LOS ANGELES - At least 15 credit unions have agreed to waive the international transfer fees for monthly restitution payments made to Holocaust survivors living in California. They join more than 100 financial institutions in the state that will not charge the fee, which ranges between $10 and $40 to transfer the payment from the German government and other European agencies that had a part in the Holocaust to survivors' credit union and bank accounts, said California State Treasurer Philip Angelides. More than 8,000 California residents receive a restitution payment averaging $350 per month. "To charge handling fees is an unnecessary and unjust burden for all, and particularly hurtful for those who can barely make ends meet," Angelides said. California Coast CU, California Credit Union, Civic Arts Plaza FCU, Cooperative Center FCU, First Future Credit Union, Golden 1 Credit Union, North Island FCU, Provident CU, SAFE Credit Union, Santa Clara FCU, TRW Systems Federal Credit Union, Valley First Credit Union, Wescom Credit Union, Western Federal CU and Xerox FCU all have agreed to waive the fee, Angelides said. Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles, Jewish Family and Children's Services in San Francisco and Angelides lobbied 170 financial institutions last year to waive the fee and 109 agreed to do so. At 20,000, California has the second highest number of Holocaust survivors behind New York. Angelides sent a letter to the chief executive officers of each of the financial institutions that do business with the state and/or have been identified by Bet Tzedek as processing reparation payments, asking them to sign a commitment pledge to voluntarily waive any wire transfer or processing fees associated with Holocaust reparations or restitution. "We thought it was a great idea, just one of those things that's a great fit for the members," said Teresa Halleck, president/CEO of the Golden 1 Credit Union. "It fits because of our dedication to member service." Halleck said since the restitution payment transfers are not separate from other ACH payments, Golden 1 will educate members about the fee waiver and then it will be up to recipients to alert the credit union. Members will be charged the fee on the front end but once they contact Golden 1 and all information is verified, the charge will be reversed and future transfers will be flagged. Golden 1 is the fifth largest credit union in the nation with more than 500,000 members and $4 billion in assets. Pasadena-based Wescom Credit Union's agreement to waive the fee is "consistent with the credit union philosophy," said Darren Williams, president/CEO. "Many rely on these payments for their monthly incomes so taking $25 out of a $300 monthly payment can be a burden," Williams said. "We try to responsive to unique situations, be it the state budget crisis or the energy crisis a few years ago." Williams did not know how many members are receiving payments but the credit union will take a look at the frequency of international transfers. Wescom has more than 200,000 members and $2.5 billion in assets. Members aren't charged a fee for incoming international transfers at North Highlands-based SAFE Credit Union, said Richard Healy, vice president of operations. Healy said members who are Holocaust survivors are not tracked but if the credit union were charged a fee, members would be informed through its newsletters. "Because we are in the state's capital and have a close working relationship, we understood Angelides commitment," Healy said. SAFE serves 104,000 members and has $1.1 billion in assets. Angelides said "more than 60 years have passed since the atrocities of the Holocaust took place. These Holocaust survivors and their families have suffered enough, and the reparation and restitution they receive are a mere token of what is truly owed to them." -email@example.com
California Credit Unions to Waive Wire Fees For Payments to Holocaust Survivors
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