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Today’s question – Consumer Reports suggests that ID protection plans often aren’t worth it?  Do I still think they’re a good idea?:

Bottom Line:  Today’s question comes from a gentleman who has heard me talk about the importance of identity protection services.  He also knows I’m a fan of Consumer Reports and cited a story by CR from last year (I’m included the link to that story below) that largely pans the ID protection industry and suggests that the services may not be worth the costs.  Here are the key areas of criticism by CR:

  • Embellished ID theft stats to lure in customers
  • Trial offers that often lead to unwanted charges
  • Credit monitoring that is hit and miss
  • $1 million insurance that is difficult to redeem
  •  Providing a false sense of security (of not becoming a victim)

Let’s work through those real quick…  Most of these don’t have anything to do with the actual service as it pertains to your overall usage. 

  • The embellished ads certainly aren’t a good practice but what does that have to do with the principal of ID protection? 
  • Ditto the trial offer compliant.  A trial that is difficult to opt out of without incurring costs by certain companies isn’t a reason not to protect yourself
  •  The credit monitoring that’s hit and miss is legit – I’ll come back to that one in a moment
  • $1 million insurance that’s difficult to redeem is valid but not all ID protection plans are equal – I’ll come back to this one as well 
  • Providing a false sense of security – again what does this have to do with the service

CR is at its best when they review and rate products – not necessarily when they are providing general commentary on industries.  That’s far more subjective. 

What CR does do effectively (by citing a different negative example on each of their points) is point out that there are many different companies in this industry and lots of different considerations.  To this point I haven’t made a recommendation regarding a specific company but I feel as though I should to attempt to be as helpful as possible.  Over the years I’ve been with three different companies as more options and services have evolved.  The one that I currently use and feel provides the most comprehensive coverage is Identity Guard:

In my experience they don’t miss anything online.  Every credit inquiry, account change (address, name, etc.) every new account – you name it.  They’ve been all over it.  Just yesterday Ashley completed a name change on one account that we opened before we were married.  I received an alert last night that there had been a name change request on an account.  It’s that type of detail that I find beneficial.  They also have legal backing to their $1 million dollar insurance. 

To address the final concern of CR – that you may have a false sense of security by using a service…  Identity Guard nor any other service should be looked at as a guarantee that you can’t become a victim.  It’s insurance if you are but most importantly, it should be looked at as the ultimate fire extinguisher.  You’ll know as soon as something is opened in your name if that ever were to occur.  That enables you to put out a small fire before it becomes a widespread forest fire with you name, credit and finances being burned.


Updated cost of college & why you might want to rethink that expensive private school:

Bottom Line:  The 2013 Princeton review of college values was released yesterday.  Unlike past years where I’d point out the top values in each category there is another item that’s worth looking at…  the gross cost of college rather than what the real net cost for the average student is.  You may be checking certain schools off of the possible list because the “sticker” price seems out of your range.  Well look again.


First the average cost of college per year: 

Public:  $19500

Private: $54200

Both may appear expensive but certainly the tag on the private education would appear to most to be a hill that’s too steep to climb, but is it? 

There is a big difference in the “sticker” price of higher education and the net that the average student actually pays.  By the time scholarships, grants, and other assistance programs are included – here is the average net cost of college per year:

Public:  $13450

Private:  $25000

That’s quite a difference and could change your entire view of what’s viable and what isn’t.


Tablets in the classroom are starting to catch on but maybe not the one you’re thinking of: 

Bottom Line:  So more Florida schools are buying into the tablet concept in the traditional school environment.  The biggest winner isn’t Apple though…  It’s Google. 

The Google Chrome book won more Florida schools over during the annual education conference.  Where they are most successful in converting school over other tablet companies… price.  At $199 the Google Chrome book has the most affordable price tag of a legit tablet on the market.  Google is also claiming that over the life of the tablet it will save $4000.  I have my questions regarding the 4k figure but even if it were 25% of that figure it’d be worthwhile.