A Google search with “Citibank credit monitoring” keywords retrieved a results page with the Citi Credit Monitoring Service site listed near the top. I clicked on that link which took me to this page:
The landing page copy was a little confusing, since it didn’t provide much information about the service. I clicked on a left-column “Click here if you are not a current member” link, which took me to the following page:
Apparently, CitiBank no longer accepts new enrollments for its Citi Credit monitoring service. I wonder why. The page didn’t provide an explanation. Was something wrong the service? The page provided a link to the Citi Identity Monitor service. Why the replacement service? Is it any better? I followed that link to this page:
The landing page clearly summarized key features and benefits of the service, plus its monthly price. (Hear that WaMu?) Features include daily credit file monitoring, alerts, 24/7 access to credit reports and credit scores, access to telephone support and help reps, and online access to credit information and credit tools. This is pretty basic, standard stuff. Nothing unique.
The following copy caught my attention:
“Access to 3-in-1 credit reports, credit scores and monitoring from the 3 leading credit bureaus at no additional cost”
Does the site provide a consolidated summary of consumer credit reports? Or does it provide the full text credit report, a format close to what the credit bureaus provide? I hope that Identity Monitor provides the full text.
The service provides consumers with assistance from, “Fraud and Credit Education Specialists,” but the site did not explain the qualifications of this staff. What experience and training do they have with identity theft? With credit resolution? Or, are they just glorified telephone reps? Unfortunately, the Identity Monitor site is about as poorly designed as most sites I've reviewed so far, since none of the sites I've reviewed explain the qualifications and experience of their fraud and credit resolution staff.
The service offers, “Identity Theft Expense Reimbursement Coverage of up to $25,000” which is about the same as insurance amounts available in some of the credit bureaus. The page also presented some odd copy in bold type:
“No matter what credit cards you have or who you bank with, help protect your identity and manage your credit with Identity Monitor.”
What does that mean? Any quality credit monitoring service helps a consumer manage and protect their credit reports independent of where the consumer banks and independent of what credit cards they use. This seemed odd as it attempted to position Identity Monitor as different from other credit monitoring services. If Identity Monitor is different, the site didn't say. This was my first warning flag that maybe the folks at CitiBank aren’t exactly sure what they are doing.
The Benefits page provided somewhat more detail about the service features and benefits. Many of the images were small and hard to read, even after I clicked on the “larger image” links. The Benefits page didn’t explain the alerts in detail, so you can’t tell if the service offers alerts via e-mail, text messaging, or customized alerts. The Benefits page also didn’t provide a sample of the credit report text, so you can’t tell if the service provides the actual full text of a consumer credit report, or a summary version.
The page included this copy:
“In the event of identity theft, immediate transfer to Citi Identity Theft Solutions”
That sounded interesting. What is Identity Theft Solutions? Is it another service? Must Identity Monitor subscribers sign up for it, or is enrollment included? Is there an additional fee? Is it an online service and web site, or is it just access to customer support reps via the phone? How does it differ from the fraud specialists available in the Identity Monitor service? Is it available to consumers while traveling outside the USA? The page didn't say, nor did it provide any links for more information.
The Benefits page did a reasonable job of explaining in plain English the insurance coverages. Like other services I’ve reviewed, the Identity Monitor insurance covers expenses a consumer incurs to fix damage from identity thieves, but doesn’t cover actual monies stolen. The page contained a link to the full text of the insurance coverage statement. Insurance is provided by s Virginia Surety Company, Inc. and the identity support and resolution services are provided by TWG Innovative Solutions, Inc. of Colorado.
The Enroll page includes a link to more information about the Identity Monitor service in plain English. That’s good, but the page lacked the site navigation presented on other Identity Monitor site pages. Why the omission? Plus, the Enroll page trapped my browser (e.g., Firefox v2) and disabled the browser Back button. CitiBank must be really desperate for new customers. Not a good customer experience.
Would I subscribe to Identity Monitor? It’s not for me. And I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
Why? Too many unanswered questions. I got the impression that CitBank did a quick deal with TWG, and threw up this Web site... perhaps in haste or haphazardly. The site didn’t convince me that this is the best credit monitoring service available. The site lacks key information and service details. I’ll keep looking for another and better credit monitoring service.
If you subscribe to Citi Identity Monitor, please share your experiences. I’ve Been Mugged readers want to know.
During the upcoming weeks, I will review more credit monitoring services. You can access prior reviews at the Product and Service Reviews page, or via "Product Reviews" in the right-column tag cloud. To receive alerts about future reviews, click on either of the e-mail or RSS links in the right column.