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Reminder to News Now subscribers: Please update email permissions to ensure delivery

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MADISON, Wis. (6/27/14)--As of this morning, News Now has upgraded its email delivery system to better serve our readers--and we'd like to ensure there is no interruption in its delivery to our subscribers.
 
Starting today, News Now's timely and comprehensive daily news content is being delivered through a more powerful communications application.
 
This change means subscribers must take some simple actions to keep the latest news dropping directly into their email box each morning. If you are a subscriber, please look for email from the Credit Union National Association this week with details.
 
The vast majority of our subscribers simply need to add News Now to their safe-senders list--so the headlines email does not go to a junk mail folder. A small percentage of our readers must set up a CUNA.org profile.
 
Either way, subscribers will get an email with instructions tailored to their needs.
 
If any reader requires additional assistance, please contact CUNA's IT department at webservices@cuna.coop for immediate help.

CU System briefs (06/27/2014)

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  • nn062614_4.jpgSACRAMENTO, Calif. (6/27/14)--The Salvation Army of Sacramento, Calif., bestowed its Spirit of Caring honor to Henry Wirz, president/CEO, SAFE CU, North Highlands, Calif., for his commitment and involvement in the Sacramento community (Carmichael Times June 26). In 2013 alone, the $2. 1 billion-asset credit union gave more than $290,000 to The Salvation Army, educational programs at local schools, nonprofit health organizations, The Aerospace Museum of California, The First Tee of Greater Sacramento and the Paul Hom Asian Clinic. "None of us want to see people without shelter, without food, without means to support themselves," Wirz said. "If people are willing to give time, money, or surplus items, they can make a big difference in the community. Over time, it will also benefit you as a person" ...
     
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (6/27/14)--After more than 16 years leading the OCUL Services Corp. (OSC), Dave Fearing will be leaving July 1 to become CEO of CU Partner Link, a collaboration of the California, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas  state credit union leagues focused on product innovation and revenue growth (eLumination June 26). Fearing has been interim CEO at CU Partner Link since December and will continue to work from the Ohio Credit Union League offices in Columbus. Among Fearing's new projects are working with the league, OSC and the state's credit unions on partnerships with NOWaccount Network Corp. and the National Cooperative Bank. "It's business as usual for OSC during this transitional period," said league President Paul Mercer ...
     
  • TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (6/27/14)--Two Michigan credit unions announced their intent to merge after receiving board approval. Members CU, Traverse City, with $224 million in assets, and Bay Winds FCU, Charlevoix, with $175 million in assets, expect the merger to take effect at the end of October. The agreement will make the new financial institution, which will have 13 branches, the "largest local credit union north of Midland/Mount Pleasant," said Andy Kempf, president/CEO, Members CU (The Traverse Ticker June 25). The agreement requires a vote by members of Bay Winds FCU and consent from the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation and the National Credit Union Administration ...
     
  • ALEXANDRIA, Va. (6/27/14)--The man allegedly behind a fake online credit union and accused of defrauding thousands of investors pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court. Timothy J. Coughlin, 63, of Indianapolis pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud and impersonating an Internal Revenue Service official while operating the Oxford International Credit Union (OICU), which Coughlin used to solicit online investments. He allegedly used OICU and a fake investment vehicle--the Oxford International Cooperative Union--to collect nearly $15 million from almost 5,000 people worldwide for investment and members' annual dues. According to a statement of facts filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to further the fraud, Coughlin allegedly posted a fake certificate stating that OICU was an insured credit union and forged the signature of an IRS employee. Coughlin faces a maximum penalty of 23 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 26. In April, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a suit against Coughlin for "Internet offering fraud" (News Now April 15) ...

One in 4 unaware of auto refinancing option, survey says

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FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (6/27/14)--Credit unions looking to educate consumers that switching their existing auto loans to a cooperative financial institution is a better deal may face an uphill battle, according to a new survey.
 
The survey, conducted by Fort Atkinson, Wis.-based RateWatch, a banking data and analytics service owned by TheStreet Inc., found that many consumers overlook or are not interested in refinancing their auto loans.
 
Among the findings:
  • 27% of respondents did not know that refinancing their auto loan was an option;
  • 59% of respondents knew that refinancing was an option, but chose not to refinance;
  • Consumers age 30 to 44 were most likely to be aware of auto refinancing options, but only 20% had taken advantage of them; and
  • Consumers who have owned their vehicle for five or more years were most likely to have known refinancing was an option and followed through with a refinance loan. More than half of those who have owned their vehicles for less than five years were not aware refinancing was an option.
"Auto-loan refinancing tends to be somewhat uncommon, and it's unfortunate since consumers can save thousands of dollars in the course of paying off their loan," said Ross Kenneth Urken, personal finance editor for TheStreet. "It's a technique more consumers need to recognize as beneficial to their finances."
 
The survey also revealed that consumers are paying off their loans with varying interest rates:
  • Those who have owned their vehicle for two to five years are most likely to have an interest rate between 2% and 3%; and
  • The percentage of respondents paying an interest rate between 1% and 2% is the same as the percentage of respondents paying an interest rate of 8% or greater, demonstrating the large range of available rates.

Mid-Atlantic Corporate announces board election results

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (6/27/14)--Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, Pa., announced the results of its board of directors' election during its 38th annual meeting June 20 in Harrisburg, Pa.
 
Directors who ran unopposed and were re-elected to the board to serve three-year terms included:
  • Abby Kiebach, president/CEO, Lancaster (Pa.) Red Rose CU, with $66 million in assets;
  •  Joan M. Moran, president/CEO, Department of Labor FCU, Washington, D.C., with $71 million in assets; and
  • Michael P. Pastirik, president/CEO, United Community FCU, West Mifflin, Pa., with $42 million in assets.
Officers for Mid-Atlantic Corporate's board of directors included:
  • Chairman: Pastirik;
  • Vice chair: Moran;
  • Treasurer: David B. Whitehead, president/CEO, Merck Sharp and Dohme FCU, Chalfont, Pa., with $529 million in assets; and
  • Secretary: Brian J. Vittek, president/CEO, Destinations CU, Baltimore, with $58 million in assets.

Mich. Young & Free 'spokester' featured in Detroit Free Press

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DETROIT (6/27/14)--In a story about the contradictions of millennials' financial habits, the Detroit Free Press drew upon the expertise of Ebeth Fielder, the "spokester" for Young & Free Michigan.
 
Fielder told the paper's personal finance columnist, Susan Tompor, that she thinks young consumers can save money--if they re-evaluate their spending habits.
 
As a spokester for Lathrup Village-based Michigan First CU's program, Fielder said one of her goals is to help young adults map a route through their finances. One trick she uses to control her urge to shop is to compare how many hours she'd have to work to pay for clothing or shoes.
 
Take the example of a "bargain" pair of shoes. At 50% off, those $40 shoes may seem like a deal.
But, Fielder advised, you might stop and consider how much your daily wage is. "If you're earning $10 an hour, you could ask if the shoes are really worth four hours of my time--or half of a regular work day?" she said.
 
The article also noted that depending on the survey, "millennials either are 'super savers' with an eye on retirement or so dogged by debt that they don't know which way to turn."

Mo. league shares CU message during Hike the Hill

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Missouri credit union advocates had one-on-one visits with Sens. Roy Blunt (R), above center, and Claire McCaskill (D), below center, during recent Hike the Hill visits. (Missouri Credit Union Association photos)

ST. LOUIS (6/27/14)--Risk-based capital was the hot topic for Missouri credit union advocates during their recent Hike the Hill visits in Washington.
 

"Every member of Congress who we met with really seemed to understand and support our positions on our topics, especially risk-based capital," said Randy Yeck, executive vice president, $737 million-asset Vantage CU, Bridgeton (Missouri Difference June 24). "It was one of our most effective visits yet."
 
Attendees thanked each of Missouri's House members for signing a letter sent to the National Credit Union Administration regarding its risk-based capital proposal and asked both Sens. Roy Blunt (R) and Claire McCaskill (D) to consider sending a letter regarding the proposal.
 
The group visited all 10 offices of the state's congressional delegation and attended the June 19 NCUA board meeting. Other issues included data security breach concerns, supplemental capital, member business lending, patent trolling, housing finance reform and preserving the credit union tax status when Congress addresses comprehensive tax reform.
 
Delegates included staff and volunteers from the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) and five credit unions--including Anheuser-Busch Employees' CU, St. Louis, with $1.4 billion in assets; BluCurrent CU, Springfield, with $150 million in assets; CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, with $1.9 billion in assets; Mid Missouri CU, Fort Leonard Wood, with $212 million in assets; and Vantage CU.
 
"The staff and volunteers made excellent points during the meetings with lawmakers," said Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president of advocacy. "That really makes the difference with lawmakers--being able to bring the stories and issues to life with examples from back home in the district."

S.C. CU, civil rights leader receives Smithsonian honor

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Esau Jenkins, center, was an iconic civil rights figure who leveraged the cooperative business model to improve the lives of African-Americans in the low country of South Carolina. A section of Jenkins' VW bus will be displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Carolinas Credit Union League photo)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (6/27/14)--In 1966, Esau Jenkins founded the Community Organization FCU, capping a lifetime of work fighting for civil rights in the South by establishing cooperative organizations that served African-Americans.

For his work, a piece of Jenkins' Volkswagen bus, which features his personal motto: "Love is progress, hate is expensive, help our scholarship fund," will be displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture once it opens in 2016.

Friends and family gathered at a special event in Charleston earlier this month to celebrate the artifact's send-off to Washington, D.C.

Jenkins (1910-1972) formed the credit union, which has since been renamed CO FCU, Charleston, with $1.7 million in assets, in order to offer low-interest loans to African-Americans.

But founding a credit union only scratches the surface of the work Jenkins accomplished in his life.

Jenkins established his first cooperative in 1948: an outfit called the Progressive Club that functioned as a food co-op for African-Americans on John's Island.

With the food co-op in place, Jenkins and his colleagues built on the operation's success by starting a Citizenship School within the organization. The school taught African-Americans how to qualify to vote in South Carolina.

The school was so effective, according to the National Cooperative Business Association, civil rghts leaders from throughout the nation traveled to see it first hand in order to launch similar schools of their own.

Some of the iconic visitors to the school included Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael and Andrew Young.

The museum where Jenkins' bus will be featured is currently under construction. Located on the Washington Mall, the museum will teach visitors about the history of African-Americans in the United States and how the African-American experience has impacted American life.

TransUnion: Consumers concerned about ID theft, but lack protection

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CHICAGO (6/27/14)--Roughly 80% of U.S. adults worry they will fall victim to identity theft, but most don't grasp what exactly puts them at risk, a TransUnion survey released Thursday has found.

While identity theft has ramped up in recent months--more than 13 million Americans were victimized last year--the majority of U.S. adults don't take steps to safeguard their information.

"From the time we're born, everyone in the world has their own identity, and the risk of having it stolen can come at any moment during your life and even after death," said TransUnion Vice President Julie Springer. "With a new victim falling prey to identity theft every two seconds, it's more important than ever to take protective measures."

The survey also found that more than half of adults don't know they can be victimized in stores, online and through social media.

While 60% believe shopping with card information online puts them at risk, only 34% of consumers believe using a credit or debit card at a retail store leaves them vulnerable.

This despite the fact that data breaches at retail stores have affected millions of people in recent months, including breaches at Target, Michaels and P.F. Chang's. 

The Credit Union National Association, which continues to urge federal lawmakers to address data security relative to merchants, discovered that credit unions incurred $30.6 million in costs directly related to the Target breach.

Finally, the survey found that one-quarter of adults believe posting on social media sites poses the least risk of identity theft.

"(But) identity theft is happening everywhere, especially on social media where people are posting even more personal information and reusing the same passwords," Springer said. "Simple changes like adjusting privacy settings and strengthening your password can help ward off cyber thieves."

Ohio CUs report strong lending results

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (6/27/14)--Ohio credit unions posted strong first-quarter lending results, largely driven by strong consumer lending performance, the Ohio Credit Union League reported.
 
As interest rates rise and the mortgage market slows, consumer loans are playing an increasingly important role in leading balance-sheet loan growth, the league said ( eLumination June 26).
 
Used-auto loan balances in Ohio increased 7.8% annually, while new-auto balances rose 19.3%. Auto loans now make up 41.4% of state credit union loan portfolios.
 
Average loan balances increased nearly 4.5% over the past 12 months, the league reported. Total expenses dropped nearly 5%, showing credit unions' focus on return to members.
 
Regular shares and deposits rose nearly 6%, and total loans were up nearly 8%.
 
Ohio credit unions also posted decreases in delinquency and charge-offs, but trailed the nation in year-over-year membership growth at 1.2% compared with 2.7% nationally

CUNA Brokerage completes inaugural Program Leadership Institute

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MADISON, Wis. (6/27/14)--Twenty-two credit union executives recently attended the inaugural meeting of CUNA Brokerage Services Inc.'s (CBSI) Program Leadership Institute.
 
The program trains credit union executives on how to manage and grow a strong, robust and fully integrated investment and insurance program at their credit unions.
 
"Investment and insurance products represent the largest potential untapped source of member-friendly, non-interest income for credit unions," said Hendrix Niemann, managing director of wealth management at CBSI.
 
Credit unions only attract roughly 3% of their members' investment dollars, while 46% of members have investment accounts with other financial service providers, according to Filene Research Institute data from 2012.
 
"We understand that many of the credit union executives tasked with supervising the investment program may have little knowledge or experience in the investment world, and many also have 'day jobs' elsewhere in the credit union," said Niemann. "Therefore, the curriculum for our Program Leadership Institute is constructed to include content and material applicable to every program manager and champion, regardless of knowledge or experience."
 
The Program Leadership Institute's curriculum tracks include:
  • General program management;
  • Managing, motivating and working with financial advisers;
  • Marketing investment programs;
  • Operations and technology; and
  • General industry knowledge.
 
 

Dakota professionals, volunteers honored by CUAD

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BISMARCK, N.D. (6/27/14)--Excellence across all credit union areas was noted by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas during its recent Summit awards banquet.
 
Joanne Lautenschlager, a director at $352 million-asset Town and Country CU, Minot, N.D., was honored as the North Dakota volunteer of the year. She was appointed to the board in 1990 and has served on the credit committee for 11 years.
 
Burt Elliott, board member at Aberdeen (S.D.) FCU, with $114 million in assets, received the South Dakota volunteer of the year award. A 40-year member of the credit union, Elliott has been on the board for 31 years and currently serves as the board's legislative director.
 
The professionals of the year in both states are well-tenured. Travis Kasten, president, $132 million-asset Service First FCU, Sioux Falls, was honored as the South Dakota professional of the year. Kasten has been involved with the credit union movement for more than 30 years.
 
Darwin Brokke, president, Citizens Community CU, Devils Lake, was named North Dakota professional of the year. Brokke started his career in 1983 when the credit union held $3 million in assets. Today, it is a $151 million-asset credit union that serves nearly 10,000 members.
 
Two credit unions also were feted for their outstanding achievements.
 
The Five Star Award--which recognizes individual credit unions for their work in education, legislative activities, public relations/marketing, member contact and community service--went to Voyage FCU, Sioux Falls, S.D., with $75 million in assets.
 
Town and Country CU, Minot, N.D., with $352 million in assets, was awarded the Building Connections Award for exhibiting the credit union and co-op philosophies and for supporting their communities during National Co-op Month and International Credit Union Day.