Republished from CU Times dated October 15, 2021. By James McCabe and Mark Pribish.
Credit Union executives and risk management teams should read a series of recent articles that explain why identity theft has become a top concern for many Members. The data and quotes in these articles demonstrate why this fear is growing and what credit unions can do to help alleviate their members' concerns and strengthen relationships and loyalty.
The first article from May 2021 references a study conducted by Benenson Strategy Group that reveals consumers' most significant concerns and fears in today's world of uncertainty. The respondents' top concern was identity theft, with 76% indicating they are worried….and 34% indicating they are very worried about an event. In fact, "90% of consumers believe becoming a victim of ID theft or cybercrime is something that can happen to them at any time.” Additionally, 49% of survey takers believed their lives would significantly change by becoming identity theft or cybercrime victims.
The fear of identity theft surpassed other respondents' top worries:
Getting a severe illness or injury (74%)
Being in a car accident (64%)
Having their home robbed (56%)
Additionally, 50% of all respondents indicated they wouldn't know where to begin to protect themselves from becoming a victim or how they would resolve an identity theft event.
After reading the second article, you will begin to understand why your Members would get to this level of fear and anxiety. According to a March 2021 report from The Aite Group, an estimated 42% increase in identity-related losses from 2019 to 2020 indicates identity theft is "rapidly growing in severity and will continue to flourish." This report specifically noted an acute "pervasiveness of identity fraud perpetrated against U.S. consumers," with statistics citing: 47% of U.S. consumers surveyed experienced identity theft, 37% experienced application fraud, and 38% dealt with account takeover.
Finally, a third article notes the emotional and psychological impact of identity theft as detailed in the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) report. This report used data covering three years from 2018 to 2020. It highlighted that many survey respondents, who were ID theft victims, had "definable emotional impacts, physical consequences, and lost opportunities, including "10% of victims said they considered suicide" (an all-time high number with this tendency). The report also noted more drastic effects on identity theft victims during the Covid-19 pandemic with tremendous anger, frustration, fear, and helplessness.
So, what can be done to help your Members? Chris Camicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, perhaps answers this best by stating, "Consumers are looking for an ID theft hero that can provide them with comprehensive protection before an incident occurs AND help save the day when their identity is compromised. To find that hero, they're turning to the institutions they already trust to protect their sensitive data for guidance as well as comprehensive ID theft and cyber protection services."
Your Members are looking for solutions, and according to the Benenson Group study, "74% felt they would need the help from a trained expert to feel truly protected from identity thieves and cybercriminals." There were also 84% from the same study who admitted that "there are some important things I cannot do on my own when addressing identity theft." Regarding consumer intentions to take action, 60% of consumers are likely to purchase ID theft protection in the next two years, with 77% planning to find a company specializing in credit monitoring and ID theft protection. And finally, 63% would look to a financial institution to obtain such identity theft services.
There is a significant opportunity for Credit Unions. Solutions are available to provide your Members, via your core services, precisely what they are looking for in the way of protection, safety, and peace of mind. Bring these ID protection solutions to your Members, and you will engage them for a very, very long time….while expanding their awareness and loyalty.