While the majority of online members report taking some action against identity
theft, their varied responses reveal confusion regarding the most effective
steps and protections. In a recent Survey Consortium survey of more than 18,000
online members, almost two-thirds of online members report looking for secured
site access (65%), closely monitoring their accounts online (64%), and being
less likely to give personal information online (63%). (See graph below for details.)
It's important to note that only about half the online members have done what
some experts say is the most effective protection method, installing a firewall
on their home computer. And only one in three has checked their credit report
(30%), another important safeguard.
The lack of understanding surrounding identity theft protection is a threat
to both further adoption and continued use of the credit union's online services.
As one member said,
"We have held off signing up to pay bills online because of the potential
of identity theft and not knowing the security of our credit union's bill pay
Almost one-third (31%) of online members report being less likely to conduct
online transactions at their credit union website in response to identity theft
concerns. Clearly members need more information on how the credit union's online
services can actually help them protect against identity theft by reducing paper-based
transactions and increased monitoring. Less than half of online members report
being familiar (rating of four and five on a scale of one to five) with any
of the identity theft aspects surveyed. Familiarity is highest for types of
identity theft (41%) and ways to protect against it (36%), and lowest regarding
victims' rights (19%) and limits on consumer liability when identity theft occurs
(18%). These are critical aspects, because this uncertainty is causing members
to avoid transactions online when the risk is actually fairly low if they take
Credit unions should be actively promoting their online account services and
website security features to demonstrate how account alerts, e-statements, and
online banking can protect against identity theft. Additionally, member comments
can be used to illustrate these concepts to other members. "I discovered
fraudulent activity on my checking account through online banking long before
my statement would have alerted me. I love my online banking program."
Any additional information provided to members regarding identity theft will go
a long way towards reassuring members and creating the perception that the credit
union is proactive in protecting members and their accounts. Citibank is actively
positioning their services as providing the highest level of security and being
an industry leader in this area. While other financial institutions have the same
precautions, liability limits and account features, the lack of marketing regarding
them may make members more susceptible to competing offers. If members have note
heard about it, they may assume that this protection is not there.
"I am just beginning to see e-mails from other institutions alerting me
of these scams. I am currently reading more about them and gaining useful knowledge
that identity thefts seem to be increasing. Please advise of what steps we can
work together to prevent this from happening."
We have found that few credit unions are actively promoting their online account
access and alert services to help members protect against fraud. Could your
credit union be doing more to inform their members?
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 Members.