Over 27 million Americans have had their identities stolen over the last 5 years according to the Federal Trade Commission; included in this astronomical number, is an all time high of 9.9 million people victimized last year. There are a number of headaches and heartaches associated with this type of theft; none is more devastating than the effects this theifery has upon a person’s ability to qualify for a mortgage in order to buy a home. The negative effects of personal identity theft have been examined and documented extensively. Yet nobody can accurately estimate the effect this type of theft has upon both the Mortgage and Real Estate industries.
Consumers are constantly bombarded by credit repair companies, identity theft consultants, and consumer advocate agencies willing to safeguard their identities for a substantial fee. Many of these firms are reputable and do fine work. On the other hand, many of these “agencies” are scam artists, internet ripoff schemes, and worse yet identity theft criminals posing as legitimate companies.
What should consumers do to secure their identity? Where should they look if they do not wish to do it themselves, diligently follow all of the credit bureaus, and make all of the adjustments on an on-going basis? One very interesting option is offered by a company called Life Lock.
Life Lock specializes in protecting a consumer or businesses’ identity against theft. What differentiates Life Lock is their candor and their “guarantee.” Life Lock performs the following services while guaranteeing your identity safety:
Life Lock will “set alerts on all of your credit reports (there are more than just the “big three”). These alerts will usually be set within an hour.” The consumer should start receiving letters from the bureaus (Trans Union-Equifax-Experian) about 7 days after enrolling confirming that the alerts have been placed.
Life Lock automatically renews the consumer’s credit report alerts every 90 days; if these alerts are not reset in this time frame, the alerts would be deleted by the bureau.
One benefit the consumer receives is the permanent interruption of “pre-approved” credit offers and junk mail is dramatically reduced. Many people would be interested in this benefit alone.
The first point that lends credibility to Life Lock’s claims is their candor. Life Lock states “You have the right to do everything we listed above yourself for free. It’s the details of actually doing it, then re-doing it, then dealing with any problems that arise, then keeping up on the changes in the procedures of the bureaus, the new databases that are coming online, and the laws that become ponderous for most people and the reason that tens of thousands of people have turned to LifeLock.”
The real compelling piece to Life Lock’s business model is their guarantee. According to Life Lock: “In the unlikely event your lock is picked and you find yourself fighting to regain your good name, we’re going to do the fighting for you. We’re going to pay for the fight. And we’re going to make sure that you get every dollar back, lost wages, attorney’s fees, costs, actual losses, every dollar up to $1 million. Period. No fine print. If your Identity is stolen while you are our client, and your claim is legitimate, we’re going to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, however much it costs to fix it and you won’t lose a nickel, again, up to $1 million. If anything ever happens, you’re covered and you’ll have the best in the business fighting for you. No one else does that. No one. Anywhere. For any amount of money.”
As of this writing, Life Lock’s fee for an adult consumer is $10.00 per month or $110 per adult per year. And in a new scam, Children’s identities are now being stolen; criminals understand that they can operate unchallenged in this space. Life Lock is the “only company in the world offering identity theft protection for children. Children under age 16 are $25 per year with any adult enrollment.”
I invite Realtors and Mortgage professionals to investigate this service in order to provide valuable advice to their clients, remain knowledgeable on the best services for their clients, and to continue to be considered a one-stop shop resource and expert in their field.