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Visa CEO Wants Security Agency

WASHINGTON-Visa USA President and CEO John Coghlan proposed creating a private agency that would develop security standards for the credit card industry and certify that financial institutions and merchants have met the guidelines.

"We're exploring a plan to encourage all stakeholders in the payment chain to help create an objective, stand-alone entity to manage data security issues for the entire industry," said Coghlan, speaking to the credit card association's Data Security Conference, which brought together representatives from banks, credit unions, payment processors and congressional representatives.

The proposal comes as Congress is debating several measures aimed at tightening security standards in the face of growing incidents of online security breaches. Under Coghlan's idea, the industry-backed standard-setting agency would offer 'best practice' certification for merchants and financial institutions that followed accepted security guidelines. Under current rules, there is no single accepted standard for security between card issuers, payment processors and merchants, but a number of guidelines that have been agreed upon by the biggest players, like Visa, MasterCard and other card companies.

Man Threatens To Use Bombs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-A 64-year-old man was charged with using bomb threats to steal almost $50,000 during two recent credit union robberies. A former roommate and two used car salesmen were credited with helping nab Leonard McGraw, who allegedly threatened to use bombs to rob Fitters Local 58 FCU of more than $47,000 on July 22, then to steal more than $2,000 from the Pentagon FCU branch on Sept. 29. Two salesmen at Perkins Dodge called police last week after they recognized the suspect in surveillance photos as the man who tried to trade-in his Dodge pickup, believed used as the getaway car. The suspect told the salesmen his credit was poor so he was going to pay cash for two new vehicles. McGraw's former roommate later told the FBI he was sure McGraw was the robber. The devices the suspect left behind at the two credit unions are being tested to see whether they could have exploded.

Penn. Bill Expands Info Access

HARRISBURG, Penn.-A bill introduced in the state legislature would create more competition in the student loan market by requiring the state-run Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to make its information system available to credit union and bank lenders. The bill, which grew out of last year's unsuccessful attempt by Sallie Mae to buy the PHEAA for $1 billion, would also strip the state-run agency of its role as administrator of the state education grant program.

During a hearing, a university administrator and a Sallie Mae official testified that colleges are leery of choosing lenders other than PHEAA because of fears it could lead them to lose state grant money. The effort to open the information system of PHEAA would also make it easier for other lenders to compete for student loans, backers of the bill testified. The bill, however, would ensure that PHEAA continues to administer the state's student loan program. PHEAA has the largest market share of student loans in Pennsylvania and provides services to more than 170 credit unions.

GECU In Homebuyer Program

EL PASO, Texas- Government Employees Credit Union and five other lenders will offer special terms to first time homebuyers under a a new program unveiled by the city of El Paso.

The city approved $24.3 million in funding to help fund downpayments and closing costs for first-time homebuyers or applicants who have not owned a home in the last three years. The program, organized by the El Paso Housing Finance Corp., will refer homebuyers to the participating lenders, which also include Countrywide Home Loans, Patriot Mortgage, Rocky Mountain Mortgage, Tri-State Mortgage and Verde Mortgage.

To qualify, homebuyers must have a record of at least two years employment, good credit and adequate income.

These stories originally reported at (c) 2005 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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