Protect Your Identity Like Lifelock, Only Free

Before, we used to see those catchy ads featuring Todd Davis touting Lifelock and blaring out his social security number and even going so far as to put it on billboards. These days the CEO of Lifelock isn’t really doing that anymore, as Lifelock didn’t protect his social security from being used by a Texas man to take out a $500 loan. That incident wasn’t the only one to come out. Now, Lifelock is touted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh. We all know it’s just advertising.

So what does Lifelock really do? The concept is simple. The company manages Government mandated resources that are available to you at no cost. So you would be paying them $10 or $25 dollars a month for something that would only take a few minutes to complete. So is something that only takes a few minutes of your time to do your self worth the money you’d be spending each month on Lifelock? I personally would rather put that money towards paying down a bill. Lets go over what you can do to protect your credit.

File a credit fraud alert

Equifax has a request form you can fill out that will put a credit fraud alert on your record that lasts for 90 days. You can request another 90 day fraud alert within 30 days of the current alert expiring. You can file the request at Equifax’s alerts online. They also have information on setting a longer fraud alert on their site. Since the online alert lasts for 90 days. Lets see what you would pay Lifelock if you had them do this for you. Right now Lifelock has two plans. One costing $25 a month and one that costs $10 a month. So doing the math it would cost you $30 or $75 every three months, or you don’t have to spend a dime by doing it yourself.

Order your (free) credit reports

It’s unlikely that you’d have the cash to hook in to Equifax, TransUnion or Experian so you can monitor what’s going on with your credit day by day. So the next best thing is to order your credit reports from each of them. Once every 12 months you have the right to order a free credit report from each of them. The web site AnnualCreditReport.com facilitates this request. The site will take you to your free reports one by one. Just remember that these are credit reports and will not give you your scores. You have to pay for that. There’s one thing that I’m not really sure about and that is if there is a difference between the free credit reports and the reports you pay for when you request them by mail. So watch this space as I will change it when I get more information. Also, bear in mind that you can pay for a report online but I suggest you pay for a hard copy and keep them in a binder. This can help facilitate disputes when you need them, but that is for another article.

Reducing the opportunity for identity theft

Everybody gets them. The junk mail that can get you in trouble. Those pre-approved credit card offers. Heaps of them come to you and you throw them away. Those offers if you don’t shred them can present an opportunity for identity theft if someone dumpster dives and finds them. The best thing to do is to put a stop to them. Not only does it reduce the chance of identity theft but it’s better for the environment too. Less stuff going to the landfill. So to stop those annoying pre-approved credit offers you need to opt out of them. Head right on over to OptOutPrescreen.com, fill out the form for five years of being left alone, or follow the directions on how to make it permanent. I personally did the permanent one, you get the five year electronic exclusion and once they receive the signed letter back that they send to you, it’s done for good or until you decide to opt back in. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me.

The other thing you can do is pretty simple. Get a document shredder. One that not only does crosscut but can also shred credit cards and some can even shred CDs and DVDs. Credit card bills, bank statements, insurance papers, the wayward pre-approved credit offer, anything that has any personal information on it that can be pieced together, shred it. I know I sound paranoid but once your trash is on the curb it’s open to be rummaged through.

While you’re at it. Get rid of those annoying telemarketers by putting your numbers in the Do Not Call List.

Identity Theft Insurance

I’ve done quite a bit of research on identity theft insurance and the overwhelming consensus is that it’s not worth the investment. It’s not about the money, it’s about the coverage you get. It may not cover the loss. If you think you are going to get insurance, please read all of the coverage information before you sign on the dotted line and commit to it. On the other hand, some credit cards offer help if your identity does get stolen.

I’ll have more to put here, but this can get you started. If you like this article, please link to it.