A Hand to Hold When You Need It Most
Case specialists help ease the trauma of recovering stolen identities
March 30, 2009
By Vanessa Paris
Filing police reports. Arranging childcare for your lawyer visits. Making long-distance phone calls to automated menus. What happened to having dinner with your family? Catching up with old friends?
These are the questions many victims of identity theft might ask.
Millions of Americans fall victim to identity theft each year. And in the current economy, experts expect that number to rise. When it happens, it takes time and money to straighten things out—but much less of each with ERIE’s Identity Recovery (IDR) Coverage.
The low-cost coverage helps victims get back some of the costs involved in restoring their credit histories and identity records. Plus, with this coverage, which can be added to homeowners insurance, victims don’t have to go it alone: case management specialists are there to help them through the identity-recovery maze.
Identity theft robs you of time
If you were a victim, you’d have to busy yourself with things like identifying errors in your credit reports and getting them corrected, preparing communications to send the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles and much more. It can cause a lot of stress.
“People who have had their identity stolen have already suffered enough,” points out Mark MacGougan, an identity theft specialist who works closely with ERIE. “On top of that, they’re stressed and frustrated by the process, and spend ;a lot—a lot—of time trying to work through the issues.”
The case management is an optional service for ERIE Policyholders, but the majority of identity theft victims choose to take advantage of it.
“Various types of bureaucracies, corporations and government offices often need to get involved, and none of these entities are easy to deal with,” adds MacGougan. “Having a case manager who knows how to work with them makes a big difference.”
How a case manager helps
A case manager:
- Starts by talking with the identity theft victim to better understand what’s happened and what has to be done to fix things.
- Does independent research to make sure he or she knows the full extent of the problem. As MacGougan points out, “Getting your arms around what’s going on is job one.”
- Offers two options: the Policyholder can either sign a limited power of attorney form, which authorizes the case manager to act on his or her behalf, or complete the steps with the case manager’s guidance.
“Given that choice, the majority pick the first option,” says MacGougan. “And of those who do not, quite a few come back and switch. It’s a lot of documentation to keep track of, and clearly it’s less stressful to be working with a professional who knows how to deal with these different entities.”
Non-Policyholders can hire similar case management services independently to help restore their identity records, but MacGougan estimates that costs upwards of $1,000.
“In identity theft victims’ stories, certain words and phrases come up a lot: ‘nightmare,’ ‘frustration,’ ‘like a second job,’ ‘going around in circles,’” says MacGougan. “It can all be very trying. But by giving people solid professional help with the recovery process, that does as much as possible to relieve the stress.”
Vanessa Paris is a media relations specialist, writer, and social media aficionado. She lives in Erie, Pa., with her husband and two children.