With a constant stream of media coverage about security breaches at banks and other financial institutions, it’s no surprise that many are concerned about the possibility of their privacy and personal information being compromised. Hackers who gain access to the names and email addresses of a company’s customer base can later use that information to steal from people who are unaware of their own vulnerability. And although anyone can become the target of credit fraud, people with better and longer credit histories are more vulnerable. Studies show that those over the age of sixty are less likely to have frequent activities and transactions on their bank accounts, making them even more attractive to an identity thief.
The Internet provides an unfathomable amount of information on nearly every person, company and entity. With subversive ways to tap into that data, cyber thieves are constantly evolving to stay ahead of security efforts put in place to protect consumers. Identity theft protection services are offered as an easy, carefree way for consumers to safeguard their personal identities with minimal effort.
What are you getting for your money?
Before agreeing to an identity theft protection service, be sure to read all the details and fine print. They should be readily available and clearly stated. Thoroughly examine and be sure you understand how the program works, how much it will cost, exclusions, cancellation terms and refund policy.
These proactive services work in advance of a threat, watching for questionable activity on your credit report. The most complete service will include monitoring of the 3 major credit reporting agencies, credit cards, bank accounts, medical and public records and your Social Security number. An Internet security system and anti-spyware protection would also be provided. An alert will be sent, if there are any changes to your accounts or actions that need your attention.
Remediation is offered by some companies to help reverse or stop the damage and an important point to consider when selecting a service. If you are the victim of ID theft, they will help you cancel you credit accounts and replace the contents of your wallet. Essentially, they will help you get your life back in order, contact your financial institutions and help you complete the necessary paperwork.
Can they provide what they claim?
If an ID protection service guarantees they can protect their clients from every possible threat, beware; it is not a legitimate claim. What they can do is attempt to keep ahead of hackers to the best of their ability. But there is just no way that you can be absolutely protected against all forms of identity theft or stop every attempt. What they can offer is better protection than you may be able to put in place on your own.
Is it worth it?
The typical ID protection service will charge from $60 to $180 a year. The cost won’t break the bank for most people, but as one expert so aptly said, “One way or another, it’s going to cost you – time or money or both.” If you’re knowledgeable enough, you may choose to put in the time to personally secure your own computer, monitor your accounts and credit report. But for those who don’t or are too busy to do the work, paying for a service may make more sense.