The financial services industry has found great success with mobile as a channel for extending products and services to on-the-go customers. A next logical and related segment where we have not seen much activity is the credit reporting agencies. There are more than 285 million cell phone users in the US and two times as many users of SMS than active email users. Those two facts conspire to make the mobile phone the most wide-reaching and direct way to contact people.
And, did you know, according to most studies, people read their text messages within 10 to 15 seconds? When it comes to our credit reports, time can make all the difference. The credit reporting agencies already have email notifications and identity theft protection services, but it’s time for mobile to play a larger role.
Here are five ways credit reporting agencies should start incorporating mobile into their services:
Notify Consumers of Real-time Account Activity
Use SMS to “ping” clients when there are changes to their accounts – when a home address, phone number or email address on an account has been changed or updated, for example. If a text is sent when updates are made, consumers would get immediate notification that their changes had gone through, or be alerted if someone else is updating their information.
Those of us that have had fraudulent charges on our credit cards before know that banks call to alert you of suspicious transactions. I personally would prefer a text – a text with a direct dial number to connect me with a rep IF I need to talk to them. Credit reporting agencies should use the same tactic to provide consumers with a valuable customer service and an additional way to contact subscribers for identity theft protection and monitoring services. The agencies already allow people to sign up for email alerts to notify them of critical changes to credit reports, but all of the bureaus should also let me choose to receive text alerts.
Credit Report Reminders
When I download a credit report, I receive an email stating my report is available to review and a reminder email a couple days later that it will only be available for a limited time period. Wouldn’t it be great to also get this reminder via text? Or better yet, let me choose which reminders I get via text and which I get via e-mail.
This reminder service would also be helpful for those forward-thinking consumers that like to follow the suggestion of checking their credit reports with the big three credit bureaus on a yearly basis. An option to sign up for an annual reminder to download your credit report would be extremely helpful (or even a reminder every four months for the cautious consumer).
Follow-up on Claims Filed
After reviewing my credit report recently, I found a few addresses that I had never lived at listed under previous addresses. I filed a claim to have them removed but then had to return to the agency’s website several times, logging back in each time to check if the addresses were removed. Having an option to provide my cell number to have my results texted to me would be extremely helpful. Instead of continuing to check back, I could have waited for my text with the results and then decide if further action was needed.
Confirm a Credit Check
As you know, every time an individual’s credit is checked (e.g. opening a new credit card, renting an apartment, buying a car) the credit reporting agencies know about it. For those consumers that have had their identity stolen or suffered from fraudulent activity, the agencies call the individual for an access code before providing the credit information. Instead of having to call to confirm to credit check is approved, the agencies could send a text message for the consumer, requesting a reply by SMS with the code, automating approval of the check.
Text Me My Credit Score
When it comes to credit reports, the number one thing people care about is that magical three digit number – the credit score. The credit bureaus should provide a service consumers can sign up for online to get their credit score texted to them once a month for a small fee. What a simple way to keep tabs on your credit report and to notice if there has been movement in the score. If there has been a big change, consumers could act immediately to figure out what has caused the change and, if necessary, protect themselves from further fraud.
Matt Silk is the SVP of Waterfall Mobile, a San Francisco-based company that provides world-class digital messaging solutions and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more from Matt at http://blog.msgme.com/ and follow him @WaterfallMobile.