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CU System Archive

CU System

Aloha FCU offers help for closed airlines employees

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HONOLULU (4/7/08)--Aloha Airlines FCU is not affected by the shutdown of Aloha Airlines Inc. and will continue to operate with special assistance for impacted employee-members, according to a message to members on its website. The $30.6 million asset credit union's board has approved an initial $100,000 to provide assistance to help members and their families "handle the difficult situations ahead," the credit union said. Members affected by the shutdown are eligible to receive free financial planning advice, and pre-approvals granted by the credit union before the airlines announced it was closing will still stand for 90 days for personal loans, vehicle loans, lines of credit or Visa credit cards. The credit union's Member Assistance Program includes crisis loan options to provide immediate cash relief. Members can choose from:
* Loan payment deferrals, where the member pays only interest on the loan, for any personal, vehicle or share-secured loan; or * Lifting of penalties for withdrawals on all or part of certificate share accounts or Christmas Club savings.
Aloha Airlines FCU said it will decide whether to change its name later--after "taking into account any changes in the next few days or weeks the airline makes about the remaining portions of the airlines. At that time, we will formulate any appropriate future plans, including a change to our name, logo or focus." The airlines shut down its inter-island and transpacific passenger flight operations as of March 31. Its air cargo and aviation service units continued to operate while the U.S. Bankruptcy Court sought bids from potential buyers. Saltchuk Resources Ind. announced its intention to buy the air cargo business, said Aloha Airlines' announcement of the shutdown. The shutdown of the passenger operations affects about 1,900 employees. The credit union has more than 4,595 members.

Dollar losses from Internet crime reported at all-time high

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WASHINGTON (4/7/08)--Nearly $240 million was reported lost in crimes perpetrated over the Internet last year, with a median dollar loss of $680 per complaint. The total amount--a record high--represents a $40 million increase over losses referred to law enforcement in 2006. According to the 2007 Internet Crime Report, 206,884 complaints of crimes perpetrated over the Internet were filed last year with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The total is a decrease of 0.3% from the 207,492 complaints filed in 2006. Of the 2007 complaints, more than 90,000 were referred to law enforcement around the nation. Although Internet auction fraud was the most widely reported complaint, others included fraudulent activity such as non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, and non-fraudulent activity such as computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited mail e-mail, and child pornography. The types of fraud of most interest to credit unions were in the middle of the pack in the Top 10 complaint categories and accounted for 23.2% of the frauds. A breakdown includes:
* Credit/debit card fraud, 6.3%; * Check fraud, 6%; * Computer fraud, 5.3%; * Identity theft, 2.9%; and * Financial institutions fraud, 2.7%.
Male complainants lost more money than females. Males lost $1.67 to every $1 lost per female. This may be a function of both online purchasing differences by gender and the type of fraud schemes by which they were victimized, said IC3. Electronic mail (73.6%) and Web pages (32.7%) were the two key mechanisms used in the frauds, the study found. Other findings:
* The fraudsters were mostly male (75.8%) and half resided in one of these states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Most were from the U.S., but a significant number were located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania and Italy. * More than half the victims were male (57.6%), nearly half were between 30 and 50 years old, and one-third resided in one of the four most populated states: California, Florida, Texas and New York. Most complaints came from the U.S., but IC3 also received a number of complaints from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India and Mexico.
IC3 is a division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

CU System briefs (04/04/2008)

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* BOULDER, Colo. (4/7/08)--At a special meeting Thursday, the Elevations CU Board of Directors named Chief Operating Officer (COO) Evelyn Polando as interim president/CEO. Board Chair Lynn Walloch made the announcement in a press release Friday. Polando has 38 years of experience in the credit union industry. She was hired by the Boulder-based credit union as vice president of operations in 1999 and named COO in 2001. Before joining Elevations' staff, she was vice president of installation at Summit Information Systems, a Fiserv company. Elevations President/CEO Bill Sterner suffered a heart attack on March 28 and died March 31. The board has begun conducting a search for a permanent CEO of the $800 million-plus asset credit union … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/7/08)--A scam aimed at senior citizens almost snagged a member of Lesco FCU, a $44 million asset credit union in Latrobe, Pa., reported the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway April 4). The member received a phone call from some posing as the credit union. The caller said a $189 check was clearing her account to purchase magazines and that Lesco wanted to make sure she had written it. The caller read the credit union's routing number as if reading from the check and asked the member for the second set of digits and current check number to verify the account. The scammer gave the impression the credit union was protecting her from fraud. The next day, the member called the credit union. Alert staff caught the check, which tried to clear the account on Thursday. It was made out to Secure Account Services LLC. An internet search for the company found a site that includes complaints from other seniors who experienced similar situations …

CUs on the Tube Alberta CUs host Agent4Change contest

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CALGARY, Alberta (4/7/08)--Alberta’s credit unions are seeking a cause that would have a positive impact on youth in Alberta through its Agent4Change contest. Contest entrants submitted videos of their causes, which were uploaded to the campaign site at www.agent4change.ca. Voters will have until tomorrow to pick their favorite video from the top 10. The winner will be announced April 16. The credit unions will help make the proposed change a reality by awarding the winner an Apple laptop and $20,000 for consulting fees. Agent4Change drew 80 participants, age 18 to 24, who submitted videos about what they think needs changing in their communities. The contest also resulted in the creation of a Facebook community and websites devoted to individual candidates’ causes. “The contest was a great vehicle to listen to youth and what issues are of greatest concern to them,” said Liena Kano, assistant vice president of strategy and communications at Alberta Central CU. Albertans’ votes will make up half of the popular vote to determine a winner. The other half will come from panel judges representing credit union professionals, youth and experts in corporate social responsibility programs. To view the videos, use the link.

CEOs confidence drops--Southwest Corporate survey

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PLANO, Texas (4/7/08)--Credit union leaders are expressing significant negativity about the economy, according to Southwest Corporate FCU’s most recent CU CEO Confidence Survey. The first-quarter 2008 index registered the lowest confidence level in the survey’s four-year history, down 14.22 points from December to 20.05. The low mark sits at the bottom of a 19-point decline that began in July. Survey figures were the lowest ever recorded in all areas but one. The exception was CEOs’ expectation for share deposit growth in six months, which almost doubled to 27.25 in the first quarter from 13.92 in December. Expectation for loan demand in six months dropped to 5.18 this quarter. The pessimism that registered in recent surveys over members’ financial conditions persisted, said the corporate. CEOs assessed members’ current financial conditions at 5.71 points lower this month than in the December report. CEOs were even more concerned about members’ financial conditions six months from now. Credit unions expressed uncertainty about their own financial condition as well. Credit unions’ current financial condition charted at 42.12 in the April index, down from 49.48 the previous quarter. Their expectation for six months from now also dropped more than 10 points to 35.36. “With all the attention on subprime mortgages, the resultant credit market meltdown and higher energy costs, it shouldn’t be too surprising that both credit union members and CEOs are wary,” said Brian Turner, manager, Southwest Corporate Investment Services advisory service. “Whereas, credit union loan growth is cyclically challenged during the first quarter of each year, the current economic climate certainly is not helping,” he added. “Members are carrying rather high debt loads, and as long as the economy appears weak, they will be more comfortable just maintaining what they have--no new car and no new home for the time being.” Survey responses numbered 222--the highest number of respondents since the survey’s inception--out of 829 CEOs polled, a 27% response rate. For more information, use the link.

Fifth Latino CU Conference set for Dallas

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NEW YORK (4/7/08)--Credit unions who want to reach out to a wider membership can sign up for the 34th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved and the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas. The joint conference is organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, is scheduled for June 11-14 at the Westin City Center. Featured speakers include:
* Anna Escobedo Cabral, U.S. Treasurer; * Gigi Hyland, National Credit Union Administration board member; * Donna Gambrell, newly appointed director of the community development financial institution (CDFI) Fund; * Stephen Delfin, executive director, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF); * Janie Barrera, head of Accion Texas; * Dick Ensweiler, president, Texas Credit Union League (TCUL); * Bill Cheney, president, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and * Lisa Mensa, Initiative on Financial Security executive director, Aspen Institute.
Topics for the Latino conference include: state and national Latino outreach initiatives, connecting with immigrant organizations, lending to new Americans, meeting the needs of immigrant consumers, tailoring financial education to Latino/immigrant communities, insurance needs in the Latino market, overcoming barriers to serve immigrants and funding. Serving the Underserved Conference topics include the CDFI fund, innovation, peer-to-peer lending network Zopa, asset-building, mortgage lending, subprime auto lending and housing counseling. Conference gold sponsors include the TCUL and CUNA Mutual Group. The California Credit Union League is a silver sponsor. Other support is provided by the Iowa Credit Union League and Coopera Consulting; the Credit Union National Association; NCUF; Filene Research Institute; Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C.; and the World Council of Credit Unions. For more information, use the links.

Maine CUs fair helps students flex financial muscles

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AUBURN, Maine (4/7/08)--Maine credit unions held their fifth annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience Event Wednesday at Central Maine Community College, Auburn.
Margie Gagne (left), president/CEO of Monmouth (Maine) FCU, assists a student at the credit booth during the Annual Financial Fitness Money Management Experience for high school students in the Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, area. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
The event was held last week to coincide with Maine Gov. John Baldacci’s proclamation of April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In attendance were nearly 150 students from eight area high schools. The event was created to address the growing need for increased financial literacy in Maine schools and the lack of understanding that many teens experience with regard to their personal finances, according to the Maine Credit Union League. In the half-day event, students were asked to participate in an interactive “game of life,” in which they map out what their financial future would be at age 22. A scenario packet they receive determines their occupation, income and credit history. Students then have the task of creating a “spending plan” in accordance with their income and expenses. “Financial literacy is so important, especially at this time of year, when students are nearing graduation and getting ready to get out into the real world,” said Jon Paradise, league governmental and public affairs manager, and master of ceremonies for the day. “Our goal is not only to educate participants about the Financial Fitness Money Management Experience, but also to make it enjoyable for them to learn.” Representatives from the Norm Nolette Chapter of Credit Unions, the league and Central Maine Community College organized the event.

Lutz helps St. Lucia CUs adapt to changing economy

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CASTRIES, St. Lucia (4/7/08)--When the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) pressed volunteer Steven Lutz into service in January, the senior vice president and chief financial officer for GECU, El Paso, Texas, packed his bags for Kenya. But civil strife in the African country redirected Lutz to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where he helped credit unions address their delinquency issues and adapt to changes in the island economy.
Steve Lutz, right, senior vice president and chief financial officer of GECU, El Paso, Texas, enjoys a break with Anthony Herman, treasurer of Choiseul CU in St. Lucia. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
St. Lucia has 19 credit unions serving 60,000 members, approaching half of the island’s population. Lutz worked with three credit unions, ranging in size from $3 million to $44 million in assets. “St. Lucia’s credit unions offer two products--savings accounts and loans--and these services are delivered face-to-face by employees who do what’s in the best interest of the member sitting across from them,” Lutz said. “It was inspiring to see the credit union mission alive and well.” Lutz worked with Saltibus Cooperative CU, Choiseul CU, Laborie Cooperative CU and the St. Lucia Credit Union League to help address the country’s changing economy. “Tourism has discovered St. Lucia,” he said. “Land value is increasing and developers are converting a lot of agricultural land into resort developments. Prices in general are going up.” St. Lucia credit unions offer basic savings and lending services, but there are no checking accounts, no ATMs or credit bureaus. As the economy expands, credit unions will have to adjust by putting more safeguards into place. “The credit unions here are very well-grounded philosophically and are trying to do the right thing,” Lutz said. By assisting them with the development of loan collection policies and procedures, Lutz can help them to “perform in the best interest of all members while still providing the close, personal service they are accustomed to.” Lutz also helped lay the groundwork to strengthen St. Lucia credit unions’ capabilities in agricultural lending, part of a larger initiative WOCCU is undertaking with OAS Staff FCU in Washington, D.C., the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. “Lutz displayed a consummate capacity to listen, discern and analyze varying situations in a different cultural small-island setting across several rural credit unions,” said Melvin Edwards, WOCCU chairman and representative of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions. “He was able to convince the leaders and employees to take aggressive steps to minimize loan delinquency levels and make the shift to risk-based lending.” Lutz’s visited was sponsored by WOCCU and the St. Lucia Credit Union League. The league will soon sign a partnership agreement with the Michigan Credit Union League, as a part of the WOCCU International Partnerships Program. So far, 27 U.S. states and Canadian provinces have signed reciprocal support agreements with developing credit union movements. Further development activities by WOCCU and OAS FCU are planned for this year.

Statement printer LaserTech ceases operations

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MADISON, Wis. (4/7/08)--An electronic printing and mailing firm based in Madison, Wis., has unexpectedly closed its doors, leaving some credit unions who were its clients without statement-mailing services. Laser Tech of Madison Inc. posted a statement on its website, www.lasertechinc.com, saying it was ceasing operations immediately "due to a series of unexpected and unfortunate financial circumstances." It said customer service representatives would contact clients to let them know of the status of any jobs in the process. However, it noted: "LaserTech will not be able to complete any of these jobs. You must find another vendor to complete your job." The firm understood its closure puts its customers, employees and families in "very difficult circumstances," said the company's notice. "We are very sorry for this and apologize," said the statement. It was not known how many clients the firm had and how many were credit unions.

Youth network seeks schools excelling in fin lit

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/7/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation and Redwood, Calif.-based San Mateo CU have partnered with the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network (CNYIN) to award the network’s first-ever School of the Year Award in June. The winner will be chosen from schools nominated by CNYIN members. In addition, CNYIN is seeking nominations for its annual youth scholarship program. The award was developed to honor a California or Nevada school that has excelled at providing youth financial literacy to its students recently and has specific plans to continue doing so. The winning school will receive the USA Today “Choice is Power” program for the 2008-2009 school year. It also will receive 20 copies of USA Today daily for 32 weeks, a daily lesson plan, and a guide book featuring 12 financial literacy education lessons. The award is sponsored by a grant from the RMJ Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, and a contribution from San Mateo CU. “Partnering with the RMJ Foundation and San Mateo CU allows us to recognize schools for their efforts to help make young people become financially aware adults, which we hope will encourage other schools to do the same,” said Marissa Lott, CNYIN board chair and marketing specialist for Farmers Insurance Group FCU, Los Angeles. All CNYIN members are encouraged to nominate a school for the award. Nominations must be submitted by May 16. Applications can be obtained by contacting CNYIN. CNYIN also will award three $500 scholarships to network credit union members. Awards will be given based on the student’s resume of community service and/or extracurricular activities, and an essay on the topic, “What can you or your credit union do to encourage today’s youth to join and take advantage of credit union products and services?” Applications and essays must be submitted to Jenny Casselman at Greater Nevada CU, Carson City, by May 23.