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Report, Critical Of Most, Has Praise For CUs

CHICAGO-A report by The Woodstock Institute suggests the credit card industry employs deceptive practices to make more money off of credit card consumers but pointed out that credit unions have fewer fees, lower fees, lower default rates and clearer terms and conditions than other card issuers.

"Blindfolded Into Debt: A Comparison of Credit Card Costs and Conditions at Banks and Credit Unions" documents "the highly confusing terms and conditions now used in the credit card industry" and how this contributes to the rising levels of consumer debt. "While banks advertise 0% annual percentage rates for balances transferred to their card, only the fine print reveals that they charge a balance transfer fee, usually a percent of the amount transferred, for the service," The Woodstock Institute said. "Banks are twice as likely to charge fees on balance transfers and cash advances than credit unions."

Utah CUs Slowly Re-Entering Old FOMs

SALT LAKE CITY-Two Utah credit unions that were kicked out of surrounding counties by last year's federal court ruling are slowly moving back into the areas barred by the court decision. NCUA said last week it has approved requests from Goldenwest FCU, in Ogden, to serve 280,000 residents in low-income communities in Salt Lake and Davis counties; and from America First FCU, also in Ogden, to serve 90,000 residents in low-income communities in Weber and Davis counties. The two credit unions were initially approved to serve all of those counties as part of a controversial six-county community field of membership when they converted to federal charter in 2003 to flee the state's effort to tax state-chartered credit unions. But a federal court struck down the six-county FOM in a December 2004 ruling as too broad.

That left Goldenwest FCU to continue serving multiple groups, and America First CU to serve just Salt Lake County, but temporarily barring them from the other counties in the original field of membership. .

Arrest Made In Shooting

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-A teenager was arrested and charged with the June 11 shooting of a Purdue Employees FCU member after the member withdrew cash from the ATM in the credit union's parking lot.

The member, identified as Brian Clawson, 24, was in fair condition at Methodist Hospital three weeks after he was shot in the back and robbed of the $50 he had just withdrawn. A telephone tip led police to the arrest of 19-year-old Mathew Poisel, of Logansport, who was charged with attempted murder, armed robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury

2 Charged As Masterminds

TEMPE, Ariz.-Two California men were found guilty last month of engineering two armed robberies at local credit unions in 2002 that netted almost $300,000.

The two men, Jonathan Hunter and Derrick McCreary, masterminded the two heists from their Los Angeles base by scouting out the credit unions, then recruiting Los Angeles gang members to serve as the gunmen, without participating in the robberies themselves, according to prosecutors. The two were found guilty of planning a January 2002 hold-up at Tempe Schools FCU when $182,293 was stolen, as well as a robbery a month later at Safeway FCU when $106,470 was taken.

McCreary traveled to Tempe to sketch out the credit union floor plans and Hunter enlisted the gang members, then they drove them across the desert the night before the robberies. In the hours before the hold-ups the two would steal a getaway car. The two criminal masterminds used text messages transmitted over cell phones to communicate their plans, some of which were used as evidence to convict them.

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