Identity Theft has been a growing concern since the late ’90s, as criminals started to find ways to manipulate electronic data to their advantage. It has grown substantially with the expansion of the internet and wireless devices. When determining your risk of this white-collar crime, one must be aware of one’s own data trail and security measures.
First, when scoping out your data trail, you must start by logging what activities you do online, such as internet banking, online shopping, online stock trading, etc. Adding the amount of online activity you have can show you just how ‘at-risk’ you are for identity theft.
Second, log the amount of credit/debit cards you use. Anything that you use that is electronic but is not operated at your home PC must me looked into.
Third, check the security of your online activity by viewing each websites’ security page. See if you can find authorization methods or any other significant security programs/procedures that are used on the site. When determining your risk, this can be one of the most important factors involved.
Finally, review your own security programs, such as any anti-virus, anti-spyware/adware, and any firewall programs, including any anonymity software that you have installed.
Based on how much activity you have, the higher, the more likely you’ll be a target for identity theft. However, if you have taken substantial steps (both offline and online) to guard yourself against this crime, that risk can be substantially lower.
Before putting cash on the table for either one of these services, review your procedures for handling your own sensitive data and transactions, both offline and online. Do you use a shredder for all financial-related documents? Do you limit the number of businesses that know your personal SS number? Do you monitor your bills for unauthorized purchases? These questions and many more can accurately assess your need for any of these services.
To be honest, if you keep your online financial activity to a minimum, leave a very small digital footprint (the amount of data about you on the internet), use good online security programs, monitor your bills and shred your documents frequently, the likelihood of succumbing to identity theft is pretty low. Unless these services are provided free of charge by your credit card company or other financial institution, you can safely abstain from paying for them.
When you follow the steps above, you become your own identity theft insurance – except much cheaper.
So, the question remains: should you get identity theft insurance or credit monitoring services? Only if you have an enormous amount of finances that you cannot oversee alone, or your personal security is lacking in serious areas. Using these tips and some common sense should keep your identity and financial data theft-free.