Steady progress is being made locally and nationally to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, and hope springs eternal as the weather warms and the vaccines are deployed to all who want them. At press time, April Fool’s Day will have just passed and hopefully we will not have had to deal with a snowstorm or something else!
Some good news: From my earlier communication, and elsewhere in this newsletter, you can read that we are preparing for a lot of new enhancements to our branch and back-office technology and service environments that will speed up account opening, account servicing, teller window service, and identification practices this spring. New systems will provide our staff in the branches, in our Call Centers, and in our lending areas with more and better integrated information for them to best serve you. This is an important undertaking for our entire team; they are being trained now and right up until May when the updates will be completed. This is going to be a very positive change for the organization, and it brings significant improvements to everyday banking for all our membership.
Some bad news: Internet and online crime is on the rise, as you will read in a related article in this newsletter. Since the pandemic hit, many of us have changed our banking and spending patterns; we’re making more online purchases and transactions; we are visiting the branches less; we’re signing up for many new services to make the quarantine easier, etc. All of these can lead to exposure of your most vital financial details UNLESS you provide good passwords and user names and stay away from unfamiliar sites and email. Your digital footprint is constantly being monitored by potential thieves, looking for easy access to your funds via fraudulent checks, fake stimulus program payments and offers, and getting to debit and credit card data that was compromised by retailers and/or hacked by intrusions on large systems. Whatever the means, and there are many, you must protect your personal data, especially your financial data, in the virtual world in which we live. Use our online and mobile banking applications to check balances, sign up for alerts, and monitor spending and unusual patterns or transactions. Be safe with your money, and have a healthy skepticism that if something seems too good to be true, or is irregular and unexpected with your accounts and transactions, it might be suspect and you should let us know how we can help.
Some more good news now: Spring has sprung, and boy, does it feel good! It’s been a long year of quarantine, health challenges, social discord, and financial hardships, so let’s try to put that in the past. Let’s be safe, enjoy our freedoms and the company of friends and family once again, while being safe in the process.
2021 will be a year of great recovery, so celebrate life and get outdoors!
President & Chief Executive Officer