Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, like your name, credit card, or social security number, without your permission. Identity theft can lead to credit report damage and loss of financial assets. Criminals can access your information in different ways. It can be as simple as picking your ban statement out of the trash or as complicated as hacking a website. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your information and work to recover from identity theft. Identity theft protection services provide peace of mind since they help you prevent identity theft or recover your identity if you are a victim. Identity theft protection monitors your credit card even on the dark web and alerts you if your sensitive information lands in the wrong hands. Some identity protection services may also allow you to lock or unlock your credit reports instantly. But are identity theft protection services worth the cost? Read on to discover more about identity theft protection.
- Types. An identity theft protection service is a promise to safeguard your personal information for a fee. Most of these services only alert you when someone tampers with your personal records and accounts. So, they do not prevent tampering from happening. However, they may help you recover from identity theft. Here are the different types of identity theft protection.
- Monitoring. We have two primary types of monitoring services; credit and identity monitoring. Credit monitoring tracks your credit reports at the three primary credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This service covers loan applications or opening a new credit card account. Identity monitoring will alert you when someone accesses your bank account, social security number, or driver’s license.
- Identity Recovery. These services will help you recover your name and finances if someone steals your identity.
- Identity theft insurance. This covers out-of-pocket expenses for reclaiming your identities, like postage, copying, and notary costs.
- Cost. The cost depends on the company and the type of protection you need. Some agencies offer multiple plans with different service levels. A basic plan can go as low as $20 a month or $219 annually. Premium service can go for $30 monthly or $330 annually. Identity theft protection services only respond to a problem but will not prevent it. For instance, credit monitoring is ineffective in catching activity with things like bank accounts and social security information. Data theft insurance will reimburse you for some costs involved with restoring your stolen information and assets.
- Can I Protect My Data? You can monitor your credit reports, but this will take time and energy. Additionally, you can only access your credit reports for free annually from each of the three credit bureaus. You can also freeze your credit reports. Freezing your credit reports will not cost you anything and prevent anyone from accessing your credit reports without permission. However, identity theft protection allows you to instantly lock and unlock your credit so you can apply for new credit quickly whenever you want. You can also review your credit card, bank, and financial account statements at least once a month for any suspicious activity. Ensure you check the explanation of benefits (EOB) statements you get from your health insurance providers for treatments you never received. Taking these precautions will ensure you know when something is wrong.
- Is Identity Theft Protection Services Worth the Cost? Deciding whether identity theft is worth your money comes down to your peace of mind. You could sleep soundly at night if you knew that you have a service that monitors your personal information and finances. Additionally, you cannot be alert all the time. Your busy schedule may prevent you from effectively watching your credit card and personal information. It is also common for some people to have experienced identity theft or had their personal records exposed due to a data breach. So, it is worth signing up for an identity theft protection service. Identity theft insurance can also help you recover stolen funds should your identity and money fall into the wrong hands. However, ensure you choose a trusted company that delivers what it promises. Please check out this guide from SFGate to see the best identity theft services.
Identity theft protection services will help you monitor your information and alert you when something goes wrong. This will reduce the cost of recovering from fraud. However, the services will not prevent your identity from being stolen. Some people can protect their information without a fee, while others feel that having the services is worth the expenses. So, weigh your options and decide whether you will pay for identity theft protection or you can do it yourself.