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From Monitoring To Prevention: Switching To Debix

Credit monitoring services, especially those from the credit agencies themselves, leave a bad taste in my mouth. I find it unconscionable that I need to pay to gain access to personal information on me that affects my life at the deepest levels. In our modern society, a good credit rating is as important for our future safety and stability (and sex, to be honest) as a sharp spear and 20/10 vision were to early man. It sucks, but money makes the world go round and we can’t feed Maslow without it (nor can most of us afford homes without good credit).

I started using credit monitoring services long before identity theft was a big issue. Back then, reports were never free and credit scores weren’t in as wide use. I wasn’t paranoid or prescient, I’d just managed to screw my credit up so badly in college that I wanted to know exactly what I needed to clean up. It would probably still be screwed up if it weren’t for online banking; I’m really bad about using the mail.

When free reports were mandated by the government I kept with the monitoring service for two reasons- to gain access to my credit score, and for identity theft monitoring.

And monitoring is not protection- I may be able to detect new activity on my credit report within 1-3 days, but by that time the damage might be done.

Along comes Debix. The government has mandated that credit services allow consumers to place “locks” on their reports. No, this won’t stop the bank from reporting you as late, but it does mean they can’t open a new account tied to your record without explicit permission. Being a bunch of wimps beholden to big money, the government only mandated they lock (place a “fraud alert” on) your record for 90 days.

For the same price (or less) as credit monitoring, Debix will place a lock on your record and renew it automatically every 90 days. They link the lock to their call center, and when a creditor calls to verify that you really want to open the account the call center routes it to up to three numbers you provide. This has the added advantage of keeping your phone number off your record.

(Full disclosure: I was given a free preview, so I didn’t pay for the service. But it’s cheaper than the credit monitoring service I’m dropping).

Pretty cool- kind of like anti-exploitation for identity theft.

They also insure you and provide a few other features. They are a direct competitor of LifeLock, but LifeLock’s been in the news a bunch here in Phoenix for some… irregularities… that make me uncomfortable with the company.

I do like seeing inquiries on my credit report, but I can get that for free on a quarterly basis rather than needing it instantly. Debix is $4/month cheaper than my monitoring was, and blocks unwanted activity.

I like that.

—Rich

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By Credit Card Fraud Is Not Identity Theft | securosi  on  01/02  at  08:22 PM

[...] I just posted on switching to Debix, and it reminded me there’s something I keep forgetting to cover. [...]

By agent0x0  on  01/02  at  09:22 PM

I too am a current Debix customer. 

I actually got a free year from a certain government agency when they lost my personal data and I have stuck with them ever since :P…pretty pleased thus far.

By rmogull  on  01/02  at  10:39 PM

agent0x0: you get any calls yet? I haven’‘t applied for new credit so I can’‘t test that part of it.

By rbp  on  01/02  at  10:46 PM

Curiously, I have been pondering something like debix.

I wonder at the security implications of giving a 3rd party all of the data that anyone would ever need to totally ruin your life - including, presumably, the power of attorney to control access to your credit reports.

What assurances do they give that you’‘re not trying to get out of the frying pan by paying to jump into the fire?

By rmogull  on  01/02  at  10:51 PM

No power of attorney- they just shim between you and the credit agencies with a call center. They automate the fraud alert renewals and have their call center route calls to your phone (plus the insurance and a few other things).

Worst case they could approve things you don’‘t want, but you can’‘t stop that now anyway. Any idiot can get a look at your credit report, so no real security there.

It’s a trust issue. They go out of business if they muck with it. I know at least one of the investors, so I have a door to go knock on. The user agreement includes some legal protections, but I don’‘t remember what they are.

(BTW- that’s why I worry about LifeLock; not sure they are as reputable).

By rbp  on  01/03  at  09:35 PM

It doesn’‘t appear that Debix provides credit score/credit report information like the credit monitoring services, but perhaps they just don’‘t mention it on their site. Or do they?

Getting a credit report is easy, but getting your credit "score" is a little less obvious (unless they’‘ve started including the score with credit reports)..

By rmogull  on  01/03  at  09:41 PM

They don’‘t offer it; it’s protection only.

I’‘m okay with that these days- my credit is all cleaned up and my score was pretty good. I also think you can get that as a one-off report (for a fee), which is still cheaper than a monthly monitoring subscription.

By rbp  on  01/03  at  10:35 PM

FYI.

I just did the "free credit report" thing from Transunion (the other two will be done in 4 and 8 months respectively) and they will give you your credit score for $8 on top of the free online report.

By rmogull  on  01/04  at  09:11 PM

Note- the last comment looked like spam (someone promoted lifelock, but not with their normal url). Deleted.

By netsecpodcast.com » Blog Archive » Net  on  01/08  at  01:36 AM

[...] Debix for identity protection (no, they aren’t a sponsor). [...]

By Network Security Blog » Network Security Pod  on  01/08  at  02:04 AM

[...] Debix for identity protection (no, they aren’t a sponsor). [...]

By Network Security Blog » I’m not the on  on  01/18  at  08:18 PM

[...] Mogull recently switched to Debix and I’ll get him to talk about why and what they offer on the next podcast.  At this [...]

By ביטוח נסיעות  on  07/05  at  04:13 PM

thank you!

By rbp  on  08/01  at  11:37 PM

Experian is fighting back.

I guess they hate Debix’s business model. After 6-ish months of Debix putting fraud alerts on my account, Experian has sent me a letter saying "Because you’‘ve submitted so many fraud alerts, we need a gazillion pieces of personal information before we’‘ll apply the one you just asked for."

According to Debix, they’‘re doing this to a lot of people, and Debix has complained to the appropriate government agencies.

But, until somebody slaps Experian upside the head, Debix customers will have to interact with Experian themselves for fraud alerts.

Sucks, and if the other ones start doing it it’‘ll kill Debix and the other anti-identity theft companies.

By Doug Caldwell  on  08/07  at  12:59 AM

Thanks for the blog post and discussion comments.  I was looking for info about DEBIX and your personal experiences.  I would like to read more if the credit agencies are reacting to continuous fraud alerts.  If done every 90 by DEBIX or LifeLock in your behalf, what’s the difference if I do it myself every 90 days?

By CIQ  on  08/10  at  08:13 PM

:\ have you got any calls from them back yet?

By Doug Caldwell  on  08/10  at  08:45 PM

For CIQ:  no calls back yet.

By Kiki  on  08/28  at  02:55 AM

Experian has now agreed to continue setting fraud alerts submitted by Debix.  So yes!  Somebody slapped Experian upside the head!

By Zeehan  on  05/03  at  11:44 AM

Its a nice post regarding law and its values.I think its necessary to each and individual to follow the law and order.
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