The last Utility Information Pipeline included a poll asking how utilities handle allowing customers to apply for service online. Here are the results of that poll (clicking on the chart will open a larger image in a new window):
Completing the process in the office
Based on the poll results, most utilities still require the application process to be completed in their office. This is in spite of the fact that a majority of those utilities have an application form which can be downloaded or completed online.
The only poll choice with no votes was “Applicants can complete the application process online, but must come to our office to show ID.”
Three of the responding utilities allow the entire application process to be completed online without requiring the customer to show ID.
Red Flags Rule policy compliance
As we explored in a previous Utility Information Pipeline, guarding against fraud in the application process is one of the key components of a Red Flags Rule policy. In order to verify the customer’s identity, most utilities require applicants to show photo ID and proof of residency (lease agreement or closing documents) for the address at which they are applying for service.
Which leads to the question – if the applicant isn’t required to show photo ID, how do these utilities confirm their identity?
If your utility is one of the three who responded, or if you allow online applications without requiring ID, I would be interested in learning how you comply with your Red Flags Rule policy. Feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail.
Could your office operate more efficiently?
Is your application for service process cumbersome and outdated? Are there other ways your office could become more efficient? If the answer to either question is “yes”, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how a business review could help you learn how your office could operate more efficiently.
© 2016 Gary Sanders
You remember the Red Flags Rule, don’t you? For many people, it is best remembered because of multiple deadline extensions before it finally went into effect.
The Red Flags Rule originated with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003. It had an original effective date of November 1, 2008 and implementation was delayed three times, finally taking effect on January 1, 2011.
The Red Flags Rule is designed to help prevent identity theft. There are four elements to a Red Flags Rule policy:
- Identify relevant red flags
- Detect red flags
- Prevent and mitigate identity theft
- Update the program
Let’s examine each of these elements in more detail…
Identify relevant red flags
In this phase of your Red Flags Rule policy, you should determine what types of suspicious activity might be relevant to your particular utility. For example, do you require photo ID and proof of residency when establishing a new account? If so, relevant red flags could be what appears to be an altered ID or the name on a lease agreement not matching the name of the applicant for service.
Detect red flags
Detection of red flags requires your customer service representatives to be vigilant when taking an application for service from a new customer. In this phase, your staff should be actively reviewing the possible red flags identified in the previous section each time they interact with a customer.
Prevent and mitigate identity theft
This phase of your policy documents what action to take when a red flag is detected. Depending on the severity of the red flag that was detected, the mitigation could range from contacting law enforcement to denying service to taking no action.
Update the program
The final phase of a Red Flags Rule policy is the requirement to update the policy as needed. Changes in technology and new schemes from identity thieves are two reasons you would want to update your policy.
Approval and training
Your Red Flags Rule policy must be approved by your board or governing body, or a committee appointed by your board. Each new hire should receive training about your Red Flags Rule policy as part of their initial orientation. It’s also not a bad idea to conduct periodic refresher reviews of the policy with current staff members.
Does your Red Flags Rule policy need updating?
If your Red Flags Rule policy hasn’t been reviewed since it went into effect or if you don’t have one, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or email me at email@example.com to learn how a business review could help you update your policy.
© 2016 Gary Sanders