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 DebixI'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.
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 www.debix.com/nashville.
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.
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.(snip)
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.