You never know what the new day of a credit union operation will bring from one day to the next. Some time ago our Sparkman branch was blessed with a surprise visitor as a guest of one of our credit union members. Our branch staff and fellow members in the office were surprised to see a pet monkey coming through our front door of the branch with our member. The monkey (don't have the pet name) was very well behaved and seemed to enjoy visiting the office. Like many other members and children who visit our offices, the monkey did enjoy a complimentary sucker during its visit. Not sure if the sucker was banana flavored or not.
Our surprise visitor was a highlight of the day for the staff. It reinforces the idea that you truly never know what will come through the front door.
People often hear our name, North Alabama Educators Credit Union, and mistakenly think that they must be a teacher to use the services of the credit union. Not so! While the initial origins of the credit union began with teachers back in 1955, our field of membership has expanded over the years to include many different organizations and association groups. A full listing of membership eligibility methods is included at http://naecu.org/about/index.php .
All students of public or private schools located in the Alabama counties of Madison, Morgan, and Limestone are eligible to join North Alabama Educators Credit Union. That is a sizable group of eligible people that may or may not be aware that the credit union could be a benefit for them. For any parents out there who do not have accounts already established for their children, the credit union is a great place to get them started for a safe savings outlet. Better than that piggy bank on the dresser! North Alabama Educators Credit Union has a Kirby Kangaroo Club for younger children and a CU-Succeed Club for teens. Both offer micro-sites on our home page that help to educate and entertain our youth members. (Located in the bottom right corner of our home page at www.naecu.org.)
All members of Parent-Teacher organizations (PTA, PTO, PTSA) of schools located within the Alabama counties of Madison and Limestone, or within the City of Decatur, Alabama are eligible for membership in the credit union. North Alabama Educators Credit Union proudly supports these Parent-Teacher organizations and encourages parents and caregivers to participate in their local school organizations. Many of the Parent-Teacher organizations have a multitude of benefits associated with those who join their organizations, and credit union services through North Alabama Educators Credit Union is one of those benefits.
Additional sponsor groups and eligibility methods are listed on the linked page above. Again, don't be fooled by our name. Part of our "Educators" objective is to help our member-owners to improve their own financial bottom line, not ours. Improving financial literacy throughout the community, especially to teen students approaching college, is a lifestyle benefit that can pay great dividends into the future.
Protecting your identity is one of the most important
safeguards you can manage in this world of data exchanges. Your identity is
important to you but have you considered how valuable your identity might be to
a criminal? The total financial losses attributed to identity theft in 2013 were
$24.7 BILLION which was much higher than the identity theft losses of $13.2
BILLION in 2010. (SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice). Identity theft crimes
are clearly on the rise. What steps can you take to protect your good name and
North Alabama Educators Credit Union has partnered with
the Member Security Center (MSC) to provide a new service that we are excited
to offer to our members. The MSC is an affordably priced identity theft
solution that has many features for our members. MSC’s Cyber Watch monitoring
service scans thousands of websites, chat rooms, forums and networks and alerts
members if their non-public information is being traded on the Internet. This
proactive approach will allow members to act early and will help them to avoid
becoming a victim of identity theft in the first place. There are three
reasonable pricing plans of $1.95 monthly, $3.95 monthly, or $12.95 monthly.
These reasonably priced retail MSC identity theft
solutions are powered by the same identity theft wholesaler that supplies
identity theft retail products for the big national brand names out there. The
difference is you don’t pay twice as much for the same level of identity theft
protection and monitoring. This is more of a member service for the credit
union members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union, not a big profit maker.
I signed up for the $3.95 monthly service on the first
day and was amazed to see the number of sex offenders within a relatively small
radius. If a registered sex offender moves near our area I will receive an
alert stating as such. If a new credit account is opened I will receive a notification
on that. There are professional resources and money coverages for costs
associated with restoring your identity should that occur. Other valuable services are available depending on the product level selected.
Members are encouraged to take a look at this MSC
Identity Theft program. If you already have an identity theft product, compare
it with the various MSC programs available. If you do not have an identity
theft program protecting your good name now, we would strongly encourage you to
consider adopting some type of managed identity theft program. Unfortunately,
the world we live in now translates to more of a “when” scenario rather than an
“if” scenario in terms of becoming an identity theft victim.
The MSC Identity Theft website has plenty of useful
resources and information to help our members make an informed decision on possible
identity theft coverage.
The Internal Revenue Service does NOT send out any e-mail communications for payments, refunds, or filing corrections. Any such e-mail received should be considered as fraudulent. NEVER click on any links provided in a suspicious email. The Internal Revenue Service asks that all fraudulent or suspicious e-mails be forwarded to email@example.com.
This week has delivered news of yet another large national merchant who has had customer card data stolen from them. Home Depot follows a long line of merchants who have clearly demonstrated the inability to protect card data being utilized in their establishments. At this point, financial institutions have very little faith in merchants protecting the data that they process. Huge fraud costs are being absorbed by the financial institutions because of these merchant data breach incidents. Litigation to recover losses typically results in pennies on the dollar for actual costs realized from the fraud that occurs following the data thefts. To protect member assets the credit union will soon begin restricting daily VISA Debit Card activity to a maximum amount of $1,500.00 per day. Members will have an additional $500.00 per day available in cash from an ATM. These will be the default daily card limits on all VISA Debit Cards. In addition to these changes, a cap of no more than 5 transactions per hour will be in place. Again, these changes are necessary because the merchants have not shown the ability to protect card data being used in their businesses. As it stands now, card data is being stolen from the merchants and counterfeit cards are being produced and used to steal money from member accounts. If merchants were bearing the costs for these counterfeit transactions that would be a different story, but they are not. VISA liability rules have been protecting the merchants from responsibility over counterfeit card use. If members know that they will have purchases that will exceed the $1,500.00 daily amount they can call or visit one of our offices to request a higher temporary purchase limit for a specified period. We regret having to make these operational changes with regards to VISA Debit Cards. Consumers have grown very accustomed to using VISA Debit Cards like cash. Unfortunately the thieves have also grown fond of VISA Debit Cards. Since North Alabama Educators Credit Union is ultimately responsible for all unauthorized card activity, we had no choice but to take appropriate steps to reduce the card losses that affect the entire credit union membership. These changes are scheduled to be fully in place by November 1, 2014 following notifications and educational communications to our membership.
North Alabama Educators Credit Union is once again seeing counterfeit checks being produced and distributed that have the name of the credit union on the checks. These fake checks are being sent throughout the country by scammers in conjunction with fake secret shopper job offers. Potential victims are being mailed a check that appears to be drawn off of North Alabama Educators Credit Union as either an Official Check or Cashier's Check. Any counterfeited check will be sent back as "fictitious item". The credit union did not produce these checks or lose any check stock. These counterfeit checks are being produced by thieves using common check software available at many office supply stores. So far all of these counterfeit checks are being handled and presented in states outside of Alabama.
Many financial institutions across the country see their checks being counterfeited from time to time since checks are sent for legitimate reasons all over the country for valid transactions. Consumers are advised to treat unknown checks with caution, especially any checks received as part of a work from home offer. Checks received through the mail from strangers is always a huge red flag to stop and question the transaction being requested. Consumers are advised to contact the financial institution that the check is written on to verify the check item as being real and negotiable.
Anyone receiving an Official Check or Cashier's Check drawn on North Alabama Educators Credit Union can verify the item by calling our main office at 1-800-547-8172.
On a regular
basis we read and hear about people becoming financial victims of scams and
fraud. It was thus very rewarding to know that North Alabama Educators Credit
Union was instrumental in preventing an elderly member from being cheated out
of $10,000.00 from local con artists. The credit union staff did an excellent
job of identifying the red flags that something was amiss and then taking the
proper steps to prevent the member from losing her money.
attempt took place on July 17th of this year at our main office
location. An elderly member had come into the office to withdraw $10,000.00
cash from an account that she had here at the credit union. She was specific
about the need for cash and declined any recommendations for a check for that
amount. The staff asked questions about the purpose of the cash withdrawal
which was met with concerns by the staff since it was indicated that the funds
would be returning soon. There was also an unknown person with the member who
was waiting in the lobby for the transaction to be completed. These were
definite red flag warnings since it appeared as if some form of questionable investment
was possibly taking place. Per standard policy, the credit union employee
informed the member that a 15-minute wait was required for larger cash
withdrawals. It was during this 15-minute wait period that the unknown person
sitting in the lobby decided to leave the office and proceeded to walk down the
street. Most likely, the con artist was fearful that police had been called to
investigate the transaction.
private conversations with the elderly member did reveal that she did not know
the two people (one had stayed outside) she had brought to the credit union.
They had showed our member a “wad of money” and her cash transaction was going
to be a money exchange for a profit. Known as the Pigeon Drop Scam, the victim
loses their money rather than making money. Management was able to convince the
member to redeposit the cash and speak to the police about the people involved
in the fraud attempt.
encouraged to exercise great caution when dealing with strangers on any
investment offer that requires cash. Unfortunately, the elderly are often
targeted for these type of scams. Luckily this credit union example had a happy