RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-Belt tightening during the recession has led to fewer CUs underestimating the impact of fraud.

That's an observation of Connie Trudgeon, VP of operations for CO-OP Financial Services, who told Credit Union Journal that CUs over the last few years have become very savvy about breaking down their fraud losses, looking to see which products the losses are coming from, how much, and why.

She explained that as many credit unions dodged the bullet on fraud over the years, they tended to lump fraud losses together without much granularity in the data. However, as the recession put stress on budgets, "separating out" fraud losses became necessary.

"Now they can compare plastic fraud losses with consumer lending fraud losses, for example. The recession has forced credit unions to be more like consumers as far as really breaking down their balance sheets and determining how acceptable it is to have certain fraud losses, then reaching out to their payments processors and asking how they can manage things better."

Unfortunately, noted Trudgeon, there are fewer credit unions getting passed over by fraudsters these days as the economy has created more fraudsters and given the thieves more people willing to assist them.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures. There are people agreeing to do some of these runner type jobs who never would have considered them before. The fraudsters are preying on the desperate financial situations facing people today; we hear this from the Secret Service. It's not hard for thieves to find someone, give them a little bit of money and a stack of white plastic and say, 'Go to this ATM and drain it.'"

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