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CUs In the Media On Shutdown, Taxes, Credit Scores
WASHINGTON (10/4/13)--The Credit Union National Association as well as credit unions told about the benefits of credit unions in several media articles this week on a variety of topics including credit unions' assistance to consumers affected by the federal government shutdown, the Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign and credit score tips.
Articles in the Des Moines Register and American Banker dealt with how credit unions and others are assisting with the shutdown's impact on family budgets.
"Credit unions are offering a variety of special services to members, so that no one should have to have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries simply because of Washington's inability to function," Bill Cheney, president/CEO of CUNA, said in a statement in "Credit unions, banks ramp up aid to furloughed federal employees," an article in the Des Moines Register (Oct 3).
The current partial government shutdown highlights one of the competitive advantages of credit unions, which is a cooperative business model that allows them to share information about the best ways to help customers, said Paul Gentile, CUNA's executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, in the same article. Numerous credit unions cater specifically to government workers and maintain contingency plans for a federal government shutdown, he said.
"This is not new for credit unions because so many cater to government workers," Gentile said. "You can't just turn on a switch. You have to have to have plans in place and they have to be compliant with regulations."
Also featured were the programs of Federal Employees CU in Des Moines, MCLG Family CU in Mason City, and Waterloo-based Veridian CU. Use the link to access the full article.
In the American Banker's Oct. 2 article about what financial institutions are doing to assist consumers through financial issues related to the federal government's shutdown, CUNA's Gentile said that at least half a dozen credit unions had already implemented plans to help their members while more were expected to make theirs public.  Credit unions were offering things like interest-free, short-term loans and letting members skip a payment on a consumer loan at no charge.  "From a member services standpoint, there is no better time to show your value than in times of need," he told the Banker.
In an article about the bankers' push to get Congress to eliminate credit unions' tax-exempt status for corporate income taxes, the Central Penn Business Journal (Sept. 27) noted credit unions' Don't Tax My Credit Union" social media campaign. The benefits of credit unions "far outweigh taxation," said CUNA's Gentile. He pointed out the $6 billion in benefits from the exemption flows back to the membership through the rate differential for savings and loans products, offering consumers better rates on loan. Also, credit unions provide a $2 billion benefit to nonmembers, including bank customers.
The article also featured Pennsylvania State Employees CU President Greg Smith, who said enacting a tax would put some credit unions, especially smaller ones, out of business, and Members 1st FCU CEO Bob Marquette, who added the cooperative, not-for-profit structure of credit unions puts them at an immediate disadvantage because they cannot sell stock, like banks, to raise capital. Use the link for the full article.
Also, Lathrup Village, Mich.-based Michigan First CU President/ CEO Michael Poulos was interviewed on Detroit FOX 2's "Money Monday" about ways consumers can improve their credit scores. Poulos gave advice based on the regular community seminars the credit union conducts on the topic, which he said attracts 100 to 200 members.

He also noted that auto loans and membership are up at credit unions because consumers are becoming more savvy about banks' high fees and poorer service. For his tips on improving credit scores, use the link.

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