G7 Executive Talk Series Branded Story / Generali Global Assistance
Data Globalization Gives New Meaning to the Ever-Evolving Identity Theft Threat A Review of the Evolution of the Identity Protection Industry t’s 2003, and the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just released some scary findings about this new crime called identity theft. There’s not much you can do to prevent it, and its effects are alarming – the FTC reports that the average victim in the U.S. spends about $1,200 and 60 hours trying to fix their identity theft issue.1 At this time, almost any type of identity theft protection or prevention service is solely focused on credit or data monitoring – which, as we know today, is just a single component in safeguarding one’s identity. Indeed, the concept of identity theft was still in its infancy in the U.S., and, at a global level, it was barely being discussed.
At this stage, fifteen years ago, Generali Global Assistance (GGA) took a different approach. Being owned by the company that invented the concept of real-time care assistance over 50 years ago (Europ Assistance), providing compassionate assistance to people in times of need is in our DNA. Today, we remain a global provider of assistance services to people in the fields of health, home and family, automotive, and travel, helping thousands of companies protect their customers and employees from life’s difficulties. Thus, the protection and restoration of identities was a natural fit for us as we came to know and understand the devastating ramifications that identity theft can have on people’s lives and families.
Accordingly, we launched identity theft resolution services via a business to business (B2B) offering, becoming one of the first identity protection providers to focus on helping the person behind the data. Monitoring services alone simply alert customers of suspected fraud incidents and stop there, leaving the victim to pick up the pieces and attempt to restore their identity on their own. As a company firmly rooted in the mantra “We care,” our goal was, and still is today, to go above and beyond for each one of our client’s customers. For those dealing with the aftermath of identity theft, we attend to the time-consuming and stressful tasks of contacting and following up with creditors, credit bureaus, law enforcement, and other third-parties on their behalf, while also providing compassionate assistance and expert advice to help put their mind at ease – something most other identity protection providers weren’t doing at the time and, frankly, some still struggle with today. Nevertheless, identity protection as a consumer product was very much still emerging a decade and a half ago, and most people held a false sense of security that something so life-changing could never happen to them. It’s different though today, in that our current climate has almost normalized large-scale data breaches and compromised personal information. Undeniably, awareness levels have increased since 2003 – and whether that’s good or bad is up to interpretation. What is certain is that the identity protection landscape has also evolved to keep up with the ever-advancing crimes of identity theft and fraud. Today’s Identity Protection Services The need for identity protection across the board has become increasingly apparent, and, as a result, more and more players are entering the identity protection space. The current landscape is varied, with some companies monopolizing the direct-toconsumer market, others operating more behind the scenes in the B2B realm like GGA, and even major credit bureaus and credit card companies have found opportunity to capitalize on the growing industry. The types of services offered by these players also run the spectrum, with some merely tacking on complimentary credit or identity monitoring services to a core offering and others offering an entire suite of identity protection services that make up a more comprehensive program.
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