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MyIDscore.com Offers Free ID Theft Risk Score

Consumers trying to determine their risk of becoming an identity theft victim typically are told to check their credit report for signs of unauthorized or suspicious activity. But a new Web-based service aims to give users a view into tricks ID thieves use that credit reports often miss, such as when crooks use only parts of a victim's identity to fabricate a new one.

The new service, www.myidscore.com, is a free offering by ID Analytics, a company that sells anti-fraud software to banks and other creditors. After providing some personal information and answering a handful of questions, visitors to the site are presented with a score from 1 to 999. Unlike credit scores, where a higher score signifies a favorable credit history, with myidscore.com, a higher score means a greater risk of identity theft.

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Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., said the difference between a credit report and ID Analytics' offering is that the latter tries to predict the incidence of fraud that may be associated with consumer accounts, whereas credit reports assess a consumer's credit history and the likelihood that he or she will repay their various lines of credit.

"The problem is that people have been relying on credit scores and credit reports as an indicator of identity theft, but neither of those things is going to tell you if a crook is impersonating you or not," Litan said. "The credit bureaus won't tell you if someone stole your name or Social Security number and is using it for another name. They'll only tell you what's in your exact record."

Larry McIntosh, chief marketing officer at ID Analytics, said the company's software queries hundreds of data points on each consumer to algorithmically spot anomalies that may indicate ID theft, such as recent applications for new credit that include only fragments of a person's identity.

McIntosh said myidscore.com probably would be most useful to people who have just been notified by a company that their personal and/or financial information was lost or stolen in a data breach.

"At least this gives people some insight they didn't have before, whether their personal information is being used without their authorization," McIntosh said.

That's important because in many cases six months to a year can elapse from the time when a thief hijacks a victim's identity or key components of that identity and when the first signs of that activity become apparent to the victim - such as phone calls or letters from debt collectors, said Jay Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego based nonprofit.

"In the case where someone is notified about a breach that happened a few weeks ago, anything an ID thief does with that information isn't going to show up on the victim's credit report for some time," Foley said. "But it will start showing up a lot sooner if you're also monitoring when the information is used in new credit applications."

The core executives at ID Analytics are some of the early pioneers in fraud detection. Bruce Hansen, the company's chief executive and chairman, and Alan Jost, its vice president of business strategy, were instrumental during the 1980s in building Falcon, a fraud-detection software package later adopted by many of the major credit card issuers. Today, a large number of financial institutions and other creditors use ID Analytics's software to verify a prospective customer's identity, Gartner's Litan said.

Myidscore.com can give a more accurate score if you provide your Social Security number, but that information isn't strictly needed to use the service. The first time I tried the service, I did so without entering my SSN. I answered some basic questions about my address history and then it spat out a score of 239. When I tried a second time and used my SSN, my score improved to 55. However, the service said it couldn't offer a score for my wife's identity without her SSN.

The service provides different advice depending on your score. Users who earn a mid-range score of 500-700, the "yellow-orange" area of the scoring chart, are advised to obtain a copy of their credit report, and place a fraud alert on their credit file with the credit bureaus. A fraud alert is a free service that last for 90 days, and prevents any creditors from granting new lines of credit in your name without your permission -- by contacting you through a method of your choosing (fraud alerts can be renewed every 90 days indefinitely). Consumers in this score range also are advised to consider buying identity theft prevention services from one of several listed companies.

Users with higher (worse) scores are advised to place a credit freeze on their account. Credit freezes block the issuance of new credit on the frozen file, and require the consumer to pay a fee both to place and lift the freeze. The fees and methods by which consumers can place and thaw a freeze vary according to state law.

One final note: If you browse the site with anything less than the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player, the site may prompt you to update that software. McIntosh said the company did that in part to help ensure consumers have the most secure version of Flash installed. While that is an admirable goal and one that I applaud, readers should not be in the habit of updating critical software like Flash from third-party sites. The latest version of Flash is 10.0.22.87, and is available via Adobe's Web site. This site can tell which version of Flash you have installed.

By Brian Krebs  |  May 18, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Fraud , Safety Tips  | Tags: id analytics, id theft, myidscore.com  
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Comments

For some reason they couldn't verify my ID and refused to provide any info.

Posted by: sheepherder | May 18, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Same for me, even with full correct info and a long and complete credit history. Perhaps this simply reflects a score of "zero", or no activity detected.

Posted by: realworld51 | May 18, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Same for me. Put in my full information, it said it couldn't verify my ID.

Posted by: theGelf | May 18, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Oddly enough, I'm not thrilled with the thought of giving my real name, address and contact information (let alone my SSN) to a web site and company I know little about.

I know there's a lot of stuff that goes on "behind the scenes" as it were that impacts identity theft (both my husband and I are in professions that give us a deeper view of that kind of thing), but I'm not sure how giving my information to a third party is supposed to make me feel better.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | May 18, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Got a score of 22 with SSN. I didn't try it without the SSN. Just a suggestion; You have to review the security questions very carefully in order to verify your identity. The low score I received did not surprise me in the least - my credit history is short and sweet.

Posted by: tuzoner | May 18, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Great. Another ID security site that wants to mine your data, then get breached.

Pass.

Posted by: mikehill33 | May 18, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I didn't enter my SSN and got a 165. I've had credit for 40 years so I have a long history

Posted by: GWGOLDB | May 18, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

How do we know this is a legitimate website? I googled "myidscore" and found almost nothing from them, nothing from any company I have ever heard of. It sounds like an ID stealing scam to me.

Posted by: CelticShot | May 18, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I trust that Brian screens these items thoroughly before posting.

Posted by: realworld51 | May 18, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@GWG - You don't find much history because the site officially launched only today. I had an opportunity last week to kick the tires and give it a whirl.

Posted by: BTKrebs | May 18, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Me too, Me too. After the standard stuff the site asked my SSN because it could not confirm my identity. I almost gave it... but then thought: if I do I'm really giving "someone" all they need to steal my identity... and just what IS the purpose of this exercise? Sorry: even with the direct link from this site, and all your recommendations, I will not complete it.

Posted by: sandygap | May 18, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I came up with a score of 203 without entering my SSN. I found the questions utterly pointless and wonder how these validated my ID. The questions didn't ask if I had had any scam occur. Yes, about two years ago an unknown person used only my SSN (obtained from where?), not credit card, to order $200 worth of frozen shrimp from Italian Swiss Colony (Wisconsin)shipped to an address in NJ, for which I was then billed (how did the company find me? It wasn't particularly helpful in sorting the issue out.) Nicely enough, the persons at the address refused to accept delivery: unfrozen shrimp back to Wisconsin. But I had to notify my local Florida sheriff's dept. and the FBI.

Posted by: Latania1 | May 18, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Postscript to the above message: Italian Swiss Colony billed my VISA account for the scam. What I found amazing--greed? stupidity?--that the company would take an order *without* a credit card account number.

Posted by: Latania1 | May 18, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Medium risk for me. I decided I wasn't about to put in my SSN.

Posted by: bytehead | May 18, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, so I should give personal info to a site I've never heard of to tell if I'm vulnerable to identity theft? Seems like it would tell them (or if they truly are "good guy", anyone who hacked their systems) lots of leads on candidates for id theft. No thanks!

Posted by: thriftygrrrl | May 18, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Web site appears to be down.

Posted by: ingbermr | May 18, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Hmnnn. I scored a 010. Not that I place much merit in that score. I have had my identity stolen 3 times in the past 3 years. Twice with AmEx and once with Visa. Each time this has happened it was caught quickly by the card companies pattern recognition. (No, I did not purchase anything from Digital Playground! google it!). I did put a credit hold on my cards through the credit reporting agencies to not supply my info unless I permit it. No credit card offers come in the mail to me anymore--since no one can check my credit rating.

I am not afraid of using my credit card on line or live, and use it often, but I do wonder how crooks seem to get access to information they need to change a mailing address, something that actually happened in one incident. I think that information has been stolen from credit card companies AND vendors accepting credit do not ask for enough information -- like the 3 digit security code on the back of the card -- it should always be asked for -- and yet it is not.

Posted by: dleithaus | May 18, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I provided full information and it came back with a 169.

Pretty cool site!

Posted by: Annorax | May 18, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

dleithaus - with all due respect, having your credit card numbers stolen is not quite as devastating as having your SSN and other personal details that you cannot change stolen. after all, the bank can always issue you another account number and card; not so with the rest of it.

Posted by: BTKrebs | May 18, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Great. Another ID security site that wants to mine your data, then get breached.

Pass.

Posted by: mikehill33 | May 18, 2009 10:16 AM

DITTO:

Posted by: georgethornton1 | May 19, 2009 4:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for signing me in.......

the level of security should be governed by the number of bytes not by the number of words......

the audio sections of the paradidm shift always brings parity to this equation...

when I say audio that surely means languages other than spoken English.....

the audio security club....
phonetic included....

salil.

Posted by: salilghoshal | May 20, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Same for me. Put in my full information, it said it couldn't verify my ID.

Posted by: wdnewho1 | May 24, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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