Sony updates: Identity theft protection open for customers & more

Sony launched its previously announced AllClear ID PLUS identity theft protection service, powered by Debix, in earnest on Wednesday. The program, available to all U.S. customers who had PlayStation Network accounts prior to April 20th, is ostensibly a step towards rebuilding trust with a user base frustrated by the nearly month-long PSN outage and looming possibility of their personal information used for ill.

Patrick Seybold, Sony’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media outlined the program and how interested customers could take advantage of it at the official U.S. PlayStation blog.

“PlayStation Network and Qriocity account holders in the United States can begin the enrollment process for the identity theft protection program by visiting [here],” Seybold wrote. “We are also notifying customers of the enrollment landing page via email, which you will receive in your inbox this week.”

Sony and Debix released the following joint statement about the offer:

AllClear ID PLUS is a premium identity protection service that uses advanced technology to deliver alerts to help keep you safe. The service also provides identity theft insurance coverage and hands-on help from expert fraud investigators. The first twelve months of the service will be free.

The collaboration will also offer $1 million in identity theft protection. A similar offer for Canadian PSN members is currently in development, commented Jeff Rubenstein, Sony’s Social Media Manager.

Good news for worried gamers, but a recent survey calls into question just how angry PlayStation 3 owners really are.

Popular video game news and review site GameSpot published the findings of a survey conducted by their very own GameSpot Trax.

In it, researchers discovered that out of 2,285 GameSpot PS3 owners 71% said that the PSN outage and data leak wouldn’t deter them from using it again and that neither had impacted their trust in Sony. Only 9% stated that they had already ditched the PSN for Microsoft’s rival pay-to-play online service, Xbox Live. Perhaps most surprisingly, however, was the 57% who said they believed Sony had handled the situation “appropriately.”

It took Sony a week after the PSN was shut down to tell consumers their personal information was compromised. The lackadaisical response drew strong criticism, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal sent Executive Deputy President Kaz Hirai a letter demanding answers.

As of press time, the PSN storefront – the final hurdle before complete restoration – has yet to be reopened. The announcement of a limited edition “Call of Duty: Black Ops” PS3 bundle that includes a download code for the “First Strike” map pack lends support to a May 31st (or earlier) return: that’s the day the hardware bundle ships to retailers. Without an active store, buyers can’t redeem the code.