Everything You Need to Know About Identity Theft Protection
Are you concerned that someone could leverage your personal information and drain bank accounts or rack up credit cards? In the age of digital bandits, we all need to take proactive measures to ensure identity theft protection because things like Social Security numbers, ATM card PINs, and other data are being hacked by online criminals every day.
According to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, the associated losses suffered by consumers upticked to $1.7 billion in 2018. That figure was more than double the out-of-pocket costs just two years prior. And, identity thefts connected to credit and bank card fraud topped 50 percent in 2018. While all these big dollar numbers are frightening, many of us are unclear precisely how identity theft protection works and whether a service is worthwhile.
What Does “Identity Theft Protection” Encompass?
The term has become something of a catch-all that relates to wide-ranging services. These include things such as credit monitoring, identity monitoring, identity recovery services, and even identity theft insurance, among others. The general idea is to prevent information losses, notify consumers about possible thefts, and recovery in the event you have been compromised.
DIY Identity Theft Protection
As heightened awareness has spread about how vulnerable we are to identity criminals, an increasing number of services have emerged. Many provide customers with feedback such as identity theft news, trending issues, and even localized crime information, in some cases. Although many people find it worthwhile to pay for a service, others prefer to take matters into their own hands. If you’re the DIY type, this is what identity theft protection involves.
- Monitoring: You will need to track daily changes to your credit reports and score. This can be accomplished by signing up to free credit score websites.
- Report: If you believe your identity has been leveraged, the federal government provides detailed recovery information at IdentityTheft.gov.
- Freeze: It will be up to you to contact at least the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union — and place a hold on your files. This is something you would be tasked with doing even if you hire a service.
Although non-professionals can conduct reasonable identity theft oversight, one of the primary differences may be that top-tier services provide 24-7 vigilance.
What You Need to Know About Identity Theft Protection Services
The driving forces behind purchasing identity theft protection tend to be feeling secure, and recognizing a service is far more likely to catch a potential threat. That’s largely because everyday people have a wealth of other tasks on our plate. But only by understanding what people are paying for can you make an informed decision about signing up. These are some of the subtle details about identity theft protection services to consider.
- Credit Report Monitoring: This service tracks designated credit reports and sends you an alert if a concern arises. It does not usually extend to Social Security numbers or bank accounts, among others.
- Identity Monitoring: This service may keep tabs on your Social Security number being used on financial applications, among others. For instance, you would receive an alert if someone applied for a quick loan using your number. One of the subtle things to know about this service is the frequency of an outfit’s preventative scans.
- Recovery Services: In the event of identity theft, this service intervenes and alerts creditors and key stakeholders. You will likely be promptly informed to freeze accounts and credit agency activity.
- Identity Theft Insurance: This product reimburses you for losses associated with restoring your identity. The caveat is that many of these types of insurance policies do not refund for stolen assets or money removed from bank accounts. Other insurance products may provide those types of coverages.
It’s important to keep in mind that identity theft protection does not necessarily act as a deterrent to someone stealing your information. It’s up to you to protect login information, passwords, PINs, and use only secure wireless when conducting financial transactions online. However, identity theft services can promptly notify you in a crisis and help minimize losses.
Related: 10 Identity Theft Protection Tips to Keep Your Bank Account Secure
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