A website devoted to highly charged allegations against the credit union industry was operated by the American Bankers Association, although the ABA’s involvement was cloaked in secrecy.
For more than a year, “explorecreditunions.com” was registered using a proxy that hid the website’s ownership. And the website did not identify the trade group as the source for the content.
However, a search Tuesday morning on register.com, one of many sites that catalogs website ownership, no longer listed the proxy, but identified the owner as the ABA. And an ABA technical information employee was listed as the website’s contact person.
Shortly after CU Times asked the ABA about its ownership of the website, it was taken down, but the site’s Facebook page and Twitter feed remain online. The Facebook page identifies the site as a “news and media” page. By comparison, the ABA’s Facebook page identifies it as a “nonprofit organization-community group.”
An ABA spokesman later told CU Times that the website was taken down as the trade group updates its digital platforms.
However, in several email exchanges, Jeff Sigmund, the ABA’s SVP of public relations, would not address why the ABA did not identify itself as the owner of the website.
He said the ABA protects the ownership of its websites, including its own, adding that it is common practice to do so to protect against spam and sales calls.
However, he did not say why the ABA did not identify itself as the source for the information on the website.
The website, which has been the subject of speculation in the credit union community, disappeared on the same day the ABA announced a newly redesigned web page of its own.
The website’s stated goal was to shed “a light on how big tax-exempt credit unions have gamed the system and exploited a tax loophole.”
Sigmund expanded on that idea.