If you're considering using an identity fraud protection service, there are many things that you ought to know first. Since identity theft is a growing crime, it makes sense to look into these programs more closely to help protect yourself from identity theft. Here are some things to look for in an identity fraud protection service.
There are some key features that these services offer which makes them useful to buyers. Here are a few of these features that I think you should pay attention to:
- Whenever suspicious activity is found in any of your financial statements, these companies will alert you to the situation. In many cases, these services will automatically freeze your accounts until you explicitly go in and open them back up again. Some companies will actually notify your bank and the authorities if the fraud is blatant enough. Having this type of notification certainly helps you catch fraudulent activity long before the credit collection companies come into the picture. If you can catch identity theft early, you don't have to worry about your credit rating being affected.
Monitoring your public records and credit report. Whenever a creditor is looking to get information about you, they will pull a copy of your credit report. These fraud protection companies can issue an alert whenever your credit report is accessed so that you can check to see who is requesting information (in many cases, you may want to lock your credit report entirely so that no one can pull your credit information without your explicit approval). The fraud protection companies can also correlate your address information with what's on your credit file, so if anyone tries to add a fraudulent address, they will detect this information and notify you accordingly.
- Helping you clean up the mess of identity theft. If you're one of those unfortunate individuals who has had their identity stolen, these companies can help you put the pieces back together. They can assist you with notifying the police, notifying all your creditors, and informing collection agencies that the incurred debts were not your responsibility. While you could do this at all on your own, it doesn't hurt to have someone on your side.
Monitoring criminal underground networks to detect when your information is being traded. This is one of the features that really sets these agencies apart from what you can do on your own. Some of these companies have set up monitoring systems where they scour the Internet looking for your financial data. If they find your name, address, or other personal information inside of a packet of criminally-traded data, then they will inform you so that you can change your account information immediately. This is extremely powerful.
When choosing between the different identity fraud protection services, make sure you evaluate how they respond to each of these four items. Some of these companies offer very similar features to each other, so it's not always easy to decide. Some of these companies allow you to check your credit report frequently for free as long as you subscribe to the service, so that may be a major benefit for you.
Two of the best-known plans for protecting your identity are LifeLock and Equifax ID Patrol. Both of these services consistently receive high scores for customer service, identity protection, and excellent monitoring capabilities. However there are dozens of these protection services out there, so don't be afraid to shop around for comparisons.
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