July 17, 2015
A Holistic Approach to ID Protection
by Brad Barron
ID protection must help victims recover from their losses, regain their reputation and rest assured about any future attacks.
The devastation resulting from identity theft correlates with the fact that it infiltrates every part of a victim’s life: robbing them of time, privacy and money; possibly requiring both legal and financial action; and affecting victims mentally, physically and emotionally. When someone becomes a victim, so many facets take the toll that victims need a holistic approach to ID protection – one that readily addresses all of those facets so victims can recover from their losses, regain their reputation and rest assured with protection against future attacks.
What does legal assistance have to do with a holistic approach to identity protection?
A victim’s need for legal assistance comes into play, for example, when debt collectors harass the victim about a fraudulent debt, a bank or creditor refuses to acknowledge an account as fraudulent, criminal activities surface because of a thief’s actions or criminal activities are attributed to a victim’s records or when the victim wants to take a fraudster to court. These kinds of legal issues can make the victim’s recovery quite challenging, which is why a well-rounded protection plan should include legal assistance. Legal assistance could be providing referrals for trustworthy attorneys who know how to handle identity theft cases, and who work within reasonable distance of the victim’s location.
How can an identity theft protection plan address financial issues?
Monitoring members’ information and catching thieves in the act will help limit the damage done, but, for people who do find themselves victim to identity theft, an important part of recovery is adjusting to a new financial situation.
Financial repercussions of identity theft may involve fraudsters draining the victim’s bank accounts or racking up debt in the victim’s name, and, on top of that, victims usually spend thousands of dollars trying to get the money back and clear their name with debt collectors. Those are major financial setbacks for any budget.
A holistic approach takes into account the need for financial counseling. Victims will need access to financial professionals, like Accredited Financial Counselors, who can assist them with getting back on track financially. Financial counselors could help them assess and work on things like…
- Adjusting budget to any financial losses
- Allocating money to restoration needs (e.g. money to pay an attorney)
- Restoring bank accounts
- Rebuilding credit
How can a protection plan mitigate health issues?
A holistic approach recognizes the health consequences of being a victim and provides assistance to mitigate the issues.
More than one-third (36%) of victims said the identity theft incident caused them moderate to severe emotional distress. Why? Dealing with the evidence of fraud requires research, phone calls, dispute letters and claim forms, police reports, money and a lot of time. The to-do list can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
If victims have a fraud resolution specialist at their side, they have access to professional guidance from someone they can trust to provide the correct materials and next steps for reestablishing safety and privacy.
Getting assistance can alleviate some of the stress involved because members know they’re not alone, and they’re getting confirmation about what to do next. Top-of-the-line assistance would also include specialists who can actually take on some of the tasks that a victim must complete for resolution.
Dealing with identity theft is difficult, which causes a ripple effect of stress infiltrating other areas of life. When victims must race against the clock to repair the damage, they’re worried about the financial losses and stressing over how they’re going to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.
How is education involved in a holistic approach to identity theft protection?
A checklist of features should also include education, so members can make smarter decisions with the day-to-day activities that may affect their risk of becoming a victim. Resources could include tips, newsletters, articles and webinars with helpful information like…
- Understanding what is on a credit report, what’s problematic and how to resolve each matter – whether it’s an error or theft-related
- How to file and dispose of paperwork with sensitive information
- Extra precautions to take and questions to ask when creating an account or applying for a new credit card
- Recent data breaches and who’s at risk
- What’s the latest and greatest security software for consumers
A holistic approach includes some sort of education because it helps people protect themselves against future identity theft attacks.
People need a plan that takes a holistic approach to identity theft protection, covering every part of prevention and restoration. They need a plan that addresses fraud in a timely matter to prevent heightened stress, with features like monitoring and alerts for any suspicious activity, quick assistance for anyone who becomes a victim, financial counseling and legal assistance.