Millions at risk
Each year, millions of Americans experience a violation of their personal information that puts them at risk for identity theft.
"We're up to 217 million records that have been exposed to unauthorized access," says Levin, former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Levin says the majority of people who experience this violation do not fall prey to identity theft.
"Only 2 percent to 3 percent of people who are in those databases actually experience any kind (of identity theft)," he says.
However, many people don't want to take the chance that they will be the next victim. So they have turned to companies such as Identity Theft 911 and others to make sure their credit remains rock solid and their names stay good as gold.
Protecting consumers from identity thieves has spawned a $2 billion industry for companies like Levin's, says Rachel Kim, an associate analyst for Javelin Strategy & Research, a research firm specializing in financial services.
Getting protection through a third party
In some cases, people get an identity-protection plan through their bank or insurance company.
Identity Theft 911 provides identity theft protection to 1.7 million consumers who have accounts with organizations such as MetLife and Liberty Mutual.
"Some insurance companies have us as part of an endorsement to either their homeowner or auto owner policy, and they charge anywhere from $15 to $45 a year," Levin says. "In most cases, there is a reimbursement element to the policy and (our services) are a value-added service that the companies have brought in as part of that."
Levin says his company offers peace of mind to consumers.
"What consumers really care about more than anything is, if I have a problem, how am I going to get it taken care of?" Levin says. "And they look to their institutions to get the problem resolved."