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Pesky phone scams head west

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MADISON, Wis. (8/26/08)--"It's a scam" is becoming a mantra among credit unions and other financial institutions. Phone scams, which have plagued credit unions in several states in waves the past several weeks, are heading west. Last week, more credit unions reported they were targets in the scams, which involved voice phishing or "vishing"--where fraudsters leave automated messages on the victim's telephone answering machine instructing them to call a number and provide card or account data. Credit unions from South Dakota, Oregon, Indiana, and Kansas were among the latest targets. In Aberdeen, S.D., police told consumers to ignore any calls from a six-digit number, most starting with "206" (American News Aug. 23). An automated voice says the call is from Aberdeen FCU. It instructs people m to press a number to talk to an operator about their credit card. Even Capt. Neil Bittner of the Aberdeen Police Department received one. Both members and nonmembers have been called. The calls began Friday morning. In Oregon, two credit unions--St. Helens Community FCU, St. Helens, and Wauna FCU, Clatskanie--reported computer-generated telephone scams similar to the others (The Spotlight and The Daily News Aug. 22). The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana received repeated calls from consumers who were told by a voice posing as Three Rivers FCU, Fort Wayne, Ind., to reactivate their cards by calling a number and entering their 16-digit account number (South Bend Tribune Aug. 21). In Arkansas City, Kan., the name of Ark Valley CU, was used in similar calls to both members and nonmembers, who received the calls on home phones and cell phones (NewsCow Aug. 25). Credit unions aren't alone. Parents who use debit cards to access their child support payments in the EPPICard system also are receiving similar calls (LoneStar Leaguer Aug. 25). And the Pennsylvania Department of Banking has alerted financial institutions of fraudulent phone calls from an "examiner," requesting information about their computer systems (Life is a Highway Aug. 22). In all cases, authorities or the institutions involved said, "It's a scam."

CDCU Institute graduates 12 plans 10th-year event

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MADISON, Wis. (8/26/08)--Twelve credit union staff and board members have graduated as the eighth class of the CDCU Institute, presented by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) in Madison, Wis. The graduates completed a three-year program for credit unions specializing in serving low-income and underserved markets. Fifty students attended this year's week-long training program. Clifford Rosenthal, federation president/CEO, told the graduates that the credit union movement and America are at a turning point. "We face multiple crises that represent the great challenges of today: the crisis in banking, the economy, healthcare, and last but not least the environment," he said. Graduates "will use their most important resource--their members' trust--to grow their credit unions and make the world a better place." The 2008 graduates are:
* Derrick Cameron,Self-Help CU, Durham, N.C.; * Edgar Cosner, The United FCU, Morgantown, W.Va.; * Eric Cowell, Toledo Urban FCU, Toledo, Ohio; * Maria Estrella, Bethex FCU, Bronx, N.Y.; * Gloria Feliciano, Community Trust FCU, Apopka, Fla.; * Renee Llorens, Our Mother of Mercy CU, Houston, Texas; * Evelyn Ramos Santiago, Lower East Side People’s FCU, New York; * Patti Robertson-Panduro, Kern Central FCU, Bakersfield, Calif.; * Saundra Scales, First Legacy FCU, Charlotte, N.C.; * Sherley Soto, Lower East Side People’s FCU; * Shirley Spruill, Renaissance Community Development CU, Somerset, N.J.; and * Meagan Weatherby, Cooperative FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.
The federation said it is planning a special celebration in 2009 to mark the CDCU Institute's 10th year in operation. Supporters sponsoring the institute include: National Credit Union Foundation; JP Morgan Chase; CUNA Mutual Group; Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla.; Faith Community United CU, Cleveland, Ohio; and Northeast Community FCU, San Francisco. Many institute attendees also received financial support from the National Credit Union Administration.

IWashington PostI on advance-fee loans Join a CU

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WASHINGTON (8/26/08)--A Kiplinger's Personal Finance columnist writing in the Washington Post Sunday about advance-fee loans cites credit unions as a way to avoid those fees. Military personnel, often susceptible to exorbitant fees from payday lenders, are now being targeted with so-called advance-fee loans. Because military personnel are often young and transient, when they apply for a loan, they are told they are credit risks. The lender asks them to pay $900 to $1,800 or more upfront before getting the loan. Then the money disappears. The article cited advice from the Better Business Bureau Military Line, which noted two things a borrower can do to avoid advance-fee loans. One of them was "Join a credit union. Credit unions on base often offer short-term loans at competitive interest rates." The other was to get a zero-interest loan through a military emergency relief fund.

Calif. regulators appointment caught in budget impasse

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (8/26/08)--The California state budget impasse is delaying the appointment of a new deputy credit union commissioner, but the California Credit Union League is hopeful that the budget will be passed by the end of this week. “The vacancy is being held up because of a government hiring freeze,” Keri Bailey, league director of state government affairs, told News Now. “We’re in suspended animation.” The league is keeping in close contact with the state officials and is confident they can appoint a new deputy commissioner as soon as the budget passes, she said. The budget could be passed by Sunday. If the state legislature adjourns without agreeing on the budget, it will have to hold a special session in September. “We hope that this week something will pop,” Bailey said. Three weeks ago, California State Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a hiring freeze, terminated part-time and temporary state employees, and reduced state employees’ salaries to minimum wage until the budget is passed.

CU System briefs (08/25/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/26/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) says a credit union in the western part of the state reported suspicious circumstances when a potential new member inquired about opening a "business deposit account." The person said to expect a large wire transfer deposit but later wanted to open the account with a $10,000 check deposit. Staff told the individual the credit union would place a hold on the check and perform due diligence on the business. "At that point, the individual began acting suspiciously 'too nice,' and claimed to have other credit union deposit accounts," said PCUA (Life is a Highway Aug 25). When asked for the names of the credit unions, the person said he (or she) would back to the credit union later. A due diligence check on the business entity and credit report contained little or no information about the company. The credit union decided not to open the account and filed a Suspicious Activity Report. Another credit union nearby was approached in the same way. PCUA urged credit unions to implement a Bank Secrecy Act/ Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) program, which requires due diligence for both consumer and business account activities … * FRANKFORT, Ky. (8/26/08)--The Kentucky Credit Union League hosted a legislative appreciation breakfast for the Kentucky delegation attending the National Conference of State Legislators, during July in New Orleans. Of the more than 6,000 conference attendees, Kentucky 56 legislators plus some staff represented the state. Twenty lawmakers and family members attended the league's breakfast, including Majority Whip Rocky Adams, right, shown with league President Wendell Lyons. The league also assisted the Credit Union National Association with its booth in the exhibit hall. In 2010, Kentucky will be the host state for the conference, which will be in Louisville.(Photo provided by the Kentucky Credit Union League) … * KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (8/26/08)--The Knoxville (Tenn.) Area Chapter of Credit Unions (KACCU) and the Knoxville Police Department hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the new "My Credit Union" building at Safety City Aug. 15. Safety City is a police department
Click to view larger imageClick for larger view
community service project that provides "hands on" safety education for elementary school children, within a child-size setting complete with buildings, paved streets and sidewalks, working traffic signals and traffic signs. About 15,000 people visit the site each year. KACCU conducted six years of activities to raise more than $22,000 to build "My Credit Union." From left are: Vickie Dagnan, Safety City director; Tom Gaines; Sterling Owens, chief of police; Becky Lawson, KACCU official, Knoxville TVA CU; Jeremy Hodges, president KACCU, KPO CU; Lea Ann Swann, KACCU official, Covenant Health FCU; Griffen Hipple, KACCU official, Alcoa TN FCU; Becca Montgomery, CEO of Covenant Health FCU and league director; Terry Brawley, CEO, Knox County Employees CU; and Sandy Lingerfel, CEO, Clinchfield CU and Credit Union National Association director. (Photo provided by the Knoxville Area Chapter of Credit Unions) … * MIRAMAR, Fla. (8/26/08)--Eastern Financial Florida CU, based in Miramar, raised more than $5,000 to help Haiti with its emergency food crisis. The $1.786 billion asset credit union's month-long Help for Haiti campaign which included making donations to Food for the Poor, a Broward-based charity that fights poverty in the Caribbean. The organization said the funds raised by the credit union would feed 430 Haitian families for a month (The Miami Herald Aug. 24) …

Missouri CU Association endorses six state candidates

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ST. LOUIS (8/26/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is endorsing political candidates for the first time in its history. Six Missouri state legislators were endorsed by MCUA as of Monday. They include:
* Sen. Delbert Scott (R-28); * Sen. Chuck Graham (D-19); * Sen. Tim Green (D-13); * Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-19): * Rep. Charlie Denison (R-135); and * Rep. Paul LeVota (R-52).
MCUA endorses candidates based on these criteria:
* Lawmakers who have worked to pass credit union-sponsored legislation or support credit union statutory and regulatory initiatives; and * Candidates who have stated in a public forum their support of credit union statutory and regulatory initiatives.
Such initiatives include credit union field of memberships, financial education service to the financially underserved, increasing the value of the state credit union charter, and preserving and protecting an operational environment that promotes growth of Missouri credit unions. “The fact that candidates seek our endorsement demonstrates that credit union and their members are recognized as an influential voting block, representing the interests of Missouri consumers,” said Rosie Holub, MCUA president/CEO.

NASCUS announces new board officers

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SEATTLE (8/26/08)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) elected new officers and board members during its annual meeting Aug. 22 in Seattle. The board elected Tom Candon, deputy commissioner, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance Securities and Health Care Administration, as chairman-elect, and Suzanne Cowan, director of the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions, as secretary/treasurer. NASCUS Chairman George Reynolds, Georgia, will remain chairman one more year. Mary Hughes, financial institutions bureau chief of the Idaho Department of Finance, was elected to a one-year term on the board. The board also elected three incumbents to three-year board terms:
* Jim Forney, director, Iowa Department of Commerce; * Roger Little, deputy commissioner, Michigan Office of Insurance and Regulation; and * Orla Beth Peck, supervisor of credit unions, Utah Department of Financial Institutions.
The board recognized Harold Feeney, commissioner of the Texas Credit Union Department, for his service on the NASCUS Board. He is a past chairman and has been on the board more than 20 years.

ColoradoWyoming association in new headquarters

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DENVER (8/26/08)--The Credit Union Associations of Colorado (CUAC) and Wyoming (CUAW) have officially moved into the Capitol Hill neighborhood in downtown Denver.
Click to view larger image John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming, and Pat Sterner cut the ribbon on the new Sterner Center, named for Bill Sterner, who died earlier this year. (Photos provided by the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming)
The associations hosted a grand opening Aug. 19, with more than 200 people attending. The fully renovated 1929 historic building is four blocks from the Colorado Capitol. Festivities included a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building's new 3,500 square foot education and training center, named posthumously The Sterner Center after former CUAC Board Chairman Bill Sterner. "The building's strategic location allows us to be close to our elected officials and able to easily brand credit unions as the preferred financial service provider in our two states,” said John Dill, president/CEO of the associations. "The 23,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility is what credit unions have come to expect from their state-wide trade associations." He noted the associations looked forward to hosting VIPs and other credit union leaders at the facility during this week's Democratic National Convention. The building is owned by Credit Union Strategic Partners (CUSP),
Click to view larger image Pat Sterner addresses the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Sterner Center, named for her late husband, Bill Sterner, former Credit Union Association of Colorado board chairman. The learning center is located at the new headquarters of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming.
the league service corporation for Colorado and Wyoming. "The new building increases the visibility of the credit union movement and supports our advocacy efforts,” said Dill. “Even though our staff works here, the facility is owned by and belongs to our members--the credit unions of Colorado and Wyoming.” Among those attending the ceremony were Pat Sterner and family; Sen. Ted Harvey; Rep. Jim Kerr; Sean Conway, chief of staff for Sen. Wayne Allard; Rep. Mary Hodge; State Security Commissioner Fred Joseph; Rep. Anne McGihon; Colorado Financial Services Commissioner Chris Myklebust; Rep. Ken Summers; Sen. Dan Gibbs; Councilman Charlie Brown; Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowski; and representatives from U.S. Reps Ed Perlmutter and John Salazar’s offices.

Florida regulator receives NASCUS Pierre Jay award

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SEATTLE (8/26/08)--Florida credit union regulator Sharon Whiddon was awarded the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) 2008 Pierre Jay Award at the NASCUS State Summit, which ended Saturday in Seattle.
Pictured are: (from left) National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Chairman George Reynolds of Georgia; Sharon Whiddon, Pierre Jay Award recipient; and NASCUS CEO Mary Martha Fortney. (Photo provided by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors)
NASCUS Chairman George Reynolds of Georgia presented Whiddon with the award. She is a past NASCUS chairman, board member, education committee chairman and participant in the NASCUS Accreditation Program. Whiddon joined the Florida Office of Financial Regulation as an examiner in 1972. She was chief of the Bureau of Credit Union Regulation, overseeing Florida’s state-chartered credit unions until her retirement this summer. The award honors individuals who demonstrate outstanding service, leadership, achievement and efforts that benefit NASCUS and the dual chartering system. Pierre Jay was a Massachusetts banking commissioner responsible for the First State Credit Union Act.
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