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From the outset, it is important to note that identity theft cannot be completely prevented. Engaging the services of an identity theft protection company and plan will not provide 100% security against your identity from ever being stolen. What it does do though, is give you a giant headstart on being able to identify any potential issues at the earliest possible stage. They also provide the best tools for you to stay aware, and also work on recovering what you have lost.
Here, we will take a closer look at what identity theft protection is and how it works to keep you as safe and secure as possible.
Do You Need Identity Theft Protection?
This is the first point you should consider if you are thinking about purchasing a plan through one of the top identity theft protection companies.
The answer will be dependent on your own preference, but incidents of identity theft are now becoming much more commonplace as we move to an increasingly digital and online-centric lifestyle. We typically allow a lot of our personal information to be floated online through a variety of services. These can often leave our data vulnerable to malicious attacks and other problems. All the while, traditional methods of identity theft are also an issue.
Absolutely, there are a few instances where you will certainly be better served to invest in identity theft protection:
- If you have previously been the victim of identity theft or a data breach. This also applies even if you just suspect you have been a prior victim.
- You do not have the time, or do not want to spend time monitoring your own reports such as your credit report. These can be done by a service entirely.
- You are receiving suspicious communication in regard to credit, finances, legal issues, or other things related to your important personal information.
If you feel that you fall into one of the categories above, then an identity theft protection service can definitely be very helpful.
What an Identity Theft Protection Service Can Do For You
If you have decided that you want to invest in an identity theft protection subscription, then it is important to know exactly how it works, and the things it can offer you. Typically, the pricing of these services start from a very low rate with a basic package that includes some services.
As you move up through the different tiers of service that are usually available, you will gain access to more comprehensive services as we will describe here.
Monitoring Services: The first stage in the protective process is monitoring. This is provided at various levels by all identity theft services. The core of what they are looking for here is any changes. They will usually monitor your credit file across a number of bureaus with that number depending on the level of your package.
Additional monitoring services available can include legal records, address changes, and social media monitoring. The idea is that you can be in the know quickly if any changes have been made so that you can react quickly to avert any threats.
Alert Systems: As well as monitoring, these protection services will also provide an alerts system. This works in the case that someone is actively trying to use your identity for some reason. An example may be if someone has opened a line of credit, bank account, or other personal items in your name.
This can be very important since people often do not know their identity has been used at all until receiving a huge bill or having their credit score destroyed. Again, the plan you choose may determine the type of alerts you receive, but even many of the lower-tier, basic plans will facilitate this.
Recovery Options: As you move up through their service tiers with these companies, they will also offer options that can help you repair your credit, or even provide you with certain levels of compensation based on your loss.
This typically comes from each company's own insurance policy coverage. While this insurance is unique to each company and service, most are covered for substantial amounts. This can be really helpful in getting you back on your feet if you have suffered a loss.
Keeping Yourself Safe From Identity Theft
Sure, the best protection is offered by some of the top identity theft protection services that we have reviewed before. These include Identity Guard which is a really popular, and reliable overall choice.
There are still several things that you can do yourself for free though that will help you stay protected against this kind of theft. Here is a closer look at some of the best practices:
Monitor Credit: Though identity protection services make it very easy by monitoring your credit for you across multiple bureaus, and all in one place, this is something you can do. If you have the time, it is also something that you should do. Some credit card issuers and services will even allow you to track your credit for free.
Report Suspicious Activity: This is key. If you see any kind of irregular activity or something you consider to be suspicious, you have to make sure you report it. There are free channels connected to the government which will allow you to do this. An early report can be free of charge, and save you time and money in the long run.
Freeze Your Credit: If you do then notice that there is suspicious activity around your credit score, and applications, a very useful thing that you can apply to do yourself is to freeze your credit file. This can be done through the major credit agencies.
The Bottom Line
Overall, while there are some things you can do by yourself, the assistance of an identity theft protection service can really help to streamline the entire process, saving you time and offering comprehensive coverage in many areas.
If you are interested in learning more, and signing up with a company, feel free to check out our top 5 identity theft protection companies for more information.
Anthony is a financial journalist and business advisor with several years’ experience writing for some of the most well-known sites in the Forex world. A keen trader turned industry writer, he is currently based in Shanghai with a finger on the pulse of Asia’s biggest markets.