News & Resources

Big first year for specialized identity theft unit

Sep 24, 2013 Dave King

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials have increased efforts to curb identity theft crimes in light of the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks, data breaches and stolen information. Businesses need to become more proactive when establishing and enforcing records management protocols and ID verification practices, especially as many criminals will look to steal customer information from retailers and other firms.

The best offense in the fight against identity theft, from a business standpoint, is an exceptional defense, which is marked by outstanding attention to detail when storing, transferring and destroying sensitive files. Companies should also remember that more criminals are starting to steal corporate identities, indicating stronger defenses are necessary for internal records as well.

Ohio's big number
The News-Herald recently reported that Attorney General Mike DeWine of Ohio celebrated the performance of the state's first Identity Theft Unit, which was launched roughly one year ago and has already made a massive impact. Ohio, like many states, has experienced massive increases in both the number of crimes related to identity theft and the volume of losses accrued by consumers, as well as organizations in the public and private sectors.

As such, law enforcement officials and state regulators worked to establish the most effective way to efficiently and accurately manage complaints, getting consumers and businesses back the money that was stolen during identity theft events. According to the news provider, DeWine stated that the unit investigated roughly 600 complaints in its first year of operation, and successfully recovered $250,000 for victims in that same time frame.

The source explained that the unit has been working with a wide range of entities when sifting through the complaints, all of which have been helpful in identifying the sources of the crimes and tracking down the money. This includes creditors, local police officials, credit reporting agencies, debt collectors and more, while the unit offers the Traditional Assistance Program and a Self Help Program, each with certain benefits according to the needs of the victim.

"We created the Identity Theft Unit to help individuals fix problems they couldn't solve on their own," DeWine told The News-Herald. "We know that the recovery process for identity theft victims is often long and frustrating. We want to do all we can to help."

More states should follow suit
Though the amount of money lost to identity theft each year is exponentially higher than the sum this specialized unit recovered, more efforts similar to this one could begin to have stronger results on a broader scale. For example, studies have shown that individuals and businesses who have already been victimized by identity theft are far more likely to experience a similar issue further down the road.

More proactive and expedited response to these crimes could reduce the long-term effects of identity theft. Enterprises can protect themselves, as well as their employees, customers and vendors, by implementing the most effective ID verification solutions and protocols, along with tight data security and network monitoring software.