Consumers are a high-risk group when it comes to identity theft. According to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 6.64 percent of all consumers, or 1 in 15 people, were victims of identity fraud in 2017. Account takeovers jumped 61 percent between 2015 and 2017, and those with social media profiles were 30 percent more likely experience account compromise.

This spike in malicious activity presents a serious concern for business owners trying to protect their customers’ data and identities. With a new case of identity theft occurring every 2 seconds, it’s essential to employ professionals possessing the knowledge and experience to minimize consumer risk and ensure safer network environments.

How Can CIPA Certification Help?

The Certified Identity Protection Advisor (CIPA) designation is for “professionals who can educate, guide, and support consumers with their identity theft prevention, detection, investigation and resolution solutions.” As a registered trademark of the Identity Management Institute (IMI), this certification signifies a person has the skills to address the growing problem of identity theft among consumers and provide education to “lower fraud losses”associated with consumer information and identity compromise.

The benefits of becoming a CIPA aren’t limited to individuals working in IT. Anyone whose job or industry deals with situations in which identity theft is a serious potential problem can take advantage of CIPA training. This includes those providing healthcare, insurance, legal advice and financial or accounting services, as well as law enforcement officials. By offering “strong identity theft protection training,” CIPA certification prepares professionals in all these areas to address the unique challenges involved in dealing with consumer accounts and data protection.

Symantec reports an alarming 87 percent of customers have left personal information exposed when accessing accounts containing sensitive data, such as email, banking and financial services, indicating many are ignorant of rudimentary security measures. Since a single compromised account can lead to a devastating breach, businesses need help educating consumers in the basics of identity theft prevention. 

What Are the Benefits of Being a CIPA?

In the business world, there’s a growing need for professionals to help address the challenges associated with identity theft. Business owners don’t have the time or resources to teach customers how to avoid every possible action known to leave personal accounts vulnerable to attack.

A CIPA designation gives professionals the ability to aid in minimizing threat risks to consumers and the companies with which they do business. This offers a “competitive edge” in the cybersecurity market and makes CIPAs more desirable as potential hires, specially when combined with other identity and access management certifications. High-risk organizations in particular require the guidance a CIPA can offer when seeking to reduce the overall likelihood of a breach.

Because CIPA training and certification provides a detailed understanding of identity theft risks and protection solutions, professionals with this designation are able to:

• Share and follow best practices for avoiding identity theft
• Develop and implement identity theft risk management plans
• Set up and maintain tools to detect potential fraud
• Direct customers in their rights and business in their obligations regarding data protection and breach prevention
• Help consumers investigate and resolve identity theft cases in a timely manner

Potential employers see certification as confirmation of a professional’s skills in these areas and recognize the benefit of hiring a CIPA over someone without specialized training.

How to Get a CIPA Certification

The Identity Protection Advisor certification is only offered through the IMI and requires membership to apply. Professionals wishing to go through the training and take the exam must sign up using the CIPA application on the IMI website.

Once an application is pre-approved, candidates must pay a certification fee, plus any applicable membership fees. The certification fee includes a study guide and the cost of the exam itself. A short CIPA video training is also available for an additional fee. Candidates have one year from the time payment is received to study for and pass the exam with a score of at least 70 percent. CIPA candidates can also order the Credit Report Review and Error Correction Guide video training.

There are 10 “Critical Risk Domains” (CRDs) covered in the training and certification process, including fraud detection, theft and fraud prevention, risk management, relationship management, awareness and investigation and resolution. Knowledge from each domain is required to both pass the exam and provide essential identity theft prevention services to businesses and their customers. 

Professionals who qualify for certification with a passing grade are required to remain IMI members and pursue continuing education opportunities to maintain the designation. These include:

• Reading relevant books
• Writing articles, books or training materials
• Attending or teaching training courses
• Attending seminars and conferences

For more information on becoming a Certified Identity Protection Advisor, visit the IMI’s CIPA certification page. See details of the risk domains covered on the exam, take a practice test and explore other certifications for professionals seeking to expand their skills sets.