Identify theft has become an increasing problem in recent years and it is wise to guard your identity. Being cautious by nature, I shred documents before throwing them away, shop with care online, and so forth. One thing I do not do is purchase credit monitoring services. I do not have to-the companies that have lost my personal information pay for that for me.
A while ago, my mortgage company lost a backup tape containing financial and personal data. Rather, the archive services vendor lost the tape when transporting it. I got free credit monitoring out of that. Fortunately, I had no problems. Yesterday I received a letter from my investment company-their archive servives vendor had lost a backup tape. So, I get yet another credit monitoring service.
This sort of loss seems far too common. While I do understand that the logistics of handling backup tapes can be problematic and that people make mistake, companies lose such information far too frequently. In my own case, I do not deal with many companies, but it has happened twice to me. Checking various news stories revealed that it happens to other people all too often as well.
While it is “nice” of companies to provide people with free credit monitoring after they lose all the information that would be needed to steal peoples’ identities, they should do more to make sure that this sort of thing does not happen.
Presumably these major financial companies pay their archive service vendors well enough that they can keep better track of the backup tapes. After all, that is their job. I can accept that an overworked employee who has many other jobs could misplace a tape. But, I infer that an archive service vendor’s sole responsibility is archiving such material. As such, they can be expected to do the job right.
Given the damage that identity theft can do, companies need to improve their protection of our data or be prepared to do more than just provide some free credit monitoring. Their failures could easily lead to financial nightmares for their customers-customers who expected them to keep their financial information safe.