Students’ Vulnerability for ID Theft…What Can CUs Do?

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It is that time of year when students' vulnerability for ID theft attacks goes up exponentially as they head back to school.  And this year, they face a dramatically more substantial threat posed by the increased time they spend online taking virtual classes.

The criminals are always excited about the idea of capturing student information and using it as a means to attack them or their parents. Thieves can also potentially gain access to all kinds of financial data from school applications and financial aid documents passing through the internet.  Or they might gain access to the students' computers and steal files of personal & financial data. The Covid-19 crisis has definitely made students a prime target (COVID-19 scams targeting college students) for those preying upon our fears and the significant distractions from this national emergency.

So what can credit unions provide in the way of services to help create a safer environment for students and their parents (your members)?  There would be nothing quite as powerful as an extensive array of ID Theft & Fraud Protective services.  These are the type of services to provide your members' families a means to detect attacks and effortless recovery solutions in case thieves make it past defensive measures.  Many California credit unions have implemented these kinds of protective services with targeted programs that incorporate these services and generated substantial non-interest income.

Again, with the new distance learning that has affected most of California and many other states, your members face an ominous risk for phishing attacks and hacking attacks like never before.   Your credit union is also operating at a higher risk in this Covid-19 environment.  A recent study by Beazley Insurance indicates that financial institutions and the healthcare industry are prime targets of phishing scams, which has resulted in a 25% increase in ransomware in the 1st quarter of 2020 alone.

What can credit unions do to protect themselves in these unsettling times?  Some solutions that protect your members from ID theft & fraud also come with protection for the credit union, such as data breach recovery & restoration services.  Although every financial institution is responsible for having a robust incident response plan, it is wise to have another set of expert eyes on the situation to ensure that your credit union addresses every aspect of a breach response.  Check with your California Credit Union League representatives for information on recommended ID theft and breach protection for your institution members.

Article by Jim McCabe, Senior Vice President, Identity Theft Solutions, Vero.