This week is part two of a three part series on things to check when shopping for Identity Theft Services.
Again, this checklist was developed by the CFA’s ID Theft Service Best Practice Working Group (which includes identity theft service providers and consumer advocates) to help Americans look for identity theft services that follow good practices. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.
Here are the next 3 tips about what to check when shopping for Identity Theft Services:
(1) If the service offers to monitor your personal information and alert you if someone may be fraudulently using it, is it clear what it monitors? If the answer is no, steer clear! Identity theft service providers that follow good practices will make it easy to find information on their Web sites and through their customer service representatives about which of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), if any, they monitor. They will also tell you whether they monitor other places such as commercial databases, public records, and the Internet for clues that you might be a victim, and how frequently they monitor.
(2) Does the identity theft service make clear how monitoring or other features of its program actually help you? If the answer is no, steer clear! For instance, if credit monitoring is a feature, the identity theft service provider should explain the types of information that credit reports typically contain and that credit monitoring can help to detect new accounts fraudulently opened using your information. Since credit monitoring won’t alert you if someone is fraudulently using your existing accounts, you might want to consider monitoring those accounts yourself by checking them online once a week. Also look to see if it is clear how you will be alerted about suspicious situations. Identity theft service providers that follow good practices will clearly explain your choices for how to receive alerts.
(3) If the service offers to help identity theft victims, is it clear exactly what help it provides and who is eligible for it? If the answer is no, steer clear! Identity theft service providers that follow good practices will make it easy to find information on their Web sites and through their customer service representatives about exactly how they help victims and who can get help. For instance, some services provide customers who become identity theft victims with kits containing general advice about what they need to do to resolve their problems on their own, others may provide one-on-on counseling to actively guide customers through that process, and some actually contact customers’ creditors and others as needed to resolve their identity theft problems on their behalf. If you are already a victim of identity theft before you purchase the service, it’s also important to know if the service will assist you or if it does not provide help for “pre-existing” identity theft.
Being proactive is the best way to deter, detect, and defend against Identity Theft. HV Shred can help with on-site shredding service for your obsolete paperwork. Visit www.hvshred.com for more information.