Identity Theft Protection Services: Unfairly Unappreciated? Nope!

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Remember the days when we didn't worry about securing our possessions online, or fear an intrusion into our privacy? It wasn't that long ago. We didn't know it was important to have up-to-date virus protection installed on our computers and rarely worried about firewall security. Now we wouldn't think of working, shopping or banking online without it.

As criminal skills are honed, more and more intrusive crimes occur. Technology advances have produced high-tech devices that steal your data without your knowledge -- from handheld skimmers to attached gas pump and ATM skimmers, to RFID readers and malware apps.

The only way we can fight this type of intruder is to use that very same technology to block them. We have RFID blocking wallets, GPS tracking software that can remotely find our phones and laptops -- and we have identity theft protection services...but what exactly do they do, or not do, for you?

BEFORE you decide to purchase services from any identity theft protection service it's a good idea to:

  • Read their privacy policy and any other terms of service. Hidden away in small print we often find that if we agree to become a member, use their service or website, we are waiving our right to privacy --and in some cases our rights to find relief and accountability for legitimate disputes.
  • Find out whether or not your personal info is sold, shared or provided to partners, affiliates or vendors. 
  • Read the site's terms and conditions. By using their services are you agreeing "to indemnify and hold harmless the company and its partners, officers, directors, employees, end users, licensors, affiliates, and distributors"?
  • Look for conditions that waive consumer protection rights. By agreeing to use their services are agreeing that any dispute will be resolved through confidential and /or binding arbitration?
  • KNOW who you're dealing with and EXACTLY who has access to your personal data. Are you providing your personal info to screened employees who are working in the company's secured offices? 

The crime of Identity theft has become a professional business. Ongoing advances in criminal technology were the catalysts that spawned an ID theft protection industry. These protection services started out with little more to offer than convenience. Help with tackling the cleanup was the service that most ID theft victims, myself included, found of interest and value. But as the crimes evolved along with the industry --so has my opinion.

Many consumers don't understand that the types of identity theft crimes occurring today have little to do with credit and more to do with emptying bank accounts, hijacking tax returns and stealing government benefits such as unemployment insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Consumers need to do all they can to protect themselves from today's data thieves AND data miners. There's far too little interest in transparency and even less interest in accountability in this now multi-billion dollar identity theft protection industry. 

Yes it's true. We must recognize that the crime of identity theft has become big business.  We can be thankful for advances in technology that allows us instant access to the world --we just can't underestimate the problems and risks that come with it.

Yes, my views on the identity theft protection industry have changed, but my mission hasn't. My goal continues to be focused on helping people. Helping consumers find trustworthy information, advocates and resources in order to better protect themselves avoid fraud.    

UPDATED: December 2013

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Nice site. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Being online is such a nifty way to interact but unfortunately we have to be extra careful too.

Nice article Denise. From a fellow CITRMS.

With the help of technology, people can be able to fight back those criminals. This would make people understand that there are still solutions that we can do in order to safeguard our identity.

I think most id theft prevention services do little more than what we can do ourselelves. If we are harmed by illegal acts caused by an identity theft, then we simply need to notify our creditors and the police. If the problem isn't fixed we can get a lawyer who will make them fix it. Read between the lines of who pushes services for big $$$ when others offer similar services for free. So in my view, why pay someone hundreds of dollars a year for nothing? I would only add, that people need to beware of fear tactics, and slick ads claiming they can prevent id theft. I would rather spend money on a good lawyer when needed, than a service that is not.

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