How some banks put customers’ lives and privacy in danger with address change notifications

You’ve likely updated your contact information through your bank’s site or app, and after doing so, you probably received an email confirming the changes that you made. The notice usually contains instructions to contact the bank right away if you didn’t make the changes. The confirmation email is your bank’s way of helping you protect your account by alerting you of account modifications that may have been made without your knowledge. 



But, what happens when a customer changes their address and the bank sends the confirmation notice to the address that the customer removed from their account? The letter might read:


“We’re writing to notify you that a change was made to your online account. Your mailing address was changed from 123 Nowhere Lane; City, ST 12345 to 456 Somewhere Lane; Town, ST 67890. If you didn’t make this change, please contact us immediately.”



It appears to be commonplace for banks to include the new address in the notice and deliberately send it to the address that the customer removed from their account. While the bank’s intention with the notice is to protect the customer and alert them of possible unauthorized account changes, the bank may actually put the customer’s privacy and life in jeopardy. Decision makers at financial institutions who’ve adopted this notification policy are seemingly unaware that some of their customers are victims of domestic violence.



In most cases, domestic violence victims take measures to ensure that once they’re free from their abuser, their whereabouts are unknown. So, it’s risky to mail the customer’s new address to the home that they shared with their abuser. When the customer updates their address with their bank, they are likely no longer residing at the address that they removed from their account, and the chances are high that the abuser will intercept the notification and uncover the victim’s new address. 


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