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FSCC CUs team up on National Runaway Prevention Month

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CHICAGO and SAN DIMAS, Calif. (10/30/08)--Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc. (FSCC) and National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) have teamed up again to raise awareness with credit unions throughout the country to support National Runaway Prevention Month in November. FSCC is encouraging credit unions, including non-shared branching credit unions, to support the campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of issues facing runaway and at-risk youth, and educate Americans about solutions and roles they can play in preventing youth from running. "Credit unions are leaders in their communities, and they invest time and resources to help people every day," said FSCC President/CEO Sara Canepa Bang. "Raising awareness about youth runaway issues helps not only our communities, but also members and employees." FSCC said credit unions can participate in the campaign, which has a theme of "Let's Talk," by using the campaign's promotional materials. Materials for branches and lobbies and a community action kit are available at FSCC and NRS websites. According to NCR call volume statistics, family dynamics such as divorce, remarriage and problems with siblings, and abuse (substance, physical, sexual, neglect) are the top reasons youth reach out for help. Between 1.6 million and 2.8 million youth run away in a year.

Intermountain CU members OK merger with CU

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SALT LAKE CITY (10/30/08)--Members of Intermountain CU at a special meeting Tuesday voted nearly unanimously to merge into Ogden, Utah-based America First CU. About 150 members of Intermountain were present for the vote, said The Salt Lake Tribune (Oct. 28). Beginning immediately, Intermountain's administrative staff, member accounts and assets will be integrated into America First. The merger is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Intermountain was struggling financially as a result of the mortgage crisis. The merger was approved by the National Credit Union Administration and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. The 54-year-old credit union had 6,900 members and $41 million in assets. America First has $4.5 billion in assets.

Police rule CU reporters case a murder-suicide

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BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (10/30/08)--Boynton Beach police say a former credit union trade publications writer murdered her former partner and committed suicide (Palm Beach Post Oct. 29). Carol Anne Burger, 57, committed suicide Friday several hours at her home in Boynton Beach after the body of her former partner, software executive Jessica Kalish, 56, was found in her car more than two miles away (News Now Oct. 28). Police said Burger, upset about the disintegration of the couple's relationship, stabbed Kalish more than 200 times with a Phillips-head screwdriver in their garage, reported the Post. Police said she tried to conceal the killing by cleaning the garage, moving Kalish's car, and planting Kalish's keys and wallet elsewhere. Burger was a former writer for Credit Union Times and Credit Union Journal and wrote for several industry organizations. She had been reporting political news on a blog for The Huffington Post website until the deaths.

CU System briefs (10/29/2008)

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* SUITLAND, Md. (10/30/08)--Andrews FCU has opened four new Warrior in Transition Unit (WTU) barracks rooms at the U.S. Army Garrison in Chievres, Belgium. The rooms provide furnishings and amenities of home for soldiers recovering from injuries requiring care and rehabilitation for a time to heal. Andrews Federal provided the décor for the rooms, and toiletries, linens and other supplies. As current soldiers heal and new soldiers arrive, staff at the credit union's Chievres branch will refresh the supplies at the units. Staff also will make sure each soldier has a pleasant stay by baking cookies, donating holiday gift cards and providing care packages. (Photo provided by Andrews FCU) … * BANGOR, Maine (10/30/08)--Maine Credit Unions' seventh annual Ending Hunger Walking Tour kicked off Tuesday in Augusta. Brenda Davis, executive director of Crossroads Ministries of Old Town, which serves people in eastern Maine, took her first steps of a nearly 700-mile journey, where she will visit 56 communities in every Maine county and end her fundraiser Dec. 1 at University CU, Orono. In each community she visits, Maine's credit unions will donate $100 to a local pantry (Bangor Daily News Oct. 28) …

Americas CU Museum premieres 100th anniversary DVD

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (10/30/08)--An event premiering a DVD about the history of credit unions and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the credit union movement was held in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 23.
Present at the premiere of the 100th Anniversary of Credit Unions DVD were: Dan Mica, Credit Union National Association president/CEO; Dan Eagan, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island president; Susan Newton, American Association of Credit Union Leagues director; Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO; and Gordon Simmons, America’s Credit Union Museum chair. (Photo provided by the America’s Credit Union Museum)
The event began with a reception at America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester. It located in the original structure of the first credit union in the U.S., St. Mary’s Bank, which opened its doors 100 years ago in November. After the reception, a viewing of the DVD was held at a theater in downtown Manchester. The DVD, “Credit unions: 100 years of building financial futures,” is sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, CUNA Mutual Group, U.S. Central, and St. Mary’s Bank. The video chronicles the U.S. credit union movement and showcases the events and people responsible for the development of the credit union movement, according to the Massachusetts Credit Union League. Attending the premiere were Dan Mica, CUNA president/CEO; Dan Eagan, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island president; Susan Newton, American Association of Credit Union Leagues director; Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO; and Gordon Simmons, America’s Credit Union Museum chair. Credit unions' 100th anniversary (as well as the 75th anniversaries of CUNA and the Federal Credit Union Act) will be showcased at CUNA's 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference in February. The anniversary will be celebrated in June at the America's Credit Union Conference & Expo, which will be held in Boston in conjunction with the Massachusetts Credit Union League's annual meeting. The anniversaries also will be spotlighted in the November and December issues of Credit Union Magazine and in a special CUNA web page that will go live Nov. 1.

CUs shared branch gets perfect score

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ERIE, Pa. (10/30/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers, Inc. (PaCUSC) reported that Erie (Pa.) FCU’s Greengarden Road branch earned a perfect 100% score after a recent mystery shop conducted by CO-OP Shared Branching. The shop is part of an overall mystery shopping program designed to measure and improve member service quality among all 3,443 shared branches nationwide, according to PaCUSC State Coordinator Sandy Shenk (Life is a Highway Oct. 29). Erie FCU is the second shared branch to earn a perfect score in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, Parkview Community FCU, McKeesport, earned a perfect score. Mystery shoppers evaluate the service quality provided by a shared branch on:
* Transaction performed as per member request; * Transaction performed within network guidelines; * Overall member service experience; and * No solicitation of member.
Scores for Pennsylvania shared branches are slightly ahead of national averages, Shenk said. In no instance has a member of another credit union been solicited by staff of a shared branch, she added.

Corporates conference addresses fraud I.D. theft more

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (10/30/08)--Members United Corporate FCU’s fifth annual Operations Outlook Conference provided answers to questions about identity theft, automated clearing house (ACH) risk assessment, pandemic planning and growing staff.
Jim McKee, Federal Reserve Retail Payments Office, explained why the Fed is reducing its check-processing centers during Members United Corporate’s Operations Outlook Conference Oct. 21. (Photo provided by Members United Corporate FCU)
Nearly 100 credit union operations professionals from eight states attended the conference in Albany, N.Y., Monday through Wednesday. “This is the fifth year we have sponsored this operations-based conference in an effort to help attendees learn more about emerging technologies,” said Kevin Brauer, president, northeast region, Members United. Highlights included a pre-conference session entitled “Scams, Schemes and Fraud ... Oh My!” Tim Mills, Electronic Payments Network, shared statistics about payment fraud. More than 500 million checks are forged annually with losses totaling more than $10 billion. Vigilance is key to preventing fraud, he said. Jim McKee, of the Federal Reserve Retail Payments Office, said the Fed once had 48 sites across the country processing checks. The Fed’s current plan is to have only four or fewer processing sites by 2010, due to the electronification of checks. Concurrent first-day sessions offered these topics:
* Understanding the New International ACH Transaction, Bank Secrecy Act, Anti-Money Laundering, Office of Foreign Assets Control--A Never-Ending Journey; * Cross-Selling; * Conducting Your ACH Risk Assessment; * Mitigating Risk in Check Processing; * Information Security Update; * Bill Payment Trends and Adoption Best Practices; * Trends in Identity Theft; and * Your Most Valuable Asset--Do You Stand Out From the Competition?
The final general session, National Consumer Fraud Awareness, was presented by Al Weissmann, a U.S. Postal Service inspector. He shared stories about consumers being swindled out of their life savings via various postal scams. Weissmann warned that any time a consumer is asked to wire funds within a short period of time a “red flag” should go up. The conference also included “Branding You--Achieving Success and Satisfaction in an Extraordinary Career and Life,” presented by Jeff Rendel of Rising Above Enterprises. He suggested ways to brand the areas of life (family, friends, career, health) by identifying stakeholders (spouse, children, parents) and outlining goals and the life tools needed to fulfill those goals. The final day continued with concurrent sessions such as A Spoonful of Sugar: Making Your Financial Literacy Sweet, Your Member’s Experience--Will it Win, Wow or Worry and Pandemic Planning. The conference concluded with a Compliance and Regulatory Update from Yvonne Applonie of the National Credit Union Administration.

350 attend WOCCUs Africa SACCO Tech Congress

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BANJUL, The Gambia (10/30/08)--More than 350 volunteer leaders and staff from 18 nations studied new ways to overcome adversity and better manage their savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) during the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Africa SACCO Technical Congress last week in Gambia.
African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) Treasurer Hubert Hoosman Jr. (center) enjoys a moment with Patson Ngwevela from South Africa (left) and Kusi Boachie from Ghana at the 2008 World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Africa SACCO Technical Congress.
The event, held in conjunction with WOCCU’s Management Certification program, was co-sponsored by the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), the Canadian Cooperative Association, the Irish League of Credit Unions and the National Association of Co-operative Credit Unions of The Gambia. The sessions offered participants an opportunity to tap into solutions critical to issues affecting SACCO performance. The congress sessions focused on the growing need for financial services in increasingly turbulent social environments throughout Africa. Effective SACCO management has never faced a time of greater challenge, according to Sylvester Kadzola, a WOCCU director and chief executive for the Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives.
Click to view larger image Participants from Ghana enthusiastically wave their country's flag during the World Council of Credit Unions Africa SACCO Technical Congress opening ceremonies.
“Given the current social and economic conditions many of us face, participation in events like WOCCU's Technical Congress has become even more important for SACCOs in Africa,” said Kadzola. “Africa has made tremendous progress in the areas of government, technology and the development of regulations to enhance SACCOs’ ability to properly serve members,” added Hubert Hoosman Jr., treasurer for AACUC and president/CEO of Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo. “But there is still significant work to be done.” Much of that work concerns issues such as the civil unrest that shut down SACCOs and other businesses in Kenya for several weeks earlier this year, the need for greater government oversight and credit union-specific regulations and the continuing battle against HIV/AIDs. SACCOs have launched HIV/AIDs education and awareness programs to protect members who are succumbing to the disease in increasing numbers.
World Council of Credit Unions Director Sylvester Kadzola addresses Africa Technical Congress participants. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Congress participants came from Botswana, Burundi, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Canada, Ireland and the U.S. Officials from the government of The Gambia who attended the opening ceremonies included Fatou Lamin Faye, secretary of state for basic and secondary education; Abdoulie Bojan, deputy speaker of the National Assembly; Sheriff Gomez, secretary of state for youth and sports; Fatim Badjie Janneh, secretary of state for information and communications; Bakary Sonko, director general of the National Agricultural Development Agency; and Bamba Saho, governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia.

CUs making gains amid financial turmoil

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MADISON, Wis. (10/30/08)--Credit unions across the nation are performing well compared with other financial institutions amid the national economic turmoil and are providing education and assistance to consumers to help them through tough times. Not only are credit unions not a part of financial problems afflicting the U.S., they are outperforming the rest of the country, Gary Parks, president of the South Carolina Credit Union League, told a local newspaper (The Herald Oct. 28). For example, Family Trust FCU, a $217.7 million asset, Rock Hill, S.C.-based credit union, reported near-record loan growth for the first half of 2008, the newspaper said. Family Trust has seen 9% membership growth since 2007, and growth in every loan category. Family Trust’s success is not due to the credit union being smarter than its competitors, but mostly because it has not taken risks like many on Wall Street have done, Lee Gardner, Family Trust CEO, told the paper. The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) will offer a one-day forum on Nov. 13 to bring industry experts together to share information on lending, investing and managing during the current financial crisis (Michigan Monitor Oct. 27). “MCUL is doing everything possible to keep credit unions prepared to deal with the current financial climate,” said David Adams, MCUL president/CEO. “This forum is an excellent opportunity to gain insight on some of the most important challenges and opportunities facing credit unions during this financial crisis.” Pacific Service CU, a $1.109 billion asset, Walnut Creek, Calif.-based credit union, is offering two online videos that provide information about deposit insurance, financial stability, and the benefits of credit union membership. The videos, titled “Why Your Deposits Are Safe” and “What is a Credit Union?” are available on the credit union’s home page (use the link). “In today’s economic environment, an informed consumer has a powerful advantage when it comes to making financial choices. Knowledge about the strength and liquidity of credit unions and how we are different is essential information,” said Steve Punch, Pacific Service president. “We believe these videos do a great job of answering key questions that consumers have about financial institutions at the present time.”

Alamo chapters TV forum nets hundreds of calls

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SAN ANTONIO (10/30/08)--The Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored a Financial Forum Friday on TV station KENS 5 “Great Day SA” to answer financial questions posed in a town-hall format. Hundreds of viewers called in to the show.
Click to view larger imageThe Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored a Financial Forum Oct. 24 on TV station KENS 5 “Great Day SA,” to answer financial questions in a town-hall format. Hundreds of viewers called in to the show.
Credit union employees staffed a telephone bank during the program and continued taking calls and answering questions. Many of the chapter’s 37 member credit unions and a local credit counseling service provided experts for the program and staff for the telephone bank. Hundreds of callers who had financial questions and concerns about the economic climate took advantage of the free educational program. The panelists covered subjects including deposits and insurance, mortgage lending, consumer and auto lending, education loans, the current economic climate, collections and credit counseling. “The major difference between credit unions and banks is ownership; credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, owned by members, and banks are for-profit institutions, owned by stockholder,” Robert Williamson, chapter president, said at the beginning of the show. Asked about the impact of this type of program, a panelist said it is valuable for individuals as well as businesses to get their questions answered on a timely basis, especially in tough times. Calling in to ask a question is an easy, non-threatening way to get information, the chapter said.
Bridget Smith (left), host of San Antonio TV show “Great Day SA,” and Robert Williamson, president of the Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions, discussed financial questions during the show. (Photos provided by the Alamo Chapter of Credit Unions)
The Alamo Chapter provided the program for educational purposes, and it encouraged viewers to contact their credit union or financial adviser for advice in their specific situation. Members of the chapter are working cooperatively to enhance overall consumer understanding of how credit union deposits are insured to at least $250,000 through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). NCUSIF is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, but has never required financial assistance from the federal government, the chapter emphasized. One panelist put the main message in perspective: “We want to tell everyone that credit unions have money to lend, and that they are strong, stable institutions in which to deposit your money.”

CU difference noted in Missouri credit crisis forum

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ST. LOUIS (10/30/08)--A credit crisis forum featuring financial institution leaders and experts provided an opportunity to share the credit union difference in the St. Louis area, says the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA).
From left, Radha Gopalan, Washington University; D. Eric McClure, Missouri Division of Finance; Bill Ratliff, Missouri Bankers Association; Rosie Holub, Missouri Credit Union Association; and Julie Steakhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub joined the panel discussion at the forum "Financing the Future: A Look at How the Credit Crisis Affects Development and Job Creation in St. Louis." State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D-60) hosted the event at Harris Stowe State University Friday (The Missouri Difference Oct. 29). Holub emphasized credit unions' safety and soundness and said credit unions have money to lend. She also pointed out that the current economic situation offers an opportunity. "This is the time to rethink our financial discipline by clearly separating needs from wants, and financial education is key," Holub said. "Credit unions are an excellent resource for information, and the more knowledge you have, the more you can look at your situation and find income opportunities." Other forum participants included Professor Radha Gopalan, Washington University Olin School of Business; D. Eric McClure, Missouri Division of Finance; Bill Ratliff, Missouri Bankers Association; and Julie Steakhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Moderating were Amy Blouin, director of the Missouri Budget Project, and Eric E. Vickers, spokesperson, Minority Inclusion Alliance. More than 40 people attended. They included representatives from 1st Financial FCU, St. Charles, and St. Louis Community CU. A local cable access station, Channel 10, will re-broadcast the discussion at 3 p.m. CT today.