As the wind and rain approached, the $197 million CU's staff decided to use the emergency notification system it has had for about two years to send e-mails to 3,000 of the 15,000 members it has throughout the Keys, letting them know the branches would be closed but that all electronic services--ATM, online and phone--would remain up and running as long as possible.
The alert system is from DigitalMailer, a suburban Washington provider of e-statement and alert services to about 125 credit unions.
Ron Daly, the company's founder and president, said the system replaces phone trees and paging systems with automatic e-mail and text messages.
"In an emergency, traditional communication methods may not be accessible or reliable," he said. "But with e-mail and text, members can access messages on their laptops or mobile phones. It doesn't negate the need for recording phone messages or posting Web site notices, but it certainly enhances the effectiveness of communications and gets the word out quickly."
Enterprise Car Sales Will Make NCUF Donations to Mark CU Appreciation
ST. LOUIS -- As part of Enterprise Car Sales credit union appreciation month, Enterprise will make a donation to the National Credit Union Foundation for every used vehicle purchased by credit union members and employees during the month of September.
For each purchase Enterprise will donate $25 to the NCUF. This is the third consecutive year that Enterprise has made a donation to the NCUF during its credit union appreciation month. Also every used vehicle that is purchased by a credit union employee will come with a $350 prepaid gas card.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for credit union employees to buy a great used vehicle at a great price, while helping to raise funds to benefit the national Credit Union Foundation," said Brooke Gilchrist, national marketing manager for Enterprise. "Credit Union Appreciation Month is Enterprise's way of saying thank you to the thousands of credit union employees who provide excellent service to their members every day."
Enterprise has more than 120 makes and models of used vehicles that are priced below Kelley Blue Book, according to the company. Each vehicle undergoes a 109-point inspection by an ASE-certified technician and is backed by a seven-day return policy.
UFCU Helps Scammed Homeowners
AUSTIN, Texas -- University Federal Credit Union came to the rescue of 11 local families who fell victim to a mortgage scam that kept ownership in limbo. The $894 million SEG-based cooperative finalized the fixed-rate loans Aug. 15.
The high-profile scheme caught the eye of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who successfully sued Robert L. Flores and a company he operated, Galindo Trust. Flores, which targeted native Spanish speakers, some of whom lacked Social Security identification or other documents normally required for home loans.
Flores sold the victims homes he bought as a group from a health care organization, which financed his purchase. Flores then re-sold the homes but did not tell the buyers of the pre-existing liens he owed. The homes were financed using a contract for deed, a device that allows the seller to collect a down payment and monthly payments but not deliver ownership to the buyer until the contract is paid in full. Flores also collected for taxes and insurance but failed to make the payments.
Permanent injunctions with civil penalties totaling $1.4 million were ordered against the defendants in May of last year.
UFCU got involved when employee Monica Mu??oz learned of the situation and alerted the credit union. Though pending legal action delayed refinancing, Spanish-speaking mortgage lending officer Yvonne Lopez-Noack met with the victims right away to discuss the situation and calm their fears.
UFCU will now provide fixed-rate mortgages and a property deed to the homeowners and will escrow funds for taxes and insurance for timely payment. Closing costs for the new mortgages can be added to the loans to avoid any cash expense to the borrowers, and the credit union's insurance CUSO will review homeowners' insurance policies.
The homeowners will pay only the balance actually remaining owed to the original lender on their individual homes following foreclosures that were part of the Attorney General's legal action against Flores and Galindo Trust.
"Part of a credit union's mission is to help people of modest means," Lopez-Noack said. "These people made a down payment and paid their monthly installments in good faith, and they deserve to enjoy the benefits of homeownership. We're thrilled to be able to assist them as a public service."
Pentegra Retirement Services Expands
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Three subsidiaries of Retirement System Group Inc. were recently acquired by Pentegra Retirement Services, a provider of retirement products and services and a NAFCU preferred provider.
Pentegra said it bought Retirement System Consultants Inc., Retirement System Investors Inc. and RSG Insurance Agency for an undisclosed amount. RSGroup, the holding company, has agreed to purchase RSGroup Trust Co. and Retirement System Distributors Inc., the remaining subsidiaries of RSGroup, pending regulatory approval, according to Pentegra.
Clients of RSGroup will continue to be serviced by their accustomed team. RSGroup operations and personnel will operate out of their New York and Shelton, Conn., locations and Pentegra's White Plains, N.Y.-based headquarters.
In 2006, NAFCU added Pentegra to its list of preferred partners. The company offers a number of retirement plans and manages $4.5 billion in defined compensation and defined benefit plans.
Advocacy Added to CUNA Curriculum
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Aiming to create more activists for legislative duty, the Southwest CUNA Management School added something new this summer to its curriculum: "Advocacy Rocks."
The catchy title for the special class was employed to heighten interest by CU leaders on the latest challenges and hot topics confronting the industry ranging from the Treasury Blueprint for regulatory consolidation to banker attacks.
"Given the increased political pressure on the credit union movement, the leadership at the SCMS wanted a class, different from the past, that would inspire industry leaders into credit union activists," said the Texas Credit Union League, which conducted the CUNA-run two-week school on the campus of Texas Christian University.
Leading Advocacy Rocks, which included role playing and hands-on exercises to meet and confront lawmakers, were James Phelps, the league's grassroots director, and Winter Prosapio, communications director.
"This was an especially good class for me since it gave me exposure to an area that is normally at our shop reserved for the board and the CEO," said Scott Slattery, assistant vice president for the $1.3 billion Texas Dow Employees CU in Lake Jackson.
Slattery, who was recently promoted to regional vice president for branch operations, said the class proved helpful, for example, in dealing with CURIA and understanding that CUs "can die due to financial reasons, but they can also die due to a failure to understand the legislative arena."
In addition to CURIA and the controversial Treasury Blueprint to merge all financial services regulators, the curriculum also focused on proposed reforms on overdraft and interchange fees plus safety and soundness.
Jeanine McBee, director of SCMS, said Advocacy Rocks was aimed at installing a new passion for advocacy "in the next generation of leaders."
The class is simply one-step toward making that happen, she said, adding that the Texas league staff felt the existing curriculum in the CUNA Management School program based in Madison needed beefing up and should be brought down to middle managers.
Like other CUNA schools, the SCMS consists of a three-year course study focused on enhancing credit union leadership skills. In addition to Texas, the TCU school had 50 students drawn from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and Missouri.
United SA FCU Named SBA 'Rising Star'
SAN ANTONIO -- For its support of local small businesses, United SA Federal Credit Union said it has received a "Rising Star" recognition from the Small Business Administration's San Antonio district office.
The $215 million credit union was approved to start offering SBA loans in May 2007 and in August 2007 received the agency's express lender status. United SA FCU said it approved its first SBA loan in December 2007 and since then, the credit union has completed 16 more loans totaling $759,200 to assist members who are current or aspiring business owners, according to the credit union.
"We are proud to be able to offer this financing option to members and potential members," said Steve Coomes, president/CEO of United SA FCU. "Many in this community possess an entrepreneurial spirit, and we look forward to helping them realize their dreams."