Identity theft is a form of fraud where a person’s personal information is stolen and used without their permission, typically for financial gain. This can include stealing someone’s Social Security number, credit card details, or other personal data to commit various types of fraud, like opening new accounts, making purchases, or even obtaining passports.
To protect against identity theft, it’s essential to understand both the tools and practices that can safeguard your personal information.
Best Tools and Apps for Identity Theft Protection (2024)
- IDShield: Offers a range of features from credit locks to credit fraud alerts, and provides a dedicated case manager and licensed investigator in case of identity theft. It has a 30-day free trial and various plan options.
- IdentityForce: Known for its comprehensive protection, monitoring of a wide range of information, and providing restoration support. It also includes a $1 million insurance policy for out-of-pocket expenses related to ID theft.
- Aura: Offers AI-assisted monitoring and alerts, good insurance policy including stolen funds reimbursement, and is easy to set up and use.
- LifeLock: Monitors your credit and sends alerts for suspicious activities, also providing VantageScore monitoring.
- Bitdefender: Searches both the public and the Dark Web for your leaked personal data, helping you control your online privacy.
Best Practices to Protect Against Identity Theft
- Secure Your Online Accounts: Regularly check if your email or phone has been part of a data breach using services like Have I Been Pwned.
- Regularly Update Devices: Keeping your devices and apps updated can prevent hackers from exploiting security vulnerabilities.
- Use Antivirus Software: Ensure your computer and mobile devices are protected against malware and spyware.
- Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi: Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions.
- Enact Multi-Factor Authentication: Adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts.
- Freeze Your Credit: This prevents criminals from opening new accounts in your name.
- Regularly Check Your Credit Report: Monitor for any unauthorized activities or accounts.
Things to Consider
When choosing an identity theft protection service, consider how much effort you’re willing to put into protecting your identity yourself. Some tasks like monitoring your credit report, scanning accounts for fraudulent activity, or freezing credit can be done individually. However, services like dark web monitoring might require professional assistance. Remember, no service can completely prevent identity theft; they can only alert you to potential breaches and help mitigate the damage.
Always stay vigilant and adopt a proactive approach to safeguarding your personal information. This can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.