Many of these third party credit monitoring services also induce people to provide even more information than was leaked in the original breach.
For example, ID Experts — the company that OPM has paid 3 million to offer credit monitoring for the 21.5 million Americans affected by its breach — offers the ability to “monitor thousands of websites, chat rooms, forums and networks, and alerts you if your personal information is being bought or sold online.” But in order to use this service, users are encouraged to provide bank account and credit card data, passport and medical ID numbers, as well as telephone numbers and driver’s license information.
That’s because it’s impossible to freeze a credit file that doesn’t exist, and most minors aren’t going to have one (hopefully).
According to Experian, if your children already have credit reports in their names, one of three things has happened: You have applied for credit in their names and the applications were approved; you have added them as authorized users or joint account holders on one or more of your accounts; someone has fraudulently used their information to apply for credit and they are already identity theft victims.
So discretion is preferred and they are usually quick to act without much in the way of gamesmanship.
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If you have already been victimized by identity theft (fraud involving existing credit or debit cards is not identity theft), it might be worth signing up for these credit monitoring and repair services.
Depending on in which state you reside, there may be a small fee to place and/or thaw a freeze on your credit file, and freezing them at all four major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union) could cost as much as .
This inability to monitor a person’s credit file when a freeze is in place speaks volumes about the effectiveness of a freeze in blocking anyone — ID protection firms or ID thieves included — from viewing your file.” I reached out to my followers on Twitter to gauge their reactions to this.
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Removing a security freeze to enable credit monitoring is foolhardy because the freeze offers more comprehensive protection against ID theft.
Credit monitoring services are useful for cleaning up your credit file *after* you’re victimized by ID thieves, but they generally do nothing to stop thieves from applying for and opening new lines of credit in your name. The most you can hope for from a credit monitoring service is that they give you a heads up when ID theft does happen, and then help you through the often labyrinthine process of getting the credit bureaus and/or creditors to remove the fraudulent activity and to fix your credit score.
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