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CU System briefs (09/09/2011)

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* SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. (9/12/11)--The former CEO of Spring Valley, N.Y.-based Rockland Employees FCU was sentenced Thursday to 19 months in a federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing $150,000 from the credit union ( Sept. 8). Cynthia Vaughan pleaded guilty in May to bank fraud. Court records said that while in her position, Vaughan allegedly used the computer system to transfer funds from credit union accounts to herself and her family from October 2000 to July 2006. She had been employed at the credit union since 1997. A 2006 audit discovered suspicious activity in the accounts … * BATON ROUGE, La. (9/12/11)--Ashley E. Braud, former marketing director at Dow/Louisiana FCU, Plaquemine, La., pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud in a U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge. She allegedly admitted taking credit union funds in August and September 2009 to purchase 30,000 "scratch-off tickets" for personal use. The worth of the tickets was not determined. A sentencing date is pending the determination of the actual amount stolen (Associated Press Newswires Sept. 9) … * PHOENIX (9/12/11)--Phoenix-based Arizona State CU sponsored Capitol Rideshare's summer Clean Air Campaign and saved state employees more than 23,000 gallons of gas, or more than 500,000 miles. The amount equates to 5.8 fewer tons of pollutants in the air during the campaign's two week period--the highest record since 2003. Arizona State CU donated prizes to help drive carpool participation during June 20-24 and July 25-29. It also visited state employee buildings to encourage more involvement. The initiative "helps Arizona State CU maintain a strong relationship with state employees," said credit union President/CEO David E. Doss, who added more than 10% of state employees took advantage of this year's program. The credit union donated Apple iPads, iPod Shuffles and iTunes gift cards (Investment Weekly News Sept. 17) … * WARMINSTER, Pa. (9/12/11)--Warminster, Pa.-based Freedom CU announced that four of its branches are now Wi-Fi hot spots. The branches are Warminster, Abington, Northeast and Lansdale Freedom Branches. The four branches are equipped with secure wireless networks, free of charge. Members can locate the network called "4Members" in the list of available wireless networks and select the network … * SUITLAND, Md. (9/12/11)--Andrews FCU has launched the GlobeTrek Visa Rewards credit card, which has both magnetic strip and the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) technology known as "chip and PIN." The card is the first to market in the U.S., said the credit union, and is targeted to members living overseas or who are frequent international travelers. The card has no annual fee, no cash advance fee and no balance transfer fee. It provides a 3.9% introductory rate for nine months on all purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. Members earn one reward point for every dollar spent and receive 5,000 rewards points when they use their card for the first time …

AVCUs raffle to raise funds for CUAid Irene victims

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (9/12/11)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) has created a raffle to help victims of Tropical Storm Irene, which flooded much of Vermont, as recovery efforts continue for many of those affected throughout the state. Following AVCU’s participation in a CUAid teleconference last week, the association created a 50/50 raffle to help build contributions among employees, volunteers, and members. Half of the funds raised will go to one lucky winner, with the other half going to CUAid to help Irene’s credit union victims (Newslines Express Sept. 9). The raffle winner will be determined by an independent accounting firm. Only individuals are eligible to participate. Credit unions, other corporate entities, or individuals who want to see 100% of their charitable donation go to Irene’s victims, may support CUAid with a direct contribution through Vermont’s National Credit Union Foundation CUAid site. CUAid’s purpose is to help provide financial support for credit union employees and members when they’re still dealing with issues like meeting their insurance deductible or lacking adequate options for the recovery loan they may need. Typically, CUAid picks up where funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurance and other sources end.

Direct deposit meets Gen Ys environment concerns

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HERNDON, Va. (9/12/11)--Gen Y members are more likely than other generations to use direct deposit to reduce their impact on the environment, according to a new study by NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association--and PayItGreen. This has implications for credit unions looking to attract young adults as members. Twenty-seven percent of Gen Y say they use direct deposit to help the environment while 19% of other generations do so, per new findings from the 2011 PayItGreen Survey, unveiled during National Payroll Week, Sept. 5-9. Most Gen Y members said their habits can help change the world for the better, current research shows. A separate survey concluded that 89% of Gen Y are likely to switch from one brand to another--if price and quality are equal--when the second brand supports a cause. “Gen Y brings a new energy to products and services that support causes like environmental sustainability,” said Janet O. Estep, NACHA president/CEO. “Although convenience is still the number one reason that all generations use direct deposit, Gen Yers are leading the environmental charge to help reduce paper use by receiving their pay electronically.” The 2011 PayItGreen Survey also found that reducing clutter was a relatively greater priority to Gen Y (32%) than other generations (21%) in choosing direct deposit. Convenience was the most-cited reason to choose direct deposit for all generations--70% for Gen Y and 72% for other generations. “A quarter of Gen Y respondents cited environmental reasons for using direct deposit,” said James Van Dyke, Javelin Strategy & Research president and founder. “That might not seem like a huge number, but it’s noteworthy to us because it suggests behavioral motivation for this younger generation. If nothing else, businesses would be well served to target their payroll campaigns differently to Gen Y than other generations.” The 2011 PayItGreen Survey also noted that 38% of late adopters or “laggards” said they used direct deposit because their employers require it. The inherent safety of direct deposit versus paper checks was cited by 36% of Gen Y respondents and 35% of non-Gen Y respondents as a motivator for use. “We’re always talking about how to switch that last 25% over to direct deposit,” said Estep. “This research shows that where state law allows, employers may want to consider requiring employees to receive their pay electronically. Once employees start using direct deposit, its safety, security, and convenience make them true believers. They wonder why they didn’t do it sooner.” The PayItGreen Survey 2011 is based on data collected by Javelin Strategy & Research. The online survey polled 3,500 U.S. adults. The Credit Union National Association is a Go Direct national partner and supports the check-safety and cost-savings goals for the federal program. Go Direct is a national campaign designed to motivate more Americans to select direct deposit for their Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veteran’s Administration Compensation and Pension and other federal benefit payments. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks are sponsoring the campaign. For more information, use the link.

Northwest CU Association to hold its first convention

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TACOMA, Wash. (9/12/11)--The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) will hold its first convention and business meeting Sept. 20-22. Expected to draw roughly 800 attendees, the 2011 NWCUA Convention & Annual Business Meeting is the first formal gathering of the combined Northwest credit union community after the Credit Union Association of Oregon and Washington Credit Union League merged earlier this year. Among the speakers at the conference will be Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association. Michael Barr, former U.S. Department of Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions and key architect of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is also scheduled to speak. Other speakers include Susan Ershler, business executive, Mt. Everest climber and author, and Salim Ismail, investor, entrepreneur, director of Singularity University, former Yahoo vice president and head of Brickhouse, Yahoo’s internal ideas factory. Special events include:
* The 2011 NWCUA Annual Business Meeting; * A trade show; * Four general sessions featuring national speakers; * Nine idea exchange sessions; * 20 training and education sessions; * A Spectrum Marketing Awards luncheon; and * A Summit Awards dinner.

North Jersey FCUs green machine put into action in flood

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PATERSON, N.J. (9/12/11)--After Hurricane Irene, North Jersey FCU went to the aid of Paterson, N.J., which was hard hit by flooding from storm, by offering its Green Machine to ease things for residents needing financial services. Paterson and surrounding towns in Passaic County were left without much in the way of financial services, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Sept. 9). North Jersey FCU, based in Totowa, has its largest branch in Paterson. The credit union rallied its staff, who walked two miles to open its branch and provide financial services to the community, said the league. "We had no phone or power services for six days," James Griffin, vice president of business development at the $198.2 million asset credit union, told the league. This meant the credit union had limited electronic capabilities. "But we quickly responded to the needs of our members and did all we could to make sure people could access their cash," he added. The credit union requested a parking space from the city and offered The Green Machine, its 40-foot mobile biodiesel-fueled branch. It became part of the credit union's disaster recovery plan and is now stationed near the credit union's building. The Green Machine has an ATM and two teller windows, which handle hurricane victims' cash transactions and other financial needs. North Jersey Federal employees handed out ice cream sandwiches and frozen fruit bars to people waiting in line to get cash since the machine offered the only functional ATM for blocks because of extensive power outages, said the league. "We believe in our motto of 'People Helping People' and the hurricane put our motto to the test," said North Jersey Federal President/CEO Lourdes Cortez. "Not only did we provide much-needed services to our community, we were able to ease their burden during these trying times."

California league Bannan award winners announced

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/12/11)--Pat Neighbors, strategic development officer at The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., and Grossmont Schools FCU in El Cajon, Calif., are the 2011 recipients of the Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Awards. The awards, presented by the California Credit Union League, recognize efforts that contribute to the success and future of Shapiro Group credit unions through the cooperative spirit of “People Helping People.” The awards were named after Kim Bannan, former league vice president of credit union development and research and information. In 1992, the league founded the Shapiro Group to cooperatively pool the resources of the credit union community to help small credit unions operate efficiently and effectively. Neighbors was recognized as a long-standing champion of small credit unions. In recent years, she has served on the Shapiro Advisory Committee, working with the committee and league to offer educational training opportunities to small credit unions through the CU Comply program. Currently, more than 50 small credit unions statewide use the low-cost service to help train staff and ensure compliance in their organizations. The award recipient in the company/credit union category, Grossmont Schools FCU, was honored for the support CEO Steve Devan and staff provided for small credit unions, including El Cajon, Calif.-based Ketema FCU. Devan has been involved with the credit union industry for 18 years. He has headed Grossmont Schools CU for the past eight years. Neighbors and Grossmont Schools will be honored during this year’s California Credit Union League Annual Meeting and Convention, Oct. 26-28 in San Diego.

Speakers Perry set for this weeks Iowa CU Convention

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DES MOINES, Iowa (9/12/11)--The annual Iowa Credit Union Convention will take place this week in Des Moines, kicking off Wednesday with more than 300 representatives from credit unions and supporters focusing on advancing credit union growth and vitality. 2012 Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will speak Friday about credit unions and the economy, and will take questions from Iowa credit union attendees. His address will be broadcast on UStream at Aaron Thomas, son of the late Ed Thomas of Parkersburg, will be the closing keynote speaker Friday. He will share his family's story and discuss how to deal with adversity, set important goals and live a meaningful life of passion. Thomas' book, "The Sacred Acre--The Ed Thomas Story," was No. 29 on the New York Times Best Seller List last week. The conference, which ends Friday, also will feature 13 education sessions on topics such as how to prepare for a crisis, marketing and business development, what effects the economy has on credit unions and compliance updates geared to directors and others.

N.J. Senate president is leagues legislator of the year

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (9/12/11)--New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) will be named Legislator of the Year at New Jersey Credit Union League’s 77th Annual Convention in Atlantic City. Sweeney spearheaded the municipal deposit reform legislation signed into law last month to enable credit unions to become eligible depositories for counties, municipalities, and school boards, said the league (The Daily Exchange Sept. 9). Sweeney will receive the award and address convention attendees during the dinner and awards banquet Sept. 19. First elected to the New Jersey Senate in 2001, Sweeney was chosen by the Democratic Majority to lead the Senate in the 214th Legislature and took the oath as Senate president Jan. 12, 2010. In 2011, Sweeney proposed sweeping reforms to the public employee pension and health benefits systems that will save taxpayers more than $120 billion over a 30-year period. The reforms have been hailed as a national model for other states, said the league. Sweeney was also instrumental in crafting the state’s new 2% property tax cap and has led efforts to reform the arbitration procedures for police and fire contract disputes.

Police investigate whether shooting victim was hijacked

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (9/12/11)--Columbus, Ga., police are investigating whether one of two men shot and killed by a police officer after a robbery at MEA FCU could have been a bystander whose truck was hijacked by the robbery suspect. Killed in the incident Thursday morning were Tony Carr, a Fort Benning fire inspector, who was a passenger in the truck, and Alrahiem Tolbert, 30, the driver of a pickup truck. Police originally reported the two men were robbery suspects. The incident began when a masked man who ran from the credit union was chased a block by a new police recruit. Tolbert got in the pickup truck with Carr and allegedly tried to back out of Carr's driveway and run over police officer Vincent Lockhart Jr. Lockhart fired several shots, and Tolbert died at the scene. Carr died later of a gunshot wound to the chest. Authorities are trying to determine if he was involved. Carr's brother, Michael Carr, told media he was on the phone with his brother when the incident occurred. In the middle of the conversation, he heard someone say, "Move," and another voice say, "Hey hold on." He said his brother routinely went home for lunch to let his dog out.

Corporate Wire transfer vendor to discontinue IE 6

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (9/12/11)--International wire service provider Western Union Business Solutions announced that it no longer will support the use of Internet Explorer 6 (IE), according to First Carolina Corporate CU. The Greensboro, N.C.-based corporate said it had received this message from the provider: "Based on current usage reports as well as the recent recommendation from Microsoft, Western Union Business Solutions will soon discontinue support for IE 6 for our Online RX for Corporate accounts. This will allow us to focus our support efforts on more commonly used Internet browsers and help to promote our clients' online safety." The corporate encouraged credit unions to take the necessary steps to ensure their international wires processing does not experience a service interruption. Credit unions' browsers will need to meet the minimum standard of IE 7 as of Sept. 30, said the corporate. After that time, credit unions may be able to access their account through IE 6 but likely will encounter safety and formatting issues. Western Union Business Solutions' message said it would continue to support IE 7 and 8, and as of Sept. 30, IE 9.