Nonprofit Resources


Are Identify Theft Protection Services Worthwhile?

With all the recent cyber breaches exposing email addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and more, many people are wondering whether they should subscribe to an identity theft protection service.

You’ve probably seen ads for services such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, and Identity Guard. These start at around $10 a month and monitor elements such as your Social Security number, credit report, bank accounts, and driver’s license number, depending on the service.

The subscriber is alerted if an issue is detected. Some companies also provide recovery services if a subscriber becomes a victim of identity theft.

What to Consider About Identity Theft Protection Services

So are identity theft protection services worth the fee? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • These services provide monitoring and alert you if there is an issue, but they won’t prevent or reduce your risk of identity theft.
  • These services cannot detect all types of identity theft. For example, they won’t catch if a criminal uses your personal information to file fraudulent medical insurance claims or income tax forms.
  • To use these services, you need to provide the company with detailed personal information. If you decide to subscribe, make sure you research the company thoroughly first. For example, LifeLock contracts with Equifax for credit reporting and monitoring services. In September 2017, Equifax announced a huge cyber breach that exposed the personal information of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. On March 1, 2018, the company disclosed that an additional 2.4 million consumers were affected by the breach.
What You Can Do

There is one key takeaway to remember:

Accept that your personal information may already have been compromised.

While this may sound pessimistic, with the number and size of data breaches that have occurred, it’s likely that your personal information has already been affected. Accepting this will help you remember to diligently monitor your information and accounts for any suspicious activity.

You can also take these steps:

  • Reset the security questions on your online accounts to a fake answer that only you know. If someone has your password, that will still prevent access to important accounts.
  • Consider freezing your credit reports if you’re not currently taking out a loan or in the middle of buying a house or vehicle. Complete the freeze with a password that you never use elsewhere, and use separate passwords for each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
  • Stay current on cybersecurity best practices and news of recent breaches. The cybersecurity articles, blog posts, and other resources on our website provide information and tips to help you protect yourself and your organization.

Also, remember that identity theft that affects any of your organization’s employees can also affect your organization if the criminal uses the data to gain access to your systems. It’s vital to provide employees with ongoing cybersecurity training. The information here will help you get started.

As always, please contact us at [email protected] with any questions. We’re here to help!

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