Have you ever been a victim of Identity Theft? We have – several times.
The first time it happened to us, we were reviewing our monthly credit card statement and were shocked to find a $19,000 charge from a European farm equipment manufacturer. We definitely didn’t order that! We called our credit card company and eventually, we were able to get things cleared up but not before we invested a lot of time and energy working through red tape.
Another time, we were contacted by a New York jewelry store about an order they were about to ship – a $5000 watch! I love watches but I’ve never spent that much on one and this definitely wasn’t an order I placed. Someone had used our card to make the purchase. Fortunately for us, the store manager was understanding and canceled the order.
In both cases, we were able to prevent our credit from being ruined but it was frustrating and it took a lot of work. Among other things, we had to cancel our cards and have new ones issued. If you’ve ever had to do that, you know what an inconvenience it is.
Identity Theft Protection services help safeguard the kind of personal information that criminals seek to steal and then use to make purchases, take out loans, or empty bank accounts. They do this by monitoring your personal information and alerting you when they see anything they suspect to be fraudulent.
Let’s take a look at a couple of the top Identity Protection Services. If you’d like to learn more about ID theft protection services in general, you’ll find that following the reviews.
Check Out These ID Theft Protection Services
Identity Force is rated as one of the top identity protection companies in the world. They offer 24/7 monitoring for many of the most common types of fraud, including accounts held by lenders, banks, government agencies, change of address with USPS, court records, credit reports, dark web, social media identity, sex offender, and payday loan monitoring. If suspicious activity is detected, they will send you an alert so that you can contact them begin the process of securing your accounts. They offer insurance to help you recover any losses, and they will do the work involved in restoring your accounts to good standing.
|😀 PROS||😡 CONS|
|24/7 monitoring||Might not catch all suspicious activity|
|Monitors for many types of breaches||Protections vary with plan choice|
|Provides identity theft insurance||No assistance with previous identity loss|
prior to signing up
Identity Guard offers theft protection and account monitoring for individuals, families, and businesses. They provide a range of monitoring and recovery services. The company will monitor the dark web, data breach notifications from companies, bank accounts, credit bureau reports, 401K and investment account monitoring, USPS address change monitoring, crime and sex offense monitoring, and home title monitoring. Identity Guard provides monitoring of certain types of accounts that others do not. They also provide and risk report with recommendations on how you can manage your personal risk. The company provides a safe browsing tool, too.
|😀 PROS||😡 CONS|
|Allows customized watchlist||Lower priced package only provides|
protection against major risks
|Individual and family plans available||Might not catch all suspicious activity|
|Three different pricing levels||Cannot prevent a breach from happening|
in the first place
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a case of criminals stealing a victim’s personal information, which they then use to steal money from their victims or use in one way or another in further criminal activity – again, usually to generate money.
For example, they may steal a victim’s identity to apply for and get approved for a loan and then run off with the money. And there are countless other nefarious schemes involving ID theft, which are cropping up everywhere.
You should keep in mind that cybercriminals will sometimes steal various pieces of personal information from you to “steal your identity,” while in other cases, they may just need a single piece of your personal info to further their illegal endeavors.
What Are the Dangers of Identity Theft?
Often, the biggest worry for victims of identity theft is trying to recover any lost funds. However, there are other less obvious and potentially more serious dangers of ID theft. Such as wrongly being added to a criminal database or being prosecuted for a crime you didn’t commit.
How Might Your Identity Be Stolen?
There are over a dozen different ways miscreants can steal your identity. Knowing how criminals can gain access to your personal information can help you take precautions to protect yourself against ID theft and make it more difficult for criminals to steal your identity successfully.
Stolen Identities Via Mail Theft
Mail theft is one of the oldest methods criminals have used to access and steal personal information. Unlike most other ways, mail theft doesn’t require any hacking or cybercriminal tech skills, so it is one of the most accessible and most prevalent means of miscreants stealing private information from unsuspecting victims.
As you can probably figure out from its name, mail theft is when someone simply steals or looks through your mail to access private information, such as bank account details, your full name, or your social security number.
To reduce the risk of you becoming a victim of mail theft, you should always try to ensure your mail isn’t left unattended in a communal area. Ideally, you should shred all documents containing sensitive information before disposing of them, or at least thoroughly cross out all sensitive info with a pen.
Tip: Shred Your Documents! We use this one to shred our personal documents before disposing. AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper and Credit Card Home Office Shredder
Identity Theft Via Data Breaches
Many businesses and organizations – located in the US and abroad – hold data about you, such as your name, email address, phone number, and potentially your bank details. These databases can be hacked by cybercriminals, leading to the theft of millions or tens of millions of users’ private information.
It’s quite difficult to mitigate the risks of a data breach like this, as you have no control over how well a company defends its servers against hackers. However, you can sometimes request a company or an organization delete your information (if you’re no longer using their services, for example.)
Identity Theft Via Malware
Malware is a type of virtual virus that can be unknowingly downloaded onto your phone or computer if you download a file sent by a cybercriminal via email or if you access an infected website.
Some malwares are more sophisticated than others, and they can cause all sorts of issues once they infect your device. In some cases, they can give hackers complete control over your computer or smartphone, allowing them to access all kinds of sensitive information.
You can protect yourself against this by never downloading or opening attachments from unknown senders or untrustworthy websites.
Credit Card Theft
Credit card theft is when criminals either physically steal your credit card (which is especially an issue nowadays due to many cards having contactless payment compatibilities) or somehow gain access to the sensitive information required to make a purchase.
The best way to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of credit card theft is always to stay vigilant when using your credit card and only to use your credit card to purchase on trusted websites that encrypt your data.
Tip: Always check for the lock symbol, which should appear near the website address before entering personal information online.
Smartphone or Laptop Theft
If your devices aren’t password-protected, thieves can access all sorts of sensitive information and documents if they steal your smartphone or laptop. For example, they may be able to obtain scans of your passport or a utility bill, in addition to gaining access to your online banking portal and other personal data stored on your electronic devices.
To protect yourself against this, you should protect all of your devices with a password and be vigilant when carrying such devices in public.
Identity Theft Via Phishing Scams
Phishing is done most often via email, but other means of communication, such as text messages, are increasingly utilized by cybercriminals.
Regardless of the specific platform or message, phishing always consists of miscreants posing as a reputable organization – usually, one you’re already a customer of, such as your bank – to trick you into logging into a spoof website so they can steal your login details.
The most effective way for Boomers and other adults to protect themselves against phishing is to only log in to their online banking platform by going to the bank’s official website. You should also carefully inspect every email you receive to ensure it’s not a phishing attack.
What is an Identity Theft Protection Service?
An identity theft protection service is essentially a way to protect yourself against losses and difficulties which may arise in the aftermath of your identity being stolen and used in criminal activity by miscreants.
Such services have tools to keep an eye out for cybercriminals using your personal information in fraudulent and criminal activity, in addition to providing you with identity theft insurance (usually for up to $1 million worth of losses.)
Many packages also include credit monitoring and social security monitoring, and some offer extra features, such as anti-phishing browsers and mobile apps.
How Can Boomers Benefit From ID Theft Protection?
An effective ID theft protection service can help provide Baby Boomers with peace of mind as they offer tools that reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim of ID theft while also providing you with sufficient insurance coverage in case criminals still find a way to steal your personal information.
As mentioned, tools such as anti-phishing apps and browsers, 24/7 credit, the dark web, and social security monitoring, plus computer data protection, all reduce the chances of a cybercriminal stealing and utilizing your private data for criminal activity.
Things To Consider When Comparing ID Protection Plans
There are several different providers of identity theft protection services out there – and each typically has several tiered plans to choose from – so it’s important to know what to look for when comparing different plans and determining which is best for you.
First and foremost, you should make sure that any plan you’re considering buying is affordable for you. The cost is very important as all ID theft protection services are an ongoing monthly expense, so even a few dollars per month can add up over time.
You should also read the fine print to see if there are any potential extra charges which you are likely to incur, as this can significantly impact how much you end up paying.
Level of Protection
The level of protection offered varies greatly from provider to provider and plan to plan, so it’s important to make sure you understand precisely what each is offering and judge whether it’s suitable to your needs.
Some plans may offer more protection than you realistically need, so purchasing them would be unnecessarily expensive. In contrast, some plans on the other end of the spectrum may not provide enough protection. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right balance for you.
Commitment is another very important consideration for Boomers to make, especially when trying out an ID theft protection service for the first time or when switching to another provider.
Some providers offer contracts on a rolling, month to month basis, while others are less flexible and require a long commitment of at least a few months or a year.
Shorter minimum contract terms are generally preferred, as they allow you to cancel and switch to another provider with less headache.