Consumers beware of exclusions from ID Theft services
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader
Consumers need to take caution in signing up for identity theft services that have hard to notice "exclusions" in the fine print of the terms and conditions.
Most identity theft service providers will give you the impression that they can minimize or even prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft based on the endless number of radio and television commercials that are released each week.
In a 2013 Consumer Reports magazine article titled "Don't get taken guarding your ID" and updated in September 2014 (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/01/don-t-get-taken-guarding-your-id/index.htm), Consumer Reports states that about 50 million people are paying $10 to $25 per month for some type of ID Theft protection services.
Consumer Reports states that identity theft companies can be deceptive in their marketing where they exaggerate the threat. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has levied over $1 billion in fines and penalties to multiple identity theft service providers and some of the largest banks over the last three years for deceptive marketing practices.
In addition, ID Theft components such as credit monitoring and internet/web scanning are flawed and offer a false sense of security; and that the $1 million of insurance is overkill stated Consumer Reports.
I agree with Consumer Reports.
However, if you believe paying for an identity theft protection service will provide you peace of mind along with the possibility of reducing you risk of becoming an identity theft victim, I encourage you to proceed with caution as there are numerous "exclusions" that are often buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions.
I have listed below some of the most common exclusions for you to consider when reviewing identity theft protection services:
- Acts of terrorism – if you are a victim of ID Theft from data breach caused by an act of terrorism (which is a common form of fund raising for terrorists) you can be excluded
- Children's age and address – if your child becomes a victim of ID Theft past a certain age or while living away from home such as college he or she can be excluded
- Family related fraud – according to the FTC, family members are a significant source of ID Theft and fraud, and most family members will not file a police report so your family ID Theft event is excluded
- Self-employed persons – are considered a higher risk because they typically don't have the financial and IT resources to protect their personal and financial information, so you excluded
- Self-caused – if you click on a phishing email and it is determined that is why you are a victim of ID Theft then you are excluded
- Unlimited discovery period – if you do not report that you are a victim of identity theft with a certain period (e.g. 6 months), then you are excluded
- Unknown ID Theft events that occurred prior to the effective date of the plan – if it is determined you became a victim of ID Theft prior to signing up with your current ID Theft service provider, then you are excluded
The fact is more individual consumers are purchasing identity theft protection services than ever before and yet there are more victims of identity theft than ever before.
To conclude, be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the ID Theft service provider or you might be paying for a service that does not protect you or your family.
To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.
Phishing at Work? Watch Out for These Emails
Watch out for phishing emails with a professional twist. Scammers are targeting businesses with email messages that appear to be from the company's human resources department.
How the Scam Works:
You get an email to your work account that seems to be about your benefits. It looks official -- and important -- so you open it. The message contains urgent news, such as your policy has been canceled, reduced or suspended.
To fix the situation, the email instructs you to either click on a link or open an attachment. Don't do it! Clicking the link either downloads malware to your computer or leads you to a form that phishes for information. Malware hunts for confidential or banking information on your machine and opens you and your company up to identity theft.
In the sample message below, the scam message claims that your life insurance policy has been reduced, and you need to click a link to review the policy changes.
How to Spot a Scam Email:
- Watch for look alike URLs. Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a subdomain of another URL (i.e. brandname.scamwebsite.com ) or part of a longer URL (i.e. companynamecustomersupport.com. )
- Hover over URLs in emails to reveal their true destination. Scammers can make links appear to lead to a legitimate website, when they really point to a scam site, like the examples above.
- Don't open attachments from unfamiliar sources. Legitimate businesses rarely send unsolicited emails with attachments. Always confirm an email is real before you download anything.
- Consider how the business normally reaches you. Did you sign up for email alerts from your health insurance provider or does your HR person typically convey policy updates? A change from normal communication patterns is likely to be a scam.
- Contact the business or HR department. When in doubt, call the business's customer support line or your company's HR department to check the legitimacy of the email. Be sure to find the phone number on your bill or by a web search -- not the email or website the scammers gave you.
For More Information
Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau - for more information visit http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/
If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.