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iCU Magazinei McGraw Hill outlines ID theft prevention

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WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--McGraw Hill FCU has made a top priority of providing education and monitoring programs aimed at helping its members prevent identity theft, its chief sales and delivery office, Peter Van Houlten, shares in the August issue of Credit Union Magazine

With about 10 million Americans victimized each year according to the Federal Trade Commission, he said credit unions need to take a proactive approach to educate their members, their communities, and their business partners. McGraw-Hill has developed and presented its own seminar on ID theft.

"By taking this proactive approach, we're arming consumers with the tools to understand

how they're protected, to recognize if their identity has been compromised, and to take steps to restore their personal identity when it is compromised,'' said the executive of the $277 million-asset,  East Windsor, N.J.-based credit union.

Van Houlten noted that many transactions are handled via computer, and branch visits and calls are shifting to what he described as "value-added conversations and higher-level topics, such as the best deposit vehicles or 401(k) investment advice.'' This has forced the credit union to beef up its training programs.

He also said that to adapt to the changes in credit unions, executives must rely more heavily on hard data to guide their thinking because "relying on soft data

during a constantly evolving period can very easily lead us in the wrong  direction.''

How serioulsy does Van Houlton take financial literacy?

"I'm training for McGraw-Hill Federal's inaugural 'Ride For Financial Wellness,' in October. The ride is intended to raise awareness for financial wellness and literacy, and to raise money for our VOICE Foundation, which will donate the proceeds to Junior Achievement of New Jersey, The National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton, and the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education.

"We're seeking participation from colleagues, business partners, and community leaders. The ride will start at our headquarters in East Windsor, and will culminate with a casual luncheon and ceremony on the credit union's front lawn," he notes in his article".

Credit Union National Association members can access the article using the resource link below.

Slight rise in average monthly mortgage rates

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WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.59% for the week that ended yesterday, an increase from 3.55% the previous week, according to a survey released by Freddie Mac.

During the same week last year the average rate was 4.22%, according to the mortgage buyer.

The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.86%, up from 2.83% the previous week and a decline from an average rate of 3.50%.

"Fixed mortgage rates inched up again this week following stronger-than-expected employment reports. The economy added 163,000 jobs in July, well above the market consensus forecast of 100,000, and the largest increase since February,'' said Freddie Mac Vice President Chief Economist Frank Nothaft.

The average five-year adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.77% this week, compared with 2.75% the previous week and 3.13% the same week last year.

The average one-year adjustable rate mortgage was 2.65%, compared with 2.70% the previous week and 2.89% the same week last year.

NCUA Video tellers can be FCU service facilities

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WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--Federal credit unions can use video teller machines as service facilities both for select group additions and underserved areas, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) ruled in a legal opinion.

In recent meetings with the NCUA, the Credit Union National Association supported the legal interpretation.

The NCUA ruled that the machines must meet several criteria in order to comply with federal regulations. They must:
  • Provide real-time, face-to-face video access to live tellers at regularly scheduled weekly hours;
  • Use credit union employees or local shared branch employees as the on-screen tellers;
  • Allow members to conduct all the transactions he/she could if visiting any other facility; and,
  • Be in a physical location within an underserved a area or near the group being served for group additions.
A website is not considered a service facility for purposes of new membership groups, the opinion concluded.

And "an interest in a shared branching network, ATMs, and websites do not meet the criteria for a service facility in an underserved area,'' wrote NCUA Associate General Counsel Frank Kressman.

He added that the opinion "does not change the definition of service facility or affect previous opinions NCUA has issued in this regard. Rather, this simply clarifies NCUA's interpretation of the service facility portions of the Chartering Manual.''

To see the opinion letter, use the resource link below.

Tiny United Catholic CU is 2012s eighth liquidation

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/10/12)--United Catholic CU (UCCU), with 200 members and about $303,000 in deposits, became the eighth federally insured credit union to be liquidated this year.  The Michigan Office of Financial Insurance Regulation (OFIR) appointed the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) as liquidating agent when it closed the Temperance, Mich. credit union Thursday.

The NCUA's Asset Management and Assistance Center will issue checks to individuals holding verified share accounts in the credit union within one week. UCCU member deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) up to $250,000.

An OFIR examination found that UCCU was operating in an unsafe and unsound manner and was insolvent, according to an agency announcement.

UCCU, federally insured, state-chartered credit union, was chartered in 1961 and served members belonging to Catholic parishes in the Temperance/Erie area.  It had one branch.

Former UCCU members with questions about their insurance coverage may contact the NCUA's Consumer Service hotline toll-free at 800-755-1030, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (ET).  Individuals may also visit the website for more information about NCUSIF insurance coverage.

Inside Washington (08/09/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said Wednesday it would consider taking action against municipalities that used eminent domain to revise mortgage loans (American Banker Aug. 9). The agency did not say what actions it would take, but expressed concern that losses resulting from such programs would ultimately be paid for by taxpayers. "FHFA has determined that action may be necessary on its part as conservator for the enterprises and as regulator for the banks to avoid a risk to safe and sound operations and to avoid taxpayer expense," the agency wrote in a notice. In June, California's San Bernardino County and two of its city governments, Fontana and Ontario, introduced a plan to use eminent domain powers to seize mortgage loans from private investors (News Now July 10) …
  • WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--Financial education supports not only individual well-being, but also the economic health of the nation, Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke said in a town hall meeting with teachers Wednesday.  "As the recent financial crisis illustrates, consumers who can make informed decisions about financial products and services not only serve their own best interests, but, collectively, they also help promote broader economic stability," Bernanke said. "Smart financial planning--such as budgeting, saving for emergencies, and preparing for retirement--can help households enjoy better lives while weathering financial shocks. Financial education can play a key role in getting to these outcomes." Students should be taught how to apply an economic way of thinking to their decisions, Bernanke suggested. Financial education also provides a context for students to develop skills that can be applied more broadly. Making good financial decisions requires that consumers seek out relevant information from trustworthy sources, and that they use critical thinking, quantitative reasoning and decision-making skills, he said …
  • WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) reiterated his concerns about extending the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program in a letter he wrote to Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) (American Banker Aug. 9). TAG was initiated by the FDIC as a voluntary program in 2008 during the financial crisis to address concerns that a large number of account holders might withdraw their uninsured account balances from financial institutions due to economic uncertainties. The program was meant to be temporary, Corker wrote in his letter. He asked Gruenberg if extending TAG was a moral hazard and if it would affect the payment of bank deposit insurance premiums …
  • WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent a bipartisan letter urging Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to increase the capital requirements of big banks. "Placing higher capital requirements on megabanks is a common sense way to fix the dangers of too-big-to-fail, and Chairman Bernanke has even said this would make our financial system safer with limited impact on the economy," Vitter wrote. "The megabanks should bear their own risks so that taxpayers won't get hung out to dry with another Wall Street bailout." Research by the Federal Reserve and other regulators shows the tougher capital requirements will reduce the threat of another financial crisis, while doing little to limit economic growth, Vitter and Brown wrote in their letter. In December, the Fed issued a package of rules implementing Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The rules addressed issues such as risk-based capital requirements, leverage, resolution planning and concentration limits …
  • WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has reached settlements with Higher One Inc., New Haven, Conn., and The Bancorp Bank, Wilmington, Del., over alleged unfair and deceptive practices by the banks. Higher One is an affiliate of The Bancorp Bank. Under the settlement, Higher One has agreed to provide restitution of roughly $11 million to about 60,000 students. In addition, the FDIC imposed civil money penalties of $110,000 for Higher One and $172,000 for The Bancorp Bank. The banks were allegedly charging student account holders multiple nonsufficient fund (NSF) fees from a single merchant transaction; allowing the accounts to remain in overdrawn status for extended periods, which accrued additional fees; and collecting the fees from subsequent deposits to the students' accounts, typically funds for tuition and other college expenses. Under the settlement terms, Higher One can no longer charge NSF fees to accounts that have been in a continuous negative balance for more than 60 days; cannot charge more than three NSF fees on any single day to a single account; and cannot charge more than one NSF fee for a single automated clearing house transaction that is returned unpaid within a 21-day period …