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How Documentation Can Create Trust

When you are a company dealing with your customers’ most valuable personal information, you need them to trust you. One easy way to do this is to have your documentation flawless (or close to it). Also, performing a test run with a small group of people before releasing it to the masses is a good idea. The group of people should be 3rd party users who can find the mistakes you can’t find (since you’ve read and reread the form 40 times and never want to see it again).

For example, I recently learned that my student loan was transferred from one company to another company. After Googling the new company (to make sure it is real), AND calling it (still not sure if I think it’s real), I was ready to sign up on the new company’s website so I can give them all my money.

While I was filling out a form on the new company’s website (so I could pay my loan), I came across the following question (sorry the image is so small):


Wait, this is a real company, right? I think the person on the phone was real. Who did I just send my social security number to? If I want the form emailed to me, is the answer yes or no? At this point I close the window, repeat my company “confirmation” steps (mentioned above), and eventually decide the company is real.

And then I send this blog post to Jeffrey (Shoap) to review. He mentions that, oh wait, sending a 1098E form via email (which is an unsecure communication method) with my social security number, etc. is not the safest (or potentially legal) way to communicate with me.

Now I’m really confused and give the company another call. Unfortunately, the person at the call center is not trained to speak with me about form specifics. I try my best to explain the situation and she says if I select No to the question above, then I’ll receive all correspondences through snail mail (but she can’t single out the 1098E form). She also informs me that the emails they send are secure but she “doesn’t know the word for it”. Then she changes the subject and welcomes me to the new company and lets me know what a valuable customer I am.

So to recap:

  • I found out what Yes and No mean in the question above (original issue).
  • I cannot receive loan communications online/by email without also receiving my 1098E form in the same manner (even though the question above separates these two).
  • I am even more confused and worried that someone is going to steal all my personal information from my email.
  • What I initially thought was just a small error turned into a big ball of confusion about whether or not someone is going to steal my identity and if the company my loan was transferred to is acting legally.

Maybe they meant to say “Would you like to receive your Student Loan Interest Statement, Form 1098E (click this link for information on what this is), by secure email and online communications? If yes, your 1098E form will be sent to you securely via email and will be available online. If no, your 1098E form will be physically mailed to the address listed on your loan.”

Reviewing your documents is a good thing. Having multiple people review your documents is a good thing. Jeffrey being a second reviewer to the 1098E question above raised different issues than I originally thought (which proves that a 3rd party reviewer can find mistakes the 1st party reviewer can’t). This is an example of how reviewing one form could have saved the customer time and stress, and could have saved the company money by not having to support this specific issue.

1 reply on “How Documentation Can Create Trust”

I work in a human genetics lab, and we often have the latest instruments and “cutting edge” technology. A downside to that is that the manuals and protocols are often inaccurate, or just plain wrong. Besides wasting my time, such mistakes can result in the wasting of thousands of dollars in reagents, and extremely precious samples. It often seems that in a rush to get the instrument out in the field and to “make the sale”, these companies are sacrificing quality.

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