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How Financial Institutions Can Better Protect Digital Consumers

digital consumers

Javelin Strategy & Research recently named EZShield an Identity Protection Leader — earning their highest recognition for identity theft resolution services among many other identity protection providers.

The announcement came as part of Javelin Strategy & Research’s Identity Protection Services Scorecard. The annual report highlights leaders in identity protection, current fraud trends and changing consumer needs.

This year, the focus centered on the undeniable push toward all things digital and the challenges connected consumers present for financial institutions. The scorecard also offered insights on how banks and credit unions can tackle these obstacles, while enriching the account holder experience.

Digital is Part of Daily Life

Today’s account holder is more connected than ever. Digital consumers, armed with smartphones and a “here and now” mentality, are increasingly exploring online alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar interaction.

From online shopping to social media – digital now dominates much of their daily lives.

  • 81 percent of Americans have a social media account1
  • 96 percent of American adults have shopped online2
  • One in six consumers owns a wearable tech device3
  • 20 percent of all romantic relationships now begin online4
  • On average, Americans spend 5 hours per day on mobile devices5

And this digital preference is double for financial services.

There’s been endless digital innovation in banking. Since the widespread release of user-focused digital tools and apps, rapid adoption has ensued.

In 2016, there were 145 million active monthly mobile banking users – that’s a three-fold increase since 2011. Online banking shares in this rich growth with 176 million active monthly users in 2016.

Digital tools are not only becoming a key banking feature, for some account holders, they’re becoming the only one.

PwC found that 46 percent of consumers use only digital banking channels. Javelin Strategy & Research further supports this finding and projects that more than 8 in 10 American adults will bank primarily on their computers, smartphones, and other devices by 2022.

While the move to digital streamlines services plus offers tailored experiences and reduces the need for overhead-heavy physical branches, the digital lifestyles that have spurred this adoption present major risks for banks, credit unions, and their account holders.

Digital Consumers Face Greater Fraud Risks

The increased usage of digital platforms and services now offers fraudsters new avenues for facilitating identity crimes. They can now more easily obtain and monetize stolen personally identifiable information (PII) through a host of methods.

Let’s explore some of the everyday risks digital consumers face:

Online Shopping

Purchases made online are not protected by the push to EMV/chip card technology. This gives fraudsters free range when it comes to exploiting stolen credit card information online – so much that Javelin Strategy & Research reports existing card fraud now makes up 82 percent of all fraud cases.

Online shopping also increases the chances of PII compromise. This is largely due to website security vulnerabilities, fake online retailers and “typoswatting” (when criminals replicate a well-known site using a slight variation of the URL, e.g. Amason vs. Amazon.)

Data Breaches

According to the latest Identity Theft Resource Center report, the number of data breaches tracked in 2017 topped 1,579 – exposing more than 178 million sensitive records. Exposed records often included names, Social Security numbers, passwords and other forms of PII that can be used to commit identity theft and fraud.

Stolen data often makes its way onto the online black market, where it is sold or traded to facilitate identity crimes. This data creates a chain effect of exposure, allowing criminals to access numerous personal accounts. Javelin Strategy & Research reports 18 percent of all account takeover victims experienced a simultaneous attack on their bank and another account (e.g. email or mobile phone account).

Social Media

The availability of PII is magnified when you take into account the mass sharing of personal details on social media. With a wealth of sensitive information sitting conveniently on publicly-available social profiles, fraudsters are given additional context on their victims. They can often use this data to easily impersonate victims – especially when attempting to answer online or financial account security questions.

Just think about how easily someone could guess your mother’s maiden name after scrolling through a few tagged photos of your latest family reunion on Facebook.

Bugs and Security Vulnerabilities

The number of reported security vulnerabilities more than doubled in 2017, according to MITRE (a non-profit that tracks bugs and vulnerabilities). The 13,793 reports coincides with the explosion of new devices hitting the market.

It’s critical that all connected devices uphold proper security standards and protect data accordingly.

The Growing Demand for Comprehensive Digital Banking

While digital has created considerable chaos, it’s convenience still makes it the undisputed standard. Consumers’ expectations for a positive digital banking experience is shaped by the number of other online interactions they have in their daily lives. It sets the bar quite high and forces banks and credit unions to be innovative in their digital offerings.

Javelin Strategy & Research stresses the need to bridge consumers’ digital risks and rewards through mobile-friendly, online identity protection offerings. Through comprehensive identity protection offerings, financial institutions can meet consumers growing expectations while alleviating the costly and relationship-damaging effects of identity crimes.

The Connectivity Complex: 3 Identity Protection Trends to Watch

Among the scorecard’s findings, three identity protection features stood out. These are key in building a robust protection offering for digital consumers.

1. Create engaging online and mobile experiences

Optimize your identity protection service with an interactive online and mobile experience. All services should include an accompanying app with mobile-optimized content. This content should be highly-engaging and provide an interactive experience for consumers.

At EZShield, we combine interactive experiences with enriching educational tools. Our online quizzes help assess security weaknesses and provide constructive feedback to users based on their answers. These quizzes, along with other educational materials can be found on

Our educational resources, along with a complete suite of identity protection tools, are accessible both online and via our mobile app. We take a mobile-first approach to design and institute high security standards across all platforms.

For more insights, see how EZShield makes identity security accessible with the DashAccess mobile app.

2. Focus on robust monitoring and account features

After a year of high-profile data breaches, consumers are incredibly aware just how little control their have over their PII. Put the power back in their hands with a robust set of account features – including advanced monitoring services and security tools.

Password managers, Internet monitoring, credit monitoring and other advanced features should be standard in a truly robust identity protection service. Through this comprehensive approach, consumers can more effectively stop identity crimes before they start – providing an unparalleled sense of empowerment and peace of mind.

Back these proactive monitoring and account features with transparency. Ensure the channels they are delivered through are accessible and easy to navigate and allow for services to be clearly defined. What does each service do for the customer? How does this service benefit digital consumers in their day-to-day life?

EZShield prides itself on comprehensive services that deliver real value – largely in part to our transparent, user-focused offerings. By clearly defining our robust monitoring and account features – our users feel empowered and protected. This dedication to clarity has sparked high user engagement and led to our rather exceptional customer reviews.    

3. Give consumer control with comprehensive resolution services

The right identity protection program will help empower account holders to protect their identities – but no plan is foolproof. With the rise of readily-available PII, identity crimes will continue to target consumers. It’s up to financial institutions to be ready when fraud or identity theft strikes with comprehensive resolution services.

EZShield owes our best-in-class resolution services to our team of certified Resolution Specialists and comprehensive End2End Defense® 32-point checklist. Our specialists work with victims to quickly discover the source of fraud, isolate the incident and deploy reactive measures to prevent it from happening again.

Comprehensive Identity Protection

With a comprehensive approach to identity protection, financial institutions can bridge the digital divide – creating a moment of account holder delight while reducing their own liability.

To learn more about incorporating identity protection services as part of your digital initiative, schedule a demo of our award-winning services. Our team will walk you through our world-class offerings and digital platforms – working with you to develop a low-cost, high-value program that meets your business objectives.

  1. Statista, 2017
  2. BigCommerce, 2016
  3. Nielsen Report, 2014
  4. eHarmony, 2017
  5. TechCrunch, 2017

About Laura Bruck

Laura, former VP of Marketing at EZShield, now a Sontiq brand, is a marketing professional with over 20 years of experience leading marketing and supporting sales to develop partner solutions, transition to new markets, and achieve significant revenue growth.

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