Protecting Customers Against Identity Theft is Critical during COVID-19

Published: May 13, 2020 by Brian Stack

The pace of life for the majority of Americans has dramatically changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving more digital consumption, and unfortunately, increases in cybercrime. Crimes that target banking, credit, and consumer activities are commonplace in the best of times, but when people are in stressful financial and psychological situations, exploitation is easier.1

Furthermore, since lockdown orders and COVID-19 fears have kept people at home, more business is being done online than ever before. The increased volume of transactions creates more opportunities for cybercriminals. Also, as companies accelerate their digital transformations there are more vulnerabilities and points of entry for hackers, which makes it difficult for security pros to stay one step ahead.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the FBI has warned that fraud is expected to rapidly increase during this COVID-19 global health crisis.

Helping customers safeguard themselves against such crimes is crucial right now. This is an opportunity for companies to engage their customers in positive ways and provide much-needed support and services.

Consumers are affected and anxiousThe extreme economic and emotional fallout from the pandemic is illustrated by the data collected from Experian Consumer Survey, COVID & Consumer Confidence, April 2020:

  • 57% say they are concerned of their ability to pay their credit card bills
  • 42% are concerned on their ability to use credit to get the things they want during this time

Much of what consumers are buying today is coming from online shopping. Indeed, with intermittent lockdown orders and the ever-present fear of contracting the virus, it may be the only way for some people to supplies right now. Unfortunately, online shopping means additional exposure to fraud. According to the survey, many respondents worry about how their online purchases might expose their personal information:

  • 56% report being concerned about increasing online scams and fraud in general
  • 75% are concerned about Coronavirus-related fraud and scams.
  • 29% are very worried of their personal information including accounts, SSNs, or credit card information being stolen

The good news is that their concerns about identity theft are change in behavior. Over these next few months, consumers say they plan to be extra vigilant to confirm the legitimacy of incoming calls, letters, and emails. Unfortunately that won’t stop criminals from buying their stolen personal information on the dark web.

Some consumers will go an extra step to protect their personal information during this uncertain time by subscribing to a service that will monitor their credit and protect their identity. With demand for these services on the rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies would be wise to jump in and offer it to their customers.

How companies can help protect their customers’ identities

By offering programs that are proven to mitigate fraud-related credit problems, companies can convey that they recognize the concerns and truly care about their customers’ financial well-being. Experian Partner Solutions offers companies robust, comprehensive credit monitoring and identity protection services that they can then offer to their customers.

  • Credit Monitoring: Customers automatically receive updates to their credit reports every 30 days so they don’t have to order them. They also receive customized alerts about new inquiries and accounts, changes in personal information and suspicious activity detected on their Experian credit report.
  • CyberAgent®: Experian’s dark web internet surveillance technology scours websites, blogs, bulletin boards, peer-to-peer sharing networks, messaging services and IRC chat rooms to identify the illegal trading and selling of personal information – including the banking and credit card data they’re using so frequently during the pandemic.

The unfortunate increase in fraud represents a giant opportunity for companies to stay connected and engaged with customers by offering the exact tools they are already looking for. By offering Experian identity protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies can stay in frequent contact with their customers, alerting them to potential exposures and alleviating worries.

Now more than ever consumers care about their credit and financial health. Watch the first edition of the EPS Exec Expert Series of 15-minute, on-demand webinars: Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Identity Fraud, to learn about how you can build deeper relationships with your customers by protecting them from identity fraud.

  1. Source: Thrive Global, September 2019
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