Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. For some people it’s a day to remember loved ones. For others it’s the most lucrative business time of the year.

Valentine’s Day means big business for restaurants, chocolate makers, flower shops and Hallmark. While the history of Valentine’s Day goes back thousands of years, marketers have hyped it to the tune of $17.6 billion per year.

A recent report suggests that the $3.5 billion identity theft business may be based on marketing hype too. A new study by Consumers Union  this month argues that identity theft is being hyped by marketers to scare consumers into buying costly and unnecessary services. While there is no denying that identity theft is a major problem, Consumers Union suggests those services “provide questionable value” and that you don’t need a costly service to protect your good name.

A recent New York Times article suggests that some of the most common types of credit card fraud are pretty easy to deal with and provides some ways protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Check your credit reports free once a year.
  • Almost every state allows you to freeze your credit report for free or for a minimal fee to stop fraudsters from opening accounts.
  • Banks offer services that alert you to potentially criminal activity, for example, if the card was used to buy something online or over the phone.
  • Even after all of these years, shredding documents that have bank, Social Security, credit card or insurance identification numbers is one of the most effective ways to avoid identity theft.

So, have marketers overhyped identity fraud services? Probably.

Do these services provide questionable value? Well, you can do a lot of stuff for free or minimal cost, but how many of you actually do it?

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