* FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (9/23/10)--The Washington Credit Union League introduced a new "Credit Union Song" at its 77th Annual Business Meeting Sept. 14, which the league says is a testament to credit unions' work for the greater good. Written and performed by Kitsap CU's Brandon Johnston, the "Credit Union Song" tells what credit unions do, whether they serve businessmen or blue collar. An mp3 of the new tune is available for free by downloading it from the Washington league's website
Visitors to the site can also watch Johnston's debut of the song at the league's meeting ... * BATON ROUGE, La.(9/23/10)--Louisiana State University fans at the LSU vs. Mississippi State University game were treated to a Chicken Dance Flash Mob, coordinated by EFCU on Sept. 18. Staff and members
of EFCU began a seemingly spontaneous "Chicken Dance" at the top of "Victory Hill" outside LSU's Tiger Stadium an hour before game time. One staffer and a chicken-costumed participant began to dance, with the Flash Mob growing to more than 40 dancers. The Flash Mob promoted EFCU's "Put Your Eggs in One Basket" credit card campaign
, incited laughs, and was joined by a few spectators. Purple and gold plastic eggs stuffed with coins and product flyers and "Chicken Dance" t-shirts were distributed to the audience. "We may not be great chicken dancers, but we do have great rates and excellent financial products," said Cris Melancon, vice president of marketing at the credit union. The dance "was designed to get the Baton Rouge community excited about the start of the LSU football season and aware of our low rate MasterCard," he added ... * WARMINSTER, Pa. (9/23/10)--Freedom CU's new Mobile Banking service has signed up 900 members since the service launched on Sept. 1. The more than $450 asset credit union's new service means members can bank and find branches and ATMs anytime on their mobile devices, including iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Members can check account balances and activity, transfer funds and make loan payments, search account history and details, contact the credit union via phone at the touch of a button, avoid fees, and map the nearest location and get its phone number ...
WASHINGTON (9/23/10)--The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) and cooperatives--including credit unions--across the nation will celebrate the cooperative difference and business model during October, which is Co-op Month. The theme for Co-op Month 2010 is "Local. Trusted. Serving You." The theme highlights that cooperatives are trusted and focused on their local communities, said a press release from NCBA on Yahoo! News
(Sept. 22). "Now more than ever people need locally owned and controlled cooperatives to be a strong foundation to our economy," said Paul Hazen, NCBA president/CEO. "We should all take time to celebrate the ways that co-ops continue to stabilize our local communities during hard times." This year, Co-op Month is being coordinated with other events, including International Credit Union Day on Oct. 21 and Co-op Week, on Oct. 17-23. Many co-ops will host open house events during Co-op Week. Some statistics to consider:
* More than 29,000 cooperative businesses in the U.S. generate more than two million jobs and create more that $74 billion in wages annually, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. * Co-ops account for more than $654 billion in revenue, representing a strong business model that contributes to national and local economies, keeps profits local and pays local taxes to help support community services. * The nation's 8,200 credit unions are cooperatives, with 92 million members. * More than 900 electric cooperatives deliver electricity in the U.S. to 42 million people in 47 states--equal to 12% of the nation's population. * In the U.S. more than 1.2 million families of all income levels live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations. * Farmer co-ops provide more than 250,000 jobs, with a total payroll over $8 billion. Total profits for farmer co-ops in 2008 were $4.2 billion, which was either returned to farmer members or reinvested in the co-op to benefit members and local communities. * More than 50 million Americans are served by insurance companies owned by or affiliated with cooperatives. * More than 20 cooperatives have annual sales in excess of $1 billion, including Land O' Lakes Inc.; Cabot Creamery, which sponsors the Credit Union National Association's Home and Family Finance Radio Show; Ocean Spray; and ACE Hardware. * Food cooperatives have been a favorite for healthy food for more than 30 years.
PORTLAND, Maine (9/23/10)--Victims of the massive data breach that hit Hannaford Bros. supermarkets in 2008 cannot sue for damages if they did not suffer financial losses, physical harm or identity theft, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that time and effort alone do not constitute an "injury" for which damages may be recovered under Maine law (Sun Journal Sept. 22 and Associated Press Sept. 21). Last year U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby had asked the higher court to decide whether consumers who had been reimbursed for their losses related to stolen credit card numbers have the right to seek damages for the time and effort it took them to straighten our their accounts. The Hannaford breach occurred between Dec. 7, 2007, and March 10, 2008, when cyber criminals hacked into the grocery store chain's system and accessed card numbers used at 165 Hannaford supermarkets in the Northeast and 106 Sweetbay stores in Florida. Of the four million cards compromised, at least 1,800 numbers stolen were used for unauthorized fraud. The breach was discovered Feb. 27, 2008, and made public March 17, 2008 (News Now April 3, 2009). The breach caused many credit unions to reissue credit cards to members whose information was compromised. It also resulted in more than 24 lawsuits filed against Hannaford and its parent compnay, Delhaize America Inc. The cases were consolidated into one central complaint. Attorneys had sought damages for time and money lost as well as damages because Hannaford allegedly knew about the breach three weeks before it was made public. The delay, said attorneys, exposed consumers' accounts to more fraud (News Now Aug. 1, 2008, and April 3, 2009). If there is no appeal, the decision would end the lawsuit against Hannaford.
MADISON, Wis. (9/23/10)--Two more nominations have been received for positions on the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 22. Voting will take place from Oct. 27 through Dec. 17. The two latest nominations are for Wendell Lyons, president/CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League, District 2, Class D; and Maurice Smith, CEO, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., District 3, Class C. A nomination has already been received for Patricia A. Wesenberg, governmental affairs liaison, Marshfield (Wis.) Medical Center CU, for District 4, Class A. These positions are up for election:
* District 1, Class A; * District 1, Class D; * District 2, Class B; * District 2, Class D; * District 3, Class C; * District 4, Class A; * District 5, Class C; and * District 6, Class B.
Successful candidates will take office Feb. 28 and serve a three-year term that will expire at the adjournment of the 2014 CUNA Annual General Meeting. There is one special election: CUNA’s current District 6, Class C director will step down from the board at the end of this year. The successful candidate in that election will be seated Jan. 1 and serve through the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting.
ARLINGTON, Va. and SILVER SPRING, Md. (9/23/10)--The Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) are encouraging consumers and small-business owners nationwide to fight identity theft by taking part in the third annual Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW), Oct. 17-23. This will be of note to credit unions that serve members and small businesses. The Credit Union National Association is one of the national organizations supporting the initiative. Identity theft continues to grow, with the number of victims in the U.S. reaching 11.1 million in 2009, a 12.5% increase over the previous year, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. Threats exist online and offline, and no one is completely safe, but there are steps consumers can take to protect themselves against identity theft and limit the damage, said NFCC in a press release. As part of the third annual PYIW, consumers and small business owners can take advantage of:
* More than 150 events in communities nationwide. Most offer educational workshops, credit report reviews and shredding. Events are free and open to the public. Some locations also will provide electronic disposal for mobile phones and computer equipment. * Easy-to-follow tips and resources available online at www.ProtectYourIDNow.org, where consumers can learn how to fight identity theft and data breaches. Advice in Spanish also is available at www.cuidesuidentidad.org. * A self-assessment quiz at www.ProtectYourIDNow.org to determine a consumer’s personal risk of identity theft. * Daily blogs from nationally known identity theft expert and McAfee consultant, Robert Siciliano.
“Fighting identity theft is a constant battle and the attacks can come at you from all fronts,” said Stephen A. Cox, BBB president/CEO. “Because we are all potential victims, it’s important that we all take steps to fight identity theft, and PYIW is a great place to start.” “Last year, tens of thousands of people across the country benefited from the events and resources provided through PYIW,” said Susan C. Keating, president/CEO of the NFCC. “Also, more than 500 tons of sensitive documents were shredded, all for free. This year, we anticipate having an even larger impact due to the increased number of events and resources available to consumers. For instance, at some shredding events participants can even take part in breaking a Guinness world record. This in itself should create a lot of interest.” As part of PYIW, Cintas Corporation, national shredding partner for PYIW, is providing free document destruction at events nationwide with the goal of making the Guinness Book of World Records for the most paper shredded in a 24-hour period.
ONTARIO, Calif. (9/23/10)--The California Credit Union League will honor six credit union leaders and volunteers during its annual meeting and convention Nov. 15-17 in Anaheim, Calif.
Henry Wirz, CEO of SAFE CU, North Highlands, will receive the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award. Wirz has worked as a senior executive in the credit union industry for more than 30 years. He joined SAFE CU has controller in 1979, and replaced the retiring CEO in 1984. Other recipients include:
* Brett Martinez, CEO, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Distinguished Service Award; * Chris Coursen, CEO, Fairview Employees CU, Costa Mesa, Distinguished Service Award; * Sherman Grancell, California Bear CU, Los Angeles, Outstanding Volunteer Award; * Dhara Sanchez, chief operating officer, Inland Empire CU, Pomona, Tomorrow’s Star Award; and * Jay Lee, risk management officer, CalCom FCU, Torrance, Tomorrow’s Star Award.
Martinez has served as California league board chairman and as chairman of the search committee for a new league president/CEO, following Bill Cheney’s departure for the Credit Union National Association. Coursen is a graduate of Western CUNA Management School and Stanford University’s executive development program. Grancell has served on the board of California Bear CU for 58 years. Sanchez is a graduate of Western CUNA Management School and serves as her credit union’s chapter regional learning center chairman. She also is involved with the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network. Lee started his credit union career in 2001 after migrating from the Philippines and is class secretary for Western CUNA Management School.
SHELL KNOB, Mo. and NEOSHO, Mo. (9/23/10)--Table Rock FCU in Shell Knob, Mo., merged Sept. 1 with Service 1 FCU in Muskegon, Mich., which has a branch in Neosho, Mo. Founded in 2004 by Howard and Regina Mcllrath, the $1 million-asset Table Rock’s field of membership includes anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Stone County or Barry County in Missouri (The Missouri difference Sept. 22). “Becoming a part of Service 1 Federal is a great opportunity for Table Rock Federal members, and I know this partnership will provide great benefits,” Regina Mcllrath, Table Rock branch manager, told the Missouri Credit Union Association. Service 1 has $735 million in assets.
TAMPA and LAKELAND, Fla. (9/23/10)--Members of Bay Gulf CU, Tampa, approved a merger into MidFlorida CU, in Lakeland, Fla., at a Friday meeting. Bay Gulf member voters cast 92% in favor of the merger, which was approved by regulators last month (Tampa Bay Business Journal Sept. 21). The merger of assets will occur Oct. 1, but the merger of account records--which will allow Bay Gulf members access to MidFlorida’s products and services--will not take place until early 2011, the Journal said. Operating under the MidFlorida name, the combined organization will have assets of $1.55 billion and nearly 150,000 members. “The decision to merge was not an easy one, but our board felt like the products, services and customer service offered by MidFlorida would benefit Bay Gulf's membership,” Bill DeMare, Bay Gulf president/CEO, said in June. He noted that MidFlorida also is open extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which would benefit Bay Gulf members (News Now June 16).
DENVER (9/23/10)--Thirteen people have been indicted by a Denver grand jury as part of a counterfeit check ring that stole more than $61,800 from area businesses, including several credit unions. The alleged ringleaders, which the indictment identified as April Cotton, 47, and Derik Romero, 26, are charged with violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and felony counts of computer crime, theft, identity theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor (The Denver Channel Sept. 21). Members of the ring created the fake checks by stealing payroll check stubs and copying legitimate checks, said the indictment. The checks were drawn grocery stores, retail stores, banks and four area credit unions, including Aurora Catholic CU, Aurora; Bellco CU, Greenwood Village; Fitzsimons Community CU, Aurora; and Public Service CU, Denver. Others were charged with numerous felony counts, including conspiracy, theft, identity theft and forgery. One person was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and another with aiding escape. During the arrests, law enforcement authorities seized more than $360,000 in counterfeit checks.
LUXEMBOURG and ALBANY, N.Y. (9/23/10)--Members United Corporate FCU has established a strategic alliance with a mortgage portfolio management service to help credit unions as they take on greater demands on their portfolios while helping members through a difficult economy. The $8.9 billion asset corporate has teamed up with Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A., which provides knowledge process services related to real estate portfolio management, asset recovery management and customer relationship management. Members United Corporate told News Now that the decision reflects the corporate's ongoing changing corporate business model. The Aug. 26 report of the Credit Union National Association's working group on corporates concluded that significant change is required of the corporates and the corporate business model. Members United is already embracing change, the corporate said in an e-mail to News Now. Typical credit union portfolios are too small, but through Members United's distribution channel and aggregating volumes, the alliance will allow credit unions to take advantage of Altisource's expertise and scale. The alliance "was established to help Members United's 2,100 member credit unions navigate through these turbulent economic times," said Kevin Brauer, senior vice president of member relations for Members United, in a press release. Credit unions are facing the opportunity to help people needing a restructuring of their existing loans while facing challenges in escalating delinquencies, the need to make prudent loan modifications, and managing and disposing of growing real-estate owned obligations. Altisource "will offer its origination, modification, loss mitigation and real estate services as well as technology to credit unions to help them effectively manage their distressed loans and mortgage application processing needs," Brauer continued. "Using the power of aggregation, this alliance will allow our members to improve service and performance while also reducing costs." Tim Bruculere, vice president of lending for Members United, noted that "due to the unique nature of each member's business, an 'off-the-shelf' solution would not address our needs." Altisource was the only provider among those interviewed "who understood our needs and offered tailored solutions across our member community." Altisource has 20 years in business and more than 3,000 employees. Its clients include one of the nation's largest subprime servicers, government agencies and lenders, servicers, investors, financial services companies and hedge funds across the country. "Members United's alignment with Altisource is consistent with the mission to enable its members to compete effectively," said William B. Shepro, CEO. "Altisource's core services and technology will be adaptable by each member and ultimately drive members' loan volumes and make members' loans worth more," he added. In 2009, the corporate originated more than $56 billion in loans. It currently manages about $50 billion across its servicing portfolios.