News Now Archive

Published on January 15, 2013.

NEW: NCUA approves high-risk mortgage appraisal rules

WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 3:30 p.m. ET, 1/15/13)--The National Credit Union Administration and federal bank regulators have approved new higher-risk mortgage appraisal requirements.

The regulations will require lenders offering higher-risk mortgages to use licensed or certified appraisers who prepare written reports, based on physical inspections of a home's interior, when they determine the value of a given home.

Mortgage lenders will also be required to provide homebuyers with a free copy of the resulting home appraisal report. If the seller of a given home has purchased the home for less than the current sale price within the last six months, an additional appraisal document will also need to be provided to the homebuyer. The document will need to detail the difference in sale prices, any changes in market conditions, and any improvements that have been made to the property since it was purchased by the current owner. This requirement is an attempt to address fraudulent property flipping.

High-priced mortgages will be considered non-qualified residential mortgages that are secured by a principal dwelling with annual percentage rates that exceed the average prime offer rate by 1.5% for first-lien loans, 2.5% for first-lien jumbo loans, and 3.5% for junior lien loans.

Safe harbors and exemptions will be provided in some cases.

The higher-risk mortgage appraisal requirements will go into effect on Jan. 18, 2014. The Credit Union National Association is analyzing the NCUA regulations and will post a summary soon.

The new mortgage appraisal requirements are mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. They are a joint rulemaking effort between the NCUA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other federal financial agencies.

For the full regulation, as approved by the FDIC today, use the resource link.

The CFPB's version of these regulations will likely be released when that agency holds an Atlanta, Ga. mortgage issues hearing on Jan. 17. Pam Davis of Delta Community CU, Atlanta, Ga., and other credit union representatives from that state will join Georgia Credit Union League leaders at that hearing. Davis is set to speak on behalf of her credit union and CUNA during the hearing.

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Relief comes three ways with NCUA 'small CU' action: CUNA

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/15/13)--Credit unions will see some real regulatory relief after last week's National Credit Union Administration action to increase the asset-size threshold that defines a "small" credit union. The threshold was raised to $50 million as recommended by the Credit Union National Association, up from $10 million.

"There are at least three areas where this new threshold will make a real difference for covered credit unions struggling with regulatory burdens," CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said Monday.

The threshold increase means that two-thirds of all credit unions are exempt from the following NCUA rules:

Also, for all future rulemakings, the NCUA must now consider credit union with less than $50 million in assets, rather than $10 million, in determining burdens and possible exemptions.

The NCUA's IRR rule requires credit unions to develop and maintain a written IRR policy and an IRR management program. The agency has also tied National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund coverage to compliance with this IRR rule, in some cases.

Under PCA rules for credit unions, as an institutions capital level deteriorates, its CAMEL rating goes up. When that happens, regulators are required to increase supervision and take actions meant to force management to make improvements.

Dunn said the NCUA's pending emergency liquidity rule is one rule that the agency may need to reconsider. That rule, as currently proposed, would: The threshold increase will also make assistance from the NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI) available to more than 4,600 credit unions--an increase of 2,270. However, the agency has noted that OSCUI grants are still only available to designated low-income credit unions, not all "small" credit unions.

CUNA has also noted that the threshold increase does not impact the agency's determination of which credit unions get streamlined examinations. While that issue is under separate consideration, the $10 million threshold will continue to apply, at least for this year.
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Tell your exam stories now: CUNA survey deadline is today

WASHINGTON (1/15/13)--Today is the final day for credit unions to detail their experiences with on-site National Credit Union Administration and state regulatory examinations by taking part in the Credit Union National Association's exam survey.

The survey asks credit unions to tell their examinations stories and to describe their satisfaction level with both the federal and state examinations process.

CUNA and state credit union leagues developed and released the short survey to give all credit unions a chance to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the system. The information gleaned from the survey responses will help CUNA and the leagues hone their exam issue advocacy efforts.

Survey replies are confidential, and identifying information from individual credit union respondents will not be seen by individuals outside of CUNA's Market Research Department. Only summary results will be reported.

CUNA members may use the resource link below to access the exam survey.

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Key rosters on Capitol Hill feature CU supporters

WASHINGTON (1/15/13)--Committees of prime interest to credit unions continue to solidify their membership rosters for the 113th Congress, and Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan notes a number of these committee members have close ties to credit unions.

"We see a lot of credit union friendly faces taking seats in these committee lineups," Donovan said. "We look forward to working with all members of key committees as the 113th Congress begins its work."

Donovan added, "While we have many credit union supporters in Congress, credit unions continue their hard work to educate all lawmakers about the credit union difference in 2013."
Among the credit union-friendly are:

Donovan noted that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have also had many positive things to say about credit unions. Support is similarly strong in the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees, he noted.

The majority of the 16 newly named House Financial Services Committee members received support from state credit union leagues and CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council, and many have worked closely with their respective state leagues. New House Financial Services Committee member Denny Heck (D-Wash.) is one key credit union supporter in the new Financial Services Committee lineup. Heck is a former marketing director for Columbia CU, Vancouver, Wash., and was supported in his 2012 campaign by CUNA and the Northwest Credit Union Association.

Other financial services committee members that have worked closely with their state credit union leagues include:
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CUNA turns spotlight on CU concerns at second CFPB mortgage field hearing

WASHINGTON (1/15/13)--Pam Davis of Delta Community CU, Atlanta, Ga., will bring credit union concerns regarding changing mortgage rules to the forefront during a Thursday Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) field hearing.

Davis is one of 20 credit union representatives from across Georgia that are planning to attend the CFPB field hearing this week, alongside Georgia Credit Union League leaders. She will speak on behalf of her credit union and the Credit Union National Association.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray will speak during the event and field hearing attendees will also hear testimony of consumer groups, mortgage industry representatives, and members of the public. The league and credit union officials will also meet directly with CFPB Director Richard Cordray after the field hearing has concluded.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET on Jan. 17 at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University. This is the second hearing of its kind held this month. SECU of Maryland President/CEO Rod Staatz told the CFPB that "credit unions remain very concerned that they will be subject to a barrage of requirements even though they did not cause the financial crisis" during a Jan. 10 mortgage issues field hearing in Baltimore, Md. (See Jan. 11 News Now story: SECU's Staatz to CFPB: Contain CU reg burden)

CUNA anticipates that final rules addressing mortgage loan originator compensation, mortgage servicing and higher-priced mortgages may be released by the CFPB this week.

These regulations are among a number of final rules that the CFPB must release by Jan. 21.

Last week, the agency unveiled final rules regarding ability to repay requirements, escrow accounts, and "high-cost" mortgages. (See Jan. 11 News Now story: CFPB QM, ability-to-repay rules are out, CUNA provides summary)

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Inside Washington

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Student lending can be a good niche for CUs

WASHINGTON (1/15/13)--Loan-starved credit unions seeking to expand their portfolios take note: The latest student lending trend could lead to a new lending market among existing prime members, says the Credit Union National Association.
During third quarter 2012, non-federal guaranteed student loans at credit unions increased 20% year over year to $1.93 billion, according to CUNA.  Although they represent a small percentage (0.3%) of credit unions' loan portfolios, the average age of the co-signers on these loans is 47-49 years--in line with existing members' average age.
"It is growing tremendously for credit unions--to about  $2 billion. CUs are having a hard time finding loan growth. This could be a nice niche for us," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, in a call with trade press Monday.
"If you watch the news, there are so many negative stories about student loans, yet student loan delinquency in credit unions is 1.45%--so credit unions are doing something right," Gentile said.
Credit unions are also benefiting from new regulations, particularly the Higher Education Opportunity Act, said Vince Passione, CEO of Fynanz, a private student loan company and CUNA Strategic Services provider.
Around 2008, during the post-credit crisis when other lenders left private student lending, "credit unions stepped in," said Passione. "They architected all their student loans programs following the regulation."
The act requires lenders to disclose to students and parents that the loans are non federal guaranteed private loans, and ensure they understand the cost of borrowing. It also requires lenders to educate. Schools are certified, and the students don't overborrow. "Students are required to exhaust all other avenues first before taking a private student loan," Passione said.
Fynanz's  program requires students to make payments while still in school,  "so they begin good repayment habits early," said Passione.
Student loan delinquencies at credit unions--1.45%  for a 60-day loan-- are lower than banks' loans but higher than the 1.13% delinquency rate of  all credit unions loans. That compares with 5.3% of delinquent loans in the general student loan market and 12% when federal loans are factored in, said CUNA.

Will student loans present a concentrated risk if the economy dips again? CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said no. "Even if the current loan rate continues for a decade, there would still not be enough concentration in this market," he said. "For some individual credit unions, if they got into [student loans] big, they might see a little more [risk]."
Today, 581 credit unions offer private student loans, compared with 488 a year ago, said Passsione. Roughly  2,000 schools and universities offer Fynanz's student loans, said Passione. For more information, use the link.

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Study: Cause marketing? Be authentic

MADISON, Wis. 1/15/13)--Credit unions have an advantage when it comes to cause marketing: Their already solid reputation with consumers and dedication to the people-helping-people philosophy.
While the majority of U.S. Internet users have been moved to purchase because of a cause, shoppers expect greater accountability from organizations involved in cause marketing and reassurance that their support is making a difference, according to a new eMarketer report, "Marketing 'Good': How Causes Can Convert Online Shoppers" (eMarketer Jan. 8)
A growing number of consumers considered "social purpose" as the leading purchase driver when quality and price were equal, according to a study the Edelman's "good purpose" study.  However, only 10% surveyed thought that cause marketing campaigns were sincere.
To employ cause marketing effectively, organizations must be viewed as authentic by consumers, the study said.
Would consumers trust credit unions to make a difference with cause marketing? Trust in credit unions has remained high at 61% among Americans, according to the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index (News Now Nov. 6). The index has consistently reported notably more trust in credit unions than local and national banks, quarter over quarter, since it began in December 2008.
Community Financial CU, with $502 million in assets, Plymouth, Mich., is among the credit unions engaged in cause marketing. The credit union asked its members and community members to take part in its "Warming Hearts & Homes" campaign (PR Newswire Jan. 14).
Community Financial CU raised $30,000 for The Heat And Warmth Fund, local food pantries and the Salvation Army's Coats for Kids program.
The credit union donated $25 for every like on Facebook, tweet on Twitter or text message it received during the holidays.

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Sacramento Bee: CUNA's Mad City Money part of ed trend

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (1/15/13)--The Credit Union National Association's Mad City Money program, a personal finance money management exercise for high school students, is part of a new trend in financial education--role playing, say experts interviewed in the Sacramento Bee (Jan. 13).
The Bee's article focused on a Mad City Money exercise conducted for 35 Mesa Verde High School students by SAFE CU, a $1.87 billion asset credit union based in North Highlands, Calif. The students received their firsthand look at the adult world of bills and budgets in the exercise. The program involved giving each student a paper debit card and setting them free in the school gym to stop at eight stations to make lifestyle choices.
"It's a safe environment to make mistakes," Shannon Heaps, SAFE CU's financial literacy coordinator, told the Bee.  "If they buy a big, new car, they might not be able to buy (designer clothes)."
Heaps said that students will not learn from someone lecturing them with the save-your-money message. "This is hands on and it lets (teens) learn from their mistakes."
The event was coordinated by the school's business academy, which includes three student-run businesses: a campus store, a recycling center and a SAFE CU branch.
"Events like Mad City Money, created by CUNA, are designed to help students learn those hard lessons before they leave home," said the publication. 
California JumpStart Coalition Chair Karen Anderson told the publication that there is a proliferation of role playing games to engage teens. "It's part of a change in financial education," she said.
Jim Allen, SAFE vice president of community banking, also noted that money management education is needed by adults as well as high school students. 
To read the full article, use the link.

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Richland FCU manager named to Minneapolis Fed advisory council

SIDNEY, Mont. (1/15/13)--Kevin Mayer, manager of Richland FCU, Sidney, Mont., has been appointed to the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Mayer will serve a three-year term with 10 others in an advisory capacity and help the Federal Reserve better understand the business and economics in the region.
"We are the eyes and ears of our region," said Mayer. "Our discussion is heard by those in Washington, D.C."
Tracie Kenyon, president/CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network, said the appointment is a great honor. "His appointment underscores the truly amazing work that he's done in the community, state and region. From the state trade association perspective, I am always delighted to have Montanans at the table, and Kevin will represent the interests of his peers exceptionally," Kenyon said.
Mayer has been with Richland FCU since 1985. Aproponent of financial education, he serves on the business advisory council at Sidney High School. Each year he speaks to eighth grade students about the overall importance of finance, and he visits with them again when they are seniors to discuss the value of how credit is earned.
He serves on the Board of Directors of Kansas Corporate CU, was a member of the MCUN's Government Relations Committee. and is an advocate and mentor to many small credit unions in eastern Montana.

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Illinois league hosts small-CU follow-up workshops

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (1/15/13)--The Illinois Credit Union League hosted a round of additional small asset-size (SAS) workshops for credit unions with less than  $25 million in assets this winter, as a follow up to "Lunch and Learn" meetings held in 2011.
The programs, dedicated to driving financial health and member growth by providing SAS credit unions the tools needed for success, were hosted in Springfield, Kankakee and DeKalb.
Roundtable topics shared by the Illinois Division of Financial Institutions, National Credit Union Administration, CUNA Mutual Group, Alloya Corporate FCU in Warrenville, Ill., and others included information on non-interest income, regulatory concerns, marketing and Automated Clearing House compliance.
"If there's one thing that stands out in our industry, it's the ease in which small credit unions share and learn from each other and the value that comes from this unique quality that our industry possesses," said Joni Senkpeil, ICUL director of small credit union development.
The ongoing effort is an endeavor to study small-credit union challenges, offer resourceful solutions, and help secure the strength of the state's small-credit union community.
The league originally launched the "Lunch and Learn" workshop series in 2011 via a new SAS Advisory Group exclusively for credit unions under $25 million in assets as part of a statewide action plan for SAS credit unions in Illinois. 
The advisory group was charged to create a plan that will provide a necessary and unique opportunity for credit unions to shape distinct and permanent SAS workgroups across Illinois. It includes four priorities for action, including: reducing the regulatory and compliance burden; promoting collaboration; enhancing communication; and increasing competitiveness.

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Ostrowski named Worldwide Foundation for CUs director

Click to view larger imageCalyn Ostrowski was named Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions director by the World Council of Credit Unions.  She will manage the foundation's supporter funding and network to help expand WOCCU's international credit union development and education initiatives. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
MADISON, Wis. (1/15/13)--Calyn Ostrowski has been named director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm for the World Council of Credit Unions.

As director, she will manage the foundation's supporter funding and network to help expand WOCCU's international credit union development and education initiatives.

"The assistance we receive from World Council Supporters is vital to the work we do each day," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. "Calyn's proven track record in international development and dialogue make her an excellent fit for building and expanding our global community."

Ostrowski most recently led program, operational and fundraising initiatives for the Global Health Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a foreign policy think-tank based in Washington, D.C. While there, Ostrowski developed and facilitated public policy dialogue programs to increase global health education and political willpower among domestic and international policymakers, nonprofit organizations, corporations, media and donors to improve the economic, social and physical well-being of communities in developing countries.

Ostrowski managed the GHI grants administration process and also developed policy dialogue programs for the center's Environmental Change and Security Program. Her fundraising strategies helped secure a record-high increase in GHI's revenue.

Ostrowski joins WOCCU's headquarters in Madison, Wis.
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CU opens Staten Island branch postponed by Sandy

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (1/15/13)--While all branch openings are a measure of a credit union's growth, Polish & Slavic FCU's Dec. 15 grand opening of its first branch on Staten Island had a special significance: The opening had been delayed by Hurricane Sandy.
After Sandy struck Oct. 29, not only did the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based credit union have to repair the damaged branch, scheduled to open Nov. 5, it also assisted its new neighbors in recovering from the storm (PRNewswire Jan. 14). The credit union collected clothing and other items for hurricane victims. Items were donated through local parishes and community organizations.
Also, the credit union's mobile branch also moved throughout the area where branches were inoperable to assist members.
PSFCU has 16 branches throughout the metropolitan New York City area and Chicago.

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Firstmark CU sponsors Student Aid Saturdays

SAN ANTONIO (1/15/13)--Firstmark CU in San Antonio is helping sponsor Student Aid Saturdays, a program that helps high school seniors who are heading off to college or to a technical program and their family members fill out their college financial aid forms.
Local high schools, college campuses and at Cafécollege in San Antonio will host SAS. This year, the program is sponsored by the $758 million asset Firstmark and is in partnership with SA2020, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Education Partnership, and Generation TX San Antonio.
"The impact of Student Aid Saturdays has a ripple effect in our community," said Leon Ewing, president/CEO of Firstmark CU. "It immediately helps students who need assistance get into college. That, in turn, produces a better-educated work force, which ultimately is good for our community. We hope other San Antonio companies will follow suit and sign up to help."
Most colleges and universities require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form for a student to qualify for any financial aid, including many scholarships. San Antonio still has a low rate of completion of the FAFSA forms. SAS aims to raise that level. This is the second year of the program. During the first year, more than 1,000 students and families participated.

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CU System briefs

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Market News

MADISON, Wis. (1/15/13)

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News of the Competition

MADISON, Wis. (1/15/13)

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Ten steps to fiscal fitness in 2013

WASHINGTON (1/15/13)--As the new year gains momentum, many consumers enact resolutions involving personal finances--potentially complicated by anticipated tax-law and other regulatory changes.  Whatever your goals, this uncertainty behooves you to be as fiscally savvy as possible (U.S. News & World Report Dec. 20).
Here are 10 tips to help you keep your financial resolutions:

  1. Shop for bargains all year and don't be afraid to negotiate for discounts.  Many retailers offered price-matching last year, and that may continue. Think before you buy. Do you need it? Could you borrow it?
  1. Make money decisions with your partner. Agree on spending priorities and you can invest in what you both value.
  1. Pay down debt. Sizable debt can seem insurmountable; if you pay a small amount of money regularly to the highest-rate bills, you'll slowly see your debt shrink.
  1. Ensure you're saving enough for retirement. Use one of the many online calculators to estimate how much you'll need and determine if you should bump up your 401(k) or other retirement account contributions. Examine how your money is invested and adjust the mix if needed.
  1. Find a better credit card. If yours has high rates or fees, shop for a better deal: Credit unions typically offer better terms. If you have a card with rewards points, make sure you use them.
  1. Find a better financial institution. If yours provides shoddy service at high prices, switch. Nonprofit, member-owned credit unions exist to improve your financial life, so consider joining one if you're not already a member.
  1. Earn more. Ask for a raise or, if your income has plateaued at your job, think about taking on a second job or about becoming an entrepreneur and starting a new business. Talk to your financial adviser first so you have a sound business model.
  1. Stay home. Cooking meals, playing games, watching movies--Hulu Plus, Apple TV and the like are more affordable than theaters--are inexpensive fun.  Making home improvements that increase efficiency can save money while making your abode more comfortable. Be sure your homeowners insurance covers all eventualities as well.
  1. Talk about money with your kids. You play a significant role in how your children handle money and make financial decisions, so share your wisdom with them. Involve them in family decision-making and talk about saving, spending, giving and borrowing. Show them online money sites like the Credit Union National Association's Googolplex, which include fun articles, games and activities to help teach kids about money management.
  1. Use less gas. Of course you'll frequent the lowest priced gas station around, but also lighten your vehicle by removing heavy items from the trunk. Inflating your tires to the proper levels and replacing clogged air filters will improve mileage per gallon, and carpooling lets you share costs. Take public transportation, bike, or walk when you can.
These are just a few money-wise tips for this year; if you examine your goals and daily activities, you'll likely find many more. Save your extra cash in your credit union account for unforeseen expenses and you're ready to handle any financial uncertainty 2013 brings.
For more information, read "Credit counselors say resolutions not right for everyone" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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Fiserv acquires core processor Open Solutions

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (1/15/13)--Financial services technology solution provider Fiserv Inc. announced Monday it has acquired core processor Open Solutions Inc. for $55 million.
Fiserv also assumed about $960 million of debt through the deal, which was completed Monday. It will receive an acquired tax asset with a net present value at the time of the purchase of roughly $165 million.
The Glastonbury, Conn.-based Open Solutions provides technology to credit unions and other financial institutions.
The acquisition means that Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv will add several new technologies to its offerings, including DNA, a real-time open technology account processing platform that will enable collaboration and technology sharing through DNAcreator and DNAappstore to deliver service.
Other technologies acquired include the CUnify and TotalPlus account processing platforms, Weiland Account Analysis for commercial accounts, tools that enable the creation and sharing of client-developed functionality, and Raddon Financial Group, a performance consulting service.
Founded in 1992, Open Solutions serves more than 3,300 clients worldwide, including more than 800 account processing clients. Fiserv will offer these clients add-on solutions such as its CheckFreeRXP electronic bill payment service, ACCEL/Exchange payments network, debit processing services, Popmoney social payments service, Corillian Online banking, Mobiliti mobile banking, and more.
"Open Solutions provides several growth opportunities, including a real-time account processing capability that serves multiple charter types, languages and currencies on a single platform," said Jeffery Yabuki, Fiserv president/CEO.
Louis Hernandez Jr., Open Solutions chairman and CEO,  noted that "joining Fiserv provides us with significant resources that will benefit our clients and increase market momentum."
Fiserv said it expects to add some of its Acumen account processing platform features to the DNA technology platform over time. During the next several years, it expects annualized revenues of at least $75 million and annualized costs of more than $50 million related to the purchase.

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Agility hosts free flu webinar Wed.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (1/15/13)--Agility Recovery will host a free webinar Wednesday on the current status of the flu affecting the U.S.
The webinar, "The 2013 Flu Outbreak: Risks and Ways to Prepare," will be held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET.
Agility Recovery is a CUNA Strategic Services Provider.
With 47 states now reporting "widespread" flu activity, a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report show that deaths from pneumonia and flu are "slightly above the epidemic threshold." 
In the webinar, Dr. Michael Jhung, lead medical officer in the CDC's Influenza Division, will outline steps credit unions can take to reduce the risk to staff, employees and members.
Topics on preparedness will include:

To register for the meeting, use the link.
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SHAZAM rolls out debit mobile app

DES MOINES, Iowa (1/15/13)--The SHAZAM ATM network has launched a mobile application that provides debit cardholders with free access to their checking accounts.
SHAZAM BOLT$, available to smartphone and tablet users, allows debit cardholders to check balances and set parameters for e-mail alerts. Eventually, users will be able to make person-to-person transfers, the company said.
The application also alerts cardholders to potentially fraudulent activity on their accounts. The alerts are generated when a suspicious purchase is detected, based on:

E-mail alerts will help halt fraud attempts more quickly, said Dan Kramer, SHAZAM senior vice president of marketing and merchant services. "By providing nearly real-time transaction alerts via email--a communication vehicle cardholders are using for everyday interaction--credit unions and community banks will have a more direct line to cardholders, not only limiting fraud losses but potentially improving customer service."
The application can be configured to match a financial institution's branding, including name and logo. A Web version also is available for cardholders who prefer to access the tool from a desktop computer or mobile browser.
SHAZAM is offering the mobile app free to its network participating financial institutions.
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