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Are credit unions cyber safe?

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Posted: 8 am ET

When it comes to keeping your banking information safe, bigger may mean better.

A recent webinar sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group discussed the potential for security breaches at the nation's credit unions, focusing on one key figure from a 2011 Verizon security study: cyber thieves are concentrating on financial service organizations with 10 to 100 employees.

"Credit unions seem to fit the bill that cyber thieves are targeting," Ken Otsuka, a senior risk management consultant, said. "They are looking for the path of least resistance, which often leads to credit unions."

Big banks hold exponentially more information and money, but Otsuka argues that hackers prey on smaller players due to a perceived lack of high-end protection. The argument makes sense: if you want to steal something, take the path of seemingly least resistance. That being said, I don't think credit unions take banking security any less seriously. However, I do think it's easy for red flags to go unnoticed by a busy team of 15 employees managing the day-to-day activities of thousands of members.

While credit unions may make convenient targets for cyber criminals, we all know that big banks aren't immune to security flaws and data errors, either. Account numbers, email addresses and phone numbers may be stored and transmitted in ways that, unless you speak the language of security technologies, you won't understand. Otsuka's comments reinforce the need to do your research to determine how your financial institution, big or small, safeguards your information.

Regardless of what type of bank your money calls home, you can take a few additional steps to stay on high alert:

  • Check your account balances daily – the sooner you're aware of any suspicious activity, the better off you'll be.
  • Check your credit report regularly.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails.

What do you think? Do smaller institutions seem more susceptible to data hacking?

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20 Comments
EViL_STeVeN
February 29, 2012 at 5:13 am

Thieves steal where the money is. They will not ignore Credit Unions. They will not stick to only big banks.

The money follows the customers. That is where the thieves will hit. Big and Small, Bank or Credit union. Watch your cash.

Maybe it is time that we find a replacement for banks, both large and small.

Credit Unions are just another bank. Ditch them all. Keep your money.
Occupy Restrooms.

dave
February 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm

BANK OF AMERICA IS A THIEVE. STAY AWAY FROM THEM AND OTHER BIG BANKS

CREDIT UNIONS ARE THE WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bruce
February 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Like most of the other people writing here...big banks just got to BIG....fees for this and fees for that....enough is enough...my wife and I have been members of a credit union for 30 years...Love them...never have any problems...always get a smiling face from the other side of the counter...always coffee and cookies...you don't have to jump through hoops to get small loans...etc...they always contact you asap if there's extra activity use on debit or credit card...in case of fraud use....I wouldn't change credit unions for all the money Wells Fargo could hold....CREDIT UNIONS ROCK

jason
February 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I laugh at how the media is now trying to scare people away from credit unions because people are leaving the big banks. lol. Actually the hackers support credit unions and hack the big banks

Anna
February 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I have been with a credit union for at least 25 years. They have never changed names or ben brought out. The one I am at is only based in the state I live in. I am charged for nothing unless I use a forigen ATM which I never do. I will never go to a big bank. They are one name one day and the next day they have changed names and changed thier services.

Banky
February 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Some of these comments are ludicrous....i say bank where you feel comfrotable, but noone ever has money just go missing from your account. If their is truly Fraud on an account, banks and i assume credit unions are the ones liable for the loss. All companies have opportunities in their associates and explanations to customers but Banks would never STEAL anyones money like that.

WILLIAM FERGUSON
February 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I got hacked while traveling last year. I think I was compromised in a california while using my debit by mistake in a town notorious for harboring drug dealers and outlaws....garberville. By the time I flew from SFO to Trinidad they had used my card online to 'buy' clothes through a dummy store in LA and hit half my balance. But my credit union with VISA caught it before the second attempt to remove the remaining balance. I was impressed....THE QUESTION SHOULD BE: ARE WE SAFE FROM BIG BANKS!? The biggest thieves are the banks...like handing over your accounts to the Mafia to see how they can exploit you while you're in their 'house'....no thanks. THANK GOD FOR THE PEOPLE'S INSTITUTIONS: CREDIT UNIONS

Priestess Auset Ra Amunet
February 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Lies the usual scare tactic to get the public back in the clutches of those thieving ass banks. I was with Bank of America and they were such a bunch of thieves I left and went to a credit union. now to be fair the credit union was not much better as this is Georgia and the state is run by racist hoodlums in suits. but I would take them over a big bank any day.

Sue
February 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Really??? I have been a member of a credit union for close to 35 years. I have received the best customer service and would never consider using a big bank for anything. Their fees are lower and their loan rates are generally lower

Jack
February 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I have been a credit union member for over 30 years now and will not do any more business with a "bank" than I have to.they take care of my checking, savings, joint and personal accounts as well as the vacation culb and the christmas club accounts. They offer signature loans and other perks like that. What more could a person ask for. The credit union works for me with out all the hype. Fast, friendly service. The tellers know all or almost all of their customers by name. They make people feel like people and not just an account number. I'm sure that banks have their place in society, just not in mine. GO CREDIT UNIONS.