Chances are, you’ve been offered an identity theft service by your credit card company or bank, or seen an ad during a baseball game, or bombarded with offerings to prevent identity theft from happening to you just about everywhere you go…and of course, for a fee. But do these services actually work, and what exactly do they do? Consumer Federation of America has a new report, “To Catch a Thief: Are Identity Theft Services Worth the Cost?” to help answer these important questions.
Here’s the bottom line—you’re probably flushing money down the toilet when you buy into these identity theft services. CFA’s report shows that most of the services provide people with protections that they can do on their OWN for FREE or low cost.
The report recommends:
1. Practice mail security.
2. Guard your Social Security Number.
3. Lock and shred.
4. Stop prescreened credit and insurance mailings.
5. Keep private information to yourself.
6. Be safe online.
7. Look at your bills and bank statements promptly.
8. Monitor your accounts online frequently.
9. Check your credit reports regularly.
10. Pay attention to debt collectors.
P.S. One of the pieces of advice is for consumers to place a security freeze on their credit files. Consumers Union has long advocated for the security freeze. A security freeze is the best tool to stop new account theft and fraud since it prevents the opening of new credit by locking down information to your credit files maintained by TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
To get more information on the security freeze, visit Consumers Union’s Financial Privacy Now security freeze instructions page.