Monday, March 31, 2008

Identity Theft Protection?


Identity theft is a crime that continues to grow and grow and no matter what precautions you take, you personal data can fall into the hands of cyber criminals as evidenced by the recent incident with Hannaford Supermarkets. The growing media attention on identity theft and the negative impact it can have on a person’s credit has highlighted companies that claim to protect consumers from identity fraud. Services such as Identity Guard and Life Lock can provide monitoring of your credit reports and place fraud alerts for you with the three major credit bureaus. They will also request that you do not receive credit card applications in the mail, call your credit card companies for you if your wallet is stolen and assist you if you do become a victim of id theft. This seems very helpful if you are a busy person and worried about becoming a victim, however, these are all things you can do yourself without having to pay a company to do it for you.

Two articles recently published by the Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger.com explain how to do most of the same things that these companies will do for a fee. Both of the articles provide helpful tips on how to obtain your credit report and place fraud alerts with the three major credit bureaus. The articles also point out the fact that no company can guarantee safety from identity theft, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk and you do not necessarily have to pay for some other company to do it for you.

After reading both of these articles, I was able to get my credit report free online from annualcreditreport.com. It was very easy to do, and gave me some peace of mind to know that everything looked correct. My wife also checked on hers. If you want to order one for a child under 13 years of age, you are going to need to send in additional documentation.

I am in no way discouraging anyone from using credit monitoring and protection services like the ones mentioned above, in fact, they look extremely helpful for people who do not want the hassle of having monitor their credit themselves. I am merely trying to drive home the point that you should monitor your credit information on a regular basis and you can do it yourself, if you so choose.

6 comments:

Ron Hatton said...

While, as you mention, the credit monitoring services are only that, credit MONITORING services, they can only close the gate AFTER the horse has got out. Each person should take relevant precautions to ensure their Identity is secure by following procedures detailed at ftc.gov and other sites.
If you're looking to find out just how far advanced the thieves are, I encourage you to take a look at ArmadilloDollar.com. There's a lot of videos on a new type fraud mechanism, "Wireless Identity Theft" where hackers use a radio frequency to get information directly from your cards, and from up to 100 feet away!
They even give you a discount if you use the code TopDog to make a purchase.
They really are a wealth of information.

BPS Internet Safety Blog said...

Thank you for your comment. Here is an article, published by Popular Mechanics, that explores this threat in more detail.

Anonymous said...

I used safeID, they seem like a pretty company and I have been happy with their service..check em out an let me know any feedback.
www.safeidentification.com

Anonymous said...

I heard life lock got sued for fraud?

BPS Internet Safety Blog said...

That's correct, a lawyer is bringing a class action lawsuit against them. Here is the article

Anonymous said...

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