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Converts sing praises of CUs on IMSNMoney.comI

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NEW YORK (3/5/10)--When MSN Money.com columnist Diane Mapes switched her credit card account to a credit union after a bank hiked her credit card interest rate, she began collecting "stories of people who've suffered the last straws and switched" to credit unions. Mapes reported that when she went to the credit union, she got a 6.99% interest rate card and was told there was no balance transfer fee. "That's all it took for me to switch," she wrote (MSNMoney.com March 4). There are other reasons to switch. She noted others pointed to "better customer service, higher interest rates on checking or savings accounts or the 'unfair or deceptive' practices used by 100% of bank credit cards" as "reasons they've kicked big banks to the curb." The article includes stories from consumers across the nation singing the praises of credit unions. Mike Phinney of Baltimore switched after his bank changed ownership and his banking contract, and depleted his two accounts by charging penalties for inactive accounts. Liz Washer of Amherst, Mass., said she had been with the same bank for eight years when a mistake resulted in an overdrawn account and penalty fees. A year later it happened again, and the bank' s strident, smug reaction prompted her to move to a credit union. The credit union's policies are more accommodating, and she isn't charged a fee every time she uses an ATM. Heather Murphy of Chandler, Ariz., moved to a credit union after her bank raised its interest rate for cards to 23% when she made one late payment on an account she normally paid off in full each month. The bank told her she wasn't the kind of customer it wanted; it made money by charging fees for customers who were late paying their bills. Michael Hanley, an accountant with small business clients, said credit unions offered his clients better loan rates and business practices. The story mentioned only two drawbacks to credit unions: technology--some credit unions' online banking systems don't interface with QuickBooks--and fewer branches. Mapes' conclusion: the pluses of credit unions outweigh the minuses for many. For the full story, use the resource link.

TCUF awards 136240 in grants

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (3/5/10)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) announced it dispersed $137,240 in grants in the first quarter. TCUF’s grants program benefited all Texans, and helped with credit union and chapter grants, disaster relief and financial literacy initiatives (LoneStar Leaguer March 4). The 2010 grants recipients include Texas Credit Union League’s (TCUL) REAL Solution’s program. TCUF has supported the ongoing initiative since its inception in 2007. “The REAL Solutions initiative, whose goal is to empower low-wealth consumers and migrate them from economic uncertainty into economic stability, has been a resounding success among both the credit unions in Texas and the millions of members they serve,” said Mike Delker, TCUL vice president of credit union relations. “It is only with the assistance of the TCUF, both monetarily and operationally, that this has been possible,” he added. Additional grants totaling $90,190 include, but are not limited to:
* Sponsorship of the BizKid$ Financial Education Series on PBS (fourth season); * “Make the Difference” grants to encourage financial literacy during April; * Four Junior Achievement partnerships with credit unions; * A disaster grant for the Haiti earthquake relief efforts; * Two chapter grants to assist with programs; * Two training and conference scholarships for credit union staff and volunteers; and * Sponsorship of the National Youth Involvement Board’s Annual Conference.
Financial Literacy grants totaling $20,050 include:
* Newspapers in Education programs on financial education in El Paso; * A partnership with Cornerstone Financial Education and Texas Youth Commission to educate at-risk teens; and * Financial education programs initiated by credit unions.
“TCUF provides grants and scholarships to support its three areas of focus; financial literacy, professional development and disaster relief,” said Courtney Nickles, TCUF executive director. “We are able to make a difference in the lives of many Texans because of the generous support from Texas credit unions, the Texas Credit Union League and its affiliate, Credit Union Resources, Inc., credit union chapters, corporate sponsorships, Community Investment Fund investors, industry groups and individual donations.” General grants include training calendar grants for credit unions with more than $20 million in assets and Community Service grants. A Community Service grant allows credit unions, chapters, and credit union-affiliated and/or collaborating organizations to assist in local community service activities or financial literacy projects.

Chiles CUs spearhead earthquake recovery

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SANTIAGO, Chile (3/5/10)--The massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Chile Feb. 27 has displaced 1.5 million people and is estimated to have claimed more than 700 lives. Chile's financial cooperatives, assisted by the country's largest credit union, have undertaken efforts to assist their members with emergency relief despite the fact that many credit unions and their branches were damaged or destroyed.
Click to view larger image Chile's Feb. 27 earthquake seriously damaged a branch office of COOPEUCH CU south of the city of Concepcion.
Click to view larger image Chile's earthquake caused significant damage, as seen in this shot taken from the doorway of a COOPEUCH CU branch. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
COOPEUCH, Chile's largest credit union and Latin America's second largest financial cooperative, is collecting funds through its charitable foundation, Fundación COOPEUCH, to help credit unions and their members affected by the quake nationwide rebuild their homes and businesses. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will make a donation to the credit union foundation from its own disaster relief funds and invites interested individuals and credit unions to contribute funds for Chilean credit union rebuilding and relief. WOCCU staff members are trying to assess earthquake damage to the country's credit unions but have struggled with communication issues, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "It is difficult to get information for regions affected by the earthquake because communications capabilities have been destroyed in many parts of the country," Branch said. "But we are encouraged by the fact that COOPEUCH has assumed such a strong leadership role even with many of its own branches damaged or destroyed." Santiago-based COOPEUCH, which has 85 branches that serve 417,000 members nationwide and holds US$1.8 billion in assets, is still collecting information from its damaged branch offices in and near Concepción, 70 miles from the earthquake's epicenter. COOPEUCH is one of Chile's five federally regulated credit unions, part of a movement that also includes dozens of smaller, unregulated institutions from which WOCCU has been unable to collect data. Funds collected through Fundación COOPEUCH will be used to assist all credit unions in rebuilding. The credit union is postponing member dues, minimizing credit card payments and offering reconstruction loans to help members cope with the crisis. In addition, the foundation is helping plan a telethon in Chile to raise a goal of 15 billion Chilean pesos (about US$29.1 million) to finance the construction of 30,000 houses for people whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake. Those interested in making a contribution to Chile's earthquake relief efforts can send their donation via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card. Use the resource link..For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that your donation is for "Chile Disaster Relief."

Fath Cummins named to CSS board

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MADISON, Wis. (3/5/10)--CUNA Strategic Services (CSS) has two new members on its Board of Directors, announced CSS Board Chair Pat Wesenberg. Sylvia Fath, senior vice president, business services of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, has been appointed to the ex officio position, representing League Service Corporations. Fath replaces Drew Egan, president/chief operating officer of Michigan's CUcorp, who served on the board the past two years. Mark Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO, was elected to serve a two-year term on the CSS board. He replaces Pat Jury, president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League, on the board.

Pa. Lifetime Achievement Award winners named

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/5/10)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has announced its Lifetime Achievement Award winners. The awards will be presented during the closing banquet of PCUA’s 76th Annual Convention, May 18 in Atlantic City, N.J. Peggy Bosma-LaMascus, CEO, Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, has been named the 2010 William W. Pratt Professional of the Year (Life is a Highway March 4). In an unprecedented move, PCUA selected two recipients of the 2010 Joseph A. Moore Volunteer of the Year Award: Paul Nyman, Horizon FCU, Williamsport, and John Marisic (posthumously), Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU), Harrisburg. Bosma-LaMascus has been involved in the credit union movement for more than 30 years, and has served as president/CEO of Patriot FCU since 1982. She served on the PCUA’s board from 1987 through 2001. She also was elected as a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) director from 1993-1997. Nyman has volunteered for more than 25 years at credit unions and has served on the board of Horizon FCU since 2000. He is involved in the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of Credit Unions and various community organizations. He also is a member of PCUA’s Governmental Affairs Committee. Marisic, who passed away in early January, most recently served as vice chairman of the board at PSECU, and was involved with the credit union for more than 30 years. He worked as an advocate to support credit union legislative priorities at the state and national level. He was a member of PCUA’s Governmental Affairs Committee from 2003 to 2009.

Governments grant is a scam says CU

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WYOMISSING, Pa. (3/5/10)--Letters from a company called Investors Group claiming to offer grants from the U.S. government as part of a second stimulus package are a scam, according to Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa. A member brought a letter to Discovery dated Feb. 25 from Investors Group Thursday. The group, which said it has offices in Washington, D.C., London and Asia, offered the member a $15,000 grant as a part of the stimulus package. According to the letter, the grant is part of a pilot program that is being implemented by the government through select financial companies. Enclosed with the letter was a check for $2,880. The taxes and administrative fees on the grant were $2,380, with $500 left over for the member to repay outstanding bills. The letter encouraged the member to keep the grant confidential until the fund is disbursed and to contact Grant Processing Officer Tim Young at 202-621-0113 upon receipt of the package. Upon receiving the letter from the member, Discovery prevented the member from being a victim of fraud. “This is a classic scam that asks the recipient of a check to pay the taxes on an award up front and keep any excess funds,” Edwin Williams, president/CEO, told News Now. “We were able to stop the member from negotiating this check and actually called the person on the letter who hung up when pressed for information.”

CU System briefs (03/04/2010)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/5/10)--Jim Kanaley of Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU, Scranton, was re-elected to the PaCUSC Board, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway March 4). His new term will begin at the close of the service corporation's shareholder meeting in May ... * RALEIGH, N.C. (3/5/10)--For the past year, State Employees' CU's 801 Hillsborough Street branch in Raleigh has featured artwork created by 40 students in grades K-12 at North Carolina's Governor Morehead School (GMS) for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The school is a division of the state's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). DHHS employees are within the credit union's membership. "Displays like the one at SECU help the community learn about our school and extend the learning environment for our students," said Barbria Bacon, director of the school. Ann Speck, vice president at the branch, noted that the credit union has partnered with GMS to provide financial education for its students and has conducted numerous workshops there. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU) ... * MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (3/5/10)--David S. Colyer, 39, a former president of the Northern Football Booster Club and his wife, Judith A. Colyer, 38, the club's former treasurer, have been charged with stealing more than $16,000 of the organization's funds and spending the amount on personal items. The official charges are theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to commit theft and access device fraud. In January, the booster club discovered discrepancies in the treasurer reports and outstanding bills after an annual football banquet. When its board reviewed the club's account at Members lst FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., they discovered that the Colyers had obtained an unauthorized debit card. The board said more than $16,417 was missing from the account (York Daily Record March 4) ... * PHILADELPHIA (3/5/10)--Harry S. Nutter, chairman of Sun FCU, died Friday of a heart attack in Philadelphia. He was 77. Nutter, a retired supervisor at Defense Personnel Support Center, Philadelphia, was chairman for 15 years of the board of Defense Supply of Philadelphia FCU, which merged with Maumee, Ohio-based Sun Federal. Since 1995, he had been chairman of the credit union's South Philadelphia Advisory Board. He had been a board member of Sun FCU since 2005. A funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church. (The Philadelphia Inquirer March 4) ...

Indiana CULServicecorp take steps to help CUs

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INDIANAPOLIS (3/5/10)--The Indiana Credit Union League and its Servicecorp subsidiary are taking additional steps to provide financial support to affiliates during the economy’s impact on the state’s communities.
Click to view larger image The Indiana Credit Union League and its Servicecorp relocated their headquarters to save $90,000 in leasing expenses annually as a step to help credit unions in today’s economy. (Photo provided by the Indiana Credit Union League)
Efforts underway include:
* A 2010 dues rebate of $38,000. Affiliates will pay their 2009 dues amount for 2010. This is the same approach the league took the previous year, when a dues rebate was provided so credit unions could pay the 2008 dues amount in 2009, said John McKenzie, Indiana league president. * A transfer of $250,000 from the league’s general retained earnings to the Stabilization Reserve, which is a board-designated reserve account on the league’s balance sheet, so more money is available to help credit unions with financial needs. The league board authorized financial assistance totaling $16,000 to help affiliates attend the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference. The league helped affiliates attend the conference because it considers advocacy a top priority. * Relocation of the league and Servicecorp’s headquarters, reducing leasing expenses by $90,000 annually. * Promotional rebates from Servicecorp to credit unions participating in league webinars, teleconferences and planning sessions. A 20% rebate will be applied on registration costs up to $20,000. * Coverage by Servicecorp of $57,881 in First Data programming expenses required for statement and disclosure compliance due to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosures Act of 2009 legislation. * A premium holiday for clients of Servicecorp’s CUCare group health insurance program. Excess premiums totaling $1.4 million were refunded to credit unions and another $609,000 is scheduled to be refunded this year.