Sunday, September 23, 2007

Relying on the Credit Freeze Alone for Identity Theft Protection is Very Unwise

Recent reports from several sources claiming the "credit freeze" provides seamless protection against identity theft are misleading to consumers. Unfortunately, some reports have come from well-meaning consumer-oriented watchdog groups, as well as unscrupulous purveyors of overblown identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.

Working to identify and correct unsubstantiated or erroneous claims about preventing identity theft is the Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), a San Diego-based, award-winning public education organization with a specialized identity theft risk management certification program.

"Whether you do it yourself or pay another, placing a credit freeze on your credit record does not make you bulletproof or invisible to identity thieves. The credit freeze is only one useful tool in a set available to most consumers to lower the risk of identity theft and it should be employed only in combination with other proven means of dealing with the entire spectrum of identity theft and identity fraud," said Yan Ross, Project Manager for ICFE Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist (CITRMS).

ICFE cites the following:

(1) According to FTC statistics, a significant portion (in some states, nearly 50%) of reported identity theft cases are types that do not appear in the credit report of the victim – such as employment fraud, medical benefit fraud, non-financial criminal usage, and government benefit fraud. A pending United States Senate investigation even suggests that refunds on bogus tax claims are costing the innocent victims copious amounts of both time and money.

(2) The false sense of security a consumer may have, based on buying credit monitoring services or imposing a credit freeze, may result in failure to take other steps to prevent or mitigate damage from other types of identity theft.

(3) Unless there is demonstrated ability by an identity theft solution provider to assist a covered victim with on-going professional resolution services, paying for a credit freeze or monitoring is simply not an effective means of protection.

ICFE is a major participant in the fight against identity theft and is an active member of the Identity Theft Standards Panel, a joint initiative sponsored by the American National Standards Institute and the Better Business Bureau, calling for establishment of uniform standards for the creation, transmission, and maintenance of sensitive consumer information.

ICFE has developed a certified course in Identity Theft Risk Management (CITRMS); which has been accredited for up to 30 hours of continuing education credit by the governing bodies of numerous professional disciplines. Participants are trained to take preventive steps to avoid becoming victims of identity theft, and to also help consumers and small businesses manage this risk.

More information is available online at

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