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zendough.com by TransUnion Survey Finds More Than 10 Percent of Consumers "Have No Idea" How to Detect if Identity Has Been Stolen

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - April 1, 2010) -  Javelin Strategy & Research recently found that the number of identity theft and fraud victims in the United States last year increased 12 percent to 11.1 million adults and the total annual fraud amount increased by 12.5 percent to $54 billion. Despite the increase in cases of identity theft, a recent Zogby survey commissioned by zendough.com by TransUnion found that more than one in ten respondents (10.4%) said they would have "no idea" how they would most likely detect that their identity would be stolen.

"Research shows that consumers spend an average of 159 hours and $1,865 in out-of-pocket expenses repairing damage done by identity theft," said Heather Schneider, education director for zendough.com by TransUnion. "Victims of ID theft spend a significant amount of time and money recovering from the damage done to their finances and credit, when simple awareness and monitoring can help people reduce their risk."

Consumers can sharpen their detection senses with the help of the ID Risk Score and ID Risk Alerts. Available through zendough.com, the ID Risk Score is an assessment of a consumer's risk of becoming a victim of identity theft based upon the use of identity elements, such as name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and phone number in the public domain. ID Risk Alerts are triggered when a consumer's identity elements are used to apply for a new account such as a credit card, retail card, auto loan or mortgage at the point of application. An email is sent to the consumer as notification that the alert is waiting in his or her secure account at zendough.com. Both features are powered by ID Analytics.

In the event that a consumer does become the victim of ID theft, zendough.com's white-glove service helps take the stress and worry out of the unfortunate situation by providing direct access to a personal zendough case manager to help minimize the impact and assist the consumer in regaining control of personal information. Case managers assist members by contacting creditors to immediately close fraudulent accounts, notifying other credit bureaus about potentially fraudulent information and requesting a fraud alert be added to each of the consumer's credit files.

While identity theft can happen to anyone, the experts at zendough.com have created a list of basic tips to help consumers reduce their risk of becoming a victim and better protect their personal information:

Create a secure oasis for your computer. Protect your computer by using a firewall, anti-virus software and other security measures to prevent unauthorized access from outside sources.

Be cautious with personal information online. Avoid providing personal information, such as your Social Security number, in response to an email request from any financial institution, Internet service provider or other organization. E-mails claiming to be from a reputable firm and asking for sensitive information are often fraudulent. A simple phone call can help people confirm their legitimacy and deliver information over the phone.

Soothe fears by shredding sensitive documents. Identity thieves get information from many sources, including the mail and even trash bins. Make a practice of shredding pre-approved credit card, insurance or loan applications, bills, credit card receipts and anything that contains your personal information, when you no longer need them.

Achieve financial peace of mind through regular monitoring. Checking personal credit reports and other accounts on a regular basis, using a tool like zendough.com by TransUnion, can help consumers keep tabs on all of their financial activity. Familiarizing themselves with personal credit history and cross-checking current activity can make it easier for people to identify and quickly repair any potential fraudulent developments.

Know the next steps in case of identity theft. Nearly 62 percent of survey respondents said they would first contact their bank, credit card company or the police upon discovering their identity had been stolen. If someone suspects that their personal information may have been compromised, it's important to place a fraud alert on each of their three credit files to prevent further damage. This can be accomplished quickly by calling just one of the three national credit reporting companies, which will set the alert and notify the other two companies to do the same. They should also contact their bank, credit card issuer and utility providers as soon as possible.

About the Zogby Survey

Zogby International was commissioned by zendough.com by TransUnion to conduct an online survey of 2,068 adults. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from 2/17/10 to 2/19/10. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

About zendough.com

Through a suite of easy-to-use tools, tips and resources, zendough.com helps consumers gain better control of their finances and guides them to making peace with their money. zendough.com offers credit reports, a credit score and grade, identity theft protection and a summary of debt accounts, all designed to awaken members to their financial situation and provide them with the wisdom to achieve their financial goals. zendough.com is a direct-to-consumer product of Chicago-based TransUnion Interactive, a subsidiary of TransUnion, a global leader in credit and information management which maintains credit histories on an estimated 500 million consumers across the globe. 

About ID Analytics

ID Analytics, the leader in on-demand identity intelligence, protects both organizations and consumers by providing unprecedented real-time visibility into the risk of individuals. ID Analytics pioneered identity-scoring technology. ID Analytics combines three unique capabilities to assess risk and improve the customer experience across all consumer touch points: the ID Network® -- the nation's only real-time, cross-industry compilation of identity information; Personal Topology™ -- an individual's particular identity characteristics and their connectedness to each other; and ID Analytics' proprietary Advanced Analytics(SM). Leading communications, financial services, retailing, and healthcare companies, as well as multiple government agencies, trust ID Analytics to provide solutions that drive new revenue opportunities, reduce financial losses, and facilitate compliance with federal regulations. ID Analytics is based in San Diego, CA.

Editor's Note: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Steve Mann at smann@c-k.com or 312.616.3830.