Members Seek Identity Theft Protection Information and Tools

Online members are turning to their credit unions for identity theft protection tools. Read the results of a recent Callahan Survey Consortium study and the implications for credit unions.


As identity theft concerns continue to rise, a significant number of online members report being interested in identity theft or fraud monitoring tools from their credit unions, according to a recent Survey Consortium survey.

In the survey of over 18,000 online members, close to half expressed interest in fraud monitoring tools; only one-tenth were not interested in receiving any tools from their credit union. However, only 9% of the members surveyed reported purchasing credit monitoring tools, primarily through their credit card issues or one of the credit bureaus.

"Put a good product together less than $100 yr and I'd buy it"

Members responded that they are most interested in account alerts (57%) followed by credit reports (51%) and credit monitoring assistance (49%). Far fewer are interested in advocacy services, perhaps because they do not understand what is included or feel that they will not need them (see graph below).

Marketing Fraud Monitoring Tools
Of the online members surveyed, 49% were unsure about obtaining fraud monitoring tools from their credit unions, indicating that further information regarding cost and benefits could help convince them. Positive marketing is critical to member adoption of fraud monitoring tools since some members are wary of paying for products they perceive as covering risks due to ineffective systems in place at financial institutions.

Some members also commented that they thought these services should be free.

"I believe we should be proactively protected against identify theft and be provided with credit monitoring services at no extra charge. Credit companies make significant amounts of money off our private financial information. They should be obligated to easily and freely provide this information to consumers."

"It would be great if you could provide a credit monitoring & account monitoring service! I tried out credit manager but it was waaaay too expensive. I cancelled after the 30 day trial period."

Member expectations for free or reduced cost identity theft monitoring services are likely to increase in the years ahead. Some financial institutions, such as PNC Bank and Washington Mutual, have begun offering free identity theft monitoring services to customer segments with higher account balances. Gartner is predicting that no cost monitoring services will become a standard account feature by 2008.

Next Steps for Credit Unions
Credit unions should take steps to increase member awareness of existing tools to for account monitoring such as online access, e-statements, and account alerts. Websites should also include information on how members can obtain a copy of their credit report, particularly as the FACT Act provisions allow an annual free report to consumers nationwide.

There are a number of credit monitoring products available for identity theft protection from third parties. Credit unions should carefully evaluate the price/value equation of potentially offerings, and consider other factors such as educational content and assistance.

For further guidance on credit union identity theft issues, please see Callahan's newly released White Paper on Identity Theft: Online Identity Theft - Identifying Risk, Opportunities, and Educating Members

For information on the Callahan & Associates Survey Consortium, a shared cost research group sponsored by 21 credit unions, please contact Denise Senecal at 800-446-7453.