October 2014: Alerts Center

Alerts centers inform clients about the state of their accounts, eliminating their need to log into online banking. In this Bank Monitor Report, we focus on the way the alerts centers are presented, along with any delivery options provided. We focus on firms that offer the most capabilities and options to their account holders. Specifically, this report looks at:

  • Presentation of Alerts Centers
  • Delivery Options
  • Additional Capabilities Provided

Among the firms tracked by Bank Monitor, 16 out of 17 firms offer an alerts section. As is the case with most banking features, alerts centers vary from firm to firm. The best alerts centers enable clients to set up and manage both general and user-defined alerts that can be delivered to multiple addresses via email, as well as to at least one mobile number. All 16 firms offer both alert types, with every firm (except one) also listing their security alerts on their private sites. These alerts are automatically sent to customers’ primary email addresses to notify them of suspicious activity or changes made to their online profile (e.g., username or password changed). Interestingly, five firms allow their clients to disable these security alerts online.

At one point, it was common for alerts to be delivered to a single email address and to an inbox within the alerts center. With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, however, most alerts centers now offer the ability to have alerts sent to multiple email addresses, as well as to a mobile number. Two firms previously sent voice alerts; however, both have discontinued that feature. A single firm allows clients to respond to low balance and overdrawn account alerts by transferring money via text message by inputting a “T” and a dollar amount; this was the biggest innovation since our last alerts report in May of 2012.

With clients able to set multiple delivery addresses for various alerts and accounts, several firms have implemented temporary alert suspension options to help clients manage their alerts. Forty-four percent of the Bank Monitor firms covered in this report allow alerts to be suspended, while five firms allow users to precisely define the period of time for when they would like alerts to be disabled. Four firms offer the option to have all alerts suspended for a user-defined date range, while one firm also allows clients to suspend alerts for a specific delivery address. An additional firm allows clients to suspend alerts to mobile phones only. Though not all firms offer the alert suspension feature, eight firms allow clients to opt out of receiving mobile alerts during a user-defined time of the day. Eleven of the firms covered in this report offer a history of alerts sent to clients. The length of alerts history offered by firms varies between one and six months.