Identity Theft… Or “You broke it, and I have to pay for it?”

Written by pete

Topics: Uncategorized

Today, I received an email from my bank promoting their new Identity Guard service designed to help “protect” me from identity theft. For $12.99 a month, my bank proposes to monitor my credit reports and react quickly to any indication that my personally identifiable information has been stolen and used without my permission.

This is reactive. It’s alarmist. And it puts the burden on me, rather than on the companies that are doing a poor job protecting my data in the first place. I am annoyed.

What if banks do a good job protecting my personal information in the first place instead? Most of the recent identity theft stories in the media relate to the large scale theft of personal information from banks, credit card issuers, online retailers, or transaction processors.

Yet when my credit is hijacked because a financial institution is lax with security measures, I pay for it by having to deal with the fallout. The banks do not. And they ought to.

So to the banks and credit card issuers offering “Identity Guard” products, I say this: Step up to the plate and take some responsibility. Protect my data, and insist that all of your transaction processing partners do the same. Until they do that, I’m hanging on to my $12.99 a month. I’m not going to pay banks for doing a lousy job protecting personal information in the first place.

If “Identity Guard” were free, I’d be more likely to accept it as a potential solution. But financial institutions, transaction processors, and other data collectors have created this problem for us. I’ve never seen a sign in a trinket shop that read, “If we break it, you bought it…” My bank shouldn’t say it either.