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Does Higher Education = Lower Security?

Like me, you’ve probably been reading numerous stories about identity theft breaches at institutions of higher learning. College and university servers have been targeted repeatedly by criminals looking to steal social security numbers, birth dates and other data from student records—highly valuable commodities to any cyber-crook. Where else can you tap into such a wealth of information from people just starting out their credit histories?

Criminals on the hunt for fresh credit profiles naturally gravitate toward college students, who, while technologically savvy, may have little reason to keep track of their credit scores or reports. After all, many still rely on the “Bank of Mom and Dad” for major financial needs. This quickly changes during the college years and just beyond, and regrettably, those students with breached data are at greater risk for fraud, as is any banking institution starting to build relationships with these consumers.

How can the banking industry increase account security, while promoting safety and awareness for these young customers?

The good news is that today, with most students connected to smartphones and other handheld devices, we have an instant inroad to open up communication channels. One emerging best practice is to offer digital options, like account alerts via SMS or mobile apps, permitting customers to establish rules that notify them when changes occur within their accounts. Something as simple as a balance reminder can be a critical weapon in your fight against fraud. Customers will almost always contact you right away if their balances dip below an expected level, in some cases providing your first warning of potential fraud.

There are clear benefits to starting out banking relationships with young customers by providing this level of communication and engagement. But students aren't the only customers who will benefit. All customers are looking to build more interpersonal banking relationships, while leveraging the latest technological advantages that offer convenience and intelligent use of their time.

Investing in customer engagement technologies will go a long way in helping to prevent your customers from falling victim to financial fraud. It simply requires we all do our homework.

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