While watching a local news station, I came across a pretty interesting concept: an ID Score, which attempts to quantify your risk of having your identity stolen or your personal information misused. The goal, as noted on the main site, is to give you an idea of how much you have to worry about having your identity stolen. It’s a laudable goal, and the information provided about how to protect your identity is helpful and proper (although, the link provided to the FTC’s identity theft guide is probably the most helpful of all).
I do have a problem with My ID Score, though: when I attempted to get my ID score, I discovered that they would need my Social Security number to verify my identity. Although the first page I came to claimed that giving my Social Security number was optional, attempting to get a score without giving it led to a page saying that my identity could not be verified with the information given, and that providing my SSN would help with identification.
This set off some pretty big warning signals in my head; one of the first pieces of advice on protecting your identity given out by almost every source is to not give out your Social Security number to any person or organization you don’t fully understand, especially online. Given this, it seems rather ironic that a group promising to help you protect your security would want you to give out this sensitive info. Add in the fact that this ID Score is still a new concept (unlike, say, a credit score) and not currently used by any groups to determine whether to give you money or hire you for a job, and the risk did not seem worth it.
As a result, I didn’t go through with getting my ID Score; instead, I’m simply going to go about protecting my credit on my own. In addition to not giving out my Social Security number or other sensitive information in most cases, I’m always sure to check my credit reports regularly (I actually signed up to get my credit score monitored at MyFICO.com, but that’s something rather different), shred all my important personal documents, and closely watch my credit card statements for unusual activity. I’ve considered getting a credit freeze, as well, although I’m not sure if that will provide a good level of protection for the inconvenience it would cause over the next few years as I potentially go back to school or buy a house.
So, I have to ask, has anyone tried to get their ID scores yet? Do you have any good alternatives to this service that don’t require giving out personal information? Are there any big ways to protect yourself from identity theft that I’ve missed?