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CU System briefs (07/05/2012)

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  • WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (7/6/12)--Cross Valley FCU, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is the second Pennsylvania credit union that has offered Scranton, Pa., city employees affected by recent budget cuts some assistance. The $160 million asset credit union is offering, among other solutions, a new Liberty Line of Credit, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway July 3). The service offers members affected by the city's decision up to $7,500, with no payment, no interest and no fees for the first 90 days and a low annual percentage rate to follow. Current members who already have loans will receive loan deferral options. And Cross Valley FCU will offer individual financial plan consultations. Earlier, Tobyhanna FCU, Scranton, announced it would assist city employees after Mayor Chris Doherty  unilaterally cut city employees' salaries to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (News Now July 2) …
  • BARRE, Vt. (7/6/12)--Vermont State Employees' CU, based in Montpelier, Vt., has pledged $120,000 during the next three years to help the Vermont Foodbank move food around the state (Associated Press Newswires July 3). The amount is about the cost to operate a Foodbank truck that makes a daily trip between Rutland and Burlington for a year, said the Foodbank. The budget for that truck route is roughly $40,000 a year. Foodbank delivers donated food to about 280 food shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and after-school programs. The $560 million asset credit union has supported Foodbank for nearly 20 years. This is its first multi-year pledge …
  • RICHMOND, Va. (7/6/12)--Members of Richmond-based Virginia CU have begun depositing checks using their smartphones. Virginia CU Mobile Banking users deposit their check by taking a picture of it on their iPhone or Android smartphone. Although large banks and financial industry giants offer the service, the credit union said it may be the first local credit union or community bank to do so. "VACU moved quickly to offer this service because of the rapid adoption of mobile banking by its members," said Frank Carina, VACU vice president for e-services. Nearly 35,000 members have signed up for mobile banking since it was launched last summer. The $2.3 billion asset credit union was an early adopter of e-services, offering online banking and bill pay since 1997. It also recently launched VACU MoneyTracker, a free personal financial management tool that helps members manage and track income, expenses and spending. Members can categorize transactions to see where and how they spend money and use the information to establish a budget. They also can create a savings goal and monitor their progress each month …

Fraud text alerts topic of TMG paper

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DES MOINES, Iowa (7/6/12)--How financial institutions (FIs) can incorporate text messaging as a crucial communications tool in their fraud prevention programs is the topic addressed by Cards Risk Senior Manager Karen Postma in a new white paper issued by The Members Group (TMG).

The white paper also outlines four misconceptions that have made some FIs hesitant to implement fraud text alerts.

Relied on by millions of people every day, text alerts are a powerful weapon in any fraud-fighting arsenal, writes Postma, in "Turn Mobile Phone Users into Fraud Crime Stoppers."  Yet, she adds, even with the ease of use and potential fraud loss savings, some FIs worry that:

  • Cardholders may dismiss their fraud text alerts as spam;
  • Merchant names are too confusing for text alerts;
  • Members and customers already receive too many marketing-related messages via text; and
  • Text alerts are not practical unless the FI has rolled out a complete mobile strategy.
Postma's white paper addresses those perceived obstacles and summarizes the potential advantages for FIs that provide this simple, non-invasive way for cardholders to help prevent fraud.

"Text alerts reach possible victims faster and have a greater chance of inspiring a response," Postma concludes. "In the realm of fraud prevention, text messaging can become a tremendous ally for FIs battling a sophisticated contingency of card fraudsters."

For more information, use the link.

Calif. homeowner bill will slow foreclosures

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (7/6/12)--California lawmakers Monday passed a set of foreclosure relief bills that will help hundreds of thousands of state residents facing foreclosures to stay in their homes. The bills could be a template for the rest of the U.S.  

Credit unions could be impacted by the legislation, which is the first of its kind in the U.S. The measure would end the practice of "dual tracking," in which a lender goes through foreclosure procedures, even if the homeowner is trying to obtain a modification on the terms of the loan (Houston Chronicle and The Associated Press July 30).

"Credit unions understand that the intention of mortgage reform legislation is to help distressed borrowers who were negatively impacted by a devastating recession," the California Credit Union League said in a prepared statement sent to News Now. "We share the same concern, but we also believe these reforms were proposed to address the practices of other lenders.

"We maintain strict underwriting standards, and are wary of additional burdens that would impede our ability to help struggling Californians emerge from a lingering economic downturn," the league added. "Our primary focus is to continue working with members to keep them in their homes."

The bills reflect and extend protections that came about through a nationwide settlement between 49 state attorneys general and five of the biggest U.S. banks that service mortgages, the newspaper and AP said.

The bills also would require financial institutions to provide a single point of contact for borrowers who want to discuss their loans. Another stipulation mandates that lenders either approve or deny loan-modification requests and provide a clear rationale for the decisions, the paper and AP said.  

California Gov. Jerry Brown said he would sign the bills into law.

CU development educators program marks 30 years

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Graduates of the Spring 2012 Development Education Training stand outside of the World Credit Union Center campus in Madison, Wis.
MADISON, Wis. (7/6/12)--Thirty certified Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) gathered in San Diego last month to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program.

The credit union philosophy training program from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) started in 1982 and continues to educate credit union professionals worldwide every year.

A 30th anniversary reception was held during the annual workshops for CUDEs that took place June 20-22 in conjunction with Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference.

The workshop also featured sessions on innovation, immigration issues, sustainability, community development financial institutions, advocacy, young adults, activities/projects by CUDEs, and updates on the DE program.

Graduates of the DE program attending were from training sessions ranging from the first year in 1982 to the most recent training in April.

Alumni of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program gather at the DE Workshop, June 20 in San Diego.
"We never dreamed the program would evolve in the way it has, and what an awesome group of dedicated credit union volunteers and professionals it has grown to be," said Susan Luke, owner of Luke Communications Group and a graduate of the first DE Training in 1982.

"It wasn't until I attended this remarkable program that I truly realized we are part of a movement," said Ruben Cisneros, chief operations officer at Border FCU, Del Rio, Texas, and a graduate of DE Training in April.

"It's a movement with social values that I strongly believe in and have applied after attending DE Training," He added.

The DE program began in 1982 with a grant to the CUNA Foundation (now the NCUF, from the U.S. Agency for International Development).

Attendees of an early Development Education Training class gather at the St. Benedict Center (now Holy Wisdom Monastery) where training was held in Middleton, Wis. (Photos provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
Eighty-eight programs received funding over time, but the Credit Union Development Education Program is the only one still in existence.

"For 30 years, the DE Program has stayed true to its original intent and has been instrumental in increasing the awareness and support of international credit union development efforts, which has helped to strengthen credit union movements in other countries and the services offered to members everywhere," noted Lois Kitsch, NCUF national program director.

The next DE Training, at Madison, Wis., Sept. 6-13, is sold out.

However, there are two trainings scheduled for 2013, with the first taking place May 1-8.

For more information, e-mail cude@ncuf.coop.

During the week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises and field trips, are encouraged to ask questions of speakers, and must complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations.

30-40 of consumers on e-statements use paper too

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HERNDON, Va. (7/6/12)--Although going paperless is a reason often cited for switching to online services, nearly 30% to 40% of consumers who receive financial statements and bills online also continue to receive paper statements, according to a white paper from NACHA-The Electronic Payments Association and PayItGreen.

The paper, which called the trend "double dipping," is based on a study by Javelin Strategy & Research. The trend wastes resources and creates an unnecessary burden on the environment, said Javelin. It also weakens financial organizations' return on investments and creates inefficiencies that require twice the service, said a press release from NACHA.

The most surprising find, according to the paper, was that the double dipping trend exists primarily among tech savvy Gen Y consumers (consumers between ages 18 and 32) and Early Adopters, who identify themselves as the first to try new technology.

Still, credit unions and other financial institutions may see some response if they urge their member/consumers to go completely paperless when they sign up for online statements. The study noted that 20% of Gen Y consumers simply "forgot" to terminate their paper statements when they switched.

The study also indicated that 41% of Gen Y and 48% of Early Adopters would be receptive to the automatic shutoff of paper statements when they sign up for online billing and payments.

"These findings present a significant opportunity for financial institutions and billers," said Janet O. Estep, NACHA president/CEO. "Through targeted educational programs and messaging, organizations of all types can counter the ongoing attachment to paper and encourage the adoption of paperless behaviors. By doing so, they can reduce the impact of paper-intensive processes on the environment while maximizing efficiencies."

International Co-op Day is Saturday

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MADISON, Wis. (7/6/12)--Credit unions will be among the nearly 30,000 U.S. cooperative businesses celebrating Saturday as the United Nations (U.N.) International Day of Cooperatives.

The U.N. has proclaimed that co-ops be formally recognized each year on the first Saturday of July.

This year's theme--"Cooperative enterprises build a better world"--links to the observance of 2012 as the U.N.'s International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). It seeks to encourage the growth and establishment of cooperatives worldwide, and to recognize the actions of cooperatives in helping to achieve internationally agreed-upon development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.

In a video commemorating U.N. IYC, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon notes the role credit unions played in supporting the global economy during the recent financial crisis.



"The global financial and economic crisis has also demonstrated the resilience of alternative financial institutions such as cooperative banks and credit unions," said Ban. "In this International Year of Cooperatives, I encourage all stakeholders to continue building awareness and pursuing policies to strengthen cooperatives everywhere."

The U.N. believes the cooperative movement helps local economies by having "citizens themselves rely on self-help and their own responsibility to meet goals that include not only economic but social and environmental objectives."

In the U.S., Americans hold more than 350 million co-op memberships, according to the National Cooperative Business Association. With assets of $3 trillion, U.S. cooperatives contribute two million jobs and $652 billion in sales to the U.S. economy.

On Saturday, the Cabot Creamery Cooperative's 2012 Community Tour will conclude at the Celebrate Portland Festival in Portland, Maine, where 2,000 to 3,000 attendees are expected. The Maine Credit Union League will be among the groups welcoming the riders.

The Cabot Creamery Cooperative 2012 Community Tour is a two-month tour to celebrate the U.N. IYC. The 366-mile tour, which departed from Miami on May 12, passed through every state along the Atlantic coastline (News Now June 7).

Another bicycle tour also is celebrating 2012 as the U.N. IYC. The Co-cycle Project is a student-led, bike-powered tour linking co-operatives across the U.S. on a west-to-east route.

The tour was organized by students of Hampshire College, and is sponsored in part by UMass College Five FCU, Amherst, Mass.

My CU is everywhere campaign adopted in Arkansas

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (7/6/12)--The Arkansas Credit Union League has adopted the "My Credit Union is Everywhere" video from the Grand Rapids, Mich., credit union service organization, CU*Answers, for the league's statewide cooperative advertising campaign.

The "Everywhere" concept has generated the most grassroots participation by credit unions--more than any other campaign used in Arkansas, the league said.

Since the early 1990s, credit unions throughout Arkansas have contributed to a cooperative advertising fund designed to increase credit union awareness and membership in the state.

The fund is managed by a group of Arkansas credit union CEOs and marketers appointed by the league board of directors. The committee is charged with developing and promoting a "brand" that can be recognized and embraced by state credit unions.

Arkansas credit union employees wear green shirts to promote the "My Credit Union is Everywhere" Campaign. The Arkansas Credit Union League adopted the program from the Grand Rapids, Mich., credit union service organization CU*Answers. 
Credit union employees in Arkansas wear green "credit union" shirts the last Friday of each month and while performing community service in their respective communities. (Photos provided by the Arkansas Credit Union League)
A nationwide search for an advertising concept lead the committee to CU*Answers' Everywhere campaign.

The video was adapted for a 60-second television commercial, a 30-second radio spot and a billboard featuring the "green shirt" guy.

The campaign also included a YouTube link and postings to Facebook. Credit unions were urged to link to the commercial on their home page, and to have employees wear green "credit union" shirts, just like the guy in the commercial.

Arkansas credit union employees wear the green shirts the last Friday of each month and while performing community service in their respective communities.

Credit unions take photos of their employees in the green shirts while they perform community service. The credit unions then issue press releases with the photos to the local newspapers.

Ohio bill may impact lien powers at CUs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/6/12)--The Ohio Credit Union League is monitoring a bill that would increase the exemption for property used as a residence to $500,000 from the current $20,200 as it progresses through the Ohio General Assembly.

House Bill 479, which would create the Ohio Legacy Trust Act, could impact credit unions, said the league in its newsletter (eLumination Newsletter June 27).

HB 479 could negatively affect creditors' ability to enforce and college judgment liens, said the league. "The league has been and continues to work with legislators and interested parties to address its concerns in order to minimize the effects on credit unions," the league said.

The bill states it would modify certain property rights in the Ohio Trust Code, require the recording of personal property transfers with the county recorder upon request, regulate the temporary conveyance of trust real property for financing purposes, and make changes in the state's exempt interests law, its fraudulent transfers law, a secured transactions recording law,  and a rule against perpetuities.

The Ohio legislature is recessed, and no further action is expected on the bill until after the November election, said the league.

Xtend Inc. re-elects two board directors

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (7/6/12)--Credit union service organization (CUSO) Xtend Inc. stockholders re-elected two board directors from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based credit unions at its annual stockholder meeting June 19.

Re-elected to three-year terms were David Keim, CEO of Western Districts Members CU, and Brian Turmell, CEO of AAC CU. Their terms will begin Oct. 1. 

Keim has served on the Xtend board since 2003, and Turmell has served since 2006.

The CUSO is based in Grand Rapids and provides managerial, operational, marketing, technical planning and consulting services for credit unions. It is owned by 65 credit union partners.

CU 24 elects officers board members

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (7/6/12)--Two credit union leaders have been elected to the board of Credit Union 24, the credit-union owned ATM and point-of-sale network, and two incumbents have been re-elected. Officers of the board also were re-elected.

Officers re-elected to another one-year term during 2012-2013 include:

  • Chairman, Bradley Blake, president/CEO of Florida State University CU, Tallahassee;
  • Vice chairman, Joan Nolan, vice president of operations support at IBM Southeast Employees FCU, Boca Raton, Fla.; and
  • Secretary/treasurer, Becky Hulett, chief financial officer of 121 Financial CU, Jacksonville, Fla.
Two new board members include James Smith, president/CEO of Singing River FCU, Moss Point, Miss., elected to a three-year term, and Paul Numbers Jr., president/CEO of State Employees CU, Jacksonville, elected to a one-year term.

Incumbents Blake and Alvin Cowans, president/CEO of McCoy FCU, Orlando, Fla., were both re-elected to three-year terms on the board.

Other current board members include: 

  • David Mooney, president/CEO, Alliant CU, Chicago;
  • David Southall, president/CEO of Innovations FCU, Panama City Beach, Fla.; and
  • Dan Wollin, president/CEO of PCM CU, Green Bay, Wis.
Credit Union 24 is a credit union-owned has more than 300,000 ATM locations and offers surcharge-free ATM access at nearly 70,000 locations.