Banks seek edge with free ID theft protection

Source: Christine Dugas, USA Today

To stand out from the competition and attract depositors, a number of community banks and credit unions are joining insurers and a few major banks like Citibank in offering customers free identity theft recovery service. The service is aimed at helping victims close compromised accounts, place fraud alerts and prevent additional damage. Such efforts could help squelch identity theft, which claimed an estimated 8.9 million victims and accounted for $56.6 billion in losses in 2005, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

In the past year, about 130 credit unions and community banks rolled out free identity theft recovery services to their customers, according to Identity Theft 911, which contracts with businesses providing the service to customers and employees.

MetLife Insurance, for example, which has offered free identity theft recovery service to its homeowner policyholders since June 2005, extended it to customers of its online MetLife Bank in December.

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