3 Reasons You Should Absolutely, Positively, Pay to Protect Your Identity
You work too hard for your money to allow strangers to mooch off of your good name
Identity theft and data breach stories seem to be a routine part of headline news nowadays, which is why many financial and security experts recommend that consumers become more proactive about protecting their financial information.
Consider this: Identity theft reached record heights in 2016, with over 6 percent of consumers becoming victims of identity fraud, according to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research.
While there are plenty of ways to be vigilant on your own, it could be a good investment in yourself to take advantage of low-cost services like credit freezes and credit monitoring for additional levels of security (and peace of mind!).
Take a look at some reasons why paying to protect your identity is worth it:
1. The cost is minimal
Monthly prices are generally less than you'd pay for one take-out dinner, but it can help you avoid more costly problems that could arise. When you consider that fraudsters made off with $16 billion in 2016, as per Javelin, it's a small price to pay.
Credit monitoring services keep an eye on your Social Security number and credit reports to recognize certain activity that might signal a fraud attempt is being made. With credit monitors on the case, you'll be notified before severe damage can be done to your credit. For a few bucks more, you can also choose to safeguard your identity with premium identity theft protection services.
In addition, you can also initiate a "credit freeze" with the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This means that if anyone tries to open new lines of credit in your name, it will be blocked. If you want to apply for something on your own, however, you will have to call to unfreeze. It costs around $5 to $10 per agency, each time you freeze or unfreeze, so this is only ideal if you plan to keep credit requests to a minimum.
2. You'll be protecting your future plans
Ask anyone who has had their identity stolen, and you'll hear tales involving months of paperwork, phone calls, and frustration in trying to clear up their credit. Now imagine you're in the market to buy a new home or take out a student loan for your teenager, and discover right beforehand that your identity has been breached. This has the potential to put your life goals and plans on pause. Credit monitoring could prevent that scenario from playing out because you'll be able to attack any problems head-on as soon as they arise.
3. Automated credit health check-ups make life simpler
Life gets busy, so even if you want to be diligent about checking your credit report and score, it could slip your mind. If you tend to be lax when it comes to keeping track of your financial standing, this layer of protection can help fill in the gaps. Of course, you should still be monitoring your already opened bank and credit card statements, since credit monitoring is designed to prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name; fraud could potentially still happen within your existing accounts.
There's no foolproof way to prevent fraud and identity theft, but it's within your power to make it tougher for thieves. Just as you secure your home with locks and alarms, credit monitoring can help safeguard your identity.