According to a recent report, more than 13 million consumers were victims of identity fraud in 2015, with fraudsters stealing a total of $15 billion from them. Your employees or business can easily become the next target, but there is one proactive step you can take to prevent and combat identity theft—proper training.
Although the dollar amount stolen via identity theft dropped by 6% from the previous year, the number of victims increased by 3%, Javelin Strategy and Research reports in its 2016 Identity Fraud Study.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses personally identifying information, such as an individual’s name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Some victims may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing, or cars because of negative information on their credit reports.
With so much at stake, it is not surprising that law enforcement agencies and other employers across the country are offering training to their employees. Training can help combat identity theft, prevent employees from becoming victims, and minimize the potential for increased absenteeism and decreased productivity that can result while identity theft victims try to repair damage to their good name and credit record.
One training program that law enforcement agencies are using to keep their employees’ skills up to date is led by the FBI-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA) in partnership with LifeLock, Inc. About 13,000 law enforcement officials from over 4,500 agencies nationwide have participated in the free 1- and 2-day summits, and there are additional summits scheduled.
The summits are open to prosecutors, command level, investigative personnel, and patrol officers, as well as financial industry investigators and analysts. This training covers a variety of topics and is aimed at equipping law enforcement with tools to help protect their communities and assist identity theft victims.
“Identity theft is an evolving crime, and through these trainings, we are able to connect law enforcement with the best resources to do their jobs,” said Charles Robb, executive director at FBI-LEEDA. “Education is core to law enforcement’s ability to combat a crime that affects nearly one in four Americans.”
With participants from more than 20 local agencies in the Chicago area, an early June summit marked the 200th training of its kind. The summits feature live demonstrations and cover such topics as the compromise of personal information, counterfeiting of access cards, botnets, malware, relevant laws, identity theft awareness and protection strategies, databases to assist in investigations, and investigative techniques, according to FBI-LEEDA.
The need for this type of training is compelling. “People are at more risk than before,” said Paige Hanson, chief of identity education at LifeLock®, a founding designer of the training course, and an instructor. “We’re proud to partner with FBI-LEEDA and are thrilled to celebrate our 200th training. With nearly 13,000 officers trained, we’re confident we’ve put a sizable roadblock in the way of identity thieves.”
When training your employees on how to protect themselves from identity theft, you might want to include the following tips from Javelin Strategy and Research:
- Secure mobile devices by applying software updates and using security features;
- Use strong passwords, and update them regularly;
- Put a freeze on your credit report (if you do not plan to open any new accounts) so no one else can open a new account in your name;
- Subscribe to security alerts from your financial service providers;
- Do not take security breaches lightly;
- Notify financial institutions, credit card issuers, and other service providers as soon as fraud is detected; and
- Be aware of the potential for fraudulent transactions abroad.