Identity Theft is indeed, a frightening problem that we all face today, and as we say around our office, it is much like computer viruses in that there was a time we could buy a computer without protection from it, and now that is no longer the case. We are in an age where Identity Theft presents the same scenario for each of us, where no one should be without protection from this out of control crime.
So having said that, we should take a closer look at what the types of protections are, that are available, since afterall most people I come into contact with will ask questions about that very thing, if nothing else. This tells me that a large percentage of our society does not fully understand the differences between plans offered, which is quite alright just so long as they have someone unbiased to explain the differences to them. It is a good thing you found this article, because most people with the knowledge and experience you come into contact with are also going to be biased as well. Do keep in mind, that I have some opinions of my own as you will discover as you read further, but these opinions are formulated from years of experience analyzing and studying this problem and the so-called “solutions” that are put in the marketplace.
The first type of protection I am going to mention is the most common, which you see advertisements for on TV and in magazines, and you hear about these on the radio as well. These are the Monitoring Plans, and they do exactly as the name suggests. They monitor your credit – whether it be with one credit bureau or all three credit bureaus, and are priced accordingly. This is a good first line of defense, although any protection that is worth its salt is going to contain this particular feature, so I do not consider this category to be all that interesting.
Listen closely, because this is where most of the American public goes wrong, and it is simply because most people don’t know the differences. Monitoring Plans will let you know when something has happened to your identity and note that typically these plans are also only going to be watching your credit. Not other important things like your SSN, Driver License, Criminal History, Medical File, etc.
The operative here is two-fold:
- They are monitoring only, which means you end up doing all of the cleanup work when someone does steal your identity, and that will take hundreds if not thousands of hours to resolve.
- They are only watching your credit file and not for the other types of Identity Theft which is actually where the vast majority of cases are occurring every day.
The second type of protection I would like to address is the ones that you have likely heard about from your particular banking institutions. These are kind-of like insurance against Identity Theft, where they are willing to protect your bank account for a nominal fee each month.
The problem I see with the whole notion of this type of protection is this: There are laws in place which dictates to those very banking institutions that they should reimburse you the money that you are out from Identity Theft, so why is it that we should be paying them to do what they are supposed to be doing already?
In principle alone, these protections really annoy me, because Reimbursement Plans, as they are called, only really accomplish to put money back into the bank that should be put back as it is, only perhaps faster. I will admit that if you do not have a lot of money in the bank and rely on that small amount to cover expenses, this option may sound appealing to you. Just remember, you are paying them to do what they already should be doing.
The third type of plan I would like to discuss is what a lot of credit authorities tell you about, and that is the Fraud Alert Services. Putting a fraud alert on your credit report may help to prevent financially related areas of Identity Theft, but does not address any of the other types of Identity Theft.
Additionally, one should be aware that when they put a fraud alert on their credit file, gaining access to their own credit will be much more difficult after the fact, since afterall, your credit is frozen.
This does a great job of preventing any new lines of credit from being opened and major purchases being made, but that is really about the extent of the benefit to you. The rest of your identity is going to remain entirely unprotected.
The final category I would like to cover is Restoration Plans. Now I want you to listen extremely closely to what I have to say here, because companies will try to make their offerings sound like they do this, when in fact they do not.
Restoration Plans assist the victim in actually restoring their identity, and unless the protection you are looking into states that they utilize “Licensed Fraud Investigators” to perform the restoration, you will be left doing it yourself. A Licensed Fraud Investigator will require that you sign a limited power of attorney to them, so that they have the authorization to act for you. What this means to you is that they are doing all of the in-depth work required to restore your identity, leaving you with the peace of mind to confidently go about your daily activities.
It should also be noted that Licensed Fraud Investigators have significantly more expertise than most in repairing identities, as well as having access to contact persons and resources we do not, resulting in a much quicker restoration process. These individuals are also bonded in their particular state, which combined with their abilities is something which will reduce the stress experienced when you are a victim of Identity Theft.
All-in-all, each type of protection has its plusses and minuses, but at the end of the day, the only variety which I feel has enough merit to be worth my money is the Restoration Plan. I would encourage each of you to do your research, to ensure that you know exactly what is being offered by each program. Businesses in particular have an added exposure in that their employees will be more productive when offered a Restoration Plan verses the other types of plans, and I definitely feel that every business should be adding this voluntary benefit to their portfolio if they have not done so already. 90+ percent of them have not.