Identity theft protection may, at first, seem like a complex subject. But actually, it’s relatively simple once you understand the basic concepts. But first, let’s take a look at the statistics. The FBI has reported that identity theft, for the 7th year in a row, is the #1 crime in America. This translates into one occurrence of this crime every three seconds. This is an increase from once every 30 seconds from only two years ago. There is no other criminal activity that is increasing at that rate.
The main issue with identity theft is that it can take many years to resolve. Identity theft can even extend beyond the physical life of the person involved. In this way, identity theft can cause problems for the victim’s family after their death. This is a bizarre concept, indeed.
However, identity theft protection services can mitigate these problems. Unfortunately, consumers often hear that these services have no value. There are those that say that these services only provide options that can be obtained merely by a consumer’s own efforts. In some ways, this is true. However, there is another way to look at this. Simply put, a person could learn to fix their own car. But this does not mean that a person has the time to perform tune ups and oil changes on a regularly scheduled basis. Car owners take their vehicles for scheduled maintenance checks as a preventative measure. Consumers obtain identity theft protection as a preventative measure, as well. There is a true correlation here.
Just as a poorly tuned vehicle can lead to an engine breakdown, identity theft can disable one’s ability to obtain credit. In addition, identity theft can have other far reaching effects, as well.
Now that it’s understood what identity theft can mean, let’s look at how identify threat protection works. It should first be pointed out that identity theft protection requires a certain amount of effort on the part of the purchaser. There is no automatic “million dollar guarantee”. In essence, identity theft protection is a heads up alert that something suspicious is going on with your credit report. Due diligence is required on the part of the consumer in order to act upon the alerts that are being provided.
These alerts can be sent as an email, which indicate an unauthorized inquiry or an actual change in a credit report. If, for example, a new credit card account is opened, an alert would be sent. The same holds true for a credit limit inquiry. If you have not authorized a new account then you could contact that credit card company and close the account immediately. In most cases, you would not be liable for charges that were made, if you did this within a certain time frame.
Nearly all identity theft protection services offer the same theft protection options. These can include; providing detailed credit reports, possible fraud alerts, and periodic credit report monitoring. The differences lie in certain variable options. For example, one service may offer discounts for those who have already been victims of credit fraud. Some will even offer some services that are completely automated. Some companies will also offer certain proprietary services that are only discussed with their clients. This is to keep the details of their practices out of the hands of potential identity theft perpetrators.
Still, some of the work involved with identity theft protection must lie with the consumer. The reason for this is that direct verification of account information must be conducted for security purposes. If a consumer wishes to halt suspicious account activity, verification of identity must first be provided, before a lender will allow direct access to an account. In this manner, identity theft protection services will actually work hand in hand with their subscribers.