Identity Monitor Service
Identity theft is quickly becoming one of the fasting growing crimes in the United States. As of 2008, identity theft has been the number one reported complaint category reported with the FTC. In 2011, identity fraud increased by 15% and the number continues to rise with increases in audience participation through social media and smart phone usage. With the growing trend of ID theft it only makes sense to seek protection through an identity monitor service and prevent the potential headache of legal issues associated with identity theft.
What should I look for in an Identity Monitoring Service
Most identity protection plans offer very similar solutions to identity fraud. At the very least your plan should provide you with credit monitoring, your credit score, internet monitoring, public database monitoring, some form of a lost wallet solution and a resolution service. Different plans from have different strengths and weaknesses, it is up to you to determine what you feel is the most important plan for your needs.
One thing that needs to be perfectly clear is that these are not preventative methods to identity theft. No service can guarantee that your identity does not get stolen. These protection plans allow for early detection of any suspicious activity to your accounts. This doesn’t mean that access is completely denied to this information or that there are not other ways that your identity can be stolen.
Identity protection plans offer many similar services, however, most of the plans that you see on the market currently are focused on monitoring your credit scores for fraudulent activity. The problem with these services is that credit card identity theft is just one form of identity theft that can occur. While it is important to protect yourself against fraudulent charges to your accounts, it is also important to consider an identity monitor service that will step in and take over the restoration and resolution process that is so costly with all forms of ID theft.
What are the different types of identity theft?
Here are five types of identity theft that can occur and the problems that could arise should this happen to you.
- Driver’s License Theft-Getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation could result in your arrest if an identity thief’s unpaid tickets lead to a warrant issued under your name.
- Social Security Number Theft- An identity thief gets a job under your SSN or SIN resulting in issues concerning unreported income.
- Medical Information Theft-A doctor visit leads to the discovery of false information in your medical records or you may receive bills or collection calls for medical services never received.
- Criminal Actions- Identity thieves may commit crimes using your personal information: You could be arrested for crimes never committed, or a criminal history could surface on your background check.
- Financial Transactions-Bank or credit card accounts opened under your name without your knowledge could result in collection calls or impact your credit report and score to the point you are denied a loan
What you value in an identity protection service will greatly influence what plan you choose to purchase. Some plans are geared more towards protecting your credit, monitoring and providing credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Life Lock, Identity Guard, and TrustID are three companies that will use all three credit bureaus. If you are concerned with about your credit scores and want reports from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion then these three plans should be considered. Most identity protection plans will offer at the very least a report from Experian, for some people this is more than enough information on their credit and they value other services offered in the plan.
Identity Theft Insurance Policies
The next feature of identity theft protection that needs to be looked at in depth are the identity insurance policies themselves. These can be misleading and should be thoroughly understood before purchasing a policy. Many consumers feel assurance by a 1,000,000 guarantee, however, after looking more deeply into the master policies offered it is easy to see that there could be better options for you.
Both Identity Guard and Life Lock offer that same exact 1,000,000 guarantee, but not without restrictions. For example, to be covered under the master policy there is a list of obligations that must be followed. In the event of an identity theft crime, YOU are required to notify Life Lock within 90 days of the incident occurring (provided you catch it by then), credit bureaus and the appropriate law enforcement agencies. You are required to notify your bank and follow their terms and conditions and you as the user are required to request applications for reimbursement of any applicable fees in the process.
TrustID also offers a 1,000,000 service guarantee with an even shorter time frame for reporting a stolen identity event. In order to qualify for your benefits that you have been paying for you need to report the event no later than 30 days after it has occurred.
Most policies offer similar benefits that need to be explained before considering a plan. First, you will not be reimbursed for any charges that have occurred as a direct result of identity theft. Many plans will reimburse court fees, attorney fees, application fees, and wages lost from missing work during the resolution process. The drawback to this type of coverage is that even though you will be reimbursed for those losses, you still are using your own time to remedy your situation. More importantly, you are dealing with an extremely stressful and painstaking process to restore your identity by yourself.
How Do I Recover After My Identity is Stolen?
Identity Guard begins the recovery process by allowing you to contact a representative that will advise you step by step along the way to cancelling credit cards, filing appropriate reports and contacting lenders. The resolution and recovery process for TrustedID involves being sent an informational packet with details on how to begin the process of notifying the correct parties. Life Lock includes a five step process in their recovery system once your claim is verified. This includes speaking to a representative that will assess your case, give step by step instructions on what you need to do, hiring a third party specialist if necessary and a follow up call after the process is complete. The most important part to realize with each of these products is that you will be guided through the recovery process while you complete it YOURSELF. This can be an extremely frustrating situation that takes a large amount of your own time and money (even though you will be reimbursed).
Identity Theft Shield, offered through Legal Shield, is the only protection plan that utilizes Kroll inc, a 40 yr company that specializes in these matters. While other companies will provide you with the information needed to restore your identity, Kroll will step in and let their team of professionals begin the process for you. Based on what is needed according to your situation, Kroll will develop a personal plan necessary to fix your identity problems. This plan does not offer a 1,000,000 guarantee or reimburse your losses that you incur through attempting to resolve your identity theft issues on your own. Instead, Identity Theft Shield takes over the entire process, leaving you to continue on with your daily activities while experts handle your situation for you. To some, this is a much better option rather than reimbursement for their own time. Many people would rather have everything taken care of by an expert that specializes in these matters and will pay for that convenience alone and the peace of mind that comes with it.