Identity fraud is a serious problem.The 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report from Javelin Strategy & Research found that more than 8 million adults in the U.S. were victims last year, with losses due to new account fraud taking the lead. And the crime is taking a bigger bite out of an individual's wallet and time. The mean cost to recover an identity jumped 63 percent, from $387 in 2009 to $631 in 2010, and now takes about 33 hours, an increase of 53 percent.1
So perhaps it is not surprising that a study conducted by research and consulting firms Informa and Novantas found that the top banking service consumers are willing to pay for is identity protection.2
Indeed, consumer awareness of identity theft has increased dramatically. The Unisys Security Index found that misuse of personal information ranks with national security as Americans' top worry, with nearly two in three of those surveyed (64 percent) seriously concerned about it.3 "There is a demand for identity protection services that financial institutions can fill," says Debra Corwin, vice president of security solutions marketing at Harland Clarke. "Most consumers do not yet subscribe to an identity protection service."
This is opening doors for financial institutions at an opportune time. Recent restrictions on overdraft and interchange fees, coupled with an overall lackluster economy, have banks and credit unions seeking new sources of revenue.
Account holders look to their financial institutions to fill this need. According to Javelin Strategy & Research's 2010 Consumer Study, nearly half of those who obtain identity protection services do so from their bank or credit card companies, compared with only 27 percent who turn to one of the three big credit bureaus and 19 percent who use an independent provider.
"Banks and credit unions know their fee income is under tremendous pressure. But they are not necessarily aware that account holders have a strong desire to buy identity protection services from them," says Corwin. "Offering this service is a win-win — for financial institutions and their account holders."
Although income is a key driver for offering identity protection, cost-saving benefits exist as well, because services that alert account holders to certain activity that could indicate potential fraud may result in less severe losses for the financial institution.
One Solution, Two Components
Harland Clarke's new alliance with Intersections Inc. — a leading provider of identity theft protection services — provides financial institutions of all sizes with the opportunity to offer these in-demand services to account holders.
With Harland Clarke's new offering, account holders receive premium identity resolution services from ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, a nonprofit coalition of financial services companies committed to help consumers recover from identity theft.
Furthermore, Harland Clarke's solution enables institutions to offer identity protection to account holders in two ways: 1) as an embedded service in a checking account, or 2) as a direct subscription to ITAC Sentinel® subscription service provided by Intersections. Either way, an account holder receives Social Security number monitoring, credit card number and bank account monitoring, and assistance with identity recovery if that account holder becomes a victim. Expanded protection features are also available.
In brief, Harland Clarke's identity protection solution enables financial institutions to offer identity protection and recovery assistance integrated into checking or financial accounts as value-added benefits. Account holders receive:
"Providing this service as a built-in checking account benefit to account holders builds loyalty and helps boost acquisition and retention," says Corwin. She also notes that ITAC Sentinel can generate additional revenue for a financial institution. "The bank or credit union earns a commission whenever an account holder enrolls in the subscription service."
Harland Clarke provides marketing support to help financial institutions communicate about this solution to account holders, including in-branch fliers, CheckSmart Messaging™ and other promotional tools.
While it isn't possible to stop thieves from trying to steal identities, it is possible to reduce the odds significantly. The end result for account holders, says Corwin, is peace of mind.
To learn more about how Harland Clarke's identity protection solution can benefit your financial institution, contact your account executive or visit harlandclarke.com/contactus.
1 Javelin Strategy & Research, Identity Fraud Survey Report, 2011
2 Novantas, "The New Checking Account: Economics and Vision," March 23, 2010
3 Unisys Security Index: U.S., Lieberman Research Group, March 31, 2010 (Wave 1H'10)
Identity protection services can generate fee income and strengthen account holder loyalty and relationships. But finding the right provider is critical and financial institutions put themselves at risk if they choose the wrong company to work with. Corwin warns that it is ill-advised to build an alliance with a company that may not consider protection of the consumer's identity its first priority. An identity protection solution must work on behalf of the individual for it to offer true value. For example, financial institutions should look for a provider that offers account holders choices of plans at different prices.
In addition, says Corwin, "Banking is a minefield of government regulation. A company that provides identity solutions should have the requisite knowledge." This is a particular concern for local community banks and credit unions that do not have large staffs and often must rely on external providers for marketing and other services.
When choosing a potential provider, financial institutions should look for:
Offering an identity protection solution helps strengthen a financial institution's position as a trusted adviser. Therefore, the most important factors in choosing a third-party provider are superior customer service, trust, integrity and stability. "Institutions want a financially strong, viable provider that understands the highly specific needs of the financial services industry," says Corwin.
ITAC®, ITAC Victim Assistance®, Identity Theft Assistance Center® and ITAC Sentinel® are federally registered trademarks of the Identity Theft Assistance Corporation and are used with permission.