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ND CUs Make Progress On Fin Ed, Adult Abuse Bills
BISMARCK, N.D. (2/22/13)--North Dakota credit unions are tracking 34 bills in the state legislature, and Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) Thursday reported progress on a financial education bill and a bill relating to reporting adult abuse.

HB 1217, a bill relating to financial education at the middle school level, came out of committee, passing 12 to 0 and then passed in the House 90 to 2. The bill is now in front of the Senate Education Committee, said CUAD (the Memo Feb. 21). The bill would require that concepts of personal finance--such as checkbook mechanics, savings and credit card use--be included in the curriculum of grades seven and eight.

Also, CUAD is monitoring SB 2323, a bill relating to mandatory reporting of vulnerable adult abuse. While CUAD said it is not completely opposed to the premise of SB 2323, it is concerned as to how it will be applied to the role of financial institutions.

Passage of SB 2323 in its current language could leave North Dakota's financial institutions vulnerable to civil action or lawsuits, said Jeff Olson, vice president of advocacy and awareness at CUAD, in the article.

"A primary role of financial institutions is to protect assets, prevent losses and safeguard consumer information," said CUAD in testimony Monday before the North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee on SB 2323.

"While regular customer contact puts financial institutions in a unique position to detect financial exploitation of vulnerable adult abuse, credit unions and other depository institutions are resistent to the enactment of statutes requiring reporting and participation in both voluntary and mandatory reporting programs, on the premise that disclosure of confidential information regarding a customer may result in liability. Specifically, civil and/or criminal penalties for violation of federal and state laws regulating the disclosure of personal financial information," said CUAD.

The testimony referred to "a number of court decisions in which credit union members and bank customers have sued their financial institution for damages allegedly resulting from the disclosure of damaging or embarrassing financial information. Specifically, theories under which a customer might sue a credit union or bank for disclosure of private information include: breach of a contractual duty of confidentiality, defamation and invasion of privacy."

CUAD said the solution is to not include financial institutions, and to exempt them from the bill based on an individual's right to financial privacy and the potential breach of that information. It also is based on violating federal and state laws regulating personal financial information disclosure.
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