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Educating Customers About Breaches: Equifax Edition

Mistakes happen. Ultimately, it’s how you respond that makes or breaks you. Clearly, Equifax could have done better. But this isn’t about them it’s about you.

Banks and credit unions have an opportunity, even a responsibility, to advise customers on important financial matters. And I think this qualifies as one. So what do you tell them about the latest breach?

Other than Wells Fargo (see screenshots 1 & 2 below), it’s mostly silence from the top-10 US banks who are understandably conflicted here. Where did Equifax get information leaked in the hack? Financial institutions are feeding millions of records every week into the credit bureaus, and using the pooled information to fuel massive loan programs.

CU Examples
But I did find some credit unions helping their members sort things out. The first one I ran across (and the inspiration for this post) was at BECU, the sixth largest credit union in the United States. Last week, BECU had a warning notice running in the lower part of its homepage (see screenshot #3 below; which was taken down over the weekend). The warning led to a full page (posted Sep 8th), discussing the breach and how to protect your accounts at BECU and elsewhere. NASA FCU has a more prominent notice, running in the main part of its homepage, in rotation with seven other items.

Bottom line: It’s no fun communicating negative information especially when you are part of the industry that created the problem to begin with. And I think all 3 of the explanations show below create more questions than they answer. But your customers need help. And it’s so hard to find the truth about data breaches and financial information in general amidst the sea of detritus that is the modern Internet. You should be the trusted place to turn to in times of financial concerns. That should be part of the definition of “primary financial institution.”

Author: Jim Bruene (@netbanker) is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 

1. Wells Fargo homepage (2 Oct 2017)


2. Wells Fargo landing page (link)

3. BECU homepage
(29 Sep 2017)

4. BECU landing page (link)


5. NASA FCU homepage (2 Oct 2017)

NASA FCU landing page (link)

Note: Top graphic from Gemalto’s