Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who is

Mayor Karl Dean has certainly returned from vacation. He's hot on this SSN theft and this afternoon has announced that Metro is willing to pay for ID protection. Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not comfortable having the government pick this service for me. As a taxpayer, I'm thrilled you got a good deal and I'm frustrated that this is coming out of tax money.

From CM Karen Bennet's (District 8 Inglewood) email this afternoon to her constituents which is quoting a press release from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean :

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville is contracting with Debix
Identity Protection Network to provide affected citizens a full year
of identity theft coverage from the date of registration and the
option to renew for a second year of coverage for $9.50, a steep
reduction from the consumer price of $99 per year.


Voters will receive a letter containing detailed instructions on how
to enroll with Debix no later than next week. An enrollment form and
an activation code will be included with the letter. Voters can use
the activation code to either mail in their enrollment form or
register for the service online at


Based on past experience, Debix expects 25 to 35 percent of affected
voters to take advantage of the service. Under the contract agreement
with Metro, Debix will receive $9.75 per account activation for the
first 20,000 enrollees and $9.25 for all others.

Debix protection includes:

· Fraud alerts: Every 90 days fraud alerts with all three
national credit bureaus are automatically renewed.

· Credit monitoring: Customers are notified in real-time via
phone and e-mail on up to three numbers every time a new account for
credit is being opened. Declined transactions are reported to the
police within 24 hours after confirmation that the transaction was
due to fraud.

· ID theft insurance: Each registered customer is provided with
$10,000 of identity theft coverage with no deductible and direct
access to an identity theft specialist. The insurance covers identity
restoration costs, lost wages and legal defense fees.

· Stop pre-approved offers: Customers are placed on the
National Do Not Call Registry if requested and opted out of pre-
approved offers of credit and insurance.

I've just initiated a freeze on my credit...why is Debix better? I'd like to know more about Debix and how they got this contract. Here's a NY Times piece from November 2007 about Debix's founding, along with some info about LifeLock and TrustID.
Debix has signed up 275,000 customers in the last two years by offering the service through companies and state governments that have lost their customers’ or citizens’ private data and now want to extend an additional layer of identity protection to victims

Consumer Reports (the real one)
weighed in on this in 2003. They said then "It's not typically worth the money." As of April 2007 they haven't changed their mind. They do have some great info though. They also point out:
Neither the Federal Trade Commission nor consumer groups including Consumers Union, the Identity Theft Resource Center, and the Privacy Rights Clearing House recommend or endorse credit-monitoring services. If you're tempted to sign up, however, you should know that credit-bureau monitoring services have the following limitations.
But scrutinize the terms of coverage for loopholes. For example, some insurers exclude coverage for losses that occurred prior to your purchase of the product. It can take months or years for ID theft to be discovered. So if a thief opened a fraudulent account in your name two years ago, you bought monitoring one year ago, and you don't discover the crime until next year when a collection agency hunts you down, your insurance protection and payout might be zero with some policies.
Be careful out there.

UPDATE: CM Emily Evans' blog entry regarding this is titled: "Mayor Announces Free ID Theft Protection". It's not free if taxpayers foot the bill. It may be at no direct cost to us...but the money has to come from taxpayers somehow. I encourage Metro to recoup the cost from Wackenhut or Specialized Security Services. Then you can call it free.


Jason said...

Good article Kay but I have to disagree with you and point out a few things. First of all as you point out the Debix service is not free to taxpayers but I disagree when you say the City should not pick up the tab. Why should an innocent resident have to pay for their own protection when their information was compromised by the City. Secondly if the City did not offer this service and an innocent resident became an identity theft victim could they not then sue the City and potentially cost taxpayers more.

Also you seemed concerned about Debix wondering who they are. Well as you point out in your article consumer reports thought credit monitoring was not worth the money and this is what led to the formation of companies such as Debix LoudSiren, Lifelock and TrustedId. They are not credit monitoring like the bureaus they are credit protection. The fraud alerts require a creditor to call you to verify your identity before opening a new credit account. Quite different from the bureaus who only inform you after your credit has been violated. Perhaps a visit to could provide you with a deeper understanding of who these new companies are and how they differ from the old credit monitoring system.

Doug said...

Thanks for the blog posting and comments. I was looking for info about DEBIX and the experience anyone has had with them. Another blogger mentioned getting a ltr from one of the 3 credit agencies requiring more info because of numerous renewals of fraud alert on his account be DEBIX. I understand there is a 90 day limit to fraud alerts and then the creditor has to renew it with the credit agency. Is that true?

Kay Brooks said...

It may be that fraud alerts are only good for 90 days but I placed credit freezes on our accounts instead. No credit at all without the hassle of additional verification and hoops.

Tim Pham said...

After you put credit freeze, you can't open any credit card or certain type of accounts then. It's a downsize for many people.

Kay Brooks said...

That's not correct, Tim. You's just a longer more involved process than signing your name and getting credit immediately--which is exactly what we mean to stop. stranger can do that and it's harder for us to submit to temptation. Downside...a bit inconvenient--like having our ID stolen wouldn't be.

I can think of a lot of downside to ready access to credit though. If you lack discipline in this area...a credit freeze is a great governor.

Erika said...

That longer, more involved process also has a fee attached to it. According to the website, it costs $10 to implement a credit freeze, and $10 each time you want to unblock it to get something. Your credit has to be unfrozen for some basic services such as: getting a new lease, (landlords do pull credit files before letting you sign a lease), or getting utilities turned on in your name(gas,electricity,cable), new cell phone service, overdraft protection added to your checking acct. or extending your existing credit limit, and so on. It's not just for getting a loan or credit card. So, if you implement the freeze, then move and sign a new lease, and need to get electricity, gas, and cable, that's $50. Debix costs $24 a year.

God forbid you have to have emergency surgery, and have to get a medical loan in a hurry.

For me, it's much more convenient and less expensive to have Debix place a fraud alert on my credit file. This means I have control over what accounts get opened, and I won't miss out on that 15% off of a purchase if I sign up for a Macy's card today! Heh!

That being said, I do agree with you that people who have less discipline with their credit would probably benefit from freezing it.

Kay Brooks said...

Credit freezes are free when you have a police report as we in Nashville did.

We already have our mortgage and utilities and don't intend on moving. Regardless, if I have to pay $10's still less expensive than renewing with Debix after the initial introductory teaser rates. Waaaay cheaper than having our ID stolen.

We don't take out medical loans. The few times we've had medical bills we've made payment arrangements and kept them.

Erika said...

I called and asked; (The rep's name was Erika! Good name!) that's not a teaser rate. It's $24 a year, period. She said they are able to keep their rates low because they prevent the fraudulent accounts from being opened in the first place, instead of having to pour more resources into cleaning up afterwards, when a fraudulent account is opened. (Like credit monitoring).

And okay, so setting up the freeze will be free for you if you have a police report, but you'll still have to pay to unfreeze it every time you need it. And, okay, you're not planning on moving, but a lot of people don't have a morgage, and some move to a new place every year. So you're right, maybe a freeze would work better for *you* but I certainly wouldn't put down this very effective service, simply because you are staying put.

Your article doesn't seem to take those other people into account.

Kay Brooks said...

My 'article', this blog, is all about MY POV and MY experience. I'm under no obligation to take every possible life situation into consideration.

If Debix has severely lowered their yearly rate, great. It wasn't that low when the initial ID theft occurred.

Erika said...

Obligation? No, of course not. You are entitled to your opinion, as are the readers of your blog.

However, if other people come upon this blog by googling Debix, as I did, and read this looking for advice or education on what their best options are, (as Doug did) and come away thinking that a credit freeze is the best choice for them because you did it, and that Debix or Lifelock or any other companies that offer similar service are not worth it, because you didn't differentiate their service from a simple credit monitoring service, that is misleading, and you do a disservice to your readers who do have different life situations, by not clarifying that it's the best choice for *you*, given your current lifestyle.

Some people might assume that fact, given it's your blog. Some people might not. That, and your question "Why is Debix better?" is what lead me to comment in the first place.

And, I always seek to expand my POV. That's what's right for *me*.

P.S. Erika (Erica?) also said that Debix will help you even if your id theft occurred before you signed up with them.