Note: We receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this site. Our sponsors, however, do not influence our editorial content in any way.
Recently, the national media alerted Americans that a breach at Equifax exposed millions of consumers to the risk of identity theft. As a result, most Americans signed up for the complementary identity theft protection that Equifax offered soon after the breach, while others signed up for similar identity theft protection via their credit card, banks and other venues. Once the anxiety calms down over the Equifax breach, you may decide not to renew your identity theft protection after the free coverage expires, but this is unwise.
Reasons why it is smart to always have identity theft protection include:
This type of service typically covers monitoring and recovery. What this means is that the monitoring service will be tracking your credit reports 24/7 for any changes. Not only will it immediately alert you to a change, it also helps you recover from any fraudulent actions that occur. Even if you are financially savvy, it would be difficult to maintain such a close watch on all your accounts. Knowing that your accounts are under constant surveillance gives you comfort and a feeling of security.
Identity theft protection services monitor places that you may not even consider checking. For instance, programs like these monitor the National Change of Address database. Not only do they alert you to change of address requests in your name, they also alert you to payday loan applications, orders for new cable, wireless, utility or other services. You will also be notified if there are any arrests or court action in your name.
The time to repair any fraudulent activity on your credit report is now, not when you apply for a credit card or an emergency loan and discover the negative activity on your credit report. Resolving credit report issues takes time, and when you need credit it is sometimes an emergent matter. You may not have the time to fix the issue.
A lot of damage to your credit report can happen quickly if you aren’t aware someone has stolen some sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth or other personal identifiable information. For instance, if your Social Security number was stolen without your knowledge in late April, you may not be aware of this fact until you file your tax return the next tax season.
Knowing that you will be alerted if any negative action occurs on your credit report helps give you peace of mind, and ensures that you will be able to obtain the credit you need — when you need it.