We know that finding a company you can trust to protect your most personal, prized possession — your identity — isn’t an easy thing to do. At IdentityForce, we take our jobs very seriously and appreciate all that you have entrusted to us. You share so much with our team that we felt it was important to start this blog series to share more with you. Every so often, we will be posting employee profiles to develop a deeper connection and help you feel comfortable with the individuals who are protecting your identity.
Steven Bearak, IdentityForce Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce and has been with the company since 1983. He was born and raised in the MetroWest area of Massachusetts near Boston, and also makes his home there with his wife and three kids (two of which are out of the house now). Steve is a big sports fan, and loves to both play and be a spectator. He plays a lot of tennis and golf during the summer and goes skiing in the winter. You can also find him rooting for the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins all year round.
In addition to sports, Steve loves to travel with his family, both domestically and internationally. He visited Italy this summer, and Toronto just a few weeks ago, but he says the best place he’s traveled to so far is South Africa. The coolest, though? He says it was both literally and figuratively Quebec’s Hotel de Glace — “The Ice Hotel.” The hotel is made entirely of ice, from the drinking glasses to the floors and even the beds. He cautions that you probably wouldn’t want to spend more than one night there, but the giant hot tub outside to help guests raise their body temperature is a big help.
It may seem surprising in this day and age, but Steve isn’t big on social media. He enjoys, appreciates, and understands it, but he’s made the conscious decision to stay off sites like Facebook and Twitter in order to protect his personal information. He feels that as the CEO of an identity protection company, he should always practice what he preaches.
Born into Protecting Identities
If you’ve been keeping up with our employee profile posts, you may remember Judy Leary’s profile from a few months ago. Judy is the President of IdentityForce and she also happens to be Steve’s sister. Their father founded the company back in 1978; it began as Stop Loss Associates, which was a security and loss prevention company. Their expertise in security and credit services has remained constant over the years, and even more so as the company became IdentityForce in 2006.
Back in 1983, Steve’s first job with the company was in sales. Over the years, he’s also worked in operations and marketing, and took over the business in 1990. He has lived and breathed identity theft protection for nearly all of his adult life, and he’s observed first-hand how thieves have evolved and changed their methods.
The most common form of identity theft that Steve sees regularly is account takeover fraud. This is when a criminal is able to steal information about an existing account — it could be a bank account, credit card, investment account, 401k, etc. — and take it over as their own. He has also noticed an increase in customer calls more recently regarding synthetic identity theft. With synthetic identity theft, a thief takes bits and pieces of stolen information from a variety of people and puts them back together to create a brand new identity.
Steve says that a big up-and-coming trend in identity theft is medical identity theft. If a thief doesn’t have health insurance and they get sick or hurt, they will either steal someone’s identity, or create a synthetic identity to obtain medical care. The three major credit bureaus don’t monitor medical records, and most people never ask to see theirs, so a lot of victims can go for an extremely long time without realizing that someone is out there using their personal information in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies.
How can you avoid identity theft? Steve’s number one piece of advice is to “be vigilant.” He noted that in general, people are more security sensitive now in many ways — going to a game, shopping at the mall, in the airport — and they need to continue to heighten their awareness both online and offline.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]How can you avoid #IdentityTheft? Our CEO Steve’s number one piece of advice is to “be vigilant.” [/tweetthis]
“Social media is a huge area right now. People post all kinds of personal information, travel plans, phone numbers, but you need to be vigilant with the information you post online. When you post a picture on Facebook of you vacationing in Greece, people know you’re not home and you could be subject to fraud,” cautions Steve.
Though identity thieves are always thinking up new ways to steal from others, Steve is not deterred and he loves what he does. What’s the best part about his job?
“It’s knowing that we’re providing a service that helps people. One of the driving factors is knowing we’re doing some good because we are genuinely helping people in an important area of their lives — everyone has a unique identity,” he says. “To be there and proactively help a person from becoming a victim of identity theft, right through the restoration process…I think it’s giving people peace of mind. At the end of the day, it’s helping our members.”