Stealing someone else’s personal information to commit theft or fraud — also known as identity theft — has exploded into the national consciousness.
Credit card companies now market their security features, and consumers warily guard their Social Security numbers. And it doesn’t stop there. The use of stolen Social Security numbers allows thieves to steal tax refunds, open bank accounts and do all manner of illegal operations using another’s identity. Recently, I saw the movie “Identity Thief.” Because it is so entertaining, the story comes off as fictionalized in a way that could not possibly play out that way in real life. The sobering truth is that this exact scenario is being played out every day. Unsuspecting people are having their identities stolen and their futures compromised as thieves open credit card accounts, finance new cars and clean out bank accounts.
Identity theft has become epidemic! And it’s not just the thievery. It’s the months and even years of hassle and expense working with police, banks and credit agencies, trying to get things straightened out. And in the meantime? The fallout can be devastating because, when it comes to identity theft, you’re pretty much guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. And even then you may never be made whole.
For me, the risk of having my identity stolen is so great that I carry insurance. Lifelock is the company I use because it has proven to me that it can stay ahead of thieves. Lifelock monitors my identity, constantly scanning for threats. And if something should ever get past them (hard to imagine, but thieves using sophisticated technology are very clever these days), I have a $1 million dollar guarantee. That’s how much Lifelock will spend to restore what has been stolen, including my money, my good name and my credit score. Routinely, I read horror stories from readers who discovered too late just how vulnerable they were. What a mess. They file police reports and contact credit bureaus, usually with nothing more than a promise that “we’ll get back to you when we can.” I’m not willing to sit around for months waiting for someone else to find the time to look at my situation. You should not be, either. You cannot afford the risk.
Of course, there are other identity theft-protection plans. Wells Fargo offers two levels of protection, as does the company Identity Guard — and each comes with different types of coverage and premiums. I have chosen Lifelock because I believe in this company. I’ve been a satisfied Lifelock member for nearly a decade and highly recommend the service. For about $20 a month, I get cheap insurance from a reliable company that watches out for me. It’s hard to put a price on peace of mind. You can get that rate, too, when you go to Lifelock.com and use the code EC30 to join. They were also kind enough to not only give our readers a great discount, but also 30 days free to get you started. I laughed during “Identity Thief” — not so much because Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are hilarious in their roles, but because I didn’t spend one second worrying that this could happen to me.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.