FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (10/22/14)--Staples Inc. is investigating a possible breach of payment card data, the company announced Monday.
Although the office supply retail giant has 1,800 locations nationwide, it appears fraudsters have stolen data from a subset of Staples locations in Pennsylvania, New York City and New Jersey.
The breach appears to have occurred in a pattern of fraudulent transactions on a group of cards that had previously been used at a small number of Staples locations in the Northeast, according to information security Brian Krebs.
Fraudulent charges occurred at other businesses, such as supermarkets and other big-box retailers, an indication that the cash registers in at least some Staples locations may been infected with card-stealing malware that lets thieves create counterfeit copies of cards that customers swipe at compromised payment terminals, Krebs reported on his
Staples told Krebs it has contacted law enforcement about the matter.
Also on Monday, the FBI reported nearly 519 million financial records have been stolen in the past year, with 439 million stolen in the last six months (
Oct. 21). About 35% of the thefts were from website breaches, 22% were from cyber-espionage, 14% occurred at the point of sale when a purchase was made at a retail store, and 9% when someone swiped a credit or debit card, the FBI said.
The Credit Union National Association continues to press national lawmakers to pass legislation that would require merchants to meet the same strict payment data security standards imposed upon financial institutions. Credit unions nationwide saw 4.6 million of their cards compromised as a result of last year's Target breach, leading to about $30.6 million in breach-related costs.
CUNA also is collecting information on the financial and operational impact the Home Depot breach has had on credit unions. Completed surveys from credit unions affected by that breach are due Friday.
NEW YORK (10/22/14)--It might be easy to state that millennials don't like big banks, Vince Passione, columnist for
magazine wrote in a recent article, given that polls show a handful of the largest U.S. banks consistently rank at the top of the generation's most-hated brands.
But it's not only animosity that's driving millennials toward credit unions and away from banks.
Credit unions, explains Passione, CEO/founder of LendKey, a cloud-based technology platform for lenders and investors, have evolved into the types of tech-savvy and versatile financial institutions that appeal to millennials.
For example, South Carolina FCU, North Charleston, with $1.3 billion in assets, has created fee-free deals for those age 25 and under that act as "Oops Refunds," according to Passione.
The product allows the young members to have one free-fee refund per quarter, a service that acknowledges the growing pains associated with learning about personal financial management.
Passione also noted PSCU's recent KnockOut event, which fosters tech-innovation in the credit union industry through a daylong challenge that pits teams in a competition to create the best technology-based financial services product (
And even some larger credit unions have already adopted the recently introduced Apple Pay.
"Innovative tech products and creative programs like these are drawing millennials away from big banks," Passione wrote. "And as community-based, member-owned businesses, credit unions are perfectly positioned to appeal to millennials."
As millennials are estimated to number 86 million, which is 7% larger than the baby-boomer generation, the up-and-coming generation will have a substantial impact on the financial services industry, Passione said.
Fortunately, credit unions excel in the ways that are important to millennials: service, ease, convenience, value and education.
According to Passione, 81% of millennial credit union members say their institution offers an "outstanding customer experience" compared with only 59% of bank customers.
"By focusing on millennials, credit unions are learning and adapting to ensure they are on the cutting edge of banking technology," Passione said.
MADISON, Wis. (10/22/14)--Keeping operating systems and browsers up to date is key to protecting credit unions and members against a new security vulnerability discovered last week.
POODLE (Padding Oracle on Downgraded Legacy Encryption) exploits a flaw in old Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 3.0 encryption protocol. POODLE allows a third party to capture information sent between the user and the website--known as a "man in the middle" attack.
"You might not notice anything," said Andrew Jaquith, chief technology officer for SilverSky, a provider of cloud security solutions and a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. "They are snapping up the information that you're transmitting. It's insidious--you just won't know."
"It affects every browser, every server, because everyone supports backward capability," he told
. "Now it needs to be disabled in all these areas."
For credit unions, that means they must disable SSL 3.0 on all servers and member-facing sites. "If you're using any systems newer than 2006 or 2007, you should be fine," he said. Credit unions also should make sure they have recently updated versions or patches on their operating systems. "Always turn on automatic updates," he advised.
Credit unions can also help protect their employees and members by making sure they are using "slightly more modern browsers," he counseled. Internet Explorer 6 and below are vulnerable so members should be using Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer 7 and above.
"As a browser user, the nice thing about Chrome and Firefox is that they do silent updates in the background," Jaquith said.
Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas, with $655 million in assets, took a proactive approach in notifying its members about the vulnerability and what it was doing to update its four member-serving systems. "We have begun taking corrective action," it noted on its website. "As a result, you may experience short interruptions in some or all online services."
It also suggested members look at their own Web browsers to ensure SSL 3.0 is disabled.
MADISON, Wis. (10/22/14)--In recognition of a career that included stints with the Credit Union National Association, state leagues, a credit union service organization, and as the top executive of a credit union, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will recognize Bob Schumacher, retired president/CEO, MountainCrest CU, as the recipient of a 2015 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Schumacher's award will be one of four Wegner awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF March 9 at CUNA's 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference.
"Bob is one of the most dedicated and devoted followers of the credit union philosophy who has worked on all levels of the movement," said John Gregoire, chair of NCUF Wegner Awards selection committee and president of The ProCon Group. "His impact particularly on Foundation programs such as the Community Investment Fund, Biz Kid$ and the Credit Union Development Education Program is beyond belief. Anyone who has had the opportunity to be touched by Bob's contagious energy and enthusiasm comes away a more committed individual."
Schumacher's career includes eight years at CUNA, 12 years at the credit union leagues in Washington and Florida, two years at a mortgage CUSO and 15 years at MountainCrest CU, Arlington, Wash., with $87 million in assets.
Schumacher worked CUNA's national advertising program (NAP) in the 1970s. He spoke to credit union groups on the importance of marketing, raising money for the NAP, helping create a credit union brand image and increasing public awareness of credit unions.
As president/CEO of MountainCrest CU, he not only had a direct impact on the financial lives of his members, but led his staff through a successful merger, relocation and name change.
Schumacher has also helped several credit unions and nonprofit foundations, both as a professional senior consultant through The Paragon Group and as a pro bono volunteer. He has served on the NCUF board, the Washington Credit Union Foundation board (including serving as chair), the FSCC shared branching network board, the Northwest Corporate FCU board, the Snohomish County (Wash.) Junior Achievement board, as chair of the NCUF's awards and recognition committee--as well as a member of its fundraising committee--and in many additional leadership roles within the credit union movement.
In 2002, Schumacher was recognized with a CUNA Marketing Council's Hall of Fame Award, and in 2006, with the Washington Credit Union League's Ambassador Award.
TAMPA, Fla. (10/22/14)--Couple of tomatoes, perhaps a jalapeno or two, a little cilantro, and voila: homemade salsa.
Grow Financial FCU, Tampa, Fla., is helping members grow the ingredients for this very recipe through the "Grow You Own Salsa" campaign it's created in partnership with the
Tampa Bay Times
Today, each of the credit union's 21 locations in the Tampa Bay area will be passing out free seed packets to grow cilantro, tomatoes and jalapenos, all in an effort to promote locally grown food and healthy eating habits.
"One of our guiding principles as an organization is to 'Grow the Greater Good,'" said Bob Fisher, president/CEO of the $1.9 billion-asset credit union. "We look for opportunities to be socially responsible and give back to the communities we live and work in, so this type campaign is the perfect tie in for our credit union."
In addition to the seed packets, which will come with instructions on how to plant and grow the vegetables, the credit union branches will distribute a special section of the
Tampa Bay Times
called "Growing the Greater Good," in which the credit union will be featured.
The tabloid will focus on green initiatives and what local organizations are doing to take an eco-friendly approach to their operations. Grow Financial's green initiatives and company culture will be highlighted in the newspaper prominently.
For a copy of the salsa recipe and growing instructions use the resource link below.
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/22/14)--The impact the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation had in 2013 on the states in which it operates was widely felt.
More than 300 credit union growth and professional development grants, totaling $384,490, were made possible; credit unions in areas of Oklahoma that were ravaged by tornadoes were assisted with emergency funds; and more than 67 reality fairs, reaching more than 5,200 students, were held thanks to the work of the foundation.
But these accomplishments just scratch the surface of the benefits the charitable arm of the Cornerstone Credit Union League have provided.
A comprehensive report on the foundation's full impact can be found in its 2013 Impact Report, which was released Monday (
"We simply would not be positioned to be as successful as we have been over the years without the support of our credit unions and other contributors," said Courtney Moran, the foundation's executive director. "Together we are truly making the difference."
The full report includes:
- Board of trustees and management team directories;
- Grant highlights;
- Financial education updates;
- A Community Investment Fund overview; and
- Fundraising highlights.
To download the full report, use the resource link below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/22/14)--What spooks U.S. consumers more than any "Walking Dead" marathon or Halloween ghoul is an ever-present sense of the financial inability to pay their monthly bills, according to a recent poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Ninety-two percent of the nearly 1,400 respondents said they had a fear of running out of money, led by 64% who fear they can't pay each month's bills. Retirement, unplanned expenses and children's education were concerns for 15% or less of respondents.
"The focus on immediate needs, as opposed to future ones such as retirement, reflects the uncomfortable financial situation in which many Americans live month after month," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "Entering the holiday shopping season already struggling to meet existing debt obligations will only add more pressure on the family."
NFCC suggests five steps to alleviate the financial fear:
Find any financial leaks by tracking household spending and come together to determine what gets spent and what gets saved in the future. "The unity that results from this type of decision-making process will likely produce a greater level of success, as everyone will be pulling in the same direction," said the NFCC;
Create a cash-flow calendar.
Increase financial awareness by recording sources of income and bill-due dates. If there's not enough money available to meet a debt obligation on its due date, call the company to see if the date can be moved. This will prevent overdrafts, late payments and fees;
When money is tight, saving isn't a priority for many. Living on a cash basis can save up to 20% over previous spending on plastic. Put raises, bonuses, birthday money or other windfalls directly into savings, and aim for an emergency fund of one month's salary;
Revolving debt can be expensive with interest stacking on top of interest. Write down and total the existing debt and associated interest paid each month. "The totals may be shocking, but will hopefully spur action, as ignoring the problem will only make matters worse," the counseling agency noted; and
Make a list of short-term goals for the next 12 month and a separate list of long-term goals. Include dates and dollar amounts with each goal to decide which ones can be met realistically. "Goals that aren't achievable only serve to discourage and potentially derail the entire plan," the NFCC said.
"Fear and worry can impact more than a person's finances. People owe it to themselves and their family to find solutions to financial concerns before they negatively impact other areas of their life," noted Cunningham.