Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft protection COVERS your privacy

Your personal situation is different from anyone else. You should take the time to review this consumer identity theft protection guide to find the best solution for your needs and goals.

What Is Identity Theft Protection?

Identity theft is a crime in which someone accesses information to commit fraud, typically by getting false credentials, opening new accounts in someone else’s name or using someone else’s existing accounts. Identity theft is a serious crime in the United States. Nearly 15 billion dollars were stolen from identity theft victims in 2017.

How Does Identity Theft Occur?

There are a lot of ways identity theft can happen to you. Hackers may get your information from a data security breach. Or you may unknowingly provide it on social media, during conversions others can hear or by leaving financial documents in unsafe places.

Types Of Theft

An identity thief might use your personally identifiable information (PII) to access and drain your bank accounts, damage your credit, or more. Here are some of the different types of identity theft that you should know about to help protect your information and finances.

The is the most common type of identity theft. This occurs when criminals access your existing accounts. Once they break in, thieves can charge your credit cards, file claims against your insurance policies, or otherwise drive your finances off a cliff.

A thief can create a totally new account using your personal information, often via the Internet. This is difficult to identify unless you closely review your credit report for new accounts openings.

If a criminal has your personal information, he/she can file a tax return for a refund. The IRS then rejects your tax return. Problems.

When an identity thief uses your health insurance to get medical care in your name, doctors may update your records with the imposter’s medical information. You may receive fraudulent bills. Or bills not received are bills that are not paid which will hurt your credit or future insurance coverage.

If an identity thief uses your name and SSN on an employment application, the employer will report wages to the IRS and state authorities. You may then be liable for additional taxes.

Children’s Social Security numbers and personal information are used by an identity thief to open new accounts, apply for government benefits, take out loans, and more. Your child may not be aware of this until he/she applies for credit.

Difficult To Detect

Identity theft can be a difficult crime to spot. It is one of the key reasons why so many people become victims. Here are facts about this growing crime that can give you the information you need to help protect yourself.

  • Identity theft is a problem for millions of people 7 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017.
  • Identity theft happens regularly – There was a victim of identity theft every 2 seconds in 2017.
  • Data breaches contribute to identity theftA single data breach could expose enough of your personal information to make you an identity thief’s target. There were over 1,000 breaches in 2016
  • Social Security numbers are key– Social Security numbers aren’t easily replaced. If yours is lost or stolen, an identity thief could use it for years or even wait years before using it the first time.
  • Public Wi-Fi is an identity thief’s friend – With the right tools, identity thieves can monitor what you do on public Wi-Fi, even if it is password protected.
  • You can do everything right and still be a victim – If there is a data breach at your doctor’s office, school, or any other business that has your personal information, you could be at risk of identity theft. 36 million records were breached in 2016.
  • The risk is everywhere – In today’s digital world, you are more likely to have your identity stolen from the Internet than your car stolen or your home burglarized.
  • Recovery takes time – In 2017, over 140 million hours were spent by identity theft victims trying to solve their issues.

What Else Should I Know?

In this age of electronic data and the internet, our personal information and digital footprints circulate faster than ever.  And there are criminals ready to take advantage, at any time. Everyday activities may unknowingly put you and your family at risk. Even simple things like sharing phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses, can open the door for thieves to get deeper access to personal information and potential risks.

Identity Theft Protection Process

Identity theft can impact anyone, anywhere, at any time. That is why an identity theft protection service needs to be a proactive, advanced system that helps keep your personal information safe. The service delivers ongoing monitoring, rapid alerts, and recovery services so you can rest assured that someone with experience and knowledge is supporting you 24 X 7.

Continuous monitoring of your identity, privacy, and credit by using innovative and proactive identity theft protection technology. Detection of illegal selling of your personal, financial, and credit information.

A warning system rapidly notifying you when your personal information is at risk. Alerts are sent to your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer, so you have the power to act before damage is done.

When you want total identity control you need to know where or how your online information is being used. Protect your keystrokes, PIN numbers, and credit card information.

Certified Protection Experts offer comprehensive, 24/7 recovery services. We will, on your behalf, complete paperwork, make calls, and handle every detail to restore your identity.

Identity Theft Protection Checklist

The following is a brief list of the six most important things your identity theft protection service should include:

Comprehensive protection that searches for unauthorized use of your identity in the dark web and public records and suspicious activity on your credit report will reduce your risk by increasing your chances of catching problems early.

A service that proactively alerts you to suspicious activity in a timely manner will greatly reduce liability by catching problems early.

Anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software is important. It helps protect you from malware and adds that extra layer of security you need when using the Internet.

You need to be aware of any changes to your credit scores or reports multiple times during the course of the year.

The service you choose needs to be committed to managing the restoration of your identity if you become a victim of identity theft. They should manage it for you every step of the way so you don’t have to.

Adults aren’t the only ones vulnerable to identity theft. Be sure to select a identity theft protection service that offers you complete coverage for you and your family.

Thoughts On Identity Theft Protection

Approximately 1 out of every 4 adults are victims of identity theft and witness an average loss of about $3500 in each instance. The damage of ID theft can be devastating and the fall-out hard to contain.

Whether you choose to subscribe to a third-party identity theft protection service or simply want to take some basic steps to help protect your privacy and finances, here are some suggestions.


ACTION
REASON
Deleting FilesShed the unwanted risk of computer files you no longer need by deleting excess clutter.
Create Strong PasswordsNo two passwords should be the same. Passwords should be -8-12 characters, random strings of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Avoid Public WIFIDon’t use WIFI for sensitive transactions; assume all your activities are being monitored. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which encrypts your transmissions. Make sure your home WIFI is secure.
Don’t Click At RandomHackers put out links to lure people into clicking, to trigger a virus or spy download. When in doubt, don’t click.
HTTPSIf you visit a website that has “https” that indicates that it is a Secure website, with server encryption software to protect communications. If the website has “http” instead, it means that it is not secure, but it does not mean that it is malicious.
Anti Spyware & MalwareRun Anti-Spyware & Malware software on your computer frequently, to keep things clean.

Credit Repair | Identity Theft

Frequently Asked Questions

Consumer Credit Repair

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was written in 1970 as an amendment to the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The FCRA provides additional measures of consumer protection in the areas of fairness, accuracy, and privacy of the information collected by the credit bureaus. It also allows you to personally engage in credit repair and maintenance processes, verifying that the information in your credit report is correct.

A credit bureau – sometimes called a “consumer reporting agency” – is a business that collects relevant consumer information from creditors and courthouses, and then sells that information to interested parties such as potential lenders. Such information is sold in the form of a credit report. In the U.S., the three major credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Normally negative items will remain on your credit report for seven years, with the exception of bankruptcy (ten years). You may choose to dispute a negative item, but if it is accurate, the dispute will be rejected and the item will remain on your credit report. However, if the negative item violated consumer protection laws, it may be removed.

When an account is unpaid for more than 180 days, a creditor usually writes off the debt as a loss on their financial statements. This is known as a charge off. Once a debt is charged off, it is either transferred to an in-house collections department or sold to a third-party collection agency who will likely contact you in attempt to recoup the balance.

The time it takes to repair your credit is completely dependent upon your personal situation. Six months should be your guide if you have many issues with your credit report.

It is a common myth that negative items must remain on your credit report for a minimum number of years. In fact, there is no minimum time-frame. Creditors control the information they provide to the credit bureaus. They can also choose to remove negative items as well. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires all reported information to be fair, accurate, and substantiated. If these conditions are not met, the credit bureaus are required to remove it.

Credit Repair is actually the process of removing inaccurate, unfounded, out of date, false, and erroneous information from your credit report.  Your credit report dictates your credit score.  The 3 major credit bureaus collect information from lenders, creditors, and debt collectors and apply it to your credit report.  Based on that information, your credit score is determined.  This information could include the balances on loans or credit cards, credit inquiries, debt to income ratio, and most importantly, credit utilization (the percentage of debt you have to available credit)

This is determined by what your goal is.  Perhaps you are trying to buy a house.  If this is the case, you might want to get started at least 6-9 months before you plan on purchasing.  If you plan on purchasing a car, then you might to get started in 2-3 months.

You have the ability to dispute any information on your credit report you deem as inaccurate, unfounded, or incorrect.  However many consumers have tried doing this themselves only to find out that the process takes too long, is confusing, and full of challenges they deem too stressful to deal with themselves.  A third-party credit repair company can take the burden of disputing off your hands and have the ability to speed up the process through their experience.  Think of a third-party credit repair company like you would think of a Tax preparer, Legal Service, or even a plumber.  You could probably do it yourself, but perhaps not with the same end results. We highly suggest that all of our clients and prospective clients take some time to learn about their credit, credit reports, as well as the process of repairing their own credit.  You may feel doing it yourself is the better route for you and your situation.

A good credit score helps you obtain low interest rates and long term loans, like home loans or car loans. Lenders may charge high interest rates or impose undesirable repayment plans for you. Given the stakes and the consequences involved, it is clearly to your advantage to work toward recovering from a bad credit rating.

Credit Bureaus are companies that maintain records of your credit lines and performance. Records can go back for up to ten years, in the case of bankruptcy data. Creditors, banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions supply this information to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus then compile this data into your a credit report. A credit report has details of how you have managed credit in the past, so other lenders can judge your credit worthiness.

Most likely your credit report has errors.

The Federal Trade Commission reported in a study conducted in 2012 that 26% of the credit reports they analyzed had errors. Of those with errors, 5% who disputed these errors increased their credit scores at least 25 points. That is a significant change in a credit score.

You should not assume that your credit reports are completely accurate.

No. Your credit report is independent of your spouse. The same is true of your credit scores. However…

A lender will likely take into consideration both of your credit reports when deciding on a home mortgage, for example. If your credit report is bad and your spouse’s good you may find that the loan, if approved, has a higher interest rate than if both were good.

It certainly can. Many employers will do a credit check of a potential employee to determine the stability of the job candidate. For job positions that entail financial responsibility, it is most likely you would experience a credit report check.

When you are initially contacted by a debt collector regarding an unpaid debt, you have the right to request proof of the debt within 30 days of initial contact. This is called debt validation. Unless the debt collector can validate that you are responsible for the debt, they must stop all further collection efforts.

The debt validation letter from collector needs to include: 1) Proof the debt exists; 2) Proof that you are responsible for the debt; and 3) Proof that the debt collector has legal right to collect on the debt.

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Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is the deliberate misuse of another person’s identifying information. Today, the classic example is when a thief steals a person’s social security number and uses it to open new accounts for financial gain. Identity theft’s loose definition has more broadly come to encompass other forms of fraud that typically take place online such as credit card fraud, medical benefit fraud, impersonating someone to take out payday loans in their name, and more.

An identity theft protection company offers three primary services:

  1. Monitoring: The company will monitor your accounts for suspicious activity, the web and black market websites for your personal information, and your credit. They will also keep an eye out for any new accounts opened in your name, be they bank accounts, TV subscriptions, utilities, or loans. Whenever they spot something suspicious, the customer is notified so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
  2. Restoration: If your identity has been compromised in any way, the company will have expert staff on hand to guide you through the process of restoration. This could mean canceling and replacing cards, removing fraudulent charges, and freezing your credit, among other things.
  3. Insurance: In the event that you suffer monetary damages as a result of identity theft, the service includes insurance to compensate each customer.

A data breach is the most common way that a person’s personal information becomes available to identity thieves. Hackers can breach the servers of banks, credit card companies, retailers, and anyone else who keeps an insecure database of customer records. Those records are sold on the black market, where thieves use the information to conduct identity theft. Data breaches often leak thousands of individual’s information at a time.

Instead of using someone’s personal information for financial gain, medical identity theft is using someone’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs. This happens as a result of a stolen insurance card and other personal info. Besides the financial harm, fraudulent information can be added to a person’s medical records.

Children’s social security numbers are valuable because they are essentially clean slates. They have no information already associated with them. Because a child isn’t likely to need a good credit rating for many years to come, child identity theft can go on for years without anyone noticing. Often a family member or friend is responsible, but strangers are also threats.

Fraud alerts notify companies that require a credit check that the person is at risk, and they take extra care to avoid identity theft. A fraud alert can be placed on your credit report at each of the national credit rating agencies so that if anyone attempts to open a new account in your name and requires a credit check, you will first be alerted.

A security freeze is a more extreme alternative to fraud alerts that completely lock access to a person’s credit file. Creditors cannot check the file and thus no new accounts can be opened. Security freezes should not be enacted lightly, as your current accounts (telephone, utilities, landlords) might need access to them.

Most studies and reports suggest that between 8 million and 12 million cases of identity theft occur each year in the United States.

The most common form of identity theft is government benefits fraud (34%). The second most popular identity theft crime is credit card fraud (17%) followed by phone or utilities fraud (14%) and bank fraud (8%). Employment-related fraud (6%) and loan fraud (4%) are also common.

The most common source of private information is still stolen or misplaced purses and wallets. Private data can be stolen by observing someone write or type personal information in public, such as account numbers or PINs at ATMs. Private information is also obtained from discarded documents in trash or recycling bins, and unsecured mailboxes. Businesses and their employees also are a source of personal information loss along with Internet or database penetration.

Consumers should carefully monitor bills and bank statements for suspicious activity. If you suddenly stop receiving statements, contact the particular source immediately. You should regularly review your credit reports to discover unauthorized activity on your behalf.

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