Identity theft is a serious problem in today’s connected digital world. When so much information is moving around on the internet, there are increasing instances of a thief succeeding in stealing personal information of innocent unknowing victims. Once the thief has your personal information, he/she can use that to appear as “you” and start making financial transactions. The thief can open bank accounts, apply for payday loans and use that money without you knowing it, and even claim your tax refund! While some financial transactions would appear on a credit report, there are many which will not. If someone withdraws money from your account, it will not appear on a credit report. You will need to check your bank statement for that. Similarly, if someone draws a payday loan on your name, your credit report will not show you that because online payday loans do not require credit checks. You will only see it on the report once the loan is delinquent and it goes to the collection department.
One solution to this problem is vigilance. You can continuously monitor all your accounts. Banks and financial institutions allow you to set up text/email alerts so that you get notifications when your account balance changes. You can also get your free annual credit report and look for any changes. Federal law requires the three biggest credit bureaus in the country to give you one free credit report every year. These three bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can also monitor your retirement account, credit card statements, investment accounts, etc. more frequently. Medical record fudging is a big problem. An identity thief may be getting medical care under your name. This leads to changes in your medical history. If you go to an emergency room and if your records are not accurate, then you may not get the correct treatment. Always read and scrutinize your medical bills and insurance records. Do bear in mind that all of these monitoring activities requires time and effort from your end.
One more option which does not require much time and effort is the placement of a credit freeze on your credit files. Major credit bureaus offer this option for a small fee. When you place a freeze on your credit files, no one will be able to access your credit files and reports without your permission. You will have to unlock these files for anyone to be able to view them. This unlocking may also involve some fee. So, if you do not mind spending a bit of money or if you are not frequently applying for a loan (which would require the lender to view your credit files), then putting in a credit freeze could be a good option.
However, what if you will be applying for a loan? Or what if your social security card got lost or misplaced? If you know for sure that your personal data is not secure, or if you were a victim of a data breach, then all of the above steps are insufficient to protect you from a future possibility of identity theft. No matter how much you monitor your info, there is always a chance that a suspicious transaction happens without your knowledge. An identity thief can get hold of your lost/stolen information, and start masquerading as “you” to conduct all sorts of fraudulent activities. In such cases, you need an identity theft protection service to help you out.
Identity theft services are of two main types: identity monitoring and identity recovery service. Identity monitoring simply monitors for any changes to your credit report. It does not prevent an identity theft from happening. It keeps tabs on various databases to detect if any change is made to your address, phone number, loan application status, etc. It is better than a credit monitoring service because the latter only monitors credit reports. But as mentioned above, there are quite a few instances where the credit report remains unaffected but financial fraud takes place without your knowledge. Hence, choosing a good identity monitoring service can go a long way in lowering the risk of a fraudulent transaction.
However, no matter what you do or whichever service you choose, an identity theft cannot be 100% ruled out. If the theft does indeed occur, there are a series of steps which you must take to protect yourself and reclaim your identity. There is a solution for these “post-theft” actions and it is called as the identity recovery service. This service goes a step further than the identity monitoring service. The recovery service focuses on actions which need to be taken AFTER identity theft has taken place. The identity monitoring service focuses on everything BEFORE a theft. An identity recovery service usually involves a team or individuals who are trained professionals in dealing with identity theft. They partner with you and normally help you write notices, letters to creditors, walk you through various procedures, etc. The company that you partner with helps you place a credit freeze on your credit files and may even represent you at financial institutions and creditors if you request them to do so. It is estimated that on average, a victim spends about 200 hours dealing with credit bureaus in trying to solve identity theft issues. A lot of that time, cost, and stress can be saved by engaging with a reputed identity theft protection service.
There are quite a few identity protection service companies. They offer a variety of features and services. Below are some pointers on what you should be looking at when evaluating a service. By understanding the features mentioned below, you will be able to compare various identity protection services and pick the right company to work with:
Dedebt has been offering identity protection services for a few years now, and we have a team of experts that have experience in tackling a wide range of identity theft cases. Feel free to call us or fill out the form below and one of our representatives will walk you through our services.