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CU System briefs (09/13/2011)

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* ST. LOUIS (9/14/11)--Gateway Metro FCU gained 70 new youth accounts in August through its school branch program. The St. Louis-based credit union attracted the accounts by attending school registration dates, parent nights and other events at the five schools where it has branches. "This is a great start to the school year," said Joyce Sieber, Gateway Metro's school branch coordinator. "We look forward to teaching students about money, credit unions and how saving will make a difference in their lives." Employees of the $170 million asset credit union made speeches at the events, highlighting the importance of financial education and the school branch program. Gateway Metro operates elementary school student-assisted credit union branches at Our Lady of Guadaloupe School, St. Ferdinand School, and Christ Light of the Nations School. It also runs student-assisted branches at Trinity Catholic High School and Gateway Institute of Technology High School … * PHILADELPHIA (9/14/11)--American Heritage FCU helped viewers of NBC 10's "News Today" get their morning started Monday by participating in the station's "Morning Wake-Up Call." The spots aired at 5:45 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. and were filmed on location Sept. 2 at the $1.08 billion asset credit union's Philadelphia headquarters. View the wake-up call video … * FORT WORTH, Texas (9/14/11)--The Fort Worth (Texas) Chapter of Credit Unions helped raise $44,000 for Tarrant County Cook Children's Hospital, part of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, at the chapter's Second Annual Shake Rattle & Bowl fundraiser Aug. 16. About 385 bowlers and cheerleaders from multiple credit unions in the area participated . In addition to bowling, the event featured a silent auction. Since 1986, credit unions have partnered with the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through the Credit Unions for Kids program. The funds help support new facilities, equipment, research programs, patient services, special patient needs and health education programs benefitting 17 million children a year …

Man sentenced to 30 years for heist kidnapping tellers

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BILOXI, Miss. (9/14/11)--A Mississippi man was sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection with an armed robbery in 2008 at a credit union, in which two tellers were kidnapped. Daniel George Corring, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and two counts of kidnapping in a Circuit Court in Biloxi. The holdup occurred April 18, 2008 at a Waveland branch of Biloxi-based Keesler FCU. About $68,584 was taken in the heist, but the amount was recovered ( Sept. 12). The robber was allegedly armed with several weapons and arrived on foot. He took two tellers hostage and forced them into one teller's car to escape. After a high-speed chase, the card went into a ditch, and Corring was arrested. Neither teller was harmed (News Now April 22, 2008). Circuit Judge John Gargiulo sentenced Corring to 50 years for armed robbery and suspended 20 years of it, as well as 30 years for each count of kidnapping, to run concurrently with the 30-year robbery sentence, said the

Skimming methods changing says e-crimes task force

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SEATTLE, Wash. (9/14/11)--Crooks' methods of skimming card numbers at ATMs are changing, if the arrests of three men in Seattle, Wash., are any indication. Credit unions will want to alert members and staff about the new tactics. Card skimming is the unauthorized capture of magnetic stripe information by modifying hardware or software of a payment device or by using a separate card reader that sends account information to the scammer, according to the ATM Industry Association (Decatur Tribune Sept. 13). The Electronic Crimes Task Force of the U.S. Secret Service, which investigated card fraud cases leading to a number of recent arrests, said that most of the suspects used several tactics (American Banker Sept. 12), including:
* Attaching devices to the door entry card readers on financial institutions' ATM vestibules; * Installing wireless pinhole video cameras to view and record personal identification numbers (PINs); * Attaching "out of service" signs on ATMs so consumers would be forced to use another ATM with the skimming devices; * Keeping lists of ATM locations that were good or not good for skimming; * Spending as long as hour measuring and examining an ATM without conducting a transaction; * Using force to manipulate the face of the machine so it will accept the skimming device; and * Wearing baseball caps pulled down low to obscure their identity.
The Seattle ring was allegedly responsible for nearly $500,000 in losses in at least four states by placing tiny electronic skimming devices--some the size of a postage stamp and capable of holding information from thousands of cards--and pinhole cameras to record customers typing in their PINs (The Seattle Times Sept. 7 and News Now Sept. 13). The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Chicago says card skimming is becoming a common problem at ATMs and gas stations. BBB advises consumers to:
* Inspect the machine before swiping a credit or debit card to see if there is any new or suspiciously placed camera or unusual signage; * Cover the keypad when entering the PIN; * Choose a financial institution's ATM over a stand alone ATM in public areas; * Change the PIN frequently; * Monitor account statements for suspicious charges and sign up for alerts to be notified for certain kinds of transactions; * Report fraud immediately; and * Use an RFID sleeve to prevent unauthorized access to RFID chips with personal data on credit/debit cards and driver's licenses.

PCUA Board OKs regional iBelong campaign

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/14/11)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Board approved iBelong 2.0 regional campaigns in each of the seven media markets across Pennsylvania. The iBelong program is a cooperative campaign designed to build awareness of credit unions, and to assist consumers in helping them find credit unions. The campaign is supported by members of PCUA. The regional campaigns will be funded by participating credit unions with financial assistance from the association and its subsidiary corporation, Pacul Services Inc., according to the PCUA (Life is a Highway Sept. 13). The PCUA will continue to maintain the iBelong website and search engine, run Google adwords, Facebook advertising and other online advertising. Television ads will continue unchanged through 2012, while radio and online messaging may be revised by region, the association said. It will conduct regional meetings during the fall to market the campaign for credit unions. Other PCUA board actions taken during last week’s meeting:
* Appointed Todd Cover, CEO, USSCO Johnstown (Pa.) FCU, to a three-year term as a board member for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. Cover will fill the seat recently vacated by association board Member Paula Nihoff, CEO, HealthCare First FCU, Johnstown. * Approved a pilot program for marketing consulting services for small- to-mid-size credit unions in western Pennsylvania. The program is expected to be rolled out this fall.

CU looking for Verity Mom

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SEATTLE (9/14/11)--Verity CU in Seattle is looking for another “Verity Mom” to blog, to create videos and to connect with other moms as part of the credit union’s marketing strategy. The $367 million asset credit union’s first Verity Mom, Rosemary Garner, won the first online competition in 2009 and then returned for a second year in 2010, said a credit union press release. The credit union is looking for a new voice who will be given a paid part-time blogging position (a $20,000 one-year contract), a laptop computer and a video camera. Because moms tend to make the most purchasing decisions for a family, they usually have the most influence in determining where their children will go for their financial needs, Shari Storm, Verity chief marketing officer, told the publication. The credit union considers its “Verity Mom” to be a multi-generational strategy to retain current members and attract new ones, she added. Verity Mom provides an online place for moms to meet and talk, while also allowing the credit union to ask moms questions to learn more about them, Storm said.

SE Corporate Corporate One sign merger intent

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (9/14/11)--Southeast Corporate FCU in Tallahassee, Fla., announced Tuesday it has signed a letter of intent to merge with Corporate One FCU, based in Columbus, Ohio. Southeast Corporate and Corporate One both have national fields of membership, with primary footprints in the Southeast and Great Lakes regions, respectively. “Our objectives in finding a merger partner remain the same as in all our efforts--to protect and preserve member capital, maintain continuity of services, and create long-term value for members,” said Brad Miller, president/CEO of Southeast Corporate. “A partnership with the financial and operational strength of Corporate One allows us to ensure these objectives are met.” “The combination of Southeast Corporate and Corporate One is a natural fit,” said Lee Butke, president/CEO of Corporate One. “This partnership provides for a financially stronger corporate, along with operational efficiencies that will create long-term value for both memberships.” Butke and Miller said the merger plan and thorough due-diligence process is beginning this week. “We expect to move through the process as quickly as possible,” said Miller. “We will have regional meetings with our members to discuss the benefits of this strategic partnership and our progress toward merger.” Southeast Corporate announced in August it would seek a merger partner after it fell short of the $80 million it needed in capital commitments to operate as a stand-alone corporate (News Now Aug. 29).

Texas league to debut Lip Dub on YouTube

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/14/11)--The Texas Credit Union League debuted its CU Lip Dub during last week’s joint Marketing and Leadership Conference. A lip dub is a music video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing. The CU Lip Dub will be released to the public on YouTube on International Credit Union Day, which is Oct. 20. The Texas league’s lip dub is done to “I’m a Believer,” a Smashmouth cover of the Monkees’ classic song. On Aug. 16, about 100 credit union staff and families from San Antonio gathered in 106-degree heat to make the video. Two local television stations covered the credit union lip dub taping.

CUs providing more flood relief to thousands of CU people

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MADISON, Wis. (9/14/11)--Credit unions are rallying to help thousands of credit union employees and members impacted by the flooding in the North East since Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee unleashed a series of storms in the region this month. So far, about $21,000 has been raised through the credit union movement's disaster relief site,, said Christopher Morris, director of communications at the National Credit Union Foundation. The New York Credit Union Foundation, the charitable arm of the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY), announced Tuesday it has launched a Disaster Relief Fund to help credit union people in its state. "We know that nearly 1,000 credit union employees and nearly 300,000 members live and work in the most impacted areas of the Southern Tier, creating a potentially significant need for financial assistance," said William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO. The Southern Tier of the state was underwater for days, said CUANY.
Click to view larger imageAn Empower FCU employee looks down the street at its Johnson City branch, which ultimately was four to five feet underwater.
Click to view larger imageInside an office at Empower FCU's Johnson City branch after flood waters receded. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
Many staff of Endicott, N.Y.-based Visions FCU have lost their homes, according to early reports from the $2.7 billion asset credit union. Albany, N.Y.-based, $2.27 billion asset SEFCU CEO Michael Castellana told the league that while its branches in the Southern Tier were not significantly damaged, the same could not be said for the residences of a number of staff who experienced severe property damage. "I cannot encourage everyone enough to support this fund," said Mellin."Even the smallest donation adds up to support our credit union family, which is still reeling from the devastation." The goal is to raise as much as possible by Sept. 23 to ensure timely distribution. For more information, use the links. In another state that experienced severe flooding, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) board of directors approved funds for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation to assist flood victims. Joe Wambach, executive director of the foundation, is in the process of surveying credit union damage, PCUA said (Life is a Highway Sept. 13). PCUA also donated $3,000 to CUAid, based on $1,000 donations from the association, from Pacul Services Inc., and the state foundation, to help victims of Hurricane Irene. PCUA, which was forced to close Friday because of flooding of the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, was expecting full phone and fax service to be restored to its headquarters Tuesday afternoon. Credit unions in the state also were collecting items to help. Tobyhanna FCU, Scranton, is collecting cleaning items at its Scranton and Wilkes-Barre offices for the American Red Cross. UFCW FCU, Wyoming, said its branches are collecting cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and bottled water as well as holding a Hat, Mitten and Coat Drive for flood victims in the Wyoming Valley area (Life is a Highway Sept. 13). In New Hampshire, Gov. John Lynch Monday accepted a $125,000 donation from Portsmouth-based Service Credit Union on behalf of the New Hampshire Disaster Relief Fund 2011. In his thank you message, Lynch said, "Since I have been governor, New Hampshire has experienced several natural disasters and each time Service CU has led the way in reaching out to help its neighbors" (Targeted News Service Sept. 12). In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Credit Union League presented $70,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in that state. "Nobody does what the Red Cross does and nowhere near as well. Their ability to respond during a disaster and come out and try to make people's lives whole when they are in the midst of tremendous suffering is just unique," said Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of public relations and marketing at the league. The league raised the funds through its "hope initiative." Credit unions wanting to help credit union staff, volunteers and members in the disaster areas, can give directly through CUAid, or through their state-level credit union foundation. Use the links.

Irish league says governments restrictions hurt borrowers

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DUBLIN, Ireland (9/14/11)--The Irish League of Credit Unions is questioning why government regulators have restricted the lending of nearly 300 credit unions to consumers. The Irish Central Bank has imposed lending restrictions on seven out of 10 credit unions, according to several sources in the sector (The Irish Independent Sept. 13). Credit union members with good credit are being turned down for loans while other members are being forced to turn to moneylenders, credit unions told the newspaper. Some restrictions are based on the total amount a credit union can lend out in any one month, while others limit the amount that can be loaned to an individual member. In the past two years, roughly 70,000 people have joined Ireland’s 409 credit unions to gain access to credit, the paper said. Irish league President Jimmy Johnstone sent a letter to the Central Bank, which said, “The league board, like its member credit unions, is exasperated by the imposition of far-reaching regulatory restrictions, which are directly responsible for credit unions not being able to lend to long-standing, loyal members,” said the newspaper. Members are unable to pay even basic utility bills because credit unions no longer have the means to extend or reschedule members loans, the letter added. Most credit unions have enough available funds to lend to members once a proper evaluation of the members’ ability to repay the loan has been completed, a spokesman for the Irish league told the paper.

Today is Miracle Jeans Day

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SALT LAKE CITY (9/14/11)--Today is Miracle Jeans Day, supporting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through Credit Unions for Kids. Individuals or groups can wear jeans to work by making a donation of $5. Credit Unions for Kids is the brand under which America’s credit unions fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The collaborative effort includes individual credit unions, local chapters, state leagues/associations, two national trade organizations, business partners and several trade publications. Both credit union employees and members can participate in Miracle Jeans Day:
* Credit union employees donate five dollars to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and, in exchange, they are permitted to wear jeans to work. * Credit union members donate a dollar to display their name on a special Miracle Jeans Day paper icon in their credit union’s branch.

1st Advantage FCU to close Fort Story branch

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (9/14/11)--1st Advantage FCU, Newport News, Va., will close its Fort Story branch Sept 30. The decision to close the branch was based upon several factors, including the steadily decreasing volume of transactions, the cost to operate the branch and the control of the base changing from the Army to the Navy. The ATM at Fort Story will stay open in an announcement on its website. To serve members at Fort Story, 1st Advantage has 10 other branches and participates in the Credit Union Service Centers shared-branching network.

Raddon recognizes Top 20 CUs performance

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. (9/14/11)--Raddon Financial Group (RFG), a provider of research-based solutions to financial institutions and a strategic business unit of Open Solutions Inc., presented its Crystal Performance Awards at its annual CEO Forum last month to high-performing credit unions in two asset classes: above $500 million and below $500 million in assets. The awards recognize credit unions that achieve top ranking on a scorecard measuring growth, income, efficiency and margin management. More than 500 credit unions were evaluated in this year’s ranking. Each award recipient ranked among the top 2% or 3% of all credit unions analyzed by RFG for two consecutive reporting periods. The awards were presented to an invitation-only CEO Forum, Aug. 17-19 in Dana Point, Calif. “These organizations have consistently performed at a high-level and exhibit operational excellence in managing efficiency,” said Bill Handel, RFG vice president of research and product development. “Credit unions that receive this accolade tend to perform well despite the interest rate environment and challenges in their local economies.” Louis Hernandez, Jr., chairman and CEO of Open Solutions Inc., delivered the keynote address Collaboration: Leveraging the Power of Community. Hernandez emphasized how credit unions can improve the local communities they serve by collaborating with each other, their partners, and their members. To be eligible for the award, a credit union must participate in an in-depth analysis of its financials, sales, products and member household relationships through the CEO Strategies Group. This year’s recognition was based on the credit union’s 2010 performance. For a full list of winners’ names, use the link.

Regulator Mid American CU in charge of Enterprise CU

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WICHITA, Kan. (9/14/11)--Wichita, Kan.-based Mid American CU on Friday took over the day-to-day operations of Enterprise (Kan.) CU, which was put into conservatorship last month by the Kansas Department of Credit Unions (KDCU). John Smith, administrator of KDCU, which acted as conservator of the $1.8 million asset Enterprise, ordered a fraud audit after an examiner found an accounting irregularity, he told the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle (Sept. 13). K-State FCU, Manhattan, had agreed to temporarily take over Enterprise's operations in August while the department looked for a credit union that used similar computer systems to Enterprise's systems. Jim Holt, president/CEO of the $167.3 million asset Mid American CU, said the goal now is to supply personnel and ensure Enterprise's members receive services. He told the publication his credit union is assisting on a cost basis and does not intend to make a profit. Enterprise, which has about 577 members, was chartered in 1949 to serve employees of the ABB Raymond Co. Its field of membership later expanded to serve residents in Dickinson County, said the article.