It’s estimated that every two seconds, there is a new victim of identity theft. Having your identity stolen is a terrifying prospect, and recovering a stolen identity typically takes hundreds of hours of work. According to Javelin’s Identity Fraud Study, which is the longest study on identity fraud in the United States, identity theft resulted in a loss of $16.9 billion dollars in 2019 alone. The damage is widespread and complex. With so much of our personal information online these days, it’s easy to lose track of what is out there and criminals are adept at gathering the personal data they need to steal someone’s identity.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to protect yourself against identity theft. The first step is to understand the different types of identity theft and understand how identity theft can occur. Then, you should consider using an identity theft protection service to stay on top of monitoring your identity and notifying you in case anything amiss occurs. If the worst should occur, you’ll know that the best identity theft protection services will even take over restoring your identity for you and reimburse any money you lost.
In the case of financial identity theft, the criminal is trying to buy things using your money. They may have access to your bank accounts and credit card information. They may also have enough of your information to take out loans or new credit cards in your name, which they never have the intention of paying for. You end up being the one facing the consequences.
Criminal identity theft occurs when a criminal gives over false identifying information to authorities. The result is that you may receive fines for reckless driving or even receive a court summons for something that someone else did in your name. You may end up with a criminal record for crimes you didn’t even know about.
Healthcare in the United States is expensive. That’s why some criminals resort to identity theft in order to use someone else’s health insurance to receive medical care or even prescription drugs in their name. Most medical identity theft victims find out when they get bills for medical care they did not receive or are told that their coverage limit has been already met. This form of identity theft is particularly dangerous because it can also result in the criminal’s medical history being merged with your own. Doctors may change your personal course of care based on the criminal’s medical profile.
Unfortunately, adults aren’t the only ones at risk of becoming identity theft victims. Sometimes, it is even the family members of these children who choose to steal their identities. They use their personal information to take out loans, credit cards, and even buy houses. The children typically don’t know until they turn 18 and try to open their own financial accounts or start making major purchases in their own name. By this point, their credit can be ruined and they can find that they are in a huge amount of debt thanks to identity theft.
The unfortunate truth about most identity theft is that it can be avoided. There are many extra precautions that a user can undertake to ensure that their identity is not stolen such as using identity protection services in conjunction with other safeguards such as a VPN and antivirus, or avoiding websites and activities that are known to be risky for viruses and malware altogether. Here are some of the most common methods that users fall prey to when their identity is stolen:
Browsing the internet: Even using the internet has its own risks associated with identity theft. If you follow an untrusted link (phishing scams) this opens you up to malware and identity theft.
Using the Dark Web: Many people are curious about using the unindexed parts of the internet where no normal search engines can take you. There are various marketplaces on the dark web that offer illegal services, and as such are operated by people who are much more likely to steal your personal data if given the chance.
Malware Infections: Once your computer has been compromised by malware you are an open target for the creators of that software. This means that they could be monitoring your keystrokes, viewing your screen, and even switching on your webcam to watch you while you use your laptop or mobile phone.
Physical Theft: If you have a wallet, laptop, or cellphone stolen then the information available to a criminal is staggering. With your details, they can open bank accounts, online credit facilities, and put your credit profile at serious risk.
Using unsecured Wi-Fi: Logging onto a free Wi-Fi hotspot is never a good idea, unless you have a VPN to obscure the data that you are transmitting.
Identity theft protection services are provided by companies that monitor your personal data and financial accounts to stay abreast of any potential breaches or acts of fraud. They typically offer a three-pronged approach to protecting your identity:
Monitoring services provided by an identity protection company monitors your personal information. This can include credit monitoring service, monitoring websites from the dark web, monitoring court records for crimes committed in your name, and more. Should any red flags go off while monitoring your identifiable information, they’ll send you an alert. You can then verify whether or not the alert was in fact criminal or whether you were simply opening a new line of credit for yourself.
The best identity theft protection services will offer identity recovery services with a dedicated agent or team doing the work for you. Should you receive an alert and realize that your identity has been compromised, they will help you with closing any accounts falsely opened in your name, putting a freeze on your credit, correcting credit reports, and more.
Identity theft insurance reimburses you for the large costs that are associated with identity theft. This can include reimbursement of stolen funds, payment for any lawyers and experts who defend you in getting your identity back, and compensation for any other personal expenses associated with recovering your stolen identity. LifeLock offers reimbursement of up to $1 million each for lawyers and experts, stolen funds, and personal compensation.
When considering an identity protection service, there are certain features that you’ll want to think about:
Identity theft protection services don’t come for free. They typically are offered through monthly plans that you can sign up for. Each identity theft protection company typically offers a few different plans at different price points. Costs usually range from around $7/month to $30/month, depending on what is included with each plan.
If you have kids, you should consider whether children are protected for free or whether you’ll need to pay an additional fee for each child added to the plan. Zander is one recommended company that protects children for free in their plans.
Keep in mind that you can often save money if you sign up for an annual plan instead of one with month-to-month billing. Given how much identity theft can end up costing people, spending a few dollars each month for peace of mind and knowledge that you’ll be reimbursed even if the worst occurs is considered to be worth it by many.
You need to find ID theft protection as soon as possible. This ensures that both you and your family will be protected on both mobile and desktop/laptop computer systems when performing the most basic tasks on your computer.
In order to properly protect yourself and your business or family, you need to set up the right plan at the right price.
Luckily there is an ever-growing market of computers that could rely heavily on this technology, putting you back in control, and we have all of the information that you need to get started! Check out our reviews of the recommended identity theft protection services on this page to easily compare companies and find out which is the best service for you.