Friday, November 16, 2007

The Missing Ingredient in Most ID Theft Services. Personal Help.

by Doug Pollack

There has been a great deal of attention recently paid to the actions by credit bureaus enabling consumers to use credit freezes as a tool to avoid or deal with identity theft events.

In a recent New York Times article titled "In ID Theft, Some Victims See Opportunity", the author highlights several companies, like ours, that provide ID theft protection services. Several of these companies see the use of credit freezes and credit fraud alerts as a panacea for eliminating the threat of identity theft. This is a position that we do not subscribe to. We believe strongly in encouraging consumers to use all appropriate best practices to avoid identity theft, and we provide a product, FraudStop, that provides broader prevention from ID theft by addressing not just credit records, but also other records including real estate, motor vehicles, utilities and the like, all of which can be used by identity thieves.

"Among its peers, LifeLock has attracted the most attention--much of it negative. In radio and television ads, Todd Davis, chief executive of LifeLock, gives out his Social Security number to demonstrate his faith in the service. As a result, he has been hit with repeated identity theft attacks, including one successful effort this summer in which a check-cashing firm gave out a $500 loan to a Texas fraudster without ever checking Davis' credit report. Last summer, The Phoenix New Times, an Arizona paper, reported that LifeLock's co-founder, Robert Maynard, had a criminal past. Maynard later resigned."

But despite the best protection, ID theft does and will occur. Which is why the consumer is best served by a company that can provide them with an expert to handle any identity theft issues. Which is what we do with our staff of personal recovery advocates. Most identity theft protection services companies do not provide recovery services. They do not have teams of trained professionals. They do not see this as important. We obviously do. And so do the over 2.5 million people that rely on our recovery services.

Among other things, the author highlights that identity theft services whose only value is in setting fraud alerts or credit freezes for consumer, are vulnerable to potential legislation.

"[This] business [specifically mentioned were LifeLock, TrustedID, and Debix] is vulnerable if Congress succeeds in pressuring the three major credit agencies to make these theft-fighting measures cheaper and more accessible to consumers. Sen. Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, criticized the credit companies last month for making identity theft freezes too cumbersome to set and lift. Each of the three credit agencies recently bowed to public pressure and made freezes available in all 50 states."

But this article is silent on the consumer need for professional ID theft recovery services. It is projected that over 10MM people in the US will fall victim to identity theft in 2008. Identity theft protection services such as ours, and those provided by others in this space, will help in turning this trend. But consumers should be told the truth. There isn't a silver bullet that will guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft. ID thieves are using increasingly more sophisticated means to steal from you. Which is why if you opt for an identity theft protection service, it should include expert, professional, personal recovery assistance.


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