Identity theft can cause havoc on a victim’s finances. It can cost thousands of dollars to restore reputation and financial health, not to mention time lost and the untold toll of physical stress. But the best defense against identity theft may be a good offense, and that’s where companies like IdentityForce find their niche.
“The chances of consumers being victimized decreases when they make the conscious decision to be proactive and become vigilant about protecting their personal information,” said CEO Steven Bearak, who spoke to RewardExpert about the business of protecting customers from identity theft.
A Growing Problem
As consumers and companies do more of their business online, the chance of potential fraud grows. According to Bearak, an identity is stolen every two seconds, making identity theft one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. “Today’s lifestyle leaves the door open for criminals that want to steal consumers’ sensitive data – anytime, anywhere.”
Common data that’s stolen includes social security numbers, credit card numbers and other personal identity information that’s often resold on the dark web. And it can be stolen from virtually any entity, from major companies to small, local organizations like banks or doctor’s offices.
Different Types of Theft
There are different categories of identity theft, but the common denominator is that all of them can lead to serious problems for a victim’s personal finances. “Medical identity theft, account takeover, tax fraud related to W-2 phishing scams and identity theft focused on children and seniors are the five core areas we see continuously,” Bearak said.
An area of particular concern is the account takeover. “In these cases, the fraudster gains access to an account and then modifies the contact and security information in order to control funds. Drained accounts lead to financial crisis,” said Bearak.
“Fraudsters also use stolen personal information to apply for new credit accounts then max out the credit card – and of course, without making any payments.”
How to Fight It
With the dangers of identity theft so obvious, the question becomes how best to protect your information. Bearak says the best protection is to not go it alone, but instead sign up with the professionals. “Either enrolling in an identity theft protection service or asking your employer if your company offers identity protection is a much more effective approach,” he stated.
IdentityForce protection offerings include the following:
- social security number tracking
- dark web monitoring
- stolen fund replacement
- mobile identity theft protection
- comprehensive social media monitoring
“We provide members with a Social Media Identity Monitoring suite that monitors Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram accounts for threatening social network activity and posts that could be perceived as violent, are using profanity, or could even be categorized as cyberbullying or discriminatory. Members can monitor their own social media accounts, those of their children and other family members,” said Bearak.
In particular, IdentityForce offers comprehensive protection for children, as he points out that 1.3 million children are victims of identity theft annually.
For businesses, IdentityForce offers monitoring services and comprehensive protection. Bearak says his company is the only one that provides a breach guarantee.
“If a client experiences a data breach that includes their employees’ personally identifiable information, IdentityForce will provide restoration services to the affected employees for 12 months from the date of the breach, at no cost to the organization.”
Bearak also encourages businesses to remind employees to turn off automatic connections to public Wi-Fi networks, provide guidance on password protection and generally be vigilant about employee behavior.
Stay in Control
Above all, Bearak advises both individuals and businesses to never let their guard down, as hackers are relentless. “Be very mindful of the information you are disclosing and make sure it’s necessary to provide your social security number, address or other personal information,” he said.