This morning, Liz sent me a pointer to “Pentagon Creating Student Database” in the Washington Post. I said “Not blogging it. I have stupid privacy invasion fatigue.”
Apparently, I’m not alone. In “ID theft concerns grow, tools lacking,” Bob Sullivan of MSNBC reports:
Among the report’s most interesting findings: only 14 percent of consumers who were aware of their right to a congressionally-mandated free credit report said the reports were very effective in the fight against ID theft.
“The free credit report thing is basically a farce. It only tells you very specific information about your situation at a point in time,” Litan said. Consumers on the West Coast who downloaded their free report last November aren’t eligible for another year, and have had to watch the long string of data thefts with no recourse but to pay for another peek at their reports. “Everyone assumes consumers are dumb,” Litan said. “They’re not. They know these measures are ineffective.”
‘Not really a prevention tool’
Equifax spokesman David Rubinger said free credit reports were never advertised as a panacea for the identity theft problem.
“This is bearing out what Equifax has always said — free credit reports are not going to stop ID theft. They are just one tool,” he said. “The good news is there are products in private sector that can protect consumers.”
All three credit bureaus sell credit monitoring services for about $10 a month that allow daily credit report checkups.
Never advertised? Excuse me? You people fought them tooth and nail. And why should I pay $10 a month to enable their business model? So sorry, but I’d prefer to shut down all the gossip-mongers who I don’t choose to work with.
Joel Winston, an FTC lawyer who helps oversee the free credit report provision, agreed that the reports are not a panacea, but he thought the “program is working pretty well.”
“I’m a lawyer for the FTC, and I’m here to help you.”
Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Right Clearinghouse, said “The regulatory agencies have fallen flat on their faces. They are so industry-oriented they have lost site of who they are really supposed to be protecting.”