CUNA Suspects Banks Behind Two Solicitation Efforts

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CUNA last week was urging credit unions to be cautious about two solicitation efforts the trade group believes bankers are quietly behind.

In the first, credit unions around the country were receiving identical postcards from an address in Boca Raton, Fla., that indicates interest in opening a $5,000, five-year share certificate. CUNA said it believes as many as 1,200 of the postcards have been mailed to credit unions.

"Please send me the paper work necessary to accomplish this as well as a list of any documents you need from me," reads the postcard.

Calls by The Credit Union Journal to the phone number on the card were answered by an answering machine. Calls were not returned.

CUNA said it believes the postcards are part of an effort by a bank or a banking industry trade group to "gather evidence on 'loose membership practices' by credit unions."

In response, CUNA recommended credit unions take two steps: 1) Ascertain if the applicant is indeed within the field of membership of the credit union, and to be brief and concise in the response; and 2), To inform CUNA of the postcard if one is received.

At the same time last week, CUNA said that credit unions in Vermont and Michigan said they were receiving "many phone calls" and "out-of-state correspondence" related to membership application. The Vermont CU said its suspicions were raised when callers asked, "How would belonging to your credit union benefit me more than being with a bank?"; "How do I become eligible to join?," and "Why don't you have an open or community field of membership?"

The Michigan league said a credit union in that state received a large number of account applications mailed from out-of-state addresses. "The letter writers indicated they were self-employed and were eligible for membership by joining a charity that is a select employee group (SEG) of the credit union," the league reported.

It added that "one applicant told the credit union that he was an investment counselor who had been advised to open accounts at as many credit unions as possible in case the institutions go public."

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