By Susan Grant

Earlier this month, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released guidelines that encourage identity theft service providers to act responsibly and help consumers choose services that follow best practices.

Another resource for consumers is the CFA’s tips, “9 Things to Check When Shopping for Identity Theft Services.” You can find the best practices, the tips and other materials about identity theft on the CFA’s website. Some identity theft services can cost hundreds of dollars a year, so it’s important to understand the features of the programs and what they can and can’t do for you.

No identity theft service can absolutely prevent your personal information from being stolen or used—if that’s the pitch, steer clear! But they can help to detect fraud quickly, and many offer advice on what to do if you become a victim. Some even resolve victims’ problems for them. There are also many things that you can do to reduce the risk of identity theft and to resolve problems if they arise.

So if you’re concerned about identity theft, take advantage of the free advice that’s available from government agencies and other sources, and compare what different services offer to decide what meets your needs the best.

For a podcast about the development and objectives of the CFA’s Best Practices for Identity Theft Services, listen here.

Susan Grant is the Director of Consumer Protection for the Consumer Federation of America.   The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors.

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