Feature Article
Mark Pribish
2010 Advice: Know Program Details and Exclusions of any ID Theft Program Before You Buy
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

My primary objective in writing my last consumer ID Theft newsletter article in 2009 is to communicate the premise that NO ONE COMPANY can PREVENT you (or any family member) from EVER becoming a victim of ID Theft.

This premise is based on the fact that everyone's name, social security number and in some cases bank account and credit/debit card information resides at both current and former employers, financial institutions, school systems and colleges/universities, doctor offices, dentist offices, hospitals, auto dealers, insurance companies (including home and auto, health/medical, life, disability, etc), and tax preparation services. That said, unsuspecting consumers need to be aware of and review all details relating to any ID Theft company (or any company selling an ID Theft service) that represents their service as being able to prevent you or any family member from becoming a victim of ID Theft. This is especially important since a number of these companies have "conditions or exclusions" attached to their services.

One example of learning more about "conditions or exclusions" is where a $1 million guarantee or insurance policy is used in the marketing and sale of an ID Theft service. However, those companies utilizing a $1 million guarantee will typically say they will spend up to $1 million "only" and "in the event their product fails." This means if you become a victim of ID Theft, unrelated to their specific ID Theft product offering (e.g. where drivers license ID Theft, medical/health insurance ID Theft, employment fraud/ID Theft, etc. takes place) and the ID theft service provider did not fail in their service and you still become an ID Theft victim - then you are out of luck.

Another example of a common "condition or exclusion" is where an ID Theft service provider makes it your responsibility to "report" your being a victim or potential victim of ID theft within a specified period of time (e.g. 30 days, 90 days, 120 days or six months) from the time of your ID theft event. This sounds fair until you learn that the average victim of ID Theft may not realize they are an ID Theft victim until after the specified period of time. This means that if you become a victim of ID theft and do not report your ID Theft event within the specified period of time - then you are again out of luck.

By the way, the ID Theft marketplace is considered to be an emerging industry - which means this new industry is comprised mostly of start-up companies or start-up product lines of established companies which can mean these companies get out of the ID Theft business as quickly as they get into it. This can also mean the chances of your ID Theft service provider being around tomorrow significantly decreases based on how many years (or little to no years) they have been in business today.

Lastly, while the ID Theft service provider industry is not regulated like the insurance industry - it is very common for ID Theft service providers to "exclude" certain types of events related to your ID Theft event including:

  1. Unknown, pre-existing ID theft events
  2. Family fraud
  3. Children through the age of 24 and not living at home
  4. Self-employed individuals
  5. Lifestyle Partners
  6. Limited Reporting Period
  7. Acts of Terrorism
  8. Types of ID Theft events including drivers license, medical, employment, utility, and more.

So the next time you listen to a national television or radio commercial; or read a magazine or newspaper advertisement on how any number of ID Theft service providers can prevent ID Theft from happening and protect you and your family from becoming victims of ID Theft - my 2010 advice is for you to understand what a $1 million guarantee really means and learn about all the possible exclusions to fully understand how you and you family will either be protected... or be excluded from being protected.

I hope everyone has a great Holiday season and a Happy New Year!


Scam Central

The Grandchild Scam

Senior citizens have long been the unsuspecting targets of identity thieves. This scam is not a new one, but seems to be re-emerging in an effort to prey on the elderly.

How it Works:

You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. They may claim that they have been in an accident, stuck at an airport in another state or country, robbed, or just need some money for some other reason. They will ask you to wire them money, wherever they may be, to help them get out of their situation. They will claim that they don't want their parents to find out that they are stranded, in jail, or whatever so they are turning to you with a promise to pay you back as soon as they can.

The reality of this situation is that the person on the other end of the phone is not your grandchild, but a thief hoping that you will fall for their clever scam.

Your Defense:

Before you send any money to anybody, verify that the person is who they claim to be. If they say they are your grandchild, ask their name, age, where they were born, their parent's names, their sibling's names, etc. Use any piece of information you can to verify that this person is truly your relative, but be careful not to divulge any information voluntarily. Throw in some misleading questions that you know are not true to catch them off guard. For example, if they are not married, ask them "what did your spouse say about all of this". If they are whom they say they are, they should know this information already.

Also, take down a return phone number so you can call this individual back. If you suspect a fraud, call your grandchild using their last known home phone, work, or cell phone number.

The bottom line is, don't be afraid to contact your own children to find out if this so called grandchild of yours is truly in trouble or not. You may find out they are sitting in their parents living room and not stuck in a Canadian airport terminal. Report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.