Republished from California Nevada Credit Union League dated April 25, 2022. By James McCabe.
Over the past few years, the increased risk of identity theft has caused growing fears amongst consumers (your members). In October 2021, a CU Times article was published, revealing data that described the trepidation that members feel about the security of their identities. In addition, it referenced a study conducted on the life events that consumers fear the most, with identity theft being the top concern. The cybersecurity landscape has become even more threatening almost a year later, so it's reasonable to assume that consumers' fears have only intensified.
Recent warnings from the FBI and many other top cybersecurity resources have indicated increased risks for global attacks. The hackers are coming after everyone and from everywhere; it’s like playing Russian Roulette before they finally get to you and create havoc in your life. Unfortunately, our chances of becoming the next victims increase with each data breach.
The Ukraine conflict has created a storm of concern about the potential attacks from Russian agents and hackers whose intent is to retaliate against the United States for their actions to support Ukraine. And this is in addition to the recent news of several significant data breach events, such as those from JDC Healthcare Management, the Harbour Plaza Hotel Group, and Jefferson Dental Group, which have affected millions of consumers. The data breach trend and forecasts call for more to come, so you can see why there is cause for concern, worry, and downright FEAR on the part of your members. Unfortunately, your members' angst is not unwarranted. There will likely be members of your credit union who will become identity theft victims this year.
Now is a time for your credit unions to step up for your members and provide a way to bring peace of mind, assurance of their wellbeing, and ultimate safety against these dangers. Today, numerous credit unions have a suite of ID theft & fraud protective services to safeguard their members and accounts. In addition, these credit unions are using programs that allow them to provide these protective services in a way that brings maximum value to their members and generates non-interest income for their institutions. Through these programs, some credit unions also deliver superior account ownership value with benefits beyond the essential banking services, such as mobile phone insurance and substantial discount programs via an easy-to-use mobile app.
Be careful in selecting programs and providers for these well-timed, protective services to your members. Some may appear competitive at first glance but lack authentic member-friendly experiences in reality. Research the history behind providers and know if they have a long-term record of member/customer satisfaction. Doing nothing to help members in this time of need and deep concern seems to be a "counter-credit union" response. Assisting members in ways that support their lives, not just their finances, is what will set you apart from other financial institutions. So, again, here's another great moment to demonstrate to members how your credit union cares and appreciates your members' relationships, not just their deposits and transactions.
Jim McCabe, Senior Vice President, Identity Theft Services at Vero.