Like most unfortunate things in life, identity theft has to happen to someone for others to learn how to protect themselves from it. If you or someone close to you has been a victim of identity theft in recent years, then you will know it’s not a laughing matter. They’ve lost countless hours on the phone trying to explain how the theft happened, waiting on hold, and retelling the story to senior customer care representatives. Protection from identity theft isn’t just there to save you from breaches into your bank account. The companies that deal with ID theft and fraud prevention are also there to save you hours of trouble on the phone, months of recovery, and years of anxiety about your information being stolen again.
How Can Identity Theft Compromise Me?
Identity thieves will use anything, including your social security number, driver’s license, or any other personally identifiable information, to go after quick cash. Some of these can be traded on the dark web and end up in the wrong hands. There could be an instance of a child’s stolen identity, and you may not even realize it until he or she applies for financial aid in college. There have been many instances where people’s livelihoods were at stake because theft victims have a hard time proving the problem to potential employers. The more we talk about identity fraud, the more we realize just how detrimental it can be to one’s well-being. We aren’t just referring to personal finance issues, but also to a victim’s mental state after the fraud. This is the reason why so many people nowadays are trying to learn more about identity theft protection by working with reputable companies.
How Do Identity Theft Protection Services Work?
While it’s true that a lot of people try to maintain the order of their accounts, credit reports, and bank statements by themselves, the solution is not quite as easy for everyone. Just maintaining your credit score without disruption is hard enough as it is. So, what else can we rely on these companies to do for us, if we are not tech-savvy enough or if we simply can’t keep track of everything? Well, most companies will offer similar services, but the prices will differ depending on the number of services included. Prices here are exactly like any other commodity, closely tied to the quantity and quality of service. But, before we go any deeper, let’s review them:
Fraud Alerts – the alert on a credit report or credit card transaction means that you can be forewarned before it gets worse. Think of fraud alerts as an early warning system.
Credit Monitoring services – These include tracking down a variety of changes that happen to your credit history. It doesn’t, however, protect against fraud directly, but it helps you stay on top of things in real-time. Credit monitoring can pick up a sudden change of address, use of your SSN, or someone taking out payday loans or financial accounts in your name or with your PII.
Breach Notifications services – These are used for monitoring breaches of public data for the disclosure of your private information.
Identity Theft Insurance – This service does not cost much, and is usually included in credit monitoring or identity protection services. It puts you at ease when it comes to paying for legal costs, notary fees, phone bills, and the rest that comes up as a result of identity theft. This service may or may not fully reimburse you for the amounts that were stolen, however. You may never recover the full amount lost. Some of these services include fully assisted identity restoration where the company will help you interact with the credit bureaus, merchants, credit card companies, and your bank.
Support – Many Credit and Fraud Monitoring companies offer support. The question is, are they offshore or based here in the United States. The other concern is: do they provide the level of customer service you need when you need it? At Consumer Affinity, we strive to exceed our customer’s expectations with our US-based SuperHero Support™.
Does Identity Theft Protection Really Work?
There is a clear distinction to be drawn between identity theft prevention and identity theft protection. If there is truly a way to achieve immunity to identity theft, then it is a well-kept secret. It would be a full-time job to maintain this level of prevention. Identity protection, on the other hand, works toward decreasing the exposure of one’s data and recuperation of the stolen image. It is very useful for predicting fraudulent activity, which is why we shouldn’t ignore it.
In case you’ve already become a victim of identity theft, the company that handles your protection will have a recovery plan already waiting for you. They will lead you through every step of the way. They will advise you of the steps necessary or handle the process for you, depending on the services you purchased. They could initiate a credit freeze should you need it, and try to work towards improving your credit that has been compromised. Security freezes that are put in place at this point can easily be lifted once you’re ready. You should always proactively monitor your credit history yourself.
How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Your checking accounts and savings accounts are usually the primary targets for identity thieves. The reasons behind most data breaches are to obtain the details necessary to ultimately steal the money that’s in someone’s account. This form of fraud is called an account takeover. But it’s far from the only reason you need to work on your internet security and password strength.
Your personal information, such as your Social Security Number and your children’s PII, can be used to create false identities. From this, a person can open up several accounts, lead you into credit card debt, hijack your health insurance, and cause many other problems. They can take out any number of loans using a name and SSN, such as personal loans, business loans, auto loans, etc. Whatever money you saved for retirement could be stolen, your mortgage could skyrocket, and all that can happen in a matter of just a few weeks.
This is the reason why all of us ought to work toward identity theft prevention and protection so that we wouldn’t have to suffer through identity theft recovery. Our personal information and cards need to be safe at all times, never out of sight and kept in a safe when not used. It’s up to you to regularly monitor the use of your cards, SSN, Personally Identifiable Information, and to request bank statements and records. Learn to recognize email fraud, Phishing, and make sure you use secure passwords and Wifi networks. Your wireless router should be protected with a passcode and away from anyone who isn’t in your immediate family.
Hopefully, you are well on your way to identity recovery, upgrading both Internet and home security, and well-versed about ways to monitor your credit from now on.