By Betty Chan-Bauza, Identity Theft 911Our economy is still struggling and consumers are looking for value—and quality—in everything they buy and every service they use. Identity theft protection services should be no exception.
PC World recently reported on viable “free” identity theft options out there. But as we’ve heard it said before—nothing in life is truly free.
Many of the companies mentioned do provide a bare-bones service. More often than not, these services are an enticement to buy higher-end products at full price.
They get your money, and they get your personally identifiable information (PII). In order to sign up for identity theft protection services, you have to hand over a lot of vital data about yourself. Do you really want to give this to a company you’ve never done business with before—especially one that’s offering you something for free?
Think long and hard about who has your best interests at heart before accepting a complimentary identity theft service. One of your providers—a bank, credit union, insurer, financial planner, or attorney—may already offer you excellent coverage. You just may not be aware of it.
Give your providers a call. If they do offer identity theft protection, don’t stop there. Get the name of the identity theft services company and call them up. Ask lots of questions. Use the Consumer Federation of America’s best practices recommendations and these tips from our CEO as your guide. Be proactive—don’t wait to become a victim of identity theft before finding a company you’re comfortable with.
A good identity theft resolution firm will educate you about protecting yourself and resolving problems should they arise. It will also disclose information about company owners and members of the management team so you can gauge their commitment to fighting crime versus the bottom line.
Identity theft is constantly morphing as thieves seek out new ways to get at our valuable information. A solid identity theft services provider needs to be at least one step ahead of the criminals at every turn. And it will know how to resolve the many kinds of identity theft out there, including child, credit, criminal, employment, estate, medical, and utility identity theft.
Ask the provider these questions:
- What makes them an expert?
- How do they quantify their expertise?
- What are they doing to stay ahead of the game?
- Are all types of identity theft covered?
- Are they certified, and how many years of experience do the company and its fraud specialists have?
If they answer your questions to your satisfaction, then you know you’ve got a good provider on your hands, and you can save your hard-earned money and keep your PII from landing in the database of yet another business. If your insurance, financial and other providers don’t offer quality identity theft protection services, perhaps you should consider switching to institutions that do.
Betty Chan-Bauza, Vice President of Product Management, Identity Theft 911 Betty has spent two decades with startup and Fortune 500 companies in the electronic payments, telecommunications and fraud and security industries. In the past, she has worked for Accenture, Iridium and Visa, and she was most recently a vice president at LifeLock, an identity theft services company that experienced exponential growth during her tenure.