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Hit by Fraud? – Lessons Learned for Crisis Communications

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BY BILL PRICHARD

Did you know that it was Ben Franklin who said “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”?

If the great, wise Mr. Franklin lived today, he might have added financial fraud to the short list of life’s certainties. Unfortunately, in today’s digital economy, the brilliant technology advances that opened the doors to sophistication and convenience in the financial services industry, also unlocked the opportunity for  criminals to lift billions of dollars annually from financial institutions and their customers.
With record numbers of data breaches occurring every year, it’s inevitable every organization in the financial services industry will be faced with the trying time when they must address their customers about the occurrence of fraud. It is in this situation that another of Ben Franklin’s famous sayings lends wisdom and guidance: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When fraud happens, financial organizations automatically and immediately undertake the critical operational steps to create stop-gaps and mitigate damage. But, we are all learning that we can’t overlook the importance of a well-planned and attentively prepared communications response in combatting the fallout of the attack. Communication is critical, because it greatly impacts one of a financial institution’s most valuable assets – its reputation.
When fraud happens, our industry is coming to understand a new golden rule: What we say is as important as what we do. As we tackle the myriad of challenges associated with fraud, a new paradigm for customer communications is emerging. Many financial services organizations are beginning to institutionalize three critical practices to preserve reputation in response to the rising incidence of fraud in our industry:

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