Think identity theft only happens in high-stakes crime movies?
Think again. The truth is that up to 10% of Americans fall victim to identity fraud every year — many of them to multiple incidents of fraud. The vast majority of these victims have no idea where or how their personal information was stolen.
How can you protect your information and ensure you don’t become the next victim? Keep reading to learn about identity theft protection programs and how they keep you and your family safe.
Why Do I Need Identity Monitoring?
Identity theft can be as simple as someone pulling your credit card statement out of the trash. It can also be as complex as a hacker stealing your personal information from a website.
The truth is that there are countless ways your personal details could fall into the hands of a criminal. Many have fallen victim to identity theft during the pandemic by innocently responding to a text or email that “appears” to be from the CDC.
The point is: Unless you have the time and desire to constantly monitor your credit cards and bank accounts, you’re better off entrusting that work to an identity theft protection service.
How Does Identity Theft Protection Work?
Companies that specialize in identity theft protection generally offer these three services: monitoring, alerts, and recovery. Most offer their services for an affordable monthly or yearly fee, although some offer free options too, as you can see here.
Monitoring involves keeping a close eye on your credit files for any unusual activity. This includes new accounts opened under your name or a hard inquiry on your credit. If the service detects something suspicious — for example, you live in Miami but someone tries to open an account with your name in Seattle — the company will contact you to confirm the details.
This communication happens in the form of “alerts” that notify you when your personal details have been used. If you find out about the fraud attempt in Seattle, you can flag or freeze your accounts until the problem is resolved. This can also help to prevent any nasty surprises, such as suddenly receiving a credit card statement for purchases you didn’t make.
Recovery often includes an insurance policy to cover any losses in the unfortunate event that someone successfully uses your identity. They can help to recover any lost funds and repair credit damage. Be sure the identity theft protection service you’re considering monitors all three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Some companies may offer extra services as well, such as news about local sex offenders or monitoring “dark” websites for your personal information. The amount of coverage you choose is up to you, but remember that even a little protection goes a long way.
Keep Your Identity Off the Black Market
No matter how careful you are, the truth is that your personal information is always at risk.
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to sign up for an identity theft protection program. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind!
Now that you’re familiar with identity monitoring, what’s next? Keep browsing our site for more helpful tips and information.