September 13, 2019

What’s the Difference Between Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring?

Should you be investing in Identity Theft Protection or Credit Monitoring? Learn the more about Credit Monitoring vs. Identity Theft Protection.

credit monitoring and identity theft monitoring

 

Do you know the difference between credit monitoring services and identity theft protection services? 

With the recent influx of data breaches, credit monitoring services are becoming more widely used.

Currently, massive companies, like Equifax, Quest Diagnosis, and Capital One, that have recently been breached, are offering free credit monitoring services to victims.

However, is that what you should be using to protect your personal information from being stolen and used?

What is Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring services monitor your credit and will alert you to any changes to your credit score.

Credit monitoring can be beneficial when it comes to identity theft because the alerts can indicate possible fraud.

Some of the things that a credit monitoring service will alert you of include:

  • Hard Inquiries. A hard inquiry is whenever a business runs a credit check on you. 
  • New Accounts. This will inform you of any new credit cards or loans in your name.
  • Account Changes. Any changes to payment or account history.
  • New Public Records. This alerts you to any new cases opened in your name – including court cases, tax issues, or bankruptcy. 
  • Address Changes. Change of any address associated with your current credit cards or loans.

credit monitoring services

When it comes to credit monitoring, the services are responsible for giving you notifications, not stopping the potential case of fraud. It is up to you to investigate the alerts and close any accounts that may have been opened.

How to Best Use Credit Monitoring

As we mentioned before, sometimes this is given to you for free for a period of time due to a data breach incident. To make the most out of your credit monitoring service during this time, two major things you should do are:

  1. Take the Time to Tailor Your Alerts. You can choose how you get alerted to account changes. Notification alerts can be sent via text, email, or even an automated phone call.  Select the method that will allow you to act most quickly.
  2. Take Action. Once you receive the alert, check it out, even if it is something that you recognize. This will prevent further damage from happening.

credit alerts

Optional: Monitor Your Own Credit

If you are concerned about your credit, did not receive a free credit monitoring period, and don’t want to pay for a monitoring service, there are  free options for credit monitoring.

Some of the best ways to monitor your credit for free are:

Request a Free Copy of Your Credit Report. You can receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. For more information, visit the FTC’s website here.

Free Monitoring Services. There are several free credit monitoring services out there to help you keep track of your credit. One of our favorites is Credit Karma, which is completely free. If Credit Karma isn’t for you, many other companies offer free trials of their service before they have you commit to a subscription.

What is Identity Theft Protection?

Identity Theft Protection services monitor all personally identifiable information. Platforms they monitor include, but are not limited to, credit applications, credit scores, public records, malicious websites, Social Security Number, driver’s license, passport, and medical ID number.

Similar to credit monitoring services, having an identity theft protection service will not prevent your identity from being stolen, but it will alert you to possible cases of identity theft.

Identity Theft Protection services focus on three main areas:

  • Monitoring. Identity Theft Protection services monitor numerous sources for changes, updates, and duplicates of your personal information.
  • Alerts. The company will alert you to any use of your personal information so that you can stop the identity theft attempt before it is too late.
  • Recovery. Companies offering Identity Theft Protection will help you recover your information. Most protection services also offer insurance policies to help cover the damages of theft and fraud.

 

credit and identity theft warning

 

Depending on the provider, there may be other, custom services offered as well such as virus protection software and chat room monitoring services.

For example, Identity Theft Protection services through American Identity Group offer:

  • 24/7 Monitoring. This service scans the Internet for your sensitive personal information 24/7 and alerts you to any suspicious activity.
  • Full Restoration. If you become a victim of identity theft, a professionally trained, US-based recovery advocate is assigned to you and will perform a fully managed identity restoration program.
  • $1,000,000 Insurance. A $1,000,000 no deductible personal insurance policy covers any expenses or stolen funds due to fraud or identity theft.

How to Best Use Identity Theft Protection Services

Identity Theft Protection services do not prevent identity theft, but, instead, help monitor your accounts and recover from identity theft.

To best utilize these services, you should:

  • Take Precaution. You should be doing all that you can to minimize your chances of having your identity stolen. To learn more, read our past blog posts!
  • Use Open Communication. Have open communication with your service provider to ensure that you are up-to-date with the status of your identity.

Optional: Monitor Your Own Identity

If you are concerned about identity theft but do not want to pay for a monitoring service, you can opt to monitor your identity on your own. 

Some DIY identity theft prevention tactics include:

  • Keep an Eye on Your Accounts. Set up notifications for any charges that go through your debit or credit card.
  • Monitor Your Credit Score. Keep tabs on your credit score. If your score goes up or down, make sure you look into why the score fluctuated.
  • Freeze Your Credit. Freezing your credit will prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. Visit the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – for more information. 
  • Setup Your Identity Theft Recover Plan. If you become a victim of identity theft, you can visit identitytheft.gov to report the theft and get a plan for recovery.

 

So – Which Monitoring Service is for you?

To recap, there are a few, major differences between credit monitoring services and identity theft monitoring services.

Credit monitoring services monitor your credit and will alert you to any changes to your credit score.

Identity Theft Protection services monitor all personally identifiable information, will alert you to any changes, and help to recover your identity if it is stolen.

 

With so many options out there, choose the best service for your situation.

If you would like more information on our Identity Theft Protection services, call us today to get in touch with an identity theft protection specialist.

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