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New Data Breach Hits More Than 40 Companies
Several small and medium-sized U.S. retailers have suffered data raids in recent months on a smaller scale than the breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, according to cybersecurity firm RSA Security. The firm said the breach of approximately 50,000 customers affected more than 40 companies in the United States and 10 other countries. It follows a recent attack in Germany that affected 16 million Internet users.

ICBA has been closely monitoring recent data breaches and working with reporters to communicate the impact on community banks and their customers. ICBA and a coalition of other financial trade groups on Friday held a conference call with reporters on data security.

Separately, ICBA Bancard President and CEO Linda Echard was quoted in a USA Today article on the impact of recent data breaches on the adoption of chip-and-PIN payment cards. Echard noted that while banks and retailers have long discussed EMV technology, it’s not the final answer to prevent fraud.

Meanwhile, ICBA continues offering data-security resources for community banks and their customers on the association’s online security breach toolkit. A recording of ICBA’s recent audio call on the data breaches, a best practices guide for community banks and other tools are available on the site. Access the Toolkit.

Social Media
ICBA #NewYearFinLit Chat Draws Over 1,000 Tweets
Last week’s New Year financial resolutions Twitter chat drew nearly 200 participants and more than 1,000 tweets, and the chat hashtag trended in the United States. During the chat, attendees discussed the importance of developing and keeping financial goals for the New Year.

Topics included college savings, retirement and credit card debt. Community bankers tweeted the importance of community banks as relationship bankers and financial partners.

Guest tweeters included Terry Jorde, former North Dakota community banker and senior executive vice president and chief of staff at ICBA; the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy; Bankrate; Practical Money Skills for Life; award-winning syndicated Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary; America Saves, a non-profit campaign to encourage saving; and WiseBread, a community of personal finance bloggers. Read Full Timeline of the Chat.

Debt Ceiling
ICBA, Coalition Urge Congress to Raise Federal Debt Ceiling
ICBA and a coalition of other business associations urged Congress to raise the federal debt limit without delay. In a joint letter to lawmakers, the coalition wrote that the administration and Congress should come together and develop long-term solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges.

The coalition wrote that defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations should not be an option. It noted that if the president and Congress cannot raise the debt limit in a timely fashion, the Treasury would be unable to meet government obligations, which would lead to American taxpayers paying more to finance the debt. Read Coalition Letter.

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FHA Expands Lender Authority to Accept Electronic Signatures
The Federal Housing Administration expanded authority to lenders to accept electronic signatures on documents associated with mortgage loans. The new policy, announced in FHA Mortgagee Letter 2014-03, allows e-signatures on origination, servicing and loss-mitigation documents as well as FHA insurance claims, REO sales contracts and related addenda.

Previous FHA policy allows for e-signatures only on third-party documents, such as sales contracts and other documents not controlled by the lender. The new policy is designed to reduce document submission timeframes for borrowers seeking options to avoid foreclosure.

The new policy is effective immediately.

FDIC Issues Notice on Municipal Advisor Registration
The FDIC issued a Financial Institution Letter on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s final rule requires municipal advisors to register with the SEC and comply with regulations to be issued by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

The letter notes that banks are not considered municipal advisors to the extent they provide advice concerning traditional banking products and services, such as deposit accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposits, extensions of credit (including letters of credit), sweep account services, or bond indenture trustee services.

The exemption does not apply to banks that: (1) engage in other municipal advisory activities, such as providing advice on municipal derivatives or the issuance of municipal securities, or (2) provide advice on municipal derivatives.

ICBA strongly supports House and Senate legislation to exempt community bank employees from having to register as municipal advisors with the SEC and MSRB. The measures (H.R. 797 and S. 710) are part of ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity legislative platform.

Feds Issue Quick Guide on DDoS Attacks
The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team released a guide on distributed denial-of-service attacks. The DDoS Quick Guide covers possible attack methods, recommended mitigation strategies and relevant hardware, and possible DDoS traffic type descriptions.

The release of the guide follows reports of recent DDoS attacks against Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Those attacks were reportedly linked to activist hackers who have targeted U.S. financial institutions in the past. Access the Guide.

Bank Failures
Idaho Bank Closed by Regulators
Regulators closed Syringa Bank in Boise, Idaho, and entered into a purchase-and-assumption agreement with Sunwest Bank in Irvine, Calif. As of Sept. 30, Syringa Bank had approximately $153.4 million in total assets and $145.1 million in total deposits. The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $4.5 million. Syringa Bank is the third FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year. Read More from FDIC.

Farm Bill
Senate Taking Up Farm Bill Today
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote today on the farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642). If the Senate votes to limit debate on the bill, a final Senate vote on the bill is expected as soon as tomorrow. ICBA last week said it is pleased the House approved the legislation, which passed on a 251-166 vote.

ICBA Selects Continuity Control as Compliance Management Partner
ICBA selected Continuity Control as the Preferred Service Provider for its compliance management system. This new relationship will offer ICBA-member community banks access to a comprehensive, automated CMS, which provides one simple solution to manage the entire regulatory lifecycle. As part of this relationship, ICBA members will receive special discounts on a Continuity Control subscription. Read ICBA Release.

Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on financial literacy, and view results from the previous poll on ICBA’s mobile apps. View the Archive.

ICBA Hosting Upcoming Auditing Institute
ICBA is hosting a two-week Auditing Institute to help community bankers establish, rebuild and sustain the growth and culture of their bank while providing new ways to look at, analyze and solve some of the industries toughest challenges. At the institute, slated for April 28-May 2 and May 5-9 in Kansas City, top industry professionals will discuss new strategies and tactics to improve bank performance, succeed in the current market and maintain an effective internal auditing framework. Register for Week One. Register for Week Two.

Products and Services
Improving Efficiency and Costs of Overdraft Protection
IMPACT Financial Services, an ICBA Preferred Service Provider, announced that IMPACT has enabled community banks to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs of overdraft protection programs following overdraft regulatory reform. The introduction of Overdraft Manager 4.0 has stood the test of regulatory review and can be managed by one person in approximately 30-45 minutes per day. Read More.

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