COLUMBUS, Ohio (9/21/12)--Ohio credit unions were praised at a gathering in the Statehouse, garnered loyal support from a Republican Ohio Statehouse candidate, and pledged to back a congressional candidate who has a history of helping credit unions on critical issues, according to the Ohio Credit Union League.
Joyce Beatty, a Democrat seeking election to the 3rd Congressional District, told Central Ohio credit union leaders at a Statehouse Chapter breakfast that she envisions a commercial where she states: "I'm Joyce Beatty--one of the 2.7 million people in Ohio who belong to a credit union. And I approved this message" (eLumination Newsletter Sept. 19).
Beatty shared the story of joining a credit union in her early 20s so she could buy a new car. "I will bring a new voice to Washington," Beatty said. "And I will be proud to represent you."
Dave Joyce of Ashtabula, a Republican candidate for Ohio's 14th U.S. House seat, said during a meeting in Washington, D.C., last week that he will be a friend of credit unions if elected. Joyce voiced his support for raising the member business lending (MBL) cap and maintaining credit unions' federal tax exemption, while meeting with Rose Bartolomucci, CEO of Towpath CU in Fairlawn, and John Florian, vice president of government and political affairs at the Ohio league.
Joyce explained that his support for credit unions originated while he was in his 20s when, after being turned down by a bank for a mortgage, he was offered the loan by St. Monica's (now Ohio Catholic) FCU in Garfield Heights. "Credit unions will have a friend in me," Joyce said.
Joyce Healy-Abrams, who is running for Ohio's 7th Congressional district, is receiving strong credit union backing because of her public support on crucial issues such as raising the MBL cap. She shared campaign material that highlighted her MBL support as a central plank in her broader job creation strategy with credit union officials at a meeting at CSE FCU in Canton, and has promoted the issue in radio interviews.
She is running against incumbent Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville). Gibbs, who is not a co-sponsor of current MBL legislation, has said publicly that he supports taxing credit unions, according to the Ohio league.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% so that more loans could be made to small businesses, considered a staple in the economy. CUNA and credit unions say that increasing credit unions' MBL cap would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers.
WASHINGTON (9/21/12)--A new "drive-by" Internet virus known as Reveton ransomware locks computers, carries a fake message and tries to extort money from victims--bogusly claiming it is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to a report issued by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Credit unions should be aware of the threat.
Unlike many viruses that activate when users open a file or attachment, Reveton can install itself when users simply click on a compromised website. Hence it is describe as a drive-by malware.
Once it is infected, the victim's computer immediately locks, and the monitor displays a screen stating there has been a violation of federal law.
"We're getting inundated with complaints," said Donna Gregory of the FBI Internet IC3.
The phony message goes on to say the user's Internet address was identified by the FBI or the Department of Justice's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section as having been associated with child pornography or illegal online activity.
To unlock their machines, users are required to pay a fine using a prepaid money card service, as part of the central ploy of the scam to extort cash from victims.
IC3 suggests that victims do not pay or provide any personal information, contact a computer professional to remove the virus from their computer, file a complaint with IC3 and look for update about the Reveton virus on the IC3 website.
FERNDALE, Mich. (9/21/12)--Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, Mich., is accepting the Matricula Consular de Mexico card as a form of identification to establish membership at its Southwest Detroit branch.
Earlier this month, Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, Mich., began to accept the Matricula Consular de Mexico card as a form of identification to establish membership at its Southwest Detroit branch. From left are: J. Abel Sanchez-Guerrero, Consulate of Mexico-Community and Cultural Affairs Department; Mariza Sanchez, Credit Union ONE Southwest Detroit assistant branch manager; Vicente Sanchez Ventura, Consul of Mexico; Gary Moody, Credit Union ONE president/CEO, and Yvette Gonzalez, Credit Union ONE Southwest Detroit branch manager. (Photo provided by Michigan Credit Union League)
The Matricula Consular de Mexico card an is identification issued by the Mexican consulate to Mexican nationals. It is primarily issued to Mexican citizens residing outside of Mexico.
Credit Union ONE has operated a branch in Southwest Detroit for decades, and recently determined that access to financial services for Mexican citizens living and working in the community was not being met, partly because of issues related to identification.
"Changes to state laws and federal laws to combat terrorism and money laundering made opening an account impossible," Yvette Gonzalez, branch manager of the Southwest Detroit branch told the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Sept. 17). "Matricula offers us the ability to assure access to services while also being compliant with various laws."
The credit union also takes part in a Federal Reserve funds transfer program known as Directo a Mexico.
Gary Moody, Credit Union ONE president/CEO, said offering services to families that move money between Mexico and the U.S. is critical. "This is about providing safe, secure, low-cost financial services to an important and sometimes vulnerable segment of the community," Moody added.
Coopera works in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions to help credit unions nationwide grow by serving the Hispanic community. Coopera and CUNA designed El Poder es Tuyo (The Power is Yours), a customizable, Spanish-language personal finance website for Hispanic credit union members and potential members. For more information, use the resource link.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (9/21/12)--Royal CU (RCU) in Eau Claire, Wis., announced a $1 million donation to help fund the Community Arts Center in Eau Claire; part of the Confluence project that was introduced this past May.
Rudy Pereira, RCU CEO, and Doug Olson, RCU's board chairman made the announcement Wednesday confirming the $1.3 billion asset credit union's commitment at a press conference held at the RCU Corporate Center in downtown Eau Claire.
"At Royal Credit Union we pride ourselves for being good community partners," Olson said. "We actively support youth, education and the betterment of our communities. We know that by giving back we can make a difference in the lives of our members and community."
The Confluence Project, located in Eau Claire across the river from the RCU Corporate Center, is a collaborative effort of public/private partnerships. This partnership will construct a new public Community Arts Center, with a private commercial/retail complex and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student housing at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire. It will showcase the local arts scene, cultivate emerging creative talent and could serve as a catalyst for revitalization, RCU said.
"As corporate citizens, we feel our participation in this collaborative project is necessary and are looking forward to playing a key role in the cultural expansion of Eau Claire," Pereira said.
The gift from RCU will be paid over five years and will be used to help build the Community Arts Center, including naming rights of the 450-seat theater.
- RALEIGH, N.C. (9/21/12)--To provide 5,000 holiday gift boxes for North Carolina soldiers deployed throughout the world, SECU will be collecting items through Oct. 31 in all 244 of its branches statewide in support of the Third Annual SECU Supports the Troops Campaign. The "wish list" available in SECU branches and on the SECU website includes items such as travel sized toiletries and snacks. SECU will also accept monetary donations to assist with shipping costs for the December delivery of the gift boxes to troops. Thank you cards from local school children will once again be included in 2012 packages …
- FREMONT, Ohio (9/21/12)--Fremont (Ohio) FCU, with $153 million in assets, has partnered with Downtown Fremont Inc. to form a "cash mob" downtown event in the city to encourage shopping at locally owned small businesses (The News Messenger Sept. 14). The cash mob idea came from a national movement that started in Cleveland when a community member there implored consumers to shop at small businesses and bolster the local economy, Angie Morelock, director of downtown Fremont Inc., told the newspaper. Cash mob events go to businesses that give back to their community, have appeal for men and women, and offer items at roughly a $20 price point, the paper said ...
WASHINGTON (9/21/12)--Two-thirds of middle-class Americans acknowledge having made financial mistakes--often at a steep price, according to a new report from the Consumer Federation of America and Primerica. The results of the study reveal financial education opportunities for credit unions.
The new report, "The Financial Status and Decision-Making of the American Middle Class," also concluded that the financial condition of most middle class families is challenging. For example, in 2010 the typical middle-class family had financial assets of $27,300--including retirement savings but not pensions--which was 28% less than the $37,800 held in 2007.
The analysis includes a national survey of 2,015 representative adult Americans by ORC International in July of this year and a statistical examination of the Federal Reserve Board's 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, by Professor Catherine Montalto of The Ohio State University.
In the ORC International survey, 843 out of the 2,015 respondents reported household incomes between $30,000 and $100,000 and were considered to be middle class.
Two-thirds of middle-class Americans (67%) said that, in the past, they had made at least one "really bad financial decision," and nearly half of those questioned (47%) acknowledged that they had made more than one bad decision. The median cost of these bad decisions was $5,000, but the average cost was $23,000.
Few respondents said their main source of information or advice about specific financial decisions would be from the Internet, books, magazines or TV. Others said they would not seek information or advice in making financial decisions. For example, for "saving and investing," 15% said they would rely on the Internet, publications or TV for the information, yet another 17% said they "wouldn't seek any information or advice, and just make a decision."
However, 45% said they would use information and advice from a financial professional to make a financial decision.
Middle-class Americans are much more risk-averse than those with higher incomes, according to the study. If given $1 million to invest for retirement, 21% of middle-class Americans, compared with 48% of those with higher incomes ($100,000 or more), would invest mainly in "stocks, bonds, and/or mutual funds." About 19% of the middle-class group would "invest" most of their funds in a savings account, while 25% would invest mainly in real estate.
The second source of information was the Federal Reserve Board's 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, which was released several months ago. Catherine Montalto of The Ohio State University used its database, and that of the Fed's 2007 survey, to compute financial statistics for the 40% of households in the third and fourth income quintiles--incomes between $35,600 and $94,600 in 2010.
For middle-class families, the typical debt payments to income ratio was 20% with only 9% having debt payments that were overdue by 60 days or more. But nearly half (49%) still carried credit card debt from month to month, and the typical (median) debt for these families was $2,700.
The decline in housing prices was the main reason that the net assets of the typical middle income family declined 35%, from $145,600 to $94,700.
"Families without a lot of resources are balancing difficult and expensive priorities such as saving enough for college and retirement or paying off a mortgage and consumer debt, said John Addison, Primerica Co-CEO. "When you consider these demands within the context of the last decade's falling incomes, we are nearing a crisis in this country."
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (9/21/12)--Credit unions are known for meeting and exceeding member service expectation levels. Now it appears as if they may be getting a little more competition on the credit card front from credit card companies. Consumer satisfaction with credit cards and companies that issue them is at its highest level since the onset of the financial crisis, according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates.
Overall credit card satisfaction averages 753 on a 1,000-point scale in 2012, up from 731 in 2011 and 714 in 2010, according to J.D. Powers credit card satisfaction survey.
The 39-point improvement during the past three years raises credit card customer satisfaction to its highest level since the study began six years ago.
The study measures customer satisfaction with credit cards in six key factors: interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment process; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution. Satisfaction scores in all factors have risen year over year.
Among customers who have had a credit card problem, 24% have experienced credit card fraud, the most commonly reported problem. Slightly more than one-half (52%) of customers who experienced credit card fraud were contacted by their credit card issuer before they even realized they were a victim of fraud. About 84% of customers who reported a problem in 2012 indicate their problem was resolved.
American Express again ranks highest in credit card satisfaction with a score of 807. American Express has ranked highest in the study in each of the six years the study has been conducted. Discover Card follows with a score of 799, and Chase ranks third with 762.
Among customers who have had a credit card problem, 24% have experienced credit card fraud--the most commonly reported problem. More than one-half (52%) of customers who experienced credit card fraud were contacted by their issuer before they even realized they were a victim of fraud.
About 66% of customers in 2012 say they "completely" understand how to earn rewards, and 80% of customers say they "completely" understand how to redeem their rewards. Also, more credit card customers in 2012 than in 2011 are likely to indicate that the value of their rewards programs has increased (18% vs. 15%, respectively)
Online usage continues to increase, as 78% of customers in 2012 indicate they use their issuers' websites, an increase from 76% in 2011. Also, customers in 2012 report accessing their issuer's websites an average of 40 times per year, primarily to conduct simple transactions and to resolve problems.