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Hackers steal former CUs account data

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FORT WORTH, Texas (1/28/08)--Cybercriminals hacked into former credit union OmniAmerican Bank's records and stole account numbers, created new personal identification numbers (PINs), fabricated debit cards, then withdrew cash from ATMs in Eastern Europe, including Russian and the Ukraine, and Britain, Canada and New York. The Fort Worth-based bank said last week that fewer than 100 accounts, including some dormant accounts, were compromised. All had daily ATM withdrawal limits of less than $1,000, President Tim Carter told Star-Telegram (Jan. 23 and 24). He said the amount stolen was minimal, and no depositors will lose money. The fraudulent activity was discovered Jan. 18 from three sources: customers asking about unusual activity in their accounts; internal monitoring; and a law enforcement agency. OmniAmerican immediately placed temporary limits on some ATM and debit card transactions and suspended some electronic banking services. The services were restored on Jan. 20. The $1 billion asset bank has mailed letters notifying check-card holders. It will issue about 40,000 new debit cards, each with a revised PIN, as a precaution. OmniAmerican, once the second-largest credit union in the area, changed its name from OmniAmerican CU on Jan. 1, 2006, after members voted 3-to-1 in July 2005 to convert to bank charter (News Now Feb. 13, 2007).

CU System briefs (01/25/2008)

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* MADISON, Wis. (1/28/08)--A group of northwest Wisconsin credit union activists help State Rep. Gary Tauchen, in the driver's seat, (R-Bonduel), push his car out of a snowbank during the Wisconsin Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference Tuesday, after he ran late for their meeting. The group hiked two blocks to help him, then rushed back to the Capitol for another legislative visit. At a reception that evening, Tauchen thanked them and shared a few laughs over the situation. "These credit union representatives did an above-and-beyond job of exemplifying credit unions' People Helping People philosophy," said Chad Helminak, league public relations specialist. In the group were Allan Jamir, Horizon Community CU; Cathy Becks, Dan Wollin, and Lesley Enz, all of P.C.M. Employees CU; James Zimmer, Pioneer CU; and Laura Schenkoski, Leland Nicholas, Lois Nicholas, and Mary Anderson, all of N.E.W. CU. (Photo provided by the Wisconsin Credit Union League … * LENEXA, Kan. (1/28/08)--Thieves tried to steal an entire ATM Thursday morning from CommunityAmerica CU, but didn't get far. Police said thieves used either a bulldozer or a heavy chain to pry ATM from its concrete foundation. The ATM was recovered near its base and it wasn't clear whether any money was taken, police said. The incident was reported at 5:30 a.m. (The Kansas City Star Jan. 24) … * TAMPA, Fla. (1/28/08)--GTE FCU has launched CU2GO, a mobile account access service, for members enrolled in its CU@Home online account access program. CU2GO was created to give members access via the credit union's secure mobile access website, Members can use the new service via their cell phone to view account balances and transaction histories, transfer funds and pay bills online. About 2,000 members beta-tested the service before its official rollout … * NEEDHAM, Mass. (1/28/08)--Direct FCU member John Bilos, shown with his new 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid, was the grand prize winner of the $740 million asset credit union's "Go Green" sweepstakes, an online web-banking promotion. During the sweepstakes, which ran throughout September, new and current Bill Pay users automatically were entered each time they paid a bill online. Bilos, a member since 1987, was randomly selected from more than a million sweepstakes entries. (Photo provided by Direct FCU) … * GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (1/28/08)--The Ohio Catholic FCU (OCFCU) has named Randall Trimm as CEO, effectively immediately. Trimm has been in the financial services industry since 1983. Most recently he was wealth manager at the Beachwood office of UBS (United Bank of Switzerland). He also directed consumer lending operations for Charter One Bank in Cleveland and headed retail for Huntington National Bank's east region. Trimm also served in leadership positions with Metropolitan Bank & Trust and Bank One. OCFCU is the largest faith-based credit union in Ohio, with $125 million in assets, six branches and 18,000 members …

CEOs Another small rate cut in members best interests

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KEY WEST, Fla. (1/28/08)--Attendees at last week’s 2008 CEO Summit were asked to act as if they were members of the Federal Open Market Committee and determine whether another federal interest rate cut should be made this week. Steve Rick, senior economist at the Credit Union National Association, asked credit union CEOs attending the question and got a consensus response. After CEOs reviewed various economic indicators, they agreed another small rate cut would be in the best interests of members, credit unions and the overall economy (Life is a Highway Jan. 25). Another cut would help the economy make a “soft landing” of slower growth but not a deep recession, the CEOs reasoned, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association reported. Economists expect an increase in deposits as members leave the equity markets for the safety and stability of credit union share certificates, Rick told attendees. Loan growth will not be as steep, although a decrease in long-term rates may drive some growth in mortgages, he added. The interest-rate margin is not expected to improve significantly, and credit unions will continue to need non-interest income to fully cover expenses, Rick said.

On the CU Tube Touting the CU difference

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MADISON, Wis. (1/28/08)--Each week, News Now will feature an online video that involves the credit union movement. This week’s video was created by a 19-year-old spokesman from Young and Free at Commonwealth CU in Alberta, Canada, and seeks to show the difference between banks and credit unions.

Thousands of members rise to Financial Fitness Challenge

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MADISON, Wis. (1/28/08)--More than 3,000 participants registered in the 2007 Home & Family Finance Financial Fitness Challenge. The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Center for Personal Finance conducted the year-long challenge on the Home & Family Finance Resource Center, a Web content site for credit unions. Each month highlighted a different set of tasks--from using direct deposit to requesting free credit reports--that consumers should fulfill to make the most of their financial resources. "I definitely think that my financial habits have improved, and I am striving to make them better all the time," said one participant, Anji. Registered participants became eligible for drawings that awarded 10 $50 Visa cards each month. Many more consumers followed the challenge without registering. Dallas-based American Airlines FCU alone enrolled 812 members, or 25% of the total registrants. Its members also pulled down about a fourth of the prize money. American Airlines webmaster Pedro Noda made it his goal to swamp all other competitors by featuring the challenge in member e-mails throughout the year. The challenge also was featured monthly on Home & Family Finance Radio. The 2008 Finance Fitness Challenge takes a new tack. "We ask credit union members--and staff--to share their best money-management ideas," says Jim Hanson, vice president of the center for personal finance. Those submitting their ideas will be eligible for monthly prices of $50 Visa gift cards and a grand prize of $1,000 for a "reader favorite" chosen at the end of the year. "The challenge is one more solid way you can show members and potential members that credit unions are different," says Susan Tiffany, CUNA's director of personal finance information for adults. For 2008 challenge rules and where to send money-management ideas, use the H&FF Radio link.

Brazil CUs have growth aspirations cooperation

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (1/28/08)--Growth and cooperation are the keynotes of the UNICRED Brazilian credit union system, said a member of the small group of U.S. credit union executives taking part in the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Brazilian Engagement Program last week.
Dr. Denise Damian, UNICRED Brazilian credit union system president/CEO, taught a course Friday on financial management to credit union members as part of the World Council of Credit Unions Brazil Engagement Program conducted last week for a small group of U.S. credit union executives. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
UNICRED is a credit union system serving Brazil’s healthcare sector. It has roughly 140 member credit unions, serving more than 153,000 members through 396 points of service in Brazil’s 27 states. Growing membership wisely is UNICRED’s main goal, Rod Staatz, president/CEO of State Employees CU, Baltimore, told News Now. One credit union in Rio de Janeiro seeks to grow from its current 20,000 member-level to 50,000 members, Staatz said. “Credit unions in Brazil and the U.S. both are interested in growth,” Staatz said. “They also have the same challenges in several respects. Brazilian credit unions have to keep up with the services that banks are offering and also need to raise sufficient capital to do so, which is similar to the situation that U.S. credit unions face.” As for differences between the countries’ systems, the U.S. can learn from the higher level of cooperation among Brazil’s credit unions, Staatz said. UNICRED has 140 credit unions banded into nine groups trying to standardize products and back-office procedures, he added. “This paves the way for reduced costs and a standard brand,” Staatz explained. “UNICRED is basically working toward offering the same products and services--the same brand--for all 140 of its member credit unions.”

More CUs declare dividends

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MADISON, Wis. (1/28/08)--More credit unions nationwide have declared year-end dividends returned to their members. David Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League, referring to Dearborn FCU’s special dividend, said: “When is the last time that a bank sent their customers a little extra after a profitable year? As an industry, we can tout this special dividend as the credit union difference in action. This dividend represents the hard dollar differences between credit unions and banks.” The following credit unions have announced dividends:
* Dearborn FCU, Dearborn, Mich., declared a special dividend for more than 125,000 members, ranging from $50 to more than $10,000; * Clark County CU, Las Vegas, gave members their respective portions of a $6.96 million dividend payment, deposited directly into their savings accounts Jan. 8. The money is distributed, based on the amount of interest paid or earned by each of the credit union’s 38,700 members in the past year (PR Newswire Jan. 8); * Financial Plus CU, Des Moines, Iowa, gave its 12,000-plus members a bonus dividend payment, averaging $32.20, with the highest single payment totaling over $1,300; * The People’s FCU, Amarillo, Texas, paid more than $225,000 back to its members in the form of a bonus year-end dividend--the first bonus dividend in the credit union’s 55-year history (The Amarillo Globe-News Online Jan. 12); * Hanscom FCU, Hanscom AFB, Mass., gave its members more than $1 million in loyalty dividends, representing a 3% bonus on dividends earned and consumer loan finance charges paid in 2007 (Business Wire Jan. 9); * Scott CU, Collinsville, Ill., issued about $240,000 to its members in bonus dividends and, for the first time, loan interest rebates (Belleville News-Democrat Jan. 8); * Capital Educators FCU, Meridian, Idaho, declared an extraordinary dividend of 0.50% for its members, improving the fourth-quarter yield to 2.16% annual percentage yield (APY) from the usual rate earned on share accounts, which is currently 1.66% APY; * GPO FCU, New Hartford, N.Y., declared a 5% dividend bonus and a 4% interest rebate for 2007, totaling $300,733 paid back to its members ( Jan. 13); * Glatco CU, Spring Grove, Pa., offered members a 5% bonus dividend, and a 2% interest rebate on Dec. 31 (Life is a Highway Jan. 9); * Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa., issued another bonus for the fourth quarter of 2007, bringing the total distribution back to members at more than $1 million. On Dec. 31, members received a 3% bonus on checking and savings interest earned between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. Members also received a 3% rebate on interest paid for qualifying loans during the same period (Life is a Highway Jan. 9); and * Riverfront CU, Reading, Pa., declared an interest refund equal to 3% of interest paid on qualifying consumer loans for 2007, and declared a bonus dividend equal to 3.4% of dividends paid in 2007 (Life is a Highway Jan. 22).

Member donates dividend to family near foreclosure

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HIGH POINT, N.C. (1/28/08)--What do members do with the dividends and rebates they receive from the credit union? For one member of North State Telco CU, it was a no-brainer. He donated his entire dividend to members of a struggling family in danger of losing their home.
North State Telco CU Assistant Manager Sarah Allen noted members' generosity in helping others. She says Perry Widemon Sr., shown here with her, "is one of the best at it--this isn't the first time he's helped someone out." (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League)
The $8.3 million assets credit union based in High Point, N.C., paid its members a year-end rebate--something it's done for more than 25 years, since 1983. This year's rebate was 9% on the interest earned on member deposits and 9% of the interest they paid during the year, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League's Weekly Update (Jan. 14 and 25). Perry Widemon Sr., a member since 1986 when he became a cable splicer for North State Communications, received a $250 rebate. He could have put it to good use for his own family--his wife, four children and 15 grandchildren. Instead, Widemon, a pastor at Hallelujah Baptist Church, thought about the members of the struggling family who are members are the church. "They were way behind on their mortgage payments, and they didn't think they could catch up," he said. Church members decided to give on their own to help out. He dropped by the credit union to see what he could give. "We saw that rebate had made it into the account." He was shocked at the amount, but without hesitation he donated the entire amount to the family. His donation, combined with others, helped the family catch up on its house payments. North State Telco Assistant Manager Sarah Allen, who has known Widemon since he joined the credit union, said he is typical of the credit union's membership. "They'll do anything to help people out. Perry is one of the best at it--this isn't the first time he's helped someone out." Widemon says his generosity and commitment to the credit union come from his deep faith. "I've been in some real storms over the years, but this house [North State] has brought me through them. I've learned over the years that if I just stand still, God will take care of me." While his rebate amount reflects a healthy financial situation, he is mindful of what it is to struggle. "I've stood here and cried before, and these folks have always been here for me," he said of the credit union.