MADISON, Wis. (7/24/14)--Goodwill Industries International apparently is the latest retailer to have fallen victim to a data breach, and with this news, it's likely no surprise that a third of global consumers don't trust retailers to protect their personal and financial data.
The company learned last week that an investigation was under way regarding theft of payment card numbers at select U.S. store locations, Goodwill said on its website, but cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs reported that a fraud pattern has appeared in at least 21 states (
Add Goodwill to breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, Sally Beauty Supply, Michaels and P.F. Chang's, and negative consumer sentiment toward retailers is not surprising.
ACI Worldwide and Aite Group recently released the second part of a study on financial fraud that found 58% of global consumers think financial institutions do a better job of protecting their data than retailers, restaurants, large chain stores, government agencies or law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the ubiquity of mobile devices is making them a target of malware. Last month, the Trojan-type malware Svpeng made its appearance in mobile banking applications. It checks for banking apps on a user's phone, then locks it down, in effect holding it hostage until the user coughs up money on a prepaid card.
Security experts at FireEye recently uncovered HijackRAT--a triple threat of banking credential theft, remote access takeover and the destruction of anti-virus applications on Android devices.
Mobile phone users tend to value convenience over security, giving credit unions an opportunity to educate them about good mobile financial habits such as not using public Wi-Fi to access banking accounts and using authorized apps only from the credit union or financial institution (
Regardless of where the fraud began, it's how it's handled that makes the most impression on consumers, ACI and Aite found. Twenty-three percent of respondents left their financial institutions because of how their fraud cases were handled.
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (7/24/14)--Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., with $1.4 billion in assets, is the recipient of the 2013 Platinum Million Dollar Lender Award by U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Stan Gruszynski.
The annual award is presented to lenders that have partnered with and made significant contributions to supporting rural residents in Wisconsin who are looking to become homeowners through the USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing (GRH) program.
"As a result of the Guaranteed Rural Housing program, we have been able to help many more members accomplish the dream of homeownership," said Matt Gerber, Royal CU vice president of mortgage loan sales. "This particular program is one of the only remaining no-down-payment programs offered in the industry."
In 2013, Royal leveraged more than $5 million of GRH program funds to help finance home purchases for families of moderate income in Wisconsin. Nearly 4,000 families across the Badger State bought homes last year thanks to the GRH loan program.
Loans secured through the program are financed by participating lenders and guaranteed by USDA Rural Development. The loan amount is limited to the applicant's ability to pay off the mortgage.
Eligible areas include rural regions or communities under 20,000 in population.
The past few years have been challenging for homebuyers in rural areas of Wisconsin, Gruszynski said, adding: "Working with our lending partners across the state, we've made a difference to those rural families prepared to realize the responsibility and benefits of owning a home."
BURNSVILLE, Minn. (7/24/14)--To gain the trust of the business communities they seek to serve, credit unions must build true partnerships with potential members. US FCU, Burnsville, Minn., with $970 million in assets, will take a big step toward doing that when it hosts a business open house and social media seminar Aug. 12.
The credit union has partnered with the local Better Business Bureau local social media consultant KS95/Hubbard Interactive and other local resources to provide small business owners and prospective small business owners with information and networking strategies for running their businesses.
One of those resources is Open to Business, a partnership among local cities and developers that provides one-on-one business counseling to current and prospective entrepreneurs and possible access to the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers small business loan fund.
"One of the things we see is that business owners are really good at what they know, and that's their actual business, but when it comes to the other side of running a business, like back office needs and handling money, that's not their strength," Reyna Staats, US FCU senior business development specialist, told
. "This is a way for us to show how we can help them out and what resources they have available to them."
The open house is also a way for the credit union to spread the word about its services, Staats said. "A lot of people still don't know that credit unions have business accounts and have business loans," she said. "We want to the community to know that US FCU can serve your business needs as well."
Actually, US FCU views itself as more than a provider of business services, Staatz told
. "Half my job is to educate, and find what truly is the best fit financially for the businesses we serve. Education is very important to everything we do for both our personal and business account members."
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (7/24/14)--Shred events--during which local businesses volunteer to run confidential documents through a shredder for the general public--don't capture many headlines. But the Plattsburgh, N.Y.,
dedicated resources and editorial space in its July 22 edition to emphasize the "good deed" Dannemora FCU offered its local community in sponsoring its seventh annual Shred Fest.
"If you don't understand how valuable this service is, think back to the many cases that have been talked or written about in which identities and crucial personal information have been pirated, so unscrupulous people could cash in on it: numbers on bank accounts or credit cards, for instance," the
reminded its readers.
"Once secured by dishonest people, those numbers could be exploited for large sums of money, loss of reputation, illegal documents or other outcomes bound to do damage. Shredding is now a way of life for the savvy," it continued.
And, the paper reminded readers, the occasion "did double duty as a public benefit." The $141 million-asset, Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based credit union asked "shredders" to bring nonperishable food items for Plattsburgh Interfaith Food Shelf.
The paper noted that Ticonderoga (N.Y.) FCU, with $91 million in assets, recently held its first Shred Fest, which produced more than 5,600 pounds of shredded paper and brought in more than $440 in food to be split among three area food pantries.
"The credit unions have provided a service that is truly important in this era of identity theft, and the number of people who showed up at the Plattsburgh event last Saturday prove how much the service is valued," the editorial concluded. "An institution that derives its name from the credit it distributes has earned a little for itself."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (7/24/14)--It's summer camp for kids, with a twist.
|The Pink Team at the Mini Billionaire's Academy captured all five flags, each one tied to their credit score, allowing them to get "approved" for a loan. (Tallahassee-Leon FCU Photo)
Is there capture the flag? Yes, but a captured flag improves your credit. Are there egg-carrying relay races? Of course, but the faster you run, the faster you invest in the stock market, which can be a risky play.
These were the types of games, and financial lessons, played and learned by the nearly 50 kids who attended this year's Mini Billionaire's Academy, a five-day overnight camp hosted by Tallahassee-Leon FCU, Tallahassee, Fla., with $43 million in assets.
The academy, geared towards kids ages 8 to 16, educates participants on personal financial management using entertaining and engaging games. In its third year, this year's academy was the largest class yet.
"Students are graduating high school, and even college, with almost no formal training on personal money management and we are proud to be able to fill that gap in our community," said Lisa Brown, Tallahassee-Leon president/CEO.
The camp, which started as a one-day event in a community center, has become so popular that it has been moved to the expansive Wallwood Boy Scout Reservation in Gadsden County where campers can canoe, bike, go zip-lining and more, Mike Akers, Tallahassee-Leon vice president of sales and services, told
"My favorite quote from parents is they wish they had something like this when they were a kid," Akers said.
|Florida State Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) stops by to speak to the campers about the importance of responsible money management. (Tallahassee-Leon FCU Photo)
Other activities included a s'mores store competition that challenged campers to run their own businesses; campfire skits about budgeting; and a reality fair where campers were assigned careers and had to make financial decisions based on their unique financial situations.
A grant from "Biz Kid$," an award-winning
TV program supported by the National Credit Union Foundation that teaches kids about fiscal responsibility, helped Tallahassee-Leon put on the camp this year. Many campers received partial or full scholarships to attend as well.
"It's so rewarding to see how responsible the campers are by the end of the program," Brown said. "A little bit of fun will equip them for the rest of their lives."
LANSING, Mich. (7/24/14)--For the third year, CU Lunch Local aims to put thousands of dollars back into the pockets of Main Street businesses with its nationwide cash mob program that also promotes the credit union difference.
CU Lunch Local, set for Oct. 14 during International Credit Union Week, originated two years ago with Michigan credit unions and Michigan Business Connection. Credit unions commit to buying local, infusing cash into their communities and raising credit union awareness.
This year's goal is to expand even further beyond the borders of Michigan. Participating credit unions can promote their activities on the CU Lunch Local Facebook page, and the #culunchlocal hashtag will help spread the word in social media.
In the past, credit unions have comped cups of coffee, purchased supplies from local businesses or partnered with locally owned restaurants to offer discounts to credit union members.
Credit unions interested in participating can use the CU Lunch Local Facebook page or contact Jessica Richardson-Isenegger at
MADISON, Wis. (7/24/14)--With nine recent program completions, the Credit Union National Association now counts 2,175 credit union professionals as certified credit union financial counselors (CCUFC).
CCUFC-designated professionals help counsel members through current and future financial situations.
"The training provides great skills whether you are a loan officer or a counselor," said new designee Jamie Fatheree, American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, Texas, with $5.6 billion in assets. "Even if you have been counseling for a while, you learn things you didn't know or hadn't thought of before. The program gave me a network of other counselors to bounce ideas off of and share what works."
Fatheree received her designation for completing the second part of the program at CUNA's Certified Financial Counselor School in June.
Other CCUFC designees are:
- Ariane Aughenbaugh, Franklin-Oil Region CU, Oil City, Pa., with $35 million in assets;
- Janine Bethel, Grand Bahama Co-op Credit Union Ltd., Freeport, Bahamas;
- Michelle Bryant, Blue Eagle CU, Roanoke, Va., with $126 million in assets;
- Kimberly Gaines, Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge, La., with $234 million in assets;
- Sandra Gladney, American Airlines FCU;
- Crystal Jepsen, North Star Community CU, Cherokee, Iowa, with $79 million in assets;
- Heather Smith, Credit Union One, North Jackson, Ohio, with $10 million in assets; and
- Cheryl Welles, Empower FCU, Syracuse, N.Y., with $1.2 billion in assets.
In addition to the on-site school, the CCUFC designation can also be earned by successfully completing parts one and two through the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor eSchool or CUNA Financial Counseling Certification Program.