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Altra FCU Average credit card balance down

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ONALASKA, Wis. (5/27/10)--The national shift in the way consumers use credit cards--with consumers carrying lower balances on average--is reflected on the local level, a Wisconsin-based credit union told a local television station. Altra FCU, based in Onalaska, Wis., was featured on WKBT.com (May 25) discussing the drop in the average balance. The credit union has seen a "definite change" in members' use of credit cards, said Jack Peplinski, chief operating officer at the $731.3 million asset credit union. In the past 12 months, the average credit card balance among Altra's members dropped by roughly 8.5%. Analysts attribute the shift to the recession. Consumers are lowering their credit card debt to save for emergenices and to avoid getting in over their heads in an uncertain economy. The lower balances mean less revenues for credit card companies. Peplinski told the station that the shift is forcing credit card companies to be more creative in finding new sources of revenue. The segment advised consumers they can improve their financial situation four ways: spend less, save more, pay down existing debt and think through the options.

Dade County FCU to acquire CU thats in conservatorship

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DORAL, Fla. (5/27/10)--Dade County FCU, located near Miami, Fla., will acquire Keys FCU, a credit union that was placed in conservatorship last fall by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), said Dade County FCU and NCUA officials. "NCUA has chosen us and we're still in the process of finalizing the merger," said Dade County FCU CEO George Joseph. He told News Now that the emergency merger is approved but not final as of Tuesday. John McKechnie, NCUA's director of congressional and public affairs, also confirmed that Dade County FCU was awaiting final approval on the merger. NCUA had invited several credit unions to prepare bids to acquire Keys FCU, a $156 million asset credit union in Key West, Fla. It has 13,000 members served by five branches. Keys FCU had a delinquent loan ratio of 2.26% on March 31, compared with 5.06% at the end of December. In September the ratio was 5.04%. Its net worth at the end of March was 5.67%, compared with a December net worth of 6.17%., according to NCUA statistics. Dade County FCU will benefit from the merger in that it can extend its field of membership reach from Miami/Dade County to Monroe County and the Keys, Joseph told News Now. The acquisition means Dade County will have 17 branches plus a mobile branch serving more than 80,000 members. Its assets will total $650 million, Joseph said. He added that once the official papers are signed, the merger could be complete in "two to three weeks." The process moves faster because it's classified as an emergency merger.

The 1 CU Conference sees surge in registrations

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MADISON, Wis. (5/27/10)--In spite of residual economic challenges for credit unions in the U.S. and abroad, last week’s early bird deadline for The 1 Credit Union Conference spurred a flood of registrations for the July 11-14 event, co-hosted by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). More than 560 registrations were received in the past week, bringing total attendance to more than 2,000 people from 53 countries. This year’s attendance to date is already substantially greater than the corresponding 2009 conferences for both CUNA and WOCCU, which were held in Boston, and Barcelona, Spain, respectively. “We’re ecstatic that so many credit unions from around the world will be represented at our joint conference this year,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. “North American credit unions know that our meeting travels globally and many are taking advantage of the fact that it’s close to home this year by sending more executives, staff and board members to experience this unique event.” The conference will take place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, and will feature speakers on topics applicable to credit unions worldwide. Jim Collins, author of business bestseller, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies make the Leap … and Others Don’t,” will keynote the event. “Coming together to network and learn with other leaders during a difficult year demonstrates the strength and resilience of the credit union movement,” Grace added. “It’s also indicative of credit unions’ improved financial status, allowing them to continue focusing on professional development--a crucial initiative, particularly during challenging times.” For more information, use the link.

Longs Peak members vote to merge with Elevations CU

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BOULDER, Colo. (5/27/10)--Members of Loveland, Colo.-based Longs Peak CU Tuesday approved a merger with Boulder, Colo.-based Elevations CU, during a special membership meeting. The merger also has been approved by the Colorado Division of Financial Services and the National Credit Union Administration. The merger becomes final June 1, bringing the number of Elevations members to 84,000 with total assets of more than $955 million. The merged credit unions will operate under the Elevations name, with Gerry Agnes continuing as president/CEO. Lisa Cortese, president/CEO of Longs Peak CU, will become vice president of the Loveland market. “Our members have always been supportive, and this vote confirms their continued desire to see our credit union grow and prosper for years to come,” Cortese said. “As soon-to-be members of Elevations CU, they’ll discover that they made the right decision.” Elevations CU was formed in 1952 serving faculty and staff of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and serves more than 80,000 members with assets of more than $937 million. Longs Peak CU was established in 1953 as Loveland’s first credit union, serving the entire community. It has 4,000 members and assets of $20 million.

Note red flags of fraud ID theft vs. elderly

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WASHINGTON (5/27/10)--The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) is offering advice for families, caregivers and financial institutions to help them detect the signs of fraud and identity theft against older or vulnerable adults. “We see heart-wrenching cases where older people are victimized by a con artist or a family member or friend and the anguish that follows,” said ITAC President Anne Wallace. “Financial services employees are often the first to spot fraud and identity theft and alert the authorities. We want to share our experience with the families and caregivers of seniors so they too can be on the lookout for fraud.” The 2010 Javelin Strategy and Research Identity Theft Survey Report, co-sponsored by ITAC, found that consumers over age 65 are the least likely age demographic to become victims of identity theft. However, identity fraud against older Americans may be under reported, especially if it is perpetrated by someone they know or with their consent, said ITAC. Credit unions should note these red flags:
* A vulnerable adult with no knowledge of a newly issued ATM, debit or credit card; * Discovery of a vulnerable adult’s signature forged for financial transactions or for the titles of possessions; * “Out of sync” check numbers; * A sudden flurry of bounced checks and overdraft fees; * A transaction review showing multiple small-dollar checks posting to the senior’s account in the same month; * Large withdrawals from a previously inactive checking or credit account or a new joint account; * Abrupt increases in credit or debit card activity; * Sudden appearance of credit card balances or ATM/debit card purchases or withdrawals with no prior history of these cards; * Withdrawals or purchases using ATM or debit cards that are repetitive over a short time or inconsistent with prior usage patterns; * A vulnerable adult who appears confused about the account balance or transactions on the account; * A caregiver who appears to be getting paid too much or too often; * Significant increases in monthly expenses paid, which may indicate payment of expenses for persons other than the customers; * Sudden changes in accounts or practices, such as unexplained withdrawals of large sums, particularly with a vulnerable adult who is escorted by another who appears to direct the changing activity patterns; * A vulnerable adult who acknowledges providing personal and account information to a solicitor via phone or email; and * Excitement about winning a sweepstakes or lottery.
ITAC is a partner of Intersections Inc., a CUNA Strategic Service provider.

Texas foundation awards 23544 in 2Q grants

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/27/10)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) dispersed $23,544 in grants during the second quarter. The grants program included credit union and chapter grants, and financial literacy initiatives, said the Texas Credit Union League. The dispersal adds to the $137,240 already awarded by TCUF in the first quarter (LoneStar Leaguer May 26). Recipients include Security One FCU, Arlington, which will use its funds to co-sponsor a “Money Matters: Make it Count” program for the Boys and Girls Club of Arlington. TCUF has supported the program for two years. “This year, the program will be available at three locations and our goal is for 100 students to participate with 75 graduating,” said Pamela Stephens, Security One president/CEO and Texas league chairman. Other grants include:
* Three Junior Achievement partnerships with credit unions; * One chapter grant; * One scholarship to send a credit union professional to the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Educator program; * A partnership with the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas to deliver the Sammy the Saver program and products to young Texans; and * Six training and conference scholarships for credit union staff and volunteers.
TCUF provides grants for financial literacy, professional development and disaster relief. The grants are supported by Texas credit unions, the Texas league, Credit Union Resources Inc., credit union chapters, corporate sponsorships, Community Investment Fund investors, industry groups and individual donations.

AOLs IWalletPopI CUs one of memberships worth the money

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MADISON, Wis. (5/27/10)--Credit unions are one of 10 memberships “worth the money” for consumers and, furthermore, could be the membership consumers “can’t afford not to join,” according to an article on AOL’s WalletPop.com. Because many people carry debt on their credit cards, rates charged by credit union cards are desirable [because they are lower than many major card companies], financial guru Suze Orman wrote in an article about safeguarding finances, WalletPop said. “What I want you to do is to go to creditcardconnection.org and find a good credit union near you,” Orman wrote. “Anybody can join a credit union … [and] get a good credit union credit card. “Do you know by law, federally chartered credit unions cannot charge you more than an 18% interest rate?” Orman added. WalletPop also referred readers to the Credit Union National Association’s credit union locator tool on its website. To read the article, use the link.

CUNA Board seat election ballots due June 4

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MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (5/27/10)--Ballots are due June 4 for the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) District 5, Class B Board position, which is up for special election. CUNA has received three nominations for the seat. They include:
* William Jacobs, White Sands FCU, Las Cruces, N.M.; * Angela S. McCathran, People’s Trust FCU, Houston; and * Roger Heacock, president/CEO, Black Hills FCU, Rapid City, S.D.
District 5 includes Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The seat is currently held by CUNA Chairman Kris Mecham, who resigned, effective June 1. He will leave the U.S. this summer to perform mission work in Mongolia for his church. The successful candidate’s term of office will begin immediately and will expire at the adjournment of CUNA’s 2013 Annual General Meeting. The ballots are to be returned to the firm of Johnson and Lambert.

CU System briefs (05/26/2010)

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* ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/27/10)--Kristina Wright, vice president-communications for the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN), has been re-elected to the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Literacy Finance. She also serves as the organization's vice president. The coalition is a state chapter of the national non-profit organization and is committed to improving personal financial literacy of Minnesota's youth. It includes representatives from government agencies, businesses, educators, financial institutions, non-profit organizations and community leaders. Also, among the five new board members elected at the coalition's May 19 meeting was Sherri Stumpf, CEO, TruStone Financial FCU, Plymouth, Minn. ... * RALEIGH, N.C. (5/27/10)--State Employees' CU of Raleigh, N.C., has extended its business day cutoff to 5:30 p.m. from 2 p.m. The extension also applies to SECU's online Member Access and Mobile Access services, and its ASK-SECU Voice Response phone system. Members requested the extended hours, which will give them more opportunity in the day to have transactions completed for same-day credit, SECU said. The extension will pave the way for future services such as "Another Chance," an upcoming program being designed to help offset potential non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees or overdrafts. SECU recently launched NSF Free Days and Two-Way Text Messaging and Alerts to help combat such issues. "Our goal is to keep money in members' pockets and these services are ways to help accomplish that goal," said Jennifer Hamrick, senior vice president of SECU's support services department ... * BOULDER, Colo. (5/27/10)--Elevations CU, based in Boulder, has established the Elevations Foundation for charitable giving. The foundation takes the place of the credit union's Community Relations Committee, which in the past decade awarded more than $1 million in scholarships, grants, volunteer time and donations to people and nonprofit organizations in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. The new foundation will collect and distribute funds that support charitable causes and education within the communities Elevations serves. Gerry Agnes, president/CEO, said the foundation's structure "allows us to sustain our charitable efforts for years to come." The foundation's new officers are: Jo Hetherington, chair; Rachael Maag, vice chair; Carol Krismann, treasurer; and Cris Jones, secretary ... * BROOKLINE, Mass. (5/27/10)--Volunteers and staff of MAFCU CU, a
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$66 million asset credit union based in Brookline, Mass., spent May 15 packing 66 boxes of sheets, pillows and pillow cases to send to hospitals in Haiti. All items were donated by members, staff and volunteers, and will be delivered to Haiti through Partners in Health, a Brigham and Women's Hospital-affiliated medical facility that has provided medical care in Haiti for more than 20 years. "Many of our members were directly affected by the earthquake in Haiti, and in this way we could help our members and their loved ones," said Nicole James, president/CEO of MAFCU. The credit union's original base of membership is in the medical area. (Photo provided by MAFCU CU) ... * ST. LOUIS (5/27/10)--Earl Ogolin, longtime credit union founder, volunteer and advocate, died May 25 at the age of 90, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) (The Missouri difference May 26). Ogolin began his service to credit unions in 1946 at First Missouri CU, St. Louis. He founded Southpointe CU, St. Louis, in 1951, and remained on both credit unions' boards for years. In 1957, he became one of the youngest members of the MCUA board of directors. He served on the board for more than four decades and on the Missouri Corporate CU board for nearly 20 years, including one term as president. He joined the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board in 1966 and served on the national level for nearly 30 years. In September 2009, Ogolin was named to the Missouri Honor Roll, for demonstrating leadership and guidance in maintaining the credit union philosophy. In February, he was named to the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Visitation is today at 4 to 8 p.m. at Ziegenhein Funeral Home, 4830 Lemay Ferry Rd., St. Louis, MO 63129. Services will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Assumption Catholic Church, 4709 Mattis Road, St. Louis. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Assumption St. Vincent DePaul Society, 4725 Mattis Road, St. Louis, MO 63128 ...