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During the past week, credit unions have been closing lobbies across the country, directing members online or to drive-through lanes.

In some cases, lobbies are closed except by appointment.

CU Times surveyed 255 credit unions with 4,884 branches from New York to Washington in the days between March 17-24.

Across the nation, CU Times found 3,082 branches reported either closed or significantly curtailed, while 1,802 branches were open, some with limitations on the number of people entering at one time. So far, data has been collected on 22.1% of credit union branches in the nation.

The surveyed branches represent about 22% of the 22,015 credit union branches and other offices of the nation's 5,300 federally insured credit unions in the NCUA database as of Dec. 31.

On March 23, Lake Michigan Credit Union of Grand Rapids, Mich. ($6.9 billion in assets, 376,150 members) announced on its website that it had temporarily closed its lobbies, redirecting members to drive-through lanes. If members have special circumstances, they can call to arrange an appointment in a lobby.

In its note to members, Lake Michigan CU said its measures are designed to provide support to all members.

"COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is affecting every area of our lives, and at LMCU, we know your finances are no exception. We recognize that we can't afford to operate like it's business as usual because there is nothing usual about our present circumstances," it said.

Directions Credit Union of Toledo, Ohio ($891.6 million in assets, 105,185 members) closed its branches to drive-through-only service on March 19. It has 25 offices/branches in Ohio and two in Michigan.

"The risk of the spread of infection between members standing in line waiting for service or between employees and members being served will grow assuming COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our communities," the credit union said in an online note. "Making this change to limit lobby traffic will greatly lessen that risk, and also complies with government guidance to limit groups of 10 or more persons."

Several other credit unions made branch business adjustments in the past seven to 10 days to begin closing or limiting all branches to drive-through only. Those effective on March 23 included:

  • Founders Federal Credit Union, Lancaster, S.C. ($2.7 billion in assets, 224,954 members) with 31 offices in South Carolina and one just over the state line in Charlotte, N.C.
  • BayPort Credit Union, Newport News, Va. ($40.6 million in assets, 4,809 members) with 25 offices in Virginia. It was formerly Newport News Shipbuilding Employees Credit Union.
  • Mountain America Federal Credit Union, Salt Lake City ($9.3 billion in assets, 879,651 members) with 98 offices in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
  • Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, San Antonio ($9.7 billion in assets, 869,934 members) with 63 offices in Texas.
  • Rogue Credit Union, Medford, Ore. ($1.7 billion in assets, 144,167 members), with 20 offices in Oregon.
  • Northwest Community Credit Union, Eugene, Ore. ($1.2 billion in assets, 108,914 members) with 17 offices in Oregon.

Some credit unions had relatively low levels of lobby use before the coronavirus pandemic. They include Alliant Credit Union of Chicago ($12.2 billion in assets, 493,675 members), which has only nine branches in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin in addition to its headquarters and call center in Illinois.

Alliant began as a credit union for United Airline employees. It uses a digital model to serve has members in all 50 states, with its biggest concentrations in California, Illinois and Colorado.

"As a national digital direct provider, nearly all of our members do all of their business with us remotely, so for the most part it's business as usual from a member service standpoint," Alliant President/CEO David Mooney said Friday.

"Except for a handful of employees who need to handle incoming mail, all of Alliant's employees are working remotely from home, including all contact center staff."


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Jim DuPlessis

A journalist for decades.