Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It?
Identity theft protection doesn’t necessarily prevent fraud, but can be used as an additional layer to assist in monitoring your personal information. Learn more about how these services protect your identity and find out if it’s a service that could benefit you.
What is identity theft protection?
The best way to explain identity theft protection is to start by clarifying what it isn’t. Identity theft protection is not credit monitoring, which is a service that alerts consumers when their credit score has increased or decreased, their credit has been pulled, or when other changes are reported by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
Instead, identity theft protection monitors for suspicious or fraudulent activity associated with your identity. This type of service alerts a consumer when their Social Security number appears in places like criminal databases and the dark web (a seedy portion of the internet where thieves can buy and sell personal information such as social security numbers and credit card numbers).
Oftentimes, the information stolen during retail data breaches ends up on the dark web, ripe for thieves to take and then assume an unsuspecting victim’s identity. This, in a nutshell, is what identity theft protection is designed to help prevent. These services alert subscribers when their information first appears on the dark web so consumers can request a new credit or debit card, freeze their credit with each bureau, or take other proactive steps to prevent fraud. In the event that a subscriber’s identity is stolen and used to open fraudulent accounts, many identity theft protection services include restoration help to assist with cleaning up the messes caused by a stolen identity.
Do you need identity theft protection?
According to Richard Maier, Vice President of Loss Prevention at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, “Identity theft protection is not a requirement to prevent identity theft but can be used as an additional layer to assist in monitoring your personal information.” Maier adds that, “Members should continuously monitor their credit reports, as they are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus yearly. The free credit reports can be obtained from annualcreditreport.com and, as a best practice, consumers should obtain a credit report from a different credit bureau every four months.” In addition, Maier advises members to “Always dispute anything that is not accurate, such as the spelling of a name, unknown address, unknown accounts, or inaccurate payment histories.”
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