Identity theft is the ultimate goal for cybercriminals. Once they have personally identifiable information, they can put their victims into piles of debt that will be difficult to resolve. That reason alone is a good reason to investigate identity theft protection as that alone will reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
Why Is Identity Theft Protection So Important?
Beyond the reason stated above, identity theft results in the victim having their credit rating negatively affected by this. This is on top of the serious debt that’s accumulated and that someone is taking over a victim’s financial identity that will ruin their lives forever, being able to get loans and credit cards for years.
All these things would be prevented with protection as victims would be able to tell their financial institution when something suspicious occurs.
What Is Identity Theft Protection
These are essentially paid bodyguards for credit and personal information. There are several firms that offer these services, and their job is to ensure credit activity remains normal and to prevent people’s identities falling in the wrong hands.
These companies alert individuals about:
- Any new credit accounts opened
- Changes to personal information – like name, phone number or address
- Any credit inquiries
- Late payments
- Changes to credit limit
- Any use of Social Insurance Number
- Bank account activity
- And public records
Most firms even offer to protect finances and offer insurance policies as high as $1 million.
Are Paid Identity Theft Protection Services Needed?
While those are convenient, they’re not necessary these days. The reason for that is that consumers have the tools online to monitor their credit report and score and take measures to protect themselves.
Absolutely, these services will offer complete peace of mind and in some cases, it is viable in situations like the following:
- There is a lack of time or intention of monitoring credit reports and activities.
- The idea of freezing credit reports doesn’t sound appealing.
- The Social Insurance Number has been compromised, or the card with that information has been lost or stolen.
- The protection is ideal for at-risk individuals and those who have had their identity stolen in the past.
How To Avoid Being A Victim
There are several ways to minimize the risk of identity theft through the following methods:
- Check credit reports often. Many credit report providers offer free credit reports that they send to residents. These can be requested once per week. This provides information on whether new credits have been created or if fraudulent accounts have been opened.
- Have strong passwords. A password manager is a wonderful tool that stores passwords and generates secure passwords. Get one and follow its suggestions for stronger passwords.
- Exercise caution with sensitive documents. Shred sensitive information into small pieces and cut credit cards into multiple and small pieces. This limits a thief’s ability to find details in the garbage.
- Never give out account details. When uncertain about emails or phone calls from banks or credit providers, don’t give out the information. Instead, call the financial institution directly and inform them about the contact. If the inquiry was real, it’ll be recorded on file. If not, then it’s easy to inform them that someone was trying to get information.
- Use the identity protection services. All three major credit bureaus offer a range of identity theft protection. Again it’s not entirely necessary but for those who want true peace of mind, it’s worth it.
Other Methods To Safeguard Identity
- Ensure that bills, financial papers, and important documents are safely locked away. When they’re not needed, shred them before tossing them out.
- Avoid using unsecured internet access points to access banking information. The most common is public Wi-Fi.
- Be cautious with online payments. Always confirm the website is secure via their URL. There should be a closed padlock icon next to the name or the letters “https”.