A recent multi-page article in the Los Angeles Times described how a journalist found her identity stolen and the agony she went through to try and solve the problem. Of particular interest is that the three credit bureaus recently co-sponsored a research project by Javelin Strategy and Research, and they found that approximately 42 million Americans were infected by some version of identity theft in 2021. That is 13% of our population, and they suffered over $52 billion in losses.
Her outrageous experience relates to how a few institutional contacts– banks, credit bureaus, and police departments– were rude and inadequate. They were not the least bit interested in helping her solve her identity theft problem. The banks were too busy making money. The credit bureaus were too entrenched in their own incompetence to assist her. And the police departments and other law enforcement units are not trained to deal with this new criminal phenomenon.
As members of the Security Alarm Industry, our primary responsibility is to detect, deter, and report criminal activity. Our relationship with our customers suggests that we offer education and, where available, protection from this heinous crime. The key is to limit the occurrence of identity theft and then mitigate the damage when it does strike.
Here are a few suggestions to offer your customers that will reduce the likelihood of their being attacked by these vicious predators:
- Maintain awareness of where your credit cards, medical cards, and social security cards are located.
- Carry your credit cards and driver’s license separately from your other identification.
- Freeze your credit cards with the credit bureaus. This is normally a free service.
- Pull your credit report once per year and review it carefully for any errors.
- Consider adding two-factor authentication to your phone and other devices.
- Evaluate your passwords to ensure they are both strong and unique. Using the same password for various software or devices is an invitation for identity theft.
- DON’T CARRY YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD IN YOUR WALLET.
- Don’t respond to prescreened credit offerings.
- Sign up for bank alerts that will warn you if anyone tries to open an account in your name.
- Never share your bank password or other verification code, including with your bank.
- Review and balance your bank account at the end of every month.
- Retrieve and carefully review your mail promptly. Shred any mail that has personal information, including pre-screened credit offers.
- Do not respond to any email that asks for personal information unless you know who it is and they have a legitimate reason to have the information.
- Limit your digital presence, and you will be less likely to show up on the screen to potential bad guys.
Sending the above list to your customers under your letterhead is a good first step in being proactive to protect your customers. However, there is much more you can do, and even create a revenue stream while doing it.
The I Defend Restoration Plan is a very aggressive yet inexpensive program that brings in a crew of good guys to help solve the problem. The problem may be simple or complicated, but you have a dedicated crew of experts to assist your customer. Thanks to you, the Cavalry will ride to your customer’s rescue.
- Add: The ID Theft Fraud Support Hotline.
- Add: Full ID Theft Restoration Services.
- Add: A $1 Million Service Guarantee.
- Add: Privacy Protection Resource Center.
- Add: Annual Home Cyber Defense Checkup.
- Add: Cyberhood Watch Membership.
The I Defend Restoration Plan is designed to add RMR to your company and reduce attrition. This is a very proactive yet inexpensive way to build your customer relationships and be a hero if any of them becomes one of the 13%.
Tony Smith is a Past President of the CAA and a former member of the Board of ESA. He is the Founder, President, and CEO of Security Funding Associates, a leading industry financial services firm focused on Non-recourse financing for small to medium-sized alarm companies. He may be reached at TSmith@SecurityFundingSolutions.com or (855) 723-2299.