Friday, May 29, 2009

Beware of Money Moving Scams

The search for employment can sometimes lead to bogus claims and scams. One national scam that is circulating also impacted one of our members, who fell prey to the new "job offer". People are being contacted through legitimate job employment sites for jobs from home. The new job is supposedly related to payroll processing or check processing. As part of the new job, the newly hired person is basically paid a fee for moving funds through their own personal account(s). The dollar amount is typically less than $10,000 because of reporting requirements. The funds are placed into the account(s) as an Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic deposit. Once the funds are deposited, the newly hired person is then instructed to move the funds via Western Union to one of the company's partners. A fee is retained by the employee for their services in moving the money.

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

2009 Scholarship Recipient

Katie Stell is the recipient of the $1,500 Scholarship provided by the credit union this year. Katie graduated from Huntsville High School this year and will be attending Auburn University this fall. Congratulations to Katie and her family on this award!

The credit union received a total of 47 applications for this year's scholarship. Our scholarship committee enjoyed reviewing the essays and accomplishments of each candidate. The credit union is blessed with quality student-members who are preparing for a successful future.

We appreciate the time and effort given by all the student applicants in this scholarship process. Each of the eligible applicants were given a small token of appreciation by the credit union for their participation. Best wishes are extended to all of our students in their future educational endeavours. Our 2010 Scholarship process will be announced in late December-early January.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Currency Transaction Report Reference Guide

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently released an educational pamphlet, "Notice to Customers: A CTR Reference Guide." This pamphlet explains the Currency Transaction Report (CTR) reporting requirement to members who may not be familiar with the credit union's obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

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:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fake Cell Phone Calls & Text Messages

Scammers seem to be keying in on automated cell phone calls and/or text messages to trick consumers into providing their personal information. The scam usually goes like this; you receive a call or text that informs you that your account is in jeopardy and that you need to respond to keep your account active. The call or text may have the name of your financial institution and your Caller ID may even display the name of your financial institution. DON'T BELIEVE IT! Institutions don't contact their account holders this way when an account compromise is suspected. Consumers should also be aware that telephone "spoofing" technology exists that effectively renders Caller ID as worthless. A scammer can "spoof" a legitimate business number, like North Alabama Educators Credit Union, and have that number show on the recipients Caller ID display even though the call is not originating from the displayed number. Scary stuff, huh?

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.