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Petition to Verify Twitter Accounts for Financial Firms

twitter-verified-accountHow do Twitter users know they are interacting with a legitimate person or company? The truth is, they don’t. That is, unless that person is someone like Brittney Spears. Twitter has been offering “Verified Accounts” since June, but the company only seems interested in verifying accounts of celebrities — people like movie stars and sports icons.

The Financial Brand has warned of the dangers of phishing attacks on financial institutions’ Twitter accounts ever since January, when BofA first started offering customer service via Twitter.

The Financial Brand now tracks over 600 Twitter accounts for financial institutions, two of which were hacked last week. As more banks and credit unions push the envelope on Twitter, as Vantage Credit Union recently did with its “Tweet My Money” service, the stakes will only be going up.

The Financial Brand has made several attempts to establish dialogue with Twitter about the urgent need to verify accounts of financial institutions and the phishing risks they face. No one from the company has responded, nor even acknowledged that the risks and need are indeed real.

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Twitter has apparently promised to offer verified accounts to businesses “by the end of the year,” but that promise was made back in August. Two months later and with only two months to go before year’s end, everyone is still waiting.

If you would like to see Twitter start verifying accounts for financial institutions, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Click on the “feedback form” link at the bottom of this page, which tells Twitter you’re interested in Verified Accounts.
  3. Send a tweet to @ev (Evan Williams) and @biz (Biz Stone) saying you want Twitter to verify accounts for financial institutions, and please include a link to this article. Here’s a pre-shortened link to the story: http://bit.ly/X1Srh
  4. Check out this article on what you can do to mitigate phishing attacks in the meantime.

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Comments

  1. Verification of Financial Institutions on Twitter is hugely important! Thanks for initiating this petition!

  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for being a pioneer for the safety of all financial institutions!

  3. Tom MacIntosh says:

    Thanks for bringing this to the foreground. Twitter should do this as a matter of good business practice and not need to be coaxed into it. The downside of not doing it is substantial.

  4. Thank you so much for pushing the issue. This needs to happen.

  5. Jeff,

    This is a great idea – Thanks for doing it. The FIs using social media need as much security/verification they can get in this highly unregulated realm.

    With verified status, however, the people behind the accounts will have to be that much more careful not to fall victim to phishing. As you said on your 10/15 phishing post:

    “If the hackers knew what they had, they wouldn’t have squandered their opportunities pushing $300-a-day, work-at-home schemes…”

    What if this happens to a verified account? And what if the hacker realizes what they have?

    Just like the FDIC stickers on the windows of all FDIC-insured banks, a verified Twitter account is inherently trusted. A compromised account with a verified sticker could be a very dangerous thing.

  6. Thanks for the note Paul. I think what you’re talking about boils down to the personal responsibility of the person staffing the organization’s Twitter account. I have confidence that Twitter accounts are as safe and “unhackable” as any other one could have somewhere else online. If your financial institution (1) uses a secure, mixed-case, alpha-numeric password, (2) changes that password regularly, and (3) doesn’t allow itself to fall victim to social engineering ploys like the one in the article you referenced, then there’s no reason to worry.

    Verified account or not, there isn’t much we can do to stop someone from surrendering their own username and password to a hacker. Personal accountability.

    You’re right though. A compromised account with a verified badge would be bad.

    To be clear: I don’t think verification fixes the problem. It’s just a easy, positive step forward. It’s a win-win-win — for Twitter, for financial firms, and for consumers.

  7. Do we need to make an official petition for this? Hyperpetition [dot] com might be a good resource to do this. Let me know I’d be glad to support this and reach out to my twitter followers to do the same.

  8. A fantastic idea.

  9. Great idea. Let’s make it happen.

  10. Kasey Skala says:

    Great idea…I’m all about it.

    In regards to hacking Twitter accounts – that’s why you make sure you never give important information over the Web. Look at what @BofA_Help does. They make it a point to constantly tweet that you should never give account information via Twitter. Instead, they get basic contact information and have a customer service rep get in contact.

  11. Jeff,

    thanks for taking the lead on this initiative. I, like you, feel this is very important. Actually, more important than verifying Robert Scoble’s @scobleizer or Ashton Kutcher’s @aplusk.

    As you know I have sent out dozens of tweets, most DMs, to help move this along. And as we have discussed via twitter DM, the results are horrible. We need to get more people involved to step up and retweet both publicly and privately.

    Thanks to Sonya J Mills for helping and all of you who have commented.

    We ALL need to be committed to this cause.

    Thanks.

    @dmgerbino

  12. Jacob Jegher says:

    Great initiative! It makes perfect sense and in my opinion is long overdue. I blogged back in April about the risks involved here http://bankingblog.celent.com/?p=430

    @jjegher

  13. Thanks David, Sonya and so many others who have adopted this cause. Even if it’s only an incremental step, it’s something that would benefit everyone.

  14. I conducted a client webinar earlier this week that focused on how our clients can leverage our systems educational content in their social media campaigns. But I started out by explaining the techniques for getting the initial approval from their customers to be a part of their online social experience. I highlighted examples of customer service and the Vantage Credit Union model as keys to getting inside. If proper security measures are not taken on both sides (bank and twitter) then I fear most banks and credit unions will avoid going down these paths and won’t have success in getting their customer base to allow them into their social media world. If you can’t generate this acceptance then you might as well throw this marketing approach out the window for the financial industry.

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