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On Target: Retailers and CUs trade volleys and interest in collaboration

Thursday, March 13, 2014  
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Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC (3/13/2014)--Credit unions have been effective in communicating their concerns and interests related to merchant data breaches, evidenced by an exchange of editorial commentary that began during the 2014 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference and Hill visits by its nearly 5,000 participants. Amid strong feelings on either side is opportunity for constructive dialogue nationally and within the Carolinas.

On February 26--the day credit unions met with members of Congress--National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Senior Vice President Lyle Beckwith argued strongly in The Hill ( that credit unions receive beyond-adequate compensation for breach and fraud recovery costs by way of interchange.

Beckwith's enthusiasm prompted Steve Spinx, chief executive officer of The Spinx Company and its 74 convenience stores in the Carolinas, to reach out in a March 3 email to retired SC Credit Union League President Steve Fowler. The two met in 2011 during the campaign for interchange legislation via the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

"A primary interest among credit unions is balance of ownership and responsibility in data breaches," CCUL VP of Public Relations and Communications Brandon Pugh wrote Spinx in reply. "In the Target case, that entity’s policies, safeguards, and storage—or a weakness therein—were the reason millions of credit union cards have been reissued, yet because of notification restrictions credit union members draw their own conclusions."

Pugh also expressed interest in the cybersecurity partnership noted on the NACS website and its omission of credit unions. Spinx responded with information now under review by CCUL President and CEO John Radebaugh.

Then on March 5, CUNA worked through The Hill to rebut Beckwith in its "Congress Blog." CUNA simultaneously distributed the piece to Capitol Hill and reinforced the need for balanced standards among financial institutions and merchants in a statement for the record of that day's hearing of the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

"Credit unions want to move past the finger pointing and get on with improving security and protecting our members," Cheney commented in sharing CUNA's efforts with leagues.

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