MADISON, Wis. (9/8/14)--Hearing about another data security breach--this time suspected at Home Depot stores nationwide--can leave members and credit unions feeling frustrated and helpless. They do, however, have tools at their disposals, industry experts remind.
If a credit union is using a fraud-monitoring service, it should tell its members, said Bill Freer, risk manager at CO-OP Financial Services. "This shows that the credit union is being proactive and puts it in a favorable light in members' eyes," he told News Now. (See related story: CUs on high alert for members after Home Depot breach.)
Credit unions also can sleuth suspicious activity on their own. "Make it a practice to pull card activity on confirmed fraud cases," Freer advised. "Look at the history, sort by retailer and see if there is a common denominator."
He also suggested that credit unions promote mobile banking, if they offer it. "Members can take advantage of reviewing their account activity as often as they can," he said.
Text and email alerts also are powerful tools. Members can set their own radar for suspicious activity, whether it's the number or the amount of the transactions. Fraudsters don't always go for the big money--they sometimes will target small amounts across many accounts.
Someone who has very strict guidelines about their transactions--perhaps they never shop online or at a particular store--can be an asset to a credit union. "If you are proactively watching and see something that's not normal behavior, you may be able to identify it yourself and inform your credit union," Freer said.
Credit unions should encourage members to monitor their accounts and immediately report suspicious activity. Even though a suspected breach may not have been announced or confirmed, fraud already may be occurring, he noted.
Regarding the suspected breach at Home Depot, CUNA Mutual Group is monitoring it and awaiting confirmation that a breach has occurred, said Media Relations Manager Phil Tschudy. "If and when that happens, we will assess the details surrounding it and provide more information and guidance to policyholders," Tschudy said.
Policyholders can use the Protection Resource Center on cunamutual.com for more information on merchant- and third-party data breaches, Tschudy reminded.
After the Target breach, CUNA Mutual suggested steps credit unions could take, including watching for phishing fraud and monitoring affected cards.