Credit Unions are different from banks, NAFCU tells Congress

The feud between credit unions and banks continues in the USA

With banks in the USA enjoying another quarter of record profits, the credit union sector has warned that large banks might be “funding anti-consumer efforts”.

In a letter to the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Dan Berger, chief executive of the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), urged it to look into reports that the American Bankers Association (ABA) was the owner of an anti-credit union website.

According to credit union magazine CU Times, register.com, one of the sites that lists website ownership, identified the American Bankers Association as the owner of explorecreditunion.com. The website had initially been registered using a proxy that did not reveal its ownership.

CU Times contacted ABA about its ownership of the website, which was later taken down. The website was a strong campaigner against credit unions benefiting from tax exemptions.

Related: US credit union movement hits back at attacks on tax exemption

“While the bankers continue to have the gall to attack the credit union tax exemption, they conveniently forget to mention how independent analysis has shown that the fines and settlements for wrongdoing by their members have actually amounted to billions and billions of dollars of tax relief over the years for the nation’s largest banks,” said Mr Berger.

Credit unions have been under attack from banks in recent months. In June, ABA sent a letter to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), asking the regulator to assess whether credit unions still meet their original mission of servicing people of “small means”. It also claimed that credit union acquisitions of banks showed a changed mission for the sector.

But Mr Berger says credit unions are different from banks and should continue to receive tax exemptions. In his letter to the subcommittee, he pointed out that credit unions have 10 times as many female CEOs than banks, increased lending to small businesses during the financial crisis when banks chose to pull back, and enjoy higher customer satisfaction scores than banks.

“We hope that the banker groups will change their approach and will instead focus their resources on issues that can help the entire financial services community, such as consumer protection, regulatory relief and creating a national data security standard for those who do not currently have one, including retailers and others who handle consumer financial data,” added Mr Berger.

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