How To Maintain Your Relationship With A Customer After A Scam

Fake check scams impact financial institutions – and institutions’ relationships with their customers. It’s a perfect storm. Banks have complicated and inconsistent policies. Scammers know this. When fake checks are deposited, the bank may not realize that they’re fake and the money may become available before the bank and the customer realize what has happened.

Using the PositivityTech intelligent platform, we explored customer complaints about fake checks and discovered the impact this issue has on both banks and their customers.

Why fake checks destroy customers’ relationships with banks

After being victimized by a fake check scam, bank customers turn to their banks for help. As the bank identifies the scam, it often closes the customer’s account, charges fees, and makes it impossible for the customer to access their funds. Ultimately, the customer becomes a victim of the scammer and the bank. The customer loses money, credibility, and trust in their bank. Customers feel like their money is unsafe and that their issue was not dealt with in a timely fashion.

The following complaints illustrate these issues:

“This has been a nightmarish experience that has caused a great deal of hardship to my family with a total lack of communication and lack of empathy or urgency by XXX Bank. And I feel that it is due to their failure to identify a fake check and to properly identify their customers before handing out such a large sum of cash. My funds no longer feel safe at this bank.”

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. I am the victim and yet the bank made me out to be the villain and once again punished me.”

  • According to the PositivityTech platform’s proprietary Severity Score, complaints about fake check scams are 25% worse than the average score for all complaints.
  • According to the PositivityTech platform’s proprietary Account Closure Score, customers who complain about fake check scams are three times more likely to close their accounts than customers who complain about other issues.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there has been a 65% increase in such scams since 2015. Success in banking depends on customers trusting an institution enough to deposit their money there.

Listen to customers’ complaints to uncover hidden opportunities: How banks can improve their fake check scam protocol

Who should take responsibility for fake check scams? Customers need to help protect themselves and banks need to take action to avoid these scams. Banks can take the following steps to improve how they prevent and handle these scams — and protect their relationships with their customers:

  1. Create more targeted protocols for screening fraudulent checks and flagging potential risks.
  2. Develop more granularity and segmentation to refine policies.
  3. Respond to fake check complaints in a timely manner.
  4. Communicate respectfully with customers about these scams.
  5. Understand that these fake check scams are not isolated to one transactional occurrence. In fact, these scams can deteriorate the relationship between customers and banks.
  6. Develop education for customers about preventing fake check scams.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you use the PositivityTech platform to implement cutting-edge analytics, predictive tools, and preventative actions to impact all categories of customer complaints and to turn negatives to positives, please get in touch with me at I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Executives Share Their Top 5 “Complaint Priorities” For 2020

Since launching the PositivityTech intelligent platform, we’ve met with dozens of financial institution executives. They have shared their need to listen more closely to their customers and to take action on the systemic patterns that manifest in their customers’ complaints. Here is what we’ve heard from them:

“We have so much innovative technology, and yet, we still don’t really know our customers.”

1. Financial institutions want to proactively protect and strengthen their businesses by turning complaints into strategic assets.

Today, the rise in customer complaints attracts media attention, amplifying consumer voices and driving regulatory scrutiny. To ensure our financial institutions are ahead of these issues, executives need to manage complaints proactively instead of resolving them one at a time.

“We have a lot of untapped customer data that is unstructured, and we want to understand its value to the customer experience.”

2. Financial institutions are beginning to recognize that their customers’ voices are their most valuable assets.

Executives understand the value that can be derived from customer complaints. Customer complaints can help executives flag future risks and take important preemptive steps, which can impact business performance. Managing customer complaints is like managing a portfolio, and can offer a multitude of new business opportunities.

“So much of our work is manual. We need to become more efficient at integrating our data.”

3. Financial institutions want to understand their market share of complaints. 

Executives want to know how their customer complaints compare to their competitors’ customer complaints. This necessitates integrating data from internal and external sources, including customers’ voices and behaviors. When executives see that the PositivityTech platform has this capability, they are intrigued.

“Different parts of the organization use different tools and methods to understand the customer journey.”

4. Financial institutions need to better align their complaint categorizations. 

Every executive we’ve spoken to has shared their need for standardized customer complaint categories. The PositivityTech platform develops categories that merge what customers say with how financial institutions can meet their needs.

“We need to be able to securely and efficiently integrate diverse data sources at scale with an end-to-end view of customer interactions.”

5. Financial institutions want to utilize complaints to impact their financial performance.

Instead of solely focusing on the volume of complaints, PositivityTech’s scalable platform focuses on the severity of complaints, which helps predict multiple business drivers, such as account attrition, customer engagement, and environmental risk management. All of these business drivers play a role in a business’s financial performance.

Our meetings continue to validate that the PositivityTech platform is helping financial institutions listen to their customers like never before, preempt regulatory and reputational risk, and grow their revenue in new ways.

If you’re interested in discussing your financial institution’s 2020 goals, we’d be happy to schedule a meeting. Please email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Are Gift Cards Really The Best Gift Of All?

The holiday season is here, which means that gift shopping season is well underway. While some of us spend hours selecting the perfect gifts for our loved ones, many of us will give our family and friends gift cards — which they may actually want most of all. In fact, according to the National Retail Foundation, gift cards are the most requested “wish list” items for the holiday season.

Yet, gift cards come with their own sets of challenges, including fraud and difficulty of use. For example, when people purchase gift cards from a store, they may not realize that the PIN number is already visible. If its covering is scratched off, someone may have accessed the gift card’s value.

Another gift card scam begins with a phone call from an imposter who shares that their victim’s Social Security number is suspended due to suspicious activity. After the imposter asks the person to confirm their Social Security number so that they can reactivate it or issue them a new number, they require the person to send them money with a gift card.

According to 2018 FTC data:

  • Since 2015, reports of gift card scams have increased 270%.
  • 41,000 fraud reports to the FTC involved gift cards.
  • From March 2018 – March 2019, people lodged more than 76,000 complaints against Social Security imposters.

Turning to banks to solve gift card scams

Though payments made to scammers through gift cards are untraceable and disconnected from one’s bank account, individuals continuously turn to their banks to help them recover their lost money.

Using the PositivityTech intelligent platform, we explored financial institutions’ customers’ complaints about gift card-related issues, including this one:

I was the victim of a Social Security gift card scam. I was called on my cell where the number of the SSA appeared. I answered the call and was told that my SS# had been used in criminal activity. To protect my money in my bank, I was to purchase the gift cards, scratch them, take photos, and send them by email to X, where my money would be protected until they issued me a new number…. I asked the bank to help me and give me credit for the scam charges and sent them all of the documentation. The bank completed the investigation and responded that all charges would remain on my statement…. I need help. 

By holistically studying all of the customer complaints about gift cards in the CFPB using the PositivityTech platform, we found that:

  • Top complaints relate to challenges customers have experienced when using gift cards.
  • 58% of customer complaints about gift cards relate to fraud.

Empowering banks to prepare for their customers’ complaints

With consumers spending more than $130 billion on gift cards per year, we expect customers to continue sharing their gift card-related complaints with their banks. After being defrauded, customers want to retrieve their money.

If you would like to discuss how you can turn negatives into positives and make the holiday season more joyous for your customers, we would be happy to speak with you.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season!

When A Customer Says, “You’re Destroying My Life”

“This woman says Equifax mixed up her father’s credit report and ‘destroyed’ his life — and now she hopes to convince a jury,” begins a recent article in MarketWatch. The article details the tragic story of James Rennick, a man who requested a home-equity loan for renovations that would help his dying wife breathe more easily – but was denied the loan because his credit history information was mixed up with someone else’s. Rennick filed a lawsuit, but both his wife and he died before the problem was solved.

Unfortunately, this issue is not a one-time occurrence. In fact, in 2013, Equifax’s expert witness at another trial stated that credit mix-ups may occur in 1% to 2% of all files. In addition to putting Equifax’s problems in the public eye once again, this article highlights the issues that are intrinsic to credit scores, which we covered in the past.

The story was especially compelling to us because it featured a powerful word in a customer’s complaint: “destroy.” Do customer complaints to financial institutions commonly feature the word “destroy”? If customers use the word “destroy” in their complaints, what might we be able to predict about their future actions?

Uncovering the hidden value of the word, “destroy”

To gain deeper insights into this word usage, we explored the word “destroy” in over a million complaints in the PositivityTech intelligent platform. We discovered the following:

  • Proprietary Severity Score: 44% worse than the average complaint

Our proprietary severity score is built on financial language and captures both the customer’s emotion and the seriousness of their standpoint. Customer complaints featuring the word “destroy” reveal that they have a severity score that is 44% worse than that of the average complaint, indicating the customers’ high level of frustration.

  • Proprietary Lawsuit Score: 18% higher than the average complaint

Our proprietary lawsuit score shares the likelihood that a customer will file a lawsuit, based on their complaint. Customer complaints featuring the word “destroy” reveal that the complaining customers are 18% more likely to file a lawsuit.

  • Proprietary Account Closure Score: 13% higher than the average complaint

Our proprietary account closure score shares the likelihood that a customer will close their account, based on their complaint. Customer complaints featuring the word “destroy” reveal that the complaining customers are 13% more likely to close their accounts.

Transforming negatives to positives

While in the past, we may have regarded emotional complaints as just that, we now see that they can hold deep business implications. Through the PositivityTech platform, we can see the significance of a single word and predict its business impacts.

If you’d like to learn more about the hidden value of your customers’ words, please email me at I look forward to speaking with you.

Complaints about digital money transfers are on the rise

It’s not surprising that digital money transfer services such as Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle are becoming so popular. The convenience and immediacy of paying for services, splitting a check after a dinner out with friends, or issuing a bill to a client feels satisfying and smart. But with ease of use also comes the ease of making an error — and accidentally choosing the wrong username or code can put your money or data into the wrong hands.

In fact, the PositivityTech intelligent platform’s proprietary trigger algorithms have illuminated an increase in complaints about digital money transfers. By listening to every customer’s voice and then analyzing what their complaints mean collectively, our triggers detect complaints before they become big problems for your bank or your own account.

While customer complaints about digital money transfers are still very small in number and are a relatively small complaint category, they are steadily rising and predict an emerging trend that merits banks’ attention now. After all, customers expect banks to protect them. Regulators also hold banks accountable.

Statistical analyses for near-term business impact may tend to disregard these low-volume complaints. But customers who are embracing digital money transfer are the early adopters of a capability that is quickly becoming mainstream. Interestingly, using the PositivityTech platform, we have seen that complaints about banks’ digital money transfer tools are growing at the same rate — and sometimes an even faster rate — than complaints about many of the newer tools. We believe that early adopters of technology usage can tell us where future complaint issues will scale and can reveal new opportunities for product and service differentiation.

Here are the growth rates in digital money transfers (based on the CFPB data and complaint categories), just since 2017:

Complaint Category Growth
Money Transfers 191%
Subcategory: Managing Mobile Wallets 457%
Subcategory: Unauthorized Transactions 1025%
Subcategory: Fraud or Scams 2250%

Below are two examples of related customer complaints.

 “I have experienced fraud in my [NAME OF BANK] checking account… A transaction of $1,800 was transferred from my account through the bank’s money transfer system. The amount was sent to someone named X. I do not know who that is and I did not authorize the payment. I have filed a dispute claim to the fraud team, but they have denied it by saying according to their investigation, they cannot prove fraud… As one of the leading financial institutions, [NAME OF BANK] should be doing more to listen to their customers and their plight rather than training their employees to repeat what’s on their screen.”

 “A transaction from XX was sent to a person by the name of XX… I was not aware… When I went to my bank, I realized a payment of XX was removed from my account… I am disappointed and I want my account credited… Bank managers were extremely rude and advised that I will never get that money back and sorry for my loss of funds. Banks are supposed to work for the people and determine right from wrong… I want my funds returned.”

 An exciting opportunity for banks

From listening to these customer voices, it is evident that people continue to rely on their banks for security and safety. As the world of digital money transfer tools continues to grow more robust, banks do not need to lose out to fintechs. Banks have an exciting opportunity to reposition themselves, providing the security and safeguards that customers expect and value from them and further differentiating their brands.

If you’re interested in discussing how your institution can get ahead of the market and meet your customers’ needs in the digital age, please reach out to me at