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<p>The April 13 article “CUNA Study Shows Credit Unions Charge More On NSF Fees,” based on information from CUNA’s 2002 Fees Survey Report, draws conclusions that ignore the bulk of the survey’s findings and paints a misleading picture regarding overall credit union NSF fees. The information related to the two “Deposit Item Returned (DIR)” types of “Nonsufficient Funds (NSF)” fees cited in the text of the story is accurate. Credit unions do on average charge more for these two NSF types than do banks. However, the article significantly downplays-or worse overlooks-the more pertinent facts that credit unions are less likely than banks to charge fees for the more conventional, and far more frequently encountered, NSF fee circumstance – the one in which a member bounces a check written off of their credit union account – and that credit unions’ fees, if they are charged, fall well below those assessed by banks for this NSF type. Moreover, the most important finding of the study- which financial institutions are more consumer-friendly from the standpoint of fees-clearly is that credit unions are far more likely to offer free checking accounts than are banks. In short, reporting the comparatively insignificant findings on DIRs first and making them the focal point for the article, then implying in the opening paragraph that credit unions are not “a better deal than banks,” is simply not the case and a misrepresentation of credit unions’ overall competitive position with respect to fees. In fact, for all 12 of the instances in which credit union vs. bank comparisons are available in the survey – save for the two cited in the article- credit unions are less likely to charge a fee than are banks and charge lower fees if they do assess them. This applies to fees for the aforementioned conventional NSFs, along with those for stop payments, and overdrafts, as well as those for non-interest bearing, interest bearing and business checking accounts, and ATMs. I view the attention given to the DIR NSF’s as tantamount to “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” Vicki Joyal Vice President of Market Research & Information CUNA & Affiliates (Editor’s Note: Credit Union Times stands by the accuracy of the story. It’s widely known that credit unions are a better deal than banks on most fees, thus one news angle of this particular study was that with these types of NSF fees, credit unions charge more than banks and thrifts.)</p>

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