Identity Theft – The American Epidemic
The 1990’s spawned a new variety of crooks called identity thieves. Their
stock in trade? Your everyday transactions, which usually reveal bits of your
personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income;
your Social Security number (SSN); or your name, address, and phone numbers.
An identity thief obtains some piece of your sensitive information and uses
it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission “Identity Theft” is
the fastest growing white-collar crime in America. 27.3 million victims in the
last 5 years and over 53 billion lost of which financial institutions and major
business lost 48 billion. People whose identities have been stolen can spend
months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the
mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Some victims
have lost job opportunities, been refused loans for education, housing or cars,
or even been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.
Today there are a number of companies that offer assistance to protect
the American public from identity theft. In the beginning, the big three credit
reporting agencies, as well as some independents, started by offering
consumers an opportunity to check their credit reports periodically instead
of only when they are having their credit reports pulled to open lines of credit
or lease property. While this is a good first line of defense it is not the
only solution because not all identity theft will show up on a credit report.
More recently identity theft products have added insurance and victim assistance
in the event that someone’s identity is jeopardized but the claims that
companies are making with their victim assistance programs is just as misleading
and exploiting what real identity theft restoration is.
Restoration vs. Resolution
If the average consumer was to look at the words “Restoration”
and “Resolution” they would think they are one in the same…not
true. Resolution is the solution that an identity theft product offers and every
solution varies. Solutions can come in the form of a kit that is sent out with
instructions on how to restore your identity or it could be victim assistance,
where the victim calls into a call center and speaks directly to an assistance
advisor. The assistance advisor’s have some very clever names, like a
crises coach, guidance investigator, or a personal advocate working on the victims
behalf. The truth is that the victim is still required to do most of the work
and the FTC reports that it takes on average 175 hours or more to restore a
A company that provides “Restoration” means that they do the work
on behalf of the victim by signing a limited-power of attorney. A limited power-power
of attorney (limited to only interacting on the victims behalf with the credit
reporting agency’s, DMV, etc.) allows a restoration company to do most
(about 85%) of the work on a victim’s behalf so that the victim can get
on with their lives. The restoration company’s also have the ability to
restore the identity for the victim much faster because of the training and
relationships they have with the credit reporting agency’s, DMV, Social
Security Administration and Post Office which all are contacted and notified
that identity theft has taken place.
As a credit union, you are obligated to offer the best protection for your
members because if a product is purchased through your credit union and it does
not live up to its claims then that would possibly jeopardize your member relationship
and not to mention that they are covered for something they are not.
Currently Identity Theft Shield with Kroll Worldwide offers “Real Identity
Theft Restoration” to the credit union membership. Identity Theft Shield
also offers the other services such as credit reports, credit scoring, monitoring
and restoration insurance with the restoration. If you would like to learn more
about Identity Theft Shield and many of the other identity theft products that
can assist credit unions on a business level please contact Benson Kane @ 1-866-376-7878