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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Protection Against the Protection

When you Google “ID theft prevention,” you get 6.9 million sites, some of which are selling you protection, others offer it free. You know they are going to come out of the woodwork when there is a buck to be made. I am not saying you shouldn’t buy this service, because some of us are too lazy, or just do not have the time, to watch over our identity. It does require some effort, and if you want to take charge of this most valuable asset, go to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for some of the best information available on the subject. It’s free.

If you’re thinking of purchasing protection, there is a good article on Marketwatch.com, “No sure-fire cure/Many products fight ID theft, but none fully prevent it,” by Andrea Coombes. The key here is, none of these services, nor any of the free advice, good as it might be, is 100% guaranteed. Neither is the plethora of identity theft bills currently proposed in Congress. It is all designed to help guard against the possibility of ID theft, or to clean up the situation once it has occurred. Not good enough, in my book.

This is my mandate for solving the identity crisis once and for all. Pass federal legislation to give the individual control over their name and personal data, and, while we’re at it, pay them when it is sold. If you visit this Blog with any regularity, you’ve heard this many times, and if you continue to come back, you’ll keep hearing it. That is…until we get the federal legislation passed.

You might want to check the article, “The ID theft protection racket,” on CNNMoney.com, by Pat Regnier. Sub-headline: “It could get you killed.” It chronicles a stolen identity where the perp ends up in the hospital with the victim’s name, and this data ends up at the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), the vast storehouse of your past health issues. The scenario goes on to show how, if you then went to the hospital, and the perp’s MIB info shows you have heart trouble, they could kill you. Very possible, since I once ended up in the MIB as deceased, and was denied life insurance.

Regnier mentions some elite of the financial community, “…hawking services designed to protect you from the threat.” They include American Express, Chase, Citi, Discover and MBNA, and this household has received offers from all of them. Then Regnier gets right to the point: “Privacy advocates complain that ID protection is often sold by the very companies that have contributed to the problem.”

And, of course, there’s ID theft insurance, covered in another CNN Money.com piece by Regnier, titled, “ID insurance? Who needs this stuff?” Although it doesn’t reimburse you for the stolen money, you can get up to $2,000 for attorney fees and lost wages. Other options are to check if your homeowner’s insurance covers this, and, of course, you should get your free annual credit report.

Some of these paid services are just not worth it. However, if you are one of the lazy ones, or simply too busy to deal with this and have the money to let someone else do it, just be careful with whom you sign up. Read the fine print and make sure it is the plan that fits your needs. And, don’t buy something you do not need. Remember the old reliable axiom, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. It applies here…more than ever.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

BS story about MIB. They do not keep records on deceased... Get your facts straight.

Jack E. Dunning said...

Sorry "Anonymous," it did happen and just rechecked MIB and they confirmed in e-mail they do in fact maintain a deceased database.

Jack E. Dunning
The Dunning Letter

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree - I use to be an underwriter. MIB has no such data base of deceased individuals. Stop posting BS.

Jack E. Dunning said...

"Anonymous" the MIB expert is back, this time as a former insurance underwriter. Aren't they the people who decide we are not insurable? I welcome comments but this is wasting valuable time. I'm satisfied with answers I received from MIB. By the way, I have a future post planned on MIB. Maybe "Anonymous" wants to help with the research???

Jack E. Dunning
The Dunning Letter