Why Credit Protection?
When someone uses your personal information (e.g., social security number, bank accounts, driver’s license) without your knowledge or permission, your identity has been stolen. The Federal Trade Commission states that over 10 million Americans fall victim to this crime annually, and despite federal efforts to reduce that number, it continues to grow.
|Individual||Total Protection||ProtectMyID||Superior Plan||Triple Advantage|
3 Bureau Credit Monitoring
|3 Bureaus||3 Bureaus||1 Bureau||3 Bureaus||1 Bureau|
Lost Wallet Protection
Public Records Monitoring
|14 Days||1 Month||1 Month||-||7 Days|
What is Credit Protection?
Credit protection defines the countermeasures to combat these criminal efforts, examples of which include:
- Monitoring one’s personal credit
- Utilizing a credit protection service
- Minimizing junk mail and spam
- Properly destroying documents that contain personal information
- Maintaining control over credit cards, bank information, and other financial tools that thieves can take and use
- Using effective electronic defense measures, such as anti-virus software and strong passwords for vital Web IDs
- Staying abreast of security problems and patches on your computer, and downloading the proper updates to keep your operating system’s security up to date
Who Needs Credit Protection?
Credit forms the basis of our financial lives, and is becoming ever more important in our professional and personal lives as well. For example, employers run credit reports on prospective employees, looking for applicants who demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Given the high cost of college tuition, loans are usually necessary to send children to school. In short, well-protected credit not only makes loans easier to attain, but provides security in nearly every other aspect of one’s life.
The Consequences of Unprotected Credit
Every consumer should take credit protection seriously. Not doing so can lead to denial of future credit applications, the loss of job opportunities, and other problems related to poor credit scores. Even if the fraud is detected early, the damage caused could take months, if not years, to repair. A few consumers even go to jail for crimes committed by identity thieves. Taking steps like the ones listed above makes your personal information much harder to steal, thus sparing you from hours—and dollars—spent rebuilding your financial life.
Credit Protection Companies: Pros and Cons
Credit protection companies provide assistance in preventing identity theft, as well as measures to help if you do fall victim. Their services include:
- Monitoring your credit reports
- Watching the Internet for illegal use of your vital information
- Alerting you if your name shows up as a resident elsewhere in the country
- Taking your name off pre-approved credit card lists and other marketing directories that might request access to your credit information
- Assist you in replacing lost or stolen credit cards and bank account documents
Some credit protection firms even provide non-financial services, such as sex offender registry reports. Most also guarantee their ability to protect your identity by providing financial assistance should you fall victim to identity theft under their watch.
Credit protection services can’t help in some cases of fraud. By and large, they cannot prevent activities that take place under the credit agency radar—things like driver’s license fraud or payday loan scams that involve a relatively small amount of money. And they can’t change the first hour and a half that a wallet thief has with all your credit cards to himself. Even so, credit protection firms do fulfill an important insurance function, providing much of their assistance during the most difficult period of an identity theft: the period during which the victim is trying to set things right and recover their financial well-being.
Credit Protection is Your Business.
Though these companies can and do provide assistance in protecting consumer credit, the ultimate responsibility for doing so falls to individual consumers. Wary consumers can work credit protection into every aspect of their lives, creating an environment in which their information is well-guarded and inaccessible beyond well-defined parameters. Without question, the best preventative measures—shredding credit card offers, storing old documents properly, keeping computer data safe—begin and end at home.Back to Comparison Chart