Take a Proactive Approach to ID Theft

Spotlight: Peter Van Houten, chief sales and delivery officer, McGraw-Hill FCU, East Windsor, N.J.

August 1, 2012

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union developed and presented a seminar on identity (ID) theft because: About 10 million Americans are victimized each year by ID theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

When so many citizens are affected by a crime, it moves to the top of the priority list for education. Educational sessions devoted to the topic ensure that our members, our community, and our business partners are protected.

Our CU’s objective: To continually provide education, consultation, and low-cost monitoring programs that protect families from this potentially devastating crime. ID theft is a serious threat affecting millions of individuals each year.

By taking this proactive approach, we’re arming consumers with the tools to understand how they’re protected, to recognize if their identity has been compromised, and to take steps to restore their personal identity when it is compromised.

An example of how a member was helped by the ID theft seminar: A local educator shared that he plans to pass along the information to his students, and that he hopes they take the information seriously.

“Sometimes they’re in a cyberspace world,” he said, “where they think they can put anything they want on social networks and use ATM cards in many different ways that can cause problems. I think they need to take this seriously.”

My career primarily has focused on: Sales and operations. I haven’t always been associated with the credit union industry. I previously worked in the technology and industrial sectors, for companies such as IBM, Xerox, and Dun & Bradstreet. It was exciting to come to McGraw-Hill Federal and apply my prior experiences, including high service standards, to our membership offerings.

CU sales and delivery is changing: As we continue to bring advanced technology to members through mobile and other remote access tools, many basic transactions that used to be handled by our service representatives are now conveniently delivered in a self-service environment.

With these changes, members’ branch visits and calls are shifting from transaction-based inquiries to more value-added conversations and higher-level topics, such as the best deposit vehicles or 401(k) investment advice.

As a result, we’re focusing on: Making sure member-facing staff are equipped with the knowledge and tools to best advise members in these discussions.

One of my biggest personal goals this year: I’m training for McGraw-Hill Federal’s inaugural “Ride For Financial Wellness,” in October. The ride is intended to raise awareness for financial wellness and literacy, and to raise money for our VOICE Foundation, which will donate the proceeds to Junior Achievement of New Jersey,

The National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton, and the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education. We’re seeking participation from colleagues, business partners, and community leaders. The ride will start at our headquarters in East Windsor, and will culminate with a casual luncheon and ceremony on the credit union’s front lawn.

A favorite quote: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.”

This is a quote from the famous American statistician, W. Edwards Deming. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the sentiment really resonates with our work at the credit union. A tremendous number of unprecedented changes are happening in the industry, and relying on soft data during a constantly evolving period can very easily lead us in the wrong direction.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have strong statistical data to guide us down the right path. We need to shape the future of our organization to best serve our members.