I’ll never forget the fall of my sophomore year of college when my roommate decided it would be hysterical to dress up like me for Halloween. At first it was kind of amusing, seeing her emerge from the bathroom in a blonde wig and horribly executed spray-on tan. But as the night wore on and she continued her exaggerated imitations of my voice and mannerisms, I was far from entertained. Now looking back, I have to admit that as insulting as my friend’s caricature of me became, once Halloween night ended, the horror was over, and most of my friends were too hung over to remember anything from the night before.
For true victims of identity theft, the nightmare never seems to ends.
What is Identity Theft – Really?
Identity theft or identity fraud isn’t a harmless prank your friends play on you. It’s a crime in which someone steals your personal information, typically in order to have access to your finances. By simply obtaining your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance number, a thief can seriously impact you and your financial future.
For instance, when thieves access your personal data, they can hack into your bank accounts or get a credit card using your name and information. When the bills arrive for the purchases they’ve made, they won’t pay them, seriously damaging your credit score. But that’s not all. If not caught they can also open utilities accounts, get medical care, and intercept your tax refund. They can even claim to be you if they’re ever arrested.
On average, someone is a victim of identity theft every two seconds. As the tools fraudsters use become more sophisticated, more and more people are susceptible to having their personal data stolen. And, most of the time, consumers are the ones who notice the fraudulent charges – not their financial institution. This is a testament to the importance of regular and thorough reviewing of your accounts and credit monitoring is in order to make sure all your finances are in order.
That might seem like a daunting task, especially considering the speed and complexity with which thieves attack. Fortunately, online identity theft protection services like LifeLock have been created to provide you with assistance in ensuring that your identity remains yours, and yours alone. They even offer several plans, so you can choose the price and features that best cater to your needs.
LifeLock Standard membership is the base-level identity protection plan. It is built around the LifeLock Identity Alert System, which sends alerts by text, mobile or email if suspicious activity is noticed on your account. Specialists constantly scan black market websites for thieves posting a member’s personal data. Those who have the LifeLock Standard membership can contact LifeLock if their wallet is lost or stolen, and specialists will help you cancel and/or replace credit cards, driver’s license, Social Security cards, insurance cards, or any other information that could be a thief’s key to your personal data. If a thief does manage to compromise your identity, one of LifeLock’s Identity Restoration Specialists will take you step-by-step through the process of reclaiming and restoring your identity. With their $1 Million Total Service Guarantee, LifeLock pledges to spend up to $1 million in lawyers, accountants and investigators in order to help you recover your identity. If you ever have any questions or concerns as a LifeLock member, live, U.S. – based Identity Protection Agents are only a phone call away, eager to assist you in any way possible.
At about $10 a month, the LifeLock Standard membership is a great option for individuals on a budget, such as college students and other young adults.
The LifeLock Advantage membership offers all the same benefits as the LifeLock Standard, and much more. With LifeLock Advantage, you will receive alerts for cash withdrawals, balance transfers, and large purchases that may indicate someone has unauthorized access to your finances. LifeLock will review court records for instances in which your name and date of birth were connected to criminal activity in order to protect you from being erroneously linked to arrests and convictions committed by someone who stole your identity. With LifeLock Advantage, you’ll be given secure online access to annual credit reports from a major credit bureau so you can see details of your credit history. LifeLock Advantage also includes a feature called Fictitious Identity Monitoring, where LifeLock searches for names and addresses connected with your Social Security number to help protect you from criminals who build fictitious identities to open accounts or commit fraud.
LifeLock Advantage membership costs about $20 a month and would be a great option for families who are on a budget, but have a lot of important assets and extensive personal information that need to be kept secure.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus
The Ultimate Plus membership is the best identity theft protection LifeLock offers. It has all the same features as LifeLock Advantage with included benefits, such as checking and savings account application alerts, where LifeLock continuously monitors for your personal information in new bank account applications at national banks, local banks and credit unions from coast to coast. Specialists will also help protect investment and retirement accounts from fraudulent cash withdrawals and balance transfers. As an Ultimate Plus member, you will receive a monthly single-bureau credit score tracker to help you identify important changes and see how your credit is trending over time. You’ll even receive a notification when registered sex offenders move into your zip code, in addition to several other features that are included with the LifeLock Ultimate Plus membership.
Some might think that spending about $30 a month for the LifeLock Ultimate Plus membership might seem a little steep. But it’s a great option for those who want to know without a doubt that their finances and their futures are safe and secure.
Do you think it’s important to get a company to ensure your identity’s protection? Feel free to post your answers below.