I could be forgiven for assuming that there is no such thing as identity theft, banking Trojans are just an urban legend, and the only danger to my online bank account is that I forget to put money in it.
I bank with one of the nation's top 3 banks, and I've been with them for more than a decade. I have three checking accounts with them (I used to have as many as six), I have a credit card with them, and my mortgage is with them. I receive daily emails and weekly mailings from my bank — everything from alerts about my balance to offers for new credit cards.
But the one thing my bank absolutely refuses to talk to me about is security. I can't remember a single occasion in the last ten years that my bank has ever talked to me about security. Never an alert, a warning, some advice or a tip. Not an email, a letter, a newsletter. Nothing. Complete silence.
And I just don't understand it. Financial institutions could completely change the security landscape, simply by talking to their customers about security. We all know that individual security awareness play a key role in protecting against all kinds of cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.
But reminding millions of consumers about security, on a weekly or even daily basis, is a massive undertaking. Unless banks and credit unions got involved. Almost every American adult has a relationship with a financial institution, so financial institutions are a direct and trusted channel to most American adults.
Imagine if they used this channel, weekly or even daily, to talk to their customers about security. I would welcome an alert about the latest scam much more than I would a pitch for another financial product that I never wanted in the first place.
Unlike marketing communication, which I instantly delete, chances are I would forward an important alert to family and friends. I would be grateful to my bank, be confident that they understand my concerns about security, are taking a lead on the issue, and are doing everything to protect me.
Instead, I get the impression that my bank doesn't care about security, doesn't take it seriously, and doesn't care what I care about. That makes me worry about my bank, trust them less, and have no loyalty. In fact I'm actually thinking of moving to another bank. Or even a credit union.
Most financial institutions are still in the dark ages when it comes to security, and customer interactions. They still think that the more you talk to your customers about security, the more your customers will worry. But the exact opposite is true. The longer you remain silent about security, the more your customers are likely to assume you just don't get it. Financial institutions don't realize the marketing power of security awareness, and the enormous benefits to banks and credit unions, to customers, and to the country.
Every contact with a customer is an opportunity to build loyalty. Every contact about security strengthens that loyalty even more. At a time when most consumers hate Wall Street and all the financial institutions they associate with it, these same institutions need to wake up and grab one of the biggest marketing opportunities of the decade.