Identity Theft Protection Overview
Identity theft protection is of increasing interest to consumers given the large public data breaches in the news. Indeed it would be fair to say that your personal information is not safe online. Furthermore, Experian indicates that more than 31% of data breach victims later have their identity stolen.
Identity theft is a crime when someone accesses information to commit fraud. Specifically this happens by getting false credentials, opening new accounts in someone else’s name or using someone else’s existing accounts. Unquestionably the rate of identity theft (every two seconds) is exploding in the United States.
Identity Theft Protection Starts With Knowledge
There are a lot of ways identity theft can happen to you. For example, hackers may get your information from a data security breach. Conversely, you may unknowingly provide it on social media, during conversions others can hear or by leaving financial documents in unsafe places.
Your identity theft protection begins with an understanding of the different types of identity theft.
Types Of Identity Theft
An identity thief might use your personally identifiable information (PII) to access and drain your bank accounts, damage your credit, or more. Following are some of the different types of identity theft that you should know about to help protect your information and finances.
The is the most common type of identity theft when criminals access your existing accounts. Once they break in, thieves can charge your credit cards, file claims against your insurance policies, or otherwise drive your finances off a cliff.
A thief can create a totally new account using your personal information, often via the Internet. Unfortunately this is difficult to identify unless you closely review your credit report for new accounts openings.
If a criminal has your personal information, he/she can file a tax return for a refund. Then the IRS rejects your tax return, a major problem.
When an identity thief uses your health insurance to get medical care in your name, doctors may update your records with the imposter’s medical information. Consequently you may receive fraudulent bills, or bills not received. Then the bills that are not paid will hurt your credit or future insurance coverage.
If an identity thief uses your name and SSN on an employment application, the employer will report wages to the IRS and state authorities. Unfortunately you may then be liable for additional taxes.
Children’s Social Security numbers and personal information are used by an identity thief to open new accounts, apply for government benefits, take out loans, and more. Therefore, your child may not be aware of this until he/she applies for credit.
Identity Theft Is Difficult To Detect
- Identity theft is a problem for millions of people – 7 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017.
- It happens regularly – There was a victim of identity theft every 2 seconds in 2017.
- Data breaches contribute to identity theft – A single data breach could expose enough of your personal information to make you an identity thief’s target. There were over 1,000 breaches in 2016
- Social Security numbers are key– Social Security numbers aren’t easily replaced. If yours is lost or stolen, an identity thief could use it for years or even wait years before using it the first time.
- Public Wi-Fi is an identity thief’s friend – With the right tools, identity thieves can monitor what you do on public Wi-Fi, even if it is password protected.
- You can do everything right and still be a victim – If there is a data breach at your doctor’s office, school, or any other business that has your personal information, you could be at risk of identity theft. 36 million records were breached in 2016.
- The risk is everywhere – In today’s digital world, you are more likely to have your identity stolen from the Internet than your car stolen or your home burglarized.
- Recovery takes time – In 2017, over 140 million hours were spent by identity theft victims trying to solve their issues.
Identity Theft Protection Process
Identity theft can impact anyone, anywhere, at any time. Consequently any identity theft protection service needs to be a proactive, advanced system that helps keep your personal information safe. In brief, the service delivers ongoing monitoring, rapid alerts, and recovery services so you can rest assured that someone with experience and knowledge is supporting you 24 X 7.
This implies continuous monitoring of your identity, privacy, and credit by using innovative and proactive identity theft protection technology. Also identify theft protection detects illegal selling of your personal, financial, and credit information.
A warning system rapidly notifying you when your personal information is at risk. Basically alerts are sent to your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. So you have the power to act before damage is done.
Identity theft protection needs to know where or how your online information is being used. Thus this means protecting your keystrokes, PIN numbers, and credit card information.
Your Identity Theft Protection Checklist
The following is a brief list of the six most important things your identity theft protection service should include:
Comprehensive protection that searches for unauthorized use of your identity in the dark web and public records and suspicious activity on your credit report will reduce your risk by increasing your chances of catching problems early.
A service that proactively alerts you to suspicious activity in a timely manner will greatly reduce liability by catching problems early.
Anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software is important. It helps protect you from malware and adds that extra layer of security you need when using the Internet.
You need to be aware of any changes to your credit scores or reports multiple times during the course of the year.
The service you choose needs to be committed to managing the restoration of your identity if you become a victim of identity theft. They should manage it for you every step of the way so you don’t have to.
Adults aren’t the only ones vulnerable to identity theft. So be sure to select a identity theft protection service that offers you complete coverage for you and your family.
Identity Theft Protection Considerations
Approximately 1 out of every 4 adults are victims of identity theft and witness an average loss of about $3500 in each instance. Consequently the damage of identity theft can be devastating and the fall-out hard to contain.
To protect your privacy and finances, follow the basic steps outlined in this guide or subscribe to a third-party identity theft protection service. When you are a victim of identity theft you will thank yourself many times over.