Elertz, a UK start-up, has pioneered an alternative method of web-based broadcast communication to combat rising concerns over spam and phishing scams.
Elertz is a free precision alerting system that enables banks and other financial services to keep in touch with customers without having to resort to unreliable channels such as email. It provides a new way for companies to deliver targeted information to consumers who have requested specific information from a website, through a simple alerting system - a flashing red star - located in the users desktop browser.
Security concerns are increasing and customers are now facing an overwhelming amount of 'information pollution' from different sources such as email, IM, voicemail, faxes and direct mail. The latest figures from Cloudmark's Global Threat Report, 2006, reveal that 95% of today's email is spam or phishing scams. The banking industry estimates that £22m was lost to phishing fraud in the first half of 2006, according to a recent article on BBC News, and are looking for more effective ways to prevent online fraud affecting the reputation of their business. A standard piece of advice given from banks to their customers is that they will never send emails to them asking for confidential information. However, many banks do send promotional emails about new products and customers struggle to distinguish between genuine bank emails and phishing emails from fraudsters.
New broadcast communication channel
Steve Morris, CEO of elertz, explains, "The only real way to prevent social engineering techniques, such as phishing, is to use another broadcast communication channel that is not email based. An alerting system such as elertz provides an anonymous service for the subscriber. The subscriber does not have to divulge personal information such as an email address or bank details. Alerts that have been set up can very simply be deleted, ending any form of communication between the bank and end user."
A typical application for elertz would be a bank wishing to alert customers to changes in their accounts such as interest rate changes, new offers or when accoucounts unexpectedly go overdrawn. With elertz, customers have opted in to get up-to-date information and have set their own parameters.
Steve Morris adds: "Businesses using elertz can enable their customers to set up a quick and reliable way of alerting them as soon as information they are interested in is updated. Consumers who are able to stay in control and manage information are more likely to respond positively to businesses' offerings."
Elertz is more precise and quicker than other broadcast communication channels such as email or RSS feeds. Emails sent out by companies are usually sent out in batches, and effective spam filters will often block such emails altogether. RSS feeds can be useful for receiving general news updates but are only refreshed, on average, every 30 minutes. Business websites using elertz are updated every 30 seconds, ensuring that customers receive updates or notifications as soon as changes occur.
Unlike RSS feeds, elertz benefits from an offline capability, allowing customers to sign up for SMS alerts when not in front of a computer.