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CU System briefs (02/07/2013)

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  • FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/7/13)--Texas Trust CU, Mansfield, Texas, has appointed 14 students from five north Texas school districts, two private schools and two colleges to its Youth Advisory Council (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 4). The leadership development program focuses on personal finance and meets twice a month to learn about personal financial issues, service leadership, marketing and career opportunities in the financial field. The newest members were chosen from among 70 applicants and will serve through the end of May. "We continue to receive a large number of interested applicants, which indicates high school students are highly interested in learning about personal finance," said Amber Danford, vice president of marketing at the $754 million asset credit union. "Beyond teaching them how to become money-wise, we give them opportunities to serve in the community and learn about business operations so they have a better understanding of how financial institutions work," she added … 
  • NEWARK, Ohio (2/7/13)--Ronald D. McCullough, past president of Newark, Ohio-based Fiberglas FCU, died Jan. 25 in Newark. He was 77.  He retired after 33 years as an electrical supervisor at Owens Corning. McCullough also served as past president of IBEW Local 1280. He is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter, three step-sons, two grandchildren, six step-grandchildren, three brothers and three sisters (The Advocate Jan. 27) …

US Rep Jordan affirms support for CU tax exemption

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (2/7/13)--U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) gave a ringing endorsement of credit unions' tax exempt status at a recent Western Buckeye dinner in Lima, Ohio, according to the Ohio Credit Union League.

"It's important that we protect your tax status in the midst of the tax reform debate over the next few months," said Jordan, the leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. House of Representatives. "Credit unions are already taxed enough," he said.

"The government is fond of saying 'we need more of your revenue, and then we'll give it back to you,'" Jordan said. "But they almost never do. Washington has a spending problem, not a taxing problem. [Credit unions] are in good shape because your tax exemption has been there from the beginning," he said.

John Florian, league vice president of governmental affairs, attended the event on Jan. 30 and praised the congressman for his statement.  "Rep. Jordan continues to grow in stature in Washington, and his opinion carries a lot of weight among fellow members of Congress. We are thrilled that he has taken such a strong and public stance on this critical issue," Florian said.

Jordan also announced he plans to visit credit unions in the northern section of his newly expanded 4th Congressional District in the coming months and said he looked forward to meeting with credit union officials during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 24-28 in Washington, D.C.

Preserving the credit union tax status is always a top priority for the Credit Union National Association. (See related  News Now story: Ways and Means starts look at reforms with charitable deductions hearing.)

Will stopping Saturday mail delivery matter to CUs?

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MADISON, Wis. (2/7/13)--When the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it will stop delivering  mail on Saturdays, beginning the week of Aug. 5, Credit Union National Association  staff began to assess what that might mean for credit unions' operations.

CUNA's regulatory staff are looking into whether any federal regulation requiring that disclosures, periodic statements, or notices be received at the credit union within a certain number of days would become problematic if Saturday mail delivery ended.

Late last year, the Postal Regulatory Commission asked CUNA for help in distributing a request for comments on how well the postal service has been fulfilling its role.

Many credit unions have been encouraging members to wean themselves from paper statements and mailed payments by accepting electronic communications from their credit union.

The Postal Service's  announcement  is viewed by some as an attempt to force Congress to deal with the service's financial woes (Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post Feb. 6). Congress has resisted past attempts to eliminate Saturday delivery.

At least one credit union is adopting a wait-and-see position before it makes any operational decisions. "Congress and the government have not chimed in yet," said Darryl Belinski, CEO of Trenton, N.J.-based Postal Employees CU. The Saturday delivery deadline "is six months from now, and a lot can happen in that time.

"It's way too premature to deal with anything that might be done. It took [Congress and the government] long enough to deal with the fiscal cliff," he told News Now. "As the date gets closer, we'll deal with it."

Members at the $44 million asset credit union have not expressed concern about missing a Saturday delivery. As for an impact on its operations, Belinski said, "We're closed on weekends so it won't impact us."

The Postal Service lost $16 billion in fiscal 2012, about three times more than in 2011. Ending Saturday deliveries would save about $2 billion a year. Nearly seven in 10 Americans support the switch, said officials. Package delivery on Saturdays would continue.

CUNA to select 12 for Googolplex youth ed board

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MADISON, Wis. (2/7/13)--Credit Union National Association representatives will select 12 students nationwide to serve one-year terms as youth editorial board members for CUNA's microsite, Googolplex: The Credit Union Guide for Student Moneymakers.

"Our youth board members provide us with feedback that ensures that their peers feel welcome and engaged whenever they use Googolplex on their credit union's website," said Rena Crispin, Googolplex managing editor. "At CUNA, we believe that it's vital to start financial education at a young age."

Applications are being accepted through March 8. The new student board members' terms will begin on June 1.

Googolplex is a youth-focused element of CUNA's suite of microsites, which guide credit union members through financial decisions at every stage of life. Googolplex features interactive games, videos, blogs and other content that deal with money matters and real-life issues to promote financial literacy for youth, aged 6-18.

Youth editorial board members complete each month two brief online critiques of stories and games in age-specific sections of Googolplex's three-in-one website. At the end of their terms, each of the middle- and high-school board members writes an original story for Googolplex.

The 12 students selected will serve in one of three sections:

  • Four elementary school-aged students will serve on the Clubhouse Crew for 5-Spot.
  • Four middle school-aged students make up the Super Youth Team for AJ's.
  • Four high-school-aged students will be on the Teenage Panel advising C-Note.
Board members must be in grades 3-12 in the fall of 2013 or, if home-schooled, of the same grade-level ages, and will work from home. Applications are available from Laurel Purves, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison, lpurves@cuna.coop, 608-231-4088. Applicants should state the child's grade level or age equivalent if home-schooled.

To learn more about how Googolplex and CUNA's other personal finance microsites benefit credit unions and their members, use the links.

Catalyst Corporate to offer loan participation program

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DULUTH, GA. (2/7/13)--Catalyst Corporate FCU in Duluth, Ga., said Monday it will launch a major initiative in upcoming weeks--an agent loan participation program.

"The loan participation program will connect credit unions that want to sell loans with credit unions that want to purchase an interest in a loan pool," said Jeff Hamilton, newly hired vice president, member credit at Catalyst Corporate. "This will help both parties in managing their balance sheets--sellers create liquidity, while buyers have the potential to earn higher yields."

More information about loan pools for sale will be posted on Catalyst's website as it becomes available. As an agent, Catalyst Corporate will provide detailed review packages to prospective buyers about the pools for sale, Hamilton said.

However, he emphasized that buyers must perform their own due diligence and make independent purchasing decisions. Catalyst Corporate will not guarantee loan performance. Buyers and sellers are not required to be members of Catalyst, but members will be given first priority on loan participation transactions.

Hamilton spent 13 years at Western Corporate FCU in San Dimas, Calif., including three years as vice president of research and lending. There, he managed the corporate's lending programs, including a loan participation program. He served previously as vice president of portfolio management and as founder/director of the Financial Solutions Group, WesCorp's asset liability management consulting service.

'Secret Agent R' (Riverset CU) on a mission

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PITTSBURGH (2/7/13)--Move over, 007. Riverset CU has assumed the persona of "Secret Agent R" in performing random acts of kindness throughout its community.

Click to view larger image Riverset CU performs random acts of kindness throughout its community as "Secret Agent R." The credit union left this letter for the recipient of its first mission, which included a $5 bill and a package of microwave popcorn placed next to a movie rental vending machine to "pay it forward" for the next movie rental customer. (Photo provided by Riverset CU)
"As a community credit union, we pride ourselves in giving back to the community," said Patrick Flynn, community relations manager at $120 million asset Riverset CU. "We have a deeply held spirit of volunteerism already. This was a way employees could contribute with a minimal amount of time. They love it."

The credit union adopted the secret agent identity from Pittsburgh blogger "Secret Agent L," whose real name is Laura Miller. Pittsburgh-based Riverset CU is the first "Corporate Secret Agent" in the program, and like Secret Agent L, conducts random "day-brightening" missions throughout its community.

The Secret Agent mantra is "Be kind. No exceptions."

Flynn followed Miller on Twitter and Facebook and met her at a charity event, where he proposed the partnership, he told News Now.

For its first mission, Secret Agent R placed a $5 bill and a package of microwave popcorn next to a movie rental vending machine to "pay it forward" for the next movie rental customer. The gift included a note reminding the recipient that "somewhere someone is thinking how important you are to them."

The random acts of kindness are presented anonymously, with a business card that points recipients to the Secret Agent L website.

"We just want people to pick up the package and pay it forward, to go to the website and read what other people have done, so they will be inspired brighten someone else's day," Flynn told News Now.

Eighteen charged in $200M credit card scam

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NEWARK, N.J. (2/7/13)--A credit card scam responsible for at least $200 million in losses is racking up impressive statistics: at least 7,000 phony identities, 25,000 fraudulent credit cards, and spanning eight countries and 28 states.  But, for now, it is unclear whether credit unions are among the victim institutions.

The scheme involved:

  • Making up false identities by creating fraudulent identification documents and fraudulent credit profiles with major credit bureaus;
  • Pumping up the credit of the false identities by providing false information about their creditworthiness to the credit bureaus. The bureaus, believing the information was accurate, incorporated the false information into the credit reports, making it appear the false IDs had excellent credit; and
  • Running up large loans using the false identities. The higher the fraudulent credit score, the higher the loans obtained. The loans were never repaid.
The scheme also used "tradelines" providers--a network of black-market businesses providing credit histories and adding "authorized" users to credit card accounts to raise their credit score.

Millions of dollars were wired to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, China, Romania, Japan and Canada.  

Babar Quereshi, 59, of Iselin, N.J., and Muhammad Shafiq, 38, Bellerose, N.Y., are allegedly the ring's leaders, said the complaint. Most defendants have ethnic ties to Pakistan but live in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York.  Three charged earlier have pleaded guilty.

Schroeder named Calif-Nev leagues' 'unsung hero'

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Lucy Ito (left), California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' executive vice president and chief operating officer, presents Joe Schroeder, president/CEO of Ventura County CU in Ventura, Calif., with the leagues' Unsung Hero Award recognizing his long-time work in the credit union industry and the community. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)

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ONTARIO, Calif. (2/7/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues named Joe Schroeder, president/ CEO of Ventura County CU, as a recipient of the leagues' Unsung Hero Award for his long-time work and commitment to the credit union industry.

The award honors credit union industry individuals with at least 20 years of service who have made significant contributions to the community.

Schroeder has two-plus decades of credit union leadership experience, including serving as president/CEO at three of Southern California's largest credit unions.  He has served on the board of CO-OP Financial Services and the audit committee of Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc.--now part of CO-OP Shared Branching.

Schroeder was a founding member of the Marketing Association of California--now Marketing Association of Credit Unions--and served as president. He is a member of the leagues' Government Affairs Committee and has served on the Credit Union National Association's consumer protection subcommittee. He is a board member of Member Business Lending, a credit union service organization in Salt Lake City, and is vice chairman of FOODShare, Ventura County's local food bank.

Schroeder was an early supporter of World Council of Credit Unions' Global Women's Leadership Network, which connects credit union women and leaders worldwide for professional and personal development.

Schroeder received the award Jan. 30 at a Ventura County CU board meeting in Ventura, Calif.