Wasting money on identity theft protection services

identity-theftBy William E. Lewis Jr. For EyesOnNews.com, Sept 23, 2014 – If you are one of the 56 million Americans who purchased an “ID theft protection” service in 2013, you may have wasted your money.

Identity theft protection services and credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion push statistics like “almost 14 million adults were victims of identity theft in 2012″ and “over 100 million Americans have had their personal identifying information placed at risk of identity theft as a result of governmental and corporate data breaches.”

While these scare tactics are generally true, they are nothing more than enticements to market a service to protect your good name and reputation within the community.

Some of these “identity theft protection services” cost up to $189 annually.

What the credit reporting agencies fail to tell you is that identity theft protection does not cover prior instances of identity theft, IRS tax return filings, account takeovers, the misuse of credit or debit cards, or the establishment of personal identification (such as a driver’s license or Social Security card) in your name.

Americans are spending an estimated $3.5 billion a year on identity theft protection. Recent reports indicate that by 2015, Americans will be spending in excess of $6 billion to protect their identity from theft.

Most of these services are a waste of money as almost all of the services provided are available at little or no cost to the consumer.

There is no reason to pay a monthly or yearly fee for something you can do yourself for free.

Periodically review your credit report

By keeping close tabs on your consumer credit profile, you can detect signs of identity theft early. If you find an account not opened by you and have positively identified it as fraudulent, enter a dispute directly with the creditor as well as with the credit reporting agencies of EquifaxExperian and TransUnion. You can obtain a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228. When you pay for identity theft protection, this free credit report is one of the “benefits” they tout.

Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report

Contact the credit reporting agencies and request a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report. Not only will this trigger a free credit report but will advise potential creditors to investigate any application prior to issuing credit, goods, benefits, services and/or employment. Contact Equifax at 800-525-6285, Experian at 888-397-3742 and Trans Union at 800-916-8800. When you pay for identity theft protection, this fraud alert is one of the “benefits” they tout. Just be sure to renew the alert every three months.

“Being in the military has certainly taught me how to budget,” Remington Longstreth of Fort Benning, Georgia – himself an identity theft victim – told EyesOnNews.  “A few simple phone calls to the credit bureaus saved me over $140 a year.”

Freeze your credit report

Identity thieves are frozen in their tracks without access to your credit report as potential creditors will not have access to your credit history. In most states, you are entitled to temporarily “freeze” access to your credit profile without cost if you are over 65 years of age or are a verified victim of identity theft. All others may be required to pay a small fee. Without access to your credit report, a responsible lender will not issue credit. When you pay for identity theft protection, a credit report freeze is one of the “benefits” they tout.

Stop unsolicited credit card offers

Are you tired of junk mail filling your mail box? Opting out at www.optoutprescreen.com or 888-5OPT-OUT will stop most unsolicited pre-approved applications and reduce the incidence of identity theft. Opting out refers to the process of removing your name and address from lists supplied by the Equifax, Experian, Trans Union and Innovis credit reporting agencies to be used for firm (preapproved/ prescreened) offers of credit or insurance. When paying for identity theft protection, opting out is one of the “benefits” they tout.

Purchase a cross-cut shredder

“Dumpster diving” is still a very popular method of obtaining credit card applications and supporting documentation. Purchase a cross-cut shredder that cuts vertically and horizontally, turning sensitive mail into confetti. If you think a torn up credit card application will be rejected by a credit card company, you have not heard the story of how Chase Bank approved a ripped up application.

Identity theft victims often feel pressured into purchasing unnecessary monitoring products when contacting the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies to repair their credit. This tactic has become so common that the Federal Trade Commission reported the conduct in a 73-page report titled: “An FTC Staff Report on a Survey of Identity Theft Victims.”

When attempting to sell these products, the credit reporting agencies fail to advise that identity theft protection does not cover prior instances of identity theft. As such, you are not protected and are wasting your money.

The FTC report also found that the vast majority of Americans dealing with identity theft issues were unaware of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These rights included the ability to request free credit reports when placing a fraud alert, the ability to block fraudulent information from appearing on their credit reports and to receive a notice of these and other important rights directly from creditors and consumer reporting agencies.

While the Credit Card Act of 2009 mandated a number of changes in relation to “free credit reports,” the area of identity theft protection is an area to watch. Reduced fees in one area will only mean enhanced fees in another. There is no reason to pay a monthly or yearly fee for something you can do yourself for free.

“Being a single mother, I can hardly afford the additional expense of protecting my identity by paying for an ID theft service,” Marina Sweat, a former police officer and Cooper City resident told EyesOnNews. “I’ve placed the fraud alerts, opted my name out, and already use a paper shredder.

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Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale – Radio talk show host, Starbucks connoisseur, social media whiz, political consultant, identity theft expert, columnist, philanthropist and his kids Dad. 

Article source: http://eyesonnews.com/wasting-money-on-identity-theft-protection-services563/

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