Consumer Awareness Campaign Turns Spotlight on Identity Theft Prevention
ATLANTA, May 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- According to a new consumer
awareness survey, more than 85 percent of Americans are concerned about the
threat of identity theft, yet less than half believe they're taking the right
steps to protect their identity and their credit health.
The survey, commissioned by SunTrust in April 2006, also revealed that 42
percent of consumers are extremely concerned about identity theft, and close
to 40 percent know someone who has been affected by the crime.
To help its clients combat this threat, SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI)
today launched a free identity theft protection and credit-monitoring program
from Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX), a global leader in the consumer credit
information industry. With today's announcement, SunTrust becomes the first
major bank in the nation to provide Equifax Credit Watch(TM) Silver protection
for free to select personal checking clients. Equifax Credit Watch(TM) Silver
typically costs $49.95 a year.
"Industry reports suggest that identity theft costs Americans more than $5
billion annually, claiming a new victim every 79 seconds," said Gene Kirby,
SunTrust corporate executive vice president and head of Retail Banking. "Given
the prevalence and destructive nature of this crime, SunTrust took the
unprecedented step -- beyond merely offering tips -- to make identity theft
protection a free and integral part of our preferred checking accounts."
SunTrust relationship checking account holders who enroll in the free
Equifax Credit Watch(TM) Silver will have their Equifax credit file monitored
weekly, and will be notified of key changes in their file, which could
identify potentially fraudulent activity. Clients also will receive up to
$2,500 in identity theft insurance, premium customer care seven-days-a-week,
and a free Equifax Credit Report(TM).
"Equifax is proud to be working with SunTrust to arm consumers with the
best early warning detection system against identity theft," said Steve Ely,
group executive, Equifax Personal Solutions. "Early detection is crucial to
helping consumers respond to suspicious activity on their credit file and
minimize the impact of identity theft to their credit and good name."
Since 2001, an estimated 27 million Americans have had their identity and
credit history stolen. But, according to the SunTrust survey, only 52 percent
of consumers say they have taken steps to do something to protect themselves
and their ability to take out loans and obtain personal credit. When compared
with the 32 percent of consumers who identified specific ways they've modified
their financial transactions, a large number of Americans are still at risk.
Identity Theft: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
According to the FBI, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes
in the United States. In fact, it affects as many as one in every five
American families and topped the 2005 list of customer complaints with the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency.
One of the difficulties in stemming the tide is the stealthy nature of
these crimes. Most victims are not aware their identity has been stolen, and
typically do not find out until thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent
activity has occurred. As a result, a quick discovery of the crime is
considered critical to hastening the resolution and containing the damage.
In a landmark 2003 national survey on identity theft, the FTC found, "the
cost of an incident of identity theft is significantly smaller if the misuse
of the victim's personal information is discovered quickly. The costs to the
victim -- both in terms of out-of-pocket expense and in time spent resolving
problems -- are also substantially smaller if the misuse is discovered
How SunTrust/Equifax Credit Watch(TM) Silver Protection Works
Almost half of consumers today (49 percent) are unsure of what to do to
prevent identity theft, according to the recent SunTrust survey. In response
to this overwhelming client need, SunTrust has joined with Equifax to offer an
early warning system for personal Relationship Checking Account clients. The
qualifying accounts are: SunTrust Smart Solution Checking, Preferred Checking,
Smart Solution Plus Checking, and Signature Advantage(SM) (including SunTrust
at Work(SM) versions). Once eligible clients sign up for free Equifax Credit
Watch Silver protection, they will be automatically notified of key changes in
their Equifax credit file.
Equifax Credit Watch Silver provides weekly monitoring of an enrolled
SunTrust client's credit file, and will issue an email or wireless alert
directly to them within days of potentially fraudulent or suspicious activity.
Clients can establish alert parameters based on their own spending and usage
patterns, so larger than normal balances or the sudden activation of a dormant
account will trigger an alert. When there is nothing to report, Equifax sends
a monthly "no news is good news message," accompanied by anti-ID theft news
SunTrust clients also receive Identity Fraud Expense Coverage, which
reimburses victims of a stolen identity event for certain expenses incurred up
to $2,500 (deductible applies).
"SunTrust is committed to helping our customers safeguard their most
valuable financial asset -- their identity. You can't put a price on peace of
mind," Kirby said.
Activating the Free Credit Monitoring Program
After opening a personal Relationship Checking Account, the account holder
can enroll in the Equifax Credit Watch program through a dedicated Internet
site. One Equifax Credit Watch Silver product is free per account. In a joint
account situation, one person on the account is eligible for a free product
and the second account holder is eligible for a second Equifax Credit Watch
Silver product at a substantially discounted rate. More information is
available online at suntrust.com/idtheft.
About the SunTrust Identity Theft Survey
The Russell Omnibus was conducted online from April 21 - April 24, 2006
among 1,095 online adults across the United States. Participation by gender,
age, and geography were weighted where necessary to match their actual
proportions in the population.
About SunTrust Banks, Inc. (suntrust.com)
SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's
largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial,
corporate and institutional clients. As of March 31, 2006, SunTrust had total
assets of $178.9 billion and total deposits of $122.0 billion. The Company
operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth
Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-
hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets
nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and
investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides credit
cards, mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital
markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com.
About Equifax (www.equifax.com)
Equifax Inc. is a global leader in information technology that enables and
secures global commerce with consumers and businesses. We are one of the
largest sources of consumer and commercial data. Utilizing our databases,
advanced analytics and proprietary enabling technology, we provide real-time
answers for our customers. This innovative ability to transform information
into intelligence is valued by customers across a wide range of industries and
markets. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax employs approximately
4,600 people in 13 countries throughout North America, Latin America and
Europe. Equifax was founded 107 years ago, and today is a member of Standard &
Poor's (S&P) 500(R) Index. Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock
Exchange under the symbol EFX.
SOURCE SunTrust Banks, Inc.
both of Cohn
& Wolfe for SunTrust;
or Hugh Suhr, SunTrust Banks, Inc.,
or David Rubinger,