BY JOHN HARRIS
It used to be that credit unions could ensure the identity of their members just by building personal relationships with them. But with online and cloud-based financial transactions becoming ubiquitous, such identification is suddenly trickier. Learn the tools you need to keep your CU’s personally identifiable information safe from cyber criminals.
The higher we climb toward digital ubiquity, the more we expose our data to cyber vulnerability. In 2015 alone, there were 781 data breaches tracked – an 8.1 percent increase over 2014, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Credit unions spent an average of $226,000 in costs associated with merchant data breaches in 2014, per the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.
Financial information and personally identifiable information, both of which are commonly found among credit union digital documents and accounts, are extremely valuable to cyber criminals. That’s why credit unions face more pressure than ever before to secure member data. The foundational element for this security begins with identity authentication measures.
Identity authentication, at its core, is the process of making certain that only the right people have access to sensitive information and documents. Many credit unions achieve this certainty simply by building personal relationships with their members – personnel know who the customers are when they walk through a door. Of course, asking for valid identification, like a driver’s license, is common whether or not a personal rapport has been established. But when documents are signed with e-signatures or an account is accessed online from a member’s home, credit union staffers lose that luxury. Identities are hidden behind a digital wall but they still need to be correctly verified.
Stacey Foster, vice president of member services with Bar-Cons Federal Credit Union in Columbus, Indiana, said her credit union uses identity authentication to ensure cloud-based transactions are secure and legitimate.