Saturday, January 14, 2006

Credit Monitoring and Similar Services that Protect Small Business Owners and Others Deserve More Attention

Identity theft can be a catastrophe for small business owners, but credit monitoring and other solutions can ward off the crime or minimize the fallout that follows. The new year has already seen reports that larger companies recognize the potential such services pose in helping small businesses and profit margins at the same time.

Credit monitoring and other services protect the small business owner when thieves compromise her identity. Other products can help civilians to track their identities and thwart beginning-stage thefts. These services all deserve attention.

A report in the Jan. 1 issue of the Orlando Business Journal indicated that at least one company now sees the value in publicizing and offering identity theft protection services. According to the article, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. has made identity theft insurance available on “all its new or renewed small business policies."

I appeared on CNBC’s “On the Money” on Jan. 3 with representatives from Allstate Insurance to discuss credit monitoring and identity theft insurance. It’s time for industry to revisit its efforts to promote credit monitoring and similar services. For a long time, I’ve informed those who attend my identity theft workshops of the many products available to them. These services have existed for years. Many people are unaware of this, but I always encounter huge demand.

Other, similar services, which I offer through my Web site, have been available for a while:

=>MyPublicInfo, an Arlington, VA–based identity management company, provides the Public Information Profile (PIP), a tool that can be very useful in tracing the public “threads” that run through our lives. Anyone who obtains a PIP can view public records connected to his or her name and also see information accessible to other people performing background checks. Citizens can use their PIP to make sure their identities are in order.

=>Kroll Background America, the world’s leading risk-consulting company, provides the Identity Theft ShieldSM. The product includes continuous credit monitoring; access to Pre-Paid Legal Services®, Inc., an affordable attorney service; and identity restoration assistance should the customer’s ever be stolen.

=>MyPrivateLine (MPL) is a service offered by PrivateTel and available through An identity thief can learn a great deal from little information. This information could be as simple as a phone number. MPL ensures the last bit of privacy protecting a phone user’s identity. A single person can use MPL when communicating via phone through online social sites. Business owners can use MPL, too, when they want to list untraceable toll-free phone numbers for classified ads.

News reports about the suspected theft of millions of identities last year gave the impression that consumers were helpless. Yet the best bulwark against identity theft is indeed the consumer. We need to educate consumers on what’s available to them to stop this crime where the rubber meets the road.


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