Navy credit union bans hats, hoods, sunglasses
NAPLES, Italy — An increase in robberies — and maybe the bad U.S. economy — has led Navy Federal Credit Union to adopt a dress code for its customers.
The policy, which went into effect in December, prohibits customers from wearing sunglasses, hoods and hats in any credit union branch, including those overseas.
The rule was a response to a spike in attempted and actual robberies at stateside credit union branches over the past two years, but credit union officials wouldn’t say how many robberies or attempted robberies have taken place. They would only described the increase as significant.
The FBI currently lists a wanted notice on a suspect allegedly involved in several Navy credit union robberies over the past two years.
"The suspect specifically targeted Navy Federal Credit Unions," the notice reads, describing one incident in which the robber used a semiautomatic weapon.
"We’re hoping [the new policy] serves as a deterrent, but it also helps us catch criminals in the act," said Tom Lyon, Navy Federal’s senior vice president for security. "It allows us to provide better identifying photos to law enforcement agencies."
The ban may seem like overkill for branches located on military installations overseas already protected by military security, but Lyon notes that the policy also helps identify those engaged in fraudulent check-writing and identity theft.
The policy also may be an indicator of the tough economic situation Americans now face.
"In bad economic times, bank robberies do increase," Lyon said. "We’ll see how this works, and we’ll move on from there. I don’t see the policy going away anytime in the near future."
Not everyone is happy with the new policy.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a Muslim woman in Maryland complained about the credit union’s policy after she was asked to leave the line because of her head scarf.
"We don’t want to single anybody out," said Lyon, who has worked with NFCU for 15 years. "We ask all customers to remove items that would interfere with a clear identification. If we’re told that the item is for religious purposes, we’ll speak to that individual about it and handle each case individually."
Though the policy has only been in effect for a few months, other commercial banking institutions have similar policies.
"I think it’s something that people have to grow accustomed to," said Jennifer Sadler, Navy Federal’s public relations specialist. "Lots of financial institutions are doing this."