Last week, I received via surface mail a letter from Bank of America offering their credit monitoring service. The offer was slickly disguised as a quiz:
"Bank of America want you and your money to be safe. that's why we're inviting our valued customers to take the enclosed quiz."
Are they serious? No way a quiz is going to protect my personal data. A quiz can inform me, but not protect me. Of course I read the rest of the letter just to see exactly what this bank was pitching:
"Receive your Personal 3-in-1 Credit Report, 3 credit scores when you try the bank of America Privacy Assist Premier service for 30 days at no cost."
It seems that the Privacy Assist service provides quarterly updates and the full text of 3 credit reports (e.g., TransUnion, Experian, and ), your credit score, and prompt notification (presumably via e-mail)
for about $12.99 a month. The fine print on the activation form mentioned the actual provider of the credit monitoring service is Intersections. The letter didn't provide a web site address for Intersections, so I looked them up online. Here's how Intersections describes itself:
"Intersections Inc. (NASDAQ: INTX) is a leading provider of branded and fully customized identity management solutions. By integrating its technology solutions with its comprehensive services, Intersections safeguards more than 5 million customers, who are primarily received through marketing partnerships and consumer-direct marketing of the companys IDENTITY GUARD brand."
According to a recent MarketWatch article about small cap stocks:
"One company Evans says has strong potential is Intersections Inc. which provides identity theft prevention, mitigation and resolution services to consumers with credit cards. The major card issuers, with the exception of American Express, use Intersections."
Also, the BofA letter presented a vague statement about identity theft insurance:
Up to $25,000 identity theft insurance at no additional charge to you (with no deductible).
I am really skeptical when I read statements or offers about "identity theft insurance." The statement really needs supporting detail, which the BofA letter doesn't provide. Some of the questions that come to my mind when evaluating an identity theft insurance offer:
- What are the deductible options?
- What is covered -- actual $$$ losses, expenses to restore credit, or both?
- What proof is required to receive payment on a claim?
- How fast are claims paid?
- Does the insurance cover losses within the USA or worldwide?
- Does the insurance cover identity fraud, where criminals use your personal data during a crime?
- Does the insurance cover identity fraud in the USA or worldwide?
- Does the insurance coverage extend to my estate?
Is Privacy Assist a worthy credit monitoring service?
Not for me. The pitch was lame. The letter seems focused on consumers who know little or nothing about identity theft, don't have a credit monitoring service, don't know their rights about access to free credit reports, and haven't been the victim of a data breach by an employer or prior employer. Plus, there are far better quizzes available online. (See my prior post about what makes a good identity-theft quiz.) This BofA offer contains pretty basic quiz questions:
- When was the last time you checked your credit report?
- Do you carry your social security card with you?
- Do you review financial statements and phone bills for authorized use?
- have you ever been denied credit for reasons unknown to you?
- Have you ever received a credit card you didn't apply for?
- Do you shred mail you've received for pre-approved credit?
- Have you ever been the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud?
What credit monitoring service offers have you received in the mail? What did you think of them? I've Been Mugged readers want to know.