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Credit Cards, Identity Theft Protection

When Banks Can Refuse to Refund Fraudulent Debit Card Charges

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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ATM

Typically, debit cards that are used as “credit” are offered the same protections as credit cards. This means that if you use your debit card in a store and choose “credit” instead of entering your PIN number, you should receive the same protections as if you used an actual credit card. However, we do encourage you to double check the fine print your bank provides on this matter before assuming your debit card will receive those protections.

But here’s a scenario where your debit card is riskier than your credit card. If you withdrawal money at an ATM (or any store doing cash back) using your PIN number, you have additional risk. If someone steals your pin number with a skimming device at an ATM, then he has direct access to your money. This isn’t like credit card fraud with obnoxious charges you need to dispute. This is your hard-earned cash being taken directly out of your checking account. And if you aren’t careful, you might not be able to recoup your losses.

So, what can you expect if you are a victim of debit card fraud?

Timeline for Being Able to Get Your Money Back

If you are a victim of debit card fraud, you are responsible for the following:

  • $0 if you report the loss or fraud immediately and the card has not been used,
  • Up to $50 if you notify your bank within 48 hours of your lost or stolen card,
  • Up to $500 if you notify the bank with 48 hours and 60 days of your lost or stolen card, and
  • All of the fraudulent charges if you don’t notify the bank until after 60 days.

It’s important you don’t delay in reporting the fraud to your bank if you want to be able to get all of your money back. If you were the victim of theft because the crook skimmed your info and used your PIN, then you may be on the hook for the $50 because you couldn’t report to the bank before the card was used. You didn’t know it had happened until the strange transaction showed up!

It may seem unfair to be responsible for charges that you did not actually charge yourself, but to avoid that scenario and protect yourself, consider taking the following precautionary actions.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

To protect yourself against debit card fraud, you should do the following:

  • Only use an ATM inside a bank (this will lesson the likelihood that a scanner is on an ATM)
  • Cover your hand when you type your pin into an ATM (to protect yourself against any devices attached to the ATM from getting your PIN)
  • Set up text alerts for each transaction over $0.01 on your card. This way you’ll be immediately alerted if a bogus charge is made
  • Monitor your bank on a regular basis (so you can give notice of fraud immediately)
  • Report stolen funds immediately (so you’re not responsible for the charges)
  • Check-in annually with your bank as to the policies regarding debit card theft (know whether your debit card is specifically protected and to what extent)

While you can notify the bank by phone, it is best to get everything in writing. For purposes of the time requirement, notice is considered given when you put the letter in the mail. It’s even better if you send the mail certified. You can, of course, send notice by mail and call. Whatever you do, keep a record of your communications you have with the bank. This will put you in the best position if you have to escalate your problem.

Remember that if you take the actions listed above, you will be more protected than you otherwise would. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, like in the example above, you can still find yourself stuck with fraud charges that your bank won’t reverse. These specific steps will help you protect yourself, even when you’re not at fault. This is particularly important if you use your debit card frequently.

Don’t want to use a credit card? Learn how to survive with just debit cards here. 

Debit vs. Credit: How to Decide

Using a debit card forces you to keep your spending in check because you cannot spend more than you have in the bank. However, it may be riskier than using a credit card for the reasons described above. If you’re not sure which is best for you, ask yourself what do you value more – your spending being limited or the additional protections from fraud. If you can control your spending, then you may be better off with a credit card. If you are a spender, however, then take the additional steps listed above to make sure you fully understand your specific liability in the event of debit card fraud. If you feel your bank is behaving unethically and should be refunding you, then reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Natalie Bacon
Natalie Bacon |

Natalie Bacon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Natalie at natalie@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

Review: IDShield Identity Theft Protection

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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IDShield Identity Theft Protection

IDShield is a fairly new company and is a division of LegalShield, which was founded in 1972. It recently partnered with Kroll, a company that consists of expert investigators who handle data breach response and issues relating to cyber security.

Through IDShield, the two companies offer identity theft protection services to over a million people in all 50 states as well as four Canadian provinces. If you’re worried about the possibility of your identity getting stolen, here’s how IDShield can help.

Overview of IDShield’s Identity Theft Protection Service

What you’re mainly paying for when you enroll in an identity theft protection service is identity theft restoration. This means a representative from the company will handle all aspects of resolving identity theft for you, from paperwork and making phone calls to working with creditors, agencies, and law enforcement on your behalf.

IDShield offers this as well as:

  • Customer Support: Specialists are available to give customers advice on how to protect their identity and provide assistance in taking steps to prevent fraud. If an emergency occurs, you can reach an investigator at any time.
  • Security Monitoring: IDShield will monitor up to 10 bank accounts and 10 credit card accounts, your Social Security number, address, credit, court records, and personal information. It also monitors the black market for any mention of your information, and monitors your address and will alert you when someone else uses it.

You can view a break down of the services offered (in comparison to LifeLock) here on the website.

You can do most of this for free; again, the main reason to pay for a service like this is to allow someone else to take care of restoring your identity, as it tends to be a time-consuming and complicated process. Just imagine filing your tax return only to find that someone beat you to it, or that a thief opened a line of credit in your name without your knowledge. Do you know the first steps you would take to get your identity back? If not, it could be worth paying for.

How useful are the other services provided? The credit report and score offered by IDShield is only available through TransUnion. You can monitor your credit for free using CreditSesame.com or CreditKarma.com.

As for account monitoring, many financial institutions have alerts built into your account already. If you haven’t opted into those, you should, as it’s not always automatic. Many banks and credit card companies are good at alerting you to possible fraud.

You can also monitor your credit reports for free – you can order three (one from each credit reporting company) every twelve months through annualcreditreport.com.

[Worth It or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

What Identity Theft Insurance Protects You Against

IDShield offers a $5 million service guarantee, where most other identity theft protection services offer a $1 million service guarantee. Is the difference worth it?

First, it’s important to understand what you can use the insurance for. There’s a common misconception among consumers that the purpose of identity theft insurance is to safeguard you against stolen funds. That’s not exactly the case. While some of these service guarantees offer to compensate a set amount of stolen transferred funds (typically up to $10,000), the true purpose of identity theft insurance is to protect you against costs incurred as a result of the identity theft.

These are such costs as lost wages for having to take time off of work, hiring a lawyer in case you need to go to court, hiring a babysitter to care for your child while you’re gone, etc. Unfortunately, IDShield doesn’t make its service guarantee document public on its website like other identity theft protection services. We recommend asking what the guarantee covers before paying.

The only information IDShield offers is that it will “spend up to $5 million using Kroll’s industry-leading Licensed Investigators to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help recover and restore your identity to its pre-theft status.”

How IDShield Works

IDShield provides alerts in many different situations. A few examples include if a new account has been opened in your name, if there’s a credit fraud attempt or new loan attempt, or if there has been an inquiry into your credit.

When this happens, you’ll receive an alert from IDShield via email and the membership website (www.myidshield.com). Customer support is available at any time when an emergency occurs, so you can get assistance with resolving the issue right away.

How Much Does IDShield Cost?

An individual plan is $9.95 per month, and a family plan is $19.95 per month. Both plans have access to the same services, but the family plan covers a spouse as well as up to eight minor children.

The cost isn’t too steep when compared with LifeLock, but Zander and Prosper Daily are more affordable alternatives, and neither offer access to licensed private investigators.

Transparency Levels

IDShield doesn’t outright claim to completely prevent identity theft (no one can), but unlike other websites, it doesn’t explicitly state that it can’t. It does claim its services will “give you all you need to keep your identity secure from thieves and fraud.” At the bottom of the site is the message, “Nearly 10 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. Don’t be one of them.” This can give the incorrect impression that signing up will prevent having your identity stolen.

Additionally, many other identity theft protection services have their insurance guarantee document on their website. IDShield does not. It’s good to know how you can benefit from it.

IDShield’s FAQ page also leaves a lot to be desired. It only answers general questions about identity theft and fraud – not product specific questions. It does make mention of the fact consumers can order three free credit reports through annualcreditreport.com.

Alternative Identity Theft Protection Services

Not keen on the services offered by IDShield? There are two other options you can look into.

Zander

Zander is a web-based service, making it easy for anyone (especially the elderly) to access. Similar to IDShield, you receive alerts via email. However, it’s the most affordable option out of the identity theft protection services we’ve reviewed. It’s $6.75 per month for individuals, and $12.90 per month for families. The affordability can be attributed to the fact that it only has the essential services; it doesn’t have credit monitoring, for example. You still get identity restoration services, black market surveillance, and a $1 million expense protection plan.

Read full review here.

Prosper Daily

Unlike Zander, Prosper Daily is completely mobile. It’s available on the Android and Apple store for free, but to get the identity restoration service it offers, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month. In addition to protecting yourself against fraud, you can use Prosper Daily to monitor your spending and various financial accounts. It’s a good option for those in their 20s or 30s, or for anyone who prefers to use their phones to manage their finances. It also comes with $1 million identity theft insurance, black market surveillance, and credit monitoring.

Read full review here.

Conclusion

IDShield isn’t necessarily a bad choice for identity theft protection, but it would be nice to see detailed information on the services offered and how consumers benefit. The biggest draw to IDShield seems to be the Licensed Private Investigators members get access to, but that doesn’t automatically make the identity restoration process better or worth paying more for.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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Building Credit, Identity Theft Protection

How Much a Credit Freeze Costs You by State

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Credit score large

Are you going through an identity crisis? Not the kind we all experience in high school when we went back and forth from wearing preppy polos to wearing studded jackets. No, this type of identity crisis is more serious, and it has its roots in identity theft. When someone steals your identity, you’re vulnerable in a myriad of ways. Thieves may steal money using your debit card information, or take out a mortgage in your name. They have the potential to ruin your finances, and therefore your life.

If you do find yourself a victim, you may want to put a freeze on your credit report. That way, when thieves go to open a new account in your name, the lending institution will not be able pull your report. When they can’t pull the report, they will not be able to extend credit.

Here are some situations where placing a freeze on your credit report may make sense:

  • Someone stole your identity and applied for new credit.
  • Someone stole your credit or debit card information. You will know this is the case because their shopping trips will show up on your statements, or your financial institution may get in touch with you about suspicious activity. A credit freeze won’t stop them from spending more with your current information, but it will stop them from opening new accounts.
  • Someone is using your identity to rack up medical bills. This means they have your Social Security number, and a credit freeze will prevent them from taking out new credit with lending institutions. It will not, however, prevent them from continuing to commit medical identity theft.
  • You go to file your taxes, and are informed your return has already been filed. In this case, you are likely the victim of tax fraud, and the thief has your Social Security number. Much like medical identity theft, a credit freeze will not prevent thieves from committing tax fraud in the future, but it will keep them from opening additional lines of credit in your name.

[Credit Freeze: A Defense Against Identity Theft]

Having your identity stolen is inconvenient to say the least, especially if it’s happening when you are planning to make a large purchase. Because your credit report is frozen, you won’t be able to apply for new credit yourself. In these instances, you can temporarily remove the freeze.

When you’re satisfied that your identity is no longer at immediate risk, you can permanently remove the freeze.

That’s not to say that the process is free. Each action comes with a different fee for every state. You must pay these fees three times, or once per each credit bureau. Most states waive all fees if you are the victim of identity theft, but you must be able to prove it with sufficient documentation at the time that you place your credit freeze.

[Worth It Or Not? Identity Theft Reviewed]

Here are the fees and exceptions for placing a credit freeze on an adult’s credit report for all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico:

Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

The above nine states charge a $10 fee for each of the following actions: placing a freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. The fee is waived in each instance if you were the victim of identity theft.

Note that fees are typically per credit bureau not per person, so you will be charged a fee from each of the credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. 

Alaska

Alaska charges a $5 fee to place a freeze on your credit report. It charges a $2 fee to temporarily remove the freeze, but it charges nothing for the freeze’s permanent removal. All fees are waived if you were the victim of identity theft.

Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio

All five of the above states charge a $5 fee for placing a freeze, temporary removal, and permanent removal. The fees are waived if you were a victim of identity theft.

Arkansas

Arkansas charges $5 for placing a freeze on your credit report, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived if you are age 65 or older, or if you are the victim of identity theft.

California

California’s fee for placing a credit freeze is $10. This fee is waived if you are 65 years of age or older. There is a $10 fee for both temporary and permanent removal of the freeze, and both of these fees are reduced to $5 for those 65+ years old. All fees are waived for victims of identity theft.

Colorado, New Jersey, and New York

Colorado has no fee associated with placing a credit freeze, though victims of identity theft must still provide supporting documentation of their case. That is because when you go to have the freeze temporarily or permanently removed, you will be hit with a $10 fee in each instance if you are not a victim of identity theft.

New Jersey, and New York follow a nearly identical procedure, though the removal fees for those who are not victims of identity theft are $5 each in New Jersey, and $5 or $5.44 (depending on the bureau) in New York in contrast to Colorado’s $10.

Connecticut

The state of Connecticut charges $10.64 each for placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived for victims of identity theft.

Delaware

Delaware charges $10 for placing a freeze, or $5 if you are 65 years of age or older. The fee is waived if you are the victim of identity theft. There are no fees for anyone for temporary, or permanent removal of a credit freeze.

Florida

Florida charges $10 for each of the following actions: placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived for victims of identity theft, and residents age 65 or older.

Georgia

Georgia charges $3 each for placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing the freeze, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived for those 65 or older, and victims of identity theft.

Hawaii

Hawaii’s fees for placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it are $5.20 per each action. This fee is waived for victims of identity theft only for temporary or permanent removals; everyone has to pay the initial $5.20 fee to place the freeze in the first place.

Idaho

Idaho charges $6 for placing a freeze, and another $6 fee for temporarily removing it. Victims of identity theft are exempt from both of these fees. No one has to pay anything to have a freeze permanently removed from their credit report in this state.

Illinois, Nevada, and Rhode Island

Illinois, Nevada, and Rhode Island charge $10 each for placing a freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. Residents age 65 and older are exempt from the $10 fee when placing a freeze, but remain subject to all removal fees. Victims of identity theft are exempt from all fees.

Indiana, Maine & South Carolina

There are no fees of any kind associated with credit freezes for adult residents of the states of Indiana, Maine, and South Carolina.

Iowa

Iowa charges a $10 fee for placing a credit freeze, though victims of identity theft are exempt. Victims are also not charged the $12 temporary removal fee, though they are subject to the state’s $10 fee for permanent removal of their credit freeze.

Louisiana

Louisiana charges $10 for placing a freeze, though residents age 62 and older, and victims of identity theft are exempt from this specific charge. Victims of identity thefts are also exempt from the $8 fee for temporarily removing the freeze. There are no fees for any Louisiana residents for permanently removing a freeze from their credit report.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts’s fees are $5 each for placing a freeze, temporarily removing a freeze, and permanently removing it. Victims of identity theft and their spouses are exempt from all fees.

Missouri & North Dakota

Missouri, and North Dakota charge $5 in fees for both placing a credit freeze, and temporarily removing it. Victims of identity theft do not have to pay either of these fees. Missouri and North Dakota residents, regardless of their victim status, do not have to pay anything to have a freeze permanently removed.

Montana

The state of Montana has instituted a $3 fee for placing a credit freeze, and for having that freeze temporarily removed. Victims of identity theft are exempt from both fees. Montana residents do not have to pay any fees associated with permanent removal of a credit freeze.

Nebraska

Nebraska charges a $3 fee for each of the following actions: placing a freeze, temporarily removing a freeze, and permanently removing it. Victims of identity theft are exempt from all fees. In addition, Nebraska considers you a minor if you are under the age of 19. If you are under 19, and find yourself the victim of identity theft, your fees will be waived, but you will have to have a guardian file for you.

New Mexico

New Mexico charges $10.50 for placing a credit freeze. Residents age 65 and older, and victims of identity theft are exempt from this fee. Temporarily removing the freeze, and permanently removing it will incur a charge of $5.25. Victims are exempt from all removal fees, as well.

North Carolina

The only fee North Carolina charges is $5 for each of the following actions for a protected consumer in your care between the ages of 16-62: placing a freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. In any other circumstance, North Carolina residents are not charged any fees.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania residents are charged $10.70 for placing a credit freeze unless they are victims of identity theft, or age 65 or older. There is another $10.70 fee for placing a temporary removal on your freeze. This fee is waived only for victims of identity theft. Pennsylvania residents, regardless of age, or victim status, are not charged any fees associated for the permanent removal of a credit freeze.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico charges $10.70 in fees for each of the following actions: placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing a freeze, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived if you are a victim of identity theft.

South Dakota

South Dakota’s fee of $10.60 applies to each of the following actions: placing a freeze, temporarily removing it, and permanently removing it. All fees are waived for victims of identity theft.

Tennessee

Tennessee charges $7.50 for placing a credit freeze. While there are no fees associated with temporary removals, there is a $5 fee for permanently removing the freeze from your credit report. Both fees are waived for victims of identity theft.

Texas

Texas charges $10.83 for placing a freeze on your credit report. This fee is the only one victims of identity theft are exempt from. There is also a $10.83 fee for both temporarily, and permanently removing the freeze. All Texas residents are subject to removal fees, regardless of victim status.

Vermont

Vermont charges $10 for placing a freeze, and $5 each for temporary, and permanent removal of the freeze on your credit report. Victims of identity theft are exempt from all fees.

Virginia & Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia, and Virginia both charge a $10 fee for placing a credit freeze, though it is waived for victims of identity theft. There are no fees associated with temporary, or permanent removal of the freeze.

Washington (State)

The state of Washington charges $10.95 each for placing, temporarily removing, and permanently removing a freeze on your credit report. Residents age 65 and older do not have to pay the placement fee, but are subject to all removal fees. All fees are waived for victims of identity theft.

West Virginia

West Virginia charges $5.30 for each of the following actions: placing a credit freeze, temporarily removing said freeze, and permanently removing it. Victims of identity theft are exempt from all fees.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection

What I Learned About Preventing Fraud After 20+ Years in Banking

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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hacker with credit card

Written by Peter Dean, President and CEO of Optimizing Risk LLC

Like many of you, I have been the victim of fraud. I also managed fraud for a major international bank and have spent the last several years teaching banks and corporations around the world how to avoid fraud. Here is my list of the top things that you can do to prevent or reduce the impact of fraud.

1. Always pay with a credit card

The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability for any fraudulent use of your credit card to $50. If you paid cash or by check, good luck finding the fraudster, getting a legal judgment against perpetrator or collecting on the judgment.

2. Protect yourself from identity fraud

Keep hard copies of critical information (Social Security number, account numbers, etc) in a safe secure area. For electronic information, encrypt your data. And keep all electronic devices locked when not in use.

When using public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing you banking and other valuable accounts. If your information is intercepted, you may wake up and find your investments sold and funds transferred around the world.

If you see your credit score deteriorating when you have not missed payments nor dramatically increased you credit lines or credit usage, order a copy of your credit report. Check to make sure that someone has not applied for or been granted credit under your name.

Strengthen your passwords. Computers can test millions of password combinations a second. Have a least 12 digits in your password and a different password for every account. Avoid the obvious passwords: numbers in sequence, spouse’s first name, etc.

Finally, you may know the person who steals your identity. Be wary of your new love, roommates and even children. They have access to your mail, files and accounts when you are not looking or because you gave them access.

3. Don’t lend your name to some one else

You may be asked by relatives or friends to lend them your good name and credit history by applying on their behalf for a loan. They will usually guarantee to make all the payments and may even pay you a fee. But if they default, you are responsible for the debt and may be accused of fraud.

4.When buying a car, check to make sure you get everything you paid for and didn’t pay for things you did not request

The car sales person may throw in extra options for free and then charge you on the invoice. Or he may substitute an option that is inferior – charge for a six-cylinder engine when the actual engine has four-cylinders.

To prevent being ripped off, compare your buyer’s order with the invoice attached to the car window. And if you took out a loan to buy the car, your lender may send you a welcome letter listing the special options that the dealership says you purchased. Verify these also.

5. Don’t deposit some else’s check

If someone asks you to deposit their checks into your account and then wire them money, minus your commission, walk away. What happens is the wire transfer funds are received tomorrow, their check bounces two days later and you are responsible for paying back the missing money to the bank.

6. Be wary of false Malware Alerts popping up on your computer

They usually provide a telephone number to call and a button to click. Don’t do either. The result would usually be to either down load malware or convince you to pay to have non-existent malware removed.

Instead, call the software company involved to verify that the alert is valid.

7. Don’t let anyone take over your computer remotely

If you call a trusted customer service number and are transferred to someone who says they want your permission to remotely take over your computer, hang up. The telephone line was probably hacked during the transfer and they want to access your secrets or plant malware on your computer.

8. Know that fraud victims are the preferred targets for new frauds

Many frauds are committed by groups of scammers that keep track of their victims, so they can try different fraud scams on them in the future. Or they may sell your name to other scammers, the same way that a website may sell your name to advertisers.

If you are a recurring victim of fraud, consider having a trusted family member or advisor screen offers you receive.

9. Don’t let your guard down when staying at a hotel

After checking in and receiving your room key in an envelope with your room number on it, place the key in a different pocket than the envelope. If both are stolen, the thief has access to your room and all of your valuables.

When charging a meal in the restaurant to your room, don’t leave the table before giving the signed bill to the waiter. Otherwise, someone can take it and use the information on it to throw a party at your expense.

But if your hamburger morphs into several bottles of Dom Perignon, demand a refund from the hotel, since the signature on the bill will probably not match your signature.

If the signatures do match, all you can do is go back to your room and crash, unless the fraudster emptied your room of the bed and everything else.

Peter Dean Photo (1)Peter Dean is the President and CEO of Optimizing Risk LLC, a company that focuses on consumer credit and fraud risk management. He has provided risk management training to mangers in over 30 countries and has consulted for major banks, credit card organizations and finance companies on five continents. Contact Peter at peter.a.d.dean@gmail.com or reach him on LinkedIn

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

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Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

Review: MetLife Identity Theft Protection

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Pickpocketing at the subway station

Instances of identity theft are trending upward. From 2012 to 2014, the number of U.S. residents that experienced identity theft increased by 1 million. So, its no wonder identity protection products are becoming more and more popular.

MetLife offers identity theft protection at no cost for customers that have MetLife auto, home or renters insurance coverage. The product is broken down into two parts, identity protection and restoration. Identity protection is in place to help prevent theft while restoration helps you recover from theft if it happens.

At one point, MetLife also offered an identity monitoring product called MetLife Defender. However, at this time, it looks like MetLife is no longer accepting new enrollment for it.

So, let’s discuss the identity protection services for MetLife customers.

[Worth It or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

How MetLife Identity Protection Works

MetLife provides a suite of specific services to help keep your identity protected in certain situations. If you’re active-duty military, MetLife will put an alert on your credit report for a year while you’re abroad. You can also extend the alert if necessary. The purpose of it is to safeguard you from identity theft while you’re away.

Another facet of the service is travel protection. Adventures in foreign places are fun, but tourists are also easy targets for scams and theft. If any of your personal items like your passport or credit card are stolen or lost during a trip, you can contact a fraud specialist at MetLife who will help you cancel or replace them.

Children are just as susceptible to identity theft as adults. If your child’s identity is misused, a MetLife fraud specialist can submit a credit suspension in your child’s name.

Other than stealing information to get ahold of your funds, identity theft for medical care is common. If your identity is used to get medical services and medications, MetLife will help you contact your service providers and insurance to clean up your records. This is important for your own safety. If you need medical care, you don’t want someone else’s medical history popping up. And, of course, you don’t want to get stuck with another patient’s medical bills.

MetLife will also help you through relocation paperwork such as switching over your mailing address and handling mail forwarding. There’s a lot of moving parts when you relocate, so assistance in this area for free is something MetLife customers can appreciate.

Finally, if a loved one passes away, MetLife will help you to go through the final details of closing accounts and pursuing death benefits.

The MetLife Identity Theft Restoration Service

What stands out in this free product is the identity theft restoration service because technically you can do all of the above on your own. However, recovering your identity after it’s stolen is challenging.

If your identity is compromised, MetLife fraud specialists will help you file police reports. They’ll also assist you in reporting theft to credit bureaus. Plus, MetLife will give you a year of free credit and fraud monitoring along with complimentary credit reports from each credit bureau. Not a bad deal.

If you think your identity has been stolen, MetLife instructs customers to call the auto and home insurance line. From there, you’ll get connected with a fraud specialist.

Transparency Levels

There’s no way to completely prevent identity theft in this digital age. A company that promises you otherwise is being too optimistic. Find out more about how to decide if you should trust an identity theft protection company in our guide.

MetLife does make it pretty clear that the service is intended to provide you solutions to help you avoid identity theft and restore your accounts if you notice suspicious activity. It does not guarantee to prevent an assault on your identity altogether.

Other Identity Theft Alternatives

If you don’t have auto or home insurance with MetLife, here are a few other options for identity protection:

Zander

Zander has two plans. Both include $1 million in reimbursement for charges incurred while recovering your identity. It also comes with personal information monitoring, unlimited recovery services, child information scans, one-on-one support and more.

The $1 million reimbursement benefit covers costs like lost income, legal fees and other expenses necessary to repair identity theft like replacing documents or getting credit reports. Here’s the cost of both plans:

  • Individual Plan – $75 per year or $6.75 per month
  • Family Plan – $145 per year or $12.90 per month

To clarify, the lost income doesn’t cover money stolen from you by thieves, but the lost wages incurred by needing to make court appearances or other errands related to cleaning up your identity.

Read more about Zander here.

Identity Force

Identity Forceoffers monitoring and restoration services with two tiers as well. Both packages include monitoring your personal information in public records. There’s also alerts for bank or credit card activity that’s out of the ordinary so you can catch it before too much damage happens. Here’s the cost of both plans:

  • UltraSecure – $179.50 per year or $17.95 per month
  • UltraSecure+Credit – $239.50 per year or $23.95 per month

The difference between the premium and basic plan is the UltraSecure+Credit package includes daily credit report monitoring from 3-bureaus and monthly credit score tracking.

MetLife Customers Can’t Beat Free

The best defense for identity theft is staying aware and taking swift action if you notice anything suspicious. If you’re a customer of MetLife and qualify for this product it make sense to use it.

Keep in mind, MetLife doesn’t offer credit monitoring and reports unless your identity is compromised. If you’re a MetLife customer looking for ongoing credit monitoring, you can sign up for free sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to get alerts every time there’s a change to your score or report. You can also get your free credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.

 

 

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

Review: TrueCredit Identity Theft Protection

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Advertiser Disclosure

hacker with credit card

Most of us know TransUnion as a credit bureau. Credit bureaus collect our credit data for reports that financial agencies use to determine creditworthiness. What you may not know is TransUnion also offers TrueCredit, a service that provides credit monitoring and identity theft insurance. Since identity theft is becoming more prevalent, keeping yourself safe is a top priority. Here we’ll uncover what TrueCredit has to offer.

[Worth It or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

TrueCredit Credit Monitoring

TrueCredit works as a monitoring and notification service. It alerts you if anything out of the ordinary happens to your credit file like a new inquiry. Notification of unusual activity prevents major damage from identity theft because you can catch and respond to it right away.

Another facet of the TrueCredit service is TU Credit Lock. If you misplace a document with your personal information or suspect someone has stolen your identity, you can lock your TransUnion credit file. TrueCredit also includes TransUnion credit score updates.

Here’s a quick overview of what TransUnion offers in a nutshell:

  • Unlimited TransUnion credit scores
  • Email alerts of critical changes to your credit history from all 3 credit bureaus
  • Personal debt analysis and credit trending
  • Up to $1 million of identity theft insurance
  • Credit lock (and unlock)
  • Access to identity theft specialists

Your credit history dictates your future in many ways including how much you can borrow and how expensive borrowing will be for you. For this reason, credit analysis is one of the stand out perks of the service. It shows you where you stand and offers resources that can help you improve your credit health.

TrueCredit Transparency

Terms and conditions is one area where TrueCredit gets confusing. Since TrueCredit is part of TransUnion, you’re taken to a TransUnion subscription page when you go to sign up for the service. The terms on the subscription page happen to be different than what’s on the TrueCredit website.

According to the TrueCredit about page, the product includes $25,000 worth of identity theft insurance. However, the subscription page says you get $1 million dollars worth of insurance instead. And it was difficult to find an overview of the policy conditions on either site.

To add another of layer of ambiguity, TransUnion offers a credit monitoring product on its home page that’s similar to TrueCredit. It’s unclear whether the two products are the same because both have different prices.

The Cost of TrueCredit

TrueCredit costs $9.95 per month. Tax applies for residents of Pennsylvania and New York. Check out the cost and details in the photo below.

TrueCredit

Just for comparison, the other credit monitoring service promoted on the TransUnion website is $19.95 per month, plus tax for Pennsylvania and New York residents. It has a free 7-day trial. During that trial period you get a TransUnion credit score and a credit report for $1. Check out the costs and details in the photo below.

TrueCredit2

The only noticeable difference between the two monitoring services is TrueCredit offers email updates from all three bureaus which is obviously more bang for your buck.

Other Identity Theft Product Alternatives

Now, let’s consider some other identity theft protection services.

Zander is an identity theft service that doesn’t offer regular credit monitoring, but it does have personal information monitoring and an identity theft recovery service. Zander gives you access to free credit reports and fraud alerts as well. It can also help you with credit freezes if necessary.

It costs $6.75 per month for individuals or $12.90 per month for families. Zander will reimburse up to $1 million for expenses incurred while recovering your identity and matches you up with a recovery expert to remove fraud from your credit report.

Read more about Zander here.

Equifax is another credit bureau that offers a credit monitoring product. It costs $19.95 per month for individuals and $29.95 for families. It includes monitoring reports of all three credit bureaus, plus resolution services to help restore your identity if it’s stolen. Equifax offers credit scores for all three bureaus once per year and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Is TrueCredit Worth the Cost?

There’s no doubt monitoring your credit is important, but you can access some of the TrueCredit services without signing up for a monthly subscription. In fact, you can get your hands on these services directly from TransUnion. For example, TransUnion has a service called Credit Freeze that’s pretty similar to the TU Credit Lock.

Victims of identity theft (and in some cases seniors) can put a freeze on their credit report for free. If you’re not a victim or a senior, freezing your account may come with a small fee that varies by state, although some states still allow you to do it for free. You can also put fraud alerts on your account through TransUnion.

There are other free alternatives if you’re in the market for credit monitoring specifically. CreditKarma provides weekly credit updates from TransUnion and Equifax at no cost. Credit Sesame offers free credit updates monthly from TransUnion as well. You can also get one free report per year using www.annualcreditreport.com. TrueCredit provides resources to help you dispute an item on your credit report. Again, this is something you can get for free at identitytheft.gov.

One thing you can’t get for free is identity theft insurance. But, for identity recovery and insurance, Zander may be a better option because it has a full-service product. It doesn’t come with credit monitoring, but again you can get that free, so no worry there.

All things considered, the TrueCredit service (primarily credit monitoring) is worthwhile if the convenience of having reports from all three credit bureaus monitored in one spot is important to you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

Review: TrustedID Identity Protection

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Advertiser Disclosure

Pickpocketing at the subway station

You spend your lifetime paying bills on time, saving for retirement and building good credit. But, in a blink of an eye, it can all get snatched away if your identity is stolen.

Since keeping our identity safe is also protecting our livelihood, companies like TrustedID provide identity protection services to individuals and families. The IDEssentials product offered by TrustedID includes identity theft protection, credit monitoring and identity theft insurance.

Let’s discuss the product in detail.

TrustedID IDEssentials

The service includes free credit reports, credit monitoring and credit scores from all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. TrustedID uses the Equifax Credit Score model to calculate your credit score and not the FICO score model.

The FICO score is still considered industry standard and used by most lenders to determine your creditworthiness. But, the Equifax Credit Score is just as good in this situation. The purpose of the credit report and score monitoring is to alert you if there’s significant change to any of your accounts that could indicate identity theft. A FICO score isn’t required to measure change.

Another key part of the IDEssentials product is identity monitoring to see if anyone is using your personal information. TrustedID also performs online searches using your information to give you an Identity Theft Score. The Identity Theft Scores shows how at risk you are for identity theft. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section.

Aside from the services above, the IDEssentials product includes:

  • Lost Wallet Protection
  • Medical Benefits Protection
  • Junk Mail Reduction
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance
  • Protection Specialists
  • Fraud Alerts
  • Facebook Privacy Monitoring

[Worth It or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

Identity Threat Score

The Identity Threat Score is one aspect of IDEssentials that sets it apart from other identity protection products. According to TrustedID, identity thieves are getting craftier in their approach. Fraudsters can piece together bits of information here and there on cyberspace to steal your full identity.

In order to determine how at risk you are for identity theft, TrustedID analyzes data about you online including sources where your information can be found and how much information is readily available. After assigning you a risk score, TrustedID offers suggestions to help you avoid theft.

In the fine print, there’s mention that the service is not guaranteed to catch all instances of your personal information online. The Identity Threat Score isn’t foolproof, but it may still be a worthwhile resource.

TrustedID $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance Explained

Something TrustedID doesn’t offer is restoration specialists to help you recover your identity if it’s stolen. But, it does provide insurance to help you recoup costs incurred while restoring your own identity. Included in the insurance policy is coverage for:

  • Lost Wages – If you need to take off from work to restore your identity, the insurance policy will cover up to 4 weeks of wages or up to $5,000.
  • General Out-of-Pocket Expenses – Along with lost wages, TrustedID will pay for approved expenses necessary to restore your identity like extra credit reports or postage.
  • Legal Defense – TrustedID will also cover the cost of an approved attorney if you need assistance in a legal claim resulting from identity theft.
    To get warranty coverage, you have to notify TrustedID before taking any action on your own and within 30 days of discovering identity theft. TrustedID does not reimburse you for money lost from theft, but it will cover costs necessary to recover funds from someone else.

Cost of TrustedID

TrustedID offers two plans for individuals and families. Each plan includes a 14-day free trial period.

Family Plan – The annual family plan costs $300 per year or $25 per month. You can cancel the plan at any time and get a refund for months you don’t use. The month-to-month family plan is $29.99 per month.

Individual Plan – The annual plan for individual subscription is $170 per year or $14.17 per month. You can cancel at any time and get a refund for the months you don’t use. The month-to-month individual plan is $16.99 per month.

Transparency Levels

TrustedID is transparent in its advertisement of the service. It positions itself as a monitoring service instead of one that can prevent identity theft altogether; something no company can really promise. Still, credit monitoring and reports are things you can get for free.

You can obtain free credit reports and monthly monitoring from sites like Credit Karma. Some credit card companies even offer free credit scores and credit monitoring with products. Check there first.

Most banks and credit card companies also allow you to set up spending alerts. If you set up these notifications, you can catch fraud on your own.

Other Identity Theft Alternatives

For comparison sake, here are two more options for identity theft protection:

IdentityGuard

IdentityGuard offers three plans. Each plan includes identity theft victim assistance, $1 million of identity theft insurance, social security monitoring, black market monitoring and lost wallet protection. Here’s the cost of the three plans:

  • IdentityGuard Essentials – $9.99 per month, includes the basic services above.
  • IdentityGuard Total Protection – $19.99 per month, includes services above plus quarterly credit reports and score updates.
  • IdentityGuard Platinum – $24.99 per month, includes services above plus monthly credit reports and score updates.

Zander

Zander’s Identity theft protection services start at $6.75 per month for individuals or $12.90 per month for families. This service is quite affordable, but doesn’t offer credit monitoring at all. This can certainly be done for free elsewhere, using sites like CreditKarma, but if that’s something you want on auto-pilot then Zander may not be the best fit. Zander will make sure your information isn’t being sold on the black market, and it also offers a comprehensive identity restoration service. Alerts are received via email.

Read full Zander review here.

Is TrustedID Worth the Cost?

The Identity Theft Score and identity theft insurance are two parts of the TrustedID service that provide the most value. But, if you plan to pay for identity protection, you should probably look for a service that includes identity restoration as well.

After all, recovering your identity after theft is the stressful part.While you can do a majority of the monitoring yourself for free, restoring your credit may be difficult on your own. Check https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to get an idea of what the process looks like. So, you may benefit more from a service like IdentityGuard because it includes monitoring, insurance coverage and restoration services for a few dollars more each month.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection, News

9 Ways to Keep from Getting Scammed

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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hacker with credit card

Even the word scam sounds sneaky. Unfortunately, it’s still incredibly easy for you to become a victim of a fraudster, because there are more ways to get scammed lately, now that so much money changes hands online and people use smartphones for virtually everything. Shopping online can leave you open to phishing sites and theft your online info.

So how can you stay safe and financially sound? Here are some tips:

1. Go straight to the source for gift cards

If you’ve ever browsed a giant display of store gift cards, you may not realize how easy it is for thieves to steal this information, since they can easily write down the cards’ numbers and check them periodically online to see if they’ve been activated. Once you activate the card, boom, your balance is drained. You’re better off getting a gift card directly from a retailer and not from a display rack.

2. Verify charities

Many scam sites come with names that are very similar to legitimate organizations—or they simply sound authentic. Check with sites like Charity Navigator or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance to make sure it’s a real thing. (For more on making sure your charity dollars go to the right source, read this piece.)

3. Use your credit cards

Many shoppers still swipe (or input) their debit cards, but credit cards offer better fraud and theft protection, and if someone accesses your credit card info, it will be a pain in the neck, but they won’t be able to drain your bank account. That’s a plus. (For more on the differences between credit and debit card use, check out this piece.)

4. Be skeptical of contests

Have you gotten any calls recently suggesting that you’ve won a cruise or a luxury trip? Don’t give the caller any personal information, and definitely don’t share your bank account or credit card numbers. This is likely a scam.

5. Use proprietary apps

If you’re using your smartphone to shop, use a store’s official app if you can. Apps usually link directly to your store account, where your credit card information may be stored already. The fewer times you have to type your credit card in, the fewer opportunities there are for it to get pilfered.

6. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop

If you need to make purchases or log in to your bank or credit card account, do it at home on your password-protected wireless network. When you’re on free public Wi-Fi, you risk someone stealing your information or keystrokes (such as passwords) over the network. While you’re at it, disable any smartphone option that will automatically connect your device to nearby Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth devices.

7. Type in site addresses yourself

See that intriguing link on your Facebook feed? Leave it alone. That nifty product or charitable cause could easily be a phishing site that looks like a legitimate website. Click on it and type your credit card information into the boxes and you could be sharing your financials with the wrong people. Want to donate money to UNICEF? Go directly to unicefusa.org.

8. Check the URL

At the very least, make sure the site you’re shopping from starts with an “https” at the beginning of the web address. The extra “s” means the page uses encryption.

9. Be careful what you click on

At various times of year — the holidays being one — scammers will send you emails that attempt to make you click on a link that delivers a virus or sends you to a phishing site. Much like your Facebook feed, be suspicious of any links sent via email. Either verify that the link is real by checking with the sender, or type the URL directly into your browser instead of clicking through.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate at kateashford@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

myFICO Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Advertiser Disclosure

Pickpocketing at the subway station

myFICO is a company predominantly known for its credit monitoring services, as well as providing knowledge to consumers on credit scores. It also offers identity monitoring services in conjunction with credit monitoring, all in one package. However, the service is on the pricey side, so let’s review what you get for your money, and compare the value to other identity theft protection services out there.

Overview of myFICO’s Identity and Credit Monitoring Service

myFICO offers two tiers of service: the “Essentials 1B” plan which monitors your Equifax score only (and doesn’t have as many identity theft features), and an “Ultimate” plan that monitors your personal information and all three of your credit scores.

Both offer 24/7 identity restoration service, but since the Essentials 1B plan doesn’t cover the other two bureaus, it’s not the best solution. For the purpose of this review, we’ll be covering the Ultimate plan.

[Worth it or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

Credit Monitoring Service

Did you know you technically have more than one credit score, as measured by the three bureaus? With the Ultimate plan, you get access to 19 FICO scores used in a variety of situations. This allows you to see which score is most likely to be used if you apply for an auto loan, a mortgage loan, or a credit card.

Of course, you’ll also get access to your FICO Score 8, the score most widely used by lenders. The Ultimate plan will also provide you with a detailed analysis of your score so you know where your weak and strong spots are. When a change occurs to your score, you’ll receive a notification along with a reason why.

myFICO gives you an updated credit report from all three bureaus quarterly, too. Your credit scores are updated any time a change occurs. If there are no changes, your score won’t update.

An interesting feature for those looking to make progress with their credit score is the FICO Score Simulator provided with the plan. You can see how taking a certain action (such as making a debt payment) will affect your score.

Identity Theft Monitoring Service

myFICO offers a basic identity theft monitoring service. It will monitor the black market for any mention of your personal information, as well as monitor your Social Security number for identity fraud.

Like other providers, it offers lost wallet protection. A certified specialist will assist you in canceling and replacing missing items or documents from your wallet, including credit cards, debit cards, and your license.

The biggest thing you’re paying for is the 24/7 identity restoration service, which gives you access to a certified restoration specialist who will stick with you until your identity is fully restored to its previous status.

How valuable is such a service? Restoring your identity can prove to be a very time consuming process. In severe cases, it could take months, and possibly a trip to court, to reverse the damage done by a thief. Having the assistance of an expert to handle filing paperwork and calling the appropriate institutions could help you out and cut down on the time you spend dealing with the fiasco.

How Does Identity Theft Insurance Work?

myFICO offers $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance. You can read the specifics about what is and isn’t included in its policy here, but in short, the purpose of this identity theft insurance is to reimburse any costs you incur during the restoration process.

For example, it will cover the cost of replacing documents, travel expenses, lost wages, childcare, and legal costs, for a total of $1,000,000. myFICO will also hire experts on your behalf (such as a lawyer) if needed. Each cost has a specific limit. For example, it will only cover up to $2,000 for replacing documents.

The insurance will cover up to $10,000 in fraudulent withdrawals or unauthorized electric funds transfers, but not $1,000,000 in stolen funds. That’s a big difference you need to be aware of, as many people are under the impression the insurance is used to insure your assets against theft. That’s not true.

As restoring your identity can be time consuming and costly, the insurance can give you peace of mind in case you end up having to go to court to fight a creditor or have to deal with the IRS because someone claimed your tax return before you had a chance.

Note that this coverage isn’t available to residents of New York.

[Credit Freeze: A Defense Against Identity Theft and Fraud]

How myFICO’s Identity Theft Protection Service Works

When you sign up for the identity monitoring service, myFICO will have you answer a series of questions to verify your identity. Once that’s complete, it will scan its database for any mention of your personal information and give you a report at the end. This report serves as a baseline for how safe your information has been, and allows you to take care of any issues that may be present.

myFICO will continue to monitor your information and will notify you via email, text, or mobile app (available on Android and iOS) whenever it detects suspicious fraudulent activity, or a change in any of your credit reports.

It’s worth reading the fine print to see exactly when you can expect such updates to occur, as they vary based on credit bureau. You can see the fine print on this page, as well as what changes you’ll be alerted to. Here are a few instances when you’ll receive an alert:

  • Whenever a new account is opened
  • Credit inquiries from applications
  • New public record listings (bankruptcy, tax liens, etc.)
  • New address
  • Fraud alert placed on file (not available for Equifax)

There are quite a few alerts only available with certain bureaus, but the most important changes are covered by all three.

How Much Does it Cost?

The FICO Ultimate 3B plan that includes identity and credit monitoring is $29.95 per month, or $329 per year ($27.42 per month).

The FICO Essentials 1B plan will monitor just your Equifax score and is $19.95 per month, or $219 per year ($18.25 per month). You still get access to the identity restoration services, but it’s not as comprehensive.

[Identity Theft Action Plan]

Transparency Levels

myFICO seeks to educate consumers on credit scores and doesn’t claim to prevent identity fraud. It doesn’t make many claims about its identity monitoring service at all, as the emphasis is on its credit monitoring service.

If you’re not a fan of automatic renewals, you should know myFICO sets your subscription to automatically renew every month. You must cancel (which you can do at any time) to stop your membership from renewing. However, partial monthly refunds aren’t available, so make sure you cancel close to your renewal date to get the most out of your last month.

Additionally, myFICO has a few “fine print” issues involving when credit scores are updated, and when alerts come through. Much of this is dependent upon the credit bureaus, but you should understand how the alerts work and how often your score and reports are updated before paying.

Alternative Credit and Identity Monitoring Services

myFICO is certainly one of the more expensive choices and doesn’t offer a full suite of identity protection services. Its focus is heavily on credit monitoring, which you can get for free by signing up with either Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.

The biggest difference is that myFICO gives you access to your actual FICO score as reported by the bureaus. Credit Karma and Credit Sesame don’t give you your FICO score (Credit Karma uses VantageScore 3.0 provided by TransUnion and Equifax).

Credit Karma gives you a free credit report from TransUnion, and will monitor your TransUnion credit for free as well. You’ll receive email notifications when something changes.

Credit Sesame updates your score on a monthly basis, and updates your credit report profile every other month. You don’t get access to your credit report – just your score.

You can always access your three free credit reports throughout the year by going to annualcreditreport.com.

Lastly, if you have a credit card with one of the major lenders, your credit score may be available for free through your online portal.

If you’re not convinced myFICO is a good value for identity theft protection service, try these two alternatives.

Zander – Identity theft protection services are offered at $6.75 per month for individuals, and $12.90 per month for families. This is much more affordable than myFICO, but Zander doesn’t offer credit monitoring at all. Again, you can get access to that for free elsewhere. Zander will make sure your information isn’t being sold on the black market, and it also offers a comprehensive identity restoration service. Alerts are received via email.

[Read Zander Review Here]

Prosper Daily (formerly BillGuard) – A great solution for those on the go, Prosper Daily is an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service offered in the form of an app. It’s $9.99 per month to get access to its identity restoration service, but along with protecting yourself from fraud, you can also monitor your spending and budget. It’s a good all-in-one solution for those looking to manage their money via mobile.

[Read Prosper Daily Review Here]

Conclusion

myFICO might be a good solution for those looking to improve their credit score, or for those in the market for a loan who want to make sure their credit is in perfect condition to score the best rates. However, there are cheaper options out there when it comes to identity theft protection services. Consider pairing one of the above alternatives with a mix of receiving your free credit report each quarter from annualcreditreport.com, and using Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to monitor your credit for a less expensive solution.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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Advertiser Disclosure

Identity Theft Protection, Reviews

Review: Prosper Daily Identity Theft Protection

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Advertiser Disclosure

Review: BillGuard Identity Theft Protection

Updated 3/15/16: BillGuard is now known as Prosper Daily

Prosper Daily is an identity theft protection service offered in the form of a mobile app. It’s an all-in-one solution for your finances that allows you to monitor your purchases, budget, credit score as well as identify potential fraud.

Since its inception in 2010, Prosper Daily has been responsible for discovering $70 million of unauthorized charges. The company has 1.2 million users and saves customers an average of $300 per year. Prosper Daily was awarded “Best Finance App of 2014” by the Google Play Store, and in September 2015, it was acquired by Prosper and is continuing to grow.

What makes Prosper Daily different from other identity theft protection companies out there? The power of its community. When Prosper Daily users mark a charge as suspicious, and the same charge appears on your account, you’ll be alerted.

It’s available for both Android and iOS, and there’s a basic version available for free if you want to give it a try before committing to a paid plan.

Overview of Prosper Daily’s Identity Theft Protection Service

First things first, while Prosper Daily has two tiers of service, only the “Ultimate” plan gives you complete access to its identity restoration service.

With the “Ultimate” plan, a dedicated representative will be assigned to your case and will work alongside you to restore your identity. You won’t have to make all the phone calls or file all the paperwork.

Additional Prosper Daily services are broken down into three categories: track, protect, and resolve.

Track: You can monitor your transactions, budget, and credit score from the app via the “smart inbox.” The identity theft feature here is the ability to track where your credit card has been used. If a transaction is registered away from your general area (based on your phone’s location), you’ll receive an alert.

Protect: You can stay on top of securing your identity with Prosper Daily’s alerts. If anything is suspicious, you’ll immediately receive a notification on your phone about it.

Resolve: Arguably the most important feature (and the one you’re paying for), a Prosper Daily representative will help you restore your identity if it’s compromised. It also gives you the option to report a fraudulent charge directly from the app, and you can authorize Prosper Daily to contact a merchant on your behalf to resolve a suspicious or wrongful charge.

[Worth it or Not? Identity Theft Protection Reviewed]

A Word on Identity Theft Insurance

$1 million identity theft insurance is included with the “Ultimate” package. From Prosper Daily website, “Recovering from identity theft can itself cost a fortune.  If you suffer identity theft, we’ll spend up to $1 million on experts who can help you recover, plus travel costs and lost wages.” It’s important to understand what this insurance is for and how you can benefit should your identity get stolen. There are common misconceptions around the insurance provided by identity theft protection services.

This insurance is for the purpose of helping you recover your identity. The $1 million insurance does not cover $1 million in stolen funds. Prosper Daily will reimburse “unauthorized electronic funds transfers of up to $10,000 resulting from any one Stolen Identity Event,” but there’s a large difference between $10,000 and $1,000,000.

The insurance is beneficial because you likely won’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses associated with recovering your identity, such as lost wages from taking time off of work, fees from going to court, replacing documents, hiring a lawyer or babysitter, etc.

Insurance provides peace of mind if you end up in a worst-case scenario with someone filing for your taxes, or having to go to court to fight a creditor. However, note that the insurance kicks in only for costs that are a direct result of identity theft.

[Credit Freeze: A Defense Against Identity Theft and Fraud]

How Prosper Daily Works

As we mentioned, you get the added bonus of monitoring your spending, your credit score, and your transactions in one app. If you like budget solutions apps like Mint offer, you’ll enjoy having access to that through Prosper Daily .

How will you know when something is amiss? Prosper Daily will send you a push notification on your phone alerting you to any suspicious activity. You’ll also receive at least one email alert in case you’re away from your phone. You can view your alerts within the app and take action (if necessary) from there.

What kind of alerts will you receive? Prosper Daily notifies you of:

  • Suspicious charges on your credit card
  • Errors with your billing statements
  • Your cards being used away from your general location
  • When someone attempts to open an account in your name
  • Your personal information being sold online
  • Data breaches where you’ve recently shopped

Prosper Daily includes other services such as credit monitoring and access to your credit score. Now, with both the free and “Ultimate” plans, you will get your TransUnion credit score updated monthly, along with the factors that influence it, so that you can work on improving them. While the three-bureau credit monitoring only comes with the “Ultimate” package, know that you can sign up for free credit monitoring on Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.

How Much Does it Cost?

Prosper Daily has two account tiers:

Prosper Daily is free and allows you to monitor one financial account. You get access to the smart inbox, a feature that allows you to look through transactions and alerts quickly. You can also view your spending analytics, and you’ll receive alerts when credit card, bank fraud, and data breaches occur. This could be a good option for teens and some young adults.

Prosper Daily ID Protect is the real deal as it gives you access to the full service for identity restoration. It’s $9.99 per month ($83.88 annually – $6.99 per month), which is comparable to what other companies are charging. Added benefits include credit monitoring from all three bureaus, black market surveillance, Social Security number fraud alerts, and $1 million identity theft insurance.

Transparency Levels

Prosper Daily is very transparent in telling customers what they get for their money. It places emphasis on the fact that common solutions to identity theft (such as credit monitoring) aren’t enough to protect you, while noting that nothing can fully prevent identity theft from occurring.

If you’re skeptical of how safe your information is with identity theft protection companies after seeing what LifeLock has been going through with the FTC, Prosper Daily addresses security concerns in this article on its site.

Lastly, the CEO of the company, Yaron Samid, encourages customers to email him directly and promises he’ll reply.

[Identity Theft Action Plan]

Alternative Identity Theft Protection Services

If monitoring your financial accounts from your phone or from an app doesn’t appeal to you, there are other options out there.

One is Zander, which is web-based, though you’ll receive alerts via email. At $6.75 per month for individuals ($75 annually) and $12.90 per month for families ($145 annually), it’s a great bargain and a no-frills solution to protect your identity. It doesn’t offer credit monitoring (which you don’t need as you can get it elsewhere for free), but it offers identity theft restoration services, educational tools, black market surveillance and a $1 million expense protection plan.

IDShield is another alternative at $9.95 per month for individuals, and $19.95 per month for families. The individual plan costs the same as Prosper Daily and has many of the same benefits. These include credit monitoring from TransUnion, credit inquiry alerts, black market surveillance, monitoring of court records and your Social Security number, and licensed investigators that will fully restore your identity. IDShield also provides a $5 million service guarantee.

Conclusion

Prosper Daily is a great identity theft protection service for those who want to receive alerts on their phone while they’re on the go. It’s also a good solution for people who prefer having one app where they can manage their finances. The “Ultimate” plan makes the most sense for those looking to outsource identity restoration in the event their identity or information is stolen.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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