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HARRISBURG, Pa.-In a move against predatory lending practices, two additional Pennsylvania credit unions are offering check-cashing services to nonmembers. Eagle One FCU of Philadelphia and A-K Valley FCU of Lower Burrell, Pa., began check-cashing services on Sept. 12, 2005-bringing the total number of credit unions participating in the practice to six. Pennsylvania is one of several states that allow credit unions to offer check-cashing services. According to Michael Wishnow, senior vice president of Communications and Marketing for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, check cashing is an extension of the CU philosophy of “people helping people” by providing the service at a lower cost and, in turn, allowing credit unions to education potential members and bring them into the financial mainstream. Although the service fee credit unions charge for check cashing varies by credit union, rates still are significantly lower than those charged by traditional payday lenders. In Pennsylvania, the fees can run up to 2.5% of the check amount for recurring government checks (such as those for Social Security), up to 3% for payroll checks, and up to 10% for nonrecurring government checks (such as a tax refund) and personal checks. “No credit unions are anywhere near that,” Wishnow said about the maximum check-cashing fees. In addition to A-K Valley FCU and Eagle One FCU, the other participating credit unions are Choice One FCU (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), New Visions Community FCU (Reading, Pa.), Reliance FCU (King of Prussia, Pa.) and TruMark Financial Credit Union (Trevose, Pa.)

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