The probability of getting your identity stolen these days is high. Around 33% of adults in the US have had their identity stolen. Each year, about 1 in 15 people have their identity stolen.
That's 1 in 3 adults in the US that had to go through identity restoration of some kind. If that doesn't infuriate you AND make you want to protect yourself, then you must not know what it means to have your identity stolen.
Identity theft can ruin lives... for a while, at least. You need to follow a series of time-consuming and frustrating steps to purge yourself of the results of the theft, which usually also includes monetary theft. When they take your money through identity theft, it's called fraud.
In 2020, identity theft and fraud cost consumers more than $56 billion. That's a lot of money.
Not only does it cost money to have your identity stolen, but it also costs your time and energy. 77.3% of identity theft victims reported emotional distress from the event.
So what can you do to prevent it and recover from it?
Let's go down a list of actionable steps, so you can protect yourself.
Change your passwords more often. That's at least once every other month. A good password-saving service can help you keep track of them.
Don't put personal information on social media. We all know social media posts and comments are public information, regardless of the privacy settings you're using. It can get leaked. It can be seen. Don't post personal information.
Monitor your credit reports and credit scores for changes that don't make sense. If you're keeping an eye out, you can find out early if someone's used your identity to open a credit card.
Get Identity Theft Monitoring and Restoration Services or Insurance. This is not a drill and not a suggestion. It's well worth the $15 per month maximum for restoration services. You know what, let's get into the difference, so you know what to look out for.
Identity Theft Monitoring is not the same as Identity Theft Restoration.
Identity Theft Monitoring services are something you can easily do yourself. With Mint.com putting out credit scores every month and free automatic monitoring you can trigger at the different credit bureaus, like Equifax
and Experian, getting Identity Theft Monitoring services doesn't seem worth it. All Identity Theft Monitoring services does is tell you if there's something abnormal on your credit report.
Instead, you should be looking for Identity Theft Restoration Services or Insurance or both. If you have one or both of these, then you shouldn't be too worried about identity theft if it were to occur.
Identity Theft Restoration Services - a good one - will do the legwork for you to restore your identity. That means they'll make the calls to Equifax and Experian, fill out paperwork for you, complete any necessary legal fillings, and will even help you dispute charges. They're worth their weight in gold, especially if you are now reading all of this and wondering where to start.
Identity Theft Insurance is slightly different and doesn't always come with Restoration Services. Identity Theft Insurance will cover a financial loss as a result of identity theft and fraud up to a certain amount, usually $500,000 or $1 million. That does not mean it covers stolen funds. Please read that again. So... what does Identity Theft Insurance actually cover?
Identity Theft Insurance covers the extra expenses related to identity theft, so... phone bills, lost wages, legal expenses, etc. It's expensive to have your identity restored. If someone were to pose as you and get in a host of legal trouble, you'd have to fight a legal battle to have your honor restored, or at least not have that troublemaker's actions on your permanent legal record. You'd need a good lawyer. They're expensive.
If you want Identity Theft Insurance to cover stolen funds, then you need to make sure you've added on a "stolen funds reimbursement" offer onto your insurance. It's not always automatically there.
As always, read any contracts and insurance plans carefully, ask questions to get clarity, and then sign and buy when you're confident.
So Where Do You Buy Identity Theft Restoration Services and Insurance?
Believe it or not, Identity Theft Restoration Services and Insurance can usually be found as an add-on to your Renter's Insurance or Homeowner's Insurance. Just read the terms carefully.
If you don't have either of those... first, why? You should.
Second, then you can get covered through companies that specialize in this kind of insurance. It'll be more expensive, but that's the route you'll likely have to take. You can always check through an independent insurance broker, though.
Companies that Specialize in Identity Theft Restoration Services and Insurance
In no particular order:
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions or would like more clarity on any of the above points in the comments. I'm happy to help.
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