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“Free” Is Enough to Protect Identity

By Faye Mergel
Published: Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Consumers and businesses alike are facing serious threats of identity theft. However, some advocacy groups argue that the dangers for this crime are at times exaggerated by commercial sources to boost profit.

“Free” Is Enough to Protect IdentityAdvocates hint at a TV commercial which says it will provide “free” credit report so consumers can avoid falling victim to ID scammers. While viewers are initially told that they will be given their credit reports for free, they would later on find out that they are automatically tagged with a credit monitoring service which requires them to pay about $15 each month.

They likewise hint at a company which says it will guard the identity of clients from thieves for $110 a year. If they are not able to live up to their promise, the company says it is willing to compensate clients with $1 million.

Advocates made it clear that they are not against subscribing to those services; however, paying for them is not worth it. They believe consumers can avail of less expensive services to protect their identity. They also noted ID theft protection methods that do not cost anything at all.

For a start, experts tell the public that their chances of falling victim to identity theft will decline as businesses and financial institutions begin to adopt new rules set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This new federal rules that will be fully implemented next month will provide better protection to consumers, they add.

In November, the FTC issued a guideline to businesses on how they can raise alerts to clients for possible cases of ID frauds. The 26 red flag rules require businesses to be more cautious before extending credit to an applicant. Moreover, businesses will be required to provide clients with a free credit report if their personal information has been compromised in any way.

Specialists also tell the public that they do not have to spend a lot if their personal information has been stolen. By requesting for a credit freeze themselves, they will only need to pay around $30. To date, 47 states across the country have enacted laws that require the bureau to allow consumers to freeze their credit report.

To reduce risks of falling victim to ID theft, experts advise consumers to take advantage of the free credit report guaranteed to them by federal law. Consumers can access their credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free once every twelve months.

Consumers who believe their ID has been stolen are advised to visit the official website of the FTC so they can be guided on how to fight this crime.

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