With consumer confidence wavering in the aftermath of the second-largest failure of a U.S. financial institution, credit unions and their leagues are rushing to reassure credit union members about the safety and soundness of credit unions.
     Initially, the California league had no formal communications strategy following the bank’s failure, but as credit unions across the country and especially in California began fielding member calls, it assembled a response, providing members of the press with data demonstrating the safety and soundness of credit unions, playing up the fact that taxpayer dollars have never been used to bail out a credit union in the history of the movement.
     â€œWe have also provided credit unions with talking points and other tools for use in educating and reassuring their staff and members, and have encouraged them to post links on their credit union websites to League and NCUA websites to provide additional information,” CCUL CEO Bill Cheney said.
     The CU Association of Oregon was among the first to release a statement in response to the IndyMac failure. Titled “Is My Money Safe at a Credit Union?” the CUAO noted credit unions traditionally operate more conservatively. “The landscape amidst the credit unions in Oregon is much different than the national situation,” CUAO CEO Troy Stang said. ”We want consumers to know that credit union accounts are federally insured...”
     Other leagues and some individual CUs issued similar statements:
     * Wisconsin CU League: “Overall, Wisconsin credit unions, like most Wisconsin financial institutions traditionally, are quite conservative when it comes to their operations, so they aren’t experiencing the recoil that’s been reported in the press,” said CEO Brett Thompson.
     * Louisiana CU League: Hosted a seminar on share insurance just one day before regulators took over IndyMac that included a “tour” of the NCUA Share Insurance Estimator, an online educational resource about share insurance that gives estimates and detailed explanations of insurance coverage.
     * Georgia CU League: “Like many Americans, Georgians are feeling the pinch of the economy now more than ever... With the recent downfall of IndyMac Bancorp Inc., the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae…turning to a financial institution for assistance now might not seem like the right thing to do, but for the 1.7 million Georgians who belong to a credit union, now is the perfect time to ask for help.”
     * CU Association of New York: “In the wake of IndyMac’s closing, the Credit Union Association of New York wanted to assure credit union members and consumers across the state that credit unions remain a safe harbor for consumer savings and borrowing, and that credit unions as a whole are healthy and well capitalized financial institutions with strong balance sheets.”
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