Unless you’ve had your identity stolen or been part of a data breach, you might not realize there’s a difference between credit monitoring and identity restoration services. But they are two very different services. Here’s the scoop:
Credit monitoring involves periodically reviewing your credit reports for accuracy and changes that could be indicative of fraudulent activity. You can either do this yourself three times a year via a free service or pay for a service to do it for you (not recommended). Either way, credit monitoring won’t actually prevent identity theft. The best it can do is possibly alert you to a problem after the fact. It’s important to note there are many types of identity theft that won’t even show up on your credit report, including tax identity theft, criminal identity theft, Social Security identity theft and, medical identity theft. Yes, many companies who have suffered a breach offer credit monitoring to their customers, but many experts say this is a PR play more than anything else. As well-known security reporter Brian Krebs says “the sad truth is that most services offer little in the way of real preventative protection against the fastest-growing crime in America.” If you do sign up for one of these free services following a data breach, just be prepared: “you shouldn’t expect the service to stop identity thieves from ruining your credit,” Krebs continues.
Identity Restoration services, also sometimes called recovery services, are “designed to help you regain control of your good name and finances after identity theft occurs,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. “Usually, trained counselors or case managers walk you through the process of addressing your identity theft problems. They may help you write letters to creditors and debt collectors, place a freeze on your credit report to prevent an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name, or guide you through documents you have to review.”
LibertyID provides identity restoration. That means if you’re a LibertyID member and your identity is stolen, we will fix it.
There’s no limit to the time or money we will spend restoring your identity to pre-event status. A certified restoration specialist will handle all of the legwork and keep you informed with regular status updates.
What do we mean by legwork? We’re happy to explain.
Using a limited power of attorney, the specialist will:
- Assist you in completing the Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission to establish your rights as a victim.
- Place fraud alerts at the three major credit bureaus for you.
- Provide you with copies of credit reports from all three credit bureaus and review the reports with you to identify fraudulent activity.
- Contact the Social Security Administration, U.S. Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Motor Vehicles, and other agencies as needed, to reverse any wrongful information, transactions, or misuse of official documentation as applicable to your case.
- Submit disputes on your behalf to credit card companies, banks, lending institutions, utility companies, cell phone carriers and more.
- Research and document any fraudulent transactions, false accounts, or contracts signed with creditors, banks, utility companies, leasing agents, medical facilities, etc., and follow-up to make sure all erroneous information is removed from your credit file.
- Create and maintain a law enforcement grade case file to assist local and federal law enforcement in the prosecution of the perpetrators.
- Research public record databases to find and correct erroneous non-credit related information.
- In the event that you lose any of your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), a Restoration Specialist will be available to assist you in addressing and replacing the lost documentation, such as credit cards, licenses, passport, and/or government-issued documents.
- Provide you with a complete copy of your credit report and score from one of the major credit reporting agencies, once per year. You can pull additional copies for an extra fee.
- Initiate single bureau credit monitoring, which will be in place throughout the recovery process and for a full 12 months after your case is resolved.
How Can You Protect Yourself Following the Equifax Breach?
First, let’s talk about what not to do.
As LibertyID president Travis Mills recommended in this recent USA Today story regarding the Equifax breach, “Do not go onto Equifax.com to give them any more information. They have been compromised and should no longer be trusted.”
A ZDNet.com story published on Sept. 12, 2017, confirms this advice.
The Equifax site which people can use to set up alerts on their credit rating history (which we’re purposefully not linking to) has at least one vulnerability that allows a hacker to trick users into turning over sensitive data, as the ZDNet.com story titled “Equifax’s credit monitoring site is also vulnerable to hacking” points out.
The problem is that the site, which is used to request a 90-day fraud or active duty alert, is easily spoofed.
“Do you trust Equifax with your details? The problem is that post breach they are asking people to enter their personal details all over again while they still have many insecure sites and pages,” security researcher Martin Hall told ZDNet.com for the story.
As such, ZDNet.com doesn’t recommend consumers use the Equifax website to set up alerts or credit freezes for the time being, until the security flaw is resolved.
And should you sign up for TrustedID Premier, the credit monitoring service Equifax owns and is pushing now? We don’t recommend it. Remember, this product, like other credit monitoring services, doesn’t prevent identity theft, it only alerts you to a possible problem. And TrustedID Premier does not provide identity restoration services if your identity is stolen. Essentially, they don’t do anything to actually fix any problem that pops up — they just might tell you about it.The bottom line is there’s really no better time than the present to become a LibertyID member. We’re the AAA of identity theft protection, offering the most effective identity theft restoration service. Sign up for an annual subscription and rest easy knowing that if your identity is stolen, we will fix it.
Are you covered for identity theft?