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Customer Service, Confidentiality and Security. EASFAA 2009 Allene Begley Curto Springfield College – School of Human Services. The Customer Service Agenda. What is Good Customer Service? What are the rules that we must follow to protect and inform students?

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Customer Service, Confidentiality and Security

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Customer Service, Confidentiality and Security


Allene Begley Curto

Springfield College – School of Human Services

The Customer Service Agenda

  • What is Good Customer Service?

  • What are the rules that we must follow to protect and inform students?

  • What are all the types of communication that we use for customer service?

  • How do we use the rules to improve communication and customer service and not hinder either?

What is Good Customer Service?

  • Provides accurate and helpful information in a timely manner

  • Minimizes the amount of time that the student must spend to follow up

  • Reinforces the sense of “team” supporting the student

  • Reassures and warns

Confidentiality and Security

  • Who has a right to know what?

  • How do we limit access to those who have a right to know?

  • What policies, procedures and practices will protect our students?

  • Maintaining confidentiality and protecting security of information is essential to good customer service!

What are the Rules?


  • FTC Red Flag Rules

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley


  • Federal Student Aid Consumer Information

  • Uncommon Sense


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

  • Protects the privacy of student education records

  • Gives the student the right to inspect records but we do not usually have to make copies

  • Gives the student the right to request a correction or place a statement in the record

  • Requires us to have written permission to release information

Without Consent to:

Necessary School Officials

Other schools to which student is transferring


Financial Aid

Judicial order, subpoenas

Health, safety

Directory Information:

Defined by the School



Telephone number

Date and place of birth

Honors and awards

Dates of attendance

What Can We Release to Whom?

Releasing Information

  • Directory Information may be released – we are not required to release unless judicial order or subpoena, federal audit, etc.

  • Student may “opt out” of release of directory information. No release unless one of the required exemptions!

  • Directory information can still compromise student’s security and confidentiality!

Security of Financial Information

  • The Financial Services Act (Gramm-Leach-Bliley) requires policies for handling and protecting financial data

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires us to have an information security program

Federal Trade Commission

  • Information Security

  • Identity Theft Prevention Programs (Red Flag Rules)

    • Must provide for the identification, detection and response to patterns, practices, or specific activities that could indicate identity theft

    • Must be in place by August 1, 2009

    • Required for schools that participate in Perkins or offer institutional loans or payment plans

Privacy of medical records (HIPPA)

  • Medical records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)

  • Medical Records are not usually part of the educational record. FAO does not usually keep medical records but sometimes……..

    • Disability services

    • Loans discharged due to disability

  • Once a medical record becomes part of the educational record, it is covered under FERPA.

What Are We Required to Communicate?

  • Federal Student Aid Consumer Information

    • Missing persons procedures

    • Textbook Information

    • College Costs and Transparency

  • The Clery Act (Campus Crime Reports)

  • Solomon Amendment (Information to the military)

Communication and Service While Meeting All The Rules

How do we serve the student and protect their information and communicate effectively with:

  • The Student?

  • The Family?

  • Other Agencies assisting the family?

  • Other Departments at the School?

Is All of Our Communication

  • Effective?

  • Timely?

  • Secure?

  • Pleasant?

  • Professional?

Types of Communication

  • E-mails

  • Letters

  • Phone Calls

  • Statements of Account

  • Appointments/Walk-ins

  • Orientations/Info Sessions

  • Publications

  • Web Site


  • An e-mail is always unsecured! No SSNs, minimal confidential information

  • To whom is it sent? Are they authorized to have that information? Is it the correct person?

  • You are also sending that e-mail to anyone and everyone to whom one of the recipients decides to forward it!

E-mail (cont.)

  • E-mails are easily misunderstood

  • E-mails are easily ignored

  • E-mails are easily forwarded (with or without changes!)

  • E-mails are almost impossible to “take back”!

  • In some states, certain information is illegal to include in an e-mail!


  • Correct Name? Correct Address?

  • Correct spelling and grammar?

  • Tone of the letter?

  • Concise but with full and accurate information?

  • Frequency?

Phone Calls

  • Identify yourself

  • Identify and authenticate the person with whom you are speaking

  • Be prepared to deal with stress

  • Refer or follow up when it can’t be resolved on the phone

  • Know to whom they should be referred!

  • Practice tone/responses

  • Timely Responses

Statements of Account

  • Students are confused by the statements!

  • Become familiar enough with statements to explain or clarify to student

  • Use Info Sessions and Orientations to explain or clarify the statements

  • Know when they are being sent. Expect additional calls and questions!


  • Let students know when they can “walk in” and when they can set an appointment

  • Make sure they are referred to the correct person

  • Be prepared when they have an appointment

  • Contact student with changes

  • Follow up on “no shows”

  • What is discussed at “the counter”? Is it confidential?

Orientation/Info Sessions

  • Fine tune your presentation

  • Prepare for Q&A

  • Have handouts available

  • Is the information accurate and up to date?

  • Always remember we are all ambassadors!


  • Up to date and accurate information

  • No conflicting information in different publications

  • Clear and easily referenced

  • Available to students


  • Customer Service is a TEAM sport!

  • Remember that the student is under stress!

  • Remember that you may also be under stress!

  • Let others (Office mates? Supervisor? Other Departments?) know what you need to be able to respond in the way that you would like

Resources – Web Sites

  • ED

  • FTC



  • AACRAO on-line FERPA Guide

    EduCause (sample programs for Red Flag)


Resources – Publications


  • Save Your Money, Save Your Identity

  • Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety


  • Protecting Personal Information, A Guide for Business

  • Fighting Fraud With the Red Flags Rule


  • Solomon Amendment Brochure


Allene Begley Curto

Associate Director of Financial Aid

Springfield College – School of Human Services

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