With all the news about data breeches, are you worried about someone stealing your identity? Are you looking to keep your private information out if unwanted hands? An identity theft protection service can help you rest easy knowing that you and your information will be protected.
There are so many different companies that offer identity theft prevention; it can be challenging to decide which company is the best. To help make your decision easier, we have reviewed five of the best identity protection services below.
Top 5: Identity Theft Protection Services Review
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
If you are looking for a service that offers both individual and family plans, then you should consider Identity Guard Premier. The family plan is a better deal if there are a few members of your household you would like to sign up for identity protection.
Regardless of whether you sign up for an individual plan or a family plan, you'll receive the same great benefits from Identity Guard Premier. $1,000,000 in insurance reimbursement is included in the event your identity is stolen and you lose funds. You will also be assigned a dedicated case manager who is based in the United States.
Identity Guard Premier offers a mobile app and online identity dashboard. You can use these features to monitor your activity and any alerts for your account.
The pros at Identity Guard Premier are constantly on the lookout for threats to your identity. You will receive alerts if any of your personal information is found on the dark web, when any high-risk transactions are made, or if any personal threats are detected by Watson Artificial Intelligence. You will also receive alerts if any of your bank accounts are taken over, if someone tries to open accounts in your name, or if there are major changes to your credit accounts or reports.
ID Watchdog Plus uses a comprehensive program to ensure that your date is secure and protected. There are three main components to their plan: looking closely at your data, identifying potentially fraudulent information, and restoring any issues quickly.
When you sign up for service with ID Watchdog Plus, you will receive credit monitoring. Different plans include either one of the nationwide credit bureaus or all three.
ID Watchdog Plus also offers advanced identity monitoring. They will look through various sources, such as public records or certifications to find any potential signs that your identity may have been stolen. Additionally, they also monitor the dark web's chat rooms, websites, and forums to make sure your information is not out there.
You can set customizable alerts with ID Watchdog Plus. This will allow you to be notified about any potential issues using your preferred method of communication.
In the event your identity is stolen, the Certifies Identity Theft Risk Management Specialists will manage your case. They will continue to work with you until your case has been resolved and your identity has been restored. You will be able to reach the call center 24/7, so someone will always be available to help you.
When you sign up for LifeLock Unlimited Plus, you'll enjoy a wide array of features and benefits designed to protect you and your identity. The LifeLock Privacy Monitor Tool keeps more of your private information out of public exposure. You will also receive dark web monitoring; if LifeLock finds your information on the dark web, you will be notified.
LifeLock has an identity alert system that is designed to notify you quickly in the event your information is compromised. The system can alert you using text, email, or a call. If there are any large-scale breaches with retailers, doctors, or other companies, LifeLock will let you know and will work with you to make sure your information stays protected.
LifeLock also monitors your credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial accounts. In the event any large purchase or withdrawals are made, you'll receive an alert. Your credit reports will also be closely monitored to make sure there is no suspicious activity.
In the event your identity is stolen after you have signed up with LifeLock, they will reimburse you depending on your plan limits ($25,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000). A specialist at LifeLock will also work alongside you to make sure that your identity is restored.
If you decide you are ready to sign up with LifeLock, you'll be able to do so quickly and easily on their website. You'll feel much better knowing that you are protected against identity theft.
IdentityForce's goal is to ensure that your personal information and your identity are kept secure. Signing up for identity protection with IdentityForce will provide you with access to various features that are designed to keep your information secure and out of the hands of criminals.
IdentityForce provides constant monitoring of your personal information, credit, and privacy. They can alert you right away using their early warning system if something suspicious or illegal happens with your accounts or information.
With IdentityForce, you'll always be in control of your information. They can help you learn how to understand your credit score, how to protect your online profile, and how the information you enter online gets used.
Finally, in the event your identity does get stolen, IdentityForce will take care of everything that is necessary (calls, paperwork, etc.) to restore it. You will also be covered by a $1,000,000 identity theft insurance policy.
IdentityForce offers personal plans, as well as employee and government plans. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and have received numerous awards such as the Gold 2019 Stevie Award and tom's Guide's Editor's Choice Award. You can be confident that you are working with a reputable and reliable company when you choose IdentityForce.
Identity Fraud Gold offers a lot of benefits that you'll enjoy. As soon as you sign up, a baseline SMART ID risk score will be generated based on your personal information and their proprietary algorithms. Their systems will monitor for any changes to your score, which could mean that your identity was stolen.
Identity Fraud Gold also include monitoring various networks and databases for transactions using your Social Security Number. This will alert them, and you, to any accounts that may have been opened using your information. Once any potentially fraudulent information is detected, it will be sent to you in real-time so you can trigger a Red Alert.
Credit Card Monitoring is also included in your coverage. The company will look for any of your information in chat rooms or websites so that fraud can be prevented. With Identity Fraud Gold, you'll also receive identity insurance. This can protect you against lost funds, lost wages, legal fees, and more.
You will also receive keystroke encryption software to keep your keystrokes safe from hackers. There will be someone available to assist you 24/7 in the event you need help.
Unfortunately, many people are affected by identity theft each year. There are so many ways for hackers and thieves to get hold of our personal information. An identity theft protection service can help you feel at ease about the security of your personal information.
Before signing up for an identity theft protection service, there are a few different features you will want to look at and consider. First, be sure to look for a company that offers frequent or constant monitoring of your information. This will make sure that nothing slips by the monitors before something can be done about it.
Some companies also include credit monitoring with their identity theft services. This is a good feature to look for, since it will have eyes on another important piece of your information. If someone were to open or try to open a credit card in your name, it will show up on your credit report.
Next, you should also pay attention to how quickly you'll be notified in the event there is an issue with your credit or one of your accounts. Look for a company that will notify you quickly using a reliable method.
Finally, it is important to pay attention to what the company will do in the event that your identity gets stolen. Finding a company that will handle all the tedious phone calls and paperwork can save you from a big headache.
You should also pay attention to what, if any insurance is offered by the company if your identity does get stolen. Try to find a company that offers a worthwhile amount of money that will keep you compensated in the event your identity does get stolen.
best identity theft protection service
Identity Guard is our top pick when you are looking for identity theft protection services. We think this is a great company to sign up with since you'll enjoy comprehensive services and benefits that will keep your information secure.
Identity Guard will constantly monitor your personal information and credit. If something looks off, they will notify you right away using their early warning system.
With Identity Guard, you'll be covered in the unfortunate event your identity does get stolen. They offer a $1,00,000 insurance policy to protect you. They will also take care of all the grueling work that goes into restoring one's identity, such as paperwork and phone calls.
When you sign up with IdentityGuard, you will be able to rest easier knowing your information is secure. Don't keep your information at risk any longer; visit IdentityGuard's website today to sign up!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is identity theft?
Identity theft refers to another individual stealing your personal information, such as your social security number, and using that information for personal gain. They may open accounts in your name, make purchases using your credit cards, or take your tax refund.
What Is Identity Theft Prevention?
Identity theft prevention services include monitoring of your credit and other personal information. The companies make sure that no unauthorized purchases are made and that no accounts are opened under your name. Some companies that offer identity theft prevention may also provide some insurance in the event your identity does get compromised.
What Are the Odds of Identity Theft?
Based on information from 2017, about one in every 15 people suffered from some sort of identity fraud.
How can I know if my identity has been stolen?
There are a variety of ways you may be able to discover that your identity has been stolen. If you receive notifications from your bank or credit card companies about accounts opened in your name or purchases you did not make, this is a sign that someone may have stolen your identity. Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account is another definite red flag to look for.
Another possible way you may find out that your identity has been stolen is if you start receiving calls from debt collectors about debts that you know nothing about. If your credit cards start getting declined when you know there should still be available funds on them, it is another sign that someone may have stolen your identity.
Since some people steal your identity for medical purposes, another sign that your identity may have been stolen is getting a medical claim denied by your insurance company due to your plan limits being reached.
There are also identity theft monitoring services that will keep an eye on your personal information and notify you of any suspicious activity. This can help you catch instances of identity theft right away and can help you take the necessary steps to recover your identity more quickly.
What steps should I take to protect my identity?
Taking a few steps can be the difference in protecting your identity and falling victim to identity theft. If someone has stolen your identity, following the suggestions we have outlined below can help you discover it more quickly and take measures to prevent future accounts or purchased to be made under your name and to begin restoring your identity.
- Shred documents and files with your personal information: Simply throwing out or recycling documents with your personal information, such as your name, address, or social security number, can make you vulnerable to identity theft. If these documents fall into the wrong hands, someone could use your information to open accounts in your name and steal your information. Rather than just recycling or throwing out documents with this personal information, shred them so no one can access your information.
- Closely read your bank statements and credit card statements each month: Every month when your bank or credit card companies issue a new statement, you should take time to look over the charges and withdrawals closely. If you see something that is questionable, be sure to contact your credit card company or bank right away.
- Keep tabs on when your credit card bills are due: Knowing when your credit card bills are due and when you should be receiving statements in the mail can help make sure you realize when something is missing. If you don't receive a statement in the mail when it normally comes, contact the credit card company to make sure that your address hasn't been changed by someone else.
- Review your credit report once every year: Every year, you should look over your credit report from all three credit bureaus. Your credit report will show you all the accounts that are open under your name and can help you identify if anything is amiss.
- Review medical statements from your health insurance company: Look over the statements sent by your health insurance company to verify that all the treatments and doctor's visits listed are for you/the other members on your health plan.
Can your credit report help you find out if your identity has been stolen?
Yes, looking over your credit report is one way you may be able to identify if you have been a victim of identity theft. Your credit report should list all of the accounts that are open under your name. If you see any accounts that you did not open, chances are someone has stolen your identity to open the account.
What should I do if my personal information was compromised in a data breach?
If your personal information was hacked on one of the sites you use, there are a number of steps you'll want to take to keep yourself protected. If you're worried about someone using your social security number to open accounts under your name, you can place a credit freeze. This will make it more difficult for thieves to open an account using your information.
You may also want to file your taxes as soon as possible. This will prevent scammers from using your social security number to file your taxes and take your refund.
You should also be sure to closely monitor your credit report for any signs of new accounts that you have not authorized. If the company that was hacked offer free credit monitoring for a set period of time, be sure to take advantage of it. This can provide you with some extra peace of mind.
If your login information or password was compromised in the breach, change it on that website right away. You will also want to change your password on any other sites where you use the same password/variations of the same password. Be sure to check your account information on any of the other sites where the same login and password are used as well.
What should I do if someone steals my wallet?
If someone steals your wallet, chances are they will get one or more of your debit or credit cards. Immediately after discovering that your wallet has been stolen, you will want to contact all of your credit card companies and tell them to put a freeze on your account and issue you a new credit card with a different account number.
In the months following the theft, you will want to keep an even closer eye on your account to look for any fraudulent charges that you did not authorize. You should also check your credit report to confirm that no new accounts have been opened under your name.
If your driver's license was in your wallet, you'll also want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to report your license as stolen. They'll let you know if you need to apply for a new license.
How do I fix mistakes on my credit report?
If you notice an error on your credit report, you can submit a request in writing to the credit bureau. In your request, identify the error and ask them to fix it or remove it from your report.
How do I close an account that I did not open?
If you discover an account on your credit report that you know you did not open, you will want to act quickly to have it removed from your credit report. To do this, you will want to write a letter to the business or credit card company that the account was opened with. Include a copy of your report showing that your identity was stolen and ask the company to close the account that you did not open.
If I suspect that my identity has been stolen, who should I report it to?
You will want to notify the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) if you believe your identity has been stolen. You can do so through their website, IdentityTheft.gov or by calling 1-877-438-4338.
There are also some instances when you may need to also report the identity theft to the police. Examples of times you'll want to report the theft to the police include if you know who stole your identity or if a creditor is requiring a police report in order to delete accounts that you did not open.
How much will it cost me if my identity is stolen?
The amount of money you'll lose will vary under different circumstances. Most states have laws that state that you will not be held responsible for paying off debt that was incurred through fraud, such as identity theft.
If your credit card gets used by an identity theft, the amount you'll be responsible for can vary. If you report that the card was lost of stole before unauthorized charges are made, you won't have to pay anything. You'll only have to pay up to $50 if you report the card as lost or stolen within two days of discovering the loss, and you'll have to pay up to $500 if you wait more than two, but less than 60 days, to report the loss.
Still, even with these protections, the average person ends up losing over $600 when all is said and done with the identity process recovering.
In addition to the financial costs associated with losing your identity, there are others 'costs' to consider as well. Your credit scores could take a hit, which can make it more challenging for you to apply for credit cards, loans, or mortgages.
You'll also end up losing a lot of your time working to recover your identity after it has been compromised. This can take an average of 200 hours of your time to make all the necessary calls and send the necessary documents to recover your identity.
Identity theft can also take an emotion toll. Dealing with identity theft can leave you feeling fearful, powerless, or embarrassed.
What are the benefits of signing up for an identity theft protection service?
An identity theft protection service can decrease the chances that your identity will be stolen by someone else. These services monitor your credit report and other sources to look for any problems or areas of concerns. As soon as something pops up, you'll be notified and able to address it right away instead of waiting weeks or even months to catch it yourself.
If your identity is stolen, an identity theft protection service will also help walk you through all the necessary steps needed to restore your identity. This can be a huge benefit, since this is a confusing and very time-consuming process.
Many companies also offer reimbursement, often up to $1,000,000, in the event your identity does get stolen after you have signed up to use their services.
A Beginner's Quick-Guide to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
We wanted to write this up to further help you understand and protect against identity theft. Even if you don't have the money to purchase one of our recommendations to help you, these tips should really help decrease your chances of identity theft.Identity theft occurs when your personal information such as your social security number or bank data is stolen to make fraudulent transactions or do other crimes. Your identity may be used to apply for credit, pay for services, file taxes, or do other types of activities that impact your credit and legal status. Even worse, a serious crime can be committed using your personal information and land you in big legal trouble.
Having your identity stolen is a horrific event that can cost you time and money as you try to restore your good name along with your credit and legal status. It can happen to anyone, at any age, and in any part of the country. Recovering from such a situation has been said to be one of the most stressful and frustrating problems one can face.
It is wise to learn about identity theft in general, how prevalent it is, and how to not become a victim.
Is Identity Theft Common in the United States?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) currently estimates that approximately 9 million U.S. citizens per year fall victim to identity theft. However, that figure can fluctuate according to how sophisticated the evolution of both crime prevention strategies and the methods used by criminals are. Both of which are both constantly changing, it is a dynamic environment.
One statistic such as this cannot represent the full scope of this issue. It is just looking at the surface to get a general idea of the problem.
Statistics Worth Noting:
- The Federal Trade Commission has a Consumer Sentinel Network, which received about 360,000 complaints related to identity theft in 2012. The number represented 18% of all complaints received that same year.
- According to the Federal Trade Commission, 8.6 million households (8.6%) suffered from some type of identity theft in 2010.
- Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice reported financial losses of billions of dollars. Five percent of the victims 5% in 2006 and 2007 reported losses of $10,000 each.
A large number of citizens in the United States are certainly victims of identity theft every year. However, considering the total population of the country, it isn’t too large of a percentage.
Although billions of dollars are lost each year, consumers are not responsible for the whole amount. Financial institutions take responsibility for most of the losses in spending-related fraud.
Identity theft is not as common as it may appear, nonetheless, it is worth practicing safety measures to protect your personal information.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Professor and dean emeritus at the Golden Gate University College of Law, Peter Keane, says humans have a vast imagination and creative power when it comes to theft.
The following list includes common methods thieves use to steal your identity and gain access to your personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this list is certainly not exhaustive.
1. Trash Diving: thieves easily dive into dumpsters to piece together information from old financial statements and bills. They can easily find your name, address, bank name, and account numbers.
This information is usually enough for criminals to open credit lines using your name and assume your identity in various scenarios.
2. The Mailbox: stealing your mail allows criminal access to credit card offers, utility bills, medical information, and other items which will complement their criminal activities.
3. Phishing: we all know about those suspicious requests from a stranger pretending to be someone else. Cyber thieves are ready to trick you into the opening or responding to their emails which are programmed to automatically retrieve your personal information.
Thieves may falsely identify themselves as someone from your bank or PayPal. Perhaps they respond to your request for a job or an apartment and ask you to fill out an application with your personal information. Phishing is not limited to the internet, criminals can even obtain information over the phone or in person.
4. Skimming: identity thieves can insert a special device into credit card processing and ATMs machines to capture account information of people who recently used the machines. This and other tech tools are constantly evolving in the criminal world.
5. Direct Theft: let’s not forget about the "personal-attack approach" to stealing on the streets such as purse snatching and pick-pocketing in a crowd. Unauthorized use of personnel records from companies is also a direct approach that is seen.
6. Conning: banks and other account holders know they cannot give your personal information over the phone. Verification protocols are in place to verify your identity before the representative can discuss any details about your account.
Charming and creative con-artists sometimes get through these safeguards and obtain information from customer service representatives. They can go on to use your data to complete financial applications, replace your driver’s license using your name, or change your address amongst other things.
7. Address Interference: criminals can intercept your mail to gain access to other parts of your life. Changing your address to their preferred location can be as easy as filling out a request at a United States post office.
USPS charges $1 to your credit or debit card to validate your identity, but if the thief already has access to these cards, they will be easily able to change your address using this method.
Popular Ways Thieves Use Your Personal Information
When a person has access to your private information, they can empty your accounts, charge purchases on your credit cards, open new accounts including car loans, receive medical attention on your health insurance, and even receive a tax refund on your behalf. Other extreme scenarios include giving your identity to the police during an arrest.
Signs that Indicate Your Identity Has Been Stolen
- Seeing charges on your accounts that you did not authorize.
- Noticing that your mail no longer comes to your address; you’re missing pieces of mail.
- Your checks are refused due to a fraud alert on your account.
- You begin to receive phone calls from debt collectors on accounts you did not open.
- Your credit report shows accounts and charges unfamiliar to you.
- You receive invoices for medical services you did not receive.
- Your health insurance refuses your valid medical claim due to your benefits limit being maxed out.
- You are refused health insurance coverage because your records show a medical condition you don’t have.
- The Internal Revenue Service sends a notice stating that more than one tax return was filed under your name and social security number.
- Your social security number shows as being employed somewhere you don’t work for.
- You receive a notice regarding a data breach from one of your account holders or from a company where you do business.
Your Daily Routines Can Keep Your Identity Safe
Each day, we carry out routines on auto-pilot that keep us safe from harm and care for people and things that are important to us. Such routines include drying water spills from the floor to prevent falls, looking both ways before crossing the street and washing vegetables before eating them.
You can only protect yourself so much from criminals, it is inevitable to be exposed. Regardless, your daily choices will make a significant difference in how far your information remains from identity thieves.
There are millions of identity theft victims each year, your daily routine can help you stay out of the reach of predators.
In addition to your daily activities, you can create routines to keep an eye on your identity, personal information, and credit status.
Here are five routines you can integrate into your life:
1. Check credit card and bank statements in detail at least once per month.
2. Know when your payments are due. If you don’t receive an invoice you’ve been expecting, look into it.
3. Carefully examine health insurance statements.
4. Match the health insurance claims paid with the services you received.
5. Destroy all documents that show personal and financial information.
Lastly, at least once per year, review each of the three credit reports available free online. Practicing these habits will become automatic before you know it and you won’t be as likely to be amongst the people who are easy prey for identity thieves.
For more information, tips, and tools about identity theft visit ftc.gov/idtheft.
Additional Protocols to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Now that you are familiar with common methods used by identity thieves, let’s look at commonsense and not-so-obvious actions you can practice to protect your personal information:
Mail Monitoring & Dealing With Other Documents
1. Shred or burn documents: once you get into the habit of destroying all documents that contain your personal information, dumpster-diving thieves will know your dumpster is not a good candidate for stealing an identity.
2. Lock your mailbox: no one must have access to your mailbox, more so when you are traveling and cannot keep a watchful eye on your mail. This practice will decrease the chances of a stranger gaining access to credit card offers that have been pre-approved and are ready to be used.
Good Housekeeping Magazine states that 40% of identity thieves acquire personal information from victims’ mailboxes.
3. Limit pre-screened credit offers: you may choose to request that you are not sent pre-approved/pre-screened credit offers.
Safeguards for Specific Type of Information
1. Safekeeping of Social Security Number (SSN): your social security number is one of the most valuable pieces of information for a thief. A tip for keeping your social security number safe is not to carry your social security card in your wallet.
Ask that your driver's license use a different number as some states use the social security number as the default number for your driver's license. Additionally, pay attention to those documents that tend to mention your social security number such as insurance cards or alternative forms of identification.
Most entities are aware of safeguarding your social security number, but it’s better to be proactive and examine which documents include your social security number so that you can be on the lookout.
2. Enter Financial Information Only on Official and Secure Websites: in a world where we conduct most of our business online, we must be aware of which websites are used to enter personal information. Do not input financial information on a site received via email or one without a prefix of “https:” Modern methods of communication are an easy catch for hackers.
3. Protect Your PINs: if your actual PIN is used to perform transactions, it is more likely that you can be found liable for the expenses. It is your responsibility to keep your PIN safe and ensure no one knows it. Your PIN should be much harder to figure out than obtaining a physical card.
4. Reject Unsolicited Requests for Information: whether in person, on the phone, or via email, you should not respond to anyone asking for your personal information. Plus, you should not respond if you didn’t request to be contacted.
Steven J. Pilloff works as an assistant professor of finance at George Mason University. He suggests: “if someone contacts you saying they are from your credit card company, do not give out your personal information. Instead, call the company using a legitimate phone number such as the one that appears on the back of your card.
- Every four months, get a copy of your credit report. All consumers are allowed to get one free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. The report includes Transunion, Experian, and Equifax credit reports. You’ll be able to review for possible signs of identity theft by keeping a close eye on each section of the report.
- 2. Freeze Your Credit Reports: some states allow consumers to “freeze” or “lock” their credit reports. On a state such as this one, all entities including financial institutions will have to acquire your expressed authorization to access your credit report. This prevents criminals from easily opening new accounts using your name.
- 3. Register or a Credit Monitoring Service: receive alerts within 24 hours of any change that happens to your credit report. You’ll pretty much immediately know when a loan application or credit card has been used under your name. The quicker you detect suspicious activity, the faster you’ll be able to address the problem and prevent more significant damage.
Daily Habits Consumers Can Have to Prevent Identity Theft
1. Always use your signature when making purchases. Major credit card networks cover debit card users as long as your signature is used for verification of the purchase.
2. Do regular checks of all your accounts. Regularly reviewing all the accounts you hold. Checking them every month is a great habit to establish. Review all transactions and ensure you don’t spot any irregularities. If you do not recognize a charge, bring them immediately to the issuer’s attention.
Jill Vihtelic is a professor of business teaching at St. Mary’s College. She says that the best single practice to prevent being a victim of financial fraud is to balance your accounts every month and double-check everything. Plus, be sure to know exactly what is coming in and what is going out.
An individual’s due diligence and consistent monitoring is a key component to prevent fraud. One cannot rely only on a credit monitoring service.
3. Be Aware of Your Environment: pay attention to your surroundings when talking on the phone in a public place. A thief can easily pick up details from your conversation including your full name, verbal passwords, account PINs, date of birth, credit card number, and your social security number.
4. Complete Transactions to Avoid Questions or Doubts: get into the habit of always writing the final amount of your receipt when you sign for a purchase. It is not wise to leave the final amount blank because the transaction can be open for interpretation.
For instance, when leaving a tip, write the tip amount, and the total final amount you desire to pay. Or, if leaving a $0 tip, write in the amount $0.00.
5. Memorize the Contents of Your Wallet: thieves can sometimes be people close to us at home or work. By memorizing every inch of your wallet and creating a system that keeps everything in place, you’ll be able to easily spot suspicious activity.
David M. Cordell has a role as a clinical professor of finance and managerial economics at the University of Texas. He advises making a photocopy of all important items inside your wallet such as insurance cards, government IDs, credit cards, etc. This way, if an item is missing, you’ll be able to make a quick recovery.
What to do After Your Identity is Stolen
Even if you try hard to protect yourself, you may still become one of the unfortunate cases of stolen identity. You'll have to mitigate the damages, know who to notify, and know how to handle all aspects to restore your good name and financial losses.
There are several procedures in place used to address identity theft depending on the nature of the event. The procedures vary a bit depending on whether it is an unauthorized inquiry on your credit, an unrecognized account, an address change, new delinquencies, an unknown employer, a record of bankruptcy, civil judgments, or tax liens.
Generally, the victim should immediately notify appropriate government agencies including the Federal Trade Commission along with the financial institutions involved.
Here are more details about relevant agencies:
• FTC: The Federal Trade Commission is held responsible by a statute related to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. The FTC fields consumer complaints and coordinates a response with law enforcement agencies and credit bureaus. To submit an identity theft complaint, you can go online, call 1-877-ID THEFT, or mail a letter to Consumer Response Center in Washington D.C. Online filing is recommended because it is quicker and time is of the essence in cases of identity theft.
• USPS Inspection Service: if you suspect your mailing address has been changed or you notice other types of mail fraud, you should immediately fill out an online form to report the problem.
• IRS: the Internal Revenue Service works with an Identity Theft Affidavit, which is submitted by victims when they suspect their tax ID number has been compromised and fraud was committed with their tax returns.
• Social Security Administration: If you suspect that your social security number has been compromised, notify the Social Security Administration.
• Financial Institutions: notify all account holders about the possibility of fraud. This includes all your lines of credit, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. Reporting suspicious activity will prompt them to put additional safeguards in place to protect accounts and scan them for signs of fraudulent activities.
When you’re finished notifying all authorities, you will have to gather all your statements, credit reports, and other financial information to use as evidence to provide investigators.
You’ll also have to reset your passwords, PINs, direct deposit procedures, automatic payments, and other items you currently have set up.
What Industry Experts Say
When it comes to discussing the future of financial security, many variables come into play, which makes trends hard to predict. Criminals are constantly fine-tuning existing sophisticated methods and inventing new ones. More and more consumer personal information is accessible on the internet, and new technology makes hacking into new systems possible.
As technology advances and voice recognition, fingerprinting, and eye scanning become mainstream, law enforcement will come up with new strategies to adapt to new identity theft modalities.
The ongoing issue begs to question if financial institutions will continue to pick up the tab, or if the consumer will become liable in the future.
Experts in the fields of law enforcement, personal finance, and information security were asked their thoughts about what is in store for us in the next decade:
The overall consensus is that identity theft is dynamic and ever-changing. With many factors affecting the outcome. We must stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. Protecting your identity is no different than locking your car and taking steps to prevent auto theft.
The Bottom Line Regarding Identity Protection
Financial fraud and identity theft can cause major problems for consumers. However, the prevalence is much less common than we think. This means that taking preventative measures to protect your personal information will likely result in your identity staying intact.
Using common-sense is the best way to keep yourself safe from criminals. There is hope that new technology will become accessible to improve identity verification. Safeguarding our privacy is something we all need to take responsibility for in our lives.
Fortunately, there are tons of resources available and agencies dedicated to this topic.
Although this type of crime may not disappear completely, we can take steps to ensure we don’t over-expose ourselves, especially nowadays in the world of social media and data sharing.