A representative of TrustedID, an identity theft protection company, wrote to CAIR: “We have already cancelled all our advertising on Michael Savage’s radio show last month and our last radio spot ad will run this Monday.”
We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice on identity theft or how to prevent it, but we can describe the measures we take to protect ourselves against identity theft. None of these involve paying TrustedID or the credit reporting agencies a hefty monthly fee for security measures that are either free, or cost a lot less.
TrustedID charges $109.95 per year for identity theft protection services that includes a million dollars in ID theft insurance, and features that require creditors to get your approval by phone before taking any action that affects your credit. Another feature places a credit freeze on your credit report, which requires your explicit permission before a lender can obtain a credit report on you. This, of course, makes it impossible for ID thieves to get credit in your name, unless the lender is willing to issue a loan without getting a credit report.
Our own solution is to file a quarterly Fraud Alert with one of the three credit agencies, which has to forward the fraud alert to the others. This alerts creditors that someone may be impersonating you, and to use extra diligence before issuing credit. This includes, for example, contacting you (the service touted by TrustedID) to make sure that you are really the person who requested credit or a loan. The lender doesn’t have to do it, but a lender who issued credit under such circumstances could probably be deemed negligent (and would therefore be in a very poor position to attempt to collect from the “real” you).
For a total of $30 ($10 for each credit agency), you can also have a credit freeze placed on your account. As explained by California’s Office of Privacy Protection,
If you live in California, you have the right to put a “security freeze” on your credit file. A security freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer’s credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number would probably not be able to get credit in your name.
A security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report of identity theft. If you are not an identity theft victim, it will cost you $10 to place a freeze with each credit bureau. That’s a total of $30 to freeze your files.
The same rules apply in most other states. In other words, for a one-time fee of $30, it looks like you can get the same kind of protection that TrustedID offers for $109.95 per year. This does not, admittedly, include the million dollar ID theft insurance. On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine anyone being legally liable for debts incurred by identity thieves–especially since creditors who fail to exercise due diligence in confirming applicants’ identities could well be defined as negligent. Everybody knows that identity theft is a widespread crime, and it seems that a creditor who hands someone an instant loan without making sure of that person’s identity deserves pretty much whatever happens to him. Most of us don’t hand wads of cash to total strangers, or even strangers who show us what look like driver’s licenses (noting that fairly convincing ones can be forged).
Another service that TrustedID includes is an annual credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and EquiFax. You are entitled to a free annual credit report, and you do not need to pay TrustedID or anyone else to get one for you.
Nothing in this article constitutes a detailed assessment of TrustedID’s services in comparison to services that can be obtained for free or for a one-time payment of $30.00, nor does it constitute legal advice. Our purpose is solely to encourage our readers to investigate alternatives before paying TrustedID a hefty annual fee for things that might be available at no cost, or lower cost.
Furthermore, it is our position that people should not have to pay to protect lenders from the consequences of their own negligence and carelessness in making loans without adequate verification of the applicant’s identity. It is really lenders who should be carrying all the costs of identity theft protection. Our position is that a lender who loses money to an identity thief, and then attempts to put adverse information in our credit report, will have two problems instead of one: the money it gave to the identity thief, and a defamation lawsuit from ourselves.
The reasoning in this article applies to services similar to those of TrustedID, including those offered by the three credit bureaus. TrustedID’s decision to pander to the terrorist enablers at CAIR, however, is what brought this company to our attention.