FRESNO, Calif. -- Using high-tech tools to validate snail-mail addresses is helping the bottom line at Educational Employees Credit Union at the same time it's helping hold down the Red Flags.
EECU is using the QAS Pro real-time address verification from Experian to vet new account and existing account address changes against the latest records from the U.S. Postal Service.
The new system replaces the direct link to the post office the $1.7 billion credit union had been using just to get the ZIP-plus-four numbers needed to qualify for reduced postage rates.
The QAS Pro solution resides on the user desktop and populates with city, state and ZIP code as the address is punched in and then uploaded into the credit union's USERS core processing system, eliminating the need for multiple address entries and lessening the chance for error.
"We're using less keystrokes, and it won't even allow us to upload to the host system unless it's a valid address," said Paula Minugh, EECU's manager of support services.
"The solution prompts for apartment numbers and directional information and will not allow an address to update unless it is accurate. Incorrect addresses are almost impossible," she said.
The QAS Pro software is used daily by 50 to 75 staffers and is updated on a quarterly basis via CDs that IT staff load onto a server and distribute to the branches, Minugh said.
The address validation software gets a fair workout at the big CU, which sees about 2,000 address changes a month from its 172,000 members. And there's also new members signing up regularly, all of whom receive initial mailings. EECU said it now is saving about $2,500 a year in that regard, and that mailings for existing members are only returned when the members move and don't tell the credit union.
"Exact overall savings are something I couldn't really give you a figure on, but I can tell you that our return mail has gone down considerably, since we don't have to take the time and expense of sending mail out numerous times because of bad addresses," Minugh said.
"And it also really helps cutting down on fraud. One simple reason is that it won't accept a post office box as an address. You have to have a physical address to be entered into our system because post office boxes are a real Red Flag in the world of fighting fraud," she said.
In addition to helping improve operational efficiency and member service, the automated address verification system has helped lessen the chance of fraud and assists with meeting federal regulations such as the PATRIOT and Banking Secrecy acts.
Addresses changes can be initiated by phone and fax as well as in person, but signatures must still be physically verified, Minugh said. For instance, members are sent a document to sign before address changes are made.
"Most fraud begins at the address change, so we've centralized address changes in support services to minimize risk," the EECU manager said. "We work diligently to verify a member's signature each time we receive a request to update an address."