If you are unlucky enough to have your wallet stolen, it isn’t the $50 in it, it is that the thief can sell your identity on the internet to just about anyone. So, what can you do about it. First, you can place a 90 day credit alert for free, but of course every thief in the world knows that. So after cancelling all your cards and changing your bank accounts, you need a longer term monitoring system.
These are really expensive for reasons I don’t understand. Typically $80-$200 per month for just a database check, but that’s the scam for these credit reporting agencies. You need a service that monitors all three agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. “Consumer Reports”:http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/credit-loan/costly-credit-monitoring-services-offer-limited-fraud-protection-4-07/overview/0704_costly-credit-monitoring-services-offer-limited-fraud-protection_ov.htm agrees that they aren’t really that much protection mainly because if they use your social security number with a different name, the databases don’t figure it out immediately and it can take 60 days for someone to report a new account.
“Fightidentitytheft.com”:http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/identity_theft_learn.html has a decent review, they appear fairly similar with a $25K reimbursement coverage and monitoring all the scores and also see their “credit monitoring”:http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/credit-monitoring.html review
# “TrueCredit”:http://truecredit.com costs $15/month and monitors all three services and has a good rating. Underneath it is TransUnioin that provides this. You get a report from all three. It also monitors every business day. 5 out of 5 stars, but the most expensive. You do get unlimited access to your credit scores if you need that.
# Citi has a $13/month service that covers all three as well. 4 out of 5 stars
# Equifax also has a $15 service but you only get FICO and Equifax credit reports. 3 out of 5 stars
Then there are frad alert that comes from services that aren’t owned by the big three. They basically layer the continuing 90 day realert for credit monitoring and a few things onto the services listed above:
# “Debix”:http://www.debix.com which is a more comprehensive system. It is not just reporting, it maintains your fraud alerts (you have to manually reactivate every 90 days the fraud alerts for all three services to keep it going). Besides wiping you off of junk mail lists, the main thing it adds is a special number you give all the banks. When they call, you have to type in a PIN to make sure it is really you. So folks pretending to be you can’t run any transactions. It is $90 per year so a little cheaper too. What happens is that in your credit report, is the Debix number, then Debix has a find me feature that calls you at any of your numbers to validate this is right. It is definitely the cheapest service. The main knock I’d say is whether this is a legit company, there look like about a dozen sites in a google query on Debix that look phony and are positive reviews of the service, so beware.
# “Lifelock”:http://lifelock.com. I love this gutsy little startup. The president of the company puts his name and social security number on their site to show how safe it is. Like Debix, it sets a fraud alert on everything, they then remove names from credit card application junk lists, then you get the WalletLock which is an operator that will cancel all your cards for you. Otherwise, like Debix it is a layer on top. They do claim they will spend $1M if you are ever the victim, but its hard for me to believe that particular claim. It is mainly a timesaver over the credit agencies and the constant recycling of the 90 day alert is valuable
# “IdentityGuard”:http://identityguard also monitors all three and is $13/month. 4 out of 5 stars. It has a couple of levles, but at $17/month, they claim they do monitoring, and also claim to monitor public records.