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CU System Archive

CU System

NEW: North And South Carolina Leagues Vote To Consolidate

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COLUMBIA, S.C. and RALEIGH, N.C. (8/22/13 UPDATED 2:30 p.m. ET)--Affiliated credit unions in North and South Carolina voted overwhelmingly to consolidate the South Carolina Credit Union League and North Carolina Credit Union League to create the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL), which will begin operation on Jan. 1.
 
SCCUL members voted 43-2 in favor of consolidation, while NCCUL affiliates voted 52-2 in favor. The vote caps a thorough review process that commenced in December 2012.
 
"Both leagues are coming into this consolidation from positions of strength and view this as an opportunity to enhance delivery of core services to affiliated credit unions in the years to come," said Faye Crocker, current SCCUL chairwoman and incoming CCUL board member. "Creating the CCUL today ensures our league can be a vital part of the success of credit unions in the future."   
 
"Staff at both leagues will be focused on combining operations in the months ahead while delivering the services that credit unions value on an ongoing basis," said NCCUL chairman Maurice Smith.  "We're fortunate to have a gifted group of professionals working together to create this new enterprise. We think credit unions will be thrilled with the results of their work."
 
Current NCCUL President John Radebaugh will serve as president of the CCUL. Radebaugh and retiring SCCUL President/CEO Steve Fowler will lead staff through the transition in the months ahead.

CU Websites Outshine Banks' On Providing Info

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LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (8/22/13)--Credit unions outshine banks in providing the information consumers seek on their websites, according to a new study. However, financial institutions in general can make better use of their sites as a tool for compliance, resource use and new business.

The survey of the websites of 1,676 credit unions, banks and thrifts with more than $500 million in assets was conducted in June by Lake Bluff, Ill.-based Moebs $ervices. It found that in their quest to implement the Dodd-Frank Act properly, financial institutions either overlooked or underused their website as a key tool.

Of the institutions studied, 32% offered the information consumers sought on their websites, and 83.7% of the websites provided answers that were consistent with those given through their call centers, said the firm.

Roughly 40% of credit unions provided the data that website visitors sought, according to the study. That compares with 33% of thrifts and 28% of banks surveyed.  Credit unions beat thrifts on providing consistent data, with 83.9% of credit unions doing so, compared with 83.5% of thrifts and 84.3% of banks.  Larger institutions in the study provided more data and more consistent data.

Moebs $ervices noted two key findings: Websites are underused as a source of information for member/customers, and procedures to ensure consistent information, regardless of channel, need to be in place to reduce pressure on call center and branch staff to provide data a consumer seeks.

The results point out an opportunity for financial institutions, said Michael Moebs, economist and CEO of the firm. "Websites can be enhanced to provide more data and more consistent information for consumers, which can: reduce compliance risk, promote greater efficiency of call center and branch personnel, and foster more sales," he said.

CU System Briefs (08/22/2013)

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  • EWING, N.J. (8/22/13)--The Credit Union of New Jersey, based in Ewing, introduced the CUNJ Foundation, its new nonprofit charitable foundation, to the community with a reception Tuesday night, reported the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Aug. 21). Ewing Township Mayor Bert Steinmann said businesses such as CUNJ that are in touch with the community they serve are good for the growth and prosperity of the township.  One beneficiary of the CUNJ Foundation is Anchor House, a multi-service agency for runaway, homeless, abused and at-risk youth and their families.  Also represented at the event was Mid Jersey Chamber of Commerce. Pictured is CUNJ President/CEO Andy Jaeger, who is also chairman of the foundation. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League) ...
  • WICHITA, Kan. (8/22/13)--CU of America, a $502.1 million asset credit union based in Wichita, Kan., has agreed to a two-year commitment to support the area's annual professional golf tournament, Air Capital Classic. It has agreed to become an Air Capital Classic Ambassador. Details of the commitment were not disclosed. The credit union said the tournament is a first-class event that brings much to the local economy and that CUA wants the classic to stay in Wichita (Wichita Eagle Aug. 20) ...

CU's Survey: Teens Frugal In Preparing For College

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EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (8/22/13)--Today's teens are a frugal generation--especially in college preparations, according to a new study conducted by McGraw-Hill FCU in East Windsor, N.J.

Nearly 70% of teens surveyed expect to cover part of the cost of college, and 60% say they have a plan for college expenses.

Rather than spending wastefully or expecting parents to cover their day-to-day costs, one in 20 teens say they use a credit card. For nearly 60%, however, cash is a primary payment method, followed by debit cards at 36%, the survey indicated.

The recent recession may have influenced the attitudes and behaviors of those surveyed, said McGraw-Hill President/CEO Shawn Gilfedder.

"Today's young consumers have an awareness of student loans and higher education costs," Gilfedder noted. "We're seeing heightened financial self-responsibility, which is not the same as financial literacy. As young consumers pursue higher education and careers, there needs to be an increased focus on financial preparedness at home and in the classroom."   

The national survey, conducted by C&R Research with 305 teens aged 17 and 18, also concluded:
  • Teens appear to be credit conscious. Of those with a credit card, 69% say they always pay the balance in full.
  • Over half use credit responsibly. Under 2% pay less than the minimum payment and/or go over their credit limit.
  • Tuition costs factored significantly in college selection, according to 53% of those queried.
  • Most (60%) have established a spend plan (budget) for their college expenses.
  • A majority (55%) took the initiative and established the spend plan themselves.
  • Half will be financially responsible for their books, and about a third for tuition, room and board, and/or a meal plan.
Earlier this year, the Credit Union National Association's High School Student Borrowing Survey found half of high school seniors have no idea what college will cost (News Now April 29).

A recap the CUNA survey's key findings shows:
  • 83% of students surveyed did not know the rates, and 77% didn't know the duration of their expected or existing college loans;
  • 74% of those aspiring to attend college said they will need a combination of federal and private loans, family money and jobs to support their tuition; and
  • 25% expect to take out two or more student loans; 13%, one loan; and 60% could not estimate how many they would need.

Cornerstone League Announces State CUNA Award Winners

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (8/22/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union League recognized 12 credit unions for outstanding commitments to their communities, their institutional well-being and their interest in cultivating youth and adult financial literacy. 

Twelve credit union placed first in the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Award and the Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Award programs (Leaguer Aug. 21).

First-place winners in the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award category included:
  • Education CU, Amarillo, Texas, $150 million to $500 million in assets;
  • Security Service FCU, San Antonio, more than $500 million in assets; and
  • Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., more than $500 million in assets.

First-place winners in the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award category included:
  • FivePoint FCU, Nederland, Texas, $150 million to $500 million in assets; and
  • Tinker FCU, more than $500 million in assets.

First-place winners in the Dora Maxwell Award category included:
  • Tinker FCU, $1 billion-plus in assets;
  • DATCU, Denton, Texas, $500 million to $1 billion in assets;
  • Abilene (Texas) Teachers FCU, $200 million to $500 million in assets;
  • First Family FCU, Henryetta, Okla, $20 million to $50 million in assets; and
  • Western Sun FCU, Broken Arrow, Okla., $100 to $200 million in assets.

First-place winners in the Louise Herring Award category included:
  • Family First FCU, less than $50 million in assets; and
  • Tinker FCU, $1 billion-plus in assets.
Each first-place winner's entry progresses to the Credit Union National Association's national award competition. The winners are honored at the 2014 CUNA Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

State Regulator Warns Of Collections Scam From Internet

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MADISON, Wis. (8/22/13)--Wisconsin consumers should be on the alert for phone calls from unscrupulous debt collectors, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) warned Wednesday.

Callers will often state they are attempting to serve a summons and if consumers do not "act immediately," they will be arrested. The callers do not represent law enforcement and any threats of arrest or jail are bogus, the DFI said.

Credit unions may want to alert their members about the scams and be prepared to share advice on handling such calls.

DFI's Bureau of Consumer Affairs receives several phone calls per day regarding these types of complaints. Since Jan. 1, it has fielded more than 100 written complaints.

"In many cases, we suspect that consumers may have applied for or obtained loans on the internet or, at the very least, may have entered their personal information into an Internet application," said

Paul Egide, DFI director of the bureau of consumer affairs. "That information is then fraudulently obtained by the perpetrators, who target consumers for collection of debt the consumers do not owe, or at least do not owe the debt to the company that is calling."

In other cases, companies that have purchased the accounts and have a legitimate right to collect a debt may also be engaging in illegal collection practices, Egide said. Debt collectors that "own" consumer credit accounts for purposes of direct collection are required to register with DFI.

Credit unions can share these tips offered by DFI to consumers targeted by callers:
  • Ask for verification that the debt is owed. Collectors are required by law to provide such documentation or discontinue collection activities. They also are required to provide written evidence of their identity and where they are located.
  • Do not provide a caller with any personal identification or payment information.
  • Do not purchase money cards or money orders to pay the alleged debt.
  • If calls are received at work, speak with your employer to come up with a plan on how to handle the calls.

A 'Dog Days' Story: Missouri Central Saves the Dog

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (8/22/13)--Here's a story for the Dog Days of Summer. It involves a credit union dedicated not only to the well-being of its members, but also to a member's pooch.
 
Caryn McManus, a member of Lee's Summit, Mo.-based Missouri Central CU for 12 years, took her yellow lab-mix, Winchester--alias "Chester"--to the vet in April for routine teeth cleaning.  On Chester's gums, the vet found a lump, which a biopsy revealed was a cancer that grows on the bone (The Missouri Difference Aug. 19).
 
McManus took Chester to a specialist in Kansas, who said the cancer was caught early but Chester would get very sick. If not removed, the cancer would be fatal. The surgery would cost about $2,500 and require removing the cancer and several teeth.
 
"Even though my head told me I was crazy to spend that kind of money on a dog," McManus told the Missouri Credit Union Association, "my heart told me if there was a chance to save Chester, I had to do something."
 
Her husband suggested taking a loan out against their car.  She called MCCU and talked with Member Service Representative Becky Socha. The loan would be no problem and Socha started the paperwork.
 
On May 17, Chester underwent surgery and two weeks later, he was declared cancer-free. "My beautiful blonde dog is happy and healthy," said McManus. "He doesn't even notice his four missing teeth."
 
McManus said she was extremely grateful to MCCU, the vet hospital and the vet who caught the cancer early.  Thanks to them, her friend has many more years ahead.

NYIB: CUs Educated 400,097 Students In 2012-13 School Year

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TAMPA, Fla. (8/22/13)--Credit union financial educators reached 400,097 students in 12,243 classrooms presentations during the 2012 school year, according to the National Youth Involvement Board.

The totals are decrease in both the number of students reached and the number of presentations from 2011-2012; however, fewer presenters reported, which means that the average number of presentations and students reached per presenter increased.
 
NYIB also noted these highlights:
  • Arissa Arthenayake of OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore., conducted the most classroom presentations (607).
  • Michigan was the state with the most presentations with 2,181.
  • Juli Lewis of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., reached the most students (11,408) in the 2012-2013 reporting year.
  • As a state, North Carolina reached the most students (56,308).
In addition, NYIB recognized credit unions that report financial literacy presentations as a group. State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., reached the most students--55,662--and also made the most presentations--815.
 
Credit unions can report their presentations at NYIB's website. Use the link.

Bankrate Debunks Four Myths About CUs

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NEW YORK (8/22/13)--Credit unions offer fewer and smaller fees for financial services than large banks, says Bankrate.com, which also noted there are some prevalent myths about credit unions that are not true.
 
Of credit unions surveyed in Bankrate's 2013 Checking Survey, 72% offer checking accounts with no monthly fee. Credit unions also charge smaller fees for using out-of-network ATMs and for overdrafts, Bankrate.com said on its website.
 
However, some consumers remain reluctant to choose credit unions because of myths about credit unions' convenience and locations.
 
Bankrate dispelled these myths about credit unions:
  • Credit unions don't have enough ATMs. Although individual credit unions may operate only one or two ATMs, most offer access to a broad ATM network with other credit unions--the CO-OP ATM Network. That network comprises nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide, including more than 9,000 that take deposits. National retailers such as Costco, 7-Eleven and Walgreens have arrangements with the network to keep terminals inside their stores.
  • Credit unions are technologically behind. Many credit unions don't have the technology budgets to be at the forefront of each new technological innovation, but that doesn't mean they're behind the times, Ted Thames, senior director at Cornerstone Advisors, a financial industry consulting firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz., told Bankrate. Many credit unions offer a technology package to members similar to that of large banks by using off-the-shelf products from financial software providers, he added.
  • Credit unions don't have convenient branches. One of the most important criteria for many people when choosing a financial institution is having a nearby branch. That's traditionally been seen as a limitation for the many individual credit unions with few branches. One credit union shared-branch network, Credit Union Service Centers Network, has more than 5,000 branches nationwide and a 24-hour customer service call center. "Due to their cooperative nature, many [credit unions] have shared-branching capabilities so that consumers can use a branch of another participating credit union for deposits and withdrawals, just as they would their own," said Greg McBride, CFA Bankrate's senior financial analyst.
  • Credit unions don't hit you with penalties. Credit unions may be consumer-friendly, but credit union members who overdraw their accounts, constantly make out-of-network ATM withdrawals and do other things to trigger fees will pay for it, McBride said. "Overdrawing your checking account will cost you anywhere, regardless of bank or credit union," he added. "Credit unions are nonprofit cooperatives, but nonprofit doesn't mean they run at a loss. They must cover their costs, so while ancillary fees are less likely, it doesn't mean you are completely immune from any and all fees."