Greg Walsh


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An Open Letter to the CEO of SECU

Sunday September 21, 2014

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Mr Staatz,

My name is Greg Walsh and I am a member of the State Employee's Credit

Union of Maryland (#620992). I am writing you this open letter to express my recent

disappointing experience with SECU and my growing frustration

with SECU's loss of customer focus.

On September 12, 2014, I was looking over my credit card transactions

and noticed two charges that looked unfamiliar. One for about $50 and

one for about $45 (I will explain why I can't tell you the exact

amounts.) Both were charges at Five Guys restaurants. If you are

unfamiliar, Five Guys is a fast food chain that specializes in

hamburgers and cheeseburgers. I immediately contacted SECU to report

the fraudulent charges. When I talked to the customer rep and

mentioned that I've been to Five Guys but never spent that much, his only

resolution was for me to go to the Website and download the forms for

a Visa Debit and Credit Dispute. I asked him why it was a dispute and

not fraud and he replied that because I had shopped there before, it

was probably a dispute, but, if I felt more comfortable calling it

fraud, I could. I asked if we could get new cards because it appeared

the ones we had were compromised. He said that yes we could and that

the other ones were now inactive.

This was disappointing because your rep did not seem to be concerned

about fraud on my account. After following up with Five Guys

corporation, I learned that the card was used in Baltimore at the

Pratt Street location and the Manassas, Virginia location. At this

point, my card was being used in multiple states. I (We--SECU and

myself) were lucky that the criminals had only used it for a

relatively small amount and at the same chain of restaurants. What's

disturbing was what appears to be your corporate policy to not act on

fraud or take it seriously. How much damage could have been done had

the criminals used the credit card numbers at a Wal-Mart or Best Buy

or somewhere else with "big ticket" items? Thousands and thousands of

dollars is how much damage.

After this, I logged back into my account the following Monday to see

if any more charges had come across and to see what happened to my

payment that was made the previous week. Unfortunately, the credit

account was unavailable and I could not log back in to my

statements. When I called SECU again, I learned that my card wasn't

just canceled but my entire credit account was closed and a new one

was being opened. I lost all access to the previous account (which is why I

don't have exact charge amounts at Five Guys for this letter). The rep

was very nice and confirmed there were no new charges and my payment

had been applied.

This is frustrating because it seems as if SECU can't actually provide

real credit card services to me and instead just outsources it to a

3rd party. When I had Citibank as my credit card provider, any inkling

of fraud was treated seriously and quickly by deactivating a card. A

new card was issued but I didn't have a new account. Instead, I kept

my account number and access to my spending and records but different

card number were assigned over time. Because I have a member number,

it would make sense that was my account and the credit limit,

transactions, and statements were tied to that and the credit card

number was just linked. Not being able to provide that level of

accountability and account access worries me about your ability to

provide services to me and my family.

This "new card/new account" confused me, so, I called back the next day to talk to

someone, preferably a manager, to explain what was going on. I also

wanted to ask about my credit report receiving a credit inquiry. This led me to

believe that not only was I getting a new card and a new account, but

was also being credit checked. Unfortunately, no one was able to speak

to me but a rep took my name and number down for the manager to call

me back. No one ever returned that phone call.

I would have gone to my local branch at the State Center office

building on Preston Street in Baltimore, but, you replaced all of the

office staff with video screen tellers that are about 3ft away from

other people conducting their bank business. I didn't think it was

appropriate to go there to explain my problem to a TV screen while

holding a phone handset.

I hadn't heard anything so I made a final call on Friday, September 19,

2014 to talk to anyone about the problems I was having. When I

asked the rep who I could talk to about solving this problem, he was

very confused. Then I asked, who would be able to take a complaint

since they would at least listen and possibly give me some answers. I

was placed on hold and when he came back, he explained that he could

take the complaint or I could write a letter. At this point, I was

extremely frustrated because my goal was not to complain but was to

get answers as to what was going on. I then relayed this story.

All of our banking is done at SECU: our checking account, savings

account, credit card, and car loan. My children's accounts are at SECU

as well. At one point in time, I felt like we were members of

something and that we mattered. Now I am under the impression

that your goals of growth and trying to appear large (Towson University Stadium)

have ironically eroded your strengths of being customer focused. Do

you know that no reps say the word "SECU" anymore when answering the

phones? Instead, they say "member services" as if they are some large

corporation that goes by many names or not even SECU employees. If you called

Citibank, Wells Fargo, or American Express, they all identify

themselves immediately as being part of that institution.

In all of my dealings over these fraudulent charges, I have never felt

like anyone actually one cared there were fraudulent

charges, no one cared that no one returned my calls, no one cared

enough to say what bank they worked at, and no one cared

that I just wanted answers and instead was told by someone (who was

told by their supervisor) I could write a letter.

Well Mr. Blaine, here is that letter. It is an open letter so anyone

can read this on the Internet. Perhaps the invested money in

sponsoring Towson's football field or the conversion of human tellers

to television screens will yield benefits for SECU members someday, but for

now, I feel like they have soiled a once meaningful brand. Your lack

of customer focus and your inability to provide financial services that are on par with peer

institutions has encouraged my family to begin shopping around for a new credit union.

In closing, I would still like to know why a new account has been

opened instead of just a new card number issued? It seems like a waste of time and effort and reduces accountability.

Thank you for your time,

Dr. Greg Walsh