I think this Holiday Season represents the perfect time to once again “return to the past” by communicating with you directly on matters of financial importance. For much of the 2010s’ decade, I penned periodic monthly or quarterly articles titled “The Corner Office”. These articles were designed to not only inform you of what’s going on at your Credit Union, but in many instances provide some “common sense” guidelines to improve your financial health and well-being, limit your financial risks, and increase the return on your investment in InTouch Credit Union. Given the current state of economic affairs in the U.S. regarding interest rates, mortgage rates, cybersecurity, identity theft, spam calls, and digital fraud, I thought it would be prudent to bring the series back for a time.

Please make smart choices and protect your personal digital financial identity as much as possible. According to the FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report, there have been approximately 3.26 million complaints of cybercrime over the last five years totaling $27.6 billion in losses. This year is currently trending to break last year’s record number of complaints and losses (i.e., 800,944 complaints accompanying $10.3 billion in losses) in 2023; however, many of these losses and complaints were preventable. You may not be aware of it, but the overwhelming majority of compromises are NOT caused by financial institutions. Credit unions (and banks) are required to comply with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which requires all financial institutions to safeguard sensitive data, establish extensive security measures to prevent data breaches, and prohibits deceptive methods of obtaining personal financial information. The majority of retailers, department stores, and other merchandising industries are not only not required to comply with GLBA, but (and you may have noticed) financial institutions are prohibited from providing information to members/consumers about the potential origin of a breach once one of the card processing companies (e.g., Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX, etc.) informs us your card number is on a “breach” list. Our only option is to inform you of a “potential or likely” breach and issue you a new card and/or new digital card credentials at our expense.

Occasionally, members will question “banking security” if a compromise of their account is experienced. In virtually every instance, in-depth investigations reveal a member is the victim of an email phishing scam, an SMS Text phishing scam, discovers they have malware (malicious software) on their smartphone, laptop, tablet, or computer, or verbally “gave” the information to a “bad actor” pretending to be a representative of InTouch Credit Union. To help “fight the fight”, ITCU provides a webpage filled with “best practices” and information dedicated to help keep you safe. Despite all these resources, the “best method” of protection is to always be skeptical of responding to unsolicited information requests from financial institutions that contain warnings that require you to provide ANY account number or personal identifiable information (PII). Because of our required compliance with GLBA, financial institutions consistently preach “Never respond to emails or text messages you didn't initiate asking for your personal banking or credit card information, including credit card numbers, one-time passcodes, and PINs”, yet people fall for those scams every day (and correspondingly asks their financial institution to “make them whole” ultimately making the financial institution the victim).

Everyone at ITCU wants you to be safe and secure this Holiday Season. Help us help you by following the “What You can do to Protect Yourself” best practices on ITCU’s Fraud Prevention Tips webpage.

Happy Holidays!