Mazuma Launches 'Fraud Fridays' Program To Crack Down On Scams

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KANSAS CITY, MO.-Since costs for fraud prevention are generally far below the price of cleaning up after a scam victimizes members, Mazuma CU has introduced "Fraud Fridays."

The $416-million CU held four 25-minute seminars during August hosted by a retired FBI agent who shared the basics of fraud prevention-such as shredding personal information and not carrying your social security card-and then addressed various types of scams that attempt to acquire consumers' financial information. CEO Rob Givens said the credit union spent $25,000 on the seminars hosted at a different CU branch each time. Most of the money went to pay for a talk radio station to do short broadcasts at the events, and for advertising on the station's website.

"We are preaching prevention over recovery," said Givens. "If the seminars educate members and prevent even three incidences of fraud, we'd have spent in losses at least the money we allocated to Fraud Fridays. We just want to make people more attentive to their security. Fraud is ever present, and it is difficult to clean up from for both the member and the credit union."

Mazuma had been educating members about the dangers of fraud through lobby posters, statement stuffers, and its website and newsletter articles. But Givens said the credit union wanted to reach out more broadly to the community, and to present fraud information in a different way. "Sometimes people just need to hear about fraud from someone live, and from someone who is very credible on the subject," said Givens. "The FBI agent is well known in the area."

Fraud Fridays each offered two sessions, which were conducted from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. "That's drive time and we got great exposure on the radio station," Givens explained. "People called in and stopped by to tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing."

Fraud Fridays attracted about 12 people per session, and Givens admitted he'd like to have seen higher attendance. "As I said, though, you do not have to educate that many to make the sessions effective, and we did reach a large number of people through the radio broadcasts." Additionally, Givens said Fraud Fridays further demonstrates the CU's due diligence in educating members about fraud. "The sessions help us in the event members become a victim of fraud and say the credit union failed to properly educate them and ask us to compensate them for their looses."

Fraud Fridays covered phishing, smishing, and vishing; senior citizen fraud; sweepstakes and lotteries; and Nigerian lottery scams.

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