Beware of Third-Party Banking Chat Services

Some banks use third-party vended solutions for their customer service. This puts consumers at risk of inadvertently exposing their personal financial information and making it available to someone your bank does not guarantee, fully endorse, review, or control.

Below is an example of a bank that doesn’t provide direct chat support to their customers, but instead outsources it to an inexpensive provider.

If you click on the Contact Us link at the bottom of their site, rather than going to a traditional contact page with an online form or information about locations and phone numbers, a warning message pops up stating:

You will be linking to another website not owned or operated by University of Iowa Community Credit Union. University of Iowa Community Credit Union is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

That’s not very reassuring. If a financial institution feels the need to provide such a disclaimer, they may want to reconsider using what appears to be a less than trusted source.

This statement suggests they don’t know for sure how the third-party provider’s security policies differ from their own, “We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from University of Iowa Community Credit Union.”

The resulting chat window appears without providing any information about the chat service provider or what their security policy is.

It’s absurd to think that someone would try to track all this down in a moment when all they want to do is get their customer service need addressed.

An additional usability problem is that users who click on the ‘chat bubble’ icon at the top of the page will be taken directly to the chat session without seeing the disclaimer above.

Whatever company they’ve hired to provide chat support can’t be as good as talking to your local banker.

If you’re working with a financial institution that uses third party customer service chat services, it’s recommended that you directly communicate with your local bankers by phone or stop by the bank for your customer service needs. If you don’t have strong ties to the bank, or are shopping around for a bank, you might want to find one that can offer customer service that’s more personalized and secure.

The screen shots below show more details. Click on an image for a larger gallery view.

 

 

 

 

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