Christian Identity Theft Protection Services
With the threat increasing, Christian identity theft protection services are gaining in popularity more each year. According to estimates, millions of people have been victimized by this crime annually. Some predict that in upcoming years, one in every four or five people will eventually have his or her identification stolen. That's scary, but as the numbers increase, so does the fear. Thieves are getting inventive. The methods of ID theft are as varied as the individuals who get hit. Criminals rifle through trash, pilfer receipts left at ATMs and gas stations, set ups fake broker schemes, hack into computers via the Internet or steal from national databases. Once personal information is gained, criminals can destroy an individual's credit history - opening up new accounts, spending money out of current accounts, taking out loans in another person's name. The list is endless. Since the rise of credit rating industry in the 1990s, stolen identities has become one of the top criminal actions in the United States.
Identity theft protection services have also risen to top. Close to twelve million Americans have subscribed to a now thriving $2 million plus industry. Scared, these individuals are willing to pay for banks, credit bureaus and marketers to protect their personal information and prevent it from theft. The three main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) all offer credit monitoring services that warn customers of any suspicious activity on their credit file. Fees usually range from $5-$20 per month. Consumers can also purchase identity theft protection services outside the bureaus to organizations such as LifeLock, IdentityTruth, or the newest service Debix for similar protection. Certain insurance companies and protection services also sell identity theft insurance that will cover wages, legal fees, and out of pocket expenses if a client becomes a victim. Some will cover the amount lost in a theft. Others will only cover extraneous fees and charges. Most will only guarantee reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount. Insurance usually cost less that monitoring providers. Web protection services are also available at about $10 per month. Many providers include both monitoring and insurance.
Most identity theft protection services will not manage the claims if a violation has been found. Individuals still have to report discretions with the three credit bureaus and lenders, following through to keep their records clean. Claims take time. Usually by the time a theft has been detected, the identification has been stolen and damage already done. Plus, protection agencies cannot detect other financial problems such as stolen credit cards, since they do not appear on an individual's file until the cardholder has become delinquent in making payments. By then, huge bills have occurred, putting the cardholder in much greater peril. Critics of identity theft protection services also claim that the credit bureaus have created the need by providing names from their databases to credit card providers. However, studies show that few of these database transactions ever lead to victimization. But critics point out that it is the credit bureaus themselves who are the ones getting rich off of providing protection services. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
States have been trying unsuccessful to regulate the credit industry for many years. The credit bureaus, banks and marketers have fought legislation that would allow for credit freezes to be places on individual accounts. Freezing an account would require phone or written verification from an individual for a lender to view or pull any information from the client's file. Opponents argue that the law would inconvenience consumers and discourage them from borrowing or using credit. It would minimize ID theft and therefore put identity theft protection services virtually out of business. Currently only ten states have such laws. Most only apply to individuals who have been previously victimized. Freezes come with fees. Credit bureaus charge $10 to freeze and account from activity and $10 every time an individual wants to unfreeze their account for a certain period of time. In every state, victims can place fraud alerts on their credit files. However, such alerts expire after 90 days and must be renewed.
Consumers can protect themselves without the assistance of identity theft protection services. Credit bureaus are required by law to provide a copy of a person's credit report free of charge, at least once a year upon request. Checking these reports and filing discrepancies quickly keeps the reports accurate and lenders alert of any possible fraud. Financial professionals recommend checking the report at least once a quarter. Fees are involved in requesting these extra copies. Individuals must be careful to whom personal information like Social Security Numbers, credit card information, birth dates, and bank account numbers is released. When a business requests a Social Security Number, ask why and what security protocol is established to protect that information. Always shred personal documents including account numbers or anything that could be used for identity purposes. Review credit card and bank statements regularly to check for fraud and contact lenders immediately with any discrepancy. Close unused accounts. Use unpredictable passwords with a mixture of letters and numbers. Never use common information like birth date as a password. If possible, unsubscribe to marketers' listings that may keep personal information in database form. Securing mailboxes and all receipts is also crucial.
Identity theft protection services can be helpful for individuals who simply don't have the time or resources to check their credit reports regularly or those who feel better with just a little more insurance. No price can be placed on peace of mind. These organizations do reduce the risk involved and minimize damage by letting a consumer know sooner of suspicious activity. However, no agency can assure 100% protection. The best protection available is that which is in the hands of the consumer.
Christian Identity Theft HelpThe best time to employ identity theft help is before it is actually needed. This crime affects millions of Americans each year. Identity theft occurs when someone steals personal information and uses it to commit some type of fraudulent activity. Part of the problem with identity theft is that the attack can take so many forms. Often, personal information is used to make unauthorized charges to a credit card account. At times, the stolen information enables the thief to open new charge accounts, utility accounts or even to rent an apartment or apply for a loan, all on someone else's credit. Instances of mail fraud and unauthorized Internet transactions may also belong to this arena.
Most activity which may require identity theft help is strictly of a monetary nature. The thief uses someone else's credit to obtain some sort of financial gain. Occasionally, however, a thief may use personal information to hijack the credit for a victim's accomplishments, such as a sports or intellectual award, or a reputation in a certain field of endeavor. Some thieves obtain a person's employment history through applications submitted in response to bogus job offers, and use this information towards other ends.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this type of theft is that the victim often does not realize that his or her information has been taken until a flood of bills arrives for items which he or she never purchased, or irate creditors and collections agencies begin calling. Some unfortunate individuals have even been arrested for crimes they never committed, because the offender gave convincing personal information during a police booking and then jumped bail, leaving the innocent party to deal with a warrant calling for his or her arrest! At this point the victim is in great need of identity theft help, for he is trying to prove a negative -- that is, trying to prove that he did not do something, which can be extremely difficult to accomplish.
Fortunately, there are some things which a person can do to get identity theft help. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers identity theft help to consumers through its website and various pamphlets dealing with the subject. These give details of how victims can begin to deal with this unsettling situation and get back a sense of control over their financial lives again. There is also plenty of good advice which can be found during an Internet search regarding how to do one's best to avoid this distressing situation in the first place.
Many people who are in need of identity theft help do not know for sure just how their personal information was obtained in the first place. If a purse or wallet has been stolen, that is one thing. Credit card companies can be notified, accounts can be quickly closed, and appropriate agencies notified. However, some people do not have any idea how their information was stolen. This may seem strange, but part of the reason for this is that there are many avenues of opportunity for the would-be thief. Some obtain personal information by looking through discarded trash. Old receipts can provide a wealth of information, or at least bolster a thief's knowledge of the victim's identity. Therefore, always shred items which contain such information. Sometimes thieves literally look over the shoulders of victims to gather information, or else collect it more indirectly through machines which copy credit card information. Collections of personal materials may be hacked into by Internet thieves, or obtained though bribery of people who work in sensitive positions.
Identity theft may seem almost impossible to totally prevent, but some measure of control can be gained by being diligent with personal information. Keeping close control of credit cards and using passwords with a series of letters, numbers and characters (which do not fall into the usual categories of using birthdates, maiden names or words commonly found in dictionaries) can help prevent hackers from using computer programs to easily uncover them. Be proactive by checking credit reports from the three major reporting agencies on a regular basis. A free copy of the credit report is available once a year. Each agency may report slightly different information, so it is good to check all three for any errors. Correct any errors promptly. Deposit outgoing mail into collection boxes (making sure it falls beyond reach) or even better, bring materials directly inside the post office. Collect incoming mail as soon as possible, and do not leave items to pile up when going away overnight on trips.
Some people make use of service companies which work to ensure that personal information is protected as much as possible. Many of the services which are offered may be available for free if consumers are willing to perform them themselves. These include setting a fraud alert, obtaining free credit reports, and removing themselves from prescreened credit card offers or public mailing lists. Military personnel can set into motion active duty alerts, which require creditors to take steps to check an applicant's identity before granting credit. These alerts remain in place for a year and may be renewed if necessary.
Give immediate attention to any suspicious activity, such as billing statements which do not arrive in a timely manner, or calls or billing statements regarding purchases which were not made by the Christian owner of the account. Also, regularly monitor financial accounts. Despite exerting great effort, if an individual gets into a situation where he or she requires identity theft help, call and write to creditors immediately about the disputed charges. It may be necessary to close affected accounts. Keep written records of conversations with creditors, including the names of contact persons and the steps which were taken to resolve the problem. Report identity theft to the police and the FTC. An Identity theft affidavit may be obtained to help support your position. The Federal Trade Commission has resources an individual may request for help. As Proverbs 24:6 states, "...for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors." Take advantage of resources designed to offer identity theft help.