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Rhamy returns to Silver State Schools CU

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LAS VEGAS (12/29/09)--Dave Rhamy, who resigned as CEO of Silver State Schools CU in Las Vegas last week, has returned to his job. Media including The Las Vegas Sun and The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Rhamy has returned to the credit union (Dec. 24). Silver State Schools CU also posted a message on its website from Rhamy assuring members of its strong financial position. “Our credit union is going through a challenging time, just like most other financial institutions,” Rhamy said. “However, our credit union has nearly $54 million in savings reserve (capital). This means that we could endure two more years of losses similar to those we've experienced in 2009, although we won't likely need to because your (and our) financial condition the past few months is much more positive than the first nine months of the year.” The message does not mention Rhamy’s resignation or return to Silver State Schools CU. Rhamy said last week that he was resigning from the credit union to pursue opportunities in the legal profession, according to the credit union (News Now Dec. 22). He became president/CEO of the credit union in 1999. He tendered his resignation from the board of directors of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) at that time. A special election for Rhamy’s director seat on the CUNA board, announced before he returned to the credit union, will be conducted Jan. 21 to Feb. 12 by written ballot. Nominations are due Jan. 20. Rhamy is eligible to run for the seat. Silver State Schools CU has $899 million in assets.

Holidays present slew of oddball robberies

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MADISON, Wis. (12/29/09)--Robberies during the holidays were a bit on the usual side, including an armed gunman who wished the tellers he'd just robbed a "Merry Christmas." Among them:
* A man who robbed $75 million asset Financial Plus CU, Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday afternoon entered the credit union wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a "skeleton" ski mask. He pointed a handgun at a teller, who removed her cash drawer and placed it on the counter. The suspect placed his gun on the counter, removed his gloves, and started shoving money into a plastic bag. The suspect also took another teller's cash, and before he fled, he wished them both a "Merry Christmas." (Des Moines Register Dec. 24). * A thief wore a black jacket, hat, ski mask, dress shoes and dress pants, plus white gloves, when he walked into GTE FCU, Tampa Fla., Dec. 5. He also held up a black umbrella, propping it over his left shoulder while he held a gun in his right hand. The robber took cash from the tellers and vault, stuffed the money in a distinctive grey and black leather briefcase, and ran ( Dec. 28). Authorities hope the unique briefcase will identify the guy with the umbrella, not to be confused with the "little man with the umbrella," a 20th century marketing icon for credit unions and a predecessor to credit unions' current "Little Guy." * Someone entered the 24-hour lobby at Service First CU's Tea, S.D., branch and stole the ATM just after midnight on Dec. 21. The suspect cut the cables to the ATM and stole the entire machine. Authorities are investigating whether the theft is related to an earlier ATM theft at a convenience store on Dec. 16 ( Dec.28). * A fake bomb was used by a man at a drive-through window at a United Community CU Saturday in Crosby, Texas. The man pulled up to the window and handed the teller a package with a note demanding money. She gave him the money, then called police. A bomb squad secured the branch and sent a robot to retrieve the device, which turned out to be a well-constructed homemade bomb hoax. "The teller was smart. She didn't touch it," said the Harris County Sheriff's Office (abc13 Dec. 26). * Another fake bomb was brought into a Riverton, Utah branch of Sandy-based Jordan CU Wednesday just before 5 p.m. by man wearing a ski mask. He also was armed with a gun. He set the package on the counter and said a bomb was inside. He fled toward a residential neighborhood with the money. The Unified Fire bomb squad examined the box and determined it wasn't a bomb. * Holidays are prime time for crimes of opportunity, say police in Epping, N.H. A Service CU ATM inside a Walmart there provided an example. A man thought he deposited $590 into his account via the ATM but didn't read the transaction slip before he walked away. It said, "Unable to make a transaction at this time." The ATM returned the deposit, which the man did not notice. A woman accompanied by a boy stopped at the machine, took the cash and entered Walmart. Police are distributing a surveillance photo of the woman. Service CU, which is based in Portsmouth, N.H., is covering the victim's loss (The Boston Dec. 25).

Heartland settles class action lawsuits in Texas

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PRINCETON, N.J., and SAN JOSE, Calif. (12/29/09)--Heartland Payment Systems Inc. has agreed to settle the data breach-related consumer cardholder class action lawsuits that were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas--to the tune of $1 million to $2.4 million. The suits related to a breach by cybercriminals of its payment system, which the company announced Jan. 20. The breaches occurred between Dec. 6, 2007 and Dec. 21, 2008. The credit card processor agreed to pay the amount to class members in the lawsuit who submit valid claims for losses as a result of the intrusion, it said in a press release. It also agreed to pay all costs tied to the administration of the settlement--including up to $1.5 million for the cost of notice to the settling class--and up to $760,000 of the class action members' attorneys' costs. Heartland also agreed to submit the report of an independent expert on the company's actions and plans to enhance the security of its computer system. The settlement is subject to court approval. Heartland said it could terminate the deal if costs of notice exceed $1.5 million, or if it received more than 2,500 requests for exclusion from the settlement class. The settlement includes all intrusion-related proceedings by consumers who used the payment cards during the breach period, including those who may allege to have suffered losses, the company said. In another related court case stemming indirectly from the breach, VeriFone Holdings of San Jose, Calif., said Monday that a U.S. District Judge in New Jersey had denied Heartland's request for a preliminary injunction against VeriFone to prevent it from communicating it would provide support to merchants using processing terminals from Heartland. The two companies have worked together for years, but they filed lawsuits against each other. VeriFone claims a design for processing terminals at Heartland's new end-to-end encryption system infringes on one of its patents. Heartland says VeriFone is using unfair trade practices to keep its business. Data breaches at Heartland and other companies have prompted a drive toward tougher encryption of payments processing systems. As a result Heartland decided to use its own end-to-end encryption platform (News Now Nov. 10). In Monday's VeriFone opinion, U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper said Heartland made contradictory claims over its ability to service clients using VeriFone systems. VeriFone had announced in November it would provide support to prevent disruption to merchants.

MidFlorida CEO named to Fed branch bank board

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LAKELAND, Fla. (12/29/09)--MidFlorida CU President/CEO D. Kevin Jones has been named to the board of directors of the Jacksonville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. His term begins Jan. 1. It will expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Branch directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta provide economic information about their industry and the branch territory to the district bank's president and head office directors, who use the information to form monetary policy and make discount rate recommendations. Jones, who joined MidFlorida in 1992, is a past director of the Florida Credit Union League Service Group. Previously he served as vice president of finance at Cummins Employees FCU, and held several positions at American Fletcher National Bank. Hugh Dailey, president/CEO of Community Bank and Trust of Florida in Ocala, also was named to the Jacksonville branch board. MidFlorida CU is headquartered in Lakeland. It has $1.4 billion in assets.

DFI director in first visit to ICUL offices

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (12/29/09)--The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) will submit a proposed rule draft for consideration by the director of the Illinois' Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation so the DFI's rule on allowance for loan losses is consistent with a new state statute.
Click to view larger image Illinois Department of Financial Institutions Director Robert Meza of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation met with staff at the Illinois Credit Union League recently. From left are: Dan Plauda, league president/CEO; Steve Olson, league executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer; Meza, and George Fiegle, executive vice president of ICUL Service Corp. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
DFI Director Robert Meza made his first visit to the league's headquarters since his appointment last year. He met with Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO; Steve Olson, executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer; and George Fiegle, executive vice president/chief operation officer of the ICUL Service Corp. They discussed Gov. Pat Quinn's approval in August of H.B. 348, now Public Act 96-0141. ICUL initiated the bill to codify several technical amendments to the Illinois Credit Union Act. Under the new law, credit unions are authorized to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), in consultation with their auditors, to establish the historical loss rate in determining their allowance for loan losses. The law also authorizes credit unions to provide check cashing and similar money transfer services to non-members in their field of membership. Since DFI previously had promulgated a loan loss accounting rule, ICUL staff and Meza discussed the rulemaking necessary to make DFI's rule conform to the new act. ICUL staff agreed to submit a draft amendment for Meza's consideration that would authorize credit unions to establish, in consultation with their retained auditors and in accordance with GAAP, their historical loss rate through the use of a period of less than five years. During his visit to the Illinois Credit Union Center in Naperville, Meza was provided with an orientation of the system's programs. That included transactional credit, debit, pre-paid debit, and ATM products offered by the Service Corp. to credit unions in Illinois and 45 other states. ICUL staff also briefed Meza on the league's resources and services targeting smaller credit unions, including grants available through the Illinois Credit Union Foundation.

Virginia league returns 300000 in dues to CUs

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (12/29/09)--The Virginia Credit Union League will return $300,000 in dues payments to its member credit unions. Each affiliated credit union will receive a rebate of 20% of its 2009 dues payment. The league is able to finance the rebate because it recently sold stock it held in a shared branching operation. The league board thought it was prudent to sell the stock given the premium the league were paying, according to league President Rick Pillow. “We know many of our credit unions have had a challenging year financially given the economy and corporate stabilization costs,” said league Chairman Stan Leicester. We hope the dues rebate will help our credit unions cope with their budgetary challenges.” This is the first time the league has been able to rebate part of credit unions’ dues payments. Rebate checks were mailed Dec. 18.

CUs play Santa to make holidays happy for kids

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MADISON, Wis. (12/29/09)--Credit unions and credit union leagues hosted events and collected and distributed toys to make this year’s holiday season happier for children.
Click to view larger image CU Community CU in Springfield, Mo., adopted a second grade class at Boyd Elementary for the holidays, supplying each child with gifts such as socks, toys and personal hygiene items.
The Illinois Credit Union League provided toys for patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The hospital gives patients prizes after they undergo a rough day of tests or treatments, and its in-house TV network hosts game shows where patients receive prizes. The need for small prizes is ongoing, with the greatest need for gas cards and grocery store gift certificates to help families who are visiting their children in the hospital, the league said. CU Community CU, Springfield, Mo., adopted a second grade class at Boyd Elementary School and provided more than $3,500 in cash and donated items for the event. Each child received a gift bag with a
Click to view larger image Children at Boyd Elementary received gifts such as board games from CU Community CU in Springfield, Mo. (Photos provided by CU Community CU)
board game, toys, bubbles, hygiene products, gloves, socks, stocking cap, t-shirt, sweatshirt and other items. “I was surprised that it wasn’t necessarily the toys or games that caused the most excitement with the kids,” said Sarah Buchschacher, CU Community CU marketing assistant. “They liked those gifts, but many of them counted the chap stick, bubble bath, notepads and sock as their favorite things they received.” The credit union offered each child the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap. CU Community CU’s Kids Club mascot, the CUCCU bird, also attended the holiday party. Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md., provided Christmas gifts for needy children in Washington, D.C., and Burlington County, N.J. It also participated in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Andrews adopted 40 Angel Tree children in D.C., and bought bikes, clothes, toys and baby items. Employees also collected and donated 52 gifts to the Salvation Army. BELCO Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., teamed up with local hockey team the Hershey Bears for the annual Teddy Bear Toss Dec. 5. More than 10 BELCO employees and their families collected bears and other stuffed animals that fans threw on the ice after the Bears’ first goal. Fans donated 6,420 bears, which were donated to hospitals and charities. BELCO visited the pediatric ward of Harrisburg Hospital Dec. 22 to deliver bears. Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore., raised $4,300 to help 11 local families in need. A local TV station had run on-air promotions inviting the community to nominate a family in need on its website. The winning family received $1,000. The rest of the money Rogue raised was divided among 10 other families. More than 180 families were nominated and the website generated more than one million hits. “We hear stories from folks who had 30 years of perfect credit history prior to the recession,” said Gene Pelham, president/CEO of Rogue CU. “Now they are about to lose their home. We also hear the stories of unforeseen hardship due to medical issues or a host of other reasons. In difficult times, the communities that survive and then thrive are those communities that join together to help everyone get through.” TruMark Financial CU, Trevose, Pa., donated 105 holiday stockings with toys for the Stockings for Kids program by a local radio station B101 with the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. The stockings were given to needy children in the Delaware Valley. Credit unions also gave to Toys for Tots. CU of Georgia, Woodstock, Ga., contributed to Toys for Tots by setting up donation centers at each of its six branches. Members and employees contributed hundreds of toys, the credit union said. Global CU, Spokane, Wash., gathered 140 toys and $450 in donations to benefit Toys for Tots.