Have you received a letter from ChoicePoint, a specialty consumer reporting organization that compiles and sells vast amounts of records, many of a highly confidential and sensitive nature, about millions of Americans?
Valuable Assistance to Consumers Affected by Identity Theft
If you do, the letter will tell you and about 150,000 other consumers, that you are one of their choicest, however unfortunate, record holders, because some of your most personal and private information was purchased from ChoicePoint by identity thieves, who duped them in the credentialing process.
Notification letters are being prepared by ChoicePoint, Inc., for mailing to some 35,000 Californians and an additional 110,000 recipients in other states. Some consumer advocates worry that there is potentially an additional unknown multitude, maybe hundreds of thousands, still to be determined across the country who have been victimized and don’t know it yet.
If you are among the thousands of ChoicePoint victims or receive a similar letter, will you know what to do? Who will you turn to for advice and help?
“Consumers across the nation can expect to be bombarded with offers to sign up for credit monitoring services, identity theft prevention services, identity theft insurance, or other programs and services of limited value by companies aimed solely at profiting from the situation. Don’t get scammed again,” warned Paul Richard, RFC, executive director of the award winning Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) based in San Diego, CA.
“It's very upsetting and a seemingly insurmountable challenge for unsuspecting consumers to suddenly learn their most personal and private information may have been sent out to crooks, especially by a company, ChoicePoint, that many didn’t even know existed," Richard noted. "ChoicePoint began as a subsidiary of Equifax in 1997, one of the big three credit reporting agencies. ChoicePoint has about 19 billion public records in its database including DMV, license and deed transfers, military records, names, addresses and social security numbers." he continued.
ChoicePoint has also announced they are providing free credit-monitoring services to those 145,000 individuals it deems to be at-risk. Expensive credit monitoring services that don’t even monitor specialty report companies like ChoicePoint aren’t very useful. Most only monitor a single credit bureau anyhow. The monitoring service also does not address the task ahead for victims.
Identity theft insurance is not really insurance because as the ChoicePoint incident clearly points out, it is virtually impossible to prevent or insure against this crime.
In this case identity theft insurance, available on some homeowner policies, may help victims recover some of the expense involved in clearing their good name, but it will certainly not reduce the time and hassle.
For more information about Credit Report Reviewers and Identity Theft Prevention Specialists please visit www.icfe.info.