RALEIGH, N.C.-Giving back to members by helping them avoid NSF fees, State Employees' Credit Union instituted four new programs that have saved members more than $4.5 million.

The savings are through the first three quarters of 2010, and go hand-in-hand with SECU's no-cost Overdraft Protection Program, which is used by more than 80% of its 800,000-plus checking account holders.

"This is people helping people and doing the right thing," said Leigh Brady, SVP-education services, who noted the $21-billion CU's NSF revenue is down 20% this year over 2009.

SECU's new programs:

* NSF Fee Free Days. SECU waives any $12 NSF fees on two separate days (the member chooses) during the year in which items marked as NSF are returned, regardless of the number of items. SECU will return the items to the payee but waives NSF fees.

* Two-Way Text Messaging and Alerts. The options allow members to receive information through an active mobile device or via an online messaging alert system. Both systems notify members of potential red flags on their checking accounts, such as low balances or debited checking account items.

* Cash Points Global (CPG). CPG is a controlled spending account with electronic-only access through a CPG card. SECU designed the account to help members manage their spending and provide benefits in terms of cost, convenience, safety, and accessibility (Credit Union Journal, April 7). There are no checks and no paper statements, and all transactions are limited to the available funds in the account. The card comes with a $1 monthly fee.

* "End of Day" Business Cutoff and "Another Chance" Program. SECU migrated to a 5:30 p.m. business cutoff in its branches and online systems, preparing for its new "Another Chance" program launched this summer. Another Chance alerts members when a check is attempting to post to their checking account and sufficient funds are not in place to cover the item, letting members know if they make a branch deposit by 5:30 p.m. NSF fees will be avoided.

Brady shared that members signed up for 80,000 various alerts through its Alerts program and over 7,000 members have registered for Two-Way Test Messaging.

More than 10,000 CPG accounts have been opened. And Another Chance is sending over 1,500 messages per month to members.

"We are very pleased with the early results of these initiatives to help curb member overdrafts," Brady said. "Since word-of-mouth advertising has traditionally been the most effective way the credit union advertises, we expect these services to grow. We're helping members put their money where it belongs-in their pockets."

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