74ºF

Are identity theft protection services worth the money?

Consumer Reports reveals what ID theft protection services can, can't do

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Both Florida and Georgia are among the top states with the most cases of reported identity theft in 2018, and it’s not surprising companies are trying to cash in by offering ID theft protection services. But, are these kinds of services worth the money?

Before you enroll in one of these services, Consumer Reports says it’s important to know what you’re actually buying. Some people assume that ID protection services will prevent identity theft in the first place. But that’s not true!

You pretty much have to accept that criminals can get their hands on your personal information no matter what you do. The key is to spot fraudulent activity quickly and then do what you can to fix the problem.

ID theft protection services can help you dispute fraudulent transactions with your bank, credit card companies and other businesses, typically for a fee of about $10 to $30 a month.  

The best way to avoid being a victim of this type of account fraud is to freeze your credit with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. It’s free, and no one, including you, will be able to open an account until you unfreeze it. 

But keep in mind that freezing your credit won’t prevent all ID theft. For example, a criminal can still use your personal information to get medical services or steal your tax refund. 

It’s critical that you keep a careful eye on your financial world; bank and credit card statements, obviously, and medical, insurance and tax records.

Consumer Reports says if you’re considering signing up for ID theft protection, ask a lot of questions. Some companies cover very little or simply hand you a do-it-yourself credit repair checklist. Another thing you should do in any case is to check your credit report free once a year with the three credit bureaus to spot any suspicious activity.


About the Authors: