Consumer News & Views
Published twice monthly
January 2014

This issue is sponsored by


and

In this Issue…

  • Consumer Expectations Grow for 2014 as Consumer Confidence Improves during December.
  • Endura Financial Federal Credit Union Supports Consumers in Minnesota.
  • American Consumer Council Completes Regional Office Expansion for 2013 with New Offices in Oregon and Massachusetts.
  • US Postal Service Federal Credit Union Delivers on Consumer Loans.
  • ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award Recognizes Consumer-Friendly Companies.
  • Apply for the 2013 Green CSM Certification Program.

Consumer Expectations for 2014 Improve as Consumer Confidence Increases. Consumers are more hopeful for an improved economic climate according to the American Consumer Council. A recent poll by ACC was supported by The Conference Board, which reports that its Consumer Confidence Index® rebounded in December to 78.1 (1985=100), up from 72.0 in November.

According to ACC’s December 8-12 poll of 1,542 members, consumers expressed a greater confidence in their economic growth in 2014 – up 6 percent from last year -- and improved job prospects for 2014 – up 7 percent from last year. However, the poll suggests that consumers are “not expecting a significant increase in their personal income for 2014” with only 24% stating that they will “earn more money in the new year.” Some 42% indicated their income will remain the same.

“It’s been an up-and-down year for consumers,” said Thomas Hinton, President of the 143,000 member American Consumer Council. He added, “On the one hand, the economic climate has improved slightly and consumers are more confident as we enter a new year. But, the key for economic success in 2014 will continue to be job growth and income growth for the average consumer. That remains questionable for 2014.”


Since its inception in 1934, the U S Postal Service Federal Credit Union has been serving its members in and around the Washington, D.C. area with exceptional financial products.
Currently led by William H Yarborough, the U S Postal Service FCU has grown its membership to over 23,000 with assets of more than $205,000,000. They have 60 employees with a main office in Clinton, Maryland and 7 branch offices located around the greater Washington, D.C. area as well as Mission Hills, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; and, Pittsburgh, PA.

The U S Postal Service offers its members a full service website that allows for true "Banking From Home" functionality. Users have the ability to apply for loans, get account balance and history reports, transfer money between accounts, make bill payments, and so much more. Members can also take advantage of a full array of loans including real estate, business and new and used car loans. There are also many types of mortgages and credit cards available.

Members of the American Consumer Council may be eligible to join. Please see the credit union’s website at www.uspsfcu.org or contact them by phone at 301-856-5000, or email them at uspsfcu@uspsfcu.org to get exact membership details.

The U.S. Postal Service FCU’s vision is Service Excellence. They achieve their shared vision by believing and practicing the following shared core values:

  • Respect
  • Positive Attitude
  • Team Spirit
  • Honesty
  • Consistency
  • Education
  • Personal Achievement
  • Communication
  • Safety & Security


The American Consumer Council is proud to have the
United States Postal Service Federal Credit Union
as a Sponsoring Member


ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award Recognizes Outstanding Businesses in 2014.

Is your business consumer-friendly? Does your business deserve greater recognition for its service to consumers? If so, you should apply for the American Consumer Council’s Friend of the Consumer Award.

Throughout the year, ACC presents its "Friend of the Consumer" Awards. This prestigious award recognizes manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses that produce or sell products in the United States that meet or exceed federally-mandated standards and are touted by consumers as “consumer friendly.”

Each year, ACC awards numerous "Friend of the Consumer" Awards to deserving companies and organizations because they have "demonstrated a commitment to American consumers by providing a specific product or service that fosters consumer confidence and market acceptance."

To apply for the "Friend of the Consumer" award, complete the online application and return it to ACC with the application fee. Applicants will be notified within 5 days of receipt of their application. Thereafter, a panel of independent judges will review your application and make a formal recommendation within 25 days of receipt of your award application.
For more information, visit: http://www.americanconsumercouncil.org/awards.html


Welcome to Endura Financial Federal Credit Union… a great partner… a rich history!

Endura Financial Federal Credit Union is a federally chartered credit union, headquartered in Minneapolis with assets over $300 Million and more than 30,000 members. Members of the American Consumer Council may be eligible to join Endura!

Endura Financial Federal Credit Union: Exclusive Benefits Since 1929

Endura Financial Federal Credit Union was originally chartered by a small group of Honeywell employees in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today – over 75 years later – we continue to serve our members with a range of products and services. Our purpose is strong: "To improve the financial health and simplify the lives of our members.” Take a look at how EFFCU has brought this to life over the years.

In 1954, after 25 years in operation, the Credit Union had grown to 4,745 members and nearly $800,000 in assets. In 1957, members were introduced to payroll deduction as a new option for loan installment payments. In January of 1965, the Credit Union went through its first name and identity change to become Honeywell Employees Credit Union.

In 1973, the Credit Union became completely automated. A payroll deduction savings plan was introduced to the membership in 1975. As of 1977, the Credit Union boasted just over 10,000 members. In 1978-1979, retirees were added into the Credit Union's field of membership and the Credit Union grew to $20 million in assets. In the 1980s, home equity loans and checking accounts were added to the Credit Union's list of available services.

In 1990, the Credit Union added the Brooklyn Center branch office. In 1992, to reflect changes occurring with the sponsor organization, the name changed from Honeywell Employees Credit Union to Honeywell/Alliant Techsystems Federal Credit Union. At that time, the credit union also went from state-chartered to federally-chartered credit union, regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the United States Federal Government. In the late 1990s two additional offices were opened at the Honeywell Golden Valley office and the Honeywell Ridgway office. In 1999, the name was changed to Honeywell Federal Credit Union.

On January 1, 2007, Honeywell Federal Credit Union became Endura Financial Federal Credit Union. During the summer of 2008 EFFCU moved the corporate office to its current location at 820 North Lilac Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55422. We also introduced our premier checking product, eLife Checking.

2009: During one of the most difficult economic years in recent history, Endura stays strong and steady, continuing to provide quality products and reliability to our members.

2010: Endura Financial Federal Credit Union re-launches the www.EnduraFinancial.com website introducing new online tools like a team-created blog (and other social networking tools) to stay in time – and touch – with a growing and evolving member base.

Today, with assets over $300 million, EFFCU is one of the largest credit unions in Minnesota. Our family of members includes various select employee groups, their immediate family members and retirees and people in several communities in Twin Cities and in Kansas City. We currently serve over 30,000 members and offer a full range of financial products and services at affordable rates.

Need a Consumer-friendly credit union? Look at what’s happening at Endura Financial...

Rates are low. Rent is high.
With the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage at a record low of 3.68%1, borrowing has never been so irresistible. That, combined with the expense of renting in a tight rental market (the Census reports vacancies are at their lowest since 2002), is driving consumer demand.

Home prices are rising—finally.
Consumer demand is sparking home prices to do something that seemed a distant memory: rise. Nationally, the NAR reported an 8% climb in the median existing-home price between June 2011 and June 2012. For perspective, that’s the biggest jump since February 2006. And Minnesota with a 10.1% increase for the same period.

This is encouraging news for sellers, but...

Sellers are hoping for more.
Underwater, shipwrecked—or sunk—by dropping home values, news of rising prices are a welcome sign for homeowners. However, encouraged by this upswing in prices, underwater homeowners seem to be waiting a little longer to put their home on the market, hoping for even higher prices.

The NAR reports that the number of available homes nationally is 25% lower than in June 2011. The MAR had similar findings, reporting that new listings were down 16.4% for the same period and the Minneapolis Association of Realtors June Report shows that there were 31.2% less homes to choose from in the Twin Cities.

That sounds like good news—and it kind of is. After all, fewer homes makes for higher demand, higher prices and bidding wars. Yet, it also means fewer sales. Still, while sellers sit out, builders are getting off the couch because...

Buyers are building.
Eager to cash in on unbelievably low rates—and unable to find pre-existing homes—buyers are going back to the drafting board and building. In fact, the Commerce Department reported that June 2012 housing starts touched their highest point in four years, with builder confidence at a 10-year high.

Learn about mortgage options from Endura Financial.

Auto sales at full throttle!

If your rising odometer is causing some new-car dreams, you’re in good company. 2012 auto sales are zooming in the U.S.! Automotive News reported a 14% sales gain through July, and J.D. Power and Associates reported that July 2012 left July 2011 in the dust with a 20% rise. In fact, experts are cautiously optimistic that 2012’s new car sales will exceed 2011 by about 13%.

So, what’s driving these increased numbers? Current marketplace trends show the following.

Old cars, new sales.
Simply, consumers are holding onto their current vehicles longer. The result: Used vehicles are holding a higher price tag because fewer are available, causing many buyers to go new.

Get back on the road with an auto loan from Endura Financial!
Buy new or used, or refinance your current auto loan.

Endura Financial now offers VISA® credit card transaction alerts.

This service allows EFFCU VISA® Platinum cardholders to receive email alerts regarding activity on your VISA® credit card accounts; allowing you to actively manage your money and monitor for potential fraud. VISA® credit card holders will receive email alerts within seconds after specific transactions have taken place.

The email alerts will contain the Credit Union name, last four digits of your card number, and where applicable, merchant and amount details.

Cardholders can enroll in VISA® credit card transaction alerts through the online payment link, choose Online Services – Visa Transaction Alerts.

Note: Currently, this service is only available for credit cards and does not offer text transaction alerts.


American Consumer Council Adds 2 New Regional Offices in Oregon and Massachusetts. The American Consumer Council (ACC) has added two new regional offices in Springfield, Massachusetts and Beaverton, Oregon to bring its 2013 regional office expansion total to 9 new offices including: Hartford, CT; Silver Spring, MD; Lexington, Kentucky; Atlanta, Georgia; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Tampa, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and, Columbia, South Carolina.

ACC continues to operate its three national service centers in Newark, NJ; El Segundo, CA; and the Washington, D.C. area. ACC is headquartered in San Diego, California..

Over the past year, ACC has created nine new regional offices at the following locations to better serve the needs of its growing membership and support its network of 44 state consumer councils. The American Consumer Council’s Washington, D.C., Newark, NJ and California offices have been in place for several years:

  • The Pacific Northwest Consumer Council office will also serve as ACC’s Northwest Regional office located at 11240 SW Allen Blvd., Suite 200, Beaverton, OR 97005.
  • The Massachusetts Consumer Council office will also support ACC’s New England Regional Office located at 1441 Main Street, Suite 1040, in Springfield, MA
  • The Arkansas Consumer Council office will also serve as ACC’s Southern Regional office located at 10515 W. Markham Street, West Little Rock, AR 72205.
  • The Louisiana Consumer Council office will also host ACC’s South Central Regional office located at 3900 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1200, Metairie, Louisiana, 70002.
  • The Texas Consumer Council office will also serve as ACC’s Southwest Regional office located at 9901 Interstate Highway 10 West, Suite 800, San Antonio, TX 78230.
  • The Kentucky Consumer Council office will serve as ACC’s Appalachian Regional office located in The Paragon Centre at 2333 Alexandria Drive, Lexington, KY 40504.
  • The Florida Consumer Council’s new office in Tampa will also serve as ACC’s Southeastern Regional office located at 8270 Woodland Center Blvd., Tampa, FL 33614.
  • The Carolina Consumer Council, which serves both North Carolina and South Carolina, will also host ACC’s Coastal Regional office located at 1320 Main Street, Suite 300, Columbia, SC 29201.
  • The Georgia Consumer Council will continue to serve the Greater Atlanta Region with offices located at 4555 Mansell Road, Suite 300, Alpharetta, GA, 30022.
  • The Maryland Consumer Council office will continue to serve as ACC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional office located at Metro Plaza II, 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 1100, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
  • The California Consumer Council will continue to support ACC’s Southern California Region at 400 Continental Avenue, Suite 600, El Segundo, CA 90245.

Green CSM Certification Accepting Applications for 2014 Spring Cycle:

If your company or organization would like to increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the Green CSM Certification. Applications for the 2014 Spring cycle are now being accepted through March 31, 2014.

It's a proven fact that consumers want to do business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.

All applicants complete the criteria and submit their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and feedback. Program details and the Green CSM Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: http://americanconsumercouncil.org/greenc.asp