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'Free' Is Operative Word at CU

PLANO, Texas-More than 4,000 members of Community CU opened a "Beyond Free Checking" account during a two-month promotion.

The product offers unlimited free ATMs, free online bill pay, free check-protect service, free unlimited home banking, a VISA Check Card, and rate discounts on loans.

Members who opted for the new account were also entered into a drawing for an Australian vacation, a prize won by member Renika Oliphant.

Fannie Chief Favors New Oversight

WASHINGTON-The chief of secondary mortgage market giant Fannie Mae said he supports a proposal to move the regulator for Fannie and its sister mortgage company Freddie Mac from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and bring it under the Treasury Department.

"We believe that a strong, independent regulator is in everyone's best interests," said Franklin Raines, chief executive of Fannie Mae, after remarks to NAFCU's annual Congressional Caucus. But Raines criticized proposals by opponents of the two mortgage giants to give Congress expanded oversight over all new products and services offered by Fannie and Freddie.

Congress already has the powers to review new programs, but to allow them to review all new activities and new processes would "just gum up the works," Raines said. Legislation pending before Congress which was prompted by the accounting scandal at Freddie Mac would abolish the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight in HUD and create a new regulator to oversee Fannie and Freddie.

PSCU To Launch Debit Program

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-PSCU Financial Services said it will offer a debit card business program to its member CUs beginning Oct. 1.

The program, which will target sole proprietorships, will offer the Visa check card to business owners. Up to 12 company employees can have a Visa check card, which is linked to a checking account.

PSCU began thinking about the small-business debit card program before Visa's settlement with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers in the merchant class-action lawsuit.

The settlement cut the interchange for consumer debit cards, but interchange for business debit cards was unaffected. PSCU has more than 500 credit-union members.

VyStar Adds Volusia County to FOM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-State regulators have approved a request from VyStar CU to add a the 500,000 residents of Volusia County to its expanding field of membership.

The $3 billion credit union giant, known until this year as Jax Navy FCU, already serves more than three million residents in 12 Florida counties.

Separately, the state credit union supervisor also approved an application from Members First CU, Pensacola, to serve 650,000 residents in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties; and from Miami Postal Service CU to serve as many as 500,000 residents within a 15-mile radius of one of its branches.

Suspect Linked To 12 Robberies

WARWICK, R.I.-Police believe a man arrested in connection with the recent armed robbery at Pawtucket CU may be responsible for as many as 12 credit union and bank robberies in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Mark Geisser, 34, of West Greenwich, R.I., was captured and charged with 11 counts of second-degree robbery in Rhode Island.

Police tracked down Geisser after a witness to the Sept. 19 robbery at Pawtucket CU described a vehicle used in the getaway from the credit union, then arrested him at his place of work.

Aimbridge Takes On CUNA Mutual

DENVER-The Aimbridge Group, best known for its indirect lending programs, said it has entered the credit union market for credit-related insurance products, currently dominated by CUNA Mutual Group.

Aimbridge, until recently known as Bentley Group, said it has formed a strategic alliance with American General Assurance Co. to offer credit unions credit insurance, including credit life and credit disability policies.

The Aimbridge Group is currently offering credit products through credit union partners in Florida and plans to start doing so in the Dallas and Missuori markets.

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