When it comes to choosing a family plan for identity theft protection, definitions matter. It’s especially important with identity theft employee benefits, where the main terms are often used interchangeably without reflection on their meaning.

By helping your client understand what those words mean — and what they’ll actually be getting in the long run — you’ll be doing them a service because they need to know.

Let’s start with an easy one.

Identity theft

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 defines identity theft as “… a fraud committed using the identifying information of another person.” 16 CFR §603.2

Not much wiggle room here. A clear, legal definition (as clear as legal terms can be, at any rate) means that everyone should be on the same page as to what identity theft involves. It’s what these plans do about identity theft that makes them so different.

Now let’s try a hard one.

What is family?

A “family plan” is such a familiar concept that we sometimes forget how broad or narrow it can be. If a customer is looking for family plan benefits, make sure to clarify if those plans cover:

  • Children above the age of 18

  • Parents

  • In-laws

  • Other household dependents

And what about deceased family members, whose identities can still be stolen? Are they covered?

Monitoring your accounts

Most identity theft protection plans will claim to “monitor your accounts.” But which accounts? How closely are they monitored? How quickly do they respond?

There are three common account sources that are typically monitored by these programs:

  • Credit reports

  • Credit accounts

  • Social media accounts

More recently, however, the dark web is becoming more widely known as a major source of hacked account information. The problem is that the dark web’s complexity and obscure access makes it impossible to find potential threats by applying the same monitoring algorithms and searches used to scan and scrape information off the public web.

To combat such menaces, privacy protection companies have to become more resourceful. At InfoArmor, we employ a highly trained team of human operatives who embed themselves deeply in these hidden exchanges and forums, gaining the trust of identity thieves where they lurk. This is necessary because technology alone is insufficient when working within the dark web. You can’t merely “scan” the dark web — it doesn’t work that way.

Identity theft recovery

Recovering your identity after a theft involves so much more than just recovering your employees’ stolen funds. The trouble is that recovery policies can be all over the board in terms of what, exactly, they’ll recover.

Identity theft victims may need to recover their credit accounts, credit ratings, Social Security accounts, and tax records.

An identity theft recovery plan will help the victim navigate through all these situations. It will usually cover any fees associated with freezing accounts, submitting record requests, and opening new accounts. It may help with interim finances — or it may not.

What many employee benefits recovery plans do not include — and this comes as a shock to most folks — is recovering the actual funds that were stolen. Some will request the return of funds from a defrauded company, but if that company or bank refuses, most pure recovery plans would see this as a problem for the firm’s insurance company, instead.

Identity theft protection

The core of most identity theft protection benefits is actually information, not protection. Their goal is to alert the victim as quickly as possible whenever there’s an attempt to hack their accounts or steal their identity. This can protect them from further damage and limit their losses, of course. But in truth, that’s reactive rather than proactive protection.

Some employee benefit programs will offer training, videos, or one-sheets on how to protect yourself and your accounts. This is passive protection and can drastically reduce the risk of identity theft — if consumers follow their advice.

Finally, there are proactive measures, including monitoring the dark web for breaches and compromised information. When done right, data monitoring can tell employees and clients if their information has been exposed before it’s used to commit fraud or identity theft.

Identity theft insurance

Just as it is in the health insurance industry, identity theft insurance plans vary widely in terms of what they cover and what they don’t.

Some of the key points you should make sure the employer understands:

  • What are the maximum payouts, or caps?

  • Does it include reimbursement of stolen or unrecoverable funds?

  • Does it include quality of life payments if the consumer can’t access frozen accounts?

  • Does it offer advances for victims of Social Security or tax refund fraud?

And yes, many home insurance policies list identity theft as a covered benefit. The problem is that most of them cap the damages at values as low as $500. Compare that to the average identity theft insurance plan that covers up to $15,000 — or PrivacyArmor which insures them up to $1,000,000.

Customer service

Yes, every identity theft benefit is going to offer some form of customer service. But there are three very different levels of customer service:

  1. Telephone or web support to ask questions

  2. Assigned case managers who read from a script of what needs to be done

  3. Full-time advocates who collect the information needed and then perform many of the required tasks on your employees’ behalf

Always know your definitions when offering identity theft benefits

As you can see, it may be difficult for employers and their employees to understand what’s really being offered. Does the identity theft benefit include recovery, protection, or insurance? All three? Help make it as clear as possible so they can make the right decision for their company and employees.