Maybe credit unions are more fun than banks

source: London Permaculture via Flickr (cc)

This post is about credit unions, and it seems to be turning into a rant.  Rather than read it, I suggest you go here to see some entertaining short videos that the credit union folks have put together.  My experience has been a bit different.

Occupy Wall Street are good folks, I’m sure. I even tried to display their banner on this blog, but for some reason the plugin doesn’t work here. Anyhow, they suggest I get away from the big banksters and open an account at a credit union.

I actually take advantage of the big banksters in a couple of ways, but that’s not for this post. Most of my banking is at a bank which is less big, folks there are nice, I would be inclined to stay. But when they hit me for an unjustified (tho legal) $30 charge, it was time to switch.

Now, you can’t just walk into any old credit union. You have to have a connection of some sort. You live or work in a certain neighborhood, work for a certain employer, be a member of a certain organization. So I found a credit union that welcomed persons living or working in any of eleven counties, one additional municipality, or working for some specific employers or even working in particular buildings. And their relatives. And members of certain organizations including the Rockford Lithuanian Club.  They claim almost 25,000 members and nearly $300 million in assets. Not big for a bank, but should be big enough to do the job. Add a couple of good reviews (no bad ones) on Yelp, and I am ready to make the switch.

You can’t quite open an account on-line (maybe if you’re a lobbyist or terrorist you could, but I couldn’t), so I went to their site, filled out some forms, signed and mailed.

Interesting fact: They ask you to sign a proxy, meaning that their existing Directors can re-elect themselves or choose their successors, you will have nothing to say about it.  You aren’t required to sign this, but certainly they facilitate it.

About three weeks after I mailed the form I had heard nothing, so I contacted them. A very nice lady called back, “Sure, you have an account, we just must have not got around to telling you about it. Let me send you our welcome package, some checks, etc.”

Six days later, here comes the welcome package. Postage due, $1.61. Oh well. It tells how to access my account on line. Of course there’s no money in it yet. Next day, here come the checks and deposit slips, so I send in a deposit. Now, it’s a couple days later, I want to try my on-line account to see whether there’s money in it.
Oops. “Wrong Pin.” Seems the pin they sent me does not work. Or maybe the site does not work. I dunno. So the next day I phoned the very nice lady, who is becoming a bit less nice, but somehow got the account working.

And here it gets interesting again, something I’ve never seen before.  You log on with your account number and a pin, then you get to a second screen where you enter your password.  So far, normal.  But this screen includes an on-screen keyboard.  You must use it to enter your password.  You cannot enter it directly, and you cannot paste it from LastPass.  And it is not case-sensitive.  Thus, it frustrates keyloggers but encourages short simple passwords. I wonder how easily it could be hacked?

Well, I shall ask the nice lady about this, since I need to ask her to interpret the contradictory terms on their various fee and feature schedules. And by the way, the link supposed to lead to their annual report is broken.

So much for getting this switch done in time for the new year.

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One Response to “Maybe credit unions are more fun than banks”

  1. Where I live, credit unions are open to the public. They seem to be as good as any big bank as far as service, have better rates, have less requirements, and everything is free. You can also use the branch office and atm of other credit unions in the credit union network. You just won’t have full services at the branch office of other credit unions.

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