Shopping for identity theft protection, a product that is gaining traction in the worksite market, is no easy feat. But a new Web site now makes it easy to compare half a dozen of the nascent industry’s leading service providers that are aggressively fighting this growing crime wave.
SafeIdentityProtection.com features a chart with side-by-side comparisons of the cost and benefits of what it considers the four best options for businesses and consumers, all of which include $1 million insurance policies.
The companies are LifeLock, TrustedID, Guard Dog ID and Protect My ID. The Web site also includes profiles of two other services: Identity Guard and Reputation Defender. While the Web site discloses that sales associated with some affiliate links help finance this service, it also pledges to carefully and honestly review each of these vendors in an unbiased way.
Philip Richards, who founded SafeIdentityProtection.com, noted that ID theft cost the U.S. economy $48 billion in 2008 and believes the 2010 price-tag will be higher once those figures are tallied up. He predicts that Web portals dedicated to this issue will “continue to grow and diversify” as these crimes intensify.
The Web site reports that 1.3 million ID theft complaints were filed in 2009 with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, Internet Crime Complaint Center and National Fraud Information Center. Moreover, a Javelin Strategy and Research study estimated that nearly 10 million identity thefts were committed in 2008.
Here’s a summary of what the six companies profiled on SafeIdentityProtection.com offer:
- LifeLock made a splash with provocative commercials with the company’s CEO displaying his Social Security number on the side of a truck. The company’s eRecon service scans criminal Web sites through which victims’ stolen personal information is bought and sold. A basic plan is available for $10 a month, or $100 a year, while more generous benefits cost $15 a month, or $165 a year.
- TrustedID, which also scans black-market Web sites, uses an “identity threat score” to determine one’s vulnerability to such crimes and flags the Internet for unauthorized loans and other credit lines in a customer’s name. In addition, anti-spyware and anti-phishing software keeps online habits, passwords and other sensitive information safe from prying eyes. An individual plan costs $10.42 a month, or $125 a year, while a family plan costs $20 a month, or $240 a year.
- Identity Guard features a patented ID Vault and Mobile Lock Box to safely store and access financial information from computers and smart phones, as well as a Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite to black spyware and other malware from one’s computers. Personal information also is protected for customers who use Wi-Fi hotspots. The company offers four plans ranging from $4.99 to $17.99 a month.
- Guard Dog ID, which also assesses one’s vulnerability to ID theft through an ID Risk Report, can notify customers if a sex offender moves into their neighborhood and transmit alerts of local missing children. Another service guards against payday loan thieves. The cost of plans range from $2.95 to $19.95 a month (the higher amount lowered to $18.33 for one-time annual payments).
- Protect My ID focuses on credit monitoring, which flags irregular transactions, and recovery services, which helps policyholders recover lost belongings, wages, etc. A Lost Wallet feature enables customers to immediately cancel all cards and accounts issued under their names. The service costs $12.95 a month.
- Reputation Defender targets employees or businesses that are just starting out, or looking to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. As the name suggests, the objective is to minimize or eliminate detrimental information that could tarnish a reputation. This service uses what it calls a “two-pronged proactive strategy” to block unwanted and potentially dangerous e-mail, as well as accent positive Internet content and de-emphasize negative content when prospective employers, lenders or customers conduct a search-engine investigation of the individual or business. The $9.95 monthly cost falls to $7.95 for a one-time annual payment and $4.95 for two years in advance.
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