Costs Reduced As Illinois CUs, Banks Join In Online Fraud Alert Network

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Fraud protection just got cheaper for Illinois credit unions under renegotiated terms between the Illinois Credit Union League and the Illinois Bankers Association.

After a year-long partnership between the two financial trade groups to offer Fraud-Net, a web-based tool that monitors tracks and reports fraud activity, the two sides decided to cut costs by 50% to make it more affordable to credit unions, said Cathy Pettis, ICUL Service Corporation Senior VP.

"When the product was first introduced here, cost was based on the credit union's asset size," Pettis said, explaining that the software licensing made it costly. "So our organization and the community bankers stepped up to the plate and cut the cost by 50%."

Fee Schedule

The new fee schedule is as follows:

* Credit unions with assets of $40 million and under pay an annual fee of $480.

* Credit unions with assets over $40 million to $100 million pay $960.

* Credit unions with assets over $100 million to $400 million pay $1,980.

* Credit unions with assets over $400 million pay $4,980.

Since its inception, 17 credit unions in the state have joined the network, Pettis said.

Fraud-Net is a real-time, Internet based network to alert other users of fraud schemes and to provide information to both stop and catch perpetrators. Users get access to a fraud alert database on which to post and read alerts about criminal activities affecting financial institutions.

Pettis said that information is separated into categories based on the state's nine Fraud-Net regions.

"Each user can set up what type of alerts they want," she said. "For example, the credit card manager may just want credit card alerts whereas the check person might only want information related to checks. If there is a check-cashing ring in the area, that person would be alerted right away."

There are also categories for statewide and nationwide alerts, she said. In addition, CUs can search the site to find information about particular crimes or individuals they suspect may be involved in criminal behavior.

Each time a new alert is posted, users get e-mail notification.

First Developed In Florida

The web-based tool was developed by the Florida Bankers Association and launched in April 2002. In 2003, the Illinois Bankers Association entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with FBA.

Banking associations in at least 20 other states have also joined the network.

Pettis said the ICUL saw great value in the software, previously only utilized by law enforcement officials, and is hopeful the new, lower cost will be incentive enough for more CUs to utilize the protection.

With fraudulent activity on the rise, Pettis said the ICUL sees great value in this software and is hopeful the lower cost will be incentive enough for more CUs to utilize it.

"Fraudulent activities, especially identity theft, affect everyone and no one is immune," she said. "However, through a critical system such as Fraud-Net, we can be better informed, and in turn, better inform credit unions and their members about the importance of fraud awareness."

Recent statistics show that approximately 700,000 individuals are victims of identity thieves.

For more information in Illinois, contact Bob Pettke, ICUL LSC Training Manager, at 800-942-7124 or visit www.fraud-net.com.

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