Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Below are some Holiday Fraud Prevention Tips to help protect against becoming a fraud victim this holiday season;
Ensure that receipts reflect the correct transaction amount.
When performing a PIN transaction, ensure that others are not watching you to capture your PIN number.
When using a debit card, you may select "Credit", which requires a signature and extends the $0.00 member liability under the VISA/MasterCard association rules.
Review all accounts (checking, savings, credit card) activity daily.
Lower your credit limit on credit cards during the holidays.
When paper checks are converted at a merchant to an ACH electronic draft, store voided checks safely to prevent counterfeit checks or unauthorized ACH transactions.
Be suspicious of emails from unknown parties; don't open the email or click any links within them. Watch for electronic greeting cards from strangers.
Shop online with trustworthy merchants who require security information such as address verification and the CVV2/CVC2 number on the back of your card.
When shopping in person or using an ATM, be aware of your surroundings and report any unusual activities.
Never leave your purse, wallet, or cards unattended. Do not lock your purse in a trunk at a public place, thieves can observe this and quickly break a window and release the trunk lock.
Finally, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is, so be cautious.
The average fraud victim loses over $900 as a result of a fraud case. No one wants to part with $900 these days so be cautious and safe this holiday season.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The rising unemployment rates throughout the country are provided in this animated map that tracks the history from January 2007 to October 2009. The results are reported monthly by county throughout the United States.
The visual effect is sobering to say the least. Click HERE or the map above for the link.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Huntsville City Schools was the winner! Huntsville City Schools earned 26 votes for a total of $1,300, which North Alabama Educators Credit Union is doubling to a grand total of $2,600 to be given to Huntsville City Schools in the form of a gift certificate to Schoolcraft. Congratulations to Huntsville City Schools on winning the bonus money.
Other school systems earned supply money as well. The other school systems include;
Decatur City Schools - $900
Madison County Schools - $500
Madison City Schools - $300
Limestone County Schools - $250
Athens City Schools - $150
Athens Bible School - $150
Randolph School - $50
A total of $4,900 is being donated to the school systems!
The Schoolcraft certificates will be delivered in the coming weeks. Special thanks are extended to the credit union members who brought their automobile loans to the credit union for financing.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Falsified Emails Purportedly from NACHA are Circulating:
Random individuals and/or companies may have received a falsified e-mail with the subject title "Rejected ACH Transaction." This e-mail appears to be from NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association telling them that there is a problem with an ACH transaction they have originated. The e-mail includes a link which redirects the individual to a fake web page which appears like the NACHA website and contains a link which is almost certainly executable virus with malware. See sample below.
IF YOU GET ONE OF THESE EMAILS DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK! The e-mail did not originate from NACHA and the website does not belong to NACHA. A sample of the phishing email follows:
= = = = = Sample E-mail = = = = = =
From: nacha.org [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:25 AM
To: Doe, John
Subject: Rejected ACH transaction, please review the transaction report
Dear bank account holder,
The ACH transaction, recently initiated from your bank account, was rejected by the Electronic Payments Association. Please review the transaction report by clicking the link below:
"Unauthorized ACH Transaction Report" (this is the how the link is presented in the phishing email).
======= End Sample E-Mail =======================
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I see several problems with this proposal. First off, we should not be dividing the credit union industry into separate regulators. All credit unions, big and small, share the same structure and are owned by their member-owners. The National Credit Union Administration is fully capable of overseeing credit unions of all sizes. Where there have been problems in credit unions, the focus should be on how good was the oversight from the existing regulator at the time. The knee-jerk reaction sometimes is to assume that a new law or regulation will fix a problem when the original problem could have been prevented by the existing laws and regulations if enacted properly. The credit union industry as a whole was not the source of the financial problems that we have seen over the past year.
I also don't see why there is an asset size differential between the large credit unions and banks for the proposed agency. Is a $1.5 Billion dollar credit union somehow more complex than a $10 Billion dollar bank? If anything I would see the opposite to be true in terms of balance sheet complexity between a bank and a credit union.
North Alabama Educators Credit Union currently holds roughly $73 Million in total assets so we would not be included under the authority of the new proposed agency. Regardless of this fact, a unified credit union industry is in the best interest of all credit unions so we stand opposed to the proposed H.R. 3126 because of this different treatment based upon asset size.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A popular service for members has been our semi-annual free shredding service. Our 2nd "Shred-it Day" this year will be held at our Main Office on Whitesburg Drive on Friday, October 16th between the hours of 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Document Destruction Services will have their truck parked in our front parking lot to provide this free service. All records will be destroyed on-site within clear view of the member. MARK YOUR CALENDARS! We always hear from members who wanted to shred documents but forgot about the "Shred-it Day". This information was included in our last newsletter. We do ask that members restrict their shred items to paper items only and limit the amount to 40 pounds.
We appreciate our credit union members and hope that you stop by to enjoy the activities this Friday.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
North Alabama Educators Credit Union is pleased to make this online financial resource available for the purpose of helping to improve financial literacy. Money doesn't come with instructions and financial mistakes can take years to overcome. Financial education is a good thing!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
North Alabama Educators Credit Union is participating in a statewide food drive effort to assist the local food banks. The Alabama Credit Union League has coordinated this event with credit unions and regional food banks throughout Alabama. Your help is needed! Everyone has a few extra canned items or other non-perishable food items in their pantry. Please consider a donation to help others in your community who are not as fortunate. The economic downturn has affected many Alabama families and the regional food banks are there to help families who need assistance with putting food on the table.
Stop by any North Alabama Educators Credit Union office to drop off a donation. Donations are being accepted through October 2nd. Your donation would be greatly appreciated!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Please be advised that should H1N1 Virus cases increase considerably in our area, the credit union will reduce office access areas to our membership. Drive thru only access or isolated offices within our branches would be made available to decrease the exposure potential. The credit union would be open and available to our members. It is also anticipated though that any severe flu outbreak would result in less people wanting to get out and possibly expose themselves to the virus. Cash travels from person to person so it would not be the ideal source of funding purchases and services. A VISA Debit Card would provide better security against the flu virus, so long as the point of sale terminals are wiped down on a regular basis.
Members are encouraged not to panic. All financial institutions are taking steps to protect their clients (members for us) and their employees. There is a good link on this blog page that provides good resource information on the flu virus.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Our Helping Schools Auto Loan promotion can help. From now through October 31st, the credit union will donate $50 in the form of a Schoolcraft gift certificate to the school system of the member's choice (within our sponsor groups) on every $10,000 qualifying automobile loan. The promotion is good for purchases or refinances from other institutions. All entries for each school system will be totalled at the end of the promotion. The school system that has collected the most entries towards their school system will have the additional benefit of having their amount DOUBLED by the credit union. In the event of a tie, the DOUBLED amount would be split among the school systems tied for the lead. If the winning school system had 20 entries, the $1,000 amount would be DOUBLED to a $2,000 total! This is just an example, we would love to see a much higher donation amount.
The credit union member is also benefiting from this promotion in that they are receiving a low fixed rate as low as 4.75% Annual Percentage Rate on the loan. (For qualified members - visit www.naecu.org for our LOAN RATES page for rates & terms available). The member receives a low loan rate AND helps out their school system at the same time.
This really is a win-win situation for the member and the school systems. It is also good for the credit union in that we receive a good member loan and help out the community in the process. We will be posting total updates on our web site to track the progress of the promotion.
Good luck to each eligible school system!
Friday, August 28, 2009
We are pleased to participate and assist area schools with this program. If you are interested in information about the Principally Speaking Network, please visit The Schools Foundation web site at http://www.theschoolsfoundation.org/ .
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
If there is not an Overdraft Loan or automatic share overdraft source on the account, the credit union has a dilemma on its hands. Does the credit union return the presented item for payment or pay the item? If the item is returned, an non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee of $25 will be charged PLUS the member will most likely receive a returned check fee by the vendor or merchant who accepted the check initially. A $50 check can quickly cost $100 or more if returned. Overdraft Privilege programs allow the credit union to cover (pay) the presented item up to a certain amount, but still charge the $25 NSF fee for the overdraft. This saves the member the returned check fee from the vendor or merchant PLUS avoids the embarrassment of a returned check item. The objective of Overdraft Privilege programs is to provide a safety net should an unexpected overdraft occur. Overdraft Privilege is not a loan though and should not be considered a line of credit. Overdraft Privilege is MORE expensive that traditional overdraft loan protection. This is why members are encouraged to apply for traditional overdraft loan protection to provide a more economical safety net should a mistake or emergency situation create an overdraft. Members are also encouraged to utilize the free services of home banking and 24-hour audio response to monitor their account balances and history.
Overdraft Privilege or "courtesy pay" programs have taken some heat in national news media articles recently. Much of the concern with Overdraft Privilege programs seem to center around the availability of access with VISA debit cards and ATM's. North Alabama Educators Credit Union does not provide access to Overdraft Privilege through these electronic channels. Our program provides for coverage of items already written or authorized by electronic draft. If these items were returned, the member would have expenses from the merchant or vendor associated with the item being returned. This can not be said for a denied VISA debit or ATM transaction.
In the end, it really is the member's responsibility to monitor their own accounts and prevent overdrafts when possible. Overdrafts do cost money. Members are encouraged to stay within their available balances and avoid costly overdrafts.
Monday, July 27, 2009
A brief overview of the program is as follows;
The eligible "clunker" has to be in running condition, able to be driven, and can't be more than 25 years old. An exception to this rule would be very large pickups and vans (defined as 8,500 to 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight) that must have been built since 2001.
The program runs through November 1st and is retroactive to July 1st.
You must have owned your "clunker" for at least a year and be able to prove it. You must be able to show proof of insurance for the previous year.
"Clunkers" must get get less than 18 miles per gallon (mpg) combined fuel economy, as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new car being purchased must obtain at least 22 combined mpg, a new truck or SUV must be rated for at least 18 mpg. The program only applies to new vehicles being purchased.
Here is where the cash part comes into play: If your "clunker" is traded for a new car that achieves 4 to 9 miles per gallon better fuel economy, the cash credit is $3,500. If it gets 10 mpg or more better than the old car, the credit is $4,500. If you are trading in an SUV or pickup and want to buy another similar vehicle, you get $3,500 if there is only a 1 mpg improvement, and $4,500 for a 2 mpg or more improvement.
All "clunkers" traded in under the program must be destroyed, not resold.
The government web site for the "Cash for Clunkers" web site is www.cars.gov .
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I beg to differ on this issue. First off, retailers are receiving their money quickly and efficiently for items purchased when a credit or debit card is used for a purchase. Compare this to accepting a check for payment, which may or may not be paid when it is presented to the institution. Insufficient checks or counterfeit checks are a considerable risk when accepting checks for payment. Returned check charges and fraudulent checks would hurt their bottom line as well. Check deposits would have to be made with a financial institution that would result in several days before the merchant received their money on the checks accepted.
Financial institutions do earn interchange fee income when credit or debit card are used. This income though is necessary to cover our costs associated with providing this convenience. Interchange fees cover the costs of data processing, card fraud, and defaults on credit cards. Consumers like using their credit and debit cards and it is service that institutions want to continue offering in the future.
Frankly, if interchange income was eliminated or drastically reduced on credit and debit card transactions, all institutions would have to re-evaluate their card programs. New fees and account restrictions would have to be created to cover the expenses associated with running the program without the interchange income.
The big retailers seem to want something (convenience and protection against fraud) without having to pay for it. The current interchange fee structure has been working for years and, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Monday, July 13, 2009
On a card replacement due to a data breach, we mail out letters to all members impacted by the compromise and inform them that a new card will be mailed within a specified time. Unless there is active fraud taking place on our card base, most members will still be able to use their old VISA Debit Cards or ATM Cards for at least 30 days. Any data breach letters sent would specify the time frames surrounding the new and replacement card.
One problem that we are seeing with mailed cards is that members don't always open the mailed envelope containing the replacement card(s). For security reasons, there are no obvious markings on the mailed envelope that would indicate that a VISA Debit Card or ATM Card is inside the envelope. The idea with the plain envelope is to prevent theft of the cards from the time it is shipped out until the member receives the mailing. The return address on the mailings has our PO Box 128, Huntsville AL 35804 address. On some mailings it has Card Center NAECU as the sender's name.
If you are expecting a new or replacement VISA Debit Card or ATM Card, please watch your mail closely and look for an envelope with the PO Box 128 sender address.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
People sometimes hear our name "North Alabama Educators Credit Union" and think that you must be a teacher to be a member of the credit union. This is not the case. There are other ways to be eligible for membership. They include;
All students (K-college) living in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties in Alabama.
Any relative of an existing member in the credit union
PTA/PTO/PTSA members of eligible sponsor schools throughout the Tennessee Valley
All retired teachers living in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties in Alabama.
Employees of private schools and day cares in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties.
All employees of the eligible school systems are eligible for membership. This includes school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and support staff.
Help the credit union grow its membership and earn some money in the process. Your referral will thank you for leading them to the credit union. Once a member, they could also refer new members and earn some cash!
The link below has the Membership Coupon near the top of the page. The page also provides a more detailed list of eligibility methods.
Here is the link; http://www.naecu.org/aboutus.html
Hopefully, the $250,000 federal insurance coverage limit will be made permanent at some point in the future. It would seem very difficult to revert back to the old $100,000 insurance coverage in the future. To be clear though - the $250,000 share insurance coverage is only guaranteed through December 31, 2013 at this time.
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has a good Share Insurance Tool Kit available on their web site to help credit union members understand how eligible insurance coverage is calculated. Visit http://www.ncua.gov/Resources/ShareInsuranceToolkit.aspx for information.
Monday, June 22, 2009
This type of loan is also well below the cost of payday lenders and other check cashing companies. If you need $500 for school supplies or any other worthwhile reason, this loan is a genuine member benefit. This is the type of loan that you will only see at a credit union. The "for profit" institutions would not make enough money on this type of loan to take the time or effort to process the loan.
As always with any loan, qualifications must be met. We are an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. The minimum qualifications though for this School Supply Loan are less than most other credit union loans. Contact one of our Loan Officers for information. This loan is available through October 1, 2009.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
If you perform a Google search on "Kevin Trudeau fraud", you will find more than enough resources to question his claim as a "consumer advocate".
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Proof of proper insurance coverage needs to be forwarded to the credit union for new loans or changes in your insurance company. Proof of insurance be received within 14 days of a new loan or a policy termination notice. If we do not receive proof of insurance in the time frame allowed, a policy protecting the credit union will be ordered with the cost of that premium being added to the outstanding loan balance. The loan payment amount would also be increased to maintain the original amortization schedule of the loan.
Forced placed collateral protection coverage is NOT traditional insurance. It provides no coverage for other vehicles involved in an accident. It does not provide coverage for the full value of a vehicle. It only provides coverage for the outstanding balance of the loan. If your loan balance was $5,000 and your $14,000 valued vehicle was totalled, only $5,000 would be paid on a claim. Forced placed collateral protection coverage is expensive because it is forced placed.
We do not want to have to add forced placed collateral protection but we must have the collateral loans protected. Members should be able to obtain traditional insurance coverage for far less cost. There are "high risk" insurance agents that can provide traditional insurance in most cases.
If you receive a notice from the credit union requesting proof of insurance, please take it seriously and provide the proof of insurance. Members can call the insurance tracking center directly at 1-866-260-6097 or update their insurance status at www.myloaninsurance.com . Proof of insurance can also be faxed directly to 1-817-276-7860.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I appreciate the members choosing North Alabama Educators Credit Union for their lending needs. Our lending staff should also be commended for their efforts in producing this record loan volume. The credit union stands ready to meet the lending needs of our membership in the coming months and years.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Does this sound like a legitimate business? Guess what, it's not. The funds coming into the account by electronic deposit are STOLEN funds from a victim's account at another financial institution. Once the money is sent by Western Union, that money is gone. The newly hired employee who participated in this "job" may then find themselves face to face with law enforcement trying to explain how and why they participated in moving stolen funds. There is no way of knowing who the "employer" really is in these cases. It could be a terrorist group acquiring funds for terrorism for all we know.
Members should NEVER allow their own accounts to be used by strangers. There should also not be any reason why a legitimate employer would ever need to move funds through an employee's account. If you have a new employer asking you to move money through your account or an account that you are asked to open, you might want to find a new employer!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
This consumer pamphlet should be useful for member questions regarding currency transactions at the credit union. The pamphlet explains that large currency transactions are not illegal, but all financial institutions are required to obtain information from their account holders when conducting such transactions. It also explains what constitutes structuring and explains that if a member attempts to structure transactions there are potential civil and criminal consequences.
I applaud FinCEN for creating this educational pamphlet. Our plans are to make these pamphlets available in our branch offices as well when members have questions regarding cash transactions.
Here is a link to the pamphlet: http://www.fincen.gov/whatsnew/pdf/CTRPamphletBW.pdf
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Credit union members nationwide have been targeted by scammers because of the high levels of trust generally held by members in their credit unions. Members see a cell phone message from their credit union, get scared about their account, and provide the requested information before they have time to really think over what they are doing. These scammers try to scare you into acting quickly because they know that you might not provide the information if you had more time to consider the situation.
When in doubt, always feel free to contact the credit union to verify any calls, text messages, emails, or letters that ask for information. We would also like to know about ongoing scams in the area so that we can alert the fellow members of the credit union.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Our youth members (ages 0-18) are encouraged to stop by and participate in Youth Week activities taking place in our offices this week. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) theme this year is "The Magic of Saving".
Our Main Office, Sparkman Branch, Athens Branch, and Madison Branch each have complimentary refreshments through Friday, April 24th. Youth members can enter a drawing for $50 at each of these locations. (One entry per day). There is also a contest at each of the above offices to guess the number of pennies in a jar with the closest guess winning the dollar amount.
Financial savings are taking place all this week. Any new savings account opened will receive a $15 deposit from the credit union. Any new checking accounts opened for youth members ages 13-18 will earn a free box of checks and a $5 Sonic Card. Open a new Certificate of Deposit (at a lower $300 minimum deposit) for youth members and earn a $5 Sonic Card. It's smart to save money anyway so why not enjoy the perks this week!
The "Magic of Saving" will be topped off Friday with a magic show from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM at our main office. A magician will be on hand and other fun and prizes will be available. In past years, I have dressed up as a pirate (not popular these days!) and a clown during the Friday youth week festivities. This year we will let a real magician handle the entertainment.
We appreciate our youth members for their membership. They are the future of the credit union so we celebrate them during this special week. Stop by one of the participating offices and enjoy the fun!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Losing a job or realizing a pay cut is traumatic enough. The stress of credit union loan obligations can be minimized. Impacted members are encouraged to allow us the opportunity to help. Members can contact either Carolyn Henshaw or myself at 256-534-2423.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Office hours for this Madison branch are 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturdays.
Please stop by and visit our friendly Madison branch staff. A Grand Opening celebration is being planned and will be announced soon.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
It was a good show of support by the credit union industry. We of course were there on behalf of our member-owners who are the ones experiencing the data breaches from merchants and their transaction processors. This legislation is designed to protect the security of the consumer. Merchants and retailers are being asked to comply with security standards that they agreed to provide when they began accepting debit/credit cards as a form of payment.
A public hearing on this Consumer Data Security legislation in the Alabama Senate is also being held today. I was not able to attend the session today but I am confident that a strong credit union presence will be in place today in Montgomery as well.
We are not asking for member calls and contacts to state legislators at this time although that may be a request in the future. This Consumer Data Security legislation is important and necessary to provide accountability to those merchants and retailers who choose not to abide by accepted security measures.
Monday, April 6, 2009
It requires an entity that experiences a breach to notify the individuals whose cards were compromised, as well as the financial institution that issued the exposed cards. Details of the breach would also be required. Alabama is one of 6 states without a notification requirement on the books.
It requires that any entity that accepts the information on a plastic card as part of a transaction, or the processing of a transaction, must comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards. This is the accepted standard agreed to by industry participants. One of the most important provisions of the standard is that it prohibits the storage of key data, such as that found on the magnetic stripe of a plastic card, after the transaction has been settled. This is the information that hackers have used to counterfeit debit cards and steal funds.
It provides that if an entity is not in compliance with the PCI Data Security Standards at the time of the breach, then the entity is liable to the financial institution for the cost of protecting the card-holder, including the cost of reissuing cards, notifying members, and any refunds to cardholder accounts that must be made due to fraudulent transactions.
PASSAGE OF THE CONSUMER DATA SECURITY BILL WILL HELP TO ENCOURAGE MERCHANTS AND RETAILERS TO PROTECT CONSUMER DATA IN A MANNER THAT SHOULD BE DONE ALREADY.
Earlier this year, North Alabama Educators Credit Union had to replace nearly 2,000 debit cards because of a national data breach involving Heartland Payment Systems. Several years ago, a local franchise chain had an employee stealing card data information and then stealing funds through the use of counterfeit cards using the stolen data. In both of these cases, the information was stored by the merchants in violation of the PCI Data Security Standards.
States Senators and House Representatives are being asked to support this legislation. A public hearing is currently scheduled this Wednesday (April 8th) in Montgomery on this bill. I will be there at this hearing and I look forward to sharing the outcome of this legislation. - Greg Olmsted.
Monday, March 23, 2009
What does the conservatorship of U.S. Central and Wescorp mean to North Alabama Educators Credit Union? In short, not much. It's business as usual for the credit union. Our service to the members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union is not impacted at all by the action of the NCUA. Keep in mind that all member deposits are federally insured by the NCUA to at least $250,000 per member. In addition to your accounts being federally insured, North Alabama Educators Credit Union is financially sound. Our current net worth is 8.20% which means that 8.20% of our total assets have been set aside in reserves to protect you, the member. Loan delinquencies remain very low at North Alabama Educators Credit Union. As of December 2008, the ratio of delinquent loans to total loans was only 0.31%, compared with an industry peer average of 1.46%. We have not experienced a single foreclosure during this entire "housing crisis".
Credit unions have been serving members for 100 years, in good times and bad. No credit union has ever cost the U.S. taxpayers anything. We will continue to operate safely. protecting your assets through conservative lending and investment choices.
If any members have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 256-534-2423 or by email: email@example.com . - Greg Olmsted.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here is the PACT website address; http://www.treasury.alabama.gov/pact/ .
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The main problem however with cell phone calls during a teller transaction is the potential security problem. The teller line deals with cash. There have been cases in financial institution robberies where the robber utilizes a cell phone to communicate with a criminal accomplice who is outside of the institution. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recommends that cell phones not be allowed on a teller line as a result.
Please avoid cell phone calls when transacting business at one of our teller lines. Our employees have been instructed to discontinue the transaction until a cell phone call is terminated by the member. If you receive a cell phone call and need to take the call, simply step away from the teller line and complete your cell phone conversation. We certainly appreciate our membership and thank each and every one for their business. We are also responsible for protecting our employees and members from potential robberies. Please help the credit union in our security efforts by avoiding cell phone calls during teller transactions.
Friday, March 6, 2009
My advice for the weekend? Turn off the TV, turn off the radio, avoid the newspaper, cut off the cell phone, and by all means avoid the Internet. Spend time with your family and friends. Take a walk. Read a book. Be thankful for what you do have. Regardless of our situations, there are always blessings in our life.
Have a good weekend!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The original mortgage contract should be honored. The credit union stands ready to assist members with loan modifications in cases of job losses, excessive medical expenses, divorce situations, and other reasonable events that affect a person's ability to repay. In all cases though, the principal balance would need to be paid as part of the plan.
The mortgage cramdown legislation is bad for the majority of consumers who pay their debts. North Alabama Educators Credit Union has never engaged in sub-prime mortgage loans or any other predatory type of loan. We have not had a single foreclosure since this "mortgage crisis" has begun. If we did have a mortgage bankruptcy in the future though , the other members of the credit union should not be responsible for paying the "cramdown" balance of one member.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"Credit unions are the dull populists of the financial industry, serving millions of individual members with plain-vanilla products. They're not leveraged to the eyeballs, and they don't take many risks.
That sounds like an ideal conservative profile for any institution trying to weather this financial crisis. So why are credit unions suddenly on the hook for an investment meltdown that could easily cost the entire industry the kind of money it earns in a whole year or even more?
The answer isn't about mistakes made by credit unions. Those small institutions are paying a price for decisions made somewhere else by someone else, calls that seemed reasonable at the time but worked out very badly. It's one more new spin on the familiar story about broken credit markets and the damage that trickles down to hurt people far from Wall Street.
Credit unions are facing special charges to help bail out one large institution that serves their industry and bolster two dozen more like it. The main culprit: The sinking values of mortgage-backed securities.
Compared with the trillion-dollar rescue packages under negotiation in Washington, the new problems facing credit unions look like a rounding error. And the vast majority of credit unions, which tend to maintain high capital cushions, will be able to eat the cost and move on if they must.
But it still hurts, and there are real consequences. "The plan, in my opinion, will impede the industry's ability to lend," says Michael Hanson, president of the Massachusetts Share Insurance Corp., which insures state credit union deposits that exceed federal limits. "Losses do that, just as a matter of economics."
Others agree. That includes the National Credit Union Association, the entity that insures credit union deposits up to $250,000, just as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protects bank deposits.
Some credit union executives are mad over the bills they will end up paying. The Navy Federal Credit Union, the nation's largest, calls the coming expenses "unacceptable."
Other credit union chiefs I talked to this week sounded more resigned. Mike Lussier of Webster First Federal Credit Union, Debbie Guiney of Allcom Credit Union in Worcester, and Roy Campana of Industrial Credit Union in Boston all fit that description. "It's unfortunate because the capital is there for a rainy day," says Campana. "But it's raining."
It certainly is, but the story of how credit unions got so wet takes a little explaining.
Most people are familiar with the 8,000 credit unions serving members across America. But there are also 28 institutions known as corporate credit unions, which serve the other 8,000 with back-shop products and financial services. They are the credit unions to the credit unions. One particular corporate credit union, US Central, sits at the center of that system and provides investment services.
US Central has big problems. Private-label mortgage-backed securities accounted for more than half its $31 billion investment portfolio and their values were sinking like rocks despite high credit ratings late last year. Worse, member credit unions were taking some of their money out of US Central and the other corporates.
Other sources of cash, particularly the Federal Reserve and the Federal Home Loan Bank system, were reluctant to extend credit because they feared the possible risk of insolvency, according to John McKechnie, director of public affairs at NCUA, the insurer of credit union deposits.
US Central could sell some of its securities to meet demands for cash, but it would take huge losses on the securities no one wanted to own any longer. A corporate credit union collapse was possible.
The solution: The NCUA injected $1 billion of cash into US Central in the form of a note late last month and extended broader deposit insurance to all the corporate credit unions. The total cost, expected to be more than $3 billion, remains an estimate.
All credit unions insured by the NCUA will share the tab, which will amount to about 0.56 percent of their assets. That seems like a small number, but the industry only makes a profit equal to about 0.49 percent of assets a year.
The cost could go up, too. Those mortgage-backed securities have lost a lot of value, but they could lose more.
Recklessness by financial giants caused most of our problems. Your local credit union is paying a price just the same."
Steven Syre is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tech security experts said that the data breach could set a record, larger than the 94 million customer records lost to hackers by retailer TJX in 2007.
North Alabama Educators Credit Union has received notice from VISA International that a considerable number of our VISA Debit Card members were included in this national data breach. Replacement VISA Debit Cards are being ordered and all impacted members will be receiving mail correspondence and a new VISA Debit Card. Members will have the ability to change their new PIN's upon receipt and activation of the new card.
These type of data breaches are unfortunate because they generate considerable expense to the credit union. The time required to generate the compromise letters and card orders is also very time consuming. It is also inconvenient for the impacted credit union member.
Please keep in mind that North Alabama Educators Credit Union played no role in the data breach, but yet we bear the time and expense in replacing the VISA Debit Cards. Legislation is needed to hold organizations responsible for the time and expense associated with these data breaches. The credit union industry has been trying to bring forth data breach legislation that would automatically hold businesses responsible for losses of personal data.
A national class-action lawsuit is pending against Heartland Payment Systems as a result of this data breach. You can rest assured that North Alabama Educators Credit Union will join that legal effort to recover damages attributed to this data loss.
Members who have been impacted by this national data breach, or others in the past, are encouraged to contact your state and federal legislators and ask for data breach legislation to hold companies accountable for loss of YOUR personal information.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The text messages state that the caller is from the National Credit Union Administration, Credit Union National Association, or some other national group that sounds official. These calls are sent out in mass numbers hoping to trigger a few people into providing their personal information. If personal information is provided, rest assured that fraudulent transactions will appear on your account at some point.
When in doubt, contact the credit union at one of our published telephone numbers. North Alabama Educators Credit Union does not send out text messages to members. We also do not contact members and ask for personal information in regards to any suspected fraud. If we do suspect fraud on your account, we will be providing information to the member.
Unfortunately, technology has assisted criminals in a wide variety of methods to contact their potential victims. Never provide any information to an unsolicited request. Do not trust Caller ID as a means of verification either since call numbers can be spoofed to appear as a legitimate business number when it is not.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
There will be a Grand Prize of $500 given away in a drawing to all eligible members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union. (The primary member is the person eligible for drawings and election voting). A total of $2,150 in cash prizes including the Grand Prize will be given away during the drawing held at the end of the meeting. One change this year will be that the drawings will be held from smallest prize to the Grand Prize. One of our members made this suggestion after last year to generate more excitement and interest in the drawing from start to finish.
The annual meeting business section will cover a brief discussion on financials, credit union news, and the election of officials as nominated by the Nominating Committee.
The entire Annual Membership meeting, including the drawing, should be completed by 6:30 PM or so. Make plans to attend the meeting and enjoy the fellowship of credit union members and employees. I look forward to seeing new and familiar faces at the Membership Meeting!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Members of North Alabama Educators Credit Union are eligible for the “Invest in America” program as well. Our automobile loan rate is already very competitive with a fixed rate as low as 4.25% Annual Percentage Rate. (As of January 2009). Financing must be completed with the Credit Union to receive the special offer pricing from the participating manufacturers.
Below is the web site for information about the “Invest in America” program and how members can obtain the credit union member discounted pricing;