Do identity protection services really work?
How effective are their scanning/monitoring methods? Can they truly protect consumers?
The answers may vary. Identity theft protection is designed to protect you from new lines of credit being opened in your name—and along with the recovery/restoration component, it’s designed to clean up the mess.
It’s safe to say I’m an expert on identity theft protection. But honestly, sometimes I get confused by what different companies offer for identity theft protection.
Sometimes their marketing copy is confusing and often misleading. There has always been a lack of transparency when it comes to identity theft protection.
Identity protection should be transparent. If you are spending 10 or more bucks a month, you want to know what you are getting.
- Monitoring of credit bureaus: Monitoring may consist of one to three credit bureaus. So when a credit check is made, you are notified.
- Monitoring of Social Security numbers (SSN) via credit applications: Some services have technology that is in place with major creditors and phone companies, and this technology looks for your SSN and alerts you when it’s in use by anyone, including you.
- Monitoring of the internet: There are chatrooms and forums filled with criminals who broker our stolen data. There are websites that store our information. If your sensitive data shows up, you are notified.
- Medical identity theft protection: Some companies say they will help protect you from medical identity theft. I’m not sure how, but maybe they have relationships with the Medical Information Bureau.
- Recovery: When you read the fine print, it usually says the company will only help you recover from identity theft when the service’s product fails to provide the protection you bought. However, most protection services will at least walk you by the hand or point you in a direction to solve your issues. They don’t usually leave you stranded.
- Lost wallet protection: With this, you can register your credit cards with the service so in the event your wallet goes missing, one call to the service will shut them all down and reorder new cards.
- Credit card protection: Identity theft protection can’t protect your credit cards. Your bank might offer a service that involves a form of “zero liability” in the event your card is compromised.
- Bank account protection: Identity theft protection can’t protect your bank account, but their recovery services may help you in the event you are hacked.
- Service guarantee: Many offer a million-dollar service guarantee or something comparable. The point of this guarantee is to let you know the service will spend up to that dollar amount to fix your problem. In reality, it shouldn’t take more than a few dozen phone calls by a professional and maybe the services of a lawyer to make identity theft go away.
Read more posts by Robert Siciliano here, Online Security Expert to McAfee and blogger for JenningsWire.