Consider the following...
Personal information is everywhere and is easily accessible to identity thieves.
Identity theft continues to be a rampant and troubling crime in America.
Each year, an estimated 10 million people are victimized.
Identity theft can affect your ability to conduct normal daily affairs.
Marketplace Review - Consumer Identity Protection
Identity Fraud, Inc. is one of the original providers of identity protection products that provide defenses and remedies for consumers. Since our development that started in 1997, many companies have recently entered the marketplace to provide solutions. Generally speaking, Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) remains a fundamental practice that should be engaged when seeking identity protection solutions.
To help you compare which benefits and products are right for you, we provide a brief highlight and review of common deliverables. However, there is no substitute for your own research and due diligence.
(For the purposes of this review, we are not considering technology companies that provide computer firewalls, anti-spyware and other access controls, authentication devices or similarly related technologies that are very important and often considered essential to help protect your sensitive personal information)
Identity Protection - Marketplace Review
- Victim Resolution/Restoration/Assistance
- Identity Insurance
- Credit Monitoring
- Other Non-Credit Information Based Monitoring
- Product Guarantees
As with any product or service, there should be a full disclosure of terms and conditions available for your review prior to your purchase. In many cases in the identity protection marketplace, it is difficult to locate terms and conditions. This should be a red flag and you should use caution before proceeding. Of course, Identity Fraud, Inc. proudly and opening discloses its terms and conditions of protection, which can be viewed in our Membership Agreement. In the event you have any questions, you may contact us.
There are different levels of support service that range from providing general directions, victim kits and assistance to more complete hands-on resolution. Whatever terminology is used, being able to transfer the majority of effort needed to resolve a case to an expert is typically the preferred and more valued benefit. In certain cases, you may also be able to provide a Limited Power of Attorney to a case worker that allows for another level of service that grants more authority to the case worker to engage resolution.
The Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft hotline provides free guidance to victims. However, private companies can engage more in depth services. While services are typically provided as part of a benefit package or program requiring your participation before you are a victim, some providers will provide services for a flat or hourly rate to address cases when you are already victimized. In either case, generally, look for terms/terminology like:
- Beginning-to-End, Complete, Unlimited, 24/7...
Identity insurance is proper to maintain and prudent to help manage financial risk. After all, if your identity is an asset, why not protect that asset like you protect your home, autos and other assets? Javelin Strategy recent survey data indicates that one-in-four victims having an insurance benefit have made an insurance claim.
Identity insurance is most commonly secured from identity protection providers like Identity Fraud, Inc. or from Homeowner insurance companies as an endorsement to your policy. Terms and conditions can vary in important ways; however, coverage is generally provided for certain expenses you incur to help resolve your identity theft. These expenses include a) attorney fees, b) lost wages, and c) miscellaneous expenses like notaries, telephone and mail costs, etc. (Remember, as victim of fraud, you are not liable for losses in most cases, however, you must prove your innocence and because this can be troublesome and costly, insurance is a smart choice).
Most identity insurance protection will have a $0 deductible and limits of insurance that range from $5,000 to $25,000 per year. You may also find limits of $1,000,000. Look for insurance that includes providions for UEFT or Unathorized Electronic Funds Transfer coverage. This coverage alone is worth the price of protection as real insurance can step in to cover actual financial losses/lost funds.
Important terms/terminology to look for include:
- Limit and Sublimits of Insurance
- Notice of Claim, Reporting Limitations
- Family Member Exclusion
- Criminal Identity Theft Coverage
- Miscellaneous Coverages (How broad are they?)
Identity Fraud, Inc. is one of the original creators of identity insurance (Travelers being first to market) and the terms and conditions we provide are typically best-in-class.
Credit monitoring products that detect changes to information in your credit files are helpful because the more quickly you become aware of changes to your records, the more quickly you can investigate and remedy or dismiss the change(s). For example, if an inquiry or new credit account is opened in your name, you would receive an alert signaling the change.
Monitoring tools will typically monitor a single credit reporting agency or all three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) on a weekly or daily basis. Each of the credit reporting agencies have similar products that include other benefits and features, however, they deviate in how many credit reports, FICO or similar credit scores are provided. Similarly, they include identity insurance protection, which terms and conditions will differ.
Although monitoring is very useful, it becomes less relevant when steps are taken to restrict access to credit information. For example, the law allows individuals to place a Fraud Alert and/or a Credit Freeze on their credit files. When this occurs, additional barriers to providing credit and accessing credit information are created, which can lessen the value of monitoring tools. Each person needs to independently determine their needs for credit and access to their credit information and therefore, the appropriateness of fraud alerts or credit freezes and ultimately credit monitoring tools.
Other Non-Credit Information Based Monitoring
Most banks, credit unions, credit card processors and other financial institutions already deploy sophisticated technologies that monitor your financial accounts and transaction activity for fraud since they are typically liable for the frauds that occur within the first 30-60 days. This is supported by law. (However, you must review your statements each month to ensure your proper and timely reporting to your institution of any discrepancies or fraud).
Additional monitoring tools are deployed that monitor public databases and other sources like the Internet for the existence and potential abuse of your personal information. Again, early detection of abuse or the potential abuse of your information is useful.
Non-credit monitoring tools will typically allow for the monitoring of the following:
- Court/Criminal Records
- Non-credit Loans / Payday Loans
- Cyber or monitoring the interent chat rooms, underground...
- Public Records (Alias and related addresses)
- Change of Address
- Sexual Predator
Additional monitoring efforts are worthwhile. Identity theft is more than just credit card fraud. Being able to monitor non-credit sources of information can help detect identity theft and allow for recovery efforts to be engaged more quickly.
Certain vendors have a $1 million or $2 million Guarantee. For protection involving guarantees, review the terms and conditions very closely. And, with all types of insurance or protection, read the limitations and exclusions and the applicable sublimits. Guarantees typically do not provide actual indemnification for expenses or other loss.