Scrubbing Addresses: Long Island CU Uses Fast Tools on Snail Mail
Nowadays, a bad address can cost more than just wasted postage. That's why People's Alliance Federal Credit Union has joined a growing list of organizations using automation to keep up with snail mail.
For the past year, PAFCU has been using a pair of solutions from Boston-based Experian QAS-QAS Pro and QAS Batch. The former is used to verify addresses as they are entered in all of the branches, while the latter issued as a back-end solution for cleaning existing member data.
The $198 million institution in the Long Island town of Hauppauge, N.Y., finds the tools useful not only for keeping up with members old and new, but also for complying with OFAC and other regulations that increasingly require CUs to "know your members."
The QAS solutions replaced an add-on that came with PAFCU's XP Systems core solution and have "significantly reduced our returned mail, cleared up our database so we have more accurate information and helped us be more efficient while providing better member service," said Migdalia Rivera, operations manager at the 41,000-member credit union.
Widely used across the 100-employee enterprise, the software is particularly useful in the lending operations Rivera oversees. "We get a lot of applications from dealerships, and a high volume of them are from new members," she said. "It's nice to be able to go into the software and verify quickly that there are no mistakes, which can cause issues with credit reports and everything else. We simply get an error message if there are any problems with it."
Programmed for access with the stroke of a function key, the QAS Pro system watches as a user starts typing an address, then fills in information automatically, saving time while correcting typos and out-of-range building numbers. Rivera said she also appreciates its ability to distinguish apartments and businesses from single-family residences.
The QAS Batch solution, meanwhile, maintains record validity by comparing each address in a database against Postal Service data, then adding missing information and correcting errors.
The company obtains data monthly from the U.S. Postal Service and shares it over the Internet or by discs in the mail. Either way, the result is the same, said Joel Curry, the company's chief operating officer.
"There's a long train of effects that we can completely remove from getting wrong," including workflow and compliance issues, he said.
Experian QAS's address scrubbing software is in use at about 1,700 financial institutions, including about 50 credit unions, Curry said. The company also has integration partnerships for its solutions with Oracle, Siebel, Salesforce and S1.
Its customers primarily use the solutions as .NET-based applications in Windows, either as a plug-and-go or in an ATI software development kit. It is also available remotely as a software-as-a-service, but Curry said he didn't know of any credit unions using it that way, presumably for security reasons.
Speaking of security, address scrubbing also helps the credit union stay in compliance with OFAC and other regulations by ensuring correct member information "from the get-go." This in turn allows the credit union to better serve its members by delivering correspondence accurately and quickly, Rivera said.
Her colleague, senior information technology manager Michael Johoannett, said he receives the monthly updates by disc."You toss in a couple of CDs and off you go." And he is now looking into getting them online.
Rivera said she could not put a dollar amount on the benefits PAFCU accrues from the address scrubbers, but said "the return has been very high." Johoannett, meanwhile, said, "From an IT perspective, it's a slam dunk."