Unfortunately, it’s very likely you’ll need one of these services soon, if you don’t already. That’s because identity theft is a huge and growing problem, with more enormous data breaches hitting with increasing regularity. In 2016 alone, there were more than 15 million US identity fraud cases, with Americans losing more than $16 billion. And thewas the icing on a very bad cake — months later, it .
The scary fact is that these breaches can cost you a lot of money. Whether your credit cards have charges on them you never incurred, or you suddenly discover that loan collectors are trying to collect from you amounts you never borrowed, thanks to someone halfway across the country — or halfway around the world — who opened a credit card or applied for a loan in your name.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself. Credit card companies will reverse fraudulent charges, but if no one notices, you could find yourself paying thousands of dollars for goods and services you never bought. Credit reporting agencies will, after some arm twisting, update your records to remove fraudulent records. Other charges are not so easy to remove, and you may need the help of experts, accountants, lawyers, or the court system to reach satisfaction.
Knowing how your personal identity information is being used is a big step to keeping yourself safe. There are services that can help you monitor your information, get notified if your accounts and information are being misused, and even get you reimbursement after the fact.
In this directory, we’ll look at some of the better services for helping you to manage your identity. Before we get started though, we should tell you that you don’t necessarily have to spend $10-$30 a month for a service. The US government offers identitytheft.gov, a service that can help you report and recover from identity theft.
None of these services will monitor your actual banking activity. I have long recommended a way to protect yourself from most banking fraud, which is to examine all your accounts once a week. It’s a bit of a pain, but just in my family we’ve found numerous fraudulent charges over the years. By doing this practice regularly, we’ve saved thousands of dollars. Consumer Reports recommends you do all your own monitoring, too.
That said, if you’re not the type of person who is willing or able to take the time to do the constant due diligence necessary to protect your identity, some of these services can help. Finally, because each of these services offers vastly different terms and conditions, we’ve included an easy link to each company’s terms of service. Be sure to take the time to read all of their fine print before you sign up for another monthly or yearly fee.