Identity theft is on the rise. Each year, anywhere from 7% to 10% of the U.S. population find themselves victims of identity theft, costing consumers over $15B (that’s billion dollars). Cybercriminals love to steal identities, starting with driver’s license identities. They steal people’s names, addresses, dates of birth and state driver’s identity numbers. With that information, they can apply for loans and credit cards, plus open bank accounts, buy cars, homes — pretty much anything of value, and charge it to them.
Another favorite of the cyberthieves is Social Security ID theft — and it’s not just adults, it’s children’s Social Security numbers, too. Thieves have no problem stealing benefits that you’ve worked your entire life to earn. All they have to do is claim they “lost their Social Security card,” and then use the new one to create fake passports, steal money and benefits and do more damage. Financial ID theft is also on the rise, allowing the cybercrooks to apply for loans and credit cards in your name and do other financial damage.
There’s more — everything from medical ID theft to false worker’s comp claims and medical procedures done without having to pay. There are also instances where thieves commit crimes posing with a person’s name, so when that person gets stopped for a traffic infraction, they end up getting arrested. That’s why you need identity theft protection. If you feel your identity has been stolen or compromised, there are steps you’ll need to take right away, and the Federal Trade Commission has some valuable consumer information on this topic for you to read.
Protecting Your Identity
Cybercrooks steal identities in various ways, including using people search sites. When you use the Internet — whether for looking something up or making online purchases, your information is stored and then often sold to many different companies. Sites like Whitepages, MyLife and others sell private information to marketers and private individuals, and it’s difficult to “opt-out” of these sites and search engines. MyLife, for example, makes it convenient for you to interact with all of your social media accounts using one interface. But while you’re doing that, they’re collecting information about you that includes your name, address, phone number, lawsuits, liens, bankruptcies and so much more — all without your knowledge. And people can post anonymously on that site with information about you that might not even be true! Removal takes a lot of time and effort, more time than most people can afford. Plus, if you want to hire someone to do all the work, it can get quite expensive, very quickly.
That’s why you need an online service like OneRep, which can automatically remove your records from 107 different people search sites and has helped thousands upon thousands of people find their unauthorized public records — removing over 1,000,000 consumer public records from the net. That’s unparalleled peace of mind for OneRep subscribers, and you don’t have to do a thing because it’s all done for you.
Top Identity Theft Services
With all of the choices that consumers have available when it comes to identity theft protection services, how do you choose? Here’s a great starting point: everyone has his or her own unique needs when it comes to identity theft protection. You may have multiple devices, or you may have children who also need identity theft protection as well. OneRep has done a deep dive on an IDShield vs. LifeLock review — a comprehensive comparison that discusses both programs. Each has amazing features in their own right and depending on your individual needs one of these two can do the job for you.
Different providers offer different benefits, and you should compare those benefits to ensure you’re getting the type of protection that you need. Most offer identity theft prevention, but that’s only the starting point. For example, you might want bank account alerts if someone tries to change your address or add a name to your checking account.
Some services offer constant scans of the “dark web” — where names and financial information that has been stolen is sold to others. Others offer real-time fraud alerts, credit monitoring and credit bureau reporting, identity recovery assistance and more. Here’s another item you want to make sure whichever plan you choose includes: identity theft insurance. Here is the reason why: identity theft mitigation and recovery can get very expensive. That’s why some services like LifeLock offer up to $1 million in restitution for identity fraud — and ID Shield even offers up to $5 million in ID theft insurance!
Here’s something else to keep in mind while you’re researching different identity theft prevention services — cost. You’ll find a wide range in pricing — anywhere from $7.99 a month up to $28.99 a month and more. It will depend on how many devices you require coverage for, how many people you’re adding to your plan and whether you pay for the service monthly or annually. Of course, many offer a ‘free 30-day trial,” but often many of the services they offer are not included in that free trial. Also, it can get difficult to cancel your service once you start it, often requiring you to write a letter or follow certain protocols. You can’t simply click “cancel” on most services.
The days of “being careful” to prevent identity theft by shredding documents, reviewing your bank statements and other palliative measures are pretty much behind us. Cybercriminals have learned how to access your most sensitive information through phishing, hacking and other nefarious means, and once that information is in their possession they can wreak havoc with your finances and so much more. Just imagine the damage they can do once they have your Social Security number and name and address, or your checking account number or credit card number. It’s costing Americans billions of dollars a year, so more arduous action needs to be taken.
Opt out of all the people search sites and search engines by using a service like OneRep, which will automatically remove you from 107 of those sites. And have an identity protection service to protect your valuable personal and financial information. Choose ones based on your unique needs, whether you need services like 24/7 access to a private investigator or a $5 million insurance policy to reimburse you for damages you may suffer. It will also depend on how many devices you need covered and how many people in your family require monitoring. Stay vigilant, and stay safe!