3.7 billion people.
That’s the number of individuals around the world who were using a mobile device in early 2018, according to a leading statistics company Statista. That’s around half of the entire population of the planet. In addition, the firm reports that the amount of global mobile data traffic is expected to increase sevenfold between 2016 and 2021.
With all of that personal sharing, liking, commenting, and buying taking place in the digital realm, there’s a lot of sensitive personal data swirling around out there. So it’s not surprising that identity theft is also a thriving enterprise. Once nefarious actors gain access to a person’s data, there are five common ways they take advantage of it:
- They open fraudulent credit card accounts in a person’s name.
- They use a person’s credit cards or account numbers to make purchases.
- They sell someone’s data on the dark web — including Social Security number, credit card, and account information — to commit credit fraud, medical fraud, and more.
- They use a person’s data to file fraudulent taxes and/or steal your tax refunds.
- They know people’s account passwords, bank PIN numbers, or other passwords to access their computers or financial accounts; or use other people’s Social Security numbers and other personal information to gain access or even commit child identity theft.
One might expect that the telecommunications companies would be exploring ways to protect their customers as they explore, read, buy, and share on the web. After all, they sell both the devices and the connectivity that serve as our gateway to the digital realm. And in fact, there are plenty of reasons why it makes good business sense for them to offer identity protection.
Three reasons telecommunications firms should offer identity protection
1. A new way to differentiate:
Telecommunications companies are constantly on the lookout for emerging opportunities to stand out from the crowd and boost customer acquisition. Proving to a nervous and skeptical public that your firm can protect their data is a great recruiting tool to bring customers into the fold.
2. A new way to engage:
Comparatively speaking, telecommunications companies don’t have a lot of reasons to talk to their customers. The devices just work. The connectivity just works. By offering identity protection, they can send branded alerts to their customers warning them about vulnerabilities and drive them to branded dashboards where they can see what’s happening with their data.
3. A new revenue stream:
Customers are well aware that their data is exposed. They want companies that they do business with to protect them and are willing to pay for it. According to Synergistics, 24% of consumers said they would pay $5 a month for identity protection, 15% said they’d pay $10 a month, and 13% said they would pay $15 a month or more.
It also provides a strong story for telecommunications companies to take out into the marketplace. It gives them the ability to say, “Because you’re a valuable customer to us, we want to help protect you. If someone creates a fake site or web page, and somehow convinces you to enter your PayPal, credit card, or personal information, we’ve got you covered. If you’re a victim of income tax fraud, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve got kids, we can protect them too.”
It’s a way to show customers that they, and their families, come first.
The identity protection toolkit
By customizing an identity-focused product or offering, a co-branded version of specific identity protection toolkits for customers, telecommunications companies can help their customers in the following ways:
- Discover fraudulent activity that puts them at risk: A good data security protection package can track 50 signs of identity fraud daily and notify members of new activity with notifications by email or text.
- Available monitoring: Credit report monitoring can check for new credit cards, loans, inquiries, and delinquent accounts, among other credit criteria.
- Internet scanning: This allows telecom companies to help customers check for online exposure of important card numbers.
- Change of address: A good data protection package can check for customer address changes at the national or account level.
- Lost wallet protection: This helps customers cancel and replace lost or stolen credit, debit, and medical insurance cards.
- Access to regular credit reports: Customers can receive their credit report at enrollment to check for signs of past identity theft.
Identity fraud occurs approximately every two seconds, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, so there’s little doubt telecommunications customers have already experienced the devastating effects. For others, the risk of identity fraud is a source of anxiety, which telecommunications companies can help to ease by offering proven identity theft protection.