<p>CU Times Staff Reporter WEST PALM BEACH – Here is a secret – size does not matter. Successfully fighting fraud ultimately rests on the shoulders of the employees. "We work really hard on the front end," said Pentagon Federal Credit Union Director of Security Glen McAdams. "While we may develop procedures and practices that will lessen the impact of fraudulent activities, the employees are the ones we depend on to adhere to them." Working with a team of three staffers dedicated to security, McAdams includes articles in the monthly newsletter and PFCU's Refuse to Lose link on the Web site. The link is updated daily and focuses on educating members and staff alike on a number of topics including identity fraud and what to do when your wallet is stolen. McAdams credits PFCU's relatively low fraud rate to hiring good people, having good procedures in place and meticulously researching members and employees alike. "We pull credit reports and match it up with what the person is telling us. Many of our members join over phone or the Web, so we compare all information provided with the credit bureaus," said McAdams. "If the person has weak credit or a suspect history we open a restricted account where funds are held for nine days and no loans are provided. For employees, we do background investigations and send fingerprints off to FBI." According to McAdams, in the five years he has been at the $4 billion credit union, there have been only three internal fraud situations. Living and working in South Florida, which he considers a "hotbed for fraud", City County Credit Union of Fort Lauderdale Loss Prevention Manager Gary Noe agrees that employees are the best defense. "We're the victim right after our member because we have to replace the money," said Noe. "Prevention is the key because recovery is long and messy." Since 1997, prevention is spelled e-d-u-c-a-t-i-o-n at CCCU of Ft. Lauderdale. All new hire employees must take Noe's Fraud I- Basic Loss Prevention class, which covers identification of negotiable and counterfeit items, deposit fraud and membership application fraud. Before an employee can be promoted, it is back to school for Fraud II-Advanced Loss Prevention, which lasts about four hours and provides the techniques to detect and prevent the more exotic frauds such as debit card abuse and ATM "loading" transactions. According to Noe, by the end of 1998 CCCU of Fort Lauderdale had reduced fraud by 42.2%. "By training each employee, everyone knows that loss prevention is a part of their job," said Noe. "This works for us. When dealing with fraud you can train staff or be reactive- but you know something, when you are reactive you always lose." A retired police officer, Noe conducts training at the $160 million credit union's in-house university and has opened up his classes to other credit unions in the state. At least eight to 10 credit unions send their employees to learn about fraud and Noe says that even law enforcement officers have gone through his course. "There is no reason why other credit unions couldn't do something similar," said Noe. "All it takes is someone with ambition and the drive to make the program work." [email protected]</p>

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