IDENTITY PROTECTION

What is Identity Protection?

Introduction

Imagine that you walk into a market to purchase your daily commodities. But right after you swipe-in your credit card, you hear the cashier sigh, “Sir, you have exceeded your credit limit, would you like to try another card?” A sudden trauma hits you; because you know for a matter of fact that you haven’t exceeded the credit limit. Finally, you realize the bitter truth; the fact that you have been a victim of identity theft. Someone has made use of your credit card to their advantage without your consent.

The definition of identity theft differs from one source to another; however, the general concept is any third-party making use of your personal information, without your consent or knowledge, putting you at a disadvantage. Identity theft can cause you to lose various details such as your name, credit card details, and date of birth, among others.

The concept of identity theft goes back to more than half a century; however, its use has been prevalent much before the date. Back in the early 1900s, electoral candidates would make use of identity theft to rig and win elections. Later on, illegal immigrants made use of this method to travel and reside in foreign lands. However, now, thanks to the various technological advancements, you can easily protect yourself and your close ones by opting to purchase identity theft protection.

What is identity protection?

Identity protection is the wall that will help you protect yourself and your family against theft and fraud of your personal information. The companies providing identity protection services keep an eye over your personal information such as credit reports, social security numbers, etc. This helps them to protect you against impersonators trying to use your data.

Why do you need identity protection?

The modern era has somewhat proven to be a boon as well as a curse for the people. The reason being; although, the new-age has brought in numerous technological advancements along with it; however, it has also increased crime rates. Thus, here, identity protection plays a significant role by securing your information from any identity theft or impersonation.

Online Identity theft scam?

Online identity theft scams take place when an impersonator robs your personal information such as your name, password, account details, social security number, etc. The various ways in which your personal information can be used by hackers to orchestrate online crimes are purchasing or selling illegal items or services on the dark web, phishing, etc. Thus, in such scenarios, identity protection against cybercrimes becomes extremely important. It red-flags and lets you know if your information had been used to perform cybercrimes.

Types of identity theft

Now, that you have a gist of the overall concept of identity theft and protection; let us scrutinize the various ways in which your identity can be stolen. Thus, the different types of identity theft are:

•    Existing account takeover identity theft

Existing account takeover is the theft of your account’s details by a third-party to enjoy monetary benefits at your expense. The information of your online accounts is stolen and then used by the thieves to gain access to your finances. There are a plethora of examples, which can successfully define an existing account takeover identity fraud. The various cases are phishing, credit card skimming, hacking of account, etc. Existing account takeover fraud occurs when an impersonator steals your account’s access credentials and uses it to make illegal purchases of products and services. The best form of precaution against existing account takeover identity theft is to keep your information safe and secure.

•    New account identity theft

People often mistake ‘new account identity theft’ for ‘existing account takeover.’ However, one must remember that although both of them make fraudulent use of your information, there is a considerable difference between the two of them. The difference being, in existing account takeover, your account’s information is stolen by the third-party to gain access to the same and make illegal purchases or borrow money. Whereas, in new account identity theft, the impersonator may open one or multiple accounts with the help of your stolen information. Thus, there is a significant difference between new account identity theft and existing account takeover. Further, new account identity theft severely affects your credit score; which has a substantial impact on your life. Therefore, make sure that as soon as you find out about new account identity theft, you close the account and inform the officials regarding it.

•    Tax identity theft

Assume that it is the time of the year when you are filing for your returns.  You fill up the e-form and forward it further; however, the IRS rejects your application claiming it as a duplicate. From the example, it becomes quite clear that an imposter/thief has used your personal information, i.e., your social security number for filing tax returns. The thief might do so to avail tax refund or to obtain a job; this is nothing but an example of tax identity theft. To avoid falling for this trap, ensure that you never share your social security number unless it is necessary. Also, it is advisable to avoid carrying it in your wallet or purse. Further, make sure that you don’t respond to suspicious calls or emails.

•    Medical identity theft

Medical identity theft can be defined as the robbery of a person’s medical information, such as his or her name, medical insurance number, etc. by the thief and using it to obtain health-related benefits for free. It has a severe effect on your insurance coverage; because, you might be unable to enjoy health benefits, if a thief has already maxed its limits. According to reports and finance pundits, medical identity theft is one of the most severe ones amongst all the other identity thefts. However, you can protect yourself from facing such problems by simply taking a few precautionary measures. These measures are: make sure that you avoid sharing your health insurance information with suspicious entities, shred all of the earlier medical insurance documents. Further, also make sure that you check your insurance reports as soon as you get a hold of them.

•    Employment identity theft

The theft of your personally identifiable information (PII) such as your name, social security number, etc. to land-up a job or employment benefits is known as employment identity theft. Just like personal identity theft, employment identity theft, too, is common. People falling prey to such scams are mostly the ones who are employed; however, they can even be the ones searching for a job. Thus, one must ensure, never to give out personal information easily; as it might result in employment identity theft. The additional measures that a person can take are to scrutinize the employer before filling online applications, don’t give out additional information before your interview in the organization.

•    Child identity theft

Imagine that you are going out front to pick-up mail from your postbox; and amongst the tons of mails, you find one from the debt collectors. However, this mail is not for you but your child. If you ever feel that you are in such a scenario, then your child has fallen victim to child identity theft. Although identity theft has been a problem for us adults for a long time; however, even children are equally susceptible to it. Thieves prefer to steal children’s information in comparison to that of adults. After all, it will be ages until your child applies for credit or makes use of various benefits from the government. Thus, helping impersonators to keep using the information for a longer period. But worry not, you can easily protect your younger one from child identity theft by undertaking a few measures. These measures are- freeze your younger one’s credit, keep an eye out for any potential mails, calls, etc. Also, ensure that you avoid sharing your child’s personal information as much as possible.

•    Senior identity theft

Senior citizens are known as the pillars of society due to their past contributions and economic stability. In comparison to the youngsters, senior citizens have a better credit score, assets, and capital with them. However, many-a-time, they are unable to keep a tab of their credit report, tax report, and health policies. It is where they become extremely susceptible to senior identity theft. The robbers mostly call them and pretend to be officials, to gain access to their personal information such as insurance policy number, bank details, etc. And, later on, use this same information for their benefits. However, senior citizens are the ones that face all the trouble. But now the senior citizens can easily protect themselves by asking for help from their family members. The family members can policies and credit reports; they can also avoid providing their personal information to untrustworthy sources.

•    Criminal identity theft

Criminal identity theft is one of the worst forms of identity frauds in which a criminal makes use of your information to commit crimes. Thus, shifting the blame under your name. Criminal identity theft mostly happens when any of your personal information is stolen; such as your social security number, driver’s license, etc. Hence, if you ever face a situation in which your personal information is stolen or duplicated, then remember to inform the authorities as quickly as possible.

•    Synthetic identity theft

Synthetic identity theft takes place when a thief combines your real information along with fake data to create a synthetic identity of his own. This synthetic identity might comprise of your real social security number, name; however, at the same time, it might not match-up with your date of birth. The fraudsters mostly make use of synthetic identity theft to rack-up heaps of debt, as well as, enjoy unmonitored credit to their advantage. Further, the financial institutions find it extremely difficult to catch the fraudster; mainly because, most of the information submitted by him was real.

•    Estate identity theft

Estate identity theft can be defined as the robbery of a recently deceased person’s personally identifiable identity (PII) by the third-party. The thief who impersonated the identity of the deceased person tends to steal his or her social security number, bank details, name, and other types of personal information. The thief then misuses the information to obtain credit, loans, and other benefits. Estate identity theft is not only immoral- because the thief assumes the identity of a deceased person, but is also inhumane; as it has a huge impact on the deceased person’s family members.

•    Mail Identity Theft

If a person is stealing, taking away, or blocking your mail, then he or she can be said to have committed a mail identity theft. The thief steals your mail in the hope of finding your personal information such as name, password, date of birth, etc. Later on, the thief makes use of the information to obtain financial benefits by opening fake bank accounts, debt, etc. However, you can protect yourself from such mail identity theft by opting to undertake a few precautionary measures. These precautionary measures are: check your annual credit report, properly dispose of all your previous mails, and make sure that you collect them from your mailbox on time.

•    Online Shopping Fraud

For a second, imagine that it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and you are busy surfing the internet; and right at that moment, you come across a display ad that is too tempting to be forgotten. Thus, without thinking for another moment, you tend to click on the ad. The display ad then takes you to another page and asks you to enter the information to purchase the product further and have it delivered to your home. However, even after several days have passed, you still don’t get any product. And it is only then that you realize that you have been tricked. Although, the above scenario might be too hard to imagine for a many-a-people; however, this is something that happens with a lot of people. This scenario is a perfect example of an online shopping fraud. An online shopping fraud occurs when a thief or impersonator opens up a website, assuming the identity of a famous retail website and sells your fake rip-offs; worst-case scenario: at times, you might not even receive anything in return. However, online shopping fraud not only results in you losing money but also your personal information, which the fraudster might make use of to commit identity theft. Thus, make sure that you thoroughly review the website before purchasing any product or services from it.

•    Debit Card Fraud or Credit Card Fraud

Debit or credit card fraud can be described as the loss of the financial wealth of an individual due to the theft of his or her banking details by the scammer. The thief commits debit card or credit card fraud after obtaining your card number, and other banking details to withdraw cash or purchase online goods and services by making use of your money. Further, while committing debit card or credit card fraud, the thief obtain your personal information and can use it against you. However, you can easily stop this fraud and minimize the financial damage that you incur by reviewing your bank statements after an equal interval of time, reducing online purchases with your debit card, and shredding your old unused cards.

•    Social Security Number Identity Theft

If you relieve a mail claiming that you have filed for income tax returns, or applied for credit from a financial institution; even though you have not, then my friend, there are high chances that your social security number or SSN number might have been compromised, i.e. stolen. This robbery of your SSN number is termed as a social security number identity theft; and, results in you facing major problems. These problems range from financial to legal problems; as the government makes use of your SSN number to keep track of most of your activities. But you can surely protect yourself against the thieves and take a deep breath of relief by simply following these few steps: firstly, ensure that you avoid sharing your social security number as much as possible, use other pieces of information; secondly, avoid piling up documents that carry your SSN number, as there are high chances of you losing it; and lastly, make sure that lookout for any such suspicious activities in your bank accounts.

•    Biometric ID Theft

Every human being has a varying set of biological attributes that differ from one individual to another. These biological traits such as fingerprints, retinal scans, and face recognition are used as biometric I.D. This technology was developed by scientists and implemented by professionals in order to tackle the increasing number of identity thefts around the world. However, the hackers have still found a loophole to breach into the systems and steal biological information to perform biometric I.D. theft. Although biometric I.D. theft is highly expensive; however, the chances of this type of theft happening are quite high. However, you can increase your defenses and lower the chances of biometric I.D. theft by constantly updating your security software and keeping the use of biometric I.D. to a minimum.

•    Internet of Things Identity Theft

Today’s world is much more connected than it ever was in the past. When I say connected, I am not only talking about the people but also the technologies that are ‘smart’ and connected to one another. You can now easily talk with an A.I. (artificial intelligence) software and share your queries or set a reminder list. Other than those menial tasks, A.I. is capable of much more than that; look at the introduction of self-driven cars. However, as great as technology is for the growth of humans; it is also enough for their destruction. After all, imagine that the software of your self-drive car has been hacked; just the thought of it horrifies you, doesn’t it? The hacking of such ‘smart’ devices is termed as the internet of things identity theft.

Although the above types of identity thefts might get you into serious introspecting and put you into panic mode; however, you can rest be assured- after all, you can still protect yourself by applying for identity theft services.

The primary features of the identity protection service are here as follows:

•    Social Security Monitoring

In these volatile times, when you can almost find an electronic breach in every institution; it is almost little to no sense of security amongst the people. Thus, you might feel dreadful, hearing about a breach; wondering, if all of your personal information is safe or compromised? However, you can turn all of that chaos inside your head into calm by simply opting to purchase an identity protection service. This service not only protects you with the help of social security monitoring but also offers additional features. The social security monitoring feature provided by these companies keeps an eye out on various mediums such as credit bureaus, criminal records, etc. It helps to ensure that your personal information isn’t being used for anything illegal.

•    Social Media Monitoring

Our generation spends more time on social media platforms than all of the previous ones combined. Although, many of you might ignore this fact; however, the truth is that we are the most vulnerable on social media websites. When I say ‘vulnerable,’ I mean to proclaim that this is where we share most about our lives: our dreams, our fears, and our daily activities- our whole life. Thus, sadly but rightfully so, this is also the source through which scammers obtain our personal information. However, you can give away with all of your worries with the help of identity protection services. Because it includes a social media monitoring feature that is enough to resolve all of your worries. When I say it resolves our worries, I mean: social media monitoring keeps an eye out on various social media platforms, and alerts us if we are exposing our personal information; something that could pose a risk for us. Other than that, it also informs us, if there are offensive, sexual, or inappropriate posts in our fees; thus, helping us to safeguard our reputation.

•    Address Change Verification

Your address; to be specific, your mailbox is of great importance- that is the box that gathers most of your sensitive personal information. When we say, personal information, what we mean to say is that it is where you find all your letters from the government, documents from financial institutions, etc. Thus, your mailbox is something that must be extremely secured, so that no one would be able to steal your information; however, that’s not the case. The reason being; changing your residential address is extremely easy. Just visit the post office and fill out a few forms; guess what? You can even do that online, that too, within a few clicks. Further, this is the same process that all the people follow; and, also the one which can be used by a thief to redirect your mails to his or her choice of destination. So, how can you prevent such an atrocity from happening with you? The answer is simple; you purchase an identity protection plan. After all, this plan has a feature called address change verification; wherein, a person would alert you if your mail has been redirected by someone without your permission.

•    Black Market Surveillance

The internet is an unexplored world of its own; after all, more than 99% of the overall data is not being indexed by your day-to-day search engines like Bing, Yahoo, or Google. So, it means that we only have access to around 1% of the overall data. The data and websites which are blocked by search engines are known as the ‘dark web,’ and the information and its uses are as spooky as the name given to it. The reason why this part of the internet is blocked from the eyes of the common folk is that the dark web is the place where all sorts of illegal activities take place; and they range from drug deals, illegal assassinations, as well as selling of information amongst others. Thus, it would come-up as no surprise that this is the place where you will find your personally identifiable information (PII); it is being stolen by someone. However, as we have already discussed, that the dark web is not being indexed by the conventional search engines; thus, you cannot supervise if your information is being sold on these websites. So, what do you do? Worry not, because you can simply purchase an identity protection service, and they will do the job for you. The identity protection plans offer a feature of black market surveillance, which will monitor the dark-web and alert you if your data is being sold-off on those websites. Although black market surveillance does cover a tremendous number of illegal activities; however, it is not able to cover them all due to the vast nature of the unindexed websites.

•    Payday Loan Monitoring

So, what do you think that a criminal does when he or she obtains your personal information such as- bank information, social security number, name, address? The answer is quite simple: the thief will try to squeeze out as much money as possible from you. The robber will apply for credit such as a payday loan; and you guessed it correct, he is not going to pay it back. So, in the end, you would be the one to bear the brunt for his deed. But now you can easily cease such an ordeal from happening with you by simply opting for a theft protection service. These services have features such as payday loan monitoring, which will alert you in the case of such illegal activity.

•    Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts

Identity theft protection service offers you the primary feature of bank and credit card activity alerts. This feature alerts by notifying you if your bank withdrawal or transfer amount has crossed the limit set by you. This feature helps you to stay informed and alert from the thieves. Once you activate your identity theft protection service, you will be immediately placed under the feature of bank and credit card activity alerts. And as far as the alerts go; you will receive them via mail or in your smartphone. Also, this feature can be further customized to your taste; meaning, you can always choose the credit cards as well as the monetary limit that you want to set.

•    401k and Investment Activity Alerts

There comes the point in life when we all start taking our retirement seriously; after all, no one can work till eternity. We all have different retirement goals embedded in our hindsight; these goals vary from traveling the world to relaxing in a farmhouse. Whatever your retirement goals may be, one thing that every one of us needs is to have the appropriate amount of cash at our disposal. Thus, we must start saving money early on in life; further, this has been made a lot easier by the companies, thanks to their 401K retirement plans. However, just how identity theft happens even after all your precautions; in a similar way, there are chances that your 401k investments might also get stolen. Therefore, take all the relevant precautionary measures to ensure that your savings are safe and sound. And you can easily do so by purchasing an identity safety protection service. These services have an additional feature called 401K and investment activity alerts, which will help keep all your money protected. This feature alerts you via mail or a text message if a thief is trying to withdraw the savings without your permission.

•    Credit Score Monitoring

In today’s times, your credit score plays a deciding role in a number of situations such as you getting a job, procuring the loan amount, etc. Further, monitoring your credit score will also help you to detect and identify any possibility of theft.  Thus, a credit score is something that should be closely monitored; however, the hectic schedule of our daily lifestyle is something that doesn’t allow us to do so. But now you can easily change that fact by simply opting for an identity protection service. The reason being; these services give out a feature known as credit score monitoring, which does a complex job for you. Further, the companies offering you identity theft services will not even charge you with extra money; because, most-of-the-times, this feature is included under their service plans. But ensure that you confirm with the particular identity protection provider; if or not, they are monitoring all three of the credit bureaus or just one of them. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Similarly, CIBIL is the primary credit bureau of India.

•    Credit Score Reporting

Your credit score is the perfect reflection of your financial management skills. Thus, financial institutions, as well as some employers, review and scrutinize it to gauge your financial awareness. Hence, we all ensure to maintain our credit score and further improve it by making timely repayments on all of our debt. After all, our credit score is severely impacted due to late-repayments on being unable to make any. However, all of your hard work goes out the window, when a thief steals your personal information and applies for a loan on your credit. And you end up paying a huge price for the thief’s actions. But credit score reporting helps you to ensure that it doesn’t happen with you.

•    Payday Loan Monitoring

Just like how technology has developed over the years; so have the thieves. In today’s times, thieves have started stealing your personally identifiable information (PII) such as your name, password, bank details, and social security number amongst a ton of other details. The thieves then make use of this information at various points of sales to buy products and services on your credit. Other than that, the thief might even apply for a payday loan by using your information. Payday loans have higher interest rates; thus, when the thief doesn’t make repayments, it will not only be a monetary loss for you but will also have a negative impact on your credit score. Further, the robber might also try to sell your PII on dark-web to make some extra cash. However, the payday loan monitoring feature scrutinizes the financial institutions to ensure that no illegal activity is being performed via your PII. And, if they do find some suspicious activity; then they alert you via mail or text.

•    Identity Restoration

Identity theft is probably one of the worst experiences that can befall upon a person. After all, it not only usurps your financial wealth but also takes away your peace of mind. Even though we always discuss the recent issue; however, it is the latter, which causes us the most amount of trouble. After all, the thief who has stolen your identity and is raising havoc does so under the assumption of your name. Further, resorting to your identity and correcting all the mistakes in official documents- credit report, bank statements, etc. can be quite hectic as well as time-consuming. However, thanks to the identity restoration services offered by the identity protection companies, you can take a back-seat and let them do the job for you. These companies have highly-trained officials that will carry out the entire process on your behalf.

•    Identity Theft Insurance Coverage

Identity theft often occurs without any prior signs of warning; thus, one must always be prepared to face such obstacles head-on. And identity theft insurance coverage is the cushion that will help you bounce back after your monetary and psychological loss. Identity theft insurance will cover all of the costs that you might incur while restoring your identity. The various costs, which may or may not be included under this service, depending upon the identity protection company are- credit monitoring service, required fees for legal assistance, costs to obtain a credit report, etc. However, you must keep in mind that the identity theft insurance coverage will not provide you any reimbursement for the amount of money, which you have lost due to identity theft. 

Tips to avoid Identity theft protection or what measures can we take to protect our identity from being stolen?

Just take a look at the statistics of identity theft, and you will be shocked to find more than ten million cases of identity theft registered in a single year across the world. Thus, you must be aware that protecting your identity is extremely important; and you must take all the required measures to do that. Although, you can always choose to apply for identity theft protection services; however, today we will discuss a few tips which will help you to avoid such services (to save money) and do the work on your own. Hence, the various precautionary measures that you must take to protect your identity from being stolen are:

•    Secure your mail-box:

According to a research study, most of the identity thieves obtain their target’s personally identifiable information (PII) through their mail-box. After all, your mail-box is the place where you receive most of your legal documents, credit reports, etc.; thus, making it a perfect blind spot for the impersonators to steal. Hence, ensure that the first thing you do to protect yourself from identity theft is to purchase a new, better-equipped mail-box or to ask the postal service to hold on to any of your essential packages; so that you can go to collect it later.

•    Monitor your credit report

Although, every single one of us knows the importance of credit score; and how it impacts our daily life- by giving us access to secure employment and financial assistance. However, there are still a number of us who avoid the task; thinking that they can always review it later. But this same preposterous attitude can cause our identity to be stolen by a thief; hence, ensure that you monitor your credit report from time-to-time. Thus, allowing you to scrutinize and detect if there are any illegal activities being performed by someone without your knowledge.

•    Ensure that you never over-share your PII

Your PII or personally identifiable information is the most valuable asset that provides you with access to all facets of life. You can use your SSN number (social security number) or your driver’s license ID to obtain a credit report, income tax audit, etc. Thus, although your PII has a ton of beneficial advantages when used by you; however, it can prove to be substantially negative if it is stolen by someone else. Thus, ensure that you never share your PII with anyone, unless and until it is absolutely necessary; after all, you can always provide other details such as your birth of date, place of birth, etc.

•    Make use of multiple passwords

The best thing about using online methods for transactions and communications is that you get to access all the information in a particular account by using a single password. This, in itself, is good as well as a bad thing. Good because: you can easily and quickly log-in to your account by using a password; bad because most of us set a particular password for all our accounts. This is bad for us because, if the hacker gets his hands on one account’s passwords, then all of your other ones also become compromised.

Warning signals that your identity is being compromised?

Identity theft can take a massive toll on your life: because it not only causes you to lose out on cash but also disrupts your peace of mind. The thieves steal your personally identifiable information (PII) and make use of it to wreak havoc on your life: they open fake bank accounts under your name; apply for loans, steal your retirement fund, apply for tax returns under your name, etc. Further, in order to make some extra cash, they might even sell your PII in the black market. However, you must remember that you are the first person who can detect any such identity theft happening with you. The various warning signals that will help you to detect these types of identity theft are:

  • The most common warning signal that often precedes identity theft is that you find some odd changes in your credit report. In fact, there are a number of such charges that you don’t even remember about. If that’s the case with you as well, then my friend, this is nothing but a warning signal that your identity is being compromised.
  • Also, if you think that it’s been too long since you last received any mails, and you think that there is a probability that your letters might be stolen or your mailing address might be redirected to another one, then ensure that you check with the post office.
  • Other than that, another warning sign of identity theft can be detected when you come across calls from financial institutions; them demanding you to repay the debt that you don’t even remember procuring. Further, another one of such scenarios is when you file for your income tax report, and the officials claim that someone has already applied for it.
  • And the last case of identity theft is when your receive notifications claiming that you have exceeded your credit limit; when in fact, for a matter of fact, you know that you are well below exceeding your limit. And feel as if someone else has stolen your details and made use of the card without your knowledge.

Tips to protect your identity:

Although identity theft does take place with people to a large extent; however, that doesn’t mean that you cannot protect your identity from being stolen. There are a number of tips which you can follow to ensure that your identity is safeguarded from such illegal activities. And the various suggestions are:

  • Make sure that you only share your sensitive personal information, such as your bank details, name, date of birth, passwords, social security numbers, etc. when it is necessary. One such essential scenario is when the officials from the government, such as the IRS ask for your information. Other than that, always try to share additional details that wouldn’t cause your identity to be compromised. Further, always beware of any incoming call from people claiming that they are from the government; if necessary, call back the registered number to double-check if they are not some scammers.
  • Further, you can also take easy but efficient measures such as scrutinizing your credit report on a timely basis; to check for any fraudulent activities, suspicious bank transactions, etc. This will help you to protect and alert you, in case your identity is being stolen by someone.
  • Also, you can always purchase and make use of the identity protection services from the companies. There are a lot of companies that offer such services at affordable prices. IdentityForce, LifeLock, PrivacyGuard, etc. are a few of such services. These companies provide a vast number of plans which are specially customized to suit your needs. Further, there are a ton of additional services that are offered along with the plans, such as- credit monitoring, identity restoration, bank and credit card activity alerts, etc. These companies also offer social media monitoring; thus, helping you detect any inappropriate information being shared from your accounts.

What are the recovery steps after Identity theft?

Identity theft can cause a lot of turmoil in a person’s life by adding financial as well as emotional stress. However, worry not, because you can recover from such an event by following a few steps. The various steps that will help you to recover from identity theft and retain your peace of mind are as follows:

  • Step 1: The first thing that you need to do after facing such an ordeal is to calm down; take a deep breath, and focus on what to do next. Firstly, assess the various types of damages that have been caused to you; because of identity theft. After you make a list, contact the appropriate departments. The various departments that you can contact are- financial institutions; to let them know that someone else had applied for a loan on your information, income tax department; to make them understand that it was a thief, who had asked for tax report by stealing your information, etc.
  • Step 2: Contact the police station and file for a policy report on identity theft. You can easily do so by providing the cops with all the required documents and explaining your situation. The various documents that you need to take along with you are your government-issued IDs, proof of residence, and the documents which your information was used; your credit report, bank statements with altered information, etc.
  • Step 3: Call the credit bureaus and ask them to freeze your account at that very instant; this will ensure that no further harm is done. Further, ask them to make all the appropriate corrections to the report; and submit the necessary documents. In the end, to take that extra precautionary measure, think of opting for an extended period of a credit freeze or fraud alerts.
  • Step 4: Call the government offices to get a new ID card issued to you. You can always obtain a unique social security card number by merely providing them with a few documents along with a letter explaining your situation to them. After you receive the new documents, make sure that you don’t make the same mistake that you had made earlier; protect your personally identifiable information (PII) in a better way this time.

How to protect yourself from a data breach?

Now, before we discuss the various ways through which you can protect yourself from the data breach. Let us understand, as to what exactly a data breach means: It is an incident in which, the criminals/thieves overlap the security walls set by the institution, and monitor or steal the confidential information in an unauthorized way. However, if you find out that there was a data breach and your personal information was compromised; that doesn’t mean that you are a victim of identity theft. It means that your information may or may not be used by the thieves. Now that being said: make sure that you don’t panic and thoroughly follow the below-given steps:

  • Contact the three credit bureaus- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and place a credit freeze over your account. The reason being, a credit freeze will ensure that the thieves won’t be able to steal your money by applying for loans. In case they do, the credit bureau will alert the financial institutions, and this will prevent the thieves from getting the loan amount sanctioned.
  • As soon as you hear that your information might be under the threat of security breach: the first thing that you must do is to change all your account passwords. And when we say account passwords, we mean- everything ranging from your social media passwords to your bank account ones. This will ensure that event if your personally identifiable information (PII) is doesn’t leaked; your accounts are still protected from it. Further, whilst we are discussing passwords, let us make one thing clear- you must ensure that you use multiple passwords for different websites. This will ensure that even if one of your account’s password is does compromised, your other accounts will still be safe.
  • Obtain bank statements to ensure to scrutinize and ensure that there aren’t any charges that you don’t recognize. If there are any; which you feel are made by someone else, then make sure that you contact your financial institutions as quickly as possible. This will ensure that the thief won’t be able to steal money from you.
  • Lastly, one of the more important things that you must do is secure your postbox. After all, this is the place from which the thieves mostly steal your personal information to perform illegal activities. Hence, ensure that you don’t keep your mail lying in your postbox for too long, and you can always opt to purchase a more secure postbox. Further, you can then choose to collect the mail directly from the post office.

How to Report Identity Theft?

The first thing that you need to know about reporting your identity theft is that it is not compulsory. After all, the government has made it clear that you can register a complaint with the FTC (Federal trade commission). Now, that being said, there are still specific scenarios when you must file for a police report- (1) when you know that your identity is stolen and is being used for illegal activities, and (2) If any financial or governmental institutions ask for it. If you fit into the above criteria, then you have to file for a police report. Further, filing for a police report is not that much of a huge task; all you need to do is:

  • Contact the FTC and get a copy of the report.
  • Visit the police station; explain to them about your situation in brief, and submit the documents containing fraudulent activities.
  • Provide them with your government-issued Identity cards, along with your proof of residence such as your utility bill, etc.

Also, at times, the process of filing for police reports can be complex; as the procedures vary from one state to another. However, ensure that you remain calm and check the process caref ully. Further, ensure that you apply for a credit freeze or a fraud alert on your credit report. This will help you to monitor your credit report and ensure that no further damage is done.

Top Identity Protection Companies

In recent years, there have been a number of identity protection companies that will you with services and products that will suit your needs the best. And the following are some of the top identity protection companies:

  1. MyIDCare
  2. Zander
  3. Identity Guard
  4. IdentityForce
  5. Experian IdentityWorks
  6. ID Watchdog
  7. AllClear ID
  8. Complete ID
  9. PrivacyGuard
  10. ProtectMyID
  11. TrustedID
  12. IDnotify
  13. IDShield
  14. LifeLock

What Identity Protection Companies Do?

In this modern tech-savvy era, data breaches occur more than ever. Thus, it is not highly unlikely that at some point in time, even your data might come under the risk of being stolen. Hence, the best way to protect yourself is by taking all the right safety precautions, and purchasing identity protection services is probably the best one out there. The various ways through which the identity protection companies safeguard you from identity theft are:

  • The identity protection services monitor your credit report to ensure that no fraudulent activity is being performed behind your back. In case, they find some suspicious transactions; they alert you to prevent it from causing further damage.
  • These companies also offer identity theft coverage and identity theft restoration services. The identity theft cover provides you with reimbursement for all the amount of cash you need to restore your identity; however, one must remember that it doesn’t provide you with the money that you have directly lost due to identity theft. On the other hand, identity restoration services will provide you with all the assistance that you will require to restore your identity.
  • Further, identity protection companies even offer you the service of social media monitoring. Thus, protecting your reputation across all social media platforms. The company will inform you; if any person posts inappropriate, sexual, or damaging content through your account.

How Much Does Identity Protection Cost?

The costs of identity protection services depend on a number of factors and will vary in accordance with the following details:

  • Company: There are a number of companies that offer identity protection services, and their costs differ from one company to another. Therefore, you may find one company providing you with a service at a way lower price than the other one. Hence, comparison and research play a huge role.
  • Type of plan: Now that you are done with choosing the company; it’s time to choose the plan that would serve your needs the best. Mainly, identity protection companies offer a number of plans, and their costs vary according to the services for which you have opted for.

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