The fear of ID theft has spawned a colossal industry of protection-related products and services. Most people don’t know 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, which 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 minimal. You are liable for just $50 in illegal credit-card charges, which 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 most significant load is the quality of time you devote to 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 what personalized help you will get.
Ensure the policy you choose helps resolve 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. For example, even some insurers, Chubb and Fireman’s Fund include identity-theft coverage in their high-end insurance policies. And you can 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 free identity theft protection when virtually all services attract a certain amount of fee? Continue reading to get a clear insight about this.
Every year, you are eligible for a free credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus. Instead of ordering all three credit reports at once, you can 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 errors.
For only $8, you can 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, 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.
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 help you spot transactions you might not authorize.
Credit card issuers permit cardholders to activate security alerts 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.
Feel 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 typically 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.
You can do this 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.
Lastly, confirm whether you have access to any fraud-resolution service or identity theft program via your insurance company or employer. You might in a position to take advantage of these services at very little or no cost at all.