You might not see it, but a lot is going on when you have identity theft protection. Your name is entered into a ‘watch list’ and managed by the identity theft company. If your identity is ever published in a black market website, you will get notified of what was said and where it was posted. No matter the circumstance, you will get tipped off if there’s reason to worry.
Pro tip: Take fast action when you find out you are an identity theft victim. Put a credit freeze on your file to prevent any further damage and to give you time to analyze the situation.
These are some interesting points to note. So, it might come as a surprise to you that many do not respect these companies. But, a big reason for that is because people don’t truly understand how identity theft protection and credit monitoring services work.
So, let’s address that …
How Does Identity Theft Protection Work?
An identity theft protection company will monitor your credit file. This means everything attached to your identity and your credit report will get tracked. If any signs of fraudulence arise, you will receive an alert. From there, you can decide whether there is reason to worry. The protection service will go a step further and help reduce your risks of becoming an identity theft victim. All of them will give some sort of settlement through a guarantee or insurance payout if you do become a victim.
The point of having identity theft protection is to be able to identify an identity theft attack as early as possible. This reduces the amount of damage you will face, both in the form of money and time. Plus, the identity theft company will step up and take responsibility for the identity restoration process. This could save you an approximated 300 hours of paperwork and phone calls.
An early detection means a better chance to defend against the attack. For example, these companies will watch for any use of your social security number. If an instance comes up, you will find out right away. This means you can stop the attack before it happens and keep your identity in good health. While not a bulletproof prevention method, it does help a bit.
Identity theft companies offer protection services with many different security features. Each company has something unique to offer. As you can see on Elite Personal Finance’s “The 10 Best Identity Theft Protection Companies” .
What Can Credit Monitoring Services Do?
Now, credit monitoring services are really made for the purpose of keeping track of your reputation as a borrower. These services allow for regular update on your credit score, often through the company’s proprietary calculation. Credit monitoring is helpful for those looking to build their credit and up their score, but it’s not as beneficial for identity theft prevention purposes.
That said, these two service types do get paired together a lot. For a nominal amount more, you can get plans that include both identity theft protection and credit monitoring services. This will help catch any credit fraud, which could correlate with identity fraud. But, only identity theft protection services are necessary for those stressing over identity theft threats.
How Can You Stay Safe from Identity Theft?
Estimates indicate that 12.7 million Americans were identity theft victims. This is an astonishing number, and one that makes up just over 4% of the United States population. If you don’t want to end up a statistic, you need to get ahead of the learning curve. Identity thieves find new ways to attack every single day, which is why trusting a protection system is a smart idea.
Besides getting identity theft protection, some other things you can do to secure your identity include:
- Get a PO box to avoid identity theft through mail thieves
Mail fraud is a serious threat. The most common technique now involves stealing mail for the purpose of committing tax return fraud. Fraudsters cashed almost $6 billion in fraudulent tax returns in a short period of time. Getting a PO box eliminates most risks, as it removes almost all potential thieves.
- Keep your Social Security Number card locked up
It’s rare that you have to give your Social Security Number or show your card. So, keep it locked up in a safe or safety deposit box when it’s not needed. This is the single most important piece of information about you that could help an identity thief. You should protect it from other’s eyes as much as you can.
- Avoid using your credit card online and when on vacation
Many online shops pose security risks that don’t even show at the surface. If the site owner isn’t fraudulent, the website could still get hacked. An intruder could steal information from the database that identifies you. From there, they can replicate your credit card and defraud you. The site that has your information could hold it for many years before the attack even happens. But, if you just pay with PayPal then you avoid these risks.
- Take note of all your wallet contents in case of theft
It all starts with a lost or stolen wallet. The contents are often enough to steal your identity. As soon as it happens, all the companies you have cards with should get contacted. This is why you might want to keep a written backup of the contents in your wallet. Make note of the specific card, it’s numbers, and the support phone numbers. If anything happens, you just have to grab the list and make the calls. There’s actually an app from LifeLock that keeps track of your wallet contents and makes the calls if your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Place a 90-day fraud alert to have requests for authorization
if you worry about identity theft then the safest thing you can do is place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file. This will trigger an authorization request to you whenever your name is used to create a new account, make changes to an old one, and etc. This means you can stop an identity thief before they have a chance to strike.
You Can’t Protect Your Identity Without Help!
There are tons of ways you can improve your odds of staying safe from identity theft risks. This does not mean you will have bulletproof protection. All it takes is one piece of information slipping into the wrong hands. If an attacker makes the right approach, the damage will be done and you will end up spending countless nights working to restore your identity.
That’s where identity theft protection services show real value. If you do become a victim, the company steps up and takes charge of the situation. They make the phone calls, and they even pay for any expenses related to the restoration of your identity. This on it’s own serves as a form of liability insurance, and it saves you from having to constantly worry about identity theft.
Of course, identity theft protection services do not make miracles happen. An out-of-pocket loss of $10,000 will not just get wiped away. These companies only cover certain expenses, but they still take responsibility for most of the phone calls and paperwork. This takes a heavy load off your shoulder and makes it worth the cost of protection, every single time.
Final verdict: Identity theft protection is a MUST for anyone who wants their identity to always be safe!