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Servicemember's spouse drives away with Bank on More's SUV

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (10/23/14)--Missouri credit unions celebrated International Credit Union Day last week by giving away a new car. Well, actually, a new SUV.

Crystal Rorrer shows off her new 2014 Jeep Compass, which she won through the Missouri Credit Union Association's Live Larger SUV Sweepstakes on International Credit Union Day. (Missouri Credit Union Association Photo)
The Live Larger SUV Sweepstakes, orchestrated by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) through its Bank on More campaign, lasted for 30 days, in which non-credit union members were invited to take selfies in front of a large orange display that was making its way through the state.

Crystal Rorrer, wife of a servicemember and a mother of two, was surprised to learn that her selfie--taken at TelComm CU, Springfield, Mo., with $126 million in assets--had been picked and that she was a finalist for the new car.

Later, she'd be even more surprised.

"They called me and told me I was one of five (finalists), so I was biting my nails coming down here," Rorrer said. "But then I opened the door and there were balloons falling and they were saying 'You won!'"

And the new wheels, a 2014 Jeep Compass, will benefit the whole family, it appears.

"We're a military family; his family is in Virginia and my family is in Washington," Rorrer said. "Airplane tickets ... they're just too expensive for the whole family, but now we've got a car that's reliable to get us to see our family. It's amazing."

The sweeps, which included TV and radio advertisements and several live remote broadcasts at credit union branches by Missouri radio stations, also has served as a great opportunity to drive awareness for credit unions.

More than 1,500 consumers entered the sweepstakes by visiting 70 credit union branches, which led to about 10,000 visits to the Bank on More website. 

And it's possible those visits will lead to new members for the state's credit unions.

They already have one in Rorrer.

According to Nora Holloway, MCUA public relations/online community director, TelComm has opened three accounts for Rorrer and her family, including two $100 accounts for her kids and one $50 account for her.

Collegiate CU incubation continues at Columbia University

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NEW YORK (10/23/14)-- The Nation's student blog Wednesday detailed the goals of the Lion Credit Union Initiative (LCUI): To bring a cooperatively run financial institution to the Columbia University campus and to provide financial education to students.
 
Students at Columbia--a private Ivy League university located in New York City--have been working on creating a credit union devoted to university students, faculty, employees and alumni since last year. A successful student ballot initiative in the spring has put the group on course to gain administrative, University Senate and National Credit Union Administration support ( Columbia Spectator Sept. 19).
 
The idea is a "no-brainer," said current LCUI President Jared Greene in the StudentNation blog entry. "It's about connecting a community, while saving each other money and teaching each other things," he said.
 
In introducing the idea of the credit union, LCUI members are focusing on financial literacy and its member-owned structure. "The most crucial short-term goal of the LCUI is promoting financial literacy on college campuses, by bringing in speakers and organizing classes," StudentNation noted.
 
In the long run, the LCUI hopes to offer student loans at lower rates, something executive committee member Mischa Beumer says is "realistic."

CU System briefs (10/23/14)

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  • LA PLACE, La. (10/23/14)-- Louisiana FCU, La Place, put a different spin on a scavenger hunt for hidden cash--the finder gets to select a charity to receive a $100 donation . This week, the $183 million-asset credit union is hiding envelopes containing $100 in St. James, St. John, St. Charles and Tangipahoa parishes and giving clues to find them on its Facebook page. Once they find the money, the scavengers can post a photo to the credit union's Facebook page with the #HIDEANDCU hashtag. Chief Administrative Officer Mia Perez said, "It's an opportunity to pay it forward to some of our local charities as well" ( eNews Oct. 22). Ann Leblanc found Wednesday's cash at an old branch of the credit union and selected St. John Parish Relay for Life Surgery Girls Team to receive the credit union's $100 donation (Louisiana FCU Photo) ...
     
  • TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (10/23/14)-- Members of Bay Winds FCU, Charlevoix, Mich., with $175 million in assets, and Members CU, Traverse City, Mich., with $224 million in assets, recently approved a merger and will operate under the name 4Front CU ( Second Wave Oct. 21). The merged credit union will have 13 branches operating from Manistee to Petoskey. "Both institutions have long and storied histories in their respective communities," said Andrew Kempf, president/CEO, Members CU ...

Half believe on-time rental payments reported to credit bureaus: TransUnion

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CHICAGO (10/23/14)--Many factors determine a consumer's credit history, and despite what renters believe, rental and utility payments aren't reported to credit bureaus for inclusion on credit reports, according to a new survey from national credit bureau TransUnion.
 
Forty-eight percent of renters mistakenly believe rental payments are automatically reported to credit bureaus. The confusion about on-time utility payments is even higher--53% believe cable and Internet fee payments are reported to credit bureaus, 54% believe utility payments are submitted and 52% think cell-phone bills are reported.
 
"Most consumers report paying rent on time, but many don't realize that until now these payments are not boosting their credit histories," said Ken Chaplin, TransUnion senior vice president. "Renters should be aware that property managers are starting to report payments to credit bureaus, and they should be consistently monitoring what is being registered on their individual report."
 
TransUnion and Experian recently began incorporating reported rental payments into their credit reports and some credit scores.
 
TransUnion noted that including rental payments in calculating credit scores could be a positive development for many renters. More than three-quarters of respondents said their credit scores would potentially benefit if rental payments were reported to credit bureaus, compared with payments for cable (68%), cell phone service (67%) and utilities (69%).
 
Nearly 8 in 10 survey respondents said they prioritize rental payments above other monthly bills. The online survey includes responses from 1,001 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 64 who currently are renting the home or apartment in which they live.
 
"Expanding the share of property managers who report rental payments will produce more accurate information that truly reflects how consistently consumers meet their financial obligations," said Chaplin. "It will benefit renters who want to help their credit scores and landlords who want to attract renters who pay rent on time."

Heck to NWCUA: CUs are a solution, not part of problem

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SPOKANE, Wash. (10/23/14)--Credit unions were not part of the systemic problem that caused the recent recession, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) told a general session audience at the Northwest Credit Union Association's recent Amplify Convention. "More often than not they are part of the solution," Heck said.
 
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) told a general session audience at the Northwest Credit Union Association's recent Amplify Convention that "more often than not they are part of the solution" within the financial services industry. (Northwest Credit Union Association Photo)
The U.S. financial system may need some adjustments to avoid another recession, but current banking regulations are often superfluous to credit unions, Heck said. "Banking regulators have [risk-based capital] rules," he said ( Anthem Oct. 21). "But just because it's right for banks doesn't mean it's right for credit unions. I don't think it is."
 
If regulators insist that credit unions raise capital in order to satisfy RBC regulations, then those regulations should not go into effect until H.R.719, the Capital Access for Small Businesses and Jobs Act,  is passed, because the bill would allow credit unions to raise supplemental capital, Heck said.
 
Heck challenged Amplify attendees to lead by example, and to continue distinguishing themselves in the financial services marketplace with their "people-helping-people" philosophy.

"I have this sacred obligation to represent the people of Washington's 10th District," he said. "A lot of them are facing the black hole of credit card debt, auto debt and student loan debt. Many other financial institutions aren't willing to do the work of financial education, because they profit from those problems.
 
"Credit unions are a movement predicated upon the financial well-being of your members," Heck continued. "As the credit union movement gets bigger, we should not lose sight of that. It's getting bigger because it's different."

CUs emphasize co-op principles during National Co-op Month

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INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (10/23/14)--The nation is taking time to appreciate cooperatives this October for National Co-op Month, and financial cooperatives, commonly known as credit unions, have joined in on the celebration.

The festivities are in full gear in Minnesota, as the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) kicked off the month by hosting a "Community Connected" press event at Heartland CU, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., with $102 million in assets, to recognize the impact cooperatives of all kinds have on their communities.

Speakers at the press event, which included credit union and cooperative leaders from throughout the state, including Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO, spoke about the community-oriented work performed by cooperatives in Minnesota.

Minnesota was one of the first states to enact a law authorizing credit unions and the first state to celebrate an official co-op month in 1948.

The state is also home to the most cooperatives and cooperative memberships in the United States.

"The credit union mission goes beyond serving the financial needs of members," Cummins said. "By providing thousands of volunteer hours and leading community initiatives, member-owned credit unions and cooperatives in Minnesota build better communities for all of us to live in."

Also in attendance was Casey Carlson, vice president of marketing and strategic planning for SPIRE CU, Falcon Heights, Minn., who spoke about the $626 million-asset credit union's program that offers members the opportunity to win money for their favorite co-op when they shop with a co-branded Visa card program.

"This program is a triple win," Carlson said. "Our members win, our local co-ops win and our communities win overall as well."

On Wednesday, the celebration reached the nation's capital, as the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) CLUSA International hosted representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration and the cooperative community at large at the National Press Club for a panel discussion about how cooperatives and the government intersect.

Thanks to the NCBA, credit unions nationwide can participate in the month-long celebration using the association's 2014 Co-op Month communication toolkit , which includes posters, social media graphics, sample social media posts and email invites.

Conn. CUs aiming to solidify status as members' primary FIs

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HARTFORD, Conn. (10/23/14)--An Oct. 13 article on HartfordBusiness.com noted that Connecticut credit union are striving to become the financial institution of choice for state consumers.

Connecticut credit unions have grown their overall asset base to $9.4 billion, compared with $9.2 billion two years ago.

Jill Nowacki, president of the Connecticut Credit Union League, said she believes credit union membership in the state will increase, particularly as cooperative financial institutions attract consumers who seek out local financial services providers.

"When you look at society's trends, especially among younger people, and the commitment that they have to buying local, to working in collaboration, I think credit unions offer those values," Nowacki told HartfordBusiness.com

Ed Danek Jr., CEO of Hartford (Conn.) FCU, with $86 million in assets, said credit unions typically offer better rates on loans and savings than banks because of their cooperative ownership structure.

To become their members' primary financial institution (PFI), credit unions must demonstrate value and stick to their core mission, Danek said.

"Statistics show that when a member has their checking, direct deposit, debit card, mobile banking and online bill pay with an institution, their retention rate is over 90% higher," he told HartfordBusiness.com .

"They are also many times more likely to borrow from that institution as well. PFI--make it sticky, and then deliver on your mission statement."