When the Treasury Department made the announcement last week that federal stimulus relief checks would begin rolling out to millions of Americans, credit unions and banks reported unprecedentedly high volumes of traffic across their websites, applications and phone lines as members inquired about the status of their stimulus checks.1
Within the CO-OP Contact Center, last week was one of the biggest weeks on record.
“We saw call volume starting to ramp up on April 7 and 10, and then it skyrocketed around April 15. CO-OP Contact Center saw more than a 100 percent increase in call volume on Wednesday alone, it was the highest single day volume ever,” said CO-OP Chief Operating Officer Nick Calcanes. “A large portion of those calls were members asking about their stimulus checks.”
Similarly, transaction volumes across the CO-OP Shared Branch Network rose 19 percent year-over-year on April 15.
“The fact that we’re seeing this sort of activity now before the checks have even arrived is a good indicator that credit unions can anticipate significantly higher volumes across all of their channels over the next couple weeks,” said Calcanes.
Tennessee-based Fortera Credit Union, for example, has already reported increased engagement across almost every channel over last few weeks. In response, they have leaned on CO-OP’s Contact Center to provide 24/7 support to their members while leveraging the CO-OP Shared Branch Network to serve their distant members across the country.
As members prepare for the arrival of their stimulus check, here are three ways to ensure you are ready to support them:
Prepare Your Support Channels
As members anticipate and ultimately receive their stimulus checks, credit unions can take several steps and measures to ensure their digital, mobile and in-person channels are prepared for the increased volume:
- Email – To lower the number of inquiries about check status, remind members that they can use the IRS.gov website to track the status of their payment.
- Mobile App – Encourage members to use Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) within their mobile app to deposit physical checks, rather than visiting an ATM.
- ATM – If members do need to deposit a check at an ATM, remind them to use the CO-OP ATM Locator Tool to find one of the 7,200+ deposit-taking ATMs within our network.*
- Phone Support – If utilizing CO-OP Contact Center, contact your CO-OP representative if you anticipate additional overflow support for lending, cardholder or general member inquiries.
2. Prepare for Check Fraud and Account Takeovers
Remind members to be extra careful with their account and financial information, as fraudsters are using the stimulus check program to ramp up fraud attempts.
“We’re seeing more fraudsters asking members for credentials and information related to their stimulus checks,” CO-OP Director of Fraud Services Ashley Town, highlighted in an interview with CU Broadcast.
The IRS recently shared a list of tricks that scammers might use to access information, including:
- Emphasizing the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term used by the IRS is “economic impact payment.”
- Asking the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Asking by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information claiming that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
- Suggesting that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mailing the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then telling the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
CO-OP continues to ramp up fraud mitigation across all of our channels: all 9.7 million member accounts on the CO-OP Shared Branch Network are protected by the robust COOPER Fraud Analyzer.
3. Prepare to Increase Engagement via Financial Health Channels
Finally, encourage members to use budget tools (like CardNav) that help them spend their stimulus checks wisely.
“People are making all kinds of decisions about their payment mix, taking personal loans, using cards and combining a whole host of tactics to make sure their financial life is staying on a stable path during uncertain times,” CO-OP Chief Product Officer Bruce Dragt recently said in a podcast conversation with PYMNTS.com. Members are looking to their credit union to help them make better financial choices now and for the long-term. Providing them with the tools and advice to help them do that is vital for maintaining their trust.
To learn more best practices for capturing engagement with your members throughout the COVID-19, please register for our complimentary THINK Virtual event on May 7th from 8:00am – 2:00pm PST.