What do you think tops the U.S. consumer complaints? Well, it is the identity theft. No one can stop ID theft, but credit and identity theft protection services can help. For a monthly or annual fee, identity theft monitoring services track pieces of your financial life and discover symptoms of identity fraud.
At first, some people might think of ID theft protection as a great idea and a decent investment. However, others might see it as just splurging their money away. So, is identity theft protection service worth it? Well, that depends. For instance, if your personal information has been compromised in a breach, you are more likely to become a victim of identity theft and all you need is the best identity theft protection.
How can Identity Theft Protection Services help you?
Firstly, you should know that just because someone is keeping an eye on your credit, they are not actually stopping a bad guy from using your financial information. Identity theft protection services watch your credit report and notify you if there are any new accounts or any credit enquiries. In some cases, they also monitor your Social Security Number on new applications for credit and alert you in real-time that an attempt is being made to establish credit. This can be very beneficial, as you can take care of the situation quickly before someone attempts to steal your credit.
Moreover, the identity theft protection services also offers extra services like monitoring your Social Security Number, bank account activity, or even keeping an eye on the medical identity theft. Though it is exceptional, is it worth the $10-20 or more a month that you might pay? Well, for most of the people, it is.
Other Alternative Ways to Keep Your Identity Safe for Free
There are several other ways that you can do to keep yourself safe if you choose not to go with the identity theft protection services. They are:
- Check your Credit Report
Always check your credit report. You can easily get a free online report every year. Keep in mind that this does not stops someone from taking your information, but it can notify you if someone has stolen your identity thanks to fraudulent charges and unfamiliar credit card accounts.
- Get Fraud Alerts
Setting up fraud alerts is a good idea. But again, it does not stop thieves from getting access to your information. They just inform you if there is any possible fraud on your account. Moreover, these generally expire after 90 days, so you need to keep renewing the service.
- Shred your mail securely
One thing that you can do to keep your information safe is to dispose of your mail in a secure fashion. This significantly minimizes the chances that an ID thief will get access to your information. Remember, that the companies that have your information, like your bank, might not be as alert about this. Therefore, it can still end up in the hands of thieves.
- Freeze your Credit
Now, this is something very important. It is one of the basic steps of shielding yourself against any identity theft. But, there is a loophole here, too. Freezing your credit would not protect your identification from things like account takeovers, tax related ID theft or any criminal ID theft.
The best identity theft protection service is one that is coupled with your own common sense, so always keep your information private and safe, and consistently keep an eye on your accounts. Basically, identity theft protection services come with three main services including monitoring of your personal information, alerts of its use and resources for theft recovery. Moreover, they also offer tangential services, like alerts about identity theft news and local sex offender registries.