Do You Rely on .edu Email Addresses as Proof of Eligibility for Students?
Exclusive discounts have long been a strategy for retailers to gain attention from target customer groups – think “student discount”. Not only are they effective, but they’re a great way to edge out the competition and keep customers coming back. However, the rise of ecommerce has made giving these exclusive discounts more of a challenge. How do you ensure that your customer is actually a currently enrolled student, and not someone just trying to get a discount?
Many retailers use what is called a “.edu email loop” – something we’re all familiar with. You enter your student email address to verify that you’re a student. This is great in theory, but we wanted to see how vulnerable this made retailers to potential fraud.
As such, we recently conducted a survey of over 375 college alumni in the US focusing on the use and potential abuse of .edu email addresses as a surrogate for verifying student status. This study compares new findings to results from the same study we performed in 2012, revealing that the potential for student eligibility fraud has risen over the last 5 years. Companies are more vulnerable now when relying on .edu email addresses as proof of eligibility for participation in student programs, promotions, and special pricing.
While data from this study shows that the percentage of consumers who were issued a .edu email address has increased by nearly 20% since 2012, the survey also found that 51% of alumni are now allowed to keep their .edu email addresses indefinitely, an increase over 2012.
As a result, more people who have graduated or quit school still have access to their .edu email accounts, and they can easily take advantage of programs created exclusively for current college students. In fact, this study shows that 1 in 5 alumni do just that. This blind spot perpetuates eligibility fraud and produces significant margin erosion for the organization.
This is one of the main reasons so many of our clients have chosen to use our student verification in lieu of a .edu email loop: It’s a proven, fraud-proof method of offering exclusive deals while protecting revenue. But how much revenue are we talking?
We looked at the numbers, and found that top clients have reported saving as much as $33 million annually as a result of SheerID’s student verification technology. SheerID’s military and employee verification products have saved companies even more.
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