There were 38.3 million identity crime victims in 2015 (that’s one in eight Americans) – 2016 Fraud Report, Javelin Strategy & Research. Identity theft is a serious and growing issue, but there are precautions that you can (and should) be taking, good habits you can form, plus a range of free resources and paid third party services that, together, can greatly reduce the risk of you becoming the latest victim.
Vigilance, sensible habits when dealing with personal information and keeping a close eye on your financial affairs, through all the statements and receipts and other documents and reports you accumulate from everyday transactions, are all vital components of a good security plan.
Another layer of defence is provided by third party identity theft protection services.
Identity theft protection is a general term for services that provide credit and identity monitoring, identity theft recovery and insurance. No service can guarantee your identity or data against theft or misuse. But early warning of fraudulent activity and assistance in recovering from identity fraud can significantly limit exposure and financial loss.
Credit and Identity Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring tracks your credit history at one or more of the major credit reporting agencies (e.g. Experian, Equifax, TransUnion). Credit agencies keep a record of your applications for new credit, payment histories on existing credit, new loans and credit cards being opened, late payments and legal judgements filed against you, etc. Credit monitoring services watch for unexpected events and particularly events that adversely affect your credit rating. Access to your credit history is often included with the protection service so you can monitor events yourself, but the protection service will also monitor automatically.
Not all your financial activity will appear in your credit report. Identity monitoring looks beyond the credit agencies at a wider range of data and financial/ personal information. For example, daily banking transactions will not be reported in your credit history. Identity monitoring services check for suspicious activity in official databases that are used to store various types of personal information, e.g. social security number, passport, driving license, change of address, medical history, law enforcement, utility companies, etc.
An effective service will check both credit records and a broad range of additional identity related information sources regularly. Even so, identity theft is still a possibility and, even when detected, identity thieves might move quickly and do significant damage. Beyond monitoring, identity theft protection usually offers additional services designed to limit, mitigate and compensate for the results of fraud.
Identity Recovery and Insurance Services
When identity fraud occurs there can be several adverse outcomes to deal with. Refused loans and credit applications can affect your credit score. Fraudulent applications for credit or loans that are successfully taken out in your name then become your liability. Your credit record may be further affected if payments have become due on such loans or agreements.
Identity recovery services provide advice and assistance on how to proceed once identity fraud has occurred. Experts will guide you through the process of contacting and dealing with creditors and debt collectors. They can assist in preventing further fraud occurring by freezing your credit report so that no new credit applications can be made and no further contracts or accounts can be opened. Good services will stick with you until you have successfully regained full control of your identity and reached satisfactory terms with banks, creditors and other third parties.
Despite it’s name, identity theft insurance rarely covers you against direct loss of money or property stolen by an identity thief. Instead, it is designed to cover the costs of recovering and repairing your identity. This might involve many phone calls, visits to creditors or other officials. Some policies will cover loss of earnings resulting from fraud, or the cost of legal representation. Mainly, the insurance covers additional costs that occur after identity fraud has been detected and stopped.
Paid Identity Protection Services vs Free Resources
There is a great deal of information on the Internet and generated by the organisations you deal with that can assist you if you are the victim of identity theft or fraud. For example, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from the credit agencies. Your bank and credit card companies issue you with statements you can (and should) check carefully. Loan companies and other financial organisations also issue statements that should be monitored.
This self-help method of protection can be effective if approached in a disciplined manner. Prevention is often more effective than a cure, so being vigilant when divulging your personal information and being strict about monitoring financial affairs is always a good idea. Even so, a dropped wallet or phone can lead to disaster and identity protection services are generally relatively cheap, just a few dollars a month, so many prefer to leave it to a third party to guarantee checks are performed on a regular basis and expert steps can be quickly taken in the event of problems.
For those interested in monitoring their own identity and personal information, there are extensive resources available from the federal government online, including free recovery plans – see identitytheft.gov.
For free credit history checks you can sign up at annualcreditreport.com.
Case Study – EZShield.com
If you are looking for a paid identity protection service that offers all the key benefits, EZShield is a long standing, reputable and cheap solution. EZShield’s protection plan is offered as part of MyFastPC’s monthly technology protection plans. Because a great deal of identity theft occurs on the Internet, protecting both the computers and software you use to connect online as well as your offline personal information is an effective strategy.
Using a paid service is not a magic solution to identity theft. You still need to be careful when you are online. Follow all the usual precautions when divulging your personal info. You should still be checking your financial statements, tax reports, medical bills, utility usage. Think of identity protection as an additional safety net for anything you mistakenly let slip. Protection in depth is a good policy.
Identity Protection and Fraud Recovery Benefits Provided by MyFastPC Membership Plans
When you sign up for a MyFastPC Membership Plan, not only do you receive all the benefits of protecting your technology and keeping it at optimum operating efficiency, but you also obtain identity protection and fraud recovery services via our partner EZShield. Depending on the membership plan you sign up for, identity protection and fraud recovery benefits include:
- Internet Monitoring: Daily monitoring for personal information (stored in your Online Identity Vault) sold on black market websites.
- Credit Monitoring: Daily scans of your credit report. You will be alerted to any changes in your credit file and requested to verify their validity.
- Quarterly Credit Score: Track your credit activity with a 1-bureau credit score that is updated on a quarterly basis, and gain insight into how your score is impacted.
- ID Restoration Pro: Fraud and identity theft solutions that leverage EZShield’s innovative secure, monitor and restore approach to protect and repair your good name in the event of theft or fraud. Benefits include:
- Online Identity Vault™: Encrypt personal information, documents and images.
- Password Manager: Encrypted password storage and generator tool.
- Expert protection tips & timely news: Activity report, breach & fraud news alerts.
- US-based Certified Resolution Specialist: Fully-managed restoration services. Individually dedicated care.
- End2End Defense® 32-step restoration process: For lost/stolen wallet, breached data, fraud or ID theft. Designed to discover, isolate and prevent future fraud.
- 24/ 7 live support.
Benefits Summary – Protect Your Technology, Your Data and Your Identity With One Cost Effective Solution
|Premium Membership Plan||Unlimited Membership Plan|
|Single Computer||All Devices|
|Quarterly Computer Clean/ Optimization||Unlimited Computer Clean/ Optimization|
|Anti Malware/ Virus||Anti Malware/ Virus|
|Remote Computer Monitoring||Remote Computer Monitoring|
|Unlimited Data Backup||Unlimited Data Backup|
|Unlimited Tech Support||Unlimited Tech Support|
|Identity and Fraud Protection|
|ID Restoration Pro (individual)||ID Restoration Pro (family)|
|Internet Monitoring||Identity/ Internet Monitoring|
|1-Bureau Credit Monitoring||1-Bureau Credit Monitoring|
|Quarterly Credit Score||Quarterly Credit Score|
For total protection, from the moment you switch on your computer, online or offline, night and day, every day of the year, talk to one of our US based, friendly and expert advisors and they’ll help you decide what level of protection best suits your situation. We’ll even inspect your computer and discover any existing problems, completely free and with no obligation.
What to do Next
Before your obtain identity and fraud protection it is vital to ensure your computer and other devices are clean, optimized and secure against leaking your information onto the Internet or allowing unauthorized access.
We can check your computers and devices, ensure they are secure and then help you select the most suitable computer protection, identity protection and fraud recovery all-in-one package.
MyFastPC.com is a technology support company based in the United States. All our support technicians are fully trained, English speaking, friendly and ready to assist you. Our computer diagnosis service is free. When it is completed you are under no obligation to purchase any of our services. Our identity protection and fraud recovery services are provided by EZShield and are included in our Premium and Unlimited Membership packages.