Identity theft is a big deal. In fact, according to the Identity Theft Council, more than 30 million people in the United States were victims of identity theft in the last 36 months. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information.
Identity theft criminals can:
- Change your mailing address
- Open bank accounts in your name
- Commit crimes under your name instead of their own
- Take out loans
- Forge checks that wipe out your bank account
If you’re concerned about identity theft, there are services that can help you prevent yourself from becoming a victim, including credit monitoring and identity monitoring. Credit monitoring tracks the activity on your credit reports and alerts you when there are changes. These could be changes to personal information, credit limit increases, or even the opening of a new credit card account.
Credit monitoring doesn’t extend to your social security or bank accounts, so don’t forget to keep an eye on them. Identity monitoring on the other hand, scans public databases and web information and sends out alerts if it sees your personal information is being used. For example, if your social security number is found on a loan, this service will alert you. Then, you can take action to recover your identity.
What are the pros and cons of ID theft monitoring services?
While identity theft monitoring is not actively preventing your identity from being stolen, this service can give you added peace of mind by adding another layer of security to your own monitoring.
Monitoring services can help prevent personal information from getting leaked in a data breach.
If you’ve determined you’re at high risk of identity theft, you should purchase identity theft services. These add an additional layer of preventative action for you. Sleep better at night knowing that you have a partner in identity monitoring. This service could alert you to problems you might not have caught on your own.
These services can be expensive. Some add up to thousands of dollars each year. If you’re not at high risk for identity theft, you may not want to invest in these services.
How often the service scans the web for your information varies depending on the price you pay or provider you choose. If your service only scans once a month, is that really helpful? Services included vary from provider to provider and package to package. You could be paying for a service that doesn’t cover all aspects of identity theft monitoring.
If you’re worried about investing in paid services, there are free alternatives to these services. They may not cover as many bases, but if you are not especially worried about identity theft you may not need to invest in the software.
Again, these services are not protecting you against identity theft, they are merely monitoring activity and will alert you if they catch something.
Can you monitor your own identity?
You can monitor your own identity by checking your bank accounts and credit card statements, signing up for fraud alert, and receiving monthly credit reports. The bottom line is purchasing an identity monitoring service will not protect from identity theft. It will arm you with additional support by alerting you when it finds suspicious activity, but the best way to protect yourself is to stay informed and be vigilant about protecting your information.