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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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."

Click the link for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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).

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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?"

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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."

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

Click the title for the whole story.
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.

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