The fear of ID theft has spawned a colossal industry of protection-related products and services. But what most people don’t know is that they can do most of the same things on their own without paying a single penny.
For instance, credit agencies and numerous other pitch pricey credit-monitoring services on their websites. As an expert, I actually feel like credit-monitoring services are really not worth it.
Setting up a fraud alert on your account automatically entitles you to an absolutely free copy of your credit history from each of the three major credit bureaus after every 90 days. And if you actually want protection, experts recommend that you limit access to your credit report and this is possible with a security freeze.
In most cases, ID-theft insurance is a poor investment. Particular policies tout $20,000 or even $10,000 of identity-theft reimbursement. But, the out-of-pocket costs for identity theft are normally very small. You are liable for just $50 in illegal credit-card charges, and that is in many cases waived. According to a study carried out by Federal Trade Commission, in more than 50% of the cases reported, victims suffered no out-of-pocket expenses for identity theft.
The biggest load is the quality time you devote fighting back. In that same study carried out by FTC, the average amount of time spent resolving identity theft was 4 hours. And about 10% of the victims spent more than 50 hours solving their problems.
Some of these policies include identity-theft-resolution services, which basically provide professionals to do the legwork for you. But you sign up for such, make sure you ask about how much personalized assistance you are actually going to be offered.
Make sure the policy you choose helps in resolving criminal, medical and employment-related cases – apart from dealing with lenders – and equally addresses the expense of hiring an attorney if required.
There are those that may already have some protection. Certain banks, such as Washington Mutual, automatically offer identity-theft insurance to checking-account owners. Even some insurers, for example Chubb and Fireman’s Fund, include identity-theft coverage in their high-end insurance policies. And you are able to get absolutely free help from the Identity Theft Resource Center or at the attorney general’s office in some states.
But how does one get a free identity theft protection when virtually all services attract a certain amount of fee? Continue reading to get a clear insight about this.
How to Get Free Identity Theft Protection
ID theft protection company LifeLock was in the recent past making headlines because it had become a publicly traded company. Well, that is now none of our business since we are not looking to invest and further more I’m not an writing to advice you in whether to invest on the IPO. But for the purposes of money saving, I’m writing about whether you really need to pay for the services offered by LifeLock (or just any other ID protection service).
Year after year, ID theft is ranked top of the consumer’s list of complains – this is according to a study carried out by Federal Trade Commission. And referring to the most-recent statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 9 million households across United States of America had at least one member whose identity had been stolen in 2010, and losses as a result of identity theft totaled $13 billion.
But considering the above facts, it seems like it might be very important to pay LifeLock $275 yearly for its Ultimate protection plan, which basically monitors your sensitive personal information, access to your credit score and signals you the moment information on your existing accounts is altered, among several other things. But some experts like Dave Aitel, CEO of Immunity Inc., think that one can easily get most of the services that LifeLock charges for almost no cost. Additionally, he says, identity protection services such as lifelock cannot stop you from becoming a victim of ID theft. All they do is just to alert you when a problem arises, then you have to take legal action.
The price of an ID theft protection service might be valuable to individuals who do not actively monitor their credit information and accounts. But here is how you can keep tabs on your sensitive information for free – or at a relatively lower price:
Monitor your credit – Each and every year you are eligible for a free credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus. Instead of ordering all the three reports at once, you can just order from just one of the credit bureaus after every four months so that you can easily monitor your credit report throughout the year. Always check for any mistakes or accounts that do not belong to you. If you notice any error.
Keep tabs on your credit score – For only $8, you are able to get your credit score from the major credit bureaus after ordering your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Mistakes in your credit report are likely to pull down your score. At myFICO.com you can also get your FICO credit score, which is normally based on your credit report and is as a matter of fact the score lenders use when deciding whether to offer you a credit or to give you a loan.
Set up alerts on your various bank accounts – Several banks allow individuals to sign up for and receive alerts anytime withdrawals from their account exceed particular levels and checks clear, which can greatly assist you spot transactions you might not authorized.
Set up alerts on your credit accounts – Credit card issuers permit cardholders to activate security alerts so that they are able to be informed, for instance, when there is an extra charge or an even international charge is authorized. Even when you do not sign up to receive any security alerts, card issuers will normally alert you anytime a suspicious activity is noticed on your card.
File a fraud alert – Fell free to file a fraud alert with any of the credit bureaus if in any case you lose your credit or debit card. The alert will need lenders to try and verify your identity right before issuing any new credit under your name. Fraud alerts normally last for 90 days. Sometimes you can get up to 7 years of extended fraud-alert protection and an additional 2 absolutely free credit reports from each of the three bureaus annually if you end up becoming a victim of identity theft.
Initiate a credit freeze – you can do this just to ban lenders and several other companies from accessing your credit history without your consent. This can greatly assist in preventing identity thieves from taking out credit with your name. All you have to pay is $10 at each of the 3 major bureaus to get your accounts frozen. And another $10 to get them lifted up.
Lastly, confirm whether you have access to any fraud-resolution service or identity-theft program via your insurance company, or your employer. You might in a position to take advantage of these services at very little or no cost at all.