More Than a Quarter of Americans Who Choose Not to Use Online Enrollment in Government Benefits Programs Say the Process Looks Too Difficult

TransUnion public sector research finds 39% of consumers spend 15 minutes or more proving identity in online government program applications

CHICAGO, Sept. 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nearly eight out of 10 Americans who plan to apply for a government program in the next three years will do so online, according to new research from TransUnion (NYSE: TRU). While current online customer experiences for public sector services are mostly positive, a significant portion of constituents experience hurdles.

The report found 59% of people who enrolled for benefits online said the application process was convenient; however, 21% were not able to complete their application quickly. Among those who have not applied online, more than one in four (27%) said the process looks too difficult.

“Government agencies have made heroic strides over the last several years in improving their online benefits applications processes,” said Jeffrey Huth, senior vice president of TransUnion’s public sector business. “At the same time, private sector businesses have continued to raise the bar for what constituents expect from a high-quality, seamless and secure digital experience. TransUnion’s latest report is aimed at identifying ways for government agencies to close that gap.”

TransUnion conducted its research through a survey of 1,006 adults living in the United States, including U.S. territories, who said they had previously applied for government benefits and/or plan to do so in the next three years. The full findings are available in the report “Reduce Benefit Enrollment Burdens.”

Proving identity and eligibility
One of the main differences in the online application experience was the difficulty in proving identity and eligibility. Constituents indicated their applications were delayed or declined due to not being able to prove their identity or eligibility online at more than double the rate people experienced when applying through other channels, like in person.

Reasons Prior Enrollment Application Was Delayed or Denied

 Had Trouble
Understanding the
Couldn’t Provide
Required Proof of
Couldn’t Provide
Required Forms of
Other Channels6%3%3%

Respondents also noted a disconnect between expectations and reality regarding the time required to collect the information needed to verify their identities during online applications. Nearly half (46%) of respondents would prefer to spend less than 10 minutes doing so, but just 37% of respondents with prior online applications indicated their experience met that expectation. The report found almost four in 10 (39%) had spent 15 minutes or more proving their identity.

“The Biden administration is focused on reducing the time tax that discourages and prohibits so many people from accessing services—and the process for proving identity is a great area of opportunity for improvement,” said Huth. “Fortunately, there are robust tools that improve the customer experience while reducing risks for fraud.”

Among several recommendations, the report notes a multipronged approach is most effective. Such an approach includes device reputation tracking, device fingerprinting, device-to-identity linkages and user-behavior analysis. TransUnion TruValidate™ line of solutions incorporates these identity and device proofing technologies and more to catch fraudsters early while reducing friction for legitimate benefits applicants, claimants and recipients.

Call centers still important
When seeking information about benefits programs, the report found 60% of constituents will call an agency, while just slightly more will visit the official website (61%). However, when responding to unexpected communication via postal mail, two-thirds (66%) will call the agency, while less than half (47%) will visit the website.

In addition, when constituents run into problems while completing an online application, they are equally likely to call the agency for help as they are to use a digital channel, like the website chat function. These findings highlight the importance of a consistent omnichannel experience and should encourage agencies to invest in their call centers.

Pre-answer inbound call authentication and risk assessment technology, based on forensic phone intelligence, allows applicants and recipients to seamlessly utilize both call center channels without the risk of being inconvenienced by unnecessary friction.

“The first few minutes of a call set the tone for the entire constituent experience. That time should be spent serving their needs rather than interrogating their identity,” said Jason Lord, vice president of TransUnion’s global fraud solutions.

TruValidate Inbound Authentication solutions help call centers reduce reliance on costly and time-consuming knowledge-based authentication while focusing fraud resources on only the minority of risky calls. These solutions reduce average call handle times, increase Interactive Voice Response containment, and improve the caller experience.

For full details on the research findings, read the report “Reduce Benefit Enrollment Burdens.”

About the survey
TransUnion partnered with Dynata to conduct a nationwide survey of 1,006 adults living in the United States (incl. territories) who said they had previously applied for government benefits and/or plan to do so in the next 3 years, randomly selected from a broad data panel. This survey administered via the Qualtrics platform, and all responses were anonymized prior to analysis. Standard R & Python libraries were used to facilitate data ingest, cleanup and analysis.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 12,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good® — and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world.

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