Should You Consider an Identity Protection Plan?
A client recently asked me about using an Identity Protection service and I told her I would do some research before she plunked her monthly fee down. I’ll share my comparison of plans but I also found that you can do a lot of it yourself…if you are diligent and if you have not already had your identity breached.
12 THINGS YOU CAN DO ON YOUR OWN
- Proactively freeze your credit
Place a credit freeze on your accounts at all 3 credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax & Transunion. It’s easy enough to lift it if you do need to later be cleared for a loan or new credit card but it can prevent either one being opened in your name without your knowledge.
2. Check your credit reports regularly
You should check your credit report annually at each credit bureau. It’s free at www.annualcreditreport.com . You don’t get the score, just the report.
3. Set the alerts on your bank and credit card and investment accounts.
You know those annoying alerts. Well, they can prevent a big mess if you use & pay attention to them. Set them on all bank, credit & investment accounts.
4. Check your insurance policies for ID theft coverage.
You may already have identity protection and don’t realize it!
5. Review your statements monthly for fraud.
This goes without saying (but I said it anyway). If something on a statement looks strange, it probably is.
6. Know your state laws and what you are liable for.
You may be paying for coverage you don’t need. Some states limit the amount of damage you are liable for in the case of identity theft.
7. Opt out of marketing solicitations: www.DMAChoice.org
8. Opt out of pre-screened credit offers: www.optoutprescreen.com
9. Enroll in the do not call list for all of your phones. www.donotcall.gov
10. Use different passwords everywhere. See my upcoming article on password safety.
11. Be smart about opening attachments on emails.
If you are not sure an email is legitimate? Look at the sender email address. Is it the right one for the name & company you see? Check it out another way if you can. Ask the person you know, Google it, or go on the company’s website to see if you can find what they are telling you is true. www.Snopes.com is another good place to verify certain content.
12. Practice technology safety.
Your Network Router: Change the password that’s printed on the side of the device where anyone can see it. Select your own SSID and don’t let it be broadcast for other devices to find and connect.
Devices: Password protect all devices. Set up the lockout feature on your phone in case it gets lost.
Two-factor Authentication: It’s a real pain, but so important to use on your money & identity accounts! When you try to login, a code is typically sent to your cell phone to verify that it is really you. Silver lining? You do tend to keep your cell phone charged!
WHEN NOT TO D.I.Y.
If you’ve already been a victim or know that your SSN has been stolen, or if you know you won’t take these steps, then a monitoring & restoration service is advisable for you.
I took a quick look at some of the plans out there and thought I’d share it with you. There is a lot more information on each of the websites and I didn’t include all of their information, but this will give you a place to start! My two favorites were Costco (especially if you are a member anyway), and MyIDCare.
WHEN TO GET HELP
If all of this is ‘above your pay-grade’, find someone who understands it and let them help you set it up. Be sure it’s someone you trust explicitly! Doing things like this for clients is what distinguishes Daily Money Managers from personal bookkeepers. There are many aspects to life that go beyond the check register. Not everyone has the skill-set or patience to handle them all. Ask for help when you need it!