We’re all seeking identity theft solutions. The fact is, you can deal with identity theft either after the fact or in a proactive fashion. Of course, it’s always preferable to protect your identity before anything unfortunate happens and the good news is that there are ways you can do this for free or for low cost. If you want to prevent identity theft, it may be a good idea to scope out what your actual risks are of becoming a victim.
Identity Theft Solutions: Using Different ID Scores
Interestingly, the credit industry has a way of gauging our creditworthiness via our credit scores. But what if there’s a way, using scores as well, to determine our risk of becoming an ID theft victim? With so much information about identity theft protection services out there, it can be difficult to distinguish among them. Here’s a comparison of three different types of ID scores — the identity score, identity theft score, and the identity threat score. To be honest, these scores may be overkill, but there are folks who feel the need to look into them.
The Identity Score
Because of the threat of fraud, a number of companies are looking for ways to verify our identities before doing business with us. According to Smart Money, the use of identity scores are on the rise.
Instead of reflecting the particulars of your financial history the way a credit report does, the identity score attempts to determine that you’re actually the person you say you are when you’re engaging in business transactions. You may see your identity score mentioned when applying for loans, credit cards, or other types of credit.
Typically, identity score services will seek out information about you from public and private records. If you’ve changed your address, name, or other factors recently, it may increase your identity score. You should also scan your credit reports for errors such as incorrect names, Social Security numbers, and accounts as these errors can drag down your identity score.
If you suspect you’re at risk of identity theft, then it might be worth it to track down your identity score. Let’s say you leave your wallet in a cab. A month or so later, you check on your identity score and find out that someone applied for a new credit card using information from your driver’s license. Seeing the higher credit score can help you take measures to prevent more damage to your credit history.
One company that offers free identity scores is My ID Score. You’ll need to provide some personal information so My ID Score can do their research on you, then give you your score. You can check your score twice every 14 days, which is useful, because your information can change over time.
Identity Theft Score
Some companies will call your identity score by a different name, like an identity theft score. Each scoring company may have different tools to analyze your personal score, which is why you may encounter a different range of scores.
Some credit score monitoring services may include an identity theft score. It may be worth checking this list to determine if they have this type of score available.
Be aware that some outfits use the terms “identity theft score” and “identity score” interchangeably. And as mentioned, it may be just another way for the credit industry to get you to open your wallet in exchange for giving you a sense of security and peace of mind. Make sure you know what kind of service you are subscribing to when you check out credit monitoring services. Some have better id theft protection features than do others.
Identity Threat Score
As many things in the credit industry go, you’ll find yet another proprietary score that purports to give you ID protection. The Identity Threat Score is a product from TrustedID. It’s a tool you can use to determine if you’re at risk of identity theft. A lower score is preferable to a higher score, which may indicate that you’ve already been compromised. Scores can range from 0 to 500. To determine your particular score, the service scans a wide array of resources like public and private databases to find your personal, credit, and financial information.
After analyzing the data to present your Identity Threat Score, the service offers advice to safeguard your identity. You’ll be able to see your score each time you log into your TrustedID account.
What About Identity Theft Insurance?
For those interested in a credit monitoring service that also offers identity theft insurance as part of the package, do check out this list. These are not free services, but you may decide that the peace of mind is worth the cost. Note that all of these services have a free trial period.
Steps to Take To Protect Your Identity For Free
There are, of course, some things we can do to deter identity theft on our own. Here are some ideas:
1. Each month, you should read the statements for your bank, credit card, mortgage, and other financial accounts. Contact customer service if you detect any mistakes or unusual charges.
2. Take time to shred personal documents, if you’re going to discard papers with sensitive personal information like your Social Security number or driver’s license number.
3. Take advantage of AnnualCreditReport.com to pull your credit report for free once a year. Take action to correct any errors or improve your credit history before you get a personal loan or apply for credit cards so you won’t face higher interest rates.
4. When you’re online, be careful about giving away your personal information. Be wary of the websites to which you provide your email and password, even if it seems like they only want to import your contacts. You don’t want to hand off your personal information to a phisher, so don’t click links in email from people you don’t know or trust.
While checking out the FTC, I found OnGuard Online, a quick online game that tests your knowledge of identity theft facts. It’s something that you may also want to take a look at!
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