Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America today. Well over 200 million personal data records were lost or exposed in the United States just in the last two years, and the problem keeps growing. Every four seconds someone’s identity is stolen. For all we know your personal information may have already been compromised. It’s just that this stolen data which contains your personal information hasn’t been “activated” yet by the identity thieves. But it’s only a matter of time before it gets used..
Consider These Staggering Statistics:
* Identity theft hits 1 in 4 US households
* Over 79 million identities stolen in the past 12 months & 3 million social security numbers illegally traded online
* Over $52 Billion in damages to individuals & businesses
* Identity thieves open credit card accounts, cell phone accounts, utility accounts, bank accounts, and apartment rentals.
* Identity theft victims fail to discover any problems until 12 months after their identities are used by thieves.
* Identity theft victims who detected the crime by monitoring their accounts had average loses of $551. Those who relied on monitoring paper statements had average loses of $4,543.
* Recently more than 55 million Americans were put at risk by security breaches, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. And that was a very conservative estimate. Some of the “famous” big breaches are often reported in the news, but many “smaller” breaches don’t get reported on the news.
How Do Identity Thieves Steal Your Information?
Identity theft can occur in a variety of ways. Thieves can steal your social security or credit card numbers, then change the address on your bills. They then use your information to impersonate you, buying or renting products or using your personal information to commit criminal acts. Most damaging of all, you often don’t know you’re a victim of this federal crime until months later, when you are unexpectedly turned down for a loan or get a call from a collection agency about an account you never opened. You might even get a call from the police about a crime you didn’t commit. Once identity theft happens to you, it can take many months and thousands of dollars to restore your credit.
Identity Thieves Will:
* Go through your mail or trash, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information.
* Steal personal information from your wallet or purse such as identification cards, credit cards, or bank cards.
* Fill out change-of-address forms to redirect your mail.
* Acquire personal information you share on unsecured sites on the Internet.
* Buy personal information about you from an inside source. A store employee gets your information from a credit application or by skimming your credit card information when you make a purchase.
* Obtain your personnel records at work.
How Is Your Personal Information Used By ID Thieves?
* They open new credit card accounts using your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. When they use the credit cards and don’t pay the bills, the delinquency may be reported on your credit report.
* They establish phone or cellular service in your name.
* They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on the account.
* They counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
* They buy cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
* They call your credit card issuer and, pretend to be you, changing the address on the account. Bills get sent to the new address, so you may not realize there’s a problem until you check your credit report.
* They file for bankruptcy using your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred under your name.
People Are Turning To Credit Monitoring Services Again In Droves
Considering how identity thieves steal and use your personal information and how difficult it is to stop it, many individuals and organizations are turning to credit monitoring services and for good reason:
*Quick Detection of Credit Fraud: Identity theft victims who relied on monitoring paper statements had average loses of $4,543. As mentioned early on, most id theft victims won’t even know they’ve been victimized until several months to an year later. Yet those who used credit monitoring services were quickly alerted to such fraudulent activity at 1/10 that amount ($551). (And even that smaller amount was quickly recovered via the credit monitoring service’s ID Theft Insurance policy!).
* Insurance Protection & Speedy Financial Reimbursements: Any losses incurred if you become a victim is covered thru the credit monitoring service with their Identity Theft Insurance Policy, often to the tune of $25,000, $50,000 or more to help you clean up the mess that an identity thief might cause. With investigators and case managers called upon to aid you with your recovery. This is something you won’t easily muster on your own unless you want to spend several thousands for that privilege, not to mention the daunting time & effort filing theft reports, etc.
But Aren’t Credit Monitoring Services Just A Big Scam?
No, not at all. But what I think these services shouldn’t have done was to overly promote “the sizzle before the steak” to market their services. The “sizzle” was the ‘free credit scores’ you’ve get if you tried them out. It gave some people a bad aftertaste. But IMHO such marketing tactics aren’t really necessary anymore, especially in this day and age when identity theft has become rampant. All they really need to do today is to lay out their features and benefits in plain sight (i.e. the ‘Steak’). The quick fraud detection + an insurance policy for any financial losses + the powerful assistance to help restore your good name and credit standing, etc. People will definitely see the value in what they have to offer. In fact they ARE seeing the real value (the “Steak”) which explains why there’s this rush right now to sign up with these services. 😉
But I Can Monitor My Credit On My Own..Right?
Hmmm…really? I think that’s one of the biggest myths that gets thrown around by alot of these so-called credit “experts”. Right now you’re only able to access your credit report for free once per year. (Coincides with how victims of identity theft didn’t realize they were victimized for over 12 months…). And sure, you can monitor your EXISTING credit cards, bank accounts, etc, online. But identity thieves usually open up new accounts. Accounts that you never knew existed until you’ve realized you became a victim of identity theft…12 months later.
So Which Credit Monitoring Service Should I Try?
There’s quite a few out there. But the one’s we’re currently recommending are Identity Guard, FreeScore360, MyFreeScoreNow, and FreeScoreConnect. We believe they’re the best of the lot, based on the customer reviews we’ve read, features, etc. (Here’s a Credit Monitoring Comparison Chart that compares their features.).