Each day, we are beginning to become more and more dependent on the cyber world. We shop online, we meet people online, we pay our bills online- we basically live online. That is why protection from identity theft is critical, and will become even more critical as we surf the web and enter our private information into each form thinking we are okay.
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft is exactly what it sounds like. It is the “fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.” It is when someone steals your personal information, and they pretend to be use, accessing all types of possibilities like driving you into debt, creating criminal records, and anything else that you can imagine. Now adays, it is really easy to become someone else online. Just ask anyone who has had a bad meet and greet after talking with someone on social media they have never met. You don’t know if that cute guy is really a fourteen year old girl messing with you.
The same thing goes for identity. Much of your personal information is online and people are out their awaiting you to make the wrong move so that they can tap into your license information, credit cards, social security numbers, profiles, and more. Hacking is a serious business, and people make millions over stealing others’ identity each year. The problem is only going to get worse.
HOW DO THIEVES GET YOUR INFORMATION
Each time you purchase a product online, fill out a job application, log into an account or apply for an account, you are putting yourself at risk. There are a number of ways that people can access your identity offline as well. Do you shred each piece of mail that you get, or do you just throw it away? Do you check to see, when you are in a public place, whether or not the WiFi connection is secure? Do you check each website application to see what kind of security certificate they have? Do you even know what a security certificate is? If not, there is a good chance that your information is vulnerable and that you are at risk for having your identity stolen.
The problem is, you may never know if it has been stolen. Many people only find out when the local law enforcement is pulling up, they become bankrupt, or if notified by a protection agency. You could have had your identity stolen years ago, and you may just be sitting there reading this article saying, “nah, that isn’t me.” Guess what? It can happen to anyone.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT
There are a number of ways that you can protect yourself both online and offline from identity theft. Ensuring that you are private about your information is probably one of the best ways to keep it in the for front of your mind. You wouldn’t go up to a complete stranger and give them your bank information, would you? Didn’t think so. So, why would you enter it in on some random site? Many sites have become secure during this epidemic, but you have to do the research on every site that you put your information into. You can usually find it in their policies or terms and conditions pages.
There is nothing wrong with doing things the old fashioned way. You can apply for things with paper and stamps. You can do your banking in person. You can pay bills by sending in a check. If you are unsure, don’t take the chance. Don’t just give out your information to anyone- especially a site that doesn’t look credible. You can always do a Google review search to see the credibility and safety of many online stores.
BEST COMPANIES TO HELP PROTECT YOU FROM IDENTITY THEFT
There are two companies, among many, that you can contact that will help protect you from identity theft. They will monitor your credit and other valuable information and notify you if something seems strange and send you monthly reports stating how your information was used. Many times, companies will shut down your credit cards and accounts temporarily if there is a major threat- it may seem like an inconvenience, but it is a short term problem that fixes a potential life-changing mess.
Identity Force has been around for almost forty years. They were one of the pioneers of identity theft protection. Identity Force and LifeLock are both very good, and offer competitive pricing based on what kind of protection you are looking for.
Identity force offers a lot of additional features including anti-key logging and anti-phishing software, offer daily alerts, junk mail opt out systems, medical fraud protection and activity alerts for your basic accounts. They also monitor your credit, which is usually a key indicator for identity theft.
If your identity has been stolen, or there is suspicious activity, they will alert you by text message, email or phone. You can also access an online dashboard, which will show you the exact information that they are looking at. They offer 24/7 customer service, so if something happens at two in the morning, they have you back. LifeLock has been around for almost fifteen years and offer a wide variety of services.
This service is available for under twenty-five dollar per month.
LifeLock is another excellent choice for identity theft protection services. These plans range from ten dollars to thirty dollars depending on which options you choose. The basic plans just offers SSN and credit report alerts, but the premium plan offers everything from alerts on crimes that include your name, credit scores and reports, along with 401(k) and other investment activity alerts.
The basic plan offers up to $25,000 in replacement funds for stolen money, and the premium offers one million dollar protection. The service will also monitor data breaches that occur and alert you to inquire whether or not you may be a part of it or not. It is a lot of peace of mind to know that your identity is being protected.