Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America and one of the most debilitating. Your credit is a large part of who you are. It’s what allows you to buy a home, buy a car, sometimes it determines if you get a job or your insurance rate. That is why it is vital to protect it and why identity theft protection plans are so important.
In 2007 there were over 8 million identity theft victims in the United States and $49.3 billion in losses to businesses and individual victims.
Some identity theft protection plans are offered by financial institutions which will reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses up to a certain dollar amount and help you through the process of contacting creditors, writing affidavits and filing reports. Some plans are free as part of your checking/savings account and others may charge a monthly fee.
There are also individual companies that offer identity theft protection plans for a monthly fee. These plans offer more features such as: fraud alerts, credit monitoring, identity theft insurance coverage, stop of pre-approved offers, and will scan the internet for misuse of your credit card and social security numbers.
Even if you have an identity theft protection plan there are still things you should do to ensure your identity is not stolen.
1. Buy a shredder. Shred anything that has your personal or financial information on it.
2. Do not carry your Social Security Card on you; carry only the ID you need. You don’t have to carry every credit card and identification you own. Take only what you need.
3. Dispose of old ID properly. See step 1.
4. Keep your PIN number away from the card. Choose a number you can remember.
5. Never give out any account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords or social security number to anyone who calls or emails you.
6. Place a fraud alert in your credit file with all three credit bureaus. If any creditor tries to open a new account using your info, they must call and verify it first. You’ll have to renew the fraud alerts every 90 days.
7. Opt out of all pre-approved credit offers. You can do this online at
or call 1-888-567-8688. You’ll need to do this every 5 years.
8. Always keep your personal info in a secure place.
9. Review credit card statements for any odd charges.
10. Protect your computer with virus protection and spyware programs.