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Check/Check 21 Services

First National Bank of Central Texas reduces risk with the Fed's Check 21-Enabled Services

June 2017

The First National Bank of Central Texas (FNB Central Texas) (Off-site Link) is located in the heart of Texas and has been serving the members of its community for over a century. Originally chartered as the First National Bank of Mart in 1901, the bank has seen significant growth, especially in the past two decades. In 1996, the bank came under new ownership and decided to change its name and move its headquarters to Waco, Texas. Since that time, the bank has grown from $23 million in assets and 10 staff members to over $750 million and just over 100 employees.

Only two employees are still around since the move to tell the tale of this period of dynamic growth. One of them is Executive Vice President Steve Mullens. He has been with the bank since before its renaming and has over 40 years’ experience in the banking industry. He has primary responsibility for bank operations, including processing its large volume of Check 21 items.

 

Time for a change

As FNB Central Texas grew, so did its need for reliable Check 21 item processing that could handle its high volume. Up until recently, the bank was using a third-party processor to clear its items and would receive credit for its forward items in the afternoon. After a couple daylight overdraft scares, FNB Central Texas decided it was time to look into other options.

In January 2017, the Federal Reserve Banks implemented several changes to the pricing structure and deadlines for Check 21-Enabled Services. These changes would now allow FNB Central Texas to receive credits and debits at the same time. Therefore, the bank would get credit for its forward items at 7:30 a.m. CT, allowing staff to respond to any potential errors and balance the bank’s Fed account much earlier in the day.

After weighing the options and working closely with its Federal Reserve account executive, Paul Berling, FNB Central Texas decided to make the switch. Once the ball was rolling, the process only took about a week to get the bank up and running with the Fed’s Check 21-Enabled Services. “The Fed’s preparation was excellent, their training was very impressive and the attention to detail was greater than what I’m accustomed to,” Mullens said. The bank has now been processing with the Fed since March 2017 and has not had any significant issues.

“Personally, the biggest benefit to switching was my peace of mind. It’s a load off of my shoulders knowing that if my files have gone to the Fed, I will receive credit. Before, if our processor had a hiccup, we had to borrow money to cover our Fed account. It’s a huge reduction in operational risk for our institution.”

Steve Mullens
Executive Vice President
The First National Bank of Central Texas

 

Learn more

Have you checked out our Check 21-Enabled Services lately? Want to learn more about how switching your check items could benefit your institution? Reach out to your account executive to begin a conversation today. Take Mullens’ advice: “Don’t think you’re too small to work directly with the Fed.”

 

Risk Management

Securing your workstation

June 2017

Staff play a critical role in safeguarding their institutions from potential data breach incidents. A variety of security threats loom for any organization, and an employee’s workspace can be a potential target for attack. Therefore, bolstering your workstation’s security is a crucial component in helping to protect your institution. Below are some questions to help you evaluate your workstation security practices.

 

 

Are your operating systems up to date?

It is vital for institutions to remain as technically current as possible. The threat landscape is constantly changing and evolving, so institutions need to identify and patch vulnerabilities in their systems to thwart would-be attacks. Keeping your system current includes ensuring you are running a supported version of software and routinely patching your system as prescribed by the vendors. Examples of potential updates include plugging security holes in operating systems or web browsers and updating signatures for antivirus or antimalware software.

 

Do you have access control features in place?

Access control features refer to any security measures for access, authentication or authorization of staff accessing your organization’s workstations or networks. These features may include software, encryption keys, login IDs and passwords. Access controls may include physical controls (e.g., locked doors), as well as technical ones (e.g., password authentication).

Be sure to lock any doors to offices or telecommunication closets that house devices that can connect to your network. Just as important as a locked door is a strong, confidential password. For personal computers (PCs) not in use, another good practice is to set up password-protected screensavers. Some password tips from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (Off-site Link) include:

  • Passwords should contain at least one numeric digit, at least two alphabetic characters (uppercase and lowercase) and at least one special character.
  • Passwords should not be in a dictionary, meaning you should not use any names, places, etc. from any language.
  • Passwords should not be trivial (e.g., asdf, qwerty, etc.).
  • Passwords used for your institution’s devices or networks should not be used elsewhere.

Strong passwords are key, but your organization should also consider implementing multi-factor authentication to control access. Multi-factor authentication is the combination of 2 or more “factors” (e.g., something you know, you have, or are) to authenticate a person. For example, some systems may require users to authenticate using a password (e.g., something they know) and a key fob (e.g., something they have). Multi-factor authentication is a security best practice and should be enabled whenever feasible.

If you are a FedLine® Subscriber, you should always remove your FedLine token from your workstation when not in use and securely store your token. Similar to any other sensitive documentation or devices, tokens should be secured where only authorized users may access them. A good practice is to utilize an access log when “checking out” or “checking in” your token.

PCs used to access FedLine should also have “limited use,” meaning users should refrain from unnecessary web browsing, email and applications for which a business need does not exist (e.g., music applications and computer games). These practices can help reduce the risk of a malware infection originating from a malicious website, phishing email or untrusted application. Restricting the use of personal devices connected to your institution’s workstations can also help limit the opportunity for device infection. For more information on malware, read the FedFocus article “Help your organization close the door on malware.”

 

Do you have a security incident response plan?

An incident response plan is critical, as it will help your organization recover from a security event or data breach. The plan should be available in hard copy to mitigate the risk of information systems becoming unavailable during an incident.

If you suspect that any FedLine access control feature, component or system is missing, has been compromised or shows evidence of tampering, you are responsible for immediately contacting the Federal Reserve Banks. This responsibility also applies to suspected information or monetary loss. If you need to report an incident, please contact the Customer Contact Center.

 

Are you aware of FedLine requirements?

Operating Circular 5 (OC 5) identifies key responsibilities for customers that access our services via the suite of FedLine access solutions, including, but not limited to, ensuring electronic connections and access control features are appropriately restricted to authorized staff. In accordance with OC 5, FedLine customers are responsible for establishing, instituting and enforcing policies and procedures for controlling, detecting and preventing unauthorized physical and network access to all applicable FedLine access control features. 

 

Do you know where to go for more information?

To help you stay updated on the latest security news, threats and education opportunities, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center’s (FS-ISAC) Community Institution & Association Risk Summary weekly newsletter is available to all FedLine Subscribers via FedLine Home. FS-ISAC (Off-site Link) is a non-profit entity that provides an industry forum for the exchange of security threats that might impact the financial sector. FS-ISAC gathers information from financial services providers, commercial security firms, government agencies and law enforcement to disseminate physical and cyberthreat alerts and training to its members and partners around the world.

The examples provided in this article represent only a small number of the possible methods that attackers use to access workstations and networks. As always, it is important to remain vigilant, informed and cautious. We encourage you to consult your institution’s information security team to learn more about these threats and the tools to counteract them.

 

FedCash® Services

Working together to respond to FedCash® business continuity events

June 2017

When natural disasters or outages disrupt power or telecommunications, cash may be the only way to pay for essential supplies. Unlike most other payment methods, cash does not depend on power and technology to complete a transaction. That’s why U.S. consumers continue to tuck away cash when preparing for the unexpected.

Amy Goodman, vice president in charge of cash services and branch manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s New Orleans branch, experienced the resilience of cash in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Cash truly saved the day,” Goodman said. “Electronic facilities such as debit, credit and the Automated Clearing House (ACH) were not available for many weeks. Depository institutions, most of whom saw their buildings destroyed, met heavy demand for cash by paying out currency from garages, driveways and parking lots, in most cases using the honor system since their customer records were inaccessible. Although all the local carriers suffered severe damage and could not operate as normal, the Fed ensured that currency flowed into the ravaged area by developing stem runs, a sort of ‘Pony Express’ system that transported currency to select distribution points. Since card transactions could not be processed, currency was the means by which people purchased everything from food and medicine to household supplies for the cleanup process.”

When disruptions occur, we know people want and need cash. The Federal Reserve Banks provide a ready supply of currency to depository institutions in times of stress, but the resiliency of the entire cash supply chain is in the hands of all its participants. The Federal Reserve, depository institutions and armored carriers work together to ensure that enough cash is available in a disaster area to meet increased demand.

The beginning of the hurricane season is a good reminder to review business continuity plans, checklists and processes to be ready for potential weather disruptions. Review the business continuity planning resources below and familiarize your organization with how the Federal Reserve communicates during service disruptions:

 

Business continuity planning resources:

  • FedCash® Services: This page is your first stop for information about events affecting FedCash Services at your servicing Reserve Bank.
  • Federal Reserve’s National Business Continuity Guide: This guide provides continuity information for all Federal Reserve products and services in the event of a business disruption.
  • FedCash Services Business Continuity Guide: This page provides specific guidance on automated cash ordering and what your organization should do in the event of a disruption. It also includes links to additional resources.
  • Checklist for Fed-related Preparations (PDF): This checklist can help guide your organization’s review of business continuity preparations.
  • Cash Services District Contact Information: This page provides links to business continuity contacts in each of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts.
  • Contaminated Currency and Coin: This page includes resources on how to properly prepare contaminated currency for deposit at the Federal Reserve. While the Federal Reserve does not accept deposits of contaminated coin, this web page includes instructions for cleaning and sanitizing coin.

 

Federal Reserve communication channels during a service disruption:

  • Service Status: We recommend that you bookmark the link to our Service Status page on FRBservices.org. During a disruption, updates for all services, including FedCash, will be posted here. As necessary, the update may include potential changes to Reserve Bank dock hours or instructions on alternate ordering options if the FedLine Web® access solution is unavailable.
  • FedLine® Home: During a disruption, we may post messages to FedLine Home with information about the event. FedLine Home is accessible by End User Authorization Contacts (EUACs) and authorized Subscribers.
  • Customer Communications: Review these customer letters to obtain information on the latest events affecting Federal Reserve cash operations.
  • Email: The Federal Reserve may send updates to targeted audiences via email during high-impact events.

 

General

Fed Facts: From coast to coast, make the most of the Fed's educational exhibits

June 2017

Are you planning a trip this summer? If so, be sure to stop by one of the Federal Reserve Bank locations to learn about money, the economy and the Fed’s role as the nation’s central bank. This month’s Fed Facts article highlights a few of our favorite exhibits at Federal Reserve Banks across the country, all of which are free of charge. Not planning to travel? We’ve got you covered. There are also many virtual tours at your disposal.

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

At the Atlanta Monetary Museum  (Off-site Link) you’ll learn about the history of money and the ways the Federal Reserve provides payments system services. Most notably, you’ll get to view the bank’s automated vault and cash-processing areas.

You can also tour the Atlanta Monetary Museum online (Off-site Link).

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Do you think you have what it takes to detect a counterfeit note? Come find out at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Money Museum (Off-site Link). Here you’ll be able to see $50,000 in coins and $1 million in $20 bills. You can also get a souvenir photo taken standing by $1 million.

To check out the exhibits from your desk, view the Money Museum online (Off-site Link).

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

In addition to standing beneath a 23-foot money tree, at the Learning Center and Money Museum (Off-site Link) you can learn about personal finance and trade on the Barter Islands. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, you can also try to identify counterfeit bills and make your own currency.  

If you can’t make it to the Cleveland Fed in person, view the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Learning Center and Money Museum online (Off-site Link) or try to Escape from Barter Island (Off-site Link).

 

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco – Los Angeles Branch

The history of money is exciting, but the main focus of the LA Fed Gallery (Off-site Link) is on the Federal Reserve’s role in the United States economy. This interactive exhibit explains bank supervision, monetary policy and more.

 

There’s more to explore

If your local Federal Reserve Bank wasn’t included above, check out the table below for a full listing of tours and exhibits.

LocationsTours and Exhibits
Board of Governors Prearranged tours (Off-site Link) of the Board’s Eccles Building in Washington, DC may be requested for groups of 10 to 25 people. These tours are designed for college students and adults with a research interest in the Federal Reserve. The Board also presents a series of exhibitions annually as part of its Fine Arts Program (Off-site Link).
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Stay tuned to the Boston Fed’s Events page (Off-site Link) for upcoming opportunities.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York Check out the New York Fed’s Museum & Gold Vault Tour (Off-site Link), which offers guided tours to school groups and the general public.
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Visit the Money in Motion (Off-site Link) exhibit and learn about money, banking and the Federal Reserve System.
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Take a group tour of the Cleveland Fed or schedule a guided tour of the Money Museum (Off-site Link)
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond The Fed Experience (Off-site Link) is an interactive exhibit brought to you by the Richmond Fed.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Visit the Atlanta Monetary Museum (Off-site Link) or tour (Off-site Link) the Atlanta Fed and its branches in Jacksonville, Miami and New Orleans.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Visit the Chicago Fed's Money Museum (Off-site Link) or tour the Detroit Branch Visitors Center (Off-site Link).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Stop by the award-winning Inside the Economy® Museum (Off-site Link) inside the historic St. Louis Fed.
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Free guided tours (Off-site Link) of the Minneapolis Fed are available for individuals, families and small groups every Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. between June and October.
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Visit the Kansas City (Off-site Link) and Denver (Off-site Link) Money Museums.
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Stop by the Dallas Fed to see The Economy in Action (Off-site Link) exhibit. You can also tour (Off-site Link) the Dallas Fed and its branches in El Paso and Houston.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Visit The Fed Center: Exploring our Nation’s Central Bank (Off-site Link) at the San Francisco Fed. Tours (Off-site Link) are also available at the San Francisco Fed and its branches in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

 

“Inside the Economy” is a registered trademark of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

 

Events and Education

Get a FEDucational boost during the summer days ahead

June 2017

This month, summer rolls around and the sunshine can’t help but lift spirits. It’s the perfect time to brush up on skills and bring your team together for educational opportunities. Luckily, here at the Fed, we provide these opportunities year-round and at your convenience – you don’t have to miss any fun in the sun!

Visit the Federal Reserve Bank Events page to find a variety of webinars, teleseminars and on-demand webcasts that can help you make your institution’s operations more efficient. Even if you have attended an event recently, there are always new and different topics to explore. Attend a Check Adjustment webinar, a FedACH Risk® Management Services webcast or even a Getting Started webcast (Off-site Link) if you are new to Federal Reserve Bank Services.

Register now (Off-site Link) for a Check Adjustments Insights into Investigation Types (ITYPs) webinar. This webinar provides customers with more detailed information regarding the usage and case submission requirements of various investigation types, as well as required forms and documentation associated with each ITYP covered. Check out the May 2017 FedFocus article “KleinBank supervisor finds value in Fed's Check Adjustment webinars for her entire team” to learn more about the Principles and Concepts of Image Cash Letters and Electronic Check Adjustments (Off-site Link) webinar.

Summer days may be stereotyped as lazy, but we all know that’s not really the case. Take full advantage of FRBservices.org — there are learning opportunities everywhere you turn! Be sure to check out the Industry Events page to see where Fed experts will be throughout the season, the Resource Centers and FAQs page to help questions you may have and, of course, the My FedDirectory® service to find customized contact information. We are always looking for more ways to make your work easier and assist you with our services.

 

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FedFocus is your source for the latest Federal Reserve Bank Services news. Each issue keeps you informed about hot topics in the industry, as well as provides insight into the value of Federal Reserve Financial Services.