What is identity theft protection?

03 May

Identity theft protection is simply a term that includes a variety of services that help customers protect themselves from the illegal capture and use of their personal data. This can include personal details such as your name, birthdate, and Social Security number. This information can be used to steal your money, open credit cards in your name or commit other fraud.

Identity theft protection works to make customers aware that there is suspicious activity regarding their identity and helps to minimize the damage and cover costs to repair their credit and identity after a breach. 

Identity theft protection can vary

ID theft protection cannot usually prevent your ID information from being stolen, it is designed to detect the fraud early and prevent the theft from doing massive amounts of damage to you and your family. In many cases, it can also help cover the cost of rebuilding your credit and ID.

ID theft protection services can vary dramatically in their scope. Most ID theft protection services offer a variety of service tiers and will charge different rates as you add more services to your protection plan. While some ID protection services simply monitor your credit report and will alert you to suspicious activity, others may expand the monitoring options and even help you recover and restore your ID.

ID protection services don’t all use the same resources for monitoring your credit and they can also vary in how frequently they check in on your ID. A few of the services will offer additional services such as virtual private networks (VPN) and password managers to help you keep your data safe.

In general, customers are usually billed annually or monthly, here is a quick breakdown of the various types of ID theft protection services:

Credit monitoring: This is the most basic level of coverage, the ID protection company will monitor your credit report on one or all of the three major credit reporting bureaus and will alert you to any activity that occurs. This can be things such as a new credit card or loan application, a change of address or other personal details. Many services will also monitor your credit score and alert you if it goes up or down.

Identity monitoring: The next step up the rung is identity monitoring which searches public records such as social media sites, arrest records and even property records. They will also look at the dark web for activity incorporating your address, social security number or name. They will then notify you if they find anything that needs to be fixed or investigated in more depth. 

Identity theft insurance: This product is designed to help a victim cover expenses related to recovering or restoring their ID. It will usually cover costs such as legal fees, phone bills, notary fees, mailing costs and other expenses related to an ID theft. This protection can be purchased as a separate policy, or it may be available as a rider or even a perk on your homeowners or renters insurance policy. 

There may be coverage limits and deductibles depending on the policy so be sure you understand the coverage levels when shopping for a policy.

Identity theft recovery:  This is usually part of an ID theft protection plan and will help with recovery of your ID. This may include a dedicated agent that is assigned to your specific case and will do much of the legwork to help restore your ID and credit rating. This process can be a major benefit as recovering your ID can be a major undertaking that can take months or even years in certain situations. 

Should you purchase identity theft protection?

There is not universal answer to this question, it depends on your specific situation as well as your budget. 

ID theft can occur in a variety of different ways, your computer or phone can be hacked or even something as simple as your mail being stolen from your mailbox can result in your ID being hijacked.

It should be noted that ID theft protection cannot prevent your ID from being stolen, it will help you minimize the damage and may cover some of the costs of reinstating your ID. If an ID theft policy is offered as a perk or free add-on to your homeowners policy, you should absolutely accept it as this it can be a major help if your ID is actually stolen.

If you have to pay for this coverage you will need to decide whether or not you need or want this additional coverage. If you tend to be careless with your ID, don’t take precautions with your personal information or frequently lose credit cards it may be a service you want to add to your coverage portfolio. 

How much does ID Theft Protection Cost?

The cost for ID theft protection can vary dramatically depending on the services you opt to purchase. Basic credit monitoring can be had for as little as $8-10 a month but more robust services that help recover your ID and clean up your credit can range from $30 to $50 a month.

Identity theft protection services 

There are a number of ID theft and monitor services out there. Here is a short list of a few services to check out:

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