Beware Three Emerging Loss Trends

Employee dishonesty, wire transfer scams, and lender liability claims are on the rise.

April 12, 2011
KEYWORDS liability , risk , transfer , wire
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Three prominent loss trends in 2010 that seem likely to carry into 2011 are employee dishonesty, wire transfer scams, and lender liability claims.

A proactive approach to addressing emerging loss trends is by far the most effective strategy credit unions can take to manage operational risk. Complacency can be costly.

Fortunately, there are some simple procedures credit unions can use to mitigate the risk of loss in all of these areas. Let’s examine three of the most prevalent losses to illustrate how credit unions can manage emerging risks.

1. Employee dishonesty

This is nothing new, but it appears to be on the rise. Credit unions aren’t immune to this type of loss, which can range from minor to catastrophic.

Internal controls, comprehensive audits, and regular oversight are the three keys to managing embezzlement risk. These tools, in addition to minimizing risk and establishing accountability in the event of employee discrepancies, are highly effective in creating the perception of oversight to your entire staff. This can deter would-be offenders.

Conduct comprehensive internal audits regularly. Include a full scope of all credit union operations and report the results to the supervisory committee and board of directors.

2. Wire transfer scams

Wire transfer scams involving home equity lines of credit (HELOC) emerged in 2007. We saw a significant resurgence in these types of claims in 2010 with losses as high as six figures.

Three common trends appear in many of these losses:

  • The transfer is requested over the phone;
  • A portion of the funds are pulled from the member’s HELOC; and
  • The wire is sent to a foreign bank.

HELOCs have been targeted in many cases due to the large available credit lines. Fraudsters have been quite successful in circumventing credit unions’ security procedures in the latest resurgence of these types of losses.

If a credit union receives a wire transfer request that matches these transaction characteristics, don’t process the wire. Immediately refer the request to a supervisor or manager.

Based on the frequency and severity of these claims in 2010, credit unions may want to establish reasonable monetary limits for all member-not-present wire transfer requests rather than allowing the full balance of the account to be wired. This recommendation is designed to protect the credit union and members, not limit member service.

Next: Lender liability losses & action steps

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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