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Let’s admit it — identity theft protection services don’t have the best reputations. There are many companies out there willing to take your money and provide identity theft coverage to you. Unfortunately, in many cases, the companies aren’t offering a service that you can’t do yourself with a little time, knowledge and vigilance.
In March 2010, LifeLock, recognized as one of the biggest names in identity theft coverage, received heavy fines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for false advertising claims. As outlined in an article at DailyFinance.com, the FTC says that Lifelock’s commercials where the CEO plastered his social security number on the side of a truck and then claimed his identity was completely safe were false. There have been many attempts to steal his identity, and at least one was successful, the article says.
“While LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it,” the FTC said in a press release.
Additionally, LifeLock’s $1 million insurance is only good if the identity theft was a result of a failure or defect in Lifelock’s services. This doesn’t include physical theft of your wallet or personal information, someone obtaining your social security number and other information through the garbage, or anything else that a service can’t protect against.
Knowing all this, can you trust any identity protection service?
Is An Identity Theft Protection Service Worth It?
First, keep in mind that no identity theft protection service can truthfully promise 100 % protection against identity theft. They may offer guarantees, but they cannot 100% promise your identity and money is safe if you use their service.
Having said that, let’s look at some of the services offered by Identity Guard, which CreditShout.com recommended in our Identity Guard Review.
Identity Guard functions best as a credit monitoring service. Representatives from Identity Guard have noted that it would take thousands of hours for an individual to perform the credit monitoring functions that Identity Guard can do for a monthly fee, which varies depending on which service you choose.
Unlike many other credit monitoring and identity protection services, Identity Guard can provide all three credit reports from all three bureaus, as well as all three FICO scores.
Identity Guard offers three different tiers of service and pricing:
1. Watchful Eye – This $9.99/month service monitors all three of your credit reports and also monitors the internet to see if your social security number, bank account information or credit card information has been used online. It comes with daily credit monitoring reports and $2,500 in identity theft insurance.
2. Extra Caution – The $14.99 package, the company’s most popular, provides credit monitoring of all three of your major credit reports and FICO scores, and access to all three reports three times a year. You also get $1 million in identity theft insurance.
3. Total Protection – For $17.99 a month, on top of credit and identity monitoring, this package incorporates ZoneAlarm security software to protect your data with anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-keylogging software. ID Vault software encrypts your personal information and passwords for online protection.
What to Look Out For
Being skeptical of identity theft protection services, I scoured the Identity Guard website to find any “catches” or outstanding negative points about the Identity Guard service. I’ve also had numerous phone conversations with Identity Guard representatives about their service, internet security, and smart credit monitoring and management.
It’s important to note that the $1 million coverage is not available in New York, is not valid if you don’t report any unauthorized loss of funds as soon as you discover them — and within 90 days of the fraud — or if a member of your immediate family living in the same household or a joint account holder participated in, directed or had prior knowledge of the loss of funds.
You should also know that if you don’t cancel your free trial membership before the trial period ends, you will have to pay the monthly fees for that month.
It’s important to take responsibility for your finances, your online activity, and your personal information, but a good identity protection service can help.