates and the current situation involving the nation’s corporate credit union system (see News Now link for background information). Southeast plans to add resources. To see the videos, use the link.

CU System briefs (08/03/2010)

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* SYRACUSE, N.Y. (8/4/10)--Empower FCU, based in Syracuse, N.Y., has warned consumers about a hike in automated telephone calls made to area residents that attempt to "phish" information from them. The callers ask recipients to press one to reach the credit union's security department, then ask for secure information such as a personal identification number (PIN) or the three-digit code on the back of a credit card. The $831 million asset credit union says no account at the credit union has been compromised. Also, neither it nor any other financial institution will ask for secure information in this manner ( Aug. 2) ... * GREENBELT, Md. (8/4/10)--Felicia Douglas, 42, of Upper Marlboro, Md., a former loan supervisor at Educational Systems Employees FCU, Greenbelt, Md., has been sentenced to 51 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, after defrauding the credit union of more than $219,390. The sentence was part of a plea bargain. When Douglas worked for the credit union from January 2001 through November 2005, she allegedly created fraudulent checking and share accounts, loans, lines of credit and credit card accounts in the names of at least five members, including one who was deceased. The court records said she manipulated the accounts to increase credit and used the stolen funds to pay credit card bills and pay on false loans (Department of Justice press release Aug. 2) ... * WASHINGTON (8/4/10)--Counterfeit cashier's checks bearing the name of a Merced, Calif., credit union are in circulation, according to an alert from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). The credit union, Merco CU, does not issue cashier's checks; however, it does issue official checks, said FDIC. The items display a fictitious routing number, 321173386, and display a security feature statement embedded in a darkened border and long the bottom border between two padlock icons. The words, "Cashier's Check" appear near the top center along with a purchase statement, said the alert ... * MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (8/4/10)-- Mid-Atlantic Corporate CFO announced Monday the retirement of Jim Burns, senior vice president/chief financial officer (CFO), effective Aug. 31. On that date Jeff Stoner will take the position. Burns' financial services career spans about 40 years. He began as CFO with Mid-Atlantic in 1992 and was promoted in 1995 to vice president/CFO. In 2008, he became senior vice president. He also served with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia for 16 years, and in other financial institutions. Stoner began his career with the corporate in 1991 in the member services department. He was worked in progressively responsible roles in accounting, information systems and payment services, and most recently served as senior vice president, product strategy. He has served on the board of MY CU Services and on Mid-Atlantic's investment and asset liability management committees ... * JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (8/4/10)--Southeast Corporate FCU's vice president of business continuity, Ken Schroeder, has contributed to a newly published business continuity book, "My Remarkable Journey," written by Richard Arnold, founder of the "Disaster Recovery Journal." Schroeder's contribution discusses his efforts to assist credit unions in getting back up and running after Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005. Arnold's book shows how the business continuity industry was shaped and offers insight into the journey of one of the leaders of the disaster recovery industry, said the corporate ... * TAMPA, Fla. (8/4/10)--Richard Skaggs, CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Florida, has resigned his position to become president of USF FCU in Tampa, said the agency. He has been with the Orlando-based credit counseling organization since 2005. He led counseling offices in the state, including locations at Tallahassee, Tampa, and Orlando (Orlando Sentinel Aug. 3) ...