Identity theft, also known as identity fraud or impersonation, is a fraud where a person pretends to be someone else in order to gain benefits. In such cases, the impostor uses personal information like social security number, credit card information, etc., for various purposes like gaining a new telephone connection or renting an apartment or even taking credits and loans. This generally goes undetected until the credit report review is done or a debt collector pays a visit. Let's know more about identity theft and the best identity theft protection services.
About Identity Theft
Identity theft can be divided into five major categories:
- Business or Commercial Identity Theft: This identity theft is done to obtain credit using others' business name.
- Criminal Identity Theft: Here, a person poses as someone else when taken into custody for any crime.
- Financial Identity Theft: This is done to obtain goods and services using others' identity.
- Medical Identity Theft: Identity theft done to obtain health care or medicines.
- Identity Cloning: Assuming someone's identity in daily life.
Best Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection is a type of an insurance that covers the costs associated with the identity theft. This insurance is generally offered by banks or credit card companies. For choosing the best identity theft protection service, the following things should be kept in mind.
Reputation: The reputation of a company can be checked by their history and the level of customer satisfaction that they provide. Also, the experience of the staff that works in the company can be helpful.
Security: The security can cover many aspects that a company should provide like fraud monitoring features and fraud alerts, credit freeze and pin or voice verification.
Recovery: The company should help with the legal matters like filing reports, disputing the unauthorized transactions and recovering the information stolen from the customer.
Assistance: The company should provide better guidance and prompt, helpful responses in case the fraud takes place.
Some of the best identity theft protection companies in the US are TrustedID, Identity Guard, LifeLock, IDWatchdog, Debix, etc. These companies provide various theft protection features that are helpful in protecting one's identity to a great extent.
Another way to stop an identity theft is to freeze your credit account. This way not even you can withdraw money from it. When you need to borrow, you can unfreeze your account, and later re-freez it. Though, there is a fee that you have to pay every time you freeze and unfreeze your account. The fee depends on which state you live in and of course, it will be for all the three credit bureaus, i.e., Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
But as they say, prevention is better than cure. Most identity thefts take place due to negligence on the part of the individual. If one takes some small but thoughtful measures in daily life, many problems can be avoided. Let us see what the steps for preventing identity theft are.
Best Identity Theft Prevention
- Shred and destroy the documents that contain private financial information like credit card statements, etc.
- Keep any of your personal information like date of birth or credit card number safe and do not tell it to anyone
- Protect your social security number and don't put it on checks, etc. Be careful while carrying the cards that have your personal information.
- Never leave behind the receipts of credit cards or similar things like ATM receipts that can provide information to others.
- Secure your mailbox and keep it locked. Avoid mailing outgoing bill payments from home; use post office or other such secure locations.
- While making credit card payments, make sure that the card never goes out of your eyesight. If that is not possible then opt for cash payments.
- Register yourself in the national 'Do-Not-Call' registry. This will make sure that your number is removed from the tele-marketers list. Also, cut down on the junk mail and credit card solicitations.
- Do not give away your personal information on phone without verifying the identity of the caller, reason for their call and which company they represent. If you are not sure, call back the company to affirm.
- Monitor your credit report at least once a year. By doing this you can find out if there is any discrepancy. In that case you can alert your card company or creditor immediately to save further damages.
- Review the statements of your credit cards and close all the accounts that you do not use or need.