ICFE eNEWS #08-13 - August 5th 2008
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2008 Benchmark ICFE Study: What Features, Services and Security Identity Theft Protection Services are Offering Today.

San Diego, CA. The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), recently completed a new study on identity theft protection services and fees offered by over twenty firms. The comprehensive study is on the broad range of identity theft protection services widely made available to the public by firms ranging from the three major credit reporting agencies to companies with specific technical and security expertise to internet start-ups offering protection.

It is important to note individual consumers have different needs and capabilities, just as all holders of protected information do not face the same situation when a data breach occurs. Some plans are more comprehensive in their methods than others and some are more costly. According to Yan Ross, ICFE's Project Director, "There is no single 'best' provider for all purposes." The average monthly cost of these services is about $9.

Contrary to a common misconception, identity theft risk management that stops with monitoring or freezing the credit report cannot prevent nearly half of the reported incidents of identity theft. These include employment fraud, medical and benefit theft, driver's license issuance, and even criminal activity done in the name of the victim.

Beyond credit file monitoring and the imposition of freezes or alerts, broad-based monitoring of databases that include personally identifiable information is generally the most effective starting point for preventing identity theft. Immediate, early notification of potential incidents and prompt follow-up are also essential.

"Some plans offer guarantees with varying degrees of ability to fulfill them. The most valuable of such guarantees are those in which the restoration services are carried out by specialized third party providers or in-house, licensed investigators," Ross pointed out.

According the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), many people find value and convenience in paying an outside party to help them exercise their rights and protect their information. At the same time, some rights and protections all consumers have under federal or state laws can help protect identity and recover from identity theft at no cost.

The consumer and other users of these services need access to information in order to make informed decisions on which is best for their current need. The ICFE's Report is a feature-by-feature analysis and comparison of over twenty of the most prominent identity theft risk management programs available in the market today.

Knowing and understanding consumer rights and the products and services offered can help you determine whether - or which - commercial products or services may be appropriate. The purpose of this study is help consumers evaluate these offers and determine which ones merit consumer consideration and which ones should be passed by.

The Report also includes a section for organizations that hold protected consumer information that may be subject to unauthorized access. In the event of such breaches, the affected organization must determine the appropriate remediation plan and which of the providers of identity theft risk management services is best for them.

This report was underwritten by ID Truth of Waltham, MA. The report was conducted by Yan Ross, CITRMS, ICFE Project Director.

A "Consumer Summary" and a "Summary for Holders of Protected Information" will be available as separate publications on ICFE.info.

Both Identity Truth, Inc and the ICFE are members of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel (IDSP). The IDSP is brings together the spectrum of standards and guidelines germane to ID Theft & Fraud Prevention and ID Management that exist across industries and sectors into a single resource, accessible to businesses of all sizes and types.

For information contact:
Yan Ross, CITRMS
ICFE Project Director
Direct Line: 602-703-3336

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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