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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Giving members what they want has helped the North Carolina Credit Union League’s Risk Management Council become a true success story. “I think the council is the first of its kind in state leagues,” said Assistant Vice President Regulatory/Compliance Services Kim Bohannon. “And it is amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in just a year and it is completely driven by topics credit unions are telling us they want covered.” Finding creative solutions to fight fraud is nothing new for the league. In May 2004 NCCUL became a member of the NC Bankers Association Fraud-Net, an online resource for financial service and law enforcement officials. Available in 17 states, Fraud-Net provides users with a secure platform to post and read alerts about criminal activities affecting financial institutions. Conceived in the league’s compliance area after noticing a trend of credit unions increasingly calling Bohannon with fraud related issues, the council was launched in January 2004. “The problems centered on not knowing where to seek help from first, so we wanted to do something to help credit unions with risk management and enable credit unions to communicate with law enforcement,” said Bohannon. “We contacted our top seven credit unions, told them our idea, and they overwhelmingly supported it.” The league then paid a visit to the assistant U.S. attorney for the area to see if the idea could become a reality. It was not only given the thumbs up, but Bohannon says it made for the beginnings of a great relationship. “He told us that he didn’t know a lot about how credit unions operate or how to communicate with us and we worked together to find ways for the law enforcement and credit unions to come together,” said Bohannon. “The need for this has been so strong and we didn’t realize it until we started a dialogue with law enforcement officials throughout the state.” The council meets quarterly with a focus not only on creating more communication channels but also physical security to prevent robberies. The first meeting held in April had some 50 credit union security executives and law enforcement personnel in attendance and has steadily swelled up to 75 with its final meeting in November. Bohannon says attendees have not been limited to area credit unions and has included visitors from other states like South Carolina. In addition to meetings, the council offers a listserve where credit unions share information about everything from great contacts and real-time fraud to trends. While the leadership structure was initially appointed, plans are underway to make the move to an elective run next year. The executive committee consists of Piedmont Aviation CU Risk Management Director Jan Duggins; Coastal FCU Risk Management Vice President Lin Jordan; SECU Vice President Security Administration Karen Daeke; Carolinas Telco FCU Risk Management Director Jimmy Womack; Marine FCU Risk Management Director Frank Davis; Sharonview FCU Risk Management Director Michelle Bragg and Bohannon who serves as staff liaison. So far there are no Council dues collected thanks to the support of credit unions and vendors. “What has made this so successful is that the credit union buy in from the CEOs down has been phenomenal,” said Bohannon. “Again credit unions here mentioned they wanted meetings to include vendors in the risk management field to talk about the latest products. Generally security officers don’t get out as much and this way it’s a win-win for everyone – members get to see how the products work in real time and vendors share their information to several credit unions at one meeting.” Bohannon says she was surprised that no other organization across the state gets together with law enforcement to invite them in. “The council provides credit unions a unique opportunity to have discussions with different members of law enforcement from the Department of Justice to the local sheriff’s office. No matter what city the credit union is located in the state they can find a contact person to set fraud cases into motion,” said Bohannon. “Credit unions love it and local law enforcement appreciates it because we learn what detectives look for so that the case can go to the next level and that makes their jobs easier.” Bohannon adds that it helps credit union security execs see the bigger picture so they no longer feel isolated thinking for example they are the only ones dealing with a particular type of fraud. Currently the council is working to build its credibility in the law enforcement community, and with check fraud identified as the top concern for credit unions here January’s meeting will focus on how to prepare a check fraud case. “With fraud you want to say training is the best solution, but that’s not always true because criminals have become so sophisticated that it takes a combination of training and constant communication between credit unions, retailers, law enforcement, etc. to try to stay ahead of it all,” said Bohannon. “The council is a success here because we’re not afraid to go out there and ask questions whether it’s calling the police department, asking vendors to help out or credit unions to provide financial support-which hasn’t been an issue this year. I cannot stress how the relationship building has helped this council take off.” [email protected]

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