Should I Pay For Identity Theft Protection?

Content provided by our partner Tom Bull, Two River Computer~

You’ve probably seen those commercials with a dangerous-looking figure sitting behind a computer and the words “Dark Web” coming up on the screen. This is a common visual you’ll see in ads for identity theft services, like LifeLock. 

With data breaches of retailers and other organizations becoming more common, it seems that at some point in time nearly everyone’s personal information is going to be breached. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are with your own data security, employing antivirus and web protection, you have no control of your sensitive data once you share it with a third party. 

Just a few of the recent data breaches that have impacted consumers include: 

  • Facebook – 540 million records compromised (4/19) 
  • Capital One – 106 million records compromised (7/19) 
  • CafePress – 23 million records compromised (8/19) 
  • AMC Networks – 1.6 million records compromised (5/19) 
  • T-Mobile – 1 million records compromised (11/19) 

The alarming regularity of these breaches is one of the reasons that companies like LifeLock and Identity Force began offering identity protection services that offer to monitor threats to your identity, alert you if threats are detected, and offer help with resolution. 

So, are these services worth it? We’ll take a look at what they can and can’t do so you can decide if identity theft protection makes sense for you. 

What’s Included with Identity Theft Protection? 

You’ll find a few varying features between the different services that offer identity theft protection, but generally, they offer these main benefits: 

  • Monitor your credit and any potential misuse of your data 
  • Send you alerts if suspicious activity is found 
  • Help you resolve identity theft issues 
  • Offer insurance with reimbursement for funds stolen due to identity theft 

Additional services can include Dark Web monitoring or antivirus software (LifeLock partnered with Norton and is now offering antivirus with their service). 

Let’s take a closer look at what each of the four main services mean. 

Monitoring 

The identity theft services monitor your information in a number of ways and watch for any suspicious activity on your SSN, name, address or other personally identifying details. 

Types of monitoring activities they may do can include: 

  • Credit report, to look for any new accounts being opened in your name 
  • Certain criminal sites that sell personal information (aka Dark Web) 
  • Change of address monitoring 
  • Court records monitoring 
  • Payday loan agency monitoring 
  • Sex offender database monitoring 
  • Social media identity monitoring 

Alerts 

If any suspicious activity is noted from their monitoring, you receive instant alerts, so you know right away if someone is attempting to use your identity. You can generally choose how you want to receive them, by text, phone, email, or mobile app alert. 

Resolution Assistance 

If your identity is stolen, for example, if someone opens a credit card in your name and charges up a several thousand dollars, identity theft protection includes help trying to get your money back and shutting down the thief. 

They’ll basically take on the time-consuming calls and paperwork needed to alert the appropriate agencies of the issue and work to mitigate the financial consequences. 

Insurance for Stolen Funds 

Identity theft protection also typically comes with insurance that will reimburse you in the case you’re out money due to an identity theft crime. The insurance can vary between $25,000 to $1,000,000, depending upon the type of plan you purchase. 

What’s NOT Included with Identity Theft Protection? 

Here are some things you won’t get with an identity theft service. 

It Can’t Stop Identity Theft from Happening 

Some people think that identity theft protection is going to keep them from becoming a victim of identity theft, but that’s not what it does. It can’t stop your personal information from being compromised, what it does is give you a better chance of being alerted as soon as possible, so you can act to stop the damage. 

It also provides you with help should your identity be compromised that may end up saving you time and more money in a theft. 

It Can’t Scan the Whole Dark Web 

Identity theft protection can’t scan the entire Dark Web for your information. The Dark Web is vast, and any monitoring service can really only scratch the surface when it comes to all the places information can be sold. 

But generally, if someone is trying to use your data, your credit report is where it most likely will show up first, and in that case, you’ll be alerted by the service. 

All Plans Don’t Include All Services 

Make sure you read the fine print on the plans if you decide to sign up. You may not be getting all the monitoring you’re expecting with a lower-tier plan. 

For example, the only LifeLock plan that offers monitoring for all three credit bureaus is the most expensive one at $29.99/month (first year), $34.99/month after that. 

Bottom Line 

If you are the victim of a major data breach, many companies offer free identity theft or credit monitoring for 1-2 years to their impacted customers. 

You could also choose to monitor your own credit report. Consumers can get a copy free once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. 

Prices for identity theft protection typically run between $9.99 and $34.99 per month. But, if you’re worried about potential identity theft and want a more proactive monitoring service, then identity theft services can give you that additional protection. They just won’t prevent a breach of your identity from happening. 

Secure Your Home Network and Data 

You can control the data stored on your own devices, so make sure it’s protected! Two River Computer offers excellent solutions to keep you and your family safeguarded.

Contact us today to learn more at 732-747-0020 or reach us online: https://www.tworivercomputer.com/