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Cybercriminals exploiting social networking

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NEW YORK and LONDON (12/18/07)--2007 has been a year of diversity in new tactics by cybercriminals, with the emergence of new threats targeting social networking, says a new security report. That's important to credit unions because some credit unions are attempting to attract younger members through social networking programs. Also the study has seen an increase in attacks against individuals in the financial sector. According to MessageLabs Intelligence 2007 Security Report, websites such as Facebook, Linked-In and Plaxo present rich pickings for criminals phishing for information to use in identity theft and targeted attacks (ENP Newswire Dec. 10). This year, several waves of attacks targeted primarily C-level and senior executives. Levels rose from one attack per day in 2006 to more than 1,100 during a 16-hour period in September 2007, said MessageLabs, which provides messaging and web security services to businesses worldwide. The most recent wave occurred in November, when the first sector-specific attack took place with almost 1,000 individual attacks aimed at the financial sector, said the study. Social networking tools are the third-most commonly triggered policy-based filtering rule on the company's services. "The rapid adoption rate of social networking sites such as Facebook has inevitably been exploited by cyber criminals intent on adding the content in these sites to their portfolio of tools," said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at the company. "As we have seen in the past, mass adoption of new communication or web-based tools is often followed by a rise in the number of threats against it, and the Facebook effect will present new challenges to corporate and personal online security," Sunner added. The rise in targeted attacks is matched by an increase in phishing attacks, which shadowed the number of virus attacks at two separate points in January and June. Phishing attacks accounted for 66% of all malware attacks, compared with an average of 24.8% in 2006, said the report. Among the top trends for 2007 cited in the report:
* Web security: An average of 1,253 new websites a day harbored malware, equal to almost half a million new malicious websites appearing during the year. * Spam: The annual average spam rate in 2007 was 84.6%, a slight decline from 86.2% in 2006. However, the portion of spam that is new and previously unknown increased by 10%. * Viruses: The average virus level for 2007 was one virus for every 117.7 e-mails, or 0.8%--a decline from 0.6% in 2006, when about one in 67.9 e-mails contained viruses. September saw the highest ratio experienced in the previous 18 months, with one in 48 e-mails containing a virus or Trojan. * Phishing: The number of phishing attacks increased to one in 156 e-mails during 2007, compared with one in 274.2 e-mails in 2006. Phishing attacks have widened their targets from drefrauding major international banks and financial organizations to also targeting smaller, national and state banks and credit unions.

Kansas CUs recover from winter weather

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WICHITA, Kan. (12/18/07)--Business at most Kansas credit unions is returning to normal after a recent ice storm that affected most of the state. Homes and businesses, including credit unions, in some areas were negatively impacted by more than two inches of ice, and more than 90,000 Kansas residents were without power for some time, said the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA). A snowstorm that passed through the area during the weekend made matters worse for some, said KCUA. "Currently there are many residents still without power, mostly in the rural areas of Kansas," said Ashley Bridgeman, KCUA communications specialist. "However, we are happy to report that credit unions affected by the ice storm quickly resumed daily operations and returned to providing great service for their members."

Virginia regulator reaccredited by NASCUS

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ARLINGTON, Va. (12/18/07)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) announced that the Virginia Bureau of Financial Institutions (BFI) recently earned NASCUS re-accreditation. The Virginia BFI supervises 55 credit unions with combined assets of about $5 billion. The agency was first accredited in 2002. NASCUS accreditation is valid for five years, subject to annual review. In addition to on-site evaluation and annual reviews, the process includes a self-evaluation of department operations in the areas of administration and finance, personnel, training, examination, supervision and legislative powers. NASCUS’ 28 accredited states supervise more than 83% of state-chartered credit union assets.

SECU offers biweekly mortgage payment option

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/18/07)--State Employees CU (SECU) of Raleigh is offering members a biweekly mortgage option. The mortgage option was created after members requested it. Mortgage payments are often too large to make from one paycheck, said Phil Greer, senior vice president of SECU’s loan administration department (Carolina NewsWire Dec. 3). Three types of SECU mortgages are available with the biweekly payment option: the two-year adjustable-rate mortgage, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and the AllSaver’s mortgage. SECU’s biweekly mortgage program takes the sum of 12 monthly payments and divides the total into 26 equal payments. The biweekly products include an escrow account where funds are collected with each payment for annual property taxes and insurance and held until needed. The escrow account earns interest. The biweekly mortgage payment has been available since Dec. 1. There is no charge for the added service. SECU has $14 billion in assets.

Maryland coalition answers professors call for fin ed

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BALTIMORE (12/18/07)--To answer an economics professor’s call for more financial education for grades K-12 in the state, the Maryland Coalition for Financial Literacy (MCFL) has sent a letter of response outlining some Baltimore County public school programs in the area. Allen Cox, managing director of the Maryland Coalition for Financial Literacy, penned the letter to Douglas Lamdin, professor of economics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, according to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCUA) (Focus Newsletter Dec. 17). Many consumers make poor financial decisions that lead to foreclosures, high debt and other financial crises because they do not have the educational background in these areas, Lamdin said in a commentary published in the Dec. 11 issue of the Baltimore Examiner. Teachers need education to teach economics and finance in Maryland’s public schools, he added. Lamdin recommends that state and local boards of education take an active role in placing these types of courses in the schools. Cox responded that Baltimore County public schools require high school seniors to take either Advanced Placement Economics or Economics and Public Issues. Five additional school districts in Maryland now require for graduation, courses that focus on financial literacy concepts. The coalition hopes to add three more school systems this year. That would mean nine out of 24 require students to take a course that includes financial literacy concepts. Earlier this year, MDDCUA led an effort to pass Maryland Senate Resolution 7, which urges county boards of education to integrate the principles of basic personal finance into their curriculum. The resolution also asks county boards to implement standards for graduation from a public high school. MDDCUA is an MCFL member.

Pennsylvania Senate OKs land sale to PSECU

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/18/07)--The state of Pennsylvania can sell 47 acres in Susquehanna Township to the Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU) for the credit union’s headquarters. The Pennsylvania State Senate approved the transaction Wednesday (Central Penn Business Journal Dec. 12). The farmland, owned by the state Department of Agriculture, will cost PSECU about $2.7 million, according to the office of State Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola (R-Dauphin County). PSECU’s new headquarters would allow it to expand its current 10-acre headquarters in Harrisburg, Piccola said in a statement.

Michigan league to host mortgage crisis summit

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (12/18/07)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) will host a “Mortgage Crisis Summit” Jan. 10, in response to the growing mortgage foreclosure crisis in the state. The purpose of the summit is to initiate dialogue on what the league and credit unions can do to assist consumers. Participants include credit union CEOs, mortgage professionals and credit union service organization leadership (Michigan Monitor Dec. 17). MCUL senior management has identified several areas in which the credit union industry could be a catalyst for positive change:
* A consumer mortgage hotline; * Credit counseling; * Consumer financial education; * Public/private partnerships; and * Public service announcements.
Also, the MCUL board of directors has approved the creation of a new league staff position--financial education coordinator--to manage, coordinate and deliver financial education and youth consumer financial training programs to credit union members and consumers. Creation of the position will allow the league to help consumers cope with the state’s ongoing mortgage crisis, said MCUL Executive Vice President Patrick La Pine. “The current mortgage crisis has drawn greater attention to the need for adult consumer financial education, and in this area our efforts haven’t been as effective as they could be,” La Pine said. “Despite 85% of credit unions offering free financial education, many members simply do not take advantage of the opportunity. “This financial education is particularly important in low-income areas where, unfortunately, the majority of predatory lending takes place,” he added. Recruiting for the position has begun.

More arrested including wife in ATM murder

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (12/18/07)--Police have made more arrests--including the victim's widow--in the shooting death of a Navy ensign found in the parking lot of Langley FCU in Newport News seven months ago. Michael Draven, 27, Newport News, and Catherina Voss, 32, widow of Cory Voss, were arrested Thursday and Friday, respectively, and charged with murder (Daily Press Dec. 15). Earlier in the week, police arrested David Runyon in Morgantown, W.Va. on charges he tried to rob Voss at the ATM in April, then killed him in a parking lot behind the cash machine. Police say surveillance footage shows Runyon holding Cory Voss at gunpoint. Voss, 30, went to the ATM at about 11 p.m. April 29. His wife reported him missing the next morning, and police found his body in the driver's seat of his pickup truck.

CUNA announces board election results in two districts

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MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (12/18/07)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced the results of two elections for the CUNA Board of Directors. In District 3, Class C, Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., was the successful candidate in a contest against Bruce Burns, chairman, SRP FCU, North Augusta, S.C. Doerty will begin a full three-year term March 3, 2008. In District 5, Class A, Winona Nava, president/CEO of Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., won a four-way election to fill the unexpired term of Mary Shipe, who resigned from the board, effective Dec. 31. Nava will take office Jan. 1, for a term that will expire in 2009. Other candidates in that election were: Brian J. Barkdull, president/CEO, American Southwest CU, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Paul Brucker, president, Railway CU, Mandan, N.D.; and Marsha Tynsky, president, Trona Valley Community FCU, Green River, Wyo. Dorety and Nava will join new board members Mary Cunningham, president/CEO, USA FCU, San Diego, and Edwin L. Williams, president/CEO Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa., who will take office March 3. Cunningham represents District 6, Class B, and Williams, District 1, Class A. Incumbents who ran unopposed and were re-elected in their districts earlier are:
* District 1, Class D: Joseph G. Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions, South Burlington, Vt. * District 2, Class B: William A. Herring, president/CEO, Cincinnati Central CU, Cincinnati, Ohio; * District 2, Class D: Paul L. Mercer, president, Ohio Credit Union System, Dublin, Ohio; * District 4, Class A: Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO, Point Plus CU, Stevens Point, Wis.; and * District 5, Class C: Harriet May, CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas.

CU System briefs (12/17/2007)

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* MADISON, Wis. (12/18/07)--Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz will be at UW CU today to acknowledge its Monroe Street branch's "Silver" certification from U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C. The branch is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified credit union in the Midwest. PLANNING Design Build, the architect/builder, said the building has daylighting in 90% of the retail areas, uses 40% less water; and recycles more than 95% of construction waste. Its reflective roof reduces the urban heat island effect, and the branch is located near a bike path for alternate transportation. Paul Kundert, president/CEO of UW CU, also noted it offers environmentally friendly services such as electronic statements and a free shredding service each spring … * KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (12/18/07)--A fake dynamite stick was the weapon used in a robbery Friday afternoon at Covenant Health FCU, Knoxville, Tenn. A man in a navy jumpsuit, orange vest and glasses went up to the teller and placed the fake dynamite on the counter and demanded money before fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. The incident occurred at 4 p.m. Police are treating the matter as a bomb threat robbery (WVLT and Dec. 14). * COLUMBIA, Md. (12/18/07)--Sharon Sykes has accepted the position of vice president of marketing at the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. Her position will be effective Jan. 2 (Focus Newsletter Dec. 17). Sykes will report to Chief Services Officer Paul Rosenberger and will be responsible for cooperative advertising, the association's website, and marketing the association and its services. She previously served as vice president of marketing at State Employees’ CU in Lithicum, Md., and marketing manager at Tower FCU in Annapolis Junction, Md. … * FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (12/18/07)--Sherry Beach, former president of Amoco Houston FCU--now BP FCU--died Dec. 14. She was described as a strong, compassionate woman who dedicated her life to credit unions (LoneStar Leaguer Dec. 17). Beach served as CEO of Amoco Houston FCU from 1980 to 1993. During that time, she also served on the board of directors for Texas Shared Guarantee, a private share insurer, until private insurance was discontinued in Texas. She was active in the Houston Chapter of Credit Unions, holding various positions on the chapter board for 10 years. She also was a supporter of the Children’s Miracle Network …