With identity theft soaring, new services to protect individuals and companies are appearing on a regular basis.
Through no fault of their own, sometimes, these services become the avenue through which scammers obtain new victims.
In the U.S., Identity Theft losses for 2005 and 2006 totaled $106 Billion on a combined basis, with 17.3 Million associated Identity Theft Victims (BBB/Javelin Research).
Americans face a 3% likelihood of being subjected to Identity Theft in a given year. This implies almost a 100% certainty that you or someone in your family will be an Identity Theft victim sometime in your lifetime.
To minimize Identity Theft risks, consumers must limit distribution of sensitive personal identifying and payment information.
One website that bills itself as a respecter of clients privacy is www.CreditLock.com, offering Identity Theft Protection information, news, research, services and products. It is operated by GammaWealth Strategy & Research, LLC.
The company has issued a series of guidelines it follows to reduce the chances that clients will suffer from sharing their information.
According to Bachar Samawi, Chief Strategist, "When we launched www.CreditLock.com, we approached Identity Theft Protection from the perspective of an individual concerned about Identity Theft.
These guidelines should be utilized by anyone thinking of adding a theft-protection service to their portfolio.
1- "Make consumers aware of Identity Theft protection services which they can implement themselves for free directly with the appropriate entity. Those include: Free Annual Credit Report, National Do Not Call List, Credit Solicitation Opt-Out, and Fraud Alerts. We would simply provide information and links for such services.
2- "Provide free information and education about Identity Theft, Credit Freeze, Credit Monitoring, Credit Reports, Fraud Alerts, National Do Not Call List, Credit Solicitation Opt-out, and other topics relevant to Identity Theft.
3- "Don't ask consumers for any Limited Power of Attorney, Authorization Letters or the sort. Doing so can expose consumers if such document is mishandled.
4- "Don't ask, nor store, sensitive consumer information. If needed, only ask for name, address and email. For Credit Monitoring services, we provide a link to one of the three Credit Reporting agencies which should already have consumers' sensitive information, but may request it for validation purposes. We used the same approach for Credit Reports and Credit Scores.
5- "Provide consumers with a streamlined product for Credit Freeze. We introduced Credit Lock Down Pro. Such product organized in excess of 100 web pages and 220 files, into a simple tool, driven by an interactive color-coded U.S. map. Such tool can generate Print & Fill forms, which can be mailed to the appropriate party. Hence, no sensitive information is submitted to us, nor stored at our computer, nor the user's computer. We offer such product on a complimentary basis to our members.
6- "Keep consumers aware of current Identity Theft issues by providing News & Research.
7- "Make Membership to www.CreditLock.com extremely cheap ($4.68 or less per year), helping us offset our costs as we encourage advocacy for Privacy and Identity Theft Protection.
8- "Don't ask for, nor store payment nor Credit Card information. To do so, we forward our Members to Paypal to submit payment directly there. Paypal does not share payment information with us. With over 133 Million accounts, most individuals would already have an account with Paypal."
Indeed, minimizing data requirements from consumers should decrease their risk of being exposed to Identity Theft. Does it make sense for a consumer to give away his social security number, or Credit Card number, to find out if he is a victim of Identity Theft? Does that imply there is an added risk such information may one day erroneously end up in the wrong hands? Is it logical for consumers to give personal and payment information for services they can perform themselves for free, with no need for divulging private information? The approach utilized by the website found at www.CreditLock.com makes theoretical and practical sense. Whether it will be able to generate enough Members to make up for all the free services it offers, and the minimal Annual Membership fee of $4.68 or less it charges, is another question. However, those who are concerned about Identity Theft should find such proposition very attractive.