Monday, November 23, 2015

EMV Cards & Liability for Consumers

EMV stands for Europay, Visa, and Mastercard, the three companies that originally created the idea of the EMV chip card where card information is stored in a chip embedded in the front of the card. (Traditional debit and credit cards have the information stored on a magnetic stripe on the back of the card.). The authentication parameters with the EMV cards change with each transaction where the magnetic stripe cards maintain the same card information, thus making it much more difficult to counterfeit an EMV chip card. The technology is only beneficial for "card present" situations where the card is physically presented for a transaction and the merchant has the point-of-sale terminal that can communicate with the EMV card chip. Online Internet transactions would not have any additional security enhancements from the EMV chip cards. Verified by Visa or MasterCard's SecureCode are the best tools available to prevent online card fraud.

Card issuers are still in the process of issuing EMV chip cards and merchants are installing EMV point-of-sale terminals that can read the EMV chips. North Alabama Educators Credit Union will have a mass card EMV card reissue of all member debit cards in the spring of 2016. Roughly only 20% of merchants have installed the EMV chip readers at this point.

The focus of the EMV card technology was about reducing fraud and shifting liability. What does this mean to the consumer in terms of liability? In short, nothing should change from a liability standpoint. The liability shifts being discussed have been between the merchants and the card issuers who are the financial institutions. The credit union has not charged our membership for any portion of unauthorized charges even though VISA rules and government regulations allow for consumers being responsible for the first $50.00 per fraudulent incident for fraudulent charges. One concern that I have is if the liability for a fraudulent charge is shifted to the merchant, it would not surprise me to see that $50.00 cost be passed on to consumers, possibly more if the fraud is not reported promptly;
  • up to $500 if you fail to notify the bank within two business days after you realize the card is missing, but do notify the bank within 60 days after your bank statement is mailed to you listing the unauthorized withdrawals. 
A banking financial institution has an ongoing account relationship with a consumer. A retailer two states away does not share that same relationship so if they have liability for a fraudulent transaction, they will most certainly hold the consumer responsible for the first $50.00 in their reimbursements for unauthorized charges. Time will tell how the liability shifts between the merchants and the institutions will impact any costs passed on to the card consumer. If there were to be $50.00 fraud liability costs passed on to the members by the merchants, it would be guess that the credit union would absorb that $50.00 cost since we have already been doing so. Rest assured that many traditional banks out there would not be doing that. 

More information on our EMV cards to be issued in 2016 will be provided to our cardholders during the first quarter of 2016. In the meantime, member liability for unauthorized transactions still remains a $0.00 liability for our credit union members. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weather Closings and Delays at NAECU

It has been predicted by multiple sources that the Tennessee Valley can expect a harsher winter this year due to changes associated with the El Nino weather patterns. Time will tell whether the forecasters are correct or not. One thing is for certain however in the Tennessee Valley - this area is not well suited to clear roads from winter weather events. Governmental budgets are stretched thin as they are so additional resources for winter weather events are pretty much non-existent. That translates to roads being impassable and officially closed under fairly minimal snow and ice events.
If roads are not safe or closed due to weather conditions, that means that our employees cannot travel safely to and from their own homes. Safety of our employees is the primary factor in determining our operating hours when dealing with weather events.

My decision in closing or delaying operating hours of the credit union is not made lightly. I never make a decision on a closing or delayed opening until at least the early morning of a day in question. There have been too many occasions where a winter weather event was expected the night before that did not produce the anticipated results. In order for the credit union to close or delay an opening, there must be active road problems taking place or a line of known winter weather coming that is causing driving problems in its path. We all know that tornadoes are possible throughout the year as well. We did close early on the tornado outbreak day of April 27, 2011 because of the high probability of damaging tornadoes which sadly did occur. Luckily our employees were home when the long track tornado took out the power grid and did so much damage in Morgan, Limestone, and Madison counties. Again, safety of our employees is our primary objective.

We are working on a phone app system where members could be alerted to changing office hours due to weather events. In the meantime, our web site's home page is updated as well as our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. We send out an email message via Constant Contact to subscribers (no cost) to inform about any necessary office hour changes. To subscribe to our Constant Contact mailing list, CLICK HERE to provide you name and valid email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.  

Everyone should be weather aware. If there is anticipated poor weather expected in our area, making financial plans and obtaining some cash before the weather event is always a good idea.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bank Robbers and Hats

The picture on the right here is a bank robber who robbed the south branch of Cullman Savings Bank just before 2:00 PM yesterday. A note was presented to the teller and an undisclosed amount of money was stolen from the bank in the robbery.

What you see here is extremely common for bank robbers, that being that the suspect is wearing a hat. This is especially true for silent robberies where a note is used as opposed to a strong-arm armed robbery.

I have not seen the photo image of the robber at the teller window which may be more disguised since he is wearing a hat during the robbery. The image shown here is an excellent photo which is not always the case. Video camera placements behind the teller line typically have to be placed higher due to structural logistics. This higher camera placement makes it more difficult to capture a good facial image when a person is wearing a hat at a teller window.

All of these security issues are exactly why we must ask members and visitors to our teller lines to remove their hats as part of the transaction. Several years ago a police investigator questioned why we were allowing people to wear hats at the teller line since it makes it more difficult to secure good evidence when a crime is committed. (We had just been robbed ourselves by a person wearing a hat). Keep in mind that not all crimes are robberies. They can be stolen checks, counterfeit checks, identity theft, or any transaction questioned at a later time.

We are not trying to be difficult in asking people to remove their hats and sunglasses when coming to our teller lines. We are trying to secure the assets of our member's money. Keep in mind that our drive thru's are always available for transactions if removing a hat is too much of a burden.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Improper Conduct Towards Employees

Below is a standard notice that is sent out or given from time to time to members regarding interactions with our employees. Our employees work in a public setting and every now and then we have some individuals who would like to pursue contact with our employees outside of the credit union. Sometimes it is just a case of mistaken motives, sometimes it is not. In the end though we need to be able to provide a workplace that is free from unwanted advances. 

Here is the notice;

We thank you for your membership with North Alabama Educators Credit Union. Please understand that our employees are here to provide friendly member service to all of our members in the course of their work transactions. Sometimes, members mistake that friendliness as an opening to request personal employee information or seek contact with our employees outside of the credit union. Please do not approach our employees regarding a request for personal contact information, social media requests, or contact outside of the credit union. We instruct all of our employees to reply with a simple “no thank you” which should be more than enough to prevent continued requests. Our employees are here to provide friendly member service and nothing else. Please refrain from any comments or activity that could be deemed as unwanted advances towards our employees. As an employer, I am responsible for maintaining a workplace that is free of unwanted advances. I thank you in advance for your cooperation. 

The notice along with a phone call at times is usually all that is needed to rectify any ongoing issues. As an employer, our primary focus must be upon our employees in maintaining the best workplace environment. Most members understand this so we rarely have problem issues to begin with. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Federal Reserve Says "Not Yet" on Rates

The graph above is not a pretty one, especially for those looking to save money. It reflects the history of the Federal Reserve overnight rate from January 1998 to January 2015, although that graph can be extended to show a continued flat line to September 2015 since the Federal Reserve did not raise rates this week. The target rate has been set at 0.00% to 0.25% for seven years. Deposit rates and investment rates have been extremely low during this time as a result. 

Compare a quarterly dividend rate on $10,000 at 0.15% that would pay $3.69 versus earning $98.63 for the same dollar amount at a 4.00% rate. (Basic average historical rate). This is a huge difference and is just destroying deposit earnings on account holders, especially senior citizens who had planned for higher earnings in their retirement years. 

Banks and credit unions can't offer good deposit rates in this environment because their earnings on investments is low too. The average investment yield of North Alabama Educators Credit Union is only 1.15% which is actually higher than our average peer group ratio of 1.08%. The very large credit union category peer group only has a 1.20% average yield on their investments. (All as of June 30, 2015). 

Loan rates of course have been historically low during this same time period so the spread between what a credit union pays on deposits versus what they earn on investments and loans has been reduced. This environment of low rates has been great for borrowers but horrible for savers. Nothing new to anyone there. 

The Federal Reserve Board met this week and the possibility of an initial interest rate increase was good in the eyes of many pundits. It didn't happen. When rates will be raised is a matter of intense speculation. The borrowers have had it pretty good for many years now. It's about time for savers to have some good years! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor Day Recognition

With the upcoming Labor Day weekend upon us, it is fitting to recognize the talents and service of our own employees here at North Alabama Educators Credit Union. The credit union is fortunate to have a group of employees who serve the membership well with their dedication to member service. Having worked myself as a teller many years ago, I know full well how challenging and important these front line employees are to the success of a financial institution. Members work with our front line staff day in and day out and their service is what keeps them doing business with North Alabama Educators Credit Union. Our back office and support area employees do their part in helping members with all the electronic service channels that exist these days. Management and the Board of Directors greatly appreciate the work of our employees. The benefits provided to our employees is a good package and reflects the appreciation of their efforts on behalf of all members. We certainly want to do more whenever possible.

I know that our employees will enjoy a long weekend filled with family gatherings, college football kickoff parties, outdoor events, and just general relaxation on their own terms. They deserve it.

If you are a member of North Alabama Educators Credit Union and really appreciate the service of one or more employees here, please take a moment the next time you visit to let them know. All employees love to be recognized for good deeds. Trust me, it would be appreciated!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Together Magazine Summer Issue

Our summer issue of the "Together" magazine  is being mailed out within the week. As usual there are some useful lifestyle topics such as preventing vacation mishaps, shopping smart for school supplies, when to repair or replace major appliances, member referral program, and other information within the magazine.

Take a few minutes to look over the publication. The "Together" magazine won a national APEX 2015 award in its class earlier this year. The magazine offers good content for everyday living. Check it out!

CLICK HERE for the online digital version of our "Together" magazine.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Independence Day Recognition

On this and every Independence Day, it is important to recognize the birth of our country and appreciate the liberties that we do enjoy in these United States. While our history as a nation may not have always been perfect, our country has evolved over time and remains the beacon destination for many throughout the world seeking freedom and economic prosperity. 

Our independence from Great Britain was a bold and courageous decision. The lives that were lost at that time in our history paved the way for the country that we now enjoy today.  

Independence Day is a celebration of our country's origin. Like any good birthday, the best part is being around for yet another birthday. 

On behalf of the staff and officials of North Alabama Educators Credit Union, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Independence Day celebration. If you do sing Happy Birthday for our nation, be sure to add "and many more..." for good measure! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Several years ago we had a credit union member disputing a large ATM transaction that had been done at one of our own ATM locations. Since all ATM transactions are recorded on video we asked the member to come down to the office and review the video with us. The member was very concerned about the transaction and was prompt in wanting to view the video and assist with the investigation of the disputed transaction.

The time/date of the disputed late evening transaction was retrieved on the video recorder and the member eagerly watched the video with credit union management. We could see a person walk up to the drive-up ATM. The video at the ATM itself was good but only showed a male person with their hat pulled down and hand being used to block out their face. It was impossible to identify the person involved from the video. The person using the stolen ATM card of course did not want to be identified so their efforts were successful in keeping their face hidden. 

What the card thief did not realize however is that the credit union utilizes multiple outdoor video cameras to record vehicles and activity going on throughout the parking lot. Pulling up these other video sources both before and after the actual ATM transaction were very revealing in ending the mystery of the transaction. One other camera recorded a dump truck pulling into the parking lot while another camera recorded the person stepping down from the truck as they moved towards the ATM. These images were very clear and unobstructed. 

Upon viewing the dump truck and the person exiting the truck, the shocked member quickly realized who it was and said "Oh my God, that's my son!" 

The son had gone into the member's purse at home, taken out the Debit Card, driven down to the credit union's ATM, taken out the maximum daily cash allowed at an ATM, and then returned the Debit Card to the member's purse upon returning back home. The son knew the PIN from being around the mother on previous card transactions. To make matters worse, the member said she had been already helping out the son financially by making the payments on the son's dump truck loan. 

It was an unfortunate sad situation for the member. The member did not elect to file police charges on their son. Unfortunately, financial theft among family members is a fairly common occurrence. In this case, having good video surveillance was the difference in identifying who the criminal was and preventing a financial loss to the credit union. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ads for Gold utilize Fear Factor

For some time now, radio and television ads have been promoting purchases of gold as a safe investment in uncertain financial times. While gold can be part of a good strategy in an overall investment portfolio, the decision to purchase gold should not be driven by fear tactics. Recent radio ads have been hinting that somehow your savings, CD, and IRA accounts could be seized by the government as a "bail-in" rather than a "bail-out" to troubled banking institutions. These fear based ads cite Cyprus as a real life example where bank depositors in Cyprus initially saw a tax on their deposits to cover the financial collapse in 2013 that was taking place there. These ads imply that the same tactic could take place here in the United States, thus placing depositors at risk of losing their savings. 

To begin with, any sales pitch that focuses on fear is a red flag from the start. Why not focus on gold as a good investment? Or is it? Today gold was selling for $1,170.90 per ounce. The high price in 2014 was in March when prices peaked at $1,370.50 per ounce. That is a 14.56% decrease in value. Gold prices reached a high of $1,889.70 per ounce in August 2011. Had an investor purchased $50,000 worth of gold in August 2011, that gold would today be worth $30,981, a 38.00% DECREASE in value in less than four years. Gold is best used as a long-term investment where holders can ride the significant highs and lows of gold pricing over time. Gold at best should be just part of an overall investment portfolio that utilizes multiple investment options.

The notion that deposits could and would be seized by the United States government as part of a bail-out plan for failing banks or the government itself is just plain ridiculous. Cyprus as a country could not print its own money. The United States does and has been doing so since the country's inception. Depositors in the United States have federally insured deposits up to $250,000. What type of civil unrest would occur if insured deposits were suddenly seized by the very government providing the deposit insurance in the first place?  This doomsday scenario simply would not take place. If it did, the value of gold certainly would not be tied to the dollar. 

Advertising is designed to motivate action. Fear in advertising is one tool utilized to obtain that consumer sale. These fear based gold buying ads frankly border on being illegal as they attempt to incite panic with depositors of financial institutions within the United States. Deposits in federally insured financial institutions in the United States remain safe which is also why the savings rates are usually low. Safety and yield usually go hand in hand. Better to keep your principal balance and earn a small amount than to lose 38% of your investment, in my humble opinion. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Elder Financial Abuse - Warning Signs

The growing elderly population has given rise to a growing problem - elder financial abuse. The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015 noted that senior citizens lose roughly $36.48 billion each year to financial abuse. It is also estimated that just under 40% of seniors are affected by financial abuse in any five-year period.

Denise Hutchings, a Financial Crimes Research Specialist with Verafin, recently provided a list of red flag indicators for financial institutions to consider in connection with possible fraud on elderly accounts. Below is a summary of those red flags indicators.

Three red flag areas of concern deal with (1) Changes in spending and transaction patterns, (2) Changes to accounts and/or documentation, and (3) Changes in Appearance or Demeanor.

1. Changes in Spending and Transaction Patterns

A set of "out-of-sync" check numbers.

A sudden flurry of "bounced" checks and overdraft fees.

Transactions showing multiple small dollar checks posting to the elderly account in the same month. Possible indication of telemarketing or charity scams.

Large withdrawals from a previously inactive account, credit account, or a new joint account.

Increased account use after the addition of a new authorized signer on the account.

Abrupt increases in credit or debit card activity.

Sudden appearance of ATM/Debit Card transactions with no prior history of these before on the account.

Withdrawals or purchases using ATM/Debit Cards that are repetitive over a short period of time. Different patterns of time and location usage of cards as well.

Vulnerable adult appears confused about the account balance or transactions on the account.

A caregiver appears to be getting paid too much or too often.

Significant increases in monthly expenses paid which may indicate that expenses for persons other than the senior are being paid.

Increased cash withdrawal activity, especially when being escorted by another (caregiver, family member, "friend") who appears to be directing the changing account activity.

2. Changes to Accounts and/or Documentation

Recent changes or additions of authorized signers on an elderly account.

Statements are being sent to an address other than the vulnerable adult's home.

Vulnerable adult has no knowledge of newly issued ATM. debit or credit cards.

Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a vulnerable adult's affairs and possessions.

Sudden unexplained transfers of assets, particularly real property.

Refinance of vulnerable adult's property, especially when significant cash out from the new loan is taking place.

3. Changes in Appearance or Demeanor

Vulnerable adult has a companion who seems to be "calling the shots".

Change in the vulnerable adult's physical or mental appearance. Signs that could indicate self neglect or early dementia leave the the vulnerable adult open for financial abuse.

Vulnerable adult acknowledges providing personal and private account information to a solicitor via the phone or email.

Excitement about being the "winner" in a sweepstakes, lottery, or email contest.

Comments to the financial institution that indicate confusion on time frames and people in their lives.


Elder financial abuse is becoming an epidemic and represents such a tragedy to the elderly population who have saved their entire lives for their retirement years. Financial institutions, caregivers, and family members need to be alert to these warning signs that may indicate financial abuse. Sadly, family members are often the source of the financial abuse as they use a vulnerable adult's confusion as cover to steal their assets. The best advice is to closely monitor transactions and follow the paper trail on where funds go.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Secret Shopper Scam Example

Today was my lucky day! Out of all the eligible email accounts in the world, I was selected as the recipient for this amazing Secret Shopper job offer. Below is the exact email that was sent;

I am Michael Reyes, Recruitment Specialist with Platanium Corporation.“We have a mystery shopping assignment in your area and we would like you to participate". Secret Shopper® has been in business since 1990. We are a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (MSPA), the professional trade association for the Mystery Shopping industry. There is no charge to apply to be a Secret Shopper® and information is protected. Secret Shopper® is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers. Its fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to shop. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience. After you sign up, you will have access to training materials via e-mail, fax or postal mail.

Secret Shopper® is the premier mystery shopping company serving clients across America and Canada with over 500,000 shoppers available and ready to help businesses better serve their customers. Continual investment in the latest internet and communication technologies coupled with over 16 years of know-how means working with Secret Shopper® is a satisfying and rewarding experience. Secret shopping as seen on ABC NEWS, NBC NEWS, L.A.TIMES.Since 1990, Secret Shopper® has delivered actionable intelligence to our clients, helping to drive exceptional bottom-line performance. Nearly 1,000 shoppers have registered this week, performing millions of mystery shops throughout North America and the Caribbean. When coupled with our continual investment in the latest internet and communication technologies, you can rest assured that working with Secret Shopper® is a satisfying and rewarding experience.Secret Shopper® is also a charter member of the industry trade association, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Benefit from partnering with America’s premier mystery shopping company. We have been building our tradition of excellence for two decades.

Stores and organizations such as The Gap, Walmart, Pizza Hut and Banks. One amongst many others pay for Secret Shoppers to shop in their establishments and report their experiences. On top of being paid for shopping you are also allowed to keep purchases for free. Secret Shopper® NEVER charge fees to the shopper. Training, tips for improvement, and shopping opportunities are provided free to registered shoppers.Mystery shoppers are either paid a pre-arranged fee for a particular shop, a reimbursement for a purchase or a combination of both. Secret Shopper® has available for immediate assignment an inspection of the customer service of any walmart in your area. You are to shop secretly. This fee will be paid upfront. During this shopping, you will visit a location and make several observations as regards the customer service. You will be required to interact with the shopper clerk. You may conduct the shop alone or as a couple. The assignment will pay $200.00 per duty and you can be able to get up to 2- 3 duties in a week depending on how fast you are able to execute the first assignment. Kindly Fill Out the application form below and we will get back to you shortly with the assignment:
(The application form asked for name, address, phone numbers, age, and email address).

Let's break down how and why this "job" offer is a scam. (Our email filter by the way identified the email as probable spam). The email address of the sender was coming from an AOL email address that did not match the name of Michael Reyes noted in the first line. Also, why would a Recruitment Specialist for a real corporation use an AOL email address? Notice how the email was not addressed to anyone in particular. If a company was truly contacting someone for a job opportunity they would be addressing that person in their email. A quick Google check also does not reveal that a "Platanium Corporation" exists. If misspelled as "Platinum", not good to have your company name misspelled plus that company does exist with no connection to secret shopper programs.

Real secret shopper programs NEVER send money to strangers to purchase items and report back on their shopping experience. To say that "this fee will be paid upfront" is an obvious red flag of the scam. Real secret shopper programs focus on shoppers who visit their stores and transact business with their own personal money. They would then complete a very detailed secret shopper survey and be paid a nominal fee after the fact. It would NEVER be $200 for evaluating a shopping experience. The $200 carrot is out there by the scammer to attract people in difficult financial situations who see the offer as easy money. Also note that additional secret shopper duties might be available based upon the speed of your first assignment. Secrecy and speed are two components of any good scam.

The part that says "You will be required to interact with the shopper clerk" is the meat of the real scam since this is where they will have the victim to wire funds to a recipient provided by the scammer. The wire is almost always going outside of the country. The scammer will provide a counterfeit check after the applicant information is provided to cover the costs of the shopping items, wire amount (largest transaction of course), and the $200 fee for the mystery shopper. These counterfeit checks usually fall below $3,000 because of various banking hold policies and stiffer criminal penalties for larger fake checks.

These Secret Shopper scams have been around for some time and show no signs of slowing down. NEVER respond to the emails because they then have a valid email address and will continue to send additional fake offers in the hopes of having just one scam that finally works.

Be careful out there and remember that fraudsters are always inventing new ways to separate victims from their money. Feel free to contact me or our office staff if you ever receive a questionable offer that you would like to have reviewed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Together Magazine - Spring Edition

The Spring edition of the Together magazine is now published and being circulated to members and our sponsor schools in the area. This is the second year of publication for this Together magazine for the credit union which is a big change from prior year newsletters. Many credit unions have stopped newsletters altogether because of mailing costs and limited interest by the members. Newsletters were more about giving event dates and sales promotion information. By contrast, the Together magazine reads like a normal magazine would. Real life events and financial education resources are featured in each edition to help our membership and the community with their financial decisions.

For example, this Spring edition of the Together magazine discusses how to regret-proof your next vehicle purchase. Buying a vehicle is a major purchase item. Unfortunately the credit union often hears from members after the fact of their vehicle buying horror stories. There is nothing worse than having buyer's remorse on a vehicle that has just been financed for five or six years.

The credit union's primary purpose is to help improve the financial condition of its credit union member-owners. Our Together magazine has been created by professional editors and writers to assist with this objective. I encourage our current and potential members to take a few minutes and read the publication. It is our strong belief that financial education value will be earned by doing so.

Here is a direct link to the e-version where you can flip pages like a regular magazine publication;

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teachers Have Come a Long Way......

Below is an old Teacher Contract from 1923 that is obviously for a female teacher. Makes you wonder what the male teacher contract looked like! Not sure of the geographic region of this contract however the Ohio area was mentioned as a possibility. Fortunately, women have come a long way in the workplace since 1923!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Closings and Delayed Openings

This winter season has presented multiple weather events that have resulted in the credit union having to close offices, delay openings, or close early. These decisions are not taken lightly. The number one priority for the credit union is the safety of our employees as they must travel to and from our various office locations. Predicting weather in the Tennessee Valley is not an easy task. Weather patterns can change and have done so in the past. Weather predictions are all about probabilities so the best we can do as decision makers is to try and make the right call based upon the information available. We generally do not follow the weather closing schedules of the various school systems. School systems have to worry about children waiting on buses or being transported on buses that must leave very early each morning. Credit union offices do not open until 8:30 am Monday through Friday so we have time to see how conditions are that morning before deciding on a closure or delayed opening. Generally, the goal is to make that decision by 6:00 AM if a decision deals with an office closure or delayed opening. We have to notify all of our employees through our communication channels and then we begin notifying our members by a variety of methods. Closing early during an existing workday is based solely on insuring to the best of our abilities that employees can arrive at their homes safely before poor driving conditions develop. 

There are multiple methods used to report office closings, delayed openings, or early closings. The top line of our web site at will notate any office hour changes when they occur. Our Facebook and Twitter pages will be updated live. Members on our Constant Contact email group will receive an email noting weather closings and delays. This is why it is important for the credit union to have accurate email information for members. Finally, the three main network affiliates (ABC, NBC, and CBS) will be contacted to post our announcement along with other businesses in the area. Keep in mind though we have no control if or when the networks will post our announcements. The newsrooms typically do a great job of posting information for the public but they are also extremely busy during these severe weather events. 

The credit union has disaster recovery resources available to post member debits and credits whenever our offices must be closed due to weather or other natural disaster events. We are also very lenient on refunding overdraft fees and other charges that could have been avoided if our offices had been open. All members are encouraged to have a VISA Debit Card or at least an ATM card to access their funds if credit union offices are closed. 

Members are also encouraged to monitor potential weather storm events and make plans in advance for cash needs should an office closing or delayed opening become necessary. We want our members to remain safe also so usually the best place to be during severe weather events is at home with family and friends close by. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

IRS Impersonation Scams

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reporting a considerable number of phone scams being targeted towards taxpayers, including recent immigrants. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS but are not. These callers are con artists who will attempt to scare people into providing their personal information and credit/debit card numbers. Be aware that these fake callers are using spoofing technology to fool Caller ID into displaying that the call is originating from the IRS.

Victims are told that they owe money to the IRS and that their tax obligation needs to be paid promptly through a credit/debit card or a wire transfer. The fake IRS callers use fear as the main tool in obtaining what they want. Victims will be threatened with immediate arrest, account liens, seizure of homes and assets, deportations, and suspension of a business or driver's license.

Some fake callers can go the opposite route and claim that you are due a large refund and need your information so that the IRS can "make things right".

The IRS will never; (1) Call to demand immediate payment over the telephone, (2) Call about taxes owed unless they have mailed you a bill, (3) Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe, (4) Require you to use a specific means of payment for your taxes such as a credit or debit card, (5) Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the telephone, or ((6) Threaten to bring in law enforcement to arrest you for non-payment.

These fake IRS impersonation calls are growing in number. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported in an October report that IRS impersonators had made more than 90,000 fake phone calls to consumers and had acquired more than $5,000,000 in stolen funds.

Report scammers to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by phone at 1-800-366-4484 or forward suspicious e-mails to You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission online. Contact your financial institution immediately if you have given personal account information in response to a suspicious caller or email.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Large Cash Transactions: Bank Secrecy Act

Credit union members should be aware of what the Bank Secrecy Act means to consumers and the financial transactions they make in their financial institutions. All financial institutions are required to monitor transactions that take place and report any activity that is deemed suspicious either by definition or by circumstances. Cash transactions in particular are monitored by dollar amount and by frequency. All cash transactions above $10,000 on a daily aggregate basis would be reported. It is important to note though that account holders should not purposely stagger cash deposits over several days to avoid reporting of the $10,000 cash amount threshold. The practice of staggering deposits to avoid reporting is called "structuring" and could result in being reported as a suspicious activity, which is worse than just one large currency transaction. The practice of "structuring" cash deposits to avoid reporting can be prosecuted as a crime. This is especially true if the cash transactions can be connected to money laundering, tax evasion, or criminal activities where cash is being transacted. Most financial institutions have internal systems in place to monitor cash transactions over a period of time to trigger a concern over "structuring". 

There is nothing illegal about making a large currency deposit or withdrawing a large cash sum of money. There should not be any fear by consumers in making cash transactions. The origins of the Bank Secrecy Act was to establish a system that could assist with detecting money laundering and criminal activities. Terrorism concerns with large cash transactions have developed over time. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is the federal bureau within the U.S. Treasury Department that has been charged with implementing, administering, and enforcing compliance with the laws associated with The Currency and Foreign Transactions Act of 1970, commonly called the Bank Secrecy Act. 

The Bank Secrecy Act and the laws associated with it are not a secret. They are a matter of public policy that every citizen can review on their own. The government FinCEN web site has information available for the public in understanding the Bank Secrecy Act. The web site is . 

All financial institutions are required to comply with Bank Secrecy Act regulations. Significant fines and penalties could be assessed to financial institutions that do not comply. 

Account holders are advised to be open and honest with their large cash transactions. Do not ask financial institution employees about how to avoid being reported for cash transactions because that is a sure way to get reported. The Bank Secrecy Act law requires it. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

CO-OP Network: Provides Thousands of Branches to NAECU Members

When people ask how many branches NAECU has, the answer might surprise you: Over 5,000 physical branches throughout the United States and foreign locations. That's right, over 5,000 branches. Many of the large regional banks don't offer that many locations. How can an $85 million dollar credit union like NAECU offer more branch locations than a multi-billion dollar regional bank?

Cooperation among credit unions, that's how. The CO-OP Network is a collection of individual credit unions all over the country that have banded together to provide common resources that benefit all credit union members within the network group. Participating credit unions offer their branches and staff to post transactions on your host credit union. Have a child attending college out of town in Tuscaloosa, Alabama? There are 4 CO-OP Network branches available there. Have a child attending college out of town in Auburn, Alabama? There are 2 CO-OP Network branches available there. Have a child out of state in Nashville, Tennessee? There are 13 CO-OP Network Branches available there. Members of NAECU can perform transactions on their NAECU accounts at these CO-OP Network branches. Available transactions include deposits, withdrawals, loan payments, account transfers, account history reviews, and known payroll check cashing. THERE IS NO FEE TO NAECU MEMBERS FOR USING THESE SERVICES. Cashier's checks can be purchased for a small fee.

The CO-OP Network also provides nearly 30,000 surcharge free ATM locations!

Members of NAECU with accounts older than 90 days can utilize the CO-OP Network and enjoy the greatly expanded access to their account(s) with NAECU.

Members are encouraged to visit for CO-OP Network information and a search engine for available locations by city or zip code. Phone apps and a texting option are available. An automated phone search for locations is available at 1-888-748-3266 or live help is available at 1-888-837-6500.

The CO-OP Network is an incredible free benefit available to members of NAECU. Check it out!