How Does Identity Theft Protection Work?
Identity theft is one of the biggest, most concerning threats facing every individual. More than 9 million people in America become victims of some kind of identity theft every year. From stolen credit cards and other financial information to theft of your Social Security number and legal information, identity theft can happen in many ways.
And the danger of having your information compromised or outright stolen isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Cyber criminals are finding new ways to get their hands on your most critical information – and if they manage to steal any piece of your identity, it could cause huge crises.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re protected from the dangers and damages of identity theft? Identity theft protection services. But if you’re wondering just how well these services and programs work, here’s how identity theft protection can keep you safe.
How Online Criminals Try to Steal Your Identity
Before you can trust an identity theft protection service, it’s important to understand how criminals actually steal identities and information. Today’s thieves are more knowledgeable and crafty than ever before – and that means they have plenty of ways to access your most personal information, often without you even realizing it.
While plenty of today’s identity criminals use high-tech and digital methods to steal your information, others still rely on old-fashioned theft. And all types of identity theft put you at risk.
Here are some of the most common ways criminals manage to steal others’ identities:
Hacking can include unauthorized logins on your computer or various websites. It can also include data breaches, like the 2018 Marriott data breach or the 2017 Equifax data breach.
Scammers use unsolicited emails and fake websites to get you to click and share your information with them.
Similar to phishing, malware relies on you clicking on links or attachments that result in malicious software being downloaded to your computer. That software then steals your information.
- Phone Scams:
Scammers will pretend to be a financial or government institution, like the IRS, and convince you over the phone to give your personal information.
- Dumpster Diving:
Criminals will go through your trash and pull out any sensitive documents, like bank or credit card statements, to steal your information.
In order to be effective, an identity theft protection service needs to ensure you’re covered – or protected from – as many of these risks as possible.
Types of Identity Theft Protection
In order to combat the many different ways criminals can steal – and use – your personal information, there are a number of different identity theft protection options. You can choose from a number of companies and services, all of which offer different levels and types of coverage and protection.
However, there’s one important fact to keep in mind. According to the FTC, no service or company can truly protect you from having your personal information stolen.
What identity theft protection really offers is monitoring, which will catch any attempt to use or access your personal information. These services can also offer recovery services, which will help you fix any problems should your identity be stolen.
Typically, identity theft protection includes three different types of services:
A service or company monitors your credit, your bank accounts, your SSN, criminal and legal records, and other important areas. If any new accounts are opened or changes are made, you’ll be notified.
Any time your personal information is used, you’ll be alerted immediately. For example, if a new bank account is opened or a loan is taken out in your name, you’ll receive an alert.
If your identity is stolen, you’ll have help from the service or company to recover lost money and undo any damage done. Recovery usually includes insurance up to $1 million.
In addition to these basic services, identity theft protection can be purchased in two forms.
Cybersecurity software is meant to keep your information – and your computer – safe any time you log on. One of the longest-running forms of identity theft protection, cybersecurity software is installed right on your computer.
This special security software protects against malware and other dangerous online threats. It scans for viruses and runs in the background when you use your computer, protecting you from threats without you even realizing it. It typically includes features like encrypted log-ins, anti-keylogging, extra levels of security, and scanning of all downloads to prevent malware and other suspicious items.
Cybersecurity software is often also packaged with antivirus software to ensure you’re protected from all kinds of potential malware.
Identity Theft Monitoring Services
Identity theft monitoring services are one of the most popular options. These services keep a close eye on your personal information, and when anything changes, you’ll get an alert. You sign up with a service that offers identity theft monitoring, and you’ll have a third party constantly watching over your most important information.
Identity theft monitoring services typically monitor information that isn’t at the forefront of your thoughts, like:
- Bank accounts
- Social Security
- Driver’s license
- Medical ID or medical information
- Changes of address
- Court and arrest records
- Loan applications
- Social media
An identity monitoring service will check databases, websites, the dark web, and other sources to see if your information is being used. Each individual service offers different levels of monitoring and different options.
Protect Yourself With Identity Theft Protection Options Today
If you’re worried about the dangerous threat of identity theft, you aren’t alone. With millions of people facing this same threat, there’s good reason to want to carefully guard and protect yourself. However, it’s a tough task to take on all on your own.
Identity theft protection can help you out. These services and software options can monitor your information and potentially catch threats before they attack. But you can only be notified of these potential dangers if you’ve already secured identity theft protection. Choose a service today, and get your most important personal information secured.