Bank of America offers credit monitoring through its Privacy Assist program. Is this program the right choice for you, or should you go with another credit monitoring service provider? We’ve broken down the program so you can compare it to similar options.
Bank of America Privacy Assist costs $9.99 for month, which is about average for a credit monitoring program. When you enroll in this plan, Bank of America monitors your credit reports with all three credit reporting bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If it notices any activity that could indicate identity theft, Bank of America alerts you regarding this. In the event that you need to dispute an error on your credit report, a representative can assist you with that. Since credit report disputes can be a frustrating process, having the help of an experienced representative can speed the process along for you.
Bank of America also provides you with all three of your credit reports when you have Privacy Assist. While this is convenient, it’s nothing that you couldn’t already get yourself by simply requesting your free annual credit report from each bureau.
The main drawback of the Bank of America Privacy Assist program is that it doesn’t have nearly as much protection as programs offered by its competition. This makes it a poor value, because you could find a program with far more coverage for an equal or lesser monthly fee.
There are a variety of ways that criminals can gain access to your information. An alert when there’s an indicator of identity theft on your credit report is useful, but there are better preventative measures out there. Other companies offer credit monitoring plans that include internet surveillance, which means they look through sources of compromised information online for your debit card number, credit card number or Social Security number. Bank of America Privacy Assist lacks this feature.
Many other companies also provide assistance with resolving issues when you’re a victim of identity theft, dedicating a representative to help you with the process. This makes it much easier to get your life back on track, but this is another feature that you don’t get with Bank of America’s credit monitoring.
Bank of America also doesn’t offer any identity theft insurance coverage. Other companies have plans that include insurance coverage for expenses related to identity theft, such as legal bills and lost wages. Coverage amounts could be in the thousands or even go up to $1 million. With Bank of America, you’ll need to pay any identity theft expenses out of pocket.
There was a lawsuit filed against Bank of America relating to illegal credit card practices going as far back as 2000. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Bank of America billed its customers for add-on services, including Privacy Assist, without their authorization. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ruled against Bank of America in 2014 and required that it pay $727 million to reimburse customers for these illegal practices. Bank of America had also advertised a 30-day free trial to customers and then charged them upon signup, which resulted in a fine of $45 million.
This lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean that Bank of America isn’t trustworthy today, or indicate that its Privacy Assist program is lacking. But it is something to take into consideration, as it does show that Bank of America has been deceptive to its customers in the past.
The Final Verdict
If you’re already a Bank of America customer, then adding Privacy Assist could be a convenient option to monitor your credit reports for possible issues. That being said, there are several better options available, so non-customers should continue looking. Even Bank of America customers would likely be better off choosing another credit monitoring service.
Bank of America Privacy Assist may be fairly affordable, but it’s a poor choice from a value perspective, because you’re getting much less. LikeLock and IDShield are two notable examples of credit monitoring companies that provide far more protection at the same price or less than Privacy Assist. Shop around and you’re likely to find many other plans with more to offer.