Should I Buy Identity Theft Insurance

Brent Pittman —  04/18/2012

Reader Question:

I’ve been thinking about checking into “Lifelock” or some other ID theft prevention company. What do you think? Are they worth the money? If so, who would you recommend?

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a hot topic that is in the news almost every day. Major corporations and government agencies are having breaches to their networks and pieces of identity are being stolen.

There is cause for concern and there are several steps you can take to help prevent your identity from being stolen and used in nefarious activities. Let’s look a few of these preventions before we address the reader question: Should I buy identity theft insurance?

Protect Your Identity with these Prevention Methods

  • Check Your Credit Report-At least once a year check your free credit report  to see if there is any unusual activity. If you want you can check one of the three major agencies every 4 months for free.
  • Stop the Junk Mail- If there are less credit card offers and personal mail floating around, less chance someone will try to use those offers to open up credit in your name. Stopping the junk mail will only take a few minutes. Also consider signing up for online statements from your bank and financial institutions.
  • Shred It- Shred all important documents or anything with name, address, any account numbers, or even a photo picture of you.
  • Lockdown Your Social Identity- There is a lot of information that can be gathered from you Facebook or other social media sites: Birthday, place of birth, pictures, daily activities, answers to online security questions: mothers maiden name, your maiden name, favorite movie, dog’s name, etc. Limit access to who can view those items or scrub them from your profile. Also, beware of allowing 3rd party software to access your accounts.
  • Don’t Give out Your Social Security Number- Most companies will allow another identification method other than a social security number (except financial institutions) these days. Ask and be pushy, but try not to give out your SSN. Oh, and take that Social Security card out of your wallet or purse. No need to tote it should you get
  • Change Your Passwords regularly- We all know this, but we should have solid passwords and change them regularly, to prevent anyone hacking our individual accounts.
  • Freeze Your Credit- This is a on the extreme end, but a Credit Freeze will stop the crooks cold should your ID get stolen.

Should I Buy ID Theft Insurance?

If you follow all these above  suggestions, there is less a chance you’ll have your identity stolen. There is no 100% prevention, so companies like Lifelock have sprung up claiming they can protect your ID. Most can’t do anything you can’t do for yourself and I wouldn’t recommend any company who has been sued multiple times like Lifelock has.

I would recommend a company that helps you clean up the mess if identity theft does take place. The problem with ID theft, is that it takes a long time to clear your name and it might pop up again years later.

Clearing up a case of identity theft could literally take hundreds of hours on the phone, faxing documents, and legwork. I would recommend Zander Insurance (not an affiliate link) that provides a counselor should a ID breach occur. See a comparison chart of their services vs. credit monitoring.

If you are a victim of identity theft, make sure you take action quickly, including filing a police report.

Have you purchased Identity Theft Insurance? Have you ever had to use it? 

Photo Credit Pomax (Creative Commons)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.