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During Fin. Lit. Month, La Pine promotes fin. ed. in Fla. op-eds

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/21/15)--Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, authored a commentary celebrating the financial education efforts of credit unions. It appeared in the Tampa Bay Tribune and the Pensacola News Journal .

La Pine's comments were framed within the context of Financial Literacy Month, celebrated nationwide every April, the same month as National Credit Union Youth Month, sponsored by CUNA.

"The Florida Credit Union Association, an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, works year-round to empower Florida students with the financial education and understanding they will need as they transition into fiscal independence and become successful contributing members of society," La Pine wrote.

Financial savvy is important for students to thrive in everyday life, La Pine said, especially for those who hope to run their own businesses or attain leadership positions. "Financial literacy is a requirement to comprehend budgets, inventory, payroll, and other aspects that come along with owning and managing a business and employees," La Pine wrote.

At the same time, poor financial habits can lead to a lifetime of bad credit and debt.

"Financial responsibility is a crucial part of gaining independence as Florida students look toward the future," La Pine wrote. "We must ensure they are prepared with the skillset needed to make fiscally responsible choices and maintain financial stability."

New autos put Kansas CUs in driver's seat in 2014

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WICHITA, Kan. (4/21/15)--Both federally and state-chartered credit unions rounded out 2014 with strong fourth quarters, according to data released by the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) this week.

The state's credit unions outperformed national credit union averages in a number of areas, including assets, capital and delinquency rates, during the year.

"Kansas credit unions' loans were the shining star, with every major loan category growing year-over-year," said Tana Hoffman, KCUA assistant vice president of member relations. "Our credit unions are showing the value of their products and services too, with the rise of member product usage."

New-auto loans led the way in 2014, posting an annual jump in growth of 11.4%, while used-auto loans recorded a 7.8% increase. Loan portfolios climbed 7.4% overall, reaching $3.9 billion by the end of 2014.

Kansas' credit unions also posted a net-worth ratio of 11.3%, in addition to a delinquency rate of 71 basis points, which is lower than national averages for credit unions and banks.

Membership, meanwhile, remained strong at Kansas' credit unions, with the state's 92 credit unions serving nearly 640,000 members.

Within that membership base, the average member relationship rose 6% to $13,457 in 2014. 

CU System briefs (4/21/15)

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  • COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (4/21/15)-- Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., awarded 30 nonprofit organizations in Southern Colorado a total of $80,000 from its 2015 Youth Endowment Series grant program . The YES program, started in 2000, focuses its resources on nonprofits that support children. Since its inception, the program has distributed grants to more than 130 organizations that help fill health and human services needs in their communities ...
  • AUSTIN, Texas (4/21/15)-- Twenty-five Austin-area high school and college students received $2,000 in scholarship funds from A+ FCU recently, totaling $50,000 in grants given. The money will help the students with a variety of educational expenses. Winners were picked based on their academic achievement and community involvement. "The A+FCU Scholarship Program is one of the many ways the credit union supports students across the Central Texas area in reaching their academic goals," the Austin-based credit union said in a press release ...
  • FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (4/21/15)-- Fort Community CU, Fort Atkinson, Wis., announced that Sue Johnson, Fort Community chief operations officer, has been named president. Johnson will replace Ronald J. Vogel, who will remain CEO until his retirement. Johnson has worked for the credit union for more than 20 years. The incoming credit union CEO also graduated last year from CUNA Management School, where she earned the Certified Credit Union Executive designation ...

Mich. league's committee testimony supports youth fin. ed.

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LIVONIA, Mich. (4/21/15)--Representatives from the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) testified at a state House Education Committee meeting last week in support of increased opportunities for high school financial education ( Michigan Monitor April 20).

House Bill 4390, sponsored by Rep. Jim Tedder (R-Waterford Township) and supported by MCUL, would amend the Revised School Code to allow high school students to take a half-credit course in personal economics or financial literacy to satisfy their economics graduation requirement.

Kirk Hanna, MCUL vice president of government affairs, and Beth Troost, financial education manager for the league, provided committee members with copies of the Community Reinvestment Report and information about the scope of Michigan credit unions' youth financial education, including teen Financial Reality Fairs, student credit unions and financial education classroom presentations.

Media collect CU memories of Okla. City bombing

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OKLAHOMA CITY (4/21/15)--The bomb that tore through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City 20 years ago this past Sunday left in its wake unspeakable destruction.

Among the 168 lives lost were 18 employees of Federal Employees CU (FECU), which was housed in the building and was totally destroyed that day.

A number of media outlets have asked several of those who were in the credit union and survived to recount what happened April 19, 1995.

Perhaps the most vivid recollection of the terrible event comes from Florence Rogers, then president/CEO of FECU, which is now known as Allegiance CU.

Rogers had been in the middle of a meeting with a number of staff members during the explosion, she told Buffalo News recently. The bomb killed everyone in the meeting but her.

In addition to Rogers' harrowing tale, a member of the credit union also recounted what happened to her that day to .

Susan Walton was inside the credit union when the bomb went off, and was the most severely injured individual to survive the bombing.

Walton suffered a basal skull fracture, among other fractures to her head, a ruptured spleen and severe breaks to both her legs below the knees, according to .

When she was rescued, while she couldn't verbally communicate, she helped doctors identify her by using sign language.

A local CBS affiliate KXII-TV also covered a talk given by a different survivor of the blast--another credit union employee.

Terri Talley told students from Southeastern Oklahoma University last week about being directly in the heart of the blast.

"When the bomb went off, I went down three floors and had to be rescued," Talley said ( KXII-TV ). "It was just so fast. It was just like a vacuum sucked me down."

Symantec: 59% of compromised info linked to retailer breaches

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (4/21/15)--A recent report from the Internet security firm Symantec revealed just how devastating an attack on a retailer can be for consumers.

The 2015 Internet Security Threat Report found that retailers were responsible for exposing roughly 59% of all personal data compromised last year, despite only representing 11% of all breaches recorded ( April 20). 

Given the sheer quantity of personal data in the possession of retailers nationwide, it's no surprise CUNA continues to urge lawmakers at the national level to pass legislation that would require merchants to protect data as strongly as financial institutions do.

It's also not just the mega-retailers that are vulnerable, the report found, as roughly 60% of the targeted organizations last year were either small- or medium-sized. This may be especially concerning, as smaller organizations often have more difficulty defending themselves ( ).

Additional findings from the report:
  • The percentage of breaches in which financial information was compromised doubled to 36% from 18% during the year;
  • Symantec counted 23% more breaches in 2014;
  • Spear-phishing--an email spoofing fraud method that targets an organization by seeking unauthoriezed access to confidential data--climbed 8%, while the cybercriminals behind such attacks became more efficient. Criminals sent 14% fewer emails to 20% fewer targets, while their success improved;
  • Malware continued to flourish, with more than 317 million new pieces of malware created last year, or nearly 1 million per day; and
  • Digital extortion, or ransomware attacks jumped 113% in 2014, including a 4,000% increase in crypto-ransomware attacks where cybercriminals freeze a victim's files or systems until they receive a payment, or a ransom.

World Council, Liberia revive CU program as Ebola ebbs

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MONROVIA, Liberia (4/21/15)--After a nine-month suspension due to the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia, World Council of Credit Unions has revived its model credit union building project that aims to serve 40,000 Liberians who previously were without access to financial services.

Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions, United Nations Capital Development Fund and Liberian Credit Union National Association representatives watch as a member of In God We Trust Multi-Purpose CU makes a deposit in Paynesville, Liberia. (World Council of Credit Unions Photo)
The Ebola virus, which compelled World Council to withdraw its project manager from the country, has been on the wane since March. This month, World Council Chief of Party Patrick Muriuki returned to Liberia to resume his management position.

World Council, with MasterCard Foundation funding through United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), has partnered with the Liberian Credit Union National Association (LCUNA) to rebuild the credit union sector devastated from 15 years of civil war. Representatives from each organization met recently in Monrovia to discuss next steps.

"Although we had to place the project on hold, LCUNA and its credit union members never stopped their efforts to bring in new members and provide loans to help Liberians thwart Ebola's destructive impact," said Peter Graves, World Council senior vice president for technical services. LCUNA Board Chair Saye Biyie was especially grateful to UNCDF and World Council for re-engaging in Liberia.

"This project is our heart," said Biyie. "It represents the difference--literally--between life and death for many Liberians. We are grateful to UNCDF and World Council on their decision to restart the project."

Prior to the civil wars that started in 1989, Liberia had a thriving credit union sector that World Council helped create in the 1970s. The current project's objective is to develop four regional credit unions to serve as models for the rest of the sector, and strengthen the national association so it can better serve its members.