Banks, credit reporting agencies, and independent vendors such as LifeLock and Debix have worked hard to convince consumers that identity theft monitoring services are a good deal—even when they charge as much as $14.95 per month, as a recent offering from Equifax does. But the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyright.org), which made its name cataloguing the more than 230 million records that have been compromised since 2005, recently issued a fact sheet entitled “Straight Talk about Identity Theft Monitoring Services” that gives the products, and their price points, a good drubbing.
“Identity theft monitoring services may sound like a good way to protect your good credit and your good name. However, many of these services are overpriced and are not worth the money they cost,” the report states.
Though it doesn’t mention any companies or institutions by name, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse takes several shots clearly aimed at LifeLock, noting that “one heavily advertised service provides no monitoring at all,” and that the same company charges $10 per month to place a fraud alert that consumers are entitled to place themselves for free.
The report also takes aim at the products that claim to monitor underground chat rooms for evidence of fraud related to a user’s account or social security number, noting that the utility of these services is “unproven.”
The report goes on to explain the fine points of a security freeze vs. fraud alerts, concluding that both identity theft monitoring services and identity theft insurance are unnecessary for most consumers.