Identity theft protection is a worthwhile investment that can help protect you if your personal or financial information is stolen. When you enroll in a plan with a service provider, they will monitor sensitive information online and on the dark web and alert you right away if fraudulent activity is suspected. Many providers also feature a suite of tools, including identity theft insurance and live assistance, to assist in the unfortunate event you become a victim of identity theft.
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Identity Theft Statistics in the U.S.
In 2021, the U.S. U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 2.8 million fraud reports from consumers, resulting in $5.8 billion in financial losses. The culprit: imposter scams and online shopping scams.
What’s even more alarming is that the financial impact on consumers was 70 percent more than the figure for 2020. Furthermore, these statistics reflect a dangerous trend in the world of identity theft – it’s currently on the rise and doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down.
So, while there’s no surefire way to prevent it from happening to you, it’s a good idea to purchase some form of coverage to protect yourself.
What Are the Types of Identity Thefts and Frauds?
Before shopping for a service provider, keep reading to learn more about the types of identity theft and fraud to be on the lookout for and factors to consider when comparing identity theft plans.
- Account Takeover Fraud: Identity thieves get unauthorized access to your account and funnel money out of it.
- Financial Fraud: It involves the theft of your debit or credit card and other private information to make fraudulent purchases. Financial fraud can also occur if someone files a tax return, secures a mortgage in your name or transfers the title to a property without your permission or knowledge.
- Personal ID Fraud: If someone steals identifying information (i.e., name, phone number, email address, date of birth or Social Security number) and uses it, personal ID fraud occurs.
- Mail Identity Theft: This form of theft refers to the seizure or tampering with your mail to perpetrate fraud.
- Online Shopping Fraud: Thieves commit online shopping fraud by hijacking your payment information and using it to make purchases.
- Senior and Child Identity Thefts and Scams: Criminals prey on seniors or use the identity of minors to commit fraud.
- Biometric ID Theft: A fraudster steals a high-resolution picture of you or your fingerprints and uses it to bypass a biometric device that’s used to verify your identity.
- Synthetic Identity Theft: It refers to a scheme involving the thief merging fake and factual personal information to create a new identity used to secure debt products.
- Medical Identity Theft: This form of identity theft occurs when your information is used without your knowledge to enroll in a health insurance plan, receive medical services, fill prescriptions or submit fraudulent claims to insurance providers.
- Phishing: The consumer is contacted via text message or email by a fraudster pretending to represent their financial institution, retailer or service provider they do business with. In the message, you’ll be asked to click on a link and input sensitive personal or payment information to resolve an issue with your account. There are also instances where consumers are asked to download specific files pertaining to their accounts, only to discover that they’re malicious.
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What to Look for to Find the Best Identity Theft Protection Service for You
Beyond affordability, here are some other factors to consider when evaluating the best identity theft protection companies:
Credit Monitoring and Alerts
Does the service include three-bureau (i.e., Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) credit monitoring? Will you receive real-time alerts via text message or email? Is a mobile app available on Android and iOS to access your online dashboard and review additional information about alerts you may receive?
SSN and Financial Fraud Monitoring
Will the service provider monitor the web for any mention of your Social Security number or financial information, like your bank account number(s), credit card number(s) or debit card number(s)?
Dark Web Surveillance
Is dark web surveillance included in the identity protection plans you’re considering? Does the service provider offer it free of charge or as an add-on for an additional fee?
Identity Theft Insurance
How much coverage does the service provider offer if your identity is compromised? How does it compare to other plans you’re considering?
Are family plans available to protect your spouse and children? If so, are they affordable? Is there a limit on the number of children you can enroll in the plan?
Dedicated Fraud Resolution Support
Will you have access to a dedicated fraud resolution specialist if needed? Are they available 24/7 or only on select days during regular business hours?
Consider Experian IdentityWorks
Experian IdentityWorksSM is an all-in-one solution to help protect you from identity theft and shield you if your personal or financial information is compromised. You can choose from the IdentityWorksSM Plus or IdentityWorksSM Premium plan.
Both cover one adult and offer identity theft monitoring protection, Experian CreditLock, credit monitoring, real-time alerts and access to your credit scores. Below are the differences between the two:
- Dark web surveillance: included with both plans
- Identity theft insurance: up to $500,000 for Plus plans and $1,000,000 for Premium plans
- U.S.-based fraud resolution specialist: included with both plans
- Lost wallet assistance: included with both plans
- Identity theft monitoring and alerts: included with both plans
- Experian CreditLock: included with both plans
- Experian credit report and score monitoring: IdentityWorksSM Plus plan only
- Three-bureau credit report and score monitoring: IdentityWorksSM Premium plan only
- Additional FICO scores (auto, bankcard and home): IdentityWorksSM Premium plan only
You can get started right away with an IdentityWorksSM plan, free of charge, for 30 days. If you wish to continue, the cost for one adult is just $9.99 or $19.99 per month for the Plus and Premium plans, respectively. To learn more, visit Experian.com for a detailed description of each of the offers as well as other options that may work for you.