SRP CU First In Arizona To Offer Managed Identity Theft Protection

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SRP Credit Union has become the first CU in the Grand Canyon State to offer a managed identity theft program for its primary members.

With identity theft a growing and seemingly never-ending crime, many credit unions around the nation have partnered with companies that provide advice, counseling and kits to guide victims through the process of credit restoration.

In May 2005, SRP Credit Union SVP Harry Mateer said he was looking for a new and free service to offer its members, as it seemed Arizona has been hit particularly hard by ID theft scams. Mateer said he learned of Identity Safeguard through contacts at Aon of Arizona, which acts as a broker for the company.

Mateer decided to offer a "blanket policy" for all new and existing primary account holders. The SRP CU board approved the policy in August and it went into effect Oct. 1.

Mateer said many ID theft services guide victims through the process of credit restoration, but the extensive man hours, phone calls and time off from work was borne by the person who was robbed.

The Difference Is Recovery

"The key difference is the recovery," he said. "It ended up coming back to you."

Mateer said Identity Safeguard will provide members with a professional identity theft expert who assumes control of the task of restoring member credit.

Identity theft victims often don't know the crime has occurred and frequently don't discover that someone has stolen their private information for months, sometimes even up to a year or longer.

Included in the basic Identity Safeguard managed recovery plan provided to SRP CU primary account members:

* Managed restoration by ID theft professional with limited power of attorney.

* Three credit reports are reviewed by the member.

* Fraud alerts are posted at all three credit bureaus.

* The member's "victim rights" are explained by the investigator.

* A recovery plan is created and reviewed by the member.

The assigned identity theft expert then contacts and continues working with all credit bureaus and affected companies and will contact the member at 30, 60 and 90 days with updates.

The member's case will remain on file for 36 months in case a new theft incident happens.

Mateer said another key aspect of Identity Safeguards is signing a limited power of attorney with the ID theft expert so they can act on your behalf.

Members would still have to file a police report on their own behalf with the new program.

The program will be provided to the first member on the account listed with a social security number. A spouse can open a savings account for $50 and also receive the benefit.

Too New To Have A History

"We're too new to have a history," Mateer said. "I think it's great."

Mateer said for additional $12.95 per month an entire family credit account can be monitored including children up to the age of 25.

Aon of Arizona Risk Manager Mark Pribish said Identity Safeguards is an excellent product for credit unions as it creates market differentiation and helps attract and retain members.

'A Cost-Effective Product'

"It's a cost-effective product of real value," Pribish said.

In a written email response Identity Safeguard President Rick Kam said while the program will help CUs defend its members, it will also help credit unions comply with emerging federal and state privacy legislation regarding emergency incident response after a breach occurs.

Kam stated that credit unions can expect a 3% to 5% penetration rate of its membership and that it is too early in the program's development to determine ROI, but added that it should take 30 to 45 days to plan and execute Identity Safeguard.

CUJ Resources

For additional information:

* SRP Credit Union at www.srpfcu.org

* Identitiy Safeguards at www.identitysafeguards.com

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