The Pew Charitable Trusts places the highest premium on the accuracy of our research. If any element is found to be incorrect, we move expeditiously to address the issue, as we did when the Defense Credit Union Council alerted us to an inaccurate characterization of credit unions' transaction processing in our Oct. 28 report on the checking account practices of financial institutions on military bases.
We have since posted on our web site a revised report and news release, with an explanatory note and corrections specifically delineated. Pew regrets the error, which stated that three-quarters of defense credit unions reorder transactions from high to low, and we have expressed our appreciation to the council for bringing the issue to our attention.
The correct findings are that 26 of the credit unions we studied on military bases (or 24 percent) specifically disclosed in their account agreements that they do not reorder any transactions. Only 1 credit union (1 percent) said it reorders debit or point-of-sale transactions from high to low. The remaining 80 credit unions (75 percent) either did not disclose their practice, or their disclosures were unclear. Neither practice — nondisclosure or unclear disclosure — should imply the use of high-to-low reordering, though neither precludes it.
We are compelled to take issue, however, with other comments about Pew's work included in theCredit Union Journal's Nov. 9 story ("Military credit unions look to defend their honor after critical study"). After the council contacted us, we conducted a thorough re-examination of our entire report. We found all other elements to be accurate. Nowhere in our report does Pew refer to the practices of defense credit unions as "predatory," and we disagree with that characterization.
Overall, our report highlights both positive and negative practices at the financial institutions we examined. Some of these banks and credit unions provide transparency and protect their customers and members, but all of them could do more to protect military consumers.
Indeed, greater disclosure of credit unions practices could better inform consumers and clearly demonstrate the benefits of using these financial institutions.
Susan Weinstock is director, consumer banking project for The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington.