As more data breaches occur, the need for consumers to protect themselves, their reputations, and their financial interests with identity protection services is growing daily.
Fortunately, many services are available to help you protect your identity, but which one is right for you? The more you know about your options, the better informed you will be to make the right decision to protect your own identity.
Types of Services
A good place to start would be a service that monitors your credit score. A credit monitoring service will let you know any time someone does any of the following:
- Checks your credit history
- Opens a new loan or credit account in your name
- Reports a late payment
- Adjusts your credit limit
- Files for bankruptcy
- Changes your personal information (phone number, address, etc.)
Identity monitoring goes beyond that by reporting when people use your personal information in ways that might not appear on your credit report, such as:
- Payday loan application
- Social media networks and accounts
- Change of address requests
- Dark web sites that trade in stolen information
- Utility, cable, and wireless orders
- Arrest records
- Court documents
Identity recovery services come in after the fact and help you regain control of your finances and restore your good name after the damage has occurred. They work with you to help you freeze your credit so that new accounts cannot be opened in your name, informing creditors and lenders about the theft, and address inquiries from debt collectors.
Identity theft insurance goes even further by covering out-of-pocket expenses related to reclaiming your identity.However, it's important to note that this coverage doesn’t return stolen money and financial losses resulting from the theft, nor does it, in most cases, provide protection for legal fees and lost wages that occur throughout the process.
Assessing Your Needs
The real key is in assessing your individual needs and those of your family. Unfortunately, there are many different types of identity theft. More than you might know or realize. And, there are no services available that protect people from all the types of identity theft that currently exist, such as:
- Financial identity theft. The most commonly recognized form of identity theft is when thieves gain access to bank or credit accounts and do things such as take out loans or run up credit card balances. It can be financially devastating to those who do not immediately catch the thieves.
- Medical identity theft. Medical identity theft can not only be financially disastrous, it can also be difficult to resolve.
- Criminal identity theft. This form of identity theft is where people commit crimes in your name. Most people are not even aware they are victims until they encounter a routine traffic stop.
- Driver’s license identity theft. That is a gateway form of identity theft that begins as a simple purse or wallet theft. Once they have forged a driver’s license in your name, it can be easy for the thief to get other forms of identification.
- Social Security identity theft. Your Social Security number may be your most valuable piece of information and one of the most vulnerable. You should contact the IRS immediately if you suspect that someone is using your SSN.
All services for identity theft monitoring and protection are not the same. Only you know which service offers the best assistance for your needs or if you are better off using multiple services. Use the information above to help you choose, but also remember that when your data is compromised, many companies provide free credit and personal information monitoring services.
The best way to protect your identity is to do the monitoring yourself in combination with all the methods listed above. Prevention, and proactively protecting your information is the best cure; however, when data breaches occur, it is always good to have other eyes on the problem with credit monitoring and identity monitoring services. If your information and identity are compromised, then you want the assistance offered in a reputable identity recovery service.