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Imagine this – you get your next credit card statement and you see charges from a couple of top restaurants, high-end retailers, airline tickets, and hotel stays from places you’ve never been.
What do you do?
Without a doubt you immediately call your credit card company and report those charges as being unauthorized. The credit card company should deactivate the account and reissue a replacement card based on a completely new credit card account.
But then you start to wonder how much damage this person may have caused with your personal and private information.
Upon calling the company back, you might learn that someone has opened a credit card using your name, address, date of birth and social security number.
Next, you attempt to check your credit report with the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.
The problem might be that when you try to answer the security questions asked by the credit agencies the correct answers don’t work.
In fact, you might not be able to even access your own credit report because whoever has stolen your identity has used your credit report enough that your information has been overtaken by the information coming from the thief’s activities.
After repeatedly calling the credit agencies and mailing them documents verifying your identity you learn the person who stole your identity has been using your information for over 6 months and attempted to open 50 different credit accounts.
The reality is, someone who steals your information is going to keep using it until it becomes worthless.
As long as the information keeps getting them money they will use it until they are completely blocked.
Eventually, you’ll be able to take your identity back but you’ll wind up with a paranoid mindset, constantly monitoring your credit report to make sure nothing fraudulent pops up.
Identity theft is going to continue to increase each year because it is very profitable for criminals.
According to the 2018 Experian Identity Theft Report for 2017, almost 7% of consumers became victims of identity fraud or about 1 in 15 people. Consumers reported $905 million in total fraud losses in 2017, a 21.6% increase over 2016. With a median amount lost as $429.
In addition, since identity theft is a non-violent crime many states have weak laws related to the punishment for this type of crime. And many times, local authorities have only minimal staff to assist in pursuing such criminals. That means all the legwork, the phone calls, the paper forms, and the mounting headaches will be yours.
This crime can be devastating for the victims from a financial and time investment standpoint, which is why, based on scary personal experience, I want to share with you the top three different identity theft protection services.
IdentityForce provides protection at a reasonable price. This service monitors credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus quarterly.
Plus, most types of personal bank and credit card accounts are monitored (except investment accounts) and the $1 million identity-restoration coverage includes reimbursement of stolen funds.
IdentityForce also includes a credit score simulator, anti-keylogging software and two-factor authentication to protect your account.
IdentityForce costs $20 a month for one person or $36 a month for two.
LifeLock is one of the best-known companies to provide identity protection services.
Now, LifeLock has some of the priciest plans of the services, but it monitors the most kinds of data, including investment and retirement accounts.
It also offers a composite credit score, as well as a new Equifax score every month and the service’s $1 million identity-restoration plan covers lost wages and funds.
LifeLock offers three different plans, but the most comprehensive plan costs $29.99 a month for one person.
Identity Guard. (https://www.identityguard.com)
Identity Guard offers credit scores from the three major bureaus and its reports update monthly instead of quarterly or yearly.
This service has many different options including a credit-score analyzer, antivirus software, anti-keylogging software and it will cover lost wages and money if your identity is stolen.
In addition, Identity Guard uses an artificial-intelligence platform to protect the personal information of all the service’s customers.
However, Identity Guard doesn’t monitor activity on your credit card or bank accounts. Identity Guard costs $22.99 a month per a person.
Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It?
Identity theft protection companies’ act as guardians of your personal information for a monthly or annual fee.
Generally, they start with monitoring your credit report and layer on additional services so they can alert you to potential problems.
Here’s the thing, these services alert you after the fact that your identity may have been compromised but they don’t prevent someone from stealing and misusing your financial data.
In other words, if you want to save the money, you can pretty much do the same thing as these companies by strictly monitoring your credit card and bank statements.
In addition, I definitely recommend placing a credit freeze on all three major credit reports. What this does is prevent any crooks out there who are trying to open new accounts in your name to be prevented from gaining access to your information. Then, if you wish, release the freeze after six months to a year, or whenever you need your own information, and get back on track.
However, if you don’t want to take the time to deal with the hassle of monitoring all of this information, then you should absolutely consider one of these companies.
Over the years we’ve learned that we cannot totally prevent identity theft, but we have ways to quickly react if it happens, and keep the damage to minimal levels.
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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