Saturday, November 7, 2015

What are Identity Theft Protection Companies?

Identity Theft Companies

As identity theft becomes more common place, it makes sense that there are now many identity theft protection companies offering consumers protection.  Many people may be signing up for these services for the first time, so they are likely to have questions about what they do and what to look for in fraud protection companies.

Fraud protection companies work by monitoring your credit report for certain activity. When these changes are detected, they will alert you with a phone call, email, or text, including changes such as new accounts, new inquiries, or changes to your basic information, such as name and address.  When you receive the alert, you can decide if the change is legitimate or suspicious.  If you did not make the change yourself, then you can contact your fraud protection companies and they will help you to sort out what has happened and what your next steps should be.

Fraud protection companies usually charge a monthly fee, and you may be wondering why you would pay if you have heard that you can get free copies of your credit report.  While it is true that you can get a free copy of your credit report once per year from each of the three credit bureaus, this alone does not provide complete protection.  It leaves you vulnerable between free reports, and credit reports can be difficult to decipher.  Even if you stagger your free credit reports so you get them every few months, this is still risky because the reports can be different from each credit bureau, so a fraudulent account may show up on one report and not the others.  Fraud protection companies will monitor your credit report from all three credit bureaus year-round.

If you do choose to access your free credit report, only do so on the official government-mandated annual free credit report site.  Be wary of other sites offering “free” credit reports.  Remember that to obtain a credit report, you will always be asked for your social security number and you should be very careful who you give it to.  Often, these sites are just trying to stealthily sell you something, or steal your personal information.

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