Identity Protection: It's Everybody's Business

Identity theft has been the top complaint that consumers have reported to the FTC for 12 years in a row.  We’ve also heard from companies that ID theft can cause huge headaches in the form of unauthorized charges, worthless receivables, and customer service snafus.  That’s why business executives should be at the forefront in the drive for identity protection.

You want to be there with practical advice if ID theft hits someone close to you.  Knowing what to do is important because a thief can hijack tax refunds, alter medical records, prevent a person from getting credit or a job, and even borrow money in a child's name.  And let’s face it:  Trying to untangle the knots created by an ID thief can take an employee’s mind off business and pre-occupy an otherwise loyal customer.

The FTC has expanded and updated its suite of free identity theft materials to spread the word about how to protect information and recover should someone steal your identity.  There’s an easy-to-copy brochure with the topline tips every consumer should have; a substantive guide with step-by-step instructions on dealing with the crime; and a booklet on how to recognize a new twist, child identity theft.  We’ve also produced new videos that focus on the most important messages about identity theft. 

How can you use these resources?  As a corporate leader, you help set the tone on the topics that matter to your community.  Identity protection is one of those Mom-home-and-apple-pie issues all of us — companies, professional groups, service organizations, government agencies — can get behind.  Here are some things you can do to raise awareness of identity protection in your community.

Clarity begins at home.  Give the brochure to family, friends, and neighbors.  Share it with your neighborhood association and drop copies off at the local senior center.  Get tips from the brochure and post to your social networks. 

Back to school.  Share the booklet about child identity theft with school principals, teachers, coaches, and PTAs.  Send a link to the editor of the PTA or school newsletter, parent listserv, and school blog and ask them to share the materials with their readers. 

All aboard. Everyone needs to get in the habit of protecting their identity.  Spread the word to your clients and professional organizations.  Distribute copies to your employees, post them in the office break room, and have them handy in your reception area or at the register.  Add a link to the resources on your website.

We’ve heard about one retailer that keeps a supply at their service counter in case customers stop by in search of a lost wallet or misplaced credit card.  What’s your top tip for promoting identity protection?

 

5 Comments

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Why is there no public awareness about identity thieves getting credit report info by signing up for credit monitoring under the victim’s name? Why are these services not held accountable for their appalling lack of security? With a stolen driver’s license, the thief has a DOB, and can easily get an SSN, which typically is all that’s needed. And with a quick entry of a fraudulent credit card, the victim’s credit reports are theirs for instant viewing.

DC commuters can start by NOT hopping on the bus/metro/train with agency IDs dangling for all to see - c'mon people, nobody cares if you work for the EPA or DOL!

I am relieved that FTC is at last taking this issue seriously.
My problem is knowing how to fight back and put people responsible accountable. It appears as if it was business as usual even if the renewal and encouragement of ID theft is the only way forward. I believe it is payback time for misery, confusion and mutilation of accounts cleverly created by people involved in this outrageous criminal enterprise. You cannot protect and encourage illegal act however well constructed it may appear.

Last year, at Halloween, while my husband handed out candy to kids, I handed out information about child identity theft to their parents.

That's a fantastic idea, JP. People can go to the FTC's bulk order site -- www.bulkorder.ftc.gov -- for copies.

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