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International CU Day celebrates financial co-ops global impact

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MADISON, Wis.(5/12/11)--Cooperatives will be celebrated throughout the month of October with Co-op Month in the U.S., Co-op Week in Canada, Oct. 16-22, and International Credit Union Day celebrations on Oct. 20.
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This year’s International Credit Union Day theme, “Credit Unions Build a Better World,” celebrates the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. It also aligns cooperatively owned and controlled credit unions with the greater cooperative business sector and the United Nations as they launch the International Year of Cooperatives 2012, which begins Oct. 31, when cooperatives worldwide will unite in celebration with the theme “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World.” “Credit unions continually demonstrate their ability to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities and countries around the world and have done so for generations,” said Pete Crear, president/CEO of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). “As we celebrate International Credit Union Day this October and prepare for the United Nations' International Year of Cooperatives in 2012, we would do well to remember that we're all part of building a better world.” “We need more people to recognize that credit unions as member-owned cooperatives are the best option for financial services,” said Bill Cheney, president/CEO of Credit Union National Association (CUNA). “With the designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness. And tying in this year’s ICU Day theme with the larger International Year of Co-ops event will create synergy to further help consumers, policymakers and those in the media better understand that the cooperative model is a proven means of improving people’s lives and building a better world.” Cooperative businesses in the U.S. have celebrated Co-op Month since 1930. Throughout the month, the U.S. National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) works across cooperative sectors to promote the cooperative business model. NCBA continually strives to make cooperatives a key component of U.S. economic development policy by proposing legislative and regulatory changes that enable the sector’s growth. “It is fitting that this international group of cooperative organizations has come together to do what cooperative enterprise does so well--leverage resources for the mutual benefit of those that use them,” said Paul Hazen, NCBA president/CEO. “The truth of the slogan can be found wherever you find cooperative enterprise. Cooperatives put people first and respond to needs of their member owners.” Canadians celebrate Co-op Week during the third week of October, which coincides with ICU Day. An international committee of representatives from WOCCU, CUNA, Canadian Central, NCBA, CCA, Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM - Canada) and Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité (CQCM - Canada) collaborated to align the theme and artwork for their annual events with the United Nations’ global recognition of cooperatives.

Georgia CU league announces statewide board leadership

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DULUTH, Ga. (5/12/11)--The Georgia Credit Union League (GCUL) named its slate of board members at its recent annual meeting. Elected to serve for a second term were: Terry Hardy, CEO of MembersFirst CU, Atlanta, and Janet Davis, CEO of TIC FCU, Columbus. Newly elected to the board of directors was Brian Akin, CEO of North Georgia CU, Toccoa. Also, Warren Butler, CEO of Georgia United CU, Atlanta, was nominated and elected to succeed his expired term as member-at-large. The board members join other leaders on the GCUL board of directors, who convene regularly to set the direction for league efforts to enhance the Georgia credit union movement. Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) provides services and support that help credit unions meet the financial services needs of the state’s more than 1.8 million credit union members. GCUA offers advocacy, educational, operational and marketing support for Georgia’s 154 credit unions, with combined total assets of almost $16 billion.

Bankruptcy filing up for 12 months ending March 31

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WASHINGTON (5/12/11)--U.S. bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31 rose 2.6%, compared with bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2010, according to statistics released this week by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Year-ending March 2011 bankruptcy filings totaled 1,571,183, with 1,531,997 bankruptcy cases filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2010. Most bankruptcy filings involve predominantly non-business debts. Non-business filings--also called personal or consumer filings--for the 12-month period ending March 31, totaled 1,516,971, up 3% from the 1,470,849 bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2010. Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association, noted that although bankruptcy filings are disturbingly high, the year-over-year comparisons can be a bit misleading. “On a quarterly basis, consumer bankruptcy filings peaked in the second quarter of 2010 at around 408,000 and have been slowly declining since then to approximately 353,000 in the first quarter of 2011,” Hampel told News Now. “This suggests that credit unions should continue to see improvements in credit quality as the year progresses.” Filings involving predominantly business debts fell. They totaled 54,212, down 11% from the 61,148 business bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period ending March 31.

Washington Gov. signs prize-linked savings bill into law

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. and BEAVERTON, Ore. (5/12/11)--Washington state’s prize-linked savings bill was signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire Tuesday, surrounded by supporters who championed the bill through a difficult legislative session that is currently in special session. “With the household savings rates of Americans in a decade-long decline, this legislation law will allow financial institutions to encourage savings with innovative solutions,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro. “Credit unions are seemingly the only group offering such innovative solutions to a complex societal trend.” The prize-linked savings bill was one of a hand-full of proposals that seem to be on a fast track through the Legislature, passing a House floor vote 91-2 and a Senate floor vote 46-0. “This (legislation) rewards thriftiness and that is a good thing,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-26), during the Senate debate. “This program doesn’t just encourage people to save, it’s actually shown to improve their saving habits. This isn’t a new government program.” The bill goes into effect 90 days after signing. “I think there were two real keys to getting the bill passed,” Stacy Augustine, NWCUA senior vice president and general counsel, told News Now in April when the bill passed the Washington House of Representatives and was sent to the state Senate. “Making sure legislators don’t perceive it as an expansion of gambling, and making sure the other financial institutions are included so that they don’t feel like credit unions are just creating another program to ‘steal’ their customers. Honestly, I don't think that other financial institutions will be terribly interested in offering the program, but it was important to include them so that they didn’t feel excluded from it. “Amending any state law that could be perceived as gambling is always a tricky venture, so the association is very pleased that the bill has been approved,” she had added. In a related matter, a Save to Win bill (SB 513) unaninmously passed the North Carolina Senate this week, and was referred to the North Carolina House.

Southeastern CU Foundation to match storm donations to CUAid

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MADISON, Wis. (5/12/11)--Credit unions and the communities they serve have a resource to assist them in getting back to “business as usual” following the devastating storms across Alabama on April 27. The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation (SECUF) has announced it will match up to $100,000 of donations made to CUAid for further community reinvestment projects. Since activating its online disaster relief system CUAid.coop, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has already raised over $65,000 from the credit union community. “We are working with the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation to distribute the funds,” Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications told News Now. “They are granting the funds and have already starring giving some out.” SECUF has been continually working to initiate financial assistance to credit unions in need. The foundation is offering a chapter community project match to Alabama credit union chapters up to $10,000. This money will help chapters finish projects in their respective areas. The SECUF also announced a $25,000 donation to Red Cross of Alabama to help aid the many people displaced throughout the state. “The storm was so powerful that two weeks later there are still credit unions and credit union staff that need assistance,” said SECUF Chairman Joe McGee. “We’re extremely thankful that NCUF and our peer credit unions have risen to the occasion to aid in the disaster relief efforts for credit unions, their employees and members in Alabama. Our matching funds will only further the aid the SECUF and CUAid will be able to provide.” SECUF has given out nine separate $1,000 grants from the Disaster Relief Fund to individual credit union members. There was also an additional $975 in grants given to credit union members that had needs that fell outside of the traditional disaster relief assistance. “The outpouring of support from the credit union movement has been amazing,” Morris said. “A wide range of CU organizations and individuals have helped make a big difference to those credit union people in need.” Credit union supporters in every state can make donations through a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. As donations post through CUAid.coop, NCUF will coordinate with SEFCU to distribute money efficiently to credit union employees and members in the affected areas. For more information or to make a donation, use the links.

Alleged robber found inside credit union

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DENVER (5/12/11)--A Public Service CU branch was forced to remain closed Saturday morning when an employee arrived to find an alleged robber lying injured on the floor. The alleged robber, who had broken through a window, was disoriented and bloody, according to news reports, (KDVR May 10). The man also broke into a 2009 Dodge Challenger for sale by the credit union. The car was located just feet from the window where the man entered the credit union. Public Service CU President/CEO Dave Maus described the incident as “bizarre.” The incident forced the credit union to cancel its “Shred Day” event.

CUs find uptick in card fraud

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (5/12/11)--Credit unions nationwide have experienced an increase in card fraud within the past few weeks (New Jersey Credit Union League The Daily Exchange May 2), according to CUNA Mutual Group. The fraudulent transactions are occurring both within and outside of the U.S. with Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards. Several exchanges have taken place with card processors and the card associations in an attempt to determine the common point of purchase (CPP). To effectively mitigate losses, it is vital to determine the CPP, which is the location where the member’s card may have been compromised. CUNA Mutual Group is seeking the cooperation of credit unions by working together with their card processors and the card associations to help pinpoint the CPPs. The losses involve “card present” transactions (magnetic stripe, signature-based fraud). This may involve a system intrusion rather than skimming, according to CUNA Mutual.