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Is Id Robbery Coverage Price It?

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Identity theft protection services can be worthwhile if you want a centralized program that helps you monitor your credit and financial accounts, and assistance with identity theft recovery. While most of these services don’t promise to prevent identity theft entirely, they can make identity theft easier to spot and recover from.

Identity theft can happen when someone obtains your personal information from a data breach or phishing scam. Once an identity thief has your personal information, they could use it to open accounts, get medical procedures, file tax returns or commit other crimes.

Services that provide identity theft protection could be worthwhile if the features can save you time and money—especially because the alerts can help you quickly respond to fraudulent activity.

What Is Identity Theft Protection?

A range of features can be included in identity theft protection programs, which are often rolled into monthly or annual subscription services. The specifics will depend on the program, and sometimes on the tier of service you pay for, but the common features generally fall into three categories:

Credit Monitoring

Although there’s more to your identity than your credit, keeping an eye on your credit reports and scores is important. That’s why most programs include:

  • Credit report monitoring: Services monitor your credit reports from one or more of the major consumer credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They’ll alert you when there are potentially suspicious changes, and might also give you access to your credit reports.
  • Credit score monitoring: You also might receive alerts when your credit scores change. This can be important because an unexpected large drop could indicate there’s a new negative mark in your credit report that’s the result of credit fraud.

Some programs may also allow you to quickly lock and unlock your credit report, which can limit who can access the report.

Identity and Account Monitoring

Identity theft programs are distinguished from credit monitoring programs because they also look for your information in other databases and parts of the internet, such as:

  • The dark web: Scans parts of the dark web for your personal information. Although you can’t remove your information from the dark web, knowing what’s exposed is important because fraudsters can buy and try to use the information to commit fraud.
  • People finder websites: Looks for your personal information on people finder websites, also called people search websites, and helps you submit removal requests.
  • Social media: Notifies you if you share or post something that could damage your reputation or put your identity at risk.
  • Sex offender registries: Shares information about registered sex offenders in your area.
  • Court records: Alerts you if your personal information appears in court records.
  • Alternative credit databases: Alerts you if someone uses your identity to get a loan that doesn’t appear in your credit reports, such as payday loans and high-rate online installment loans.
  • Financial accounts: Can help you monitor bank accounts for suspicious activity and warn you if someone tries to open a new account in your name, change the personal information on your account or add a new signer to your account.
  • Social Security number alerts: Looks for reports of new names and addresses associated with your Social Security number.
  • Change of address alerts: Notifies you if someone changes your address with the USPS. Identity thieves might do this to intercept new debit or credit cards that they opened in your name.
  • Identity validation alerts: An alert that’s triggered when an organization tries to verify your identity, which often happens during an account opening process.

Recovery Assistance

Identity theft protective services also generally have several features that can save you time or money if you’re the victim of identity theft.

  • Lost wallet assistance: Can help you cancel and replace credit cards, debit cards, driver’s license and other cards if your wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Identity restoration services: Offers guidance and assistance through the recovery and restoration process.
  • Identity theft insurance: Can help pay for costs related to obtaining, amending and correcting your records.

What Are the Benefits of Identity Theft Protection?

Although most of the identity theft protection program’s features are reactive rather than preventive, subscribers can benefit from having:

  • A consolidated view: You can do some of the monitoring that these services offer for free and on your own. But you’ll have to manage multiple accounts and frequently check websites and databases.
  • More comprehensive monitoring: The services can also monitor databases and alert you to changes you might otherwise miss, such as new non-credit financial accounts and identity validation alerts.
  • An early warning system: Ongoing monitoring allows you to quickly take action when someone tries to use your identity. For example, you might get an alert that there’s a new hard inquiry on your credit report if an identity thief applies for a credit card in your name. You can then contact the card issuer and try to shut down the account before the fraudster receives and uses the card.
  • Help after an incident: Restoring your identity can be an arduous process. Having someone who can guide you and help manage your case might save you a lot of time.

Some identity theft protection programs also come with a password manager and virtual private network (VPN). Password managers can help you create and store strong passwords—which can be important for keeping identity thieves out of your accounts. And VPNs encrypt the information you send online.

How Do I Get Identity Theft Insurance?

You can get identity theft insurance from different providers. Some sell it as a stand-alone offering, alongside other insurance policies or as part of a broader identity protection service.

For example, Experian offers identity theft insurance as part of the Experian IdentityWorksSM Premium and Family plans. Both plans include up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, which can help pay for costs related to reporting identity fraud and amending or correcting your identity. These can include:

  • Legal and administrative fees
  • Lost wages
  • Required travel expenses
  • Elder, spousal and child care costs
  • Expenses for replacing stolen identification

Other Ways to Protect Your Identity

You can also protect your identity and personal information by implementing preventive measures on your own:

  • Don’t share personal information on social media.
  • Use a password manager to create strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts.
  • Ignore unexpected calls, emails or texts asking you to share personal information, account details or one-time passwords that are sent to your email or phone.
  • Don’t click on links or download attachments from unexpected texts or emails.
  • Add a lock to your mailbox and sign up for electronic statements from your banks and credit card issuers.
  • Shred documents with personal information.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet.

While there’s no guaranteed way to keep all your personal information secure, being cautious and taking preventive measures is important.

Is Identity Protection Worth the Cost?

Identity theft protection services can be an effective way to keep a close eye on your identity and can ease recovery in case identity theft does occur. But a subscription might not be worth it if you already closely monitor your credit reports and bank accounts and you’re not worried about the recovery process.

However, if you want more robust monitoring, alerts about suspicious changes and help with recovery, then consider an identity theft protection plan. You can also experience how one of these services works with a seven-day free trial of Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium or Family.

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