Like many people, I'm worried about identity fraud. Not paranoid, just generally curious what the chances are that I could be victimized by things like mail theft. Sure, I could sign up for one of the fee-based identity fraud monitoring services like LifeLock or Debix, or I can get a credit report that might give me some clue that a credit card has been taken out by someone else in my name.
Now there is a Web site that offers an assessment of a person's identity fraud risk for free.
The site scans the company's ID Network, billed as the largest identity fraud database in the U.S., to see what types of activities and transactions have been made in your name. It looks at hundreds of variables and data points and then looks for anomalies, such as credit card applications on the same day with different addresses or pre-paid cell phone purchases in a short period of time, said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer at ID Analytics.
The site focuses on transactions that use your personal data and does not look at account fraud in which someone uses your stolen credit card or in which your credit card data was stolen in a network breach at a payment processing company, for example.
"We look at events within the network, such as whether someone is using your information to apply for credit cards," he said.
I tried the site out and am happy to report that my score was 63, indicating low risk. Most people fall within the range of 1-450, which is considered moderate risk, according to Oscherwitz. A score of 600 and above is considered high risk, he said.
The site asks for basic information such as name, address, phone number, and date of birth. It also asks for Social Security number but does not require it (I passed on that as I avoid giving out that most sensitive piece of personal data if I can).
The site then asked a series of multiple choice questions that the legitimate Elinor Mills would know, things like identifying cities I've lived in, addresses, phone numbers, and middle initial.
Once the score is displayed, the site offers information for how to obtain free copies of a credit report and offers links to other sites with information about identity fraud and companies that offer monitoring services.
For consumers whose score is high the site partners with the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center to provide more information about what underlying data triggered the score, Oscherwitz said.