DIY vs. Identity Theft Protection Services
No matter if you’re a celebrity or a CIA agent, anyone can have their identity stolen. While it’s not possible to secure all your personal information that’s spread throughout the internet, it’s possible to limit the damage caused by an identity thief if they happen to get a hold of your personal data.
There’s all kinds of ways to lower your chances of becoming an identity theft victim. There are two methods of achieving this: Do it yourself or pay a company to do it for you. Judge for yourself whether you should protect your identity or go with one of these companies.
Some people like the idea of being hands on and want to be in complete control by monitoring their own identity. This is the cheapest option since you will be doing all the work, but it will take time and effort on a continual basis.
Advantages of doing it yourself
- Saves you money
- Have complete control
- Keeps you diligent and on top of your identity
Disadvantages of doing it yourself
- Takes a lot of time
- Lots of work involved
- Can’t monitor everything on your own
Here are some tips to protect your identity:
- Get your free credit report (once per year) by visiting annualcreditreport.com. There are many sites that say they offer free credit reports, but be wary and make sure they don’t charge you. Scan your report thoroughly and make sure there’s nothing out of the ordinary, such as accounts that you never opened.
- You can place a fraud alert by calling each credit bureau- Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Put a recurring event in your calendar set for every 90 days to remind you to renew your alert with each of them.
- You can restrict credit being granted to anyone (including yourself) by placing a credit freeze. There is a fee (each state has differing prices $3-$15) for each bureau to place and a separate fee to release it. When unfreezing, it can take several days for this to happen. One catch is that it won’t block your file from anyone who already had access to it, just new requesters.
- Visit optoutprescreen.com and tell the bureaus to stop selling your information to credit card companies. You’ll reduce the amount of pre-approved credit card offers you receive in the mail.
- Get a PO box and have all your mail sent there instead. This will stop thieves from stealing your mail.
- Buy a paper shredder and shred all your mail to prevent dumpster diving.
- If you become a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center. They can assist you.
Membership with an Identity Theft Protection Company
Over the last decade, cybercrime has skyrocketed and has become one of the most problematic issues in the U.S. – affecting 1 in 4 people. The increase of identity theft has given rise to identity theft protection companies to combat them. There are many companies that offer this service and each has its own way of keeping your identity kept out of harms way.
Pros of subscribing to identity theft protection:
- Saves you time
- Relieve the burden of constantly monitoring credit bureaus
- Repairing the damage due to identity theft
Cons of subscribing to identity theft protection:
- Pay a monthly fee
- Can’t prevent identity theft from happening
- Need to read the fine print on what’s covered in policy
Here are the services and perks when becoming a member:
- Social Security Monitoring [simple_tooltip content=’They constantly comb through thousands of databases‚ promptly alerting you when your SSN is detected. This allows you to re-secure your data before an identity thief can do anymore harm.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Credit Scores and Reports [simple_tooltip content=’They provide constant updates showing changes to your credit reports at the major consumer reporting bureaus. It is important to be up-to-date on your credit files so you can make more informed financial decisions and help protect yourself from identity theft.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Lost wallet protection [simple_tooltip content=’If your wallet is ever lost or stolen they will help cancel or replace credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards, and more.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Alerts through text, email, or phone
- Identity Theft Victim Restoration [simple_tooltip content=’If your identity is breached, an Identity Restoration Specialist will personally take care of your case and help restore your identity.’][/simple_tooltip]
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance [simple_tooltip content=’Their $1 million identity insurance covers your losses due to identity theft.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Reduce Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers [simple_tooltip content=’They will request your name be removed from multiple pre-approved credit card mailing lists.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Live Customer Support [simple_tooltip content=’Speak with a US-based Member Services Agents available to answer your questions.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Smart Phone App
- Black Market Website Surveillance [simple_tooltip content=’They monitor the Internet 24/7 to see if your personal information — Social Security number‚ bank accounts, and credit cards— are detected on black market websites‚ secret chat rooms‚ and underground forums. If they find something‚ they send you a notification right away.’][/simple_tooltip]
- Public Record Monitoring [simple_tooltip content=’Your personal information is easily accessible to the general public. To help keep up with all of these public records‚ they will monitor and alert you to certain changes‚ such as names and aliases‚ address history‚ license and registrations‚ criminal and civil court records which can be early indicators of identity theft.’][/simple_tooltip]
- And more!
Identity theft should not scare you. Increase your awareness and don’t leave yourself exposed for the bad guys. Take action and make yourself a hard target. The best way to protect your identity is a combination of taking the necessary steps listed above to lessen your exposure to thieves and by hiring an established company to plug up the holes that you may have missed.