A couple of weeks ago, I learned from a detective at a local police department that someone had attempted to open a business account at a high end electronics store and a couple of business lines in my name. The perpetrator had my social security number, driver’s license number, and home address.
I can’t really say that I was angry. Identity theft is far too commonplace for me to believe that I am somehow exempt. Part of me was just plain disgusted. All I could do was shake my head and mutter, “Everything is for sale, I guess,” in the stark realization that a huge market exists for personal information, and mine has been bought and sold for ill-gotten gain. These buyers and sellers don’t give a damn about you or me or anyone else. They just want the personal information so that they can commit fraud and other crimes. As you can see from my tone, I am still disgusted.
Another part of me was relieved and thankful that I have ID Shield, a benefit that is offered to Chamber members through SOCA by our friends at Data Guard Partners. It is reassuring to know that I can call someone immediately with a team of people who are working on my behalf.
Kara at Data Guard talked me through how to access and print my credit report. Then she advised me to call the Kroll investigators at ID Shield to report the matter.
When I contacted Kroll, an investigator named Chase asked me how I knew that the detective at the police department was legitimate, and not someone impersonating a detective. My face reddened and I felt embarrassed. I told him I hadn’t thought of that. He asked if I gave any additional personal information over the phone and I replied that, fortunately, I didn’t volunteer anything new.
Chase also recommended getting a copy of my credit report and he also said that they would send me a ChexSystems report to see if any new accounts had actually been opened in my name. Additionally, he urged me to make sure that detective was legitimate (She was legitimate. I called the City, asked to be transferred to the police department, and then asked to speak with the detective by name and got to her for a second conversation.).
I received my Chexsystems report in the mail about a week later. So far, so good. There are no new accounts. But who’s to say that it won’t happen again? It’s abundantly clear that key pieces of my identity have already been bought and sold.
Last year, SOCA rolled out ID Shield with Data Guard Partners (along with Legal Shield). It is our belief that Identity Theft is here to stay, and it is only going to get worse. Nick Goodwin of Data Guard Partners pointed out, “Did you know that the average American worker is twice as likely to suffer an identity theft than a broken bone, and the Federal Trade Commission says that identity theft issues suffered by American workers account for a minimum of 100 hours of lost productivity time per worker who suffered a breach? A recent survey of American workers also found that 66% of respondents took at least one day off from work in the past year to deal with legal issues.”
Legislation has already begun to catch up to this new fact of life. Employers may now purchase identity theft protection services for their employees and receive a tax deduction. SOCA chose ID Shield because identity theft is not just a personal issue. Rather, legislators recognize that identity theft affects employers and employees.
There are really only three ways to solve an identity theft: Reimbursement, Resolution, and Restoration. Reimbursement is popular because of its extremely low cost. However, this doesn’t provide any proactive monitoring of my personal information. Rather, it simply reimburses me for my time and expenses to fix my identity on my own if my information is ever used by a thief.
Resolution is a step better as it focuses almost exclusively on proactive credit monitoring (think Lifelock). Yet, as I understand it, this accounts for less than 20% of identity theft in the United States. These types of services also provide “800 number” assistance if I ever have any questions while I am fixing my own ID.
Restoration is the best form of protection. Restoration services monitor all aspects of a “member identity” including credit and non-credit related identifiers such as medical insurance cards, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, court records, address changes, etc. Additionally, restoration also provides licensed and credentialed investigators to completely restore a member back to pre-theft status in the event of a breach on the member’s behalf.
SOCA is committed to providing employers with products like ID Shield’s full restoration services that provide exceptional value.
Your information is for sale and so is mine. That is the new reality, no matter how disgusted I may feel about it. On days like the one I experienced a couple of weeks ago, I’m very glad that my family is covered by ID Shield.