Recently in Data Cleansing Category

How to Know Customers Are Who They Say They Are

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In 2015 alone, 62% of companies were targets of payment fraud. As customers increasingly conduct their financial affairs online and via mobile devices, risk management and fraud prevention become more and more difficult. So, how do you know customers are who they say they are?

Short of reaching through the computer, tablet, or smartphone screen and verifying a customer with your own eyes, there are a plethora of ways that help you better know your customer, manage risk, and even prevent fraudulent transactions.

Age & National ID Verification

The first step to customer authentication is to match a customer's national ID (for example, their social security or driver's license numbers) and date of birth. Better authenticate a customer's ID documents and simplify compliance with any age restrictions or purchase laws, while improving customer service at the same time. Instantly verify that the customer purchasing your age-restricted goods is old enough to legally make that purchase.

Name-Address Matching

The second step is to match name to address to confirm the person buying your product or service isn't giving you false information. Personator leverages a comprehensive dataset containing billions of records to confirm and match current names and addresses with the highest degree of accuracy. Our powerful, real-time tools and services help you achieve entity resolution and compliance, as well as better know your customer and reduce, or even eliminate, the need for manual review.

Address Correction & Formatting

Next, you'll want to add in what's missing from customer data entry, legacy systems, sales input, and anywhere else your records come from. Add missing street suffixes, state/province/administrative area info, and standardize addresses to specific country formats using Advanced Address Correction (AAC) to verify that addresses are accurate and deliverable to real locations.

Contact Data Validation

Validation concerns more than just a name or address - it needs to look at all aspects of people data, from names and addresses to phone numbers, email addresses, geocodes, IP locations, demographics, and more. Determine that the given postal address for every customer is deliverable, the email address exists, the name associated with a mobile device and whether the phone number is active and callable, and the given name is in a valid format. You can even trace customers with geocodes and IP locators to manage risk and ensure compliance.

Melissa's Personator® World Edition can help meet all of these needs. Personator is a customizable web service that fits all your ID verification process and risk management requirements. It can help optimize onboarding and fraud detection in Ecommerce, AML Compliance, Customer Due Diligence, Card Not Present, Know Your Customer (KYC), and FinTech/RegTech arenas.

Try Personator free for 30 days to see how it can transform your business's safety and compliance.

Fintech breakthroughs that identify,validate and augment customer data help financial services organizations head off fraud, operate within the rules

One of the most pressing issues facing the financial services industry today is the prevailing emphasis on security and fraud prevention. Big data and analytics are leveraging the power of the Internet, but also offering big, juicy plums for hackers, credit card fraudsters, money launderers and terrorists.


In response, many countries including the U.S. have established Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, intended to guide financial institutions in heading off fraudulent transactions. A key way for banks to do this is to clearly Identify legitimate banking clients and their business relationships so the bad operators become more obvious and identifiable.


But it can be a challenge. Legitimate customers often have multiple banking relationships with a single institution, with identifying information stored in different formats in a multitude of databases. Various family members also may be account owners, but have different names and live at different addresses, possibly even in different countries.


Linking all these threads together while at the same time correcting name misspellings, standardizing mailing address formats, and parsing precise geolocation IDs can be the stuff of banking compliance nightmares.


Not doing this due diligence, however, can be catastrophic. To be hacked and have millions syphoned out of your customers' accounts is one thing, but to have the government ready and willing to fine you for failing various KYC tests can be just as damaging. Can you say "Loss of reputation and customers?"  



Most notably non-compliant of late have been banks based or doing business in India, but it's a worldwide problem. A New York-based broker-dealer recently was charged with KYC violations and for negligently allowing illegal trading by one of its customers. Perhaps the highest profile case most recently was Morgan Stanley Smith Barney running afoul of a variety of KYC violations. The main charge: Morgan Stanley failed to properly identify an assortment of "red flags" that signaled illegal activity.


Thankfully, technological breakthroughs increasingly are offering their own solutions. Just as the digital world has enabled bad players and victimized banks worldwide, technology is fighting back with sophisticated Know Your Customer tools.


A big step forward is the ability to accurately verify names and addresses. In a global world without borders, technology that verifies, cleans, completes and standardizes names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, and does so globally, immensely aids the process of knowing one's customers.


Technologies also exist that adds in missing contact fields, finds census and area-specific statistical details, and provides precise demographic information. When banks are able to combine census and area-specific details with accurate names and addresses, they'll know pretty closely if a variant player is really a customer or a bad guy.


KYC guidelines are very specific about risky areas prone to scams and schemes. A wide variety of countries are identified by the U.S. State Department for being prone to ignoring money laundering, tolerating suspicious transactions, and generally lacking adequate know-your-customer requirements. Ignoring this, in fact, was one of the issues that burned Morgan Stanley, permitting criminal activities to continue unchecked.


While IP lookup that identifies exactly where a digital communication has come from has been around for a while, new geocoding breakthroughs are able to convert IP addresses into precise latitude and longitude coordinates around the world. Most European and international identify cards also can be verified, along with mobile phone numbers and driver's license information.


One of the essential elements in all this is updating customer data. It's been estimated that accurate contact information deteriorates severely and regularly, and good customers who merely move across town can confuse inadequate screening processes and raise red flags (false positives) when it shouldn't. Today there are a variety of modules banks can use to update customer information quickly and accurately.


The bottom line is this: Financial services institutions now have lots of new reasons to love fintech technology that mitigates KYC concerns by identifying legitimate customers, and flagging the ne'er-do-wells before they can be effective.

Meet Melissa: Global Intelligence

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Melissa Data is officially now Melissa.


As we welcome our 32nd year in business, we are excited to announce an important change at Melissa Data. We've decided to drop the "Data" from our brand identity. We are simply Melissa now. This is part of a new branding effort to reflect Melissa's growth, and more importantly, the changes in the data quality space. While authoritative data sources power our products and services, we want to continue developing new solutions that deliver data-driven results for better business intelligence.


This forward thinking change is reflected in our new logo with the design emphasis on the "i" for intelligence. You will see this focus on intelligence in our new ID verification services, our industry-specific solutions to help with Know Your Customer initiatives, risk management and compliance, and in our robust customer data management and data integrations platforms.

And, you'll see it in our new website at 

Our goal with this new website is to provide our visitors an easier way to learn about Melissa's services and solutions. Immediately, you will notice streamlined menus, simple navigation, and quick access to the information you need.


We look forward to working together with all of our existing customers on more opportunities and better solutions for global intelligence. Please feel free to reach out and let us know how we can better assist you.

Better Marketing Starts with Better Data

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Improve Data Quality for More Accurate Analysis with Alteryx and Melissa


Organizations are under more pressure than ever to gain accurate contact data for their customers. When your consumer base ranges from Los Angeles to Tokyo, it can be challenging. Poor data quality has a critical impact on both the financial stability as well as the operations of a business. Verifying and maintaining vast quantities of accurate contact data is often inefficient and falls short of the mark. According to IBM, the yearly cost of poor data quality is estimated at 3.1 trillion in the U.S. alone.


Melissa's Global Address Verification and Predictive Analysis for Alteryx are the tools your business needs to grow. Download this whitepaper to find out how to achieve marketing success, while reducing the cost of doing business overall.


Learn how to:

  • ·         Better understand and utilize your big data for marketing success
  • ·         Build better relationships with customers with clean data
  • ·         Target the customers most likely to buy
  • ·         Cut down on undeliverable mail and save on costs


Download free whitepaper now:



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Melissa Data is excited to showcase our Microsoft Integrations at this year's PASS SUMMIT 2016 event in Seattle, WA from Oct 25-28. Achieve the power of clean data to gain the customization, flexibility, and control you need to meet and exceed your business goals!

Come say hello at Booth 609! We'll tell you all about our contact data quality plugins for Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, Excel®, and SQL Server®. Get the leading CRM, ecommerce, and data integration to fit your needs and outperform your competitors!


About  PASS SUMMIT 2016
Where Data Professionals Connect, Share and Learn

PASS is the largest community for data professionals in the world, with over 200,000 members. PASS' mission is to "Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning"....  Learn More >

Data Quality Solutions to Tackle Student Retention

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There are many forces that impact student retention at the university level, from academics to financial aid, but one often overlooked aspect is data quality and its impact on student engagement. While much of the application and enrollment process has now been digitized, there is still a great deal of physical communication with prospective students, current students, and alumni.

Maintain clear communication with better data cleansing and enjoy the benefits of higher student retention and alumni tracking.  Address the elephant in the room--your database. A major issue at a university is the multiple ways data is entered into a system. Admissions, enrollment, the registrar, the alumni office, student workers, and of course, students themselves all create records. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it's easy for errors to creep in. But, we can help.

Take this example: a student may get married and move, which changes their name and address. Now there are two records, one in their maiden name and one in their married name. Mail is sent to two locations wasting postage and materials. This is the best case scenario. Sometimes records fall out of date but are never updated. A student that is easily distracted fails to follow through, and they never register for their next semester. That's not only a waste in mailing cost, it's a loss in tuition.

We have solutions to help you engage your students, such as Global Contact Data Verification which cleans your database of inaccurate, incomplete, or undeliverable U.S. and global addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses in real-time or batch. We also offer a host of other solutions such as deduplication, change of address, and more. Learn about them on our website and see how we've helped others in education. When your data is clean, communication flows naturally. When communication is clear, students feel valued and are more engaged.

Melissa Data and the University of Washington just overhauled a database of 900,000 records going back over a decade. Watch our video and see how we made their data shine!

Check Out Our Interview on The Corporate Data Show!

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20% of Your Data Could Be Bad: Here's How to Fix It w/ Bud Walker

When you think about how much bad data can really cost you, it's important to make sure that your info is deliverable, callable, and emailable. If you've got a lot of data--and who doesn't, these days?--it becomes vital to spend the resources to ensure that the data you're using is accurate.

The Corporate Data Show is a podcast dedicated to helping business executives manage their marketing data needs. 

Whether you're dealing with B2B data, marketing specific data, or retail databases, this podcast is designed to help you think about managing your corporate data needs at the highest level. Each episode features an interview with a thought leader in the data business, discussing topics like: sales intelligence, data as a service, business intelligence, B2B Data, identity resolution, data services, data trends, revenue opportunities, data engineering, client success, data accuracy, transparency, analytics, IT, and more.

Bud Walker, Vice President of Enterprise Sales & Strategy

Bud Walker is responsible for managing strategy, expansion, and vision for the company's offerings. In the role of Sales Engineer Walker has extensive experience in the field of Data Quality, and has worked with hundreds of clients to help integrate a data quality regimen into day to day operations.

Learn more about Bud Walker >

Measuring the Half-Life of Data

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Data, like any radioactive material, has a half-life. That's the time it takes for half of the contact information in your database to go bad. We've concluded that the average "half-life of data" is 45.4 months, or three years and 9 months.

In the U.S. annually we have a population of 316 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Marriages = 2.3 million

Divorces = 1.2 million

Births = 4.3 million

Deaths = 2.5 million

Moves = 47 million

Total Changes per year = 57.3

Total Changes per month = 4.8

The half-life formula is:

t1/2 = (t ln 1/2)/(ln mf / mi)

t1/2 = ln (1/2)/ln((316-4.8)/316) = 45.4 months or ...

Therefore after 3 years and 9 months half the records in a customer's database are incorrect.

The results highlight the importance of data quality, and why you should continuously clean and update your contact data to ensure its accuracy. Good quality data will help your organization make better business decisions and position it for growth.


Maintaining the most complete and up-to date customer information available will help you stay competitive, cut costs, and drive growth. So, how do you go about doing this? Many would say to use contact data validation, however, we have found that, that is not enough. A more complete data verification process is needed for true data quality.

For example, you might be able to validate a customer's address, but having the ability to validate whether they truly live there or not, takes your data verification a step further. The same goes for phone numbers. Validating that they truly are linked with that customer can save you time and money on making that phone call.

With a tool like Melissa Data's Personator, you can determine whether or not a customer lives at the address as well as verify their phone number. Personator does this through using powerful matching and retrieval technologies to compare incoming records against proprietary set of multi-sourced reference data, including USPS data, telco data, title information, and other public and proprietary data.

Through this process, Personator has the ability to confirm that the name matches the address, and most importantly, determine that records accuracy and completeness. Personator also offers an append function which brings a record to its most complete form by filling in the gaps with verifiable street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and associated demographics. This results in full contact data quality for your business.

A tool, like Personator, can help you achieve data quality through obtaining complete Data. Complete data provides you with ease of communicating with customers, ensuring delivery, and saving on unnecessary costs. Learn more about Melissa Data's Personator.

By Natalia Crawford

Your Data's Rate of Decay

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Did you know that data has a half-life? That is the amount of time it takes for the information in your database to go bad. How?  Because contact data is always changing.  The U.S Census Bureau states that in the U.S.  we have a population of 316 million annually. Some of the changes that occur include 2.3 million marriages, 1.2 million divorces, 4.3 million births, 2.5 million deaths, and 47 million moves. That equals out to 57.3 changes per year and 4.8 changes per month. That means that the data you are using for communications, analytics, and compliance becomes stale quicker than you might think.

Decayed data contaminates your entire database, resulting in poor quality data which is the main cause for 40% of all failed business initiatives (according to a Gartner, Inc. study). Let's look at the "1-10-100 Rule" which states it takes $1 to verify the accuracy of a customer record at point-of-entry, $10 to clean it in batch form, and $100 per record if nothing is done at all. This includes costs associated with undeliverable shipments, low customer retention, and unsuccessful CRM initiatives.  

The reality is that it isn't enough to simply have a data quality firewall at point of entry, because data changes after the point of entry. Data should be cleansed periodically so that it doesn't go stale. It ends up costing you more not to have a solution in place that will verify, cleanse, and guarantee that you have valid contact data then to have one.

So, what should you do about it? Fight it with data quality tools. Combat bad data with solutions that keep it clean and up-to-date for your organizational needs. From global address, phone, email, and name verification solutions, and identify verification and data enrichment tools that add demographic and geographic data -implement solutions that will provide better business intelligence, analytics, and improved sales and marketing initiatives.

Discover for yourself why more than 10,000 companies worldwide rely on Melissa Data to gain a single, accurate, and trusted view of critical information assets. 

By Natalia Crawford