Identity Protection

Location: Scotts Valley, CA, United States

Friday, May 12, 2017

How HR and Benefits Managers can Protect Company Productivity by Providing Identity Theft Protection as an employee Benefit

We all know someone who has been a victim of identity theft but rarely do we connect the victim’s experience with the toll it can take on the workplace.

Identity theft has a big effect on employee productivity. Employees are not only impacted financially, but they also experience considerable distraction and emotional stress which leads to less time focused on work. It can take up to more than 600 hours to restore an identity. And a lot of this must be done during business hours.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission report that over 16 million people or 7% of all US residents age 16 of older, were victims of one of more incidents of identity theft in the last year.

Identity Theft victims report direct and indirect losses of over $24.7 billion and 6 Million people reported moderate or severe emotional distress as a result of being a victim.

This means when an employee or one of their family members has their identity stolen, there's another innocent victim: the employer. For these reasons, it's critical in today's digitized world to help the employee protect their personal identity through benefit programs and training.

Presenteeism is a real factor as well. Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent. You know when someone doesn’t show up for work, but you often can’t tell when—or how much—stressful situations hinder someone’s performance.

One reason for the rise in identity theft is due to the fact that we are living in an environment that is increasingly connected. Today, we have mobile devices, laptops and even smart home devices that contain a wealth of personal information. Additionally, the prevalence of mobile devices both in the workplace and in our personal lives means personal data is everywhere.

Often, we think of identity theft as just financial or credit in nature, but there are actually several additional kinds of ID Theft:

·         Social Security Number Fraud/Employment ID Theft where someone else is using another's SSN to get a job.
  • ·         Drivers License Fraud is where the thief uses a "fake ID" to buy alcohol or drive. When the thief commits a moving violation or other crime, the victim pays the consequences.
  • ·         Criminal Identity Theft: The one who commits the crime shows a victims ID, who eventually gets arrested and/or jailed.
  • ·         Medical ID Theft - the victim gets a bill for medical services they didn't experience or their insurance is tapped for services the thief uses.
  • ·         Tax Return Fraud. On the rise, the IRS reports that Billions of Dollars of tax refunds are sent to the wrong person because a tax return was fraudulently filed before the correct tax payer files theirs.

All of these take time and energy to repair, often during business hours taking the employee away from their duties.

Now more than ever, there’s an increased likelihood of identity theft affecting an employee or their family members, and in turn, the employer. That’s why HR and benefits managers need to focus on protecting employees (and their firm) with a number of steps.

Explore Identity Theft protection as a company paid or voluntary benefit. First, nothing or no one can totally prevent identity theft; it’s about continuous monitoring and professional restoration. Identity theft protection services can be added as a employer-paid or voluntary benefit, in order to show that the company is proactively working to protect employees’ personal information both within and outside the walls of the office.
·         The Identity Theft protection benefit should include "Comprehensive Restoration" so that the victim of identity theft doesn't have to do the repair themselves.
·         Since 70% of identity theft occurrences become legal in nature, the Identity Theft protection benefit should be paired with a legal plan, so that the victim has access to legal assistance in the process

Information should be provided.  Lunch and learn events or web meetings can go a long way to help employees practice preventive habits.

Revisit employee policies. Ensure that best practices are continually followed and routinely updated around corporate email and internet usage, social media guidelines and mobile device/"Bring Your Own Device policies.

It appears that incidents of Identity Theft will increase, not decrease over the next few years. Taking steps to decrease absenteeism and increase productivity will pay dividends in the long run.

Contact Alan L. Smith at for more information on Identity Theft Protection as an employee benefit.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The deadline for individual income tax returns to be filed in the United States passed this week. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is expecting that, amid the torrent of more than 146 million individual tax returns it will receive, many online, millions will have been filed using stolen social security numbers and other personal information. In 2011, says the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, there were 1.5 million successful attempts to fraudulently collect money with faked tax returns. They cost the government an estimated US $5 billion, not including the cost of trying to identify the instances of fraud and tracking down the perpetrators. Last year, crooks made off with 1.8 million ill-gotten refunds. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fraudulent Friday

An 18-month data breach involving 15,000 patients at Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy allowed unauthorized access to patients’ names, address, hospital account number and balanced owed.

Could the thief, posing as the real patient, gain access to the hospital for their own medical needs? The result of Medical ID Theft is that the medical records of the victim are often corrupted with the thief's blood type, their allergies, drug sensitives, etc., so that the victim's life and wellness is at stake when medical professionals rely on that corrupted information to provide therapy.

Mid-July 2012, the Boston Globe broke the news that Beacon Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) was sending letters to 3,900 potential victims of a health data breach resulting from the theft of a physician’s personal laptop that contained patient information.

Now comes word out of Chicago of a patient health information breach at the hospice offices of Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH). According to the hospital, the offices at 676 N. St. Clair Street were robbed of six laptops and tablets on June 11, 2012. By June 15, after reporting the event to the Chicago Police Department and undergoing an internal investigation, the hospital discovered that the devices were in the midst of a software upgrade that left them especially vulnerable to becoming compromised because typical security features were shut off as part of the process.

The number of victims was not released in the announcement, but because of the nature of the report and the requirements of the HITECH law, it must be more than 500 records that were compromised. Read more here: Stolen laptops, thumb-drives, and tablets are the reason many data-breaches take place.

Data Breaches Are on the Rise: Be Prepared

 Identity thieves are constantly inventing more destructive ways to obtain consumers' personal information. Data compromise in both private and public sectors are on the rise, as evident in the recently announced Elections Ontario privacy breach.While it is impossible to completely prevent identity fraud or theft, consumers can take preventative measures to reduce their personal risk and may consider placing a fraud prevention alert on their credit file. This preventive alert informs creditors that the consumer's personal information may have been lost or stolen and suggests that they validate that the credit application is legitimate.

It is the author's opinion that you do not need to pay anyone to put a credit alert or freeze on your personal information credit file at the 3 credit repositories. You can do that yourself by calling them directly.

What you do need is Restoration services. For more information please contact Alan Smith at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Monitoring is Not Enough

You know that Identity Theft is the Fastest Growing Crime in North America today. You know that someone's Identity is stolen about every three (3) minutes. You know that it's not IF but WHEN your ID will be compromised.

You also know that ID Theft is not limited to your financial persona and definitely not limited to credit cards.

You have already learned that Medical ID Theft is one of the fastest expanding area of Identity Fraud. In addition to Medical ID Theft and Financial ID Theft, there are several other kinds that you should be aware of:

  • Criminal/Character ID Theft - Where there is a warrant out for your arrest for a crime you didn't commit. Where you might be arrested and jailed for a crime someone else committed and gave the officer your ID, perhaps a fake drivers license or Picture ID Card.
  • Employment or Social Security ID Theft - where one or more of the over 8 million illegal aliens or "undocumented workers" are working at a job using your Social Security Number. You will receive a bill from the Internal Revenue Service for the taxes not withheld and not paid. It is a time consuming and aggravating mess to clean up. We will discuss this one more in future articles.
  • Drivers License ID Theft - Have you ever obtained a fake ID, perhaps as a minor? It was easy then and it is easy now. More on this later.
Monitoring is Not enough. Monitoring will inform you when a change is made to your credit bureau report, but the monitoring services will not repair the damage. That is left up to you.

Resolution services are not enough. This is again another do-it-yourself (DIY) process, which is very time consuming and emotionally draining.

Credit Freeze and Credit Alerts are not enough. They only freeze the information in your credit report. Credit Freezes and Credit alerts protect against Financial ID Theft only, not the other types of ID Theft, which when implemented bypass the credit bureaus.

Restoration Services in combination with Monitoring services and increased personal knowledge are the best methods of protection from ID Theft, but are still lacking. An Attorney or law firm on call would be the ultimate protection and we will go into this in future postings.

To Contact Alan Smith, please visit Alan Smith's Identity Theft Protection Center

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Medical ID Theft - Fastest Growing forms of ID Fraud

An article from a paper in Greenville, SC reports:

"Medicaid beneficiaries whose personal information was breached in April have a week left to sign up for free credit monitoring.
The breach affected 228,435 beneficiaries, or about 20 percent of the Medicaid population. No private medical records or financial information was involved, officials said.
Affected beneficiaries were given the option of having credit monitoring services to protect their personal information. 
So far, more than 14,733 beneficiaries have enrolled, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. That option ends on July 31.
A former state employee was arrested and charged by the State Law Enforcement Division in connection with the incident. 
Medical identity theft is one of the fastest-growing forms of identity fraud, with more than 5 million people affected in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

This is one of the many articles seen recently that highlight "Medical ID Theft" as one of the worst kinds of Fraud. Medical ID Theft is where your Medical information, medical id cards, etc. are stolen to assist the perpetrator to gain access to medical services at the hospital, clinic or doctor's office.

Your medical information, including blood-type and allergies are kept in a repository, similar to a credit repository, called the MIB, or Medical Information Bureau. When another person, with a different blood-type or different drug allergies uses your identity to get medical services and their information is posted to your profile, it corrupts the information stored there.

When you need medical assistance, and that information is accessed, you could be at risk of receiving the wrong blood type or a drug that you might be allergic to. This Article outlines the seriousness of Medical Identity Theft: Medical Identity Theft can Kill you

For more information contact Alan Smith at

Monday, July 02, 2012

Guard Against Tax Identity Theft  

Many taxpayers are suffering from an identity crisis.

Welcome to "stolen identity refund fraud." In a typical case, a thief steals someone's Social Security number or other personal information, and uses it to file a fraudulent tax return seeking a refund.

This type of fraud has increased rapidly in recent years and now is "massive" in scope, says Kathy Keneally, the U.S. Justice Department's assistant attorney general for the tax division. This is a "remarkably simple crime to commit," Ms. Keneally said at a recent conference of the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She and other officials say the government has taken major steps to combat these scams and considers this issue to be a top priority.

Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce your chances of getting stung:
Beware of phony emails that appear to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Some bogus "phishing" emails claim that you're entitled to a refund and that you can get it by clicking on a website and sending your personal information.

The IRS says it doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers, either by email or social-media tools, to ask for personal or financial information.

Shred documents containing personal, financial and medical information when you no longer need them, the Federal Trade Commission says. Some thieves collect information by dumpster diving.

Don't carry your Social Security card with you.

Monitor your credit report regularly.

Act quickly if you suspect trouble. For example, the IRS says, suppose your wallet is lost or stolen, or you detect worrisome activity on a credit-card account or a credit report. In such cases, "you are encouraged to contact the IRS at the Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490 so we can take steps to further secure your account."

Be careful if you hire someone to do your tax return. Some paid preparers have received stiff prison sentences for identity theft.

For more information, go to the websites of the FTC ( and IRS (
The IRS estimates that 1.3 million tax returns were related to identity theft in 2011, a spokeswoman says.
"We are all victims because tax dollars are going out the door," Ms. Keneally said at the NYU conference.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

About ID Theft from the FTC:
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft. 
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.  Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit."
The Government cannot protect you. You must take steps to prevent IDT from happening to you and you must protect yourself and your family from the ravages of this crime.
Contact the author at for some free tips to help you.