Protecting Your Members for the “Breach” Holidays

by Jim McCabe

For the past several years we have seen more data breach activities during the holiday season than any other time of the year.   The holidays are also the time of year for heightened ID theft activity.  Criminals get into their own “holiday thievery” mode and understand that this is the time of year when consumers are maximizing their buying activities to get their friends, family and co-workers the perfect gifts.

Although the Christmas Holidays are still a few months off, credit unions may be considering what kind of “member gift” to offer during the holidays.   This year, consider providing them a unique set of services that will be their “ultimate safety net” when data breaches run wild or when they become the victims of “holiday identity thieves.”

It’s never too soon to prepare your members for the Holiday Season.  Once the Christmas songs start playing on the radio, it may be too late to offer your members perhaps the most important holiday gift they could receive; protection from the typical wave of “holiday breach events” that afflict retailers and financial institutions alike.

Beyond ID theft and data breach activity, the holidays are a time when scammers pose as charitable organizations to take advantage of your members “holiday giving” and acts of kindness.  What better time could there be for thieves to prey on the good intentions of your members and catch them off guard.  Incorporating messages of “awareness” regarding the dangers of ID theft in your communications to members in the coming months will go a long way to further help protect them.

In addition, there are special services your credit union can provide to members that will help them well beyond the holidays to insure protection all year long, year after year.   The benefits of a fully managed recovery & restoration service, for any kind of ID Theft or fraud, has been proven to save members from the angst and anguish of trying to defend themselves.

Over the past two years we’ve seen millions of Americans affected by numerous breach events, including Target department stores in 2013, and followed by a subsequent stream of major retailers, such as Neiman Marcus, EBay, Michaels, Home Depot, Staples, as well as JPMorgan/Chase Bank, a number of credit unions and other financial institutions.  Your members are ready for the kind of holiday gift that will insure they have a safety net of support for what is expected to be another season of data breach activity.

While many credit union executives are experiencing “data breach fatigue” or have the impression that data breach events will somehow be eliminated with policies, procedures, governance, and compliance, it is time to take a harder look at data breach and ID theft events – and how credit unions can enhance policies and procedures with greater security measures for WHEN they happen, not IF.

The FBI continues to issue warnings that organized crime is a powerful business that will leverage today’s technology to access your members’ personal information and try to breach your credit union.  History tells us that the holidays are an ideal time for criminals to increase their activities and take advantage of consumers and lending institutions.

Credit unions need to examine their current member offerings to ensure they have implemented the right plans and programs to protect their members from data breach and ID theft events.  Providing the right protection now, in time for the holidays, will give them the peace of mind they need today, during the holidays, and throughout the year.

About the Author

Jim McCabe
Jim McCabe is the Senior Vice President, Identity Theft Services, for Vero, a CU Direct company