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Report Text message scams increasing

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (7/15/09)--Internet criminals are increasingly operating like successful businesses, borrowing the best strategies from legitimate companies and collaborating in partnerships with each other to make a profit off their illegal activities, says a new security report. Cisco's 2009 Midyear Security Report covers a range of threats, including a significant increase in text message scams--the "new frontier for fraud irresistible to criminals," who hope that consumers savvy enough not to fall for e-mail phishing scams may still be gullible through their mobile phone. The research notes that recently smaller financial institutions have been the focus of many text message scams "likely because customers tend to have higher levels of trust and familiarity with local banks." It cites three examples--all from credit unions (First Community CU, Jamestown, N.D.; Buffalo Metropolitan FCU, Buffalo, N.Y., and BCT FCU, Binghamton, N.Y.). Among the threats the report cites:
* Botnets--Networks of compromised computers used to launch an attack, botnets are being increasingly rented out as a service by their owners to fellow criminals to deliver spam and malicious software. * Spam--A major vehicle for spreading worms and malware and clogging Internet traffic, spam encompasses everything from legitimate sales pitches to malicious websites. More than 180 billion spam messages are sent each day-- about 90% of the world's e-mail traffic. * Worms--Credit unions interested in using social networking need to be aware that the rise of social networking has made it easier to launch worm attacks. People who social network are more likely to click links and download content they believe were sent by people they know. * Spamdexing--Packing a website with keywords or search terms so search engines will display the site more prominently, spamdexing also can send malware disguised as legitimate software. Consumers who trust the rankings on major search engines may download a fake package. * Text message scams--Since the beginning of the year at least two or three new campaigns have surfaced every week on handheld mobile devices such as cell phones. More than 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide mean a criminal can cast a wide net and walk away with a hefty profit, even if the attack yields only a small fraction of victims. * Insiders--With the global recession causing loss of jobs, insider threats are an increasing concern for businesses. Insiders who commit fraud can be contractors or other third parties as well as current or former employees.
The reported noted three trends to watch:
* Spam will return to record high levels; * Legitimate websites will see more attacks; and * Social networking attacks will continue;
As for recommendations, Cisco advised institutions to:
* Have security move at the speed of the crime. Don't wait to patch the credit union's operating system. * User education and security awareness are critical. * Keep an eye on "old" problems while being vigilant about new risks. * Never underestimate the insider threat. * Have strong, realistic policies for protecting sensitive data.

Corporate Central CU board officers elected

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MUSKEGO, Wis. (7/15/09)--The board of directors at Corporate Central CU recently elected its executive committee at the corporate's annual meeting, held in conjunction with the Wisconsin Credit Union League's Annual Convention and Exposition. Officers are:
* Chairman, Daniel Ige, president of Golden Rule Community CU, Ripon, Wis.; * Vice chairman, Gerald Forsythe, president of Altra FCU, Onalaska, Wis.; * Secretary, Greg Hilbert, Fox Communities CU, Appleton, Wis.; and * Treasurer, Kim Sponem, president of Summit CU, Madison.

Blogger loves her bank but oops its a CU

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MADISON, Wis. (7/15/09)--A blogger on Salon.com is in love with her "bank." "I love my bank! I'm dancing with adoration for this place that holds my money for me." The only trouble is--her "bank" is actually a credit union. If credit unions can get past the word "bank" as the Jess D. Facts blog raves about the unnamed credit union, they'll find this love letter provides examples of what credit unions do that banks don't and just how far credit unions will go to help a member in trouble. For example:
* When a workplace mixup results in her company depositing the wrong amount, the blogger accidentally deducts her car payment--twice--from her account. She needs that second payment for another bill. She calls the credit union first thing in the morning, explains the mixup and says she forgot to turn off her automated car payment. Then, "I asked if I could have my money back." After a pause and some tapping on a keyboard, the member service rep said, "Okay, there, it's done." The rep told her she'd noticed the problem and was going to call the member later that morning "in case today was one of your days off. I wanted to let you sleep in." * In May her husband used his ATM card near where he works, which is in a "shady part of town," said the blogger. The credit union called his cell phone to find out whether the transaction was legitimate, but he didn't answer. So the credit union called her. "Because he didn't answer his phone, they were now concerned for his life and didn't care anymore about the money." * In 2004, the blogger was laid off and couldn't pay her car loan, which was almost paid off. She didn't call and explain the situation "because I didn't have any money." During the period, she lost her house, but "I kept driving that car. The bank [credit union] never tried to contact me about that loan." Two years later, when she was rehired to her old position, she went to the credit union, embarrassed that it had been so long since she had made a car payment. "The woman in charge of loans listened to my apology and smiled. 'We knew you'd be back,' she said. She helped me set up the payments to come out of my check like it had been before." The blogger noted the car loan problem never made it into her credit report. "I love my bank," she said.
The blog generated a number of comments, including this one: "I feel the same way about my credit union. They are so much better at personal service than banks, I can't imagine why anyone who has access to a credit union would go anywhere else." To read the blog and comments, use the resource link.

Australian CUs new code makes 10 key promises

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WARWICK, Australia (7/15/09)--A new Code of Practice for Australian credit unions will specify how credit unions should deal with their members. The new Mutual Banking Code of Practice was developed for Australian credit unions and building societies by industry trade association Abacus-Australian Mutuals (Weekly Trader July 15). The new code was broken down into 10 key promises all accredited credit unions and mutual building societies must follow. They are:
* We will be fair and ethical in our dealings with you. * We will focus on our members. * We will give you clear information about products and services. * We will be responsible lenders. * We will deliver high customer service and standards. * We will deal fairly with any complaints. * We will recognize member rights as owners. * We will comply with our legal and industry obligations. * We will recognize our impact on the wider community. * We will support and promote this Mutual Banking Code of Practice.

CEO among first to help economys victims

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BLUE BELL, Pa. (7/15/09)--The “Get Help Now, Pennsylvania” volunteer initiative got underway July 7 to provide financial and legal help to Pennsylvanians affected by the economic downturn. Volunteers include lawyers and financial experts--including credit unions--at 13 locations statewide (Life is a Highway July 14). One of the first individuals looking for assistance at the Chester County Bar Association was helped by Helen Edwards, president/CEO of Norristown Bell CU, a $39.5 million asset, Blue Bell, Pa.-based credit union. Edwards offered suggestions on how the woman, who was laid off, could pay her bills and live on her monthly unemployment benefits. “She left here with a to-do list,” Edwards told a reporter for The Daily Local News. “She’s got a plan in mind. I think she’ll be OK.”

IUSA TODAYI offers tips on switching to CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (7/15/09)--USA TODAY offered tips Tuesday to consumers who have had enough of excessive bank fees and want to move their accounts to an alternative financial institution such as a credit union--which the newspaper said is a good alternative. “In this tight-fisted economy, there's no reason to pay more for banking services than necessary--especially when there are so many banks and credit unions vying for your affections,” wrote Sandra Block, USA TODAY “Your Money” columnist. “Some community banks and credit unions are offering interest rates of 4% or more on checking accounts if you meet certain requirements, such as using your debit card at least 10 times a month.” Block also advises readers to take advantage of “switch kits” offered by credit unions. “These kits, typically available online or at … branches, provide all the forms you need to change direct deposits and automatic payments,” she wrote. “They also contain forms you can send to your old bank and other institutions, informing them that you're closing the account.” Block tells consumers to set up online accounts at their new financial institution and to monitor them on a regular basis. “That will make it easier to determine whether your employer, mortgage lender and other businesses you deal with have switched over to your new account, said Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association,” in the article. “You can also use your online accounts to move money between your new and old account as needed, he said. “If you have money in a savings account,” Hampel added in the article, “it’s not a bad idea to deposit some of it in your old bank account temporarily, just in case there are some outstanding checks or debits you’ve forgotten about.”

PCUA lauds ruling to license Web payday lenders

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/15/09)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) said it supports a decision made Friday by the Commonwealth Court to preserve the Pennsylvania Department of Banking's requirements that payday lenders be licensed. The court ruled that Internet payday lenders, and other out-of-state companies that issue consumer loans to Pennsylvanians, must be licensed by the Department of Banking and comply with state laws. "Everyday consumers are charged exorbitant interest rates and fees to borrow money using payday lenders," said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. "We applaud the court for upholding the Pennsylvania Department of Banking rules that protect consumers from lenders who take advantage of those most vulnerable." In 2007, credit unions in the state launched the Credit Union Better Choice program, an affordable alternative to high cost payday loans, said PCUA. It noted consumers using the program can obtain a 90-day, up to $500 installment loan, at a maximum 18% interest rate, with a $25 or less application fee from a participating credit union. In addition, the program promotes wealth building and financial education. To support building wealth, the program deposits 10% of the loan being disbursed into a savings account in the borrower's name. All borrowers are offered financial counseling. The program is offered by 82 credit unions in 215 branches throughout the commonwealth.

CU System Briefs (07/14/2009)

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* CROWN POINT, Ind. (7/15/09)--Proactive, responsive member services programs, like the one observed at TECH CU, represent the members-first philosophy that assure the credit union movement a “bright future,” National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)Chairman Michael Fryzel said recently after his visit with the credit union. “This credit union has demonstrated an impressive focus on aiding [its] membership during a very difficult economic time,” Fryzel noted in a release. Shown from left are, Tech CU President/CEO Michael Hussey; Sue Landske, Indiana state senator and Tech CU board member; Fryzel; and John McKenzie, Indiana Credit Union League president. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Administration)… * VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (7/15/09)--Police arrested Angelo Treadwell, 32, suspected of being of one of two men who walked into Chartway FCU, Virginia, Beach Va., July 2 and robbed tellers at gunpoint. The robbers afterward fired shots at witnesses who tried to follow the pair as they fled the scene in a red sedan. Treadwell was arrested Wednesday in Norfolk, Va., on charges of heroin distribution. The next day Treadwell was charged with robbery, wearing a mask in public, attempted malicious wounding and related firearm charges, Virginia Beach police said. Police still are searching for the second suspect (The Virginian-Pilot & The Ledger Star July 14) … * AMES, Iowa (7/15/09)--An Ames, Iowa, woman was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $25,000 in restitution for bank fraud and identity theft charges after conducting unauthorized transactions at the Great Iowa Community CU, Ames, and U.S. Bank. Jennifer Wheelock-Armstrong, 30, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines, Iowa. Wheelock-Armstrong used a fraudulently procured traveler’s check to purchase a car at a dealership in Rochester, Minn., and also used a stolen credit card to rent a car in Des Moines, authorities said (chicagotribune.com July 11) … * SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (7/15/09)--Sal Medina, branch manager of Redwood CU’s (RCU) San Rafael branch, was recently elected to the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin. He has been actively involved with the chamber for the past year, and will help guide its efforts in the Marin business community. Also, Medina was appointed as chair of a committee to unite financial services professionals to create financial literacy events and programs. Medina has been branch manager since 2008. He previously served as banking center manager for Bank of America … * GERMANTOWN, Md. (7/15/09)--Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, Md., recently raised more than $24,000 for charities (FOCUS Newsletter July 13). The Second Annual Golf Tournament held June 3 benefited Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC) based in Montgomery Village, Md. Ninety-four golfers raised $15,000 for the organization. A Relay for Life benefiting the American Cancer Society was held at Montgomery County College, Rockville, May 30-31. Mid-Atlantic FCU was the top fundraising company this year. Employees raised $9,291. From left: Mid-Atlantic FCU CEO Rick Wieczorek; CSAAC Executive Director Ian Paregol; Mid-Atlantic FCU Director of Business Development Ron Dimaranan; and Mid-Atlantic FCU Senior Vice President of Lending Frank Amantia. (Photo provided by Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association) … * BEL AIR, Md. (7/15/09)--HAR-CO Maryland FCU, Bel Air, Md., presented $17,000 in scholarships to 13 graduating Harford County high school seniors at a recent reception. One student from each
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
high school in the county was selected to receive a HAR-CO FCU Scholarship for $1,000 (FOCUS Newsletter July 13). Also, high school seniors planning to pursue a degree in environmental science were eligible to apply for the $1,000 Edward V. Goetz Memorial Scholarship. This year, the HAR-CO/Harford Community College Scholarship for $5,000 was available to graduating seniors who will attend Harford Community College (HCC). Pictured from left, front row: Heather A. Stachowski, Danika S. Nolan, Tynetta K. Jackson, Kathleen E. Roberson, Candace I. Freeman, Ebony J. Waters. Back row: Taylor J. Hendricks, Matthew R. Brown (Goetz recipient), Shannon L. Belzner, Stephanie N. Detorie (HCC recipient), Brooke L. Adams, Abigail E. McManus, Pooja P. Kothari, Ebony J. Waters, and Candace I. Freeman. (Photo provided by Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association) …

CUs N.M. state official join to register voters

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (7/15/09)--The Credit Union Association of New Mexico and New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera initiated a voter registration drive at credit unions statewide this summer.
Click to view larger image A joint effort between credit unions and the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office to register voters in credit union branch offices this summer was announced Monday in Albuquerque. From left, are Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) CEO Sylvia Lyon, New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera, First Financial CU CEO Ben Heyward, CUANM Vice President of Governmental Affairs Juan Fernández, and Guadalupe CU Director Linda Medina. (Photo provided by Credit Union Association of New Mexico)
Herrera made the announcement Monday at a press conference at First Financial CU in Albuquerque. Secretary of State staff will set up booths for a day in about 90 credit union branches in 12 counties and register voters throughout July and August. Herrera said her office also will train and certify branch office employees so voter registration can be an ongoing service of the participating credit unions after her employees leave. Herrera, who is on the board of directors of Rio Grande CU, Albuquerque, said that credit unions can offer a great service to their communities by providing convenient locations where residents can register to vote or make changes to their current voter information while doing their regular transactions or running errands. The posters for the voter registration campaign, designed by First Financial CU Vice President of Marketing Adonica Castellano, let members know “We will C.U. at the polls.”