Friday, May 27, 2011

Capturing Photos, Photo ID's, and Signatures

North Alabama Educators Credit Union is committed to protecting your financial accounts from fraud and identity theft. It is our responsibility and obligation to insure that all financial transactions being completed are being performed by the members authorized for access to a particular account. The credit union is financially liable for any fraudulent or erroneous transactions posted to a member’s account.

Our credit union staff are digitally capturing photos, photo ID’s, and signatures to help prevent errors and fraud on our membership. This information is only used for the purpose of verifying our members upon subsequent visits. Please keep in mind that identity thieves can counterfeit photo ID’s in an attempt to steal account funds if they know your account number. Having this information on file also can assist members if they have lost their own photo ID and need to perform a transaction. This exact scenario occurred at our Athens branch following the April 2011 tornadoes when a member’s identification was lost but we were able to verify the member’s photo and signature on file.

We also hear from longer term members who do not want to have to show their photo ID when performing a transaction. With nearly 12,000 members it is impossible for our staff to recognize every member of the credit union. This photo retention process can assist those longer term members since we will have the photo ID available on file to the credit union staff member.

Please keep in mind that we are simply trying to protect member accounts. The information is not being shared with anyone outside of the credit union. We are already seeing the information when we post member transactions now. We would appreciate your cooperation in our efforts to secure and protect your membership account(s).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Request for Legislative Help - Interchange Rates

This afternoon I will be meeting with Congressman Mo Brooks and other credit union CEO’s in the area to discuss the interchange fee issue from the credit union perspective. Credit union members will be negatively impacted down the line if interchange fee rates are drastically reduced. Retailers may want to pay less for accepting debit and credit cards, but they give no guarantees and the law provides no guarantees that consumers will reap any of the benefits of lower interchange fees from the retailers. Those savings will go straight to the retailer’s bottom line and they will be under no obligation to lower retail prices for the goods and services they sell.

If the credit union receives less income on our debit card program due to a reduction in interchange rates, that lost income will either have to be created somewhere else or current services will have to be altered or terminated. Either way, our members would see a distinct difference in some fashion. I doubt that our members would see any difference in the prices that they pay with their local retailer.

The last thing that consumers need right now is less money in their own pockets. The economic impact of the changes to interchange rates has not been evaluated and studied. Our fragile economy does not need laws that could curtail consumer spending. The credit union industry is simply asking Congress to delay implementation of the Durbin Act section that deals with setting a price on interchange rates to allow time for a financial impact study. We will be asking Congressman Mo Brooks for his support of HB 1081 to allow such a study. I agree that some reform is probably necessary in the card payment system but the current pricing solution is woefully inadequate since the pricing model did not address all costs associated with providing a card program.

FYI – Previous posts have addressed the interchange rate fee issue in more detail. If any members have questions or comments over the interchange rate issue, feel free to contact me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts and Prayers for our Community

The events that have unfolded since the first tornado siren last Wednesday will forever remain in the hearts and minds of our local community. The devastating storms throughout Alabama have literally changed the face of communities. Loved ones have been lost, homes have been swept away, and communities have been brought to a standstill with crippling long-term power outages. Through it all though we have also seen neighbors helping neighbors, people helping people.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the storms. Together, the communities will rebuild and our lives will return to a level of normalcy that we have come to expect.

We appreciate the patience of credit union members in our process of bringing offices and services back online. The credit union will be helping members in the coming weeks and months to minimize the negative financial impacts of the storms and power outages. An overview of credit union assistance plans are available on our home page now. Additional assistance steps will added as new member needs are identified.

People helping people - it's just the right thing to do.