Identity Theft Protection Service Overview – Quick Stats
|Identity Theft Protection Company||Monthly Plan Cost||Insurance Coverage|
|IdentityForce||Starting at $17.95||$1 Million|
|LifeLock||Starting at $9.99||$1 Million|
|ID Watchdog||Starting at $14.95||$1 Million|
|Zander Insurance||Starting at $6.75||$1 Million|
What is Identity Theft Protection?
Identity theft protection is a catch-all term that refers to a whole suite of services. These services range from social security and credit monitoring, to dark web and financial monitoring, and so much more.
Many people turn off when they hear the term “identity theft protection.” It sounds downright complicated and unnecessary, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that identity theft protection is actually very simple to understand. And it’s quite necessary if you want to keep your good name, credit, finances, and other important matters safe and secure.
The consumer (that’s you) pays a low monthly fee — typically between $10-$30/mo — and the identity theft protection company keeps tabs on your identity, credit, and related matters. They do this by scanning millions (sometimes billions) of data sources, both online and off. If the company detects fraudulent activity against your name, they will alert you and get to work rectifying the situation.
That’s right, most identity theft protection services include full-on restoration services. That means they will fight to get your identity and/or credit back to pre-fraud status. Some companies even offer a 100% identity-theft restoration guarantee, stolen funds replacement, and some even back their service with up to $1 million in insurance. Not bad.
One of the best features of these services is the access to real investigators. After all, few things leave you feeling more lost and vulnerable than having your identity fall into the hands of a criminal. So it’s nice to have an expert to speak with (a real human!) to answer your burning questions and to talk you through the road to recovery.
Also, many services include a nifty companion app and user dashboard. Here you can check in on the status of your identity and credit, and generally stay up-to-date on everything. And some services even offer generous guarantees. It’s common to see 30-day and even 60-day money-back guarantees. This is the company’s way of taking the risk off of your shoulders and standing behind their service.
There really aren’t many disadvantages to getting setup with a quality identity theft protection service. The price is right, and you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’re protected against the growing crime of identity and credit theft.
Features Matter in an Identity Theft Protection Service
Do the features in any given identity theft protection service really matter?
YES! Features do matter, they matter a lot! You never want to find out you have been a victim of identity theft, then find out that your plan doesn’t cover your specific scenario. Or worse, doesn’t have the coverage or the expertise needed to help you recover from an identity theft incident.
Always look for the features you need for your particular situation when searching for the best identity theft service. For example, if you don’t have kids, then you don’t need to look for services that include identity theft protection for kids. Or, if your funds are limited, buy an identity theft protection service that only offers limited services rather than skipping it altogether. Some coverage is better than no coverage at all and you can always upgrade or change services later when your financial situation improves.
Common features in the identity theft protection industry. These features vary from company to company, but these are the most common.
- Credit Report Monitoring
- Social Security Number Monitoring
- Dark Web Monitoring
- Recovery Insurance Policy (up to $1 Million)
- Stolen Funds Replacement
- Child Identity Theft Protection
- Change of Address Monitoring
- Credit Report and Scores
- Basic and Advanced Identity Theft Monitoring
- And More!
What Is the Right Fit for You and Your Family?
Every person and every family will have varying needs when it comes to identity theft protection coverage. Therefore, you should take some time to learn the different facets of identity theft so you are better able to select a plan that covers all your specific individual needs.
Should I have social security number monitoring?
Yes, everyone, including your kids’, should have social security number monitoring because your social security number is required for just about everything, such as the doctor’s office, credit applications, employment applications, insurance applications—everything; therefore, it is more likely to be stolen because it’s everywhere and not everyone who collects your social security number for business purposes protects it properly.
What are the options to protect my credit and finances?
There are several ways to protect your credit and finances. You can monitor your credit reports and FICO score yourself or pay a service to do it for you, preferably both. You should also shred all documents with your personal information on it, regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for irregularities, never give out any personal financial information or numbers, use computer protection software, make sure your Wi-Fi is properly encrypted, never access your bank account or use your credit cards while using public Wi-Fi, file your tax returns as soon as you receive them so no one can file sooner than you and steal your refund.
Am I comfortable with the ongoing costs of identity theft protection?
To answer this question, you have to ask yourself what are the ongoing costs of identity theft protection going to cost me? Then ask yourself what will it cost you if you don’t have identity theft protection and your identity is stolen? EXACTLY! If you don’t have identity theft protection and your identity is stolen, you might not be able to get everything handled properly if at all. An identity theft protection service, even the most basic of services have a team of experts who know exactly what to do to help you recover from this event and many of them also have a stolen funds reimbursement feature. If you don’t have identity theft protection, will you be able to afford to lose all your money along with your personal information—perhaps for years to come? There’s your answer.
Do I need identity theft insurance coverage?
Yes, you do! Identity theft insurance coverage could be the only thing that helps you survive—literally— through this event. If your identity is stolen, will you know how to fix it yourself? And what if all your money is stolen, including your savings, what would you do for money? Most identity theft protection services provide you with stolen funds reimbursement and some even give you emergency cash to help you get by temporarily if all your money has been drained from your bank accounts.
Should I consider monthly credit score reporting?
Yes, you should consider monthly credit score reporting. Why? Because keeping an eye on your credit score is just another way to protect yourself from identity theft getting too far. If you see your credit score go up or down significantly in any given timeframe, this could be an indication that your personal information has probably been compromised. Early detection will help you prevent the event from going any further because once detected, you can put a freeze on your credit reports, contact your financial institutions and retailers asking them to stop all further transactions and close your account if necessary, etc.
Do I need a family plan?
Whether or not you need a family plan will depend on if you have a family or if the protection is just for yourself. Some identity theft protection services will offer you a discounted rate if you enroll your kids and/or spouse in their services at the same time. However, with that being said, if you have kids, you definitely need a family plan because identity theft doesn’t just happen to adults. In fact, criminals love to use a child’s identity because they know it will probably be several years before the crime is detected. This is because young children don’t apply for credit, etc. which is when most identity theft incidents are found.
Are social media accounts monitored as well?
Some identity theft protection companies monitor social media accounts and some don’t; therefore, if that’s something you want, you’ll need to look for that feature when deciding on which company to choose. Social media pages are a prime target for identity thieves because they contain a wealth of personal information about you that will help them use your identity. For example, your maiden name, where you were born, your kids and pets’ names, etc. Additionally, some identity theft protection companies also offer cyberbullying monitoring which often happens on social media websites so that’s another important feature to look for especially if you have kids.
Is my identity monitored for on the Black Market and Dark Web?
Most identity theft protection companies these days do monitor the Black Market and Dark Web for your personal information. However, not all of them do so it’s best to confirm that the company you choose does, in fact, offer that service before you sign-up.
What happens if I have identity theft protection and my identity is stolen?
If you have identity theft protection and your personal information is stolen and/or used fraudulently, contact your identity theft protection company immediately. Most of them have 24/7 support and recovery services available to you, as well as some type of identity theft insurance, stolen funds replacement, and some of them even offer emergency cash for your immediate expenses.
What Protection Matters Most To You?
Here is a list of common identity theft protections and how they work to protect you.
Social Security Monitoring
Social security number monitoring uses technology to search public information, the dark web, and commonly used places to see if your general identity is being used or sold. It will also look for address change verifications and other places where your social security number is needed to fraudulently use your identity.
Financial monitoring uses technology to search public information, 401ks, bank transactions, payday loans, investments, and other commonly used places to detect if your personal information is being used, bought, or sold.
Criminal monitoring uses technology to search public information, court records, sex offender registration, and other commonly used places to see if your name or personal information has been used in a crime or for other criminal purposes such as using your identity to avoid incarceration, etc.
Credit monitoring uses technology to detect changes in the three major credit bureaus, as well as changes, up or down, in your credit score. Some companies offer monitoring of one, two, or all three credit bureaus. It will usually depend on the protection package you have selected.
Dark Web Monitoring
Dark web monitoring, also known as cyber monitoring, uses technology to continually scour the dark web, hacker forums, and fraudulent websites where stolen personal information is bought and sold.
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring uses technology to scour social media websites, hacker forums, and the dark web to see if the information on those pages has been scraped, then bought, sold, or is being fraudulently used. Once scraped, that information is commonly used to set up fraudulent social media pages with the intent of being used for criminal purposes.
You should be mindful about the information you post on your social media pages. Criminals frequently use social media pages to gather personal information about you so they can use your identity.
For example, how many of you post your maiden name, where you work(ed), where you were born, talk about your pets, kids, or favorite foods, etc. on your social media pages? Think about the two-factor authentication questions a bank or financial institution uses to verify that you are really you when you log in. So if you post that type of information on your social media pages, most of the answers to those questions can be easily found there. That’s why you should avoid posting any personal information that could make it easy for a criminal to find and use to steal your identity and your money.
About the above information on which identity theft protection features that matter most to you:
If your personal information is detected in any one or more of the above-mentioned circumstances, your identity theft protection company will notify you and advise you as to what you need to do to avoid any further damage. They will then put you in touch with one of their restoration experts who will help fix any damage that was done to help get your name and credit cleared and restored.
Are Identity Theft Protection Services Worth the Price?
The last thing you need every month is another bill…right? But what if that bill could keep you from the nightmare of losing your identity (or your kids identity), potentially losing a bunch of money, not being able to buy a home (or anything else), and years, if not a lifetime, of criminal proceedings and financial struggle…would you be willing to pay that bill? You decide!