Identity theft protection is mostly useless

Image of article titled Identity Theft Protection Is Mostly Bullshit

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I got a notice in the mail a few months back that I was involved in a data breach a certain large scale, multinational telecommunications the company was settling down, AleSo many people involved settlements, I was not offered A ridiculously small amount as a reward for being an unintentional victim. Instead, I was given mostly useless gifts Free Identity Theft Protection.

Identity Theft Protection (ITP) Services Promise to monitor your financial and online life (often intertwined these days) and alert you when your personal information has been compromised in order to steal your identity. This can include anything from using your credit card to make illegal purchases to more complex schemes that use your information to borrow money or open accounts in your name, potentially ruining your credit score. and leaves a huge mess for you to clean up.

Considering the loss you may face from identity theftPay for ITP Sounds like a great idea. But the truth is there’s nothing wrong with doingnot you need them, because you can do almost all the important work yourself—for free.

what does itp do

It is important to note that protection against identity theft is not the same. identity theft insurance, The latter covers you against financial loss if someone steals your identity, while the east warns you Possibility that this is happening to you. It’s also important to note that ITP doesn’t always do anything. pause Identity theft—it simply monitors aspects of your life for signs of it and then alerts you to those signs so you can take action.

Typically, ITP services monitor:

  • credit report For new accounts or other suspicious activity (not all ITP services, however, monitor all three major credit bureaus).
  • social media accounts your personal information such as your phone number or Social Security Number,
  • dark web Sites that act as data-brokers trading in stolen personal information.
  • your financial accounts For suspicious withdrawal or unauthorized access.

Some of these services will alert you when something disturbing is detected Others will step up and take proactive steps, such as working to scrape your information from sites known to be selling stolen information.

Many ITP services also provide recovery assistance and some form of insurance in case of identity theft. Norton’s LifeLock The service, for example, offered up to $1 million “for attorneys and experts” to help clean up the mess, and up to $25,000 in reimbursements as part of the lowest-cost category. assuming It’s a nice feature—but not all ITP services offer insurance and reimbursement, so you’ll have to read the fine print if you could lose a lot of money if someone steals your identity.

Is ITP Worth It?

On the one hand, identity theft protection services clearly provide some benefits. they can automate some of the work of protecting themselves, and Offer an extra layer of vigilance as well as assistance and compensation should you in any way be caught up in identity theft.

But ITP services mainly provide alerts after the fact—they don’t really do much to prevent your information from getting out there. and there are many due to pay for a ITP services areNot really worth it:

  • They are not magic. ITP services does not mean that you do not have to do anything. You still have to go through the warnings (sometimes a lot of them, which is “alert fatigue“which defeats the purpose), and the alerts are often too late – by the time a service is alerting you that your social is out, it is out There. And if you need to recover from identity theft (despite having an ITP service) you’ll have to do the work there too—ITP services can help with recovery, but it’s still going to be legwork on you. You’re often better off actively practicing good personal information hyggeIni in the first place.
  • You can do most of this yourself for free. you can access your credit reports Free once a year. And you should! It’s a fast and fairly straightforward operation, and at a glance you can see if someone has opened a credit card or taken a loan in your name. In fact, the number one best way to prevent people from stealing your identity is freeze your credit, which prevents anyone—even if they have your personal information—from getting a new credit card or loan. while it Doesn’t protect you from all types of fraud From there, it removes the most common vectors used by identity thieves.
  • You may already have it for free. If you’ve been involved in a data breach, like me you may already have access to ITP services. In fact, the way companies give away ITP any time it goes bad shows you how”Precious” actually these services Huh. Additionally, many organizations offer ITP as a benefit—for example, if you are a AAA member You can get ITP as a free add-on service.
  • You can perform free recovery actions yourself. Recovering from identity theft is challenging, but there is nothing an ITP service will do that you cannot do yourself. government, in fact, maintains a website Designed to help you figure everything out and take action to deal with the situation.
  • Your personal liability is often limited. If someone takes control of your credit card, for example, you have personal liability. Legally limited to just $50 It doesn’t matter how much the fraudster actually charged your card, and most banks or credit card issuers will waive fraudulent charges as long as you dispute the charges within 60 days of the date of the statement.

In the end, identity theft protection is like a car alarm: It may make you feel better psychologically, but it doesn’t. really do much, Like many things, if you have the extra cash for identity theft protection, there’s no harm in paying for it. But all you really need to do is take a few simple steps on a regular basis and you’ll do everything these services promise – and maybe even better, because you have skin in that game.

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