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Poetic justice New phish kits target wannabee scammers

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (1/25/08)--A new group of hackers is targeting aspiring scammers by offering them free phishing kits on the Web. A group from Morocco, called “Mr. Brain,” offers the kits from a site hosted in France. The kits show potential scammers how to set up fraudulent websites and how to trick users into giving out personal financial information. Spam e-mail templates are included, with brands such as eBay, PayPal and Bank of America targeted (ComputerWorld Jan. 23). But the information collected with the kits is sent back to e-mail accounts controlled by the group, Paul Mutton, an Internet services developer with Netcraft, told the magazine. Phish toolkits contributed to a larger number of phishing attacks during December 2007, according to RSA, the security division of EMC Corp. U.S.-based financial services institutions accounted for 62% of phishing attacks (InfoWorld Jan. 16). Credit unions continue to be attacked by phishers. Monterey County Employees CU in Salinas, Calif., reported its members received e-mails sent by scammers purporting to be from the credit union regarding tax refunds. When the users respond by clicking on the links in the e-mail, their personal information is collected (The Californian Jan. 8). The credit union’s members also were targeted by a phishing scam in July. Scammers sent e-mails claiming that the recipients would receive a $20 gift card for taking a survey. When the credit union found out about the e-mails, it contacted members and told them not to give out their personal information, the newspaper said. Vishers, who attempt to solicit personal information by phone, also continue to target credit union members. Martinsville (Va.) Dupont CU members were called last week by scammers who claimed that their credit union accounts had been suspended. To lift the suspension, scammers told the members that they needed to give out their account information (Fox 8 Jan. 15). Listerhill CU, Sheffield, Ala., also reported a vishing scam. Dorothy Keeton of Sheffield said she received a phone call from a visher who claimed her Listerhill account was overdue--but she wasn’t a member of the credit union. She called Listerhill to report the scam (WAFF Jan. 15). Listerhill officials called the police, but before they could figure out where the calls were coming from, the number was disconnected. Like many vishing scams, the phone number the vishers used showed up as Listerhill CU on caller identification, according to news reports.

Wisconsin leagues GAC breaks record

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MADISON, Wis. (1/25/08)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League's state Governmental Affairs Conference this week in Madison brought record attendance of more than 260 activists, reports the league. The GAC's Tuesday evening reception also was well-attended by lawmakers. State Rep. Jim Kreuser (D) told the group about a start-up bank in the Kenosha area that had several hundred investors, who were subsequently forcibly bought out by the top shareholders so that the bank could declare itself a Subchapter S entity. A Subchapter S exempts it from income tax under Internal Revenue Service rules. The bank needed fewer shareholders to qualify. He congratulated credit unions for making each one of their members a valued part of doing business. Sen. Jim Sullivan (D) thanked credit unions for sharing stories with him that alerted him to the need for a bill that would prohibit predators from trying to scam people out of the equity in their homes. The bill passed the Senate 33-0 and is headed for the Assembly, where he said he thinks it also will have strong support from both parties. Since he took office as a new state senator in the last election, credit unions have been instrumental in keeping him informed and in the know about how issues affect financial services, Sullivan said. Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Michael L. Morgan cited credit unions’ near-zero rate of mortgage delinquency and applauded credit unions for sticking to safe, traditional forms of lending. Morgan attributed that directly to credit unions' member-ownership structure as cooperatives. Several lawmakers praised credit unions for their collective sponsorship of the brass student financial education program and reinforced the importance of financial education. John McKechnie, director of public and congressional affairs at the National Credit Union Administration, reminded credit union activists to always speak to lawmakers in terms of legislation that will be good for members, not good for CUs. If the lawmakers lose the connection to the member, they may see credit unions only as yet another institution walking in and asking for something, he said. It is credit unions' member focus that gets them remembered and appreciated, he added. Wisconsin league staff shared a preview of the league's 1 With The League Resource Center--a web-based tool allowing credit unions to access information, news and events about REAL Solutions, activism and the credit union difference.

NCUF names Decker social impact director

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MADISON, Wis. (1/25/08)--Consultant Tom Decker joined the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) staff this week as national program director for the Credit Union Center for Social Impact Management. The Credit Union Center for Social Impact Management houses NCUF’s cooperative education and related programs. Decker will continue to be responsible for the Credit Union Development Education program and the Social Impact Management program. Decker also will partner with REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch to aggregate information, drive the program’s Web presence, and facilitate the growing demand for information, training, and expanded programs and services emerging from REAL Solutions to help credit unions serve low-income and modest means households. Decker will be located in the NCUF office in Madison. He has been an NCUF consultant for two years. He helped launch the Social Impact Management Institute and expanded the NCUF-sponsored Credit Union Development Education program. Prior to joining NCUF, Decker was president/CEO of his own consulting firm, Hickory Creek Consulting. From 2000 to 2005, he served as Credit Union National Association (CUNA) director of the Center of Executive Development, working with the Leadership Development Institute, the Community Development Credit Union Institute and the Certified Executive Program. Decker was the director of the CUNA Management School for seven years.

Texas league seeks subprime success stories

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/25/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) is seeking success stories to help position credit unions as responsible partners helping with the U.S. economic stimulus. TCUL hopes to favorably position credit unions in the minds of consumers, the media, public opinion-makers and lawmakers as part of its advocacy efforts (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 24). The league seeks stories about members stuck in bad loans who were able to refinance with more favorable terms and conditions through the credit union. Other stories being sought include: a member struggling with a loan payment--auto, mortgage, signature--who prevented a default by working with a credit union; or a credit union that offers member business loans and helped a small community business obtain capital when no other lender would. Texas credit unions can e-mail their members’ stories to by Jan. 30.

CEO of CU in UBIT lawsuit gets standing ovation

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MADISON, Wis. (1/25/08)--The CEO of the credit union that filed the lawsuit challenging the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) unrelated business income tax (UBIT) received a standing ovation from her peers at the Wisconsin Credit Union League's annual Governmental Affairs Conference Tuesday. Cathie Tierney, CEO of Appleton, Wis.-based Community First CU, talked about the events that led up to the lawsuit before a record 260 credit union activists.
Wisconsin credit unions gave Community First CU CEO Cathie Tierney a standing ovation for filing a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service seeking clarification of the unrelated business income tax at the Wisconsin Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference. (Photos provided by the Wisconsin Credit Union League).
When her board first made the decision to sue, Tierney said the thought of suing the IRS was intimidating. However, she was inspired when the group re-read the credit union's mission statement: Do the Right Thing. "We knew we had to go through with it--for our members and for the credit union movement"--because it was the right thing to do, she told the group. The $916 million asset credit union seeks a refund of $54,000 that IRS said it owed, based on the sale of credit life and credit disability insurance and guaranteed auto protection (GAP) insurance. The suit seeks a legal clarification about what may be subject to IRS' UBIT rule. The suit has the support of the league, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (News Now Jan. 23).

CU System briefs (01/24/2008)

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* RICHARDSON, Texas (1/25/08)--More than 245 employees at Texans CU raised $225,000 for United Way during its weeklong 2007 campaign, with 33 individuals investing a minimum of $1,000 donation each. The credit union matched all employee contributions dollar for dollar and member contributions by 50 cents to the dollar. During the past 10 years, Texans has given nearly $800,000 to United Way. Texans President/CEO David Addison is active with the campaign cabinet. The marketing team--from left, Lisa Krenek, Erin Ortiz, Jill Rasmussen and Melissa Wegner--pose while hosting a "thank you" pizza party for staff. (Photo provided by Texans CU) … * HARAHAN, La. (1/25/08)--The Louisiana Credit Union League has promoted Jennifer Green to assistant vice president. In her new position, Green will work with the league's education and technology departments. Also, she will assist credit unions with research and information on compliance, regulatory, technical and operational issues. Green, who has been with the league since 2002, previously served as director of education and communication (eNews Jan. 23) … * FAIRBORN, Ohio (1/25/08)--A routine traffic stopped resulted in the arrest of two men charged with robbing Wright-Patt CU Tuesday afternoon ( Jan. 23). Jeffrey Mays, 36, was arrested after allegedly fleeing the car with police giving chase. Later, police apprehended Rondell Lynch, 20, hiding in a basement of a home. Police recovered money and drugs at that scene. Two masked men waving guns had entered the credit union shortly after noon. No one was hurt in the robbery (News Now Jan. 24) … * HARAHAN, La. (1/25/08)-- Peggy Clemens, former manager of Firestone Lake Charles FCU, Sulphur, La., died Jan. 16, reports the Louisiana Credit Union League (eNews Jan. 23). Clemens began working in the credit union movement in 1972, working half days at CSE FCU and the other half for Firestone. She became manager of the latter in 1992 and retired in March 1997 … * VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (1/25/08)--Myron Boyd Jones, Ph.D., former board member of Norfolk Teachers Association FCU, Norfolk, Va., died Jan. 19. He was 98. From 1947 to 1951, Jones was principal of Robert Moton High School, Farmville, Va., but was terminated in 1951 when students staged a walkout to protest the school's conditions. The event resulted in the NAACP filing a lawsuit, Davis v. Prince Edward County, which became a part of Brown v. Board of Education, which resulted in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decision. Dr. Jones later taught mathematics and physics at Alabama State College, Maryland State College, St. Paul's College, and Norfolk State University, serving as department head of the last three. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, three sons and nine grandchildren (The Virginian-Pilot Jan. 24) … * OAK GROVE, Ky. (1/25/08)--Susan Laney, 46, an employee of Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn., died Jan. 14 after a month-long illness (The Leaf Chronicle Jan. 17). She was a 2003 graduate of the Southeastern Regional Credit Union School. In 1999, she was named "Supervisor of the Year" at the credit union. She is survived by two daughters. The credit union has set up a memorial fund for the family …

Brazil movement grows rapidly shares success

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (1/25/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is helping leaders from global credit union movements challenged by slow membership growth explore the successful growth strategies of the Brazilian credit union movement. The Confederação Interestadual das Cooperativas Ligadas ao SICREDI, better known as SICREDI, one of the country’s largest credit union systems, has averaged 15% membership growth and 30% asset growth annually for the past five years.
Brian Branch, center, World Council of Credit Unions executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Rod Staatz, president/CEO, State Employees’ CU, Baltimore, talk with Evelyn Haddad, executive Assistant to SICREDI President Alcenor Pagnussatt, in front of SICREDI’s Ouro Branco Cooperative in Teutonia, Brazil, as part of WOCCU’s Brazil Engagement Program this week. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“The remarkable and sound growth of the SICREDI credit union system merits study by other national systems,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The success of SICREDI’s centralized system of staff incentives, which are based on each credit union maintaining financial performance while hitting aggressive growth targets, has lessons for us all.“ Branch is leading an international delegation studying how SICREDI maintains its growth rates. WOCCU director Alcenor Pagnussatt, president of the SICREDI confederation, is hosting the delegation. Participating credit union leaders from the U.S. include Bill DeMare, CEO of Bay Gulf CU, Tampa, Fla.; Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League; Lucy Ito, vice president of research, communications and public affairs for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and Rod Staatz, president/CEO of State Employees’ CU, Baltimore. WOCCU directors and officers Dan Burns, chair of Credit Union Central of British Columbia; John Gilbert, CEO of Cuscal, Ltd. of Australia; and Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO also are participating in the tour. SICREDI has established a branded image of financial soundness, service quality and community outreach enables its credit unions to outpace the banks’ growth in Brazil. Participants began their tour with a briefing on the vision and structure of the SICREDI system, its use of information technology and its governance structure. SICREDI has 129 member credit unions serving 1.2 million members through 1,013 points of service in 10 Brazilian states. The system holds $6 billion in assets and has five state-level corporate credit unions. SICREDI members have access to more than 100 products and services, including savings, credit, utility bill payment services, insurance, currency exchange and credit cards.

Integration social networking key to Brazil CUs

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (1/25/08)--Integration of systems and operations, a cooperative structure, and attention to social networking are the keys to Brazil’s credit union system growth, according to a U.S. credit union executive currently visiting the country.
Pete Crear, left, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) president/CEO, and Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League, answer questions Thursday from Brazilian SICREDI credit union system staff, regarding the U.S. credit union movement’s youth and marketing efforts, as part of the WOCCU Brazilian Engagement Program. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League, is a participant in the World Council of Credit Unions Brazil Engagement Program--which gives an overview of Brazilian credit unions to a small group of U.S. credit union executives. The group spent Thursday at a national credit union system headquarters in Porto Alegre learning about and discussing personal management issues, including recruitment, human resources and growth strategies. One of Brazil’s current major credit union systems--SICREDI--is only about 11 years old, so it is experiencing exponential growth, which often typifies a young system, Ensweiler said. “In Brazil, there is total integration--all credit union branches are part of one system,” Ensweiler told News Now. “They all have common back-room solutions, marketing, identification, and human resources through a central source that results in standardization. This is opposite of what you find now in the U.S. where credit unions not only differentiate themselves from banks, but also from other credit unions.” Going forward, U.S. credit unions should re-emphasize a cooperative structure, which they have drifted away from over time, Ensweiler said. The fact that credit unions are owned by their members, should receive more focus in the public arena, along with a re-emphasis of the idea of cooperative ownership, he added. “In Brazil, membership recruitment is done by making sure that credit union members are available to talk to other people in the community,” he explained. “Credit unions in Brazil pay attention to social networking. In the U.S., credit unions don’t use social networking--such as MySpace and Facebook--enough.”

Youth Week Saving Challenge site now live

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MADISON, Wis. (1/25/08)--The website for this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) National Credit Union Youth Week Saving Challenge is now live. This year, registered credit unions will receive a free, customizable web page. CUNA is offering credit unions a Web page because youth are credit unions’ future, and youth go online, according to Joanne Sepich, youth week coordinator. With the Web page, youth will have access to games, activities, videos and stories in Googolplex, an online magazine about personal finance for youth. Links to the pages will be provided at registration. Registration for affiliated credit unions is free. The saving challenge will be held during National Credit Union Youth Week, April 20-26. CUNA will offer $100 in cash prizes to random youth at 10 participating credit unions. Credit unions are encouraged to set savings goals and report their results by noon CST May 1. For more information, use the link.

Georgias first Latino CU one step closer to reality

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ATLANTA (1/25/08)--The proposed Georgia Family CU, a credit union marketed to Latinos, could open in Atlanta this year. The proposed credit union’s board met with a federal regulator Wednesday to discuss plans for forming the credit union(Atlanta Journal-Constitution Jan. 24). The credit union will reach out to help immigrants who came to the U.S. to work, organizer Paola Diaz-Torres told the newspaper. Banks often earn a lot of fee income from Latinos, said Rafael Morales, communications officer for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The banks don’t have products and services that are suitable for low-income people who live paycheck-to-paycheck, he told the newspaper. Aside from teaching financial basics to Latinos, the proposed Georgia Family CU aims to help small businesses, Diaz-Torres said. The proposed credit union is unique, said Anita Paul, spokesman for Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. Many of the state’s credit unions serve Hispanics but have not created a marketing strategy that targets them directly, she said. Diaz-Torres and associate Yahnia Rodriguez said they hope the credit union will have 1,500 members in three years. Diaz-Torres proposed creating the credit union in 2006 with money from IDEAS, a non-profit based in Decatur that promotes services to help the poor. Since then, she has raised $700,000, or three years of financing, but needs more financing from the community, the newspaper stated. The credit union also must be approved by the National Credit Union Administration.