With millions falling prey to ID theft each year, more Americans are looking into ID protection from companies like LifeLock. Though ID protection companies provide customers with the resources for increased vigilance, they can’t always prevent identity fraud or theft. Often there is confusion about what’s covered under the protection.
ID Monitoring is Not Insurance
It’s important to note that credit report monitoring and other forms of protection are not insurance. In most cases, the monitoring company is not going to reimburse someone for losses associated with ID theft. So it’s always important to do your part to protect sensitive information. We recommend:
- Lockdown bank accounts and other sensitive online information with solid passwords.
- Shred old bank and credit card statements as well as any other documents that contain your social security number or personal identifying information (PII).
- Securely store statements and sensitive documents like tax returns
Levels of Protection
You can purchase different levels of ID protection yet it’s important to understand what service you are paying for. Ask questions, read all the fine print, and compare vendors to find the right level of protection that meets your needs. Some options include:
- Monitoring Services. Monitoring companies flag your credit report when certain activity occurs and notify you via phone, mail, email, or text. The company doesn’t stop the activity, but you are immediately aware of anyone attempting to use your identity to open credit accounts. Early awareness makes it easier to stop the activity and leaves you with less mess to clean up.
- Credit locks. Some companies offer credit locking or freezing services. They put a freeze on your credit information with all the major bureaus so that any credit applications are denied. You’ll also be notified that activity occurred. This is one of the best ways to ensure protection, but it can also be a hassle when you want to obtain credit yourself.
Even though ID monitoring and other protections won’t reimburse you for losses in the event of ID theft, any protection can reduce the chance that your information is used to benefit someone else. Just make sure you don’t rely on monitoring to deliver 100 percent protection, and continue to remain vigilant yourself. Get into the habit of regular shredding — whether you do it yourself, use a drop-off service or hire a professional shredding provider (like yours truly).