Credit Monitoring for Identity Theft Protection
August 21, 2008
When identity theft comes to mind, you probably think the best protection for you is credit monitoring. After all, it’s been the good old stand-by for the last 20 years. The three credit bureaus have made a lot of money selling us our information so that we can see what’s on our credit reports. Only in 2004 did the US government mandate that everyone was entitled to a free credit report once a year from each credit bureau. They had to do a roll-out across the country that first year. I live in the South, so I was able to get my first free one on June 1, 2004. That was great not to have to pay for it!
Checking your credit report for errors helps to find any fraudulent accounts someone has opened in your name. It also lists your addresses, so you can see if someone has filed a change of address under your name in an attempt to intercept your mail. Plus, it’s good to see what’s showing on your report because there could be errors in your real accounts that need fixing.
Credit monitoring is great if you’re wanting to improve your credit history and score. The better your credit is, the lower your interest rates will be on a car loan, mortgage and even credit cards. But it’s not intended to be the last word in identity theft protection.
Identity theft involving credit is really only a small portion of all the ways a thief can steal your identity. It only shows up on your report after someone has opened a new account. There are other ways your identity can be stolen and you won’t see them in a credit report. For instance, if an illegal immigrant uses your social security number to work, his income will be credited to you. Of course you won’t be putting it on your tax return. Eventually, the IRS will find it and send you a nasty little letter informing you of unpaid taxes plus the penalties. We all know how much fun it is to deal with the IRS.
There is an identity protection plan that monitors all three credit bureaus and gives you your credit reports and scores. But this plan goes way farther than that. It uses patented scanning technology to watch for your personal information and account numbers being traded, bought or sold on the black market. It also monitors public record information to be sure no one is impersonating you. You’ll get instant alerts letting you know there’s a potential problem. You get help replacing the contents of your wallet if it’s stolen, too. Sweet.
If your identity is stolen, the credit bureaus won’t give you a bit of help. It’s not their job. But this identity protection company will be there for you with TONS of expert help and advice. You also get a $20,000 identity theft insurance policy to cover any expenses like hiring an attorney.
Now you might think this plan is going to be much more expensive than a 3-in-1 credit monitoring service. It’s not. It’s only $11.99 a month. That’s less than Equifax’s 3-in-1 Gold plan! This plan is Identity Guard Extra Caution. It also comes with a free month and you can cancel at any time.
If you’re thinking of signing up for credit monitoring, take a look at this plan first and see if it could be a better choice for you.