RIP-OFF ALERT: Not long ago, banking had a key rule: Know thy customer. The idea was that you needed to know people before you would loan money to them. Today, however, the Internet means that you can apply for a loan from an institution across the country that has never laid eyes on you.
The whole issue of identity theft comes back to one core thing: We got away from doing business with people we knew or knew of. That’s made it so easy to commit economic identity theft. And the great irony is that the very banks handing out credit willy-nilly are now soliciting people about the dangers of identity theft…by offering to sell you a protection package!
These protection packages are really just a glorified credit alert and reporting system that the banks contract out to third parties. The fees tend to be $10 or $15 each month. The Wall Street Journal reports the banks are doing such a great job of selling this coverage that 1 in 3 people who they pitch are signing up.
If you get the pitch, don’t pay your bank $120 to $180 annually. What should you do instead? Freeze your credit.
Why doesn’t anybody market credit freezes to you? Because there’s very little to no profit for them in a credit freeze. But credit freezes remain the best low-cost way to prevent crooks from creating havoc in your life even when they have your sensitive financial info.
The costs of doing (and thawing, when necessary) a freeze are so much cheaper over time than the ineffective glorified credit monitoring being pushed by the banks. If you’re info is compromised and you’ve followed my advice to do a credit freeze, you will thank me when you see no real harm follows.