New clients at Identity Theft 911 often ask me, “Aren’t all identity theft service providers the same?”
It may seem that way. Many promise seemingly comparable services to help victims untangle the financial and legal mess created by identity theft.
But the approaches—do-it-yourself, power of attorney and one-on-one case management—are very different from one another.
Do-It-Yourself: Victims get a pack of documents, all templates, including blank affidavits and sample letters to creditors with “kit resolution” services. Beyond that, they receive minimal assistance to reclaim their identities. They must forge alone through the process of dealing with credit bureaus, creditors, collection agencies, law enforcement and government agencies. To make matters more challenging, the documents they get may not fully address their situation.
Power-of-Attorney: Consumers are asked to sign over control of their financial and legal affairs to the service provider and then step aside. Some victims may feel uncomfortable transferring power over their personal information to someone else—particularly after their identity was stolen. Also, until a victim receives, notarizes and returns the legal documents, the provider can’t act on their behalf. That delay gives the identity thief more opportunity to harm the victim. Another disadvantage: Creditors often question claims when they see the victim isn’t involved in the resolution process.
One-On-One Case Management: Identity Theft 911 follows this personal, proactive and reactive approach. Consumers don’t have to wait until they’re victims to tap our expertise. We offer consultations on how to protect their personal information to ward off identity thieves. When victims call for help, they’re often anxious and frustrated. Our case managers encourage them to share their stories. We listen. Victims relinquish control of the identity reclamation process only when they are ready. As a first step, the case manager, with the victim on the phone, immediately contacts TransUnion, a credit reporting bureau, to obtain the victim’s report and place a fraud alert on the file. He examines how the identity theft has impacted the victim’s credit and enrolls them in a credit monitoring program. Our investigators, who have an average of 15 years of experience, are experts in resolving different types of fraud, including financial, medical, criminal, employment and tax-related fraud. Essentially holding the victim’s hand, they call all the entities with a stake in the case. In serious cases, five to 10 entities could be involved.
Often, the case cannot be resolved during the first round of calls. But, after the initial round, victims typically have bonded with their case manager and are relieved to step back and allow us to cut through the red tape that is tripping them up.
It is a service approach rooted in classic victim advocacy.
Matt has 15 years of insurance industry management, claims and product development experience. He spearheaded MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Co.’s personal product development initiatives, managed complex claims litigation and served as a corporate witness for Travelers Insurance and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.