Real-time alerts help consumers monitor their identity, businesses engage with customers

By: Reggie Whitley

After spending years working in bank fraud, one of the most difficult conversations to have with a consumer is “We can no longer successfully protect your accounts.”

Identity theft is shockingly easy to commit.  In most cases consumers are able to recover successfully from compromises thanks to the diligence of their financial institutions, the cooperation of retailers, and credit reporting services that assist in recovery from compromises.

Problems arise when you have consumers who become attractive targets for various reasons – these could be relationships to others, high net worth, extensive products, or business ownership.  These targets aren’t ‘one and done’ consumers for an identity criminal.  For these consumers identity thieves will continue accessing their identities for months or even years.  These consumers are often forced to migrate from banks or credit card companies because the identity crimes follow them and they become too expensive to protect.  For these consumers, identity theft is a true nightmare.

In the past year, fraud protection strategies and tools have emerged that will begin to reduce the risk of continued compromise these consumers face.  Real time identity alerting tools have emerged to offer consumers a way to receive notification when their identities are being used, not just at a single institution, but across the financial landscape.

Consumers now have the ability to receive SMS, Email, or Web notifications whenever their identity has been verified.  If the consumer receives an alert on an banking account they just opened, they simply move on, no action is required.  In the event that the alert is NOT something they generated, the consumer calls in, discusses with a fraud specialist and is connected to the generating bank or retailer to file a fraud report.

Obviously, this service benefits any consumer who would like to monitor usage of their identity and detect fraud, but knowing first hand the horror stories extensively compromised consumers get caught in, tools like start to open a level of REAL TIME protection that hasn’t before existed.

The benefit is truly across the board.  Banks and retailers begin to realize savings when consumers engage them within minutes of fraud.  This reduces the success of identity thieves, discouraging additional attempts.  Finally, detecting this fraud reduces the extensive efforts needed to help a consumer clear up credit reports and file fraud reports.

Perhaps in the near future instead of turning high risk consumers away, we can provide them with the ability to protect themselves and the industry from the nightmare situations that are still too frequent today.