US ID Theft protection – what you need to know

UPDATED:ย The identity theft protection service industry is relatively new to the UK, although in the US it has been around for some 5-6 years and is still evolving. In so far as which country leads the way, it’s clear the US is some way ahead of the UK when it comes to consumer and business identity theft protection. These services however are country specific – meaning that if you live in the US these services are only available to US citizens and therefore cannot be used in other countries.

So – how do you go about protecting your good name, both in the cyber world and the offline world? I’m going to highlight the service options and then you can decide which service is best for you.

US Identity Theft Protection Service Options

Identity Theft Protection services offer a variety of service options. Here is what you should look for if you are living in the US:

  • Credit reporting / scores i.e. providing single report or triple reports analysis*
  • Identity monitoring with alerts – i.e. search online forums for black-market SSN transactions and CVV numbers
  • Lookup Public records and database – you will be alerted to changes in your insurance policies, government records, etc
  • Computer protection i.e. anti-malware/firewall/anti-virus/password protection
  • 24/7 access to trained ID Theft Resolution Specialists – includes identity recovery
  • Identity theft Insurance (this ranges from $25,000 to $1,000,000)
  • Lost wallet/cards protection – will cancel and replace your cards/passport etc
  • Medical benefits protection – will alert you and stop medical identity theft
  • Junk mail reduction – remove your good name from mailing lists etc
  • Some identity protection services also offer family/partner/spouse protection

*If an application for credit is made in your good name you also have the option of receiving an EMAIL or SMS. The three leading credit reference agencies in the US are: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

What is the monthly cost?

The average cost of US identity theft protection services varies from $9 to $20 per month. Worth noting – if you do decide to purchase a credit monitoring service you will have to pay extra for your credit score.

Worth remembering: There is a difference between CREDIT and DEBIT card protection in the US:

Credit cards: The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) generally applies to open end credit accounts, such as credit cards and revolving charge cards. Your liability here, whether lost or stolen is limited to $50. Update 23/12/11: Report a stolen card within two business days, your liability is capped at $50. After, the cap is moved upwards to $500. If you wait more than 60 days after your bank statement, your loss could be unlimited ๐Ÿ™

Debit cards: The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) applies to electronic fund transfers involving automated teller machines (ATMs), debit cards and other point-of-sale debit transactions, and other electronic transactions. Your liability here, whether lost or stolen is limited to between $50 and $500. If you report the lost or stolen card within two business days you will be liable for no more than $50. The longer you wait to report the loss or theft, the greater your liability.

TIP: You don’t actually need credit card insurance. ๐Ÿ™‚

Click here to visit ID Theft Protect for more information on US Identity Protection services.

Safe surfing folks!


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