Debit Card Compromised Should I be concerned
Will credit monitoring services keep me safe after a data breach?
After a serious data breach, it is difficult to know if your data has been compromised and how to protect yourself afterwards. Companies have sprung up to offer credit monitoring services - peace of mind at a low cost. But should you pay for it or sign up for a free trial?
What are Credit Monitoring Services?
Credit monitoring services like LifeLock or Identity Guard offer a range of monitoring plans that range from $ 10 to $ 30 per month. While there are different benefits to these different plans, they all do one thing: they will regularly check your credit reports and alert you if there is any suspicious activity. Right; Credit monitoring services do not prevent your identity from being stolen, they only notify you if it has been stolen.
If you've adopted this reward credit monitoring, there have been services to proactively protect your identity. Then, you're not alone. Credit monitoring companies seem to be deliberately tricking customers into believing that more than $ 120 a year will protect them from fraud and identity theft. They do this by associating credit monitoring with services that sound high tech and relatively mysterious, like antivirus software or dark web scans. However, antivirus software will not prevent your identity from being stolen as hackers target the databases of huge companies rather than your computer. And services like dark web scans are really just nonsense to give you a false sense of security.
Companies that offer credit monitoring also tend to offer money refunds, as they, as you know, cannot prevent fraud from occurring. Like car or health insurance, a low-cost credit monitoring plan will only reimburse you for a small amount of damage, while a more expensive plan will pay for a larger amount. Well that sounds good, doesn't it? You might be tempted to sign up for a surveillance service so you don't have to pay for fraudulent allegations. You might even be tempted to sign up for an expensive plan that offers a bigger refund just in case.
Here is the thing. You already have a legal right to reimbursement under the Fair Billing Act. As long as you file a fraudulent report within 60 days, you will only be held liable for a maximum of $ 50. Fraudulent withdrawals from debit cards are a little trickier. However, you will still be entitled to a full refund if you promptly report fraudulent charges. By checking your credit reports once a month (which is free), you will never incur any significant fraudulent loss.
Whatever you do, never sign up for a free credit monitor trial
Let's imagine you are the owner of a company that has just been hit by a massive data breach. Millions of your customers have been compromised, and many of them will remember the company that put their information into the wrong hands. There is no way you can protect these millions of identities - they have already been stolen! But you can offer people the next best thing: peace of mind.
How do you offer your customers security? You can set up call centers, send millions of emails, and offer free trials of credit monitoring services. It's a nice feeling, but there is one caveat. Have you ever signed up for a free trial of Netflix or Xbox Live to pay a renewal fee? Well, the companies that offer a free trial of their credit monitoring services after a data breach are trusting that users will either continue with their service or simply forget to cancel.
Some companies offer free trials that don't require you to have debit or credit information so you don't have to worry about it automatically renewing. For example, the WebWatcher service currently offered by Marriott does not require map information. In fact, there is no premium version of the WebWatcher service. it is paid for by Marriott. However, you should keep in mind that Marriott only offers the WebWatcher service to mitigate the media impact. WebWatcher does not protect you from fraud. You only find out if your identity has already been stolen.
Using a credit monitoring service after a breach seems like a great way to quickly check your credit status, especially if you've never checked your credit reports before. However, you can self-monitor your balance for free and it doesn't take nearly as long as you'd expect.
You can monitor your credit yourself for free
Companies that provide credit monitoring services tend to target consumers who can be misleading. This also applies to those who need immediate protection from a data breach and to those who do not know how to avoid or manage the effects of identity theft. They know that people are willing to pay for their peace of mind, especially if they don't know how to monitor or freeze their own credit.
You might be happy to know that it's easy to monitor your own balance with services like Credit Karma and FreeCreditScore.com. They are free, easy to use, and can be accessed from your phone or computer.
When you log into Credit Karma or FreeCreditScore.com, you will see a lot of useful personal information. You can see how many accounts are open on your behalf, how much money you owe lenders, and you can even see how many tough inquiries have been made on your behalf. One quick look at this information each month is enough to determine if your identity has been stolen. You can also set up these services to notify you by email when changes are made to your credit reports. This is exactly what a paid service does.
Do not forget that the monitoring of your balance is not working to prevent people from opening new loans on your behalf. You will know that someone stole your identity, but only after the damage has been repaired. The only way to prevent people from opening new funds on your behalf is to freeze your funds.
If you want protection, block your credit. It's free.
If you want to protect yourself against identity theft, you can freeze your balance. Freezing (and thawing) is relatively easy and now it's completely free.
Freezing your balance prevents anyone, including yourself, from opening new funds on your behalf. This sounds like an inconvenience, but it is the only way to stop criminals from borrowing money under your name. It's also easy to temporarily release your balance in case you need to apply for a credit card or loan.
We recommend that you freeze your balance and avoid paying for credit monitoring services. Again, the credit monitoring services are not protecting you from identity theft. You will only be notified after this has already happened. We recommend that you do not pay for a credit monitoring service, but rather regularly check and monitor your own balance through websites such as Credit Karma and FreeCreditScore.com. These services show you how many accounts are open on your behalf, as well as a variety of other useful information. Remember, a credit freeze is the only thing preventing criminals from opening accounts on your behalf.
Related Topics: How To Prevent Identity Thieves From Opening Accounts On Your Name
Photo credits: Rido / Shutterstock, Borka Kiss / Shutterstock, Infomages / Shutterstock.com
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