With a constant stream of negative media coverage about security breaches at banks and other financial institutions, it’s no surprise that many people are concerned about their privacy and personal information. Hackers who gain access to names and email addresses from a company’s database can use that information to steal from people who are unaware of their own vulnerability. Although anyone can become the target for credit fraud, people with better and longer credit histories are more attractive to identity thieves. But is it worth investing in identity theft protection? Here’s what you need to know:
The Internet provides an unfathomable amount of information on nearly every person, company and entity. With subversive ways to tap into that data, cyber thieves are constantly evolving to stay ahead of security efforts put in place to protect consumers. Identity theft protection services are offered as an easy, carefree way for consumers to safeguard their personal identities with minimal effort. Here’s how they work:
What are you getting for your money?
Identity theft protection is a “proactive service” that works in advance of a threat, watching for questionable activity on your credit report. The most complete service will include monitoring of all 3 major credit reporting agencies, credit cards, bank accounts, medical and public records and your Social Security number. An Internet security system and anti-spyware protection may also be provided. In most cases, an alert will be sent if there are any changes to your accounts or if action is required.
Remediation is offered by some companies and it’s an important point to consider when selecting an identity theft service. If you are the victim of identity theft, they will help you cancel you credit accounts and replace the contents of your wallet. Essentially, they will help you get your life back in order, contact your financial institutions and help you complete the necessary paperwork.
Can they provide what they claim?
If an identity theft protection service guarantees they can protect their clients from every possible threat — BEWARE! This is not a legitimate (or realistic) claim. There’s always a way to access your information and accounts and there is no way that you can be absolutely protected against all forms of identity theft. What these services can do is attempt to keep ahead of hackers and warn you before excessive damage is done. And in some cases, they can help you fix the damage.
Is it worth it?
Most identity theft protection services charge from $60 to $180 a year. The cost won’t break the bank for most people, but as one expert so aptly said, “One way or another, it’s going to cost you – time or money or both.” You can choose to either put in the time to secure your own personal identity and monitor your credit reports — or you can pay for the service. Some of the most well-known include Life Lock and Identity Guard. But all of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) offer identity theft protection.
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