We all get bombarded with the reasons why we should have Identity Theft Protection. With all that noise it can get confusing as to what features really matter.
First, it is important to know the three main services of a provider. Then to understand how they do that with features. And Finally what feature is the most important from our perspective.
3 Main Services of Identity Theft Protection
Let’s start with the 3 main services that a provider offers: (for more on What Identity theft providers actually do, click here)
Common Features of Identity Theft Protection
Now we can look at the broad scope of features that fit into each of these three categories. When we look at the broad market of identity theft protection there are 14 main features that providers have.
- Credit Monitoring, 1 or 3 bureaus depending on the program chosen
- Annual Credit report
- Monthly Credit Score Tracking
- Internet Dark Web
- Public Records
- Criminal Data
- Expense Reimbursement Insurance
- Lost Document replacement
- Credential Vault
- Data Breach Notifications
- Checking & Savings Account Activity Alerts
- Sex Offender List – Local notifications
- Social Media – Monitoring for language
- Full-Service Recovery
Now we can take a closer look at each feature to provide more insight into what really matters to you. Not all providers use the same feature names so it is important to know the details when evaluating your options.
Identity Theft Protection Feature Details
Credit monitoring provides protection against identity theft by keeping you informed of changes to your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit file. Receive alerts within 24 hours on new activity such as credit inquiries, new credit lines, derogatory credit, name and address changes – to name a few. Your RecoveryAdvocate is available to help you if you have questions on any of the alerts you may receive. Your credit file is actively monitored by providers to ensure any identity theft event is recognized and, with the help of your Recovery Advocate, handled quickly and effectively.
Annual Credit Report:
Receive your credit report once per year to review your report and ensure that your accounts are in proper standing.
Monthly Credit Score and Tracking:
A credit score is used by lenders to help them make credit decisions. It is based on elements of your credit report, including how current your payments are, the type, number and age of accounts, total debt, how many inquiries your credit file has received for new accounts and many other factors. You will receive your current credit score from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, along with a valuable analysis which explains what factors are impacting your score. Even without an identity theft event, it is important for you to understand how credit scores may impact your ability to obtain credit.
Internet Dark Web:
Deep, Dark and Surface Website Monitoring is an intelligent and proactive identity theft detection solution that searches for compromised information across the web, as well as underground forums and file-sharing sources.
By performing comprehensive reviews of websites frequented by hackers and cybercriminals, it is possible to detect your personal information being traded or sold before the criminal uses it.
When you enroll in a program, you will have full control over what information you choose to be monitored. Once enrolled, providers continuously (24/7) monitor the deep, dark and surface web to detect the trading and selling of your information. If providers find any of the information being monitored, you will receive a notification that your information has been found online. This alert allows you to take immediate action to prevent, or reduce losses, such as changing a password or closing an account.
Public Records Monitoring:
Monitors millions of public and private database records to identify possible instances of identity theft. Fraudsters may have substituted a new billing address, used a false name or even changed your phone number to commit fraud using your social security number or other personal information. This tool will alert you of changes which may indicate an identity thief is using your information to access one of your existing accounts or has submitted an application to open a new account in your name.
Criminal Data Monitoring:
Monitors millions of criminal and civil court records for your personal information. Criminal identity theft occurs when a fraudster, impersonating you, is caught by law enforcement.
Identity Theft Protection Expense Reimbursement Insurance:
Expense Reimbursement Insurance is available to cover out of pocket expenses which you may incur during the recovery. Expenses may include, lost wages, long-distance telephone calls, postage and handling fees, fees for notarizing affidavits, document and filing fees for grants or credit applications rejected as a result of a Stolen Identity Event.
Lost Document Replacement:
Recovery Advocates will work with you to cancel and replace credit cards and help you deal with the loss of other documents such as licenses, passports, personal bank accounts, and government-issued documents, to name a few!
Credential Vault provides you with a means to record important data about your credit cards and other critical personal information that could be lost with your wallet or purse. As a result, you can safely access your personal information from any location with an internet connection. Securely store personal information including your credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, personal loan information, passport, retirement accounts, certifications, licenses, and more!
Data Breach Notifications: (Not identity Theft Protection)
Periodic Notification of Breaches that occur. This creates awareness and provides information to clients concerning companies they may interact with.
Checking and Savings Account Activity Alerts:
Account activity alerts allow you to monitor your accounts in one central location, similar to your online banking.
Sex Offender List Notifications: (Not Identity Theft Protection)
Some providers offer a feature that will notify you when a sex offender moves in or out of a specified mileage from your home. This feature is not crucial to an identity theft protection program but clients do seem to like the feature.
Social Media Monitoring: (Not Identity Theft Protection)
Social Media Monitoring notifies you when keywords are used in posts or posts you are tagged in. This can help protect against cyberbullying and reputation-damaging information directed at you or your family on social media.
Full-Service Recovery for Identity Theft Protection:
You receive 24/7/365 support and access to a recovery expert. Full-Service Recovery protects you regardless of the type of identity fraud that has been perpetrated against you. This includes but is not limited to medical, financial, and criminal, as well as acts of terrorism. Above all fully managed recovery provides you with peace of mind knowing that if you ever fall victim to Identity Theft, you will have access to a dedicated certified Recovery Advocate. Recovery advocates work on your behalf restore your identity, through the use of a limited power of attorney. This work includes completing and filing forms, performing research and contacting all companies, agencies and financial institutions necessary, to ensure that any and all fraudulent activity that has been identified is addressed and resolved. NOT all providers will act on your behalf, be sure to understand what your chosen provider will offer.
From our perspective, the most important feature offered by Identity Theft Protection providers is Full-Service Recovery. Most features are important for risk mitigation, but all depend on the quality of the recovery in the end. Full-Service Recovery provides you with peace of mind with a place to turn.