Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pacific CUs form new network


NADI, Fiji (9/22/09)--Credit unions in the South Pacific will gain greater political leverage and more educational opportunities with the formation of the Pacific Credit Union Network.


Members of the Pacific CU Network Advisory Committee and its supporter organizations are, from left: Michael Koisen, Papua New Guinea; Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions; Penisimeni Fifita, Tonga; Faataga Faataulofa, Samoa; Peter Mason, Credit Union Foundation Australia; and Manoa Seruvakaula, Fiji. Seruvakaula represented Anane Vadei, who will be Fiji's permanent committee representative.
The new organization, sponsored by Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA) and facilitated by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), held its first organizational meeting last week at the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress, a four-day educational event jointly sponsored by CUFA, WOCCU and the Fiji Savings & Credit Union League.

The network will provide technical assistance, communications and advocacy support, and develop a Pacific credit union database, said Peter Mason, CUFA CEO. The Australian credit union development organization began planning the network last year.

"The distance between credit unions located on South Pacific islands has kept many of them from developing the critical mass necessary for growth," said Mason. "The new network will provide the political and technological relationships to help them better serve their members."

The network was introduced to 102 congress participants from 11 countries. In addition to participants from Australia, Fiji and the U.S., countries attending were Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tonga and Vanuatu.

Other congress highlights included sessions on board/management relationships, strengthening credit union legislation, understanding the cost of delinquency, credit union marketing and a regulatory forum.


Faataga Faataulofa from Samoa makes a point during the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress, which met last week. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Members of the new network's advisory committee, which will help lead the group's development initiatives, include Anane Vadei, Fiji, who was represented on the committee by fellow countryman Manoa Seruvakaula; Michael Koisen, Papua New Guinea; Faataga Faataulofa, Samoa; and Penisimeni Fifita, Tonga. CUFA will serve as the network's secretariat, with WOCCU providing facilitation and resources.

The network and congress are the latest cooperative efforts between WOCCU and CUFA designed to help develop credit unions in the South Pacific. This is a region in which CUFA's influence especially has been of great value in fostering credit union growth, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"CUFA has provided critical leadership in developing and supporting Pacific region credit unions for many years," said Branch. "We are now seeing the fruits of CUFA's dedication, and our collaboration as credit unions puts improved management practices in place to prepare for increased regulatory oversight that is coming in the wake of the global financial crisis."

Courtesy of cuna.org

N.Y. Times: CUs clear deposits quicker than banks

NEW YORK (9/22/09)--Credit unions generally clear deposits quicker than banks do, according to a finance columnist for The New York Times.

In his Saturday column "Hurry Up and Credit My Account," Rob Lieber wrote that many readers have sent him angry questions about overdraft fees after he wrote about them earlier this month. The questions have come as the fifth anniversary for the law known as Check 21 approaches, Lieber noted.

Check 21 allows financial institutions to turn paper checks into digital images and handle them electronically instead of having to send volumes of paper checks around the U.S. on airplanes to settle them.

"Banks can and do move faster than regulations require," Lieber wrote. "And some have pushed their daily deadlines for depositors later by a few hours. Credit unions in particular tend to clear deposits more quickly, according to a 2007 Federal Reserve study of the effects of Check 21."

For the full story, visit www.nytimes.com


Courtesy of cuna.org

Monday, September 21, 2009

Illinois league iPod giveaway promotes iBelong, CU awareness

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/21/09)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) is giving away 30 iPods at CUs in 30 days to promote International Credit Union Day Oct. 15 and the iBelong awareness campaign in the state.

This campaign, which runs through Sept. 30, provides residents with 30 opportunities to win an Apple iPod Shuffle by visiting www.ibelongillinoissurvey.org and filling out a brief survey describing their banking patterns and preferences. Every day this month, one participant will win an Apple iPod Shuffle, regardless of whether the winner is a member of one of Illinois' participating credit unions.

ICUL officials hope Illinois residents will hear their message detailing the perks of credit union membership, including lower rates on loans and higher yields on savings. There is no obligation for residents who fill out the survey to become credit union members.

"Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that work hard to give you better service, a safe place to save money, and access to affordable loans," said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/chief executive officer. "No wonder 90 million people across the country, including 2.7 million in Illinois, belong to a credit union."

ICUL is in its second year running its "iBelong" campaign, licensed last year from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), with Chicago-based advertising agency HGadgroup. The awareness campaign has been partially responsible for increasing credit union membership in the state by more than 39,000 in 2008. The 2009 campaign is ongoing.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Nevada CUs serve members despite tough economy

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/21/09)--Credit unions in Nevada--a state hit harder by the economy than most--are still managing to serve their members.

"Despite the economy, credit unions there are seeing an improvement in some areas," said Daniel Penrod, senior industry analyst for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. For example, members are saving more and deposits have grown 3.75% through the first two quarters, mostly in basic savings and money market savings.

"Credit unions are doing their best under very difficult circumstances. The state has been hit by the local economy and the local housing crisis. Most of the state lives off tourism. And the global economy has exacerbated problems for financial institutions," Penrod told News Now.

"Still, credit unions are finding ways of making mortgages. Their primary fixed rate was 1.5% for second quarter. That's not a large number, but any positive number for that area is huge," Penrod said. Historically the number is 4% or 5%.

Credit union members, like credit unions, are conservative. "They're not out seeking exotic mortgages and aren't racking up more debt than income." Being conservative means that during the good times, the numbers might not be as high as others. But when the economy drops, they don't drop as low as other financial institutions' numbers, he said.

Nevada is dealing with a struggling job market--unemployment was greater than 13.2% in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But struggling members can get help from credit unions. "Credit unions are very different than other lenders. They are able to lend, willing to lend, and they have the means to do so," Penrod said.

In areas where they can, credit unions have always been big on modifications and being proactive with members in terms of offering deferment options, modifying principal or rate, or offering to delay a payment two months and tack the missed payment onto the end of the loan term, he said. "They help as much as they can. Of course, with an upside down mortgage situation, help is limited."

According to Henry Kerman, league spokesman, credit unions can provide member assistance through Credit Union Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) loans and personal loans.

The nation's auto industry struggles have bled over into financial institutions, and Nevada's auto loan programs are no exception--both new- and used-auto loans are down. "Members are more wary of large purchases, and manufacturers are taking market share with 0% and 1% loans. Credit unions can't match that. Manufacturers make money on the sale and therefore can decrease the rate on the loan. Credit unions don't have that," said Penrod.

Kertman noted that credit unions perform loan modifications on auto loans (as well as on mortgage loans).

Of the 27 credit unions in Nevada, 12 work with CU Direct Lending (CUDL) on auto loans, according to Bill Meyer, communications coordinator for the auto lending service provider. Nationwide, CUDL works with 700 credit unions' programs, he told News Now.

CUDL doesn't have data specific to Nevada, but provided a look at second-quarter auto trends in 60+ day delinquency rates, noting that credit unions' delinquencies are the lowest of all lender categories--at 1.18%--compared with banks at 1.62%, captives at 1.34%, finance companies at 4.47%, and others at 4.88%.

"CUDL is telling credit unions across the board that they should make sure their underwriting criteria and risk lending and risk management practices are current," Meyer told News Now. "It's imperative that they take a close look at these and make the necessary adjustments to correspond with economic conditions. They must take proactive steps toward reviewing their practices and review them on a regular basis."

Indirect lending in Nevada is especially under heat. "It's important for credit unions not to abandon the point-of-purchase lending as a way to generate loans," Meyer said. "Ninety percent of car buyers are getting their loans at the point of sale--at the dealership. Credit unions must work closely with members, and they need indirect lending with the dealership so they can be there for the members. Members will buy cars. Credit unions need to be there to capture that loan."

Credit unions have been able to maintain a high level of market share in auto lending. "In the past 18 months, they have increased their markets share to 22%-23% from 20%--share even with the current conditions," he said. Credit unions had 22.8% of the market share in second quarter. That compares with 30.7% for banks, 29% for finance companies, and 17.5% for captives.

Credit unions are consistent in their lending practices and in who they loan to, he added. "Dealers look to credit unions as a stable, true resource for auto loans. Other financial institutions can't say that."

The bottom line is Nevada credit unions are well capitalized at 7.84% for second quarter, said Penrod. "That's above the 7% standard NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) has set for well-capitalized credit unions. "Despite the struggles and issues Nevada credit unions face, they are maintaining their capital level and do the best to have as much leverage as possible to serve their members," he said.

Kertman noted that the league's annual convention Nov. 16-18 in Las Vegas will help out the Nevada's largest city, and it will address credit unions' financial condition for California and Nevada credit unions. "It will be one of the key topics." But holding a meeting there means that Nevada's credit unions are also conducting "business as usual," he said.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Dodd may introduce overdraft fee bill this week

WASHINGTON (9/21/09)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd as early as this week could introduce a bill that would require financial institutions to seek permission before they can enroll their accountholders in an overdraft protection program.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) himself recently came out in favor of increased consumer protections related to overdraft protection plans, saying that he would support legislation that targets abusive overdraft practices. Schumer is expected to co-sponsor Dodd's legislation once it is introduced.

Speaking at Albany, New York's College of Saint Rose earlier this month, Schumer said that any pending overdraft legislation should require consumers to be given a chance to opt in or out of overdraft protection programs and increase the disclosure of fees and APR charges on overdraft loans.

New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney has introduced House legislation, H.R. 1456, the Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act, that would treat many of the same issues listed by Schumer.

CUNA representatives have spoken with Senate Banking Committee members and staffers in an effort to "educate them about how and why credit unions offer this service to their members, the features of the various programs and our concerns regarding the legislation that has been introduced in the House," CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Friday, September 18, 2009

Banks double biz account fees, CUs' stay the same

CHICAGO (9/18/09)--Business checking account fees rose this year, according to a new survey. Minimum balances required on the accounts more than doubled at large banks, while credit unions and community banks maintained the same levels as the year before.

The national median for business checking overdrafts was up $3--to $28 from last year, but the same for nonsufficient funds or returned checks and most other fees, according to Moebs Services, an economic research firm based in Lake Bluff, Ill. (Professional Services Close-Up Sept. 15). Wall Street banks with more than $500 billion in assets charged $35 per overdraft.

Of the more than 2,000 banks and credit unions surveyed by the firm, 94.3% of banks and 27.8% of credit unions offer business checking. Roughly 40.9% of financial institutions surveyed offer a "free" business account.

This is up from last year for all institutions, as large banks try to protect loss of business, especially small business, and community banks and credit unions try to get market share, Michael Moebs, CEO of the firm, told the publication.

For a business owner to avoid a checking account fee, large banks required a $2,250 minimum balance--nearly double the $1,250 required in 2008. Community banks and credit unions that require minimum balances kept the requirement level this year, with the banks requiring $1,000 minimum and credit unions $500.

"Main Street institutions definitely offer a better pricing deal than the big Wall Street banks," Moebs said. "In these hard economic times, businesses should seek the better deal."

Wall Street banks also increased their use of account analysis (a cash management review). This year, 92% of them offered accounting analysis while 66.3% of community banks and credit unions offer them.

Of the more than 27 million businesses in the nation, 10,000 are listed on Wall Street and the exchanges. Small business produces 65% of all U.S. jobs. Financial institutions charged businesses about $9 billion in service charges on deposits in 2008, said Moebs.

Courtesy of cuna.org

CUNA Mutual sells ownership in Canadian affiliate

MADISON, Wis. (9/18/09)--CUNA Mutual Group announced today it is selling the majority ownership of its independently managed affiliate, The CUMIS Group Ltd., to a longtime business partner of the Canadian company and a Canadian credit union central.

CUMIS' board decided to enter into an agreement with Co-operators Life Insurance Co., and Central 1 credit union, which will assume full ownership of CUMIS by the end of the year. Central 1 is a Canadian corporate credit union based in Vancouver, B.C.

"We have been approached on numerous occasions by companies interested in obtaining an ownership interest in CUMIS," said Jeff Post, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual. "The time is right for both organizations to make this move. While improving our financial strength, this decision also simplifies CUNA Mutual's business, enhancing our ability to become more competitive in our core insurance products and provides us flexibility to prudently pursue new avenues for growth."

CUMIS became an affiliate of CUNA Mutual in 1977. It provides insurance and financial solutions to the Canadian credit union system. Its principal companies are CUMIS Life Insurance Co. and CUMIS General Insurance Co.

As of Dec. 31, CUMIS' assets were almost $1 billion. The organization is based in Burlington, Ont.

Co-operators is a Canadian-based cooperative that focuses on insurance and investment products for consumers. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives and credit union centrals.

CUNA Mutual Group provides financial services to cooperatives, credit unions, their members and customers worldwide.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wisconsin CUs outperform state banks in service

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (9/17/09)--Credit unions' mission is to serve all working Americans and their families, not just the poor, and in Wisconsin, they are doing a better job at it, even though banks are required to serve low-income areas through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), says the Wisconsin Credit Union League.

League President CEO Brett Thompson noted that a recent report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) uses faulty methods to conclude that banks do a better job that credit unions serving low and moderate-income people and calls for unnecessary legislation.

NCRC's report has several flaws, said the league. It mistakenly assumes credit unions are intended to serve only the poor and "cherry picks data and ignores findings from federal regulators that show credit unions are fulfilling their true mission--to serve all working Americans," Thompson said.

A previous NCRC study's state-specific data indicates that Wisconsin credit unions outperform Wisconsin banks in serving minorities and people of modest means, despite the fact banks are subject to CRA while credit unions are not, said Thompson.

Wisconsin credit unions outperformed state banks in all three areas covered in the study: providing single family home purchase loans, refinancings and home improvement loans.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data says Wisconsin's low-income mortgage borrowers' approval rate is 74.7% at credit unions and 49.8% at non-credit union lenders. For minority mortgage applicants, the Wisconsin credit union approval rate is 72%, compared with 46.6% at non-credit union lenders, said the league.

Credit unions have 10% of the Wisconsin financial services market share but operate 40% of the financial institution branches in the state's low-income census tracts. Roughly 94% of all Wisconsin banks, including 12 of the largest 20 banks, have no branches in low-income census tracts, said the league.

"Wisconsin's credit unions are doing a great job serving all of their 2.2 million members," Thompson said. "Last year, their members saved $208 million by saving at and borrowing from their local credit unions instead of banks. Credit unions don't need more regulation to do right by their members--they're already doing it. One more flawed study can't change the real facts."

Courtesy of cuna.org

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Robbery suspect killed by deputies had toy gun

SHORELINE, Wash. (9/15/09)--A man who was shot and killed by three King County sheriff's deputies in the aftermath of a credit union robbery Thursday near Seattle, had pulled a toy gun on the officers.

The gun was a replica of a G-26 Glock pistol, which some deputies and officers carry on the job (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sept. 14).

The King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead man as Jason W. Williams, 32, the newspaper said.

James Bartlow, 47, was arrested in connection with the robbery of an Alaska USA FCU branch in Shoreline, Wash., according to FBI agent Mary Prewett (News Now Sept. 14) .

The FBI believes that Bartlow and Williams committed four bank robberies and one attempted robbery that the bureau attributed to a robber dubbed the "Fashion Faux Pas Bandit."

After Thursday's robbery, witnesses followed the two men to a parking lot about 10 blocks from the credit union and called in the location to police, the FBI said.

When King County sheriff's officers arrived, they confronted Williams, and three officers fired at him. Williams died on the way to a local hospital, the FBI said. A stun gun was deployed on Bartlow to take him into custody.

All three officers were placed on paid administrative leave--standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting, a sheriff's spokesman told the paper.

Alaska USA FCU, based in Anchorage, Alaska, has $3.9 billion in assets.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Cards drive increase in non-cash payments worldwide

PARIS (9/15/09)--Non-cash payments grew 8.6% to 250 billion transactions in 2007 compared with the previous year, according to the World Payments Report 2009.

The use of cards is the single strongest driver for the growth, with global card transactions--credit and debit--growing 14.5% in 2007 and 11.2% in 2008. Markets are dominated by the U.S. and Europe, which account for 61% of the transactions. Developing economies continue to grow steadily, the report said.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Consumers cut card use, turn to CUs, CUNA tells WSJ

WASHINGTON (9/15/09)--The weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal outlines the "new rules for personal finance," with Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel noting that consumers are turning to credit unions for help.

In the article, entitled, "By Choice and By Force, Consumers Cut Back on Plastic" (Sept. 11), reporter Jane Kim recommends credit unions and local banks as a still-accessible source for loans.

Revolving credit is declining at an 8% annual rate, which indicates that Americans are ditching their plastic both by choice and by force as issuers tighten up, the article says.

"In some cases, consumers are turning to credit unions and their local banks for help," said the article. Through March, loan growth at credit unions--including mortgages, small business and car loans and credit cards--rose 5.8%, compared with a decline of 2.9% for commercial banks, Hampel told the publication.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Go Direct: Safety month ripe for direct deposit promo

WASHINGTON (9/15/09)--The U.S. Treasury Department's "Go Direct" campaign is again telling partnered credit unions to educate their members on the safety benefits of using direct deposit for Social Security payments.

The Go Direct promotional campaign is taking place during October, which is National Crime Prevention Month. The campaign, which is entering its fifth year, promotes the use of electronic delivery for government benefits checks. Using electronic delivery reduces the risk of identity theft and helps reduce stolen checks and forgeries, according to the release.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Matz: Corporate CUs should consult auditors on impairments

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/15/09)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Deborah Matz on Monday advised corporate credit unions to "consult with their auditors to determine the potential impairment" of any assets related to U.S. Central Federal Credit Union following the recent release of that corporate credit union's audit.

According to Matz, the capital depletion figures reported by U.S. Central through June 30, 2009 "have not changed."

U.S. Central in its audit released last week reported an other-than-temporary-impairment charge of $4.9 billion and recorded $1.2 billion in expected credit losses related to investments as of Dec. 31, 2008.

According to Matz, these losses do not affect "the depletion of capital" as the NCUA "determined that all depletion would be based on credit losses, not mark-to-market losses, consistent with the new accounting guidance" that was issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in April of this year.

See related story in News Now's Sept. 14 edition, "U.S. Central 2008 financial statement released."

Courtesy of cuna.org

Monday, September 14, 2009

New initiatives aim to boost retirement savings

NEW YORK (9/14/09)--New initiatives announced this month by President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will make saving for retirement a lot easier and more automatic, particularly for the estimated 78 million working Americans--approximately half the workforce--who don't have a retirement savings plan at work (The New York Times Sept. 6).

A White House document released Sept. 5 outlines four steps, effective immediately, to expand the range of retirement savings options for workers:

Streamline automatic enrollment. Behavioral research indicates that workers are more likely to contribute to a retirement plan if they're automatically enrolled. Although many large- and medium-size companies already have adopted automatic enrollment, the new initiatives target very small firms that often use a simpler system called the "simple I.R.A." Watch for new guidelines from the Labor Department on how small businesses can use automatic enrollment, and how to institute an automatic "step up" to increase the worker's savings rate each year or with each pay raise. Workers can opt out of automatic enrollment or stop the increases at any time.

Redirect tax refunds. Beginning in early 2010, taxpayers can check a box on their tax return and use their refund to purchase U.S. savings bonds, which will be mailed to the taxpayer. Beginning in 2011, taxpayers can add co-owners, such as children or grandchildren, to the bonds purchased with tax refunds.

Convert unused vacation or leave. Rather than receive cash for unused vacation and similar leave when leaving a job, employers can allow employees to contribute those amounts to their 401(k) plan.

Use plain language. To help workers understand the confusing rules governing retirement plans when changing jobs, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are publishing an easy-to-read, plain-English guide. This road map explains how to transfer plan balances, what key decisions need to be made, and what the tax consequences are for each decision. Look for new user-friendly website materials, too, at irs.gov/retirement.

For more information, read "HR an Essential Member of Your Retirement Planning Team" in Plan It: Retire Ready Toolkit.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Savings push leads to CUs reviving Christmas clubs

MADISON, Wis. (9/14/09)--With more Americans increasing their personal savings in a troubled economy, credit unions and banks are helping to revive a concept that was thought to be defunct--the Christmas club account.

Holiday savings clubs--along with layaway plans, which also are making a comeback--have once again become desirable to consumers coping with rising unemployment and uncertainty regarding the economy, Steve Rick, senior economist for the Credit Union National Association, told the Associated Press Thursday.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

CU's "Project Flipside" draws Generation Y


BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (9/14/09)--Bucks First FCU has launched "Project Flipside" to attract members of Generation Y to the credit union. Since June 1, Bucks County, Pa.-based Bucks First has opened about 50 new Flipside accounts.

The accounts are available for youth between the ages of 16 and 25, said Hilary Reed, Bucks First vice president of marketing. The account offers a free Visa check card with rewards, no maintenance fees, free checks, online bill pay, online banking, text banking, access to more than 30,000 free ATMs, and refunded non-sufficient funds fees provided the accountholders take a financial class at the credit union.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

New fair lending guidance may help CUs comply

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/14/09)--National Credit Union Administration Chairman Deborah Matz on Friday encouraged credit unions to use recently updated interagency fair lending examination procedures to design "appropriate compliance programs" that will meet the standard of "all laws and regulations applicable to fair lending."

The regulatory alert, which is accompanied by updated interagency guidance that was first published in 2000, addresses some of the "risks and potential fair lending implications associated with using brokers or other third party entities for various aspects of lending operations."

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Compliance: Proper policies, procedures help CUs manage RDC risk

WASHINGTON (9/14/09)--While extending remote deposit capture (RDC) to individual members can present some "operational and regulatory compliance risks," the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) director of compliance information Valerie Moss writes that credit unions can address those risks by following "appropriate policies, procedures, and processes."

In the September issue of Credit Union Magazine, Moss said that credit unions that provide RDC, which allows credit union members to transmit scanned checks or share drafts to their credit union from remote locations, must do thorough due diligence on the third-party RDC vendor they enter into business with.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Business checking survey says CUs have lower costs

CHICAGO (9/11/09)--Small businesses will find lower checking account costs at credit unions and community banks, according to a national survey conducted by Moebs Services, an economic research firm, based in Lake Forest, Ill.

"... Large banks try to protect loss of business, especially small business, and community banks and credit unions try to take as much market share as they can get," Moebs said (Business Wire via Reuters Sept. 9).

Evidence of a potential market move is reflected in the minimum balance to avoid a fee, with the large banks almost doubling from $1,250 in 2008 to $2,250 in 2009, while credit unions and community banks stayed the same at $500 and $1,000 respectively, the Moebs survey indicated.

"Main Street institutions definitely offer a better pricing deal than the big Wall Street banks," Moebs said. "In these hard economic times, businesses should seek the better deal."

For more information, use the link.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Consumers more willing to use PIN debit online

ATLANTA (9/10/09)--Consumers are more willing to use their debit card and personal identification numbers (PIN) when paying online, according to a payment software solutions provider.

About 56% to 60% of consumers that are presented with Acculynk's Pay Secure solution choose to complete their purchase online with a PIN entry instead of processing the transaction as credit. Of the consumers that choose to process the transaction as credit, only 10% use the PIN pad, Acculynk said.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

'Vibrant' CU community recognized by House

WASHINGTON (9/10/09)—Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica Wednesday thanked the House for its recognition of the 75th anniversary of Federal Credit Union Act and the "vibrant" credit union community.

Mica said, "The House resolution is a fitting reminder that America's state- and federally chartered credit unions have a long and proud history of helping members improve their financial well being, especially in hard economic times whether during the Great Depression or in today's recessionary environment.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Robocalls prohibited unless you opt in

WASHINGTON (9/9/09)--Say goodbye to annoying, prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls--commonly referred to as robocalls. As of Sept. 1, most robocalls are banned unless the telemarketer has your written permission to make them (Federal Trade Commission, Aug. 27).

The ban is part of amendments to the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), and it applies whether or not you previously have done business with the seller. Telemarketers who violate the new rule will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Hamburger stand built with CU financing


PLYMOUTH, Mich. (9/9/09)--After years of crossing the U.S. in search of a diner, long-time restaurateur Alex (Vinnie) Altier located a 1955 Kullman diner for sale in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. His next challenge was finding the right piece of property to build his hamburger stand. That's when Community Financial Members FCU stepped up to help.

The land Altier wanted was in Canton, Mich., only a few blocks from a former Vinnie's Italian Sub Shop. The site was owned by Community Financial, the $54.5 million asset, Plymouth, Mich.-based credit union that had opened a new Canton branch office.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Half of parents confident about youth's financial skills

WASHINGTON (9/9/09)--About half of parents say their children will leave home knowing how to manage money, according to the results of a Consumer Federation of America (CFA) survey.

During a press briefing Tuesday, CFA presented results of a survey it conducted Aug. 27-31 of 553 representative parents, or guardians, with children under age 18 living at home.

About 53% of parents said they were "very confident" their children would leave home with personal financial skills. Nearly all parents surveyed--98%--said they felt "very" or "somewhat" responsible for teaching their children how to manage money and credit. Roughly 86% said they felt "very" responsible.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

National publications say 'get credit cards at CUs'

MADISON, Wis. (9/9/09)--The Los Angeles Times and USA Today mentioned credit unions as a good place for consumers to obtain credit cards.

Credit unions are a potential source for low-interest-rate credit cards because they made "fewer costly mistakes in the credit heyday and now have money to lend," said personal finance writer Kathy M. Kristof in the Sunday Los Angeles Times.

Kristof also directed readers to check the Credit Union National Association's site, www.creditunion.coop, to locate a credit union in their area.

In an article about how college students can build a credit history amidst new federal legislation that restricts marketing of credit cards to those under the age of 21, USA Today financial columnist Sandra Block told readers Tuesday that "many credit unions offer secured credit cards with lower interest rates and fees."

To read the stories in their entirety, use the links.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

90% of U.S. currency tainted by cocaine

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (9/8/09)--Nine out of 10 pieces of U.S. currency contain traces of cocaine, according to a new study by the American Chemical Society conducted at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Even bills not involved in drug deals can become contaminated during the automated bill counting process in financial institutions. The drug--a fine powder--adheres to the green ink on the bills--mostly $5, $10s, $20s and $50s--and spreads easily, according to the study.

Scientists studied banknotes from nearly three dozen cities in five countries--the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Japan and China. The bills from the U.S. and Canada saw between 85% and 90% contamination. A similar study two years ago found the U.S. contamination rate at 67%. China and Japan had the cleanest bills, with 20% and 12% contamination, respectively.

Banknotes from Washington, D.C., had the most contamination--95% had traces of the drug. Other cities with larger amounts of contaminated bills included Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles.

The amounts of cocaine are not enough to cause any health or drug-testing concerns, researchers said.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Businesses surviving under CU's preferred program

TOTOWA, N.J. (9/8/09)--North New Jersey businesses are participating in a program created by North Jersey FCU (NJFCU) as an alternative for businesses to reach new customers. The program offers exclusive discounts and perks for NJFCU members, the credit union said.

The NJ Preferred program debuted last week.

Although NJFCU has not been immune to the severe economic crisis hitting both the local financial and automotive industries, it has paid close attention to signs that the U.S. is on the verge of a rebound.

Under the program, more than 30,000 NJFCU members can buy cars, eat at restaurants or buy clothes, and receive exclusive discounts at participating businesses. Also, participating businesses can insert coupons in credit union statements, and advertise discounts and offers in NJFCU branches or on its website. In return, the credit union's members obtain exclusive discounts offered by NJ Preferred businesses.

The idea came from James Giffin, NJFCU vice president of sales and marketing. He is now one of many members of the $166 million asset, Totowa, N.J.-based credit union taking advantage of good deals in the area, NJFCU said.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Contactless debit, mobile use aim to attract members

BOSTON (9/8/09)--Attracting new members, especially younger ones, remains a critical challenge for more than half of credit unions, says a recent study. As a result, some credit unions are altering their marketing strategies and testing products such as contactless debit cards and mobile banking services.

More than 55% of credit unions have trouble attracting new members, according to a report by Boston-based Aite Group LLC. They are testing innovative products in hopes of attracting Gen Y consumers--the 76 million consumers ages 29 to 33 (ATM & Debit News Sept. 3).

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Courtesy of cuna.org

House to commemorate Federal Credit Union Act

WASHINGTON (9/8/09)--The House of Representatives returns to Washington from summer recess this week, and one item on the table is H.Res. 556, a bill that recognizes the 75th anniversary of the passage of the federal credit union act.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) officials have been told that the commemorative bill, which celebrates the "vibrant Federal credit union community that was created" following the passage of the Act, would be considered under suspension of the rules this week.

The bill also recognizes credit unions for their past service to the country as well as their continued "valuable services" provided to their members and the "economic stimulus" that credit unions have provided to the Nation "even as we face a financial crisis today."

The recognition precedes CUNA's 75th anniversary celebration, which will be held in Estes Park, Colorado. A number of CUNA committee and board meetings will also take place during the celebration, which is scheduled for September 14-17. National Credit Union Administration board member Gigi Hyland is also scheduled to speak during a meeting of board members.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Friday, September 4, 2009

Security expert: How to safely discard electronics

WASHINGTON (9/4/09)--Don't toss out personal electronic equipment with account numbers and other sensitive information. Learn how to safely discard these devices--and protect yourself from identity theft--on Sunday's H&FF Radio show.

Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. EDT on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.

Click the title for the whole story.
Courtesy of cuna.org

CUs get more press on state employee assistance

WASHINGTON (9/4/09)--Credit unions nationwide received more media attention for helping state workers who are not receiving their paychecks.

A Thursday Stateline.org article noted Virginia CU, Richmond, Va., for its Virginia State Employee Loan Program, which the credit union operates in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign to help state workers who are not being paid. The loans have a 24.99% annual percentage rate, and are intended to prevent state workers with poor credit from using payday lenders--who could charge 300% or more in interest, the publication said.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

It's Nat'l. Preparedness Month. Where's disaster plan?

MADISON, Wis. (9/4/09)--September is National Preparedness Month, and the No.1 thing credit unions can do to prepare for a disaster is test their preparedness plans, according to the president/CEO of Agility Recovery Solutions.

"Most credit unions have a written plan in place for disaster recovery," Bob Boyd, president/CEO of Agility, told News Now. "But they really need to ask questions: What would happen if a piece of infrastructure didn't work? Does that plan help? Who will do what?"

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Courtesy of cuna.org

N.Y. judge rules 'free speech' no shield in lawsuit

NEW YORK (9/4/09)—In a rating agency case that may have broad implications, a U.S. District Court judge here rejected arguments by Moody's Investor Services Inc. and Standard & Poor's (S&P) that investors can't sue over deceptive ratings of private-placement notes because those ratings are protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

In her decision, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin declined to dismiss fraud charges brought by two investors, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Kings County, Washington, against Moody's, S&P, and Morgan Stanley & Co. The ruling will force the three companies to respond to fraud charges in the class action suit that claims certain risks associated with securities backed by subprime mortgages were not exposed for investors.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Thursday, September 3, 2009

CU-backed candidate wins Calif. special election

WASHINGTON (9/03/09)--Credit union-backed candidate John Garamendi on Tuesday won a California special primary and will serve as the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat that will be vacated by incoming State Department official and current representative Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif).

Garamendi, who currently serves as lieutenant governor and previously served as state insurance commissioner, was supported by the California Credit Union League and the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), and defeated 13 fellow candidates by gaining 26.2% of the total vote. However, Garamendi will next need to win a special general election on Nov. 3, since he did not win the 50% of votes needed to automatically assume the vacant congressional seat.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Columnist: Hundreds of complaints about banks, none on CUs

FORT WORTH, Texas (9/3/09)--Dave Lieber, "Watchdog" columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, told Texas credit unions that he receives hundreds of requests for help with bank problems and none for credit unions.

He recently gave a presentation titled "Why Americans Hate their Banks but Don't Know Enough to Love their Credit Unions," at the Fort Worth Chapter of Credit Unions' monthly meeting.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Capital levels rise with increases in member savings

MADISON, Wis. (9/3/09)--Credit union capital levels closed in on their pre-financial crisis highs, and credit union members increased their savings balances by a significant amount in July, according to a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist's analysis of CUNA's monthly sample of credit unions.

"In July, total credit union capital grew 0.7% to reach $89.037 billion, just shy of the high-water mark reached last November of $90.840 billion," Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now. "However, the 9.3% asset growth since November has pushed the credit union capital-to-asset ratio down to 9.8% in July from 10.9% last November."

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New credit rules aim to help young adults, college students

NEW YORK (9/2/09)--Young adults stand to be the group most affected by the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009, and it's worth the effort to fully understand the changes (forbes.com Aug. 4).

Although the majority of the CARD Act won't go into effect until Feb. 22, 2010, five sections of the Act are dedicated to the protection of young adults:

Credit usage. Anyone younger than age 21 must be an authorized user on the parent's account, or show proof indicating an independent means of repaying card debts, or have an adult co-signer.

Special offers. Creditors may not send prescreened offers to consumers younger than age 21.

Free gifts. Card companies may not offer free gifts for the completion of an application on or near a college campus and at college-sponsored activities or events.

Privacy protection. Colleges, universities and alumni associations must disclose details of contracts they sign that allow credit card marketers access to student and alumni contact info.

Full disclosure. Card issuers must file annual reports with the Federal Reserve Board listing all business, marketing and promotional deals with schools. These reports must detail the terms and conditions, list schools by name, and identify how much the issuer is paying the school.

Education sessions. A "sense of Congress" provision--not treated as law, but rather a suggestion from lawmakers--recommends that colleges offer credit card and debt education sessions during new-student orientation.

Some provisions became effective Aug. 20. Creditors now must deliver bills 21 days in advance of the due date and provide 45 days notice when changes are made to consumers' credit card agreements (chicagotribune.com Aug. 20).

For more information, read "CARD Act Kicks In, What Will Happen?" in Money Mix: Launch Your Life.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Top 10 News Now stories for August

MADISON, Wis. (9/2/09)--Stories about the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which went into effect last month, dominated five of the 10 top News Now stories for August.

The Credit CARD Act sets rules for card companies including those that arbitrarily change interest rates and terms on cards with existing balances.

A story about Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica stepping down from his post in 2011 was the 12th most read story of August.

Here are the top 10 most requested News Now stories during July. Use the links to read the stories online.

Click the title for the whole story.
Courtesy of cuna.org

Calif. DFI authorizes FI closures for fires, CU closed

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (9/2/09)--At least one California credit union closed because its area was evacuated during wildfires raging about 12 miles from Los Angeles, and the California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has authorized financial institutions to close for the emergency, if necessary.

CalTech Employees FCU based in La Canada Flintridge was closed, not because of damage but because it is near NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which closed as a precaution, the California Credit Union League told News Now.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Invest in America expands to RVs

LIVONIA, Mich. (9/1/09)--The Invest in America program has been expanded to include seven recreational vehicle (RV) brands, announced CUcorp and RV manufacturer Thor Industries Wednesday.

Credit union discounts will range from $300 to $1,000 depending on whether the RV is motorized or towable. The discounts will be available nationwide.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Grassroots lobbying defines Mica's tenure, says league

HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (9/1/09)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica's announcement that he will step down from the position in January 2011 prompted one league CEO to sum up Mica's contributions to the credit union movement in two words: "grassroots lobbying."

Mica "brought so much to our movement and forever changed the way the credit union system looks," said Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League, in his message in the league's newsletter (The Weekly Exchange Aug. 24).. Before he joined the league, Gentile spent a number of years as editor-in-chief of Credit Union Times, reporting on the industry and its trends.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Economy's big driver still on sidelines, CUNA tells Reuters:

WASHINGTON (9/1/09)--Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel had the lead quote in an article widely distributed by Reuters Friday about consumer confidence and the pressure on households from falling housing prices and increasing unemployment, which translates to a reluctance to spend.

"The big driver of the economy is still on the sideline," Hampel told the news outlet. "The household sector is worried about the job market and until that shows some significant improvement, households are going to be pretty restrained," he said.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Joint liquidity rules redundant for CUs, says CUNA

WASHINGTON (9/1/09)—New joint federal regulatory guidance on funding and liquidity risk management makes sense at for banking organizations, but would only be redundant to existing rules for credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said in a comment letter submitted Monday.

The CUNA letter addresses proposed interagency guidance issued the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of Thrift Supervision. The proposed guidance is intended to clarify and summarize principles of sound liquidity risk management previously issued by the agencies.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is that computer on campus covered by insurance?

KANSAS CITY (8/31/09)--Even if your son or daughter already is packed up and shipped off to college, check to make sure he or she is properly insured. Also, understand how this significant move away from home affects your own insurance policies (The Kansas.com Aug. 19).

Use this checklist to make sure you and your student are covered:

Does the student have a copy of health insurance cards? The student should have a plan for obtaining referrals and approvals--if necessary--before visiting a doctor or clinic. If the student will be seeking treatment outside a provider network, your insurer may charge out-of-network prices. Understand the level of benefits that are provided.

Does the student require a student health insurance plan? This may be a good option if she is older than the maximum coverage age, or if she is outside the network service area. Check with the school to see if the college has contracted with an insurer that offers student health insurance plans. If so, expect limited benefits and more exclusions such as treatment for injuries associated with alcohol or drug use.

Does the student need renter's insurance? Review your homeowner's insurance policy to see if the computer, other electronics, moped, bicycle, books, furniture and clothing are covered on campus. If not, purchase a renter's insurance policy immediately. Young renters often mistakenly believe the landlord has insurance to cover theft, fire, tornados, and other disasters. A landlord's policy does not cover the renter's personal property.

Do you have a detailed list of the student's possessions--including serial/model numbers and purchase prices? Consider using photos or videotape. Keep this list and photos in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe off-site, or scan the items and store digitally, and keep a backup at a remote site. It will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim. Visit knowyourstuff.org.

Have you notified the auto insurer of any changes? Notify the insurer if the vehicle will be kept or garaged at a different location; if you don't, lack of disclosure could jeopardize a future claim (Insure.com Aug. 19). If the student won't have a car on campus and won't be driving your vehicle as often, ask if your rate can be reduced. And ask whether your insurer has discounts for maintaining good grades.

For more information, read "Have 'the Talk' Before Students Leave for Campus" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Monday, August 24, 2009

How new credit card law affects you now

McLEAN, Va. (8/24/09)--Most of the significant provisions of the new credit card legislation signed into law in May by President Barack Obama don't kick in until Feb. 2010, but some new provisions kick in now (USA Today Aug. 20).

As of Aug. 20, credit card issuers must give you 45 days notice before they change your interest rate or fees. And that notice has to include a brief statement telling you about your right to cancel the account.

In addition, credit card issuers and creditors that offer other open-end credit must mail your statement 21 days before the due date, or they won't be able to count your payment as late.

Click the title for the whole story.
Courtesy of cuna.org

Wash. league hosts first 'Evolution Summit'

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (8/24/09)--The Washington Credit Union League is fostering discussion about the evolution of the credit union movement in Washington and worldwide through a strategic effort called "Evolution Summit."

The league's first of a series of Evolution Forums was held Tuesday and included discussions designed to make attendees think about the future of credit unions and how they should evolve in changing times.

The specific issue discussed was the charter: Can the credit unions' charter be salvaged or is an entirely new option necessary? And with what changes?

More than 25 state and national credit unions leaders gathered for the event that featured Bucky Sebastian, president/CEO of GTE FCU, Tampa, Fla., and co-founder of Callahan & Associates Inc. The event also featured Marv Umholz, a 33-year credit union industry veteran and president/CEO of Umholz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services, Olympia, Wash.

The discussions will be the basis for a legislative and regulatory agenda for the league, helping it envision where it will want to be in the near and distant future.

Courtesy of cuna.org

TheStreet.com: CUs crash student-loan party

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (8/24/09)--Credit unions' efforts in helping students obtain private student loans is still getting media attention, this time in Massachusetts. The Street.com wrote about a Massachusetts credit union's efforts in its "MainStreet" column Friday.

"With private lenders fleeing the scene, thanks to ongoing lousy credit conditions, credit unions are increasingly picking up the slack in a market they've long avoided--student loans," began the article.

It discussed Harvard University Employees CU's pact with the university to make student loans available to international graduate and professional students, who found loans drying up in the tight market.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

NY Times cites CUNA website, CUs' cards

NEW YORK (8/24/09)--The New York Times cited the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Credit Union Finder website and credit unions' lower interest rates on credit card balances in a recent article.

With new credit card rules in effect Thursday under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, many credit card companies quickly made changes to their policies to get ahead of the rules. Under the CARD Act, financial institutions must give cardholders 45 days before increasing their interest rates or changing card terms.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Credit card statement stuffer explains new law

MADISON, Wis. (8/21/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has new materials to assist credit unions in setting the record straight with members on what the new Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 will mean to them.

While educating members about the effects, credit unions also can take the opportunity to remind members they'll get their best credit card deals at their credit union. "New Law Shows Credit Union Cards Still the Best" is a new statement stuffer that will help credit unions explain the impact of the new CARD Act, parts of which started taking effect Thursday.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

21 Oregon CUs get REAL

BEAVERTON, Ore. (9/20/09)--Twenty-one Oregon credit unions are participating in the state's pilot of the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program, the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced Wednesday.

The program helps credit unions meet the needs of members with low or moderate incomes, young adults, new Americans and the unbanked.

During the pilot year, 21 credit unions will work with CUAO to initiate the program in their credit unions. They have indicated that outreach to young adults is a primary goal.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

21-day rule: CUNA urges CUs 'document everything'

WASHINGTON (9/20/09)--Starting today, periodic statements sent to members on their open-end loans must be provided at least 21 days before the payment due date in order for a credit union to charge a late fee, report the account as delinquent to credit bureaus, or impose a penalty interest rate.

"The application of this Truth-in-Lending Regulation Z provision to all open-end credit presents significant compliance challenges in making changes to credit union lending programs that have been in place for over a quarter of a century," says Kathy Thompson, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) senior vice president of compliance.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Small business: Tweet it out

WASHINGTON (8/19/09)--If you're a small business owner, you now can get the word out about your business by embracing the same tool job seekers use to connect with potential employers.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows you to drive your brand and communicate with customers in ways you may never have imagined (The Washington Post Aug. 12). Twitter has been around since 2006, but only in the past year have businesses--from Dell to mom and pop--jumped on board.

One small business owner opened a mobile food cart in San Francisco, and among his friends in line he noticed a stranger. How had he found the location? Twitter. The young entrepreneur signed up for a Twitter account and now lets his more than 5,400 followers know the location of his mobile cart, as well as the flavors of the day (The New York Times July 22).

Today, small businesses outnumber the big ones like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast on Twitter. It's more useful for small businesses that typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth. Here's why:

No ad budget? Twitter is free. For many small businesses, it's the sole means of advertising.

No time to set up and maintain a website? Twitter is far easier to set up and update.

Your workspace doesn't include a computer? You can tweet from your smart phone.

Your customers aren't on Twitter? Small-town business owners use Twitter's services to stay connected and get useful business information on taxes, marketing, and start-up tips.


There's a wealth of information on the Internet for effective twittering. Type "small business" + "twitter" + "tips" in your browser to get started. It takes about three to six months to get a good-sized following.

For more information, read "Keep Passwords Strong, Secret and Safe" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Courtesy of cuna.org

Panthers QB pitches CU's financial tips

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (8/19/09)--Jake Delhomme, National Football League quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, will provide tips on financial fees and interest rates in three television commercials for Charlotte Metro FCU.

Delhomme is the type of multimillionaire who can tout a credit union's good points, said Nathan Tothrow, marketing chief for the $184.3 million asset, Charlotte, N.C-based credit union (charlotteobserver.com Aug. 18).

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Cooperatives at center of health care debate

WASHINGTON (8/19/09)--Cooperatives have become a new buzzword as legislators consider proposals to reform the health care industry. The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) this week educated media about what a cooperative is and mentioned credit unions prominently as a good cooperative business model the government could follow.

NCBA President/CEO Paul Hazen has been featured in BusinessWeek and The Washington Times, as well as WTOP-Radio; Channel 6 News in Tulsa, Okla.; WGN-Radio's "Greg Jarrett News Show" in Chicago and Christian Broadcasting Network's CBN News during the past two days. Adam Schwartz, NCBA vice president of public affairs and member services, was featured on Minnesota Public Radio.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

CUs' back-to-school projects in full swing



MADISON, Wis. (8/18/09)--Credit unions nationwide are helping to prepare students for the start of school by collecting and distributing school supplies and other materials for those in need.

Fifty-two employees of Virginia CU, Richmond, Va., helped youth shop for new back-to-school clothes at a local Target store as part of the YMCA's Bright Beginnings program. Contributions from the community helped pay for the clothes.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

CU robberies totaled 117 for 2Q, says FBI

WASHINGTON (8/18/09)--Robberies at credit unions totaled 117 out of the 1,278 robberies committed at financial institutions during second quarter, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Credit unions also saw six burglaries out of 19 committed, and three larcenies out of seven reported to the FBI.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Monday, August 17, 2009

There's still time to find money for college

McLEAN, Va. (8/17/09)--If you're in the process of packing up your son or daughter for college and worried about how you're going to pay for it, here's good news: There are still sources of funding available (USA Today Aug. 11).

The bad news: College prices continue to rise. The average cost of attending a public four-year university for the 2008-2009 school year was $6,585--up 6.4% from the previous year. And if you're attending a private school, expect an average price tag of $25,143 (collegeboard.com). If you multiply those numbers by four years and figure in inflation, you're laying a lot of money on the table.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Consumer Affairs: Firing the bank? Try CUs

NEW YORK (8/17/09)--Consumers who've had rates raised, accounts closed and fees imposed may want to fire their banks, and one practical option is credit unions, says a columnist with Consumer Affairs (Aug. 12).

Mark Huffman. writing on Consumer Affairs' website, says the site has received a "cascade of complaints" about major banks. He asks the question: Is it possible to exist in the 21st century without doing business with a bank?

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Young adults: Earn and keep your best credit 'grade'

WASHINGTON (8/14/09)--Unlike high school or college grades, a credit score is a grade you earn and carry with you from youth to old age. Sunday's H&FF Radio show line-up includes a tutorial for young adult students and workers about all the areas, beyond credit pricing, affected by the three-digit credit score.

Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. EDT on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Council paper: CUs need employees' engagement

MADISON, Wis. (8/14/09)--As the financial services environment continues to become increasingly complex, competitive and crowded, engaged employees are the critical ingredient for credit union success, says a new CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development (HR/TD) Council white paper.

"Employee Engagement" presents strategies credit unions can use to engage their employees during the current economic downturn and during an expansion. The paper underscores the need to tap into the discretionary energy that all employees possess, noting that many employees are working up to only part of their potential.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

GAO: No CUs referred to DOJ for fair lending violations

WASHINGTON (8/14/09)--No lenders regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) have been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for "being at potentially heightened risk" of violating fair lending regulations, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found.

Lenders that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) were also less likely to be referred, while the GAO reported that those that fall under the supervision of the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are more likely to be referred to the DOJ.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Bankruptcy filings up 38%, CUs can expect more

WASHINGTON (8/14/09)--Bankruptcy filings in the U.S.--both business and personal--rose sharply during the 12 months ended June 30, as the recession continued to take its toll. Credit unions can expect more members and businesses to file in coming months, despite the fact the recession will be technically over by year-end, said Steve Rick, senior economist with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Overall bankruptcy filings rose 35%, with 1.3 million bankruptcy cases filed in bankruptcy courts between July 2008 and June 2009. That is up from the 968,000 filed for the same period a year earlier, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which (Reuters Aug. 13).

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NCUA closes Nevada's Community One FCU

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/13/09)--The National Credit Union Administration on Tuesday announced that it has closed Las Vegas-based Community One FCU, citing the credit union's "declining financial condition" as the reason for the closure.

The $159 million assets Community One FCU is the fifth federal credit union to be liquidated this year.

The 21,000 members of Community One FCU will now be served by Utah-based America First FCU, which currently holds $4.9 billion in assets and more than 495,000 members. America First currently has 88 branch locations. It is not known if America First will assume control of any of Community One's existing branch locations.

courtesy of cuna.org

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Word to the wise taxpayer: Beware third-party fraud

WASHINGTON (8/12/09)--Recent successful federal prosecutions should serve as a warning to all taxpayers: Hiring someone to prepare your tax return does not absolve you of responsibility for its accuracy and truth.

Last month the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made an example of James Otto Price III, a Jacksonville, Fla.-tax preparer who pleaded guilty to claiming a first-time homebuyer tax credit for a client who was not eligible. Price could receive a sentence of up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Top 20 best CU brands named by Bancography


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (8/12/09)--Bancography has named its top credit union brands for 2009 in its Bancography Brand Value Index.

Top-ranking credit unions with assets under $1 billion included White Sands FCU, Las Cruces, N.M.; American Heritage FCU, Philadelphia; and My Community FCU, Midland, Texas.

Police and Fire FCU, Philadelphia, earned the top ranking for the $1 billion asset category, followed by Chevron FCU, Oakland, Calif., and Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Hyland interview continues call for diversity in CUs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/12/09)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Gigi Hyland renewed her call for stronger diversity within the credit union movement, telling attendees at a credit union conference that "diversity and collaboration are the cornerstones for credit unions' future sustainability and success."

Hyland's comments, which were delivered before the African-American Credit Union Coalition's annual conference, echoed statements made during a recent interview with News Now staff.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

CU gathers comments about 'Why I left bank'

SEATTLE (8/11/09)--Seattle (Wash.) Metropolitan CU is gathering comments from its members about why they chose to leave their bank and join a credit union.

The comments are a part of Seattle Metropolitan's "Intentionally Left Bank" campaign, which targets consumers who switched to credit unions from banks. The credit union said it has seen an increase in the number of new members as a result of the campaign (Seattle Business Journal Aug. 7).

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Courtesy of cuna.org

CUNA celebrates 75th anniversary today


WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (8/10/09)--Today the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is blowing out 75 birthday candles. It was Aug. 10, 1934, when CUNA's Constitution and Bylaws were signed in Estes Park, Colo., less than two months after the Federal Credit Union Act was signed and 25 years after the nation's first credit union was established.

"Seventy-five years ago, an extraordinary group of credit union pioneers held a 'meeting of the minds' in Estes Park, Colo., about a national association that would enhance the movement throughout the land and help it become self-reliant," said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica.

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Courtesy of cuna.org

Fraudster targets shared branches

BEAVER, Pa. (8/7/09)--WESTAIRCOMM FCU, Beaver, Pa., is alerting credit unions on its shared-branching network about a fraudster who has hit several western Pennsylvania credit unions.

The individual opened an account with WEST-AIRCOMM in early June. Over the next few weeks, he deposited checks at two other credit unions on the shared branching network. The checks looked like payroll checks, but were from closed accounts (Life is Highway Aug.5).

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Courtesy of cuna.org

How new credit card law affects young adults

WASHINGTON (8/7/09)--Cardholders can expect sweeping changes soon from new credit card legislation, but if you're a young adult, pay special attention. Sunday's H&FF Radio show line-up includes a credit card expert who explains why young adults need to understand how the new law affects them.

Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. EDT on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Parents give themselves grade of B-

BALTIMORE (8/5/09)--Parents gave themselves a B- for their knowledge of the importance of saving, setting goals, smart spending, and investing--not exactly a vote of confidence for such an important set of life skills (troweprice.com July 21).

Parents saw room for improvement in their understanding of basic money concepts--and how they could better equip their kids with financial smarts--based on T. Rowe Price's Parents, Kids & Money Survey, released in July.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Global Women's Leadership Forum held


BARCELONA, Spain (8/4/09)--About 40 women leaders in the global credit union movement met last week as part of the Global Women's Leadership Network, immediately following World Council of Credit Union's (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

The network, launched earlier this year by WOCCU with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), is the first of its kind. It brings together women credit union leaders from more than 15 countries to connect, share ideas and participate in a peer advisory program.

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Have 'the talk' before students leave for campus

MADISON, Wis. (8/3/09)--If you know some college students heading back to the dorms this month, do them a favor: Tell them now what they probably will wish they'd known when they left home. Make sure they understand how to track their spending and manage their finances before setting foot on campus, say Credit Union National Association Center for Personal Finance editors.

College life comes with many extra expenses--books, tuition, room and board, bills, groceries, parking, and entertainment costs--and some students turn to credit cards as a way to spend now and pay later...

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CU reacts to GM's return to car leasing

NEW YORK (8/3/09)--General Motors (GM) could begin leasing vehicles again this month, according to The Wall Street Journal (July 31).

About 3% of credit unions offer auto leasing. These credit unions have about 8.3% of credit union members, according to the Credit Union National Association's Credit Union Service Profile for December 2008.

Lake Michigan CU, Grand Rapids, Mich., did not react strongly to news about GM possibly leasing again. The credit union ended its leasing program last year when GMAC, Ford and other auto giants pulled out of the leasing market, Scott Wiggins, vice president of lending, told News Now

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Marketing expert shares career tips for recent grads

WASHINGTON (7/31/09)--Parents and their recent college graduates are the subject of one of this week's H&FF Radio guests, who shares tips on getting out of the parents' house and into a career. Other guests give advice about back-to-school shopping and how the current economy has changed that annual ritual.

Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. EDT on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.

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Social networks will change brand marketing

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/31/09)--Within the next four to five years, the social web is expected to morph through several stages that will change the way brands are marketed, according to a Forrester Research white paper.

The paper, "The Future of the Social Web," explains several ways that marketers should prepare for the changes. Credit unions may be interested in these changes as they continue to attract new and young members.

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Bank failures far outnumber CUs'

WASHINGTON (7/31/09)--The number of bank failures during the first half of 2009 far outnumber credit unions that have closed or been put into conservatorship, according to statistics released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

For the first six months of 2009, roughly 72 institutions--including seven banks from just last weekend--were either closed or taken over by regulators (Bank Info Security July 28).

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learning trade can be ticket to new job

McLEAN, Va. (7/29/09)--It won't only be fresh high-school grads entering trade schools this fall. Many newcomers are twice their age. Job loss, due to the down economy, is one force driving would-be workers back to school (USA Today July 20).

Thousand of new and returning students across the nation are choosing trade schools/community colleges over traditional colleges for the first time (The Wall Street Journal July 16).

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Washington Post: CUs offer better rates, fees

WASHINGTON (7/28/09)--Credit unions offer higher savings rates, lower fees and great personal service when compared with bigger banks, said the Washington Post Sunday.

Although big banks also want consumers' business, they are alienating customers by charging higher fees and employing more stringent lending standards, the newspaper said.

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CUs are superheroes, says N.Y. Times blogger

NEW YORK (7/28/09)--With the current financial crisis gripping the U.S., credit unions are stepping up like superheroes to offer better financial rates to the public, which has lost trust in large financial institutions, said an economics professor Monday in a New York Times blog.

"Credit unions always seemed like Dullsville to me," wrote Nancy Folbre, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. "I never bothered to check out the interest rates, much less the governance structure of credit unions I was eligible to join.

"But in the wake of the financial crisis, they began to look more like Clark Kent, who turned out to be Superman," she continued. "When the big American banks started sucking up to funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, credit unions, with many fewer subprime mortgages on their balance sheets, started looking really good."

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Laid off and looking for work after 50

NEW YORK (7/27/09)--Many older workers are struggling to land on their feet after a layoff and having to settle for entry-level jobs. Some are starting their own business. If you're older than age 50, and looking for work for the first time in several years, know where to go for help because the job search process has changed (CNNMoney.com July 22).

Compounding the problem is a growing pool of older workers. According to AARP, one of six workers older than 65 is in the work force, compared with one of 10 in 1985.

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CU makes 120 innovations to improve efficiency & service

BRILLION, Wis. (7/27/09)--When Best Advantage CU in Brillion, Wis., needed to relocate to a new building, it also wanted to completely change its operations.

"We said, 'How do we want our members to feel?'" Renee Maeder, Best Advantage CU business development leader, told News Now. "They need to feel great when they are here."

Best Advantage was recently mentioned in an article by the Appleton Post-Crescent about local businesses prompted to improve their efficiencies due to the economic recession. Best Advantage has increased its efficiency and provided its members with improved service as the result of 120 innovations that changed its overall operation.

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10% is enough, religious groups tell lenders

DURHAM, N.C. (7/27/09)--Religious leaders and community organizers from throughout North Carolina demonstrated in Durham Wednesday as part of an international "10% is Enough" campaign, which seeks to cap interest rates charged by banks and credit card companies. Some credit unions agree with them.

The activists had planned to march to five financial institutions, including three credit unions (The News & Observer July 23). However, two Durham-based credit unions saved them the trip. Self-Help Community CU CEO Martin Eakes and Latino Community CU CEO Luis Pastor attended the demonstration.

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Repos, fewer car loans sign of the times

TUMWATER, Wash. (7/27/09)--Credit unions in Washington experiencing a decline in auto loans and an uptick in repossessed vehicles are attributing the trend to the recession and the slow economy.

In addition to increasing bad car loans, total credit union car loans are down statewide, David Bennett, director of public relations for the Washington Credit Union League, told local newspapers (The Olympian via The News Tribune.com July 24).

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Chrysler asks CUs' aid on 'Cash for Clunkers'

LANSING, Mich. (7/24/09)--Chrysler incentives, including the credit union member discount, have been suspended as of Thursday, while the auto maker launches its single Cash for Clunkers campaign. The new program will run through Aug. 31.

Invest in America, credit unions' auto incentive program with Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Co. (GM), has a contract with Chrysler through the end of the year.

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Spending, credit card use online decreases 11%

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (7/24/09)--Overall consumer spending online for the third quarter is projected to decrease 11% to an average $277, reports a new study.

That amount compares to an average $255 last quarter and $346 during third quarter last year, says the quarterly eBillme Online Spending Index conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research.

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Fed explores big Reg Z changes

WASHINGTON (7/24/09)--The Federal Reserve Board has proposed several major changes to Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) that would modify the disclosures required of lenders for closed-end mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

The Fed's proposal regarding closed-end home mortgages--which follows recent changes to open-end credit disclosures--is intended to increase consumer awareness of potentially risky features, such as adjustable rates and prepayment penalties. The changes would apply to disclosures for all closed-end credit transactions secured by real property.

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New minimum wage won't affect most CUs, says CUNA

MADISON, Wis. (7/23/09)--On Friday, the nation's federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 per hour. However, the wage hike is not likely to have much effect for most credit unions.

"The new minimum wage will have little effect on credit union wage costs," said Steve Rick, senior economist for the Credit Union National Association.

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Study: Social media's results hard to judge

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/23/09)--Measuring the effectiveness of social media campaigns is difficult for interactive marketers, according to a new study by Forrester Research, which could have implications for credit union marketers considering use of social media channels.

Of the 119 interactive marketers asked between May and June to rank such measurement capabilities on a scale of 1 to 10--"1" being "novice" and "10" being "expert"--the average response was 4.5 (LoneStar Leaguer July 22).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Disturbing trend on the 401(k) front

NEW YORK (7/22/09)--While the numbers indicate that workers still are stashing cash in their employer-sponsored 401(k)s, the news is not all good and requires many workers to take action now to catch up (Money August 2009).

A recent survey of 2.7 million eligible employees by Hewitt Associates revealed that 401(k) participation rates have increased from 67.2% in 2005 to 74.2% in 2008, thanks in part to auto-enrollment programs. And 15.4% of 401(k) participants increased their contributions in 2008. But that's the end of the good news.

Here's the bad news:

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Get 'em young, says CU liaison in Free Press

DETROIT (7/22/09)--Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) preschoolers money management program, Thrive by 5, is listed among the resource websites for an article addressing teaching young children about money in the Detroit Free Press (July 20).

The article also features the National Endowment for Financial Education's website, and interviews Erica Tobe, program leader for youth financial education at Michigan State University's Extension Service. Tobe is the extension's liaison to the credit union movement. She works closely with the Michigan Credit Union League and Michigan credit unions.

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Former CEO pleads not guilty to embezzlement

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (7/21/09)--The former president of the now defunct Rapids Municipal CU in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., pleaded not guilty Thursday in a U.S. District Court to charges of embezzling about $634,222 from the credit union.

David K. Henke, 50, was charged with bank fraud and embezzlement over a period from November 1999 to October 2008 from the credit union (Wausau Daily Herald July 18).

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Who takes care of consumers? Only CUs: Free Press

DETROIT (7/21/09)--Credit unions are the only lenders taking care of their consumers, noted a Saturday Detroit Free Press article. The newspaper also prominently mentioned the Michigan Credit Union League and its Invest in America program in contrast to the tightened access to credit consumers face at banks and other lenders.

Credit unions financed 170,000 loans to Chrysler and General Motors (GM) customers through the Invest in America program in the first half of this year. The program offers credit union members discounts and rebates when they purchase Chrysler or GM vehicles, the Free Press said.

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Sales tax holiday cushions back-to-school outlays

WASHINGTON (7/20/09)--The economy is putting a tight squeeze on back-to-school shoppers this year, confirmed a recent survey by Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF). One option for budget-conscious parents or students is to take advantage of some tax-free holidays in the coming weeks.

According to the NRF's 2009 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, released July 14, the average family with K-12 learners will spend an average $548.72. That represents a decrease of 7.7% from $594.24 in 2008. The survey revealed that four of five Americans expect to cut back on back-to-school spending this year, 56.2% will search for sales, 59.6% will spend less overall, 41.7% will buy generic, and 40% will cut coupons.

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30% of Internet users go online to manage finances

NEW YORK (7/20/09)--Thirty percent of U.S. Internet users recently surveyed say they go online to manage their finances. That sounds like a lot, but don't get cocky. In the scheme of things, "managing finances" isn't a popular reason to log on. In fact, it is No. 19 on a list of 21 reasons to go online.

The Ruder Finn Intent Index, conducted in second quarter 2009 by the Ruder Finn public relations agency, found that the No. 1 reason to go online was to "pass the time." Of those surveyed, 100% said this was a reason they log on (eMarketer July 17).

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Debt is down, but so are some credit scores

SAN FRANCISCO (7/20/09)--Credit unions may get questions from their members about credit scores, especially if the members have been working off their debt and find their credit score is less than a year ago. While debt for the average American is down, many are seeing lower credit scores.

Credit card companies that tightened their credit available to consumers the past two years have impacted their cardholders' scores, according to a survey by Credit Karma, a San Francisco-based online research and education business.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Economy still fragile, Hampel tells Wash. Post

WASHINGTON (7/16/09)--The economy is fragile, and any economic recovery will take time, Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), told the Washington Post Thursday.

"The bottom line is that the economy is still very weak and very fragile," Hampel said. "We're talking about a recovery beginning in the third or fourth quarter, but that's just barely a recovery."

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Survey reveals what CUs already knew: Courtesy matters

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (7/16/09)--Credit unions won't be surprised to learn of a new study's conclusions that courtesy and personal service matter when consumers shop for a financial institution. In fact, they matter more than the actual products or services offered.

J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Retail Bank Shopping Study, released Tuesday, found that 36% of a shopper's decision to select a particular bank is driven by the bank's brand image. Branch proximity matters to 21% of shoppers surveyed, and products and services influence 14% of those respondents.

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How to avoid fraud with prepaid cards

MADISON, Wis. (7/16/09)--The growing popularity of prepaid cards worldwide is offering more opportunity for fraudsters and could lead to an increase in card fraud, according to an industry executive. However, credit unions can take steps to help prevent this fraud.

The fraud would take place in the form of lost and stolen cards, counterfeit cards, and theft of personal identification numbers, said Mike Urban, senior director of fraud solutions for Fair Isaac, a Minneapolis-based company that produces the FICO credit scoring system (CardLine Global July 15).

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MICA: Cool tempers must reign in hot Washington temps

WASHINGTON (7/16/09)—In the nation's capital in July, hot temperatures and work fatigue may push lobbyists or lawmakers to lose their cool, but good leaders remember to keep their emotions in check, counsels Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica in The Hill.

In his most recent monthly K Street Insider column in the Capitol Hill publication, Mica recounted a lobbying experience where, despite his best intentions, he lost his cool, and offered what he called " a few simple words about cooling off this summer" for lobbyists tempted to fly off the handle.

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Don't stress over travel insurance

CHICAGO (7/15/09)--With summer travel season in full swing, more vacationers are considering buying travel insurance as a way to relieve stress and gain some peace of mind. But ask questions first to know whether travel insurance is right for you.

A recent survey from staffing firm Randstad U.S. reveals that more than 40% of respondents feel stressed when preparing to be away from work for vacation (suburbanchicagonews.com June 29). And following 9/11, more travelers worry about whether travel plans will go off without a hitch.

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Blogger loves her 'bank,' but oops, it's a CU

MADISON, Wis. (7/15/09)--A blogger on Salon.com is in love with her "bank." "I love my bank! I'm dancing with adoration for this place that holds my money for me." The only trouble is--her "bank" is actually a credit union.

If credit unions can get past the word "bank" as the Jess D. Facts blog raves about the unnamed credit union, they'll find this love letter provides examples of what credit unions do that banks don't and just how far credit unions will go to help a member in trouble.

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USA TODAY offers tips on switching to CUs

MADISON, Wis. (7/15/09)--USA TODAY offered tips Tuesday to consumers who have had enough of excessive bank fees and want to move their accounts to an alternative financial institution such as a credit union--which the newspaper said is a good alternative.

"In this tight-fisted economy, there's no reason to pay more for banking services than necessary--especially when there are so many banks and credit unions vying for your affections," wrote Sandra Block, USA TODAY "Your Money" columnist. "Some community banks and credit unions are offering interest rates of 4% or more on checking accounts if you meet certain requirements, such as using your debit card at least 10 times a month."

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Peer-to-peer lending? Credit unions do it better

MADISON, Wis. (7/13/09)--Lending Club, an online business that operates like a dating service to pair individuals who want to borrow money with people willing to lend it, reports more than 5,000 successful "marriages" worth more than $43 million since its launch two years ago. Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) Center for Personal Finance reminds borrowers that credit unions remain a better option.

Peer-to-peer lending networks bypass the traditional lending industry by allowing consumers to appeal directly to other consumers for a loan. Peer lenders often can earn more interest lending their money to strangers than they'd earn on conventional investments such as certificates of deposit. Peer borrowers often can get loans at rates lower than banks offer.

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Social media, marketing topic of webinar series

MADISON, Wis. (7/13/09)--Credit unions can learn how to effectively incorporate social media into their marketing programs through a new webinar series from the Credit Union National Association.

The Social Media Webinar Series explains how to develop and incorporate a social media strategy into credit union marketing efforts by using free tools such as blogs, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. The four-session series runs Aug. 11-27 and is held in conjunction with the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council (CMBDC).

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GM, Chrysler CU discounts to continue though year-end

LANSING, Mich. (7/13/09)--General Motors (GM) and Chrysler credit union member discounts as part of the "Invest in America" program will continue through the end of the year, the Michigan Credit Union League announced Thursday.

"Invest in America" is credit unions' auto loan discount program with auto manufacturers General Motors Corp. (GM) and Chrysler Corp. The program started in December with a four-state pilot program for GM and a 12-state pilot for Chrysler.

The program's sales totaled 35,938 in June, the league said. Of Chrysler's sales in June, 26% came through "Invest in America."

The number of GM and Chrysler car sales facilitated through the program so far--December through June--is 175,261. The program is on pace to sell 300,000 vehicles this year.

To date, 140,209 loans value at $2.8 billion combined have been made through credit unions as part of the program.

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Proper ATM fee disclosures can avoid lawsuits

LAS VEGAS (7/13/09)--Lawsuits charging improper ATM fee disclosures against financial institutions--including credit unions--and others operating ATMs continue to be filed in Pennsylvania.

The most recent lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania Wednesday, is against Global Cash Access Holdings Inc., a Las Vegas-based company that provides credit and ATM services to casinos around the country (Las Vegas Sun July 10).

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CUs work with members on auto delinquencies

PERRYSBURG, SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP and HOLLAND, Ohio (7/13/09)--Several credit unions in Ohio are doing their best to work with their members who become delinquent on auto loans.

Great Lakes CU, Perrysburg, Ohio, has been working to reduce the burden on its members who have had their cars repossessed. Instead of sending the cars to auction, the credit union has begun selling the vehicles itself--a situation CEO Dave Seeger describes as a "win-win."

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Media blitz nets positive stories for CUs in California

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (7/13/09)--A media blitz conducted by the California Credit Union League netted a wealth of positive print stories about California credit unions accepting IOUs (registered warrants) during the state's ongoing budget crisis.

Stories have run or will run in several of the state's prominent newspapers and business journals, and national news outlets such as CNNMoney.com and the Associated Press.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

CU's new elite card deemed one-of-a-kind

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/9/09)--Texas Dow Employees CU (TDECU) and TNB Card Services have launched a card product, Onyx, which blends revolving and non-revolving credit to offer triple buying power.

The card was designed to compete with elite card brands. Onyx targets members with credit scores of 720 or higher. A cardholder with a $10,000 credit limit can access up to three times the line of credit. The first $10,000 is on a revolving limit, like a traditional card. The remaining balance, or non-revolving credit, is due in full at the end of each billing cycle, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer July 8).

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CUs fill void as student-loan lenders retrench

CHICAGO (7/9/09)--Credit unions' student lending programs have gained the attention of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

With traditional student loans in short supply as lenders retrench through the economy, credit unions are stepping into the opportunity of private student lending, Credit Union National Association Senior Economist Mike Schenk, told the publication (July 10).

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New tax credit eases college tuition burden

WASHINGTON (7/8/09)--If you want help financing college education, it could be as easy as filing your taxes.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allows for a tax credit--a reduction in your tax bill--of up to $2,500 per student for the cost of tuition, fees and book expenses paid in 2009 and 2010. This amount is an increase over previous Hope and Lifetime Learning Credit limits and applies to tax years 2009 and 2010, so the earliest you'll get the credit is early 2010 for the 2009 tax year (MSN Money June 24).

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