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Publisher Mike Welch is right on the money in his April 9th column about how credit unions should approach an overdraft protection service. At Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, we asked our members what features they wanted and were important to them with their checking accounts. Overwhelmingly they asked for some form of protection from overdrafts. We heard this not only from members who had a checking account with JDCU, but also from members who had all their other financial services with us, but not a checking account. Our members told us that overdraft protection was so important that they would not have their checking account with us unless it included the overdraft protection feature. Their desire was not for a loan, or a line of credit, rather just protection from a mistake. They wanted to save embarrassment and all the fees and charges levied out there in the business world, especially with credit card and mortgage payments. From all of this we concluded that basically our members wanted a safety net which we call POP (Personalized Overdraft Protection). Our disclosures and brochures clearly focus on the safety net feature. We also clearly let them know that this is not expected to be a rainy day fund. Credit unions must educate their members on the right way to handle their finances, yet realize anyone can make a mistake. At Jeanne D’Arc we feel a properly managed and disclosed overdraft protection service can be supplemented with good short-term loans for those members who need help managing their finances. We believe that credit unions are a better answer to payday lenders. We also are not only charging the same fee for paid NSFs as bounced checks, but we eliminated any fees for transfers from savings. We transfer available funds from savings (within Reg D rules) before we invoke the overdraft protection feature. At the end of the day, members wanted it, it saves them money, it saves them embarrassment, but they must be educated and communicated with properly. Paul Mayotte President & CEO Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union Lowell, Mass.

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