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If you pay any attention to news alerts, then you’re probably painfully aware of all the threats your personal data. You’re probably also on overload from all the offers for ID theft protection. So, what exactly is the best way to protect yourself? And what are the best tools for identity theft protection?
ID theft refers to any attempt to access and use your personal information, data, or accounts without your authorization. In the past, this was limited to physical threats – stolen social security cards, intercepted mail, forged checks. Now, with ever-evolving technology, there’s no end to the threats you face. Here’s just a few:
Don’t know what one of these terms means? Find a full reference guide to the 5 types of identity theft to understand each threat you face.
Unfortunately, there’s no one thing you need to do to protect your identity. There are literally dozens of things you need to do to protect your ID. Unfortunately, as a Debt.com Research Study found, most people aren’t doing even doing the most basic things necessary. This is just a short list of what you need to do:
Debt.com created a detailed guide for How to Prevent Identity Theft that goes into more detail on each of these three key steps. It explains how to protect your identity on an ongoing basis to minimize your potential to become a victim.
One easy (and free) way to proactively protect your identity is by taking advantage of free credit freezes. In 2018, credit freezes became 100% free for all consumers nationwide. The credit bureaus are required to provide a convenient means for freezing and unfreezing your credit report at no charge.
Credit freezes lock down your credit report and prevent any credit checks while the freeze is in place. You can unfreeze your report when you want to apply for a loan or credit card and then freeze it back.
Identity theft statistics show that half of ID theft crimes go unnoticed for at least a month. One in ten incidents goes unnoticed for more than two years. The problem with those statistics is that reporting ID theft promptly can be the key to minimizing out-of-pocket losses.
First, you need to be aware of the warning signs of identity theft. There are 15 financial signals that can tip you off to different types of identity theft. But with today’s technology, you don’t need to sit around and passively wait for these signals.
|Identity theft protection tool||Where to get it||What it does|
|Account fraud protection||Through your account provider (bank, credit union or credit card company)||Alerts you anytime there is suspicious activity on your account or you can contact the provider if you notice suspicious activity.|
|my Social Security (my SSA)||https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/||Alerts you anytime someone uses your Social Security number to claim benefits; you can also check all info and activity related to your SSN|
|Free yearly credit report (all three credit bureaus)||https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.actionindex.action||Review your reports to make sure you recognize all the accounts and public records|
|24/7 free 1-bureau credit report access||Experian|
|Two of the three credit bureaus allow you to access your credit report anytime, so you can|
|Credit monitoring service||Through certain banks or credit unions, through certain credit card companies, or through an independent third-party ID theft protection company||Allows you to monitor one or all three credit reports, as well as track changes in your credit score|
|Dark web scans||Experian offers a free one-time scan or you can use third-party dark web scan tools||Searches all known sites on the dark web for your personal data; alerts you if it appears anywhere and tells you how and when it was compromised|
Aside from using identity theft protection tools, there are some easy ways to recognize if you’ve become a victim of identity theft. Debt.com assembled a list of 15 early warning signs that you can use to catch identity theft quickly. Remember, the earlier you spot ID theft, the easier it is to avoid out-of-pocket expenses.
While we designed this page provide general information about ID theft protection, there’s a lot more to cover when it comes to specific types of identity theft. Debt.com has created targeted guides for helping you understand specific threats and how to handle them.
If a thief of cybercriminal steals your Social Security number, they can commit several different types of theft. They can get financing in your name, file income taxes to take your refund, and access your insurance. Taking all steps possible to protect your SSN is essential
One specialized type of identity theft that happens when your Social Security number gets compromised is tax identity theft. This occurs when someone files taxes using your number and gets your refund before you can. We explain how to avoid and address tax ID theft.
If someone gets their hands on your insurance information, they can use your insurance to get procedures. Then your health insurance claims can be rejected because your policy is already maxed out. Learn how medical ID theft happens and what steps to take if you think you’re a victim.
While someone stealing your Social Security number may be the most damaging threat, unauthorized account use is the most common. Credit fraud happens when someone accesses and uses your existing credit card accounts or opens accounts in your name. Understand the two main types of credit fraud and how to monitor your credit report to protect your identity.
The Internet is immensely convenient, but it’s also dramatically increased the identity threats that consumers face. Protecting your identity online is crucial, whether you’re shopping, banking, or emailing. This guide explains all the cyber threats you face and how to prevent them.
A new group of threats to your personal information revolves around social media. Someone hacks your accounts, steal your information to impersonate you, or access to your account information to get secure data. That puts more than just your reputation at risk. Debt.com explains all the threats you face, and how to protect yourself and your children on social media.
Corporate and government data breaches have become a leading cause of identity theft in the past few years. There’s little you can do to prevent this type of theft because you can’t control a company’s security protocols, but there are ways to monitor for data breaches, so you can react quickly when they occur.
Article last modified on October 31, 2019. Published by Debt.com, LLC