Can Credit Monitoring Services Fully Block Identity Theft?

ElitePersonalFinance
Last Update: February 11, 2021 Credit Report Fraud Identity Theft

Identity theft is not a static threat. While many companies claim that they can prevent it, the truth is that you cannot guarantee your identity will always be secure. It just takes the wrong piece of information to enter the right hands to make anyone a victim. It’s true, or else there would not be so many cases of celebrities becoming identity theft victims over the years.

How Do Identity Theft Protection Services Work?

A company offering identity theft protection does not have some unique way to keep you safe. The truth is, what all of these companies do is go through the extensive steps one must take to make themselves less vulnerable. It involves the company setting up security layers at every avenue possible, though the specific features will vary by company.

Here’s a look at what identity theft protection services include.

  • Lost Wallet Protection

When your wallet gets lost or stolen, it’s easy to forget about one of the cards you own. Not notifying the company could open the doors to an identity fraud attack. These companies will reach out to each of your card companies, as well as other providers, to let them know of the potential security threat.

  • SSN Monitoring

If your Social Security Number ever gets used fraudulently, you can assume an identity thief will victimize you for a long time to come. These companies watch out for instances of your number getting used, and they notify you whenever there is suspicious activity.

  • Black Market Surveillance

Information through data breaches and hacking often gets passed between black market criminals on the Web. There are well over 10,000 websites where these individuals might sell or share such content. While many users can outsmart this security measure, there are still quite a few instances that get caught.

  • Court Record Scanning

Your identity could get stolen by a criminal looking to avoid liability for a crime they committed. If this happens, your name will show up in court record databases. Identity theft protection companies monitor for instances of this, which covers an entry point many would never have thought to protect.

  • Credit Monitoring

From bank account monitoring to watching over your credit report, identity theft services do a lot to keep an eye on more than just your identity. Some even pull credit reports and scores as frequently as once per month, making it easy to catch an attack after it happens.

Consumer Reports published these features that shine some light on why some are not as effective as they appear. It is a worthwhile read that also discusses some of these companies’ unfair marketing techniques, which any potential subscriber should first understand.

The Problem with Identity Theft Protection

While identity theft protection services are helpful, they still have many limitations. One of the most significant issues is that you are doing more to find out about an attack than preventing it. This might be great because you can save yourself from liability, but it does not guarantee your name stays safe.

That’s because there is no way to guarantee such a thing. Identity theft is such an alarming concern in the United States, with around 15 million victims claimed annually, because there’s no defense. You can only put security measures in place to mitigate the damage.

Some of those security steps help a lot. For instance, you can use a 90-day fraud alert (renewable) to force phone verification before a creditor opens a new line in your name. For the most part, what these services do are things that anyone can do on their own at no cost. But, there’s not much else you can do or rely on to ensure your identity stays safe from the unlimited risks that exist.

Should You Pay for Identity Theft Protection?

You have to understand that identity theft protection services will not keep you secure from identity theft. There are too many ways for a criminal to attack once they get their hands on your personal identifying information. All you can do is make yourself as aware as possible for the sake of making the identity restoration process less stressful.

If you are considering identity theft protection, please remember that you will limit yourself to one service. The protective layers in place are dependent on the service that you use.

Above all else, you want to limit your exposure to identity theft risks. This involves knowing how these criminals work and making the efforts to put security layers in place. An identity theft protection company will save you a lot of time, just not money.

In the end, your goal should be to reduce your exposure to identity theft threats while also making it easy to catch an attack after it happens.

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