You don’t have to purchase costly identity theft protection from companies like LifeLock because you are already protected. Most people don’t bother to learn that. Federal consumer freedoms, creditors who monitor your scrupulously, and the steps you can personally take are already available and in place to protect you for free. That alone provides you with enough identity theft protection than you would get from paying for a service.
Many companies that offer identity theft protection have a tendency to overstate just how much identity theft actually occurs. While the percentage of people who have their identity stolen has increased, it is not so astronomical that most people will have their identities stolen. Companies exaggerate the numbers for one reason and one reason alone, they want to get you, the consumer, to purchase their identity protection programs. Even when people use these companies, identity theft can still occur. In fact, what they are actually offering is a service to help you restore your identity after it has been stolen. There is nothing they can do to actually stop it from happening. So why pay a fee for a service that isn’t 100% effective?
Credit card issuers customarily work on the side of the victim in the case of stolen credit cards. They understand that this can and does happen. If you report your card stolen within a specific period of time (as stated by your credit card company), you should have no problems in undoing any charges that you did not authorize. Credit card companies are generally efficient at detecting unusual and suspicious activity on your card and will immediately call you to make you aware of the charge. Sometimes they are so good at this that they may suggest suspicious activity even when it was you who purchased the item or service and your card was in fact not stolen.
If you are interested in having identity theft protection, you can research and find more cost efficient and possibly even free companies to monitor your identity. Look around online and find out what these companies are offering you. Compare the rates and fees they are charging based on the level of protection they provide. You will quickly learn that most of the more expensive companies are not worth the money.
The best person to prevent you from have your identity stolen is yourself. You have the ability to keep track of your financial information. Monitor all of your accounts online on a regular basis and as often as you can. That way, if you do find a discrepancy, you can take care of it right away. If you have a lost credit card or social security card, make the responsible choice and contact the right departments to put a hold on your credit.
Another way to prevent identity theft is to limit the amount of personal information you provide on the Internet. Don’t reveal too much about yourself to websites. Don’t just give out personal financial information without knowing exactly who you are dealing with. Purchase from verified and trusted online websites. Be mindful of those websites that ask you for your social security number. Why are they asking for it? Do they absolutely need it? Do not provide any personal information without researching the company and website first, if you are unsure about its safety. Trust yourself and you will have a very low chance of having your identity stolen.
(Photo courtesy of David Goehring)