Washington Mutual Launches Products to Respond to Identity Theft

Wednesday 24 March 2004 18:39 CET | News

Washington Mutual banking subsidiaries have launched two new products, Free ID Theft Services and ID Theft Inspect, to respond to customer concerns about the possible impact of identity theft.

Both the Free Identity Theft Services and ID Theft Inspect provide a package of options, which include an Identity Theft Resource Center staffed by specialists who can provide information on necessary steps to recover from identity theft and assist victims to place alerts with credit bureaus, file police reports, and resolve credit disputes. The recovery specialist can also prepare a First Aid Kit which is developed personally for each victim and contains letters that can be sent to affected creditors and agencies. In addition, customers have access to a special Washington Mutual website with identity theft prevention tips and credit management tools, as well as access to credit education specialists who can answer general questions about credit reports and how to manage credit. A distinctive feature of the two products is insurance coverage for certain out-of-pocket expenses such as legal fees and lost wages associated with identity theft. Free Identity Theft Services A number of banks have recently announced identity theft services, but most current products do not include access to credit education specialists to help consumers better manage their credit or provide insurance coverage for certain out-of-pocket expenses such as legal fees or lost wages - which Free ID Theft Services covers up to $5,000. ID Theft Inspect Under the enhanced product called ID Theft Inspect, which costs $10 a month, customers receive additional services to respond to identity theft and insurance coverage for certain out-of-pocket expenses up to $15,000. In addition to access to the identity theft resource center, victims of identity theft are assigned a dedicated case worker who will assist them in the reporting and recovery process. Other highlights of the enhanced program include: a one-stop resource for canceling lost or stolen credit and debit cards, ongoing credit monitoring of all three credit bureaus, quarterly updates of any significant changes to the customers credit reports or credit scores, credit alerts about any suspicious activity, and assistance in obtaining emergency cash advances if the customer is traveling and away from home. Early discovery plays an important role In fact, early discovery of identity theft fraud - which can be provided by credit monitoring and quarterly credit updates -- can play an important role in minimizing the impact of this crime. The Federal Trade Commission found that when the misuse of an individuals identity was discovered within five months of its onset, the value obtained by the thief was less than $5,000 in 82 percent of the cases. By comparison, when victims took six months or more to discover that their information was being misused, the thief obtained $5,000 or more in 44 percent of the cases. In addition to checking account customers, ID Theft Inspect is available to other Washington Mutual accountholders including mortgage and other deposit accounts. Furthermore as with Free ID Theft Services, the services offered by ID Theft Inspect apply to all accounts and banking relationships held by the customer. For example, a Washington Mutual checking account customer with ID Theft Inspect would be able to use the resource center and other features if the fraudulent activity impacts other financial relationships such as a savings account, credit card, or even a home loan. The following is a list of preventive steps that consumers can take to help prevent identity theft: -- Order a copy of your credit report and make sure its accurate and includes only the activities youve authorized. Do this on a regular basis to catch mistakes and fraud before they impact your personal finances. -- Place passwords on ways to access your credit card, bank and phone accounts - avoid using easily available information such as your mothers maiden name, your birth date, th

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
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Payments & Commerce