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15 posts categorized "Safety and Security"

July 02, 2013

The (Somewhat) Fantastic Four! - 4 Quick Snippets You Can Read Before the 4th


by Ron Daly

Jack kirby. fantastic four

(Fantastic Four is a trademark of Marvel, Inc. and, by extension, Disney. Via this site.)

Yeah, I know - you're on auto-pilot as you cruise toward the July 4th holiday. But focus on these four quick-hit articles and you'll be informed, engaged and (hopefully) entertained.

(Somewhat) Fantastic Four, assemble!

The Invisible, Guy, I mean.

Apparently Edward Snowden, the NSA Leaker and man-on-the-run, has had a little trouble finding asylum in the various countries he's contacted. He's written to multiple countries and embassies, looking for a way to evade the authority of the US. Many have turned him down outright, while others have implied that if Snowden wanted sanctuary in their nation, he may yet find it, but only if he can get to their embassy...which is hard to do from the inside of a Russian airport terminal. Ironic that a man whose movements have been followed so closely can't seem to get anyone to recognize him.

I only bring up Snowden because last month (before this scandal broke), I wrote a post on CU Insight about the "Human Factor" in data security. The article talks about employees who don't follow the company's rules on digital security (intentionally or inadvertently) and gives ideas on how to set up strict guidelines on protecting member information. Give it a read here.

The Ever-Evolvin' Multi-Colored Thing!

Remember those wheels that showed every social network and summed up what each did on a big, colorful wheel? Well, it's gotten much, much bigger in the past five years. The "Conversation Prism" by Brian Solis and JESS3 has grown by leaps and bounds. Compare it to the versions of years gone by - especially the 2008 version. How many of these channels is your credit union using? And how many of those are getting members' attention?

Do you have a Mr. (or Ms., or Mrs.) Fantastic?

Get them their very own trophy. Trophy Buffet will allow you to buy a trophy for your favorite person for whatever reason you like - some ridiculous, some worthwhile, all made with material you can write on and modify. Watch their goofy video and contribute to their Kickstarter if you believe that "everyone gets a trophy" is a good policy.

How to Avoid Becoming the Human Torch

And since this is the 2nd of July, it's a good time to remind everyone out there to be safe with their fireworks and barbecue grills. According to recent figures, firework-related injuries are down, even though there are still significant risks associated with the improper use of fireworks. 

What impressed me about this article? The number of people seriously injured due to barbecue grills every year...almost twice as many as those injured by fireworks. Maybe the family and I should just celebrate with cold foods this year. Chicken salad and popsicles, anyone? 

As we do every year, we wish all our readers and everyone out there a happy, safe Fourth of July. We also wish America a very Happy Birthday. Can you believe it? 237 years young and still going strong!

April 24, 2013

Step Right Up! Test Your Twitter Password!


by Ron Daly 

Yesterday, the Twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked and a misleading tweet was posted, claiming that the White House and the President had been attacked. This, of course, was not true. But the damage was. Oh, yes it was. The stock market dipped ferociously, then self-corrected when it was determined that the claim was false. Twitter went crazy; first, with fear, then with ridicule of the AP, an organization that is assuredly licking its wounds as of this writing. 

Now, let's abstract this. What if it were your CU's Twitter account? What if someone "hacked" that account (we'll get to the term "hacked" in a minute), and sent a message to all your followers that told them your CU was going out of business, or that a branch had been robbed? Imagine the blow-back. 

Luckily, there's a website to test the security of your Twitter password. It's called Try it out! Go on, I'll wait. Come back when you're done. 

Continue reading "Step Right Up! Test Your Twitter Password!" »

July 10, 2012

They'd Like to Leave, You'd Like to Have Them…Technology's the Bridge


by Ron Daly

When we started this blog, we wanted to call it "CU Soapbox" because it was meant to be a place to stand up and shout about the industry. I've been doing a little "shouting" recently and I thought I'd make it a point to do the same on this blog, because hey, this is the right place, isn't it? 

I've done a little reading about a recent Javelin study about big-bank customers and why they want to make the switch to another FI...but don't. The Financial Brand does a great job of making all this digestible and points out one very important piece of information: 40% of surveyed consumers WON'T LEAVE their big bank because of that bank's online/mobile banking service. Do they want to leave? Yes, of course they do. Who wouldn't? Getting beaten by fees and losing a ton of money that you could hang on to would make anyone want to leave...what keeps them hanging on is the illusion of convenience. 

I say "illusion" because the kind of technology that would bend the bow in credit unions' favor is out there, and it can be had. We could be courting these on-the-fence big bank customers and their billions in collected assets. Why aren't we? 

I believe there are two problems:

  1. We're not promoting the technology/convenience we have and already offer, and
  2. We're not positioning ourselves to bring in the technology that levels the playing field. 

 I wrote two articles recently that sum up my thoughts on the topic. Go read: 

Then, start asking yourself the four major questions that need to be answered, and fast:

Question 1: "Are our current members utilizing the online services we offer, and if not, why?"

The best and easiest research to conduct for yourself is on your own member base. If you have 10,000 members and only 1,000 are using online banking, what could be done to get more people to sign up and start using it? Maybe they already did and it was such an excruciating experience that they swore off of it (I can't imagine that happening, but who knows?). What can you do to make it right?

Question 2: "Is our website (or OLB/mobile app/email newsletter/social media feed) everything it should be?"

Websites need updates and overhauls. It comes with the territory. Marketing hates to hear that they have to write new copy and make new graphics and IT hates the hassle of creating and implementing sweeping changes. I have two words for both: tough toenails. If the site needs a face lift, give it one. If it needs a total reboot, give it one. Make it easy for interested outsiders (and undereducated insiders) to get all the information they need.

Question 3: "What next-generation technology would best suit our members?"

Audience is everything. If you serve a member base that's always on the move (military, air travel industry, etc.), why not include remote deposit capture and a smartphone app? If you serve a large area that's tough to reach on foot, more drive-thru ATMs make sense, don't they? Don't just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks...make an informed decision for the member.

Question 4: "Who's in charge?"

So often, technological advances and purcahses are made without clear goals in mind, or anyone to enforce them. Set expectations and meet them. It's not difficult and it means there's a person driving these endeavors from the inside. 

Final Thought

Did you ever hear the riddle about the frog in the well? 

A frog falls into a well, 20 feet deep. Every morning, he wakes up and hops three feet up the side of the well. Every evening, he falls asleep and slides back two feet. How many days does it take him to get out of the well? 

The answer: Considering he jumps three feet every day and falls two feet each night, it would take him eighteen days to get within three feet of the top. Then, on the nineteenth day, he'd jump three feet and clear the well. So simple it's complicated, right? 

Let's put a CU-spin on this. If a credit union gains ten members a month and loses nine by the end of the month, how long will it take that credit union to compete with Bank of America in terms of sheer numbers? 

The answer: You can't compete with BofA on locations. You can't compete on "number of members vs. number of customers". Their product offering is too abundant, their reach is too wide and too far. Where you can compete is on an emotional level -making a lasting impact on your member. You can also compete on member service. You can also compete on rates. You can even compete on technology...provided you're willing to make it happen. 

Start jumping.

May 24, 2012

GUEST POST: Mark Arnold on Becoming Your Members' PFI


Mark Arnold, CCUE, is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner. Mark speaks regularly to audiences around the country on branding, marketing, strategy, leadership, personal growth and generational issues.  With over 20 years experience in the financial services industry, Mark’s breadth of knowledge covers areas such as marketing, business development, human resources, training, and sales. You can follow him on Twitter [@jmarkarnold] or via his blog at




“Credit unions must see themselves as relationship managers. As relationship managers, credit unions better position themselves to become members’ primary financial institution.”

—CUNA E-Scan 

While there is a big rush today to get more new members, one marketing strategy your credit union may want to focus on is getting more from your existing members. Most marketing experts estimate it is eight to ten times easier to expand a relationship with a current member than it is to acquire a new member. Just think about it: what would happen if every one of your members just added an additional product or service per household? Odds are, your net income would skyrocket.

Credit unions must get their members to go beyond just having a savings account and strive to become their members’ primary financial institution. “Financial institutions that make retention one of their top three priorities often enjoy deeper relationships, steadier growth and clearer focus on the core business,” says CUNA’s E-Scan.

According to CUNA, here are the odds of your credit union losing a member based on product usage:

  • 2 to 1 of losing a member if they only have a saving account
  • 10 to 1 of losing a member if they have savings account and a checking account
  • 20 to 1 of losing a member if they have savings account, a checking account and a loan
  • 100 to 1 of losing a member if they have savings account a checking account a loan and any fourth product

Product penetration and member retention are directly linked together.

Two steps your  credit union can take to going beyond just having your members’ savings account are:

1)      Offer relationship pricing

2)      Get sticky products in their hands

Continue reading "GUEST POST: Mark Arnold on Becoming Your Members' PFI" »

May 01, 2012

Still don't have a social media policy? Bet you'll write one after this...


by Ron Daly 

Yeah, I know. You're tired of getting poked and prodded and constantly reminded that you need to hurry up and implement your social media policy. After all, you don't even use Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Pinterest or FourSquare or...whatever else there is. How important could it all be? 

What if an employee was shooting videos of your member's feet? 

You balk. That's ridiculous, you're thinking. What kind of person would go around shooting videos of people's feet

A credit union employee, that's who. From the Financial Brand:

The Financial Brand first learned about this series of shocking and offensive videos when one popped up on an automated Google Alert for “credit union” + “YouTube.” Someone under the YouTube handle marajohn1123 had posted an odd video of a female credit union co-worker’s toes. When a similar Google Alert was triggered for another video, this time of a member’s toes, it was clear that a credit union somewhere had a serious problem with a serial voyeur.

Presently, there are over 100 videos of women’s feet, all shot spycam style without the knowledge and approval of the victim. Based on information revealed in the videos, the videos were likely shot in and around a suburb of Atlantic City.

The credit union employee appears to be a loan officer or similar member service rep, but that doesn’t stop him from leaving his desk to film members’ toes at the branch ATM.

This is a gross abuse of trust. The emphasis in that last passage is mine - Jeffry Pilcher did a little detective work around which credit union might be employing this voyeur. He's narrowed it down to a few possible places. I'm hoping at least one employee there has the intelligence to figure out who this might be and bring this to the attention of the management. Because where does it stop? 

Think about it for a minute. Most of the videos in that story appear to be shot on a smart phone. What happens when it's not feet they're recording, but credit card and debit numbers? Checking account numbers and balances? Still not seeing a problem? 

I don't want to dismiss what's being done here - taking video of someone without their knowledge is wrong. Add to that the fact that these are being used to feed a fetish (one assumes), you're talking about not only a breach of trust, but serious damage to the CU's reputation. This employee should be fired, full stop. 

"On what grounds?", you ask. 

And THAT'S why you need a social media policy. Now. Today. 

As Jeffry said in a comment further down on this same post

If you don’t have one yet, this kind of situation should illustrate the gravity of need. If an employee posted something that you wouldn’t want on social channels — not necessarily stuff as bad/potentially illegal as what Marcus did, but bad just the same — a social media policy can give your organization the legal leverage you need to deal with the problem swiftly and without complications.

But where to begin? This article from Credit Union Magazine is a great resource to get you started. Their list of best practices covers a lot of ground. 

  • Define social media usage expectations clearly in your policy;
  • State that employees may only access social websites consistent with the credit union’s security protocols (i.e., they may not circumvent information technology security protocols);
  • Educate staff on the risks of exposing confidential information about their employer, other employees, volunteers, and members;
  • Monitor social media use via credit union resources;
  • Outline expectations for reporting policy violations;
  • Enforce policy violations in a nondiscriminatory manner;
  • State that retaliation for reporting violations is not tolerated; and
  • Define personal off-duty use of social media. For example, supervisors should not “friend” their direct reports due to the potential sharing of personal information.

A word on the "monitor" part of that equation - the employee who was shooting these videos was, as I said above, most likely doing this via smart phone. That doesn't use the credit union's data network - that's technically external use. If you aren't watching out for threats internally and externally, you're doing yourself - and the members who might be at risk - a disservice. 

Click here to sign up for a free webinar on social media monitoring.

August 31, 2011

Calling All Credit Unions - How CUs are Helping After Irene


 by Ron Daly 

Hurricane Irene is still affecting a large swath of the East Coast, leaving thousands without power and with significant home damage and flooding. In hopes of helping members, credit unions on the East Coast and from around the country are reaching out to help. 

From USA Today:

When homeowners in the Houston area had to wait 45 days for insurance checks after Hurricane Katrina, Chartway Federal Credit Union advanced personal loans so customers could stay in hotels and pay monthly bills until they received the insurance money. "And we'll do the same now," says Ron Burniske, CEO of Chartway, which has 63 branches across the country...

Chartway is willing to let members affected by Hurricane Irene skip loan payments. It says its plans will evolve as it hears what members need. "Unlike most institutions, we will not go out and decide what they want and need," Burniske says. "We can turn a product around in 12 hours."

On the larger, national level, NCUF has activated CUAid. From their website:

The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has activated the online disaster relief system to raise money for credit union people along the East Coast affected by Hurricane Irene...

Credit union supporters in every state can now make donations through a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers ( CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers, and members, as well as credit unions and credit union organizations across the U.S., to contribute directly to support other credit union people.

A tip of the hat, both to Chartway and NCUF. Way to move fast and respond to a situation that has left a lot of your members and clients hurting. Here's hoping more folks get the help they need as we move toward recovery and clean-up. 

These are just two of many initiatives that CUs and their organizations are putting out there to help. Can you share another in our comments section? 

August 25, 2011

A Must-Read Blog Post on Security, Safety and Liability


by Ron Daly 

This blog post from the NAFCU Services blog should be a must-read for those of us in financial services - bank, credit union or otherwise. You might remember some months back when the story of Comerica and Experi-Metal hit the news. According to this post from the NAFCU Services Blog

Earlier this summer, a U.S. District Court ordered Comerica to reimburse Michigan-based Experi-Metal Inc. over a half-million dollars for funds the company lost after Comerica approved nearly two million dollars in fraudulent wire transfers from Experi-Metal’s account following a phishing attack against Experi-Metal.

As David Frankil from NAFCU Services points out:

This case addresses one of the most challenging security questions facing financial services today – who is ultimately responsible, the credit union or the member? That should be a trick question, since the answer is really both. However, this court case opens up significant liability for credit unions and emphasizes the need for both extensive in-house anti-phishing and fraud detection capabilities, as well as extensive educational efforts aimed at members.

The highlight was added by me.  It's imperative that members and customers get educated about what to expect from your emails and it's your duty as a sender to keep on top of phishing attacks and properly inform members when one occurs. 

January 10, 2011

Ron's Crystal Ball Says Knowing and Understanding the Member Will Make the Difference


by Ron Daly 

There have been plenty of 2011 predictions made in the first week of this shiny new year. We sifted through and found some of the more outstanding predictions made and thought we'd share them with you, our faithful soapboxers. 

From Transaction Directory

Mobile banking applications experienced a lot of media attention and some traction in 2010. 2011 will see more roll out of solutions by major banks; however it’s utilization will still be limited to the “early adopter” consumers. The real traction for mobile bank- ing will occur in the B2B world where notifications/alerts and approval requests kind of functionality will begin to resonate in the market. 


The USPS will continue to struggle and lose billions of dollars. It is likely that postage costs will go up and services will be cut resulting in slower mail delivery times. In addition, bill recipients are becoming more demanding about where they want their bills delivered. On the B2C side, bill portals like Doxo, Manilla, and Zumbox will gain some traction with consumers. On the B2B side, Accounts Payable hubs like OB10 and Ariba will continue with their momentum of consolidating inbound invoices.

We saw a few of these coming - particularly, the bit about the postal service. Not to beat up on the post office, but so little of what people get via mail needs to be received that way. Online bill pay, email and text alerts, and email marketing can be done with less money and to greater effect. Mail still has a place and probably always will - but we've had our eye on the issues facing the postal service and the future seems dim. 

A heartbeat that we hear pretty clearly under all of the predictions we've read? A greater need to understand the member and meet them more than halfway. From the eMarketing and Commerce Blog

2. Goodbye to "pay and pray" advertising. The physical advertising world is about to be disrupted in a way not seen since the advent of the internet. Brands will begin to reject unaccountable "pay and pray" advertising in favor of precisely targeted, specifically timed trackable messages.

3. Nice to know you. Standing out is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Marketers that create millions of micro-campaigns to make their message useful to consumers — i.e., hone their messages based on data — will reap results.

I couldn't agree more. Show a member that you know them, that you get what matters to them, that you want to do things solely for them. You might brush off the idea that members want "special treatment". Do so at your own risk. 

Let's talk about the article by Brett King on the Huffington Post, "The Finance Sector Gets a Start-Up Overhaul in 2011". There's a lot of gold in this article but the main thing to focus on is the diagram of technology versus behavior versus infrastructure change. 

The thing that makes 2011 so interesting, according to King, is the bevy of startups that want to shake up the way members interact with their credit union. What stands in the way of each of these new companies' success is the distance between the adoption of these new technologies by both the institution and the consumer. The invention of the "app" as we know it has really shifted our concept of ease of use and accessibility. The Internet changed things by proving you could buy, sell, transfer and transact sight unseen. The iPhone proved you could drive the interaction further into the personal sphere by bringing the ease of the Internet to the cellular phone. Does anyone who knows this expect there to be a "reverse exodus" back to face-to-face, in-branch transactions? 

The last bit of the article says it all, in my opinion: 

...The biggest risk to the finance sector today is the growing gap between the institution and the customer. The rate at which this gap is opening up is increasing rapidly, as the adoption of newer technology increases too. This is where we are going to see an explosion of start-ups and new businesses who aren't afraid to reinvent the bank customer experience. This is where the banks who do get customer and try to reinvent the journeys customers are taking will win.

It's also where banks who wait for ROI, or wait to understand the impact of social media, mobile, near-field contactless payments and other such technologies before investing, will lose out massively.

The moral? The idea of "bleeding edge" might make you queasy, but it can't make you feel any more sick than the idea of losing business because you won't bring better, smarter services to members. 

All the articles we mentioned are worth a read. We'd love to hear YOUR predictions for 2011. Which horse is worth a bet and which one won't leave the starting gate? Tell us about it in the comments. 


Just FYI: DigitalMailer can do email and text alerts, targeted "triggered" emails, electronic statements and online documents. And we've been doing those things for about ten years now. Click here to go to our website and learn more.

August 18, 2010

You're more than just a Social Security might be 10 of them!


by Ron Daly 

I read an amazing piece of information in today's CUNA News Now that explained that more than 20 million Americans - that's roughly six percent of the population - have more than one social security number. 

From the News Now article

The study also found that rather than serving as a unique identifier, more than 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people. ID Analytics examined more than 280 million SSNs to determine discrepancies.

I'm no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but I don't think that's how it's supposed to work. 

According to the same article, most of these duplications or discrepancies are simple data entry errors. Still, scary to think that someone with my social security number would be doing various misdeeds and it might come back on me. Thank God for my credit monitoring service...maybe statistics like this are a way to sell more of the same features at your individual credit union?

The worst part of all this? There are 27,000 social security numbers in play at this very moment that are associated with ten or more people. Are you kidding me? 

Food for thought for you money-minded folks reading this: if we were paying interest on each of these numbers, imagine the backup withholding nightmare this could be. 

February 12, 2010

Got Snow?: What our company (and our clients) learned from The Blizzard of 2010


by Ron Daly

This story originally ran on the DigitalMailer Blog. 

Call me an optimist, but I'm going to call this storm "THE blizzard of 2010", in the hopes that it's not just "A blizzard of 2010". 

It's been an interesting week here at DigitalMailer. In case you missed any news outlet of the past week, the DC/Metro area got almost THREE FEET of snow dropped on us in the span of a week. Many of our account managers, operations staff and marketing department had to work from home for the entire week - and one of our staff members won't be dug out until days from now. Hang in there, Steve! 

Continue reading "Got Snow?: What our company (and our clients) learned from The Blizzard of 2010" »