Any determined criminal or anyone tracking your life online can find a large amount of information about you and your personal life. Your social security number, social media accounts, bank account details, and so much more are all vulnerable to disclosure. Most of this information can be obtained through a data breach, but most of it can be just dug out from publicly available information. All of this means that any clever thief can gather all data about you and steal your identity.
This enables them to take out, perhaps, a loan in your name or use your credit card balance, receive any tax refunds in your name or receive medical treatment on your behalf, something you wouldn't have paid for. All the damages will probably be in your name and ruin your finances, your credit score as well as your reputation. All of this damage can take multiple years to recover, which also comes at a great cost!
So, identity theft protection is something you definitely need!
What do you mean by identity theft?
Identity theft happens when someone steals and uses your information, both personal as well as financial, without your knowledge and permission.
People can steal your information through your name, address, credit card/bank account details, Social Security Number, or even your insurance details. This information can end up being used to:
- Purchase things with your credit card/debit card
- Open a new electricity, gas, or phone account in your name
- Steal your tax information and refunds
- Gain access to your health insurance and receive medical care
- Pretend to be you during a criminal offense
Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft
People need to take a few steps to protect themselves against identity theft. Here are a few things one can do to protect their personal information against identity theft:
Protecting Documents With Personal Information
People must keep track of their financial documents, Social Security Numbers, Medical Insurance, Tax Refunds, and other such important documents in a safe place. If these documents are lost or stolen, one must report to the authorities immediately. Even when you are trying to rid yourself of these documents, shredding them is a great idea before disposing of them completely. You must also use a marker to block out all account numbers before disposing all documents.
Ask The Right Questions
Most organizations do require your Social Security Number to identify you correctly. The organizations can include the IRS, your workspace, or even your bank. However, a few organizations do not require your Social Security Number, and they will definitely not give you a call or email you or simply send a text message to get it from you! Your medical providers, companies, or even your children's school will not ask for your Social Security Number.
Ask the right questions if anyone suspicious asks about your social security number:
- Why do they need it?
- How do they intend to protect it?
- Do they use any other identifier?
- Do they need only the last four digits of your social security number?
Digitally Protect Yourself
If you have an account on any website across any digital platform, ensure you use a strong enough password.
Another great idea is to employ multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer the same. Multi-factor authentication will offer you better security overall, and simply with the help of two or more credentials, you can use it to log in to your account. All the additional credentials that you might require to log into your accounts can be anything - from being as simple as getting a passcode through a text message to getting an authentication app, or even an additional security feature like a fingerprint, retina check, or face recognition. Multi-factor authentication can make it harder for scammers to geo your personal information, even as they get your username or password.
How do you know if someone stole your identity?
Apart from taking a few steps to protect your identity and personal information, it definitely does pay to know whether someone has stolen your identity. You can do a few things to know if someone has stolen your identity. Here is how you can spot identity theft:
- Track your bills, whichever are owed and whichever are due. If you stop receiving any bills, you could be a victim of identity theft.
- Review all bills you receive. If you start getting random messages regarding things you did not buy or charges imposed on you, you are a victim of identity theft. You could also be receiving a new bill, which would not have been expected.
- Regularly check your bank account statements. Ensure there are absolutely no withdrawals made without you knowing about them. If there is, immediately contact your bank.
What Are The Best Identity Theft Protection Services?
Identity theft protection services allow people to know that you're identifying all of the information that has been used or that the information is at risk since it could be exposed in data breaches. If you are a victim of identity theft at any time in your life, Identity Theft Protection Services might have guided you, reimbursed you for all costs, and helped you restore your identity.
This is why everyone needs the assistance of identity theft protection services. Here are some of the best services you can rely on:
Norton 360 With Lifelock
Cost: $29.99 a month for an individual during the first year. After that, it auto-renews for $34.99 a month.
Best for: People who don't have an entire family to protect digitally. It is also meant for those who can afford to spend extra on comprehensive coverage.
Cost: $17.95 per month for individuals and $32.95 for families.
Best for: Price-sensitive users who want their social media accounts scanned for safety.
Cost: $23.99 a month or $239.90 a year
Best for: Users who want protection within their budget. And for those who want medical identity coverage as well.
Cost: $19.95 a month or $219 for annual plans.
Best for: Users who need help to recover from any pre-existing identity theft.