As identity theft concerns continue to rise, a significant number of online members
report being interested in identity theft or fraud monitoring tools from their
credit unions, according to a recent Survey
In the survey of over 18,000 online members, close to half expressed interest
in fraud monitoring tools; only one-tenth were not interested in receiving any
tools from their credit union. However, only 9% of the members surveyed reported
purchasing credit monitoring tools, primarily through their credit card issues
or one of the credit bureaus.
"Put a good product together less than $100 yr and I'd buy it"
Members responded that they are most interested in account alerts (57%) followed
by credit reports (51%) and credit monitoring assistance (49%). Far fewer are
interested in advocacy services, perhaps because they do not understand what
is included or feel that they will not need them (see graph below).
Marketing Fraud Monitoring Tools
Of the online members surveyed, 49% were unsure about obtaining fraud monitoring
tools from their credit unions, indicating that further information regarding
cost and benefits could help convince them. Positive marketing is critical to
member adoption of fraud monitoring tools since some members are wary of paying
for products they perceive as covering risks due to ineffective systems in place
at financial institutions.
Some members also commented that they thought these services should be free.
"I believe we should be proactively protected against identify theft
and be provided with credit monitoring services at no extra charge. Credit
companies make significant amounts of money off our private financial information.
They should be obligated to easily and freely provide this information to
"It would be great if you could provide a credit monitoring & account
monitoring service! I tried out credit manager but it was waaaay too expensive.
I cancelled after the 30 day trial period."
Member expectations for free or reduced cost identity theft monitoring services
are likely to increase in the years ahead. Some financial institutions, such
as PNC Bank and Washington Mutual, have begun offering free identity theft monitoring
services to customer segments with higher account balances. Gartner is predicting
that no cost monitoring services will become a standard account feature by 2008.
Next Steps for Credit Unions
Credit unions should take steps to increase member awareness of existing tools
to for account monitoring such as online access, e-statements, and account alerts.
Websites should also include information on how members can obtain a copy of
their credit report, particularly as the FACT Act provisions allow an annual
free report to consumers nationwide.
There are a number of credit monitoring products available for identity theft
protection from third parties. Credit unions should carefully evaluate the price/value
equation of potentially offerings, and consider other factors such as educational
content and assistance.
For further guidance on credit union identity theft issues, please see Callahan's
newly released White Paper on Identity
Theft: Online Identity Theft - Identifying Risk, Opportunities, and Educating
For information on the Callahan
& Associates Survey Consortium, a shared cost research group sponsored
by 21 credit unions, please contact Denise Senecal at 800-446-7453.