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Weighing the Odds: Identity Protection Basics

July 06, 2017

Do you ever consider canceling your auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance and just take your chances that “nothing will go wrong”? Everyone wants to save a little money, but at what cost? Mortgage lenders and regulators require home and auto insurance because even though the chances of a car accident or a house fire in any given year are low, there’s too much at stake. So why would you not protect your identity as faithfully as you protect your home or car?

Your odds of identity theft are 50 times greater than having a house fire. And your identity is the key to everything you own and every aspect of your life, from your financial assets to your ability to work, get housing and even medical care. Identity protection services make sense, but they’re different than typical insurance, so let’s talk about what to look for in choosing an identity protection plan.

Many people associate identity protection with credit monitoring services that notify you of suspicious activity on your credit report. By law, you are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus, but continuous monitoring services will let you know sooner if there’s a problem, and some also monitor online public records, social media, and other sources. However, monitoring is only a small part of identity protection. By the time a monitoring service alerts you to suspicious activity in your credit file, the damage is done and you’re left to deal with the aftermath, and that’s where you really need help.

When you’re shopping for identity protection, you should target a plan with excellent recovery or resolution services to help restore your identity after it is stolen. Before you select a plan, find out how they will help you if you become a victim:

  • Will they give you a brochure and some forms and send you on your way?
  • Or will they work on your behalf to research and resolve your identity theft?
  • How knowledgeable are the recovery services staff?
  • How hard or easy is it to reach someone who can help you?

It’s the quality of the representatives that will make all the difference. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can easily find out from a marketing pamphlet, but you can check the product’s website for customer stories and testimonials that describe the recovery experience.

It’s worth the research to find the right identity protection service because the chances are increasing that you will need it. For 17 years running, identity theft has been the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. According to Javelin Research, over 15.4 million U.S. consumers lost approximately $16 billion as a result of identity thieves in 2016, and the number is increasing every year. So why not ensure that you’ll have the help you need if the worst happens? To help you get started, upcoming articles will talk more about the recovery process and the costs of recovery.

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