Never Pay Someone to Protect Your Identity

protect against identity theft

You’ve probably seen the ads for LifeLock, an identity theft protection service, where the CEO gives out his Social Security number and claims that he can do that because he has such confidence in his company’s ability to protect his identity. It turns out that his confidence may have been misplaced. In recent days, stories have surfaced that people have been able to receive driver’s licenses using the CEO’s SSN and one person has even succeeded in getting a payday loan using the pilfered SSN.

Now, anyone with a basic knowledge of credit reporting and identity theft probably realized that this guy was setting himself up for trouble. Under the best circumstances, Li


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29 Responses to Never Pay Someone to Protect Your Identity

  1. ricky says:

    It’s all pretty much common sense. Just pretend that anything with your name on it is a love letter that you wouldn’t want you spouse to see and take the same precautions in destroying it as you would the love letter and you should be fine.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the optout address, I didn’t even finish the article before signing up. I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time.

  3. Alexandria says:

    Good Article.

    I had my identity stolen last year, and 2 things come to mind.

    First, in past times the horror stories were that it took months/years to clean up these messes. These days it is so common that most credit companies have a theft department and work to resolve these things quickly. Thus, I think a lot of these services are sold on the scare factor. Personally I don’t really trust them and didn’t find it took that much time or money. Likewise, if you keep an eye on your credit report and catch things early, the difference will be night and day from finding something years down the road.

    Of course I had to have a large amount of notarized documents (something like 7 cards open in my name, and I had to file a notarized form with each company). If my firm did not provide this complimentary, this kind of stuff can get expensive. So I would argue that it is not free (point #3 I guess). But then again, probably cheaper than Lifelock – I’ll give you that.

    The other point I had is I have never been able to trace the security breach. I have to assume it was a rogue employee at the university I went to or one of the many investment houses I invest with. I will probably never know. But I think Americans are completely unaware of how much of their data is out there in the open. When I think of the places that “have” to have my social security # & personal info – the list is endless. I haven’t ruled out the IRS or state taxing agency either, for leaking my info. I have a list a mile long of where the security breach might have occurred. I did everything right to protect my data, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for everyone I entrust my personal data with. It is very frustrating.

  4. The real Danny Lents says:

    Good article.

    You can also order free “specialty” reports like employment and tenant history reports to make sure your name is not associated with other’s activity.

  5. vsjhoc says:

    Keep in mind that you cannot place a fraud alert on your credit reports just because you want to.

    Under the law, you have to have a “good faith suspicion” that you have been or about to become a victim of fraud.

  6. Hilary says:

    Security freezes are free in my state (Indiana), although I think only a couple of other states have that same advantage. I froze my files after someone applied for a credit card in my name (but got denied, thankfully).

    One must remember that all the frenzy about credit scores and reports is created, in part, by the credit bureaus. Just something to keep in mind.

  7. wealthman says:

    Not only is it true that you should never pay to have someone else protect your identity, it’s important to know that the credit card companies actually like identity theft. It is something that brings fear to consumers and has turned into a billion dollar money making business for credit companies that say they can “protect” you. Therefore you will hear terrifying stories of what identity theft can do to help build this business more. It’s important to understand that the companies that are promoting protection love identity theft because it makes them more money when people fear it.

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  9. greg says:

    The important thing to remember is that the services can’t protect you from identity theft. They can only help or alert you earlier when something may have happened. It’s up to you to take the precaution to prevent it as best you can.

  10. Carol says:

    Great article. I went to annualcredit report to pull my credit report. It’s something I hadn’t done in years since my purse got stolen.

    Also, I plan to pull my kid’s reports too. I hear of so much ID theft that involves kid’s SSN that is never discovered until the child is older and needs credit.

  11. Ken says:

    Virtual credit card numbers.

    Some time ago I used my credit card in a major airport to acquire wifi service. My number was stolen. Now I use a “virtual credit card number” for most on-line purchases especially when traveling. It’s offered by my credit card company. I can set up several at a time and delete them anytime. They usually have a limited life, 1-2 months. However, I usually cancel one after a week or so or at the end of a trip (after valid charges have cleared).

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  14. Cynthia Lay says:

    I really appreciate this article — I’ve been teaching identity theft classes at a credit union for several years. People are always so worried about getting their identity stolen, yet they won’t take even the bare-minimum steps to protect themselves.

    I always try to emphasize that there’s NO need to get paranoid (as many people do) — rather, they need to just PAY ATTENTION. The tips in your article are very helpful and I plan to share them. Thanks for the wisdom!

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  16. thiefhunter says:

    Point #6 is most troublesome: “Don

  17. Jeroen says:

    Please remember that the word “Identity Theft” is a semantic trick played by financial institutions to turn the blame for their sloppy practices on customers. It used to be called “fraud” before. Your identity cannot be stolen, your name can be misused, and it should be up to the financial institutions thus defrauded to proof that it was really you who got a credit.

  18. Cathy Sykes says:

    I stood beside a lady at the checkout counter at our local supermarket the other day. It was very easy for me to see her SS# on her check, so after she’d finished writing it, I said hello, then recited her number to her. She said it was more convenient to put her DL, SS and phone number on her check and seemed stunned when I told her how easily someone with her SS# or DL# could steal her identity. Even these days, with all that’s been written and broadcast about identity theft, some people are still clueless.

    Cathryn Sykes
    Publisher and Editor

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  21. Arthur says:

    One that you missed, which offers some protection, but less than you might expect – DON’T sign your credit cards! Instead with a permanent marker, write “Request Photo / Signature ID” in the signature space.

    This obviously can’t do anything to prevent telephone or on line abuse, but it should make it harder to abuse your card in person, and “live sales” are the harder abuse to trace*. The downside is that amazingly few clerks actually ask for the ID in my experience…

    *In person abuse is harder to trace because the abuser doesn’t have to supply a useful address – just pick up the merchandise and leave. Telephone or online sales require an address to ship the merchandise to, which has to be accessible to the abuser in some way, and is therefore traceable.


  22. bossman1982 says:

    OK, There is a lot of extremely important and relevant information here. There is one very important ingredient missing in protecting your identity. I am amazed how often this is overlooked in everything I read from blogs to USPS literature.

    A cross-cut shredder is by far the best. But if somebody takes your mail before you can shred it, the shredder is useless. With a regular mailbox you may not even know you are missing mail. With a “locking mailbox” you may at least know somebody has taken your mail. What everybody really needs is a true security locking mailbox. One that you cannot just walk by and pop it open with a screw driver or reach down in and grab the mail. There are only a couple out there that fit the bill. I, of course, prefer the Mail Boss security locking mailbox. I can sleep at night knowing my shredder will get to chew on some trash the next day.

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  24. Carmille says:

    I was a victim of Identity Theft and I believe the criminal obtain alot of personal information from the peoplesearch online services that sell private citizens information. I think there should be a civil lawsuit against companies like intellius, zabasearch, ussearch, peoplefinder etc.
    Our name are private intellectual property and we did not authorize the selling of our name. They put us at risk and we do not even get a royalty fee for it.!!! sue I say!

  25. Jeremy Duffy says:

    @ Carmille:

    AMEN! The credit reporting companies have been regulated up the wazoo, but still caused us problems until we got credit freezes. We need something like a freeze for these data brokers too and FAST.

  26. James says:

    It also helps to conceal home address completely from all who search databases.

  27. Anna says:

    Very good article! In reference to #1 (use a cross cut shredder), there are documents that you may not want to necessarily shred, so I bought an Identity Theft Protection stamp to block out personal information on documents to make my social security #, address, and other personal information unreadable.

  28. ashley kenedy says:

    I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what I could do? I lived with a previous friend and when I moved out I forgot my binder with all my important information. It had banking statements, my ssn card and my birth certificate in it. I stopped my bank account and set up a new one. I don’t know what i can do about my SSN card and birth certificate. I heard throu the grape vine she’s been using them. I was told i would have to go to small claims court but I cannot aforrd that.

  29. Jimmie says:

    The LL products were not developed in a jail cell in 2003. The nefarious origin was developed in the back of a taxi cab in March 2005, in less than 35 minutes with the help of a taxi driver named “Jimmie” who came up with the information on fraud alerts, because of his misfortune in Id Theft in 2002, and learning of placing credit fraud alerts by then Gov. Janet Napolitano in Arizona in September 2003 for 2 yrs. originally, then changed to every 3 months in February 2005, and the Original intellectual idea for “Lost Wallet” and “True Credit Address” & “Red Alerts”, a self replicating software product came from “Jimmie”. Also marketing channels of advertising were discussed. You should have seen Mr. Maynard after learning of the fraud alert system and product ideas, he lost his mind repeating”oh my God”, “oh my God” ( a light bulb turned on!) on a business idea. The 2003 jail story and a taxi drivers bank ID theft was used together as a marketing idea. A Phoenix New Times reporter was standing outside the cab in March 2005 when a 1% handshake deal on all “Liflock” profits was discussed mutually between “Jimmie” and Mr. Maynard as he exited the vehicle on Mill Ave in Tempe, down the street from the now, new offices of LL. I’d say be careful with the company, as the thing the taxi driver got was “LL” idea theft, no recognition or $$ for the product ideas in 9 years…

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