How valuable is your ďfreeĒ time?
Weíve all opted, at one time or another, to hire people or engage services for everyday jobs we could do ourselves, but simply donít want to. Services such as lawn care, house cleaning, catering, hair coloring or nail care are viewed by many of us as well worth the price tag. Sure, I could wash my own car, but I choose not to. Instead, Iíll pay to drive through a car wash or to get a professional manicure every so often, simply because I donít want to do it myself.
After spending the better part of 15 years disputing, correcting and guarding my credit identity, Iíve come to the conclusion that a) I donít want to do it myself anymore; and b) if I could hire someone else to do it ĖI would. I canít imagine anyone who has spent the inordinate amount of time that Iíve spent cleaning up from a fraud or correcting negligent errors, not agreeing with this stance.
Iíve been adamantly and openly opposed to the various credit monitoring systems Ėmost notably the systems shoved at consumers by the three major credit bureaus. They just donít work when it comes to protecting your identity. Their services do not alert you if someone tries to open an account in your name, nor do they apprise you if someone used your name to commit a crime, or obtain a driverís license. Our identities are so much more than what appears in our credit reports. Credit monitoring services are not preventive in their approach and for a variety of reasons Ė they just donít work.
My identity is valuable to me and so is my time. I know that I have to be proactive if I want to ensure my identity remains just that...my identity. Since credit monitoring services are not the answer, and having determined that I simply donít want to go it alone anymore, I set out to find and hire a service that would actually take on the responsibility of protecting my name.
Shortly after sending an email to a company called LifeLock, the CEO of LifeLock, Todd Davis contacted me. After a lengthy conversation with Mr. Davis, in which we discussed the vast amount of time it takes a victim to restore his or her identity once it has been stolen, he kindly offered me a free one-year subscription to LifeLock. ďTry it out, Denise. After all youíve been through itís our gift to you,Ē he said. I thanked him, but turned down his generous offer because at the time, and not unlike other consumer advocates, I was a bit leery about hiring someone to do something I was more than used to doing and could do myself.
Until that is, the day I received an all too familiar phone call. It was the fraud department from one of my credit card companies, calling to alert me to yet another attempted fraud-one which they were able to thwart. In that brief moment, I realized that even though they were able to thwart that particular fraud attempt, they were not able to prevent what would inevitably come next Ėhours of ďclean upĒ work I hadnít planned on. I knew, from experience that I had to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, obtain, review and monitor my credit card and bank accounts, place fraud alerts, and generally notify all of my creditors to ensure that no other accounts were successfully accessed by the same thief.
Yes, it is true that consumers can place their own fraud alerts on their credit reports. They can contact Chex systems too, and even opt out of pre-approved offers of credit to stop the bombardment of targeted mass marketing. Consumers can also mark their calendars to remind themselves to update their fraud alerts every 90 days or so. We can do this, but I donít want to anymore Ė I quit!
Though many may feel that paying ten dollars a month (or a hundred dollars a year) is too much money for something you can do yourself, I view it differently. I prefer to see it as one of the many everyday jobs that I donít want to do myself and would prefer paying someone else to do. I didnít sign up for LifeLockís services because I had a free offer ĖI signed up because I value my time Ė and my sanity, for that matter. With someone else guarding my identity ĖI might just have the time to wash my own car Ėbut Iíd rather not.