In the face of the largest (known) data breach in U.S. history, WBA and member banks took swift, responsive action. The results in some cases were measurable, but difficult to qualify. What is clear is that the results are an evolution and not a destination. WBA continues to hone its strategy for serving member banks and engaging the community at large.

In the hours after the official announcement of the breach, WBA sent out a statement to the public and opinion leaders to help answer questions and help define what was known and unknown. In the first hours, banks started to get some of the blame, particularly in the national media. WBA went to work with member banks, national trade associations (ICBA and ABA), and subsidiaries (MBIS) to create resources that included a list of best practices for banks, consumer tips, and a five-page list of background items and talking points for the media and opinion leaders. These resources led to a series of discussions that ultimately helped consumers, the media, and the banking industry.

The most significant achievement of WBA and the industry’s response to the breach was on social media. WBA coordinated and participated in three Facebook live streaming events during September which garnered over 22,000 views and reached nearly 200,000 people. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and WBA tackled the issue of the Equifax data breach during these events while fielding questions from viewers. These events proved to be an effective way to help consumers while emphasizing to the public the role bankers can play in helping educate and protect their customers.

Key takeaways from these efforts that Wisconsin banks can leverage:

  • The banking industry has real opportunities to define itself through social media and other electronic means.
  • The media is willing to engage in new ways of communicating with its viewers.
  • Wisconsin’s banks should consider allowing the public relations/marketing team to engage on social media or other new electronic media.
  • Customers prefer straight answers about what the bank recommends they do. Even if the answer is “we don’t know right now.”

Special thanks to Tom Spitz, Settlers Bank in DeForest, Dan Peterson, Stephenson National Bank & Trust in Marinette, and Troy Bartoshevich, Park Bank in Milwaukee for participating in these live town hall discussions on Facebook.

The videos are available for playback and members are encouraged to share these links as resources for their customers. Visit www.wisbank.com/EquifaxBreach for more information and the video links. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact WBA Communications Manager Eric Skrum via email