The federal takeover of Chetco Federal Credit Union has been a scary and frustrating experience for its members, its employees and this newspaper.
It’s an experience that could have been made easier had the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) been more forthcoming with some basic information about what it is doing and why.
The lack of communication might be excusable had CFCU been a commercial bank, where customers are just that, customers. But this is a credit union – our credit union – and its members are shareholders, who have a vested interest in how it is run. As such they deserve to be given more information about what is happening. Simply issuing a press release and website link containing what amounts to canned publicity material doesn’t cut it.
We don’t expect NCUA officials to divulge every little detail – after all, the credit union is a financial institution with private information belonging to its 32,000-plus members. But some explaination about their action – was it because of the economy, a series of delinquent or defaulted loans, a combination of all these – would help assuring a concerned community.
Instead, the Pilot had to interview members of the dismissed CFCU board of directors and study pages and pages of financial reports filed by CFCU with the NCUA in recent years. We did our best to connect the dots and present in today’s issue what we believe is a basic, yet accurate portrayal of what led to CFCU being placed in conservatorship.
While the results are unsettling, they are not enough, in themselves, to doom CFCU.
Credit must be given to the thousands of CFCU members who didn’t panic and didn’t immediately withdraw their money. A few did, but that’s to be expected.
Right now, the Pilot is taking a wait-and-see approach, as are many residents, giving NCUA and CFCU a chance to regain member confidence.
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