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Advocates Threaten To Revive Referendum

WASHINGTON-Consumer advocates are threatening to revive the California referendum on a tough privacy initiative if Congress enacts federal preemptions of the new state law passed in its place last month. "If Congress preempts the new California privacy law," said Ed Mierzwinski, counsel for the U.S. Public Interest Group, "we have 600,000 signatures...in the deep-freeze that still could be filed." He was referring to signatures gathered on a petition initiative to enact an "opt-in" privacy law, which the state legislature agreed to pass, rather than leave it to the voters. The advocay groups agreed to put off filing their initiative if state lawmakers acted on their own. The new law will require financial institutions sharing private information with non-financial third-party telemarketers to obtain permission from consumers before using their information. But members of Congress are considering several federal preemptions of state consumer and credit laws as part of the reauthorization of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that could override the new California law.

Ruling OKs Issuance Of AmEx, Discover

NEW YORK-A federal appeals court last week upheld a lower court ruling finding Visa and MasterCard's exclusionary policies to be in violation of federal antitrust statutes, which will force the two card associations to allow member banks and credit unions to issue cards from rivals American Express and Discover. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, found that the policies hurt competition and restricts innovation by preventing banks and credit unions from issuing cards from their rivals. The court found that rules "have absolutely prevented Amex and Discover from selling their products at all." About 20,000 banks and credit unions issue cards through Visa and MasterCard. The exclusion rules put them in direct competition with American Express and Discover, which issue directly to individuals.

Ex-Minister Guilty In Robberies

OKLAHOMA CITY-A former minister at Bible Baptist Church, responsible for at least five robberies, was sentenced to 51 months in prison for the April hold-up at Oklahoma Educator's CU. Warren Brown, 41, formerly of Norman, who was arrested by FBI agents staking out the credit union, pleaded guilty to robbing the April robbery. Brown also confessed to robbing five other financial institutions, including the Oklahoma Educator's Midwest City branch in March. Brown was also ordered to pay $6,169 in restitution and forfeit $770 in cash.

Scammers Arrested At FWFCU

BEDFORD, Texas-Three men who followed an elderly couple to Forth Worth FCU Monday were arrested for trying to collect payment for a housecleaning scam the couple did not request. The suspects were charged with deceptive business practices for charging the couple, an 81-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife, for cleaning their garage and front of the house with a "special" cleaner that turned out to be bleach and water. The suspects, who started spraying the house without being asked, followed the couple to FWFCU where they were forced to withdraw $4,278 to pay for the purported housecleaning. The suspects were arrested after the couple notified an off-duty police officer who was working security inside the credit union.

NCUA OK's Stored Value Payroll

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-A federal CU may provide stored value payroll cards as a replacement for payroll checks to a sponsor that is a member of the CU, NCUA ruled last week, saying it may be considered within anFCU's incidental powers. Under a proposed arrangement, the CU places the value of an employee's pay on the card through a direct deposit, then the employee may activate the card over the Internet or by telephone and access their funds through ATMs or use them at merchant points-of-sale.

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