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CO-OP Networks text-messaging service helps locate ATMs

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (6/5/08)--Credit union members wanting to find the nearest surcharge-free ATM nearest can text their location to a number at CO-OP Network or download a database of ATM locations directly to their personal navigation devices, according to CO-OP Network. The network announced it is doubling the options members have for finding surcharge-free ATMs. Now cardholders can text their location to 692667 (MYCOOP) or download the database as well as use CO-OP's current phone and online ATM locator functions. How does it work? Cardholders text their location--address, intersection or ZIP code--to the MYCOOP number on any mobile phone. In less than one minute, the service replies with the CO-OP Network's surcharge-free ATMs nearest the location. To find additional locations, the user simply replies with "MORE." "One of the biggest misconceptions is that credit unions are inconvenient," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, the network's parent organization. "By offering services such as text messaging and GPS (global positioning system) navigational downloads, credit unions immediately increase their convenience and display more technology know-how than some of the largest banks," he said. Members with a personal navigation device such as Garmin will be able to download the network's ATM database through a link on, planned for later this month. Once the database loads, members can receive turn-by-turn directions to drive to the nearest CO-OP Network ATM. The database will be updated monthly.

WOCCU lends a hand in Caribbean co-ops bill passage

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ST. VINCENT and THE GRENADINES (6/5/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Chairman Melvin Edwards last week joined credit union officials in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to lobby for legislation that would appropriately regulate credit unions.
Melvin Edwards, World Council of Credit Unions chairman, recently lobbied in favor of new legislation with the help of several local credit unions officials to help Caribbean credit unions. From left are: Julian Jack, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions; Edwards; St. Vincent and the Grenadines Gov. General Monica Dacon; and St. Vincent Co-operative Credit Union League President Sylvia Sutherland. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The bill, the Harmonized Cooperative Societies Bill, “will enable credit unions to grow through a more competitive framework based on more clearly defined compliance requirements that preserve credit unions’ distinctive cooperative features,” Edwards said. Edwards, who represents the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) on WOCCU’s board, along with CCCU President Julian Jack, and St. Vincent League President Sylvia Sutherland, paid courtesy calls to Gov. General Monica Dacon, Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker and the Honorable Michael Browne, whose oversight includes cooperatives. Government officials were impressed with the influence of credit unions, which serve 85% of the country’s workforce, Edwards said. “Rest assured of the government’s full cooperation in building the credit union movement,” Browne added. “We will continue to build and defend the cooperative philosophy.” The St. Vincent League, which has nine credit unions serving 47,000 members, supports the proposed legislation. The revised law will allow the Department of Cooperatives to regulate at the national level and oversee the entire cooperative sectors. The bill evolved from earlier versions passed into law across Caribbean countries between 1995 and 2001. WOCCU’s Model Law for Credit Unions and its PEARLS Monitoring System, a financial and business planning software, influenced the version of the bill currently before the St. Vincent government. The new version was adjusted in response to a review by East Caribbean Central Bank and several regulators. Legislation to strengthen regulatory oversight of financial cooperatives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has stalled in the country’s legislature, partly due to for-profit sector efforts to reclassify cooperatives under bank regulatory oversight.

Washington league wins state-level community service award

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (6/5/08)--Four community service projects in 2007 have netted the Washington Credit Union League the Association Community Service Award from the Washington Society of Association Executives (WSAE). WSAE recognized the league's work in projects related to Financial Literacy Month, Shred Day, Biz Kid$ and Preventative Elder Financial Abuse. "Organizing and supporting community service projects that our member credit unions can be involved in is a priority for the Washington Credit Union League," said league President/CEO John Annaloro. "This award is significant because of the wide participation among credit unions from across Washington state," he added. For Financial Literacy Month in April, the league developed a program to encourage youth savings. Participating credit unions would deposit $25 into newly opened youth savings accounts. During the two-week program, credit unions opened more than 1,125 new kids' accounts. In October, the league coordinated a state-wide credit union "Shred Day" in cooperation with the state Attorney General Rob McKenna. Participants included more than 30 credit unions, four credit union chapters, and volunteers from credit unions and the league. They encouraged consumers to bring sensitive documents to their local credit union for free shredding to avoid identity theft. They shredded nearly 73.5 tons of documents. The league also was recognized for its support of and participation in BizKid$, the PBS television show featuring young entrepreneurs teaching fiscal responsibility. The league and its foundation were active in national fundraising efforts and coordinating with the show's producers. Through its award-winning Tomorrow's Leaders Council, the league developed training and model policies credit unions can use to train staff to identify and respond to potential abuse of an elderly person. Tomorrow's Leaders volunteers presented the materials at credit unions throughout the state and to the public at a fraud prevention programs in Pierce and King counties.

CU System briefs (06/04/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (6/5/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) hosted state Secretary of Banking Steve Kaplan and Paul Wentzel, Kaplan's executive assistant, Tuesday. PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack noted the visit "gave us the opportunity to show him what the association does on behalf of Pennsylvania's credit unions. He was impressed with the facility and staff." (Life is a Highway June 4). From left are: Rick Myxter, PCUA assistant vice president, credit union development, who explained his work with World Council of Credit Unions and an upcoming trip to Kenya; McCormack; Kaplan; and Wentzel. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * MADISON, Wis. (6/5/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has appointed Josie Collins as resource development and donor relations director. Collins will be responsible for growing the $360 million Community Investment Fund, attracting corporate supporters and individual donors, and managing NCUF's annual public awareness event, the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. She previously served as council liaison and awards competition coordinator at the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES). Prior to her five years at CUES, Collins analyzed the credit union marketplace at Survey Research Associates in Madison. Her office is based in Madison, where she can be reached at or 800-356-9655, ext. 4397 … * FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (6/5/08)--To show appreciation for members of the U.S. military, Mid Missouri CU purchased more than 2,000 tickets for military families to attend Armed Forces Day at Hammons Field in Springfield, home of the Springfield Cardinals (CourierNet June 4). More than 400 military personnel stationed at Fort Leonard Wood lined the field while a military band, shown here, performed the national anthem. Mid Missouri coordinated with the Missouri National Guard in Springfield to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over the stadium afterward. Other credit unions donating tickets included Century, Community Financial, Stationery, St. Louis Community, United Labor and Vantage credit unions. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (6/5/08)--A credit union member who signed up for a secret shopper program on a website became a victim of a secret shopper scam, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway June 4). The victim, a member of North East (Pa.) Welch FCU, received a packet instructing the recipient to cash a cashier's check for $3,410 and send a $2,500 money gram to someone in Texas. The check was returned as fraudulent, said PCUA … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (6/5/08)--Timothy W. Benecke has been appointed as president/CEO of Communications Family CU, Saginaw, Mich., according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor June 2). He will succeed James C. Dahl, who retires on July 1, after 24 years with the credit union. Benecke has 25 years' experience with credit unions in the region, most recently serving as president/CEO for six years of FinancialEdge Community CU, Bay City. He also is a former operations vice president with Dow Chemical Employees CU, Midland …

New CUSOs first month nets 1.5 million in student loans

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WASHINGTON (6/5/08)--The Credit Union Student Choice network has approved more than $1.5 million in private student loans since the network launched one month ago. Credit Union Student Choice is a credit union service organization that helps credit unions offer private student loans at a time when major student lenders have left the market. The seven credit unions on the network providing members with cost-effective college financing are:
* Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; * Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass.; * NASA FCU, Bowie, Md.; * NuUnion FCU, Lansing, Mich.; * Northwest FCU, Herndon, Va.; * Star One CU, Sunnyvale, Calif.; and * Wright-Patt CU, Fairborn, Ohio.
“We started to see applications flow in immediately and they haven’t stopped,” said Jon Jeffreys, Credit Union Student Choice CEO. “The volume has picked up significantly in the last week alone, as members are becoming aware of their credit union’s new solution. “Some of our first loans were actually from credit union employees who’d heard about the new loan product and were sold on its benefits before marketing had even begun,” he added. Most of the credit unions have little background in student lending. “It shows the tremendous need that exists now; the affinity that consumers have in borrowing from strong, local lenders; and the value credit unions can deliver with this product as more members become aware,” Jeffreys said. The new program launched May 5.

ELLy training awards program adds asset categories

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MADISON, Wis. (6/5/08)--Credit union training programs and trainers will be recognized for their outstanding staff development achievements in two asset categories during this year’s Experience Learning Live (ELLy) Training Awards program, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The ELLys are the only national awards presented to credit union trainers who perform outstanding work in professional staff development. Beginning this year, awards will be presented in two asset divisions--less than $250 million in assets and $250 million in assets or above--in each of six categories:
* Chi Phi Delta X II Award--Represents the best development of a Credit Union University, and its effect on staff learning and performance, using CUNA’s Center for Professional Development products as a foundation; * Coach Award--Recognizes a trainer who has significantly affected a trainee’s career and life through education, mentoring, and coaching. The entry can be submitted by employees or trainers in honor of a trainer who impacted their own or their co-workers’ lives and careers; * eLearning Award--Demonstrates how technology-based training was incorporated into and enhanced credit union training programs; * Training Champion Award--Singles out senior management staff in a credit union that go beyond the call of duty to support and develop the credit union’s training; * Training Professional of the Year Award--Honors exceptional achievements in performance and learning by a credit union training professional or department; * WOW Award--Recognizes the credit union with the best overall training curriculum or best training event that energizes, empowers and excites participants.
Entries must be received by Aug. 1. Awards will be presented at the 2008 Experience Learning Live conference, held Oct. 26-29 in Tempe, Ariz.

Loans up savings balances decline in April

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MADISON, Wis. (6/5/08)--Credit union loans outstanding increased 0.9% in April 2008, and 1.8% during the year, a one percentage point increase compared with the same period last year, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions. “The year-to-date loan growth of 1.8% is a bit stronger than we had expected,” said Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist.
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This probably is--despite the fact that members are cutting back on borrowing--also because of the weak economy, Hampel explained. Members are doing more of their borrowing at credit unions because other lenders have substantially cut back on lending. There are likely to be more opportunities for credit unions to make good loans, especially mortgage loans, for the rest of the year because of restricted credit supplies from other lenders, he told News Now. “After making sure of the asset/liability management implications, credit unions with sufficient liquidity can meet some of these member demands,” Hampel added. The year-to-date increase in loans also is partly due to fixed-rate first mortgages increasing 7.4%. Adjustable-rate mortgages rose 2.9% during April, followed by other loans (1.6%), fixed-rate first mortgages (1.5%), used-auto loans (1.1%), home equity loans (1%), credit card loans (0.9%), and unsecured personal loans (0.6%). Other mortgages (1.3%) and new-auto loans (0.7%) declined during April.
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Credit union savings balances declined 0.2% in April, but grew 4.8% year-to-date. Money market accounts and one-year certificates increased 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively. Share drafts (2.7%), individual retirement accounts (1.5%), and regular shares (0.9%) decreased during the month. “Savings growth is still running ahead of the weak performance of the previous four years, and CUNA's economists expect 2008 to be a strong year for credit union savings as members cut back spending because of the weak economy,” Hampel said. During the first four months of 2008, money market accounts increased 10%, double the 5% for the same period last year. Credit unions’ loan-to-savings ratio increased to 81% in April from 80% in March. The liquidity ratio--the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities--declined to 19% in April from 21% in March. Regarding asset quality, credit union 60-plus day delinquencies were 1% in April 2008. The rapid rise in loan delinquency last year, from 0.68% in April to 0.93 in December, has since slowed, Hampel noted, adding “the delinquency rate was essentially unchanged from March to April, rising from 1.00% to 1.01%. “The outlook for 2008 remains difficult for credit unions,” Hampel said. “But, the good news is that credit quality does not seem to be worsening further.” With the increase in assets, the movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio remains at 11.1%. The total dollar amount of capital is still at $90 billion.

Missouri DOR ordered to cancel records fee hike

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ST. LOUIS (6/5/08)--A Missouri Circuit Court judge ordered the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) to cancel a fee increase for state driver and motor vehicle records. The DOR raised its fees from $1.25 to $7 per record and eliminated bulk discounts on record purchases May 1, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) (CourierNet June 4). MCUA is monitoring the situation. It has been advised by DOR that the fee remains at $7 at the present time, MCUA said. The fee hike proposal prompted Carfax--a company that provides vehicle histories for consumers buying used autos--to threaten to stop serving Missouri customers (News Now May 13). R.L. Polk & Co., Carfax's parent company, has used the title and registration data to compile vehicle history reports for the Carfax service, which is offered in some credit unions. Car buyers pay $30 to use the database for 30 days. The increase would cost Carfax $42 million more than what it pays for data from all 50 states and Canada combined. Several companies that routinely purchase these records sued DOR, saying the agency violated the state’s Sunshine Law. DOR representatives argue that driver and motor-vehicle records are not open records and not covered by the Sunshine Law. Missouri’s Sunshine Law states that “meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.” The law sets out the specific instances when a meeting, record or vote may be closed, while stressing these exceptions are to be strictly interpreted to promote the public policy of openness, according to the Missouri Attorney General office website. DOR’s defense was rejected by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan, in a ruling that said the phrase “public records” should include all government records--public and private. He issued a preliminary injunction. On June 20, the Cole County Circuit Court will hear the case again to consider other facts and decide whether to cancel the fee increase permanently. During the 2008 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill that would limit fees to $0.005 per bulk record. However, Gov. Matt Blunt has not signed the bill into law yet, said MCUA.

Michigan governor signs snowmobile registration bill

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LANSING, Mich. (6/5/08)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law a secured snowmobile registration bill--House Bill 5085--which was put forward by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). The bill establishes a secured registration system for snowmobiles without any additional costs to snowmobile operators, according to the league’s website. “It will help credit unions and other lenders by requiring that all lien holders of a financed snowmobile be listed on the vehicle’s registration,” said MCUL Executive Vice President Patrick La Pine. “This brings snowmobiles under the same registration system that applies to motor vehicles and boats.” Introduced by State Rep. Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City), H.B. 5085 passed the state House 104-2 on Dec 13. In a 105-1 vote, the Michigan House concurred with the Senate action May 13. The registration system the bill establishes will take effect in 2009, when the secretary of state’s office is scheduled to undergo a computer upgrade.