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CU System Briefs (02/28/2013)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/28/13)--Several Texas Credit Union League employees have received phishing e-mails claiming to be from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said the league (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 27). The bogus e-mail claims that FDIC is introducing a new security system and says that all of the recipient's  account transactions have been temporarily blocked until "you update your security version in compliance with our new requirements." The e-mail urges the recipient to install a special security software and to use the link to download and install the software. "The link in the message is intended to lure recipients to a website where malware is waiting and would potentially be installed on their computers," warned Mike Saylor, league vice president of technology. He told the league that the most telling sign that the e-mail is a scam is the inclusion of non-U.S. English characters in the sender's address.  The FDIC does not issue unsolicited e-mails to consumers or business account holders, said the league …
  • BRECKENRIDGE, Pa. (2/28/13)--Allegheny-Ludlum-Breckenridge FCU in Breckenridge, Pa., says members and nonmembers are receiving automated phone calls telling them their account at the credit union has been "compromised" (Tribune-Review Feb. 27). The calls are a scam and ask recipients for personal account information.  The credit union warned on its website that no employee or phone system of the credit union will contact people for that kind of information. The credit union said it got about 40 calls from people who received the messages Tuesday …
  • UTICA, N.Y. (2/28/13)--Catherine Marriott, 41, of Waterville, N.Y., has been charged in the theft of $58,000 from Utica Mutual Insurance Co.  FCU, based in Utica, says the New Hartford Police Department (cnycentral.com Feb. 27).  A routine Umico FCU audit discovered the theft. Marriott was charged with second degree grand larceny, first degree falsifying business records, and four counts of identity theft ...
  • WESTBURY, N.Y. (2/28/13)--NEFCU will launch a "Spring Into Reading" contest Friday to benefit Long Island libraries in conjunction with the National Education Association's "Read Across America Day."  The Westbury, N.Y.-based credit union's contest will ask its Facebook "Likers" to nominate and then vote for their favorite library. The library with the most votes will receive $1,000 from the credit union. Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. ET March 22. Voting will end March 29 at 5 p.m. ET. The $2 billion asset credit union will announce the winner about April 1st.  NEFCU is also sponsoring a "Read Across America" event at the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City on Saturday to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss …

CUs Prepared To Assist Members Hit By Furloughs

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HERNDON, Va., and SCRANTON, Pa. (2/28/13)--Two credit unions are taking steps to help workers feeling a cash crunch because of job furloughs, in the event of federal government sequestration, taking effect Friday. The sequestration would impact nearly all government agencies through a series of across-the-board, automatic budget cuts.

The steps are yet another example of credit unions working proactively on behalf of their members, said the Credit Union National Association.

Northwest FCU, based in Herndon, Va., with $2.5 billion in assets, will provide loans up to $10,000 at 0% interest to members who may be adversely affected by the impending federal government furlough. In addition to the 0% loans, Northwest Federal also will waive the early withdrawal penalties on any certificate of deposit for members who may need immediate access to their funds.

Should the government sequestration take effect, the special interest rate will be available for members who meet minimum qualifications for a period of up to 90 days after their furlough period ends.

Many believe the sequestration could have far-reaching consequences. Should this happen, Northwest FCU will be ready, said Colleen Daly, the credit  union's senior vice president of lending. "We're here to offer some peace of mind to our members who may be worried about how government furloughs might affect their personal financial situations," she said.

Also, Tobyhanna FCU, based in Scranton, Pa., has instituted a Furlough Assistance Program, according to its website.

"If you've been affected or expect to be affected by a furlough, we are offering the following: Receive up to $7,000 at 0% annual percentage rate, for up to six months with no payments," Tobyhanna said.

The $165.6 million asset credit union's program is being offered to current and new members. To be eligible, members must provide at least two pay stubs or have a direct deposit with Tobyhanna. No application is required, just a written communication that the member is on furlough. Also, there are no credit requirements.   

One of CUNA's and the credit union system's key visions involves values-based decision-making rooted in credit unions' shared values, including collaboration, a focus on members, community involvement, and a dedication to financial well-being, said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney this week at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference.

NerdWallet: CUs Offer Savings Accounts For Furry Friends

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NEW YORK (2/28/13)--As America Saves Week winds down its promotion of getting into the savings habit, six credit unions are featured on the NerdWallet website as places that offer a special kind of savings vehicle:  pet savings accounts.

Pets can dent a budget with unexpected medical expenses, but savings accounts can help consumers prepare for pet emergencies, said NerdWallet (Feb.25).  It featured pet savings accounts at nine financial institutions, six of them pet-friendly credit unions.

They include:

  • Belco Community CU, $329 million assets, Harrisburg, Pa.--The Critter Club has no minimum balance, earns interest on balances of $5 or more and offers discounts at pet-related partners. Depositing $75 or more automatically enters the member into monthly prize drawings.
  • Chaco CU, Hamilton, Ohio--Its Pet Savings account earns competitive interest; those who sign up for a $25 direct deposit get a free leash.
  • Enrichment FCU, Oak Ridge, Tenn.--Members who join Pet Pals Savings Club get a pet-related gift. Each deposit adds the member's name to a quarterly drawing for a PetSmart gift card. Each quarter the credit union donates $1 for every new Pet Pals account to a local animal shelter or nonprofit.  Members can bring pets along when they visit the credit union.
  • Isabella Community CU, $89 million assets, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.--Its  Pet Sub-Savings Account links to a regular savings account, with no minimum balance or withdrawal limits. Dogs accompanying members through the drive-through get a dog bone.
  • River Valley CU, Miamisburg, Ohio--Members can open a Pet Savings Account for $5 to access an interest rate that matches its basic savings rate.
  • Superior CU, Collegeville, Pa.--Paws Savings Account is a high-yield account earning 5% annual percentage yield on the first $500 deposited.  The credit union also offers a Paws Loan, for veterinarian bills.
For the full article, use the link.

LSCU Presents Lawmaker Awards To Posey, Bonner

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Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), left, was a 2013 League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates Federal Lawmaker of the Year recipient, receiving his award from Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), not pictured, also received the award.  (Photo provided by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/28/13)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates honored two congressmen for their support of credit unions during the past year. U.S. Reps. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.) are the 2013 LSCU Federal Lawmaker of the Year recipients.

"Reps. Bonner and Posey have really shown they are friends to credit unions," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "Both are accessible every time we call or come to Washington. Many lawmakers will sit and listen and that's as far as it goes. Reps. Bonner and Posey work to ensure credit unions succeed through their actions and that's what counts most."

Bonner and Posey were co-sponsors of Member Business Lending legislation and Exam Fairness legislation. Posey also co-sponsored Supplemental Capital, Privacy Notices and ATM Disclosure legislation.

Bonner has spoken at the 2012 LSCU Leadership Development Conference and met with credit unions in his district. Posey has been a credit union supporter since his days in the Florida House and Senate. In 2012, Rep. Posey spoke at the LSCU Annual Convention and Exposition, and met with credit unions in Washington, D.C., and his district office. He was Florida's only full member of the House Financial Services Committee in the 112th Congress.

LSCU handed out the Federal Lawmaker of the Year awards this week at a reception at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. The GAC ends today with 4,200 attendees visiting Capitol Hill.

Two Fla CU CEOs Receive Buck Levins Award

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Click to view larger image The Credit Union National Association presented Art and Mary Wood with the Buck Levins award for their work in political advocacy on behalf of credit unions. Mary Wood, CEO of Florida West Coast CU in Brandon, Fla., is the top Political Action Committee credit union fundraiser for her asset size category. Art Wood, CEO of Railroad and Industrial FCU in Tampa, helped credit unions gain access to state and federal lawmakers. (Photo provided by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (2/28/13)--The Credit Union National Association presented Art and Mary Wood with the Buck Levins award, named after the former CUNA Board chairman. The Woods, both CEOs of credit unions in Florida, show a tremendous passion for credit unions in the political arena, said the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates.

Mary Wood, CEO of Florida West Coast CU in Brandon, Fla., is the LSCU board chairman and the top political action committee credit union fundraiser for her asset size category. She regularly attends the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, Hike the Hill and the LSCU State GAC to discuss credit union issues with state and federal lawmakers.

Art Wood, CEO of Railroad and Industrial FCU in Tampa, just completed a term as the Hillsborough County Republican Committee Chairman. He used his position as chairman to help credit unions gain access to state and federal lawmakers, particularly the leadership at the state level. Wood regularly attends the CUNA GAC, Hike the Hill and the LSCU State GAC.

To illustrate the Woods' commitment to the political scene in Florida, current Speaker of the Florida House Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), who lives in Tampa, often reaches out to the Woods for their opinion on financial issues. Their advice often influences his vote, even though he is a member of a bank board, LSCU said.

Calif/Nev Leagues Win National Marketing Awards

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ONTARIO, Calif. (2/28/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have won two 2012 MarCom Awards from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for its 2011 annual meeting and convention marketing campaign and a feature article in its flagship publication, Credit Union Digest.

The leagues' Membership, Marketing and Communications Department won the Gold Award in the Special Event category for its "Right Here, Right Now" campaign for its 2012 Leagues Annual Meeting and  Convention.

The department also received an honorable mention in the Feature Article category for the August/September 2011 Digest's  "Board Membership: Risk or Reward?" written by Publications Manager Matt Wrye.

"Our work competed with entries from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Labor, Aetna, American Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and UnitedHealthcare," said Carol Payne, the leagues' vice president of membership, communications and marketing.  "Being honored with these awards helps to showcase the talent and efforts of the leagues' staff in developing creative products that also strategically meet our members' needs," she added.

Retiring CEO Attends His Last GAC

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Ben Hill, president/CEO of Blue Flame CU in Charlotte, N.C., said he has most enjoyed helping members during his 37-year credit union career. Hill is retiring from Blue Flame at the end of June, and this week attended his last Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League)
WASHINGTON (2/28/13)--Ben Hill, retiring president/CEO of Blue Flame CU in Charlotte, N.C., has been a strong advocate for credit unions during his 37-year credit union career, and has regularly attended events such as the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

This year, Hill is in Washington, attending his last CUNA GAC.

Such events energize him since he gets to meet with people who are also committed to helping people, Hill told the North Carolina Credit Union League.

"I feel right at home at GAC because it reminds you of all the good things about credit unions," Hill explained. "Credit union people are good people--it recharges your batteries being here."

Being involved politically has great value, Hill said. "It used to be that I only spent about an hour a month on regulations and compliance, but now regulations seem to be about all that I get to do," he told NCCUL. "So coming here is important because we have to keep fighting for our members. We run credit unions for members, not regulators."

Hill is a past chairman of the NCCUL board of directors and was on the board for 11 years. He also is a past president of the North Carolina Credit Union Executives Society Council, and served on the North Carolina Credit Union Commission. He was involved with the Piedmont Chapter through the years and served on the chapter's board for about 20 years. Hill also has served on the governmental affairs, finance, bylaws and nominating committees of the NCCUL board, and been a credit union political action committee trustee.

Hill said he intends to stay connected to the credit union movement in some way. "I'd still like to serve in some capacity. Maybe teaching at the local community college or doing something with credit unions in the future," he concluded.

Hacktivists Resume DDoS Attacks Vs Patelco, Others

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PLEASANTON, Calif., and NEW YORK (2/28/13)--Hacktivists responsible for distributed denial of service (DD0S) attacks against U.S. banks and credit unions in January have resumed their attacks against at least a dozen institutions, including credit unions.

Patelco CU, Pleasanton, Calif., told News Now that it experienced  its second DDoS attack on Monday.

"Yes, another DDoS attack was initiated against Patelco on Feb. 25," said Patelco Vice President of Information Technology Anthony Vitale. "Our downtime was roughly two hours." The first attack against the $3.8 billion asset credit union occurred in January and disrupted its site for five hours.

Monday's attack was discovered when "our security scanning system caught the attack in its early stages," Vitale said. "The DDoS attack made it difficult for members to access financial information. However, no personal or account information was compromised."

Given the first attack, Patelco had already improved its Web security to mitigate the impact of such attacks. "We implemented additional security after the initial attack in January, and these additional measures significantly reduced the downtime we experience because of the attack," Vitale said.

The credit union used social media to inform members about the website and online banking systems issues, he added.

"We continue to take this seriously," Vitale said. "We are working to mitigate and further reduce downtime if these attacks occur again in the future."

In a Feb. 26 post on Pastebin, an open forum frequented by hacktivists, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters claimed second strikes against Patelco;, University FCU in Austin, Texas; and a number of banks, including Bank of America, PNC Financial Services Group, Capital One, Zions Bank, Fifth Third, Union Bank, Comerica Bank, RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc. (Citizens Bank) and People's United Bank (bankinfosecurity.com Feb. 26).

University FCU's website was down for nearly 2 1/2 hours on Jan. 24 (News Now Jan. 28). It has not been confirmed whether it was attacked again.

The Qassam Cyber Fighters issued an ultimatum to the U.S. government over films offensive to Muslims and said if the films are not removed it will start Operation Ababil again the week of March 5. The attacks against Patelco and the others, the group said, were warnings. The financial institutions have nothing to do with the posting of films on other websites. The first wave of protests from the group in January stemmed from a video on YouTube.

The National Credit Union Administration and the Office of the Comproller of the Currency issued warnings last week about DDoS attacks being used to distract institutions to perpetrate account frauds.  So far, there is no evidence linking the Qassam attacks to fraud, said bankinfosecurity.com.  DDoS attacks involve flooding a site with incoming e-mail to stall its operations so people can't access the site.