Equifax has experienced a massive data breach leading to community bankers suing Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency. Recently, hackers appear to have obtained the personal information of millions of people, which includes but is not limited to Social Security numbers, home addresses, birth dates, credit cards, and license plates – thus putting the victims at risk of identity theft, and credit card fraud among others.
If you think you’re a victim of a data breach, the thought of a thief using your name to run up huge credit card debts using your name is frightening. This is where credit and identity monitoring services enter your life, they will watch your bank and credit card statements for suspicious transactions, identity security risk, and law violations among others, with some notifying you as soon as possible, daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on what you signed up for.
Right now, the best thing to do is to ask Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for a credit freeze. To do this, you will have to inform each of the credit bureaus that you want a hold on your credit file. Once you’ve asked for a freeze, you’ll get a PIN to unfreeze your file for when you apply for a line credit. You might need to pay a fee up to $15 to place a freeze depending on where you live. In most instances, you can do it online, but in some cases, you may need to call.
In this article, we will compare the best credit report services and identity theft protection companies based on the value of service, the frequency with which they provide credit reports, the bureaus they provide information from, and information protection among others.
LifeLock is a non-credit bureau, but if you are looking for a more across-the-board credit and identity monitoring and protection facility, you may consider LifeLock. It provides a range of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services which is especially useful to those concerned with Equifax’s data breach.
Because of the data breach, Equifax is offering TrustedID Premier for free; it is a three-credit reporting service that allows you to view a copy of your Equifax credit report. But then, why would you pay for a LifeLock membership when Equifax is giving a service for free? A data breach as extensive as what happened to Equifax is going to pose a risk for you in the years to come.
You can take Equifax’s free service and avail a plan from LifeLock. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try their services risk-free for all their plans.
With several subscription plans to choose from, we recommend LifeLock Ultimate Plus to be the most appropriate and beneficial to those worried about the recent hacking incident; it will cost you $26.99 per month or $296.90 for a year of service. The Ultimate Plus plan offers a three-bureau credit report monitoring as opposed to their other plans’ single-bureau-report.
Some features of the LifeLock Ultimate Plus members that Equifax data hack victims can take advantage of are monitoring for applications for payday loans and utilities accounts, crimes committed, unauthorized postal address changes, new credit accounts and aliases connected to your name, changes on all three of your credit reports, scanning for your information on the dark web, and alerts for suspicious activity related to your credit cards, bank accounts and investment accounts.
Credit report services are not cheap, but if you plan to go with IdentityForce, you have nothing to lose as they want you to try their services for FREE for 14 days. It’s important to note that not all companies offer a free trial, so taking advantage of this trial option is worthy of note.
IdentityForce provides a full array of identity protection including lost wallet protection and alerts by phone and text; the downside though is that they will only notify you quarterly. They also provide you with a statement of all your information that can be found on the internet, giving you more security than any other company.
You may be revealing more of your private information on the internet than you think, but IdentityForce helps you lessen this, making it more challenging for identity thieves to get a hand of your info and use it to make illegal transactions. IdentityForce will also help you remove any incorrect data about you on the internet that can pose a threat to your security.
In addition to supervising your private data and credit statements, IdentityForce provides you with anti-keylogging application to safeguard you against malware that might otherwise take your sensitive information. It also includes an anti-phishing software which helps you identify and avoid phishing sites.
IdentityForce recently unveiled their “Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts”. When you sign up for their services, your accounts and credit cards are supervised, so if any suspicious activity comes up, you are notified right away.
With their range of plans, we recommend its UltraSecure + Credit plan priced at only $20 per month; it is one of the most reasonably-priced credit reports and identity security service you can avail. It’s also important to note that they offer a $40-discount if you pay for a year of service of $200.
PrivacyGuard is similar to all other identity theft protection services on our lineup as it also offers credit reports from all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It oversees your personal and financial data, gives expert guidance for a stolen identity, and sends you and the credit-reporting bureaus notifications in the event of a suspected fraud while you are a member.
It is available for under $20 per month. With their promotion, you get two weeks to try the service for just $1 to evaluate if it’s right for you. If at the end of the two-week trial you decide you are not satisfied with the service, you can simply unsubscribe to avoid further charges.
When you sign up for their services, you also get Norton Internet Security Online for free. It is an antivirus software that will protect you against credit and identity theft while you browse the internet. This protects your personal information from being taken without your consent while securing your computer from malicious software.
The downside with PrivacyGuard is that they do not monitor your bank account information, this means that you won’t get notified if an identity thief steals your bank account data. However, they will help you resolve the matter once it has been brought to their attention. So if you are keen on your bank account security, other companies can help you.
Another drawback with PrivacyGuard is that they do not have a mobile application, meaning you have to get on your phone browser or computer every time you want to check your account.
Identity Guard sells itself as a service provider of all-inclusive identity theft protection that is custom-built to your own needs. It boasts to oversee your credit and personal information to help ensure devious thieves can’t destroy your credit and good name. They also promise that should you become a victim of identity theft, they will work with you to notify the proper authorities.
What sets Identity Guard apart from their competitors is their PrivacyProtect® software which encrypts your keystrokes to prevent keyloggers from stealing not just your passwords but anything you type on your computer. Right now, the software is available for Windows users only. You can avail of the software for free with Total Protection and Platinum plans.
It also boasts a ZoneAlarm® software, an antivirus program for your computer with complete firewall protection and countermeasures for malware and spyware, which you can avail for free if you subscribe to their Total Protection or Platinum Plan.
Identity Guard offers a fairly complete service of monitoring your personal information, including your name, address, credit reports, Social Security number, and bank accounts. And unlike any other company, Identity Guard provides up to $2000 of emergency money if your wallet gets lost or stolen. Its Platinum plan priced at $19.99/month will provide service and security for all the information stated above.
Just like any other credit and identity theft monitoring company, they will also pay the costs of retrieval up to $1 million, including legal fees, lost wages, travel expenses, and child care and won’t reimburse you for losses incurred during a theft.
With their promotion, you can avail the services of Identity Guard free for the first 30 days for all of their plans, except their special plans for kids, couples, and families. Now if everything sounds for you, think again because there is also a downside: The service lacks few options their competitors offer like driver’s license number monitoring and the opportunity to monitor multiple email addresses on one account. They also do not set fraud alerts with the credit bureaus – so if you need services that will cater to these, you can look at other companies that provide these.
Your decision should be based on how comprehensive you want the monitoring to be and how much you’re willing to pay for it. If you’re meticulous about your credit, there are many steps you can do yourself to maintain a healthy credit. In that case, credit supervision may not be worth your money.
Make sure you think of the cost of signing up for services before doing so. Weigh your expenses against your chances of suffering credit card fraud and identity theft. If you’re merely looking to keep your credit in good standing, it’s not very complicated. Limit your credit card usage and set up automatic payments to pay your bills on time.
If you’re paying for credit monitoring services or just doing it by yourself, be sure to report any errors you see in your statements. Inform the agency that sent you the report because each of them has a process for handling errors. Remember that a simple incorrect information can be damaging to your credit and name.