If you have been the victim of identity theft or party to an information breach, you are probably in the market for an identity protection service. Before you invest in one of the many services out there, Consumer Reports suggests you shop around and find out what is being offered. Many consumers assume the services will protect them from future identity theft and this is not always the case.
First, understand that ID protection services are designed to help you recognize fraudulent activity. They won’t prevent scammers from trying to steal your information. They will assist you in disputing fraudulent charges and accounts for a monthly subscription that ranges from $10 to $40.
CR says the best way to stop anyone from opening up accounts in your name is to freeze your credit with the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. There is no cost to do so and no one, including you, can open an account in your name until you unfreeze your credit. This may be useful, but it doesn’t prevent all ID theft. CR says medical services and IRS refunds are still vulnerable
The most important thing you can do as you are shopping around for ID protection is to ask questions. Some companies offer very little assistance by leaving you with a do-it-yourself checklist and others may offer more services. What you should make a habit of doing, however, is checking your credit once a year. This is free and you can pull one from each of the three bureaus, annually. This way, you can keep an eye on your accounts and detect fraud and theft before they occur.
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About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!