CreditSesame.com, which promises free loan-shopping tools “so you can save money and live richly,” now wants you to spend a little money.
In late April, CreditSesame, which has 3.5 million members, launched free identity protection services, which it hyped to the press as “an industry first and a game changer for consumers.”
But when it comes to protection, the freebie is extremely limited, and CreditSesame knows it. “If you want a more complete set of tools to monitor and protect your identity, check out our premium services,” CreditSesame tells consumers who want to learn about the free service. That “more complete” service will cost you $120 to $179-a-year in subscription fees.
We’ve never been a fan of identity protection services, because you can more effectively protect yourself for little or no cost. We recently took Target to task for offering free credit monitoring after hackers stole the payment card data and personal information of more than 70 million of its customers last year. Target's freebie monitors only one of the three major credit bureaus and serves as a foot in the door to upsell additional protection, and CreditSesame's offering is no better:
- CreditSesame’s free “identity protection” is really credit monitoring, which can primarily protect you from only a small fraction of identity fraud—so-called "new account fraud," and less so from the "existing account fraud" that makes up about 80 percent of so-called identity theft crime.
- Like Target’s service, CreditSesame only monitors one credit bureau—Experian—which can leave gaps in the protection, because the three major credit bureaus, which include Equifax and TransUnion, don’t all track the same information, so fraudulent activity not reported to Experian would be missed.
- On the plus side, if you subsequently become a victim of ID fraud, CreditSesame's identity restoration service offers live 24/7 telephone assistance that can walk you through the fraud resolution process and answer your questions.