CUs Protect Members From Identity Theft

The crime strikes more than 12.6 million people every year.

April 1, 2013

When administrators at VyStar Credit Union, Jacksonville, Fla., began noticing, a few years ago, that more of their members were facing identity theft, they began offering resolution services through a third-party company.

Not tied to one account, these services were available to all members whose identities had been compromised.

Identity theft has only grown in frequency and severity. More than 12.6 million Americans fell victim to this crime in 2012—an increase of more than one million people over 2011.

The effects of identity theft are both personal and prolific. Consumers spend an average of 33 hours and $631 clearing their credit and financial records and restoring order to their lives—though some complex cases can take months or years to be fully resolved.

Last year, identity theft accounted for $21 billion in stolen funds, goods, and damages.

New banking and consumer technologies have opened doors for new forms of identity theft, and VyStar has expanded the range of resolution services available.

In February, members had access to personalized credit and identity monitoring, identity management for people at all ages and stages of life, and a new product that helps parents track their children’s social networking, smartphone, email and texting activity. These services are provided at little to no cost to members.

“As a credit union, we’re dedicated to serving as trusted advisors to help members through every aspect of their lives,” says Terry West, VyStar’s president/CEO.

That help “doesn’t stop at providing loans and deposit services,” adds Judy Walz, VyStar’s senior vice president of marketing and planning. “By extending our resolution services, we are bringing our services to the individual. And that includes protecting them from fraud and identity theft.”

VyStar has once again partnered with IDentity Theft 911, a leading provider of identity management solutions, identity theft recovery services, breach services, and data risk management solutions for businesses.

VyStar is the first credit union to offer the company’s SocialScout, a parental intelligence system that monitors and analyzes children’s online and social networking activity and keeps parents informed of potential predators, cyberbullies, or behavior that could compromise a child’s identity or reputation.

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, more than two-thirds of parent respondents stated that their 9- to 14-year-old children are involved in some form of social networking.

Children always have been at high risk for identity theft, as are college students, the newly married, active-duty military members, and retirees. VyStar is offering IDentity Theft 911’s LifeStages services, which provides services tailored to the high-risk moments in a person’s life.

Members will have direct, unlimited access to a fraud specialist both in an effort to prevent identity theft and to restore a victim’s identity and credit after theft occurs.

VyStar also offers IDentity Theft 911’s FraudScout, which monitors credit and public database activity, alerting members to potential fraudulent activity.

“The member is the center of everything we do,” says Walz. “We decided we could best help [them] by offering the services to assist them if they got into trouble.”