I’m an old guy, and have been quite a few places, and done quite a few things. So, not much surprises me anymore. And, along with life’s lessons, I acquired over 25 years of business experience before retiring and ultimately ending up at the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). But one thing that has continued to surprise me for the past 6 years is hearing the details of hundreds of new identity theft cases each and every month. I have found these cases to be constantly changing and evolving, and ranging from simple to very complex. Although I am not a victim advisor, I have been constantly surprised at what ITRC Victim Advisors do each and every work day to help this unending stream of victims.
A victim advisor for the ITRC never knows what the next call will bring. The phone rings according to your position on the phone queue, and now it becomes your call, your turn to listen, assess, question, analyze, discuss, and plan. Hopefully you can make some sense and order out of a victim’s pain and suffering at the hands of an identity thief. The training and preparation to become an identity theft Victim Advisor is by itself daunting. Each person I have seen trained for the job soon shows the signs of “information overload” as they begin to understand the breadth and depth of the information that must be understood and retained in order to appropriately answer that ITRC Call Center phone.
ITRC provides information and help on a wide variety of identity theft cases, scams, and related topics. Identity theft cases can be financial, government related (SSN and DMV), medical, criminal, child related, or Internet/account takeover types of cases. Each of these types of cases will require different actions to correct. In many cases the appropriate response, that will actually do some good, may vary depending upon the laws of the state of residence. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a significant percentage of these callers will have more than one type of identity theft to resolve. In the period January through August 2012, 28% of the victims reported governmental identity theft, usually meaning the illicit use of their SSN in some manner. Approximately 6 out of 10 reported financial identity theft. It is relatively common for a single victim to have financial identity theft at the same time they are a victim of governmental identity theft. Since there are many “sub-types” to each of these major categories, the Victim Advisor has the task of sorting out all the facets of these cases, and determining the appropriate course of action for each.
In addition, victims of identity theft are often very emotional and upset with this unexpected and serious invasion of their privacy. Some need to vent, and most have also been frustrated with endless phone trees, conflicting website information, and probably have found little coherent help with their specific problem. The Victim Advisors deal with a wide variety of personalities, including a few that simply don’t want to help themselves, and expect “someone else” to fix the problems. It is a saving grace that for most of the victims who contact the ITRC this will be their first time to speak with a live person, who is interested in their specific case, and has the knowledge to provide a good roadmap of actions to begin mitigating the problems.
So, I continue to be impressed by what the ITRC Victim Advisors do, and how they do it. In the field of identity theft, they are “in training” every day as exploits used by the criminals are constantly evolving. And it is always a great payback when a victim calls or emails, thanking our advisors for what they do.