IRVINE, Calif.-With many credit union members still struggling in a weak economy, credit unions are being urged in 2013 to tap technology that gets more people into cars while building loan portfolios.

Jim Giammarco, EVP of Lender Services for Spireon, Inc., said full-featured Collateral Management Systems designed for automotive lending makes it possible for credit unions to offer their "credit-challenged members" financin without the risk typically inherent in those types of loans.

According to Giammarco, a Collateral Management System includes the tools needed to help CU members build their credit while protecting the credit union's investment. He said Spireon's version, known as LoanPlus CMS, includes a specialized sending unit which can be installed onsite at a member's home, work or other location. The system allows the credit union to send a message when a payment is due or simply engage a "pleasant-sounding beep" lasting about 30 seconds when the car is started.

If the payment is missed, he explained, the member will hear a warning alert inside the vehicle, which will prompt them to contact the CU. If the credit union needs to recover the vehicle, a CMS sometimes includes the ability to pinpoint the vehicle's precise location and gives the CU the optional discretion to remotely disable the vehicle prior to recovery.

"Many of our clients were able to improve their collections by 25% or more in just one year after installing LoanPlus," he said. "And because the system is equipped with GPS, many members are able to obtain anti-theft insurance discounts because of our 24/7 theft recovery line."

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