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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
Art
February 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

larouchepac dot com ---- can save you time.

mikey47
February 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Credit Union has a lot of security questions to let you get into your account and they inform you of unusual activity right away, big banks take about 72 hrs

mikey47
February 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm

this just a ploy for banks to scare people who use Credit Unions

Tim
February 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Nice to see big banks beginning to panic.

Bina Round
February 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm

This article IS an attack on credit unions and small banks. It makes me proud to know that the fact that so many of us have withdrawn our support of these greedy, lawless institutions that they're starting to fight back with lies like this.
If anyone is "hacking" smaller banks and credit unions, it is the big banks themselves. They have proven time and again that they have no moral character or ethical construct. This offal represents the only way they know how to address a problem - with lies and attacks.
Turn your backs on these crooks; go join your local credit union, or a tiny local bank, if you need a bank. Make friends with the people that work there. Buy goods that you can use in trade, and do small business with your neighbors. Use barter and trade for whatever you can. Support local farms. Take your money back. Get small. Get local. Let these overgrown super-bank buffoons die on the vine.

Marty
February 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

I never, ever open any emails from any bank. I keep track of CU business by going to their site. If I get something that says it's from paypal about my account I shut down and go to their site.

John
February 23, 2012 at 1:05 am

First this sounds like something a big bank would say to get people to go back to them instead of a credit union. I love credit unions because they charge less interest on loans vs a big bank such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others. Credit Unions are non profit hence they charge less interest. They still must follow the same banking laws and whatnot. Look at the banks that got bailed out and I can promise you none where credit unions.

Armando
February 23, 2012 at 12:18 am

Valros,

You are one of many that this kind of things happened to. A few years ago BOA did the same thing to me with a total of $2900. They had no explanation and no record of who had taken the money out of my account. They went as far as to say that maybe my wife had taken the money out to which I replied that the if he had paid closer attention to my account information he would've seen that no one else was on my account being that I was single. Neatless to say that I have never done business with BOA since. I have also stopped doing business with other banking institutions as well and currently belong to a credit union, with which I have had no problems to report. Thank God.
Take care and God Bless.

Armando
February 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm

I guess Banks are up to their old tricks again. Now they're going after Credit Unions trying to scare people into dropping their credit union and go back to them.

Valros
February 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm

While I agree that credit unions are just as susceptible to banking information and money being taken out of our accounts, I have to say that Big Banks are much more apt to be targeted in these manners and some by thier National employees. Everone is in a pinch right now and have been for some time. I used to bank at bank of America and $1,500.00 went missing out of my account! No records showing where the money went. I had reported small transactions having to have occured without my knowledge to the fraud department. I was using online banking fully. But then the big one happened-$1,500.00 dollars missing out of my account with the bank showing no records of where the money dissapeared to? Again, taken to the fraud department and I went to take most of my money out of accounts but left a small amount of 6.74 and wanted to leave a trap for whoever was doing this within BOA. I had spoken with at least a dozen people who banked with Bank of America and they had funds missing out of their accounts with no transactions to show for it as well. Needless to say, it certainly left me with no doubt that it had to be someone who works within the bank and expressed my conclusion to them. Money vanished and no attempt to return a 1500 dollar dissapearence, or any other for that matter. When I changed banks and left the one account open for bait purposes only, over a year later someone had made a transaction on the account and my new balance was like -172.and some odd cents. I had not used the account in over a year AT ALL. When I contacted BOA and told them why I had left the "bait" account open, was to prove that someone within BOA had to be involved. i explained again the 1500.00 w/no proof of such a transaction on the banks part. When I informed her that it was reported to the fraud department and nothing was ever done, I now believed my theory was correct. I also explained the many others I had come into contact with regarding the same issues. Even when I received the -172 + statement, it had no transaction information as to what caused it to happen. Just that I was now overdrawn in that amount. The customer service agent saw that there had been no transactions on this account in over a year and saw the past notes on I kept reporting to the bank trying to get my 1500.00 dollars back. After accusing the bank employees/fraud department of being the only ones to have access to delete a transaction after taking money from people's accounts, within a week I was credited back to the original $6.74 in my bank account with no explanation as to what had occurred. So, Big Banks, especially BOA had many people where I live out protesting against the Bank. Which told me there were many more victims of the same thing. Greed is everywhere in our country right now and although I have had a few problems with my current smaller bank, as soon as I went in and told them of money missing and made a point to let them know about my experience with BOA, that I would not tolerate any money missing without transaction records to prove this. After that I have had no problems with money missing from my account and they reimbused overdraft fees due to money being syphoned over a 3 month period that I was unaware of was taking place. I do NOT use the internet anymore as I believe it is too handy for employees to get your information and for others outside the Banking Institutions. Ideas? Check your balance more regularly and do it by phone. Question what transactions you have in your register and see if they have gone through yet. Do not wait a month to do your balancing. Unfortunately, in these days, we have to check up on those in the banks and keep outsiders from getting in as quickly as you notice any weekly err on your account. Do it by phone. Get to know employees and their names. Be polite and respecful and do not assume they are all guilty of this sort of embezzling. However, some are and they seem to be scared off from attempting to access your account after you make a firm stance on what you will not tolerate from them. Hope this helps. God Bless and may He help us all in this new crazy world we have to live in.