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NORFOLK, Va. — Credit unions came together last week to share their successes in serving the unique needs of the military during NCUA’s Economic Empowerment Summit held Oct. 3. NCUA Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives Director Tawana James explained that 17% of the military are actively engaged with predatory lenders, but she highlighted two credit unions chipping away at the market share. She explained that the military was a prime target for payday lenders because most are under 25 and financially inexperienced, lack a savings cushion in hard times, and are paid regularly with little likelihood of quitting or being downsized. “They didn’t need the DoD report to tell them that,” James said, referring to the recent Department of Defense report on predatory lenders taking advantage of military personnel, in introducing the two executives from the credit unions.

“The unique challenge Marine Federal Credit Union faces in 2006,” Marine Federal Credit Union EVP Chuck Collins stated, “is how you deal with the deployment of about 40,000 members.” The institution learned from a focus group of some expected issues concerning deployment, but they were also a bit surprised to learn that personnel ended up with too much cash on hand because of deployment pay and that having paper checks on hand can be helpful overseas when debit cards do not work properly.

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