Tuesday, December 30, 2008

$1,500 Scholarship available for Student-Members

A $1,500 Scholarship is available from North Alabama Educators Credit Union. Applicants for the scholarship must be members of the credit union. Keep in mind though that all students in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties are eligible for membership in North Alabama Educators Credit Union. If students have not established an account somewhere yet, now would be a great time to do so.

The scholarship application is available on our web site or can be obtained at any office location. Here is a direct link to the News & Tips page that has the application and information available for printing; http://www.naecu.org/newsandtips.html

The deadline for submitting all scholarship applications is April 1, 2009. They can be postmarked by that date as well. Good luck to all applicants!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Donations to CASA

The Credit Union has donated 100 space heaters to the local CASA (Care Assurance System for the Aging and homebound) organization. WAFF-48 TV ran a story in November about CASA's needs for space heaters to assist the elderly and homebound citizens in our community. The Board of Directors for North Alabama Educators Credit Union had already been discussing community assistance when the WAFF-48 story aired, so the timing was perfect for our participation. The Director of the local CASA group, Ann Anderson, was contacted about their needs following the news story. Space heaters and food vouchers were the two priority needs of CASA at that time.

Melissa Gray with the North Parkway Lowe's store was very helpful in comparing the various space heaters available. Melissa provided a greatly reduced price to North Alabama Educators Credit Union for the cost of the space heaters, which allowed for additional heaters to be purchased. Lowes should be commended for their assistance in this project.

In addition to the 100 space heaters, North Alabama Educators Credit Union will be donating 50 $25.00 gift cards from Kroger to CASA.

The Credit Union has experienced a good year financially and we were pleased to assist the community with these CASA donations. Credit unions were initially created on the concept of people helping people and these donations reinforce that philosophy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Latest Debit/Credit Card Scam Alert


With the holiday season approaching, shoppers increasingly use their credit and debit cards to make purchases at the mall, on the Internet, or over the telephone. When plastic card use increases this time of year, so do the scams.

A new twist on phishing aims to obtain the three-digit security code printed on the back of VISA and MasterCard credit and debit cards. The phishers are trying to get enough information to perform fraudulent card-not-present transactions (Internet, telephone, and mail-order purchases).

Under this scam, a telephone call is placed to a legitimate cardholder. The caller claims to be a representative from VISA or MasterCard informing the cardholder of suspicious card activity. The caller provides details of an unusual transaction and asks if the cardholder made this purchase, which, of course, the cardholder did not. The cardholder is then asked to verify possession of the card. To do so, the cardholder is asked to read the three-digit security code on the back of the card. The fraudster then provides a control number in the event the cardholder needs to call back with questions, making the call seem legitimate.

The caller does not ask for the credit or debit card number, and that is why some members are fooled into believing the call is legitimate. But the fraudster already has the card number; what they don’t have is the three-digit security code from the back of the card, and that is what they are after with this scam.

The three-digit code on the back of the Visa or MasterCard card is a security tool used for non face-to-face transactions. When conducting transactions that are not face-to-face, many merchants will ask the shopper for the three-digit code to complete a card authorization. If the criminal obtains this three-digit number and already has your member’s card number, card expiration date, and billing address, the criminal may be able to obtain authorization for fraudulent transactions. It is critical to educate your members on all plastic-card security measures, including the use and purpose of the three-digit code on the back of the card. They should never give that code to anyone who may contact them by telephone, Internet, or mail. This security tool is used when a card-not-present transaction is performed, and during the transaction the merchant may ask for the code to complete the authorization process.

Each new scam presents an opportunity to educate your membership: Never respond to any e-mail, telephone call, voice message, text message, or letter received through the mail that requests personal and financial information, including the three-digit number on the back of the card.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Savings Options to Consider

In an effort to promote better savings by the membership of North Alabama Educators Credit Union, there are two savings options available that currently pay higher rates. Our Christmas Club Account and 9-Month Certificate of Deposit offer attractive rates. The Christmas Club Account offers a Prospective Rate of 1.50% Annual Percentage Yield, considerably higher than the basic savings account rate. December might not be the easiest month to start a Christmas Club saving account but why not plan on doing so in January? Setting aside money each pay period for a Christmas Club account is a great way to prepare yourself financially for the following Christmas.

Our 9-Month Certificate of Deposit currently offers a rate of 3.45% Annual Percentage Yield when compounded. This rate is higher than the 1-Year Certificate and matches the same rate offered on the 27-Month Certificate. A Mini-Jumbo rate bump of 0.15 is also available on individual certificate balances of $50,000 or more.

For a current listing of Savings/CD Rates available, click the link, http://www.naecu.org/rates/savingsrates.html .

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fake Checks due to Internet Sale Listings

One of our members has received no less than three counterfeit checks from three different sources in connection with a rental property that was listed on a popular Internet listing site. The fake checks were delivered by overnight priority mail and looked like any other legitimate cashier's or bank check. In each case, the check delivered was for considerably more than the cost of the property rental. The "buyer" and sender of the checks wanted money wired back to them to cover additional costs associated with the rental property. No checks were ever negotiated as the member correctly questioned the check items and contacted the financial institutions listed on the checks. All items were verified as counterfeit checks.

Please be extremely cautious when transacting business with unknown parties delivering checks for goods or services over the Internet. Scammers from all over the world visit these online listing sites and attempt to fool people into sending them money from fake checks delivered in conjunction with the listings.

Checks can be counterfeited fairly easily these days. Know who you are dealing with when depositing negotiable check items into an account. Once that item is deposited, the member is legally responsible for the full amount of the check if that check is returned unpaid.

Here is a good web site with information on counterfeit checks: http://www.fakechecks.org/ .

Monday, November 17, 2008

Check Cashing Scheme

A non-member was recently arrested in our main office lobby for attempting to cash a stolen check from one of our credit union members. A thief had stolen the member's checks and was writing checks to people all over town. The thief was convincing people to cash the checks at their own institutions in exchange for being paid $30 or so for their "assistance".

Our member had already reported the checks stolen which is why we contacted the police when one of the stolen checks was presented at the teller window. Possession of a stolen negotiable item is a crime, which is why the non-member at the credit union was arrested.

Please know who you receive checks from. The holder of a check is responsible for that check if it is cashed or deposited. If that check turns out to be a stolen check, you could face criminal prosecution for the stolen item. If the check turns out to be an insufficient check, you would be losing your money. Neither scenario is an acceptable risk for negotiating the check of a stranger.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Audio Response Unit Changes

Our MemberLink 24-Hour Audio Response Unit was recently replaced. This replacement was required since the previous unit was no longer supported for maintenance or repairs by the system vendor. If the old unit had malfunctioned or crashed, members would have been without the audio response service for weeks if not months while a new unit was configured.

Menu items have changed somewhat with the new audio response unit. Please listen carefully to all menu options as a result. The POUND key " # " is not used as often as the old unit's menu. If the POUND key " # " is entered when it is not requested by the menu, the general menu will be provided.

To bypass the initial message explaining the unit change, simply input the STAR key " * " to receive the general menu options. This can be entered at any time during an audio response call to return to the general menu options.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Financial Responsibility for All

Corporations, governments, and individuals have received a loud wake-up call this year concerning debt and its effect on financial stability. The past history of excessive borrowing to meet present needs and obligations is simply a recipe for trouble. Unfortunately, our U.S. Government is not a very good educator on wise financial management as our total U.S. Government debt stands at nearly $10.5 Trillion and growing at over $3 Billion per day! State and local governments around the country are also experiencing debt problems.

It is time to live within our means. It is time to separate needs from wants. This certainly is true from an individual standpoint as well. Excessive credit card debt and high debt ratios are a direct reflection of living beyond the current financial abilities. Admittedly, living expenses have increased on food, fuel, and energy items. These rising living expenses have contributed to the rising debt levels on consumers.

Think wisely before adding new debt. Perhaps the emphasis should be on how to payoff or reduce the existing debt. If you have credit card debt, consider a Consolidation Loan from the Credit Union to lower your interest rate charges paid each month. If you have a vehicle financed somewhere else and are paying over 6-7% on that loan, consider refinancing with the Credit Union for a lower rate. There is nothing negative or derogatory about refinances. Saving money is a wise decision. All of our loan rates are posted on our web site. A Loan Calculator is also available on the web site to calculate how much you could save each month with a new loan from the Credit Union. If you save $25 per month on a monthly payment, that $25 can then be used to offset fuel or food costs.

Hopefully the country as a whole will realize the adverse effects of excessive debt and make the appropriate spending changes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

U.S. Personal Savings

The latest U.S. government study on savings as a percentage of disposable income reflects a dismal savings rate of roughly 3%. For every $100 earned in disposable income, $3 is being saved for the future. Let's face it, that's not very good. At least the rate of savings is improving as it was hovering around only 1% for the past few years. This low rate of savings among consumers has contributed to higher levels of consumer debt.

In comparison, Japan and Germany enjoy at least a 10% savings rate as a percentage of their disposable income. This 10% rate of savings should be a goal for all of us.

Saving for a rainy day has never been more important than it is now. From a worldwide economy perspective, we have that rainy day upon us now. Payroll deduction or direct deposit is a great way to set aside money each paycheck for a savings plan. The Credit Union has various club accounts available that can be used as a "rainy day fund", "vacation fund", or whatever future financial need there is. Christmas Club accounts are also popular on an annual basis. The key is having a savings plan and sticking to it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Credit Union Day - October 17th

North Alabama Educators Credit Union is celebrating Credit Union Day this Friday, October 17th. International Credit Union Day is actually on Thursday, October 16th but we wanted to celebrate on Friday since more members will be in our offices. There will be complimentary refreshments, drawings for prizes, and other giveaway items for members of the credit union. Each of our offices will be celebrating Credit Union Day on Friday.

Our main office will also have a free Shred-It Day on Friday, October 17th. The available times for the free shred service will be between the hours of 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Document Destruction Services will be on hand in the main office parking lot to handle your shred materials. Please limit the items to paper records only. This would be a good time to safely destroy any old personal records.

Credit Union Day is also a time to express our appreciation for the members of the credit union. We are a financial cooperative owned by the member-owners using the services of the credit union. We thank our members for choosing North Alabama Educators Credit Union.

I will be in the main office lobby from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Friday to meet and greet members. Come by any office this Friday and celebrate Credit Union Day!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Federal Insurance increased to $250,000

Much has happened over the past week in the financial markets and congress. It was bad timing for a family vacation over this past week! The stock market has lost over 18% of its value this week and today's market activity is dismal as well.

One positive news for credit union members was the increase in federal share insurance to at least $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency. This increase insurance coverage is effective immediately. Visit http://www.ncua.gov/ for the upgraded insurance calculator for share accounts. The financials of North Alabama Educators Credit Union are also available for your review on the NCUA site. Any members with questions or comments are encouraged to contact our main office at 256-534-2423 to speak with me personally. (I will be back in the office on Tuesday, October 14th).

North Alabama Educators Credit Union remains a safe and sound haven for your deposits. The additional federal insurance coverage enhances your safety net even further. These are tough economic times right now. Your credit union has positioned itself to protect your assets during times such as these. Our conservative lending and investment approach in the past has led us to this place of security during this economic downturn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Credit Crunch?

There have been a few members asking if the Credit Union has money available for loan requests. The answer is YES! These type of inquiries are no doubt due to the media attention on "tight credit markets" in financial institutions. We are not part of the "tight credit market" crowd because our money for lending comes from our membership in the form of deposits. Remember that we are a financial cooperative. We don't borrow money from other institutions to lend money to members.

We continue to provide low cost loans to our members. In fact, our loan balance growth is greater than 11% from last year at this time. Our loan delinquency remains extremely low.

Please do not confuse the availability of internal 1st mortgage money with a "credit crunch". For safety and soundness reasons, the Credit Union's ratio of long term real estate loans to total assets is limited to a 20% cap. When this 20% cap is reached we then offer mortgage loans through our mortgage partner, CU Members Mortgage.

North Alabama Educators Credit Union is open for business. We are actually seeing an increase in deposits as current and new members seek the safety that credit unions provide. Members and potential members are encouraged to view our available loan and share rates which are always posted on our web site under the "RATES" tab.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Federally Insured by NCUA

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency, insures deposits of North Alabama Educators Credit Union up to at least $100,000 per account holder. Higher insured amounts are also available for joint accounts. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) are insured separately up to $250,000 per account holder.

The NCUA has good information on their site about share insurance. Here is a direct link to the Share Insurance Toolkit page of the NCUA: http://webapps.ncua.gov/ins/ .

Friday, September 19, 2008


CNN, Forbes on CUs: 'Grab them while you can'
ATLANTA (9/19/08)--"If there's a calm in the economic storm, it may be credit unions, whose investors are sleeping through the night," reported Susan Lisovicz of CNN Thursday during an interview with Neil Weinberg, senior editor of Forbes Magazine.
"We've had mergers and bailouts and a lot of us are nervous. Tell us why we should take a second look or in some instances a first look at credit unions," asked Lisovicz, amid banner headlines that said, "Credit unions weather rough seas."
Weinberg's answer focused on two reasons why "credit unions are a safe harbor":
Credit unions are operated as a "stable and profitable business, taking deposits from you and me through our savings and checking accounts, and lending out money for car loans, which earns a spread that is profitable."
Most credit union accounts are federally insured by the government up to $100,000.
"They tend to be conservatively managed and federally insured, which in this day and age is what you want," advised Weinberg.
He explained that through lobbying in Washington, credit unions have "managed to open the doors of membership quite a bit" and in many cases a person related to someone in an affinity group can join a credit union.
"You want to jump on board," Weinberg advised.
When asked what is it about credit unions that doesn't lead to the same kind of forecast for other commercial institutions, Weinberg said credit unions haven't got into the same trouble as commercial banks that specialized in mortgages and made risky home loans.
"Typically, credit unions have federal charters and federal inspectors, with strict, tougher rules. Because they began as agricultural cooperatives, they are run conservatively. You want to go for those credit unions."
"I got the message," said the Lisovicz. "You want to go for a credit union. Grab them while you can."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No decline in value at North Alabama Educators Credit Union!

The national financial news has not been very good lately. Failed investment firms and declining values among traditional banking organizations has generated concern among consumers nationwide about the safety of their money. North Alabama Educators Credit Union has not seen a decline in stock value because we don't have stockholders. We don't issue stock and we are not part of the New York Stock Exchange. Our owners are our members who deposit their hard earned money into their accounts at the credit union. Our primary investment objective is safety over yield to protect the assets of the credit union's members. This is the reason why the credit union has not engaged in sub-prime lending, commercial lending, exotic adjustable rate loans, speculative land investments, or any other number of asset investments that have created the problems being realized by these other institutions. Our net worth has increased throughout the year and is expected to continue increasing as we move forward.

Credit unions largely began their popularity after the Great Depression because consumers were eager to deal with institutions that were more concerned with the consumer's best interest than those of the institution. Credit unions are financial cooperatives that are owned and directed by the very people using the credit union. It is this unique structure of credit unions that translates into a very safe haven for member deposits.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Correct information on Member Accounts

The Credit Union is required by federal law to have a correct "physical" address on all members of the credit union. Members can have a PO Box for their mailing address but a correct "physical" address on record is also required for the Credit Union. Please keep your contact information up to date with the Credit Union. Correct home and cell phone telephone numbers are also helpful in contacting members quickly if fraud or other suspicious account activity is present. Please note that changing your address with the Post Office is not sufficient as we cannot accept a forwarding address from the Post Office due to concerns of account takeovers utilizing a change of address from the Post Office. If you are moving to a new address, please provide the new address and any new contact information directly to the Credit Union.

If you are in one of our offices for a transaction, you may be asked to verify if contact information is correct on your account. This contact information is not used for telemarketing or any other purpose other than what has been stated above.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New ATM at Main Office

The new ATM at the Main Office is scheduled for installation this week. This new ATM will be installed through the wall of the building in the first drive thru lane, near the rear of the building. A canopy will be installed and the curb will be cut back 6" to allow for easier access to the machine. The curb cut will take place this weekend. (09-13). Please keep this in mind since access to the ATM would be not available while the curb is being cut. This is expected to take approximately 5-6 hours on Saturday.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused by the downtime on the ATM. We do anticipate faster response times on the ATM and less future downtime due to mechanical problems.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Extended Drive Thru Hours

Drive Thru hours on Fridays are available from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The main office, Sparkman Drive branch, and the Athens branch each have these extended hours for your convenience. The new Madison office when opened will have these extended drive thru hours as well. (The Madison office will also be open on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Check back here or on the main credit union website for information on an opening date for the Madison office.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Scams in Alabama

The criminals never seem to rest when it comes to creating different scams. The latest scam that has impacted another credit union in South Alabama is a "Vishing" attack. An automated telephone call was placed to thousands of consumers stating that the consumer's credit or debit card had expired. The consumer was then asked to call a long distance telephone number to reactivate the card by providing the card number, PIN, and current expiration date. The credit union's name was included in the automated call and also on the toll free number.

Credit unions do not contact you by phone, email, or regular mail and ask you for your personal information. If you are ever contacted by a source claiming to be from North Alabama Educators Credit Union and they ask for personal information, please do not provide this information. Remember - Do not trust Caller ID as a verification since Caller ID can be spoofed by scammers. Contact the credit union at one of our published telephone numbers to let us know about the potential scam.

I predict that telephone and mail scams will become more common in the future. Most consumers are more aware of the email scams now so they are less effective to the criminals.

Friday, August 15, 2008

ATM at Main Office

Our ATM at the main office on Whitesburg Drive is currently down due to continued service problems and downtime. A new ATM will be installed soon and will be placed in the first drive thru lane through the wall of the credit union. This will provide better security for credit union staff members and greatly reduce the impact of varying weather conditions on the ATM itself. In the meantime, members are encouraged to utilize any Redstone Federal Credit Union ATM as withdrawals there are free of charge for members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union. They do not charge a surcharge fee for withdrawals to members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union. We do not charge an internal fee for ATM withdrawals from an ATM not owned by NAECU. Please note though that there is a $0.50 fee for balance inquiries or balance tranfers at an ATM not owned by NAECU. To avoid this type of fee, members are encouraged to use our 24-Hour Audio Response MemberLink or home banking services, both of which are free services.

Paperwork has been signed and delivered for joining the CO-OP ATM Network that will provide even more surcharge free ATM's nationwide. Hopefully we can provide a live date soon for this expanded ATM network.

The new ATM should be in place within the next few weeks. An update will be posted here when the new ATM is back online.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Funny Story to Share

A 5-year old kindergarten student was preparing for his first day at the "big school". The teacher had earlier suggested that the new kindergarten students buy their lunch for the first few days of school so that they were familiar with the process of buying lunch. As the mother was preparing the children for school, the 5-year old kindergarten student brought his piggy bank from his room and asked nervously "do I have enough money for lunch?". He thought that he had to use his own money for his lunch and would need to bring his piggy bank to school. Needless to say, the mother reassured him that he didn't have to use his piggy bank money for lunch.

I know this story well - the 5-year old kindergarten student is my own son!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Members needing help with credit union loans

Please contact a Loan Officer or our Collections Department if you see that maintaining your existing loan obligation with North Alabama Educators Credit Union is becoming difficult. The credit union can help with alternative payment plans and internal loan consolidations to make loan repayments more affordable. We would rather work out a plan to repay an obligation than to repossess an automobile or file a lawsuit to collect an debt obligation. The key though is to communicate your financial situation as soon as possible if you see that you are unable to meet your financial obligations. Please do not feel ashamed or embarrassed by contacting us for help. That is what we are supposed to do - help our members with their financial needs.

While North Alabama Educators Credit Union has not been involved with any of the sub-prime mortgage loans or non-traditional adjustable rate loans, we certainly know that some of our members could have participated in these type of loan programs from other lenders.

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Tennessee River Valley is a recommended resource for member assistance in the areas of budget planning, money management skills, confidential credit counseling, and voluntary debt management plans. Their local office is located at 1015 Airport Road, Suite 205, Huntsville Alabama 35802. Their telephone number is 256-881-1000. There is no cost to consumers for the available services.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Madison office on the way!

I am pleased to report that a lease agreement has been completed for a branch location in Madison, Alabama. The office will be located in Irwin Square which is located just south of the intersection of Highway 72 and Nance Road. Our branch office will be located on the end cap of the retail complex and will offer drive thru service. This office will have Saturday hours as well.

Interior build out designs are being reviewed at this time and anticipated completion of the construction would be 90-120 days after approval of the final interior work. The outer shell of the retail complex is already built.

This is exciting news for our Madison members and potential members who live and work in the Madison area. This Madison branch is long overdue and we look forward to opening this office and becoming an integral part of the Madison community. Additional information and updates will be provided as the project progresses forward.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Safety of Credit Unions

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) issued a very good press release recently that addresses the overall status of credit unions in these troubled economic times. My earlier blog post discussing our own credit union investments echoes some of the same points in the CUNA press release. The vast majority of credit unions, North Alabama Educators Credit Union included, avoided risky subprime loans and exotic adjustable rate loans because they were not in the best interest of our member-owners who we desire to serve long term.

To review the CUNA press release, CLICK HERE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Decreasing values on Trucks and SUV's

I was fortunate to enjoy a short vacation on the Gulf Coast last week. It was an enjoyable trip with the family. One glaring side effect of vacation travel these days is the high fuel expense of making that drive down the road. We spent roughly $140 just on fuel costs alone during the trip. These high fuel prices are creating a significant decrease in the value of trucks, SUV's, and other vehicles that typically achieve lower fuel mileage. If you own one of these vehicles and have the vehicle financed, chances are you owe more on the loan balance that what the vehicle is worth. Automobile dealers are having a difficult time selling trucks and larger SUV's so the market prices on these vehicles have dropped as a result. This can create a "negative equity" situation that makes trading in your vehicle more difficult if the amount of the "negative equity" is too large. Contact one of our Loan Officers for the current Trade-in and Retail values of your used automobile if you are considering a vehicle trade.

The decreasing values of trucks and SUV's can also cause a problem in an insurance total loss claim. Insurance companies typically will pay a total loss claim based upon the market value of the vehicle. If you owe more than what the vehicle is worth, you are responsible for paying the remaining balance. North Alabama Educators Credit Union does offer a GAP Protection Plan in the amount of $195 that will payoff any remaining balance on a loan if the insurance company does not payoff the loan in full. (Dealers sell this coverage for $300-$500 by the way). We have seen remaining loan balances of $3,000 & more paid by the GAP Protection Plan coverage. The GAP Protection Plan is available on new loans or existing loans with the credit union. If you think that you have a "negative equity" situation on your current vehicle financed and you do not have the GAP Protection Plan, it can be purchased at any time prior to any damage claims. Again, contact a Loan officer for assistance to determine if the GAP Protection Plan would be beneficial or not. We can show the current value situation and projected depreciation values over the remaining life of the loan.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Credit Union Investments

I thought that this information might be helpful. Financial markets worldwide are getting quite a bit of media attention these days. This is a quick summary of what we do with funds deposited into the credit union.

For our current level of member shares deposited in North Alabama Educators Credit Union, we currently lend that money out to other members roughly 70% of the time. The credit union has never engaged in “sub-prime” or “exotic adjustable rate” loans. There has only been one foreclosure realized since 2001 and that foreclosure was due to the member passing away. Our loan delinquency is very low. As of March 31st (The last reported date for peer averages), our ratio of Delinquent Loans to Total Loans was only 0.15% as compared with the industry peer group average of 1.08%. We have good quality loans on our books which is also a reflection of the quality membership that we have. (It also reflects good collection efforts!). We continue to lend money to our members. We have realized over a 14% increase in member loan balances since June of last year.

Our other investments are fairly conservative. Certificates of Deposit, Corporate Credit Unions, and U.S. Government backed bonds & securities comprise our portfolio. The outstanding balances on our current bonds and securities only represent 3.2% of the total assets of the credit union. We do not own any foreign investments.

Safety of member assets is our priority. The credit union has ample liquidity to meet our member needs. The credit union does have a cap on internal long-term mortgage loans held which is 20% of our Total Assets. This is why we do not always have internal mortgage money available for member funding. The cap is a safety and soundness tool to reduce interest rate risk in a rising interest rate environment.

Our CU Members Mortgage program is now available for mortgage financing throughout the year.

Complete financial statements of North Alabama Educators Credit Union, as well as all other federally insured credit unions, are available at http://www.ncua.gov/.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Member Referrals - Earn $10

How about $10 for referring a relative or eligible co-worker to join North Alabama Educators Credit Union? During our membership promotion, existing members can receive a $10 deposit from the credit union for referring a new member to join. We have a membership coupon on our website that can be printed and given to prospective members. Parents and Grandparents can also use the coupon to open accounts for their children and grandchildren. The new account member receives a $10 deposit and the referring member also receives a $10 deposit. If people have been thinking about opening a child's account, this would be an ideal time to do it.

Teen members can earn money by encouraging their friends to join North Alabama Educators Credit Union. All students are eligible for membership. Encourage four friends to join and that translates to $40 earned. That is the cost of a full tank of gas these days!

New checking account members can also select any style check on their first order of checks. Of course, the initial VISA Debit Card is free also.

Click HERE for the link to the "ABOUT US" page that has the membership coupon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Loss of Hilda Applebee

The credit union family of North Alabama Educators Credit Union mourns the loss of Hilda Applebee, a former employee who passed away on Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. Hilda had worked at the Athens office since 1999 and was well respected by her fellow employees and members of the credit union. We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family during this difficult time.

Funeral arrangements include the visitation from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM today (July 2nd) at Spry Funeral Home in Athens. The Funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, July 3rd at the funeral home with burial in Limestone Memorial Gardens.

Our Athens office will operate with drive thru service only on Thursday, July 3rd from 1:30 PM to roughly 3:00 PM to allow our Athens branch employees to attend the funeral service. We hope that the members of the Athens branch understand our need to honor our friend and co-worker who has passed on.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Decatur Branch Open

The Decatur Branch opened today. The temporary phone number until July 11th is 256-654-0105. The old telephone and fax line from the Steering office will be transferred to the Decatur office on July 11th. For a map to the branch location, visit our web site and use the "MAPS TO OFFICES" tab on the left side of the page. The hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Decatur Branch Update - July 1st

The Decatur branch operation continues to move forward and our plans are to open the Decatur office operation on July 1st. The office itself is located at 1616 Church Street, Decatur Alabama 35601. Similar to the operation that we had at the Steering Office in Tanner, this Decatur office is actually located within the Wolverine Employees Credit Union office. We are leasing space from Wolverine Employees Credit Union in this cooperative venture. Employees of North Alabama Educators Credit Union will be working at this office to serve our membership in the area. Operating hours will be from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The telephone number will be the same as the old Steering office but the telephone number transfer will not be effective until July 11th. A temporary phone number will be established and posted prior to our opening on July 1st.

Additional information will be provided through our web page, home banking, and direct mail to our members in the Decatur area.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Member questions on LifeLock

There have been a few member inquiries about LifeLock and media reports of pending litigation. The litigation cases had been reviewed prior to offering the discounted service to the membership. One of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, filed a lawsuit in February 2008. I have included a link below that has information about the Experian suit. In my opinion, the Experian lawsuit is more about Experian losing money from a larger number of consumer credit files being blocked by the LifeLock service. Members are encouraged to read the linked article and formulate their own opinions about the service.

I view LifeLock as a beneficial service. Yes, some of the services provided by LifeLock can be obtained for free directly with the credit reporting agencies but they would also require continuous manual updates every 90 days by the consumer with each of the three credit reporting agencies. LifeLock manages these multiple steps for the consumer. Credit reports are used as a tool in decisions involving extension of credit, employment, new accounts, rental agreements, and insurance products. If someone applied for an apartment rental in another state with your name and social security number, would you know about it? With LifeLock, you would.

Click HERE for the link to an article about the Experian lawsuit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Red Flags on Job Searches

This came from the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama

BBB Advice: Look for Seven Red Flags when Searching for Jobs Online Huntsville, AL, June 10, 2008-In a recent report on job searching, The Conference Board noted that people are increasingly turning to the Internet as a key tool, noting that in 2007, 73 percent of job seekers reported using the online sources compared to 66 percent in 2005. While the Internet has made searching for jobs easier, it also provides an opportunity for ID thieves and scammers to take advantage of eager - and unsuspecting - job seekers. Better Business Bureau is providing guidance that will help people spot the seven most common red flags associated with online job search scams.

A 2007 survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 84 percent of U.S. workers are not in their dream job. Unfortunately, the search for a dream job can lead to becoming a victim of identity theft or other types of fraud. In 2007 alone, the Federal Trade Commission recorded more than 11,000 complaints about business opportunities including work-at-home scams, many of which were advertised online.

"BBB knows that the number of people who actually report being a victim of fraud when searching for a job is only the tip of the iceberg," said LeJuan George, BBB spokesperson. "With a tough economy and tight job market forcing both businesses and job seekers to make difficult choices, BBB expects that instances of online job search fraud will continue to grow in the coming months as unemployment rates rise."

Following are seven red flags BBB advises jobs hunters to be on the look out for when using online resources:

Red Flag: Employer e-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Most online fraud is perpetrated by scammers located outside the U.S. Their first language usually isn't English and this is often evident in their poor grasp of the language which can include poor grammar and the misspelling of common words.

Red Flag: E-mails purporting to be from job posting Web sites claiming there's a problem with a job hunter's account. After creating a user account on sites like Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, a job hunter might receive an e-mail saying there has been a problem with their account or they need to follow a hyperlink to install new software. Phishing e-mails like this are designed to convince readers to click a link within the message to fix the issue, but actually take them to a Web site that will install malware or viruses on their computer.

Red Flag: An employer asks for extensive personal information such as social security or bank account numbers. Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they've gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal information in order to fill out the necessary paperwork suspicions were raised - and rightly so. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.

Red Flag: An employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home. While there are legitimate businesses that allow employees to work from home, there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students and injured or handicapped people looking to make money at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and always research the company with their BBB first at www.bbb.org.

Red Flag: An employer asks for money upfront. Aside from paying for a uniform, it is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job. Most recently, the BBB of Metropolitan Dallas uncovered a scam where job hunters were told they had to pay $64.50 for a background check before they could be considered for a cleaning job. Predictably, after paying for the background check, the job seeker never heard from the company again.

Red Flag: The salary and benefits offered seem too-good-to-be-true. The adage holds true for job offers: if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little experience in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.

Red Flag: The job requires the employee to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram. Many phony jobs require the prospective employee to cash a check sent by the company through the mail and then wire a portion of the money on to another entity. Reasons given for this requirement vary from scam to scam. Whatever the reason though, the check might clear the employee's bank account but will eventually turn out to be a fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back to the scammers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

LifeLock Identity Theft

You have probably heard the commercials for LifeLock before. The company CEO gives out his social security number in the commercial, knowing that he is protected from identity theft with the LifeLock service. The LifeLock service is a beneficial service. Members of the credit union can now purchase the LikeLock services at a discounted rate. The current price to members is $99 per year or $9 per month. This price is a bargain in comparison to the costs and time associated with having your identity stolen .There is a "LifeLock Identity Theft" page on our web site under the "Services" tab.

Please use the LifeLock link on our web site for online orders to receive the reduced rate for members of NAECU. Members can also call 1-800-lifelock (1-800-543-3562) to order the service over the telephone and receive the discounted rate by providing the PROMO code of "NAEC".

Here is a direct link to our web site page for LifeLock: http://www.naecu.org/services/lifelockidentitytheft.html

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Great Teacher Conference

It has been a pleasure to serve as a volunteer for the Great Teacher Conference being held at Columbia High School this week. The Schools Foundation, in partnership with Huntsville City Schools, Madison County Schools, and Madison City Schools, has hosted this conference for six years. NAECU had several employees serving as volunteers to assist with sign-in sheets, meeting evaluations, and general assistance with the conference. Two of our employees, Selina Billions and Rhonda Dodson, have served as volunteers each day of the conference. I appreciate their work and efforts in assisting the conference. NAECU was proud to serve as the sponsor for Tuesday's lunch for the conference participants.

It has been great to meet and talk with teachers during the conference. I served as a meeting facilitator on several educational sessions and I have great respect for the efforts being taken to provide a quality education for our children.

For more information on The Schools Foundation, please visit their web site at www.theschoolsfoundation.org .

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Account access while away at college

One of the better services available to our student-members attending college out of town is our Credit Union Service Centers (CUSC) network. Members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union currently have over 3,300 branch locations available nationwide for free access to perform withdrawals, deposits, loan payments, account transfers, and payroll check cashing.

Popular college towns in the Southeast that have service center locations include Auburn-AL, Tuscaloosa-AL, Birmingham-AL, Florence-AL, Mobile-AL, Nashville-TN, Knoxville-TN, Atlanta-GA, Athens-GA, Oxford-MS, Starkville-MS, Gainsville-FL, Tallahassee-FL, Baton Rouge-LA, and Fayetteville-AR. This is a short list of school locations; other locations are also available throughout the country.

With service centers, parents can deposit money into the student's account, and then the student can access the funds at the closest service center location to their college or university. Who knows, perhaps the student will be making deposits at school for access back home by the parent? Either way, there is no cost for the transaction.

Here is a direct link to the CUSC website: http://www.cuservicecenters.org/

This link is also listed on the credit union homepage. (Look for the blue swirl logo).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A New Neighbor on Sparkman Drive

We are pleased to announce that Sonic Restaurants Inc. has purchased the excess land owned by the credit union next to our Sparkman Drive branch. Construction of the restaurant should begin to take place soon so please watch for construction vehicle traffic as the building process advances. The sale of the land was financially beneficial to the credit union. Our Facilities Committee plans to use the proceeds of the sale to establish a long overdue branch in the Madison, Alabama area.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tattoo as ID

True story. I once had a non-member wanting to cash a check written to him by one of our members using tattoo's that he had on his arm and knuckles. Picture ID is normally required for these transactions. The tattoo's did have his first name burned into his flesh. Needless to say. a tattoo is not on most financial institution's list of "acceptable form of identification". I called our credit union member and verified that they had written the check to the person in my office, and we were able to cash the check. For future reference though, I encouraged the person to obtain a non-driver ID as a suitable substitute for his "tattoo ID".

Who says that credit unions can't be fun?

Check holds on member deposits

Please do not take it personally when we place a 2 or 5 day hold on your check(s) deposited to your account. Here are the reasons for holds. First, the credit union does not receive full credit for that check item for at least 2 days ourselves. This is an issue of fairness in making funds available when they are available to us. Second, members do receive counterfeit check items from a variety of sources. "Secret shopper" schemes and "work from home" offers are putting these counterfeit checks into the hands of members who think that the checks are real. If members receive a check and are asked to send some of the money elsewhere, that would raise a huge red flag that the check item may be counterfeit.

We did have a long term member with over 15 years of good account history who unfortunately negotiated a large check believing that the item was legitimate. That check turned out to be a counterfeit and the member faced financial hardship as a result of being responsible for the check amount. We just cannot make hold decisions solely on how long members have had accounts with the credit union. Holds protect the member and the assets of the credit union.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The IRS is NOT calling

A member responded to one of those fake emails claiming to be from the IRS. The member was promised faster processing of his stimulus check. What he received instead was counterfeit debit card transactions 2,000 miles away that TOOK money out of his account. Never provide personal information over the internet, telephone, or mail unless you know with 100% certainty who you are dealing with. When in doubt, call a good telephone number that you know is connected to the organization.

These fake emails look real and have real logos attached to them. Don’t believe it!

New Frontier

We live in a new world where information is transmitted through a variety of sources. As the President/CEO of North Alabama Educators Credit Union (NAECU), I have seen this blog format as a method to communicate information from within NAECU and also within the credit union industry. Credit unions have a good story to tell but we don't always do a good job of communicating our difference to our members and potential members in the community. My employees tell me that sometimes I get "long-winded" when it comes to speaking at meetings or communicating messages through my letters and e-mails. I will try to avoid that trait in my writings here. You as a reader don't have the time or interest to review long posts.

This is new for me. Keep that in mind as I move forward. Thanks for listening and hopefully I will not be too boring!