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Bill Would Require Breach Notifications

WASHINGTON-Credit unions and banks would be required to notify customers if a data breach may cause identity theft or transaction fraud under a new bill expected to be introduced later this week.

The issue of notification of data breaches has become a major one because cardholders at hundreds of credit unions and banks had to wait for months before they were notified of the massive theft of consumer information from CardSystems Solutions earlier this year. A federal court ruled last month that Visa and MasterCard were not responsible for notifying affected cardholders because neither Visa nor MasterCard had direct relationships with the cardholders, but with the cardholders' issuing credit unions and banks.

The bill would also require all users of confidential consumer information to secure that information and cause businesses that suffered any information breaches to pay for notification to consumers and free credit monitoring, according to Rep. Michael Castle, (R-DE), who is helping to draft the legislation. "The bottom line is, this is a matter of great urgency," Castle told attendees to Visa USA's Security Summit here last week. Castle said he expects hearings on a revised version of the security bill over the next few weeks.

Members Help Finance Wedding-Unknowingly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-The FBI confiscated a designer wedding dress, thousands of dollars in diamond jewelry, three Rolex watches, two Cadilac Escalades and almost $65,000 in cash, travelers checks and money orders from a couple preparing a wedding that was to be financed by funds stolen from members of VyStar CU. The couple were arrested last month on the eve of their wedding that authorities believe they financed by siphoning money from the accounts of credit union members after stealing their identities. The suspects, identified as Angelia Southerland and Anthony Smith, may have stolen as much as $700,000 from VyStar CU members. FBI agents said the couple prepaid $3,000 for their Sept. 24 wedding on credit union members' accounts. But the nuptials were put on hold when the man-and-wife-to-be were arrested Sept. 24, on the eve of their wedding. The couple could be waiting for awhile to complete their wedding plans: each faces up to 30 years in prison on identity theft and fraud charges.

SSFCU Opens Giant Call Center

TAMPA, Fla.-Suncoast Schools FCU is scheduled to open its vast new contact center here this week, one of the biggest call centers in the country. The 41,500 square-foot facility will employ 350 associates to handle the credit union giant's 8,000 calls and 750 emails a day. County officials are saying the new project will have an economic impact of $37.5 million a year on the local economy. Suncoast Schools FCU is Florida's largest credit union, with more than $3.5 billion in assets and 325,000 members.

Survey Examines CEO Pay

MADISON, Wis.-CUNA has released its "2005-2006 CEO Total Compensation Survey" examining CU CEO compensation, including salary, bonuses and incentives, perks and benefits, supplemental executive retirement plans, and employment contract and severance. CUNA reported that during 2004, CEOs of credit unions of $100-million plus had an average total compensation package worth $220,767, which consists of salary, incentives, bonuses and perks. This is an increase of 5% compared with the 2003 findings. Average total compensation ranges from $152,588 for CEOs of $100 million to $150 million in assets to $387,215 for CEOs of credit unions with $1 billion or more in assets, the survey found. For more info: www.cuna.coop.

A Wake-Up Call In Missoula

MISSOULA, Mont.-Missoula FCU is trying to get area consumers to find out about credit unions. Drivers in greater Missoula are being greeted with billboards urging them to "wake up" to the banking option that is credit unions. The credit union has also staged a website at wakeupmissoula.com. The website sports an unstoppable alarm clock ringing in the corner of the page and an explanation on how to join one of the area's credit unions.

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