About the Identity Theft Council
The Identity Theft Council is a unique partnership between law enforcement, the business community, and local volunteers to provide local and in-person support to victims of identity theft.
The council is a blend of a victim support group and neighborhood watch, providing identity theft victims with greater long term support and recovery assistance in their local community and at the same time helping to reduce the incidence of identity theft by improving local awareness and education.
The program has three goals:
- To provide victims of identity theft with free access to local experts and trained counselors who are volunteering their time to help victims recover from identity theft.
- To ease the burden on law enforcement and help them provide a more positive response to victims.
- To help spread the “prevention through education” message to the community.
The first Identity Theft Council was established in February 2010 with the Hayward Police Department, after the PD asked for assistance in counseling local victims of identity theft.
A county-wide council has been running in Alameda County since March 2010, supported by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and law enforcement across the county. Contra Costa police chiefs have requested that a council be established in that county, and discussions are also underway to create councils in Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Sonoma County, and Sacramento County.
A growing phenomenon
It is expected that bay area Identity Theft Councils, and especially the San Francisco council, will be the launch pad for Identity Theft Councils across the country. A council is now being developed in Washington DC, and we’re in discussions with a variety of national organizations, including the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) to create a national network of councils.
Thanks to the support of the Identity Theft Assistance (ITAC) in Washington DC, the more complex cases will be handled by ITAC’s national Identity Theft Recovery unit, at no cost to the victim.
Benefits of the Identity Theft Council
For victims and the community:
* Personal and local victim support at no charge.
* Long term assistance with resolution and recovery.
* Escalation of more complex cases to the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC)
* Expert advice on prevention as well as community outreach and education programs.
* Additional expertise may be available, on legal issues for example.
For credit unions , banks and other partners:
* Good community relations.
* Good public relations, brand and reputation building, and customer interaction.
* Free training for employees.
* Free identity theft protection and monitoring for volunteers.
* Help spread the education, awareness, and prevention message, which could reduce the incidence and cost of identity theft.
For law enforcement:
* Ease the burden on resources.
* Deflect criticism that law enforcement is not interested in identity theft.
* Free training for officers and other employees.
* Demonstrates leadership and innovation and will hopefully be the blueprint for a model that other communities will follow.
Some related initiatives the Council is working on
Free training for law enforcement – any member of the law enforcement community will be allowed to participate in the online counselor training and certification free of charge. This is to encourage police departments across the country to encourage all police officers and department to employees to develop a basic level of identity theft awareness.
CanYouID.com – a public web site where local law enforcement, financial institutions, and merchants can ask the public’s help in solving identity theft and fraud cases.
Fraud Intelligence and Resources Sharing Team (FIRST) – a private, member-only network where financial institutions, law enforcement, and merchants can confidentially share intelligence, leads, and resources on identity theft and fraud in their community.