Identity Theft Protection FAQ's

 

Identity theft protection basic coverage provides solutions for individuals or families who are victims of an identity theft and includes “Fully Managed Recovery” and “Identity Theft Expense Reimbursement Insurance”.  Fully managed recovery simply means that you will have a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate that will manage your recovery process to help restore your name and credit to pre-event status.  Identity theft protection usually covers (i) fraud & embezzlement, (ii) theft, (iii) forgery, (iv) data breach, and (v) other stolen identity event, each as a result of someone stealing and using your personal information such as social security number, date of birth, driver license number, bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes for their benefit.

 

Identity theft protection cannot be entirely avoided and each of us must take responsibility and steps to protect our personal information every day.  For a service that is often presented as a remedy for breaches that expose sensitive information, credit monitoring and identity-theft protection is far from a panacea given the sheer scale of data breaches today; https://www.scmagazine.com/tag/data-breach.  Some breaches don’t occur for years after the personal data is stolen.  Credit monitoring and “Dark Web” monitoring are tricky and don’t detect all events of data breach or stolen data.  Identity theft protection is just that, a remedial service that helps you recover your name and credit to pre-event status.  The event can take a life-time of effort on your part without the assistance of a professional service.

An article in USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2017/04/22/identity-theft-protection-worth/100554362/ advises that one of the best ways to protect yourself against identity theft is with a “Credit Freeze”, which you can do yourself by contacting the credit bureau; this can be done online with proper identification.  This is a proactive step.  Make sure you check your credit every year by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/; its FREE! Credit monitoring and Dark Web monitoring only tell you that your identity has been stolen and someone is using it or selling it.  As the article says, it’s like getting hit by a bus and someone standing over you and telling you that you’ve been run over by a bus.  As stated above, an identity theft can take you a lifetime to correct without the assistance of a professional provider.  These third party services know what they are doing and make your involvement minimal.  In most cases your identity and credit will be restored to pre-event status.

A blog on “Credit.com”, https://blog.credit.com/2012/09/four-ways-identity-theft-can-affect-your-credit/, tells us four ways identity theft can affect your credit score.  The Identity Theft Protection will remove or greatly enhance your credit score once your identity and credit have been restored.

There are many identity theft protection providers in the market place today.  Cost depends upon services which will include the core service of fully managed recovery and identity theft expense reimbursement with add-ons including credit and dark web monitoring and sometimes cash recovery for ATM theft, stolen wallet, etc.  Individual services can run from $5 per month to $19.99 per month, while family services can cost from $9.99 per month to $35.00 per month.  Do some research and purchase the service plan that makes most sense for you or your family.  Some services are unnecessary and costly.

Consumer Affairs, https://www.consumeraffairs.com/privacy/#, provides an online comparison of some of the leading identity theft protection providers in today’s marketplace.  Most of these include your core benefits of fully managed recovery and identity theft expense reimbursement insurance with optional monitoring services with the credit bureau(s) and dark web.  Some have more initial and ongoing educational and prevention information than others. In most cases it comes down to cost.  If all a service provider offers is identity theft protection then that program is “out of date”; review www.familyidpro.com for up to date life event benefits and cost.

Identity theft protection is somewhat of a misnomer; it should be more correctly termed as “identity theft resolution”.  These identity theft service providers do not usually provide resolution services for a known identity theft or data breach event, so purchasing identity theft protection as soon as possible, even the core benefits, is critical given the vast growing number of data breaches each year.

You certainly need the core identity theft resolution benefit.  This basic benefit is more important than any other of the benefits, including identity theft expense reimbursement, since you will need a fraud specialist to do all of the “heavy lifting” for you during the resolution process. The fraud specialist notifies all appropriate parties, from credit bureaus to credit collection companies, financial institutions, healthcare providers, credit card companies, law enforcement and governmental agencies such as the IRS, Social Security Administration and departments of motor vehicles.  If the provider offers as little as $5,000 in identity theft expense reimbursement coverage it is likely more than you will need.

If you, or a family member, experience an identity theft event you can spend a lifetime trying to restore your name and credit.  Trying to recover your identity and credit on your own is a comprehensive and lengthy process. Identity theft protection from a service provider will provide professional assistance, do all the heavy lifting for you and shorten the recovery process by months or years. 

The “Dark Web” really isn’t so dark, or mysterious.  While we’ve seen the terms “Dark Web”, “Deep Web” and “Dark Net” used interchangeably, techies will tell us there is a difference but you won’t find the technical versions here, so we’re using “Dark Web” meaning all of the above..  The non-technical answer is it is an internet similar to what you are accustomed to browsing on now, like Google Chrome, Windows internet Explorer/Edge and Safari, except the privacy protections and protocols are much more elaborate.   One such “dark web” provider is “Tor Browser”, https://www.torproject.org/. The browser offers anonymity as it changes IP addresses regularly making it difficult for crooks and schemers to hack into your computer.  You can also secure an anonymous email address to use with the dark web browser.  The browser is slower for this reason.  Government agencies, corporations, scientists, whistleblowers, media and others who wish anonymity use the dark web.  Unfortunately it offers criminals the same anonymity allowing them to sell drugs, contraband, and yes stolen identities.   The Dark Web may actually be a more safe browser for personal use.

An article in “TechRepublic”, https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-safely-access-and-navigate-the-dark-web/, “ How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web” offers one a step by step guide in accessing the “underbelly” of the internet and provides a list of some of the more popular dark web providers.

An article in Motherboard”, https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/jp5a9g/six-ways-law-enforcement-monitors-the-dark-web, “Six Ways Law Enforcement Monitors the Dark Web” offers a glimpse into how difficult it is to monitor the Dark Web and steps law enforcement is taking and suggesting. I offer caution and skepticism in third party ability to monitor the dark web for my personal information.

An article by “Lifewire”, https://www.lifewire.com/access-the-dark-web-3481559, offers some insight into the usefulness of the Dark Web.  The Dark Web simply offers individuals, governments, corporations, whistleblowers, scientists, journalists and others to exchange sensitive or confidential information in anonymity, especially when used with an anonymous email address offered by some of the Dark Web providers.  This article provides a list of some of the more popular Dark Web providers being used today.  One can simply download the browser, just like your more common browsers like Google Chrome, and start browsing.  If you are going to use the Dark Web browser as your “every day” browser it will be much slower than the Chrome, Edge or Safari browsers.