Georgia Story Archive

How a Georgia credit union is combating loan fraud
December 11, 2023 — Andrew Woodman is enlisting more advanced technology to protect Georgia United Credit Union from the growing threat of consumer loan fraud, which he says has changed the nature of lending. “I’ve been doing this long enough to remember when we used to actually have our team members pick up the phone and do [income] verifications ourselves verbally, and as soon as those procedures and technology transitioned, the expenses to use the services that are out there began to significantly rise as well,” said Woodman, who has spent seven years at the $2 billion-asset credit union and became senior vice president of mortgage lending and loan trading in March.

Georgia United, based in Duluth, formed a partnership early in the year with the fintech Argyle, which offers a platform to verify the incomes of loan applicants. Credit union leaders hope the service will ease the strain on underwriting staff and streamline document-gathering — all while ensuring borrowers are who they say they are and make as much money as they claim.

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LSCU and SECUF Deliver Power and Supplies to Idalia-Ravaged Communities

Sept. 8, 2023 — The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU) and the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation (SECUF) put its resources and teams to good use in the past week since Hurricane Idalia crashed through Florida’s Big Bend Region and South Georgia. More than 2,000 credit union branches and offices were impacted by the massive storm’s effects last week, though thankfully, the vast majority escaped mostly unscathed. For those hit hardest by Idalia, LSCU and SECUF have begun delivering direct assistance to help them recover and rebuild. Read more

In Georgia, LGE Community to Acquire Bank; This Deal is 2nd Acquisition This Week

The $2-billion LGE Community Credit Union said it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Greater Community Bank, which has branches in Bartow, Floyd, and Gordon counties in Georgia. The $321-million bank is located 66 miles south of Atlanta in Rome, Ga. The deal is LGE Community’s second bank acquisition in the last five years. The deal also marks the second purchase of a bank by a credit union this week, with Grand Blanc, Mich.-based Dort Financial CU earlier announcing it is acquiring West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Flagler Bank. Read More

Three Credit Unions in Three States Seeking Merger into One
Three credit unions in three different states have announced plans to merge with each other.

Courtesy of

MUNA Federal Credit Union
MUNA FCU was established in 1962 as a Navy military CU and operates one branch, serving more than 6,000 members. MUNA FCU reported $286,558 in net income for the first half of the year, with capital of 10.47%.

Pinnacle Credit Union
PCU was established in 1926 and serves more than 6,000 members via two branch locations. Pinnacle reported $2.040 million in net income over the first six months of the year, with capital of 9.01%.

RVA Financial Credit Union
RVA Financial was established in 1950 and serves more than 9,000 members with two branch locations. It reported $179,123 in net income in the first half of 2022, with capital at 9.27%.

Aug. 30, 2022 — The $95-million Pinnacle Credit Union in Atlantathe $51-million MUNA FCU in Meridian, Miss., and the $80-million RVA Financial Credit Union in Richmond, Va. said they are seeking to combine pending regulatory approval and membership votes.

According to the three credit unions, if approved each would maintain its individual brand for a “short time” as they work to determine a unified brand. The organization’s combined assets would be approximately $216 million and the CU would more than 23,000 members with five branches across Virginia, Mississippi, and Georgia.

All three credit unions are running the same core system, which they noted will make merging easier. NCUA call report data show all three credit unions are profitable.

Proposed Management

The merger proposal calls for Bo Pittman, current president/CEO of MUNA FCU, to become CEO and regional president of the proposed organization; Matt Selke, current resident/CEO of Pinnacle, to become CFO and regional president, and Rick Preble, current president/CEO of RVA Financial, to become COO and regional president.

“This merger represents a mutually advantageous partnership between three member-focused credit unions committed to providing exceptional service while offering competitive products and access to their members and the communities they serve,” the credit unions said in a statement. “In a global financial sector that is changing, these organizations are committed to a collaborative pooling of resources and talent coupled with a mission to serve members, employees, and communities better.

“All three credit unions are in agreement that in today’s highly regulated, high-tech environment, it is becoming more difficult for smaller credit unions to compete in everything from technology to recruiting,” the statement continued. “This is what makes the idea of smaller credit unions working together collaboratively to pool resources and do things together for the good of their members a strategy some credit unions are choosing to pursue. The idea of pooling resources is the very foundation credit unions were built on. The credit union industry remains steadfast in its mantra of people helping people and mergers are just one way to do this.”

Additional Services

The credit unions said that once merged they will also be able to offer members a 24/7 contact center, home equity loans, business lending, and ITMs, services not all three of these organizations are currently offering.

“Another benefit of this merger is the fact that RVA Financial is community development financial institution (CDFI) certified and once combined the three credit unions will remain committed to serving low-income communities and providing financial services to people who lack access to financial products, services, and lending,” the credit unions said.

The merger requires approval by members of MUNA FCU and Pinnacle Credit Union. If approved, the credit unions said they plan to complete the merger in early 2023.

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Tennessee CU Expands FOM into North Georgia

The expansion into the Blue Ridge Mountains area taps into more than 250,000 potential new members.
Courtesy of Michael Ogden, Credit Union Times

August 8, 2022  — The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) announced Monday it received NCUA approval to expand its field of membership into four counties in the mountainous area of northern Georgia.

TVFCU ($2.4 billion in assets, 171,718 members) stated its 17-county membership will now include the Georgia counties of Chattooga, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield. The inclusion of these counties potentially grows its field of membership by 266,493, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We are both humbled and delighted as we extend TVFCU’s services to new communities across North Georgia,” Todd Fortner, president/CEO of TVFCU, said. “As always, we remain dedicated to supporting our members’ financial health and enhancing their lives through outstanding products and services, friendly and efficient service and an active presence within local organizations and community events.”

According to a statement from TVFCU, with the NCUA’s expansion approval, qualifying individuals who live, work, worship, attend school or volunteer in the areas are eligible for all of TVFCU’s products and services.

Credit union officials stated that its online and mobile banking features allow it to fully serve these new areas “before any branches are built in their communities.”

TVFCU did not indicate when new branches might be built in the new field of membership expansion area.

“Our team is eager to meet new people, visit new places and continually build relationships in Whitfield, Murray, Gordon and Chattooga counties,” Fortner said. “As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, our continuous goals are to boost the financial health and success of our members, provide outstanding member service and become a community-wide asset everywhere we operate.”

Florida and Georgia Credit Union Members Receive Millions in Benefits During 2021

Georgia Members Receive $287 Million in Benefits
April 2022 – Georgia credit unions continue to prove they provide more financial benefits to members than other financial institutions, according to data from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA). CUNA estimates that Georgia credit unions provided $287.4 million in direct benefits to 2.2 million members during the one-year period between September 2020 and September 2021.

The Georgia Membership Benefits Report shows credit unions generally offer lower loan rates, higher savings rates, and fewer fees than other financial institutions. During that same one-year period from September 2020 to September 2021, Georgia credit unions saved their members a total of $130 per member or $274 per member household compared to what banks offer their customers. This is because credit unions return excess profits to their members, who are shareholders of the organization.

According to the benefits report, financing a $25,000 new car for 60 months at a Georgia credit union will save members an average of $314 per year in interest compared to what they would pay at a banking institution. Overall, Georgia members received a benefit of $206 million for all types of auto loans during the 2020-2021 annual period.

Georgia credit unions also pay members higher average dividends on savings, share draft checking, money markets, certificates, IRAs, and more. The average savings account interest rate for a credit union earns 0.14%, while a bank only earns 0.04% for members. Georgians are earning $41.2 million total in benefits from higher interest rates on savings products at credit unions.

NCUA Returns Control of GA and NY Credit Unions to Members

March 1, 2022 – The National Credit Union Administration today announced that Southern Pine Credit Union of Valdosta, Georgia, will once again be under the control and direction of its members, effective March 17, 2022.

Southern Pine Credit Union is a federally insured, state-chartered credit union with 1,594 members and assets of $42,842,199, according to the credit union’s most recent Call Report. Southern Pine Credit Union serves current and retired employees of Packaging Corporation of America, Valdosta, Georgia, and their immediate family members.

NCUA placed Southern Pine Credit Union into conservatorship in June 2020. The credit union is the second federally insured credit union to emerge from NCUA conservatorship in 2022.

Municipal Credit Union, located in New York City, is once again under the control of its members after release from conservatorship, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced. DFS took possession of Municipal Credit Union in May 2019 and appointed the NCUA as conservator to ensure the credit union’s financial stability and safe-and-sound operation. Member services continued uninterrupted.

“Municipal Credit Union’s emergence from conservatorship is a significant victory for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who rely on the institution for their financial needs,” said DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris. “This successful collaboration of state and federal regulators puts the credit union back under New York State supervision, and we look forward to its continued operation in a safe and sound manner.”

According to its most recent Call Report, Municipal Credit Union is a federally insured, state-chartered credit union with 586,597 members and assets of more than $4 billion. Municipal Credit Union serves persons working for the city of New York, along with other approved groups and associations.

In Georgia, Robins Financial Credit Union Eliminates NSF fees, Continues No-fee Overdraft Protection Transfer Service

We have exciting news to share: We are eliminating NSF fees!

May 2022 – Beginning May 1st, we will no longer charge Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees for all members. Going forward, if a member has insufficient funds, they will no longer be charged an NSF fee for the returned item.

We will also continue to offer no-fee Overdraft Protection Transfer service. Members with a checking account can sign up for overdraft protection by linking their checking account to a savings account or even a Visa® credit card. If sufficient funds are not available in the checking account when a qualifying transaction is processed, funds are then transferred from the linked account at no cost to the member.

Additionally, members who previously used the NSF e-Alert have been converted to the low balance alert. This new alert will let you know when your account balance drops below $10, rather than alerting you when your account is already negative. For more information or to update this alert, please see our Digital Banking Guide.

Eliminating NSF fees is part of our ongoing commitment to offering low- or no-fee services. This also reflects our commitment to living out our mission to be Member Focused, Financial Partners, and Community Proud.

Robins Financial CU Latest to Cross $4 Billion Threshold

At least four other credit unions reach $4 billion in assets so far this year.

Courtesy of  Michael Ogden, Credit Union Times

April 2022 – Big things are happening for a credit union in a small town in central Georgia. Robins Financial Credit Union, located in Warner Robins, Ga., became the latest credit union to reach $4 billion in assets this year.

In a statement released by the credit union Wednesday, the asset milestone was reached as of March 31.

“Reaching the $4 billion milestone is a testament to our mission to be Member Focused, Financial Partners, Community Proud,” Christina O’Brien, president/CEO of Robins Financial, said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering that we were able to grow our assets by $1 billion in just under two years. This growth is a direct result of our phenomenal staff and everything they do to support our credit union, and our members and their continued trust in us as their financial partner.”

Over its 68-year history, Robins Financial has grown its membership to nearly 250,000 members as it has served 45 counties in the Peach State. In 2016 the credit union converted to a state charter, which potentially helped accelerate its growth rate.

Earlier in April, the Philadelphia-based American Heritage Credit Union surpassed the $4 billion asset threshold after doubling its asset size in slightly more than four years.

According to an analysis by CU Times, assets grew 2.3% among all credit unions from Oct. 31, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022. If that growth rate held for Dec. 31 to March 31, three other credit unions easily surpassed $4 billion by March 31: Truestone Financial Credit Union of Plymouth, Minn. ($3.98 billion in assets, 198,711 members), Jovia Financial Federal Credit Union of Westbury, N.Y. ($3.96 billion in assets, 206,572 members) and University Federal Credit Union of Austin, Texas ($3.95 billion in assets, 346,455 members).

Last year, 36 credit unions surpassed $1 billion in assets, 13 surpassed $4 billion and four surpassed $10 billion.


Georgia’s Own Credit Union on Track to be the First Credit Union to Purchase a Bank in 2022

Named a Top Workplace of 2022, Atlanta-based Georgia’s Own Credit Union said Monday it will send to regulators a proposal to buy Smyrna, Georgia-based Vinings Bank in the first move by a credit union in 2022 to acquire a bank.

As the third-largest credit union in Georgia, the credit union stated it will “submit to regulatory agencies a proposal to acquire the $653 million-asset bank after the two organizations agreed upon financial terms, which were not disclosed.”

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to partner with Vinings Bank,” David Preter, the president and CEO of Georgia’s Own, said in the press release. “We are committed to making this venture a positive one for everyone involved. Through this alliance, we feel confident that we can deliver added value and exceptional products and services to our members and the community.”

In 2021, credit unions proposed 13 bank acquisitions, a number Michael Bell, co-leader of the financial institutions practice group at Honigman, stated he anticipates will double in 2022. “I expect 25-plus to announce. … My prediction is based on the work and deal flow I am seeing,” he commented to American Banker in January. “I have never seen so much activity.”

Read more in American Banker here


Georgia United Foundation Announces 2022 High School Competition

December 9, 2021 / DULUTH, GA — Georgia United Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of their 28th annual High School Competition which will award a total of $30,000 in scholarships to six student members.

The foundation’s unique scholarship program encourages college bound students to showcase their creativity through a one-minute video submission explaining how they will use their education to help the community. Additional consideration is given to academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities.

Last year, the foundation added two additional scholarships in memory of board members Monsignor Stephen Churchwell and Randall Dennis, who passed away while actively serving on the Georgia United Board of Directors. A total of six scholarships will be awarded to deserving students who plan to attend college or a technical school during the 2022-2023 school year


Cherokee County Born & Raised President & CEO Named Top 10 in 10

Author: Lizeth George; Southeastern CU News

WOODSTOCK – June 10, 2021 – Credit Union of Georgia is honored to announce the recognition of their President & Chief Executive Officer, Brian Albrecht as one of Cherokee County’s Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch. The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine coordinated this recognition program to focus on Cherokee County residents under the age of 40 who are considered to be the county’s up and coming leaders over the next 10 years. At the age of 35 and after dedicating 10 years to Credit Union of Georgia, Albrecht was named President/CEO of the $320MM Credit Union in 2018. Since his time at the helm of Credit Union of Georgia, it has grown to over $500MM in assets in less than three years.

“We were extremely pleased with the number and caliber of candidates for this year’s recognition. As we have grown accustomed to since this program’s inception in 2012, far more than 10 nominations were received and likewise, there were far more applications than honoree slots. Each application was carefully reviewed by a panel of judges that found the task of only choosing ten honorees challenging,” shared Chamber Board Chair Adam Smith, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banker with Synovus


Georgia Credit Unions Continuously Provide Financial Aid for Members During COVID-19

February 22, 2021 — DULUTH, GA. — Credit unions in Georgia have continued to work tirelessly to help members through the financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Georgia Credit Union Association (GCUA) – the division of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU) representing Georgia credit unions – has surveyed credit unions in the state three times since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results quantify the ways in which the state’s credit unions have helped consumers through this uncertain time. With 17% of credit unions responding, GCUA’s surveys yielded impressive findings.

“This was a trying year for everybody – but credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia worked hard throughout this unprecedented time to help their members afford their everyday lives,” said Patrick La Pine, CEO of LSCU. “At the League, we are so proud of the efforts of our member credit unions. I’m proud to be able to spread the word about the good work they’ve done during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.” The GCUA’s COVID-19 Member Engagement Surveys found the following:

  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 25 mortgage loan forbearance and extensions for a total of $2 million.
  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 59 commercial/business loan forbearance/extensions for a total of $10 million.
  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 676 consumer loan payment extensions for a total of $5 million.
  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 61 SBA Payroll Protection Loans that are SBA approved/guaranteed for a total of $2.8.8 million.
  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 4 low-rate emergency loans for a total of $10,000.
  • Credit unions in Georgia have granted at least 4,645 in fee waivers for a total of $6,626.

These numbers are evolving throughout this crisis. GCUA will continue detailing the numerous ways credit unions across Georgia are helping members afford life during COVID-19.

Georgia prize-linked savings legislation passes

April 17, 2019 — After an extensive advocacy campaign by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), the state legislature passed a bill that would permit credit unions and other financial institutions to offer savings accounts that include a “sweepstakes” component as an option to help encourage savings among members.

To keep the bill moving forward, GCUA testified in hearings, lobbied legislators and held multiple private meetings with key leaders. The bill was amended in the House to strengthen the bill and make it explicitly clear that it was not “gambling,” and work was put forth to fight back against unwanted pro-gambling amendments.

The measure now awaits the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp ( R).

Analysis Shows How Georgia Consumers Benefit From Credit Unions
Feb. 3, 2017 — Members of Georgia’s credit unions received a direct financial benefit of $87 per member and $165 per household for the 12 months ended September 2016 vs. having had the same relationships with banks, according to the Georgia Membership Benefits Report compiled by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. (CUToday.infoREAD

Georgia Credit Union Members Enjoyed $130 Million in Direct Benefits Last Year
May 5, 2015 – Atlanta, Ga. – Georgia credit union members reaped direct financial benefits of $129.9 million in 2014, according to the semi-annual Member Benefits Index (MBI) released by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates Compiles List of Top 25 Georgia Credit Unions
March 27, 2015 – The Peach State’s 136 credit unions posted strong final quarter numbers, with an overall loan growth of 11.1 percent in 2014.

Georgia Department of Banking and Finance Adopts Final Rules

December 8, 2014 – Atlanta, Ga. – On Dec. 5, 2014, one month after a synopsis of proposed Rules was distributed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance (DBF) on Nov. 3, 2014, DBF adopted the Final Rules. Pursuant to OC.G.A. § 50-13-6, the effective date of the Rules will be Dec. 26, 2014, 20 days after the filing of the Rules with the Secretary of State.

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