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Military Finances 101: Are Identity Theft Protection Services Worth It?

Managing Your Finances

While I'm not 100% sure, I suspect that military members are prime targets for identity theft. What I do know is there’s no doubt that recent technological advancements have provided hackers with even more opportunities to use modern developments to their advantage. Especially when it comes to identity theft, these criminals show no signs of slowing down. In 2017, Javelin Strategy & Research reported a 16 percent increase in identity fraud from 2015 to 2016.1 Despite these numbers, consumers are getting better at detecting potential risks of theft thanks to increased education online.

Speaking of the Internet, the shift to online shopping carries unique challenges when it comes to warding off these deceptive and scheming individuals. As one example, card-not-present fraud rose 40 percent during this time period — signifying a dramatic disadvantage of doing business online.2 In addition to this report, Javelin Strategy & Research outlined four consumer personas — offline consumers, social networkers, e-commerce shopper and digitally-connected consumers — who all carry the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. 

From your credit card to your email login credentials, hackers are keen on utilizing any piece of personal information to their advantage. If you’re someone who’s concerned about identity theft, you might be considering investing in services that can provide you with some extra protection so your livelihood and lifestyle are secured from these criminal activities. And remember, if your identity gets stolen and your credit score gets trashed, you could have security clearance issues. For sure, you'll have some explaining to do when you're up for a periodic review.

Benefits of Identity Theft Protection Services

A key way to avoid getting your identity stolen is to invest in identity monitoring services. If you want comprehensive protection, you will most likely have to pay a monthly or annual fee; however, considering what you gain and prevent with the service, the investment may well be worth your money. 

One of the best parts about identity monitoring services is the peace of mind it brings. Instead of constantly worrying about where your personal information may end up, you can rely on an identity theft protection company to keep an eye on things for you. And it’s not just your credit score that they’ll monitor — they can let you know any time your Social Security number is used, as well as if anyone has applied for a loan in your name.

As you might expect, if your identity is in fact stolen, you’ll have an experienced company on your side to guide you through the identity repair process. This is, of course, a worst case scenario, but it is better than having no one in your corner when things start going downhill. When it comes to your credit, you can choose to lock your credit file or freeze it, which some services offer for free. This is a good option for those who are looking for more protection but aren’t quite ready to pay for it yet.

Drawbacks of Identity Theft Protection Services

Depending on how comprehensively you want to be protected, costs attached to these services can get pricey. Plans can range from about $10 to $30 a month, which, when paired with music, streaming and magazine subscriptions can make the services seem less appealing. And while you may be drawn to the most affordable plan, just like insurance, you will not be protected as thoroughly and therefore may not get much value out of your investment.

If you’re interested in identity theft insurance, make sure you read the fine print. Legal expenses and time spent away from work may not be covered, and you may also have a deductible to meet before you actually start getting some value out of the policy.

While investing in identity theft protection services can greatly reduce the chances of your identity being stolen, there is no guarantee. Therefore, you may want to also conduct your own due diligence to make sure you remain smart with your personal information and online activity.

Extra Steps Lead to Less Stress

No matter who you are, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your identity. Seemingly meaningless transactions and interactions can quickly become a financial nightmare if you’re unaware of the risks associated with sharing your personal information. Especially now that social media has become more prominent, users need to be extra careful when meeting new people online — you truly never know who someone is until you meet them in-person.

When in doubt, consider investing in an identity theft protection service; it definitely cannot hurt you. While you may be tempted to monitor your identity yourself, it’s difficult to remain up-to-date in-between work, school and adult responsibilities. Even if there is a cost associated with these services, there’s no doubt they will provide some value in the long-run. Just like insurance, it’s better to be proactive with protecting yourself as you never know what might happen.

1 https://www.javelinstrategy.com/press-release/identity-fraud-hits-record-high-154-million-us-victims-2016-16-percent-according-new

2 https://www.javelinstrategy.com/press-release/identity-fraud-hits-record-high-154-million-us-victims-2016-16-percent-according-new

If you liked this article, you might enjoy the following blog posts:

5 Financial Goals for Junior Military Officers


How Military Officers Can Avoid Charity Scams


How Military Officers Can Protect Personal Financial Information


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