What is Identity theft monitoring?
Identity theft monitoring is when a company keeps an eye on your identity and will notify you of those who are trying to steal it.
This could prevent years of credit issues or the loss of your money.
Have you suffered at the hands of identity theft? If not, consider yourself lucky.
According to a 2015 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research, some 13.1 million Americans are the victims of identity theft every year and the total fraud amount was $15 billion.
That means someone else has access to your name, your Social Security Number, your birthdate, your address, and maybe even your bank or credit card information.
How do you protect myself?
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, start by filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov website, which also provides a free plan to help you recover from the affects of the criminal activity.
Aside from the federal government, you should compare free plans or commercial protection that could cost various fees.
Identity theft monitoring and credit monitoring services
Credit monitoring through Equifax, Experian and TransUnion helps you keep tabs on your credit reports and any suspicious activity that might be reported.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit monitoring might send you an alert if a new loan or credit account is opened with your name.
It can also tell you if a debt collector or credit believes you are late on a payment or if a legal judgment is made against you.
And it can alert you if public records suggest you’ve filed for bankruptcy or if your credit limits change.
But there are drawbacks to relying solely on credit monitoring for ID theft protection.
Credit monitoring won’t alert you when a criminal takes money out of your bank account or takes advantage of your Social Security Number to file a fraudulent tax return and receive a refund.
That’s why it’s important to consider identity monitoring services, which can tip you off if your SSN, passport, or bank account are used without your permission.
While products differ, some services will let you know if your personal information shows up within payday loan applications, court records, utility services, or requests for a change of address.
These services watch out for your identity by looking through collections of data.
Which services work best?
Consumer security experts recommend several products, many of which cost between $10 – $30 per month deepening on the coverage.
Highly-rated commercial products include, in no particular order:
When considering which product to purchase, you’ll want to find out what sort of customer service is offered, and whether the program offers credit monitoring, recovery services, information protection and insurance.
For free or low-cost protection, check your yearly credit reports from the three major reporting agencies.
Under federal law, each of them must provide you with a free credit report once a year.
The only authorized website for free credit reports is at www.AnnualCreditReport.com according to the FTC.
The FTC also recommends you consider a credit or security freeze on credit files with major credit bureaus.
This, the FTC says, will keep others from viewing your credit repots without your authorization.
By doing so, identity thieves are also prevented from opening new accounts with your name.