SheerID, the eligibility verification software provider, has released data from a recent 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 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.
Many companies have exciting, special offers for students, but they still use an unreliable email loop to attempt to verify that someone is a student (they email a link to the .edu email address provided by the customer and rely on the individual to click-through as proof of their eligibility to redeem the offer). 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.
"In this exciting age of innovation, it is surprising that companies continue to use .edu email addresses as an attempt to verify student eligibility," said Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID. "Our data shows that more people than ever use old college email addresses for deals they are not eligible for. The SheerID catalog of verification solutions is not only more accurate, but we also provide a truly elegant customer experience compared to leaving the flow to check an old inbox. This is exactly why so many companies choose to plug-in verification from SheerID; we help our partners eliminate eligibility fraud while speeding the acquisition of valuable, loyal new customers."
To quantify this claim, SheerID looked at how much revenue its verification software saves clients in thwarted eligibility fraud. 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.
In addition to student verification, SheerID's solutions also verify eligibility for educators, military service members, first responders, employees, small businesses, and association members, and the company is trusted by hundreds of clients including TOMS, Amazon, T-Mobile, and Tommy Hilfiger.